Tuesday, April 14, 2009

day 2

where did i leave off? ah yes, we had fallen asleep at the embarrassingly uncool and unyouthful time of 9pm to the sweet slumber that can only be procured from the sound knowledge that you do not have to launder anything in your immediate vicinity. we woke up and trekked out butts down to sweet maple cafe for breakfast. sweet maple cafe already had a lineup at 9am on a saturday morning. it's not the biggest place and it's far off the beaten track (close the university of illinois, chicago campus) but hoo boy do they know how to do a rib-stickin' breakfast.

we ordered something savoury and something sweet and went splitsies.

two eggs over easy; biscuit; sausage patty; grits; side of ham. i ordered the blueberry pancakes which were GINORMOUS. look at them! (the blueberries were underneath)

thus fortified, we set off on our day, the centrepiece of which was hitting the museum of science and industry. we were kind of freaking out because yesterday's s**tshow at the planetarium (with every child and every frazzled parent in the northern hemisphere converging at the same time) made us wary of hitting such a kid-friendly place. we got there fairly early though and it was AWESOME. the best museum i've ever been to. it's HUGE! it's housed in one of the only surviving buildings from the world's fair in 1893. they have so much stuff!
it's so much fun! it's so conducive to taking funny pictures (our forte!)

i can't imagine being a kid and going to this museum because my head would probably explode. they have mini EVERYTHING! crazy animatronics and plastic people and miniature scenes and train sets that allow you to take pictures that seem like real life. to wit:

the first exhibit we hit was a circus-themed one. it was kind of weak, but saved itself by having little miniature scenes and a circus caravan going on a little wee track.

one of the major highlights of the museum is that they have a u-boat, captured during the second world war and they built a WHOLE WING to house the thing (it's monstrous.) the build up to actually seeing the u-boat is awesome. there's like a fake command room with projected people in costume radioing back and forth and then they have the u-boat just sitting there in the room with torpedos strewn about and other memorabilia and fun games/interactive things to do like decoding encrypted messages. super fun!

this is the dotytron in a u-boat berth:

see? the props are super-high-quality.

they also had one of those little setups rigged up where you can get your picture taken in front of the u-boat and then they sell it to you when you come out of the exhibit, all u-boat drunk, with a commemorative frame, key chain, and 2 key chain-sized shots for the very unreasonable sum of $20. this is ours:

the dude taking the picture was majorly appreciative of our pose. the dude in charge of selling the pictures said it was the best one he'd seen since he started working there. we ended up having them hold it for us until we were ready to leave. when we went to pick it up, another guy was working and when we asked for our picture, he said, "oh yeah! guys, that's the best one i've seen all day!" lol! basically, our rampant immaturity and obnoxiousness won over all the museum staff. another cute thing about the museum staff is that they're all SUPER into their jobs. they seem to hire only retired veterans and nerdily sincere high school kids and it's a winning strategy because the staff are amazingly friendly, informative, and engaged.

one of the reasons that this museum is rolling in top-notch, high-grade exhibits is because of the strong public-private partnerships. this can lead to interestingly staged exhibits that are thinly veiled indoctrination pieces from various stakeholders. take the "farm tech" room, whose sole purpose was to impress upon young minds the importance of industrial agriculture.

there were videos set to booming, loud, pop music of cows with horrifically distended udders placidly receiving their sweet succor at the hands of hispanic itinerant farm workers. we played a timed milking game where you had to start a timer, "spray" down a fake cows udders with a pressurized air spray and then attach 4 milking suction things. i won by 1 second. it was awesome. we were obnoxious but i think again, our unbridled, childlike enthusiasm really won over our fellow museum goers.

okay. this shot above came about as a result of me being me (read: a jerk). it resulted in one of the more infamous moments of my insanity during the trip and, on a greater scale, my life. they had these shiny john deere tractors set up and as soon as i saw them, i said, "i have to get a picture in one of those!" so i stood in line behind a couple of kids to wait my turn (reminder: the museum of science and industry is mainly targeted at children.) out of the corner of my eye, i see a 7 year old kid and his maybe 2 years older sibling come running into the room. the kid's eyes grow huge at the sight of the tractor and he beckons to his dad, "dad! check this out!" - he's so excited he's practically jumping out of his own skin and he proceeds to stand in front of me, probably assuming that i'm waiting for my own kid to come off the tractor.

so what do i do? without missing a beat, i tap the kid on the shoulder, three times. not unforcefully. tap. tap. tap. "excuse me," i say, in the same tone of voice i would use for say, an adult who cut in front of me in line, "i was actually next." no sooner had the words left my lips then i realized that i had just TOLD OFF A SEVEN YEAR OLD CHILD FOR CUTTING IN FRONT OF ME IN LINE TO SIT IN A TRACTOR. i looked over at the dotytron and he was staring at me, slack-jawed, aghast. ahahahahahahahaha!!!!!! maternal instinct success rate is running at about negative 50% right now. lol!!! who DOES that?!? what's wrong with me?!???? ahahahahaha.

then we headed into future zone. future zone was kind of weird. it featured a hallway with pictures of various "visionaries" and "inventors" and models of some of their creations. it wasn't terribly impressive. to give you an idea, this LED dress was one of the "futuristic" things on display, in addition to this stupid robot who was SUPPOSED to answer a limited array of questions (sample question: "do you have any friends?") but then just ended up staring vacantly at you and doing a herky jerky piss poor version of the robot (maybe that's why he doesn't have any friends.)

then midway during a conversation, the dotytron looks over, and says, "THEY HAVE ONE OF THOSE?!?! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS." and goes tearing off in the direction of this little bad boy:

it's a REACTABLE, which is basically a touch synthesizer, aka the dotytron's robot bride. we played with it for about 30 minutes. it was kind of annoying because these n00bs would keep coming into the room and messing with our song, so we'd have to wait until people left to clear the table and start all over again, but then more people would come (how dare they?) you basically move the various cubes around on the table and they interact with the table itself and each other and you can modulate the sounds (pitch, etc) by twisting and turning the blocks. it's pretty flippin' cool and basically made the dotytron's life.

this is a thing where you stuck your face into a little depression and it projected your face on this statue of a person juggling balls (tenuously related to both science AND industry, but cool nonetheless)

we basically blew through the museum in like, 3 hours and hit every floor. then we went to see frank lloyd wright's robie house. in our hubris (in collusion with the dotytron's hatred of tours), we didn't pre-buy tickets to the tour which allowed you access to the interior. in what would come to be a maddening trend for the remainder of the trip, we could never get within a 5 foot radius of frank lloyd wright. he wanted absolutely nothing to do with us. so we could only get shots of the exterior. i contemplated pulling a chinese "i'll give you cash under the table if you just let us in" but the dotytron nixed that idea.


then we literally walked for like, 2 miles (remember: the dotytron's bum leg) to get a tres leches cake that i had ordered that morning when the previous day's tres leches cake mission had been a bust. i called this place, kristoffer's cafe during breakfast at sweet maple cafe to see if they might have any tres leches cake left in the afternoon. at the time that i called (10 in the morning) they were already out of the vanilla. in a panic, i ordered a 9" caramel, not really realizing that i was somehow buying an ENTIRE TRES LECHES CAKE. rick bayless says that the tres leches at kristoffers cafe and bakery is the best and i trust rick bayless.

so we schlepped our butts all the way out there to get the cake. then i had to figure out what the frig i was going to do with a 9" cake that weighed about 10 lbs from being soaked in the three milks. en route, we also passed by some sketchiness, involving a pretty downtrodden neighbourhood and a demolished parking lot area that smelled like human feces because we suspect someone was living in the tarp-covered car parked there and had probably jerry-rigged themselves an impromptu latrine. it was kind of gross and unsettling.

this is how you know you're traveling lagerfeld styleee. i will make you walk 3 miles out of your way for tres leches cake, past some very sketchy neighbourhoods/living areas. i will make a harebrained, panicky decision to buy an ENTIRE tres leches cake. i will then embark on a mission of every cvs and walgreen's in the downtown core in a vain attempt to find tupperwares, only to find that you can buy a SLOW COOKER at walgreen's but will receive blank stares when you ask for tupperware (incidentally, sales people in the states are about a BILLION times nicer than sales people in canada, don't ask me why.) i will then somehow sweet talk the proprietor of some random restaurant to give me 8 takeout containers (for free! i offered to pay but he refused) and then i will then somehow sweet talk room service into looking for a pie lifter for me. room service will not be able to procure a pie lifter but will give me two knives. you will watch incredulously as i divide the tres leches cake into fifths, pack each fifth into an ill-begotten takeout container, and somehow macguyver the bar fridge into accepting all my tres leches cake portions.

it's crazy.

more to come tomorrow! reviews of the publican and al's no. 1 beef and day 3!

fin.

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