after week eleven

Things I’ve Learned:

1) I don’t like Chicago. I spent the weekend in Wisconsin – one day in Milwaukee, and one day in Madison.  Both cities are among my favorites, and both provided welcome relief from a frustrating week in Chicago.  If work didn’t require me to drive all over the city (and get stuck in traffic constantly, regardless of time of day), my opinion would probably change a bit, but I don’t think it would be by much.  It’s just not my bag, and I’m looking forward to finishing up my work here and moving on to my next destination (which is in Indiana, which really shows how much I’m not liking Chicago).

By the way, here are several reasons why Milwaukee is better than Chicago:

a) Free parking along the lakeshore is plentiful.

b) Their art museum looks like some crazy futuristic yacht (with a moving brise soleil!).  Chicago’s art museum is just in some stupid building that looks like a bunch of other stupid buildings.

c) No goddamn toll roads.  I’d like to pause here and apologize to the state of Indiana for criticizing their automated toll booths last week.  Yes, they’re slow, but at least they accept credit cards, because FUCKING GODDAMN how could anyone be expected to carry $1.90 in EXACT CHANGE to a toll booth on I-294 that ONLY accepts coins with nary an attendant in sight.  Not all of us live in this second-rate New York City, so we can’t just cruise by effortlessly with our I-Passes or EZ-Tolls or Metra-Blorts quietly draining our bank account every couple miles.  And why not just round it up to $2.00?  I’M NOT MADE OF NICKELS, GODDAMMIT!!

The state of Wisconsin does not have toll roads.

d) The accents in Milwaukee are just charming.  Chicago’s are cloying.

e) Milwaukee doesn’t have a horrifying murder rate, an inability to care for its poor, and deeply-segregated neighborhoods.  Really, this should have been the top reason.

The Week In Hotels:

I spent 5 days at the Super 8 in Morton Grove, Illinois and completely forgot to take a picture while there.  I swear I was totally there!  This matters to you!  Anyway, it was a very nice room and I enjoyed my stay there very much, even though my laptop somehow lost the internet connection on the last day (my Kindle was unaffected, so I doubt it was the hotel’s fault).  Saturday and Sunday was spent at an equally-pleasant Super 8 in Janesville, Wisconsin.  I’ll give them extra points for having AMC on their channel line-up (the hotel in Morton Grove had very few TV channels – they didn’t even have NBC), thus allowing me to watch Mad Men at its proper time, saving me from doing some Monday morning bit-torrenting.

Restaurant Reviews:

1) Jamaican Jerk Pit – Ann Arbor
Jerk pork.  With rice and plantains.  My gawd.

2) Asian Legend – Ann Arbor
A Taiwanese place in Ann Arbor in which I had a second dinner last Sunday mere hours after my trip to the Jamaican Jerk Pit because I’m a voracious eater who – somehow – has not gained any weight during eleven weeks of eating out every day, often at buffets.  Anyway, I had more pork – this time with ginger and more rice.  Also, an onion pancake stuffed with beef.  My gawd.

3) Golden Corral – Gurnee, Illinois
My only buffet of the week, three weeks after vowing to stop going to buffets.  Progress!

4) Italian Beef  At Wrigley Field – Chicago

If it wasn’t for the spicy peppers (which – to my surprise – were actually really spicy and awesome) this would have been a tasteless waste of eight dollars.

5) Bratwurst And Poutine At Miller Park – Milwaukee
Bratwurst was bratwursty (i.e. awesome, as ever). The most flavorful part of the poutine was the cheese curds – the gravy was okay and the fries were nothing special – it would have been nice to have had more of them.

6) Noodles And Company – Janesville, Wisconsin
I’ve seen several of these during my travels, but haven’t frequented any of them because I pretty much knew what to expect:  a good but fairly bland approximation of an Asian dish.  After the brat and poutine at the ballpark, though, I wanted something a bit less heavy for dinner, so I figured I’d give them a shot.  I got the green curry bowl – it was a good but fairly bland approximation of an Asian dish.  Thank goodness for the garlic powder and crushed red pepper that I keep in the car.

7) Lefse – Staughton, Wisconsin
Lefse is a Norwegian flat bread made from potatoes and probably other stuff (flour? eggs? herring?).  It’s laid out, some food-related thing is lightly spread on top, and then it’s rolled up.  I had two varieties of these at the Syttende Mai Folk Festival in Stoughton, Wisconsin, earlier today.  My flavor options:  brown sugar and “Just Butter”.  Stick with the former.

8) Vegetarian Peanut Stew – Madison, Wisconsin
From an Ethiopian food cart at the WORT 89.9FM block party in Madison.  They were selling bacon on a stick there.  It took A LOT of will power to bypass that and stick with the healthier fare (which was really tasty).  Progress!


The last of the trunk wines was gulped up in Morton Grove on Wednesday.  Twas a sad moment.

I also had one beer in Madison Sunday afternoon at a bar whose name I already forgot.  Actually, I forgot the name of the beer as well.  It was an amber and not bad at all.  It was just the third beer that I’ve had since the start of April, a fact that blows my mind (normally, I kinda like beer a lot).

Up next:

Yet another week of Chicago, followed by an intermission.

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