I love the voice acting of Junius Matthews.

Although he appears to have spent most of his life elsewhere, the late, great voice actor and character actor Junius Matthews was born in Chicago in 1890. He acted in various television and film roles, including on episodes of Dragnet and Have Gun–Will Travel, but he’s best known for voicing Rabbit in the original Disney Winnie The Pooh shorts and feature-length film. My favorite Junius Matthews performance has to be Archimedes the owl from The Sword in the Stone.

This clip illustrates his genius as a voice actor. In it, Archimedes laughs hysterically, much to Merlin’s chagrin. I’ve never heard an owl break out laughing, but Matthews clearly spent a lot of time thinking about what such a thing would sound like. At the same time, he didn’t let the fact that this character is an owl limit him–the laughing moves beyond, “Hoo hoo hoo!” into a broader range of cachinnation that still retains a certain avian quality.

 

 

I love eating pizza.

Chicago’s pizza has been getting a lot of attention lately.

First, Jon Stewart delivered an epic rant against deep dish. Then, The Rahmfather sent him a little something. Finally, there was an official apology involving an emissary from the Malnati family. Somehow, despite all this coverage, something important was lost.

I love deep dish. I eat it semi-regularly and have strong opinions about whose crust, sauce, and baking methods are best. (I’ll take this opportunity to pour one out for Rolling Meadows Gino’s East, the recently-demolished graffiti pizza parlor.) Many other locals feel the same way, including some who are so passionate about pizza that they will lie, cheat, and steal to get some. It is just plain wrong, however, to write off Chicago’s pizza as strictly deep dish and pan pizza–which are not necessarily the same thing!

Chicago does indeed have many, many options for thin crust pizza. It is, by and large, a far cry from New York style pizza. Here are some key differences:

–Thin crust pizza should not fold in half. It should not be floppy or dripping grease.

–Thin crust pizza should be cut into little squares, not triangles.

–Thin crust pizza should be crispy, and the edge pieces should crunch when you bite them.

–Toppings are the best when they’re hiding under the cheese, not dumped on top of it. This keeps them from drying out during baking.

This is how we do it.

The true breadth and depth of pizza in this city and its hinterlands extend far beyond matters of crust. A truly diverse pizza scene exists, enabling an adventurous diner to spend weeks or even months eating his or her way through one of several best-of lists:

Chicago Magazine‘s 25 Best Pizzas in Chicago

The 20 Best Pizzas in Chicago from Chicagoist

–A selection of lists from pizza junkies, pie freaks, and general food fanatics from Yelp Chicago

I love Drunk History.

This TV show combines two things I enjoy–learning about history and laughing at drunk people. Here is the episode about Chicago.

With so much fascinating history here, I was a little disappointed that one of the segments was about Al Capone. Had I been on the show, I would have chosen to drunkenly ramble about the first open heart surgery (performed in Chicago by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams in 1893. one of the first African-Americans to graduate from an American medical school), the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction (at the University of Chicago on┬áDecember 2, 1942), or the tale of the smoke-filled room (in the Blackstone Hotel, where Warren G. Harding was allegedly rigged to be the Republican candidate for president in 1920). Still, it’s a good episode with some beautiful shots of the city.