Today kicks off a week of Fourth of July activities, a time of fireworks, parades, cook outs and summer fun. Most area barbecues will have brats, burgers, ribs, steaks, hot dogs and beverages. Some will even have red, white and blue maki.
What's that, you say you won't be having red, white and blue maki? Neither will The Hound. It's so wrong.
But Wildfish in Deerfield, at 730 Waukegan Road will, if you're inclined to ignore the all-American favorites. On July 4, the eatery will be holding a special tasting of red tuna, superl white tuna and back Tobiko, which will create the patriotic hue. The special will be laid over the top of a spicy tuna, avoado and cucumber-filled maki. Yum! --- not.
It's so wrong. Pass the soy sauce or wasabi --- not!
Despite our multiculturalism, The Hound will stick to the usual summer fare, if you don't mind.
If there's one rainbow at the end of the Supreme Court's ruling this week on overturning the Washington, D.C., ban on firearms, it is it may keep the Rev. Jesse Jackson out of Lake County. The reverend said Friday he will fight to keep any new gun stores in Chicago from opening in residential neighborhoods.
That must mean he won't be picketing D.S. Arms, the gun maker and distributor located in Lake Barrington, a favorite target of Chicago gun control supporters. Instead, Jackson said he would work with other ministers and city officials to win legislation that would keep gun stores away from churches, schools and playgrounds in Chicago.
Because of the city's ban on handguns, there are no gun stores currently operating in Chicago. It didn't take long for gun supporters to file suit to overturn the Chicago ordinance. The National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association all filed federal lawsuits Friday challenging Chicago's 26-year handgun ban. Said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb: "Chicago's handgun ban has failed to stop violent crime. It's time to give the Constitution a chance."
While protesting in Lake County, it seemed Chicago criminals certainly showed they can get their hands on guns without buying them legally, and without Rev. Jackson marching in the big city.
There's this supposed monster rummage sale starting today in Antioch. It's at St. Peter's Church in the village and is the 48th annual such sale. It follows on the heels of several others in west Lake County, including the giant Prince of Peace sale. The Antioch sale is the second-biggest in the county, after the annual rummage sale at Lake Forest's First Presbyterian Church. One question: What's with all these rummage sales?
Is there that much stuff floating around Lake County or are we importing it from Kentucky or Tennessee? How do these rummage sales compete with all the yard and garage and estate sales going on every weekend in various neighborhoods? How about Salvation Army and Goodwill stores? Are we merely rotating this stuff from sale to sale?
The Hound has hit a few rummage and yard sales, including some which appeared to be happening at least every other week during the summer, which is why municipalities clamped down on how many a homeowner can hold during the season.
But unlike the bazaar in Marrakesh, most of these sale holders don't want to bargain. Can you imagine, they want full price for used stuff! The Hound always thought the idea of yard sales was to get rid of stuff and make a little spending money. Wrong again!
There's real money to be made in selling somebody else's treasures and trash. Four years ago, sales at the St. Peter's rummage topped $134,000. Not bad for a few days work selling other people's donated stuff.
It's all settled then. Americans overwhelmingly support off-shore oil drilling in U.S. coastal waters and more than half like the idea of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. So much for coral reefs and caribou.
The above is courtesy of the latest Zogby Poll, which in a telephone survey of 1,113 likely voters nationwide, found 74 percent support off-shore oil drilling and 59 percent favor drilling in ANWR. The poll also notes that these same folks might support John McCain because he thinks we should do the same to increase our energy independence.
McCain also has come up with another alternative energy plan, one in which he wants to award a $300 million (of your money) prize for the development of a battery to step ahead of what's now commercially available for plug-in hybrids or electric cars. Ah, those would be mainly Japanese vehicles, although Chevrolet is working on its Volt vehicle. He calls it his "heroic efforts in engineering" idea.
Great, now we're beholden to the oil cartel, soon we'll be beholden to the battery cartel. Where's the Energizer Bunny when you need him?
Those Republicans certainly are full of energy ideas this election season. U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Highland Park, unveiled his "moon shot" program, the Apollo Energy Independence Act which proposes long-term market incentives to spur technological breakthroughs for the development of renewable and alternative energies, vehicles and fuels.
The Hound hears this country has been talking about energy independence since the first Arab oil boycott of 1973. Looks like we haven't come that far since. Especially since we're now paying about $4.15 a gallon for gasoline.
Let's start drilling offshore now and make sure you get a geological survey of your back yards. Heck, let's also look into the parks and forest preserves. Who knows where oil lurks anymore?
The Hound's Wildwood correspondents were all a flutter the other day after receiving a flier from Warren Township High School District 121 entitled "A Window to Warren". From what they gave The Hound, it looks like a window to a future building bond referendum or educational fund tax hike.
The four-page flier had headlines such as "Where enrollment is heading", "How we compare", "Questions about growth", "What we have done to save money", "Which campus is bigger?", "O'Plaine vs. Almond --- The Myth", "Addressing growth in student enrollment" and "Almond Campus needs". The Hound had to agree with those Wildwood folks: Smells like some sort of tax increase coming down the pike sooner and not later.
One would think that with gasoline rising faster than the Des Plaines River in flood stage, and those prices effecting everything Warren Township residents purchase, from milk and eggs at Jewel and Dominick's to clothing at Gurnee Mills, this isn't a good time for a referendum. But superintendents are always fond of saying there is never the right time to ask taxpayers to vote to tax themselves.
If The Hound had to guess, the most likely scenario for a referendum would be during the primary election in February 2009. With a Waukegan primary scheduled and Warren taking in the far northwest and west portions of Waukegan, that would give school officials the legal venue to hold a referendum. The strategy is that outside of Waukegan, most Warren Township voters won't be paying attention to a tax hike proposal on the ballot.
Nobody wants to hold a referendum in November of a presidential election year because of the large turnout expected. With the McCain-Obama contest a barnburner, The Hound expects turnout to be high. Therefore, February '09 looks the best time and not April '09, which has township, muncipal, park and school elections.
So, for all you Warren Township High taxpayers, get ready to receive some more "A Window to Warren" fliers detailing increasing enrollment, how District 121 has one of the lowest tax rates in the area and the lowest per pupil operating cost for its two campuses, one for freshmen and sophomores, the other for juniors and seniors.
Wonder if the district has considered making each campus a four-year school? But then, what would that do to the fine Warren athletic programs?
Remember that old "Where's Waldo?" cartoon, where you'd have to find a half-hidden Waldo in various locales? The Hound used to love doing that puzzle as a pup. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was kind of like that on Friday.
While the nation's Democratic governors were invited to Chicago by Sen. Barack Obama for snacks, a campaign moment and a discussion on the economy, Rodo was downstate acting, well, like a governor. He made his third visit in a week to flooded areas as rising Mississippi River waters inundated acre upon acre of Illinois land.
Or was the reason he wasn't at the Obamafest because Illinois' economic performance is ranked 48th in the nation? Or that the Democratic presidential hopeful didn't want to be seen with Rodo. Or that he just plain wasn't invited.
After all, some Illinois Democrats want to impeach Rodo and the governor did take about $1.4 million in campaign donations from Obama's housefinder, convicted felon Tony Rezko. Usually, the governor of a state is a presidential candidate's honorary statewide campaign chair. That may not be the case in Illinois this year.
Meanwhile, where was Rodo? On Friday he was in Quincy and Alton. At the same time, he asked President Bush for expedited federal disaster assistance, including some for Lake County.
Obviously, Rodo felt do that was much more important than listening to a bunch of talking policy wonks discussing politics. Wonder if he hopes those downstaters remember his flood visits in two years?
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has taken a few pokes from Republicans who contend his diplomatic naivete was showing when he said he'd sit down with Iran's ruling clerics. If the Illinois senator does, he should bring along a few Barbie dolls.
Authorities in the Islamic nation went on a rampage recently, contending young Iranians must be protected from Western cultural toys such as Barbie and Ken, along with Harry Potter books, compact discs and videogames. Despite their best attempts to ban them, Iran's toy market apparently is being inundated with Barbies. The Hound is unsure if Skipper is a big seller in Tehran.
According to the Agence France Presse report The Hound stumbled upon, the Iranian prosecutor general was quoted as saying the toys "do not respect the required norms" and "present dangers" to the nation's youth.
Two years ago, AFP said, police raided toy shops and put black stickers on Barbie doll packaging to hide their bodies, as required by Iran's strict Islamic laws. Sara and Dara, Iran's answer to Barbie and Ken, are sold in toy stores and show respect for Islamic rules., AFP said.
But, Iranian girls still want Barbie dolls. And which little girls don't? Well, the ones that prefer Bratz. Wonder what Iranians think of those obnoxious little imps?
The Hound always gets a kick out of people from the big city coming into Lake County, telling us how to do things and protesting law-abiding businesses. Such was the case June 14 when the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow Push Coalition, along with his followers marched into Lake Barrington for a prayer vigil to appeal to residents to vote the village "gun dry." Fat chance, reverend.
Perhaps Jackson was taking target practice for bigger game, like marching in the neighborhoods of Chicago, where the Coalition's national headquarters is located on East 50th Street. That's where most of the gun deaths are happening among young people and not in Lake Barrington. Odd that gun deaths occur in Chicago when guns are banned in the city, as are gun shops, and gun makers.
Until Jackson's protest, The Hound didn't even know Lake County had a weapons merchant --- D.S. Arms --- making and selling military-style assault rifles, along with handguns. With Rainbow Push on hand, Lake County sheriff's deputies had to protect the D.S. Arms facility.
That, in turn, ticked off Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran who pointed out the obvious to Rev. Jackson: There surely are a lot more alternatives to curbing random acts of violence involving guns than marching on a legitimate business. In fact, Curran pointed out it costs Lake County taxpayers about $5,000 each time Rev. Jackson decides to pray at the altar of the gun maker in Lake Barrington.
The Hound thinks that's $5,000 too much. The sheriff should pull the trigger and send Rainbow Push the bill for bringing out deputies to patrol the area. That might keep gun protests where they belong: Where people are getting shot.
The Hound was shocked when Lake County Circuit Court Judge David Hall allowed a man from Zion to legally change his name last week to "In God We Trust". Guess being the national motto of the United States since 1956 and being on coin of the realm since the 1830s didn't protect it from being used for commercial purposes.
Wonder if Florida, which adopted "In God We Trust" as its state motto, knows about this. This could get ugly if they get mad. Any more of these type rulings and Judge Hall might be ready for the monicker of "Judge Goofy" around the courthouse. How many judges can claim they named a deity? It's not like changing a guy's name to Santa Claus.
A 57-year-old artist and bus driver (now there's a combination), Steve Kreuscher took his $600 economic stimulus rebate check and filed to legally change his name. Did President Bush know that's one use the money would go toward?
Kreuscher is now legally known as "In God" as his first name and "We Trust" as his surname. Will be interesting to see what happens to Mr. We Trust when he applies for a U.S. passport. Does this mean his children become something similar, like trustees?
While the newly annointed We Trust says changing his name represents devotion to God, it sounds to The Hound the real reason he did it was to have a name that stood out so he could sell his art for commercial purposes. In The News-Sun account on June 14, We Trust said he's already starting signing his name to canvas. "There are billions of artists out there. If you don't do something to stand out in the crowd, the world won't recognize you," he said. Don't stand too close to this guy --- there might be lightning bolts aplenty.
Isn't using the motto of the U.S. for commercial purposes against federal law. Where's the U.S. attorney's office on this matter? Or is this merely a free speech issue? And how do we know there isn't another "In God We Trust" living in Lake County. If there is, how do we differentiate them? Middle initials?
This is one of the loopiest judgments The Hound has heard coming out of a Lake County courtroom. For all you folks who want to change your name to something odd, you should obviously head here.
The Hound understands "E Pluribus Unum" is still available, but you better move fast. And ask for Judge Hall to be assigned the case.
There's a few things the federal government is supposed to do for us citizens. One of them is putting together a military that can protect us from international foes that want to do us harm. The Bush administration record on this issue is sorely lacking. The latest example is the airheads running the Air Force.
Apparently, the Air Force's control of our land-based and airborne nuclear arsenal has been pretty cavalier during the Bush regime. Guess these Republicans failed to watch "Dr. Strangelove."
But when they did get a screening of the Stanley Kubrick classic, they eventually got the gumption to fire Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley. It takes a lot to get rid of a secretary and even more to can a field-grade officer. The Hound thinks this is a story that has been underplayed in the Beltway media which remain fixated on the November election even though its mid-June.
Managing this nation's nuclear weapons is a pretty serious job. If they would have seen "Dr. Strangelove" back in 2005 when these two airheads were appointed, they would have known this.
We now find out the Air Force shipped what they thought was helicopter fuses to Taiwan. Instead, they were electrical fuses for Minuteman ballistic missile warheads which happened to be out of U.S. control for about a year-and-a-half. Then there was the B-52 flight that was loaded with nuclear missiles and its crew was sent on a cross-country journey. What if they crashed?
Which begs the question: What else happened that Air Force brass and we don't know?
The Hound has known a few jet jockeys over the years. They are warriors, undoubtedly, and there's nothing like an F-4 Phantom at tree level when you're popping smoke. But they're fliers, not actuaries. Besides, they really don't like pulling guard duty. They like the wild blue yonder.
You say tomato, your significant other says tomahto and The Hound says salmonella. The news that two Lake Countians --- a youth from Waukegan, a woman from Ingleside --- have been linked to the national outbreak of cases of salmonella has everyone thinking: "Did I eat a tomato recently?"
Yes folks, it's the Great Tomato Crisis of '08 as Americans take a bite out of the latest vegetable panic. The Centers for Disease Control has said that since mid-April, 167 people in 17 states have been infected with salmonella with the same "genetic fingerprint" after eating tainted tomatoes. At least 23 people have been hospitalized.
Meanwhile, area fast-food chains and other eateries have stopped serving sliced tomatoes as a result of the outbreak.
The Hound would get into the symptoms of salmonella, but they're icky. Besides, trust The Hound on this one, you don't want to get it.
While health officials expect to crack this new food-borne salmonella outbreak, they say it is safe for consumers to eat tomatoes grown in Florida and California. Anybody remember the spinach outbreak of '06, when E. coli was the culprit?
No wonder folks in Gurnee are planting a community "victory garden". What foods can you trust? Anybody besides Denny Crane remember Mad Cow disease?
And, pray tell, what will this tomato crisis do to for those of us who crave ketchup, spaghetti sauce and salsa this summer? Will we be at risk if tainted tomatoes enter that food stream?
There is life in the Illinois Republican Party after all. The Hound thought the folks from the Grand Old Party were on life support, but with all the Democratic feuding and conviction of Tony Rezko, Gov. Rod "The Mod" Blagojevich's chief fund-raiser, and real estate buddy of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, things maybe looking up for the down and out GOPsters.
Party big-wig Andy McKenna even had the temerity to call on Blagojevich to return all the money raised by Rezko for the governor's re-election campaign, including $1.4 million raised from 2001-2004. Like that's going to happen.
But the point has been made that Blago campaigned for his first term on bringing trust back to Springfield and state government after four years of Republican George Ryan in the Governor's Mansion. So much for that promise. Blago hasn't even lived in the mansion, preferring the city lights of Chicago to Springpatch.
Now comes House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, circulating a memo to legislative candidates spelling out how they can discuss whether Blago should be impeached --- with talking points that compare corruption under the governor to a
tumor that must be removed. Yikes! It's getting nasty in the Democratic trenches.
The Associated Press came upon the 14-page rundown of Blagojevich's alleged "misdeeds and malfeasance" which is sure to deepen the feud between the two Democrats. That, too, would create another opening for Republicans to make political hay.
Just a few months ago the Republican Party looked like a bunch of dysfunctional pols. Bet it's good to see the other side undergoing the same treatment. There may be hope after all.
Apparently there's a whole bunch of people who don't like this new summer replacement TV show on CBS, "Swingtown." The Hound knows this because the suits here have been getting lots of nasty letters on the order of this one from a person in Winthrop Harbor:
"I am offended by the content of the CBS program 'Swingtown.' The offensive content clearly violates our local community standards and does not reflect your license obligation 'to serve the public interest.'
"I urge you to refuse to air future episodes of 'Swingtown.' Stop polluting the air waves with such blatant trash!!
"I also ask you to place a copy of my complaint in your files according to FCC regulations."
If The Hound or The News-Sun owned a television station which happened to be a CBS affliate, we certainly would. However, this is a newspaper and unlike some multimedia giants, the closest we get to a television is the two here at the word factory.
So all you folks out there that think we own a CBS affiliate, lighten up. Send your hate mail to CBS in New York.
As for "Swingtown", if the blue noses don't like it, The Hound, who has heard it is about "swingers" --- the sexual variety --- in the 1970s, surely must. Although it airs past The Hound's bedtime, allegedly it is based upon a town in suburban Chicago.
The Hound first thought it might be about a Lake County town, but was told it is based on fictionalized events in Wilmette, on Cook County's North Shore. Even so, The Hound has been told of "swingers' parties" back in the '70s, where keys were tossed in suburban estate pools or dropped in fishbowls as guests arrived. Then they would discover whose keys belong to who and would hook up later.
The Hound is glad we have advanced past that stage in getting to know the opposite sex and your neighbors' husbands. Instead you can now use on-line dating services --- and swinging services.
Another weekend and another bunch of bicyclists traversing Lake County roadways. A lot of people don't like 'em. As in the following missive The Hound received. A warning: The Hound is only the messenger here, so don't go ballistic. This probably represents what a lot of people think. Then again, it may not.
"This is aimed at a group that would be chagrined to see themselves in this unfavorable mirror, or to know the joke that they have become.
"Just who are these obnoxious self-centered twits who have for years ridden their bicycles on Hunt Club Road on Sunday mornings? I have ridden my bicycle for decades and I am embarrassed to even be associated with their clueless and boorish behavior.
"Two-wheel riders (I am both a bicyclist and motorcyclist) have long had a program of 'share the road' aimed at automobiles. But share the road is a two-way street requiring courtesy and common sense from both drivers and riders.
"It means you obey the traffic laws and display common courtesy. Just because you have a large number of riders does not allow you to blow through stop signs and run red lights. It is also stupid and dangerous to use your huge pack to block the entire lane and pile up autos behind you.
"I am a high-level executive. These parties exhibit a long list of clues for the exact people I try to keep out of my organization: Rude, obnoxious, self-centered and clueless is just a start.
"Their need to act like a pack means they will be the same in the workplace. Self-serving group think is not how we maintain a highly profitable, world-leading company (and thriving as an American manufacturer). And to be a little impish myself, paying absurdly high prices for clown outfits with someone else's ads emblazoned all over does not indicate these are people to whom I would like to give budget authority.
"Our area has some wonderful bike trails. If you can't use reasonable behavior on the highway, move to the bike trails.
"My name is withheld as I doubt these people have much of a sense of humor and I would feel bad if I accidentally offended a customer, vendor or (heaven forbid) a local authority."
The Hound thinks the writer feels better and it might be cheaper than analysis.
The Hound turned around the other day and noticed a lot of things about 2008 and the late 1970s --- like stagflation for one. For another high gas prices.
Every day, it seems, more parallels are popping up between now and then. All we need is another bout of disco fever. Wait, diva Donna Summer, who turns 60 in December, recently released her first studio album in 17 years. Yowsa! Wait, and didn't John Travolta dance up a storm in "Hair Spray"? Double yowsa!
Of course, high gas prices in the 1970s meant 50 cents to 75 cents a gallon, or so The Hound has been told by those who still dream of those halcyon days. These are same folks who remember another unpopular misadventure, Vietnam; a president with low poll ratings; the darkened Las Vegas skyline to save energy; red dye No. 2; and first hearing the word, "malaise." The Hound thought they said "mayonaise" in quoting President Carter.
Back then, wasn't Iran a threat, too? Didn't Carter also suggest turning down our thermostats in winter and wearing sweaters to save energy?
Most memorable parallel for these folks, though, was Ford's announcement last month that the automaker is bringing back the Fiesta, which originally came off the assembly line 30-plus years ago after gas lines began forming.
Can the Chevy Vega be far behind? Or that spinning disco fever sparkling ball? Triple yowsa!
Looks like Secretary of State Jesse White has hit on the ultimate way to rake in cash from parents who fail to pay child support: Threaten to take their driver's licenses away unless they cough up the cash.
That threat so far has prompted more than 3,000 Illinois parents to pay about
$1.3 million in child support since January, White's office said Tuesday. Under the new program, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services sends warning notices to parents who owe at least $2,500 in child support and have an Illinois driver's license. If the parent does not reply, their names are sent to the secretary of state, who suspends the license 60 days later.
Illinois at one time was ranked as one of the worst states when it came to collecting child-support payments because officials dismissed the simple theory that if it's one's kids, the parent should support them and not the taxpayers. Seven years ago, Illinois collected $726 million from deadbeat parents, mostly dads. Last year, that figure topped more than $1.2 billion.
Actually, this program makes more sense than throwing the deadbeats in jail for failing to pay for their kids, especially if they need that license to get back and forth to work. Once and a while government actually does do something for taxpayers.
Despite sensitive (and large) ears, The Hound actually likes fireworks. But apparently not as much as Lake Zurich resident Adrian Phillips who was stopped on Monoville Road near Fairfield Road in Lake Villa the other night and found with 28 pounds of homemade fireworks in the trunk of his vehicle.
These weren't your normal, run-of-the-mill Ladyfingers or Black Cats one can buy in Tennessee at a Nervous Charlie's fireworks store. Nope, not even M-80s or cherry bombs.
Phillips, 32, driving on a revoked license, had 379 handmade pieces which authorities said were equal to a quarter to a half stick of dynamite. Yikes, that could blow off more than a pinky finger in your back yard on the Fourth of July!
Cops were so nervous about the volatility of the homemade cargo they blew them in place on village property near Lehmann Park. Some residents were shaken from a sound sleep after they were exploded.
Philllips was charged with unlawful use of a weapon and could face federal charges because agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were called into the case.
The Hound wants to know where you can buy that much gun powder? And, why someone would want to make his own fireworks when you can buy them through the mail and on the Internet. Perhaps too much time on one's hands?