Chicago continued, but not a boring travelogue. I hope.

So. I am easy to travel with, except for all the parts where I am not. And when I am not I am awful. Lucky for all, I confine my badness to one thing: getting to the airport on time. This seems a reasonable objective, right? And if you’re there three hours early, what’s the problem? There’s no problem! Because you’re there.

So. Flight leaves at 5:41. As I have to remind everyone, this does not mean you can board at 5:40. That’s the time the plane leaves earth, having spent the last 15 minutes taxiing and waiting. It’s the boarding time you want to look at. Now, from that you work backwards. You presume two things:

Clusterfarg at the security line

Clustery-cluster-fargin’-farg on the roads to the airport.

Factor in the time: we’re leaving on a Sunday late afternoon, which affects the first, but less so the second. So. Assume half an hour for security as the worst-case-scenario, because we’ve all shown up at the airport at some point to find the line is hideously long and moving slowly. Mitigating circumstance: we have TSA Pre. Problem: wife forgot her driver’s license.

Yeah. So. We went through that on the way out. When I found this out - at the TSA kiosk, of course - I was stunned. How. Could you. FORGET. Your ID

The TSA agent hands me back my ID, and says “I read all your columns.”

I said “thank you! And now you are seeing me at my worst.”

Well, she was disassembled by TSA and put back together, and it took a while. No idea how long that would take in Chicago, but we’ll build it into the time. So I have half an hour for TSA, and 30- 45 minutes to get to the airport, depending on traffic. (It’s Midway.) Build in some time to get a bite to eat, a beer, a cup of coffee. We should leave at 3 at the latest to assure a non-stressful trip. BUT.

If I say three, everyone else will think 3:30, so I have to say 2:30. Which everyone else says is too early, and then they’re mad at me. I mean, they are mad. We’re just going to sit around the airport! Yes, in a calm and relaxed fashion, with no cares in the world.

Problem is, once I think 2:30, I start to think “2:15 would be completely safe.”

Problem is, everyone else is waiting for me to say “2:15 would be fine,” and then get antsy around 2 because you know, 2:15 is right around the corner, and I haven’t called the Uber. I could call them up and there might not be any.

But I resisted. So. Breakfast! The whole gang is meeting for breakfast. Our family, brother-and-sister-in-law and their kid, other brother-in-law with his daughter, uncle and aunt -in law, Mother-in-law. We’re going to meet at a place someone found on the internet by Millennium Park. It’s Sunday morning and I know what’s coming: the place will be packed, it’ll be an hour, I haven’t had coffee or food, and misery is in store. Sure enough - it’s packed. Hour and a half to get it. A backup place is found; many texts are exchanged; we get there and are seated and the food’s great. A nice old neon sign across the street.


Wife wants to go on this Open House Chicago architectural tour - and so do I, but I’m playing a calculus in my head. Check out of the hotel at 12. Stow bags. Based on previous experience, this takes 10 minutes. Walk to farthest point in the tour: 15 minutes. So we’re at the farthest point at 12:30, and given that we have walk back and get our bags, repeating the previous portion, that puts 1:35 as our endpoint.

Then I realize I’ve just adjusted the time in my head: 2 PM is now the fail-safe point, not 3 PM. That’s silly!

On the other hand, we would be safer if we -

NO. 2:30.That’s the safe time. After the meal everyone is discussing plans, and daughter is going with cousins to see the Bean at the park and then go shopping on Michigan Avenue. Fun! We can pick her up at 2:30.

And here I just seize up inside, because how we have a loose rogue element. Daughter in someone else’s care without a set point for pickup. It’s Paris all over again! They were going to meet me at the Louvre at one and showed up at FOUR. We’ll call to see where they are, and someone will be in the changing room and they found this neat place and CALM DOWN RELAX DAD. So now I have to add a two factors: Ubering from hotel to Michigan avenue andfinding them, then getting out of town from that point. Let’s allot 15 minutes for each.

On the way to the architectural tour I said “Could I just ruin everything with an annoying and depressingly familiar reminder of my anal-retentive scheduling tendency that always spoils travel days?” Or words to that effect.

So my wife is mad at me now. But we see the buildings, and it’s just great.

From the 39th floor of the Kemper building, the top of the London Guarantee Building:


And what might the view from the London Guarantee look like? This:


I've always loved this building, so it was a joy to go up top. There's a rooftop bar, and the view's nice, even on a cloudy day:


At the Chicago Motor Club I get a text from daughter - they will be at the Westin at 2 PM, ready to go. Huzzah! Everything is find. They have made 2 PM the New Normal without any effort from me. We go back to the hotel, get the bags, walk to the Westin, and at 2 I summon the Uber. Relaxed. Happy. Relieved.

Daughter: I need to check Mom’s suitcase for my book.

Book. What book.

My Cold War book for school.

She can’t find it.

It’s back at the hotel.

What happened next I wrote for my National Review column, so I won’t repeat myself. Let’s just say I ran six blocks and tossed maid’s carts on the 22nd floor and went generally mad trying to find the textbook. The concierge was trying to help; she called Lost and Found and was on hold for so long there was a shift change and she had to explain to the new guy what was going on. He told me my room hadn’t been “cleared” yet, so I could go to the front desk, show my ID, and get a room key that would let me check to see if it was there.This I did.

“Sir I can’t give you a room key” was the response, OF COURSE, but by then they’d found the book. I made it back to the Uber at 2:30, and by then thought “oh we are so late”

But we weren’t. Because I’d planned. Because I’d built in time. Do I get ANY credit for this?


I hope.

There was a wedding at a magnificent chapel in a seminary, and then a reception at a restaurant on the riverbank. Unseasonably warm. Kayaks paddled by in the dark; a boat plied the water.

I had a Manhattan, thinking there should be a Chicago version of this.

I’ll bet it would be better.







Now that the insufferable advice columns are done, we can return to a Bleat staple for the past few years: Hollywood Halloween Cheesecake.

Josephine Dunn. She did 23 silent films, transitioned to sound without much difficulty, married the son of the owner of the Algonquin Hotel and called it quits.

I don't know what she's supposed to be doing here. Can't imagine what the photographer said. Hon, look at it and be curious. We'll do scared next.. Just be curious. I don't know, bite yur finger.

They didn't bother to hollow out the pumpkin. Perhaps that was the style of the day; certainly less work.

June Haver, on the way up:


June Haver (June 10, 1926 – July 4, 2005) was an American film actress. Once groomed by 20th Century Fox to be "the next Betty Grable," Haver appeared in a string of musicals. But she never achieved Grable's popularity.

Since she was only 5'2", they called her "Pocket Grable." Eventually she tired of Hollywood and became a nun, but exited the calling before the probationary period was up. And then:

Around that time, Haver met Fred MacMurray, one of the wealthiest and most conservative men in Hollywood, again, and a romantic relationship developed. On June 28, 1954, they were married. She told the press: "When I married Fred, he was terribly set in his ways. He was a fuss-budget. He hadn't quite progressed to being a lint picker, but he was already an ash-tray emptier, and that's just about as set in his ways as a man can get."

An ash-tray emptier? We'd just call it OCD today.


Yes, I know, it's usually Product on Tuesdays, but I'm mixing it all up just to throw you off balance and say whaaaa? and wonder what's next.

Here's what's next: the Return of our favorite 19th century inventor and all-around American, Frank Reade Jr. One per week, because I'm not crazy.



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