Category Archives: Chicago

2015 European Union Film Festival

It’s EU Film Festival time at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago and I’ll be seeing six of their many offerings this year.  The Gene Siskel Film Center is a wonderful place to watch a film.  The theaters are intimate and comfortable and they are always showing films you can’t see in wide release.  It is a hidden gem of Chicago and I don’t use it nearly as much as I should.

I have a general idea of which films I will be seeing, but that’s likely subject to change as life gets in the way so I will refrain from saying up front which are on the agenda.  As per usual with movies I see in the theater, I will be doing reviews for them all.  The first one is “Amour Fou”.  I can say that because I watched it yesterday.  It is a little insane.  Which is appropriate because it means “Insane Love”.  The review will likely be up tomorrow as I’m still processing it.

The Streak Continues!

So, I did end up voting yesterday.  I had just enough time to run home after work (and boy are my legs tired!), vote, then run all the way back downtown to do my volunteering gig.

Who I vote for:

Mayor – Bob Fioretti – I’ve know of Fioretti for a while now as he used to be the alderman of my mom and aunt and my mom always had good things to say about him.  I also really liked the answers he gave for the Chicago Tribune questionnaire.  I am not at all upset that Chuy Garcia was able to force a run-off against Emmanuel and will gladly vote for him in the run-off.

Alderman – Ameya Pawar – This was a pretty easy call even though I didn’t know I was in the 47th ward until yesterday.  They just changed the boundaries for this election.  The guy who was running against Pawar seemed like a one issue candidate, that issue being fighting against density increases, which I am against.  Also, Pawar has a very impressive background and as an added bonus is the first person of both Indian and Asian descent to serve on the City Council.

All the rest of the races were uncontested.

For the referendums, I voted ‘yes’ for all of them.  The only one that I was kind of waffly about was the domestic violence treatment requirement for city employees.  I am all for people who need help getting help, but I have some issues with employers demanding changes from employees for things that occur outside of work.  Domestic violence is a serious enough topic, though, to let me see past my issues.  Paid leave for workers was a no-brainer.  The campaign finance reform offered is not my first choice of reform, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.  Electing school board members I’m kind of neutral on.  On one side, it seems like it may turn out to be yet another low information ballot item like judges, but on the other side, I like the idea of some sort of community control for our schools.

I Forgot To Vote This Morning

For the first time in my adult life, I will not be voting in an election.  I was supposed to do so before I left for work this morning, but it didn’t even cross my mind until I was well on my way to downtown already and I’m not going to be home again until late.  I completely zombied my way to work today.  Or maybe I “Time to make the donuts”-ed to work.  The former is more hip while the latter shows my age.  And yours too if you get the reference.

I have what I’d consider a decent excuse, though.  It was a very long night of getting paged for work and I’ve been up since 3:00 AM.  It was so cold in the house that by the time I finished working and tried going back to sleep, my feet were so freezing that I couldn’t get at all comfortable.  So everything was crawl out of bed, shamble to the shower, go through the motions of getting ready.  I almost left without putting on a belt.  I remembered it as I was putting on my coat.  That was the moment when I would have remembered to vote, but my brain decided to waste its processing power on putting on the belt instead.  Stupid brain!

It’s probably best I didn’t vote as I might have accidentally voted for Rahm *gasp*.  I also didn’t even realize that I was redistricted into another Ward for 2015 so I was all set to vote for an Alderman who doesn’t even represent me anymore.  Stupid low information voters!

So if any of you were going to vote for Rahm today, I’d like you to just leave it blank so my counter vote would be effective.  Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal said it best, “It’d be more efficient to have every person find someone who votes the other way, then mutually agree not to vote.  Then only people who can’t find a pair will actually go to the voting booth.”  I’m not sure that logic applies in a 5-way race.

Yep, That Was A Lot Of Snow

Final snowfall totals for Chicago’s 2015 blizzard are in and we just experienced the fifth largest snowfall event in Chicago history coming in at 19.3″.  Major kudos to the City for an excellent snowfall removal plan.  Side streets are still crappy, but the major thoroughfares are clean.  Good luck to all the people parked on the streets.  Digging your car out is going to be a herculean task.  Also kudos to the CTA for a pretty easy commute as well.  There were some issues with the trains, but I still got to work on time.  But really, how the heck did you not shovel the el platform?

Here are the top 10 Chicago snow events:

  1. 23.0″ January 26-27 1967
  2. 21.6″ January 1-3 1999
  3. 21.2″ January 31 – Feb 2 2011
  4. 20.3″ January 12-14 1979
  5. 19.3″ February 1-2 2015
  6. 19.2″ March 25-26 1930
  7. 16.2″ March 7-8 1931
  8. 14.9″ January 30 1939
  9. 14.9″ January 6-7 1918
  10. 14.8″ December 17-19 1928

It’s Snraining!


The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it is what can only be described as snraining outside right now. There is a moderately heavy rain falling and mixed with that is a swirling snowfall. It is bizarrely beautiful.

Illinois Voters Make No Sense

Today is the day where I pull my hair out trying to make sense of the myriad contradictions in the patterns of what I assume are generally smartish people.  I know I shouldn’t do this.  It’s bad for my health.  But I can’t help myself.  Here we go.

There were a lot of ballot measures to vote for and they are quite telling of the dichotomy of how voters think and how voters feel.  This election, I think, shows that Illinoisans’ thinking is pretty Democratic given the results of the ballot measures.  But then they let their feelings get in the way and vote for Republicans who will invariably vote against any bill that comes up in support of the same ballot measures that voters overwhelmingly support.  Why?  This makes no sense.

Let’s take the Voter’s Rights Amendment as an example.  It amends the Illinois Constitution to basically say that you can’t discriminate when signing up people to vote or against people actually voting.  What it really boils down to, and was sold as, is an anti-voter ID law amendment.  It passed overwhelmingly garnering 72% of the vote.  This is a very solid Democratic amendment and hundreds of thousands of people who otherwise voted Republican voted in favor of it.

The list goes on.  There was a measure to call for the increase of the minimum wage in Illinois to $10/hour.  It passed with 67% of the vote.  The measure calling for health insurance plans to cover birth control?  It passed with 66% of the vote.  The measure calling for incomes of over $1M to be taxed an extra 3% to cover school funding?  Passed with 64% of the vote.

All of these measures are distinctly Democratic in nature.  If I were to give you just the above information to go on, what would you think the results of the races would be?  Did you say Democrats pretty much sweeping ultra-blue Illinois?  Yeah, not so much.

Bruce Rauner, our new Republican Governor, won every county except Cook, which is still counting the votes and the only reason why Quinn hasn’t conceded yet.  The U.S. House was fairly evenly split with a 10-8 Democratic/Republican split.  Career Politician and Democrat Dick Durbin pretty handily beat Career Also-Ran Jim Oberweis.  And, in State politics, Democrats still retain supermajorities in both the House and the Senate thanks to some legendary gerrymandering shenanigans.

It will be interesting to see what Rauner does when bills supporting the ballot initiatives cross his desk.  He has claimed to be for raising the minimum wage, but with the huge caveat that it must be packaged with a plethora of “business friendly” attachments.  I haven’t been able to find much information on how he stands with the others.

So yeah, Illinois is pretty weird politically.  We seem to be a very blue state where state politics is concerned but we veer frighteningly rightward in our national politics.  What ever could be the cause of such a dichotomy?

Vote For Judges!

It’s that time of year again where I harangue all of my friends about the importance of getting out to vote, if only just for the judges.  My Chicago area peeps have it easy.  They can just go to the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice’s handy-dandy recommendations page.  Local elections are very important and often overlooked with all the national election noise machines in full effect.  Don’t believe me?  Well maybe you will listen to John Oliver:

Spread the word!


I Totally Voted For Myself

One of the judicial vacancies (Reyes if you’re interested) had two people running who both had a few “not recommended” decisions by various bar associations and, for some reason, had a write in spot, so of course I wrote myself in!  Many of the other vacancy spots didn’t have a write in so I’m not sure why this one was special.  The vagaries of the voting ballot.

If I were a little more forward thinking, I could have had all of my friends vote for me as well.  Given that I was the 47th person to vote for my precinct today, I don’t think it would have taken that many votes to put me in contention.  Yep, that’s right, I was 47th in a pool of around 1000.  The workers joked to me that they bet that they can hit 50 before the night is done.  Ah, democracy.

This Is Why I Hate St. Patrick’s Day

Stupid people are stupid.  The link goes to a blog that follows crime reports in Boystown.  It’s a special St. Patrick’s edition of all the crime from the Saturday into Sunday that is St. Patrick’s Day Weekend.  It is both comedic and sad.

There is no better way to see the true character of a person than to see that person drunk.  “In vino veritas” as the Italians say.  If a person acts like an asshole when they are drunk, you can be pretty sure that person is an asshole when they are sober but better able to hide it.  And, boy, do the assholes come out of the woodwork this weekend.  There’s nothing wrong with getting drunk.  There’s plenty wrong with using your drunkeness as an excuse to act stupid.

St. Patrick’s Day weekend must be one of the worst to work as a first responder.  Every dispatch message reads like this: Disturbance in progress, white male, 20s, wearing green.  Fun.

Vote For Judges!

It’s that time again where I harangue my measly Chicago audience and remind them to get out there on Tuesday, March 18th and perform one of the most critical civil duties.  Voting.  Yes, this primary has selections for Governor and Attorney General and Treasurer and blah blah blah, but they are far from the most important offices on the ballot.  The most important would be judges.

Judges are the one elected officials you are most likely to run into in a professional capacity in your everyday lives.  And it likely won’t be for a fun reason.  Rarely is it said, “Yay, I get to go before a judge today!”  For this reason, it is vitally important that we get good judges on the bench and even more important to remove the bad ones.

You are ill-equipped to decide which judges are good and which are trash.  Thus you must trust the opinions of those who interact with judges on a daily basis; lawyers.  Lucky for us, the Alliance of Bar Associations for judicial Screening (ABAJS?) produces a pdf document that you can print out and take with you to your polling station.  The document is a conglomeration of various bar associations’ recommendations on whether a judge is qualified or not.  If you have your favorite bar association (and who doesn’t?), you can follow their recommendations.  I tend to look for even one unqualified rating by any of the bar associations and vote down that judge if one exists.

Now go do your duty on Tuesday.