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Seattle 2009

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So, in a bit of a happy coincidence, I find myself back in Seattle on the 20th anniversary of Shadowrun.  Eric and I spent last night in Chicago and flew out here this morning, in preparation for the Penny Arcade Expo.  It's been about four years since I've been here, and it's Eric's first time taking a cross-country trip without the folks being involved, so it's a bit of a big deal.

Seattle's probably my favorite US city (at least, of those I've visited) -- I'm not sure why, entirely, but I know that as soon as we got on the shuttle to head to the hotel, I was probably in the best mood I've been in in weeks, if not months.  Of course, any sort of vacation might have had the same effect, but Seattle really is such a beautiful place -- green everywhere, and you can see the trees with all actual terrain, instead of it just being...well, flat.  It is easy to walk around and it seems to have a lot of character packed in a small space.

We just took it easy today (Eric was a little wiped out too), but we did do some walking around, just down to Pike's Place Market for lunch and dinner -- yeah, maybe a little touristy, but it's a really cool part of the city to me.  We had lunch at Bayou on First, a Cajun restaurant near the market which was kind of a little hole in the wall, but it was pretty good for what it was -- I had a gumbo that was pretty tasty on a day like today, which was cool and drizzly.  A little overpriced, maybe, but I sort of expected that for the area.  For dinner, we went to Matt's in the Market, which Eric picked out -- though he appeared to have missed the prices (something not to forget next time!).  On the other hand, I think mine was at least worth the $25 -- and that's something I wasn't sure about when I ordered, considering what it was: squid ink fettucine with chorizo-stuffed calamari and cherry tomatoes in what I think was a ginger sauce.  I wasn't sure when I ordered, but it ended up being amazing -- I guess it's hard to go wrong with chorizo, and the squid ink doesn't really flavor the noodles at all (but it makes it look pretty striking).  Eric took a picture, so when I can get it from him I'll stick that up for folks to see.

Tomorrow, Eric and I are heading out to Mt. Rainier for the day, which I'm really looking forward to.  But, it does mean a bit of an early day again -- it will be nice to take a bit of a breather on Thursday before going into full-on con mode.
Well, with less than two weeks now until I go to Iceland I realized that I am long overdue for posting again, especially since I've only posted a handful of times since getting back from Arizona.  It's not like nothing has been going either; Marc came down a couple weeks ago, and last weekend I went up to Chicago.

First off, as far as recovering from surgery goes, everything is going well on that front -- healing is going very nicely and I'm back at work again (unfortunately).  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything will be just fine while I'm away -- I admit that having some sort of horrible medical problem thousands of miles from home gives me the willies, but I realize how irrational that really is.

So what've I been up to for the last couple months?  I have to admit, a lot less than I'd hoped.  I did manage to do a fair bit of writing, but between taking care of things post-surgery and just generally feeling a bit of a malaise I probably squandered an opportunity to push through a lot of things I really should have.  I have continued to watch a lot of movies, and I'll try to post some short reviews in a bit.  Marc also got me to watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which I had never seen (it was good, obviously).

Last weekend, I went up to Chicago and Marc and I had dinner at Giordano's with Sam and Gracie on Friday.  Saturday, unfortunately, Marc had to do some work so we went downtown and I spent a few hours at a coffee shop doing some writing while he was working on his rollout.  I was surprised how much I got done really -- I think leaving myself disconnected from the internet actually got me to focus on my writing -- a trick I'll try to put to good use in the future.  I even managed to get back and work on some projects I had left a while back; I'm thinking that maybe this weekend I'll try heading out to in the morning and doing the same thing and see if I can't get more done.

After that, we went to have dinner at the Twin Anchors, which is, I gather, a bit of a Chicago institution.  It certainly had the crowd to match -- we had to wait about an hour and a half for a table, so we spent most of that time wandering around the neighborhood it's in, which is really pretty neat.  In addition to a beautiful cathedral -- the first real cathedral I think I've ever seen, as opposed to just a church (Edit: Evidently they call it a church, I'm not sure what actually makes a cathedral a cathedral) -- it had a lot of the kind of old architecture that I'd really like to live in someday, and the kind of neighborhood close to the heart of a city I'd like as well.

The restaurant was very good, though it is small and cramped.  Marc's ribs were probably the most tender I've ever had, and were very good (he let me have a few), though I can't speak for the sauce (I prefer my meat without sauces usually).  My steak wasn't mindblowingly spectacular, but it was pretty good, and the ambience at the place is pretty hard to beat.  It was evidently a big hangout for Frank Sinatra back in the day, and a ton of other celebrity photos and news clippings and other assorted accoutrements cover the walls.  A scene in The Dark Knight was also filmed here, although in the movie it is nearly empty, which is hard to believe considering how crowded it was when we were there!

After that, Marc surprised me and took me to the last Second City show of the night, which was my first time to Second City and really I think the first real live show of anything I've seen in a very long time.  The show we saw was Campaign Supernova, and it was pretty good -- there were a few kind of meh sketches, but the good ones were really good, and I had a lot of fun.  The only bad part about it was that we went to the late show, which has some extra improv and sketches being tested out for the next show stuck in it, so we didn't get out of the theatre until almost 0200, which was a little later than I had expected!  Well worth seeing though and I would definitely like to go there again and see another show sometime.

This week, heading back to work has been a little tough -- it hasn't helped that I seem to have either come down with bad allergies or a cold, though.  This morning I woke up and felt like I'd been run over by a truck, so I actually called in sick -- something I'm pretty loathe to do when I'm trying to get back in the swing of things as best I can before I fly off on another two weeks of vacation!

Speaking of which, I'm getting really excited about going to FanFest the closer it gets, despite all the recent craziness in the Icelandic financial sector that the CCP CEO felt necessary to calm fears about in a dev blog.  Despite the fact that the last time I spent any time around Eve devs I came down with a terminal case of foot-in-mouth disease, I really am looking forward to hopefully talking to more of them, and with any luck making a better impression this time.  I am also promising to take lots more pictures, both there and in Boston on the way back, and I'll be posting those here so everyone can see what it was like.

Look for at least one or two more posts this weekend, and then I'll probably try and get something up next weekend before I depart.  And, while I can't say I'll be liveblogging from FanFest exactly, I will try to post regular updates while I'm there!
I had to be up in Chicago today for my second surgery letter, so I went up on Saturday to spend the weekend so I could see Sam, Gracie, and Marc.  Sam and Gracie are always gracious hosts (no pun intended), and as always I had a great time with them (and obviously with Marc).

Saturday I didn't get up to Chicago until almost 1800, so Sam, Gracie and I just stayed in for the night and watched some movies while I caught up on some email (Deidei also introduced me to the Totally Rad Show over IRC Saturday, which I encourage folks to check out if you have some time to waste).

Sunday, Sam dropped me off downtown where I met up with Marc near Union Station and we went to the Art Institute, which is the last of the "big" Chicago museums I hadn't yet been too.  I have to admit that I am not exactly a huge art buff, but I do like to consider myself at least a bit cultured, so I figured this was as good a chance as any to see the museum (and frankly, to live this close and never visit some of the most important artistic works in the world seems a bit neglectful).  Marc and I spent most of the day there, and I definitely enjoyed myself -- we managed to see most of the museum, though some of it is closed for the construction of the new Modern Wing, and I got to see Nighthawks, which is one of my favorite pieces of "real" art.  I think the biggest deal for me is just seeing things that are hundreds of years old sitting right there in front of me; knowing that something can survive that long and wondering about everyone else who has been in that position during their entire history.

After the museum, we walked from there to Fogo de Chao to meet Sam, Gracie, CK and Mel for dinner.  This was Marc's first time there and he was very impressed (and very full) after the experience as usually happens with a visit to Fogo.  Stuffed to the gills, Marc and I went back to the Hotel Blake where we were staying for the night.  After checking in, we went to see Hancock since we were too full to really do anything else. :) I have to say that I wasn't quite as impressed with the movie as Mike was; my opinion is pretty close to that of Roger Ebert, though I don't know that I would give it three out of four stars; it was a solid two and a half though.  I certainly don't feel like it was a waste of time or money, but the movie wasn't really anything super-special to me; if we had chosen something else to see instead I think I would have been just as happy.  Worth checking out if there's nothing else you are particularly interested in seeing at the theatre though.

Monday morning, after dropping Marc off at his office, I went back to Sam and Gracie's and hung out with Gracie for the day, catching up on some of the writing I've been slacking off on, and then the three of us went to the Greek Islands for dinner (unfortunately, Marc was stuck at work; I'm definitely looking forward to when he'll be done with this project!) and I had saganaki for the first time, as well as some very tasty calamari and their ambrosia dessert, which was delicious.

Today I had to go to Evanston for my appointment, which was a pleasant commute, once I actually figured where I was actually going (I need to learn to trust Google Maps instead of my own sense of direction -- I spent about 15 minutes looking for Western Avenue when I was actually on Western Avenue to start with *sigh*), and I was back on the road by about 1300 and home by 1530, so it wasn't too bad a day of driving, despite some construction on the Kennedy.

All in all a good and fairly productive weekend -- I think that's the last of the preliminaries for my surgery, which is probably a good thing with it only six weeks off now (which means the first half of my payment is due this week).  I am not looking forward to writing a ten thousand dollar check, but on the other hand, I've been saving that money for a reason, and it's about time I did something with it.

Weekend in Review

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I spent last weekend up in Chicago with Marc again, perhaps at an inopportune time Eve-wise (more on that later), but it was definitely worth my while.  Aside from just being able to spend time with Marc, we managed to squeeze in a fair bit of fun stuff to the weekend.

  • We went to another Wolves game on Friday, this time the first game of the conference championships against the Toronto Marlies (yes, that is a really silly name).  Unlike the last time I saw a Wolves game, this game was much cleaner and better played, and resulted in a pretty strong Wolves victory.  I had a lot of fun and am definitely looking forward to seeing more games next season, assuming I can fit them in (and that I am still living around here).  The Wolves do seem to have a problem with consistency though; you could tell during the game they swung between playing good hockey and just sort of lazing around on the ice, not challenging for the puck or bunching up.
  • Saturday we saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall, another Judd Apatow production, and we weren't disappointed.  It was very funny, though I don't think it was quite as accessible or "friendly" as 40 Year Old Virgin or Knocked Up -- closer to the level of Superbad.  Not sure it really needed that much Jason Segel full frontal, though.  Still, it did a good job of not going overboard with cheap laughs and having some serious heart to it, so it keeps with the other three movies I mentioned in that vein.  It also seemed to be longer than I expected, but not in a bad way; the story just seemed to keep going.  I wasn't annoyed with that so much as just surprised.  It's also impressive how the old Judd Apatow players are turning out to be good writers in their own right.
  • We also started watching Firefly, which was probably long overdue; I'm not a completely rabid fan, but it is one of my favorite shows and a good reference for taste.  We've watched all the way up through "Out of Gas" now, and Marc seems to like it, which is good.  I wasn't sure at first, because he seemed awfull quiet during "Serenity" and "The Train Job," and he finds River annoying (which I suspect is going to make the movie a little less enjoyable to him), but the fact that he kept wanting to squeeze in extra episodes makes me a little less nervous that he's just doing it to mollify me.  I suspect we'll probably finish up the series this weekend when he comes down to visit.
  • Sunday afternoon we had dinner at the Weber Grill Restaurant.  I'd seen the Indianapolis location when I was at GenCon (it's on the way from the hotel I usually stay at to the Convention Center), and I'm a big fan of the Weber cookbooks, so I have been wanting to try it out, but I've just never had the chance.  We thought about hitting it on Saturday, but it was a bit far from the theatre we went to, so we hit it Sunday.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but holy smoke (no pun intended) was it good.  The rolls they start you out with are awesome -- they call it pretzel bread, and it really is just like a roll made from soft pretzel dough, from what I can tell.  I had the herb-marinaded flank steak, and Marc had the tomato basil chicken, and both were, quite frankly, mindblowingly good, and the garlic mashed potatoes with both of them were delicious.  I can't speak highly enough of the place, which has a great atmosphere in addition to the food, and I will definitely be trying to stop at the one in Indy this year.  Even the prices were not that out of whack with what I'd expect -- a bit expensive, but not really disproportionate with the quality.  If you get a chance to visit (I just found out they are only in Chicago and Indy), I highly recommend stopping by.
I'll probably have another post coming up today in relation to Thursday's events in Eve, of which I've been slightly critical -- look for that later tonight, probably.
So I've been quite remiss in updating the blog lately, so I'll try to sum up what's happened in the last month or so since I got back from Arizona.  Still not a ton of details on some of my current projects, which are still a bit in progress.  I have been a bit busy this last month though, so here's some updates.

  • As I'm sure most of you are already aware, I've started seeing someone in Chicago, so I've been going up there (and he's been coming down here) most of the last few weeks.  I won't spill too many details, but things are going rather well and that's all I'll say here, since I know my parents read this.
  • Aaaand speaking of seeing someone in Chicago, we went and saw a Chicago Wolves game the last weekend in March.  It was the first hockey game I've seen in quite a while and we had a really good time, despite the fact that the Wolves got waxed by Houston and the game was...well, you could say it was a bit chippy.  I'm not sure how many penalties there were, but the first one was less than 30 seconds in and the Houston goalie got ejected with 5 seconds left (when he crosschecked a Chicago player in front of the net with three seconds left in the game and his team up by several points).
  • The same weekend I spent Sunday with Sam and Gracie, and we did Fogo de Chao for dinner and went to see U2 3D at Navy Pier.  Dinner was excellent, as Fogo always is, and the movie was very good.  I'm not an especially huge U2 fan, I have to admit, but the movie did an excellent job of capturing the concert experience and it definitely made me wish I went to more live music stuff (which Marc has promised to drag me to).
  • A week later Marc came down here and I got to introduce him to a pair of my favorites; Blade Runner and Jupiter's pizza, one of my favorite thin crusts.  Lucky for him, he liked the movie (it's only my favorite, after all) and the pizza, so it was a good result.
  • I returned the favor and stayed up in Chicago over last weekend and had a lovely time.  Admittedly, we didn't do a whole lot but spend some time hanging out around the house, but it's been so long since I've been able to do that, it was a nice change of pace.  We had dinner at a nice Greek restaurant on Saturday, where I tried octopus for the first time (not what I expected, I admit, and not really to my taste), and on Sunday I had Giordano's for the first time.  I'm not ready to say it's better than local favorite Papa Del's, but it's definitely at least as good.
  • We also watched Knocked Up and Wordplay.  Marc had never seen any of the Judd Apatow movies or series, and it was a bit hard to convince him -- let's face it, it does look a little juvenile when you don't really know what they are like.  However, I think he's thoroughly hooked now, and I expect we'll end up watching the rest soon enough.  Wordplay was really good as well, and actually exciting, something I wouldn't expect to say about a movie about crosswords.  I find it hard to believe that someone that can do the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in less than five minutes is actually human, though.
All righty, I think that's about it for now.  There will be news about some writing coming up, but I don't want to make any promises before I actually deliver anything.  I promise not to let things go this long without an update again though.

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