24 April 2004 - 12:04 p.m.
Monday: I move to a hotel downtown (I'd stayed in the O'Hare hotel to be close to the STUD/Watsonian festivities, but I think next time I'll just stay downtown the whole time), having found a good deal through Hotwire. Had lunch at Caliterra (asparagus soup with scallops - mmm! - with a glass of Mionetto Prosecco, which is now my current favorite sparkling wine), then went back to my room and read and napped and luxuriated in my view of Chicago (17 stories up. Oh, I love cities. . .). For dinner, I met up with a friend from the Tribune for dinner at Sayat Nova (Armenian), where we split a couple of combo plates and a milk custard. . ..
Tuesday, I catch the #6 bus down to Hyde Park, where I pick up too many books at Powell's ("too many" defined here as "blatantly ignoring the fact that the books will add that much more weight to the suitcases to be schlepped up and down various El station steps on my way back to Midway") before meeting up with another friend for Harold's Chicken. We then stopped by the Hyde Park Art Center to look at some of the Playboy magazine art on display there (nothing particularly grabbing, as it were (ahem) - the nude figure studies by the Art Center students one room over were more in my line frankly) before sauntering over to the Museum of Science and Industry. Cooed over the baby chicks and had a great time with the blues exhibit (especially the interactive keyboard - it uses lighted keys to show you the basics on jamming to a twelve-bar sequence. I want one of those!. . .). Also sat in the flight simulator - someone had advised G. that it would help him with his fear of flying. I'm not quite sure what that someone was thinking, since it was a simulator of a fighter plane - his eyes were clenched shut the entire time. (The "trip" was all the more surreal because we were packed in with a group of giggly deaf teenagers who were happily shrieking and signing to each other in the half-darkness.)
So. We survived that and the drenching we got on the walk back to his car/my bus stop. Cleaned myself up and then met up with an old girlfriend for tea and chocolate at Unique So Chique (specifically white tea and almond bark, which were excellent, and a not-so-good mushroom-and-rosemary pizza. Service was exquisite, and I understand he doesn't have much of a kitchen, so it's definitely a venue for a break rather than a meal). Then we headed to the Jazz Showcase, where she bought herself a cognac and me a shot of Balvenie, and we got wowed by Rene Marie (who seems to have been written up by the rest of Chicago over the weekend - here's hoping that brings in the crowds, because the woman sure can sing). Highlights of the set: "Red Shoes," "Surrey with a Fringe on Top" (v. sassy), and the closer, "Bolero/Suzanne" (surprisingly, intensely moving - who knew that a tribute combining Maurice Ravel and Leonard Cohen could sound like that?).
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