Monday, November 30, 2009

The Three Seashells

A week late, but not a dollar short. Last Tuesday night with everyone in the city having a half-day of work the next morning, we took full advantage of bar specials that were available. The evening started at the DMK Burger Bar, #162. This new burger hotspot brought to you by the proprietors of the MK and Morton’s just opened up down the street. The Internet Celebrity Baumer joined us for the christening of this establishment. The menu includes amazing burgers, tasty sides, and a plethora of American craft beers (sorry for those of you fans of the Holy Trinity in Bud, Coors, or Miller products). The burgers were quite good, not necessarily at Kuma’s level, but definitely above The Counter. Kyle and I both devoured our green chili and fried egg concoction, while Baumer took down the house special. Overall this place is great, but the only downside being the cliental of the bar. This place is a little too scenester for me, as I’d enjoy a more laid back atmosphere. Fortunately we only had a 20 minute wait as I’ve heard available tables can already take 90 minutes on the weekend.

Next on the chopping block for the three of us was Fly Me to the Moon, #163. We get word that Halljams would rather watch Ghost Dad on HBO and New Moon for the fourth time instead of hanging out with us. He has pretty much written himself out of the top 5 leaderboard, and given his extreme lameness in the last two months, he’s going to be lucky if he cracks the top 10. Including the three of us, we made up 50% of people in this piano/wine bar, with the other three being the maître d', the pianoman and the bartender/cook. Baumer and I enjoy a nice chianti, while Kyle for some reason orders a martini. Time went by extremely slow here as our only forms of entertainment were the bickering between the teenage maître d' and the bartender. Baumer gave the pianoman two bucks to play the theme from Chariots of Fire, but he barely spoke a lick of English and we only heard music from Casablanca. This also marks the big 50 of the number bars Baumer has joined us at. Salud.

The third and final destination is the Underground Lounge, #164. Jeremy and Jen meet us for some amazing Tuesday night specials. We enjoy a couple import and craft beers while watching Demolition Man on TV. We failed to use the three seashells and receive no demerits this evening. We debate the hotness of Sandra Bullock and the downward spiral of Wesley Snipes career/life. This is definitely a bar we look forward to come back to in 2010. In order to still make it to work the next morning, we call it an evening here.

More updates are still to come. Kyle still needs to update the evening that included the “incident” when Grant was in town. We also crossed 7 more bars off the list this past weekend, along with some shifting among the podium stand. The current list has 14 bars within the mile radius left, and I’m sure some will conquered this weekend, so keep your ears open about when and where.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Can Lose the Wings, but I'll Need the Guitar

The 3rd Annual post-Thanksgiving Road Trip CD-Mix Challenge

Every year my family drives from Indianapolis to Columbus, OH, (and back) on the day after Thanksgiving (while there we celebrate a sort of "extended family Thanksgiving"). 2 years ago my younger brother and I decided we'd like to control the audio selection for the drive, so we came up with the following contest:
He and I each create a cd of music that my mother has never heard before. After each song she has to score the songs from 1-5 (5 is the highest score, half points are allowed). My older brother puts all entries in random order, and replaces any duplicate songs with a track of his choosing. The idea being that when the song is played, neither my younger brother or I will know that the other selected the same song until the entire contest is over and final totals are summed. Duplicated tracks don't count in the final scoring. Highest Average at the end of all tracks is the winner.
This year we added a new rule -- one "throwaway" song that we each include that wouldn't be added to the final scoring...just to mess with mom & dad.

Results from 2009 as follows (K - my songs; G - Grant's songs; G/K - collision songs; A - older brother's replacement tracks), Mom's comments in italics:

1. The Hott Chord Is Struck - Still Flyin - G, 4.5
(during the intro): "I don't like the bass levels up that high...not the song's fault." (levels are adjusted) I enjoyed that song, I'm glad the very 1st song was one I enjoyed. It's such a pressure filled ride."

2. 16th & Valencia Roxy Music - Devendra Banhart - G, 3.5
"Umm...I just can't think up comments for all these songs."
Hilarity follows as this is just the second track and that comment has come out already.

3. Jiggery Pokery - The Duckworth Lewis Method - K's Throwaway Song, 3.5
Mom made a goofy face during the beginning, there was a lot of laughter. "I spent the entire song thinking up comments. I admire the imagination and bravery of whoever picked that song. Was that from a musical?"

4. Five Years Time - Noah and The Whale - K/G - 4
"That was a fun song! I could easily understand the words."

5. Everyday - Vetiver - G - 5
"So far that was my favorite song. I'm giving it a 5! It was enjoyable, and Dad was tapping his fingers on the steering wheel."

6. When They Fight, They Fight - Generationals - K/G - 4.5
"The beat and the rhythm were good, parts sounded like a 50's song."

7. Happy Birthday You - Jay Jay Pistolet - K - 4.5
"I liked the music, the beat, and the words."
At this point I note that this may be the highest scoring CD ever. I spoke far too soon.

8. All The Difference - Red Cortez - G - 3
"This song needed more words besides 'Sittin on a Fence'."

9. Young Adult Friction - Pains of Being Pure at Heart - G - 3
"..." "I'm trying to come up with a word. When loud parts were on I couldn't understand the vocals." Dad: "The music overwhelmed the words."

10. I Can See The Pines Are Dancing - AA Bondy - A - 5
"This might be my new favorite. I'd have to listen to the other 5 again to be sure.

11. French Navy - Camera Obscura - G - 3
"I liked the music more than the singing. There was too much repetition in the lyrics."

12. Girlfriend - Phoenix - G - 3
"It was ok, I liked the rhythm. I have the same comment about the music being better than the singing.

13. Conductor - We Were Promised Jetpacks - K - 2.5
"At first I thought it would be my least favorite, but it grew on me a little bit. I don't like those songs where you think they're going to end. If you're dancing to that, what do you do?" Dad: "It was the song that wouldn't go away."

14. Bandit Queen - Colin Meloy - K - 2.5
"It started out with a lot of promise and went downhill from there. The whistling part was poor. Gauchos in Colorado? I didn't like the part where she had 9 fingers." Kyle: The whistling part was supposed to be poor.

15. Awake My Soul - Mumford & Sons - A - 2
"There's another song I don't like." Dad: "I think that was Grant's pick."
Note: This song was played in last year's CD challenge, as an entry from me. Adam's record keeping isn't the greatest and he chose it as a replacement song for one of the duplicates. Last year, Mom gave it a 3.

16. Old Old Fashioned - Frightened Rabbit - K - 2.5
"Well, that's kind of and old fashioned song. It was OK."

***switch to disk 2***

17. Inspiration Information - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - K - 2
"I thought I was going to like that song, but I didn't. The words made no sense to me."

18. We'll See The Sun - Houses - K - 2
"Too long, too slow, too moany. Two."

19. Crosshairs - Scott Lucas and the Married Men - K - 3.5
"An improvement! I understood the words and liked the music."

20. Me and the Major - Belle & Sebastian - G - 3
"Too much harmonica near the end. I liked the beginning better."

21. 40 Day Dream - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - G - 4
"Not sure why I liked that song but I did."

22. Santa Catalina (26 Miles) - Dent May and his Magnificent Ukelele - K - 5
Immediately after the song starts Mom & Dad start singing along to every word. My fault for not doing the research to find out this was a cover of a late 50's song from The Four Preps. The score would be thrown out, but everyone enjoyed it.

23. Lights and Music - Cut Copy - G's Throwaway Song - 3
"That sounded like the 80's, like disco music."

24. Let's Fall Back In Love - Slow Club - K - 3
"How many people are singing that song? It sounds like a Sunday School song."

25. Wait For Me - Jamie Lidell - G - 4
"I liked that song, I liked the rhythm, I liked the words."

26. Dream City - Free Energy - G - 4.5
"I liked both the words and music, I almost started singing along." Dad: "I've heard that song on Grant's radio show before."

27. Hysteric - Yeah Yeah Yeahs - K - 3
"I couldn't tell if the whistling at the end of the song was from the back seat or on the song. I guess it was entertaining."

28. The Privateers - Andrew Bird - K - 2.5
"What was that song about? I don't want your health insurance? I thought he said he didn't want fire insurance either."

29. Never Had Nobody Like You - M. Ward - K/G - 4.5
"That was like a mix of Elvis and the Beatles. That's all I have to say."

30. Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin' - Mayer Hawthorne - G - 5
"Mo-townish song...someone knew I'd love that one."

31. Casanova, Baby! - The Gaslight Anthem - K - 3
"I thought the music overwhelmed the lyrics a little."

32. Oh, Paris! - Dent May and his Magnificent Ukelele - G - 3
"Again, I liked the music more than the singing or the words."

Results:
Grant wins again, continuing his undefeated 3-year streak. He has 12 songs that average 3.79, I have 11 songs averaging a 2.77 (the lowest score ever).
The songs that are thrown out because we both picked them scored 4, 4.5, and 4.5
My Dent May selection, also thrown out because they had heard it before, scored a 5.
Adam's 3 songs score 2, 3, and 5, with the 5 possibly being Mom's favorite.

Notes:
Scottish singers and human dismemberment don't result in good scores. Mom doesn't like false endings, or whimsical subject matters. She also thinks this is the most pressure-filled car ride she takes every year because she has to come up with comments on every song.
My throwaway song outscored Grant's, but we'll have to come up with a new "twist" rule for next year because they'll be expecting throwaways.
After the first year, it was Grant's job to come up with a trophy that would go to the winner. As he hasn't lost yet, he hasn't bothered to create the trophy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reader Submission

An email we've received (from Chuck, who currently sits in 2nd):

I just caught up on the last couple EBONY posts and I take particular issue with a comment you made about me:

"A couple of us in the crowd had a Bud Light Golden Wheat as a taste test. If I had to guess who, my money would be on Chuck and Sefly, the lovers of the nastiest beer on earth – Coors Light."

I take issue not because you claim I love the nastiest beer on earth, because your opinions on Coors Light have every right to be voiced in a forum such as the EBONY blog (and they are just that - opinions). I would note that my preference for Coors Light is simply over Miller Lite (slightly), and a landslide over Bud Light. It is simply my choice of beers when quantities will be high and it makes the most sense for the evening to stick to light beers. That said, Coors, while being my beverage of choice when light cheap beer is the theme of the night, it would likely not break my top 200 beers if I were to sit down and rank them. Again, I do not take issue in the Coors comment. My beef is assuming that I would go for a Bud Light Golden Wheat because of that. I never, by my own motivation, drink Bud product. It just tastes much worse than most other cheap light beers. It sits in the horrible category with Busch Light, Old Milwaukee, and Heinekin. There are occassions, of course, where I will drink it such as the Beer Mile (mandated brand, also possibly why I suck at it), or if at a keg party, the keg is Bud Light - I will be drinking it but you can count on a few under-my-breath comments lamenting it's inferior taste. Of course, I am not a huge beer snob (occassional to part-time snob, maybe) so I will willingly (if eagerly) take a Bud from a bud(dy) who bought a round of Buds for the group, but when my turn to buy comes around - I'm not getting Bud.

As I've gotten further into my objection, I realized that I am taking subject with your opinion based primarly on my opinion about Bud. It feels much more that an opinion in my head and in my heart, but truly, that is all that it is. Given that I now accept your opinion on Coors Light as only yours, but that you also use it to bury Bud even further than Coors, I take less issue.

Hell, forget it all - no hard feelings. Next time we're out I'll buy you a delicious Eleanor Roosevelt*, or even a Bud.



*Eleanor Roosevelt, aka Edmund Fitzgerald, aka Illinois ~~something~~ (i don't quite recall what Broseph misheard it as)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Into the Mirror

Just a minor maintenance update today. With Grant in town last weekend, we crossed seven more local bars off the list last Thursday night. It was definitely a fun night out, but the ending was quite a buzzkill which involved Chicago’s finest. Kyle should post a full recap on this evening in the near future. Looking towards the end of 2009 in accomplishment of our goal, I believe there are still 25ish bars left to conquer. With the holiday season around the corner, we’ll need to pull off some mad dashes in the coming Thursday thru Saturday nights to meet our end goal. Unfortunately there will be no EBONY fun this weekend with Kyle hitting up the Rogue brewery in PDX, and me heading down to the cultural hotbed of central Indiana to view some XC action. Put in your requests now for which of the remaining bars you want to tackle with us. We’d like to make the last month extra special. We are also looking for recommendations for end of the year accomplishment party, please leave us some feedback on where this event should be hosted? Should it be the very last bar we visit (if so, which should be leave available?), or should it be the best bar we visited all year? Our ears are open.

Remaining local watering holes:
Berlin (Baumer, I’m looking in your direction)
Bernie’s
Bobby Love’s
Bordos
Bridget McNeill’s
Charlie’s
Draft Tavern (replacing Mix, but still not open)
Elbo Room
F O’Mahoney’s
Fly Me to the Moon
Full Schilling
Galway Bay
GFK Burger Bar
Joe’s on Broadway
Kingston Mines (Chuck, this is you)
Las Fuentes (still open?)
Nisei Lounge
North End
Ole Lounge
Rockit
Rockwood Place
The Rockhouse
Tryst
Underground Lounge

Update on the EBONY Friends Rankings, those in podium contention:
Baumer – 48 (the gold is clinched)
Chuck – 22 (battle for the 907 crown)
Broseph – 21
Selfy – 20
Annie – 19
Hall – 19 (weak lately)
Chenoweth – 17 (too slow)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rocktober

With the recent bout of laziness on our parts, I thought I’d try to get the ball rolling and sum up the end of October. This is a more difficult task than I envisioned when I came up with the idea a mere 15 minutes ago in line getting food at our lovely Café 300. On back-to-back evenings we closed out four bars in Halloween fashion. Memories are grim, but I’m willing to bet I won’t return to any of these new establishments in the near future. One place I cannot wait to return to though is Late Night Thai, what an amazing concept. You open a joint right at the hub of Belmont/Ashland and cater the drunken masses only between the hours of 9PM and 3AM. Bravo Thailand.

Halloween Eve marked the return to guys night out. After a brief hiatus, the crew of Selfy, Chuck, Broseph, Eickhoff and the newly appointed Chicago Chapter member, Morris, met us to make up for lost time. The evening started at a solid dive bar that goes by the name of the Side Street Saloon, #151. We’ve tried to visit the saloon a couple times in the past, but for whatever reason when we came by, it was closed. I have suspicion in coming here because the last time we walked by, we saw a sticker in the window of Cubs cartoon character urinating on the Sox logo. A couple of us in the crowd had a Bud Light Golden Wheat as a taste test. If I had to guess who, my money would be on Chuck and Sefly, the lovers of the nastiest beer on earth – Coors Light. We don’t stay long as we have tickets to catch ‘Bye Bye Liver’ at Fizz. The drinking game/play is what we expected, even with Eickoff getting called out for not knowing the song in “name that tune.” Most of the excitement happens after the play when a chick dressed as Wonder Women tries her damndest to make an in with our group. As Derek would say, she’s looking to go to pound town. She never did find this pound town, even though Morris led her on a wild goose chase that comprised of many drinks (for himself, and others in our group) at her expense, constant badgering and teasing, and even a free cab ride home that left her as puzzled as Brent training for a marathon in the back of the cab. The quote of the night: “Who are you here with?”

In the middle of this excitement, we also visited The Shire, #152 along the way. Kyle randomly meets up with some friends as we listen to the smooth jazz sound of one of my high school track teammates playing the sax in a group that sounds remarkably similar to Jamiroquai. The evening concluded with the previously mentioned Late Night Thai. Amazing.

Halloween afternoon started with some pre-gaming at our place. A group of us walked on down to Boytown with our book bags full of street booze to consume as we watched the Halloween parade go down Halsted. Many amazing and maybe inappropriate costumes were there for the showing. Maybe one day we’ll see some of the pictures from Derek, who seems to bring his camera to all gatherings we have in Boystown. After Annie shows up I finish my bottle of sangria, Kyle downs an extra beer, and we head to the L&L with Baumer’s crew. After a few here we head to some new bars. We visit Jacqueline’s, #153 and Rocks Lakeview, #154 amidst a few house parties (one’s we were invited to, and one’s we crashed IU style) and a blurry/unknown bar we randomly ran into Costello at. From this, I only remember a really obnoxious Iowa fan (go figure), the 3 Amigo’s dancing, a really old dog named Roy, drinking jungle juice, and seeing Tobias Funke on my stumble home. Kyle tops this by walking in to Trader Todd’s and immediately sings ‘Hero’ in his Enrique costume. Awesome.

That was 20 minutes well spent, back to running correlations.

Empty Post of Nothing

sorry, we've got a lot of catching up to do. We'll try to do that in the next week. Recaps needed for:
October 30th
October 31st
November 12th
November 14th

We've got about 25 bars left. Tentatively planning a formal bar crawl on 12/19 to cross the last remaining stragglers off the list. You're all coming along and you know it.

In the meantime...COLTS!


(thanks Dad for the picture)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Home Of The Hypocrite

The Duke of Perth, #148, is an institution. Well, I don’t really know that. Maybe it’s not an institution. They have all you can eat fish & chips (& PEAS) on both Wednesday and Friday nights. Always. That’s not a seasonal special or a “throw this on the menu so we can get rid of it”-thing, it’s something that is etched into their being.

We chose the busier of those two available nights for dinner and drinks at the DOP, and the 3 of us had to wait about 15 minutes for a table in the crowded bar area. Three of us, as Rick and I are joined by my French-Canadian hockey & music-loving journalist friend Raphael. Raphael claims to be an excellent writer, here’s his webpage. I say “claims” because he writes in French. I have no way of proving if this writing is any good, but he seems to write a lot, and other people seem to write in French on his Facebook page quite a bit too, so we’ll just take his word for it. He’s moving back to Montreal before the end of the month, that’s too bad.

The fish is good -- of course it is! They use PBR for the beer batter. There are no vulgar displays of eating tonight, which is rare when I’m at the table. I don’t think any of us get further than a 4th fish. I don’t have my notebook on me, so I can’t tell you what beers we were drinking. I know mine was dark.

That’s it for bars on 10/23. I then joined Raphael at the Metro to see Airborne Toxic Event. Prior to the show, weeks ago, when I didn’t even know this show was on my calendar, a friend and I discussed this band and decided their material was radio-friendly but incredibly overwrought. Not nearly at Meatloaf levels of overwrought (MY EMOTIONS ARE ALL HYPERBOLE!), but maybe at teenage-first-love I’ve-never-expressed-my-feelings-before and here’s-how-strong-they-are levels. Actually, those two might be reversed in terms of extremes…nevermind. You get what I’m saying, they’re not at either of those heights, but man, when they sing something, THEY MEAN IT.

So anyway. The band plays their intro song, mostly instrumental. Then they play another song I recognize from the album. Then the cover The Drifters' “This Magic Moment”, which is probably one of the 50 greatest songs ever written, and they do a good job. Of course they do a good job, they MEAN IT, and this song is about MEANING IT. I also begin to notice a recurring theme in their music, aside from MEANING IT, is that they write songs about drinking. I’m a fan of those. The show progresses, and eventually after more songs about drinking, covers of Morrisey, Springsteen, and the Jim Carroll Band, I decide these guys are actually pretty good live. So, maybe go see them if you like that kind of thing. They exceeded expectations, especially if your expectation is a 1.6 and you didn’t pay for a ticket. Damn it. I wrote this entire entry before actually reading that 1.6 review for the first time and see that Ian Cohen emphasized how they “mean it” before I thought of it. Guess that’s why he’s a writer and I just recap drinking. I shake my fist in unmasked admiration at you, Ian.

Tuesday, 10/27 – Rick and I meet the recently re-motivated Halljams at The Spread, #149. It’s a pit stop for dinner before our first visit to the recently opened Lincoln Hall down the street. The Spread used to be a classier restaurant, now it’s a standard upscale bar. Apps are ½ off, we order a lot of them -- Veggie Quesadillas, Slidersx2, Chicken Tenders, Fries, and whatever Halljams ordered (Mac Snacks?).

Our conversation topic turns to marathons…specifically Boston and New York. Nearly all of the OMTC has now signed up for Boston in April, so I’m looking forward to finishing EBONY’s 2009 mission and getting some serious winter training going. New York, being only a few weeks away at the time, and this past weekend as of this writing, turned out to be one glorious day for US men’s distance running. Meb Keflezighi takes the title wearing his USA jersey, the first American man to win NYC since 1982. 6 other Americans finish in the top 10. This inspires both Rick and I to sign up for Boston immediately after watching the race on television.
Some idiot writers in the press and online seem to have decided that since Meb wasn’t born in the US, his win doesn’t really count as American Victory. I won’t bother linking to those articles because they already don’t deserve the online traffic spikes they’ve been seeing due to their outrageous claims. Really though, America, Meb’s family moved here when he was 12 years old. He proudly wears his USA jersey in most events. He is a product of American Distance Running. He has represented our country in the Olympics. He trains with American coaches and other American athletes. He’s been an American citizen since 1998. It wouldn’t matter to me if he became an American citizen last week. Seems like some in our society only know how to connect with a person or appreciate a story when they look like you, talk like you, have the same background as you, and meet whatever high standards you require in order for them to represent and stand under the same title and flag you wave – because the standards and regulations upheld by the USCIS apparently aren’t good enough for you. Their views are full of crap. I guess we’ve got fringe everywhere now, and the problem with the internet age is that increasingly the ideas of the fringe are given status larger than that of a soapbox on a street corner. America is...

I digress. Marsden joins us at The Spread as we get our bill, and we move down to Lincoln Hall, #150. It’s a great place for such a nice round number. Fittingly for both Rick and I, the 150th bar we’ve crossed of our list this year is a music hall serving great beer and showcasing excellent music. Tonight’s lineup has friends of the gregarious Halljams, The Prairie Cartel, up first, followed by The Smith Westerns and Neon Indian. Neon Indian's show is billed as “their first in Chicago”, but faithful readers will know that EBONY saw them perform in our fair city just 1.5 months ago. Marsden has a beer with us, so he officially joins the very long list of supporters who have shared a pint and taken part on our journey this year.

The Cartel is great, as expected, although the size of the room and the mix of the band leave a little something to be desired. I want the bass and general noise to shake the room and everything in it. It’s just not quite loud enough. Hope they get this figured out for future shows (both the Cartel and Lincoln Hall). I couldn’t begin to describe the Smith Westerns, we spent their set in the front room drinking. Neon Indian was as expected, same show as before in the loft-space, just with more indie-kids and blogosphere readers in attendance this time around. Not a bad set, but as a Prairie Cartel member put it, “You’ll just spend the set trying to figure out if the girl is hot and the 2 guys are brothers.”

Until next time (next time being the post that includes 2 nights of our ridiculous halloween weekend). Would you dance, if I asked you to dance?