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Articles featuring local (Chicago area) people and places

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.

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

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.

Tuesday, 06 July 2010 19:15

Highland Games are Fun for the Whole Family

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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 18:21

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.

 

Rick_Springfield As a music and theater critic who makes the rounds of every theater in and around Chicago each week, I already know which venues are the best for sound and comfort quality. I can honestly say that I have had several of my best concert experiences ever at The Northern Lights Theater located in the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee.

Tonight I enjoyed another dynamite concert there by pop star, Rick Springfield, who regularly plays a five-night stint at Northern Lights Theater each year to sold out houses.

To accommodate his fans who come to all five shows, Rick mixed it up a little and did a different set each night including a half acoustic set which really showed off what a great guitarist he is. The Northern Lights Theater, with its glamorous Vegas style booth and table seating is very cozy and intimate, with fantastic sound and great views from every seat. 

Unfortunately, I have not yet gotten the chance to get out to Potawatomi from Chicago early enough to review their buffet or Dream Dance Steak restaurant but for late night and after show dining, The Fire Pit, is a very relaxing place to have a fresh shrimp cocktail, tasty Reuben with lean corned beef or my favorite light, late night fare, the Asian Chicken Salad.

Once I have refueled and caught my breath after a fantastic concert experience I really love wandering the casino and playing slots surrounded by the luxurious and beautifully styled American Indian décor, with soft, golden, lighting effects throughout and a vaulted ceiling that makes the smoking areas seem as fresh and airy as the Sky Lodge, the smoke free casino on the second floor.

I highly recommend checking out the upcoming Summer Events Calendar at Northern Lights, which includes some of my favorites and old friends like Carrot Top, Don Rickles, Debbie Reynolds and popular musicians Mary Chapin Carpenter, Chris Isaak and Willie Nelson.

Make time for playtime at Potawatomi! You and your guests will discover that this property’s high level of visual luxury makes a night at the theater and a bit of gambling into a night to remember.

*(above photo of Rick Springfield at Northern Lights Theater taken by Kim Katz)

gambling_casino-floor

For more info, visit http://paysbig.com/

Whether male or female, if you’re ready for your next cut, style, shave or coloring, you should really consider checking out Floyd’s 99 Barbershop. Why? Because Floyd’s is one hip joint. Ok, I’ll elaborate. Music along the lines of The Clash, David Bowie or U2 can be heard overhead loud enough to enjoy, but not obtrusive in which to annoy. At the same time one can enjoy observing the rock gods plastered all over the walls from John Lennon to the Sex Pistols, occasionally getting lost in its nostalgic glory. In short, the ambience is relaxing, the staff is fashionable and professional, the cuts and styles are excellent and, whether you’re watching your pennies or not these days, the prices are very sensible.    

With locations across the nation, you can find two Floyd’s Barbershops right here in Chicago – one in Lincoln Park (2572 North Clark Street) and another in Wicker Park (1409 N. Milwaukee). I happened to stop at the Lincoln Park location, which is managed by Pete Vercellin. With less than a two-minute wait, I was handed over to stylist (or “Rock Star” as their employees are referred to on their website), Jean Hyland, and moments later found myself receiving a relaxing massage shampoo with a hot towel resting atop my face. My hair, being in that awkward middle stage between short and long, I was undecided on what kind of cut I was looking for, so I abruptly decided to cut it all off. However, Jean gave it a once over and suggested to rather clean it up with a trim and such, and, after taking her advice, I was more than happy with the outcome. Directly following the cut and style, I was treated to an invigorating shoulder massage and found myself leaving refreshed, rockin’ and ready to go – all for just $21! Floyd’s 99 Barbershop is a throwback that offers the best in cutting edge fashion. In fact, their slogan “Old School, New Styles” couldn’t be said any better. 

FloydsFloyd’s in Lincoln Park is also very accessible by public transportation with the blue, red and purple lines stopping on Fullerton just a few blocks away. For those who choose to drive, parking couldn’t be easier with a lot located at 645 Wrightwood for just $2. Next time you find yourself bored at the office or are feeling the urge to go online, make a stop at www.floydsbarbershop.com and take a gander at the two Chicago locations. The site is loaded with information including pricing, staff schedules and even employee bios.

Today, tomorrow or in the next month, do yourself a favor and make it a point to experience Floyd’s.

It’d be cooler if you did – Wooderson, Dazed and Confused

fluffy

The idea of having a prison as the setting of a haunted house is pretty masterful. No one in their right mind ever wants to go to prison especially one that is dimly lit and where the Warden is Satan himself..

 

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 11:02

The Hauntings Continue

Written by

altThe quests for Illinois's best thrills and chills this Halloween season led me to The Dungeon of Doom and Statesville Haunted Prison. Both haunted houses have stellar reputations and I can happily report neither disappointed in their delivery. My review on Statesville will be posted later today.

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