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Photo TR: Dan Does Chicago


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It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago-she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time. --Mark Twain


Well, it's been only about a month-and-a-half since my last trip report, but this time it was a hell of a lot different of circumstances -- some for the better, others not so much. My visit to Chicago was the result of a lot planning and patience on the part of our music director, so that we might compete in the Windy City. Granted, the Canadian nationals were being held in Toronto this year (and Ottawa last year) but we more or less agreed that we'd all been there before and Chicago would have been a better experience.


And boy, what an experience. Giant city! With a Ferris wheel in the middle! Live jazz! Authentic deep-dish pizza! Trains everywhere! Exceeded exclamation point bandwidth!


As usual, I'll post with a heavy helping of pop culture references, gratuitous that's-what-she-said jokes and unexpected delays between installments. Enjoy.


"...And it was the BEST trip to Burger King ever!"


Day 2 hopefully tomorrow... stay tuned for Navy Pier, live jazz, and a donkey!


"Uhhh... so, hey, shot in the dark, you wanna... do somethin' sometime?"


Just look at the sheer SIZE of his lance! (For the record, he managed to get it through a set of strategically-placed rings. I won't even touch that one.)


Time slows down whenever he rides by...


"My Little Pony, Apocalypse Pony, punish mankind for their siiiins..."


Oh Em Gee!


See, I intentionally take blurry photos to keep you guessing. Medieval Times dinner or Iwo Jima reenactment? The world may never know.




"Hasn't started yet, Dan."


"I know. Just practicing."


So the whole thing with this is that we happened to sit in the section with the most handsome knight of the six. I'd made a comment along the lines of "Dude, I don't care if I'm straight, there's one guy that would cause any man to switch teams..." and it just kept snowballing from there.


Final stop of the night, Medieval Times dinner... where it was all about RED-AND-YELLOW KNIGHT!


"Hi... I'm art."


I don't know, man... I just don't see it happening.




"They're getting away, Captain!"


"Not on my watch. FIRE THE TORPEDOES!"


The lights flashed... the gates came down... the train passed by... and I JIZZED IN MY PANTS


"Baroo... I am not a crook pretending to be someone who's not a crook!"


(Though I might bash my camera in the kneecaps with a tire iron if it doesn't stop taking crappy pictures in cloudy weather.)


"We're on a bridge, Charlie!"


I think city council decided to have a little fun with confusing tourists when they designed the Hancock Tower over there to look most similar to the Sears Tower...


Grainy Myspace stalker photo!



I'm 1000 feet above the ground, but I've got both feet (and hands) clinging on for dear life.


I may be a coaster enthusiast, but I'm still pretty afraid of heights. Not even porcelain deer can take that away.


El Train FTW


(Seriously, Chi-Town is a rail enthusiast's dream. You could barely look anywhere without finding an El, Metra, Amtrak or freight line.)


"Now what else could make our city more artist-friendly? Well, how 'bout that old black tower?"


"Chicago may seem uncomfortable and unwelcoming at first, but with a little effort... and some attractive porcelain deer..."


It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.


Hit it.

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Great photos!! I especially liked your comment for the Skyway photo - most people don't remember the Brothers driving through there (even though the footage of them driving on the bridge was shot in Milwaukee!). I hate Illinois Nazis.


As for Hancock vs Sears tower; the Hancock was actually built first, and then the Sears Tower. Both were designed by the same architecture company (I think even the same guy) which is why they look so similar.


Can't wait for the rest of the pictures



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I don't think I'd even have minded it that much if they were in different cities... putting too much of one architectural design in one place is just confusing.


P.S. We watched The Blues Brothers on the bus and that line came on RIGHT when we passed the Skyway sign.

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Seeing all that public transportation again is making me miss Chicago (though the weather quickley changes my mind). Its pretty sweet being able to hop on the red line and go to a Sox game.

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Day 2: We didn't have much time at the Museum of Science and Industry, but I certainly wish we had... especially with the GIANT freakin' model railroad! Also, some loosely-tied-in-to-TPR action at Navy Pier, live jazz, and "The Cleaner: An Act in Three Parts".


Also, for the "Bean" seen near the end of the update: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Gate


Act III: ...And Some Have Greatness Sucked Upon Them


It is finished. For the Janitor, it is an unprecedented victory of man's wit and wisdom versus gravity's pure unyielding might... but for the vacuum, it is simply another link in the long chain of legendary battles fought by his ancestors. Thankless jobs, all... but if one does things correctly, the public at large won't be sure that one has done anything to begin with.


Exit Janitor. Curtains. Fade to black.


Act II: The Great Pursuit


Leaping into action, our hero flies across the stage armed only with the knowledge of a trained cleaning professional and the tool with which he was bestowed since his earliest days of life. Climactic battle ensues between the dastardly blemish and the strong air current on which our very hopes remain pinned. Michael Bay "story-enhancers" optional.


Act I: Ask Not For Whom The Switch Flicks On...


Enter Janitor, carrying vacuum. He starts to clean the floor when he sees something odd from behind the partition. Further investigation reveals something more sinister than he'd feared: a missed spot on the stage!


And now, our finale for the evening and Day 2 of my legendary Illinois adventures. The Millennium Park Players proudly present, "The Cleaning: An Act in Three Parts"!


So this is the giant sculpture and centerpiece of Millennium Park: Cloud Gate, affectionally known as the Bean. The angle I took this at is a bit misleading, and I really wish we'd visited here in the day instead, but I digress. (See the link at the top of this update.)


They happened to be filming a pilot for a new ABC show called "State of Romance", according to the security guard who limited my shooting distance to back here.




...Most messed-up water feature ever.


Now let's check out the other pillar, and... oh dear God...


...But holy crap, it got a whole lot weirder. There's two of these creepy things facing each other, maybe 250 feet apart. Oh, wait, there's more...


So these... monolith waterfall things in Millennium Park were odd but cool enough like this...


Crazy-awesome solo speed record!


OMG Andy's Live Jazz Band! These guys were amazing... it was just that perfect city feel, having all the people applauding when the solos were done, improvising all the way... even my cheeseburger was awesome! Plus my table (single... finally got away from the younger band members for but a moment) was the closest one to the stage and I got to talk to the trumpeter (the instrument I play, for the record).


I'm so mad I didn't buy this shirt.




No, thanks... it's cold enough here sitting at the top of the Whe, let alone spinning.


Tour Guide: "That's actually Oprah's apartment building."


Friend: "'Cause it's black and curvy?"




...Ironically, I bashed my head getting into the bucket.


The Navy 3.14 Ferris Whe: Presented by [Coefficient of Friction]


Fun Fact #2: The first Ferris wheel was erected a few miles down the road and 116 years back.


And now, the part I've been waiting for the whole trip...!


I freakin' LOVE this town. It's like... as perfect an American metropolis can get. Everyone was actually very nice, and I saw a lot less homeless on the streets then in Detroit. Sure, it's a bit gritty, but it's a "we worked up from the ashes using only our God-given talents and faith in the American dream" kind of gritty.


"Hey, hon, get me some Effen vodka!"




The city of Chicago was compensating even in its earlier days..


Damn you, Hancock!


Art Institute of Chicago: Guest starring Aslan


On the way to our music performance... we ended up getting silver out of 2 bands. However, we both tied with official ratings of "excellent". Weird. Anyway, the acoustics were just like a full-fledged concert hall and it was undoubtedly the best we'd ever played.


The size of this actually surprised me... I'd always had it in my head that U-boats were a lot smaller. Like half its actual size, max.


*sigh*... Well, it's finally happened. I've come across a photo that contains absolutely no sexual innuendo. Nothing.


Wait, maybe... aah. Dammit. Drawing a blank.


Don't forget the classic!


I don't know why, but I've always liked these types of war posters...


The highlight of the museum (besides the hot train-on-rail action) is the only German U-boat on United States soil. Or water. Whatever.


Donkey quota: met.


Damn right!


Mold-A-Rama! Minus the Chicago thing, I have about 6 of these I can find in my room from Henry Ford Museum. (Also 2 Lincolns and a certain Mouse.)


El fail






"The alpha engine approaches the crossing with little hesitance, knowing it is the dominant of the yard."




BNSF goodness!



And now, "Ultimate Model Railroad in Blur-O-Vision 3000!"


My Train Simulator expertise has led me to this moment...


They even had one of few remaining replicas of the "original" locomotive, the Rocket.


Fun Fact: Galaxy Express 999 at Aqua Stadium in Tokyo was named after a TV show of the same name... which in turn was named after this engine. TPR connection in 2 degrees, bitches!


The Empire State Express No. 999 was the first wheeled object to exceed 100 miles an hour on May 10, 1893. Eat THAT, Superman: The Escape.


The hell with planes, it's all about record-breaking iron horses!



...Versus Orville Wright. Taking all bets.


German plane...


I call it, "Elton John: Trapped in the Phantom Zone".


Minus the lanyard, I look like I'm dressed for a funeral. A really, really disco-themed funeral. (Granted it was for our music performance later that day, but still...)


This is only here because I didn't get a chance to take one of the main entrance. (Only building still standing from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, which brought such inventions as Quaker Oats, Juicy Fruit gum, Aunt Jemima pancakes, Cracker Jack, and the Ferris wheel!)

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I guess I will eb the first to say it. Those last few pictures sucked.....


There's only two options for those kind of pictures... a) delete them immediately, or b) make a good enough story out of 'em so the picture quality doesn't matter.


Dan "And they shall suck forever more!" Smith

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You didn't catch my humor did you? Vaccum sucks, so the pictures sucked.


Oh, rest assured, I got the humour. I was more or less regretting forgetting my tabletop tripod at home this trip when I was writing the paragraph though.

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More awesome pictures, Dan!


At the MSI did they have the locomotive on display from the Chicago Tunnel Company? Supposedly they have one, although I think it might still be in storage. I also hear that they have a locomotive from the old North-Shore line, something else I'd love to see. Man, it's been probably 10 years since I've been to the MSI!


The old water tower is interesting:

Aside from being one of the only downtown buildings to survive the fire, it was actually the inspiration for the White Castle logo and buildings (seriously!).



Also the CNA Plaza building (the red one in this photo) has just been repainted, and it really looks great..




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Awesome stuff.


Is that Monolith thing in Millennium Park new??? I don't remember seeing it when we were there in September. The Bean was awesome though. We saw an "Opera" on the stage, it was really nice.


The Museum of Science and Industry looks really cool. We did the Field Museum when we were there, gonna have to do that one next time.


There is SO much to do in Chicago, we didn't even see a 10th of what I wanted to.

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This was a great Photo TR. For some reason, I've always been intrigued by the city of Chicago, and have yet to ever go there. I have a friend who grew up in this area and has told me many stories about it. This city is on my list of places to visit.



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Make some Illi-noise


I'm still chuckling over that.


Like most philosophical quotes, I saw it on a t-shirt once...


We did the Field Museum when we were there, gonna have to do that one next time.


Just wait until the next update...


At the MSI did they have the locomotive on display from the Chicago Tunnel Company? Supposedly they have one, although I think it might still be in storage.


Aside from being one of the only downtown buildings to survive the fire, it was actually the inspiration for the White Castle logo and buildings (seriously!).


1. I don't recall seeing any engines aside from No. 999, the Rocket, and an old trolley-looking cart which may very well be the CTC loco.


2. When we were passing by on our bus tour (again, next update!) the guide commented on that when we passed a White Castle location near the Loop intersection just south of downtown!

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At the MSI did they have the locomotive on display from the Chicago Tunnel Company? Supposedly they have one, although I think it might still be in storage. I also hear that they have a locomotive from the old North-Shore line, something else I'd love to see.




I haven't seen that locomotive in years. Although I think it may actually be over by the coal mine, and not the train section.


If you want to see North Shore line stuff, we need to take a field trip out to the Illinois Railway Museum.

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