I spent a quiet week at home, working on some paperwork for work, along with some programming. It has been an entirely uneventful week, and for that, for some reason, I am exceedingly content. No great tragedies or triumphs have occurred lately, and I have just been getting along as I always do, playing Civilization and trying to give my injured foot as much exercise as possible.
May I say, by the way, that it has been ideal outside, for walking. Several times now, I have taken a four or five mile walk, just to put as much weight on the foot as I can. The meandering, zig-zagging walk from my apartment to Crown Center covers about two and a half miles, each way, and has an elevation difference of over 200 feet. It's an excellent route, as well, because it's beautiful. I greatly enjoy watching downtown come into its own, as it has over the last couple of years.
For the first time since April, I went to First Friday down in the Crossroads tonight, with Heidi. We walked and talked for a couple of hours, and had a lovely time in the sixty-degree November air, taking in a couple of galleries, and rounding off the evening with a drink at Jilly's. The event has gotten much bigger than the last fall/winter First Friday I attended, with parked cars lining every street for a good distance in every direction from the liveliest corner, 18th and Wyandotte.
In other news, I have a roommate! Nathan will be moving everything in, tomorrow, and will be aiding me in the ceremonial paying of the bills, for an as-yet undetermined amount of time. More good news: Josh will not be leaving KC any time soon, as he has secured lodging in Midtown, and is now, I am happy to report, an avid and regular busrider. I wish I lived in busriding distance of my office.
Sometimes I am in the mood for oldies. I am listening to "Different Drum" by the Stone Ponies, over and over again.
Last night I was content and wistful. Tonight I'm just bored out of my skull. It is entirely my fault, however, and I claim no right to bitch. I waive that right. I actually had a chance to go and meet some friends out, tonight, but the allure of sitting around my apartment with no pants on was just too great, I suppose.
I am really enjoying taking these walks that are entirely too long. To illustrate for you, I refer you to these maps:
The map on the left demonstrates the typical route I have been taking on my walks, lately. Note the way it goes past almost everything of note in the Crossroads. This is crucial. Both maps orginate and terminate at my apartment, near the corner of Broadway and 11th. This route covers, to the best of my knowledge, about 5 miles. The beautiful thing is that I have not been getting tired on these walks, but rather, have wanted to venture farther each time. Perhaps this week, I will walk as far as Midtown or the Plaza.
Today, however, looking for something new in my walk, I turned toward Kansas on Southwest Boulevard, as is denoted in the map to the right(also sneakily ripped off google maps). On Friday, I had a drink with Heidi at Jilly's, and as is my custom, and without segue or notice, I started talking about beer. She asked me what it was that got me into beer in the first place, so I thought about it, and realized that my current enthusiasm for the greatest thing in a glass came largely from my many dozen trips to the Boulevard Brewery, over my short five years living in Kansas City.
So, without any real sense of purpose, I came upon the brewery itself, at the southwestern tip of my route today, and decided to act upon a desire I've had for a long time. It was about ten until four, which meant that right when I walked in the door, the 3PM tour group was walking into the tasting room from their whirlwind tour of the brewery floor. Seeing a perfect opportunity, I made sure to wait until everyone that was there had gotten a glass of what they wanted.
Julie was running the closest tap to where I was standing, and waved me over. We talked for a bit, and I tried an "Espresso Stout," a dry stout infused with beans from the Roasterie, which was tasty, but not really to my taste. I told her about what I had been thinking for a while, so she asked me to leave my information. You see, I don't know how many times I have been on the tour there, but I think it's somewhere between thirty and forty times. With this in mind, I think I am going to start giving tours there, myself. Enough people have told me that I should give tours that I suppose it has finally stuck.
I headed home from there, going, as you can see, straight up Summit. According to Google Earth, that route climbs about 200 feet in about a quarter mile. A bit of advice, don't try to talk on the phone whilst making this climb.
Remember when I said that in my walks, I always went wanting for something more? Yesterday, instead of a "normal" walk of just two or three miles, I walked to Crown Center, and then kept walking. What has always made me turn on my heel when walking in that direction has been the gigantic hill that bars most of the way, from Pershing to 31st. It's a continuous steep grade for about a half mile. But I was bored and full of inexplicable energy yesterday, so I just said, "to hell with it," and started up the hill on McGee.
While walking, it's amazing, how many things you notice that you never do, while driving. I must have driven up that hill on McGee a hundred times before, but I never noticed the big stained-glass window over at the Children's Hospital. I also never noticed how goddamned steep and long that goddamned hill is. I started walking up the hill at my normal brisk pace, and I was panting in minutes. Refusing to take a break from an exercise as undemanding as walking, I continued, and found that after a short while, I didn't even notice the fatigue anymore. What reminded me, however, was the sweat.
About an hour after leaving home. I stepped onto the crosswalk on 31st street, where Gillham crosses it. The top of the hill, just about the highest point in town. I figured I didn't want to have come this far, and simply turn around, so I just kept going. I walked and walked, past my old place on Armour, past the school on 39th, past the turnoff for Rockhill and the Nelson. I kept walking as I followed the southerly and increasingly easterly course of Gillham Road, and the park that runs along the bulk of its length. I saw massive, centuries-old oaks and sycamores, some so huge it made my jaw drop. I watched the houses get crappy, then nice, then crappy, then nice again, and I wound my way to the east-west street past which, I was certain by this time, I would not go.
The park ended at Brush Creek Parkway, and I found myself walking down Harrison, where half the houses are for sale, oddly enough. The rushing traffic, broad expansive lawns, and beautiful giant old houses indicated 47th Street to me long before I looked up at a street sign just to make sure. I was about a mile east of the Plaza, in the nice neighborhood that crowds between the Nelson Atkins Museum and the University of Missouri- Kansas City. I started walking west, figuring I needed to go that way anyway. I was at 1000 East, and my apartment is at 400 West.
I walked into the Country Club Plaza at about 3:30 PM, in time to see a multitude of angry drivers hurrying to be in front, as they drove hastily toward the plentiful free parking garages strewn about the area, disguised to look like a hundred Doge's palaces, or something. I had finally felt the effects of the long walk. I had walked just under seven miles, in about two hours, and my feet were reminding me that my shoes where not of the comfortable sort. I had a mind to get a juice somewhere, and catch the 51 back home. Amazingly, I found no juice, and settled for a Sprite, before walking over to the bus stop on Roanoke, where I learned that I was fifteen minutes late for the once-an-hour bus.
It was a beautiful day- sunny, in the 60s -, so I just took a seat, made some phone calls, and just took in the day.
I love Kansas City.
Kansas City is a great town.
But it sure is distracting. So, yeah! Almost no time has passed since the last time I have gotten you a beer, right? Oh, right. It was March. Sorry. Like a good habit of exercise, keeping the site updated with new draughts of the week becomes easier and easier to avoid, to the point that you don't even feel guilty anymore, and just don't care. But here's the thing:
I do care!
I want you to have the best experience possible, on this website. As such, I have an obligation to provide you with semi-original content, on a semiregular basis. As of late, I have failed in this obligation, especially concerning what was once the most popular part of this website, the Draught of the Week. I have decided that I like having readers and reading their comments more than I like sitting around in my underpants feeling sorry for myself. Plus, chicks dig dudes with initiative.
Lately, I have taken to walking around this fantastic town, especially what with the unseasonably awesome weather we've been having, this late October and early November, and my silly walks have progressed farther and farther afield. I went for a short walk today, only to 17th and Main, to Bulldog, only about a mile from my place.
This was a view, on the way there. Click it for a full-sized picture to set as your desktop background. You know you want to.
It was pretty early in the day when I walked in, about 3:30, so I had no trouble at all finding a spot at the bar. Everyone else there either worked there or was a chick on the phone at the end of the bar.
I pause here to announce that quiet bars are a very inappropriate place to have a phone conversation. If I ever open a place, I will enforce
a strict "no cellphone" policy for patrons seated at the bar. It's just really obnoxious. The phone woman, while very attractive, was apparently waiting for a friend to join her, and occupied every second of her time, waiting for her friend, making phone calls, to completely eliminate any possibility of having to sit quietly at the bar, or, horror of horrors, having to talk to someone.
Named for the year of the graduation of Bob Werkowitch, Boulevard's first brewmaster, from the US Brewer's Academy, Bob's 47 is the brewery's fall seasonal, and the only lager produced by the brewery. Everything else they produce is technically ale. Meant to bring in the season in time for Oktoberfest celebrations, Bob's 47 is available for most of September and October, and apparently, is still available on tap now, in November.
Like any respectable Marzen/Oktoberfest beer, it pours a deep copper color, but is heavily filtered to make it completely transparent, as you can see.
Also, like any good beer of its style, it delivers a sharp, sweet, raucous punch, and so, is very popular when it's available in Kansas City. but for all its popularily, it still takes a distant backseat to beers like this.
Even so, it's not uncommon to see it on tap in any of a number of downtown bars and restaurants. For full details about what I think of it, see the official ratings below.
I missed you too.
Ratings (out of ten)
|Aroma:||5 ||(A little light on aroma, as lagers tend to be. If you really make an ass of yourself, and get your nose really in there, a floral aspect appears, with hints of the pervasive malt contained therein.)|
|Flavor:||8||(A creamy, malty sweetness lolls around the front of the tongue, and washes over, revealing its hoppily-sharp bitterness as it slides off the back of the tongue. It's neat to notice.)|
|Body:||7||(It's thick, creamy, and nicely carbonated. As it coats your mouth with a trail of flavor, its legacy is a delicious, malty-bitter phlegm sealant for your entire mouth and throat.)|
|Smoothness:||9||(Boulevard really has a way of producing beers that just want to be imbibed. It rolls down the throat, enveloped, packaged, if you will, and you will, in that neat, delicious film of phlegm. Like a big, liquid, delicious pill.)|
|Price:||7||(At $3.50 a glass, I wasn't complaining, but it certainly could have been cheaper. Any of three levels cheaper.)|
I have been using Google's amazing gmail service for about a year and a half, now, and I have trouble imagining how I got along without it, beforehand. I is simply the best email service I have ever used, including outlook-based work emails. Because I work a lot from home, but mostly because I have a choice, I use gmail for work, too. It's great to know that it will always be the same, regardless what computer I happen to be using.
Praise aside, however, because I have a beef with it. Gmail is so damned great to use that it makes me want to use it for everything. I wish I could enable POP3 for other email addresses I might have, and have my gmail account manage all my messages. I love the interface, and indeed, getting an email account to harvest all your other disparate accounts is nothing new. Hotmail and Yahoo, for example, offered this functionality, when I used their services back in the nineties. So why not gmail?
I sent them an email, asking this quuestion about a year ago, and received a very concise and disappointing response: "We have no plans to offer that functionality at this time." Why? If getting people in the door is something in which Google takes even a mild interest, it would behoove them to offer this feature. People could start gmail accounts(I have more invitations than I know what to do with, by the way), fall in love with the interface, and not even have to send out the obligatory yet futile, "I have a new email address," email. It's win-win.
I just don't understand.
However, you will notice, from a look at the right side of the page, that I have resuscitated the Draught of the Week section, and published a new gurgler. Enjoy.
I took another walk, today.
This time to about 28th St and back, winding chaotically in a lateral fashion, there and back. I decided that my southern terminus on today's walk should be one of those things that speaks of an era when Kansas City was great, and embodied the American Dream. I walked to the Liberty Memorial. Pictures here. My sister-in-law was all but offered a curatorship at the museum there, but was unable to accept. It would have been a great place to run, I think.
Its solitary 264-foot obelisk, situated on top of a hill overlooking downtown, is a striking structure, and difficult to miss, even with a quick glance. I've visited it before, but any previous visits were dedicated to the view afforded by the observation balcony at its pinnacle, and that view is spectacular. I had never read the plaques or the inscriptions into the stone before. It all hearkens to a different time. It evokes thoughts of a time when the world had just seen an end to the most hideous war in its history, to date. It also evokes thoughts of the optimism that pervaded. It was the beginning of an era of prosperity, not to be outdone until the 1950s, or possibly the 1980s. It was a time when things we all take for granted were just becoming available to normal people: automobiles, telephones, electricity, access to mass media, paved streets, and many other luxuries that stood for a long time as indicative of American prosperity.
I was tingling, as I stood in front of this largely forgotten monument, a manifestation of the joy and struggle of a generation also long forgotten. It was the realization of the dreams of millions, embodied in this civic work, dedicated in 1921. Politicians, foreign dignitaries, the vice president, and hundreds of thousands of eager onlookers stood and watched as 60,000 veterans marched into the monument, to dedicate the site. I can only imagine the excitement that hung in the air that day. I wish I could have been there.
On about a six-month cycle, I seem to be having the same dreams, or more accurately, nightmares, over and over. Luckily, they never screen on consecutive nights, or consecutive weeks, or even months. I suppose I should keep track of when I have them, but my guess at this point, is about a six month interval.
They always vary in the details, but the overarching theme is tight enough that I can identify said theme. In one, I will have a dream that I wake up, and go about what would seem to be normal things I would do in the middle of the night. Principally, these are urinating and getting a glass of water so I can wake up and urinate again in a few hours. Somewhere in the course of these ordinary tasks, I will spot some kind of unpleasant animal somewhere in the bedroom. The times that I remember, these have been things like large snakes, bats, birds, cockroaches, and human-sized insects with which I personally grapple in my bed.
These apparitions always cause very severe actions on my part, and in the past have served to terrify startled-awake roommates. The actions include, but are not limited to: leaping out of bed, ripping all my sheets and blankets off the bed, screaming hysterically, jumping several feet into the air, flailing my arms around maniacally, and throwing heavy objects(chairs, books, etc). For no apparent reason, I'll come to, and realize with some lingering doubt, that there is no strange creature between the hangers in the closet, and no boa constrictor deftly dodging my blows on the floor. My heart will be racing at about triple its normal rate, thanks to the volumes of adrenaline pumped into my bloodstream, and I will sit still and try to calm myself down, as I survey the various wounds I inflicted on myself, in my hysteria.
I still have a four-inch-long scar on my ankle from one of these episodes, and I honestly don't know how I got it. It sure bled a lot, though. Skinned knuckles, bruised knees and elbows, nosebleeds, and various other minor injuries result from these dreams. I basically beat the piss out of myself. I really dislike having these dreams.
Another recurring dream I have often comes with sleeplessness, for me. I will have some kind of task to accomplish, and find that while I try to do it, I find that it's impossible. I can't really explain what the tasks are, but I can best liken them to puzzles set before my mind, in which I'll perform a piece of it, only to find that doing any piece of it reveals five more pieces that need being solved, and so on, ad infinitum. This is the only dream I ever have from when I can wake up, go to the bathroom, get another glass of water, go back to sleep, and have the same dream. It isolates itself to one night; one night of tossing and turning and fitful unpleasant, unrestful sleep.
Another recurring dream, which doesn't particularly bother, considering I have heard of others having it, with almost the exact same details. It's the "I'm back in high school," dream, in which I drive the car I own now(for some reason that is a constant), to and from the high school from which I graduated ten years ago, four hundred miles away, and at my present age. I find that I cannot remember to go to all of my classes, and I'll have a sharp realization, toward the end of the semester, that I haven't been to Trig with Mr. Kutyna(who actually taught science) in months.
The fourth dream I can remember just happened on Friday night. I will be in some location that's familiar to me in the dream, but not at all, upon recollection, working with a group of people about my age. There's always a woman with whom I'm close, either a wife or a serious girlfriend. We will step outside for no particular reason, and be able to see a good distance from our vantage point. There's always a city, and I notice that it's strikingly pretty, but still noticably run-down. Then, while we're outside, without warning, and without noise, a plane crashes somewhere in the city in front of us. It's a military plane- a friendly -that crashes spectacularly about a mile or two away.
Within a few seconds, a wing of black planes passes slowly overhead, directly toward us, and a trail of horrible explosions follows them on the ground by about a quarter mile. As the explosions advance toward us, the noise gets louder and louder. I think I yell in my sleep at this point, until the explosions reach us, I throw her to the ground and jump on top of her, and then all is silent and dark for a few seconds, before I wake up with a start, ears ringing.
None of these dreams are completely identical from one time to the next, but I do have them regularly.
I got up at a leisurely hour on Wednesday, and after a long, wasteful shower, I hit the road, getting underway at 11:30 AM. I arrived in Peoria just over six hours later, and I still hate driving. Julia was even later than me, and her trip was almost as long, even though she had roughly one third of the distance to cover. Her mistake was embarking at 3 PM, from Chicago, on the day before Thanksgiving. She was in oozing traffic for hours, before finally being far enough from the city that she could move at a reasonable rate.
I arrived about two hours before she did, and sat with Dad and Amy for drinks and conversation, while we waited for Julia, and in turn, dinner. Julia rolled into town at about 7:30 PM, and we got directly to the business of dinner, before Julia, Dad, and I left for Crusen's on War Memorial to see my cousin Joe's band. We encountered throngs of relatives and almost forgotten grade school friends and acquaintances, as I always do when I go to bars in Peoria. Julia and I called it an early night, and went home to munch on corn chips and watch Conan.
We woke up in the 8 AM neighborhood, the next day, had breakfast with Dad and Amy, got cleaned up, and got out the door for the happenings of the day by about 11:30. We went over to Friar Tuck, the greatest liquor store in central Illinois, and picked up some libations for Thanksgiving dinner at Dianne's house in Chillicothe. Before making the trip we stopped by the Little's house in the Heights for a quick hello, picked up Grandma, and got on our way.
Predictably, nobody in the car knew how to find Dianne's house, so we wandered the streets of Chillicothe for a couple turns before I insisted that Julia make the call.
We wound up staying the latest, rounding off the evening with a great game of Balderdash. Some highlights:
Cannalure: Country Joe MacDonald's ill-fated heavy metal project, referred to by "Strangling Cats" magazine as, "audio sin."
Marpunkee: Dentistry-deprived town in western India incorrectly credited as the "birthplace of torture."
Hircismus: Persian bouyancy critic who advised Xerxes to "just get stoned."
Circontepsis(or something like that): The Haitian procedure of regurgitating orange rinds prior to burning lost tourists.
The next day, Julia amd I went to see the new Harry Potter movie, which we both enjoyed. After that, I went and hung out with friends and relatives at the Red Barn, which is the closest bar to my high school. Interestingly, I had never been there before.
I left at about 11:30, the next day, and averaged 71 miles per hour, over 5 hours and 41 minutes.