Swing And A Miss Marketing

December 20, 2011

We received a 2012 calendar from a local business yesterday. It’s one of those with the calendar on the bottom and pictures of Chicago on the top. The calendar has helpful reminders like February 10th which shows “Monster Truck Jam, Allstate Arena, thru 2/12; Girls H.S. Bowling Tournament, Rockford, thru 2/11”. Be sure to note that on July 4th there’s an entry for “4th of July Parade, Arlington Heights.”  I grew up in Arlington Heights and it’s got a great 4th of July Parade, but so do lots of communities around here, most notably, right next door in Evanston.

A quick flip through it revealed a curious set of pictures; one that only occasionally shows the beauty of our city.

January: A snow-covered Grant Park
February: The Belmont ‘L’ Stop in a blizzard
March: A very thin view of the very green Chicago River photographed through several nondescript buildings

May: An unidentified White Sox player is fouling off a pitch (the ball is above and behind him as he swings); not hitting a home run or even getting a single.  A foul ball; strike two!  In the background are Sox fans huddled in parkas and ski hats, looking generally displeased.  (It has occurred to me that you could take a picture at a Sox game on the most beautiful day imagined and it could be appropriately captioned “Sox fans looking generally displeased.”)  Not only is the photo of something not-so-great happening, there are a grand total of zero happy people in the picture.

He fouls it off for strike two. And let's immortalize this moment, shall we?













July: Fireworks at the lakefront, although there’s nothing in the shot but smoke, explosions and a few boats in the foreground. A picture taken at a random Wisconsin lake would hardly look different.  Hey, Mr. Photographer!  Have you seen those giant buildings?  They make a wonderful backdrop!

November:  November is my favorite. It’s a photo of a Bears game in Soldier Field. The Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings are lined up a the Bears’ 2-yard line and are about to score.  The Bears in the shot are looking around at each other, pointing to one another like they’re not sure who is doing what on the upcoming play.  Now there have been years in which that really is how most Bears games are played, but jeez. At least it’s not snowing!

In a year in which the Bears lose in the NFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl Champs, THIS is the best picture of a football game you've got?!















December: Ice skating in a(nother) snowstorm!

I’ve lived here most of my life and it’s a fact that it might snow in each of the months in which snow is shown falling or having fallen.  I also understand that snow makes for interesting photographs, but looking at the calendar as a whole, you’d swear it snowed all the time and the calendar might be for a more picturesque version of Minot.

That makes seven (7!) of the twelve months with inexplicably bad pictures in them! I’m sure that the nice people who own the business that sent the calendar merely bought it as a completed project and put their advertisement on it as opposed to personally having selected the pictures, so I assign no blame to them.   They were just unwitting sponsors of this train wreck of a marketing piece.

Chicago Weather (continued)

May 29, 2011

During the winter months, it is common for people from non-snow environments to taunt their northern brethren with smart-ass comments like “It we may get thunderstorms but you don’t have to shovel rain.”

In the immortal words of John Kennedy:  “Let them come to my back yard” where two pumps are moving the accumulated 6″ of water at a combined rate of 3,000 gallons per hour.

Excessive Moisture Accumulation


I’m now told that President Kennedy didn’t invite the Germans to his back yard, but to Berlin.  Which seems odd, because Kennedy wasn’t from Berlin and it’s rude to invite people over to someone else’s house without their permission. You would have thought that he would have had better manners than that.

Whatever.  My back yard is still flooded.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This morning, I participated in my second “Bike the Drive“, an annual event in which they close Lake Shore Drive to autos from 5:30AM until 9:30AM and allow anyone willing to pay $45 to ride on the road.  Last year was a great ride.  A beautiful day matched my then-new enthusiasm for riding and I breezed through 45 miles and could have gone further.  This year, there was a dense fog warning and the temperature was 55 degrees.  Driving to Grant Park, visibility was less than a half-mile.  It was very disconcerting because I honestly had no sense of where I was.  The lack of visible landmarks left me feeling lost on a road I’ve driven thousands of times.

Once on my bike, the fog thickened with every half block I got closer to the lake, and a light mist was in the air.  On the southbound leg, the fog was so thick that it was difficult to see McCormick Place–one of the largest buildings in the world–until you were right on top of it.  The northbound leg was into a nice cool breeze.

So let me summarize:  Out the door at 5:15am, on my bike at 5:45.  Fifty-five degrees.  Fog. Mist.  Into the wind on the uphill part of the ride, in addition to my self-generated 15-18 mph wind from my mediocre pedaling.  The moisture in the air meant that riding was not only more difficult but more dangerous.  There were a couple of times when I hit my breaks and nothing happened.  I didn’t see any accidents (last year I passed about five accidents, all involving speed differential between casual riders and racers, and one in which a mid-50’s rider had a heart attack and died on the course).  Mercifully, I didn’t see any of that this time.

My initial goal was to do two complete loops of the course or 60 miles.  My lack of pre-BTD training due to Chicago’s fantastic spring weather, combined with a very long walk on the golf course yesterday in bog-like conditions and today’s wonderful weather left me grateful to exit the course after one loop.  Thirty miles.  I was gassed before I started.  Even a good playlist on my iPod couldn’t pull me through.

Besides, I had to hurry home to begin building my Ark.

P.S.  What’s a cubit?

Chicago Weather

May 26, 2011

Chicagoans are fond of saying that the bad weather serves a purpose; it keeps the riff-raff away.  It also has occurred to me that it doesn’t take any imagination or courage to live someplace where the weather is great (Yes, I’m looking at you Allisen, proprietor of The Foley House Inn in Savannah, GA  800-647-3708).


As I walked into the 20 mph wind  and 43 degree temperatures today (wind chill = 34 degrees!) following a night of downpours that left nine inches of water in the back of my yard, I wonder, WHAT KIND OF AN IDIOT VOLUNTEERS FOR THIS?  It’s MAY.  It’s the end of MAY.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?!

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