Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Every Home Needs a Scary Clown Room!

Home Improvement continues!
Today, the Clown Room!
At the back of our Chicago bungalow, is the enclosed porch, right off my studio (aka the 2nd bedroom space). Here's where I spend the day productively posting on Facebook while my small companion attacks paper with colored pencils. Over the years one found clown knick-knack became 3 that grew into 30 and bloomed into 100s. The good news is that anything with a red nose is restricted to this one room. Selections are based on how odd, weird and strange our circus friend is, and only if it occurred by accident. Clowns that are scary on purpose must go live in someone else’s clown room.
And the real reason for the colorful collection?
Chicks dig clowns!

And if you love clowns too-

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sky Zone Trampoline Park Hi-Jinks!

Since Aiden spends 90% of his time jumping on the couch
I thought we'd make a trip to Sky Zone Trampoline Park.

It appears all that living room training paid off!

Chicago's "The New Bryn Mawr" Theatre. Moviegoing in the 80s!

In 1980, my sister Annie and I moved to the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago at 3123 N. Lakewood (the house is now an historical landmark of course), and just a few blocks away under the Bryn Mawr El was our weekly ‘go-to’, the New Bryn Mawr Theatre. It opened in 1912 as the Bryn Mawr, and in the 60s added the ‘New’ to it’s monicker. Every Friday we’d deeply inhale with anticipation for the marque to announce the newest double feature of 2nd (or 3rd and 4th) run movies. And the best part? Just 90 cents admission! So Saturday or Sunday, we’d stroll over, plunk down our change and enjoyably kill a few hours. This was so ‘back in the day’ that they’d even program short subjects to go with the features. I wish I had taken more pictures back then (I have a few of the outside and a couple of the lobby) or even gotten a part time job as an excuse to document everything of this slice of Chicago movie history. While googling, I came across a comment from ‘Kellylo’ at
, “I worked at the Bryn Mawr theater from 1975 until 1980. Mr. Praught was the manager, and the projectionist was named Maurey. It was owned by the Balaban Brothers. The AMAZING thing about this theater was behind the curtain. Back in the day, it was an old vaudeville theater. There were all kinds of old props in the caverns behind the screen. Thousands of old posters rolled up and in little cubbies. We used to go back there all the time.”
Arrggh! I’m still kicking myself! 
While you’re in the middle of it you don’t often think that something will one day be gone, and you’ll look back with fond nostalgia over what was.
But we did do the most important part, taking it all in while we were there.
A few years later it briefly became the ‘Gar Wah Theatre’ after we had stopped going, and then closed in ’88 to become a Dunkin' Donuts.
What can you do?
On a side note, speaking of food, two doors down from the theatre was “Hellas Gyros’ where we’d often stop before or after for a delicious meal. The gentleman who made our sandwiches (pictured in the photos below- really) was obviously sweet on my sister as he made doe eyes at her whenever we entered, and her gyros always seemed to be 50% larger and the fries stacked twice as high as my order. But Annie broke yet another heart and married a New Yorker. I guess Chicagoans aren’t good enough for some people!
Going to the movies has never been as sweet as it was in the 80s.
Maybe it was the company. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Pizza Night!

The birthday week celebration continues for Anne O'Connell Polini
with 'Pizza Night', a dinner that includes one of the happiest days of my life.
A tradition from when Annie and I were wee teens was homemade pizza night with Mom. We’d gather together Saturday night, put all the ingredients together perfectly (or close enough), smell it cooking, set out the plates then race in front of our portable 18” color television to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show (except when I insisted on “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park’ one night). We’d also have a bowl as big as a medium sized above ground pool of Mom made salad to keep us “healthy’.
Maybe I should start thinking of that ‘healthy’ thing for my kids too.
Annie and I continued the fun when we moved to Chicago in ’79/’80 to stay with Dad, she to attend high school and me off to the The School of the Art Institute. This time, instead of TV, we’d trek in the afternoon to the local video store, painstakingly going through all the giant clamshell ‘be kind please rewind’ rentals to make sure we had the perfect double feature (that night it was a thriller ’The Eyes of Laura Mars' and a comedy whose name escapes me). Back at home it was time to roll out the dough, slice the mozzarella, cut the pepperoni and start baking. A half hour later, everything was cooked to perfection and ready for another blissful pizza night.
That is, until I put the tape in the VCR and ...NOTHING!
Static filled the screen. Frantic moans and hair pulling ensued. After pushing at every button on the front and back of the tv, I finally stumbled upon changing the channel from 3 to 4 which was the one that got the VCR feed. The 'FBI Warning', as if by God’s hand, appeared! Unbridled joy burst throughout the room. Annie and I jumped up and down for 10 minutes. Well, at least I jumped up and down for 10 minutes, and since I had a good grip on my sisters arms, she was was stuck doing the celebratory dance too.
I was a little surprised about how happy I was. I think after the birth of my 3 children, this has a pretty good hold on 4th place.
I guess I like Pizza Night!
And I want you to be just as happy too, so here’s the recipe, hand written by my little sister!