I Became a Person Who Came to Downtown Chicago to…


The Dude on the Right

Garrett Popcorn LogoI put a little post on Facebook: I’m doing something I said I would never do only I can’t say exactly what it is until Monday. How’s that for a tease?

Hundreds, okay just a few of my friends, tried to figure out the mystery, and the guesses ranged from hitting a nudie-bar (I have been to one of those before, so that couldn’t be it), to a spa treatment complete with a pedicure.  I will say that all of the guesses were wrong, although from my fiance’s descriptions of her pedicure experiences, well, that may not be ruled out in the future, but in any case, what I did astounded me.

You see, for years, living in Chicago and visiting downtown quite often, there is a tradition I witnessed yet couldn’t understand.  The people would be there, in the freezing cold, in a line that sometimes would stretch down the street and around the corner, and you would think it was either the day after Thanksgiving and they were waiting for the season’s hottest gift, or that some store was giving away a hundred dollars just for standing in line.  With my friends I would mock these people, laugh at them as they were bundled in their parkas, shivering, yet with shear anticipation on their faces, and in an orderly fashion they would file, one by one, into the little storefront that housed a treasure people far and wide would stand for hours, or at least a bunch of minutes, to secure.  The years would go by and I would wonder, "Is it really that good?", and prior to this weekend I had already found out and well, it is good, but "stand-in-line" good?  It didn’t matter, I suppose, because there I was, standing in line, in the freezing cold, to get a bag of Garrett’s Popcorn.

Yup, hours of my weekend downtown, okay, maybe about 20 minutes, were spent, in a line, waiting for a bag of popcorn (okay, actually two bags of popcorn), something I made fun of for years, something I told myself I would never do, yet as I witnessed a group of girls try to cut in line, as I saw two women become nearly orgasmic as they sampled a little cup of fresh Chicago Mix, and as a tourist, in the freezing cold, wearing sandals, jumped for joy as he walked over a sidewalk grate venting warm air, I patiently waited, moving ahead one person by one person, with my order in my head: "One large bag and one medium bag of Chicago Mix please."  I would then pay the man, step to the side, and hope not to screw up the process and have someone yell "No popcorn for you!", yet this wasn’t like a Seinfeld episode because people ahead of me kept changing their minds, and the people behind the counter were patient through every person.  There were the newbies, still staring at the menu unsure of what they wanted when it was finally time to order, and then there were the experienced folks, rattling off their popcorn tin requests like they were trading stock, and there I was, bewildered in myself that somehow I was actually the person who suggested this gift for my future in-laws, and if it weren’t for my fiance, I would have forgotten to get a bag for us.

And so I have become a statistic in this world of Chicago, someone I would question if it was really worth it, someone I would mock, someone I always thought must have better things to do when visiting Chicago.

I became a person who came to downtown Chicago to stand in line to buy popcorn.

That’s it for this one!  I’m The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

Where Did My Morning Go?


The Dude on the Right

For the life of me I was having a hard time figuring out why I didn’t have time to exercise in the morning. There I was, waking up around 4:30 (and sure, hitting the snooze pushed things closer to 5AM), but by the time I was trying to get out the door at 7:00 to head to morning meetings, well, I was rushing.  What in the hell was I doing for nearly 2 1/2 hours, and why in the hell wasn’t part of it being spent on my exercise bike? Something was going on, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and then it occurred to me, even as I thought I was trimming things down:

Facebook, and more specifically Facebook applications, have destroyed my morning productivity.

I thought I had it licked when I was going to switch from Mafia Wars to Café World but it was yesterday, when I started trying to analyze my morning schedule, and as I sat there "training" my virtual fish in my Happy Aquarium, checking on my café, and still trying to take over the Moscow Mafia, that a bell went off over my head, sort of, and it simply rang out "What are you doing?"  So this morning, being the dorky engineer I can be, I started my morning as I normally have been, up and at ’em at 4:45, into the kitchen to empty the dishwasher, making my Count Chocula with chocolate milk, and heading to my computer bunker that isn’t really a bunker anymore, to see what was happening in the world.  I fired up Firefox on the main monitor, opening a list of tabs to places like the Chicago Sun Times, The Drudge Report, The Weather Channel, Google Reader, and The Lorain Journal, just getting myself ready to rediscover the world after a night of broken sleep (broken sleep and the urge to drop-kick a dog out the window will be a topic for another blog), and on my secondary monitor, another Firefox window was opened, this time to my Facebook page.  I scanned the world, not really paying as much attention to things as I used to (something my fiance made me realize the other day), and quickly shifted my focus to my Facebook world, or should I say worlds, because after not coming up with anything witty for my status and seeing that my friends haven’t done much in the past six hours, I pulled out the stopwatch on my iPhone to do a statistical analysis of part of my morning.

And so, I headed to…

  • "Café World" – I didn’t do anything crazy, and by crazy I mean I didn’t send any of my neighbors any gifts, visit any of their cafés, nor do any redecorating (which I could, because I have 200,000 café coins to spend), instead I’m concentrating on serving my pot roast and then cooking up some voodoo chicken salad.

That wasn’t so bad, but other work needed to be done so I’m off to my:

  • "Happy Aquarium" – Here I start by sending the gift of fish food to my aquarium neighbors.  Damn, I’m a good neighbor! Of course my fish tank has gotten dirty overnight so I scrub it clean, and then my fish are hungry so it’s time for their morning feeding, but as I’m also trying to make my fish smarter, what the heck, let’s train a couple of them! Sadly I can’t get one fish (I’m not sure which one it was, mostly because I have eleven different fish, all with different names) through the training program, but another made it safely through, so he, or maybe she, can now do some kind of special trick.  Not done yet, I’m feeling helpful and greedy so I visit my seven neighbors’ tanks, do some cleaning at each of them, and click on the various treasure chests to get myself some more coin!

But my coup de gras awaits, the game that has taken what must amount to months in lost productivity – I’m off to Moscow in:

  • "Mafia Wars" – Yup, I head to New York City to bank some money from my properties, and I now have over $110,000,000,000 in fake, United States currency.  But I’ve built my mafia over the months, and Cuba needs me, or at least my businesses in Cuba need me, so it’s time to sell off a bunch of product and bank my money there as I eclipse the C$11,000,000 Cuban peso mark!  But as my Mafia domination is growing, well, I’m off to Moscow.  I easily level up to 351 with the energy I’ve acquired while I slept, so I’m eager to spend my new, 2,190 units of energy doing something, although I’m not really sure what, even though there is some sort of story going on, but there I am, clicking my mouse insistently to earn more cash, finish the job, and move on, but my energy level is now too low to continue! Oh no!  Ahh, but no, I’m not done! Thankfully my sister sent me an energy pack so I recharge, it’s time for another energy drain, I’m up another level, and I quickly scan that I’m going to need about R$40,000,000 rubles to get the items necessary so I can work on the next job in Episode 4.  Not being able to continue with any jobs for now, and since I got an energy pack from my sister, I decided I should return the favor so I click on my giant mafia of 34 members and send energy packs to those people that I know are still playing the game.

With the breakfast hours slipping away I’m done with my café, my fish tank is clean, I’ve blackmailed a secretary in Moscow, but I notice, in the upper right corner of my Facebook main page, that I’ve got gifts to receive. I click and there they are, lots of little goodies from my friends, so what the hell, it’s a click here and new screen there, an "Accept more gifts" click here, another screen there, and REQUEST/GIFT TIME ELAPSED: 4 MINUTES.

I looked at my stopwatch realizing that this morning, in just "maintaining" and "advancing" in three Facebook games, I wasted nearly 30 minutes.

Now, mind you, I didn’t do any bowling with my buddies, happily I stopped playing Pirates of the Caribbean although I haven’t deleted the app yet,  in Farm Town I have set up my farm with a lovely message for my BFF, a message that as long as my farming neighbors "water" it looks great so I don’t have to do anything, my Roller Coaster Kingdom is stalled, and I haven’t tried to increase my word vocabulary, but just heading to one of those would have meant being late for my first appointment this morning.

I wondered where my time went in the morning, and now I found out.  The question now is what to do about it because people are hungry and my Voodoo Chicken Salad is almost ready to be served, my "fish" are hungry and I really would feel bad if I "flushed" them down the toilet, and after investing so much time, "money," and building a reputation as a mafia kingpin, well, I really hate to rat people out and go into witness protection.  Then there is the feeling that I’m going to let all of my "neighbors" down if I can’t be, well, their neighbor. In the end, I guess my exercising might just have to wait, although if someone were to make an "Exercise World" for Facebook, maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad.

That’s it for this one!  I’m The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

The Proposal

The Dude on the Right liked "The Proposal" in the theater, so for this Blu-ray review of the movie it’s no surprise that he still likes the movie. What he doesn’t like is the lackluster effort at "extras" for the DVD. Pretty much he felt he wasted his time watched the deleted scenes, the outtakes, and all he got out of the "alternate" ending was the fact that he was happy with the original ending, although the alternate ending did reinforce that some filming did not take place in Alaska. He still thinks it’s a good "snuggle on the couch with your honey" kind of movie, so dudes, suck it up because you do get Sandra Bullock almost naked.

FitBit, Count Chocula, or Maybe Both.


The Dude on the Right

I’m not going to lie, and if you are a regular reader of the website you will know this is true, but I can afford to lose a few pounds. Now I’m not supremely, morbidly obese or anything, but simply put, if I could work out for about two or three weeks like the people on The Biggest Loser, I would probably be pretty close to my goal weight, or be reduced to a blubbering ball of tears as Jillian Michaels constantly yelled at me. But since I don’t have three weeks to burn about 7000 calories a day by exercising and eat only 1800ish by eating, lately, mostly, I’ve just been trying to be a little more active with some walking and trying to eat a little more healthily with food choices. Thanks to Brad Feld, a blogger I stalk, I mean follow, I found an iPhone app that has helped a bit, this thing called DailyBurn, with some pretty, little graphs that, as long as I enter what food I eat properly, tells me if I can have a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day, and with some manual entry of the caloric burning that my Nike+ iPhone app tells me into the DailyBurn app, in the past 6 weeks I’ve lost about 5 1/2 pounds. However, being the tech dork that I am, and looking for something better, easier, stronger, and faster, and having seen it on CBS Sunday Morning a few weeks ago, I am now intrigued by this thing called the FitBit, and thanks to Stu Gotz during yesterday’s podcast, I might also be changing my morning cereal.

Let’s start with the FitBit…

It’s seems too good to be true, but FitBit supposedly, and I take this directly from the website, "… accurately tracks your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality. … The Fitbit tracks your motion in three dimensions and converts this into useful information about your daily activities. You can wear the Fitbit on your waist, in your pocket or on undergarments. At night, you can wear the Fitbit clipped to the included wristband in order to track your sleep."  Now, I’m not the greatest of sleepers, so quantifying it sort of scares me, but having something that instantly tracks my daily calories burned, especially since I don’t do anything cool like lift weights (it also doesn’t do too well if you’re a cyclist or swim I guess), but if it does an easier job than my iPhone Nike+ thing of calorie burning, I might be all for it. The website has options to manually enter some exercises and what you eat, but I’m curious how well the food database will be because the one on DailyBurn has really opened my eyes to some of the things I eat, and without the cool iPhone app that I can quickly look at as my day comes to a close, I know I will be flustered if I have to go all the way to my computer to find out if I can have that bowl of ice cream.  The website says they are filling FitBit orders as fast as they can, so how this impacts my daily workout still waits to be seen, if at all, but as I said earlier, I might have one food option that I can change immediately.

So on to my morning cereal…

As I have now found my soul mate, and she drifted me away from my standard, morning breakfast of two eggs and a piece of toast to a bowl of healthy cereal, I switched back to your basic, plain-jane, Cheerios, something I enjoyed as a young lad, only as a young lad I enhanced my Cheerios experience with a couple of teaspoons of sugar, thus negating the "low in sugar" benefits of the basic Cheerio. As an older lad I have grown accustomed to supplementing my plain Cheerios with a smaller portion of Honey Nut Cheerios to add a little sweetness (I’m close to just going all Honey Nut, though not yet), but as cereal has become part of my morning repertoire, I would sometimes dream of the days when a bowl of Count Chocula would fill my bowl, with its chocolaty goodness and weird, "spooky-fun" marshmallows, and even though I threatened my fiance with "I’m gonna buy some!", I could lately couldn’t find a box at my local grocery store.  But then, low and behold, Stu Gotz tells me that he found the trifecta of Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry, at his local Target no less, and I got to thinking, and researching, and other than wondering what the difference is between "whole grain corn" and "whole grain oats," and I suppose some "beet juice concentrate color" in the Chocula, I’m failing to see any giant difference between the Count Chocula and the Honey-Nut Cheerios.  Hell, they both contain "mixed tocopherols," whatever those are, but for my basic nutritional facts, and because my serving would be the same of about 3/4 cup of cereal, both with skim milk, I’m ignoring the milk side. For cereal only, this is what I get:

Serving Size 3/4 cup, Cereal Only
Nutrition Fact

Count Chocula

Honey Nut Cheerios


. Calories from fat


Total Fat


. Saturated Fat


. Trans Fat


. Polyunsaturated Fat


. Monounsaturated Fat








Total Carbohydrate


. Dietary Fiber


. Sugars


. Other Carbohydrate





Sure, the basic Cheerios does better, and allows you a serving of 1 cup, but damn, if I’m going to make that switch to Honey Nut Cheerios, I might as well just go nuts, or rather not go honey nuts, and get the Count Chocula because really, how bad can "beet juice concentrate color" be for you? In the end it looks like the difference is between a little more sugar in the Count Chocula with some extra salt in the Honey Nut Cheerios, so really, the choice is about high blood pressure or diabetes, isn’t it?

So I’m not sure if I’m going to be trying the FitBit right now, though, knowing me, it will be on my "to be purchased" list, especially if they come out with an iPhone app so I know if I can eat my ice cream, but I might have to pull out the $10 Target gift card that I have, buy some Chocula, and relive that chocolaty goodness, with spooky-fun marshmallows, and BHT added to preserve freshness.

That’s it for this one!  I’m The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

What’s New? A Podcast of: Stu & The Dude’s Weekend Wrap-Up! Adult Toys, Watchmen, March Madness, Jim Cantore, and More!

Good golly, Miss Molly. The Dude on the Right and Stu Gotz get together for another "Weekend Wrap-Up!" podcast and you might not be prepared to hear it, but old people are buying adult toys, from The Vermont Country Store no less, and the boys have some frank discussions about what the folks are buying, or at least what the store is selling. The podcast isn’t all about massagers that aren’t meant for your back, as The Dude does tell Stu if he should ditch Mama Gotz and see "Watchmen," Stu made it through the stormy, Chicago weekend, a Little Gotz is feeling better, The Dude is getting ready for March Madness, and who knew The Rock, a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson, could sing and dance? All that and a little more are discussed in this week’s edition, so lock up the kids and yes, go ahead and Google "The Vermont Country Store." You know you want to.

What’s New? A Podcast of: Stu & The Dude’s Weekend Wrap-Up! Valentine’s Day, Lots of Movies, and Not Spoiling SNL – much.

Stu Gotz is back from vacation so The Dude on the Right has a partner for this episode of their "Weekend Wrap-Up!" podcast. Since Valentine’s Day was last weekend, well, the both of them talk a bit about their weekends, with The Dude’s being a little more romantic than Stu’s, and it included a meal fit for a King. They also settle into a lot of movie talk, with Stu seeing a bunch of rentals that didn’t get high reviews from many reviewers, The Dude seeing "High School Musical 3: Senior Year," and neither of them realizing that Ben Affleck was in the original "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" movie. Since Stu was back from vacation, well, he didn’t get to watch too much TV, and so as not to ruin the surprises, The Dude tells Stu to check the website for links to a couple of pretty funny Saturday Night Live skits, and that even The Jonas Brothers were funny on the show, too.

What’s New? A podcast of: Stu & The Dude’s Weekend Wrap-Up! Groundhog Day, a Super Bowl, Disney is Dirty, and Playboy For the Articles!

The Dude on the Right and Stu Gotz are back for a "Weekend Wrap-Up!" podcast. The Dude on the Right and Stu Gotz are back for a "Weekend Wrap-Up!" podcast. The Dude on the Right and Stu Gotz are back for a "Weekend Wrap-Up!" podcast. Oh wait, this isn’t "Groundhog Day," the movie, this is a "Weekend Wrap-Up!" podcast on Groundhog Day, and Stu Gotz is here! With the Super Bowl over The Dude and Stu talk about the game, how The Dude’s BFF has a few more M&M’s, and how Stu watched the commercials even though The Dude didn’t pay that much attention. And even though the Super Bowl was on TV, there is a lot more TV talk for the two of them to have, Stu wonders why Google thinks he is German and why Disney World is dirty, complete with a lot of gum, while The Dude is happy that Manuary is over and talks about why he reads Playboy for the articles. Oddly enough, Stu asks The Dude if he could borrow his Playboy later to read the interview with the dude from "House," Hugh Laurie, and not to investigate who the centerfold is. Odds are Stu is lying and will check out the centerfold before even looking for the Hugh Laurie interview.

Global Warming, Global Cooling, A Cuban, Electric Cars, Cheap Gas, and Happy Holidays


The Dude on the Right

Oh the weather outside is frightful, or, well, it’s at least warmer, but as we are definitely going to have a white Christmas here in Chicagoland, I had to laugh at a lot of the comments on the radio when we were having the sub-zero temperatures about “Where is this global warming?”  Some pundit-types were using the cold weather to say, “See, Al Gore is wrong.  We don’t need to worry about the environment.  Everything is cyclical.  This year we might be global warming, next year we’ll be global cooling.  See, Al Gore is a dufus!”  Then there are the environmental types spinning that the cold weather is an affect of global warming because the environment is all out of whack.  Me, I don’t really know who to believe, all I know is that on TV yesterday I saw a news story about a Chinese company that is supposed to have an electric car, similar to the Chevy Volt, that is supposed to come out a couple years earlier, cost a bunch less, only won’t be as luxurious.  Me, I’m not that worried about the carbon emissions, my carbon footprint, or if I fart too much, what I do think is cool would be a car that pretty much doesn’t need gasoline, and somehow the Chinese are ahead of us in developing that car.

And that leads me to the loan offered to the auto manufacturers and a great post from Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, the won’t be owner of the Chicago Cubs because baseball owners are a bunch of dufi, but does write a nice blog where a few days ago he mentioned how Chrysler is toast because, well, what better way to waste money than to put a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal thanking America for, well, investing in Chrysler, “America’s Car Company” that used to be sort of a Mercedes Benz car company until the Benz people couldn’t even take it anymore.  My simple analysis is that the car companies are in this mess much the same way Motorola is in their cell-phone mess.  Motorola rested all of its laurels on the Razr line, not seeing that things are changing, and now no one gives a damn about the latest Razr phone.  The car companies have become just as complacent, resting on their laurels without seeing the innovation consumers want in order to buy a new car.  A little Chinese company might just show that even with the Chevy Volt coming out, a once mighty car company gets beaten to the punch by a company that sees car buying differently.

Than again, with gas prices around $1.50 a gallon again, who cares about electric cars anymore.

In any case, I’m just waiting for my BFF before we start our holiday celebrating, so I thought I would write about something, so why not mix global warming, the loans to the auto companies, and cheap gas all in one post.

Happy Holidays.

That’s it for this one! 
I’m The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

History Shows that The Dude on the Right was Left, and The Dude on the Left was Right


The Dude on the Right

Little did I realize that it’s been over twenty years, last October, that this
odyssey that is Entertainment Ave! began, and thanks to the historical nature
that is The Mystery Dude, and the continuing work of Mookie,
the first review
from The Unknown Reviewers
, from our days at the Illinois Institute of
Technology, incognito as we were, has been posted.  With no fanfare, or
really any coolness, we reviewed a band named "1313." The Dude on the Left and
I, or actually, for our first article, me being "LEFT" and him being "RIGHT,"
well, we gave the band "Two Thumbs Up!", and suddenly, two dudes just looking
for a way to make beer money, helped to develop an internet entity that has
lasted 20 years, sometimes strong, sometimes not so strong, but in the end letting
some people have some fun.

The weird thing for me is that I can almost
remember every picture I have taken, but as I read our first review, I have no
recollection of the band "1313," sort of.  Then I became obsessed, scoping
out the photos in that issue, and those in the rest of the 1988 archives that
have been posted, and can honestly say "I took that picture!" many a
time.  Yup, back in
those days we had cameras, with film, and we had to develop it in a darkroom,
and I knew how.

But as I also perused those 1988 archives, and the year came
to an end, I don’t want to say one band influenced me to love seeing music, but
as I read
review of "Shuddup ‘N Drive,"
who knew a bar band would be so influential in
my appreciation for hard-working bands?  Those early days instantly brought
supporters and

initial non-supporters (Barry – Where are you?)
, and I would like to say
that over the years we have become more polished in the review department, but
that definitely is not the case.

As the IIT Galvin Library continues adding to
the Technology News online archives, I’m really looking forward to the
progression of things, the changing of the guard at times, our online advice
column, Dear Dudes, and how we slowly transformed from just reviewing bar bands
to shifting to national acts.

More looks back at our early days will be coming
soon, but for now I can’t believe how thin I was back then.

That’s it for this one! 
I’m The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

What’s New? A Podcast of “Bowling, A Mac World, and More!”

The Dude on the Right is a little bummed for this podcast
, what with his mom
passing away and all, but what better way to get out the doldrums than by buying
a new computer!  Unfortunately, for The Dude, buying a MacBook also means a
new learning curve (if any of you can help him plug two microphones into his
MacBook and be able to control each mic independently, he would appreciate your
advice), but on the plus side, his history is starting to come to light with his
alma matter, Illinois Institute of Technology, beginning to post old issues of
Technology News, the campus newspaper, from the time he attended. 

We now learn he was a good bowler
, but if The Dude wanted to be where the
money was at, he would have shot to be a good golfer!

There is some political talk for this podcast, as the elections are next
Tuesday, but with this weekend The Dude is just really hoping to get a movie
review posted because then things are just a little closer to normal.