Sunday, January 22, 2006

I Look Straight at What's Coming Ahead and Soon its Gonna Change in a New Direction, Every Night as I'm Falling Asleep, These Words Repeated in My Butt

I am a pretty generally healthy person, generally just meaning that I am rarely sick. Thursday night, however, I became about as ill as I likely get in a given year. I was reading this hilarious series of articles about erotic video games and all of a sudden felt like I was going to pass out. I was admittedly laughing pretty hard at the description of Beat ‘Em and Eat ‘Em but the fact that I was bed ridden for the next 30 odd hours makes me think it wasn’t just that. Regardless, after drinking a two liter of Sprite, watching Ocean’s Twelve, and annoying Katie with my requests for soda and water, I am in much better condition and continue the TC recap.

--Lambeau Field: It certainly was far from a dream season for the Pack attack in 2005, but even a 3-12 game against the number 1 seed in the NFC is an NFL excursion at the greatest stadium in the history of sports. My dad and I got up at 5 in the morning, giving me a approximately 3 hours of sleep to deal with 4 bottles of champagne. I was not wide awake, to say the least, but 3-4 Diet Red Bulls kept me in the swing of things for most of the ride. We made great time, went to Kroll’s for a brat and a beer, before heading to the game. I bought a really spiffy new hat (technically, my dad bought it) and have actually never had a black Packer’s cap before. The game was really fun to watch, the crowd was full and in good spirits, and the Packers, though not playing a team that had much to worry about, came through strong. Brett through a touchdown, which was fun to watch after 3-4 weeks of nothing.

My dad and I came into the game confident that number four was coming back. It just didn’t seem likely that he would leave on this low a note and all. The entire NorthEastern section of Wisconsin always explodes when they announce the quarterback from Southen Mississippi, but it was potentially even more significant that day. When it was all said and done, when the Packers got the ball back to end the game, Sherman pulled Brett and the ovation was deafening. It went on for several minutes, everyone in Green Bay on their feet, and while that doesn’t prove anything, Brett made a bigger deal than I would usually expect. He was waving and playing to the crowd on his way off the field, which really made me question if he was leaning the other way. The fact that they ditched Sherman not more than 20 hours after the end of the game seemed odd to me as well.

Anyway, we saw my Grandma for a while, and she was doing alright. We had dinner with her and talked for a couple hours before crashing at the casino/hotel that evening. I won 50 some dollars playing craps and left early the next morning, using a couple more Diet Red Bulls (potentially my new favorite thing) to make the drive home.

--Texas: We were home from Lambeau about 10:30, which meant I was able to get 2:30 hours sleep/bowl game watching before heading to the airport via Katie’s rents. Our flight to Dallas was uneventful, though Katie and I weren’t able to sit next to each other (I guess that’s what you get flying on January 2nd). DFW airport is, literally, the worst location in the entire world. It is much less an airport than it is a randomly organized series of buildings linked by an incoherently labeled and arranged set of roads and ramps that connect them. The rental car facility is about 3-5 miles away from the terminals, even worse than that at Logan. It took us over an hour from the time our plane landed to get our luggage, get to the rental joint, and get back to the terminals with the cars. I got to drive a Durango, which I ended up really enjoying. It sucks gas like an urban myth about Alanis Morissette, but it’s a hella comfy ride.

The first tournament was at North Texas and it gets my Diet Red Bull award for best debate tournament in Texas that I have ever attended. I believe that every round was contained in 3ish floors of a single building. The judging was pretty good all around, there were some pretty entertaining debates, I got 3 of them off, and the food was pretty impressive (pretty impressive being the average of really shitty breakfast and really incredible lunch). I even got home in time to see both of the BCS games that occurred on the evenings of prelims. The neighborhood around the university was chweet, little bars and shops that seemed totally out of place for a Northern suburb of Dallas. We had some success all around, especially considering that many of our teams moved up for the first half of the swing. It was a great tournament, they should’ve done it twice.

Especially considering that the second tournament kind of bit it. I mean, the food was still aight (way better breakfast, way worse lunch on one day, almost as good the other) but the tournament was spread randomly across one of the least interesting campuses I have ever seen. Most of the open rounds were in two buildings which were nowhere near each other and the JV debates were literally across the campus from both of them, all of which were at least a 10 minute walk from the food/meeting place. The tournament treated the JV kids like they were more a nuisance than anything else, and since 5 of our 6 teams were there, it kinda pissed me off. We still had a decent tournament, clearing in open and winning the novice breakout.
Even more interesting than the debating in Texas was the food. I sampled four different barbecue joints, Coulter’s, Rudy’s, Sonny Bryant’s, and Spring Creek. Coulter’s was my personal fave, though Sonny Bryant’s had pretty solid pulled pork as well. Spring Creek had some smoked sausage that was off the hook, but their sauce paled in comparison. I know my proclivities towards pork make me biased towards East Coast ‘cue, but I can respect the brisket and none of these joints disappointed. I was surprised by the generally low quality BBQ beans, at which I expected Tejas to excel, but still.

The hamburgers were also really really good. I ate at Whataburger (my first time) Jack in the Box (been there, but awesome) and Sonic (about 4 times, cuz whoa damn do I love Sonic). Seriously, everything about that place is awesome. The ordering is better than a drive-thru, the jalapeno cheeseburger is phat, the cream pie shakes are the nutz, and the ability to get tater tots instead of fries-wow. This doesn’t even get in to the supersonic breakfast burrito or the Cherry Limeades, but suffice to say I would very rarely eat at any other fast food joint in the event that my hometown featured a Sonic.

Hippo is all over me about going to play on the new sheets we got with her catnip bubbles, so I will have to continue with the Sixth Floor Museum later.



Sunday, January 15, 2006

Come and Get Your Butt

This is Hippo's last picture at my Dad's house during the Winter of 2005. She found a number of interesting little spots to lay in over the course of the month or so that we were back in town, most notably the Christmas village, which is well illustrated over at our new and deluxe Fickr site. I'm not going to attempt to bore you with the excessive details of the world since December 10th-ish. But I will supply the highlights:

--Blake: Tournament was good, hanging was fun. We had dinner with Karly and Kari on Thursday night at The King and I, one of the several high quality Thai dinners we enjoyed back in the land where Thai food doesn't suck. I bought Andy a birthday card at the Rainbow joint by the SuperAmerica and I would claim that it is the best birthday card ever purchased by anyone. If he wouldn't have briefly lost it, I think that showing it to Doobs would have been the coolest thing ever. This year's dinner for the Round Robin beat the hell out of last year's, seeing as I a) did not sprain my ankle and b) there was enough of some really good food. The fajitas were yummy and it contained the best mass produced flan I can possibly imagine. Debates were also good, I got to watch a high quality team from Greenhill, a woman with alot of potential and a cool argument from LeMars, and how can I forget the FOUR CONSECUTIVE DEBATES WHERE I JUDGED ROSEMOUNT LL. It was legitimately hilarious when they selected me to judge them in both rounds 3 and 4, though not nearly as funny as LaZ0r catching a pop tart in his mouth.

--Family: We spent a good amount of time with both our families. We were staying at my dad's, jobviously, and crashed at Katie's parents on Christmas eve and a couple other times. We had coffee and hung with my mom and Deb several times, it was weird to be at the house and see Chewie without Geezer around, but I was happy mom didn't have to worry about covering the couches with sheets quite so much. We saw both of our sisters a couple times, but my bro, of course, was occupied with monkies and the like in Lobpuri. I got to talk to him a couple times, a surprise call on Christmas morning (night for him) and Andy's brilliant decision to call him on the cell phone on New Year's Eve. I haven't gotten the update on how much taht call cost, but it was nice that the gang got to say hello.

--Christmas: I'm not going to go off on the joys of the Holdiay, the spirit of the season encompassed by friends and family, gathered together around the tree, the fire, the presents, the goose, etc. Those things were all true, well not so much the goose, but nonetheless. Even beyond the joys of being with Katie, with our parents, etc. Christmas has two connotations to me: 1) Hippo, who we met for the first time last Christmas eve 2) beef. Thats right: beef. We had four different types of steak over the two days that encompass the holiday. Prime rib, to kick things off at Paula's, where we also watched the NFL schedule on an enormous television and ate alot of some high quality apps. Most notable: shrimp cocktail, puff pastry filled with gruyere and proscuitto, and the greatest appetizer of all time, Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts. Dinner also featured the garlicy-delicious potatoes that Paula will always be famous for and a Stilton sauce for the meat, a requested repeat of last winter, that was wonderful. I should note the one negative aspect of Christmas eve, which was that I fell, attempting to stop one of the dogs from burying a drippy beef bone in a white sofa. Of course my attempt to save the sofa resulted in the half glass of wine I was carrying crashing to the floor, but I have been told that all signs have vanished. My leg was also a bit messed up for the remainder of the evening.

We waited just long enough to eat again and had some delightful fondue Kauf-style. The cheese was probably better than it has ever been and wow was there alot of it. The beef was similarly exciting, especially since the crazies can cook it as dark as they want while I still get it perfectly rare. The salad would be exceptional with any other meal, but it still deserves mention, since it features both bacon and eggs on spinach. Yumm. Everybody got presents they enjoyed, there were tasty beverages for all, and I still got to sleep at a reasonable hour. Had an impossible time finding a mass on Christmas morning, which, in case you were wondering, did in fact piss me off. As luck would have it, however, that was the time I got the call from my brother and had a very nice 10 minute convo. We had Christmas lunch, more steak, supplemented by a yummy pork roast, and a batch of Twice Baked Potatoes that were fabulous. Dinner was again in St. Paul, the final excellent piece of beef for the evening. This one was also perfectly cooked and served with a horseradish sauce that I could eat on an old shoe. There was also a potato mushroom gratin that I was too full to appreciate and some green onion cheddar popovers that I am without question going to replicate.

--New Year's: There were a couple of different adjectives we played around with to describe the NYE celebration that occurred to ring in 2006. There was "intimate" "calm" and "buttsex" among others, each was incredily accurate. It was still a hella good time, I drank 4 bottles of Champagne, smoked a cigar, and enjoyed the company of the men and women still in town. There were a number of familiar faces we missed that night, Wilking and Jen (who for some lame reason decided to celbrate in Galena), my bro and Melia (who for some lame reason decided not to fly home from Thailand), and Sanjay (who for some lame reason did not come home at all from Eugene). There are pictures on our Flickr of that occasion as well, sponsored by Andy J. If you were curious as to why so many of those pictures were of Kevin sitting in the corner, the basic answer is this: I was trying to steal his soul, which apparently, cameras can do. I couldn't find the "extract soul" mode, so I just went with "portrait." I think it worked out well.

Hippo wants everyone to know that, despite not having updated in a month, I should not attempt to overdue it. Instead, I should fill up her food dish. I think this is largely a self-serving decision on the behalf of my persian, but nonetheless, I obey.