Showing posts from February, 2015

Could There Be A More Ridiculous 'Inside-Baseball' Stern Tweet?

The layers of this Howard Stern Show-related exchange on Twitter make me smile.

Bacon-Wrapped Crust On Detroit-Style Pie?

That's what the folks at Little Caesar's are touting this week. A pizza 'encased' in bacon.

Here's what it looks like courtesy of USNews:

From the looks of it, they've topped the pie with even more bacon and pepperoni.  I make a Detroit-style sausage/pepperoni (or soppressata).  And...I really like the 'meat lovers' pie from Home Run Inn (the restaurant version more than the frozen version).

So, it seems that this is something I should be trying to make, right?  I typically employ a two cheese process on my Detroit-style pizzas.  And...I do a cold rise with the skins.  I wonder when you put the bacon in?  Maybe you take the raw bacon and weld it to the side of the pans and allow the dough - which when started is almost like pancake batter - kind of 'grow out' to the sides and get to the bacon?  What about the charred/carmelized cheese that normally graces the sides of these pies?  You know the at Peaquod's/Burt's?  Does the…

Quick Bay Area Trip

Unlike my trip to Denver a week back, this trip I was able to spend just a/bit more time taking it all in.  Didn't hurt that we walked to a few meetings in the city.  Oh...and as I'll post soon... I house'd a gross yet awesome burger/fries combo, too.

Abestos Removal At Old Plass Store in Elmhurst

Just a week or so ago, I posted about how there was some 'action' at the old Plass Appliance building in Downtown Elmhurst.

After walking by the place on the way to my train, it seems that there's some work being done and it isn't a job I'd be interested in:

There's some talk about what is next with the building and what the location means for the City Centre.  It is a supremely important location and the desires of the new owner (if there is one?) and keeping that old storefront intact will (hopefully!) be balanced.

Why It Is No Big Deal That Disney Is Raising 1 Day Ticket Prices

If, like me, you spend any times surfing Disney blogs, forums, social handles, you've undoubtably have heard the news that (gasp!) Disney has increased the price of a 1 day park ticket to over $100 for the first time.  It is now set at $105 for a one day pass up from $99 just a few months ago.  (Let's be honest, here.  You're not like me and you don't lurk on Disney Forums, but...for the sake of this post, let's just pretend, ok??)

Here's the thing:  it doesn't really matter.  In fact, Disney raising their prices yesterday doesn't affect just about most people who are Disney World travelers.

I heard this discussed on TheDis Unplugged podcast last week (yes...shameful, I know.  But, I listen to some Disney podcasts.) and I think they had it right.  I'm going to riff off what they said because I think it is worth noting and something consider before you groan about Disney 'raising prices'.

Almost NOBODY buys a 1 day ticket for Disney World.…

Let's Do This: Disney FastPass+ Selections

This is where all the Disney blog reading/message board lurking pays off.

"Hard to get" Fastpass+'es?

Not for *this guy*!

Something Brewing At Old Plass Store In Elmhurst City Centre?

As I was walking by the old Plass furniture store in downtown Elmhurst, I saw a crew of guys putting up this plastic sheeting on the inside of the windows.  The store has been mostly empty (except for some random antique appliances and weird discount mattresses) since the place closed in 2013.  Almost two years ago, I covered the store closing here.

The store is HUGE, so it is a big opportunity for downtown Elmhurst/City Centre.  One of the things I think the community could support would be some sort of incubator.  Have a certified kitchen/lab than can bring people out of their home kitchens.  Have a store-front to sell goods for independents and have some co-creation space for others.  Kind of a blend between a co-op and a tech incubator.  There's enough space in there to do so much in one location.

Have to think that the City would help support something along those lines and it could bring a nice shot of activity to the city centre, right?

What's That? Cinderella Vinylmations? Don't Mind If We Do...

I covered Vinylmations earlier this year on the blog, but we were in the Disney Store recently and came across these Cinderella-themed Vinylmations and it took all the impulse control in my body to not gobble up 3 or 15 of these for the girls and I to open as we squeal all the way home.

If I go back, maybe we'll pick up a few of these boxes?  As long as we get the evil Stepmother, everything will be right in the world, right?!?

Another Blackhawks Game - This Time With The Babe

Back in January, I went to what I *think* was my first Chicago Blackhawks game with some buddies.  Last week, I went with the full 19-headed monster to the game against the Devils.  The seats, weren't...ahem...quite the same.  It still was a lot of fun and I got to take the Babe with me - so we had some good daddy/daughter time.

Now....being up in the 300 level, things weren't all bad.  There are some advantages of 'seeing the game' from up there, but let's be honest:  everyone in any of the 300 level seats would switch in a heartbeat with someone in row 4 down close to the glass.  But, when you're with 18 members of your family, it doesn't matter where you sit.  It is going to be fun.

Not Sure Al's Italian Beef Should Be Touting *This* Endorsement

We went to Al's #1 Italian Beef over the long holiday weekend and on the wall there were just a handful of photo endorsements.  The usual suspects of Mayor Daley, Steve 'The Hungry Hound' Dolinsky were up there.  And so were a few wrasslers.

And then there was this Paula Deen one.  Prominently displayed for all to see.    Seems her clout on food issues has dropped a bit, hasn't it?   Or...once you get a Paula Deen photo, you keep that photo?  Is that the case?

Nat Calls Them Donuts

Me?  I call them 'poonch-keys' just like my Mama does.

Nat went out of her way to pick some tasty treats up from the bakery - which I devoured.

Wall Calendars: Yeah or Nah, Bro?

In my office at work, I now have two wall calendars hanging on the all.  Both of them were shipped to me as 'gifts' from two different groups.  The one of the left is a Disney calendar that came as part of my D23 membership.  The one on the right came from the University of Illinois as part of their outreach program.  I have them both hanging right by my desk and - as of now - they're currently set to the right month.

But...I have to wonder:  do these things provide any utility any longer?  I certainly don't mark them up with important dates and events.  In fact...I'll be surprised that I keep up with changing the months in a timely fashion.  The number of times I've walked into offices and people had their wall calendars set to 3 months earlier is too many to count.

So...what do you think?  Wall calendars still useful?  Don't tell me you give them as gifts, do you?  Or...maybe...people love them?  (Some people?!?)

I'm all set, thank you.

Pixar-branded Toys @ Toys R Us

We were in the Toys r Us over the weekend trying to get our hands on some Shopkins when I saw a whole aisle of these white-boxed Pixar-branded toys.  If you know your Pixar movies, you'll know that there are guys from Nemo and Incredibles in this photo.  There were also the robots from Wall-E, Monsters from Monsters Inc and even some guys from Up and Bugs Life.

What struck me as odd, that these things are branded and packaged in all white packaging with just the Disney Pixar branding on them.  Further down the aisle, there were ToyStory toys like Buzz packaged up in Toy Story-ish boxes.  But...not these guys.

Seems strange, right?

I Went To Denver And This Is The Best Shot Of The Mountains That I Could Get

Was in and out of Denver Colorado (Or Denver Avocado as The Babe calls it!) in the flash of an eye recently.  I took just one photo while I was there and it was this brochure sitting on the check-in desk of the hotel.

Not exactly the way you want to 'see' Denver, eh?  Maybe next time we'll have more time to take in the local...ahem...culture.

Will Forte Halftime Dance (The One Where Everyone Breaks)

Yesterday on the Dan Patrick Show, they had Bill Hader on the show to promote the big 40th Anniversary of SNL show that's airing tomorrow.  In the interview, Dan Patrick asked Hader (who has appeared on Stern and was/is hilarious) who on the show made him laugh.  He said that Jon Hamm and (surprise!) Taylor Swift were very funny as hosts.  And that one of the fellow cast members who always made him laugh was Will Forte.

He pointed out the sketch where Forte was a basketball coach and decided to do a motivational dance at halftime.  Everyone - including Peyton Manning, Keenan Thompson and Bill Hader himself have to cover their faces because they're laughing so hard.

I had to go back and find it and rewatch it.  There's a ratty copy up on YouTube that has low volume, but you can still watch it.  Man...Will Forte *is* committed to the sketch.  The Herb Alpert tune doesn't hurt.  Hilarious.

No Better Feeling Than When The ESPN Homepage Looks Like This

The Bulls/DRose stuff is great.  But...the Illini hoops squad making the homepage with a win?

Makes this Friday morning all that much better.

Bob Dylan Is Out With A Frank Sinatra Tribute Album (SRSLY)

Image The Atlantic says: 'Tangled Up In Ol' Blue Eyes".  Yeah...that's right, Bob Dylan is making an entire record of Frank Sinatra covers.  But...not the usual ones you think of when you think of Frank Sinatra.

Here's one of the tracks as uploaded on YouTube. (if you are reading in your email, the video below won't show up.  Click here to watch it.)  As David Graham on The Atlantic says:  this ain't Nashville Skyline. is something else.

Sounds interesting, right?  You can read the whole story here on The Atlantic, but this passage sticks out for me.  Especially that last line:
Before making Time Out of Mind, Dylan told producer Daniel Lanois, "There's some records that I really like from the '40s and '50s and I'd like for you to hear them to understand the energy of them, the beauty of them." His recent records since have included a wide range of styles: country blues, jaunty twang, folky ballads. They also include …

Thrillist Out With 'Best Pizza In Illinois' List

Over on Thrillist, you'll find the list of some of the best pizzas in Illinois.  They include a few from Chicago (Pequods, Coalfire, Vito & Nick's) and a bunch from around the State including Papa Dels down in Champaign.  We've been to quite a few places listed already, but Vito & Nick's - thus far - has alluded me.

One of Nat's favorites - Burt's Place - is also on the list.  Here's what they had to say about that place:
No pizza roundup would be complete without mention of the legendary Burt of Burt’s Place. While it may not be famous for its service, Burt’s is famous for its massive pan-baked pizzas with a perfect balance of ingredients served in a crazy lodge-style environment. Pro tip: Burt is something of a celebrity around these parts, so best to call your order in ahead. Outside of Papa Dels in Champaign, I'm a little skeptical of a lot of those downstate places.  The whole 'shrimp' or 'taco' pizza doesn't do much for…

Winnie-the-Pooh For President (Pooh Country) Political Glass

We couldn't pass up this 'Winnie the Pooh for President' glass when we saw it.  I thought it was too much for something silly like this (I think they were asking like $5) so I put it down after admiring it, but..when you put all the pieces together, it almost seems like this glass was destined for our family.   Nat said we *had* to buy it.  
It is Disney (of course) and is marked with 'Walt Disney Productions' - which this page tells us that it could be from a VERY wide range of 1939 to 1986 when they changed to 'The Walt Disney Company'.  
So...why buy it? Let's count the reasons:
Pooh bear?  Check.  The Bird's favorite guy in the world.  She sleeps with a Pooh Bear everynight. Political reference?  Check.  I'm a sucker for political kitsch stuff. was sold through Sears?  And has a Sears mark?  Check.  The Moran's have a deep Sears connection.  
This guy now is ours and as you can see from the top photo is currently holding candie…

City of Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summer Running Promoted Handle On Twitter

Not sure of what he's targeting, but I'm seeing this promoted account from Kurt Summers - the new City of Chicago Treasurer - on Twitter A LOT these days.  I finally caved and added him.  Have to feels a bit like the wrong move right now?  I'd be spending my money promoting the content instead of the account?  Driving people to a landing page to take some action?  But...perhaps...much like we learned with the State Treasurer's race....this campaign will get NO interest and barely any attention.  So...building up your own base of followers might be useful?

Down On The Bottom - New Basement Tapes

I dare you to watch/listen to this a few times right now and not want to continue to play it over and over again like I have been doing.  My buddy Adam mentioned to me that he's been listening to this thing since Christmas and I should check it out.

This is from the record 'Lost on the River - The New Basement Tapes'.  (If you're reading this in your email, click here to play the video on the site.)

It is the lead off track of the record that was released right before Christmas last year and that's Jim James supplying the vocals.  From Google Play:  Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes is an album produced by T Bone Burnett featuring a collective of musicians recording under the moniker The New Basement Tapes—Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford.   The album consists of a series of tracks based on recently uncovered lyrics handwritten byBob Dylan in 1967. Probably written in the period between his motorcycle accide…

O'Keeffe's Working Hands Has Fixed My Cracked, Winter Hands

Have I told you guys about how I get super dry, cracked hands during the winter?  It is terrible.  They get rid, dry, flakey, cracked and even bleed when I hit them on something or tuck them into my jeans the wrong way.

But...a few years back, I found the solution.  And...when I use the stuff, it totally works and my hands don't hurt.  That stuff is called O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream.  Check it out here.

Let me tell you:  I'm soooo not a lotion guy.  I don't use hair products.  I don't use body spray.  My full arsenal of 'products' in the bathroom are deodorant and toothpaste.  I don't like things that smell strongly.  Actually...things that smell at all.  Don't wear cologne/purfume.  Hate lotions that smell like juniper berries and the like.

But...this stuff?  It doesn't smell.  It doesn't get 'goopy'.  It just works.  And...I'm not embarrassed about telling the world that I use this stuff.

I've been keeping t…

Another Brass "Critter" (A Gift)

We have someone in our lives who has shown an affinity for bronze 'critters' (as I call them) and at some point, I think she is going to be sorry that she did.  Why?  Because...everytime we go to a place that has vintage/antique finds, it is hard to not find a little bronze(ish) animal/critter.

This guy (a reindeer?  Moose?) is small, so it has that going for it.  In won't take up a lot of room.  He appears to be wearing a saddle, doesn't he?  What kind of animal wears a saddle besides a horse?  I dunno. But...we'll be sharing this little guy on a special occasion like her birthday later this year.

This is a lesson for you all reading this:  be careful about sharing your vintage collection with me.  Once I find out you're into *something* old, I'll be watching for it and you'll be stuck with a growing collection.  If you want it or not.

Vintage Chicago And Northwestern "Thomas-Style" Wooden Train Car

I ran into this set of vintage wooden toy train cars on an antique trip that are in the same style as todays "Thomas the Train" ones that run on that simple wood rail system and are connected with magnets.  If you have kids under seven, you know the stuff.

This old set didn't use magnets, but rather hooks/loops but was seemingly the same size and would run on today's wood track.  Based on the price....this isn't meant for play as a toy.  But...for some toy collector who remembers these from his childhood.

The reason why they jumped out to me is the C&NW mark on the car.  My oldest sister worked for them before the line got gobbled up by the Union Pacific and was the final train line that carried the Chicago name to be in existence.  If you look closely around Chicago and the suburbs, you'll see "Chicago and North Western" marks/symbols at train stations, on bridges and elsewhere.

Oh...and based on the price (I think they wanted like $35 for …

(As I Mentioned...) I'm A Card-Carrying Disney Fanboy

I wasn't kidding when I crowed about my D23 certificate earlier this week.  Here's my card to prove it:

Disney Pins: Scrapper Pins

Now that I'm officially out of the Disney-fanboy closet, I can share this whole pin trading thing with you guys.  If you've gone to DisneyWorld you've probably noticed the whole pin-trading situation.

We've gone the past few years and now that the Babe and the Bird are both old enough to understand what is going on, I've gotten them into pin trading.  We've bought pins at the park in sets to trade and bought some online.  This year, for our upcoming trip, I bought some pins on ebay.  And...something seems odd about one of them.  See it above?

There's lots of posts around the web about how to spot a 'scrapper Disney pin' (AKA counterfeit or fake pins).  Here's one post that talks about how to spot 'high quality scrapper Disney pins'.  And...they give some good tips to spot.  Like how the back looks or how smooth the sides are or even the colors on the front.

But...I think I can give you another tip.  When the person - likely in China …

On Becoming A D23 Member (Or...How Nat Official Deemed Me A Disney Nerd)

This thing came in the mail last week.  It is real.  Not a joke thing like the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers certificate that hangs on my office wall.

It is a big (bigger than 8.5x11" piece of paper) and printed on thick/glossy card stock. read it right.  I'm now a member of the official Disney fan Club called D23.  In could say I'm a 'card-carrying' member.  Because...they also mailed me a member card.  I'll post that photo some other time.

This was a gift from Nat.  And...a good one at that.

I'm clearly a "Disney Dad" and if you spend anytime with me around my girls know...we do, indeed, talk A LOT of Disney.  We even have a trip planned for later this Spring (and I'm trying to convince Nat that we need to go to Disneyland to celebrate the park's 60th birthday...). club?

Have I crossed the line?  I'm not sure.  But...I also...don't care.  I'm now officially out of the Disney fan closet.…

Neil Steinberg Is Right: Union Station Has LOTS Worse Parts Than The Worn Stairs

Over on his blog, Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg does his typical brilliant job of dissecting the news and making me think and smile about the minuscule $12M renovation that Union Station is about to undertake.  
When we lived with Nat's parents while we were fixing our house, I took the train in from Naperville everyday and used Union Station.  Now...I get the good fortune of using Ogilvie everyday.  And there is no comparison.  Union Station is just flat out awful.  *Gross* is a good way to put it. 
And..Steinberg points out that they want to fix the old stairs.  And...he thinks it is a bad idea:
Union Station is a hell hole — loud, crowded, smoky, cold, in winter, airless in summer, dripping cascades of what please God is water all year round. So news that Amtrak finally plans to toss $12 million into fixing has to be welcome, although anybody who has spent anything on home repair has to immediately wonder how far $12 million is going to go. Announcing a $12 million fac…