March 28, 2010

Big Jones Restaurant in Andersonville

Looking for a restaurant with creative (but not fou-fou) food, complex flavors, inspired variety, reasonable prices and excellent service? Head to Big Jones at 5347 N. Clark in Andersonville in Chicago. Really delicious food in a lovely, comfortable setting.
Last weekend Bill and I headed to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Olé Olé in Andersonville, but when we got there we found it closed. No sign, no hint of why. Too bad, it's a great little restaurant with the world's best guacamole and homemade chips, and wonderful ceviche among other fabulous things.
Anyway, we walked down the street and saw Big Jones, a place where we've had brunch in the past but never dinner. Well, we didn't know what we were missing. Great place!
Here's what we had:
Oyster Stew - Kilgus Farmstead cream, house tasso, Amontillado Sherry, toasted baguette, parmesan crisp
Lamb Duet of Daube & Spicy Lamb Sausage, Braised Carrots, Candied Salsify, Mashed Turnips, Rose Hip Puree
Bourbon Raisin Bread Pudding (left), Crème Anglaise, Salted Caramel, Cinnamon Toast Croutons

It sounds fou-fou, I know, but everything was sooooo delicious. If you're anywhere near Andersonville you must try it.

March 27, 2010


A couple years ago I participated in clinical trials for an enzyme injection to treat Dupuytren's disease, a genetic condition that causes your fingers to contract. I posted videos on YouTube about the process (there are 8 videos, I've linked to the first one). I also posted an account of the process here on my blog ( if you put Dupuytren's in the search box here on my blog you can see all the relevant posts).
I get lots of mail about Dupuytren's and have more than 12,000 hits on the first video in the YouTube series, so even though you've likely never heard of it there are lots of people who have the condition.
I recently got an email from Nicholas Meyer, MD (left), a hand surgeon and orthopedic surgeon at St. Croix Orthopaedics in Minnesota. I asked him what he thought about the various treatments for Dupuytren's and here's what he had to say:

I learned the NA [Needle Aponeurotomy] technique from Dr. Eaton [Dr. Charles Eaton] in Jupiter, FL. He's the US "Guru" on NA and has great information on his website. The results are good, but not great (I've done about 6 cases; all look great initially and I am in the process of doing a follow-up survey with them at this time--I'll forward the results when I get them). There is a faster recurrence rate (anywhere from 15-60% requiring another procedure within 3 years) than with open surgery (10-30%), but probably about the same as with the enzyme (I don't think there's enough data yet to directly compare the two). Open surgery definitely has a role, especially if your nodules are large and bothersome, as this allows the surgeon to remove that tissue. Bottom line with Dupuytren's: Since it's a genetic condition, we can never completely cure it. It will always come back in some form or another.
I just received data regarding the injection: They are charging $3200 for
a single dose. They are charging essentially as much as they can while still costing less than what open surgery would cost. However, if you add anesthetic, and fees for the surgeon/doctor doing the injection, I would imagine the price to the patient will be at least $4000. NA costs about $1000 from what I
Hope that helps.

My note: Here's a great link with more information about Dr. Charles Eaton in Jupiter, Florida.

March 24, 2010

Joe Biden and the F Bomb

Jeez, how did they even figure out what Joe Biden murmured to Obama yesterday before the signing of the healthcare reform? Sound enhancers? Digital interpreters? A champion lip-reader over Obama's shoulder? Who cares? The priceless thing is the "Oh, Joe, you dufus" look on the President's face. Check it out.
Biden Drops F-Bomb at Historic Signing - New York Post
What could Biden have said instead?
People are calling WGN this morning with suggestions. One person said he could have quoted himself when he and the President were filmed at a hamburger joint recently and he turned to Obama and said, "Hey do we have to pay for this?"
Someone else suggested: "Run, Forest, run!"

March 23, 2010

Movie Review: The Hurt Locker ***

Well, I didn't see The Hurt Locker on the big screen so take that into account with my review. With a movie like this it would make a huge difference, it would be a much more powerful film. Not that it wasn't. But it definitely lost something in the translation.
It's amazing that a woman directed it and Kathryn Bigelow deserved the Oscar for that. And it feels very real. The acting is great.
It affected me, just didn't have as big an impact as I expected. So I stand by my Oscar pick of Inglourious Basterds for Best Picture.
3 stars out of 5 for me.
Here's my rating system:
* Hated it
** Didn't like it
*** Liked it
**** Liked it a lot
***** Loved it

March 22, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies

OMG, yesterday I ate half a box of Tagalongs. I'm not kidding. It's a wonder I didn't polish off the entire box. Have you ever had those? They're like crack. There should be a warning on the box.
I'll be eating celery today.

March 20, 2010

Opera is Such Silly Stuff

Here's a really odd thing: I went to the opera two weeks in a row. Not something I ordinarily do but my lovely friend Joyce asked me to join her because her daughter, who she usually goes with, was out of town. So the first opera we saw was The Damnation of Faust.
Oh my god. Just from the name I could tell there wasn't a prayer I'd enjoy it but I hate to be negative so off I went. It was very bizarre. Very spare sets, current-day dress, and a huge cast, all the women dressed the same, all the men dressed the same (some symbolism going on there that just flew right over my head). Well, Joyce thought it was bizarre too. I mean, take a look at the picture. It's worth a thousand words.
The next one was The Marriage of Figaro and Joyce promised that would be better.
Well, it was but...oh my god, it was almost FOUR HOURS long. Jesus. I was about to cry near the end of that. Not with emotion about what was going on on stage but because I wanted desperately to run screaming from the place. Nothing should last for four hours. Nothing. The only thing I want to do for four hours straight is sleep.
What I learned about opera is that it's actually pretty silly. The stories are goofy. In Figaro Dr. Bartolo is trying to marry Figaro off to Marcellina even tho Figaro's engaged to Susanna (who the Count is trying to sleep with) and it turns out that Marcellina is actually Figaro's mother and Dr. Bartolo is actually his father but somehow they didn't know that. Now I ask this silly stuff or what?
I think my opera days are over. At least I hope so.

March 7, 2010

And the Oscar Goes To...

Whew, boring show. So I'm counting on the clothes to provide some interest but even that's not living up to expectations. It's all strapless with pleating and ruffles this year. So far (still at least an hour to go) Penelope Cruz gets the Oscar for best dress - gorgeous, burgandy gown with a diagonally pleated bodice and full, flowy skirt. She looked spectacular. Worst dress so far?
Sarah Jessica Parker, the fashion diva, in a hideous yellow satin mu-mu. Why would she wear such a shapeless dress when she has such a great figure? Shockingly ugly and unflattering.

My Picks for Oscar Night

I love the Academy Awards. Over the years I've watched them at parties or at other peoples' houses with one or two friends, but my favorite way to watch them is at home, by myself. That way there are no distractions and I won't miss any of the gowns or the speeches and I can get on the computer if I get bored.
Here are my picks for the major awards but you should know I've missed one or two of the films (I hate when that happens) and a couple of the performances. So here are my picks with some limitations:
Best Actor:
George Clooney because he's a subtle actor whose face (besides being gorgeous) shows the character's emotion more than his words, and because he's a really fine actor. He probably won't win but I'm rooting for him. (The only performance I didn't see in this category was Jeremy Renner's.)
Best Actress:
I don't feel really stronly about this category. I didn't see The Last Station so I can't speak about Helen Mirren's performance but there's not a standout among the other nominees in my opinion. So I'm going to pick Sandra Bullock because she was good in the role and it's a different role for her. Not high praise, I know.
Best Supporting Actress:
Even tho I didn't see Nine I'm picking Penelope Cruz because she's one of the best actors of our day. Mo'Nique is the favorite, I know, and I liked her performance but didn't love it.
Best Supporting Actor:
Christoph Waltz. Fabulous performance, and actually the only other performance I saw in the category was Matt Damon who was good but not Academy Award-good.
Best Picture:
Inglourious Basterds because I thought it was a perfect film and Quentin Tarantino for Best Director for the same reason. I think he's a genius (crazy, but a genius).