The Christmas List

Now that the calendar has turned from October to November it's time, per custom, to unveil my Christmas list. You know, just in case you're in an extra giving mood this year, you'll know exactly what to get me. Don't forget, I've been extra good this year.

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Interview: Theresa Dowell Blackinton

While Theresa Dowell Blackinton's next book, Moon Kentucky won't arrive on bookshelves until Spring 2011, I got the inside scoop on her travels around the state. Find out about her favorite spots, the best food, and some of the interesting tidbits she learned along the way in this three-part interview with the author, photographer, and all-around gypsy.

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Winter Time in a Summer Town
11.09.2010 9:00PM
So it's not yet winter in Chicago, seemingly far from it (temperatures have approached 70 the past few days), but its coming. The clocks have changed, and its dark well before six o'clock. At least five months of old man winter await along with temperatures that hover below freezing and feel much colder with the wicked Chicago wind. It's not fun. But honestly, if you're properly prepared, its bearable. I said bearable. So there has to be a reason I, along with nearly 3 million fellow city dwellers, hang around. Some of the reasons are articulated below.

Northbound on US 41, Lake Shore Drive
Especially at night. Well actually only at night, because any other time its a clusterfuck, taking much longer to get from Point A to Point B than it really should. And even better during summer. Windows down. Lake to the right. Glistening skyline to the left. It's magical.

Friday Afternoon at the Ballpark
I may hate the Cubs, and I do, but I don't need any reason to leave work early for a few brews and hanging out. And as long as the Cubs suck, which should be at least another century, there will be plenty of tickets to be had.

As much as the CTA can suck, its too convenient and reasonably priced not to love. For $2.25 and 2 hours worth of free transfers I can pretty much get anywhere I would want in the city. Northside. Southside. Westside. Anywhere. And while the buses may bunch and the wait for the L drag on there's no other way I want to get around Chicago.

Street Festivals
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day there is not a weekend in which there is not at least one street festival. Usually there are three or four. It's a great way to check out all the eclectic neighborhoods that make Chicago the awesome place it is.

Air & Water Show
This is must see. Every year. Everybody's eyes are trained on the sky to see every plane making an impressive pass. From biplane doing crazy tricks to the Blue Angels buzzing the skyline, the entire show, which spans two days, is truly a sight to behold.

The Food
You could live your entire life in Chicago and never come close to tasting all the delicious delectables this city has to offer. There is every type of food you can imagine and most of it is too notch. The trap I've falled into is find a place a love, say a Mexican place, and I make return visits there instead of trying to find a stable of great Mexican places.

The Second City
Chicago is not New York. Chicago is not Los Angeles. Chicago is unabashedly Midwestern. And the city is not only fine with that, but it celebrates it. While you can find your hotbeds of extremes, and they're fun to visit on a Saturday night, Chicago is pretty much somewhere in the middle. It's about as sincere as place as you can find, especially considering its size and diversity.

And to think thats just a partial list. I'm sure by this time next week, it will barely be reaching 40 and some snow will be on the ground. And the city will grumble for a bit, then accept the remainder of winter that awaits, before smiling and realizing that come mid-April, the city will burst back to life and the next 6 months are the reason we "wait it out".

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