the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Post-Thanksgiving

Got some good play time in on LotR: The Third Age yesterday afternoon. Having just finished the Helm's Deep chapter, I am apparently (according to the game), 56% complete. It's not a tremendously wonderful game, but as RPG's go, one could do worse. Running around various Middle Earth locales, mindlessly whomping on the various minions of darkness, and not really worrying too much about the plot is kind of fun. It's kind of like a cheap but drinkable sparkling wine; it's quite enjoyable, if not terribly deep.

Thursday we got downtown earlier than expected, so we spent half an hour or so wandering through the new Millennium Park. Highlights of the park include Cloud Gate, a giant, reflective bean-shaped sculpture that manages to capture most of the Chicago skyline; the Crown Fountain, two pillars of glass block that constantly shift colors; and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an outdoor ampitheatre that's probably my favorite of Frank Gehry's designs. The park is lovely, and dynamic, and worth repeat visits throughout the day and throughout the year.

Thanksgiving dinner at Bin 36 was, unsurprisingly, and quite satisfyingly, marvelous. Had a round of various sparklers for starters, then the prix fixe menu with wine pairings. I had the chestnut soup with wild rice and prosciutto, which matched perfectly with the somewhat oaky chardonnay. We all had the turkey as our main course, with a very, very nice pinot noir. This course included their nummy family-style extras: chorizo cornbread (my favorite!), green beans almondine, butter mashed potatoes, wild rice, marshmallow yams, and roasted veggies (parsnips, brussels sprouts, and carrots prepared with apple cider). For dessert, I chose the apple crisp, which was served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and paired with a beerenauslese reisling, which is almost but not quite ice wine, and super-fabulously tasty.

Visited some of Liz's family after dinner.

Slept late today, drove out to Oakbrook to help Liz kill off some gift certificates at Marshall Field, and had a nice lunch at a seafood grille sort of place whose name eludes me... The aromas of the wood-fired grille bewitched us from the parking lot as we approached.

Had a bit of a rest back at Anne's, then we were out again to help her with some Christmas shopping, which can be summarized in two simple words--abject hell. Do not, under any circumstances, visit either Best Buy or Toys R Us on Black Friday. *shudder*

Of particular annoyance, and unrelated to the crowds of people, is the fact that the record companies seem to have learned from the DVD folks, and I am now faced with the prospect of double-dipping on CD's. My brief foray through the music section turned up three potential double-dips: a two-disc version of the Norah Jones Home, featuring some extra tracks and DVD material; a two-disc version of Franz Ferdinand's self-titled album, again featuring extra tracks; and a two-disc "10 year anniversary" edition of Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral, which features the original album remastered as a hybrid CD/SACD on disc one, and which collects a bunch of B-sides, demos, and previously unreleased material on the second disc. Grumble, grumble, grumble!

We followed up our sojourn in retail hell with dinner at Chi Tung, whose Thai red curry took my taste buds to a very happy place. (I have had the most incredible curry cravings lately, so this was quite welcome.)

Back to Anne's for a little tech support. Jiggled some settings on her wireless router, got Liz's Powerbook happily chatting with it, and took notes so that the next tech support victim has a reference point.

Now, it looks like it's time to drink some pinot. Tomorrow we drive to Dayton, and Sunday we pick up the kittens! (Sorry, no 11-week photos to share today...)

G'night!

[Edit@2004-10-27 21:03: fixed menu listing, added Millennium Park bits]

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