Goodbye To Ron Santo

Posted in Sports on December 3rd, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

People who don’t pay much attention to baseball and the MLB, particularly the Chicago Cubs, might not realize who Ron Santo is or that he is gone.

Ron Santo, legendary Chicago Cubs supporter, has passed away at the age of 70.  Gaining popularity first as a player then as an outspoken sportscaster, Ron Santo became the voice and face of the Chicago Cubs in recent years.  Always saying what was on his mind, Santo’s gravelly voice was the easiest way to find that Cubs game on WGN radio 720 in a hurry.  As a Cubs fan, I will miss it.

Sadly, Ron Santo did not live to see himself inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, nor did he see his beloved Cubbies win the World Series.  If you’d like to read more about Ron Santo or about his crusade against juvenile diabetes, here is an article in the suburban Chicago newspaper, The Daily Herald.

Condolences and prayers to the Santo family.

Are We Playing Politics… Or Preschool?

Posted in Current Events on July 21st, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I check out the headlines on Chicago’s suburban newspaper’s website, The Daily Herald, partly because that’s where I’m from (so I know of the locations of the news stories) and partly because my own small town daily paper is kind of boring because we’re… well, crime-less.  No news is good news, so they say, and I agree with that assessment for my little corner of the world.  But far removed am I, and so reading about the disasters in the Chicago area can be quite entertaining; especially the recent stories concerning this woman, Lisa Stone, a trustee from a place called Buffalo Grove, which is an upscale suburb of Chicago.

There have been numerous news stories about Ms. Stone, and I didn’t really pay attention until I saw this headline:

Buffalo Grove village president tells trustee to ‘shut up’

If you want to envision grown-up politicians behaving like children, read the article, for it’s like a play-by-play of a school yard bickering session.  If you would like to see the trustees in action, here is a link to video of the actual meeting.  It goes a bit long (a whopping 3+ hours – these poor people were at their meeting until 10:30pm!), but most of the action involving Ms. Stone is in the first 10 minutes (after the Pledge of Allegiance) and in the last 30 minutes of part 3 of the meeting, which is where poor flustered President Hartstein has finally had enough.

Causing most of the problem is Ms. Lisa Stone because she doesn’t seem to respect the most basic rules of politeness nor eloquence.  She interrupts the other board members; speaking out of turn, continuously overriding her superiors and her time limits (time limits which were created, voted upon, and passed by her fellow board members because of her actions at previous meetings), and she just doesn’t seem concerned about any agenda other than her own.  After watching these little pieces of political treasure (ah, Illinois politics, gotta love ’em.  Isn’t this a state poised to have TWO former governors in the pokey at the same time?), I couldn’t resist doing some internet research on Lisa Stone.  The most interesting thing I found was her election website, electlisastone.com where the very same newspaper who provided a play-by-play of her getting told to ‘shut up’  by the board president  endorses her political career with very encouraging words which are displayed prominently and proudly on the top middle of the page!  Also of interest on this site?  Check out the little video on the left side – the then-mayor of the same city, Buffalo Grove, also endorses Lisa in the election.  And guess who the mayor was during the election?  Elliott Hartstein, the same president of the village board who got so flustered with Ms. Stone that he told her to ‘shut up’.  How about those politics, folks!  More entertaining than a 3-ring circus and for free, from the comfort of your own living room!

When Stars Collide Over Warrenville

Posted in Fun Videos on March 2nd, 2010 and tagged , , , , ,

As I’ve mentioned, I read the suburban Chicago newspaper online.  Today a headline about the town where I grew up caught my eye – a kid filmed a short little youtube.com movie in Warrenville, Illinois.  I couldn’t care less about the battle between fans of Star Wars and Star Trek, but I know there are some tangents.org readers who are fans of one or both of the franchises – thought they might enjoy this little video.  It’s a creative idea, really – what would happen if the introductory words at the beginning of the Star Wars movies fell to Earth?  For its small budget (around $100) and the small amount of time invested, the special effects aren’t bad either…

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If you’d like more info about the kid or the video, here is a link to the original article.

The Unborn Gran Torino

Posted in Everyday Life, Movies on January 15th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Luckily for us, Tuesday’s date night was not hindered by the recent barrage of snow in any way.  We ventured to the larger town nearby to see what all the Golden Globe fuss was about Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, Gran Torino (they didn’t have Slumdog Millionaire).  But after the previews and especially when the movie started, it became painfully obvious that there was something wrong with the theater’s sound – you couldn’t hear the dialogue.  My husband went to report it, and all that did was cause several loud popping noises and lengthy annoying electronic burps while they tried to fix it.  There were 3 other people in the theater with us, and we all left – seemed like a movie where you really need to hear what the characters are saying.  They offered our money back, but that wasn’t really enough because we had spent $7 on pop and popcorn that we wouldn’t have bought if we weren’t going to a movie.  The incredibly flustered but sensible kid working the counter saw our point, and apparently his manager agreed, so they let us go into another movie AND get a refund – COOL!  Earlier in the day, we had been up in the air trying to decide between seeing Gran Torino and The Unborn anyway, so I guess the choice was made for us – We only had 20 minutes to kill before a showing of The Unborn.

The Unborn was just as I expected – a PG13-rated supernatural horror movie, not quite as good as others in the genre like The Ring, Shutter, or One Missed Call.  There were some jump-out-of-your-seat moments in The Unborn, but it was obvious when they were coming, at least to me.  I don’t want to give away too much like an article did that I read in the newspaper, so I’ll just say that if you like the supernatural horror genre, check out The Unborn because it’s entertaining.  Back to the newspaper article I read…  seems the little boy who plays a scary kid in the movie is from the area where I grew up, so they featured him in the suburban Chicago newspaper I sometimes like to read online – but they spilled a major spoiler about the movie at the end of the article!  But anyway, that’s another thing I enjoyed about The Unborn – it is set in Chicagoland, so I enjoyed the sweeping overhead views of the city and some of the familiar sites in suburbia.  Apparently the screenwriter of The Unborn, David Goyer, has a fancy for Chicago since he also wrote The Dark Knight which was filmed in Chicago, although set in Gotham City.  But anyway, enjoyable movie for what it was – I might have liked Gran Torino better, but I guess I’ll have to see that one another time.

And that brings me to the Applebee’s saga.  We don’t really like Applebee’s.  They try to tell us we belong there, but I don’t buy it.  Their food seems pricey for what it is, and we stopped going there when the kids are with us because their food takes forever to come out (that and the small fortune it would cost our family of 6 to eat there).  My husband was given an Applebee’s gift card for serving on the board of a local non-profit agency (no, I am not talking about the community theater – did you really have to ask?), which is really nice of the agency of course.  We got the same gift card last year, and so back then we decided to give Applebee’s another chance.  Last year, we got some sort of bland pasta dish and an appetizer sampler and shared everything, but we left there hungry AND having to add money to our gift card in order to cover the check.  Flash forward to now, and we find ourselves with another gift card.  Time to give Applebee’s another try, we decided; after all, how bad can it be?  They have lots of corporate suits overseeing those kinds of places, so maybe they’ve implemented lots of changes in the past year to make it a better establishment.  Not the case.  First, our food took forever to come out.  I had gotten a soup-and-sandwich combo, and the waitress came to tell me they burnt the soup and it would be a few minutes while they made a new one.  My husband wondered if that meant his food was sitting under a warmer while mine was re-prepared, and his concerns were legit because when he got his food, the shrimp was cold.  Not only that, but they had given him the wrong kind of buffalo wings.  So they apologized, and that’s another thing about places like Applebee’s that really bug me – the pesty fake gushy niceness.  I do appreciate a friendly server, but the people who work at these places are way over the top…  I will cite an example in the hilarious movie Office Space – there’s a character in the movie who is Jennifer Aniston’s coworker at a TGIFriday’s type of place who acts just like these people…  annoyingly and unrealistically enthusiastic about his job – funny stuff, but only in the movies.

So anyway, we’re waiting for my husband’s new wings when the manager comes out to say that they have now put the wrong sauce on them, and they’d have to make him yet another order.  Honestly, what is the cook doing back there?  Again, for the second time this day (see my Dawn’s Great Idea post), my fears of starring in a hidden camera show run rampant…  And what has happened to all the food that they’ve messed up?  From just our party of 2, they must have had 2 orders of wings and a bowl of soup all go to waste.  I’ve often thought that restaurants should have a deal with local homeless shelters, giving them their leftovers and food mistakes, but I guess that wouldn’t be considered sanitary.  I wish they’d change this; something tells me that food is food and many people would be very grateful for restaurant “leftovers”…

We calculated our bill correctly this time, and we were about to rid ourselves of the entire giftcard, when the waitress showed up to tell us that because of all the errors, they were going to give us the employee discount on the bill.  That was really really nice of them, but that means we STILL HAVE $ LEFT ON THE GIFTCARD for another trip to Applebee’s!  I told my husband, maybe we’ll just stop in for a couple drinks sometime, but of course, you can’t use a giftcard on drinks, at least on alcoholic ones, and after trying their flavored tea yesterday, I won’t be stopping in for any more of that – yuck!  And in case you’re wondering, both my sandwich and my soup were virtually tasteless, save for the cheese on top of the soup – that was really good!

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Farm Adventures – Part 2

Posted in Everyday Life on September 29th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

One thing I forgot to touch on in my previous post is the danger of corn mazes.  Maybe I’m just a paranoid person – well, that I already know – but I was wondering how come there’s never been a major disaster at a corn maze?  I mean, what if the thing goes up in flames?  It’s a concern I was able to stash in the back of my mind during our visit Friday night; mostly because the particular maze we visited seemed safe.  They have a watch tower in the middle of it along with various emergency exits and “corn cops” to help guide you out should an emergency occur.  But the first corn maze we visited a few years ago had none of these precautions, and I couldn’t help but let my mind wander, exploring various disasterous scenarios in my head.  “Maybe they’re not very flammable.” my husband said about corn mazes, but that theory was dispelled the other night when we saw all the signs warning about how flammable the corn maze was.  Well, anyway, nothing horrible happened, thank goodness, and I’ve never heard of disaster befalling a corn maze, so until something happens, we’ll be able to enjoy the pastime of corn mazing for years to come.

So onto the rest of the weekend…  Saturday was the day of our town’s Fall Fest, so we walked the kids up to the town square, enjoyed the ambience and picnicked for lunch.  We ran into a few friends, and came home with an extra kid who spent the afternoon with us when we visited a local alpaca farm.  Here are the kids enjoying the bouncy castle at the fall fest with their friend.

Before the alpaca farm, we visited another local farm where they have an annual Halloween display – it’s really neat.  They go all out for Halloween, and they even made a little train for the kids to ride that’s pulled by a tractor.  Every family that visits gets little Halloween toys, home-grown apples, and a plate of cookies to take home – and it’s all free; done by nice people who just want to share Halloween with their visitors.  Last year we asked about donating money so they can continue their yearly traditions, but they said their insurance company said they can’t except cash but baking supplies and Halloween props would be appreciated.  My parents visited with us last year and enjoyed the Halloween farm so much that they gave me some baking supplies to donate, so Saturday while we were out that way in the country, we dropped them off.  Of course, they wouldn’t let us drop stuff off without taking home a plate of homemade cookies…  these are the nicest people.  Their home is sparsely furnished – yes, they invite everyone in for a visit – which leads one to think that if they have extra money, it’s spent on baking supplies and Halloween stuff.  Also, the woman is in a wheelchair, but none of that stops them from putting up this elaborate Halloween display every year and baking hundreds of cookies to give away.  When we went to their place for the first time a few years ago, we had just moved here from Chicago, and I’m embarrassed to admit that we were confused.  In the suburban Chicago area, there just aren’t many nice people doing things soley for the enjoyment of others, especially at their own expense.  People like that are few and far between and in an area that’s so over-populated, you’re lucky if you run into anyone like that.

Wow, I find myself having to recover from yet another tangent!  So anyway, after the Fall Fest downtown we went to the alpaca farm.  Saturday was National Alpaca Farm Day, meaning that any alpaca farm who wanted to participate had an open house on their farm for people to visit and learn about these animals.  Not only are they cute, but they are profitable as well.  Their fur sells for $12/oz, and one alpaca can yield 140 – 160 oz per year!  And it’s a method of farming that I approve of since it doesn’t injure nor kill the animal.  This farm had a 3-week-old baby alpaca (top picture below), and another one due any day, which is also fascinating because the expecting alpaca didn’t even look pregnant.  The farm also had a wild mustang that they had just rescued from Wyoming (bottom picture below).  Apparently the wild mustangs out there are running out of pasture and food, so people are bringing them to farms so they don’t starve.  This gorgeous animal had never touched a human being until a few weeks ago, and his first contact with humans was them putting him into a trailer and driving him across the country – that must have been frightening for him.  But you couldn’t tell by looking at him.  He was so well-adjusted and was coming up to all the people who were visiting.  They said he had gained lots of weight since he had arrived on the farm also, so that’s great.

 

There is just something about being on a farm that makes me feel peaceful.  The rolling countryside is beautiful, and I don’t even mind the stench of farm animals.  I would love to have a farm some day, providing we had enough money to pay a staff to maintain it.  They are lots of work I know, and I don’t know the first thing about running a farm.  But someday I think I’d like to try, and if that’s a route we explore in the future, alpacas will definitely be part of the venture!

 

Moving The Choo-Choo

Posted in Current Events, Kids, Travel on August 23rd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you’ve grown up in Chicagoland as I have, then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I describe a few staples of a typical suburban 1980’s Chicago childhood.  #1 – You’ve attended a taping of the Bozo show.  As I’ve stated before, the girl I went to the show with was put on the waiting list for tickets when she was a fetus.  We went to the show taping when we were 9 – that’s how long it took for her name to come up, thus illustrating how popular the experience was.  #2 – If you had perfect attendance in school, you won tickets to a White Sox baseball game.  Even I, a true-blue Chicago Cubs fan, ventured over to the south side as a youth to cheer on the men in black as a reward for not missing any days in a school year.  Don’t tell anyone though; it’s not something I’m proud of.  #3 – You got your grilled cheese served to you by a miniature train at the Choo-Choo restaurant in Des Plaines.

Now that it’s 2008, I doubt they give away major league baseball tickets for perfect attendance in school anymore.  I know for a fact that the Bozo show is no longer around, but I also know that the Choo-Choo restaurant is alive and well – for now anyway.  The Choo-Choo is a small diner that serves typical american fare – hot dogs, grilled cheese, burgers, and the like.  If you sit at the counter, your food is delivered by a miniature train that circles the dining room and disappears into the kitchen.  It seems they are thinking of moving the Choo-Choo to build a new police department.  Not putting it out of business, thank goodness, but they are considering moving it.  I hope this does not happen because I’m not one to favor change, and I can’t help but feel that if the restaurant is moved, it will suffer loss of business which will eventually lead to its demise.  I don’t understand why the proposal involves moving the entire building; from what I remember it is a very small crowded space, and the magic is in the train serving your food, not in the building itself.  Since 1951, this little diner has been there, and many generations have enjoyed it.  I think it would be a shame to move it as it would lose at least a little bit of its nostalgia for some people if it were in a different location.  Leave it there in its tiny building.  Let people stand in lines that often run out the door in order to get a counter seat where the train runs as they’ve done for decades.  People are more likely to return with their children and later on, their grandchildren if it’s left exactly the way they remember it.  

My husband and I had very different upbringings; his was a life of “privilege”, getting every material item he could ever want, although his parents were never home.  Mine was the opposite, a loving family always together although we had to stretch the already tight budget just to be able to afford such luxuries as an occasional happy meal from McDonalds.  But we are both products of Chicagoland, therefore we share the memories of the Sox tickets perfect attendance prize (not that my husband ever won any; this is no surprise if you know anything about his school years), being at the Bozo show tapings, and our visits to the Choo-Choo restaurant.  My kids have been to the restaurant also, and I hope it’s still there for them to visit with my grandchildren someday.

Dueling Headlines

Posted in Current Events on August 10th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

People in our corner of Ohio often make fun of our local paper, and sometimes I can see their point.  Sometimes the articles are not well-written or seem one-sided.  But I think it’s normal to feel this way because I read an online version of a suburban Chicago newspaper, and people are always leaving comments about how this newspaper’s writing stinks.  But here is a case in point from our local paper:  a few weeks ago, they ran two headlines on the front page that had nothing to do with each other.  In fact, they seemed to contradict each other.  I think this was an example of poor journalism.  They should have moved one of the stories to an inside page or saved it for another day because the front page headline was:

College on Its Way Here

And right there in the right column of the front page, was this headline:

Alcohol Deadly for Collegians

Enough said.