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The Making of The African Queen

Here’s a documentary on the hardship encountered making The African Queen.

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Around the Neighborhood

Vie Restaurant

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Salmon Amuse-Bouche

In October I visited the award winning Vie Restaurant twice – once for my aunt’s 80th birthday party and last night after attending a wake for my father’s best friend.

The food at the birthday party was terrific. Perhaps I just chose really well. The salad, gnocchi and beef with mashed potatoes and squash I had were terrific. The appetizer selection of cheeses and sausages was also superb.

But last night’s meal, which I went to with my parents and their friends wasn’t as on the mark. Part of the problem was sticker shock. We probably should have expected high prices given the awards the chef has won, but we didn’t. We probably should have figured that the grey book on the table was the drink menu, but we didn’t look at it. So we were shocked to see that the chardonnay my mother ordered was $20 and my red wine, which I didn’t love, was $16 for a glass.

The menu showed the entree prices and described the artistic offerings. The problem was each item had something that needed an explanation. Will I like “sweet potato-tofu hash”? Probably not. What is blueberry aigre doux or pickled ramp remoulade or tatsoi? It took our party a long time to order because the menu was so gourmet.

It’s not like we’re bumpkins, but none of us was up on all the trends.

After our drinks arrived we were given some bread, which was a lovely sour dough and butter. Then we got an amuse-bouche, salmon with a tomato mayonnaise.

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I played it safe and ordered the shaved asian pears, mesclun, pancetta, giardiniera vinaigrette, crispy sauerkraut salad and the hamburger.

It took quite a while for our food to come. The pacing this night was off.

If I’d known my wine would be so pricey, I would not have ordered the salad, which for all the flowery description, wasn’t as good as what I can make myself. The pears sure were shaved, so much so that they didn’t add much flavor. The grilled sauerkraut sounded exotic, but tasted like just thinly julienned fried anything. The salad wasn’t bad and the portion was big enough to share, but I wasn’t blown away.

 

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The hamburger was fine too. Not the best I’ve had, but not the worst. It was alright, but for $19, I expect wonderful. The french fries weren’t at all good. They were shorter than usual, greasier and too salty. A lot of fast food establishments do better with fries. I just ate half the burger and fewer than half the fries and the doggy bag is stored in the fridge. Typically, a good burger will be my first choice for lunch the next day, but I figured I can wait as it wasn’t spectacular. I’ll probably throw out the fries.

The other members of the party had the white fish or the black fish. They were satisfied but not blown away.

The service was fine, but nothing special. I think the waitress was tentative because she got off to a poor start by asking, “Are you celebrating anything tonight?” We let her know we’d just come from a wake.  She was nice, but a bit aloof. My father asked for recommendations and hers seemed contrived.

Night of 1,000 Jack o’Lanterns

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From Night of 1,000 Jack o’Lanterns

This weekend from Thursday through Sunday the Chicago Botanic Garden is holding the Night of 1,000 Jack o’Lanterns. I got tickets in advance which turned out to be essential since it’s sold out for all days.

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The event is well planned. Our time to enter was 7:45 pm and though we arrived at the gardens on time the line to enter was long, so we should have come earlier. After parking, and we lucked out that they directed traffic so well that we must have hit the period when those who came at 5:30 had all left so we got to park in the lot nearest the visitors’ center. After entering we found long lines, but they moved swiftly.

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Sea Monster

Once inside we were delighted by Halloween music and dozens of jack o’lanterns, large and small. Well, huge and mid-size is more accurate. The “small” jack o’lanterns were the size most families buy and the big ones were perhaps 3 feet high. The jumbo ones were carved by artists and were grouped by themes. Themes included musicians, Chicago sports, Flora of Illinois, Fairy Tales, and Classic Halloween.

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After about an hour we reached a fork in the paths. One side led to the exit and the other to the model train exhibit. Though I’ve seen the model train exhibit, which consists of models of American sites like the French Quarter in New Orleans, the Hollywood sign or Wrigley’s Field, we decided to go again. I’m so glad we did. They’d decked out the buildings made of twigs and the trains with ghosts, goblins, witches, pumpkins and such.

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Then after exiting the model train exhibit we got to see two more themes of jack o’lanterns: Fairy Tales and Classic Halloween.

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Tickets are sold out. For members they were $12 and for non-members $14.

Parking for members is free and it costs $25 for non-members.

 

 

Sepia Saturday

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This week we’re inspired by the photo above to post on Sepia Saturday. I thought of marching bands and had to include America’s foremost marching music composer, John Philip Sousa.

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J.P. Sousa, Library of Congress, 1910

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Mississippi Dept. of History & Archives. N.D.

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National Library of Ireland, 1907

More from Open House Chicago

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After The Arts Club and lunch, Melody and I went to 333 N. Michigan. We were actually heading further, but the sign for the Open House beckoned us and I knew the building had exquisite Art Deco touches, like their stunning elevator doors. On the 4th floor the Tavern Club was open to the public. I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed with the interior of this old social club that used to count Carl Sandburg and Frank Lloyd Wright at its members. I confess I’m a history buff who’s got one foot stuck in the past, where wood paneling and gas lights are the norm. While I didn’t get the interior I had hoped for, the view from the club of the river and Michigan Avenue below was stunning.

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From the Tavern Club at 333 N. Michigan

On the way out of 333, in the elevator, I asked a man what his favorite sight was and he said the 17th Christian Science Church, so we went there next. Designed by Harry Reese, the modern church was dedicated in the 1960s. When we walked into the church, the amazing organ was playing.

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The New Sunset Ridge

Our district built a new school to replace an 85 year old building. Last night Sunset Ridge held an open house to show the taxpayers and stakeholders what this $25,000,000+ school.

Learning Center (a.k.a. Library) Check Out Desk

Maker Space

Maker Space

 

 

 

 

Poem of the Week

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Nine-Eleven
Charlotte Parsons

You passed me on the street
I rode the subway with you
You lived down the hall from me
I admired your dog in the park one morning
We waited in line for a concert
I ate with you in the cafes
You stood next to me at the bar
We huddled under an awning during a downpour
We dashed across the street to beat the light
I bumped into you coming round the corner
You stepped on my foot
I held the door for you
You helped me up when I slipped on the ice
I grabbed the last Sunday Times
You stole my cab
We waited forever at the bus stop
We sweated in steamy August
We hunched our shoulders against the sleet
We laughed at the movies
We groaned after the election
We sang in church
Tonight I lit a candle for you
All of you

Elegy for a sad day all Americans will remember

Buy your Glasses in China!

How is this legal? We should get this monopoly broken up.

I have contacted my senators.

Well . . .

I must say I’m stunned, by the election results. There will be plenty of analysis and talking heads will have a field day. I need time to absorb all this and to gain some perspective.

I do think Hillary lost rather than Trump won. I think any Democrat other than Hillary could have won, just as I think any GOP could have beaten Trump. I see this as a failure in the primary system and the failure of the media and political organizations to connect with people.

We’re in for a turbulent ride, that’s for sure.

I do pray that it won’t be as bad as many think. I can only say I pray that as I think God’s needed to ensure sanity and some peace.

 

Mainly, I’m stunned.

Wow.

Maybe the media will learn not to give the spotlight to every hothead with a big bank account who says something that’ll heighten ratings. Not that the media is the only one at fault, but they bare some responsibility. They egged him on when they broadcast his ridiculous assertions about Obama’s birthplace. They gave him so much attention during the primaries. How I hope they find a way to bring civility back.

That said, I’d like to see our protest take the shape of everyone speaking civilly, refraining from profanity, donning a pocket square, spats, gloves, pearls, whatever you’ve got or can get at a second hand shop, that suggests elegance, restraint and civility.

 

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