Chi-Town Part 1

Recently, I went to one of my two favorite cities in the world – Chicago – for a long weekend with my wife Sara, sister-in-law Amanda, and brother-in-law Ross. In case you are scoring at home, my other favorite city is Fort Myers, Florida.

Anyway, we had a big weekend planned. I’m going to skip my personal highlight of the weekend – the U2 concert at Soldier Field – and write a completely seperate blog about it tomorrow. But here’s a little look at everything else we did on the weekend.

Second City

Friday night, we headed down to Old Town and went to a show on the Etc. stage of The Second City – Stud Terkel’s Not Working. It was the second time we’ve seen a Second City show and both times they’ve been an absolute riot. If you’re ever in Chicago, I highly recommend checking it out. The show is about 2/3 skits and about 1/3 improv. Plus, you might be seeing comedy’s next star! The Second City alumni list reads like a who’s who in comedy: Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Fred Willard, Harold Ramis, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, George Wendt, Shelley Long, James Belushi, Andy Dick, Dan Castellaneta, Bonnie Hunt, Mike Myers, Jeremy Piven, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows , Bob Odenkirk, Steve Carell, Jeff Garlin, Nia Vardalos, Amy Sedari, Stephen Colbert, David Koechner, Rachel Dratch, Adam McKay, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Horatio Sanz, Gilda Radner, John Candy, and Jason Sudeikis highlight the list.

Chicago Cubs

For a baseball fan, is there anything you can think of that sounds better than an afternoon game at Wrigley Field. I can’t think of many. Anyway, I believe this was my fourth game at the friendly confines. The Cubs were taking on the Reds in a battle of teams trying to finish the season over .500 so they can tell their fanbase “…see, we’re close. A few breaks and a healthy (fill-in-the-blank of marginally important player here) and we might’ve won the division.” Anyway, Ted Lilly was on the mound for the Cubs and former top prospect turned schlub Homer Bailey was on the hill for the Reds. It makes me feel really good that I missed a Rich Harden/Johnny Cueto matchup by a day. I went to two Reds game in Cincy with my brother-in-law Ross last year, but I’d completely forgotten how awful offenses in the National League are. Paul Janish (2 doubles) and former Twin Darnell McDonald (2 doubles) looked like perennial All-Stars out there and not two guys that were struggling to stay above the Mendoza line. It was actually a really good game – Ted Lilly pitched a gem (6 innings, 6 hits, 0 runs, 7 strikeouts) and Dusty Baker reminded us why he destroys young pitching (Homer Bailey – a rookie – went 5-1/3 pitching 115 pitches even though he was down 3-0. The Cubs went up 5-0 before the Reds rallied to score 2 in the 9th to cut it to 5-2. I was *this* close to seeing my favorite current video game pitcher Carlos Marmol as he’d started warming up. All-in-all, though, we had a great time.

After the Cubs game, we were walking around the concourse when we saw a bunch of fans kind of hanging around. It didn’t take long before we figured out that they were hanging around because the players had to walk through the hallway in order to get to their cars. Some of them sat on their cellphones and didn’t sign a single autograph (Carlos Zambrano), others made a bee-line through the crowd following their interpreter (Fukodome), and others signed the necessary minimum amount of autographs not to be considered a jerk. The guy that impressed me most was future rich guy Rich Harden. Harden went out of his way to sign for everyone even when security was trying to get him to leave. Luckily, I’ve got a wonderful wife who grabbed a program, borrowed a pen, and now I am the proud owner of an autographed Rich Harden Cubs program!

Vince Vaughn

Did you know that Vince Vaughn lives in Chicago. My wife does… in fact, I think she knows more about Vince Vaughn than Vince Vaughn knows about Vince Vaughn. If you run into Sara sometime, ask her about Vince Vaughn because I think it’s the most excited I’ve ever seen her. For the record, I am the bigger Vince Vaughn fan of the two of us. She may dispute this, but it’s a fact. Swingers is my all-time favorite comedy. I actually purchased a used copy of NHL ’94 to try to make Gretzky’s head bleed.

Anyway, Sara and I were out for a jog on Saturday morning. We were talking about how wonderful it was to go for a jog by the lake when suddenly, Sara goes “…that’s Vince Vaughn!” I look back and see a tall, chubby guy wearing all black walking with a lady friend. I tell her “…no, that isn’t Vince Vaughn” and she’s absolutely sure that it is. We turned back around and run by them again. I’m still not convinced. So, we decide to walk past them and determine if it’s them or not. Sure enough, I hear him talk and say “…holy crap, that is Vince Vaughn.” We turned around and followed them (about 40 feet behind as to not be too stalker-ish) and I snapped this picture on my camera phone. It’s hard to tell, but Vince Vaughn is the guy in black and we’re pretty sure the girl is his fiance.

A week later and Sara is still fired up about this. She’s read his Wikipedia page about three times and looked up countless paparrazi photos of the fiance. And at the end of the day, she’s really mad at herself that she didn’t go up to him and say “Hey Vince, I really like your movies.”

Meeting up with friends

This is kind of funny, too. One of Sara’s best friends, Jill, was in Chicago at the same time that we were. They didn’t know this until the last minute. My little sister wrote something to the affect of “…have fun in Chicago!” on my facebook page. Jill saw it and sent Sara a text to find out if she was going to Chicago by chance because they were leaving for Chicago the very next day. So, we met up with them for a few minutes downtown. They had a busy schedule with family event and we had a packed schedule with comedy shows, concerts, and baseball games, so we really were lucky to get a chance to see them even if it was brief.

Coming tomorrow… my thoughts and pictures from the U2 concert!