Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo

2013
12.23
Santa Claus and His Sleigh

Santa Claus and His Sleigh

If you’ve never been to Lincoln Park Zoo, Zoo Lights provides a perfect avenue to visit the zoo after hours.  While you’ll still run into the crowds and their kids, but the zoo is a bit more subdued at night. Christmas lights line up the open parts of the zoo and you can still catch great apes napping in their straw nests, smaller lemurs and primates acrobatically jumping and swinging, and take a gander at some armadillo and bats and still manage to buy yourself a popcorn.

Green Plastic Gorilla Mold: $2

Green Plastic Gorilla Mold: $2

The highlight of my trip was recovering a long lost childhood relic.  Once receiving this fine toy as a youngster, I remember the plastic smell of the gorilla statue.  Seeing this, I could not turn down the opportunity to regain this relic for a mere $2!

Would I do zoo lights again?  Yes, but with a lesser dose of rain and cold and maybe a pair of boots.


Spring is here!

2013
05.19

It’s always funny to me when people ask me what I did this weekend.  Maybe every weekend I will just post what I go out and do and then the question can finally be put to bed.

Step 1: Friday Afternoon Dim Sum at Minghin

No pictures here, we all know that the best dish on the entire menu in this Chinatown gem is the crispy Macau pork belly.  Taking out a college chum to grab some, it dawned on me that some parts of the country have no dim sum.  It is for this reason that I always take inventory and count my blessings for living in Chicago!

Step 2: Stop for a drink at Whistler

A Bentonhurst, if you would please

A Bentonhurst, if you would please

Fancy cocktails are never out of style at this Logan Square hotspot.  There were no servers on a Friday night but the dim lit room made it feel like an old school speakeasy.  We had a reggae show to go to so we had to skip out before the DJ hit the decks.

Step 3: Have a pitcher of Old Style at Two Way Lounge

The fancy cocktails were good, but my old college chum needed to meet the National Bohemian of the Midwest: Old Style.  I considered drinking only a pint for $2, but a pitcher was much more enticing.  We downed that pitcher and headed back towards Township.

Step 4: Catch Drop Steady at Township

Drop Steady

Drop Steady

Local music in Chicago is as rich as it comes, with Drop Steady on stage and Township crawling with friends all over the place it was the place to be on Friday night.  Perched near my usual spot in front of the stage I shot pictures and danced with the rest of the crowd.  Serious craft beer and some shots of whiskey rounded off the night.

Step 5: Saturday night: Start a photo project

Settin' up the shots

Settin' up the shots

If you’re going to sit around recovering from the previous night’s damage, make sure to find a buddy who will get you back up and rolling.  Practicing our night shooting, @MunicipalAgent quickly convinced me that I am in desperate need of a tripod.  If you pursue any hobby, I highly recommend finding experts way better than you are to help perfect your craft.  Our south side adventure netted us some pics and I am sure Luke’s will blow mine away.

Step 6: Sunday Morning – Go to the Globe Pub and Root for Arsenal!

Down to the last game of the Premiership season, I was not a good fan this season and stayed on the sidelines watching many a game from home.  I ended up going to the most crowded football bar in Chicago and ended up at the Globe for the game without a beer in hand for the entirety of the match.  Arsenal fans were in full force, loudly cheering and singing on Arsenal holding down 4th place for the season ensuring Champions League qualification for the 16th straight year while rival Tottenham’s season went down in flames into Europa League.

Step 7: BBQ and Crawfish Boil at Toon’s

BBQ BBQ BBQ

BBQ BBQ BBQ

Most people in Chicago are lucky if they have a friend with a grill who’s willing to cook some food up on the weekend.  I’d say you’re really, really fortunate if you’ve got some friends who are experts at using a smoker and invite you on over.  Feasting on some smoked chicken, smoked brisket, hot links and some delicious BBQ sauce, I them remembered there was some crawfish to smash open!

Chicago Crawfish Boil

Chicago Crawfish Boil

If you are ever looking for a crawfish boil in Chicago, Toon’s is the place to be: accept no imitiations!  Dollar for dollar and flavor for flavor you will end up on the winning side and satisfied with crawfish from the best!  Danny has been cooking up crawfish at Toon’s for the last 14 years.  Memorial Day is your next chance for a crawfish boil!

Step 8: Concrete custard at Scooter’s

Mocha. Snicker. Madness.

Mocha. Snicker. Madness.

Dessert?  Dessert!  Scooter’s Frozen Custard in Roscoe Village stands as a marvel in desserts.  With the oppressive sun melting my soul away, I was encouraged by seeing a small crowd of children, parents, dogs, and thirsty people standing outside and enjoying an ice cold custard from Scooter’s.  Perusing the menu a combination of Vanilla custard, mocha, and Snickers sounded like the perfect way to cool off after a BBQ.  We sat inside and were able to grab some water while our custards quickly were assembled ready to nosh!  Life seemed so much better in the air conditioning watching the other folks outside melt away.

The just about wraps up my weekend.  I truly, dearly wanted to go to Lakeview Mayfest, however I will save my money for the real German Maifest up in Lincoln Square!!!

Sit in the Bleachers at Wrigley

2013
05.02
Right Field Bleachers

Right Field Bleachers

On a warm spring night there are few better places than finding yourself in the bleachers at Wrigley Field and hanks to @DreFlair, I got some free tickets!  With a cool breeze you’ll find few more entertaining baseball experiences no matter where your baseball allegiances may lie. I’ve been going to the bleachers since the massive heatwave of 1995 when the temperature hit 106 and sweat stains could be seen on the faded bleachers.  Since then, the @cubs have built more seating, added a Toyota sign, a lounge in center field, and made the line for getting a wristband longer than the line to Hot Doug’s.

Despite these things, here’s why I love going to the bleachers:

The view

The view

When you’re watching baseball on TV, the view is always from the center field cameras.  Behind the mound, you get to see where the catcher is setting up, if a runner is out or safe, and catch when the bullpen is warming up.  Watching the outfielders shift every so often lets you know where they think the ball is going to go.  I love taking pictures from the bleachers!

You can try to feed the players

You can try to feed the players

For whatever reason, Cubs fans make no sense.  Half come to the game unprepared to pay any attention, while the vast majority drink until they can’t think, throwing food and sometimes drenching players in a cold cup of beer.  Whether you are a diehard fan of baseball who shudders to think of missing a play or someone more interested in tweeting on the ignorance of the fans all game, you’ll nary find a crowd that reacts with no sense of logic in baseball.

Fans with a deathwish

DO NOT DO THE WAVE AT WRIGLEY

Call me old school, but back in the day Cubs fans prided themselves that the Wave did not and could not happen in Wrigley.  You save that nonsense for the other foo-foo ballparks around the country.  In the past three games I’ve gone to I’ve seen one wave go through the stadium umpteen times, at another game a set of fools attempted the Wave and were shouted down, and last night’s Wave which stopped as soon as it went up. Totally unacceptable fan behavior.

Maximum leg room in the latter innings

Maximum leg room in the latter innings

If the Cubs are losing heavily, you’ll have no trouble finding that extra legroom you’ve always dreamed about. Fans trickle out each inning as the Cubs will likely face another 100-loss season.  As the “L’s” start piling up, you can rest assured that new seats will open up after the seventh inning stretch.

The bleachers are as glorious as they are obnoxious.  Regardless of the circumstance, I would make sure to stop for a bleacher game if I ever had to leave Chicago for good.

To Do List

2013
03.09

1. New Kuma’s (666 W Diversey)

2. Dinner at Ruxbin

3. Catch Too Much Light Makes the Baby Goes Blind

4. Attend Cubs Opening Day

5. Throw a big birthday bash

October Baseball at Wrigley Field

2012
10.03
Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

October baseball is a metaphor for playoff baseball but with the Cubs dropping a whopping 101 games this season (and counting), the playoffs are likely a few years away.  Despite the lack of playoff hopes, it’s still a fun experience to go to the ballpark at cut rate prices.  Tickets these days for for $1 on StubHub and $25+ for Club Box seats – not bad, considering some of these Club Box seats go to triple digits in the summertime.

Having forgotten the football schedule, I got myself two 4th row seats behind the bullpen for $30 each. September baseball in Wrigley is usually freezing but this year’s warm weather meant no coat and no complaining except for $7.50 beers.

Cubs Bullpen

Cubs Bullpen

Game highlights were surely absent as the Cubs were 2-hit and shut out by the worst team in the league.  The game still had attendance of 32,167, but there were more empty seats than I could remember.

@lenandbob Sing the Stretch

@lenandbob Sing the Stretch

Tradition still stay alive  in Wrigley as @lenandbob sand the stretch.  What was worse than watching that 100th loss was spotting unruly fans in the center field bleachers successfully start the Wave.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe the Wave has no place being in Wrigley.  The last game I attended in the summer, 5 fans sitting two rows in front of me attempted to start the Wave.  I immediately began shouting at them to sit down and desist in their buffoonery and others joined in to successfully prevent the Wave from hitting the stands.  Unfortunately for me, this time I was too far away and could only watch in shame as the Wave made its way around Wrigley Field round after round.

Five years from now maybe we’ll see real October baseball in Chicago, until then – Epstein, you’ve got a lot of work to do! Please note, if you ever see the Wave at Wrigley yell at those responsible and refuse to participate!!