Sunday, February 13, 2011


I'm so full of glee that it's overflowing. Spent the better part of yesterday getting, what may be, my last dose of real live Glee. Grandkid Catherine, a high school senior, has been part of the performing choir (I think that's what you call a bunch of talented kids singing and dancing their way to pure glee) at Prospect High in the Chicago area. A large competition took place in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin close enough for us to drive over to watch her and her group perform. Although I have never watched the TV version of this Glee thing, I kinda get the idea. After hours upon hours of preparation, hundreds of kids sing and dance their collective little butts off hoping to beat the little butts off of the other thousand teams of hundreds of singing and dancing kids. (I should probably refer to them as young adults) Most of the action takes place in the gym/auditorium where spectators squirm around on the oak planked grandstand seats while friends, classmates and parents of the preforming group get to sit in folding chairs in front of the stage to scream and howl encouragement to the performers. After a short introduction on a barely audible loudspeaker the group springs to life. Upbeat vocals, solos and duets and triplets and quadtets, octets and pretty soon the entire seven hundred voices unite into one sweet gigatet. All the while all eight hundred of them are dancing (their butts off) wildly with choreography that would bring tears to Paula Abdul's little eyes. As if this isn't enough, during all this singing, dancing and smiling, the entire nine hundred kids change costumes without missing a beat. Pretty incredible huh? Considering that this repeats itself for each of the six or seven thousand choirs (that's what I'm told they're called) during the course of a day things run fairly smoothly. I'd like to share a few of my observations of the event. Every dance step, high note, low note, gesture and head toss was accompanied by screams, whistles, applause and hoots from well wishers scattered around the gym/auditorium. The loudest, or course, from the floor seats. Secondly, it was smart to stay in your selected seat during and in between performances or risk the possibility of being run down by singing and/or dancing "young adults" racing to or from their dressing rooms, place on the stage, place in the gym/auditorium to check out the competition, or the snack bar for some, much needed, energy producing substance. This accompanied by an equal amount of parents, relatives, sisters, brothers, friends and some guy that got accidentally stopped in to ask directions to Culvers, makes the "Running With the Bulls" child's play. All and all it was a very entertaining and enjoyable afternoon even though I didn't run into Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch or Lea Michele, I think I saw the actual people that their characters were modeled after. I can't close this Gleeful review without reporting a few of the real highlights of the event. (Other than the outstanding performance by my very own granddaughter Catherine) Highlight #1 - during one of the costume changes one of the male performers didn't grab a hat so he continued the dance number going through all the same gestures as the hatted guys only hatless. (and he did an almost convincing job of it) #2 - Similar situation only this time a girl missed her apron and dish towel for a rousing rendition of Nine to Five. (once again carried off like a real trouper) And at #3 - The costume malfunction that we all (well me) wait to happen. A strenuous dance move, a broken strap and - well it wasn't a complete bust but . . . the show must go on and go on it did for what probably seemed like two hours for the young lady involved. Once again true professionalism prevailed and most important of all, no animals were injured in the production of this event. (Just in - the exposer has landed a lucrative contract from Victoria's Secret) Sadly, I didn't take any photos of the event because the flash might distract some of the judges, spectators or snack bar attendants. But, here is a rear view of Catherine's group and a shot of her at the awards presentation.

Catherine is the girl, front row left, facing the guy with his back to us.
Isn't she pretty?

Some of the thousands of Young Adults waiting for the award announcements. Catherine is the short girl in the center of the back row next to the tall guy with the white tie. I think she even looks better in this shot.

The winning group celebrates with the traditional GatorAde pour!
I didn't think that they were that great!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Waiting For The Blizzard

As I watch the snow start to fall outside my window waiting for the predicted "Blizzard of the Century", I recall a day about 44 years ago. A day like any other day at that time of my life. The weather had hit a record high temperature for January in Chicago only a day or two ago and, as usual I was up against an end of the month deadline. I worked for a fairly popular magazine and had an office on the tenth floor of what used to be the Palmolive Building at the corner of Walton and Michigan. No need to panic about the deadline at 10am the next day, so, a little relaxation was in order. Fortunately our building was completely outfitted with a fine cocktail lounge on the ground floor. Three or four or five hours of refreshments with friends and I headed for the elevator ready to hit the old drawing board. After a couple of hours of napping it was down to work pouring over envelop after envelop of transparencies, shooting photostats, drawing, cutting and pasting pictures. As the final pages took shape, daylight started peeping through the blinds. It was almost nine in the morning when I realized that no one was showing up for work. Honestly I hadn't looked outside since noon the previous day and had no idea what was happening out there. Soon the phones started ringing. I answered the one on our secretary's desk only to be informed by the caller that he couldn't make it in because of the weather. What a wimp! Then I looked out of the window and much to my surprise people were walking down the middle of Michigan avenue while the vehicles that were visible were at a standstill. It looked a lot like a scene from Dr, Zhivago. A quick shave, hair comb and tooth brushing in the photo studio dressing room and I was ready to deliver the all important pages for approval. I stood for a moment on Michigan Avenue just taking in this once in a lifetime sight (or so I thought). I headed North to the "Boss's Pad", a route that took me past numerous Rush Street watering holes which were already packed with folks that "couldn't get to work because of the weather". Refusing invitation after invitation I continued to the "Mansion", dropped off my layouts and continued on home. Home at the time was up in the Broadway and Diversey area (about twenty blocks from work). I'm not sure how long the walk took because I was entertained the entire trek by the people. People walking, people skiing, people pulling sleds, people shoveling and people digging out cars. I don't recall any people complaining or being nasty. There was almost a sense of celebration going on. I arrived home cold and tired but a couple of hours sleep, a shower, dry clothes and I was off to accept a few of those drink invites.
My son, Derek, sent me a link to some pics of the event. Here are a few that are exactly what I saw that day.

The scene outside my window at Michigan and Walton.

Skier coming off the Michigan Avenue Bridge. I think he outran the plows.

Brave souls "making to the office".
I don't think that anyone got extra "Brownie Points" for their effort.

The Outer Drive wasn't a real good route choice.

Detouring through the Park wasn't a good option either.

Well, the snow is picking up a little here. So, let's see if I can get material for another "Snowbound" story to relate in the future. (probably not 44 years from now though)