Unique Cultures, Minneapolis, and Black Toe

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Prior to returning to Wisconsin, I never once heard the phrase "unique culture." Since moving back to the North, I've heard this phrase several times, from several different people, in several different situations, and it has me a bit baffled... I ultimately think it's a nice way of saying that someone is "weird."

I ran into a neighbor today who introduced herself to me - she lives in the apartment next to mine. We chatted for a bit, and I asked her if she ever experienced any unusually loud noises or inconsiderate behavior from our fellow neighbors. She said, "Oh yes - but it's a unique culture here, so I accept things as they are."

Backstory, if you will... the lady who lives above me may be the most neurotic, noisy, and inconsiderate person I've ever dealt with. She's retired, which is great. But, despite having the entire day (every day) to do whatever it is that she needs to do, she apparently has to do things like her laundry, vacuuming, and other noisy house chores beginning at around 5:00am every single day. She continues this "house work" throughout the day - banging around, dropping things, scurrying around the apartment (I can hear every single step she takes) - and doesn't seem to take a break until around 11:00pm.

And come 5:00am the next morning, she's back at it... clanking around, running around, making all sorts of noise. Well, I mentioned my concern/curiosity by way of a note, and that caused a stir... she called the landlord, who called a meeting, and after an hour or so of unpleasantries absolutely nothing has changed or improved. She's convinced that she is as quiet as a church mouse with cotton slippers... Yet from my perspective, she sounds like an elephant in an anvil testing factory (she's a bit on the larger side, to boot).

After voicing my concerns, this wonderful neighbor shared the experience with my other neighbors (all of whom are either retired or "special"), and as such, I've become the outcast/periah. Yay. I love this apartment and its "unique culture." At least I'm not alone in my observation about the overall weirdness of the place.

In other news, I forgot to mention the road trip to Minneapolis last weekend. Went up to see the Steely Dan concert, and had an opportunity to sample a few new restaurants. It was a decent trip - a bit short - but fun, nonetheless.

Got to try a "Jucy Lucy" - no, that's not a typo, that's how it's spelled. A Jucy Lucy (or "JL") is a cheeseburger that delivers the cheese "inside" of the burger. There are two bars in Minneapolis that claim to have invented the JL and both "fight" for title of "the best" JL. We went to Matt's Bar, which is supposed to be the better of the two; it was featured on the television show "Man Vs. Food" a few months ago.

Here's Matt's from the outside - it's not much to look at:


Ventured into the packed bar (it was about 3:00pm and the place was absolutely slammed), ordered some burgers and fries, and soaked in the "unique culture."


The burgers took about 30 minutes to cook - primarily because: (a) the grill is tiny, (b) there's only one cook, and (c) there's only one waitress. The burger and fries arrived; Matt's doesn't make any type of silverware available and they caution you to be careful with the first bite of a JL as the cheese is molten hot - 190F is the estimated temp.

Here's my JL after the first bite (they're served with cheddar cheese on the inside, and with fried onions and pickles on the top):


And the fries (that's a small order, by the way):


So, how was it? Pretty good. Nothing spectacular - it didn't knock my socks off - but it was a solid burger. If I lived in Minneapolis, I'd probably get cravings for a JL every so often. Definitely glad to have tried it, but it's no Apple Fritter from Greenbush. :-)

Here's the tiny grill, which as you can see is quite busy:


The highlight of the weekend was the concert - Steely Dan played at the Northrop Auditorium, which is located on the University of Minnesota campus and seats about 5,000 people. It's an older, historic building, which made for a unique concert experience. It was also a bit frustrating as the sound wasn't great, and the crowd management/routing left a lot to be desired. They had the concession stands positioned in the direct path of the main entry and exit points. So, you had to fight long concession stand lines if you wanted to exit or enter the auditorium (like if you had to go to the restroom).

Here's the inside of the auditorium:


And here's Steely Dan onstage (can't really see them too well - iPhone photo + darkness = ick):


Like the Jucy Lucy experience, Steely Dan was just OK. As mentioned, sound played a big factor in the overall evaluation... the vocals were inaudible, and I have a feeling that Steely Dan utilizes a lot of production and fine tuning to sound as good as they do on their albums. Entertainment-wise, they just stood there and played, which is fine by me, but when the sound isn't as expected, it's not a whole lot of fun to watch some old guys play songs that you can sort of make out/identify. The seats were great - 35 rows back, near center... but the overall experience was just "meh" at best.

And finally, I've experienced a new running-related injury. It's nothing major, and it's not impacting my ability to run/train, but it's a bit disconcerting... it's called "black toe" and it basically means that my toenail has turned pitch black and will likely fall off.

The injury occurs when your toe slams into the front of your shoe on a constant/repeated basis over an extended period of time. I earned my first black toe after a 17-mile run a few weekends ago... the weather was so nice, and I had a ton of energy, so I decided to include a few extra miles on my Sunday run. Well, before I knew it, I had clocked 17-miles. I thought my toe felt a bit funny at around the 15-mile mark; I figured I was getting a blister. Nope - it's black toe. :-)

So, not really a big deal, but it's pretty disgusting to look at. It did hurt for a day or two, but it's fine now, so all's good.

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