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Thursday, 26 July 2012 21:08

Experience Reality at Ridgefest

Written by

bretCall it a sign of the times, but so-called “reality” TV continues to assert its influence on nearly every aspect of pop culture nearly 12 years after the initial Big Bang of Big Brother and Survivor, cross-pollinating with all forms of entertainment and social media available. The influence on the music scene alone, for better or worse, has been profound with not only American Idol and The Voice, but also “Celebreality” shows like The Osbournes and Rock of Love providing enormous mainstream exposure for its stars.

For fans of the genre looking to get their musical fix or just looking for some additional summer fun, this year’s annual Chicago Ridge Fest (rebranded Ridgefest Reloaded) should provide just the ticket. Starting today and running through the weekend at Freedom Park in Chicago Ridge, IL (and culminating in a fireworks show Sunday night), Ridgefest Reloaded not only features carnival rides, all-ages entertainment, food and a beer garden, but also a good mix of live music spread out over its four days. Along with renowned local cover acts 7th Heaven, Satisfaction, and Kashmir, there are the featured reality show attractions James Durbin (an American Idol finalist from season 10) and Bret Michaels (Poison’s legendary frontman who is now enjoying a career renaissance thanks to reality TV hits Rock of Love and The Celebrity Apprentice).

For more information on the schedule of events and tickets, please visit the following website:

http://www.chicagoridge.org/Community/Ridgefest.html

tillman-event-1The Charles Tillman’s Celebrity Pro Bowler Tournament fundraiser kicked off Thursday, June 7th at the newly opened Kings Lanes Lounge & Sports (Rosemont, IL) in efforts to raise donations for the Charles’s Tillman Cornerstone Foundation. With what turned out to be a remarkably successful evening, the event boasted an evening of bowling with teams of bowlers who gladly donated to the event to have one celebrity NFL guest bowler on their team.


Some of the evening’s guests included Charles Tillman, Matt Toeaina, Nick Roach, Craig Steltz, Chris Conte, Alex Brown, to mention a few. However, aside from the bowling the event hosted a silent auction featuring plethora of autographed team jerseys, footballs, and also a beautiful acrylic painting that was painted that night; and all of this, to raise funds for charity. In all aspects, this was wonderful event hosted at great new venue and the atmosphere was thick with food, drinks, music, and most importantly giving the entire evening! It was easy to identify why an event like this would be so successful, as you can always rely on a loyal sport fans to support its home team; the Chicago Bears! Bowlers and other guests who donated to be a part of this event really showed their support for both the Cornerstone foundations and also the athletes they believe in so much.


tillman-event-2For those unfamiliar with the Charles Tillman’s Cornerstone Foundation, their mission statement is “to provide opportunities and resources to children and their families who are in need.” Buzznews had the fortune of attending the red carpet and was able to meet the foundation’s founder himself, Charles Tillman and was asked, “For those who don’t know about the foundation or the work you are doing, why don’t you tell us a little about it?”
Tillman: “Since 2008 we’ve been helping a lot of people, mainly chronically and critically ill children just throughout the greater Chicago area mainly helping a lot of the children’s hospitals. We do luncheons, we do Christmas parties, we do this event (Celebrity Pro bowlers Tournament), and we do other football events for our fundraiser. Just you know, just trying to give back.”


Though they are not a specific type of foundation such as a cancer or leukemia foundation (however still in their mission), the Cornerstone’s mission statement is clear, they just want to help and that’s what is important. From what I saw, the Cornerstone foundation is clearly doing good work and I hope they continue to strive here in Chicago and anywhere else they may choose to go. It’s always great to see any sports celebrity give back to the community and its even better when a community can come together and give to a cause such as this.

adobegilas

 

MB Financial Park at Rosemont is a 200,000 square foot entertainment complex in Rosemont centered around the very popular Muvico Theaters nearby O'Hare Airport.

Although a little difficult to navigate currently, construction will soon wrap up on this dining and entertainment megaplex and it promises to provide something for everyone. Although the list contains everything from billiards and bowling (King's Lanes & Lounge) to full-fledged comedy club (Zanie's), the most attractive offering to many will certainly be Adobe Gila's.

Billing itself as the "Margarita Fajita Cantina", it's impossible not to agree upon walking in to the smell of sizzling spices in their char-grilled fajitas (I recommend the blackened shrimp or mahi for a nice change from the too common chicken or steak) and the huge wooden bar that makes up the majority of the restaurant's 5,000 square feet. 

Along with a few hundred other locals, reviewers, bloggers, and executives I was given the opportunity to attend Adobe Gila's informal opening, a charity event benefitting the Helping Hands Foundation and the American Diabetes Association. 

Sampling the margaritas that the restaurant offers (on draft!) was a real treat, and I know that I'll be back for a few more when I get the opportunity. I was also impressed by the extremely rich selection of tequilas that were offered behind the bar. Whereas I am only intimately familiar with a few brands, Adobe Gila's offers at least 30+ different kinds of tequila that I could see - another enticing reason to return at a later date. 

It must be said that this is more of a bar that also serves food rather than a restaurant that also serves drinks, but the menu items available are definitely a step up from most bar & grills and worked well to compliment the bite and sweetness of the margaritas. In particular, the Baja Coconut Shrimp were a real crowd pleaser and I heard comments all night about the mango sauce that they were served with. I wasn't overly impressed by the chicken wings, and the sauces didn't seem like they were trying too hard, but the grilled quesadillas really hit a good note with me and I also enjoyed the chips & salsa (your choice of up to 5 different dips!). 

It looks like live entertainment will be a staple offering here, and the setup is just perfect for it. The stage is firmly placed to one side of the room so that everyone can hear the band, and the raised platform allows the entire restaurant to have a good view of the action on stage. I can definitely see sitting at the bar for a show here, a margarita in hand, being a regular Friday or Saturday ritual. Keep in mind that there will be several other restaurants and bars opening up in this complex before its grand opening this Summer, but my money is on the Gila to stand the test of time.

 

Superbly directed by Sean Fahey, “Bailout” is a powerful film that takes a look at the housing disaster that has taken place across America in recent years, the events leading up to the crash and the corruption that exists behind the scenes. “Bailout” takes its audience across the country, along with five colorful friends in a Winnebago, for a firsthand look on how this recent financial crisis has affected homeowners, particularly the lower and middle class.

 

Make no mistake about it as Fahey uses the word “fraud” many times throughout the film when referring to the actions of the big money-center banks, clearly painting the picture that criminal intent – not miscalculation or mistake - was indeed the source of the housing collapse. Fahey brilliantly connects the dots using facts, expert analysis and heartbreaking testimonials from victims throughout the country as the concrete evidence needed to support the film’s claim of wrong doing. The film also touches on the fact that no one was convicted for the largest financial fraud ($11 billion) in our country’s history. Why? Because banks have successfully infiltrated the government and routinely pass the laws that protect themselves from offense. The atrocities don’t stop there as the film delves into the misguided bailouts that the banks – the perpetrators – have issued, keeping the machine alive and well. The film also provides a detailed look at the process in which banks handed out home loans knowing, and benefiting, on the fact that these loans could never be repaid. Breaking it down to a science, it is explained how and why this process made these banks profited hand over fist while Americans suffered one of the biggest recessions to date.    

 

Like many Americans, lead character John Titus has had enough. Dealing with the threat of foreclosure, Titus, an unemployed Chicago lawyer, decides to give himself a bailout. Rather than paying his inflating mortgage, he saves that money, buys a Winnebago and decides to head out West with four of his buddies (also on the brink of foreclosure) to spend, spend, spend and party. Doing what Wall Street does with taxpayers’ money and futures, Titus plans to gamble his ‘bailout”, making their destination Las Vegas. Heading out from Chicago, Titus and gang (including stand up comedian John Fox) take to the highways, making stops in St. Louis, Roswell and many other cities. During their road trip the self-appointed “Dukes of Moral Hazard” speak with people from all walks of life, many of whom have suffered home foreclosures. The five traveling friends are entertaining to watch throughout and each can be identified with in their own different way. Fox also does a great job narrating the film. 

 

“Bailout” should make viewers angry. If it doesn’t, there’s a pretty good chance those unaffected are probably a part of the collective problem, as complacency and ignorance is what the big money-center banks depend on in order to feed their pockets. Following the successful premiere of “Bailout” at the Music Box Theater in Chicago, director, Sean Fahey, and lead, John Titus, spent a good deal of time fielding questions from the audience. Both Fahey and Titus explained the importance of shutting out biased media, educating ourselves and standing together. The two also stressed, as in the film, that this is not a Right/Left issue, this is people versus banks issue – all are affected. 

 

An important and daring social documentary, “Bailout” conveys a strong message that should be heard by everyone.

 

For more information, visit www.usabailout.com

 

Compilation Features 4 discs, 99 Tracks and More Than 110 Artists Including: Patti Smith, Amanda Palmer, Michael Moore, Yoko Ono, Mogwai, Willie Nelson, James McMurtry, Third Eye Blind, Thee Oh Sees, Arlo Guthrie & Family , Matt Pless, Anit-Flag and Others!
 

 
Legendary and emerging artists inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement have come together to lend their voices on Occupy This Album:a compilation of music by, for and inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement and the 99%. Released by the non-profit record label Music For Occupy, Occupy This Album is available digitally (featuring 99-tracks + 1 hidden track) at iTunes and Amazon as well as physically (featuring 78-tracks) on a four-disc compilation distributed worldwide by Razor & Tie Records. Many of the tracks by both renowned and up-and-coming artists have never before been released. Additionally there are well-known songs that have been re-recorded and re-mastered and live-cuts for Occupy This Album. Full track listing available at MusicForOccupy.org.
 
What People Are Saying About Occupy This Album
Joel Rafael will pull every tear from your eyes on the touching “China Basin Digs,” easily the compilation’s best song. It begins with an early morning roust of the homeless under a bridge. His voice sparkles, the guitar has a heartbeat and the lyrics lay bare circumstances that hurt to see. In the mid-1990s, Rafael was emerging as a folk-festival regular. Now he’s arrived and there simply is no better orator for these troubled and testing times.– The Associated Press
 
As is usually the case these days, the best protest political songs come from rappers. In "Rich Man's World," Immortal Technique takes on the persona of a heartless billionaire with bone-chilling convincingness. And in the fantastic "New York Minute," the rapper Nickodemus coins perhaps the best two lines of Occupy This Album: “While the City sleeps, I'm reading Wikileaks/Creating picket signs. Go ahead, pick a street!”-Mother Jones
 
Like the movement it's supporting, Occupy This Albumis massive (99 songs over four discs), eclectic (original hippies Joan Baez and David Crosby sit cross-legged next to noise-mongering weirdos Mogwai and UNKLE), and occasionally hamstrung by the need to get the message across (Richard Barone's sweet sing-along is torpedoed by its awkward title, ''Hey, Can I Sleep on Your Futon?''). Even when the songs scowl too much, the spirit of the compilation feels more positive than negative — the best that can be asked of any grassroots revolution.–Entertainment Weekly(B+)

With 78 tracks on the physical version and 99 on the digital version, Occupy This Album could very well be the largest compilation since the glory days of the Slap-A-Ham Records Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh compilations. Except instead of cramming countless power-violence greaseballs onto 7-inch records with hand-assembled packaging, the folks at Music For Occupy have a four-disc boxset and 99-track digital release of folk, hip-hop, indie rock and pretty much every other kind of alt-music under the sun to contend with, all with songs related to the Occupy movement and/or how capitalism is the devil.Alternative Press
 
“Occupy Wall Street now has an A-list soundtrack: the compilation Occupy This Album.” – Rolling Stone
 
“Those cynics who told the incessant drummers of Occupy Wall Street in New York not to quit their day jobs might be reconsidering -- they just got a record deal (of sorts).”– LA Times
 
“This Occupy Wall Street tribute album has way too many amazing musicians on it.”L Magazine

The most profound moment of the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise is at the end. After ninety minutes of gliding along the Chicago River, the Chicago’s First Lady vessel steers out toward Lake Michigan close to Navy Pier and turns around. The docent falls silent. The cameras start flashing. “Would you mind taking a picture of us,” the couple in front of me asks. I do, and it is stunning. The view of the Chicago skyline from sea, skyscrapers and structure reaching up from the waters to grab the dimmed heavens, is magnificent. So much history – almost two centuries of design, construction, and destruction – stand before us symbolized by modern architectural marvels.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is a non-profit committed to allowing folks to blissfully commit the first cardinal sin of tourists: staring upward at skyscrapers. From a rocket ship to a waterfall to an armchair, the metaphors the docent used to describe the buildings of downtown Chicago humorously animate the buildings. The Wrigley Building, the Tribune Tower, Willis Tower, and Trump Tower, along with many others, are on the cruise’s checklist. Occasionally, the names of the architects and design firms blend together in an alphabet soup of white men, but that might just be part of the territory of architecture history.   What might strengthen the tour is to exchange some of these specifics for interesting stories about the architect’s lives and design styles.

It was my second time on the river tour, having been once with my roommate’s parents and now entertaining my own visiting mother. Even still, it was as educational and beautiful as the first. While a bit colder than ideal, the right bundling (purchased by my mother from CVS hours before) made the 5:00pm glide through Chicago enjoyable. A full-service bar in the boat’s cabin might have allowed an escape from the weather, although I would have had to endure my mother’s scowl. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce a family member to the beautiful city I now call home. And of course, it never hurts to be reminded yourself of how lucky we are to live in the beautiful city of Chicago.

River cruises continue through November 20.  More information at caf.architecture.org

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 00:00

M Resort Spa and Casino, “M”mm… Just My Style!

Written by

Kimberly Katz’ Platinum Press - M Resort Spa and Casino in Las Vegas

M-Resort-Poolsideview-Dusk-1

Each year when I go to Las Vegas to review the great shows and resorts I have such a variety of great options it makes it very difficult to choose where to stay. When I heard some great word of mouth about the brand new M Resort from a real estate developer friend in Las Vegas I decided to check out their website. As soon as I heard the strains of “The Mating Game, Yes King Remix” by the band Bittersweet playing on their promo video I could tell this was going to be a sexy, modern resort with the class and style that would suit me perfectly for a working vacation in Vegas.

 

The Suite:

 

M-Resort-Hotel-Room-King-SuiteI chose the Classic One Bedroom suite for my three night stay there and it turned out to be so spacious and well appointed I found it difficult to leave the room! I loved the clean modern decor, in shades of brown, black and cream; the room had an upscale, yet casual masculine feel. Both the large living room and bedroom had floor to ceiling windows with a stunning view of the beautiful pool area and mountains with the strip lights twinkling in the distance, yet just ten minutes away.

 

I really appreciated the two 42 inch flat screen TV’s, as well as a third TV in the bathroom dressing area. I hate to be without music when dressing or lounging in my room in Vegas and very few hotels provide any, so another really nice touch is the Bose Radio in the bedroom with awesome stereo sound that gave my stay a rocking soundtrack to remember it by. Although I did not have occasion to use it, the well-stocked mini bar included an “Intimacy Love Kit” by Booty Parlor with massage oils, protection and a tickle feather, which I thought was a delightful and thoughtful amenity to provide. There’s nothing like running down to the gift shop hunting for massage oils in the middle of the night to ruin the “mood.”

 

The enormous closet valet was also beautiful and well equipped with high quality

“His and Hers” robes and slippers. With all the walking in heels I do in Vegas, I spend a lot of time in the tub nursing my aching feet so I was happy to find a spa tub and lovely marble rain shower alongside the generous double vanity. I loved that the spa tub had a retractable shade that allowed you to view not only the bedroom while you bathed but also the stunning view of the strip lights at night while soaking in the luxurious Azzurro bath salts and Massaging Soap that M provides to suite guests.

 

The Spa:

 

I always tell my readers when in Vegas, don’t just hit the casino, enjoy the spa and get a massage! You always win when you bet your money on a good spa or massage treatment and leave refreshed and ready to enjoy your evening!

 

The decor of Spa and Salon Mio is absolutely breathtaking and the spa itself meticulously clean and well maintained. I absolutely adored the vaulted ceiling two-story rain shower with a massive 24 inch shower head above that gave you the feeling of being in a tropical downpour as well as four more heads to massage you from all angles.

Enjoying a rain shower while viewing the gorgeous softly pink-lit crystal chandelier and ever changing light show reflecting softly on the mother of pearl tiled two story water walls behind the huge and pristine Jacuzzi tubs was a healing and rejuvenating experience in itself, and not to be missed.

Occasionally I am disappointed by the actual massage treatment rooms of a nice spa if they turn out to be too small or clinical but not so here at Spa Mio. As my massage therapist, Shellen, lead me down the softly lit Asian themed, dark wood hallway to my treatment room I felt more and more relaxed and catered to. The treatment room itself was extremely large and luxurious, the soft music subtle and enchanting. I could tell as soon as I lay down that the velvety soft sheets on the table were of the highest thread count linen and were absolutely heaven to the touch. I told my therapist Shellen that I had a long night ahead of me with a concert and dinner to follow and did not want a very deep massage as that sometimes gives me a headache and she catered her massage touch just perfectly to both relax me and work out the tension in my shoulders, neck and hips from flying. True to her word, I had no headache later on and felt full of relaxed energy the entire weekend due to her fantastic massage.

 

After my expert massage I enjoyed a wonderful concert by world-class performer Chris Isaak out under the stars on the Villaggio Del Sole Pool and Entertainment Piazza. There is no better way to enjoy live music than by torchlight with a full moon above. The soft, warm summer breezes felt delightful by the side of M’s softly illuminated swimming pool with the strip lights glimmering behind the stage.

 

The Dining:

 

M-Resort-Veloce-Cibo-Restaurant-Bar-2For late night dining I chose to dine at restaurant Veloce Cibo on the top floor of M Resort, which is generously open until one AM with beautiful views of the night skyline. Chef Nathan Frost was an absolutely delightful dining companion and thoroughly described each of the special dishes he prepared for me in detail. For late night supper, I really enjoy small dishes and appetizer size plates and that is Veloce’s specialty. I honestly loved the creativity and presentation of everything I sampled and can recommend highly the super fresh oysters chilled on ice, Roasted Duck and Thai Roti Pancake with julienne vegetables and peanut dipping sauce, as well as the adorable Mini Lobster Tacos with grilled mango lime and avocado puree served with a straw like an avocado milkshake. The Macadamia Nut Crusted Scallop with apple fries and blood orange beurre blanc was unique and astounding, as was the Surf and Turf Roll with Spicy Tuna and Kobe beef.

The Studio B buffet, voted Best Buffet in Vegas was a wonderful entertainment experience as well with Chef Tina Martini’s live studio cooking show which mixes cooking with healthy, how to culinary tips, recipes and food sampling. This buffet really was exceptionally fresh with hundreds of well-prepared and delicious gourmet dishes to choose from. My favorite food in the world has to be crab legs and there were three different kinds of crab at the Studio Buffet, including steamed, chilled and one in an exotic curry broth. My only complaint here is that the crab legs were not scored for easy access, so unfortunately at the end of my buffet visit which was brief because I was on my way to see a show, most of the fantastic crab legs had to be left uneaten on my plate. The oxtail soup was incredible with tender, sweet pieces of oxtail falling off the bone and melting in my mouth. It was also fun to grab a handful of fortune cookies for dessert along with a freshly made hot cappuccino from the huge dessert and coffee bar selection.

 

I fancy myself a bit of a soup connoisseur. When I am working and traveling in dry climates like Las Vegas and flying in a dry cabin, etc. sometimes the only thing that will comfort me before retiring is a well-prepared bowl of soup. In addition to the magical oxtail soup at Studio B, I had a really wonderful, authentic bowl of steaming hot Matzo ball soup at the Vig Deli, which was conveniently open till 7 AM for a night owl like myself. I also enjoyed the most spectacular bowl of Maryland She Crab Bisque at The Oyster Bar. The She Crab Bisque was full of sweet tender “she” crab chunks in a perfectly seasoned and balanced cream sherry base. As I stirred the soup I noticed a small spot of blood red in the center, which turned out to be a hidden spoonful of sweet red caviar- to die for!

 

I highly recommend staying at M Resort for any traveler who is looking for an intimate boutique hotel experience with all the amenities of a large Vegas hotel and casino. From the moment I arrived till the day of my departure I was treated with the utmost courtesy and casual friendliness by every single employee there. Particularly when traveling as a woman alone, it was so important to me to feel warmth and genuine caring from the front desk staff, business center, waiters, spa attendants, and maid service, which made my working vacation in Las Vegas a pleasure and a delight that I look forward to repeating many times in the future.

 

 

I just got back from a quick one night excursion to see a great headliner concert at The Oneida Nation Casino and I was so pleased with the luxury and friendliness I encountered there that I can’t wait to go back and see the rest of what that lovely part of Green Bay, Wisconsin has to offer.

 

From the minute I arrived at the Oneida Casino and the conveniently adjacent Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, I was met with smiling, courteous and genuinely friendly help from every member of the staff I encountered. I was traveling quickly so it meant so much to me that every detail of my short stay there, from breakfast to dinner, to show tickets were coordinated perfectly by the Oneida Nation PR rep and her staff.

 

I stayed in one of their fireplace suites and was happily surprised to see it also included a generous two person Jacuzzi tub in a lovely all new marble bathroom. Little things like the high quality almond scented bathroom amenities by Asira with adorable messages like, “Made especially for YOU”, “ Your refreshing and renewing shower power!” and “Your rich and revealing tub treat!” made me feel right at home.

 

The suite was equipped with a wonderful King size “Sleep Number Bed” so that couples could adjust each side of the bed to the exact level of firmness desired, it was deliciously comfortable. It was such a pleasure that for once I didn’t have to ask for more towels, pillows or robes because the suite was so generously stocked with so many of each even two people sharing the suite would not have used them all up. I also enjoyed the very romantic, and luxurious effect of a gas fireplace and two 42 inch flat screen TV’s while preparing to enjoy the concert and casino that night.

 

I didn’t have time to get down to the Pine Tree Grill for dinner before the show so had room service deliver their “ Cedar Plank Salmon” with wild rice and cranberries and it was a perfectly done, juicy, thick steak of salmon with fluffy wild rice that I found out from my server was grown right on the Oneida Nation’s own farm!

 

After being treated to a world-class concert by performer Chris Isaak, I enjoyed shopping for gifts like the delicious “Escape” scented travel candles and rare “Kimmidoll” collectable key chains at the charming and restful “Sweet Grass” gift shop.

 

After picking up a few souvenirs, I played all my new favorite slots, like “Sex in the City”, “Star Trek” and “The Wizard of Oz” in the beautiful, cool, airy and modern casino area which had great live music playing in the lounge till the wee hours.

 

Maybe I was just lucky but I won so many times I have got to say Oneida Casino has some of the loosest slots at any casino I have visited in recent memory! Which is good news for all you slots lovers!

 

Usually when you get hungry late at night at a casino you have a very limited menu to choose from, maybe a burger or some French fries or a cold sandwich but I was delighted to discover that the Main Casino Grille had a full Noodle Bar open until 3 AM and I was able to sample some really fantastic, freshly prepared, Hot and Spicy Soup and Shrimp Pad Thai (with extra fresh cilantro) before retiring to my lovely suite for another soak in the romantically lit Jacuzzi tub and a restful sleep in my cozy sleep number bed, set at the softest setting. I was delighted to find chocolates and a delicious caramel and walnut

“Cow Pie” waiting for me in the suites well equipped kitchen/bar area as a late night treat.

 

I had to get back to Chicago quickly the next day to review another show and regretted not having time to sit down and enjoy the very modern and attractive “Standing Stone Buffet and Grill” with great seafood offerings like curried mussels and crab legs with live chefs preparing dishes to order. Next time!

 

 

I also really wanted to check out some of the lovely summer activities Oneida Nation offers, like Strawberry Jam Making, Pick your own Apples, the Annual Pow Wow, the Annual Woodland Indian Art Market, a tour of the Oneida Buffalo Farm, a free Ropes course from Oneida Nation Adventures or “Nature’s Niche”- where you can see real live rain forest animals.

 

 

Also, the whole area around the casino and hotel was so lushly landscaped and emerald green in every direction as I headed out for the drive back to Chicago; it made want to visit again very soon.

 

My parents’ had their honeymoon in Wisconsin over fifty years ago and my exciting and luxurious stay at Oneida Casino and the Radisson made me see why they chose such a lovely natural setting.

 

I highly recommend the Oneida Casino, the Radisson hotel and their restaurants to travelers looking for some quality dining, family fun and casino excitement.

Wednesday, 07 July 2010 00:15

Highland Games are Fun for the Whole Family

Written by

As I approach the old polo grounds of Oak Brook for the Highland Games, an older Scottsman walks to me and asks, “What is the only thing a Scottsman wears under his kilt?” I look at the sky and am not sure how to actually answer this question. I turn and look at the gentleman and say, “I have no idea.”  He looks at me with a smile and chuckles, “His wife’s lipstick.”

I continue walking through the entrance and soon realize that I am one of the smallest people here; like my Irish heritage, I feel like a true leprechaun. The Highland Games are a true celebration of what it’s like to be Scottish.  They pride themselves on gratification, and today is a day where, like the Irish with St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Scottish.

From events ranging from the knobby knee contest to rugby, and the infamous throwing games themselves, there is no wonder why this festival attracts a large crowd every year.  As soon as I walk through the entrance I am able to see just about every item of Scottish heritage imaginable.

The festival has booths of kilts makers, traditional Scottish fiddle music, dancers that quickly move their feet over swords and big burly lads and lasses that are able to throw weights the mass of a supermodel twenty feet across a field.

There is no need for security at an event like this; because let’s be honest, you would be an idiot to try to commit a crime where the average athlete is 6’5” and 295 lbs. Once you get over the initial intimidation from the size of the athletes, the festival is an absolute delight. Everyone in attendance is here to have a great time and ensure that you have a wonderful taste of Scottish hospitality. From the announcers explaining the events and the various flavors of Haggis, to a great glass of $5 lemonade. Having been a beautiful day in June, one could not ask for a better stage to be presented with a
different culture. The St. Andrew’s Foundation did a great job and pulling together a great festival and providing everyone a truly wonderful experience that everyone in Chicagoland can enjoy.

Saturday, 03 July 2010 23:21

Three Great Chicagoland Pet Adoption Centers

Written by

rambobelle2

 

Just under three years ago, I first proposed the idea of purchasing a cat to share my new apartment with, and several of my friends encouraged me to further investigate adoption over the pet shop route. The process for adopting my furry friend was one that I was new to, seeing that my family had always been pet store buyers. I made the decision to adopt two remarkable felines into my life. There was a fair amount of research that went into pre-pet owning, but the ultimate time buster was the actual hunt for that special pal. Once I had fully prepared myself mentally for a new pet, I started on my endeavor, searching through every shelter that housed within a hundred mile radius of me. I visited several of the adoption facilities more than once, going back to see cats I had grown fond of, before I made my final decision. All of the centers I saw were very nice, but three of the adoption places earned a special place in my heart.

 

1. Anderson Animal Shelter

 

This loving location was my most frequent spot, and my personal favorite. The Anderson building is tucked away down Route 31 in South Elgin. It may be a bit of a cruise for some, but enjoy the ride and prepare yourself for a cat room full of characters. Employees will be on your right to greet you as you walk in, and if you venture to the left you will find the cat room. Here, the cats exist in every crevice of the room: some are caged, while others aren't. Each cat has a name, and a distinct personality. When I use to go there, a big adult cat by the name of Darwin had earned himself the nickname "The Godfather", because...well, I'm sure you get it. If you wish to get closer with a caged kitty, the employees at the front will hand you mandatory brief paperwork, before helping you grow closer to a potential new friend.

 

Visit @ www.andersonanimalshelter.org 

 

2. Tree House Humane Society

 

This particular shelter has two branches: found in the Uptown and Bucktown neighborhoods of Chicago, and they focus solely on the adoption of cats. Both locations are cageless and offer their foster kitties a wide variety of play items, as well as what seems like a limitless amount of play room in comparison to most other places. Quick paperwork is filled out before entering the kitty wonderland. The Uptown location offers a wider variety of cats, as it is a bit larger in size. Although, the Bucktown spot is nice because the workers seem to spend a good amount of timing creating a personal bond with their adoptees. I felt no rush when I would stop by to see the Tree House cats, I could sit on the floor and interact with the crowd for as long as I pleased, (within business hours, obviously).

 

Visit @ www.treehouseanimals.org

 

3. PAWS Chicago

 

Finally, a no-kill adoption center! The first thing I noticed about this Chicago pet palace was the fresh feeling the interior pumped through me, everything presented itself cleanly and welcoming. Employees are behind the front desk, walking about, and showing adoptable animals in separate rooms throughout the building design; so when I pin-pointed a fuzzy face that I wanted to meet, it was easy to find a helper. As the other locations, PAWS also requires obligatory paperwork (done on one of their computers) before venturing into a room full of joy. I will admit, the paperwork took the longest here, but it showed me how much they cared about the animals they were helping. Cats and dogs are set up in various cageless rooms, ready to greet guests with cuddles and kisses. Everything down to the air at PAWS is genuine.

 

Visit @ www.pawschicago.org

 

If you have decided to adopt a lucky pet into your own life, I wish you a happy hunting! For some easy access viewing, visit www.petfinder.com, where shelters (including the three listed) post available animals online.

 

Page 3 of 4

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