Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy 50th Anniversary, Marina City

Fifty years ago last week, construction began on my apartment building at Marina City.

I’ve lived here for 5 ½ years now and I still love it. About six years ago, I was downtown walking by these goofy buildings and, on a whim, decided to see what the apartments looked like and asked to see one. The leasing agent showed five of them to me and I signed a lease soon after.

I get to live in a true Chicago landmark. Whenever anyone asks where I live, they always smile when I tell them.

“Are the apartments really wedge-shaped?” they ask.

Yes, a little bit, but not as much as you’d think.

A realtor friend of mine has recently been encouraging me to buy a condo. I’d really like a two-bedroom place but there’s no way I could afford the half-million dollar price tag for one at my beloved Marina Towers. I don’t want to give up living here either. My studio apartment on the 50th floor suits me fine.

This place looks like a 1960s comic book rendition of futuristic housing. One can practically envision George Jetson and Astro flying their space-car onto one of the balconies. I don’t want to give up my comic-book apartment, especially to live in a normal, non-descript two bedroom condo. No way.

Oh, check this out. Here are two 10-minute films of Marina City being built during the early sixties. Be sure to check out the stylish clothes in second video. (I love the soundtracks to these films - - they’re a hoot.)

Here are some photos I’ve taken through the years:

From my balcony:

From the roof. (That tall building is where I work)

A night view from the balcony:

A Chicago winter is pretty brutal out on the balcony:

And a summer thunderstorm can be pretty rambunctious:

An artsy black & white view:

Happy 50th anniversary, Marina City!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Just a Really Cute Video

Gobble-Gobble-Day was great. I still have some cranberry Bavarian cream in the fridge.
I'll have something to blog about later. In the meantime, here is the cutest video in the whole wide world:


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Now THIS Looks Like a Blast

You get to whizz along at 90 mph.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


I know this might sound a bit morbid, but I’m filling out paperwork to have my remains donated to science upon my demise. Of course, I don’t plan on demising anytime soon, but it’s just something I’ve been meaning to do for some time now.

Being single, I don’t envision hoards of loved ones wailing at my tombstone after I’m gone. And have you seen how much it costs to have a funeral these days? I don’t want any of my life insurance proceeds being spent on that, nor do I want to burden any family or friend with having to make all those arrangements.

And please. I certainly don't want something sappy done with my ashes like having them scattered at my favorite outdoor spot while bagpipes skirl in the distance.

I don't like any of the outdoors; bagpipes even less.

If I had to select a favorite place, it would probably be Trader Joe's. But I hardly think the good people there would appreciate ashes being festooned in the aisles.

I like recycling a lot. The fact that a plastic bottle can be used again as pillow stuffing makes me happy. Why not have my remains benefit the medical profession as much as possible? It’s the ultimate in "going green".

Just for the record, my recycling center is the Anatomical Gift Associaton of Illinois.

Here’s something interesting: It’s not just medical students that benefit from studying the cadaver. It’s also used to test new surgical instruments and all sorts of things. For up to two years, one's remains are utilized. Did you know that?

The remains are then cremated and interred according to state law. Or, a family member can pay for the cremation and have the ashes shipped to them. (I’ve selected the former option.)

I’ll have a donor card kept in my wallet and a couple of family members and friends will have the documentation on hand.

Yes, I know, there is the fact that medical students will see my naughty bits. It’s something they should get used to. More than likely, my size 10 EEEEEE feet will draw attention away from that.

I can just see it now. The teaching surgeon will be saying, "And here, inside the scrotum one can find the coil of vas deferans . . . oh my gosh! Look at those FEET!"

Student: "How did he ever get shoes to fit?"

Another student: "He probably had to special-order them from Zappos."

But like I said, I don’t plan on demising anytime soon. I’m drinking two quarts of green smoothies every day and running two miles a day.

I’m going to live forever.

But if the day comes, I find comfort in knowing I’ll be recycled.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Middle Age Spread

Middle-aged spread. We’ve all heard of it. Many of us have experienced it. I’ve been battling it and have recently taken up running (something I never thought I’d do, much less, enjoy.)

I’m up to two miles a day now. I might be in danger of running in one of those five-kay things you hear about.

Anyway, I needed a new pair of athletic shoes as the ones I had were approaching twenty years old. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got pretty weird feet. They’re size 10 ½ which are not big at all for someone my height. However, they’re really, really wide. Like a platypus. In the past, I could get away with 10 ½ EEE shoes but I found some Nike EEEE shoes so I ordered those.

They hurt my feet. They weren’t wide enough.

I sent them back and tried some New Balance extra-wide shoes and they didn’t fit either. I’d also ordered a casual pair of shoes (quadruple E) and they didn’t fit. I was getting tired of sending shoes back.

Finally, I went to Zappos.com where you can enter in your shoe size and then it lets you see what they have. I just selected the widest shoes possible: EEEEEE - - sextuple E.

My shoes arrived. I held my breath as I slipped them on.

They fit like a dream. Both the athletic shoes and the casual ones. Size 10 ½ EEEEEE
(The casual ones are the same color as a chocolate Labrador.)

My mom asked me how much I paid for them.

I have absolutely no idea.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The skating rink at Millennium Park opens in just two days.
I'm excited.

The ice rink is just across the street from my workplace so I keep a pair of hockey skates in my office. (I'm a disaster on figure skates but for some strange reason, I can be a little ice-bat on hockey skates. It's not very pretty or graceful, but I enjoy it.) With skates in my office, I can buzz out there right after work or also during my lunch break when I feel the need.

Each year, I keep a special "skate" playlist of music on my iPod. Usually, it's a combination of slow, languid music alternating with hard, fast rock; An oboe adagio followed by Heart's Barracuda.

This year, it's simply Handel's Messiah and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

What more would anyone need?

I love Winter . . .

Friday, November 12, 2010

Joey's Christmas Card

I have a friend of mine, Christy, (not her real name) who relayed a really funny story to me regarding Christmas cards.

She has a younger brother, Joey, (not his real name) who, shall we say, is not exactly the brightest guy in the world. Joey is 30 years old and shares an apartment with a buddy somewhere in the suburbs of Chicago. Joey’s just a regular guy but has a tendency of not thinking things through.

Here’s the perfect example of this and how it relates to Christmas cards. Joey and his buddy really like the movie, Step-Brothers, starring Will Farrell. (See? Just a regular guy; not too bright.) I mean, they really like this movie. Here’s a poster of the movie:

So, Joey and his roommate liked this movie so much that they both bought matching argyle sweaters, had photographs of them taken in the same pose, had these photos made into Christmas cards and mailed them out to all their family and friends, assuming it would be clever and funny.

See? Not really thinking things through. Not that many people have seen this silly movie, much less, would know that anyone would enjoy it enough to emulate it on their Christmas card.

So, Christy began to receive all these calls from her relatives with comments like, “Umm, we got Joey’s Christmas card from him and his . . . uh . . . partner.” Christy’s mom called her and was a little concerned, “Why didn’t Joey tell us he was gay? Did YOU know??”

They all thought it was his way of "coming out" to them.

Christy was all, “Mom, Joey’s not gay! He’s just . . . Joey.”

And it’s true. Joey’s really and truly not gay.

When Christy went home to visit her folks for the holidays, there was that silly Christmas card sitting on the mantle -- of Joey and his roommate in matching sweaters, smiling and gazing off in the distance.

God, that is so gay. . .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let's Compare . . .

A Carnival cruise ship got stranded on Monday, rendering it without electricity. The next day, sixty-thousand pounds of food and water were quickly airlifted to a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier which delivered the supplies to the 3,300 passengers -- in the middle of the ocean. When the passengers disembarked two days later, there were over 100 personnel waiting to help them with their travel plans.

My, what an efficient operation!

Now, let's compare that to the folks in New Orleans during Katrina . . .

Labels: ,

Another Photo

I'm having fun with this black & white photography. This photo would really be cool if the railing wasn't there:

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Play Through the Pain

A few days ago, I "got a gig" to play three hours of piano music at a fundraiser at the Hilton Grand Ballroom here in Chicago. Pretty cool, huh? It's pretty much my dream job -- just to play soft, Classical background music while about a thousand folks drink wine and "network" and hobnob.

So, for the past couple of days I've been brushing up on my soft, non-intrusive Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and Schubert -- the foofy stuff I like; things that are appropriate when one is standing around with a glass of Chardonnay. I would play some background, plinky-plunky "light jazz" but I'll admit to total ineptitude and ignorance when it comes to jazz, light or otherwise.

I'm really looking forward to this gig. A lot. 

Last night, I was reaching for a large saucepan from my wall where all my kitchen equipment hangs. Just as I plucked it, a stock pot fell from its perch and smashed my left thumb against the pan I was holding.

Bleeding ensued. As I was applying first aid, I noticed that my thumb was already swelling noticeably. Not a good sign. Luckily, the thumb wasn't broken or at least I don't think it is. It just has a really bad boo-boo.

My thumb is green and swollen, but I'll manage.

I had a chuckle when I thought about my mom. She's been a public school athletic coach for decades. She was top-notch at tennis, basketball, track and especially softball. I can still remember her when I was a kid as she pitched lots of really mean fast balls and strike-outs. (To other opponents -- not at me.)

At sports, I was even more inept than I am at playing jazz, but mom was always there with a sports analogy. (She also taught me to throw a pretty perfect free throw -- something I can still do to this day.)
"No pain, no gain," was often heard from mom.

So tonight as I grace the notes of Schubert and Chopin, I'll ironically be applying her coaching wisdom and just "play through the pain."

Thanks, mom.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


I took this photo last week from my balcony and converted it to black & white.
I'm not at all knowledgeable about photography, but I do appreciate it. Anyway, I've now got this photo in a 10 x 8 frame and I love it. 

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 05, 2010

Aero Horroroso

On Saturday, I’ll be flying down to Texas to spend a week with family. Flying is such good blog fodder, especially if one is flying to the small town where my mom lives, Victoria, Texas.

Victoria is located near the Texas gulf coast about 120 miles southwest of Houston. There’s only one flight a day now from Houston to Victoria and it’s on one of those little bitty bouncy airplanes with propellers. The little airline that operates the daily flight, Aero Horroroso, has a history of safety violations which makes the trip all the more exciting.

(Seriously, it’s Colgan Air and it does have a record of safety violations and run-ins with government regulators.)

Since there’s only one passenger flight per day to Victoria, the little airport has multiple functions. I’m waiting for the day when the pilot announces, “Folks, were about to make our descent into Victoria Regional Airport, Day Care and Firearm Repair Center.”

Cows and possums scurry out of the way as we land.

The nearest large city with a major airport is either San Antonio or Austin which are about 90 miles away. Aero Horroroso practically lands in my mom’s back yard so the convenience factor trumps the fright factor, for me anyway.

The thing is, I’ve had a couple of really terrifying flights between Houston and Victoria. Really, really frightening.

Once, the pilot was unsure if the landing gear was down (the indicator light wasn't working) so we had to fly back to Houston and have the people in the flight tower visually verify that we had landing gear in place. There's nothing like spending an hour wondering if you'll ever walk on terra firma again.

Another time, we flew through a line of violent thunderstorms late at night and it was, by far, the most turbulent flight I’ve ever been on. Really. It was pretty unbelievable. I was sitting in the back of the plane and ice was flying out of the ice bin.

I used to be nervous about flying, but thanks to Aero Horroroso, pretty much nothing scares me anymore. No matter how turbulent a flight gets, I’m all “Ho hum – this is nothing. . . . Where’s my drink?”

Labels: ,