Houli wouldn’t give me the password to this website while he was in Ireland. He was afraid I might post way too many pictures of Kathy Ireland, but there’s a restraining order that prevents me from doing that.
While he’s been drinking overseas, though, I’ve been busy hitting things Irish and otherwise, and braving the hellish traffic from the northwest suburbs to the Loop on three occasions to do so.
Yeah, it’s typically a 2-hour drive if you leave late on a weekday afternoon to trek the 40 miles. How people do this everyday for their jobs without turning into the Michael Douglas character from “Falling Down” mystifies me.
Celtic Thunder Buddies
Anyway, the first journey made in the name of Irish blogging while Houli was gone was to see “Celtic Thunder: Buddies.”
Yes, the dreamy Irish singers worked with Seth MacFarlane and brought along vulgar talking teddy bears who cursed in gaelic but sang like angels.
Or maybe the show was called “Mythology.” I’m going with that one because of the Celtic Cross on stage and the rock shapes on which images were projected.
The stones might have been giant English teeth. It was hard to tell with all the fog, for Celtic shows of this sort are nothing if not misty – and purply.
The show at Chicago Theater also set a record for the most number of walkers and rollators I have seen in one place – and I think that’s a good thing. It’s nice that there are still shows to which you can bring your grandmother. Or her grandmother.
For our own entertainment, best fest buddy Tom and I did some improv before we sat down, pretending that Thunder member George Donaldson was our cousin, and we were going to meet him and his family for a drink after the show. A variation on the same material worked on Facebook the following morning.
What actually amused us that night was the attractive young woman sitting in the row in front of us. She was very excited by the cute and cuddly guys onstage and got up to wiggle about in appreciation on several occasions.
If I were a dead Swedish mystery writer I would call her The Girl with the Green DayGlo Bracelet. But the fan-girl was too happy to be in such a book.
Still, there was something sinister about the evening, as ushers were frisking patrons with a metal detector wand upon entry to the theater.
Yes, Celtic Thunder fans were checked for weapons, which made me wonder if some stalker was expected among the Thunderheads. I smell an Irish remake of “Play Misty for Me.”
Either way, nobody got hurt. Everybody sang along to “Ireland’s Call” and went home.
By the way, if you do find yourself along State Street near Lake Street, you owe it to yourself to check out the newish Super Walgreen’s. They have wine tastings. We tried some from South Africa provided by Blue Crane importers of Chicago.
Also recommended: the $5 Buffalo chicken meatball appetizers at Petterino’s attached to the Goodman Theatre. And the daily specials at the Emerald Loop.
Another beer fest – with scary or wooly names
The next morning, it was back downtown for me, this time with my pals from the Village Vintner & Winery in Algonquin who were off to The Chicago Beer Festival in Union Station, in the great hall where they shot that famous scene from “The Untouchables” with Kevin Costner as Elliott Ness, the guy who ultimately failed at enforcing Prohibition.
Playing my usual role at one of these things as observer-drinker, I witnessed once again that if you give a roomful of mostly white people enough liquor – about 90 minutes worth – they can’t help but dance to cheesy black music of the 80s, 90s and wedding receptions to this day. Yes, Whitney and Michael, you live on in Caucasian drunken revelry.
You too, Lionel. Fiesta. Forever. Yeah, Jambo Jumbo – which might have been a name of a beer.
Pig Minds and Morning Wood are. The latter, from Local Option, has the most disturbing logo – a tattoo-art design of a fat guy with a skull head holding a gun to his temple, his belly exposed, and happiness bulging in his shorts.
While that scared me, it was good to learn that chicks dig cider, beers that taste like pumpkin pie, apple pie, and root beer.
For Irish musician Joe Cullen I picked out Christmas presents – taps from 3 Sheeps and Hop City – for beers that should be lambics, but aren’t – and a JFK Hawaiian shirt I took from some drunk guy.
And I headed home with another beer-flavored lip balm and a bottle opener from Zywiec that is shaped like a shoehorn. I often take off my shoes when drinking, so this will come in handy for getting them back on for the long walk home.
While tired from all of the above, I had agreed to help my wine buddies crush grapes on Sunday morning. The four boxes came via a driver with a Russian accent, which makes me wonder what else he might have been hauling, as he was two hours late. Actually, he was about a week late, but that’s another story, and I am tired from my day job as I type this.
The way the crushing process worked was box was held in place with at a height of about 3 feet by a forklift as two guys used plastic pitchforks to toss the grapes into the crusher.
My job was to make sure the grapes were going through the machine properly, then to empty a big filled with vines and other grape parts the machine spit out into a garbage can. Then I emptied the garbage can.
Yes. I did manual labor. And I was dressed in a yellow raincoat, so I looked like a fisherman.
Afterward, I went home to take a nap. When I woke up, I thought it was 3 a.m. It was 6:30 p.m. I hate anything that even remotely smacks of winter. I want to go to Australia. With Celtic Thunder. On a cruise.
Another one bites the dust
My next adventure came the following Tuesday with another crap commute downtown.
Having seen “We Will Rock You,” I need not hear the music of Queen again. Ever. It was that good.
I brought along my buddy Shay Clarke who saw Queen play outside Slane Castle in 1986. The musical, however, is set in a future where most of life is lived online and rock music apparently has been banned – even though the bad guys in charge also sing rock songs (and are named Killer Queen and Khashoggi).
The rebel bohemians are searching for the one who will bring back the music. They have taken names that include Madonna, Britney Spears and Katy Perry so they know not of which they speak. One of them dresses like Boy George. They hang out in a place that looks like a leftover set from “Rent.”
The one is a dreamer named Galileo Figaro. He calls his gal Scaramouche. Their third wheel is Jim Carrey. No, he’s called Buddy, but the guy who played him was in Ace Ventura, Pet Detective form.
This is a real don’t ask, don’t tell plot, ain’t it?
As such, you might like “We Will Rock You” if you:
– liked the musical parody skits on Carol Burnett
– have ever wondered what it would have been like if Wayne and Garth or Bill and Ted wrote a book for a musical
– think the use of song titles and lyrics as dialogue is clever and not just a lame Second City bit
– were 14 in 1980, and this were still 1980
– think the 1980 movie “Flash Gordon” should have won multiple Oscars
– are a fan of the Hard Rock Cafe, as it was mentioned about 1,234 times during the show
– are a writer for “Glee” and want another dumbass plot for your insipid show
– think the “queen my dishes” commercial is still funny after 10,000 viewings
We did get to hear the entire cast sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” after curtain call – because a song with an actual plot in its lyrics would have been too much for Ben Elton to work into his script.