Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The other review I wasn't paid for

Opposite Cathedral Square, Jefferson Street is chockablock full of restaurants, most of them so narrow you can walk by two in a few strides. But don’t miss Mikey’s, an elegant eatery drenched in brick, brushed steel and neon blue d├ęcor, accompanied with leather chairs, a granite bar, and several plasma screens.

Although Mikey’s maintains a modern and welcoming environment with its accessibility and open air dining, don’t be fooled into thinking the menu is casual. Mikey’s isn’t one of those bars that dabbles in food. Food is their job and they do it very, very well. And just to be clear, the drink menu is impressive as well, featuring over 30 beers and 40 wines, including dessert port and sherry.

Increasingly popular at many restaurants, Mikey’s features comfort dishes with a twist like their Three Cheese Macaroni, made with Reggiano Parmigiano, Fontina and Brie cream. The “friends table” section of the menu features shareable portions that are all reasonably priced with only the Baby Back Trio over twenty dollars at $21.95, and enough for two. Couple a starter with one of these selections and you may not have room for one of the fabulous desserts.

Mikey’s also happens to be in a prime location for entertaining. September through May they feature live music on Thursdays at 9pm, and Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm. Also, on Thursdays from June to September they have special drink promotions during Jazz in the Park. On these summer nights be sure to reserve a table on the sidewalk so you can fully enjoy the Thursday night performance without being overwhelmed by interior music.

*Mikey's is legit. If I was allowed to be critical, I wouldn't have complained about anything.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Fall of the Book

Shares of Borders closed at 0.53 on Friday. 

A local book chain is going out of business, closing its four stores in Milwaukee. But wait, two of them are going to be converted into independent bookstores that will soon be competing against each other. There is a little hope there.

Sad days for the book selling business.

Sad days for the book reading business too. I am not doing so well with my New Year's resolution. I didn't read at all while I was in Florida and even though I am almost to page 100 in The Grapes of Wrath it still has yet to pull me in that much. I have no choice though. Finish it I will, maybe not by January 31, but with time enough to read eleven more classics this year

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Awesome Pictures

Images from the inauguration

Leave it to them

As you may have heard by now, out of an “abundance of caution” Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office a second time to President Obama because one word was out of order in the original attempt by both men. Present for the second oath was a photographer (who has already released photos) and an important contingent of Obama’s staff. No big deal, right? Why not take the oath a second time just to be sure; even though it is merely a formality and by the time Obama took the oath at 12:05pm on January 20th he had already been the President of the United States for five minutes.

Yesterday, President Obama stated that his administration would usher in a new level of transparency to the highest office in the land. This meaning his staff will most likely not lose millions of emails, among other things, overnight. Anyway, I think this is a respectable goal, ushering in a new level of transparency.

Fox News, hearing of the private second oath and that the press corps wasn’t invited into the room to make a big deal out of it, was already criticizing the new president for his apparent lack of transparency. The dumb little blond, I can’t remember her name, said she can’t believe we (I guess by “we” she means the press, even though Fox was the only station with their panties in a bunch about this story this morning) are dealing with this kind of thing two days into the new administration that promised change and transparency.

I was not all that shocked, but it still pissed me off. I was wondering what kind of journalism Fox would be doing for the next four or eight years. Let’s hope they rise…a lot more…to the occasion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Holding History


Woke up at 5:45 this morning and headed out to get one of these. There were three left. I took two. It was a beautiful morning.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The 44th



11:39am - There are millions on the National Mall today cheering for change, cheering for history, and cheering for hope. Pretty sweet to see.

11:40am – First shot of Obama walking toward the door. I have never seen him look so serious. He looks solemn, but I guess he is just trying to change his countenance, trying to take in this moment, which is huge for many people, but impossible for us to imagine what it is like for him.

11:44am – Barack H. Obama introduced as the President-Elect. Start the crazy cheers and flag-waving.

11:51am – Rick Warren is rocking this prayer.

11:57am – 3 minutes away from the Oath of Office. On schedule.

11:58am – We have a new veep. The handicapped Wyoming Cowboy is out. Peace, Dick.

12:00pm – Does Star Wars really have to intrude on every moment in history? Of course it does, music composed by yours truly, John Williams. Sweet piece of music.

12:05pm – Here comes a black President of the United States of America. Wow, a little nervous. Jumping all over the place. Good Lord. Can’t blame the man. Update: Apparently the Chief Justice John Roberts made more errors in the oath than the President. Roberts chose to do the oath from memory and upon watching the moment a few more times it is evident that he forgot several words and his timing did seem off.

12:09pm - A 27 year-old crafted much of this speech, he is President Obama's main speechwriter. I'm glad to see Obama is getting these words out better than he did the oath. I cringed a couple of times during that.

12:38pm - That benediction was hilarious at the end, but appropriate. Lots of the blogs are saying Lowery stole the show with that prayer. Well, most of the pomp and circumstance is over, but something else has just begun. I am hopeful.

Bush administration still providing comedic material

I’m watching TV all day long (except for when I am at work) and I am checking the blogs all day long. Barack Obama made me do it, really.

Anyway, you might have heard the news. Cheney will be attending the inauguration in a wheelchair, rollin on dubs. He apparently threw out a back muscle and TPM suggests he did it shredding documents this morning.

Monday, January 19, 2009

As Seen on TV

Over lunch--some leftovers from P.F. Chang’s--I turned to MSNBC, knowing that they would be following Obama around, even if he were going to the bathroom. Sure enough, there was Obama greeting volunteers at a D.C. school, shaking hands and chatting for a couple of seconds with everyone in the room. Out of nowhere, comes this staffer that I met in Wisconsin. He was based in Chicago during the campaign and is close with the Obamas. He shakes Obama’s hand, talks for a little bit, hugs Michelle, and talks with her some, and then the Obamas move on. Clearly visible under his sport coat was a Wisconsin for Obama t-shirt. It was a little moment of pride for me and it was weird to actually recognize someone on TV greeting the future president.

Terribly excited for tomorrow.

I never got paid for this

There isn’t an exact recipe for success in the Third Ward. This couldn’t be truer for the space at 223 N. Water Street. Since 2000, three restaurants have opened and closed their doors at this address, unable to attract a loyal base from the influx of young professionals into the newly gentrified Third Ward.

Opened in early June, Rustico is a pizzeria-enoteca, a restaurant that specializes in wine. Set in a narrow piece of property, the restaurant feels European with close set tables and an emphasis on the intimacy of the dining experience.

In addition to pizza, expect traditional Italian fare at Rustico and keep an eye out for the unexpected, like fried olives served in a martini glass. As they are paraded to table after table an audible praise from diners inevitably follows. The pizzas vary from a classic Napoletana to the Bianca, billed as a four-cheese pizza with “truffle scented olive oil and garlic.” Pizzas are available in 12 and 16 inches and are reasonably priced at less than $20.

Rustico boasts an impressive wine list, which our waitress guided us through, eventually choosing a 2006 Malbec from Argentina with a robust, oak flavor, but one with a smooth finish—exactly what we were looking for.

The dessert list is no less impressive. A highlight of the menu is the tiramisu, a modest piece of the traditional Italian cake with a light, fluffy and smooth coffee finish to it. It seems that this restaurant, unlike its predecessors, is here to stay.

*The review ends there, but if I was given the liberty to be completely honest, I would not tell you it was bad. The place was definitely good, but it is doubtful it will ever pull me back.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Finally went to see this movie yesterday after hearing nothing but praise for it. Slumdog is beautifully tragic. I went through a broad spectrum of emotions while watching the film, but what dominated my thoughts was the filth and depressing living conditions that much of India calls home. Needless to say, the movie works in the opposite way a commercial advertising India on TV would. It does not entice you away to spectacular landscapes and breathtaking architecture.

Slumdog seems to highlight the real India, showing us houses made of trash, people bathing in rancid waters and extremely disparaging lives. And somehow, from all of that, we get a story of hope and the chance at finding love in such a disgusting world which is brought to life onscreen with a wonderfully edited sequence featuring Indians, from all walks of life, vicariously living out that dream through a boy’s chance at winning 20,000,000 rupees on a TV game show.

Oscar winner or not, this movie is worth checking out. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Meaning

You know it is cold outside when school is cancelled two days in a row, not because of the snow, but because of the cold.

You know it is cold outside when you check the temperature and see that it is -2 degrees and you get excited because that’s ten degrees warmer than it was this morning, the last time you were outside. 

Setting the Bar

I don’t make it a habit to put pictures of myself on this blog, but I post this one because I was trying to capture the upper part of my beard, which was frozen after my walk this morning. That’s right. I took a walk this morning. Kate was at work and I needed to get a slow leak in one of my tires fixed today before I go to work. The car place is about ¾ of a mile away and I had to walk back. It  was -12 degrees outside with a wind chill of -27. I’ve never felt cold like that. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thoughts on Florida

I am back in the Midwest, bronzed and not ready for Milwaukee. With a -30 degree wind chill tonight I have officially experienced a 100-degree temperature swing in one day. It was an awful day to return to the upper Midwest, but I had no choice.

What to write about Florida? I had never been there so there was a lot to take in and analyze. Some words and thoughts come to the forefront of my mind…

Silicone – I’ve never seen so many women with fake boobs. Florida is perhaps tied with California in the vanity-off competition in my head.

Rich – Talk about wealth. Florida is not only where rich Americans spend the winter, it is also the place to be for the international jet set crowd. Big houses. Bigger yachts. Bentleys. Rolls Royce. BMWs are child’s play.

Poor – Like in most rich communities there is a stark contrast between the people that come to play and the people working to serve them year round. There must be low-income housing for Fort Lauderdale residents, but it is hidden very well.

We are in a recession? – Walking into a mall like Ft. Lauderdale’s Galleria makes you question this. Valet parking. Coach. Louis Vuitton. Burberry. I looked in PacSun. Ha.

Spoiled – I am going to go ahead and write about the school we were training at. It is a private school for K-12 in south Florida. I just pulled these numbers for student tuition and fees off of their website. All amounts are for one year. Pre-K and K (full day) - $17,985. Grades one through five - $19,085. Grades six through eight - $20,490. Grades nine through twelve - $21,990. By the looks of it, these kids seem to be getting a great education, or are at least exposed to great education opportunities. That is awesome, but I wondered the whole time I was there if they really appreciate how fortunate they are to attend a school like this? Of course I was being judgmental and unfair (not many tweens are appreciative of anything).

Aston Martin – I think a school employee drove an Aston Martin. Other employee cars included large Mercedes sedans and Porsches.

Warm – It is hard to believe that after two quick flights I can get from Milwaukee to Florida and upper 70s, lower 80s weather. Florida is warm all year long. I knew this before visiting, but the visit brought a little more validity to this statement.

Beautiful – I understand why many people retire to Florida. It is beautiful. Weather was perfect. There would be that issue about hurricane season though.

Old – So many old people. We went to Dunkin Donuts a few mornings after practices and it was full of elderly folk who looked like they came their every morning. I quickly became depressed with the thought of growing old and moving to Florida and waiting to die and to do the same exact thing every single day for the last 20 years of my life and to show up at this ugly Dunkin Donuts to get the same cup of coffee and the jelly-filled donut and sit down and read the paper and then go home, having nothing else to do the rest of the day. I lost my appetite standing in line and thinking about that. What a tragic way to whittle away the waning years of a life.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Business or Pleasure?

Three hours at the beach today. 82 degrees outside. Getting a tan. Swimming in the ocean. This doesn't quite feel like work.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Off to Florida

I've never been to Florida, but I am going there tomorrow for 10 days with the swim team. Traveling with 50 other people usually isn't a grand time, but after that is all over it will be a lot of fun to be there. 

The Death of the Bookstore

You should really buy that book at the sticker price in a local bookstore instead of buying it from some online retailer. If you don’t, next time you try to go to the bookstore it might be closed. Buying a used book for a cent or a dollar from an online retailer is to the publishing industry as downloading a song on Limewire is to the music industry. It is wreaking havoc.

Why all of this concern? I’ll tell you why. I read this article in the NY Times. There are many disturbing facts in it, but consider this:

Ms. Lesser is the publisher of The Threepenny Review, a literary journal. She lives in Berkeley, Calif., where, as it happens, there is no longer a large general interest bookstore. Cody’s, in its prime one of the country’s great stores, closed its last outlet in June. The Barnes & Noble store there also recently closed.

That’s amazingly sad. Borders is apparently on the rocks too. Book publishers and authors don’t see one cent of your money when you pay a dollar plus shipping and handling for a book online. I know, it is just too easy to steal now that you have the Internet, but please don’t.

*Update: Yeah, stealing is a little harsh. Certainly downloading a song from Limewire is illegal. After reading the Times article though, I felt like buying a used book for a dollar was in a sense stealing. I know it is not, but that's the word I used to emphasize a point.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Very Last First Time

I had to be one of the last people in my generation without an iPod. Not anymore. I just got my first iPod yesterday from Kate...an early birthday present. She wanted me to be able to take it to Florida on Tuesday. I will. Can't wait.

I am joining the swim team in a beard off. So, today being the third day without shaving, I decided to take a picture of myself. If I remember, I'll take a picture of myself everyday to eventually make a video at the end so I can watch my beard grow like a chia pet commercial. That could be really funny looking. The beard off runs from January 1 to February 25. Many swimmers aren't competing in the beard off. Some just can't grow beards, but the guys that are in have a month head start on me. I don't expect to catch up by any means, but by February 25th I should have a decent covering. 

Deep thought...I am that guy in Starbucks with the Mac, but I am not writing poetry. 

Friday, January 02, 2009

Green Transportation

...in Milwaukee.

Israel vs. Hamas

Emails between myself and a friend in Israel tend to increase in frequency whenever that region of the world falls into another spat of increased violence, or with this most recent violence, war. I am typically checking in on him to get his take on things. And he sometimes sends me links to pictures, videos, or stories that are in high circulation in Israel.

He sent me a video a few days ago. I encourage you to go watch it.

http://www.aish.com/movies/15seconds.asp

I wrote back and asked him if he thinks Israel can destroy Hamas’ will, and desire for the destruction of Israel, with this continual bombardment, and apparently now, a brief, ground invasion to take out the leaders of Hamas.

He believes Israel’s bombardment of Gaza will weaken Hamas and that Israel will likely move troops into Gaza to take out important figures in Hamas leadership.

I remain very skeptical of Israel’s actions because I don’t think it will destroy the will of Hamas and other organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel. I see it weakening Hamas but also stoking the fires of other terrorist groups, possibly leading to another intifada with increased missile attacks and suicide bombings.

But where I get hung up is when I consider Israel’s alternatives. They have certainly put up with many attacks without full on retaliatory war, more than most nations can say; including the U.S. Does Israel not retaliate? Do they seek a path to peace through diplomacy? Again, it is hard to imagine any modern nation having the patience for diplomacy in such a conflict. Although in my mind I wish leaders of the world’s powers and armies would have such patience, I know in my heart if a terrorist organization, committed to the destruction of the U.S., was firing missiles into the country from Canada I would fully support some sort of retaliation if there was no end in sight. I think 90% of the country would.

I think western media outlets tend to really push stories about the Israeli offensive when the collateral damage is, in the eyes of many, unacceptable, pushing the meme that when a modern, civilized country cannot defend itself without killing women and children it is an outrage. But when Hamas fires wave after wave of rockets into Israeli towns with the goal of killing anyone and anything it is just the way of the world, people will always hate Israel. Am I; is Israel, supposed to resign themselves to that supposed truth? I can’t blame Israel for not.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Deep Thought

Many people dropped the ball in 2008.


*I admit I did not come up with this blog title. Copied from a series of posts at TPM.