Archive for the ‘Chicago Sightseeing’ Category

The Skating Fools

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

After talking about it forever, Apryl and I finally decided to go skating downtown at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Neither of us had been skating in years, but I figured it was a bit like riding a bike. Well, not quite. It took some time before I felt comfortable enough skating away from the rails. Even then, it was without any rhythm. On top of that, the skates were digging into my leg, causing a thin layer of skin to scrape off. Apryl also got an ugly blister on her foot. Oh well, we gave it a shot!

I have a feeling Apryl’s thinking, “How does he do that?”

I’m off the rails!

Our injuries, starting with Apryl:

Off the ice and making room for the Zamboni:

And, finally, a short video of me skating poorly and nearly crashing into a fellow skater:

End of the Year – lists

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

So, we’re back home. And it was a great holiday break (short sleeves, really?) But as always, even though it seemed like we were always visiting, we still didn’t manage to see everyone. Hopefully, we will see all those we missed on our next trip back South. Of course, I took photos, which I will load on Flickr today or tomorrow. Until then, I thought it would be appropriate to end the year with a few End of the Year lists. So, here we go:

Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2008
10. Dent May – Meet Me In The Garden
9. TV on the Radio – Family Tree
8. Silver Jews – Strange Victory Strange Defeat
7. The Avett Brothers – Murder in the City
6. Bon Iver – Re:Stacks
5. Arthur Russell – Love Is Overtaking Me
4. Breathe Owl Breathe – Playing Dead
3. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
2. Destroyer – Foam Hands
1. Vic Chesnutt – You Are Never Alone

Top 10 Concerts of 2008
10. (tie) Harlan T. Bobo – Schubas/Caleixco – Millennium Park
9. Dolly Parton – Chicago Theatre
8. Ornette Coleman – Chicago Jazz Festival
7. Radiohead – Lollapalooza
6. Jarvis Cocker – Pitchfork Music Festival
5. Magnetic Fields – Old Town School of Folk Music
4. Girl Talk – Lollapalooza
3. Animal Collective – Pitchfork Music Festival
2. Bill Callahan – Millennium Park
1. Andrew Bird – Millennium Park
Honorable Mention: Vanilla Ice – Cans

Top 5 Cities Visited (work related) in 2008
5. New York
4.New Orleans
3. Charleston
2. Boston
1. Reno/Lake Tahoe

Top 5 Places Visited (non work related) in 2008
5. Mount Horeb
4. Memphis
3. Nashville
2. Greers Ferry
1. McGregor/Prairie du Chien

Top 5 Celebrities met in 2008
5. Bill Rancic
4. Mark Wahlberg
3. Garrison Keillor
2. Cookie Monster
1. Svengoolie

Top 10 Tourist Stops of 2008 (in no particular order)

  • Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb
  • Sears Tower Skydeck
  • Architecture Boat Tour, Chicago
  • Hopper/Homer Exhibit at the Art Institute
  • Fenelon Place Elevator Cable Car in Dubuque, IA
  • College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, IN
  • Cafe du Monde in New Orleans
  • Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, IA
  • Cheers Bar in Boston
  • Weird Chicago Tour

Top 5 Most Memorable Moments in 2008 (other than Obama)
5. Sox win the AL Central.
4. Apryl graduates from IIT.
3. Eva gets cancer. And is okay.
2. The Tigers play in the NCAA Finals.
1. McKenzie Hayden Madden is born.

Top 5 Favorite Personal Photos of 2008 (in no order)

Sox seats


Lake Tahoe

Apryl Graduate

house show

Perhaps more lists to come later. Perhaps not. Either way, here is a selection of other photos from the past year. Goodbye 2008!

Chicago in December

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Eva checks out tree

Above, Eva checks out the new Christmas tree. When we get all the lights and trimmings on, I’ll post another picture. Other than that, the posts will be slim until I finish up editing this year’s cheerleading video. Until then, here a few photos I took on Monday while I was working downtown:

Snow Sidewalk

I took this photo of our sidewalk on my way to the train station. Since we’ve gotten back from Memphis, it’s been snowing pretty regularly.

Western Stop

The Western train stop.

four seasons

A statute outside the Four Seasons Hotel downtown.

Downtown Snow

The view from the 35th floor.

Christmas tree

A HUGE Christmas Tree inside the Michigan Avenue Shops Mall.

Eva in box

Back at home. Since I have been using my camera as a deck for my edit, Eva has been taking advantage of the empty case. OK, that is all.

Lisa, Steph, and Adam Visit: 2008

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

In the middle of October, my sisters and brother-in-law visited us for a long weekend. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a cold spell while they were here. However, they weren’t deterred because they had brought their coats, hats, gloves, and a long list of things that they wanted to do.

Lisa, Adam, and Steph wait on the train

Lisa, Adam, and Steph pose on the Damen train platform, ready to head downtown.

Steph, Adam, Lisa, and Apryl after Trick-or-Treat Trot

Steph and Adam have gotten into doing 5Ks, so Lisa and I joined them (albeit at a slower pace) for the 21st annual Trick-or-Treat Trot. Notice that I am the only one of us who attempted any sort of costume.

Steph, Adam, Lisa, and Apryl in front of Giordano’s

Since we did the race and walked around so much downtown during their visit, we made sure to reward ourselves—not once, but twice—with some Giordano’s.

For more photos, go here. Thanks to Hayden for taking photos when he wasn’t working. I think that he was actually in some that Lisa and Steph took with their cameras.

Hopper vs. Homer

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Hopper vs Homer

All through the month of February, general admission to the Art Institute of Chicago has been free. Special exhibits, like the Edward Hopper/Winslow Homer showing we were attending, were half off the regular price. So taking full advantage of the discount and the fact that it was a leap year, Apryl and I took in some culture Friday night. I have been a fan of Hopper since college when I was properly introduced to his work by my friend Anna. She used to have a few posters of his paintings in her apartment, and it was quite amazing to see the originals up close and personal. I was also interested to see the Homer collection since my former college professor had just recently produced a documentary about the artist. Below are a few photos from our afternoon visit:

Hopper Exhibit

The entrance to the Hopper exhibit.

Hopper and blank canvas

Edward Hopper posing in front of a blank canvas that would soon become Nighthawks.


The original Nighthawks. The first time I visited the museum, Nighthawks, which is in the permanent collection of the Institute, was on loan to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Homer exhibit entrance

The entrance to the Homer exhibit.

Hopper background

Since photography wasn’t allowed for the special exhibits, I wasn’t able to take photos of the paintings like I did in my last post about the Institute. And even though Nighthawks is part of the museum’s collection, I was surprised I still wasn’t thrown out when I photographed it. Well, at least warned. I did see someone about to get hassled for talking on his cellphone. Luckily, the guy left the exhibit on his own before the guard could get his attention.

As for the artists, I was most impressed with the work of Hopper. Homer’s paintings of the sea or wilderness hunts just don’t have the same effect as Hopper’s modern, cinematic view. However, I should say I was impressed with Homer’s early work such as his journalistic illustrations of the Civil War and a series he did on children while vacationing at a friend’s summer house. I was also amazed at how much skill Homer was able to achieve even without a formal education. Perhaps I enjoyed Hopper the most because I have had the most exposure to his work like Chop Suey, Automat, and New York Movie. Of all the Hopper pieces, I think I was surprised to enjoy Sun in an Empty Room the most. One of his last paintings, it simply shows the effect of light shining in the corner of an empty room. Most of Hopper’s paintings seem to be studies of how light, particularly a late afternoon sunset, create shadows along static images of man and his objects. And here with the Empty Room, it’s like he’s saying in his late career that sure he’s experimented with various settings and created any number of ambiguous story lines, but what it really comes down to is light. Anyway, I bought a postcard of it to send to my grandmother.

Afterwards, we ate a delicious meal at The Gage.

Ugh! or It takes a lot more than the Spire to inspire me.

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Well, the Chicago Spire is back in the news. Since hearing of this proposed 150 story condominium, Apryl and I have been strong opponents. Sure, it will set records for the tallest residential structure. But at what cost to the beautiful, renowned skyline of Chicago? I love the architecture of this city. When I work downtown, I still gaze up in wonder as the classic and modern perfectly coincide, working off one another. But now, take a look at the photo below, and you’ll notice how that flow will be greatly diminished. Unlike the graceful Water Tower, Wrigley Building, Merchandise Mart, or Lake Point Tower, I tend to think of the Spire as a spoiled child screaming, “Look at me!”

Proposed Skyline

Well, it seems like construction had been delayed due to financial problems but is now back on track thanks to a new financial backer whose first project was a remodeling job in our very own Bucktown neighborhood.

Today marks the first day that the Spire is open for business, searching for future residents. The price to live in the tallest luxury condo in the world? Get that checkbook out! Answer: $750,000–$15 million.

For more info on the Spire, check out the website.

What do you think? Yea or nay?

What We’ve Been Up To – Part 3

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

The Holidays

1. Christmas Tree

Apryl puts on lights

This year we decided to get our Christmas tree early so that we would have more time to spend with it before leaving town. So we got into the Corolla and headed over to Home Depot (I know, I know, we always feel a little bit guilty not buying from an independent tree vendor, but it’s so much more expensive). At the Depot, it seemed like there were quite a few other people with the same idea as us. Many of the trees were already wrapped up, which seemed silly because you have no idea what you’re really getting. Also lined up, they reminded me of the pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers:

Christmas Tree Pods

It took some time, but I think we were both pleased with our final decision. Below, us deciding:

Apryl searches for treeHayden searches for tree

As we were checking out, it started to snow.

And hey, this year I didn’t even scratch up my car getting the tree out of the car.

Hayden gests tree out of car

Of course, with anything new brought into the house, Eva had to fully investigate the tree. And to Eva, this was definitely one of our most intriguing purchases of the year.

Eva checks out tree

Even though we had good intentions, it took a few weeks until it actually got this point:

Our Christmas Tree

Sox ornamentDa Bears ornament

Jack ornament

2. Snow

Our street covered in snow

We had what was probably our largest snowfall since we’ve lived in Chicago. It was in the middle of the month, so I was still hard at work on the cheerleading videos. But I certainly needed a break, and Apryl’s friend Alison was having a birthday celebration that night at a restaurant in our neighborhood. So,I left the computer for a few hours, bundled up, and ventured out with Apryl to the Silver Cloud. See photos:

Apryl in big snowfallHayden in big snowfall

Silver Cloud and snow

It was a fun getaway, and I finally got to meet Apryl’s school friend Ellie. Below, is a photo of Alison and Michael right as Alison was being handed her HUGE chicken pot pie:

Alison pot pie

After dinner, Apryl went out with Alison and her friends to Cleo’s, but I needed to get back to work, so I walked back home. But not before a group photo:

Group photo Alison birthday

The snow hadn’t let up the entire time we were having dinner and was still coming down hard as I walked along the straight white sidewalks. While it was too cold to take off the gloves for long, I did grab a few snapshots:

Bike in snowfall

Street sign covered in snow

Stop sign covered in snow

The next day I was disappointed that I was still stuck inside working and couldn’t go play in our snow-covered park.

3. The 1st Annual Christmas Evil Party (now to be known as the Merry Scary Christmas Party)

Punch bowl of yummy egg nog

We had a few friends over for our first annual double-feature Christmas horror night. Now, the movies we showed are actually scary films that have some type of Christmas theme. Surprisingly, there are quite a few out there. I decided to give everyone four choices (Home for the Holidays, Don’t Open `Til Christmas, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and Christmas Evil) and then have everyone vote on which two we were going to watch. Well, Home for the Holidays was the big winner. Released in `72 as a Made for TV Movie, Home for the Holidays stars a young Sally Field along with Julie Harris (The Haunted) and Jessica Walter (Arrested Development). The script was written by Joseph Stefano (Psycho) and produced by Aaron Spelling (Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210, 7th Heaven, etc.). Of course, this was going to a popular choice. Second, we watched Silent Night, Deadly Night. And I only have one word for this classic: “Punish!” I guess you had to be there.

4. Downtown Chicago

Christmas Tree  downtown Chicago

A few days before heading out of town, Apryl and I took in the sites downtown while doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. It’s always fun seeing the large tree made from many smaller trees that stands high in Daley Plaza (See above).

And, of course, we had to check out the Macy’s store window displays. This year the story was The Nutcracker:

The Nutcracker

My favorite window display is the one below, which changes the location of the fairy tale to Chicago. Notice the Merchandise Mart along with The Art Museum and Navy Pear.

Nutcracker Window Display

Another thing we both noticed was that many of the Salvation Army folks were really working for their money. Below, the Salvation Army become puppeteers:

Salvation Army puppets

That night, Apryl made butter cookies. Yummy!

Apryl making butter cookies

5. Music Box

Music Box

24th Annual Music Box

One of Apryl’s few posts on this blog was about last year’s screening of White Christmas at the Music Box theatre. (And, of course, it’s one of the most enjoyed entries on the blog.) Now, White Christmas is one of Apryl’s favorite movies of all time. In fact, she flew to Memphis for a weekend trip last month just to see a musical version of it at the Orpheum. Well, we had so much fun last year, and it certainly got us in the spirit, that we decided to go again this year, despite the 60 mph winds. Along with White Christmas, we checked out the rest of the full double feature, It’s A Wonderful Life. However, the funniest moment came before the movie when Santa sang carols with the crowd. During the “Twelve Days of a Chicago Christmas,” the 5th day replaced Five Golden Rings with No More George Bush, which resulted in cheering from the audience. Apryl and I looked at each other. Apryl stated, “We’re not in the South anymore.” As for the movies, there really isn’t any comparison between watching them at home and with a crowd that applauds the hero, hisses the villains, and rings their jingle bells at the right moment. When we left the theatre, it was snowing.

White Christmas screen

6. Christmas Break

Hayden and Apryl at WEVL party
(At the WEVL Volunteer Appreciation Party. Photo by Tim Genty.)

Though we’re excited to see family and friends, it’s always a little sad having to leave our apartment, especially our Christmas tree, during the holidays. We left on Christmas Eve and luckily only had to drive through a little bit of snow on the long trip south. Since most of our readers are our friends and family, I won’t go into too much detail about our trip. But it certainly wouldn’t have been the same without: Christmas day with family (Moms, Dads, Sisters, and the In-Laws), Snowglobe at the HiTone, Huey’s, watching Juno with Brett and Vanessa, Amber’s party, WEVL holiday party, Sophia, seeing the Litton’s, Guitar Hero, Brian, Michelle, and Little Joe, and Tiger’s basketball. Unfortunately, sickness kept me from seeing everyone. Congratulations, Summer.

A few photos:

Nephews and Niece in Chicago shirts
Reid, Sydney, Clay, Jackson, and Drew wearing their Christmas presents

Ash and the gang
Ash and gang at my mom’s that night for Christmas dinner

Snowglobe at HiTone
Snowglobe at the HiTone on Christmas night

HiTone - No Smoking
Even though the HiTone was now smoke free, it hasn’t completely aired out. Definitely better than the old days!

Steph rocks to Guitar Hero
Apryl’s sister Stephanie rocking out to Guitar Hero

The one and only Sophia!

Little Joe
Little Joe likes the wrapping even better than the present!

7. Back Home

Gas Station Snow

I started feeling sick a few days before we returned home. But it was especially rough when we actually packed up and got on the road on New Year’s Day. I always thought that a sore throat was the worst, but I think I have reevaluated that judgement after having swollen neck glands that caused pain anytime I swallowed. We were actually trying to get back in time because I had a job on the 3rd. However, I had to call in sick and lose the job. Luckily, I am feeling better. Unfortunately, Apryl got sick as well and is still in recovery mode.

And yes, I’ve already had some Giordano’s!

Girodano's Pizza

Last Weekend In Photos

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Dinner with Trey and Rachel

On Friday night, we had dinner with our friends Trey and Rachel. My goodness, this was a delicious meal. Apryl and I are still talking about the yummy spinach soup!

Oak Park Farmer's Market

A few weeks earlier, Trey and Rachel had told us about this great farmer’s market in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago. According to them, the highlight was the fresh donuts. So, on Saturday, we took the short trip over to Oak Park.

Donuts Saturday

I knew I was in the right place when I ran across this sign.

Donuts Line

When I saw the line for the donuts, I knew it wasn’t just hype. They recommend that you get at the market before noon if you want donuts because they will sell out. In fact, the day we visited the donuts were all gone around eleven thirty.

Donut Band

When you got further along in the line you came across a group of musicians entertaining the patient ones.

Donuts Are Brought To You By

Thank you Pilgrim Community Nursery School for the donuts!


Okay, so here are the donuts! Trey had recommended cinnamon while Rachel had preferred the plain cake donut. Both are great donuts. First all, the donuts are extremely fresh, literally being eaten minutes after being cooked. The best part, however, is their softness. Usually when you get a donut from a store it’s stiff. Not here. These donuts are perfectly cooked yet so soft inside. My favorite? Definitely, the cinnamon!

Apryl looking at apples

After donuts, we checked out the farmer’s market. Above, Apryl searches for different apples to test out for the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest.

Lustre Elstar Apples

Are the Lustre Elstars the perfect apple for an apple pie? We shall see…

My sister’s visit.

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

A few weeks ago, my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew were able to come up to Chicago for a business/personal vacation (two weeks before moving back to Memphis from St. Louis). My brother-in-law, Chris, was speaking at a conference and was being put up at Hyatt Regency downtown, a few blocks from Michigan Ave. While I had to work earlier in the week, we did get a chance to spend some time with everyone. Check out some of the photos below:

Having some dinner at the outside restaurant in Millennium Park.

Outside of our apartment heading for our public pool.

Clay getting ready to make another dive into the water.

Father and daughter.

Apryl and I entertained the kids at our neighborhood playground while Ash and Chris had a quiet dinner.

Did you really think I wouldn’t steer them towards the Gioradano’s experience?

Yep, they loved it!

Sydney posing in front of the Cloud Gate.

Clay entertains fellow tourists.

Play time in front of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.

In front of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.

Lake Michigan.

(Note: The Wrigley Building in the background.)

I realized that it was a rare opportunity to have the entire group there at once. I’m glad we were able to hang out and that everyone seemed to have a good time.

Check out the entire photo set.

Meet Jerry Stern

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Trey, Tim, and I have started working on a short documentary about a wonderful Chicagoan named Jerry Stern. Mr. Stern has lived his entire life in Chicago. As a teenager, he fought in New Guinea during World War II. When he returned back to the States, he started a successful career as a graphic designer, even having an office at one time in the same building that now holds Pizzeria Due. Now, long retired and in his early eighties, Mr. Stern is still quite active, getting in a game of racquetball at least three times a week. The photo above shows Mr. Stern in front of his house that was built in 1883.

Below, a photo from his living room:

And one more of Mr. Stern in front of his house. Mr. Stern told us that he didn’t just dress up for us. He wears a suit and tie every day!

(Expect updates on this project throughout the summer.)