March 19, 2015

March 19, 2015

Putting the NO in MONOPOLY

Because humanity can never leave well enough alone, a new “Here & Now” edition of Monopoly now features American cities as the properties. Here are some pictures of the game board:



I found out about this because my hometown placed in the red group at #11. But, to paraphrase our youth, I can’t even with this. To wit:

1. Pierre is #1? Really? REALLY?

2. Why is the image representing Milwaukee two people in Packers regalia? While most Milwaukeeans are Packers fans, you couldn’t have picked—oh, I don’t know—something actually unique to MILWAUKEE?

3. What is the deal with the currency symbol? Is the USD not good enough for Monopoly? Because it’s good enough for the rest of the freaking world, Hasbro.

4. Community Chest is now First Class? What the crap does that even MEAN?

5. Have the pieces all changed? My favorite pieces have always been the iron and the thimble. But I see, like, the Statue of Liberty and maybe a Shakeweight? I guess I need to start carrying my own pieces around. I refused to by represented by a bowl of quinoa.

6. FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RAILROADS? (If they were replaced with airports, where are the other two? And which airports are we talking about here?)

7. ALSO, THE UTILITIES?

8. Why does the “In Jail” guy still look like a 1930s hobo? (Props to keepin’ him white, though.)

9. Do we not have houses and hotels anymore? Is it all virtual? Do you build equity in a property by Airbnb-ing it?

I’m skeptical, people. I don’t know whose Here & Now this is supposed to represent, but it’s not mine until they add Vegas, change the Milwaukee picture to the Calatrava, and bring back the little green plastic houses that make a satisfying tinkle when you rattle them together.

Strike two, Monopoly.

March 11, 2015

March 11, 2015

I'm Lovin' It

Friend-of-blog M and I were recently talking about signature McDonald’s items. As proud children of America’s restaurant industrial complex, our childhoods were filled with the joy of fats and carbohydrates. When I was your age, I didn’t even know what quinoa was. SO THERE.

M’s a big fan of the McChicken sandwich; I’m partial to the Filet-O-Fish. Both worthy choices, as are the McChicken Nugget, the McRib, Shamrock Shakes, the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the Big Breakfast, and the short-lived but much-loved-by-me Arch Deluxe. You can keep your wraps, tenders, and apple slices. And if you had given me a Happy Meal with milk in it, it’s possible I would have punched you in the face.


That’s not a trick of perspective. That soda is as big as my entire head. Just how the good Lord intended.

(Also, I appear to have barbecue sauce with my nuggets, which is causing a little crisis of faith for me. I am a staunch honey apologist, but I am here faced with apparently incontrovertible visual evidence that I at least once got the barbecue sauce. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?)

What was your food- or drink-stuff of choice? Extra points if you grew up abroad and it’s an item special to your own country’s restaurants, like McBangers and Mash or something. McSpaghetti. McPaella. McCurry. I could do this all day.

March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015

His Name is Alexander Hamilton

CBS Sunday Morning (your favorite weekend morning newscast and mine) did a lovely piece on Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton yesterday. The full 9ish-minute video is here, but the salient points are thus:

- Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of hip-hop musical In the Heights, has a new musical about Alexander Hamilton.
- It’s currently running at the Public Theatre but moving to Broadway this summer.
- In LMM’s words, Hamilton is “The story of America then, told by America now.”

I’ve been looking forward to this musical since fall 2013, and bought tickets as soon as they were available to plebes like me last year. I saw Hamilton at a matinee last month and I still can’t get over it. It’s just that good. A taste—the first song, performed at the White House some years ago and materially unchanged since then:


Hamilton, to be frank, lived a hell of a life. The salient points are thus, copied from his Wikipedia page:

- Born out of wedlock and raised in the West Indies, local wealthy men helped Hamilton get a college education after he was orphaned as a child.
- He became the senior aide to General Washington, the American forces' commander-in-chief.
- He founded the Bank of New York
- He helped achieve ratification by writing 51 of the 85 installments of the The Federalist Papers.
- Hamilton's opposition to Adams' re-election helped cause his defeat in the 1800 election.
- Taking offense at some of Hamilton's comments, Burr challenged him to a duel in 1804 and mortally wounded Hamilton, who died the next day.
- Hamilton became involved in an affair with Maria Reynolds over a nine-month period that would be revealed to the public several years afterward.
- The main administration building of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, is named Hamilton Hall to commemorate Hamilton's creation of the United States Revenue Cutter Service, one of the predecessor services of the United States Coast Guard.

ALL ONE DUDE, people. All one dude. And the musical contrasts him with Aaron Burr (played absolutely brilliantly by Leslie Odom, Jr.), who was less committal if no less brilliant. Is it better to burn out or fade out? Maybe neither?

I’m already trying to figure out how to get back to NYC to see the show on Broadway. Tickets are pricey, but 100% worth it. Chicago is very definitely in danger of losing My Favorite Musical status, and I don’t say that lightly.

March 3, 2015

March 3, 2015

50 Shades of STEM

Tonight, I get one step closer to scientist bingo by attending a lecture by Dr. Michio Kaku at Sixth & I.


I just need Bill Nye to come back to D.C. and I’ll be set. TheBoy has already seen both Bill Nye *and* Michio Kaku, but he argues that Stephen Hawking should be on the card and I’m like “ARE YOU MAKING THE RULES OR WHAT?” Next thing I know, he’s going to tell me to put women on the card or something similarly ridiculous.

Anyway. Science.

I think I nerded out hardest over Brian Greene, because The Elegant Universe has blown my mind during regular re-watches over the past decade. But should I ever get to ask Bill Nye a question, there’s no question I’m going with “Why do we have seasons? BECAUSE THE EARTH IS TILTED.”

[Related: In searching for that clip, I found a number of full length Bill Nye episodes on YouTube. Danger, Will Robinson!]

It’s not that I’m opposed to adding to the scientist bingo card. But I want true revolutionaries of theory. Nothing applied. Nothing I can understand. The current frontrunner is Yitang Zhang, a New Hampshire mathematician who apparently determined the range (or “bound gap”*) within which you are guaranteed to find two prime numbers. Reminder: I don’t really get why this is something we need to know, or how you would calculate it. Therein lies the beauty.

Now how to get him on the lecture circuit?

* Could be all the 50 Shades of Zeitgeist talking, but does this sound a little dirty? Mathematicians, you saucy minxes!