Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gym hunting update

So we've spent the last 24 hours thinking about what gym we like. After a lot of thought I've come to the conclusion that the deciding factor will have to be location. We need somewhere that's close so we can walk. We don't have much time in the afternoon to be wasting fighting traffic. The only time I'm ever in a car is on the weekends when we go grocery shopping or something like that. I'd like to keep it that way. Weekday driving is for the birds.

I talked to some folks at work and we all agree that there are really only two choices within reasonable walking distance - Elmwood and St. Charles Athletic Club. Elmwood is far and away the most convenient for me since I can get to the downtown location in about 2 minutes. To go to St. Charles we'd either have to drive (which I've already said - sucks) or walk under the Business 90 overpass. This second option sucks even more because we'd rather not be hanging around under the overpass - especially at night.

After location, the next consideration is price. Here is the price rundown on the two contenders.

St. Charles Athletic Club
$49 a month for one person- $79 a month for two people.
$150 application fee - waived until the end of the summer.

Grand total of $79 a month

$55 a month for one - $95 for two people.
$35 application fee for one - $60 for two.
$150 cancellation fee if cancelled before 6 months.

Grand total of $95 a month plus the $60 application fee.

So we have to decide if Elmwood's location is worth more than the initial 60 dollars plus the extra 16 dollars a month.

Not to ruin the suspense or anything but I'm thinking it is.

I talked to a guy who said he's going to switch to Elmwood and there are a couple people at work who already go. The bad thing about it is that it's closed on the weekends. There's a plus there, though. You can go to the Harahan location for free from Friday afternoon until Sunday night. People talk about that one like it's the Taj Mahal. It's got basketball courts, swimming pools, rock climbing - you name it. I've got to check it out. It will also give me a chance to see the infamous Huey Long bridge that I hear so much about - bonus.

Aubie has to go travel the freaking world for the next two weeks. We're gonna go check out Elmwood when she gets back. I'm already sold. She wants to see it first before she decides. Hopefully we can get started sometime in the next few weeks.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Looking to join a gym

Well it's about that time again. Every three of four years we decide to join a gym. Here we go again. Last time we were really good about going. It was a ritual to get there about 5:30pm every day. The only thing that stopped us was that we had to move.

Once you go for a while it's not a big deal. It's the first few days that are hard. Starting over in a new place really sucks. Hopefully we can get back into a good routine here in NOLA.

We don't have a clue which one we'll like. Right now I know about Elmwood Fitness Center and the Downtown Fitness Center. Both have locations pretty close to us.

I guess we'll have to ask around and see what people like.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Melting Pot

It's time for another installment of our ever popular weekly restaurant review. This week's edition comes yet another day early. Aubie got to pick and she just had to have fondue. Tonight we went to The Melting Pot.

A couple of things to consider if you want to go to this place. It takes a LONG time and it's pretty expensive. Our meal took a grand total of 2 hours.

First things first. We had to make a reservation. The best we could do was 8pm. I thought it was going to be a small little place. It turns out that it's pretty big. There were a lot of people there but it's not really packed. They just don't have enough servers.

We didn't think this was a t-shirt and jeans type of place so we had to dress up. I had to put my work clothes back on and that sucked. Oh the things I do for Aubie.

So we get there right on time and notice people waiting around for a seat. We go up to the desk and tell them our name and they whisk us off to our table immediately. HA! It's pretty cool to feel like a VIP.

We go to our table and it's tiny. The one we sat in was like a quarter of a booth. You probably know how the deal works. They have a stove on the table and everything is brought in raw and you cook it in front of you. It was yet another first for me.

We ordered something called the big night out. It's basically a deal where we just share everything from a single platter. The meal had four courses. First came some cheese dip sort of thing.

They gave us chips, bread, vegetables and even apples to dip in the cheese. It seemed weird but the cheese dipped apples were pretty good. As for the vegetables - we wouldn't know.

Afterwards we each had salad and then shared an assortment of meats cut up into bite sized pieces. Our platter had lobster, shrimp, chicken, and steak. There were also some potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms and squash that we threw in the pot and grabbed whenever we wanted. The lobster was really good. As for the chicken - not so much. It's really odd to cook your food one bite at a time. Every piece of meat took two minutes to cook so that explains the huge amount of time we spent there.

We finished up with a chocolate desert called the flaming turtle. There were a bunch of fruits and a piece of cheesecake that we dipped in a pot filled with milk chocolate, pecans and caramel. Our server threw in some Bacardi 451 and put a lighter to it to set it all on fire. That blue flame was pretty cool. It was really good.

Now, on to the drinks! The apple martini Aubie got was really good. I got a Mojito. It was alright. The funny thing is that the guy who was mixing up our cheese was telling me that Mojito's suck there. THANKS DUDE! He was wrong. It wasn't that bad at all.

We also shared a raspberry martini toward the end. It took a really long time to get to us though so one of the managers gave it to us for free.

A note about the servers. They are all really friendly and confident. I bet it's because of the kind of tips they must be pulling down. One guy said he had four tables and we were sitting down doing the math. Must be something along the lines of 40+ dollars an hour on the weekends. I imagine they have to share it though. I don't know.

Overall we like The Melting Pot. I HATE the time it takes to finish the meal though. TWO SOLID HOURS! It's not going to be on my itinerary any time soon but not because it's a bad place. It's obviously top notch. I just can't justify spending so much time in that little booth.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Political quick hits

"Democratic" governor Kathleen Blanco signed a bill banning abortion this week. It's meaningless unless the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade but it's still news. Way to play to your base governor.

She also signed a bill making it a crime to sell violent video games to minors. A Baton Rouge judge quickly issued an order blocking the bill. Looks like parents in Louisiana will have to actually pay attention to what their kids are doing - at least for a little while longer.

We really need to go register to vote soon.

Speaking of people I'm never going to vote for - I just learned that William Jefferson is our congressman.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Big Brother All Stars

Big Brother is back on today. It will take over our lives just like it has every other summer. I'm not ashamed --- anymore.

Tuesday nights are booked.

Friday Night Lights is a new show on NBC this fall. It's on Tuesdays at 7pm. Don't bother to call at that time. I won't answer.

Random sports stuff

Little bro reminded me about a couple of things.

Of course I watched the finals of the NBA and Stanley Cup. Heat and Hurricanes won. Good series on both counts. They are overshadowed here by soccer - sucks for them.

Speaking of the World Cup - USA can win if Czech Republic wins. There just has to be a huge goal differential with Czechs and US combining to win by more than 4 or 5 goals. I can't remember and I can't look it up because I haven't seen the games for today yet - they're still waiting on TIVO.

USA-Ghana and Czech-Italy are both on at the same time tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to rule.

Also, the NFL is 77 days away. I plan on giving much love to the Saints. I've got to learn to stop hating Reggie Bush.

Most importantly - there will be much talk of the MIGHTY CRIMSON TIDE here. 72 DAYS AWAY! Bama plays LSU in Baton Rouge this year so I MUST GET TICKETS.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Here we go Shell Shockers here we go

You can learn a lot of stuff when you watch the news. New Orleans has a soccer team. They are the Shell Shockers. They play in the USL Premier Development League. This is the equivalent of single-A baseball as best I can tell. I had no idea Major League Soccer had a farm system but it looks like they do. The Shockers play in Kenner so the chances of me seeing them play are slim and none. I think slim just left the building.

All the same - Go Shockers Go!

Smoking bans rule

So we're watching the news right now. (ABC 26 - can't watch any more Norman Robinson)

Anyway we just learned that Louisiana is going to have a smoking ban in restaurants starting January 1.


You degenerate smokers will now have to go to a bar to do your dirty deed.

They're talking about it at Metblogging

USA wins 1-1

Just saw the USA-Italy game. I thought I was going to die. Come on boys!!!!

We went nuts when it looked like the US scored a second goal. It was called back though so the game ended in a tie.

It's funny because when we first started watching the games last week one of our big questions was about the offsides rule. It seemed so confusing. Today we saw the replay and my first thought was "McBride was clearly offsides." Soccer nerd in training here.

One more game left in the group stage. USA needs to beat Ghana and have Italy beat the Czech Republic. If this happens then they get to play Brazil in the knockout stage.



Aubie's got a plane to catch tomorrow morning so your Sunday restaurant review comes in one day early. Today's choice was Rock-n-sake.

I talked to a guy at work yesterday and he suggested this place since it was so close to our apartment. He said it was great and it isn't like any other sushi place. I'm glad he told me about it because I've never been down Fulton street. There are a couple of other places on that street that I think we might check out. It's really convenient - only a 5 minute walk.

We went for that reason and because Aubie's been nagging me to go to a Japanese restaurant for, oh, I don't know, 8 years now. I've only eaten it one time and that was in the student dining hall in college. It was horrible. Definitely nothing to write home about (well I guess it was now - HI MOM). I imagine that wasn't top shelf sushi so I guess it was time to try again.

So anyway, on to rock-n-sake. It was OK. I was really ready to title my post "rock-n-sucky" but I can't and that's a shame. It looks like a popular spot for dates. It's definitely a "hip" place for young folks. There were a lot of good looking people dressed to the nines. Luckily there were a few like us who walked in off the street wearing shorts and T-shirts.

It's really dark and they have popular music playing in the background. Plus they have drawings of naked ladies on the wall. Overall it seemed like a "classy" type of joint. The waitress was awesome. She gave me coke refills and didn't charge me!

As for the sushi, I'm still not a fan. Twenty one year old Bama wouldn't be caught dead in the place but now I've grown up. I tried one of everything and didn't make faces or anything. If you don't know what raw fish tastes like let me tell you. Nothing. It didn't really have a taste at all. The only flavor I got was from the wasabi I dipped it in. That's not really a bad thing. Let's just say I don't hate it and I don't love it. I think people who like sushi would love the place. Haters would probably continue hating since you have to eat raw fish and all.

They actually had some cooked stuff. Aubie got some of that and it was pretty good. Quick tip for you guys. If you get stuck at a sushi bar, order the teriyaki.

The fun part was, of course, the chopsticks. I took to them like a duck to water, or something like that. I spent most of the time picking up stuff and moving it around. I was even picking up pieces of rice like a good young grasshopper.

I don't know sushi from a hole in the ground so I got what amounts to a combo platter. I have no idea what it's called. It was California roll, sashimi and something that starts with an n but I can't remember.

Here's some video of me showing off my chopstick SKILLZ.

Yeah, I know it's hard to see. I went through the trouble of uploading it though so I'm keeping it.

Oh, I almost forgot! It wouldn't be a restaurant review without....

Try the Sake Cider. Good stuff.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Amazing Race or NOT!

Today, I decided to take a short cut to the West Bank. I was in Harahan picking up a package at the Federal Express Distribution Center & noticed that there was another way to the West Bank. At first, I was a little excited because I like finding new routes. Big Mistake! I made the turn & then I saw the Huey P. Long Bridge ahead. As I started up the incline, I immediately felt that feeling that I get when I enter a hospital. You know that clammy, butterflies in your stomach, nauseous feeling. Unfortunately, there was no turning back. I tried to think of it as practice for my Amazing Race dream, but it was hard to pretend with multiple cars passing me.

I was happy to read that there are plans to expand the bridge later this year. I guess I'm not the only one that does not enjoy the experience.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

John "Major" Wisdom

Earlier I made a horrible pun about the judge they named the Court of Appeals building after. I walk through the courtyard every day and I started wondering about the man. I did a little research and learned that I'm an idiot.

Judge John Minor Wisdom is known as the father of landmark civil rights decisions. He was part of the "Fifth Circuit Four". They were a group of deep south judges in the fifties and sixties who enforced civil rights laws including desegregation and voting rights. It was Judge Wisdom who had a critical role in implementing the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. The "Four" were certainly some of the bravest to ever sit on any bench.

President Clinton awarded Judge Wisdom the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993 and signed the bill naming the building after him in 1994.

Phenomenal choice for a namesake.

There's a book about Wisdom and the rest of the "Four" called Unlikely Heroes. I need to check that out.

Couple of interesting tidbits I've learned about the building. They used the hall inside to film parts of Kingfish, the Huey Long biography. It's one of my favorite movies ever. Don't listen to any haters, it rules. Judge Wisdom wasn't a Long fan by any stretch. He switched to the Republican party in response to the Kingfish.

The outside of the building was also used in JFK.

On that note, the front steps of the building are just a few feet away from 544 Camp Street. That's the address Lee Harvey Oswald used for all his political literature.

So, in conclusion, cool building - phenomenal man. RIP Judge Wisdom.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sammy's Steak and Lobster

It's Sunday again so that means it's time for another installment of our NOLA restaurant guide. This week it was Sammy's Steak and Lobster. Our review of this establishment can be summed up in one word:


I should start out by saying that the original plan was to go to the Steak Pit. It's located on Bourbon street. We just figured we check out a Steak House in the FQ and that's the first place I ran across when searching on the internet.

So we turn onto Bourbon off of Canal and the fun began. First off it was insanely hot - yet again. So we're walking down the street and the most foul stench we've come across in a long time hits us. We should have turned around then but we're dumb and we kept on walking. The smell died off after about 6 blocks and we finally get to the Steak Pit. I don't even know if it's open now. All I know is that it had a tiny little storefront with bars on the door. We have a pretty firm policy of not visiting restaurants that look like crack houses so we passed by and stopped at Sammy's less than a block away.

Sammy's has a nice open outdoor seating area so we checked it out.

The food was average at best. After looking at the menu I just decided to have a burger and Aubie got some chicken dish. The burger was basically a warmed over frozen patty. Eh, it was alright.

Two complaints really. First we tried the "world famous" hurricane.


Disgusting. I can hear you now. "But Bama I love hurricanes." That may be true but you don't love this garbage. It's really watered down. They just pour it out of a container. What's the point of having the bar there?

Second complaint. The bill. It was really hot so I asked for a couple of refills on my coke. That's not a problem in any other restaurant in America but in this one I wasn't ordering a refill but instead a brand new $3.00 coke. When we got the bill I told the guy at the bar that there must be some mistake because we got charged for like 5 cokes. He just looked at me nonchalantly and said "we don't give free refills." It would have been nice to have been told this when we asked for them!!!

Not only do they charge for the drinks but they also include the tip as well. At least I think it's the tip. It said "server charge." We did the math and figured out that we probably would have tipped more but that's not the point. I don't care what dump we eat in we make a firm policy of not taking it out on the waitress. I guess I can see the reasoning for including it in the bill. There must be people in that area who would stiff them all the time. Still this is really annoying.

So we got a large bill for average food surrounded by a disgusting smell. As an added plus I started feeling sick almost as soon as I walked out the door.

I caught myself humming "Bad Day" all the way home.

Tropical Storm Alberto

Hurricane season is here and Tropical Storm Alberto is first up to bat. I know this because the ABC station here has a huge box covering the lower left half of the screen. I hate broadcast television.

The complete content of the box is as follows.

TS Alberto
23.9N 88.1W
Moving NW 9mph
Winds 45 mph
385 miles SE of N.O

I have no idea what the purpose of that is. I'd like to meet the person who thinks it has any value whatsoever. The thing is forecasted to hit Florida.

This is gonna be a long summer.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Trinidad wins 0-0

Wow, the Trinidad-Sweeden game was awesome! Not a single goal was scored but who cares? I enjoyed it. (Did I really just say that?)

I don't know anything about soccer or either of the two teams but I understand that Trinidad was a huge underdog. It's pretty dumb to be sitting around rooting for a scoreless tie at the end but that's pretty much what I was doing. I bet a lot of people were doing the same thing.

Underdogs rule.

Bird watching

I get a lot of grief for this but one of the toughest classes I had in college was bird watching. There must be a million different birds and they have these small little differences. Basically you have to pay close attention and that's not really my strong suit. I complained the whole time, in private, how dumb and useless the whole thing was.

Even so, whenever I see birds now I always stop and look for a while to check them out. If I've got my camera with me I take an embarrassing amount of pictures. Every time Aubie convinces me not to post about it. I always agree. Not this time!

Here in the city I don't see a lot of robins or cardinals or anything like that. What I see, constantly, is pigeons. At least I think that's what they are. I really should have paid more attention in class.

So, today I'm walking along, oblivious to everything, listening to my XM radio, when I notice that I'm surrounded by a group of these little guys. Did I escape? Don't be silly, of course I did.

Once I saw them I had to take some pictures. Here are the two types of little guys I saw.

I'll spare you, but here's one last video of a pigeon doing his thing.

Thanks Dr. Blewitt, wherever you are.

World Cup Fever

Yeah, I got it. Deal with it.

I have decided to make a commitment to watch all 64 games. So far I've seen 3. Right now I'm in the middle of game 4, Sweeden v. Trinidad. It's tied 0-0 at the half but still really exciting. Lots of blocked shots and near misses. This team calling this game should do every single one of them. The color commentator for the England game - SUCKS! Make him stop talking.

I liked the Germany game (lots of scoring - nice). The Ecuador game - eh, not so much. As for England-Paraguay, well, if you missed the last 85 minutes you didn't miss much. Some poor guy scored an own goal off a Beckham shot really early on. That was all of the scoring. I hope the Paraguay guy doesn't get shot or anything.

There are only 3 games a day and these things are really amazing on time. I TIVO them and they go 2 hours almost constantly. I'm definitely not missing the commercials.

Apparently Star Wars Rules

I was out and about today and I noticed this little piece of concrete that I walk over all the time. It reminded me that I have Episode 3 on TIVO and I really need to watch it. I've seen the other 5 so I better get that done.

I'm really liking this Anakin kid. Don't tell me how it ends!

I also wonder if Jeff and Angela are still together. I hope so. It would suck to see that all the time if they broke up soon after.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

Today we had dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

It was OK. Not really a New Orleans original. There are franchises all over the country. This one was on Decatur Street in the French Quarter.

The gag, obviously, is that everything in the place is Forrest Gump related. You basically have a choice between burgers and shrimp. I had a burger and Aubie had the shrimp.

The menu and the drink menu attached to a ping pong paddle.

We sat at a two person table and right above it was a little case with young Forrest's "magic legs".

On the wall was a mural of Forrest playing for the mighty Crimson Tide.

One of the nice things about the place is two little license plates that tell the waiters when you need them. As soon as we turned them somebody was there on the double.

As for drinks, we would definitely recommend the Lava Flow. It's basically a pina colada with strawberries mixed in. I don't usually go for the mixed drinks but this one was really good.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It starts today

Any respectable NOLAblog has to point out that today is the start of hurricane season.

It shouldn't surpise anybody that this little story is all the news stations wanted to talk about today. They had weather people stand in front of maps and talk about past storm tracks and projections for storms this year. They also had interviews with local leaders about our preparedness this go round. It was actually really interesting.

Ray Nagin's inauguration

One of the nice things about New Orleans is that no matter where you are there's a chance that out of nowhere you'll hear music. That happens every Wednesday at my office around 5pm. It happened around 11am today. I had no idea what in the world was going on but I looked down on Poydras street and saw a parade going on.

It turns out today was Mayor Nagin's inauguration day.

The mayor was riding along in a horse drawn carriage. There were actually two carriages in the parade but the one carrying the mayor was obvious. First of all there were about 6 of NOLA's finest on motorcycles surrounding him. Second there was the glow of his bald head. Finally there was the sight of his wife's ridiculously awesome hat. I don't know if it can be seen from outer space but I promise you that it can be seen from around 30 stories up.

To be honest the whole thing looked kind of ridiculous because there wasn't exactly a crowd outside cheering. All it accomplished was creating a massive traffic jam. For some reason he decided to stop in front of my building and talk to some guy for a long time. I felt bad for the poor people behind him waiting for this thing to pass by.

The music was good though. And the guys in the band had some really colorful costumes. That was good for us because everyone looks like ants from way up high.

Nola.com has more pictures. They've got all the video of the ceremonies as well.