Saturday, July 31, 2010


Apple-cinnamon coffeecake, crusted with dried orange peel and covered in a brown-sugar syrup, and french-pressed coffee for now. Tomorrow, a real post.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cyberbullying and the Chicago Winter

Yes, I know that Chicago has cold winters. But it seems like every Chicago native I meet loves warning me of the apocalyptic arctic wasteland that the city becomes every year.

Pictured above: Chicago entering its Spring thaw.

I, for one, am not impressed. Not only was I forced to endure harsh blizzards in Kansas for many years, I was also forced to endure Kansas for many years.

So you can imagine my curiosity when I noticed this comment/question on the wall of my medical school class Facebook group.

Pictured above: A sincere plea for help.

Now, I was going to write something snarky in response, but then I realized that I really should try not to make enemies with my classmates until we meet face-to-face. Instead, I will post my planned response here, hoping that my vast(?) blog readership will be able to advise me on whether it would have been too mean to post for the whole class to see.

Hello. First, let me congratulate you on your preparative attitude. Nearly 50% of Chicago's population is killed every winter and is forcibly repopulated with incoming medical students. And most of them don't make it past October. A Midwesterner myself, I should be able to give a Californian like you some tips on shopping for winter clothes.

1. You should look for a jacket with sleeves. I know that you are probably really into showing off those tribal tattoos on your upper arms, but you will get more ladies if you maintain a healthy body temperature during a snowstorm.

2. I'm sure you love your board shorts when you are catching a gnarly wave, but they will not adequately protect the lower third of your body from the Chicago wind (which can sometimes reach speeds of 1000 mph). I would recommend either layering many shorts to keep your thighs warm or investing in some "long-shorts" (what we call “pants” here in the Midwest).

3. Finally, the material of your coat is very important. I usually stick to only real yak-fur to keep myself warm, but arctic camel wool or arctic fox pelts also make for some warm options (use baby seal blubber for insulation). Beware Alpaca fur, not just because it is incredibly itchy, but rather because of its financial ties to Al Qaeda.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Internet Calls Me an Old Lady is a website that analyzes blog text and predicts the gender, age, and mood of person behind the posts. Curious at this new technology, I entered in my blog for analysis. The result was unexpected.

Pictured above: I am a very old lady. This may be the first recorded instance of the internet being inaccurate.

My mind is still reeling at how this computer program thought I wrote like a female in need of geriatric care. But, hey, I might as well embrace it. If I'm going to increase my blog traffic, I'm going to need to hit that most coveted of demographics: senior women.

Here is a preview of some of the titles for my upcoming posts:

“Grand-kids: Their Music is Too Loud”

“46 Crocheting Tips That Put Knitting in Its Place “

“That Cashier Has Too Many Tattoos”

“Top 10 Cruise Lines for Complaining to the Waiter During Dinner”

"How To Be an Adorable Racist"

“What's a 'Blog'?”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Subway Spotted: Business Time and A Brief History of the Moustache

Gays are great and all, but straight men should be able to dress well, too. The subway again provided me with a chance to stalk the well-dressed men of Chicago.

Let's break down this gentleman who caught my eye as I was commuting to work.

Pictured above: Everything I am not, yet wish to be.

1. Glasses

Thick-rimmed, sure, but not in the ironic/hipster way. He doesn't look like a “nerd”, but rather like a guy about to fire someone.

2. Umbrella

Plaid with a curved, wooden handle. The only way it could have been cooler was if it had a sword hidden inside. Or a machine gun. Or an even smaller umbrella.

3. Shirt

Maybe the greatest thing about his outfit. The collar had three buttons. The chicness of the shirt makes him look more dressed-up than other guys wearing ties.

4. Suit

Undoubtedly tailored, and cost probably more than my most expensive suit ($15). I'll bet he spent maybe $25 or even more than $50 on that suit!

5. Beard

Facial hair tends to make most men look more like feral dogs or mysterious mountain men, yet this gentleman strikes a distinguished cord. The clean-cut and well-trimmed nature of his beard make him look even more serious and formal.

Since I have the facial-hair potential of a 9-year-old boy, a beard of this caliber still remains an unattainable goal for me. Speaking of which...

A Brief History of the Moustache

Facial hair has long gone out of fashion, apparent to those of us who follow the presidential facial hair timeline, which reached its apogee at President James “Mr. Muttonchops” Garfield and ended with President William “Mr. Moustache” Taft.

Pictured above: Assassinated because of sideburn-envy. Or maybe the Hawley-Smoot tariff or the Alien and Sedition Acts. I don't remember any of my AP US History.

Few people know that President Taft actually invented the moustache. During his time on the Supreme Court, he presided over the landmark case Goatee v. Handlebars, where he wrote, the 5-4 decision, that both men were to shave their beards into moustaches (or in his words “de-follicle the non-upper mouthing region of the countenance”).

Pictured above: Taft and his creation.

So powerful was this moustache (not “mustache” which the product of WWII propaganda against Hitler's “mustache” and how it “must ache”), that no President since Taft has ever worn facial hair. This is why Hillary Clinton, in her failed 2008 presidential campaign, tried to make her run for the White House even more historic by wearing a fake moustache. But she couldn't beat Obama's Neckbeard of Freedom.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ad Astra, Per Facebook

Best internet ad of the week has to go to Facebook. Here's what I found on my Facebook homepage a few days ago:

Pictured above: Seersucker sale and NCAA Football! Facebook simultaneously knows me too well and not at all.

Here's some advice, Facebook. Your target demographic you are trying to reach does not exist. Here is a handy Venn diagram to help you with this.

Pictured above: You will notice that, despite insane people both enjoying seersucker or purchasing textiles via social networking, even the most marble-deprived will never do both.

I'm looking forward to the day when ads get perfectly specialized towards the unique interests of individuals. But for now, I can only dream...

“Hey, Sai! H & M just threw a bunch of clothes into the dumpster in the alley. Great deals on seersucker suits!”

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Real and Fake Siblings

Full disclosure: My older brother is my mother's favorite. He is, in point of fact, everyone's favorite. Thus is the origin of our rivalry. He is the Cain to my Abel. The Bert to my Ernie. The first brother Karamazov to the second brother Karamazov.

An accomplished doctor, husband, and PS3 owner, he has put me to shame in innumerable ways. Now, he even lives a life of luxury, renting an apartment with both a front AND back door, as well as SEVERAL rooms. Confined to the relative poverty of my studio of a humble 425 square foot (equivalent to a spacious closet or enormous coffin), I have found time to ponder my own failures. I have discovered that this is best done while eating dinner over the sink and crying.

Despite this, I recently got lunch with my brother and his wife. As they have sworn a kind of “death oath” together, the permanence of their joyful interactions is a bizarre fascination of mine. Also, there was a free lunch in it for me.

Pictured above: Married life is much like Congrees, with big decisions (such as pizza toppings) being settled in committee. In this case, I was a non-voting member on the Senate Pepperoni Committee, despite my membership in the Senate Pizza Finance Committee.

Later, we sought to find a coffee shop in Wicker Park to sooth our more primal hipster urges. But what we found disturbed even the most ironic of hearts.

Pictured above: Impossible. This cannot be. But it was.

Yes, there perched in the window of this cafe, was a Delorean. And not just any Delorean.

Pictured above: Mr. Fusion. The most trusted name in flux capacitance.

Yes, this was a Back-to-the-Future themed coffee shop. My mind was racing at 88 miles per hour. Instantly I had the urge to make like a tree and get out of there. Something, something 1.21 gigawatts.

I ordered an iced coffee to cool my nerves, but it was smacked out of my hand by a slightly older looking version of me. He was wearing futuristic goggles and space boots, and told me that he traveled to the past to save me from poisoned coffee that I was just about to drink. I told him he owed me $2.25, and that time travel was impossible. He said something about “not needing roads,” and left. It's good to know that I will still be a cheapskate in the future.

Nonplussed, I toured this fascinating establishment. The posters around the place were an amazing sight.

Pictured above: An age where movie posters were, themselves, works of art. Just imagine if Eclipse had a painted movie poster. They would probably have to hire a whole team to accurately depict Taylor Lautner's rippling abs.

Speaking of siblings, I just finished my Big Sib/Little Sib survey for medical school. Apparently, the school has a program by which every first year student is matched to a second year, and they are to act as "siblings". From my own experiences with my brothers, I can only assume that we will be expected to shout Arrested Development references at each other.

Pictured above: Hey, look! A reference!

I imagine that most will use this Sib service for medical school study tips and advice, but I am a firm believer in taking things way too far. I am already designing matching friendship bracelets with whomever is lucky enough to be paired with me. Also, on the first day we meet, I'm going to bring a single red rose and they are going to bring a copy of Twilight so we can find each other. Besties forever!

Pictured above: Man, who would have thought that French Holocaust novels would be such a hit among tweens?

Below are some of my actual responses to actual questions on the Big Sib/Little Sib survey.

What superhero would you like to be or what superpower would you like to have?

I am already a superhero. But if I needed another superpower, it would be the ability to win any freestyle rap battle.

What are three adjectives that describe you?

Worldly, Wordy, Wonky

What else would you like us to know? Feel free to reiterate anything you already said or anything else you would like in a big sib.

I am an amateur writer and failed hipster. Please match accordingly.

Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup Wrap-Up

Although I have limited the World Cup coverage on my blog to a minimal discussion of some players' sartorial decisions, I have decided to write a quick recap of the final round yesterday between the Netherlands and Spain. But first, let us learn about these “un-American” (“non-American” or “irrelevant”) countries involved.

Are you fighting back your own depression and looking for an outlet to debauchery, but yet want to maintain the appearance of dignity? Well, come on down to...

The Netherlands

Slogan: “Are you sure you don't want to see our magnificent Cathedrals or historic castles? All right, the weed bar is over there.”

Netherlands is famous for its wooden shoes, wooden windmills, and wooden teeth, but did you know most of the country is actually not made of wood (the ground is largely dirt)? The Netherlands is also known as “Holland” and the people are known as “Dutch.” While most historians conclude that this is a translation error, it is mostly because the Dutch are very bad spellers.

The Netherlands is also well-known for its rich, natural deposits of individual rights. In Holland, you can legally smoke marijuana, legally purchase a prostitute, and legally murder someone if you can prove that you were on some “really wicked shrooms.”

Pictured above: Hilarious Dutch shoes. I usually make a joke at this point, but this is too easy. I don't need your charity, The Netherlands.

Fun Fact: When Dutch couples go out on a date and split the check, they call it “going normal.”

Are you coming to the realization that the only foreign language you learned was half a semester of college Spanish? Was your only other visit out of the United States a trip with your bros to Cancun over Spring Break '08? Well, prepare to be disappointed in...


Slogan: “Notice to Americans: We are not Mexico”

Americans often confuse Mexican and Spanish culture. But here is an fun and easy way to tell them apart: Mexico is responsible for the burrito, and Spain is responsible for the global, empirical, and systematic oppression and genocide of many indigenous peoples through historical colonization!

Spain is also the home of the flamenco guitar, where the musicians hit the sides of the guitar with their fingers while playing to keep the rhythm. More advanced flamenco masters just smash their guitars into the ground to the music while swearing loudly.

Pictured above: An illustration of Cervantes' masterpiece Don Quixote. You remember it as that one Wishbone episode where the little dog runs into the windmill.

Fun Fact: Spain has been secretly moving their borders slowly into Portugal over the last decade, and by 2025, Portugal will just a be a guy standing on the beach surrounded by Spanish guards.

The World Cup Finals

I do not understand football, so I did not understand this game. All I know is that there was a point where a guy kicked some other guy in the chest.

Pictured above: This is truly the gentleman's sport.

And then, just when they were playing my favorite song on the Vuvuzela (BZZZZZZZZZZZ, BZZZZZZZ!), the game was over. Spain apparently won, since some psychic cephalopod told them to. Speaking of which...

Paul the Psychic Octopus

This octopus has predicted the winners of many World Cup games, but, of course, he is not psychic. I, as a true skeptic, am inclined to believe that, with the combination of 50/50 chance picks and the innumerable people trying to predict the outcomes around the world, it was inevitable that someone or something would work and appear “magic”.

Pictured above: Mr. Paul Octopus, demonstrating his "grasp" of the complexities of international athletic competition.

However, the truth is far more sinister. Paul is not psychic, but rather is the leader of the super-intelligent octopi that control the shadow government of the world. When not planning wars or overthrowing governments from his tiny tank, this 8-legged king enjoys football as a hobby, commanding entire teams to throw the game and intentionally lose for his amusement. The other octopi overlords roll their eyes at their supreme commander and his obsession with what they call "human tentacle-ball”.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mexi-can? You Mexi-should!

Still feeling the aftershocks of last weekend's Latin Fever, I decided to partake in some Mexican Folk Dancing lessons on Thursday.

Pictured above: You thought I was joking. I actually learned Mexican Folk Dance.

It actually was a compilation of many different kinds of traditional dances, all of which the crowd was very eager to learn. There was even an insufferably happy family there learning the dance together.

Pictured above: Family man. There is nothing more nauseatingly adorable than a dad dancing with his little daughters. I'm sure this creepily happy family just stopped to dance here at the festival on their way to get ice cream, ride a tandem bicycle, and yell at each other in the dairy aisle of a grocery store about who gets custody of the kids after the divorce.

At one point, the dance instructor asked, “Who here knows Polka?” and WAY too many hands went up. He could have just asked, “Who here is over 60 years old and can't speak Spanish?”

Having exhausted all his dance knowledge that could be shouted into a headset mike, the dance leader bid us farewell, and the band went on.

Pictured above: the band. I enjoyed the guy in the back whose only job was to play the Tambora, a kind of Mexican bass drum. He looked slightly sad and jealous of the other percussionist's wealth of objects to hit.

Despite being half-Japanese, I'm sure many of you are asking yourself why the whitest guy you know is wading so deeply into the sticky tar-pits of Hispanic culture, surely only to get stuck and become a fossilized version of my former self. It is because I, like the preserved mastodons of old, am getting my party on.

I'm also learning a lot from our Latin neighbors in exotic South America, like Portugal. For instance, they don't actually speak Latin in Latin American, only Greek (that's why classics majors have to learn both). I also discovered the origin of the word “Hispanic.” Before South America was made up of many different countries (mostly “guay's,” like Paraguay and Uruguay), did you know that it existed as one large country? The name of this country was Hispanistan, a political Pangaea. This is why individuals from South America are known as “Hispanic” and why none of them are named Stan.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Turnips, Tango, Tapas, Tequila, and Totes

For those wondering what happened to those delectable turnips I purchased last week, here is the result:

Pictured above: Sliced turnips, sautéed with garlic and red wine, seasoned with parsley and basil. After this picture, I promptly threw them all in the garbage. Why? Turnips are gross! Eww!

But as exciting as turnips are (most of my blog readership now comes from links from the Turnip Fancy magazine website), I decided to leave them at home as I prepared for a night on the town last Friday.

There was a free Argentinian tango lesson and live tango band performance at Grant Park, and a fellow MSTP student and I wanted to give it a try. You should understand that, between the two of us, our respective Tango abilities could not more disparate. I realize that although I have an immense history of "gettin' jiggy wit it" to a variety of dance styles, the tango was one dance I had never tamed. It was my unicorn: uncatchable and ready to impale me with its powerful horn.

Contrastly, my friend not only knew how to tango, he had years (probably decades) of Tango experience and training. I imagine that as a fetus, his in utero months of dance practice were difficult, as the umbilical cord was his only (and unruly) partner. Now a grown-up, non-fetus tango master, he could will a single rose into his hand just by stepping onto the dance floor.

The basic tango lessons at the beginning were easy enough, but when the band came on, I entered a world of trouble. All of my leading skills were limited to swing and salsa, where "leading" really just means throwing the girl around until you get tired. My half-whiteness, eager to finally get the chance to gain control, shone through in spades; I became a bumbling, awkward nerd. I didn't so much tango as I just apologized and stumbled around. While it is true, as the old saying goes, that it takes two to tango, it only takes one to ruin it.

However, my friend had the opposite problem. His level far exceeded that of the crowd, forcing an excess of charm and machismo to ooze onto the dancefloor, certainly in violation of some EPA ordinance. Later, he lamented the casual nature of the dance, where I "asked" women to dance with me. "In real tango," he said. "You find your partner by locking eyes onto each other."

Pictured above: This tango master demands a dance. And a GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

Defeated by the tango, I decided to do something I knew I could do well: eating. A few of us MSTP kids when out to get Tapas on Saturday night. Tapas is a famous part of Spanish cuisine, where traditionally diners will all share their entrées, their wine, and their tuberculosis (el consumption).

Afterwards, we went to a tequila bar, because this weekend had still not yet become Hispanic enough. Unfortunately, I didn't know that there was a themed party going on at the bar. From what I could deduce, the theme was "Terrible Frat Party." I took a picture, but my film melted almost immediately.

Pictured above: Not pictured. It was like the Ark of the Covenant. But instead of Nazis, it was dudes with baseball caps and polos. Close your eyes, bro!

So that's about it for my weekend. Oh yeah, I also made this sweet tote bag.

Pictured Above: Punctuation-nerd tote bag.

Note: This is not irony. Punctuation marks are awesome.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Subway Spotted: Gay Aftermath

Usually, the Chicago CTA system does not provide much in terms of interesting fashion. It does, however, give me the chance to meet LOTS AND LOTS of new people!

Pictured above: Well played, Green Line Ashland stop. Well played.

But there are those rare occasions where I witness excellence in style. This particular one came after the Chicago Pride Parade last Sunday.

Pictured above: The world's second most handsome man. The first? None other than Mr. Jon Hamm, a.k.a. Mr. Don Draper, who maintained his attractiveness even after they replaced his hands with steel hooks for Tina Fey.

Everything about this outfit works well for this gentleman, and they are all things I wish I could pull off. Let's take them in increasing order of awesomeness.

1. Pants

They fit well. That is all a well-panted man can ask for.

2. Suspenders

Notice that they don't have the metal clasps for pant-attachment that most suspenders have nowadays. They are the old-school type, with leather rings to attach to buttons on the inside of the pant. That's how you go from looking costumed to vintage. Did you know that metal clasps of all types were banned in the United States until 1957, a time when they were known as "the devil's fastener"?

3. Undershirt a.k.a. shirt

Granted, 95% of the people you see walking around with just an A-frame undershirt are going to be the mouth-breathing, hair-gelling, tattooed gentlemen that frequently appear in VH1 reality shows. However, this man has found a way to class it up. I still don't understand how. Perhaps witchcraft.

4. Hair

He manages to balance the effortless and the styled, classy yet comfortable. It even matches his five-o'clock shadow, showing finesse in the art of "stubble styling."

P.S. I do not know the sexual orientation of this man. However, it is irrelevant. His attractiveness quotient places him into a category that gives him legal authority to date whomever he pleases.

P.P.S. The book he is reading is Les Miserables. Given the size and state of the book, I would guess that he also uses it as a shield during knife fights.