Bright Side

April 18, 2016 at 10:53 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

My tooth is better! My real crown was installed and I didn’t choke to death on cement, nor did I swallow it over the weekend! I can eat and drink and be merry once again! We also had an absolutely gorgeous weekend full of sunshine and a magnificent lack of rain, so all is right in the world!


Praise be!

Even better? The find I found on Record Store Day, this past Saturday. For those of you who don’t know this about me, I’ve been a huge Led Zeppelin fan for like 20 years. I own all of their albums on vinyl but one in particular, Houses of the Holy, had evaded me since I began my collection. It was my favorite album too and I’ve checked every record store I’ve ever been in with the hopes of discovering it. I know I could have ordered it from someplace at any time but I didn’t want to rob myself of the pleasure of pulling it out of a pile with my own two hands. And guess what? I FINALLY experienced that on Saturday!  Ironically, it was in a record store I’ve been in numerous times and while I’ve always searched for Houses, I never found it. Before Record Store Day. It’s almost a great as Rex Manning Day (and extra musical props to you if you get that reference).

It was seriously everything I had hoped and thought it would be.

On top of that awesomeness and the amazing weather, I got to see lots of friends all weekend long. I even attended a yoga class and didn’t break anything. This grown-up stuff is can be pretty alright!


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Market Daze

August 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Market Days is the biggest street festival in the Midwest and it takes place here in Chicago – Boystown, to be exact.  For those two days, over 300,000 gay-friendly people crowed the streets for music, food, shopping and of course, people watching.  The whole thing spans six city blocks and features three stages and over 40 musical guests.  An old roommate from college came in town this weekend and stayed with a girl we used to live with back in the day, and I met the two of them plus a few others  Saturday night for the craziness that is Market Days.  We tried to see the Wilson Phillips show but there were SO MANY people everywhere we went that we didn’t even get close.  At one point I felt like those people who rush the doors of Wal-Mart on Black Friday morning, it was so sweaty and cramped.  We bailed from that scene pretty quickly and found some breathing room at a nearby house party before venturing back into the crowd.

I saw a big group of nearly naked men and women playing the largest game of Twister I’ve ever seen, and even though I never saw who was the last one standing, I think they all went home winners.  There were tons of drag queens walking around in various states of undress, with some of them looking better than others.  Countless couples and people just trying to hook up walked the streets and it was so crowded many of them wound up carrying the dogs they brought because there were simply too many feet around for the poor pooches (though why you would bring your dog to one of the biggest and wildest street fests in the city is beyond me).  I saw fighting and making up, plus plenty of making out.  And I saw a LOT of skin:

Dancing a go-go!

Dancing a go-go!

Some of the popular clubs had entire facades built into the street and featured bars on the lower level with dancing dudes in teeny tiny underwear on the upper levels.  This is the most work-safe photo I had but you can see how big the structure was.  The later the night got the more my friends and I thought we could dance better than the guys being paid to do so, but alas we never climbed to the top to find out.

Market Days is definitely a little different from the other street fests I’ve been too but it was cheaper and just as fun.  I know that kind of scene isn’t for everyone but it was absolutely entertaining to me.  I wasn’t as drunk (read: I had one beer) as every single other person out there seemed to be but I had a good time anyway and likely felt better than all those other people the next day.  I know I felt better than the gang I went with because I had brunch with them all the next morning and they were hurting.

The season of street fests is winding down and I think this one went out with a bang (no pun intended…well, not entirely intended).  Long live dancing and queens!

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Sounds of the City

April 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

My previous post highlighted an interesting visual experience here in Chicago and a walk I took down State Street yesterday during rush hour provided a few more.   I think I noticed all this more than usual because I was on my cell phone at the time and could barely hear a thing.   If you’re familiar with the city then you’re probably familiar with some of these people/events but even if you’re not, hopefully it will show you a little of what goes on on a typical downtown Thursday…and teach you not to try to talk and walk when it comes to State Street.

  • Trains, overhead and everywhere.  The noise echoes through some of the streets.
  • Some random art installation that lit up various bulbs as it blared AC/DC to anyone with working eardrums.  This was in more than one area and I was lucky enough to pass these pieces at least three times.

    Not exactly Lamb Chop

  • The elderly gentleman who plays a violin on the street corner.  He’s usually accompanied by who I can only assume is his wife but he was performing solo yesterday.  Which makes me hope she was out shopping the Magnificent Mile and nothing more serious prevented her from making an appearance.
  • A bicycle cart that doubles as a puppet stage, where puppets put on a dancing and singing show for anyone who wants to stop and watch (see photo).
  • Sirens and taxi’s honking as if their lives depended on it.  Wouldn’t be a day in any city without that.
  • A group of probably 9 middle school kids playing drums using upside down large plastic paint gallons and wooden drumsticks.
  • Greenpeace Workers trying to sign up every Tom, Dick, and Harry so they can meet their daily quotas (I’ve had Greenpeace friends, I know how it works).  I’ve pledged before and these days I just try to keep my head low and eyes averted as I pass them by.
  • The mass confusion overheard from a group of tourists who were trying to find the recently-moved Garrett’s Popcorn.
  • The preacher who stands with a microphone and amplifier and denounces things like  homosexuality, birth control, premarital sex, puppies, ponies, TV, chocolate and just about anything fun (this list might not be entirely accurate, but it’s close).  Yesterday there were actually three guys holding signs that said “God Loves Gay People” right next to the preacher and so of course I (and many others) gave them a high-five as I passed.  This did not phase the preacher but it helped anyway.

And this was all in just about ten minutes.  Needless to say, my conversation got put on hold until I found a quieter part of the city (read: when I left downtown and got back to my own neighborhood) but I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m also thankful I do not live in this area and that the most annoying thing in my street is the occasional cop car or drunken group missing a trolley.

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Cricket’s Love Song

January 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Yesterday morning, as I was sitting quietly on the train and making my way to work, I listened to the Calm Mediation station.  I do this when I’m on the train and there’s someone speaking in annoying loud and obnoxious tones (which happens more often than not).  So there I was, trying to enjoy a few peaceful moments before entering yet another crazy workday.  I was enjoying A Cricket’s Love Song by Kelvin Mockingbird (yes, I realize how hippie-dippy/New Age this makes me sound and I don’t really care).  The song was full of flute music and – surprise – crickets.  It was actually pretty soothing and was helping to relax me a bit.  Then the music abruptly stopped and I heard the following:

Man’s voice: 911.  What is your emergency?

Creepy, raspy voice of a woman:  Three.

Man’s Voice: Three what?

Creepy, raspy lady: Three people.

Man: Three people what, ma’am?

Creepy, raspy lady: Three people are dead.  AND I KILLED THEM!

At this point, my eyes are open and I’m WTF’ing all over the place.  I turned my phone on to see just what was going on and this is what I saw:

Holy Mary Mother of God

As you can probably imagine, my morning went from serene to scary in just under .2 seconds.  And I’m sorry if this photo freaks you out but imagine how I felt!  Truth be told, I was glad that my phone wasn’t intercepting some other dimensional phone call where a crazy woman in desperate need of a throat lozenge was confessing her greatest sins, but I could’ve done without the entire experience.  It certainly got my attention and it certainly didn’t make me want to see the movie.

Stupid commercials.

I know I could upgrade my Pandora and pay to omit the ads but I’m too cheap for that, as little as I listen to it.  So I suppose I’ll just suffer through the ads and hope that Kelvin Mockingbird can come back to save the day.

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Music, Crowds and Rain

August 8, 2011 at 11:11 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

…are three things I did not deal with this weekend.  While I’m a fan of music the other two things I can do without and as Lollapalooza took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was actually thankful that I wasn’t dealing with the hoards of people in the steamy sunshine left behind after a massive downpour.  Does this mean I’m getting old?  Maybe, maybe not.

Good luck finding me.

I’ve attended my fair share of festivals and even spent a few summers roughin’ it at Bonnaroo in Tennessee.  I’ve been to Lolla a couple times as well and I actually had a blast at each of these concerts.  I even thought about going to Lolla this year but when the line-up came out, I wasn’t overly impressed.  I like the Foo Fighters but was lucky enough to see them for a BBC live taping in London in 2005 (I got a drumstick and guitar pick from the band and actually got to walk out talking to the guys as they headed to Sweden or Switzerland or someplace that started with the letter ‘S’).  I was interested in seeing some of the other acts but not interested enough to shell out close to $90/day to do so.  Besides, I had stuff going on at the Field Museum on Saturday and I ultimately decided doing my researching and docent thing was a better way to spend my Saturday.  Oh crap.  Maybe I am getting old.

Even though I didn’t hit the fests, I’m able to appreciate how massive and popular they are.  In fact, I spent part of Friday looking out our office windows and watching the thousands upon thousands of people amassing in Grant Park.  I also walked by a huge fence on Saturday morning as I made my way into the museum – the fence was being guarded by extremely bored looking Lolla volunteers to ensure no one was going to jump it and sneak in.  Which was a shame because the thought absolutely crossed my mind.  Trains were packed and traffic in and around downtown was somewhat of a nightmare, making me once again happy I don’t have a car.  There where people everywhere but they all seemed to be having a pretty great time so I guess even the thunderstorms and overcast skies didn’t put a damper on their days.

And maybe I’ll go next year.  I can start saving now and if the set list doesn’t spark an interest once again then I can do something else with the money I’d have spent on a 3 days pass.  Like purchase a small island.

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May Book Club Review

May 19, 2011 at 10:34 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I was here

Our book club numbers have sadly been dwindling lately, as it seems everyone has gotten busier than we anticipated.  Last week there were a whopping three of us who showed up for our monthly meeting but in some ways that was kind of nice.  We met at La Creperie and it was my first time visiting the French-styled bistro restaurant.  If you don’t know much about crepes…well, you should.  They’re pretty amazing.  They’re typically made in both sweet and savory varieties, with the sweet being more like a dessert and the savory more like an entrée.  I split the Ratatouille savory crepe with one of the book club ladies and she had the brilliance to add in a bit of goat cheese to the standard zucchini, eggplant, onion, peppers and tomatoes.  It was delicious.  We then split a sweet crepe stuffed with banana and Nutella, which was equally as delicious though in a very different way.  Throw in a warm spring day, large glass of wine, book, good company and the obligatory guy playing an accordion in the courtyard and you’ve got quite the night.

Speaking of books, there was some literary discussion as well.  We read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  It’s about twins who

Two thumbs up

are the product of an Indian nun mother and British surgeon father.  They grow up in Ethiopia and the story chronicles their lives from birth (literally) to death.  It was a little longer than what we typically read for book club so I had to up my speed reader skills just a bit, but in the end I was glad I did.  While it was a little difficult to get into immediately, I found myself totally immersed in the story before I knew it.  I laughed, I cried and it was one of those books that I simultaneously didn’t want to end but was in a hurry to finish.  Some of the historical bits were a little confusing though, mostly because my knowledge of the political history of Ethiopia is pretty much nonexistent.  Since the entire novel took place in or around hospitals, there were also more than a few terms and descriptions that were a bit over my head.  All in all though, this is one of those books that I think I’ll be reading again.

Speaking of hospitals, Dad’s still on the mend.  We’re still waiting on all results to come back but my sister will be flying down there today and I’ll be down there in two weeks.  Not exactly the circumstances I’d like for a visit but I’m already ready to go!

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Christkindl Shennanigans

December 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Cold weather doesn’t deter the tough people of Chicago from going out and having a good time, which is evidenced by outdoor shopping markets that pepper the Holiday season.  There’s an annual month-long event downtown in Daley Plaza that’s full of lots of food, shopping and beer.  Wait, beer?  Oh yes, these are traditional German American Holiday Markets and they wouldn’t be traditionally German-American if they didn’t serve booze.  This weekend, there was a smaller Christkindlmarket in Lincoln Square, a neighborhood not too far from where I live.  It still featured awesome local vendors, tasty food and cold beer but this one is a bit less touristy. And while the one in Daley Plaza has “warming tents”, this one is entirely enclosed in a giant heated tent, which almost allowed one to forget that the temperatures were hovering around freezing right outside.

My awesome mom came to visit me this weekend so we could tackle some Christmas shopping and we spent most of Saturday wandering around Michigan Avenue, checking out the lights and the sales.  We also found a pretty great burger place that served veggie burgers with their house BBQ sauce (and you know how I love BBQ).  It snowed all day but wasn’t unbearably cold so it was quite picturesque walking around.  We thought about hitting up the Daley Plaza market but decided to come by my apartment, relax for a bit and head to the one closer to here instead.  We managed to catch the same train as a friend of mine who was joining us and we all walked in together (but not before witnessing some middle-aged man slip and bust his ass outside…and so it begins.  Be careful out there people).  This is what we were greeted to:

It was much bigger than it looks

There were tables everywhere set up with local artisans and I saw soy candles, paper products made from elephant dung, gluten-free fudge and a plethora of ornaments, jewelry, gloves, hats and scarves.  There was also a stage set up and the first group looked roughly 16 years old but they played classical Christmas music like pros.  Then a new band came on and they looked like the grandfathers of the first kids but they were pretty good (though a tad loud) as well.  We rocked out to classic rock cover songs while enjoying German beer and food, not to mention the gifts we all managed to snag.  My friend actually bought an insanely adorable baby outfit and she’s years from ever getting knocked up – obviously, some of these things were just too good to pass up.

I also had a couple of drunk German dudes walk up and try to talk to me.  I explained that I didn’t speak German and after telling me how much I looked German, they asked what my heritage was.  I said French and one of them told me he loved me (in French) before they walked away.  While my mom, friend and I did have a few beers, I think those guys had a few more.

We had a lot of fun at the Market and, while I intend on checking out the larger downtown one at some point, I’m glad we were able to catch the smaller one during the one weekend it was here.  And I’m glad my mom and I had such a great weekend – lots of eating, shopping and errand running (I love when the people who visit me have cars – did my first grocery shopping in almost 8 weeks and I don’t even know what to do with all of the food in my house).  There was lots of quality time spent and I know we’ll have some more when I go home for Christmas.  I’m now officially full of Christmas spirit (as well as sugar and spice…or maybe it’s BS?) and even Jack Frost can’t put a damper on my mood!

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Palm Reading and Chocolate

August 2, 2010 at 1:48 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I went to the Southport Street Fest on Saturday night and had a good time enjoying music, beer, booths and food.  I love the street fests in Chicago during the summer – they can tend to blend together but hanging out in the road while drinking and listening to random bands is always a fun time. The fest on Southport wasn’t the only one going on this weekend but as I knew it was less crowded and closer than some of the others, it seemed like my best bet.

The food is pricey and the beers aren’t cheap but you’re paying more for the experience than anything else.  The band

Appropriate coming from a church

that was playing Friday was pretty decent and while I didn’t get their name I did appreciate their rendition of Waterfalls by TLC.  They played some other music from the 90’s and since my tastes haven’t much evolved since then I was all for it.  I’m all for the free swag (stuff we all get) given out at street fests too and this one was no different.  My friend and I managed to score roughly 10 bottles of Ocean Spray juice and a bunch of sparkling water (too bad sparkling water tastes like fly urine…not that I’m all too familiar with the taste of fly urine, but you get the idea).  We also got handed this bottle opener, which I found slightly ironic.

As I mentioned, there are lots of booths at street fests too.  They display everything from jewelry to henna tattoos to clothing.  The jewelry always draws me in, even though I already have more than I’ll ever be able to wear.  No matter.  I found some super cool rings at one spot in particular and I decided I had to add a new one to my collection.  Most of the stuff in this booth was from Thailand or India and the guy working had an accent I couldn’t quite place (not that I’m great at placing accents to begin with).  As I was trying on rings, he started chatting with me about the various pieces he had for sale.  Then he took my hand, flipped it over and gave me a very impromptu palm reading.  Whatever, I’m game.  He started looking at lines and telling me that I’m stubborn and independent (well duh).  Then he got an intense look on his face, stared deeply into my hand and declared that I’m an ambitious mother******.  Had to laugh at that.

He also gave a reading to my friend and said that we complement each other because I bring out the more daring side in her.  We both got a kick out of it and even if it was all a bunch of bologna, it was a free and interesting ten minutes.  Gotta love free and interesting, if nothing else.

Yesterday, I made my way downtown for pizza eating and TrueBlood watching with another friend.  The lady in question lives in a super nice place and as I was making my way from the train to her pad, I detected a delicious scent in the air.  Chocolate.  I was thinking how nice it must be to live in an area that pumps in pleasant smells when I thought to glance around.  That’s when I saw this:

If I lived near a Chocolate Factory, bad things would happen

I was walking directly next to a Chocolate Factory.  I didn’t see any Oompa Loompas or Gene Wilder running about but it was a factory of chocolate nonetheless.  How is this just casually sitting in downtown Chicago?  How are there not people trying to break in at every given moment?  I seriously doubt that I have the self control to live in such an area.  It was hard enough to walk by, especially when I saw the sign saying it’s been operating 24/7 for the last 67 years.  I thought of ambushing the place and raiding it for all it was worth but I’m sure it was heavily guarded by lasers and retina-scanning technology.  At least, that’s how I would protect a chocolate factory if I were lucky enough to own one.

Mmm chocolate…sweets…cake…a student at work just brought us in an extremely decadent cake to thank us for all of our hard work with him over the year.  It’s waiting on my desk so I should probably pay it proper attention.  The lines in my palm and the fork in my hand are telling me to, so I must oblige.

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