Friday, August 26, 2005

From Heroes to Champions?

So I was driving down Jefferson the other day, and I noticed that the sign at America's Kitchen (formerly known as, among other things, Sherwood Castle, and T'N'T's, one of my all time favorites) had changed to "City of Champions Bar & Grill." While it's nice that we're incorporating J-town's slogan into an eating establishment, who else finds it a little odd that the weekend Heroes closes, a restaurant that will probably be nicknamed "Champions" puts up its sign? Conspiracy!!!!

Both Wendy and I have seen some odd things on the road lately. Wendy recently spotted a car with a handmade "Student Driver" sign made out of construction paper in its back window. I don't think I would have wanted to take Driver's Ed from someone who makes their own signs, unless the sign was the result of some parents wanting to humiliate their newly driving child. My personal favorite spotting was a car that was festooned with a Jesus fish, but on the bumper sat a sticker reading "Have a great day you worthless turd." Something's wrong here. In traffic news, what is up with the new traffic circle by St. Francis? It's lovely and all, but I wonder whether we should introduce new forms of traffic flow into Joliet, particularly by a college. It took me a try or two (and a all-too-close encounter with a USF shuttle bus) to get the hang of it.

H-N news. . .the column will most likely be starting in October, as you may have seen in Jan Larsen's column last weekend. More details as they come. Friday's paper had an awesome headline: "Nurses Second to Nuns," for an article about St. Francis's College of Nursing moving to the Motherhouse. As for the Blotter:

Pellet gun stolen
JOLIET — An off-duty police officer frightened away a shirtless
on the roof of his neighbor's garage Wednesday, but not
before the prowler absconded with a pellet gun.
The officer spotted the
burglar, described as a black teen of medium build who was wearing black shorts,
on the roof of his neighbor's garage on Towhee Court shortly before 8:30 a.m.
The officer made eye contact with the teen on the garage, and the youth ran
across the rooftop, leaped down and disappeared.
Besides stealing the pellet
gun, the teen damaged a pair of window screens and two exercise
, police said.

Three questions: Is shirtless important? Does the word "housebreaker" not sound like someone who teaches dogs not to urinate on the rug (or leave "found feces" in the toilet)? And who DAMAGES exercise balls (and how)?

Sapphire had yet another "No, really, I'm a cop" incident last weekend:

Joliet man charged in nightclub scuffle
JOLIET — A Joliet man told employees of a local bar he was a Joliet police
officer, yelled obscenities at the staff and urinated in public, police said.
Patrick McCauley of 100 S. Hammes Ave. in Joliet was arrested by
Joliet police on charges of on charges of impersonating a police officer,
disorderly conduct and aggravated battery to a police officer at Sapphire, a
nightclub at 22 W. Cass St. in Joliet. Police say McCauley broke a beer bottle
on the sidewalk and punches a police officer while being arrested. The officer
was treated and released by a local hospital.

Much like last week's incident, with a splash of urine.

Not interesting enough to post a whole entry, but there was something in the blotter about Peter Francis Geraci's law offices being broken into on Ottawa Street. I wasn't aware that everyone's favorite deadpan lawyer had offices in Joliet. A story about the "PFG," as I like to call him: The PFG's wife was on the committee for an event I worked on at the Art Institute a few years ago. I used to have to call their house to let her know about meetings, and PFG's voice on the answering machine sounded exactly like he sounds in the commercials. Unfortunately, I never got to meet the PFG because I remember his wife not being able to find him at the event.

Robbery charges
JOLIET — Cops say they nabbed a pair of stickup men shortly after a Monday evening robbery on Arizona
Joseph Blakemore, 19, of 625 Norton Ave., and Jared McGee, 20, of
841 N. Broadway, were arrested in connection with the 7 p.m. caper and booked
into the county jail on a charge each of armed robbery.
The pair robbed a
man at gunpoint behind his Arizona Avenue home, police said, relieving him of
$50 cash. One of them reportedly ran off laughing.

Important info, that laughter. It's not as though these people are fugitives, they were caught for their crime. We don't need to go searching for runaway gigglers as far as I know.

Recent adventures. . . weekend before last (note: I started writing this post on Friday, but didn't get around to finishing it until today) was a lot of fun. Friday evening Wendy and I went to Cemeno's to celebrate Shannon's last night of employment there. Good times and pretzels were had by all, and I met someone who broke their hand by getting it caught between two empty kegs (Shannon, did I get this right? I was too incredulous to focus). We went to Jameson's briefly before Heroes, and Zack Morris was there as usual, though his preferred spot was taken. Jameson's note: my mom says they have crabcake sandwiches. Apparently I need to get some food next time I'm there, though I must say that I love their nachos and spinach artichoke dip.

Saturday evening a bunch of us went to Chicago to celebrate Shannon's birthday. We began the evening with dinner at Rosebud, where our table gave us a view of the Peninsula Hotel, where, according to Us Weekly, Jennifer Aniston is staying (we didn't see her, but we did see a lot of male pattern baldness). After Rosebud we met more people at Celtic Crossings. Melissa's gift to Shannon included a Monchhichi keychain. I had no idea the 80's flashback had gotten this far. The singer at Celtic Crossings was a dude that kind of looked like Julian Lennon and sang a variety of songs that included an almost unrecognizable (in a good way) "How Bizarre" and, my personal favorite, "Don't Stop Believin'." That was especially awesome because the dude, who I assume was Irish or British, kept saying "up and down the boo-lee-vard." We walked to the front of the bar to see this song, which led to me seeing something horrible: a baseball cap bedecked woman who chose to dance to Journey by first climbing up and down the wall, and then giving another woman a lap dance that ended with her doing a flip so that her crotch was in the other woman's face, then falling off her lap. Unfortunately I was the only one of our group to witness this spectacle as Shannon had run back to get my sister.

After Celtic Crossings we went to Howl at the Moon, a piano bar on Hubbard. Awesome note: when you go on the website (at least when I did), you're treated to a piano version of "Wanted Dead or Alive." I really liked this place, although there were a few too many obnoxious bachelorette parties for my liking. We also had some encounters with odd dudes. A German man talking to Shannon announced, "I have $500," I had a brief dance-off with a middle-aged man, and another lad asked Julie if he could "borrow her for the evening." Sketchy. The piano players were good, though I would have preferred if the female player had chosen not to sing. Among the highlights: versions of "Pour Some Sugar on Me," (aka "Awesome Jeep on Road," which was what a friend of a friend from high school thought the song was called), Kanye West/Twista/Jamie Foxx's "Slow Jams," and OAR's "That Was a Crazy Game of Poker." Quite a varied selection. Also amusing: they sell buckets of various mixed drinks there, served with straws. We tried the blue margarita, and it was pretty good.

What else. . .last Wednesday, Shannon, Joe, Abby (Shannon and Joe's pooch) and I headed to the Jackhammers game for "Bark at the Park" night, which was a lot of fun. Ironically, they were playing the Edmonton Cracker-Cats on the night where dogs were welcome at the park. What is a cracker-cat anyway? We encountered many an amusing canine, including a dog named "Luna" (773-202, doo doo doo doo Looooonuhhhhhhh) who had been dyed pink with Kool-Aid. We also met a really cute golden Lab puppy, Toby, who is being trained to lead the blind and was discussed in Jan Larsen's column yesterday. As usual, I had no idea what was going on in the actual baseball game, but the dogs were fun. I was half expecting them to bark back during the umpteenth playing of "Who Let the Dogs Out." I was also slightly disturbed/amused (dismused?) by the announcer referring to the woman who runs all the between inning activities as "Mischa Barton." Aside: "Buffalo Stance" is on the radio. Who's that gigolo on the street?

After the game (but before the game was over, of course, I'm convinced that under-sixteens who need rides are among the only people that stay for the whole game) Shannon and I went up to Quigley's in Naperville for karaoke night. I really should share with you the tale of our first karaoke night, but I'm kind of saving it for the paper if they want it. Anyway, we're all about karaoke night in Naperville b/c the singers take it way less seriously than at Grapevine (there are no stage names) and I don't feel pressure to have talent. Among the amusing performances on Wednesday were a man that sang "Losing My Religion" at a speed of a tortoise, a woman who we feared was going to sing Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" (luckily it was just the between songs music; Shannon was yelling, "Don't ruin it!"), a guy who did a fabulous Neil Diamond, and a girl who actually had some talent who said to me, "You can sing," somewhat begrudgingly. Actually, I can't really sing, but I do it anyway. I did two songs on Wednesday; the first was, of course, "Don't Stop Believin'" (Note: I refuse to see the movie Monster due to the fact that they use this song for some sort of roller skating love scene, let's not mix Journey with serial killers), and the second was Heart's "Magic Man." I quickly realized I didn't know "Magic Man" as well as I thought I did (I get it confused with "Barracuda") but I think I covered OK. There's also a 48 measure break in the song, which was pretty awkward. I probably should have gone to get some water or used the rest room or something. At one point in the evening Shannon (who has yet to sing, she got saved by the bell last week and didn't submit a request in time. Speaking of Saved by the Bell, Mr. Belding knows how to party.

Thursday, Wendy, Melanie and I decided to first make a stop at Heroes for some nostalgia. Heroes was not the first bar I went to when I was 21; oddly, it was Bedrocks (due to the bar at Empress being closed), but it was the 3rd bar I went to on my 21st birthday, and was one of my first regular haunts when I started going to bars regularly, so I have many fond memories. However, it was pretty boring on Thursday, and a little too bright, so we went to Jameson's fairly quickly after for a pretty entertaining night. Zack Morris was present, but not in his usual spot. . .hmm. I got to dance, which was good. I ran into our local Canadian, who, despite being from Alberta, did not know what a Cracker-Cat was. I just did some research, and according to the Cracker-Cats official website, "the name was derived from reversing the wording of an oil-related term. Fluid catalytic cracking or 'cat cracking' involves the conversion of high-boiling hydrocarbons into smaller molecules. This process revolutionized the refining of crude oil to produce gasoline." Hello. That's some high concept baseball team naming right there. Couldn't they have just called them the Edmonton "Eh's" or something?

Friday night, after watching part of Cruel Intentions on the ABC Family Channel (something's wrong with this picture), I went with Shanny and Melissa to see "Red Eye." First off, that Cillian Murphy guy is SCARY. Do people think he's hot or something? I think he looks like he has cataracts and that was enough to keep me somewhat frightened during the movie. Other than that it wasn't too scary except for a few parts, but it had enough unintentional humor to keep me entertained. Two, two and a half stars.

Saturday afternoon was Megan's graduation party. We decided to go out afterward, and though temptation loomed in the form of an invite to a "Bud Light party" in Wilmington, we decided to stay a bit more local and take a trip to Sapphire. Sapphire's new lack of dress code makes going there on the spur of the moment much easier. Rather than getting dressed to the nines, we went to Sapphire straight from getting hot dogs at Joe's and were eating fries until we got up to the door. However, the lack of dress code had both benefits and drawbacks; I saw a dude in a swolley hanging out at the bar. Other than no cover/dress code, things didn't seem too different at first; it wasn't too crowded and the music was the same as usual. Suddenly, things changed, and two "dancers" appeared on the platforms near the dance floor. The lack of dress code seemed to apply to the "dancers" as well; they were wearing boy-cut underwear on the bottom, and blue paint on top. Yes, just blue paint. It was like Smurfette gone whore. Suddenly the place got a lot more crowded and it became much more of a sausage fest. You may wonder why I'm using "dancers" in quotes. I can't speak for the dancing skills of "Blondie," who was "dancing" on the platform that was further from us, but "Brunette," who "danced" near us, basically moved her arms, as either Aaron or Mike said, like an airtraffic controller. Girlfriend was lacking in rhythm, and at one point I think she was doing the robot. I really wonder where one draws the line between "dancer" and stripper, and I guess the line consists of a strip of blue paint across the chest. I hope Papa Smurf was there at the end of the night to get the dancers away from any potential Gargamels. Anyway, Sapphire, I like the relaxed dress code/lack of cover, but please, no more Smurfettes.

A final note: last night, Melanie and I went over to Heroes briefly to check out the scene on their final night. However, my nostalgia disappeared when I saw a sign on the door stating that they'll be reopening in eight months or so between the Saturn Dealership and the First Midwest at Jefferson and Infantry. Woo hoo! I'm thrilled that they've found a new location that's so close to their old one. After that news I wasn't feeling that sentimental, so we didn't stay too long. I haven't watched all of the VMA's yet, but I have to say R. Kelly's lip-synced rendition of various chapters of "Trapped in a Closet" (including a new one in which the bisexual husband Rufus chooses wife Kathy over lover Chuck) was among one of the weirdest things I've ever seen on TV. Also: Jessica Simpson's makeup gun was quite obviously set to "whore." That's all I got for now.

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