Burger Bar - Las Vegas, NV

October 25th, 2006

I am sure you are all familiar with the traditional salad-bar concept. You walk up to a selection of ingredients and fix yourself a personalized salad. Burger Bar takes that idea and steals it on behalf of carnivores everywhere (but primarily in Las Vegas!). There is no need for a sneeze guard at Burger Bar since all of the available ingredients, or burger toppings if you will, are listed on the menu. They do offer pre-designed burgers that range from reasonable to not-so-reasonable price-wise, but the fun as far as I am concerned is in building my own burger.

For eaters more adventurous than I, which basically means everyone, Burger Bar is one of the few places in Las Vegas where I would suggest you go to frequently. With so many restaurants in Las Vegas it is hard to go someplace you have been before at the expense of trying somewhere new, but I try to apply that concept to dinner more than I do for lunch. Burger Bar, though a fantastic dinner spot, works well for lunch too. Each time you go, you can create a new burger blueprint like one you have never had before. There are enough options to keep you entertained visit after visit. And even though I basically get the same thing everytime, it hasn't gotten old yet.

Angus Beef + Sesame seed roll + Bacon + Cheddar cheese + Fried egg = Bliss. Add their Brown gravy and you'll wonder why anyone puts ketchup on a burger (and it's GREAT on their skinny fries).

When, not if, you go looking for Burger Bar, you'll find it in Mandalay Bay in the Mandalay Place.

My first encounter with the Zodiac.

October 8th, 2006

I have never dealt much with the planets and the alignments of the moon. I know that it is big business the world over but it hasn't made its way into my home yet. I have finally had my first encounter with someone who took it at least somewhat seriously.

She wasn't what I would expect from a stereotypical aspect. She did not have long wavy hair, she did not move her arms in wide sweeping motions as she spoke, and she did not dress entirely in purple. What she did do was comment on, in her case, punctuality.

She was seated next to Nick and I while she waited for her friends. She told us that she hates when people are late though she is actually chronically tardy. This was not a double standard to her, since she informed us that she is a Taurus. She correctly assumed that our blank stares were an invitation for elaboration. Tauruses (Taurii?) are always late, she told us matter of factly.

Her sister is a Taurus. But she's always early. Now I'm really confused.

I don't understand it. I don't think I will ever understand it. And that is just fine by me.

The good news is that she bought me a beer. Which is also just fine by me.

"I'm not gonna lie..."

October 4th, 2006

Have you ever stopped to consider how much of a jerk this guy is? The "I'm not gonna lie" guy. Many in my peer group/age bracket have uttered this stupid phrase at least once. We use it as a dramatic conversational device to isolate and thus emphasize what will ultimately be a simple and meaningless comment. Granted, I have used it with a relative frequency and I'm not gonna lie, I find it to be surprisingly effective in certain situations. But do you know anyone who really says it ALL THE TIME? Has it ever made you wonder about all of the things he lies about? You know when he isn't lying because he tells you he isn't before he delivers a nugget of truth, but what about all of the other times?

Think about it.

East Coast Road Trip Part IV - All Good Things Must Come To An End

October 3rd, 2006

Cont'd from East Coast Road Trip Part III - One for the Books "Down the Shore"

We woke up Sunday morning in Manasquan after little rest. While we began to lay out our day, we headed back to the beach for more boardwalk food. The chicken fingers were even better the second time around. The plan, when we left Michigan a few days before, was to leave the shore and head to our Nation's Capital. Defeated thoughts began to poison our minds. "Go home early," they said. "You've seen enough people and been to enough places already."

We had both taken Monday off work and to have that day at home to recuperate would have been a blessing. But wait. What's that I hear?

No good stories come from going home early.

As if a switch had been flipped, thoughts of home vanished. Thoughts of doing what we had set out to do energized us. Our time there would be short, but we would get to see some friends that we do not see at any regular intervals. We were going to D.C. And after stopping for a full tank of gas, two WaWa raspberry iced teas and a bag of Reese's Pieces we were on our way.

My friend Stephanie had planned our night. We were to head out for a drink and then to the restaurant for dinner. We missed the window of time she reserved to grab a drink by the water (someplace) but made it in time to put on big boy pants and head out to an incredible Italian dinner at Filomena Ristorante (located in Georgetown); the three of us and Josh's friend Brooke. The food and the company were great.

After dinner we said goodnight to the Brooke and Stephanie and met up with Josh's friend "Walt" and followed him back to his place where we would crash after staying up most of the night testing each other's affinity for movies.

Monday did not hold much excitement at the onset of our day. We grabbed some food with "Walt" and his brother before returning to the open road. Eight hours (I think was the drive time) ahead of us and no day to recover when we got home. We both had to be at work the next day. A feeling of impending doom spread over my car.

When we drove out of Michigan on Wednesday we had hopes and expectations of a great trip ahead. The return trip promised only heavy eyelids at work for the next few days. We needed something. We needed a beacon in the night. I don't remember which of us was responsible, so I'll give Josh the credit for making the suggestion. Half kidding he reminds me that we would pass right by Detroit on our way back home...more specifically we would pass Mexicantown. We shared a few laughs about going out with a bang and even our reservations with getting home that much later. But what's another hour at that point? And with that, we now had a late dinner at Xochimilco to make us excited to get back into Michigan.

This was the least exciting leg of our trip. I have no good stories to share from D.C., but I could not leave the trip recap unfinished. We had a lot of fun in D.C. as well as on the entire trip. It was a great time and I can't wait to do it again soon.

Number of consecutive days eating chicken fingers ends at: 5.

Last night's dream.

September 19th, 2006

Something may actually be wrong with me. I have listened to speculation for many moons without much in the way of justification. Today, what I offer you may seal the deal.

They say everyone has multiple dreams every night. When you wake up and say you did not dream, it is rather that you simply do not remember doing it. I have no idea what the medical/astrological explanation is, it's just what I've heard. And I have heard it a lot, because I never remember my dreams, nor do I ever remember having dreams. Last night was an exception.

And last night was vivid.

I was my same, large, 25-year old self, but rather than the sit at home type stuff I am usually doing to entertain myself, I had a little league baseball game. It was my turn to bat, and I was simply furious. I couldn't find my 6-iron. I had to settle for my 5-iron. Why my golf clubs came into play, I have no idea. That isn't important. What is important is that I singled with my 5-iron. The batter after me hit a home run and we won.

Next thing I know I'm standing up behind the table at a restaurant with giant french toast asking the waitress if she would be kind enough to bring strawberry syrup to the table. Just a little. I couldn't think of a better term for the little silver gravy boats that some restaurants serve condiments in, but for some reason the word "ramekin" wasn't too much for me in my dream.

I am not sure I have ever felt more involved in a dream before. Sure it's rare enough that I even remember that I had a dream, let alone any of the details. This one felt so real.

Maybe I went todash (if you've read Stephen King's Dark Tower series you get that, otherwise, don't ask).

If it's all the same, I think I'll go back to not dreaming. Thanks though.

East Coast Road Trip Part III - One for the Books "Down the Shore"

September 12th, 2006

Cont'd from East Coast Road Trip Part II - More Friends and Two Nights in NYC

Our last morning in NYC was not very eventful. We gathered our things, cabbed to my car and were on our way. (Not so) Surprisingly, the traffic from NYC to the Jersey Shore is quite horrible on a sunny Saturday late morning/early afternoon. There is a group of some 9 guys who rent a house on the beach every summer. I went to college with a handful of these shady characters. We headed to New Jersey to party with those guys.

We arrived in time to grab some boardwalk food as a snack before our Japanese Steakhouse dinner. The chicken fingers held me over well. The highlight of this small culinary endeavor was the incredible irony and superb timing when Will said he couldn't wait to get some "g*dd*mn cheese sticks" only for us to then all lift our gaze to meet two elderly NUNS coming off the beach. What are the odds!? These poor women came away from the sand in their full-length, blue beach habits and were hopefully out of earshot for Will's vocalization of his craving.

Dinner was great once the waitress conference ended. I have never been to a restaurant before where you have any trouble combining two items which are not listed as options under the "combinations." I have also never been to a Japanese Steakhouse that has questioned an order of a Lobster and Lobster combination. I guess this was a special place, since it was also my first B.Y.O.B. Japanese Steakhouse. The wonders of Manasquan, New Jersey! The three small Japanese women huddled over a menu and later came to me and said I could not have that as a combination, but rather I would have to have the Lobster (she pronounced it Lostibber) dinner and a side of Lobster.

This B.Y.O.B. establishment also happens to be a few doors down from a liquor store. The story goes that the guys typically go in and grab a bottle of wine (per) to enjoy over dinner. Except for Sean (who made a huge effort to come to Manasquan that night) who opted for a case of Miller Lite bottles. There is nothing classier than a guy who walks in to a restaurant in a group of ten people carrying his own case of beer. "Oh, is that for everyone?" "No, just for me. Thanks."

Once dinner was over, we headed back to the beach house so Will and I could give a brief clinic on how to play beer pong. We got through a solid seven games before being unseated. An executive decision was then made that it was time to go to the bar.

The line at the bar was manageable when we found a place only halfway back when joining. Good thing smooth-talking Josh decided to flirt with every bouncer who gave him a hard time for having an expired license. I guess that temporary, paper one they give you takes a lot of the fun out of it, right Josh? All I know is that on our way into the bar, the bouncer commented on the "unruly guys from Michigan" to another patron. I was a little surprised that there were other kids from Michigan in Manasquan that night...

Once inside the bar, which I like to call "Villanova reunion," things actually got pretty tame. The group split up some to canvas the place for fun. I probably bumped into more former classmates than I would have preferred, but I am sure I'll get over that in time. Really was hoping to not have to see Ryan Brown if at all possible, but luck was not on my side. I kid. (I thought I was a mess that night, ok I was a mess that night, but so were you, Ace.)

I lost one of my best friends after the bar. I do not know where he went. I probably should have been more concerned than I was, but over the years I have come to expect him to disappear. I just hope when and if he turns up, he has a good story for me. Besides, we were getting pizza, so I had other things to look forward to besides finding him. You'll all be happy to know that he made it back to the house no worse for the wear. His night ended up somewhat of the stuff of legend.

He managed to get separated from the girl he left the bar with only to be approached by two girls who were concerned if he was lost. They told him to come home with them and he told me something about having a one-on-one Yahtzee tournament with one of the two girls, or something like that. He then managed to make his way back to the house and found all of the beds were occupado. He claimed a couch in the name of the King and tried to sleep. Destiny had other plans. He was awakened a mere two hours later by another guy who brought home two girls. The four of them thought it would be an awesome idea to drink Jack and Coke at 6AM, which led directly to waking (the whole house) me up at about 7:30 with an ancient Incan ritual named something in the Native dialect that translates into "loud-as-hell, drunken 'let's-go-halves-on-a-baby' negotiation." Roughly.

I think he tried to cook her breakfast and simply didn't make enough food. At least that's what I took away from the story when I heard that the four of them went back to the girls' place and apparently he left her so...I believe "unsatisfied" was the word, that she had to go and play golf with the other two, or something like that. But he LOVES golf, I don't know why he would let them play as a threesome without him. Makes perfect sense to me. I'm sure you don't think I'm leaving anything out. (I love to play golf when I'm hungry, who doesn't?)

That just confirms everything you have ever suspected about New Jersey, doesn't it? And to think those guys do that every weekend in the summer.

...but living in Michigan is cool too ya know! (Not really)

Stay tuned for East Coast Road Trip Part IV - All Good Things Must Come To An End

Number of consecutive days eating chicken fingers: 4.

Privatjokr Recommends!

September 1st, 2006

There is a new link for you to be sure to note. I will play around to try to keep things interesting for you and I'll let you know when any worthwhile updates are made. Otherwise, you'll find a link in the sidebar beneath "Check Out."

Privatjokr Recommends!

New Pictures Available

August 30th, 2006

I'm back from my golfing weekend in Northern Michigan. I apologize for not taking more pictures, but the 100+ I took from our 27 hole adventure at the Bay Harbor Golf Club (complete with pics of the various wildlife) are available here:


East Coast Road Trip Part II - More Friends and Two Nights in NYC

August 24th, 2006

Cont'd from East Coast Road Trip Part I - A Day in the Car and a Night in Philadelphia.

Josh's friend Will was kind enough to host us for our two nights in "the city." He lives in a stereotypical New York City apartment in the Murray Hill area (so he said). Parking is not the easiest thing to do, but we found a place to leave my car and caught a cab to the apartment. A boring afternoon of sitting on the couch, watching ESPN and making then changing plans for the evening ensued.

If you were wondering, it is rather difficult to plan an evening out when coordinating 2+ groups of people. Even more so when one of the two groups is incredibly fickle. Once the non-committal UofM grads finally got their act together, I could fill the easy-going Villanova grads in on the plans.

The first bar, which I believe was called The Delancey, was horrible. It could have been fun had there been more space available on the roof, but each table was reserved. The downstairs/inside area was a) empty b) expensive c) no fun. Yes I understand that b) is to be expected in NYC, but it is only worth mentioning when a) and c) are present as well. The only highlight was when Matt, Doug and Andrew showed up. Once they met up with us, there was no need to stay there.

Croxley Ales (I think that's the name) was the next destination. We segregated somewhat at this bar, for me to catch up with my friends and Josh to catch up with his, before the two groups converged somewhere else later in the night. Croxley was the place where Doug and Andrew bid us goodnight and Scottie joined the fun. Rumor has it: Croxley Ales has a pretty mediocre order of chicken fingers.

To this point, the night has been fun, sure, but it was Josh's birthday so the stop at the next place needed to be only a brief one (for a few pitchers of sangria) before we moved on. Not including carry out from the diner by Will's apartment, our final destination was Chelsea Piers. Someone said that where we went may have been called the Frying Pan or something like that. It was a party barge hosted by a contingent of proud Italians where they played loud European techno. We would not have stood much of a chance getting into the party had one of Josh's friends not gone to bat for us with the bouncer. It was like watching a live take of Jim Carrey on the elevator with one particular woman in the movie Liar Liar...

I was not surprised to learn that it was not the first time that Matt had employed his tactic of walking up to random women, placing his index finger on their head and flat out ordering them to spin around like a ballerina. If I had to picture my sister-in-law coming up with two words for this method, I would guess "offensive" and "degrading." If I had to come up with two words of my own they would be "surprisingly" and "effective." Kudos, Matt.

Like a preoccupied parent in a busy department store, I lost Scottie at one point. There was no need to panic when I found him shortly thereafter standing behind the giant stage. The real show, he taught us, was not seeing the drunk people party from the front, it was watching, from behind, the two girls in short shorts at the back of the stage. Everything he does is gold; some things never change.


Friday held much of the same from a broad perspective. After I woke up at the crack of dawn (9:30am) and took the $9 cab ride to my car so I could move it for the street cleaners and did what felt like a walk of shame all the way back to Will's apartment, the day began.

We had an awesome lunch at Tao on 58th, which I will post about separately. After lunch we walked down 5th Ave, and through Times Square for a bit before finding ourselves back on Will's couch with a pair of 6-packs to watch (I can't believe I'm about to admit this) the Yankees game. We had plans to be at Matt's apartment by 8 to grab food before we went out, ultimately to go to a bar where Will was offered free shots whenever he comes by because the bouncer thought he and Josh were from Harlem. That's right. Josh. From Harlem. Be patient, I'll explain that in due time. There was a small set-back in our schedule however.

While we were starting to get ready for our night out, we had the radio on. At one point, we heard one terrible song and changed the station. It was on the next station, too. And the next. We could not figure out why a song with such simple (see: stupid) lyrics could be so popular as to be on so many stations on a Friday evening. Our good friends at Google, combined with the glory that is Youtube saved the day. One of the three of us may or may not have seen some kids on the BET show 106 and Park promoting that very same song and the dance craze that accompanies it. We easily killed an hour and a half watching some HILARIOUS videos on Youtube for the Chicken Noodle Soup Dance (and Nurse Kate).

Some favorites:
me, neno, an jc killen that chicken noodle soup dance
Me (Smilez) Bussin one of my moves for tha chicken noodle soup dance.
Dee & Dre killing the chicken noodle dance.

Will was actually letting it rain, as the song goes, outside of the bar when he was confronted by the bouncer. "Are you guys from Harlem?" The Chicken Noodle Soup Dance is sweeping through Harlem and before we got our hands on it, was known by very few (white) people outside of New York. We proclaimed Chicken Noodle Gospel to friends from all over on the rest of our trip. High comedy.

Also included in Friday night were two trips to the same bar, book ending the bar where Will now gets free shots. Tonic was an interesting place, but nothing special. The place was absolutely packed for what ended up being the longest baseball game in the history of the MLB. We could not stand the place while it was that crowded which led to our going next door. We went back when we thought the place would be more fun since the other place was basically empty.

Our return trip to Tonic meant good times. Let me start the story on a highlight, Will met a girl. From there, it is all downhill. When the writers of Wedding Crashers described the "stage 5 clinger" they had not met "Alicia." There is debate about whether he enlisted the correct man's help in getting rid of her by asking my brother's friend Josh (different Josh...who lives in NYC and was able to join us) to be mean to her. I didn't know he had asked Josh for help, so I came into the conversation late.

Alicia: Why would you say that? That is so rude.
Josh: ...
Me: Rude? Josh? No. Not possible. (Knowing it was not only possible, but probable.)
Alicia: He told me that he wished this pole would fall on my head.
Me: He would never say something like that.
Alicia: He just did!
Josh: No, she's right. I did say that.

Come on. That's funny. He said he wanted the pole to fall on her head! Wow. You have a warped sense of physical comedy. And not even that was enough to get this girl to leave poor Will alone. I love New York (enjoy that, I don't say it often).

I almost got an omelet from the diner that night, but I had an overwhelming urge for something...fried.

Stay tuned for East Coast Road Trip Part III - One for the Books "Down the Shore."

Number of consecutive days eating chicken fingers: 3.

Hi, My Name is Peter and I Am a Sun Sneezer.

August 23rd, 2006

Sun sneezing

Do you have a tendancy of sneezing when you walk out of your front door into the sunlight? Do you sneeze when you look up towards the sky? Not everybody does but apparently up to about 1 in 4 of us sneeze as a result of bright light - usually the sun. Have you ever wondered why? Read on to find out...

What is sun sneezing?

Sun sneezing or photic sneezing is a genetic condition (sometimes called 'ACHOO Syndrome') in which the signals from your eye to your brain are somehow also received by the part of your brain which deals with the sneeze reflex. This means that when your brain is being told to contract your iris in response to increased light it also thinks that it is being told to produce a sneeze. - DanKarran.com

Other resource: