I Really Need to Work Harder at This

See, it’s not that I like to let these blogs I start just wither and die, I really need to find direction.  So I will sit and think about that.  For now, a quick thumbs up/thumbs down to things that have been on my mind lately…

Thumbs Up to…

  • The Bedford, in Wicker Park.  I’m sure anyone from Chicago knows the story behind Hipsterville’s swankiest new lounge, but for those out of the Loop (literally and figuratively) it’s in the basement/vault of a former bank at the corner of Ashland and Division.  Their area has been totally redone and they have preserved the actual vault room (now a lounge to sit and drink) and the safe deposit wall… All very neat.  Good original cocktail selection, good service, and excellent food.  My fiance and I went a few weekends ago early (around 7) and nabbed two seats at the bar and had the gnocci (delicious).  Met some friends there Friday night much later (around midnight) and there was a full-blown oldies-mix dance party.
  • September 11 Memorial Plaza in New York.  Probably couldn’t blog on this day without talking about the 10-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, and the new plaza at Ground Zero, I think, is wonderful.  I think it’s a well-designed project that was executed perfectly.  The attached museum isn’t scheduled to open until next year, will have to book a trip to New York sometime afterwards to visit both.
  • Matt Forte.  Led the Bears in rushing yards (68) and receiving yards (90) in an opening week ass-kicking of Atlanta.  Scored the 1st touchdown of the season.  John Malkovich has some advice for you, Jerry Angelo.

Thumbs down to…

  • Bucky Larson, Born to Be A Star.  Now look, I like silly, even stupid, comedies as much as the next person, but you really have to try to suck to nab a 0% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • HarvestTime Foods.  Normally, I am the #1 backer of my locally owned produce market at Talman & Lawrence.  Great selection, crazy prices, really love shopping there.  But how do you guys not carry 1 kind of whole-bean coffee?
  • the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I imagine it would be difficult to find a less likeable group of assholes, rapists, and cheap shot artists.  Now granted, I understand that pro athletes, and football players specifically, are naturally jerks, but these guys crank the douchebag up to 11.  I hope you go 0-16.
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Indiana’s Head Coach Has Lost His Mind

Of all the things you can say about the Pacers so far this postseason (most of them either not in polite company or somehow describing them as “goons,”) at least you can’t say their coach isn’t confident and/or sane.  Talking to the media during today’s shoot-around before Game 5 on the West Side, Frank Vogel dropped this nugget:

We feel like if we win this game tonight, we can win the series

That’s an adorable sense of self-confidence that would make a children’s book bestseller.  Eat your heart out, Little Engine that Could!  I remember a few years ago, when the Bulls went down 3-0 to the Pistons in the Eastern Semifinals, they stormed back to win Game 4 at the United Center and Game 5 in Auburn Hills and I legitimately felt they had a chance to be the first team down 3-0 to win a series in the NBA.

Of course, that didn’t happen, as the Pistons shellacked the Bulls in Game 6 to end any of that nonsense.  The problem the Pacers have in overcoming the ridiculous odds is that they would have to soundly beat the Bulls 3 straight.  That’s just impossible.  The Bulls lost Saturday because they shot like shit all game, don’t care that Indiana has done a nice job being physical and playing the Bulls tough, they shot 15% from the three-point line, well under their 31.1% mark for the year.  If two of those errant shots find the net, Bulls win 90-89 and they’d still have shot only 20%.  This is what Indiana is facing, and yes, I know it hasn’t been the steamrolling we expected en route to the Bulls’ championship parade, but this is the growing pains of a young NBA team.

Elsewhere, the Hawks will try and overcome the odds and become the 4th NHL team to win a series after dropping the 1st 3.  This is so much more common in hockey because literally, 1 player can carry his team on his back (or, in the case of Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo, crush his team).  The Hawks could have easily lost Game 6, but Luongo let up a stupid rebound that the Hawks capitalized on.  After that loss, and getting beat like a drum in Games 4 and 5, it’s a wonder what his mindset will be out there.

There’s been so much said about this game that I can’t add much more, but if you don’t know why people really, really dislike the Canucks, here you go:

Lastly, for all of you in Chicago not sure where to find your games, viola: http://www.csnchicago.com/pages/three_for_all

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A Blast from the Past

Feeling kind of nostalgic today.  I can’t believe it was 7 years ago this month that this first aired.

April 7, 2004.  I don’t care how long it’s been, it never gets old.

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Mississippi River Flooding

This gallery contains 18 photos.

Props to my college friend Mitch, who is originally from the Quad Cities area and still lives there.  He works in Davenport, Iowa now and, apparently, a chunk of the town’s riverfront is now a part of the Mississippi River.  … Continue reading

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Hurricane Harbor Expanding… OK I Might Have to Finally Go

TribLocal’s Gurnee edition posted this update on the construction at Hurricane Harbor, Six Flags Great America’s sister water park.  Now, I haven’t been to Hurricane Harbor since it opened in 2005 because, well, I don’t think Six Flags has been all that cool since I was 14 (and it was 1997).  Also, by the time they actually opened Hurricane Harbor, that was smack in the middle of my exile to Central Illinois.  And frankly, even while I have lived in Chicago, the prospect of driving all the way to Gurnee to plop down whatever outrageous fee it costs to get into the park has not appealed to me in a long time.

However, the photos of the work being done and the description of the new rides has seriously tweaked my interest.  Its surprising how few good waterparks there are around Chicago.  Hell, before Hurricane Harbor opened up you had to go to Cherry Valley, all the way out by Rockford, if I remember correctly.  I’m sure it’s because you only have about 4 months of quality waterpark weather around here.  So, when someone comes along and actually builds something worth visiting, I guess it’s my civic duty to at least give it a chance.

Get Ready for the ‘Mega Wedgie’ and more new rides at Great America [TribLocal Gurnee]
Six Flags Great America expands ‘Riptide Bay’ [TribLocal Gurnee]

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Set Your DVRs!

At 7 o’clock on WTTW, Chicago Tonight will have an interview with Lawrence Okrent, author of the new book, Chicago From the Sky.  Okrent’s new book is a 248-page aerial history of the development of Chicago over the past 25 years.  I haven’t seen the book yet, but the teasers that have been published online have been utterly fascinating. 

The Tribune published a few sets this afternoon and they’re simply outstanding.  From the development of South Grant Park to the demolition of the Robert Taylor Homes, Okrent’s aerial photography over a 25-year-period is an amazing look at the city and how it’s grown.

The Tribune’s Blair Kamin apparently has gotten his hands on a sneak peek of the book and he offers a fair criticism.  Since Okrent gathered these photos during his work as a developer, it is skewed heavily towards Chicago’s grander neighbhorhoods.  So while there’s a lot of images of downtown and the North Side, other parts of town like the dying South Side neighborhoods are all but ignored.  Furthermore, the work is very city-centric and does not touch on the explosion of population in the exurbs, arguably the single greatest revelation that came from the latest census figures.

Still, its hard to be too down on something this comprehensive.  Its especially exciting for me, since most of Okrent’s earliest photos come from the mid-80s, this book will chronicle the growth of Chicago during my lifetime.  I’m very excited to pick up a copy, which can be ordere here, from Amazon.com, though I’m going to pray the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square has it in stock, as I don’t want to wait a week for shipping.

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Bring back the Winnipeg Jets, Please

Okay, I’m not the biggest hockey fan ever, but I think most of us can agree on this, one point:  hockey in the South is stupid.

I apologize to the collective 150 fans of the Coyotes, Panthers, Lightning, Thrashers, Hurricanes, and Predators.

This is nothing against the South, or in this particular case, the Southwest, which I’m sure is beautiful and a nice place to live if you’re into that sort of thing, but a picturesque Sonoran landscape of saguaro cacti sprouting from the red, parched desert soil doesn’t exactly stir images of steel on ice.

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