Courage on Display: Warrior Games in Chicago

These images were taken at the swimming competition that was part of the larger multi-sport competition known as the Warrior Games. The competing atheletes received some form of disabling injury while in service to their country and are either veterans or on active duty. All branches of the US military participated, as well as representatives from the UK and Australian services.

The weeklong competition, held in July 2017 in Chicago, was the first of the games held in public venues, and not on military bases. Let’s hope that this is the first of many visits they make to Chicago and other cities!

The images were all shot using the Olympus OMD-EM5, using the M Zuiko 75-300mm-f4.8-6.7 zoom, or the M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens.

I may be addicted to Waterlogue

A few days ago I came across a mention of an app that transforms your photos into watercolors. The writer was pretty enthusiastic, the price was minimal, and here I am, hours later trying it out on all the photos on my iPad while I’m supposed to be getting some shut-eye.

What’s fun about Waterlogue is the way it “paints” your image, starting with the preliminary pencil or ink sketch and then layering in the color, just as you would doing the real deal.

Some images work better than others; people in particular can turn out fairly scary, but when it succeeds it’s quite impressive. It’s a toss-up whether I like the “It’s technical” or bold setting best; the experimentation is half the fun.

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Autumn in Chicago, After the Storm

After the StormView down MonroeTall and TallerSkyline Chicago

Just moments earlier the powerful storms that raked central Illinois up through the southern edges of the Chicago area raced through the city. In the aftermath pedestrians were dodging puddles, the clouds raced by as if in a time-lapse movie, and the trees were stripped of all but the most tenacious of the fall foliage.

Striking out of my musical comfort zone

Now generally my musical tastes when it comes to offerings from Japan run more to the likes of Gackt and yes, for my sins, one of the groups out of the notorious idol jimusho, Johnny’s Entertainment, TOKIO, but I like to support efforts to bring Japanese culture to Chicago so last Tuesday night, a friend and I took in the annual Japan Nite offerings at the Empty Bottle, in Chicago.

This is becoming an annual event at Empty Bottle, with Japan Nite in its fourth year and I was excited to be able to make it this year, having had schedule conflicts previous years. I knew almost nothing about the 4 groups who would be playing, other than the brief blurb on the Empty Bottle site and a quick spin of the various bands’ web pages, and I purposely chose not to sample any of their music in advance because I wanted to experience them first live and in-person.

First up was Hystoic Vein, a 4-girl group billed as Garage / Glam / Punk on their My Space page.

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(Left, vocalist Inko, Right, drummer Lyn)

Is it wrong to call them charming? But I did, enjoying their somewhat quirky vibe. 

Next up were the Zukuna Sisters, aka Zukunasi, a female foursome specializing in blues and funk. They were, for me, the highlight of the evening. They brought a true Chicago sound to Chicago, and delivered it with great style.

Following their energetic set was Lolita No. 18, four deceptively cute girls (sense a theme here? …three groups, each of 4 women?) who combined chipmunk vocals and hardcore punk. We’d retreated to the bar area for refreshments so were to far removed for iPhone video or pics — and even more fortunately, to avoid the spray of water distributed courtesy of lead singer Masayo Ishizaka over the adoring fans!
The evening was capped off by the biggest name on the bill, Mo’Some Tonebender (4 guys, for a change), billed as alternative punk. (More info here)

They certainly had the crowd pulsing and the floor shook with almost alarming intensity. Thanks to my trusty foam earplugs (don’t laugh; you hear the music perfectly without the damage from high amplification, especially the vocals, and my ears don’t ring for two days — I never go to a concert without ’em!), I was really able to enjoy the musicality of the group, and their passion. I was also amused by the quirky “banter” (and I use that term as loosely as possible) of the lead singer, and I quote: “Are you drunk? (pause) Are you drunk? (pause for a swig from his beer bottle) I’m drunk.” It wasn’t so much what was said as how it was said, like the way you might say casually to someone sitting next to you, “Do you like baseball?” (or some other non sequitur-type like). 

Best of all, the evening also served as a fund-raiser for Japan earthquake relief efforts with the proceeds from sales of some drinks and donations going to the Japanese Red Cross!

I’ll leave you with a sample of “Aishitereu” by Zukunasi, from their album, “Lovin’ & Feelin’.”

Kiddieland no more

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The corner of North and First Avenues looks a lot less welcoming these days with the demolition of the old time, classic family amusement park, Kiddieland. Scraps of metal and other debris remain, as well as the base of the iconic Kiddieland sign. I wonder where the boy and girl that graced the candy-striped pole it supported now reside? Or are they part of the scrap unceremoniously hauled away?