Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson

ben wilson This is the blog of a one Ben Wilson, a Louisville, Kentucky native who enjoys baseball, beer, music, bikes, things that fly and good food. By day he pushes pixels and makes the Internet happen for a local advertising agency. His wife, Kelly is an Ironman, and his baby Amelia is the cutest thing ever.

Each year I think “I’m going to post my top ten albums of the year before Pitchfork posts theirs,” and each year I’m too late. And then I read their list, thereby skewing my own perspectives, right? Right. Well – truth be told I am constantly re-shuffling my own list inside of my head, and I’ll be damned if my top two albums of the year didn’t match theirs. But hey, at least I know what I enjoy. So, without further ado, my list for 2005 (in ascending order):

Sleater Kinney – The Woods

I’ve made mention of The Woods previously and even previously-er, and in the intervening 6 months, my love of that album has yet to wane. Sleater-Kinney have always been on the cusp of something – always consistently at the top of the indie heap, but they never seem to be able to escape the orbit of the underground. Perhaps that is what spurred their self-imposed exodus from their native Washington State to the East Coast to record this album in the woods, quite literally. What came out was an album heavy with conviction and the best album of their 10 year career.

The Heartless Bastards – Stairs and Elevators

I first heard from these guys on a great album called Sunday Nights – The Songs of Junior Kimbrough, doing his “I Done Got Old”, and it blew my mind. Like a two-ton Janis Joplin — frontlady Erika Wennerstrom just stomped my brainpan with equal parts rock and blues. Between these guys and The Black Keys, is there anything that Akron, Ohio can’t do? Is there? Keep an eye on their website for tour dates and go and see them up-close before they are playing bigger venues. (ealier mention: the listening hour – fall 2005)

Blind Willie McTell and Buell Kazee

Death from Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine

Explosions in the Sky / …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead

Sufjan Stevens – Illinois

Kanye West – Late Registration

Honorable Mention

Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better With…

Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

Wilco – Kicking Television (Live in Chicago)

The Decemberists – Picaresque

M. Ward – Transistor Radio

Think Differently Music Presents: Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture

filed under Music and then tagged as ,
Dec 28 2005 ~ 8:34 am ~ Comments Off ~


A few years ago, Kelly and I started donating to Goodwill on a regular basis. For a while, we didn’t keep records of what we gave, but then we decided to start claiming that stuff on our taxes (especially when we were going to owe!). We just keep tick marks of each piece that we donate, and then use a donation valuation guide to tally it all up at year-end. A note on the valuation guides: Goodwill nor the Salvation Army have an “official” guide, so use discretion. Imagine explaining claiming $6 for a ripped Def Leppard t-shirt to an IRS auditor. Each few months, we end up donating a couple of trashbags full of ill-fitting clothing and stuff that we never use. In the end, we cut our tax bill down considerably, and the Goodwill benefitted.

Kelly’s family also adopts Angel Tree children instead of exchanging gifts. Again, tax-deductible and much better than having to hem and haw over what horrifying sweater to get your gram! I helped out one year, and was given charge of a 13 year old kid and proceeded to kick out the Christmas present JAMS (literally!) It was a lot of fun.

Finally, the venerable Hunter Dixon for the last few years has been flexing his B&N muscle and buying a bunch of books for children with donations from friends. With the employee discount, he can purchase just tons of books for kids. It’s great! And to top it all off — he donated his poker winnings for December to the cause, thereby making this year the most bookalicious for needy kids. In the end this year, the official final tally was $360, allowing us to purchase 103 books. Dang. That’s awesome.

Hoo-ray for charity!

filed under General and then tagged as ,,
Dec 21 2005 ~ 9:00 am ~ Comments Off ~

The weather sages around town say that snow en-quantite’ is incoming to Louisville tomorrow, so in reaction I’ve updated my silly little exploding snowflake javascript thing called snow2. Originally written way back in 2002 (also here), it has been updated to work in today’s modern browsers. Enjoy!

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Dec 7 2005 ~ 1:59 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Kelly and I got married waaaay back on April 26th, 2002, and the next day we set off on our “Out West Road Trip” of a honeymoon. I made travelogues each day and uploaded photos at night from our hotel rooms, but had never entered them into the ‘blog until just now.

So, without further ado:

Honeymoon Day #1: Giant Ketchup and St. Louis, Gateway to the

Honeymoon Day #2: Beneath the arch, above the city

Honeymoon Day #3: Albino Squirreltown #1, OKC

Honeymoon Day #4: OKC to Albuquerque, NM via Amarillo, TX

Honeymoon Day #5: Wrong turns in Albuquerque, Navajo Radio, Meteor Crater and White Buffalo

Honeymoon Day #6: Grand Canyon, Tuba City, Navajo Country, Squeaking through Wolf Creek Pass

Honeymoon Day #7: The Genoa Wonder Tower Oddyssey, Kansas, Spiderman

Honeymoon Day #8: Hays, KS to St. Louis, MO

Honeymoon Day #9: Busch Stadium, Squirrelville #2, and home.

I suggest you start at the beginning and use the new, handy “Back to previous entry” and “Onward to next entry” links to get to the next day! And for more travel excitement, you can also now browse the blog by topics.

For the visual lot, there is also the Honeymoon Gallery with pictures from the entire trip (but that has been there all along).


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Nov 30 2005 ~ 2:59 pm ~ Comments Off ~

…but that”s what happened to me yesterday.

Kelly and I were at Oxmoor and stopped inside Sharper Image. You know
– the kind of place where you can get a robotic calf massager, a
robotic vacuum cleaner, even a robotic… robot. In the middle of
store, prominently displayed (but outside the reach of small children)
were the Master Replicas Star Wars lightsabers!

I said “OOOH! SHINY!” and immediately went over and picked it up off of
it”s display case. I believe it was the “Darth Vader” model. There was
also a nice family of a father and like three kids “playing” with the
“Anakin” model. I hear the Dad say “uh, now kids, this ain”t for
swinging now — these are $125 a piece!” I chuckle and lapse back into
my daydream of standing on the bank of a lava-flow yelling “YOU WERE THE
CHOSEN ONE!”, with Matt Rasnake”s brother Javan standing down below w/o
3 of his appendages. Now me, I”m standing there with a goatee, sandy
blonde hair parted a little to the left gripping this thing with two
hands, just thinking one word over and over in my mind — “AWESOME
AWESOME AWESOME”. The dad then snaps my concentration and says “Hey
man — my kids think you look like Obi-Wan, you know, but like Young
Obi-Wan”. Now, this dude was black, so I was automatically thinking
“Mace! You old cock! How are you?!” but declined to say such a thing.

Nonetheless, I thanked him and his apparently awe-struck children
(judging by the looks on their faces) and went on our way. Upon
reflection I should have whipped out some great Obi-Wan scenes like
walking over to the people looking at the Roomba robo-vacuums and waving
my hand saying “these aren”t the droids you are looking for”.

So yeah, that was pretty awesome. Next time you are dragged into that
mall, I suggest you check them out.

filed under General and then tagged as ,,
Nov 14 2005 ~ 12:19 pm ~ Comments (3) ~

What’s shakin’, mother bacon?! Been a lot of stuff goin’ on ’round here lately — but I haven’t had the time to come back and rap with you, so here goes:

cotton fields

So, as you know, I like playing with RC sailplanes, and specifically ones that you throw into the sky with your hand (aka handlaunch). Well, the last handlaunch contest of the temperate season this side of the Mississippi was held last weekend in Wilson, North Carolina. You might remember that about this time last year I made a similar voyage to Wilson to compete in the 2004 East Coast Handlaunch Glider Festival, and this year was no different.

ms. napsalot

No, wait, it was different! Firstly, Kelly was going to travel down there with me because I went with her to her big contest — the Chicago Marathon a few weeks back. I was to be the only LASS member to make it, so she was a welcome companion. I certainly recognize her sacrifice of a perfectly good weekend to sit in a field with me! Secondly, I had managed to do pretty well at the 2005 NATS handlaunch event back in July, so I had to prove to myself that that wasn’t just a fluke.

sixth place ben wilson

Long, boring story short, we had a good trip and I managed to get 6th out of 22 against some of the best handlaunch pilots out there and most importantly had a lot of fun. It was nice having Kelly around, too — she’s never seen me “in action”, and it was nice to have a lady around to hug on.

Want some photos? Check them out here: 2005.10.22 – ECHLGF @ Further coverage you can find here at RCGroups: East Coast HLG Festival ’05.

filed under Soaring,Travel and then tagged as ,,
Oct 25 2005 ~ 11:56 am ~ Comments Off ~

So Art Day brought us up through Tuesday. Wednesday, we planned another full day of Chicago-ness and set out early to get Kelly some oatmeal. Oatmeal. I don’t understand it either, but apparently she saw a place that served oatmeal for breakfast with little chunks on top of it and really wanted it. Oatmeal wanted, oatmeal had.

Then we decided to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which in reading an Ask Metafilter query about things to in Chicago I found it to be “one of the last free-to-the-public zoos in the United States”. Awesome!

We took the Red Line to Clark and Division and walked out way to the park. We had been here the night before as Second City is pretty close to the “Old Town” section of Chicago. Lincoln Park was hosting a farmers market that day, and as we strolled through the organic bread sellers and the booth with the dozen varities of heirloom tomatoes, I heard the familiar sounds of Bluegrass. Off to my left, I heard a guitar and a banjo kickin’ out the Ralph Stanley jams. I took a seat for a moment, and they immediately ended their song, but then continued with a version of “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life” as if I they had to play down to me to get me up to Bluegrass speed. Resisting my urge to throw my Southern Heritage in their faces, I smiled and rejoined Kelly.

As we walked past the farm in the park and I snapped photos of odd goats and cows, the camera battery decided to go south. Odd, but this Canon SD400 doesn’t have a battery gauge that I am aware of. Dang! There were plenty of animals I would have loved to taken photos of, but alas you’ll just have to imagine a 30lb version of Bocephus (a serval) and lions and tigers and penguins and handlers weighing giant vultures and oh my! The Lincoln Park Zoo is a fantastic open-air old-school kinda zoo that can easily be done in a couple of hours and won’t cost ya a nickel.

We had left Nick’s friendly confines on Sunday morning, and we wanted to catch up with him again before we left, so after the zoo and before Nick’s class, we met up at the Addison station on the Red Line ’cause Kelly wanted to stop back into Strange Cargo for t-shirts and gifts and such. On the food front, we searched for tasty sushi, but alas found none. Instead, we headed down to Nookie’s Tree, a great little diner on North Halsted and caught some tasty sammiches. Side note: Nookie’s Tree will apparently be visited by the Food Network’s Rachael Ray in the near future.

We also stopped into Chicago Comics, a great little comic shop on North Clark. While there, I picked up Joe Sacco’s Notes from a Defeatist, Eric Shanower’s second volume of The Age of Bronze (the story of the Trojan War), and Found Magazine #4. The latter because we were going to see the Found “Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas” tour stop at the Neofuturist’s Neo-Futarium later that night.

Shortly thereafter, we said our goodbyes to Nick, and Kelly and I poked around Wrigleyville for a while headed up to the Argyle stop (near Nick’s apartment and the Neofutarium). The Found show wasn’t until 8PM, but we stopped into the theatre around 7PM to make sure we could get tickets. The Neofutarium is a little confusing, I must admit. You enter the front door, and are greeted with stairs. Those stairs lead to a landing with two bathrooms, a desk and the entrance to a hallway. No signs for “Theatre”. I heard nary a voice as I tread the creaky boards into the hallway. (The hallways is decorated with odd paintings of our past presidents) Reaching the end of the hallway, I see a door that just says “Kitchen”. Hmm. I enter the kitchen to find a cute girl standing behind a counter. I timidly say “We’re here for the Found show?” She explains it doesn’t start until 8PM and that we could either pay now or come back later, or perhaps have a seat in their “reading room”. Wanting to ensure that we’d have a seat at the show (and not knowing how many people would show up), I opt to pay now. She then gives me a “receipt,” a corner of a legal pad with a hand-written note “2 tickets for FOUND”. We both chuckled as she handed it to me, as this is exactly what might be lost and then later “found” and submitted to “FOUND” magazine. I almost didn’t want to take it so that it could be found! She also recommended we check out The Hopleaf, which was around the block from the Neofutarium. Said something about “a frosty brew”, and I knew I had to go.

The Hopleaf is a great place with an impressive set of taps, set up for mostly Belgian beers. I selected a very tasty “Leffe Brune in what appeared to be a traditional goblet. A good beer — hoppy and spicy (but not overly so, like an IPA), with chocolate and malt notes and a body and head like a stout or porter (somewhere in between). An interesting sweetness to it as well, that certainly places it outside of most of the beers I have tried. Even Kelly had a sip or two and really enjoyed it. “I like beer,” she says.

After our Hopleaf stop, we headed back around the block for the Found Magazine show. The “Reading Room”, which looked like an old dance studio quickly filled with late-20s, early-30s hipster couples, and I browsed the merch table for the latest in FOUND gear. Apparently, they’ve also started publishing “Dirty FOUND”, which is all the stuff too racy for the website and “regular” found. Even packaged in a plastic wrapper! Awesome.

Later, we piled into the smallish theatre, and out comes Davy Rothbart, FOUND found-er on a bicycle and a dayglo orange jacket decorated with spray-paint. Under the jacket were no less than 3 or 4 gold chains with gold dollar-signs, etc. I’d only heard this guy speak via the radio, so this was a bit different than what I was expecting! His voice on the radio was that of an excited young man, perhaps a little self-conscious and with a hint of jittery nervousness. On that front, he was exactly what I expected. Davy is obviously the driving force behind FOUND magazine, and you can tell it by his excitement about each “find”, and the stories he tells. Despite his outward appearance of modest thuggery, his voice and eyes tell you that he truly and deeply respects the pieces he finds. Later, after the show, I asked him if he could tell the difference between pieces found in big cities (like NY or Chicago) and pieces from cities like Louisville. He thought about it a little, and then said “No – the people and emotions behind them are always real, and that never changes”.

The show was great — Davy reading some bits from his “Lost Surfer of Montana, KS” book, detailing his favorite finds and stops on last year’s major press junket for the FOUND book, and his brother Peter doing some songs based on FOUND items (most memorably his version of “The Booty Don’t Stop”, from a found cassette tape of “Booty Jams”). The Neofuturists also did 4 2-minute “plays” based on finds! I even got picked out of the audience to do a foxtrot with a girl while someone read a find. Bizzarre! Much fun was had, and even though we didn’t get a chance to see “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind”, we did have a boatload of fun — and I got my copy of Found #4 signed by Davy himself. Awesome.

The next morning, we checked out, checked our bags and did some more walking around the Michigan Avenue area, starting at our hotel and essentially walking all the way up to the Clark and Division stop on the Red Line (far!). Kelly found a wonderful jacket at H&M that she had been looking for for-ever and we made it to Midway Airport with plenty of time to spare for our cattle-car ride back to Louisville.

As it turns out, Jason Clark and his lady were on their way back from seeing a show and were on the same flight. We chatted with them a bit, and then sat through our flight home with the loudest and most garrolous group of air-filter salesman I have ever been in listening distance to behind us. It was seriously the Bill Brasky sketch from SNL for about an hour! I learned many things I didn’t already know, like the fact that the J. B. Speed Museum uses a 3-stage filtration system for their archives and that the guy that taught the one guy “all he knew about filters” was a “really arrogant asshole” and a “terrible drunk” but was a hell of a salesman.

We arrived home to find that the cats hadn’t sold out earthly possessions for small fishes, and were glad to be back.

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Oct 17 2005 ~ 10:12 am ~ Comments Off ~

As promised, today was Ben and Kelly’s Chicago Art Day! We took some photos and put them in the 2005.10.11 – Chicago Marathon: ART DAY! gallery.

We slept in until about 9:30 or so and I ran down to Chicago Take-Out in the bottom floor of the hotel to get Kelly a “thing with things in it” which I took to mean a veggie omelette. Me? I was in the mood for pancakes and bacon. I don’t each much bacon, but I do love it, especially with maple syrup.

I should also make a note about the “family” of people who run the Chicago Take-Out. If pressed, I’d have to say they aren’t Russian, and they aren’t quite Greek — somewhere in between. Maybe Armenian. They are all very short (save for the one) and have the demeanor of folks who have been short-ordering to we gringo tourists for a little too long. So when the young cook (perhaps a young Turk?) told me “I make you best breakfast in town — any time of day! You get up 3 PM I make you chicken — BOK BOK BOK!” and smiled a shivvy smile, which made me smile after I realized he was joking. I want you to think of a cross between Eddie Munster and Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley. Then when I reminded him that I also had two coffees, he said “Not me, man – you tell her!” pointing his thumb in the direction of the older lady behind the counter, who earlier had said “Your machine is broken! No paper! No paper!” in regards to the short-order printer. Tee-hee, I’m a sucker for ethnic banter, I guess.

I was hyped to get down to the Art Institute of Chicago, so we took a right turn out of the hotel and down to Grant Park for a scenic route and a snapshot of the fountain. On the way, we passed by some of the many art students that are in this south-end of the Downtown. These happened to be apparently shooting something in 16mm film involving a wooden cross. I’ll admit to thinking “Oh, please! 16mm and a cross? Art preschoolers do that every day before they take their naps! Go have a milk.” But they are here in this big city sowing their artistic oats before the crushing reality of the real world shoulder-checks them into designing whimsical cocktail napkins for Bunco parties. But I shouldn’t be so cynical. Or maybe I should be — cynicism about art is what keeps high art high and low art profitable.

The Art Institute is a fabulous place, if not terribly confusing. Large, parquet-floored wings with no real obvious pathways which lead to a lot of map-looking and backtracking to ensure you’ve seen everything. I haven’t been to many art museums, though, so this might be par for the course.

Considering I had been here before, I knew what I had wanted to see again, and found myself saving certain wings for last – savoring them, I guess. Kelly and I have in the last few days been having an ongoing conversation about what is art and what is not. For grotesque instance, shitting on a canvas in front of an audience to Kelly is not “art” because it follows her dictum that “If [Kelly] can do it, it is not art”. I understand that idea and I used to think that myself. However, as my consideration of art as a thing and art as an idea changed that rule faltered. Let me explain…

A good example is the apparently time-honored tradition of the peformance art shitter. Shitting on things is really what humans do best. Literally anyone can do that. And anyone will do that. So then, the real art of shitting on things — canvasses, flags, other artist’s pieces of shit-art — is the whole production of the piece. Who in their right mind would shit in public? Very few — hobos and artists come to mind. Hobos do it out of necessity. Artists do it to remind you that everyone shits — or if they are wearing a star-spangled top-hat, that America is the shit. The point is is that they actually did it, for you to see, and that according to one woman’s account, if someone paid to see it, it is art. That said, shitting on flags is not gonna get my dollar. Shitting on flag shitters maybe — a documentary on the design, preparation and ultimate performance and cleanup of a sucessful flag-shitting — yes! I love documentaries.

Magritte Banquet

Anyway, back to the Art Institute. We saw all that could be seen, and certainly took photos (no flashy). The great exhibit of papal artifacts in the “gun and knife show” wing that was there a few years ago when Hunter and I went was sadly gone, as were many of the awesome combinations of sword-and-gun that we observed last time. Sad! But I was really there for the Magrittes they have on permanent display. I can’t really say what it is about Magritte that interests me so, but I think it has something to do with the amount that some of his work transfixes me. You may have seen his paintings like “Time Transfixed” or “The Son of Man”, which when compared to the fantastic images that Dali painted are rather… pedestrian. In fact, the man in the painting “The Son of Man” could very well have been a pedestrian -and the argument could be made that Magritte painted such subjects in a surreal way to get just that effect. But there are many Magritte works that are not as obviously surreal and play more to his mastery of light and shadow, like “The Voice of Blood” or “The Empire of Light”. The one painting that I think mixes both of these sides of Magritte the best and makes for the simplest yet most indelible of marks is “The Banquet” (shown above) which is on display at the Art Institute. Upon first encountering it in the flesh a few years ago, I was completely captured by it. As with many paintings — it does little to impress when shown 3″ x 4″ on a computer monitor. They may as well throttle you by the throat in real life. I used to think that art could be seen in books on a screen — but that is not the case.

in the glow

After the Art Institute, we decided to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art specifically for the Dan Flavin Retrospective there until October 30, 2005. I saw a subway poster for this on an L platform in Chicago, and was immediately reminded of the NPR piece I heard last October entitled Dan Flavin’s Fantastic Lights. The premise sounded simple enough: one man uses off-the-shelf fluorescent lights to create his art. What one can’t fully grasp on the radio or even on the web is just how much his art relies upon it’s surroundings. His medium is truly light, and hence, reflection is the eventual outcome. Paintings are graced by frames, but his art can be recreated in any room and will thereby become a different piece altogether!

Dan Flavin

The entire 4th floor of the MCA was without any lights save for Flavin’s works. (They had even gone so far as to remove the fluoresecents from the ceiling fixtures!) The longest work in the hall stretched before a long series of windows facing the street — reflecting it’s beautiful green glow upon not only the ceiling and walls of the floor, but the museum itself – a beacon to all that passed by.
To enter that floor was to enter a world of otherworldly lights. At first it was difficult to stand, but after a few moments, you got used to the 60Hz pulse of the lights and passing between rooms (which often housed a single piece) meant changing the tint of the world in which you operated. Inspecting a piece close-up was to ruin the spectre of what the hardware had created. Each person in the room became part of the piece, part of the canvas and it was breathtaking. A sidenote: photography was not allowed in the gallery, so I had to be sneaky.

Later that evening, we went to go see The Second City’s Mainstage doing the show The Red Scare, a long-running show playing with the differences and similarities between the left- and the right-wingers in the world. Absolutely hilarious! Some really great stuff there and a visit to Chicago isn’t complete without seeing the Second City. I’ve been there twice (once to the Mainstage and once to one of their “lesser” shows”) and have been totally destroyed by the funny both times.

filed under Athletics,Travel and then tagged as ,,,,
Oct 11 2005 ~ 11:51 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Or, perhaps The Blizzard of Destiny!

But first, last night…


Last night after the marathon, we met Kelly’s friends Howard and Ande for a meal at Joey Buono’s Pizza just off Michigan Avenue. I had a very tasty Goose Island Oktoberfest beer along with some decent calamari. The real winner was the “Quatro Staggione” pizza that had four different quadrants of various and nummy toppings. Excellent. (And then I had a tasty Stella Artois).

Afterwards, we headed down to the Navy Pier for the “after-party”. Thanks to the wonderful mass transit they have here, we hopped on a bus and were there in no time. However, once inside the pier, we had to walk the entire length of the damned thing (which is far) to get to the “Grand Ballroom”. I, the only member of the party who hadn’t run the race had no problems and enjoyed the stained glass exhibit running a good 1/4 mile along the inside of the pier mall. The others hobbled along behind.

The after-party was pretty hoppin’ — all sorts of free food and nearly-free alcohol, replete with a nutty cover band called The Paramours. We, despite being stuffed with pizza, sampled the fare and the liquid assets. Also, we got Kelly’s official time: 4:40:12!

This morning, we slept in as late as we wanted and decided to try and find Kelly’s Blizzard of Destiny, the confection foretold by prophecy to officially end Kelly’s marathon saga. The Dairy Queen website said something about a DQ at 69 Washington Street, only a few blocks away from us. We had our destination.

So, standing there at 69 W. Washington and not seeing a DQ, we were confused! Feeling dejected we tracked down a phone book in the basement of the nearby Sears. 222 S. Riverside Plaza! Only a few MORE blocks away. First, feeling hungry, we decided to hop into the nearby Cosi for some lunch. I’d heard about Cosi from the David Cross bit about “Squagels” the square bagels. “What’s for breakfast as COSI?!”. Ultimately a little bit of a let-down as it was essentially a collection of Hot Pocket style sandwiches that at least adventurous, though more expensive than Panera. But I digress… After lunch, we trucked on over to 222 S. Riverside Plaza and found it to be an Amtrak station. Walking downstairs to the Food Court we were greeted with even further dejection! Boo! According to the helpdesk, it had moved out a while back. Dang.
Dairy Queen

The next closest one was on W. Irving Park, which was a good haul away in Northwest Chicago. Kelly, now truly in the dumps after being let down twice by Dairy Queen, and forecasting that she’d “break down and cry” if the next DQ was not where it said it was, was nonetheless a trooper and we started on our way. Not even knowing if it still existed, we took the Green Line to the Blue Line (like 10 stops out) and then took a bus for 16 blocks. The DQ in sight and open! Huzzah! Kelly ordered a Medium Strawberry Cheesecake Blizzard and I had a Small Oreo Blizzard. All was well in the cosmos. All was tasty. And it had only taken a plane ride, a marthon, at least 4 train rides and a bus to complete.

While on the way back on the Blue Line from Irving Park (which, by the way, is were I saw my second shoving-match in public of this vacation) we decided to stop at Logan Park, which I incorrectly remembered as where I had been 2 years before on a similar adventure with Hunter to find a ‘zine distributor. Nonetheless, Logan Park was neat little Latino/Polish area with a GAP Outlet store (and a Payless). I managed to impress Kelly by picking out not one but two smart ensembles of fall-inspired shirts and sweaters (with jeans). It takes so very little to impress Kelly. Later, we went to the Payless Shoes and saw a woman get nabbed for shoplifting. She was wearing a velour track suit and when the attendee caught her at the door, she simulatenously said “Oh? I’m sorry” and comically pulled out a feather boa-like thing from the front pouch of her sweatshirt, as if it were a scarf and she was a magician. I guess it was a bit scarf-like, but dang, lady — a shoplifting wrap for a crappy scarf?

Later, we kicked it back to the hotel for a brief respite and then headed out for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory at the base of the Hancock Building. We ate a tasty grilled artichoke appetizer (the discarded leaves of which Kelly made a little hut). I continued on my Goose Island (the closest thing to a local beer around here) tip and Kelly ate some Fish Tacos and I had the “Bang-Bang Chicken and Shrimp” which was tasty, but as Kelly put it: “This tastes like just “eh… bang chicken and shrimp”. Not terribly spicy at all.

Tomorrow: It’s ART DAY!

filed under Athletics,Food,Travel and then tagged as ,,,,,
Oct 10 2005 ~ 10:21 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Update 4: Technology Fails Us, Kelly Finishes Despite it all!

stuck on train

So, after the Damen Avenue stop, I headed back down the Blue Line to transfer to the Red Line at Jackson Station. And then things got hairy. Packed trains and we sat on the tracks for a good 15-20 minutes waiting for the platform to clear — I assume this is so that people won’t be sucked onto the electrified tracks. Anyway, I last saw Kelly at approximately 10:44 AM at the 15 mile marker. The next vantage was at Chinatown/Cermak station at the 21.5 mile marker, approximately 1 hour of Kelly-time away (11:45). I was sitting on the train when I assumed Kelly would have passed the Chinatown stop, so I went on to the Sox/35th station, which turned out to be the best viewing anyway — and about 95% less the people. Awesome. Despite that good fortune I did not see Kelly. I got there about 11:50 and stayed until 12:15, sure in the idea that Kelly had slipped by my wily gaze. I don’t know if she did or not, but I captured a photo of Comiskey Park. Dejected, I headed back down the Red Line to Roosevelt Station and the finish line. Expecting a notification on my phone when she passed 40k (as I had gotten a 10k, half-way (21k) and a 30k notification) I thought either Kelly had been eaten by bears or technology had failed us! Oh dear oh dear.


Realizing the absolute throng of people in the park at the finish, I decided to head down past the finish to the “Reunion Stations”, at our pre-planned “Q” for “Quincy” meet-up. What a goddamned HUDDLED MASS of people! I was in human stand-still traffic for about 15 minutes. Insanity. Thank god I’m not claustrophobic. I would have been instantly melted (while the “Married with Children” theme went through my head, as the Buckingham Fountain was always within site. 20 minutes later, Kelly spotted my sign and we had a sweaty, achy reunion. 5 minutes later my phone pinged me to say Kelly had crossed the finish line at 4 hours, 50 minutes.


Off to the hotel! Where we are immediately told that our reservations have been cancelled! Cancelled! Woe is technology! Woe is us! Kelly immediately gets her “stern voice” on telling the embattled front-desk agent Ahmad that “our credit cards have already been charged”. Long story short, Expedia was called, a FAX was exchanged and now we’re reserved in the computer and that means we’re golden — virtually. However, there were a crapload of people who checked out late due to the marathon, so we are waiting on a king bed to be cleaned. And here we sit.

PS — Ever seen that old SNL sketch “Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Pepsi!” about the Greek guys running a grill? IT IS HERE IN THE HOTEL I SWEAR IT. Replete with Greeks! (Maybe Armenians, Mediterraneans in any case). I will eat here every day and order a cheeseburger and Pepsi (they actually carry Pepsi) even if I’m not hungry.

Update 3: Malcolm X Supplemental!

Just saw Kelly and Howard at corner of Jackson and Damen. Both looked good and were right on time for their pace — looks like they are at about 10 minute pace. Next stop: Cermak/Chinatown at the 21.5 mile marker. They should arrive about 11:45 or a little after.

Update #2: 10:24 AM CST Location: Malcolm X College Lawn, Jackson and Damen Streets. Wireless Strength: Excellent.

On the Lawn

Last saw Kelly at Cornelia and Broadway in Wrigleyville around the 8 mile marker. Both she and Howard were responsive and ambulatory! Even had a chance to wave and smile. Awesome. Got notification that they had passed 10k (6.2miles) at 1:13, which is right on target.

I went back to Addison Station on the Red Line, boarded a packed train headed to Jackson Station. Transferred to Blue Line, got off at Medical Center stop. Good vantage point here, right at the turn onto Jackson, which leads runners back into the city.

Just now received word via email that Kelly has passed the halfway point! Huzzah! Kelly,Wilson,02:24:25.00 @ Halfway They actually picked up a little speed here! Halfway is about 21k.

Update #1: 8:57 AM CST. Location: Caribou Coffee, 3500 N Halsted Ave, Wrigleyville


Kelly and I met up with Howard and Harry (also from Louisville) this AM on Congress Avenue at about 7AM. Not as cold as we had expected, and the high should only reach about 70 degrees today. Good weather for running (so I’m told).

Lou Crew

I stuck around with Kelly until about 7:35 or so, and walked with her up to about the 10-minute pace mark in the starting queue. This thing is hugeness on a level I’ve rarely experienced before! I don’t actually intend on seeing Kelly until the finish (we are meeting at the “Q” meetup station. Our last name is “Quincy” if anyone asks). So, I took the L back up to the Addison (Wrigleyville) station and hiked a few blocks up to this coffee house to do an update. It’s pretty close to the 8 mile marker, where hopefully the crowd will have thinnned out a little bit and I can catch a glimpse of Kelly. Hard to say, tho’.


Howard tells us that his last run he took before leaving Louisville provided a good omen! He has a route he runs that is normally 3 miles or so — but he took a bit of a detour, and when he got back home and checked his handy-dandy pedometer-watch thing, it read 2.62 miles! (26.2 being the distance of the marathon). Awesome!

More later!

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