All Children Are Our Children Tuesday, Jul 22 2014 

Just another day in the city. Children playing hop scotch,  walking home from school, sitting on their front porch with their grandmother, and sleeping in their beds when a bullet finds its way to them, taking their lives.

Shamiya Adams is yet another victim of gun violence in Chicago. It was 9:30 on a summer evening. The 11 year-old was at a sleep-over with her friends. The children were enjoying girl-talk and s’mores when a random bullet soared through a window zeroing into Shamiya’s head.

How can it be unsafe for a child to play with friends inside their home? If they aren’t safe there, then where?

Shamiya was one of at least 22 shooting victims in a 12 hour period this past weekend. No doubt Shamiya’s shooter was a teenager, a young person who’s now taken the life of another young person. When caught and tried, he will be confined to a prison with other criminals.

We never must be immune to the sobbing mothers seen weekly on the news, heartbroken over the loss of their children due to gun violence.  Our children cannot grow up thinking this is normal. Children shouldn’t witness or know, be related to, or be a victim of gun violence. They also should respect the lives and property of others and not spend their summer firing weapons as if in a video game.

A couple of years ago, the daily program, Chicago Windy Live, featured a special program on inner city violence. Father Michael Flagler, the beloved pastor of St. Sabina Church and an integral part of the community, said the problems are multi-layered. They can’t be solved with one change. Poverty, parenting, drug and alcohol abuse, education, employment opportunities, community involvement, and mentoring are issues that need to be addressed.

These children in the mix of all of this are not “that neighborhood’s” children, they are our children, our future. If you are able to help an inner city child or their family, please do so. We can change this situation and the future of our city one child at a time. At the very least, remember them in your prayers.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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Don’t Ask for Ketchup on That Dog Friday, Jul 18 2014 

The crack of a baseball bat and aroma of hot dogs heaped in condiments signal summer is here in full swing. And the two often go hand-in-hand.

Many a summer festivity, picnic, barbecue, and baseball game include hot dogs. It’s estimated that more than 7 billion hot dogs will be consumed this summer in the U.S. Americans eat about 60 dogs a year.

The creation of the hot dog is debated but the name is thought to have originated in Germany in the mid to late 1800s where it wasn’t uncommon to consume dog meat. Sometimes they also are called franks, after Frankfurt, Germany.

Today hot dogs are cooked sausages typically made from pork and/or beef, fillers, flavorings, and preservatives. The filling is encased in small intestines of sheep or sold without any skin.

Their more nutritious, but not so delectable, cousins may be made from chicken, turkey, or vegetarian ingredients. They may also be gluten-free, preservative-free, or organic.

Hot dogs can be grilled, steamed, fried, broiled, or microwaved. They are pre-cooked but should be served warm to avoid Listeria bacteria. My favorite dogs are Hebrew National 100% all natural kosher beef. They are tasty and relatively healthy.

Hot dogs can be topped with mustard, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, relish, cheese, chili, or sauerkraut, but beware where you make your garnish selection. Areas and baseball parks, such as Coney Island and Fenway Park, offer their specialties with signature flavorings and toppings. In some areas of the country the dogateur will be highly offended if you request toppings outside the local cuisine.

The traditional serving in Chicago is a Vienna beef hot dog topped with mustard, chopped onions, sport peppers, fresh sliced tomatoes, a pickle, and a sprinkle of celery salt. One last important touch is that the delicacy be served in a poppy-seed bun.  You don’t want to frustrate a vendor in Chicago by asking for ketchup. It you really want it, you might ask them for ketchup on the side for your fries.

For a twist on tradition, order a corn dog, which is dipped in corn batter and deep-fried. Enjoy a plain hot dogged chopped in some baked beans or a mini-hot dog wrapped in bread dough and served as an hors d’oeuvres.

Nathan’s Hot Dogs holds an annual hot dog eating contest every July 4th. This year’s winner, Joey Chestnut, proposed to his girlfriend before chowing down 61 franks and buns.

Hopefully, the young man does not practice every day. Although delicious, the tasty treat is not recommended as a daily diet. The American Institute for Cancer Research states that consuming one hot dog or serving of processed meat every day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 20%. Hot dogs also are high in sodium, fat, and nitrites. In addition, hot dogs pose a choking risk in young children. The suggestion is to cut them into small pieces to reduce the risk.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Grandpa Was a Clown Thursday, May 16 2013 

John J Doyle

“I have a weak back.”

“How long have you had it?”

“About a week back.”

I was only six when my grandfather, John “Jack” Doyle, passed away, but I still smile when I remember his face and little comedy bits like this one that he would say.

Grandpa was a vaudevillian in his younger years. According to a handful of undated, poorly photocopied news clips, he was a “well-known” Chicago comedian from vaudeville and traveling shows before and after his military service. Some of the little articles are about upcoming shows and others are updates on his condition after being injured in France during World War I.

Vaudeville was a specific type of entertainment in the United States and Canada from the late 1880s until the early 1930s. It was a variety-type show that featured multiple different acts on one bill. Musicians, dancers, comedians, acrobats, jugglers, and magicians offered an evening of family amusement. It was a time when live entertainment was still king until motion pictures took over that role.

The first official vaudeville theater in Chicago opened at the West Side Museum in 1882. The Clark Street Museum, Olympic Theater, and the Chicago Opera House soon followed. Some of the largest Chicago theaters seated 2,000 such as Academy of Music, the Haymarket, McVickers, and the Majestic, which was later renamed the Shubert.

I can imagine the patrons attending these shows out for a night of fun, dressed in their finery. Men would be dashing in hats and coats while woman were particularly sassy in shorter dresses and flirty hair accessories in the 1920s style.

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A few years ago I dressed in a flapper dress for Halloween, and I have to tell you, it was so much fun. There is something about that dress that attracted men and women alike and felt festive while wearing it. It also made me feel a little closer to my grandpa, imagining how it would be to have attended one of his shows.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Rain, Rain, Go Away Thursday, Apr 18 2013 

We can always talk about the weather in the Midwest. It fluctuates and can be extreme. Currently we are experiencing record breaking rainfalls. Much of the Chicago area is experiencing at least some flooding, and there are areas completely underwater.

Flood water is potentially contaminated with raw sewage and toxic substances, so it is best to avoid contact if possible. If you must work in it, the EPA suggests frequent hand washing with disinfecting soap, especially before drinking and eating. Also, be sure your vaccinations are up to date.

Other suggestions include:

  • Do not allow children to play in flood waters.
  • Keep generator exhaust way from doors and windows because it is toxic.
  • Do not use water from flooded household wells until it is tested safe to use.
  • Do not use the sewage system from home septic systems after a flood until the water in the soil absorption field is lower than the water level around the house.
  • Never drive through flooded areas.
  • Do not enter flooded basements if the power is on.
  • After the flood, remove standing water and get areas dry within 24-48 hours to avoid mold.
  • Boil drinking water for at least 3 minutes.
  • Toss unrefrigerated perishable food.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Midwest Music Monday, Oct 1 2012 

 

Palm trees swaying, warm breezes caressing me, and the scent of salt water luring me to the ocean. My senses come alive with the sound of Hawaiian music. After only a few notes, I’m instantly transported there. I’m relaxed, basking in the sun, and happy.

Why don’t we have music like that in the Midwest? Sure, we have our theme songs for sport teams and universities. And of course, Chicago has its blues and jazz, but overall there isn’t a sound specifically associated with the Midwest like there is for the Hawaiian Islands.

If we did, how would it sound? Would the tempo vary like the seasons? Would it be monotone and flat like the flatlands or solid and dependable like Midwesterners? Maybe it would be cheesy like Wisconsin. (No offence Wisconsiners. I love cheese.)

Country, folk, rock, R&B, blues,rap, classical. We have concerts from all genres across the Midwest.

We also have some noteworthy musicians, songwriters, and singers that call the Midwest home. Members of “Styx,” and the band “Chicago,” originated in Chicago as well as Jim Peterik, the founder of the “Ides of March.” Members of REO Speedwagon came from Champaign-Urbana. Dan Fogelberg called Peoria, Illinois his home. And Tracy Chapman and Doris Day were from Ohio.

And there are my favorite musicians, Andy and Louise Mitran, from Chicago. Professor Andy brought the Bozo Show alive with his music and is currently writing soulful “soundtracks for the human spirit” (http://mitranmitran.com/). Louise uses her gifts to promote wellness through meditations and as therapy through Guided Imagery and Music (http://louisedmitran.com/).

With all these variances we should be able to create a sound unique to the Midwest. I think we should have an event to figure this out. We could have a battle of the bands and online voting to determine the winner. I bet we could even get government funding for it.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

What’s Do-Dee-Do-Dee-Doing at Chicago Museums Thursday, Jun 14 2012 

Chicago is haven to some of the best museums in the world. We have museums dedicated to art, architecture, horticulture, children, culture, history, and zoology.

The top museums in the city include the Shedd Aquarium (1200 South Lake Shore Drive), Museum of Science and Industry (57th & Lake Shore Drive), The Art Institute of Chicago – which is the 2nd largest art museum in the U.S. (111 South Michigan Avenue), Museum of Contemporary Art (220 East Chicago Avenue), National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 West 19th Street), Adler Planetarium (1300 S. Lake Shore Drive), The Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark Street), DuSable Museum of African American History (740 East 56th Street), Field Museum of Natural History (1400 South Lake Shore Drive), and the Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon Drive).

This summer you can see artifacts from magician Marshall Brodien, AKA Wizzo, WGN’s Bozo Show’s wacky wizard, at two different museums. The Chicago History Museum is featuring an exhibit on magic until the end of the year. Brodien’s temple illusion and one of his Wizzo costumes are part of the display. The Chicago History Museum will hold magical events throughout the summer. Check their website for more details: http://chicagohistory.org/

The Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) reopened in its new home at 360 North State Street. The museum holds more than 1,800 radio and television historical objects and photos. One of those artifacts is a costume worn by Marshall Brodien as Wizzo on the Bozo Show which is on permanent display there. Overall, the museum is a lot of fun as it takes you back to the “good ol’ days.” See more on their website: http://www.museum.tv/

(All photos shown on this post were taken at the MBC Museum.)

©Mary K. Doyle

Speak Up for Justice Saturday, May 12 2012 

In a global society of more than seven billion people you may think that your voice is insignificant. Not so says, Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991. Mr. Gorbachev spoke to an audience of about 600 students, alum, faculty, and supporters at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois on April 21, 2012. In his presentation he said that we all are capable of making positive changes in the world. In fact, he says, we all must speak up and take action on behalf of world peace and justice.

Gorbachev comes from a modest farming background and yet is credited with instigating political and economic reform in his country through perestroika (government restructuring) and glasnost (political openness). His leadership contributed to the end of the Cold War and he received the Nobel Peace prize in 1990.

Gorbachev urged the audience to value and respect freedom and human dignity above all else. He sees consumerism and the limitation of natural resources, especially the short supply of quality drinking water and proper sanitation for millions of people across the globe, as points of contention with the potential of serious repercussions. He also said the elimination of all arms for all nations is imperative and the only means to world peace.

Thousands of people are following Gorbachev’s urge to speak up and take action this week in conjunction with the NATO summit. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, better known as NATO, brings heads of states together in the name of global stability. More than 50 world leaders and their defense and foreign ministers, along with their top advisers,thousands of journalists, and several thousand protesters are gathering in the city of Chicago for the NATO summit on May 20-21, 2012. Summit topics include the unrest in the Middle East. Focus is on Afghanistan in regards to military support as well as ensuring the Alliance’s capabilities to defend its population and strengthening NATO’s partnership.

You can stay informed by following coverage from credible news sources. You also might pray for world peace like your life depends upon it.

©Mary K. Doyle

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