Monday, October 31, 2016

For those of you who don't...

No. 31-seed Waubonsie Valley (5-4) took down Hinsdale Central.
...follow Illinois high school football closely, there were a number of big upsets in Class 8A this past weekend. Check out some of the teams that went down to defeat.

Hinsdale Central (9-0) was seeded No. 2 and ranked No. 3 in the Sun-Times and No. 5 in the Trib at the end of Week Nine;

West Aurora (9-0) was undefeated and seeded No. 7;

Brother Rice (8-1) was the No. 8-seed and ranked No. 3 in the Trib and No. 5 in both the Sun-Times and MaxPreps;

Stevenson (8-1) was a No. 9-seed;

Marist (8-1), a No. 11-seed, was ranked No. 7 in the Trib and No. 10 in the Times;

Neuqua Valley (8-1) was a No. 13-seed and ranked No. 4 in MaxPreps and No. 9 in both Chicago papers;

And, finally, Naperville North (8-1) was seeded No. 14 and ranked No. 6 in MaxPreps.

(If you're keeping score at home, six of the Trib's and the Sun-Times's final top ten are still standing and seven of MaxPreps's.)

So who's going down this weekend?

In recent years there's...

Loyola is the only private school left in 8A.
...been a bit of a debate about whether or not private schools should have their own postseason tournament in Illinois high school football. Is it fair to lump them in with the public schools? Can the "publics" still compete with the big, bad "privates"?

Well, at the end of Round One of the playoffs, by my count nine private schools are still standing in the top four classes while nine have been eliminated.

In 8A, only Loyola won its first game while Brother Rice, Marist and Notre Dame all went down to defeat.

In 7A, Fenwick and Benet advanced to the second round; St. Rita and Carmel will be watching future contests from either the stands or on TV.

In 6A, Montini, St. Viator, St. Laurence and Sacred Heart-Griffin are still alive, but St. Ignatius, Boylan and Marmion are gone. (In fairness, Montini beat St. Ignatius and St. Viator defeated Boylan.)

Finally, in 5A, Nazareth and Marian moved on to Round Two as Peoria Notre Dame lost.

And don't forget, such perennial powers as Providence, Mount Carmel, Bishop McNamara, Aurora Christian and Joliet Catholic didn't even make the playoffs this year.

So does this prove my argument that public and private schools should remain in the same tournament? Not necessarily; let's see how things look after this weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I saw a movie the other night...

...called Futures Past which was part of the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival. I have to say I came away disappointed.

First a little personal history. I "came down" to the "Merc" (the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) as a runner back in January, 1981. I had almost no knowledge of the place before setting foot on the trading floor; in fact, my initial question upon visiting for the first time was, "Is it pronounced 'Mercan-teel' or 'Mercan-tile'?" (It's the former.)

After working my way up the ranks of a local commodity brokerage firm -- phone clerk, out-trade clerk -- I borrowed some money from my father and leased a seat to trade S&P futures. I survived in the S&Ps as a "local" -- one who trades solely for his own account -- but admittedly never got the hang of it. I left the pit after two years (slightly in the black), never having progressed beyond a "minnow," or small trader. Correction: I aspired to be a minnow.

For the next two decades I worked at a series of banks on the trading floor, mostly advising and executing orders for customers in the S&Ps. It wasn't glamorous or even that lucrative, but I got to fulfill my version of the American Dream: I got married and raised two kids in the suburbs. I was home every night for dinner and was a committed husband and father. Of that I have no regrets.

Now, about that movie I saw. Futures Past is given this synopsis on the Film Festival's website:

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and its mercurial pioneer, Leo Melamed, anchor this poignant documentary about a father, a son, and the struggle for success. Director Jordan Melamed, Leo’s son, skillfully portrays his competitive relationship with his dad alongside the CME’s recent period of momentous technological change. Nearly 10 years in the making, Futures Past deftly examines the importance of human contact, whether in families or in “the pits.”

And the Sun-Times had this to say:

Jordan Melamed set out to document the last days of open outcry trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. What ensues is a 10-year sojourn of a son forsaking the path of his father. We are bystanders to alternately testy and touching exchanges between Jordan and his father Leo, renowned for currency futures and later electronic trading. The elder Melamed let down his own father by turning away from a law career. The younger Melamed quit as a commodity trader and chose filmmaking, with mixed success.

Abstract finance and filial therapy reconcile for a reflexive exercise in transparent cinema, with the father critiquing his son’s technique. “Futures Past” recalls both “Floored,” James Allen Smith’s 2010 documentary about computer programs replacing Chicago Board of Trade pits, and “Tell Them Who You Are,” Mark Wexler’s 2005 personal documentary about his famous filmmaker father Haskell Wexler.

I remember Jordan Melamed from my days in the S&Ps. I didn't know "Jordy" (as everyone called him) personally -- I didn't really know anyone in the pit -- all I knew was that he was a fellow "local" with a famous last name. (At least it was famous at the Merc. Leo Melamed was often described around the place as the "father of financial futures.")

But if I did know Jordy Melamed personally, and if I had seen the film before its release, I would have asked him, "Jordy, what kind of movie do you want to make?" Was Futures Past about the history of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange? Was it about the evolution of futures trading from the pits to the "screens"? Was it about Jordy Melamed? Was it about his father? Was it about his relationship with his father? I would have told him to pick one -- they're all good topics -- and make that movie. The resulting film was a great big hot mess that went on way too long. Honestly, I couldn't wait for it to be over.

And, by the way, I could have done without the cringe-worthy "therapy session" between the father and son. (I felt like a voyeur.) Jordy has obviously been through therapy and his father obviously hasn't. It was uncomfortable for me to watch.

(Okay; that was the generous portion of my review. If I have the guts I'll write a follow-up post on how I really felt.)

I went to the movie Monday night with an old friend from the trading floor and his wife, daughter and her roommate. I sat to his right and a woman came in and sat down on my right.

"Are you an old floor person?" I asked her. (There were a lot of familiar faces but hers was not one of them.)

"No, just a film buff. I love the Film Festival and schedule my vacation time around it so I can see as many as I can. One of my friends saw this last week and recommended it."

After it was over I was positively dying to ask her what she thought. I don't go to many movies  and the ones I do see usually put me to sleep. In fact, I've often thought of a movie as an "expensive nap." So I'm admittedly no expert. But she seemed to be. I couldn't ask her, though, because one of the film's makers was sitting directly behind us (she was introduced during the Q&A session which followed) and I felt a little inhibited.

The people who went with me seemed to like Futures Past a lot. Maybe I'm way off base; maybe it was every bit as good as they thought. But, personally, I thought it was a "miss."

Did you see it? Let me know what you thought. I've been told it's cumbersome to leave a comment on this blog so you can tweet to me @BoringOldWhtGuy. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bobby Vee, a 1960s singer...

...known for such hits as “Take Good Care of My Baby” and “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” died at age 73.

Mr. Vee wasn't necessarily one of my favorites, but his obit in the Times was mildly interesting (my emphasis).

A few months after their Moorhead performance, [Mr. Vee's] band recruited a fledgling pianist who went by the name Elston Gunn (sometimes spelled with three n’s). It was his first gig with a professional group that had actually released a record. While their collaboration was short-lived — cramped by a decrepit piano, he left to enroll at the University of Minnesota, moved to New York and changed his name (again; he had been born Robert Zimmerman) to Bob Dylan — it was transformative.

Mr. Vee abbreviated his surname at the suggestion of Mr. Dylan, who was taken by Mr. Vee’s graciousness and later described him as “the most beautiful person I’ve ever been on the stage with.”

“I’d always thought of him as a brother,” Mr. Dylan was quoted as saying. Mr. Vee’s voice, he said, was “as musical as a silver bell.”

Has Lyons ever played Naperville North...

...in football? Not since 2004 at least. And the two schools didn't have a common opponent this year either.

Lyons (7-2) is seeded No. 19 in 8A and ranked No. 21 in the Sun-Times and No. 44 in MaxPreps (behind 4-5 Wheaton North!). But don't look too hard for the LaGrange squad in Mike Helfgot's Top Twenty in the Tribune. (Maybe he would rank them No. 21, too.)

Here's their 2016 schedule (with home team in CAPS):

Lyons 19, WARREN 7  
Lyons 36, MORTON 14  
Lyons 31, PROVISO WEST 6  
LYONS 38, Leyden 13  
Lyons 28, GLENBARD WEST 14  
LYONS 23, Downers Grove North 6  
Hinsdale Central 28, LYONS 21
OAK PARK AND RIVER FOREST 27, Lyons 3  
LYONS 38, York 0

The Lions split with the four winning teams they played, beating Leyden and Glenbard West (both 7-2) while losing to Hinsdale Central (9-0) and OPRF (7-2) late in the season.

Naperville North (8-1), for its part, is seeded No. 14 in 8A and ranked No. 6 in MaxPreps, but only No. 12 in the Trib and No. 16 in the Times. Here's their schedule:

Naperville North 42, SANDBURG 14
NAPERVILLE NORTH 41, Metea Valley 40 OT
Naperville North 33, WHEATON NORTH 7
Naperville North 28, LAKE PARK 23
NAPERVILLE NORTH 21, Glenbard North 13
Neuqua Valley 35, NAPERVILLE NORTH 20
Naperville North 50, Naperville Central 31
Naperville North 17, WAUBONSIE VALLEY 14
NAPERVILLE NORTH 28, Wheaton Warrenville South 17

The Huskies beat two winning teams this year, Glenbard North (7-2) and Waubonsie Valley (5-4), while losing to only one, Neuqua Valley (8-1).

Who wins this one? I gotta go with the home team.

Yep, that's Bob Odenkirk, at top, a 1980 (?) graduate of Naperville North.* According to his Wikipedia page:

He would later say that he grew up "hating" Naperville because "it felt like a dead end, like Nowheresville. I couldn't wait to move into a city and be around people who were doing exciting things."    

Well, Naperville won't be "Nowheresville" this Friday when the Lions show up to play the Huskies. It's my Game of the Week.

* In a previous post I mentioned that David Hasselhoff is a 1970 graduate of LT.

Here are the final rankings...

Loyola is the team to beat.
...before the playoffs begin this weekend. From here on out I'll be focusing more on the brackets themselves, particularly 8A, and what actually happens on the field.

This year nine teams ranked in someone's top ten are all in 8A: Loyola, Brother Rice, Homewood-Flossmoor, Neuqua Valley, Hinsdale Central, Barrington, Palatine, Naperville North and MaristWow.

Oh, and so are three undefeated squads, OswegoWest Aurora and St. Charles East (all 9-0); two schools with only one loss, Oswego East and Stevenson (both 8-1); perennial 7A powers Glenbard West and Lincoln-Way East (both 7-2); Lyons (also 7-2); and Maine South (6-3), the only team that almost beat Loyola (in Week Two). 

I can't ever remember an 8A bracket being this stacked with talent. In the past I feel like the top teams were split between 7A and 8A. Not this year.

My first-round Game of the Week? Gotta go with No. 19-seed Lyons at No. 14-seed Naperville North.

On to the rankings (all teams undefeated unless otherwise noted).

Tribune:

1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Brother Rice (8-1)
4. Palatine 
5. Hinsdale Central
6. Prairie Ridge
7. Marist (8-1)
8. Bradley-Bourbonnais 
9. Neuqua Valley (8-1)
10. Fenwick (8-1) 

Sun-Times:

1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Hinsdale Central
4. Palatine
5. Brother Rice (8-1)
6. Prairie Ridge
7. Bradley-Bourbonnais
8. Lemont
9. Neuqua Valley (8-1)
10. Marist (8-1)

MaxPreps:

1. Loyola
2. East St. Louis
3. Palatine
4. Neuqua Valley (8-1)
5. Brother Rice (8-1)
6. Naperville North (8-1)
7. Glenbard North (7-2)
8. Prairie Ridge
9. Homewood-Flossmoor
10. Barrington (8-1)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Before we go any...

McNamara was 13-1 last year.
...further, here's a list of perennial postseason qualifiers that didn't make the playoffs this year.

Glenbrook South (1-8);

Providence (4-5)
2014 7A champs and 2009 6A runners-up;

Mount Carmel (4-5)*
2013 7A and 2012 8A champs and 2010 8A runners-up;

Bishop McNamara (4-5)
Last year's 3A champs;

Aurora Christian (2-7)
2012 and 2011 3A champs;

Naperville Central (4-5)
2013 8A champs;

Wheaton North (4-5);

Wheaton Warrenville South (2-7)
2011 7A runners-up and 2010 and 2009 7A champs;

Joliet Catholic (1-8)
2011 and 2009 5A runners-up;

Warren (4-5);

Bolingbrook (4-5)**
2011 8A champs; and

Geneva (3-6).

Sic transit gloria mundi.

* The Caravan was in both Chicago papers' preseason top five.

** The Raiders were ranked No. 8 in the Sun-Times poll after Week One.

Friday, October 21, 2016

This week's "Urban Hike with Mike"...

...took us to Manny's Deli on the Near West Side (or is that considered the South Loop?) via the Sears, er, Willis Tower.

When we began tramping around the city a little over a year ago we would target a particular neighborhood and then find an inexpensive restaurant in which to eat. More often than not, that meant either Subway or Potbelly and the guys quickly grew tired of both. So lately we've been more focused on the restaurant and our hikes have revolved around that.

On Wednesday, since Manny's is only about a mile from the house, we had to stretch it out a little to get in our usual three-to-four mile hike.

In the 35-plus years since I've been living in the Chicago area I've been mostly oblivious to what is now called the Willis Tower. For much of that time it was the world's tallest building but not nearly as attractive to me as, say, the Empire State or Chrysler buildings in New York. Unlike those two Art Deco masterpieces, the Sears Tower always struck me as being -- like the merchandise its namesake peddled -- practical, if not particularly stylish. (One critic said the building reminded him of an uneven stack of Sears catalogs.)

But since moving back to the city two years ago I've developed a whole new appreciation for the structure. Visible from pretty much everywhere in my new neighborhood, the building looks different to me, somehow, practically every time I look at it depending on the weather, the time of day, the time of year, etc. I've tried, with only limited success, to get the guys to think of it as a "lodestar," and use it to orient themselves when needed.

(That's a view of it from Arrigo Park at night.)

So the three of us, Jack, John and I (Alan, our other "regular," couldn't make it), walked east on Jackson to Wacker and did a little loop around the building before heading to Manny's and then home, about a four-mile hike altogether.

According to Wikipedia the Willis Tower was completed in 1973 (although I would have sworn it was later) and was indeed the tallest building in the world for nearly 25 years.

(I've always been convinced that the "Second City," whose residents are terribly insecure vis-a-vis New York, simply had to have the tallest building in the country, if not the world. I like to think we've matured since then.)

In a classic case of the old saying, "pride goeth before a fall," the Tower was planned in 1969 when Sears was the largest retailer in the world, with about 350,000 employees. (The reason the Old Main Post Office over Congress Parkway is so massive -- it was once the world's largest building -- was so it could accommodate all the mail-order businesses of Sears and Montgomery Ward, the Amazon.coms of their day.) Ever since completion, however, Sears, Roebuck & Co. has gone into a long, slow and steady decline. It's hard, sometimes, for me to believe it's even still around.

After considering other locations including, of all places, Goose Island -- can you believe it? -- the high muckety-mucks at Sears settled on a two-block site bounded by Franklin Street on the east, Jackson Boulevard on the south, Wacker Drive on the west and Adams Street on the north (with Quincy Street running east to west through the middle).

Before beginning construction Sears had to purchase fifteen old buildings from 100 owners and get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to build such a tall edifice.

The company figured it needed 3,000,000 square feet of office space for its planned consolidation and predicted that growth would require even more, so it commissioned local architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to produce a structure to be one of the largest office buildings in the world.

(My uncle, who along with my dad worked in the original 14-story Sears Tower on Homan and Arthington on the West Side, once told me that, ironically, he actually worked on a lower floor once he moved into the new building.)

The SOM team of architect Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan designed the Sears Tower as nine square "tubes" (each essentially a separate building), clustered in a three-by-three matrix.

The Tower never drew as many tenants as Sears had hoped, however, and actually stood half-vacant for a decade as a surplus of office space was erected in Chicago in the 1980s. (I had no idea.) Sears, itself, began leaving the Tower in 1992 and had completely decamped to a new location in Hoffman Estates three years later. In 2009, the building was officially rechristened the Willis Tower after a London-based insurance broker obtained the naming rights.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

As I said, after a quick loop around the block our little band headed south for a well-deserved dinner at Manny's. While walking down that forgotten stretch of Jefferson Street between Van Buren and Roosevelt I looked around and assured the guys that in just a few short years it would be positively buzzing with new construction. "You watch!"

Manny's, the venerable Jewish deli within belching distance of the old open-air market area known as Maxwell Street, has been serving some of Chicago's pols, local businessmen and underworld characters (often at the same table, I would imagine) for over 70 years.

According to its website:

The restaurant property Jack [Raskin] bought had been originally named Sunny’s. So rather than tear down the old sign and get a whole new one, Jack named it after his teenage son, Emanuel (or Manny, to family and friends), saving money by simply buying two letters and replacing the “Su” in Sunny’s with “Ma.”

The place has been redone in the two years since I last visited and seems to have become something of a tourist destination. The guy behind the counter mentioned how busy it is now on weekends. "The line was out the door and down the street on Sunday!" (My son opined that out-of-towners are probably bused over after visiting the observation deck at the Willis Tower.)

The three of us made it simple and all ordered Reuben sandwiches with potato pancakes on the side. When I saw the impressive pile of corned beef bursting from between the two slices of rye bread on my plate I thought, "Carnegie Deli has nothing on this place!" And my wife, upon seeing the picture of my dinner, texted me back, "Omg mike tracy food."

But that's not all. Included with our meal was a voucher for a free oatmeal raisin cookie from the carry-out counter. Pleasantly stuffed, we all trudged home through the dark and settled in to watch the Cubs get even with the Dodgers and Donald Trump say he would keep us all "in suspense" over whether or not he would accept the results of next month's election. Oy! 

But I won't keep you "in suspense": as usual, we'll take another Hike next Wednesday evening, weather permitting. Won't you join us?

Eddie Applegate, who played...

...Richard Harrison, Patty Lane's boyfriend on the 1960s sitcom The Patty Duke Showdied at age 81.

Mr. Applegate was the third cast member from the show to die this year. Ms. Duke died in March, and William Schallert, who played her father, died in May.

When Mr. Schallert died I noted it was less than two months after Ms. Duke. I asked, "Who's next, Ross? Richard?"

I also noticed at the time that Mr. Applegate was eleven years older than Ms. Duke. I asked:

Eddie Applegate, who played Patty's boyfriend Richard Harrison, is 80 years old. Can you believe that? He was playing a teenager when he was 30 years old. Couldn't they find anyone younger for that role?

Now -- I'm almost afraid to ask -- who's next, Ross?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Where is Leo High School?

79th and Sangamon, right? On the South Side of Chicago, right? Well, sure, but is that considered Englewood or Auburn Gresham?

Now, I know what you're thinking: Who cares? Well, actually, I do. Yesterday I wrote that Leo was in the Englewood neighborhood and one of my readers corrected me.* He said it was actually in Gresham. Not only do I want to set the record straight, but I'm also a bit of an amateur Chicago geography buff. So which is it, Englewood or Gresham?

Well, let's start with this: I got Englewood from Leo's Wikipedia page. (That's pretty much the extent of my research staff.) The first sentence reads (all emphasis mine):

Leo Catholic High School is an all-male Catholic high school in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, United States.

But if you click on the Englewood link you'll find:

Englewood is bordered by Garfield Boulevard to the north, 75th Street to the south, Western Avenue to the west, and State Street to the east. 

So if Leo's address is 7901 S. Sangamon Street that's beyond the southern border -- 75th Street -- of Englewood. But what neighborhood is that, Auburn Gresham? Yep, this map proves it. Leo High School is definitely in Auburn Gresham. I stand corrected.

And, yet, why does Leo's Wikipedia page say it's in Englewood? Well, maybe this article in DNAinfo Chicago, "Where Does Englewood Begin and End?," will shed some light:

Neighborhood boundaries are often up for debate because the lines can get a bit fuzzy.

Greater Englewood is so large that when DNAinfo Chicago launched an interactive Web app, asking readers to share what they thought were the boundaries of the neighborhood, many had different ideas.

Some drew Englewood ending at King Drive on the east, Western on the West and 79th Street on the South. Close, but that's not accurate.

Looking at the map, it’s obvious that people know where Greater Englewood is on a community map, but there was some uncertainty on the cutoff.

Asiaha Butler, president of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, or RAGE, said people like her who grew up in Englewood know the boundaries. It’s those from the outside that get it wrong.

I think people not familiar with the area say Auburn Gresham is Englewood, sometimes they say New City is Englewood,” she said. “That’s fine they want to expand us, but [Greater Englewood] is pretty big already.”

Oops; I guess that would be me. (And the author of Leo's Wikipedia page.) I got it now: Leo is in Auburn Gresham.

* He also corrected me on who is the winningest football coach in Loyola history. I've since changed it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Thom Jones, some writer...

...I had never heard of, died at age 71. (And don't get me started on the spelling of that first name.)

His obit in the Times is actually an interesting one, though, and includes this:

Thomas Douglas Jones was born on Jan. 26, 1945, in Aurora, Ill., the son of Joseph Jones, a professional boxer, and the former Marilyn Carpenter, a real estate broker. (His father later hanged himself at the Oregon asylum where “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was filmed.)

By the way, don't you feel just a little like Jack Nicholson's character after seeing the Cubs get shut out two games in a row? If this keeps up we'll all be watching from a place like that.

I hate to rain...

...on anyone's parade (especially when it includes me), but consider the following scenario: Hillary wins the presidency next month, the Democrats take back the Senate and cut into the Republican majority in the House. Good times, right?

And, then . . . the Republicans retake the Senate in 2018 (which many experts deem likely) while increasing their majority in the House. And, then, sometime in the next four years the economy slips into recession (we're about due, aren't we?) and Donald Trump the Republican candidate in 2020 wins the White House. The GOP would be in control of both the executive and legislative branches of government. Yikes!

So, instead of being giddy (as is tempting right now), Democrats could be downright glum four years from now.

If Dems should happen to take back the House (a huge long shot) in addition to the Senate next month, they should quickly do away with the filibuster and enact as much of their agenda as possible. Like Obama's first two years, it could be their one chance to make a difference legislatively.

(Oh, and while I'm at it, how about Justices Anthony Kennedy, 80, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83, and Stephen Breyer, 78, consider retiring to Del Boca Vista? That way Hillary could really shape the Supreme Court, too.)

P. S. And this all assumes Mrs. Clinton can avoid a primary challenge from the left, a la Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

The Game of the Week...

...features No. 1 Loyola at No. 3 Brother Rice, two undefeated Catholic League Blue rivals.* Need I say more?

Okay, I will. Loyola is on a 25-game winning streak. The Ramblers haven't lost a game since November 8, 2014, when they fell to Stevenson, 24-21, in the second round of the playoffs. (I was there.) The Patriots, of course, went on to win the 8A championship that year.

Brother Rice, for its part, is having its best start since 2004 when it won its first eight games and finished the season 12-2. Last year, the Crusaders went 8-1 in the regular season, their only loss a 28-0 shutout coming at the hands of -- you guessed it -- Loyola.

This year the two schools have each beaten Mount Carmel, St. Rita and Providence.

As you can see below, Loyola has defeated three winning teams (Marquette of Milwaukee, Maine South and Fenwick), two .500 teams (Mount Carmel and St. Rita) and three losing teams (St. Francis, Leo and Providence). Home team in CAPS:

Loyola 36, MARQUETTE (WI) 7    
LOYOLA 44, Maine South 43  
Loyola 35, MOUNT CARMEL 28  
LOYOLA 55, St. Francis 0  
Loyola 52, FENWICK 21  
LOYOLA 35, St. Rita 3  
Loyola 51, LEO 8  
LOYOLA 42, Providence 7

Brother Rice, meanwhile, has beaten four winning teams (Marist, Crete-Monee, Montini and St. Joseph), two .500 teams (Mount Carmel and St. Rita) and two losing teams (Aurora Christian and Providence).

Brother Rice 31, MARIST 7, Soldier Field  
BROTHER RICE 61, Crete-Monee 44  
Brother Rice 45, AURORA CHRISTIAN 6  
BROTHER RICE 42, Montini 7  
Brother Rice 45, PROVIDENCE 21  
BROTHER RICE 49, Mount Carmel 42  
BROTHER RICE 63, St. Joseph 7  
Brother Rice 52, ST. RITA 33

In the last twelve years, the North Siders have gotten the better of the South Siders in ten out of their 14 meetings:

2015: LOYOLA 28, Brother Rice 0
2014: BROTHER RICE 16, Loyola 13
           Loyola 31, BROTHER RICE 14
2013: Loyola 24, BROTHER RICE 3
2012: LOYOLA 45, Brother Rice 0
2011: Loyola 20, BROTHER RICE 13
2010: Loyola 49, BROTHER RICE 27
2009: LOYOLA 24, Brother Rice 7
2008: BROTHER RICE 16, Loyola 7
2007: LOYOLA 35, Brother Rice 14
2006: LOYOLA 17, Brother Rice 14
            Brother Rice 13, LOYOLA 7
2005: Loyola 23, BROTHER RICE 14
2004: BROTHER RICE 22, Loyola 0

But this series goes back a lot farther than that.

Loyola Academy, which was officially founded in 1909, actually traces its roots back to St. Ignatius College Prep on Roosevelt Road. From Wikipedia:

The school was originally located in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, on the campus of Loyola University; it moved to the current Wilmette campus in 1957. Both Loyola University and its prep school adjunct, Loyola Academy, grew out of St. Ignatius College Prep, a Roman Catholic, Jesuit college preparatory school in Chicago that was founded in 1870 as St. Ignatius College, with both university and preparatory programs for young men.

Today Loyola enrolls "students from more than 80 different zip codes throughout the Chicago area." (I guess that's a lot.)

Loyola's coach, John Holecek, arrived in 2006 and has brought the Ramblers to the postseason every year since, including last year's 8A champions. With over 100 victories, Holecek is the second-winningest coach in Loyola history.**

(That's Bert Metzger, Loyola class of 1927, in the picture at top. At 5'9", 152 pounds, Metzger was nicknamed the "watch-charm guard" because of his relatively small size. An All-American at Notre Dame, he played on the national championship teams in 1929 and 1930. Coach Knute Rockne was said to have called Metzger "the best guard he had ever seen.")

Brother Rice High School, named after the founder of the Christian Brothers of Ireland (above), opened its doors in 1956.

Before Brother Rice, the order also founded Leo High School in 1926 in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Again, from Wikipedia:

Leo's colors are black and orange. Since it was founded, the Christian Brothers of Ireland have established two more boys schools, Brother Rice High School and St. Laurence High School. As a sign of respect for Leo, Brother Rice took the orange in addition to maroon for its school colors, and St. Laurence took black in addition to gold for their schools. Brother Rice and St. Laurence are often called "Sons of Leo."

(The maroon was taken from the maroon and gold colors of Iona College, also founded by the Christian Brothers.)

So who wins this one? Brother Rice may have home-field advantage, but Loyola has history on its side. I'm going to go with the Ramblers in a squeaker. I say they enter the playoffs undefeated and the No. 1 Seed in 8A.

(Although, if you'll notice, most of the top teams this year are in 8A. It's going to be a heck of a bracket!)

* Who ranked them Nos. 1 and 3? Everyone.

** An earlier draft had Holecek as the winningest coach in Loyola history. Actually, John Hoerster had 133 victories.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Here are seven teams...

Jimmy Garoppolo is a 2010 graduate of Rolling Meadows High School.
...I'll bet you haven't heard much about: Rolling Meadows, Antioch, Lemont, Oswego, Bradley-Bourbonnais, St. Charles East and West Aurora.

What about 'em? you're probably wondering. Well, going into the last week of the regular season they are all undefeated.*

How many of these schools will end up 9-0?

Rolling Meadows (8-0) at Buffalo Grove (3-5);
Antioch (8-0) vs. Grayslake North (7-1);
Lemont (8-0) vs. Thornton Fractional North (0-8);
Oswego (8-0) vs. Plainfield Central (0-8);
Bradley-Bourbonnais (8-0) at Thornton (3-5);
St. Charles East (8-0) vs. Streamwood (3-5); and
West Aurora (8-0) vs. Geneva (3-5).

Meanwhile, there are at least twelve squads that have their last chance at a single victory this weekend.**

Glenbrook South (0-8) vs. Niles North (1-7);
Elk Grove Village (0-8) vs. Prospect (3-5);
Conant (0-8) vs. Barrington (7-1);
Round Lake (0-8) vs. Grant (2-6);
Thornton Fractional North (0-8) at Lemont (8-0); Ouch!
Plainfield Central (0-8) at Oswego (8-0); Double ouch!
Elgin (0-8) at Larkin (4-4);
Proviso East (0-8) vs. Downers Grove South (2-6); and

Andrew (0-8) vs. Stagg (0-8); and
Rich South (0-8) vs. East Moline United (0-8).
Somebody's gotta win here!

* Glenbrook North (7-1) lost to Vernon Hills (6-2), 26-25, on Friday.

** Joliet Catholic (1-7) beat Marian Catholic (1-7), 55-7, last week.

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Saint John Hunt -- and, yes, that's his real name -- son of E. Howard Hunt, the famous Watergate burglar.

I lied.

In my last post I said the biggest story of the weekend was Bradley-Bourbonnais' "stunning upset of Lincoln-Way East, 38-21." But that's not true.

The biggest story last week -- and possibly for the whole year -- was in the Sun-Times, "Suit: Helmet failed Bogan football player who died after game." Not only was this a personal tragedy, but it may also foreshadow the end of high school football in Illinois. Crazy? Maybe. But read this (my emphasis):

The family of a Bogan football player who died of a head injury he suffered during a 2015 game filed a wrongful death lawsuit against helmet manufacturer Riddell and the Chicago Board of Education on Friday.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount of money in two-counts against the Chicago Board of Education and an unspecified amount of money in four additional counts against Riddell.

If this family wins its suit, how long will it be before the Chicago Board of Education decides it's too risky to allow football? Or, if they are insured, how long before their insurance company decides it's too risky? And how far behind would all the other school districts be? And, if high school football eventually dies out, what would that mean long-term for the NFL?

Seriously, is this the beginning of the end for football in America?

The Bradley-Bourbonnais...

...Boilermakers (who?) were probably the biggest story of the weekend (even bigger than Palatine's 49-31 win over Barrington on the road) with their stunning upset of Lincoln-Way East, 38-21. The victory earned a spot for last year's 7A semifinalist in this week's Tribune top ten, if not the Sun-Times. (B-B is ranked No. 15 in MaxPreps but conspicuously absent from Beth Long's Super 25.)

In other noteworthy games around the Chicago area, Lyons lost to Oak Park and River Forest, 27-3; Marist defeated Benet, 31-14; and Montini beat Mount Carmel, 30-26.

As for the rankings, there weren't too many surprises except that Ms. Long included Glenbard West in her top ten with two losses on the season. Before I get to this week's Game of the Week, Loyola at Brother Rice, here's a look at the ratings from the three news services with all teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.

Tribune:

1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Brother Rice
4. Neuqua Valley 
5. Palatine 
6. Prairie Ridge 
7. Hinsdale Central 
8. Marist (7-1)
9. Bradley-Bourbonnais 
10. Fenwick (7-1)

Sun-Times:

1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Brother Rice
4. Neuqua Valley
5. Hinsdale Central
6. Palatine
7. Prairie Ridge
8. Marist (7-1)
9. Lemont
10. Glenbard West (6-2)

MaxPreps:

1. Loyola
2. East St. Louis
3. Brother Rice
4. Palatine
5. Neuqua Valley
6. Prairie Ridge
7. Naperville North (7-1)
8. Homewood-Flossmoor
9. Cary-Grove (7-1)
10. Barrington (7-1)

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“Please, Lord, make me T.S.A. precheck.”"Please, Lord, make me T.S.A. precheck."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I just noticed...

...that Glenbrook South held a mock election recently and the results were close to some of the national polls I've seen lately:

Hillary Clinton 45 percent
Donald Trump 35
Gary Johnson 9
Jill Stein 5 *

So I guess now is as good a time as any to make my prediction of the results next month:

Hillary Clinton 51 percent
Donald Trump 44
Gary Johnson 3.5
Jill Stein 0.5

* Ms. Stein is a 1968 graduate of Highland Park High School.

If you have seven, or...

...even six victories, at the end of the Illinois high school football season you're guaranteed entry into the playoffs. If you have five you are more than likely to be included as well.

St. Joseph in Westchester, above, is enjoying its first winning season in years and preparing for the postseason for the first time in I Don't Know How Long.

Forgetting the top teams for a minute, here are some other schools that are currently 5-2 and poised for the playoffs:

Highland Park
Vernon Hills
New Trier
Evanston 
De La Salle
Marmion 
St. Laurence
Glenbard North
St. Viator
Notre Dame
McHenry
Glenbard South
Riverside-Brookfield
Ridgewood
Hoffman Estates
Lake Zurich
Thornton Fractional South
Hillcrest
Richards
Crete-Monee
Joliet West
Plainfield North
Lincoln-Way Central
Lockport
Thornridge
Leyden
Willowbrook
Glenbard West

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Everyone knows that...

...former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson* played football at Barrington, but did you know that Carol Marin, famous local television and print journalist, went to Palatine?

She didn't play football there (as far as I know), but she does have a tattoo.

Why is any of this relevant? It's not, except that the two schools will meet at Barrington on Friday night in my Game of the Week.

The home-team Broncos (7-0) are off to their best start since 2014, when they won their first seven games only to lose to -- you guessed it -- Palatine, 24-14.

This week Barrington is ranked No. 6 in the Sun-Times, No. 7 in the Tribune and No. 9 in MaxPreps.

Palatine, also undefeated at 7-0, hasn't begun a season this well since 2012 when they won ten straight after dropping their opener to Montini, 40-37. The Pirates ended up losing in the quarterfinals that year to Loyola, 19-7.

Palatine is ranked No. 5 in MaxPreps, No. 6 in the Trib and No. 7 in the Sun-Times.

How do these two squads stack up? Well, as you can see, the Broncos have beaten five winning teams -- Maine South, Evanston, Fremd, Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates -- while the Pirates have bested only four -- Stevenson, New Trier, Hoffman Estates and Fremd. Curiously, Palatine has faced three winless programs: Elk Grove Village, Glenbrook South and Conant.

Home team in CAPS:

BARRINGTON 41, Glenbrook South 15
BARRINGTON 49, Prospect 7
BARRINGTON 41, Maine South 27
Barrington 35, EVANSTON 7
Barrington 27, FREMD 12
BARRINGTON 49, Schaumburg 20
Barrington 45, HOFFMAN ESTATES 41

Palatine 28, STEVENSON 20
PALATINE 48, Elk Grove 7
PALATINE 34, Glenbrook South 13
Palatine 41, NEW TRIER 21
Palatine 49, HOFFMAN ESTATES 13
PALATINE 21, Fremd 14
Palatine 43, CONANT 7

As for the history of these two schools, Palatine has won eight of the last nine matchups. Will Friday night be any different? Based on their results against three common opponents -- Glenbrook South, Fremd and Hoffman Estates -- I'd say it's a pick 'em. But I'll give Palatine the slight edge based on history. Should be a good one!

2015: PALATINE 26, Barrington 24
2014: Palatine 24, BARRINGTON 14
2013: Barrington 27, PALATINE 0
2012: Palatine 38, BARRINGTON 6
2011: PALATINE 35, Barrington 14
2010: Palatine 21, BARRINGTON 10
2009: PALATINE 35, Barrington 0
2008: Palatine 45, BARRINGTON 31
2007: PALATINE 35, Barrington 7
2006: BARRINGTON 41, Palatine 7
2005: Barrington 20, PALATINE 0
2004: BARRINGTON 33, Palatine 0

* That's actually a picture of Paulson at Dartmouth.

The rankings are in...

...and, predictably, Hinsdale Central (7-0) has vaulted into the top ten of all three news services after its big 28-21 victory over Lyons (6-1).

The Tribune dropped both the Lions and Oak Park and River Forest (6-1) from its top ten after Glenbard West (5-2) ruined the Huskies' undefeated season on Saturday, 56-39. In addition to the Red Devils, the Trib elevated Marist (6-1).

The Sun-Times, for its part, only demoted Lyons to No. 10 while essentially replacing OPRF with Hinsdale Central.

And in MaxPreps, Naperville North (6-1) joined the Red Devils in their top ten after the Huskies defeated rival Naperville Central (3-4) on Friday, 50-31.

Before I get to this week's Game of the Week (which is a no-brainer, as is next week's), it's worth noting that New Trier (5-2) finally ended Maine South's (4-3) 77-game conference winning streak, 27-21, in Park Ridge. (I always thought Glenbrook South would be the team to beat the Hawks after 16 years, but, alas, it was not to be.)

Also, while I'm at it, McNamara (2-5), last year's 3A champ, and Nazareth (3-4), last year's 5A and 2015's 6A champs, both lost. The Fightin' Irish are now eliminated from postseason play and the Roadrunners are perilously close. And Providence (3-4), 2015's 7A champ, has to beat both No. 1 Loyola this week and Mount Carmel (4-3) in Week Nine to secure a playoff birth. That's going to be really hard.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

My Game of the Week will be Palatine (7-0) at Barrington (7-0). It's not every day of the week that two undefeated, ranked teams from the same conference square off against each other. (Gee; who do you think will be my Game of the Week next week?)

My runner-up GotW will be Benet (6-1) at Marist (6-1). This should be a heck of a matchup too. Both squads lost their openers but have been perfect ever since.

Enough; on to the rankings! (All teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.)

Tribune:

1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Brother Rice
4. Lincoln-Way East (6-1) 
5. Neuqua Valley
6. Palatine
7. Barrington
8. Prairie Ridge
9. Hinsdale Central
10. Marist (6-1)

Sun-Times:

1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Brother Rice
4. Neuqua Valley
5. Hinsdale Central
6. Barrington
7. Palatine
8. Lincoln-Way East (6-1)
9. Marist (6-1)
10. Lyons (6-1)

MaxPreps:

1. Loyola
2. East St. Louis
3. Brother Rice
4. Neuqua Valley
5. Palatine
6. Prairie Ridge
7. Naperville North (6-1)
8. Homewood-Flossmoor
9. Barrington
10. Hinsdale Central

Monday, October 10, 2016

I've been on a bit of a Doors...

...kick lately. I don't know how or when it started, but I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos like the one above.

Since Ray Manzarek, the group's keyboardist, is such a great story-teller I got his book, Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors. (The title is an odd choice since Robby Krieger, the guitarist for the group, actually wrote that particular song.)

Like a lot of Doors fans, I suppose, I went through my Jim Morrison phase back in my twenties. Now I'm much more interested in Manzarek and Krieger, and to a lesser extent the drummer, John Densmore.

I found out somewhere along the way that Manzarek was originally from Chicago and attended St. Rita on the South Side. How, I wondered, did a kid from the Catholic League make it out to Los Angeles and start a band like the Doors with Jim Morrison?



Manzarek, who died in 2013, was born Ray Manczarek in 1939. His parents were the children of Polish immigrants who grew up in Bridgeport (the home of the Daleys) on the South Side. They bought the house, above, at 3358 South Bell Avenue in the McKinley Park neighborhood, just southwest on Archer Avenue from Bridgeport.

Since my son John and I have been taking long walks on Sundays lately, we (and I mean I) decided to walk the three and a half miles or so to Manzarek's childhood home. I did my best to explain to John who Manzarek and the Doors were and how important they were (and still are) to me, but I think he went along just to humor the old man.

"Do you think I'm really weird, John?"

"Dad, remember who I live with?"

So I took a few pictures of the house and noticed a sign on the back fence that said, NO TRESPASSING (although you can't see it here). I had to laugh a little to myself and remarked to John that we probably weren't the first Doors fans to come down here and take pictures of the place.



Manzarek and his two younger brothers attended Everett School (built in 1891!), which is literally kitty-corner from the family's house. According to his book, the boys came home for lunch every day.

As I was taking these last shots John said, "Watch out for the rat."

"Huh? What?" I looked down and there was a dead rat in the street. I jumped about five feet in the air and John said later, "You should have seen your reaction!"

But I thought it was fitting:


I think you can hear Manzarek's voice in the background on this one.

Oh, sure, we all know teams...

...like Loyola, Neuqua Valley and Homewood-Flossmoor are undefeated. But did you realize that Glenbrook NorthRolling MeadowsAntiochLemontOswegoBradley-BourbonnaisSt. Charles East and West Aurora are also 7-0?

Here's their schedules for this week. How about a little respect?

Glenbrook North (7-0) vs. Vernon Hills (5-2)
Rolling Meadows (7-0) at Hersey (3-4)
Antioch (7-0) at North Chicago (3-4)
Lemont (7-0) at Tinley Park (3-4)
Oswego (7-0) at Plainfield South (4-3)
Bradley-Bourbonnais (7-0) vs. Lincoln-Way East (6-1)
St. Charles East (7-0) at Elgin (0-7)
West Aurora (7-0) vs. Bartlett (3-4)

And while we're at it, there are still a number of squads looking for their first victory of the season. (Wait; what? Joliet Catholic is 0-7? Say it ain't so!)

Like underdogs? Then how about going out and cheering on one of the following:

Glenbrook South (0-7) at New Trier (5-2)
Joliet Catholic (0-7) at Marian (1-6)
Elk Grove Village (0-7) vs. Buffalo Grove (2-5)
Conant (0-7) at Fremd (4-3)
Round Lake (0-7) at Lakes (4-3)
Thornton Fractional North (0-7) vs. Thornton Fractional South (5-2)
Rich South (0-7) at Kankakee (4-3)
Plainfield Central (0-7) vs. Romeoville (2-5)
Andrew (0-7) vs. Lincoln-Way Central (5-2)
Stagg (0-7) vs. Lockport (5-2)
Elgin (0-7) vs. St. Charles East (7-0)
Proviso East (0-7) at Addison Trail (2-5)

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:


“I was reading the anti-texting billboard.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

Since Hyde Park...

Rockefeller Chapel.
...is a little harder to access by the el or by bus I've been saving it for an evening when we had a small enough group to fit into a car. Last night only four of us -- Alan, Jack, John and me -- made the journey down to the South Side neighborhood known for the Museum of Science and Industry and the University of Chicago.

We arrived at around 5:30 and parked in front of the University's International House on the Midway Plaisance. The International House, as its name implies, is "a residential community where students from different nationalities and diverse cultures can live, work, and study together." My son John, who went to school in Hyde Park for a few years, said "So that's the International House! Someone once asked us where it was and we thought he meant IHOP."

Looking east from the Fountain of Time.
The Midway Plaisance, about a mile long and over 200 yards wide, connects Jackson Park on the lakefront with Washington Park on the west. (I once asked someone how to pronounce it and she said, "MID-WAY." I guess everyone's a comedian.)

According to Wikipedia, "the word 'plaisance' is both the French spelling of and a quaint obsolete spelling for 'pleasance,' itself an obscure word in this context meaning 'a pleasure ground laid out with shady walks, trees and shrubs, statuary, and ornamental water.' " Gotcha.

Intended to serve as a Venetian-like canal linking the lagoon systems of Jackson and Washington parks, the Midway has remained essentially a green area. I asked the guys if they'd ever heard the term "Monsters of the Midway," and they all responded with blank stares. Often used to describe the Chicago Bears, the nickname originally referred to the football team at the University of Chicago. The Maroons, founding members in 1896 of what was to become the Big Ten Conference, dropped out in 1946 after U. of C. president Robert Maynard Hutchins famously decided that "commercialized college sports were incompatible with the academic and intellectual aims of institutions of higher learning." Can you imagine anyone taking such a quixotic stand today?

After the International House, we strolled past the University of Chicago Lab School (where President Obama's daughters attended before 2008 and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's three kids still do today), the magnificent Rockefeller Chapel (which looks more like a "cathedral" to me), past Harper Memorial Library, past the Medical Center and on to the Fountain of Time at the western edge of the Midway in Washington Park.

The sculpture, dedicated in 1922, was intended to be matched by a sister fountain, Fountain of Creation, at the opposite end of the Midway. The design was inspired by the poem "Paradox of Time" by Henry Austin Dobson:

Time goes, you say? Ah no! 
Alas, Time stays, we go;

Profound, huh?

That's exactly what was going through my mind when I snapped that picture of the guys in front of the statue of Father Time. (Actually, I was thinking more of how the shot reminded me of the famous "Who's Next" album cover.)

The sculpture, depicting a hooded Father Time carrying a scythe and watching over a parade of 100 figures arranged in an ellipse, was created as a monument to the first 100 years of peace between the United States and Great Britain after the Treaty of Ghent concluded the War of 1812.

From there we dodged traffic back to Cottage Grove Avenue and zigzagged our way through the rest of the campus and surrounding neighborhood to Valois Restaurant at the corner of 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue.

Valois (pronounced Val-loys) is a locally-famous cafeteria with murals on its walls that show various sites around Chicago. Opened in 1921 and in its current location since 1970, the Greek-owned establishment has been the home-away-from-home for many Chicago celebrities, including President Obama and former White Sox owner Bill Veeck.

Veeck was such a fixture at Valois that his "usual" breakfast -- four eggs, double wheat toast, double links and hash browns -- was cooked and getting cold in early January 1986 when his wife called to tell the staff that, yes, Bill had just died. She didn't want them to have to read about it in the newspaper. (FOUR eggs? If I didn't know Veeck died of cancer I would have sworn it was a heart attack!)

After dinner (John and I had the Reuben, which we both heartily recommend), we zigzagged our way back to the car and left for home at about 7:30.

(The food at Valois was actually better than I remembered it -- and cheaper too! I like to keep the price of dinner on our Wednesday Hikes under ten dollars when at all possible, and that's easy to do at Valois.)

Where are we headed next week? Good question. I noticed there's a baseball team on the North Side still playing in October. Maybe we'll take our Hike through the Lake View neighborhood and drink in some of the excitement. See you then?

P. S. This post originally appeared on our non-profit's Facebook page.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

If Hillary Clinton wins...

 ...next month, which looks more and more likely, but the House of Representatives remains in Republican control, which also looks likely, does that mean we're in for four more years of gridlock? The obvious answer is "yes," as it's easy to envision Paul Ryan thwarting any legislative initiatives emanating from the White House. But the not-so-obvious answer is "does it really matter?"

Let's assume for the sake of argument that Republicans retain control of the Senate. Then, yes, we'll have gridlock for at least the first two years of a Clinton presidency. You can go back to bed now.

But what if the Democrats take back the Senate in addition to the White House? According to Election Betting Odds, they are slightly favored to do so. (Although in 2018 they are just as likely to give it right back.) Then what? I know, I know: any legislative initiatives emanating from the White House or the Senate would be Dead on Arrival in the House.

But what if, as I said above, it doesn't really matter?

For a long time now (since FDR?), the executive branch has been getting more and more powerful at the expense of the legislature. And, since at least 2010 and the emergence of the Party of No, the legislative branch has been getting more and more irrelevant. Can't get anything done in Congress? Issue an executive order. Or have a judge issue a court order. Doesn't that seem to be the way to get things done nowadays?

Now I know what you're thinking: what if Republican senators continue their habit of blocking judicial appointments? Then what?

Well, what if the Democrats do in fact take back the Senate and a Majority Leader Chuck Schumer does away with the filibuster once and for all? Then what? Then maybe a Clinton White House and an increasingly liberal judiciary could in effect run the country in the absence of a working legislative branch.

So let Paul Ryan run his dysfunctional band of troglodytes for the next two, four or a hundred years. Maybe it doesn't really matter anymore. Maybe the United States will just be governed by a combination of the executive and judicial branches.