Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween Fun in Chicago: A Roundup

Being in a new city means disruptions of our typical routines.  For the last couple of years, we've been going to Safe Halloween in New York, and we've been trick or treating in various places in NY.  This year, in Chicago, it's to steal a Disney musical song, "A Whole New World

But it's not too shabby here in Chicago.  There's a million things to do that are Halloween related.  We can't do everything, but it would be intriguing to try!   Here's some of the more promising things on the potential menu:

OCTOBER 25 AT 3 PM  (pre-show activities for kids start at 1:30pm)

"Hallowed Haunts" is a special family show at the Symphony Center that brings scary and magical classical and popular music together for a selection  that will  delight (and perhaps very slightly haunt) your children.  It's a great way to introduce your kids to some pretty amazing classical music, including music from Grieg's Peer Gynt, Stravinski's Firebird, and John Williams score for the first Harry Potter movie! The concert is an annual event, and has been successful enough that it is the only Civic Orchestra event for which there is a charge.  There are also some school performances scheduled for the day before.  Costumes are encouraged (even the musicians get dressed up!)  Tickets range from $15-$60 (depending on where you are sitting.
More info and tickets available on their website: or by calling 312.294.3076.

HAPPY HAUNTINGS at the Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center is hosting the City of Chicago's Halloween Festival, which is a free celebration of all things Halloween.  The entire event is free, and features magic and puppet shows, a Ghost tour of the Cultural Center, and my friends the Midnight Circus who will be doing a number of free shows over the course of the weekend.  They'll also show some scary movies, have face painting and arts and crafts, and on Saturday there's a costume contest and parade. Food trucks on one side of building will add to the festivities.  You can get a full schedule of events at .

BOO! AT THE ZOO at Brookfield Zoo
The local zoos make sure to get in the act with activities for kids.  They are both happening on the weekend.  The Lincoln Park Zoo has some family entertainment planned, some arts and crafts, and a fairly tame haunted house with trick or treating (Forget about what the fox says-- what kind of candy does he give out for Halloween?)
At the Brookfield Zoo (in the western suburbs) they are doing the Boo! at the Zoo, which includes pumpkin carving, performances by local high school bands, a Halloween themed carousel, a Haunted Hay Ride (extra charge) and you also get to watch some animals enjoy their own pumpkins.

More information about Spooky Zoo Spectacular: LINCOLN PARK ZOO
More information about Boo! At the Zoo: BROOKFIELD ZOO

Chicago Park District
The Chicago Park District has tons of Halloween events going on at many of their parks.  It looks like there are a number of haunted houses, halloween parties, costume parades, pumpkin patches, and lots of other stuff.  There's almost certainly a park within walking or travel distance to you if you live in Chicago.  So you should definitely check them out! More information at their website:

There are a number of other events going on, far too many to list, including stuff going on at Navy Pier (which includes a Zombie themed haunted house, a masquerade ball, and trick-or-treating sponsored by a candy company!) and lots of safe trick or treating events and costume parades at many various neighborhoods, including Lincoln Square, Roscoe Village and Andersonville , to name just a couple.

If you can't figure out what to do from this list, you should just stay home!

Monday, September 8, 2014

We've Moved to Chicago!

You wouldn't know it from this blog-- but we've moved around 1500 miles away.  Well, you might know it, due to a paucity of blog posts.  I apologize for that.  The next couple of months are going to be pretty rough as well.  I've got to remake all my culture connections!

When I tell people I've recently moved from New York, they typically ask "Why?"  Here's My wife grew up in Evanston, IL, and like the noble salmon, has been itching to return to her spawning grounds.  And as the spouse of a salmon, it's my job to move along.  (pause) I just hope she's not a lemming!

Seriously, her entire family is around here.  Dad, sister, aunt, grandmother, cousins, and her brother from L.A. simultaneously decided to move as well.  My family are kind of far-flung, including NY, Rhode Island, and Bogota.  Salmon indeed!

The moving process was awful, as was the moving debacle/company, but that's grist for a different mill, Hello Yelp!  But so far, Chicago is great.  And I really like our neighborhood.  (We're living in Edgewater, in the North of the city.  We're close to the beach, to the El, and to a bunch of great looking restaurants.  I will have to try them all!

However, I am dreading the winter.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Day with 311

On Friday, I got up really early to go into the city.  My brother was in from Colombia, so we had an early morning breakfast as is our wont.  Breakfast at 8 am at the Grey Dog on University.  Last time we were there, Alec Baldwin was there, but he didn't recognize me.   Maybe this time.

I get up and drive to the subway.  I've usually got great parking kharma, but today there are no spots available-- oh what's this, open spot?  What's the sign say?  No Parking 7AM-4PM School Days.  Is today a school day?  It's summer, but it's Friday. I'm not sure.

 I call 311.  After waiting a minute or so, Victoria gets on the line.  I ask her my question, and she says it all depends on whether or not that school has summer session.  She'll look up the school for me.  Except it's St. John's, so it's not in her database, she doesn't know.  I should ask the school.

I decide not to chance it and move on.  Still can't find parking.  I say, screw it, I'll park at a meter, there's plenty of meter space.  I go to a 6 hour meter.  I put in my card, select my hours, and click pay.  It tells me that the transaction is cancelled, as it is not accepting money right now.  But I don't want it right now,  I want it in 2 hours  (and will happily pay for the 2 hours in between time)  Can't make it work.

So I call 311 again.

I get Victoria again!

I explain to her my problem, and she says yes, there's no way to over-ride the machine, I should come back at 8 am and feed the meter then.  (but that's when my breakfast is, I tell her.  An hour away!)

I move on.  I find a place on the street where I am inches on either side from a driveway.  My Honda Odyssey is squeezed in but okay.

I walk to the subway, get in, have breakfast.  Sadly, Alec neglects to show up.  Some candyass excuse, no doubt.

I come back to my car.  In the middle of the street, I notice that there is a wire down. Reaching all the way to the street.  It looks likes a phone wire, but I'm not an electrician, I can't be sure.  I call 311 for the third time that day.

Victoria doesn't answer (perhaps she's on a coffee break?)  Instead, some other guy.  I explain to him what's going on.  It's not sparking, I think it's a phone line, but it might be electric.  They say, well if it's electric, he can call Con Ed.   Am I sure it's not electric? I don't know, I tell him.  I don't think so.

In the meantime, I've watched 5 cars run into this thing, or swerve at the last second to avoid it.

Click.  He transfers me to 911.  "Caller, what is the nature of your emergency?"

I explain the situation, (and the guy keeps stopping me as if I were in an actual emergency and just going too slow.)  He says, hold on.... He's alerted the fire department.  They'll be there in 5 minutes.  Can I stay?  "Well, I was going to go home now."  "They will just be a minute."  I stay.

About 10 minutes later, they arrive.  It is a phone line.  The fire guy wants to know my name.  "Smith I say.  Smith.  With a P."

As 4 guys figure out where the best place to cut the phone line, I take off.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fappy Hather's Day, Everybody!

I posted a funny video for the Mom's-- the least I could do is post one for Dad's.

this is one of my favorites.  It came out a few years ago, and it's still right on the money.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dads Raise Barns: In which dad bloggers help one of our own.

Oren & his kids
One of my dad blogging friends, Oren Miller, was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer.

As he writes eloquently and beautifully on his blog Blogger Father.

" People in my condition have about a year to live on average, and treatment is now limited to making the next year more bearable. There are other options that may be discussed later, including experimental treatments, and I'm staying optimistic, but frankly, I think I know where I stand."

I encourage you to read the whole blog post, as it is wonderful, but please get some kleenex ahead of time. I've cried both times I've read it, and I expect the next time I will cry also.

Oren is the founder of one of the largest Dad Blogger communities on Facebook. A bunch of those guys are raising money for him and his family to spend quality time together. I'm one of those guys.

Below you will see a donation opportunity from Give It Forward.

Even a small donation will help a very deserving family. Even if you don't know him, please consider donating a couple of cups of coffee worth.
I assure you, he is deserving.

Thank you!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - The Play!

Buy the Book on Amazon.
This is one of my son's favorite books.  In fact, when things are going bad, or he isn't happy about something, a joke that will almost always cheer him up is if I ask him "Is it time to move to Australia?"

So when I heard that there was a musical theatrical version of it produced by Theaterworks USA (which is one of the top touring kid's theatres in the country) I jumped on the chance to see it (which is what we are going to do this Sunday at 1:30 pm at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center.
We are so looking forward to this!

If you are a studious or home-schooling parent, you can get study guides on the Theaterworks USA website.

This is from the press release:

Have you ever had a really rotten day? Alexander has... He wakes up with gum in his hair, he trips on a skateboard, and then he accidentally drops his sweater in the sink - all before breakfast! Alexander can already tell - it's going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!

Alexander's day continues to go downhill as he gets smushed in the car on the way to school, his teacher doesn't like his drawing of an invisible castle, and Paul doesn't want to be his friend anymore. There's no dessert for lunch, there's lima beans for dinner, and even worse: there's kissing on television! It's enough to make you want to move to Australia!

Laugh and sing along with Alexander's misadventures in this hilarious musical, featuring book and lyrics by Judith Viorst, author of the best-selling classic book. Discover along with Alexander that sometimes, everyone has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day began touring in 2006. 

This 60-minute, intermission-less musical, featuring five actors, is appropriate for ages 4 and up.

Tickets are $25. To purchase tickets, call Ticketing Services at (212) 220-1460. Single tickets can also be purchased by visiting their website at or by visiting the Box Office at 199 Chambers Street, Tues-Sat from 12PM – 6PM.

And for true Alexander fans, there is apparently a Steve Carrell movie coming out in October! (That doesn't look like a musical, and doesn't hold as true to the book, but it looks pretty funny!)

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mappy Hother's Day! - Anita Renfroe's Momisms

For mothers everywhere, in honor of today, Anita Renfroe's hilarious Momisms, set to the tune of the William Tell Overture. This is everything mothers normally say over the course of the day, condensed into 3 minutes.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!