The Windy City

V was in Chicago for a conference, so I met up for the best part of the week.

10 September: Flying to Chicago was uneventful.  After meeting up at the hotel, we checked out this vegetarian chain called Native Foods Cafe.  If all I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-meat was like this, I could eat it every day.

11 September: First full day in Chicago.  We first went through Grant Park to see Buckingham Fountain and the big bean… I mean Cloud Gate.  A stroll along the Magnificent Mile gawking at the shops and shoppers.

Arrived just in time for our lunch appointment at The Dining Room at Kendall College, which is the restaurant run by the students of the culinary school.  We both had the prix fixe lunch and more or less ordered duck wherever it appeared on the menu.  My starter was the best scallop I’ve ever had.  The duck entree was so tender and tasty.  My dessert made of a trio of savory ice creams (cayenne, buttermilk, and basil?) in tomato soda was… weird.  I posted a bunch of pictures to my G+.

On the walk back we stopped in the Chicago Cultural Center and I tried to use the Android photo sphere but it didn’t quite turn out how I wanted.  We then hit up the Navy Pier and got a real Chicago hot dog at Portillo’s (there was more stuff on the hot dog than there was dog).

We had tickets to The Book of Mormon.  It is hilarious and extremely irreverent.  We capped the night by getting some guac while we figured out what to do the next day.  It had been a hot day, and I had been walking around in a collared shirt all day, so I was looking forward to less walking and more indoor stuff.

12 September: Our first target was the Pleasant House Bakery, which touted English-style meat pies and pasties.  Pie, mash, peas, HB sauce, and a slice of treacle tart.

We then took a bus to Chinatown.  It apparently wasn’t market day as it was uncommonly not crowded for a Chinatown.  We then bused + walked to Little Italy, where we stopped in a cafe.  Then we walked to Greektown, where we didn’t stop.  We then walked to the Willis Tower (so much for not walking much today) before grabbing some mediterranean food that V really liked.

We wanted something quick because we wanted to get on the waiting list for Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  Luckily, several people had cancelled and we didn’t have to camp out at all.  We were among the first into the auditorium and got great seats in the third row.  WWDTM is… bawdier live than on air.  They cut out the more off-color bits.  How’s that for an incentive to see it live?  Afterward, I got a coffee mug to commemorate the evening.

13 September: Lunch was Pequod’s Pizzeria.  After finishing most of the (fried) appetizer sampler plate, I couldn’t quite finish the deep-dish Chicago pizza.  We walked to a funny little shop called Rotofugi.  We then walked to the Museum of Surgical Science, which I bet you haven’t heard of before.  It was interesting and about what it sounds like.

We walked (sense a pattern?) back to the Loop, stopping by a tea shop along the way (the vanilla Earl Grey was great, especially with all the sugar and milk they added).  For dinner, we got take out sushi, which we ate while watching some Poirot.  I also creamed V in a game of Stone Age.

14 September: Today we headed south, starting with lunch at the Nepal House for their lunch buffet.  I… overdid it a bit, not even leaving room for dessert, despite them having mango pudding.  But the food was really good.

We walked to the Field Museum campus, which is a really nice park area.  We strolled down to the aquarium and saw a couple wedding parties taking photos then back up to the Field Museum.  We went in but had to rush through a lot of it because there was more museum than there was time.  We got some more Native Foods Cafe for dinner because it was just that good.

15 September: Flew home and picked up bunny from the petsitters.

Development Arrested

So I’ve been rewatching Arrested Development while cooking and eating.  I finally ran out of season 3 this weekend and decided, what the heck, let’s watch season 4.  I was only going to pace myself, but I binged watched them over a couple days.  By the way, watching them while eating a chocolate dipped frozen banana (they were buy one get one free!) is the best way.

Season 4 is told in Rotating Protagonist style, each episode more or less following one character the whole time.  However, Arrested Development is also a farce.  The episodes follow the threads of characters and events as they weave, bounce off, and betray each other.  Each time we see a scene from a new perspective, we see a little more of the scene and a new twist.  The effect is that the season is a series of elaborately constructed brick jokes, and so you have to watch the full season to get many of those punchlines.  Season 4 is a magnificent feat of writing.  And I think it will bear rewatching to catch more gags that I missed.

There were a few running jokes I felt were run into the ground.  It’s sometimes hard to tell where continuity porn ends and beating a dead horse begins.  And there was a lot of continuity porn.

Spoiler alert: I think there’s two reasons people might not like season 4.  1) They didn’t watch the whole thing, and the episodes were meant to be watched together.

2) The structure of a farce is that it builds and builds, coincidences upon lies upon plots upon misunderstandings.  The payoff is to see the whole mess blow up in people’s faces.  While many threads do get resolved over the course of the season, there are a few big ones that are left loose.  Plot hooks for the movie, I guess.  It’s just that comedy is supposed to end with a big laugh, not what we got.