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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Chicago, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 93
1. A true Dutch treat

Fairy Godfather A true Dutch treatI hope you jumped on those Sutherland Lecture tickets yesterday because they are gone baby gone–I understand that even the waiting list is full. A big fan of John Green’s books, I am nevertheless nervous about being in an auditorium filled with John Green Girls, beautiful, complicated and ka-razy creatures that they are. Or do I infer too much? Come say hello–I’ll be the flustered chaperone in the corner.

In the meantime I am off to White Plains today to visit Brian Kenney’s library and speak to the Youth Services Section of  NYLA tomorrow morning. Then a weekend with our lovely Dutch friends in Rye, taking the adorable Julia, Mads, and Lizze to see Matilda on Broadway, for what else are fee peetvaders for?

share save 171 16 A true Dutch treat

The post A true Dutch treat appeared first on The Horn Book.

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2. An Irish Pub by Margot Justes

It was time to acknowledge that I was a year older, and that meant going out to dinner with family to celebrate.  It’s a lovely tradition, and the birthday person gets to pick the restaurant.

My grandkids already picked their place. We’re going to tea at the Peninsula Hotel. They both love high tea.

For my birthday, I picked an Irish Pub. To clarify, I don’t drink beer, don’t like the flavor or the smell, however I love a good meatloaf, and even more, Shepherd’s Pie. The pub had both, and the Shepherd’s Pie was the best I have ever tasted.

Chief O’Neill’s is located on 3471 N. Elston, Chicago, IL 60618 773/583-3066 www.chiefonneillspub.com

We started with the Kerrygold Flatbread; caramelized cabbage, roasted potato and Kerrygold Smoked Cheddar. The combination was delicious. My grandson ordered the Bruschetta, because that is his favorite appetizer.

Next on the menu was the Corned Beef and Cabbage, along with a really delicious Guinness Infused Meatloaf-I finally found a way I like beer-in my meatloaf. The Shepherd’s Pie had ground sirloin and veal, along with peas and herbs, topped with browned mashed potatoes. Seasoned perfectly. The Corned Beef Burger was high, served with perfectly done steak fries.

For dessert, we shared a key lime pie, Crème Brulee, and a positively yummy bread pudding with vanilla ice cream.

I was told the beers were good, as was the cider, and Irish coffee.

I have to go back for their Sunday Brunch, and to try the Scotia Eggs; hard boiled eggs wrapped in minced lamb, coated in bread crumbs and fried. I make a simpler recipe at home, just slice the egg in half,  roll it in a breakfast sausage, and cook it in a nonstick skillet.  Makes a great appetizer, or a wonderful breakfast addition.

I loved the decor, a lot of beautifully carved wood, and stained glass. It was a cold day, and we were lucky enough to sit near the fire place. The place is cozy, and the parking was easy and free. Free in Chicago is rare.

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

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3. Grandpa Nick and his Accordion – half tone screen print

Nick playing accordion ©Sparky FirepantsIt’s sometime in the 1940s. A guy plays an accordion in the yard of a Chicago brick walkup. Chin up, with a cocky grin on his face, a cigarette dangles from his lip. He’s hamming it up for the camera, you can see he loves the attention.

This is my Grandpa Nick.

Sifting through old photos today, this one jumped out at me for all the reasons above. It was so iconic, I decided to make a halftone print. Sometimes we don’t choose what the art will be, it chooses us.

©Sparky Firepants Nick screen

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4. Beograd by Margot Justes

Chicago is a multi cultural city, and one of the wonderful aspects of that diversity are the ethnic restaurants.  I recently went to Beograd Cafe, a Serbian restaurant located at 2933 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago Il 60618 (773/478-7575) www.beogradchicago.com

I posted the address and phone number, just in case you’re in the Chicago area, and want to try this restaurant. The food is positively scrumptious.

My next door neighbors and friends are Serbian, and I have had Serbian food at their house. I have also visited Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia, and the food is similar, so the cuisine as a whole was not a surprise, but it was well prepared, fresh and utterly scrumptious.

We started with the Shopska salad; tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and feta cheese. Then we moved on to the Burek, a savory dish made with filo dough and filled with cheese and spinach, potato or cheese and meat. They have other fillings, but we sampled the three I listed. This is a huge round dinner plate size of goodness, and they didn’t skimp on any ingredients. I tasted all three and had no favorite. I’d go back just for the Burek. Next time I’ll order one to go.

We also ordered a meat plate, the Beograd special that included lamb, chevapchichi, a traditional Serbian sausage, pork sausages, pork chops, and Serbian style hamburgers, along with ajvar, a vegetarian spread made with roasted red peppers and eggplant that went really well with the warm and delicious hot bread.  

We didn’t skimp on desserts either, there were crapes, I tasted the Nutella version which was excellent, we also ordered a Dobosh Torte, seven layers of thin sponge cake, layered  with a rich chocolate cream, and a walnut torte.

To finish the meal we had Serbian coffee, very much like the Greek and Turkish versions but not quite as strong.

I found out they’re open for breakfast and I have plans to go back for breakfast, and certainly dinner.

If you try the restaurant, let me know how you like.

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

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5. Moving moment No. 6

Jake 375x500 Moving moment No. 6Ooh, who remembers this one? In 1982, the library systems of Chicago, Milwaukee, and San Francisco banned Margot Zemach’s Jake and Honeybunch Go to Heaven from their collections (Chicago, from where I followed the whole story avidly, did include it in its two regional research libraries). Unlike the headlines, still popular today, that too-loosely use the term “censorship” to describe any effort to remove a book from a library (it ain’t censorship unless the effort succeeds), this was the real thing: local governments, through their libraries, actively refusing to stock a book because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” This was the book that made me realize that librarians could be their own worst enemies: I recall one librarian interviewed in an NPR story about the flap who actually said, “when WE do it, it’s selection, not censorship.” That is exactly backwards.

share save 171 16 Moving moment No. 6

The post Moving moment No. 6 appeared first on The Horn Book.

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6. Mike Royko: One More Time


Mike Royko (right), in conversation with Studs Terkel

If you called Chicago home at some point during the second-half of the twentieth century, you probably don’t require an introduction to Mike Royko, or to the work he produced as a columnist for the Chicago Daily News, the Sun-Times, and the Tribune. If you digested these newspapers on a regular basis (you know, as people did before the “reality talkies”), you knew him as a Pulitzer Prize winner with working-class roots, sparse and specific with language, sparser still with pretension, hypocrisy, and corrupt politicking. Royko would have turned eighty-one today—we publish a solid sampling of his work including Early Royko: Up Against It in Chicago, For the Love of Mike: More of the Best of Mike Royko, Royko in Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol, and One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko, from which the excerpt below is drawn. “Ticket to the Good Life Punched with Pain” is later Royko—written just after Rodney King’s beating at the hands of the LAPD and six years before Royko’s premature death at age 64—but a classic example of the writer’s sense of justice and outrage, coupled with an everyday kind of diction that spared no humor or humility, even when framing the dark side of a radically changing America.

So, with a hat tip to Royko, the piece follows below:

March 19, 1991

Ticket to Good Life Punched with Pain

The police chief of Los Angeles is being widely condemned because of the now-famous videotaped flogging of a traffic offender.

But Chief Daryl Gates, while refusing to resign, suggests that the brutal beating might have been an uplifting act that could bring long-range positive results for the beating victim.

As the chief put it at a press conference Monday:

“We regret what took place. I hope he [Rodney King, the beating victim] gets his life straightened out. Perhaps this will be the vehicle to move him down the road to a good life instead of the life he’s been involved in for such a long time.”

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but there could be something in what Chief Gates says.

There’s no doubt that King, 25, hasn’t been an exemplary citizen, although he’s no John Dillinger. When the police stopped him for speeding, he was on parole for using a tire iron to threaten and rob a grocer.

But as Chief Gates said, the experience of being beaten, kicked, and shot with an electric stun gun might be what it takes to “move him down the road to a good life.”

Who knows, in a few years when all of this is forgotten, a reporter might drive out to a nice house in a California suburb and find a peaceful Rodney King pushing a mower across his lawn.

The reporter might ask: “Mr. King, what is it that moved you down the road to a good life?”

“That’s a good question,” Mr. King might reply, “and I’ll be glad to explain it to you. You’ll have to excuse me if I wobble and drool a bit; my face has nerve damage and my coordination hasn’t been the same since they damaged my brain.”

“Of course.”

“But to get back to your question. I think it was after L.A.’s finest hit me about fifty or fifty-five times with their clubs. As you recall, some of the fillings flew out of my teeth and one of my eye sockets sort of exploded.”

“Must have been a tad uncomfortable.”

“Yes. And at that point, I’m pretty sure that those nine skull fractures and internal injuries had already occurred, my cheekbone was fractured, one of my legs was broken, and I had this burning sensation from being zapped with that electric stun gun. I was feeling kind of low.”

“That’s to be expected.”

“Right. But as I was lying there, and they were getting in a few final kicks, and then sort of hog-tying my hands to my legs and dragging me along the ground, I said to myself: ‘Why not try to look at the bright side?’”

“And did you?”

“Yes. I thought: ‘Well, one of my legs isn’t broken; one of my eye sockets isn’t fractured; one of my cheekbones isn’t broken. And although my skull is fractured, my head remains attached to my body; and while fillings have popped out of my teeth, I still have the teeth.’ And I said to myself: ‘Half a body is better than none.’”

“Very inspiring.”

“Thank you. And I had a chance to think about why the police were treating me that way. It was their way of telling me that speeding is an act of antisocial behavior and I had been very bad, bad, bad.”

“You have unusual insight.”

“I try. And I thought that if only I had led the life of a model citizen, this wouldn’t have happened to me. Let’s face it. The L.A. police never fracture the skull of the president of the chamber of commerce, the chief antler in the Loyal Order of Moose, or the head of the PTA. No, it was my past history of antisocial behavior that brought it on.”

“But they had no way of knowing you were on parole.”

“Yes, but I’m sure they could guess just by the look of me. Be honest, I don’t look at all like the head of the PTA, do I?”


“Then, later, when Police Chief Gates said that the beating, although regrettable, could be the vehicle that would get me on the road to the good life, everything became clear. I realized that the beating would turn my life around and be a one-way ticket to the good life.”

“The chief’s words inspired you?”

“Not exactly. To be honest Chief Gates’ words convinced me that he had to be as dumb an S.O.B. as ever opened his mouth at a press conference.”

“But you said he helped you to a good life.”

“That’s right, he did.”


“When I took his police department to court, that jury awarded me a couple of million in damages, and I’ve been leading the good life ever since.”

“I don’t think that’s what the chief had in mind.”

“I don’t think that chief had anything in mind.”

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7. From Black Sox to Three-Peats


Chicago sportswriting is synonymous with, well, um, as far as I know: dude who had a peg leg; dude who has the same initials as that one guy in the Sega Genesis-era Moonwalker game circa 1990; dudes who did coordinated shuffling (including dude who appeared at Wrestlemania II and was the subject of the Fat Boys’ “Chillin’ with the Refrigerator”); that one team with the curse; that other team, which once featured Bobby Jenks, who looks like Bobby from King of the Hill; dudes with the sticks that make it impossible to get a beer at the Whirlaway Lounge, assorted evenings October through April; dudes whose team is named after an 1871 domestic disaster; and various other dudes, lady dudes, mimeograph machines, folded and unfolded periodicals, and residual jouissance. Bear down, Bull up or something. Confusing Harry Caray with Andy Rooney many times as a Midwestern pre-adolescent given free range with the remote control.

But seriously: you know who really knows Chicago sportswriting? Ron Rapoport, longtime sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Los Angeles Daily News and a sports commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition. Rapoport’s most recent edited anthology From Black Sox to Three-Peats: A Century of Chicago’s Best Sportswriting from the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Other Newspapers assembles one hundred of the best columns and articles from our local rags to tell the unforgettable, occasionally unaccountable, and incomparable history of Chicago sports. The Tribune recently praised the book as a “flip-page feast for sports fans,” and the personnel discussed needs no introduction: “What writers, what characters, what moments!”

Rapoport is coming to town for a whirlwind series of appearances, so stay tuned for spots on NBC Chicago’s Weekend Morning News, Rick Kogan’s radio show, WBEZ, WLS Radio with Richard Roeper, WGN, Sportstalk Live, Chicago Tonight, and ESPN Radio Chicago.

Want to catch the man in person? Stop by the Billy Goat Tavern (430 N. Michigan Avenue) at 5 PM on Thursday, September 19th, for a reading and signing.

In the meantime, read more about the book here.


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8. Guest Post: Robert Michaels

Today's guest brings us a little excerpt from his family-friendly book Gazpacho.


The Arrival

Oh what a glorious light it was, so brilliant, bold and white. The light was so magnificent and powerful that I struggled in vain with my yet unopened eyes to gaze directly upon it. At first, with only but a glance and then with only a glimpse, I attempted to shield my newborn sight with the aid of the tiny hands and fingers that appeared there before me all aglow and bathed by the radiant light.

I quickly learned that each precious digit was mine to command. And, once I did, every one of them was sent out on the same mission of exploration, toward the light, filled with the hope and desire to touch it. Floating mere inches above me from where I lay, the light hovered ablaze, in all of its divine splendor, just out of reach. I soon came to understand that the light was never meant for me to touch in that way, but it was there for me to feel in a different way, instead. From somewhere deep inside myself I felt the incredible presence that was within it and it reached out to me with a message of love. As my eyes adjusted and grew more accustomed to the light, I marveled to behold a multitude of colorful rays on display. They danced, flickered and sparkled out from its center in every direction possible. All to a dazzling effect that filled me with joy.

Not a sound did it make, but even in the first few moments of my life, I knew that, somehow, the light had come to greet me and to help see me into the world. And I loved the light, almost as much as I felt the presence within it love me. Soon after I had made the connection with it, however, the light pulled away, faded and left. I didn’t like to see it go, but I was so very glad for the time that it had come to be with me. Even more than that, I was ever so grateful for the experience it left me with, to have known, felt, and witnessed something that was that good.

As those moments faded away, all of my physical senses took on a greater awareness. For the first time I heard soothing and comforting voices around me. At first the voices were faint, but before long, I could hear the sound coming from somewhere near me. Although I couldn’t understand exactly what they were talking about, I could feel that they were saying all kinds of nice and wonderful things just for me to hear. Love is also what I felt from them. And even though it was somehow different from the love that I felt from the light, the feelings were unmistakable and I loved them very much too!

So… this is what it’s like to be alive. Well hey, this certainly feels great! I really like it here!

About the Book: Gazpacho , a "Rarus Nimus Foetidus Loquaciatis Rauca Mollis" is a newly discovered species of worm that has the ability to communicate with most every living creature. But what his species is most known for, throughout the bug and animal world, is their highly toxic glands that produce a considerable amount of stink whenever they are stressed or in danger. This toxic "handicap" or stinky "gift", depending on how it comes to be used, sets the stage for Gazpacho's early years just as it serves to enrich his life experiences and fuel his grand adventures. From his birth in the northern forest glen to his plan of becoming the next great singing star and idol sensation, Gazpacho learns of love as he overcomes the many obstacles and prejudices against him to finally summon up the courage to leave home and live out his dream! This is the first book in a series of four that tell Gazpacho's amazing life story!

About the Author: Robert Michaels (Robert A. Nicpon) was born in Chicago, Illinois and he lived there until the age of 7. It was during Robert’s high school years that he discovered his passion for art, and it was in his last year of high school that he decided that he wanted to produce art for a living. In 2006 Robert learned that what really matters the most when producing a work of art is telling “The Story” and telling it well. When this was discerned, Robert received the inspiration to write the story of Gazpacho. With the help of his beloved coauthor Aurora Rose, Gazpacho’s story has grown into a four book series that chronicles Gazpacho’s amazing life.

Visit the author on Facebook:

And buy the book on Kindle:

As usual, you can find Mark at www.FB.com/MarkMillerAuthor

Thanks for stopping by!

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9. Bologna Children's Book Fair

This week over on Turbo Monkey Tales I'm talking about my visit to Bologna in March. 
Follow this LINK to read all about it.


Pearl is coming soon! Next time, what I got up to at ALA Chicago, 2013.

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10. Chicago!

Just a few pics from the Chicago-Madison trip.  Go check out Cynsations for more!

Hancock, Drake, Palmolive
Frosty Lake Michigan

Sky view
Oak Street Beach

One of the places where we were today
Outside Glenbard West

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11. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Brett Helquist, illustrator)

If you like The Westing Game, you’re sure to like Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist (illustrator of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events).   The book jacket says Chasing Vermeer “is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, disguised as an adventure, and delivered as a work of art.” A famous painting by Jan Vermeer known as A Woman Writing has disappeared and its mysterious thief has threatened to destroy it. Sixth-graders Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay start out as classmates but soon become friends and fellow sleuths as they boldly venture to follow a trail of clues and track down the missing painting.  Using their wits and intuition, they solve the puzzle of the painting’s disappearance and its mysterious thief  . Chasing Vermeer reminds me a bit of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Petra finds an old used book called Lo! that tells of coincidences throughout time.  As Petra thinks, “Why wasn’t more time . . .  spent studying things that were unknown or not understood .  . . ?  . . . To try to piece together a meaning behind events that didn’t seem to fit?” Perhaps there are no coincidences–perhaps life is really full of patterns and cosmic synchronicity.  Petra dreams of [...]

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12. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Brett Helquist, illustrator)

If you like The Westing Game, you’re sure to like Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist (illustrator of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events).   The book jacket says Chasing Vermeer “is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, disguised as an adventure, and delivered as a work of art.” A famous painting by Jan Vermeer known as A Woman Writing has disappeared and its mysterious thief has threatened to destroy it. Sixth-graders Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay start out as classmates but soon become friends and fellow sleuths as they boldly venture to follow a trail of clues and track down the missing painting.  Using their wits and intuition, they solve the puzzle of the painting’s disappearance and its mysterious thief  . Chasing Vermeer reminds me a bit of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Petra finds an old used book called Lo! that tells of coincidences throughout time.  As Petra thinks, “Why wasn’t more time . . .  spent studying things that were unknown or not understood .  . . ?  . . . To try to piece together a meaning behind events that didn’t seem to fit?” Perhaps there are no coincidences–perhaps life is really full of patterns and cosmic synchronicity.  Petra dreams of [...]

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13. Art Shay on Muddy Waters (including a previously unpublished photograph)

Muddy Waters and his wife Geneva in Chicago, 1951. Image copyright and courtesy of: Art Shay.

Thanks to Paul Berlanga of the Steven Daiter Gallery.


From our editorial director Alan Thomas:

The 100th birthday of the great bluesman Muddy Waters arrives next April, but a recent encounter with an extraordinary (and previously unpublished) photograph of Waters prompts us to start the celebration early. It was made in Chicago in 1951 by photographer Art Shay, who himself celebrated a birthday this past spring—his 90th. Shay is a favorite of ours; his prodigious body of work includes the most memorable images we have of Nelson Algren’s Chicago. He shared his recollections of this photograph for us:

“The editor of the New Yorker ended his review of the new Keith Richards book Life with a plangent line from Richards asserting he could never be as good as Muddy Waters or as black. I met the generally acknowledged Father of Rock and his wife Geneva in 1951. Time magazine had sent me to the south side club in which he was performing. I arrived early as usual and there he was, strumming his guitar and cuddling his woman in the hallway. Slivers of dying winter light came down across the pair from some blessed window giving me barely enough natural light. He strummed a greeting using my name letter by letter. Billy Corgan noticed the first print of Muddy in the trunk of my car and bought it to hang in his studio next to vintage prints of some other music giants like the Beatles, Billie Holliday, and Ella Fitzgerald.”

For more on Muddy Waters, check out our books on issues surrounding blues culture, including:

I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy by Bob Riesman

Urban Blues by Charles Keil

Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs by David Grazian

Seems like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition by Adam Gussow

And, relatedly:

A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music by George Lewis


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14. See All the Main Attractions of Chicago for Only $35 Per Person

That’s $35.00 per person for three days!!

Not bad, eh?

Okay. So about our trip to Chicago… correction, our SECOND trip to Chicago.

We took our first trip with our boys. Which was fun, but we really didn’t get to do anything WE wanted to do. We spent our time touring museums, which was fun, but I know Kevin was disappointed because we didn’t have time to actually tour the city.

So we went back. Just me and Kevin. And did I mention this was our first trip, just the two of us, in twelve years?? Every other time, we’ve taken the boys. Which was fun, don’t get me wrong, but getting to hang out with just my husband and best friend in the world?

Awesome sauce.

We flew out of Branson. We had planned on using some of our frequent flyer miles (we have so many now that Kevin and I can take THREE round-trip, er, trips now), but honestly? It was actually cheaper to fly out of Branson than it would have been to cash in our miles. And besides, we wanted to cash those miles in on longer flights, like to either coast, than to a city only a little over an hour away.

Branson airport is tiny. As in DINKY. And it looks like a lodge. In fact, it’s so small, that it has one runway – for both take offs and landings. And it was a heck of a lot better than having to drive all the way to St. Louis, which is four hours away, as opposed to Branson, which is only 45 minutes away.

We flew Air Tran and, meh, there wasn’t anything exceptional about it, but then again, I wouldn’t really want there to be. It’s cheap for a reason – don’t expect the royal treatment, but we got up there and back safely, so that’s all that matters.

I actually wanted to stay up there a bit longer than we did (it worked out to be 2 1/2 days), but Kevin didn’t feel comfortable leaving the boys alone for longer than that and it actually worked out better this way anyway – Chicago is great, but we were ready to come home after two days.

We stayed at the same hotel – the River Hotel on Wacker street. (I know – what a name!!). It was $179.00 per night (we booked it through hotels.com), and though that sounds expensive, actually, that IS expensive, it was worth it to us because the hotel is right across the street from the Chicago River in the heart of downtown Chicago so it was close to everything.


The room itself is small, but we actually upgraded to a room with a kitchenette when we got there, so we saved ourselves breakfast money by just eating cereal every morning.

The hotel has a filtered water station (FREE) near the elevators on each floor, so we also saved ourselves money on bottled water while we were there, too.

We flew into Midway Airport in Chicago. Which is actually a little ways from downtown. I was a little worried about how much money we’d have to spend in taxis while we were there, but I needn’t have worried – when we landed, I noticed that we could take the train directly from the airport all the way to downtown (the orange line). It cost us $2.25 per person to take the train, thereby saving us probably close to $30 or $40 dollars (including tip) if we had taken a taxi from the airport to our hotel. True. We had to lug our suitcase around, but we only took our one big suitcase, since it was only Kevin and me, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal. In fact, Chicago’s public transit system is pretty efficient and we didn’t take one taxi the entire time we were there.


We arrived at our hotel around noonish on June

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15. 2012 Printers Row Lit Fest was a blast!

Okay, I know I’m rather delayed in posting about this… but at least I did get around to it!

This year I headed off to Chicago, IL again to attended my 2nd year at the Printers Row Lit Fest. Last year I had a blast, met a lot of wonderful people and sold a bunch of books. This year didn’t disappoint either!

Let’s start at the beginning.

I flew into O’Hare Thursday evening (June 7th). Last year was great, but I didn’t get to see any of Chicago and was determined to fix that this year! My sweetie Sean Hayden was kind enough to pick me up (for those who didn’t know, we met for the first time at PR last year!)


We found our hotel, which I found using Expedia and got for an awesome 32$ a night. It was the Extended Stay American Chicago in Hillside. Considering the price, I was beyond relieved to find out it was not only easy to get to, but in excellent condition. Though not at all fancy (and no maid service though you could exchange sheets and towels at the front desk) it was VERY clean, the room was huge with a full kitchenette and everything worked. I would certainly stay there again.

On Friday we toured Chicago a bit, and visited the most awesome Navy Pier. It was a hot day, but we had a load of fun watching the boats, touring the shops and eating funnel cakes!  We had dinner at the famous Bubba Gumps. Which was pretty neat, though I found my memories of the details in the movie Forrest Gump weren’t so great.

Saturday was the big first day of Printers Row! Which meant getting up at like 5am to have everything ready and loaded. Luckily traffic was awesome and we got to the site early and were able to drive in to unload. Everyone else started arriving and it was a flurry of hellos and set up. The weather was hot but otherwise fantastic. The crowd didn’t seem to be as big as last year, but they were buying! A lot of people stopped to chat, browse (and buy) books and get autographs. Luckily we had a cooler full of ice to keep us from melting in the heat. By 6pm we were closing up (and btw, yes that is a verrrrry long day) and packing our stuff into the center of the tent. We all had dinner across the street where we ate and chatted for a few hours and then I think we all went back to hotels for some sleep.

Sunday we were there early again, set everything up again, and kept on selling! Flashy Fiction and Other Insane Tales did absolutely fantastic! (Of course it does have a really cool cover Add a Comment

16. Chicago Was Freaking Awesome

Chicago 2012

Can you see us?

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17. Studs Terkel: A Centenary Remembrance

STUDS TERKEL (1912–2008)

“I love thee, infamous city!”

Baudelaire’s perverse ode to Paris is reflected in Nelson Algren’s bardic salute to Chicago. No matter how you read it, aloud or to yourself, it is indubitably a love song. It sings, Chicago style: a haunting, split-hearted ballad.

Perhaps Ross Macdonald said it best: “Algren’s hell burns with a passion for heaven.” In this slender classic, first published in 1951 and, ever since, bounced around like a ping-pong ball, Algren tells us all we need to know about passion, heaven, hell. And a city.

He recognized Chicago as Hustler Town from its first prairie morning as the city’s fathers hustled the Pottawattomies down to their last moccasin. He recognized it, too, as another place: North Star to Jane Addams as to Al Capone, to John Peter Altgeld as to Richard J. Daley, to Clarence Darrow as to Julius Hoffman. He saw it not so much as Janus-faced but as the carny freak show’s two-headed boy, one noggin Neanderthal, the other noble-browed. You see, Nelson Algren was a street-corner comic as well as a poet.

He may have been the funniest man around. Which is another way of saying he may have been the most serious. At a time when pimpery, licksplittery and picking the poor man’s pocket have become the order of the day—indeed, officially proclaimed as virtue—the poet must play the madcap to keep his balance. And ours.

Unlike Father William, Algren did not stand on his head. Nor did he balance an eel on his nose. He just shuffled along, tap dancing now and then. His appearance was that of a horse player who had just heard the news: he had bet her across the board and she’d come in a strong fourth. Yet, strangely, his was not a mournful mien. He was forever chuckling to himself and you wondered. You’d think he was the blue-eyed winner rather than the brown-eyed loser. That’s what was so funny about him. He did win.

A hunch: his writings may be read, aloud and to yourself, long after acclaimed works of Academe’s darlings, yellowed on coffee tables, have been replaced by acclaimed works of other Academe’s darlings. To call on a Lillian Hellman phrase, he was not a “a kid of the moment.” For in the spirit of a Zola or a Villon, he has captured a piece of that life behind the billboards. Some comic, that man.

At a time when our values are unprecedentedly upside-down—when Bob Hope, a humorless millionaire, is regarded as a funny man while a genuinely funny man, a tent show Toby, is regarded as our president—Algren may be remembered as something of a Gavroche, the gamin who saw through it all, with an admixture of innocence and wisdom. And indignation.

—excerpted from Terkel’s Introduction to the Sixtieth-Anniversary Edition of Nelson Algren’s Chicago: City on the Make


It’s impossible to pick a representative interview from the hundreds conducted by Terkel in his lifetime, but this clip from 1961 with James Baldwin, and its opening—Bessie Smith’s Back Water Blues, which Baldwin remarks inspired his “forthcoming novel” (Another Country)—is good enough to take your breath away:

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18. Review roundup–Cat Girl’s Day Off

Like I said yesterday, people are loving our spring books just as much as they loved those we published in the fall (for which we’re still getting reviews in–maybe I should do another roundup of those).

Here’s what people are saying about Kimberly Pauley’s Cat Girl’s Day Off:


In a multicultural family bestowed with supernatural abilities, such as mind reading and laser vision, Nat Ng believes her ability to communicate with cats is more of an embarrassment than a special talent. Only her family and her two best friends, exuberant Oscar and drop-dead gorgeous Melly, know her secret. When a production crew filming a remake of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off comes to the teens’ Chicago high school, Nat reluctantly agrees to join her friends as an extra. Nat might believe that her talent is unexceptional, but cat-loving readers will thoroughly enjoy where her ability leads her as she tours through the same Chicago landmarks seen in Ferris Bueller. This title has the light, buoyant humor of a Meg Cabot book, with the same blend of superpowers and high-school life that won Pauley many fans with Sucks to Be Me (2008). And the cats! Helping, hindering, sniffing out bad guys, sneering at good guys, the cats shamelessly rule.

Publishers Weekly (full review):

Pauley (Still Sucks to Be Me) offers amusing insights into the minds of cats, snappy dialogue, and a fast-paced plot. Readers should easily relate to Nat, and cat-lovers in particular will find a lot to enjoy in this romp.

Kirkus Reviews (full review):

. . . Since there’s no one else ready and able to rescue Easton, Nat and her pair of slightly off-beat friends take on the job. This leads to one perilous situation after another, many of them featuring the italicized thoughts—appropriately laconic and snarky—of the various cats that Nat seeks out for help. Her bumpy budding romance with classmate Ian adds an amusing love interest to the mix. The fantasy elements, solidly grounded in an otherwise real world, seem ever-so-believable. Lively conversation, strong characterizations and a fast pace make this a breezy read. The funny feline thoughts are catnip for the audience.

A worthwhile adventure and an easy sell for feline fanciers who already know what their pets are saying.

School Library Journal (if you are a subscriber, you can access the full review on their site; otherwise, look in the April 2012 print edition):

Pauley’s homage to Chicago and her favorite teen movie is entertaining, hilarious, and exceptionally creative. Populated with wonderfully eccentric and endearing characters, this lighthearted comedy will be an instant hit, especially among teen and tween girls. One thing is for certain—readers will never again look at their feline friends in the same way.

Charlotte’s Library (full review):

Cat Girl’s Day Off is fast a

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19. Chicago burns

This Day in World History - At eight o’clock at night on October 8, 1871, a fire broke out in Patrick and Catherine O’Leary’s barn. Winds were strong that night in the Windy City, and the city itself was largely made of wood—not just the buildings, but even the sidewalks and signs. Every structure served as kindling, and the ferocious fire burned out of control for thirty-six hours, not stopping until it had destroyed 18,000 buildings over an area of three-and-a-half square miles. Three hundred people lost their lives in the fire, and a third of the city’s people were made homeless.

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20. Palabra Pura & Sergio Troncoso – Chicago

Guild Literary Complex news
We look at literary culture and ask - "What's missing?"

Last Chicago Events of 2011
Next week is the last Palabra Pura of the year, featuring Luis Humberto Valadez and Tim Z. Herna'ndez in a poetry face-off. (Fortunately they're old friends, so any blood-letting will be in good fun.) If you haven't heard Luis or Tim live, it's one of the most unique experiences you'll have with poetry. For example, check out Luis in action.

Palabra Pura: Luis Humberto Valadez & Tim Z. Herna'ndez
Wed., Nov. 16, 2011, 7:30pm
at La Bruquena restaurant (upstairs), 2726 W. Division, Chicago

Then the next night in Hyde Park, we're presenting the contemplative fiction and non-fiction of Sergio Troncoso. He'll be reading from his new books From This Wicked Patch of Dust (University of Arizona Press) -- a novel about the Martinez family, who struggles to stay together despite cultural clashes, different religions, and contemporary politics across the U.S.-Mexico border -- and Crossing Borders: Personal Essays. Learn more about Troncoso here.

Reading with Sergio Troncoso
Thurs. Nov. 17, 2011, 7:00pm
University of Chicago's International House
1414 East 59th Street

{From La Bloga: Also check out Daniel Olivas's interview with Sergio Troncoso this past Monday here.}

Finally, in Donation Watch: thanks to generous gifts from people like you--or maybe the person next to you--we are half-way to our $400 matching gift goal for December 1st, and one step closer to our overall fundraising goal for the year-- huzzah! Please help us keep up the momentum!

If you know someone else who might be interested in these articles, events and audio clips, please forward this information. Better yet, bring them along to the next Guild show!

The Guild Literary Complex

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21. Chicago Dinosaurs: Field Museum of Natural History

In honor of NCTE/ALAN being in Chicago this year, I thought I'd toss in a post about Chicago dinosaurs. :-).  If you have the time, check out the Field Museum:

Tyrannosaurus rex (background) with (unidentified) Homo sapiens.

The Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago): My hometown museum, still one of the best in the world. The Field Museum is part of a lakefront museum campus that includes the Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium and the Adler Planetarium. Just up Lake Shore Drive is the Lincoln Park Zoo, and a short drive south is the Museum of Science and Industry.

The Field is home to Sue, one of the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever found, as well as a Daspletosaurus and a host of other, less carnivorous dinosaurs (like Parasaurolophus and Diplodocus).

Sue is prominently placed in the Stanley Field Hall (the main hall), with the elephant diorama and the big totem poles. On the balcony above the skeleton is the actual skull (the real one being too big to mount) and a mural depicting what Sue would've looked like in real life.

Sue close-up
Upstairs is the Evolving Planet exhibit, which takes you chronologically through the eras of life on earth. Dinosaurs on display include Triceratops, dromaeosaurs, stegosaurs, sauropods (including a juvenile Rapetosaurus), and hadrosaurs, such as Parasaurolophus. The classic Charles M. Knight murals still adorn the walls.

Triceratops and T.rex  face off
And sometimes in Chicago, you see dinosaurs in the oddest places: be sure to check out the brachiosaur at the United Terminal at O'Hare Airport (a duplicate of the one outside the Field).

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22. Chicago Plans

I’ve spent most of my Sunday fighting yawns, drinking coffee and researching our Chicago trip …

… that’s coming up in about three weeks.


We’re driving to St. Louis, are staying at our favorite Drury Inn (seriously ya’ll, the “complementary” breakfast is pretty darn awesome. Course, it’s not totally complementary, it’s included in the price of the room, BUT STILL! It beats going out the next morning and looking for some place to eat), then boarding the Amtrak train the next morning to Chicago!


(Yeah. That was pretty corny).

Kevin found a hotel. He’s pretty awesome when it comes to researching hotels in new places. (Fine. He’s awesome pretty much all of the time). It’s called Chicago’s River Hotel and it’s a two-room suite with a Queen-sized bed and a sofa bed for the boys. It also includes a kitchenette which will hopefully save us money on food. (At the very least, we can eat breakfast and keep some snack foods on hand).

Here’s a picture of our room:

I’m a little worried the sofa bed will be too small for two tall young men, but we’ll likely take the cushions off the sofa/chair and make a bed on the floor for one of the them so they won’t be in each other’s faces all night long.

The hotel is right across the street from the Chicago river and in an area close to pretty much everything. I think we’re going to try and NOT rent a car and use the public transit systems instead. I’ve been looking into Shedd’s Aquarium and the Museum of Science & Industry and we’ll likely spend most of our time at these places. We would also like to go to Navy Pier and Magnificent Mile. We’re only going to be there for three days (2 1/2 when you take into consideration that the train doesn’t actually reach Chicago until about 2ish), and that should be enough time for us to see some fun stuff before boarding the train back to St. Louis.

We’ll be traveling back home on Jazz’s birthday, so we’ll likely treat him to some place nice for dinner that evening.

I’m really looking forward to this trip. It’s going to be a lot different than anything else we’ve ever done and the boys act like they’re really looking forward to riding the train up there and back, too. I think Dude is more relieved than anything else – no flying.

I asked off for some time in June. I’d like to take a long weekend with Kevin someplace. We haven’t really figured out where we want to go yet, but we have A TON of frequent flyer miles burning a hole in our online account. :)

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23. Back From Chicago … and Planning Another Trip

We got back home about an hour ago.

Actually, we got back into town about 7:00 p.m. But we stopped to eat at Taco Bell, went over to my in-laws to eat cookie cake and sing happy birthday to Jazz, THEN we came home.

And this was AFTER riding the Amtrak train from Chicago to St. Louis for five hours and driving another 3 1/2 hours from St. Louis to Springfield.

So yeah, I’M BRAIN DEAD.

I simply can’t write anymore tonight. But I’ll write about our adventures and share some pictures very soon.

Now? I’m collapsing into my own bed and (hopefully) getting a full, uninterrupted, seven hours of sleep.

And then it’s back to work tomorrow … unless they suspend me. My boss left me a voice mail Thursday, but honest to God, I forgot to call her back so, who knows if I HAVE a job to go back to. Her message didn’t say NOT to, but it was rather a question as to whether I had gotten the shot (no), or if I planned to (no). So. I figured if I was suspended, surely she would have called back and told me not to come in on Monday, right?


At any rate, I’m going to work tomorrow and we’ll see what happens. If I get suspended, then I’ll come home and blog about Chicago.

I know you’re rooting for me to get suspended so you can hear more about Chicago – don’t lie! (*grin*)

And don’t jinx me. Cause I really do love my job and I really don’t want to get suspended.

UGH. I can’t do this “am I going to be suspended this year or not” every single year thing. It’s exhausting. (To live and to write about).

P.S. Kevin and I are thinking about going back to Chicago in June – just me and him. OH YES WE ARE!

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24. So … About Our Chicago Trip … Part One

We didn’t really have a reason to go to Chicago – in fact, I hadn’t really aspired to go to Chicago in my lifetime. The biggest reason I chose Chicago was because it was simply a destination on the Amtrak route and I thought, “what the heck. Why not.” And since the whole purpose behind the trip was to experience the Amtrak train … we went to Chicago.

And I chose Amtrak mainly because when I started thinking about our last big family “hurrah”, (not implying that the boys will never go on vacation with us again, but let’s be real – they’re [nearly] 20 [!] and 17, and we’re reaching a point where they don’t really WANT to hang out with mom or dad anymore … which is normal. I get it), I wanted to do something that everyone would enjoy. And by everyone, I mean Dude.

Dude HATES to fly. He used to be deathly afraid of it. And though it still scares him a bit, we’ve been on so many flights now that he at least doesn’t feel like he wants to vomit whenever we fly anywhere anymore.

Both boys used to be crazy about trains. Especially Dude. When Dude was about three, he was absolutely OBSESSED with trains. Whenever he was around trains, he would actually tremble with excitement. And when we set up the train tracks, he would sit for hours and simply watch them go around and around.

It was almost spooky how obsessive he was. (I wish he would get obsessive about his future, but that’s another post).

Jazz was also crazy about trains. Though not AS crazy as Dude. He was really into the Thomas Trains and in fact, we have a huge plastic tub of Thomas trains/tracks that I have INSISTED on keeping so our grandkids could play with them someday. (Though from the sounds of it, I might only get grandkids from Jazz because Dude is pretty adamant about NOT wanting kids. This attitude sort of crushes me [did I sour my son on kids because of the mistakes I've made with him? I worry about this], but I’m hoping he outgrows it. Because after all, I felt the same way when I was his age. Kids were okay, as long as they were someone else’s).

I remember my mom telling me how much she and my dad enjoyed riding the train down around the Branson area and I thought, “Amtrak! That would be a different sort of experience.” And that’s when I started looking into Amtrak routes, etc.

Since there isn’t an Amtrak station in Springfield, I started looking at St. Louis and voila! Chicago was a nearby destination.

That was the thought process behind going to Chicago. No offense to Chicagoians, but I hadn’t really thought of making a trip up there until that moment.

Let me preface this trip account by saying, we enjoyed the train ride. Yes. It was LONG. (Five and a half hours to get from St. Louis to Chicago). But it wasn’t AS long on the way back and I think it was mainly because I kept myself busy. I had a little trouble reading on the train at first, it sways and is sort of bumpy, and I had a little trouble focusing on the words, but once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t that bad. Even though I get motion sickness being a passenger in a car going across town, I never once felt nauseous on the train. And I think it was mainly because we could get up and move around and the area was so big and comfy that I didn’t feel cramped or closed in.

Riding the train is cheap. I don’t mind telling you that it cost $200 dollars for all four of us round trip. That’s about a 1/8 of what it would cost to fly. So, if you can endure the time factor, and just prepare yourself to keep yourself busy the entire trip, it’s quite worth it and we will definitely ride Amtrak again in the future.

I was a little worried about the type of people who would ride the train; it is public transportation, after all. And I’m sorry if that makes me sound like a snob, but I&rsquo

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25. Neato | otaeN

Wow. In three simple steps, Flickr user cshimala blew my mind.

1. Drive around Chicago with a video camera on windshield

2. Speed up resulting footage in video editor

3. Apply mirror effect with same editor

It’s crazy how a simple mirror filter can transform a video into something else.

Check out when he drives under the L.


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