Events and Event Locations

Pam’s birthday was on Saturday and she wanted Tony to make her his (famous) standing rib roast. That meant that we had to be back at the house at a reasonable time for Tony to do the cooking (yeah, yeah, I didn’t help much). So instead of going into the city on Saturday, which I’d kind of planned, we did some more local-ish stuff instead.

First we went to the Long Grove Apple Festival. I’m honestly starting to think that Long Grove will use any excuse to party. Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m just sayin’. They’ve got a chocolate festival, an apple festival, a strawberry festival…Greek days…Irish days…the list goes on. My kind of people.

It was pretty packed and it was HOT. What the heck happened with the weather? It had to at least be in the low 90’s (it at least felt like it). Isn’t this October? Isn’t this the far north? (well, it is as far as I’m concerned)

There were a bunch of food booths and a few other types and all the normal cute little shops and things in Long Grove were also open. We decided to go Polish for lunch, since that’s a very Chicago thing. We had polish sausage, pierogies, and potato pancakes. There was even a young boy band playing Beatles tunes. They were pretty good, even if they did make me feel ancient. I mean, look at ’em. Can they even drive yet?

All-in-all, it was a pretty good stuff. Pam and Mike got a taste of local color and some off-season weather patterns. Oh, and I even got my giggle for the day: one of the stores had a (somewhat) obscure reference to an Arlo Guthrie song (Alice’s Restaurant Massacre) that just cracked me up. Awesome song.


So, on our “dating” anniversary (Aug. 28) we went to the B.B. King and Joan Osborne concert at Ravinia. It was our first time at Ravinia, though it was supposed to be our second. We’d had tickets to the Gipsy Kings, but it rained. We had lawn tickets both times, so rain made it a no-go. But this past Tuesday was great. Perfect weather. I packed a picnic lunch and picked Tony up from work and we hung out there all night on the lawn under the stars and the soaring dragonflies.

It was my third time seeing B. B. King. I’ve seen him just about very decade or so — once when I was 16 (my mom helped me get his autograph, as well as the rest of his band — who were surprised we asked, I guess since usually people only asked B.B.), again 11 years ago (me and Tony in St. Pete at another outdoor venue in downtown — it POURED rain, but it was worth it…it’s B.B. King. Also there were Dr. John and Edgar Winters). He’s a funny guy, B. B. He likes to chat between songs.

Joan Osborne was good too. Better than we’d thought it would be, actually. I like the two songs of hers that I know (that God one and the Sister Teresa or whatever it is) but hadn’t ever paid her too much attention. We might have to check out one of her CDs now. She’s got some blues-y influences, which I guess explains the pairing.

Ravinia itself is also really cool. We definitely have to do that again next year.

Tony got tickets to one of the Bears’ pre-season games and we went last Saturday. It was vs. the 49’ers so I was a little conflicted, but not too much. The team just isn’t the same since Montana left. It was our first time at Soldier Field (wow, a stadium not named after some corporation! whoo-hoo!) and our first Bears game. A few observations:

  • Soldier Field is a cool stadium, with these impressive Roman or Greek style (I can never remember which is which with the whole concave vs. convex thing) columns. It’s not your typical stadium, even though they did recently completely a huge renovation that added a ton of new seats (including lots of box seats).
  • We didn’t have the best seats in the house, but it was still a good viewing point. I doubt if there are any bad seats.
  • These people are fans. I’ve been to a Buc’s pre-season game before and they are apathetic compared to these fans. Screaming, hooting, hollering, whoop-whoop-whooping. And for a pre-season game. It’s pretty amazing. I can’t even imagine what last year’s Super Bowl (bad topic, I know) was like before things went south.
  • They have better concession food than the Cubs. Not as good as the stuff at Legends Field for the Yankees Spring Training, but pretty good. Especially the chili-cheese fries. Which reminds me…

I went to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field back a month or two ago with Jill (thanks, Jill!) and her mom and her sister. It was a lot of fun (even with the so-so concessions…my personal take on baseball games is that it’s an excuse to eat junk and sit and talk). Wrigley Field is neat, with all the ivy and everything, though not as impressive as I thought it would be. I’d always thought those ivy-covered walls were much taller for some reason.

Of course, the big battle here is: Cubs vs. White Sox. You’re supposed to follow just one or the other, not both. Ilias is a White Sox fan, but most of the people around where we live seem to be Cubs people. I’m leaving it up to Tony. I’m not a very good “fanatic” anyway…I just like to go for the ambiance and the food.

A lady who lives in the neighborhood had posted an email to the list giving away free tickets to the Mikhail Baryshnikov performance at the Harris Theater in Chicago (turns out her husband works for The Fairmont, which is one of the sponsors). The official line:

Hell’s Kitchen Dance is an ensemble of young performers, mostly from The Juilliard School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, who received fellowships from the New York-based Baryshnikov Arts Center. Praised by the New York Times for “virtuoso dancing” during its first tour in 2006, the ensemble’s second tour will feature works by choreographers Aszure Barton, Benjamin Millepied, and Donna Uchizono. The works will be danced by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Hell’s Kitchen Dancers Aszure Barton, Jonathan Alsberry, William Briscoe, Hristoula Harakas, Lesley Kennedy, Na-Ye Kim, Doug Letheren, Jodi Melnick, Shamel Pitts, Emily Proctor, Ian Robinson, Kyle Robinson, Cynthia Salgado, and Ashley Wallace. The Baryshnikov Arts Center, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s artistic venture that opened its doors in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City in November 2005, is an international center for artistic experimentation and collaboration, which serves as a creative laboratory for emerging and mid-career artists from around the world and across all disciplines. The Hell’s Kitchen Dance tour offers an opportunity for national and international audiences to experience fresh talent and the works created by artists selected by Baryshnikov and produced in the stimulating environment of BAC.

I, of course, jumped at the chance to see Baryshnikov again. We’d seen him once (oh, probably about 10 years ago) when he was doing the White Oak Dance Project. Seeing him dance was one of my “life goals” (which included things like “meet Heinlein,” which I didn’t get to do…though I did get to have dinner with Harry Harrison and that was pretty much almost as good – I love him too…though I digress). He’s just an amazing dancer.

He’s 60 now and not doing the same gravity-defying leaps he used to do, but it is still amazing to see him dance. He’s very fluid and magnetic. Your eye is drawn to him on the stage.

This Hell’s Kitchen production was divided into three acts: 1) Baryshnikov dancing with larger-than-life videos of himself at a younger age (oh, how I wish I could have seen him when he was in his 20’s!), 2) Baryshnikov and two female dancers doing a fairly avante-garde modern dance piece to a vaguely oriental and slightly organic piece of music, and 3) Baryshnikov and a whole slew of dancers (all of whom were in bare feet except for the man) doing a modern ballet performance that was very poignant and a little sad, like a lost romance remembered.

The seats we had (I went with Jill and Mikayla and Erin and her two sons–all neighbors…Stan from the barn was there too) were just incredible. Third row. Fairly close to the center. And no tall people sitting directly in front of me. You could see whenever Baryshnikov would get a slight smile on his face, like he was reminiscing about something from years ago.

I don’t think the kids quite knew what to make of it. It was ballet like they’d never seen before — no tutus, no dying swan, no nutcrackers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though I have to admit that I miss the floating leaps — they were like magic captured…the kind of thing that could make you believe that fairies exist.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company
1650 N. Halsted Street Chicago IL 60614
(312) 335-1650

Tony’s friend Ilias called last week and asked if we wanted tickets to a performance at the Steppenwolf Theatre. He had a friend that couldn’t go for some reason and he couldn’t use them either (he does a lot of math-related tutoring — you ever need a math tutor, you want Ilias). So we said “Sure, why not?” even though we didn’t actually know which performance it would be for (there were 3 going on Saturday night: Betrayal by Harold Pinter, The Sparrow, and The Diary of Anne Frank).

Turns out it was for the Pinter production — Betrayal — a play about infidelity, honesty, passion, and, I suppose, trust. Considering the topic and the playwright, it had a surprising amount of levity in it. Altogether an excellent performance.

The theatre itself is also nice. We were in the upstairs theatre. It isn’t huge, but it is a nice size. I doubt if there is a bad seat in it. I imagine the other theatres were the same way based on comments I overheard.

STEPPENWOLF THEATRE COMPANY IS A Chicago-based international performing arts institution committed to ensemble collaboration and artistic risk through its work with its permanent ensemble, guest artists, partner institutions and the community. Steppenwolf has redefined the landscape of acting and performance by spawning a generation of America’s most gifted artists. Founded in 1976 as an ensemble of nine actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an internationally renowned company of forty-one artists whose talents include acting, directing, playwriting, filmmaking, and textual adaptation. No other American theater ensemble has survived as long and thrived as much as the Steppenwolf company of artists.

Steppenwolf has quite a few famous alumni, including John Malkovich, Joan Allen, and Gary Sinise.