Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Return of the King

Work is crazy crazy busy, I'm there until like 7 pm every night. Aren't people who work 11 hour days supposed to get paid more?

Just to disprove the point, I booked my trip to New York today. I'm driving down but flying back for the great price of $132.26. I'm using the itinerary I posted previously here, except the hostel I was going to stay in recently burned to the ground so I had to pick a new one. It's not as central but it's across the street from Central Park and only $150 for 5 nights. I bought all my tickets (except the bus tour) so I'm now poor, the Saturday Yankees game I paid $65 and I'm not on the floor (yikes!), Monday Yankees game I'm in $5 bleacher seats, Tuesday Mets game I'm in the 2nd level for $25. Hairspray on Saturday night I paid a whopping $120 US! Let's hope Lance Bass and Jerry Mathers are worth it. I found a deal on Rent tickets, 6th row for $75.

I had the Angela Strassheim picture blown up, it looks so fantastic I had to put it in the living room:

I should do more of these, it cost about $12.
That's all, I'm so tired I'm reduced to watching The Cosby Show. I just downloaded the first 17 minutes of Prison Break - Season 3 so I gotta go watch that. Have you seen Wentworth Miller and his new boyfriend? So cute!
Oh yes, and I also found a place to print my 525 Chicago pictures, only 6 cents each! Now I can terrorize my friends for hours.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Last day

Well, it's my last day in Chicago so I wanted to try to get to a few places I didn't get to before. I started off the day waking up late, I left here around 11:30 and went to the Botanical Gardens. The directions the El website gave me were really bad as it involved waiting 30 minutes for a bus twice. It took about 3 hours to get there. Then coming home it was an hour wait for the bus but I was able to catch a train after that.
The gardens were beautiful. They had a train set with landmarks from across America, here's a couple shots of that:

Then it was walking all over. I spent and an hour and a half there, they have the gardens divided into sections (Japanese, English, etc.) Here's a few shots of the grounds:

Then by the time I got back it was 6:30. On the way home I stopped at Oz park, the guy who wrote the Wizard of Oz books was from Chicago. Check out the damage from the tornado:

They guide book said there were "many" statues, well there was 4, here they all are. The cowardly lion was back lit by the setting sun so he's not as sharp as the rest, plus Dorothy is black.

Finally I was trying to decide what to do tonight. I thought about going to see Hairspray but I've seen it twice, I thought about going to see the stage version of High School Musical but they made Zac Efron black and the blonde gay guy Asian. What next, Britney Spears as Rosa Parks? So I went out for a nice steak dinner and came home. Time to pack, and maybe watch some TV. It will be nice to sleep in my own bed tomorrow and I really miss my cat. As I trek across America in my search for all 30 ballparks, this trip was one to remember.
I close with a shot of the El train and the moon, artsy style.

I can see clearly now, the rain has gone

Well today was a bit better. I woke up late and went to the optometrist. She said she couldn't give me contacts, even WITH my prescription (which my doctor in Toronto emailed me) because they had to measure my eyes or some stupid thing. So I had to pay $69 for a full exam. I hope my insurance covers this. I'm doubtful.
Then I went to the Art Gallery. It was very cool, I fell in love with a new artist, Jeff Wall, another Canadian I have to leave the country to hear about.
I'll start a few of the pictures I took today, I didn't take many, the first is American Gothic and the second is some other famous painting.

Then there's a decent shot of the Chicago Public Library which is across the street from the hostel. It's the largest library in the world.

After that I went to the play Naked Lads Singing or whatever it's called. It was GREAT, lots of skits and comedy and drag and nudity. I loved it. Everyone sat a few rows back so I hoped in the front row. Why go to see a play with naked men and pretend to be shy? After the play I wished I was thinner, I wished I was doing the play, I wished for sex, I wished I had a partner there with me watching the show. I wished for a lot of things. I think I'm homesick.

I'll close with a few web shots of some of the pictures I saw today at the gallery (no photos allowed). There first two are Angela Strassheim. I almost wet myself when I saw how good the resolution on the first shot is, I'm totally having it blown up.

These last ones are by Jeff Wall, my new favourite photographer. The first is called Double Self-Portrait, next flooded grave, stereo, windy day. Keep in mind these were 8 feet by 10 feet when I saw them so they may lose something here but you can click them to enlarge them a little.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Tornado Hits

So the day started out very well. Sunshine, a nice breeze, still hundreds of degrees but hey, we take what we can get. I went to the Lincoln Park Zoo in the morning. It was quite nice, and quite free, bonus. The lions were going nuts, growling louder than I've ever heard:

I know Joe likes giraffes:

My favourite animal right now is the meer cat:

Check out the one at the very bottom, just legs and a tail. How does he breathe?

I saw this pitcher plant in the BBC documentary Planet Earth. They keep sugar water in the bottom of their basins, then when the bugs come in to drink they coat the walls with stuff so the bugs can't get out, then ingest them. Cool.

Afterward I went to Millennium Park and watched the kids splash in the water. There's this cool fountain there that spits on people:

I noticed this one dad there who was wearing white shorts and no underwear. He was hung like a Mexican gorilla so I followed him around for a while trying to take pictures:
and not be noticed. There were a lot of little kids there too so I had to make it seem like I wasn't trying to take loads of pictures of them too. Life is complicated.
Then I went to the Buckingham Fountain. Look at the beautiful day.

Well that changed in five minutes.

So it started to rain, then it was the hardest rain I've ever seen, waves of water crashing on me, I couldn't see, I started to run to shelter, the wind blew the glasses off my face. I kept running, the water hurt, I couldn't see where I was going, I ran under a tree. Here's me under the tree:
Then the branches started blowing off the tree so I kept moving around it at the base as the wind kept changing direction. About five minutes later, I was on my hands and knees for about an hour in the rain and thunder and lightning looking for my glasses. I caught another 50 cases of pneumonia. I think that's the record. The whole point of going there was to see the fountain erupt 150 feet in the air. Here it is (not worth it!):

So now I can't see very far and my shoes are wet. It's not really safe to go outside. There was an article about it in the paper here. Best vacation ever!

The monsoon returns

Today was good. Went to the Shedd Aquarium which was cool except FULL of people. Also they only had one place you could smoke and it was closed because Vanna White was there filming Wheel of Fortune. I could have taken a picture of her but it would have been behind 12 other people, and really, why bother? You'll be able to tell the episode, it's the one where everyone is screaming "WHEEL! OF! <SCREW YOU VANNA!> FORTUNE!" I can't actually mess with her too much because she was nice to Ryan White.
Then I went over to the Field Museum, lots of stuff for kids, lots of kids. A few cool Egypt things and an AWESOME exhibit on the start of the planet and the beginning of life on earth with over 100 fossils from different stages.
Then the Planetarium. I was kind of tired out from museums at this point so I went to an IMAX film and fell asleep.
Then is was off to see the Color Purple. It was pretty good, not amazing. The theatre was about 60% full, not a good sign. The last play I went to had like 7 people, what's up with this city?

A cute HUGE bullfrog.

Big school of fish.

An angry looking turtle.

An angry looking iguana.

"Sue", the world's biggest complete T-Rex.

A mummified cat.

I know my mom likes moose with antlers.

A very American shot of Chicago.

I thought this was bananas. The sun is represented by the ball. It will blow up to a huge red thing millions of times it's current size and then fit on the end of a pin. They had a lot of cool stuff about the universe at the Planetarium. Eventually all the stars in the universe will burn out and it will be very dark, never knew that.

And finally, the monsoon again. But there was good weather all day so I can't really complain. I'm trying to upload a video I took of the torrential rain, we'll see if I can get it to work. Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It stinks!

I just got back from seeing the movie "Invasion". Terrible! It seems I think every movie is terrible lately. I liked Hairspray.
Well I'm a little less tired as I had a nap today but I'm about ready to sleep again. So I got up and wanted to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art as it's free on Tuesdays. My schedule is totally shot. I took my map, the place was marked wrong on the map. I walked for about an hour before I found it, no one knew where it was. It was VERY hot.
Later I went on Architectural boat cruise. It was pretty cool, I enjoyed hearing the history of Chicago. The docent said at one point that in Chicago you can experience all four seasons in one day. That part of the day was summer. I like nearly fell over from heat stroke so I went back to the hostel for a nap in my underwear and ended up surprising the cleaning lady.
So then I went to the Wicked theatre and put my name in for the lottery for $25 front row tickets, didn't get them. I was gonna go for an expensive dinner but couldn't justify it so I spent money shopping instead. I have no idea how I'm going to get all this stuff home, I am SO over the weight limit. So I went to the Hancock Observatory and met a hosteling German girl, then the movie.

A few of the cooler pieces at the Contemporary Art Museum.

All these birds were hanging around the boat. Jay, what kind of bird is this?

A cool building from the Architectural Cruise.

This one was my favourite. The bottom 10 levels were parking, the rest apartments.

This building is green to match the green of the Chicago river and reflects it and the buildings opposite. It also bends to match the bend of the river. Why don't we have cool stuff like this in TO?

Sears tower is the tall one.

Another cool building.

View from the John Hancock building. I think pools on roofs are cool.

Navy Pier day and night.

Chicago skyline day and night.
Finally, a girl today wanted me to give money to help needy kids in America and Africa. She REALLY wanted to talk to me about it. To my credit when I left she was not crying. It took a while, she kept saying "But I send my $20 and this kid writes me" to which I responded "Screw one kid, give them infrastructure, there's no way some 20 year old kid who works part time at Wal-mart should be giving her $20 a month to help American children. Raise your taxes, help yourselves. " Finally I got out of her that to get this $20 a month, the kid has to have a mother, she has to be willing to teach their "curriculum" (she didn't know what that involved) and they have to go on birth control. Lovely program. Shut up and take this pill, we know what's best for you. Now smile pretty for this girl's letter....