Science & Industry

Last week we took in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which turned out to be the highlight of an otherwise low-key Spring Break for the family.  What a place – especially for curious young minds.

museum-S-I-2A lot has changed since the last time I visited this museum (way back in high school).  The volume of interactive exhibits and activities is impressive.  Seems like everywhere we turned we found another place to do stuff as we learned about it.

I remember being excited about going to museums as a kid – I loved to see and read, see and read about the displays.  At the Museum of Science and Industry, though, they’re not content with only reaching the readers.  As a result, the whole experience seemed more immersive, more kinetic (and certainly a little more chaotic).

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Chicago Gangnam Style

Somewhere in their prison cells, the two most recent former governors of Illinois are smiling.  President Obama and his campaign team have done it; they’ve taken the body politic of Illinois and especially Chicago and captured the nation’s highest office.  Again.

In Beemsville we’re just grateful it’s all over.  We’re not even in a swing state and we’re tired of the ads and talking points.  And once more, we’re both humbled and intrigued that our home state can provide such a fine crucible for political leadership.

Do you doubt the wisdom of running a Chicago Style campaign?  When it’s so obviously the winning formula?

First off you focus in on the urban centers.  Duh.  That’s where all the people live.  Leave the rubes in the sticks to their grain liquor, bible thumping, and such.  Like this. It’s become more and more difficult for the Republicans to combat due to point #3 (below).   Second, you must raise lots and lots of cash for divisive adds.  Former Govs Blago and Ryan knew this well, and it eventually led to their demise (just imagine what either could have done with Super PAC laws on the books…)  Both political parties were successful here. Continue reading

Fossils and North Lake

The second day of our fun, fun family trip took us downtown to the Chicago Field Museum.  The kids were very excited to see the dinosaur bones (naturally) and we were lucky enough to get about 10 minutes of  Q&A with one of the museum’s paleontologist’s at the Sue T-Rex exhibit.  Was a little apprehensive about all the animal exhibits, because as impressive as the specimens are, they’re only dead stuffed critters after all.  Kids these days are used to seeing these animals on the big HD screen, or digitally animated, or in bad movies with digitally animated mouths making bad jokes at the expense of second-rate comedians.

But they did like the exhibits, and they were interested, and the older two spent some time reading the placards and multi-media, searching out the regions on the globe for habitat, and learning in that time-honored museum way.  They were asking questions, formulating their little hypotheses about the similarities and differences of the animals, and generally making me proud. Continue reading

Of Capes and Books

Last weekend we headed up to Chicago for our end-of-summer family field trip.  This Windy City trip was a little different from those in recent years in that it did not involve a sporting event, comedy clubs, bar-crawls, or stuff like that.  On the agenda:  Chicago Comic-Con and the Field Museum.

to THE Batmobile!

The Chicago Comic-Con, aka, Wizard World Chicago, has been a Beemsville favorite for years now.  It’s always fun to look around at the memorabilia, talk to comics creators, see the folks dressed up as their favorite characters, and generally revel in the geek culture.  In the past, objectives have involved networking, learning about making comics, or listening to favorite writers and directors speak about their craft.  This year, we focused squarely on the kids.

With our two and nephew in tow, the kids decked out in costumes, we patrolled the convention floor, taking it all in, posing for photos, and looking for the best deals on books.  I quickly realized that the prices on trade paperbacks and graphic novels meant a transition to shopping mode (50% off and higher on trades and hardbacks), and having come to the con with a goal of getting a bunch of comics reading material for my girl and the nephew, I was on the hunt.

Somewhat unfortunately, as anyone familiar with comics these days can attest, most of the reading material is geared at teens and above.  You don’t really want your 7-9 year old reading most of the superhero titles these days (an ongoing an much discussed problem in the comics industry).  But there are some titles for the little guys, and we found a new Super Friends book, Tiny Titans, and some Star Wars Clone Wars stuff.  Also picked up some copies of the acclaimed Bone books (which my girl has already finished), Owly for my youngest, a big beautiful hardcover Marvel Superheroes reference book for the nephew, the Mice Templar trade, a Power Pack hardback, and a handful of trades for myself. Continue reading

No World Cup Madness for Chicago

The US Soccer Federation recently announced its list of final 18 host cities for our country’s official bid for either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.  Not among the finalists:  Chicago.  That’s Chicago, Capital of the Midwest*, third largest city, home of Soldier Field, Blago and Mayor Daley, etc.  It’s a glaring omission and a blow for the Windy City – especially when you consider the 18 cities that did make the cut will be representing our country for the biggest sporting event on the planet.

So what gives?  According to the boys over at Pitch Invasion, Mayor Daley’s office couldn’t be bothered to get behind the effort, which presumably would’ve included some presentations, encouragement of cooperation, and general professionalism.  Olympic bid-fatigue, perhaps?  USSF President Sunil Gulati speculated on this, also noting Soldier Field would have been the smallest stadium in the mix at 61,000.   Another theory might be the USSF (which has its HQ in Chicago and presumably knows the town) looked at all the data, including the ridiculous taxes, the corruption and graft at all levels, the woeful financial situation, and just decided Indianapolis and Kansas City would serve the Midwest just fine, thanks. Continue reading

SOV Sketchfest Update

The boys up north with Sad On Vacation continue to make good with the youtubery comedy hijinks, and we’re happy  to report they’ve also made good on their pledge of consistent posts and clips.  Sources within SOV also indicate they recently opened at the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (aka Sketchfest) and hit it like the proverbial stepchild.

Good news for consumers of comedy across the nation.  So if you’re in the Windy City and wanting to take in a show, look up the SOV crew.  Check out the website.

And now, roll the clip…

Chicago Olympic Smackdown

Chalkie (unofficial Chi-town Bid Masot)

In the end, not even the bedazzling glow of an appeal by beloved President Barack Obama could sway the International Olympic Committee.  Chicago is out, Rio is in.  So much for all those ‘Chalkie’ t-shirt sales.  So much for a new corruption fiasco revenue stream for Chi-town.  In a fitting bit of irony, the Chicago bid appears to have been out-politicked by the international community within the IOC.   Too bad we still don’t have Blago heading up our fine state; with him (and his hair) given free rein to implement the Chicago Way and work all the bid-angles along with Mayor Daley, who can doubt the IOC would’ve eventually been persuaded.

From where I’m sitting, south of I-80, this failure is a good thing.  Sure the Olympics would’ve brought jobs, cash, and publicity to Chicago, but at what price?  Veteran Tribune Columnist John Kass knows the score.  He was ready to invest heavily in T-shirt sales along these lines: ‘Chicago 2016’ on the front, ‘Terra Haute 2020’ on the back.  Why, you ask?  Because, as he so eloquently puts it:

As every Chicago politician knows, Terre Haute, Ind., is home to a federal prison. That’s where a few would be tossed after boodling their way to Olympic fortunes. And why 2020? That’s how long it would take for grand juries to do their work.

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A Soccer Day

Saturday was an official soccer day in Beemsville, starting with last-minute preparations for our trip north to Chicago for the World Cup Qualifier.  But before that, my daughter’s team had one last youth soccer game.

The Bandits have made some progress over the last few months, notably in advanced tactics such turning and going the right direction and actually passing it to someone open.  Yeah, someone should give that coach a raise…

After that it was northward to Chi-town.  The typical road construction, multiple stops, and general procrastination meant we were way behind in our pre-game plans.  Didn’t make the pre-pub and march to the stadium or the tailgate, which sucked.  I never fail to underestimate our ability to get around in a city like Chicago.  Of course we were heavily outnumbered at the game.  Hondurans made up, I would guess, about 70% of the crowd.  I read that a lot of folks planned or incorporated family reunions with this game; that’s how important it was to them.

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on the Field Museum

Our recent Chicago trip included a trip to the Field Museum–a place we haven’t seen since our high school days. The strange thing: it didn’t seem all that different. Depending on your perspective, this is either right and proper or evidence of yet another aging institution in need of change.

Allied forces over at Vanniereal posit the Museum needs more levers and buttons (and steak’ums, naturally), which may well be a valid point. Interactivity is the watchword these days–keep those kids engaged and entertained. Their attention spans are short; their patience for reading stuff even shorter. And there’s a lot to read at the Field Museum.

Contrast this with the other major museum we’ve visited of late, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, right here in Springfield. Now that’s an interactive exhibit, complete with animatronics, special effects theater, mock news casts, multimedia timelines, and Lincoln Logs(!). The Lincoln Museum is clearly designed around the one day field trip. At the same time, it has been criticized for being a bit too Disneyland.

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Chicago Trip Slides

A brief montage from our most recent Chi-town trip, featuring night at the Annoyance and afternoon at the Field Museum.  (You may need to go to the blog site to view the pics.)

Sadly, none of the wrestling troupe in full regalia…