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July 2011 Archives

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some of the movies playing this weekend...


Cowboys & Aliens



Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is coming off an injury and a bad romance The team's traded away a boatload of expensive veterans to stay under the salary cap and had one of its most disappointing seasons in ages last year. The Aliens present an unknown quantity but apparently the team is well-equipped with a full arsenal and a rapid fire offense. Still, this is being played on the Cowboys home turf. The signs point to the Aliens not playing well in wet weather or corn fields, but then again the Cowboys have a retractable roof stadium. So take the Aliens and the points.

Beer rating: A case of something light, of course.


Smurfs, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some of the movies playing this weekend...


Captain America



I lost interest in superhero movies years ago. I don't care if this one might be stylistically retro chic or how visually interesting it's supposed to be. Essentially it's just another mixed-up guy in tights, albeit this time one without special powers, trying to save the world.

Beer rating: Lots of PBR.


Friends With Benefits, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgCorn dogs? Shake-ups? Pretty much anything that comes fried and on a stick?

What's your favorite fair food? Because I'll try it, no matter how disgusting!

I'll be eating my way through the Kane County Fair at lunchtime Thursday -- a repeat of last year's "Tasty Sampling of the Kane County Fair." To do this, I'll be drawing on nearly 20 years of experience eating fair food at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, where I grew up.

But I already ate a corndog last year. And a shake-up. And both a deep-fried Snickers and deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And a marinated steak sandwich. I'm not sure what's left to try.

So far suggestions include:

And @bobandenid tweeted:

we expect a full fair foodie report since the website is lacking in details ;-)

Leave me your ideas in the comments, or tweet me at @mcemilywrites.


And read last year's fair food reviews from former Courier colleague Julia Doyle and myself, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgI spent my Fourth of July like a true American, a real pioneer; that is, without electricity or running water.

That's because a storm similar to the one that flattened the Chicago area Monday took out the power at my family's lake cabin over the Fourth of July weekend in northwestern Wisconsin's Burnett County.

My husband Joel, our friend Kristin and I were driving up to the cabin for the holiday weekend, still several hours from the worst of the storm, when it blew through the state with straightline winds up to 100 miles per hour.

The downed trees appeared suddenly, imposingly in our headlights as we turned down the road to the cabin just after midnight. Some volunteer firefighter or Good Samaritan with a chainsaw already had started into the branches, and we slowly wound our way around trunks and leaves. When we reached the long, sand driveway to the cabin, though, we just had to give up, abandon the car, and pick and climb our way through. It was dark. It's usually dark. It's deep in the dark of the woods, without street lights anywhere nearby even when there is power.


IMG_2178

That's my husband and I clearing the driveway after a Fourth of July storm flattened trees at my family's lake cabin in northwestern Wisconsin.


Two people were killed in Burnett County in that storm, according to the Associated Press. Trees were downed across roads, wires and houses -- some ripping up entire front lawns along with their roots; others, snapped in half, looking like the fist of God had slammed down on them. Businesses and homes in Danbury, Wis., were without power that whole three-day weekend, and it still is out at the cabin, a week-and-a-half later, according to my mom. Food spoiled in grocery stores, stocked for holiday festivities. Danbury Days, the parade, the fireworks, the pig roast at the firehouse -- all were canceled.

We spent the weekend clearing the driveway, hacking apart trees with handsaws and an ax, the only people on the lake without a chainsaw, from the sound of it. We got to the grocery store too late for the bum-rush on ice. We threw away everything in the freezer -- some fish my dad had left, quickly going horribly, smellingly bad -- and stocked up on jugs of water, hot dogs, eggs, bread, a bottle of Bisquick Shake n' Pour, anything we thought could survive several days in the heat and cook over a fire. We picked wild blueberries for the pancakes. We tried, unsuccessfully, to catch some fish when the hot dogs ran low. We shampooed our hair in the lake and flushed the toilet with buckets of water, dragged uphill from the lake, since the cabin in on septic and pump systems.

And we had a good time, despite the hard work. At night, without electricity, without the chatter on somebody's TV echoing across the water or the lights on every house burning bright, the lake was completely still. It was surprisingly light in the cabin with just a few candles burning. It was like a reality TV show, or a Disney Channel movie, that drops the city folk in the country, hilarity ensues, and then pulls out some message about how those simpler times really were better. Or something.

"I can be done if you don't have children, or if you're not a senior citizen," said Corrinne Dirks, director of sales at the Hampton Inn in Elgin. The inn is completely booked again Wednesday night, she told me late Tuesday afternoon.

So here's to you, the ones who are doing it, going at the storm aftermath pioneer-style and without electricity. It can be done. And here are a few safety tips while you're doing it.


Share your power outage survival tips, and get some safety reminders from the McHenry Country Health Department, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgFox River Country Day School is a "wonderful school."

That's not just according to this YouTube video, created by parent volunteers. That's also according to the former students and parents of students (even those critical of the school's administration) I interviewed for Tuesday's cover story.

But last month, the school announced it was closing after nearly 100 years in Elgin.

Here are some additional resources for parents, students, alumni and other interested community members mentioned in my story on the closing of Fox River Country Day School, formerly Chicago Junior School:

-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Mmm. Pork tacos, anybody?

Jimmy Bannos, a local St. Charles restaurateur, offered this dish last week on The TODAY Show. Here's a link to the recipe on the show's website so you can make it in your own kitchen.

Bon appetit!

-- From staff reports

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some of the movies playing this weekend...


Zookeeper



This time it's a chubby zookeeper, not veterinarian Dr. Doolittle, who can talk to the animals, which, apparently are trying to hook him up on a date with Rosario Dawson (Seriously? She's into fat guys?). Didn't the beasts see "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," where Kevin James pretended to be in love with Adam Sandler in order to get health insurance? Haven't the creatures heard of Craigslist? Why would animals care if the zookeeper gets lucky in love? Wait. Don't answer that last question.

Beer rating:
Hamm's, and lots of it.


Horrible Bosses, after the jump.

em-joel-27(2).jpg

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgI've been married about a month now. (That's me, my groom, some hippies and a tightrope walker above.)

Frank and Angela Lullie of Elgin have been married 72 YEARS.

So when the Lullies' daughter Joanne M. Carlson of Huntley invited me to cover the anniversary party for the couple last week at the home in Elgin they've shared more than 65 years, I jumped at the chance to ask their advice on how to make this marriage thing work. That, and the fact I'd written about the couple several years ago, and they remain some of the most hilarious people I've met on the job.

Turns out I wasn't the only one curious.

At the party, Angela answered a rapid-fire series of questions from her family:

  • Who holds the purse strings? "Both of you."
  • How did you get through the hard economies? "We just made the best of it."
  • How does that compare to today? "These kids are all spoiled."


More marriage advice, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for danahey2 copy.jpgNOTE: In a revival of this "classic" Friday feature, Courier-News reporter Mike Danahey guesses how much beer (or other beverage of choice) it might take him to pay money to see a recently-released movie. His opinions are based on trailers, ads and advance hype.

Here are some of the movies playing this weekend...


Transformers: Dark of the Moon



THIS IS A MICHAEL BAY FLICK SO I AM TYPING IN CAPS AS THERE IS NOTHING SUBTLE IN ANY OF HIS WORK IN FACT I AM NOT EVEN GOING TO USE PUNCTUATION BECAUSE WELL WHY BOTHER ITS JUST LIKE BAY DOESNT BOTHER WITH ANYTHING LIKE A COMPREHENSIBLE PLOT WHICH WOULD JUST GET IN THE WAY OF ALL THE SPECIAL EFFECTS LOUD NOISE AND EXPLOSIONS I DON'T EVEN CARE THAT THIS WAS SHOT IN CHICAGO SO WERE ANY NUMBER OF LAME VINCE VAUGHAN MOVIES NONE OF WHICH I HAVE SEEN EITHER IF I WANT A HEADACHE I WILL JUST DRINK A LOT OF LOUSY LIGHT BEER.

Beer rating: Red Bull with a meth chaser.


Larry Crowne, after the jump.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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