CVH and mama love watching football on TV. Although I don’t know much about American football, I’ll often join them. TV coverage of football has improved tremendously in the last fifteen years or so. It used to be excruciating to watch. I couldn’t figure out why it was so bad. It was as if the people in charge of the transmission had never watched TV before. I wondered if the networks sent their lowest achievers, the people they were about to lay off, to direct TV football coverage. But now it is much better.
Not being an football aficionado, though, my eye tends to wander around the screen while the game is playing. I end up seeing little details that regular fans don’t notice. And I wonder what some of these things are.
One of the first things I noticed was the C on some players’ jerseys. They come with a varying number of stars.
Not everybody has a C, and some teams have more than others. Thanks to Google, I was able to figure out that it stands for “Captain”, and indeed, some teams use them more than others.
The helmets are also interesting. They’re not all the same. Many have this five-sided flap cutout on the front:
But not all.
I don’t know why.
And some helmets have these little ovals on the front.
A lot of quarterbacks have them, but not all. Some the other players, both offensive and defensive, have them, but I haven’t been able to come up with a 100% correlation to specific positions.
Occasionally you’ll catch a glimpse of the guy on the sideline who carries the extra balls.
What’s the career path for this person? What job did he get promoted from? What do his kids tell the other kids that their father does for a living?
How about that plastic thing that holds the ball for the kickoff? Does somebody run out and pick it up right after the kick? Or do they leave it out there and hope nobody steps on it?
The color commentators never discuss these fascinating questions.
Everybody goes Christmas shopping. First, we went to the Christkindlmarket on Daley Plaza.
CVH got a Nepalese hat. Made in Nepal.
It was a little cool, of course, and some pigeons hung out around the war dead memorial flame.
We enjoyed some fresh German donuts. Any tourist hoping to see the Picasso might have been disappointed, though, as the market surrounds the sculpture. The Picasso was the big thing when I was a kid, but now everyone goes to Cloud Gate (The Bean). Sic transit gloria.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner downtown at the Godfrey’s rooftop lounge.
Mama had a good time, too.
Friday after Thanksgiving it was back downtown to see the official Chicago tree in the park. There were herds of people. We went to Marshall Field’s and were able to get into the Walnut Room and have the famous chicken pot pie.
Dinner at the Walnut Room by the big Christmas tree: check off another Chicago tradition.
We took the L up to Rogers Park and the Chalk Howard Street festival.
Chalk artists from around the country came to chalk up Howard Street, including this shot of Chicago native Harrison Ford climbing up out of the ground.
Of course there were food and games. CVH played Jenga with other festival goers (I did not realize this was one of her talents), and had fataya from Badou Senegalese. We also bought some vinegars from Made With Love Organic Vinegars, and bread pudding from the Caribbean American Baking Company. Bob’s Red Mill was handing out free oatmeal and granola, so we got that, too.
A local artist had these Chicago winter prints, and now CVH has one to hang by her desk. As if we didn’t get enough Chicago winter as it is.
I took advantage of this trip to take CVH into Lost Eras (since 1969), one of those unbelievable “antique” stores that are full of more stuff than you thought existed.
I can’t imagine how they run a business like this. I’m thinking the money-making part is in costumes and the occasional actual antique, but all that other stuff, and there is a lot of it – would have to be a cost accounting nightmare.
The hard-working Alderwoman who represents Rogers Park, Maria Hadden, was there and we spoke with her briefly.
There are very few policy issues on which I agree with Ald. Hadden, but she is certainly committed to her causes and seems honest, not something one always finds in a Chicago politician.
Admit it: all your life, you’ve wanted to vacation in Milwaukee. Yet, despite the planning and scheming, it hasn’t happened yet. Well, we made the dream a reality.
CVH wanted to go to the state fair. There is an Illinois state fair in Springfield, but then we saw that the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee was closer and there were more things to do in Milwaukee.
So we caught the Amtrak to Milwaukee.
The train dropped us off downtown, a short walk from our hotel. It was a lovely hotel, in a restored pre-civil war building. Our room had twelve-foot ceilings, distressed wood floors, and was very nice.
There are a lot of these old, impressive buildings in Milwaukee.
A surprising number of downtown buildings have large clocks.
The most amazing thing is that all the clocks work! No excuse for being late in Milwaukee.
Our hotel was also a block from Milwaukee Public Market, a food mall full of wonderful restaurants, bakeries, and toothsome delights.
We walked down to the lakefront, and CVH claims the ducks in Milwaukee are extra large.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is on the lake, and it sports a dramatic Calatrava-designed entry building.
The large “wings” open and close. We got to watch them close:
The next day we went to the State Fair. The Milwaukee bus #18 takes you from downtown right to the State Fair gate.
At the fair, we saw good looking dairy cows.
And young cows:
There was a substantial dairy display.
There was steer judging.
Of course, we also saw goats and sheep and chickens.
We tried a lot of fair food, including the 1st place contest winner, a pretzel-wrapped brat with jalapeños.
We were informed that it’s pronounced “brought”, not “brat”.
We visited the maple producers booth, and the honey producers booth.
The Case tractor people had a contest to test your farming knowledge. There were questions such as “The corn head cross auger pitch allows for better (pick one):”. Somehow CVH got the right answer to her question about rice, and won a hat. I think it makes me look like a real farmer:
After the fair, we went to the Milwaukee Art Museum and saw,among other things, their exhibit of Jules Chéret posters.
Friday we went shopping along Brady Street. We bought some cat toys at Pets on Brady, went to Glorioso’s Italian Market and the Peter Sciorino Bakery, and I even got a haircut at Classic’s Barbershop.