Archive for January, 2007

New Flyer Buses

Straps on a CTA Hybrid Bus

Let’s not talk about what it means that a high point of my day Tuesday was noticing that I was riding on a new style CTA bus. This one happened to be a hybrid diesel/electric model and at first I thought that the features like hanging straps and new style seats might be specific to that model, but it turns out that it’s common to the 630 New Flyer buses already in service in Chicago (with 200 more just ordered) . So, not only am I excited about CTA minutia, but I’m excited about old-news-to-you CTA minutia. Awesome. Anyway, I’m already a fan of hanging straps — 16%* less arm strain for standing passengers.

* Made up statistic.

Helpin’ Out

Have you ever wanted to help out people or organizations in your neighborhood, but just didn’t know where to start looking? Timeout Chicago tells us how to help out in your ‘hood.

Take a look! Whether you live North, South, West or Downtown, there’s sure to be a group that needs your help!

‘Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world.”*

I’m just getting over a head cold, and one of my favorite home remedies (those remedies which comfort us whether they’re medically sound or not) is tea. Nice, hot tea, chamomile in the evening, Irish Breakfast in the daytime, is my remedy of choice (closely followed by the traditional chicken soup) for when I’m feeling ill. But to be honest, I don’t need to be sick to enjoy tea. After a couple of trips to London, I realized that one of life’s major civilized comforts for me was enjoying a nice pot of tea by the fire, whether I managed to get scones and cucumber sandwiches along with it or not.

High tea isn’t that hard to come by in Chicago, what with The Drake and The Walnut Room having firmly established themselves as high tea spots in the city. But more places are getting into the proper tea game, as noted by Time Out, including The James Hotel, VTK and Winebar, to name a few.

If you just want to have some tea, proper or not, there are more and more tea shops appearing around town as well. The Argo Tea chain seems to be trying to compete with Starbucks in the shops-popping-up race, with new locations opening in quite a few spots. Russian Tea Time has been in place for years as a go-to Russian food and drink spot, and you can chill at Dream About Tea in Evanston, Saint’s Alp Teahouse in Chinatown, or Unique So Chique Tea & Chocolate Room. Places to pick up some tea to enjoy at home include My Place For Tea, TeaGschwendner and Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng Co. I can personally recommend the Urban Tea Lounge in Uptown, where owners CeCe and Hank Anderson will take care of you just right, I promise. More tea spots can be found at

Now I’m off to have a cuppa…

*-T’ien Yiheng

Look at My Striped Shirt

The douchebags are going to be out tonight — The Book Cellar (4736 N Lincoln) is hosting a reading, tonight at 7 pm, of pieces from the collection Look At My Striped Shirt. Taking off from the eponymous essay on the Phat Phree comedy site, 50 different comedy writers present views inside the heads of loathsome people. Jim Fath, a current contestant on Impress These Apes*, will be among those reading.

* It would make sense that I’m mentioning that if I had finished my post on that show.

My Belly For Your Tickets

Looking for an alternative way to market your company during the Super Bowl? Jennifer Gordon of Lake View will be trading her belly and a few hours of advertising for a pair of tickets to the big game.

Jennifer and her husband have received plenty of inquiries to their idea, but will it fly in the end? I see them striking a deal with a local company, and then seeing her deliver the baby pre-mature, say a couple of days before February 4th!

nikkos’ Reign of Terror is Over

Yes folks, I’m making it official: I am relinquishing my highly coveted spot as an author for Metroblogging Chicago.

After almost 2 full years, 347 posts and who-knows-how-many comments, it’s time for me to step aside in order for some new blood to step up.

To all my Metroblogging colleagues, as well as those with whom I duked it out in the comments, I offer you my gratitude. It’s been fun. I’ve learned a lot. And I’ll continue to write and fight over at myfriendscallmenikkos. Stop on by and say hello.

Adieu for now!

BYO guide

Time Out recently came out with a cover story on that most hallowed of boozing traditions: The BYO establishment. With a feature series of articles encompassing a guide to BYOB restaurants, a cheat sheet to match food and wine, liquor-friendly BYOs, the best of the corner store wine offerings, and a list of 10 things to know before heading out to BYO, this guide has BYO drinking covered.

They even tell you why there are so many BYO spots in the city:

“In Illinois, it is legal for a patron to bring alcohol into any restaurant, as long as he or she is of legal age and the business allows it. There are a few reasons why some 250 Chicago restaurants not only allow but encourage you to bring your own alcohol. One is that there are many hoops a business owner has to jump through to get a liquor license. For instance, in Illinois, businesses within 100 feet of day-care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, churches and libraries are ineligible. And restaurants must have at least two bathrooms–one for women and one for men, which many smaller spots do not have–to pass inspection during the application process. The Illinois Liquor Control Act of 1934, which permits residents to vote a precinct dry through a local option referendum, is another reason some restaurants, such as Tre Kronor (3258 W Foster Ave; 773-267-9888), choose to adopt a bring-your-own policy. Others are BYOB by design, not default. The owners of Think (2235 N Western Ave; 773-394-0537) say their BYOB status keeps them plenty busy.” –Jean Iversen, author of BYOB Chicago, 2nd edition.


So many doubters! I mean, come on, people! You gotta learn to enjoy! I read the newspapers before the game yesterday and it was rare to find anyone who thought the Bears would win this game. But what did I tell you about dome teams? The Saints never had a chance, but let’s be clear: it had nothing to do with the weather. The Bears are, and have been, the best team in the NFC for almost the entire season. Their late season nothing-to-play-for slide was clearly an aberration, and if Lovie Smith had listened to the “experts” on radio and in print (and in the stands) then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But luckily he had me here backing him up (and I urged him to go for it on fourth down as well — ballsy!) and together we are heading to Miami for one last party.

Get Your Super Bowl Tickets…

Or not. Any readers thinking of making the trip down to Miami? Tickets to the big game were being sold for over $2000 before the weekend, and now could go as high as $10,000!

Do you prefer watching the Super Bowl at a bar, at a friend’s house, or hunkered down on your own couch?

Bears on their way to the Super Bowl

And the really important question is, “will they record a new song?”

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