Not in Kansas

A lovely day in Chicago, and we went to see Oz Park. This is a lovely little park in the tony Lincoln Park neighborhood. Why it’s called Lincoln Park I do not understand, because it’s not really that close to Lincoln Park (the park) at all. Which means when someone says “Lincoln Park”, you’re never completely certain where it is they are talking about.

Anyway, Oz Park has statues of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion, as well as Dorothy and Toto.

Here I am looking at Toto.

I do wonder why they don’t have a statue of the Wizard. They have statues of these losers and misfits, but not one of the hero.

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Springtime. Bluebonnets. Tulips.

Each spring in Texas, every Texan takes grandma and/or the kids on the road (out 290 for Houstonians) and takes pictures of them sitting in a bluebonnet field. I believe this is required by statute in Texas.

I have no idea who these people are.

We do not have bluebonnets in Chicago, but we do have tulips. Millions (literally) of tulips are planted each year. So here are our tulip pictures for this year.

Michigan Avenue Tulips
Lincoln Park Zoo Tulips
I don’t know if these are actually tulips.
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Date Night Concert

Samita Sinha brought her vocal music to Chicago, and we went to hear it.

While we were waiting for the theater doors to open, CVH asked me if this was the sort of concert that I would take dates to.

“Not twice,” I replied. “I found that it only took one Philip Glass show to snuff out any budding interest.”

It was a recital in an intimate setting; so intimate that the artists invited audience members to lie on the stage floor for the best experience. My bones are too old for that, though. The duets were operatically powerful. Sinha has a voice like Natalie Merchant. The music was what one could call minimalist – no words, just chants of a South Asian influence.

After the show, CVH said “I really enjoyed it. I’d go on a second date with you after that.”

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Chicago Rainy Day

The rain seems to fall mostly at night here; I don’t really know if that’s true or why, but it feels that way. And it rained last night. But was still drizzling this morning.

So it was a good morning for an indoor activity, like visiting the Art Institute.

South Lion

I saw Paris Rainy Day, which CVH has on her raincoat. She was wearing it today.

My favorite piece of all at the Institute is this model boat from ancient Egypt.

This piece fascinates me. Four thousand years old, and unlike most Egyptian art, a realistic depiction. It’s like a photograph; you are peering into a time fantastically far away. What would these men have thought if you told them someone would be gazing at their likeness forty centuries later? Not to mention the question of how could a wooden model boat be so well preserved.

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Everything You Know Is Wrong

Yesterday we visited the Museum of Illusions, a popular Chicago tourist trap. Fortunately, we went as part of a group field trip, so the expense was more appropriate to the experience than the usual ticket cost.

The museum has a lot of the usual optical illusions that you’ve seen many times (so to speak).

But they do manage to do some very lovely things with mirrors. I particularly enjoyed the rooms that make you feel like you are falling even though you are just standing straight up. The physical sensation is nearly overwhelming – if you could put something like that in your living room, it would be great for parties!

On the way out, I told CVH that the exhibits prove that in our everyday lives we see what we are conditioned to see and not the truth or reality.

“That’s a very Buddhist way of describing it,” she replied.

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I’m a tool of the Orwellian fascist takeover

As I don’t have a car, it’s nice to be able to walk/cycle/ride bus to many of the things I like/need to get to in fifteen minutes or fewer.

I thought I’d start a list.

  • The vet
  • Grocery store: Mariano’s (aka Kroger), Jewel (aka Albertson’s), Aldi, Whole Foods, Thai-Asian market, African market, and uncountable little bodegas
  • The beach, park, and lake
  • Ice cream shop
  • Bakery (multiple)
  • Sandwich deli (multiple)
  • Restaurants: Italian, Ethiopian, Asian, Mexican, Pakistani, Pizza, Vietnamese, Corner diner, Bubble Tea, etc.
  • Church (Episcopalian and many others)
  • Theatre (multiple)
  • Candle store
  • Gym (multiple)
  • Drugstore (multiple)
  • Bicycle shop
  • Mama’s apartment
  • Immediate care center (multiple), hospital
  • L train station
  • Post Office
  • Library
  • Hardware store (two)
  • Bank
  • UPS store
  • Framing shop
  • Petsmart, and other independent pet supply stores
  • Coffee shop (multiple, not just Starbucks)
  • Hairdresser
  • Cleaners
  • Dollar General
  • Primary Care Doctor
  • Pet groomer
  • Fancy wine store (when guests come over)
  • Antique stores (two)
  • Senior citizen’s center
  • Alderman’s office
  • Digestive & Liver center (sometimes necessary)
  • Shoe store, which carries my size (15)
  • Bookstore
  • Eyeglass store

Jeez, I guess this list could go on a very long ways.

Now I find out that neighborhoods like ours are actually open-air prisons. According to Joe Rogan.

Gee, it seemed so nice when we moved here; I guess that’s true of most Orwellian totalitarian fascist takeovers.

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CVH wanted to go to Minneapolis for our anniversary.

They have a convenient train there. Takes you from the airport downtown (and other places).

The Blue Line

Our hotel was pretty conveniently located, but there were portable police cameras parked out in front.

Seems likely there were there in response to a problem. Anyway, the Blue Line train was also able to take us to the Mall of America. If you lived through the 70’s, you recall that indoor shopping malls sprung up like mushrooms. Although few of them are still going concerns, this giant mall from 1992 seems to be chugging right along. There is a large book store, rollercoasters, and an aquarium. Alas, the Prairie Home Companion store is no more.

We walked along the riverfront to the falls. There are some cool bridges over the river.

The little tiny dots on the bridge are a group of young men out for a run. They had team uniforms on and spoke German. Maybe they were in town for a soccer game?

The old railroad bridge below is an now a pedestrian bridge.

We visited the flour mill museum, which was a lot more interesting than it might sound. CVH was taken by the story of Bisquick.

That evening we toured the Walker Art Center, an impressive modern art museum. It has an extensive sculpture garden with a couple of iconic items.

The Giant Blue Chicken
The Cherry – which is a fountain, too
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Xmas shopping, part II

It rained all day yesterday, and now CVH wanted to get out of the apartment. We took the good old 147 bus downtown.

We got off at the 900 Shops, a mall with a huge condo tower/Four Seasons hotel on top.

The mall was gaily decorated for Christmas, with a huge tree and a section where you could get your photo taken with Santa in his sleigh.

Earlier in the morning, they had hosted “Breakfast with Santa”, and there were still a lot of little girls and their parents roaming the mall. (There were very few little boys; I don’t know why.)

As we sat and ate in the food court, one toddler kept going by and staring at me. I smiled and waved. She kept coming by and staring.

“That little girl doesn’t know what to make of me,” I told CVH.

“She’s trying to figure out if you’re Santa,” she replied. Sure enough, in my red tunic and white beard and carrying a large bag, I’m sure I was confusing the poor thing.

OK, so I don’t look like Kurt Russell

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Football on TV

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.

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Xmas Shopping

Everybody goes Christmas shopping. First, we went to the Christkindlmarket on Daley Plaza.

Happy Shopper

CVH got a Nepalese hat. Made in Nepal.

Nice hat

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.

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