This guy is kind of sketchy

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Worth’s Toolis, 71, to perform at huge comedy sketch fest

 When most people retire, they consider things like travel, front-color-3-col-funnyman-3volunteering or perhaps tinkering around the house on an overdue home improvement project.
  But, if you’re 71-year-old Ed Toolis, you write your own script to the next scene of life’s story. This lifelong resident of Worth will perform at 4 p.m. Jan. 19 at Stage 773’s 13th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, located at 1225 W. Belmont. The fest runs from Jan. 9 to Jan. 19.
  Toolis is the oldest Sketchfest participant this year.
  He had a couple of warm-ups at Riddles Comedy Club but this will be Toolis’ debut in sketch work.
  “Performing at Sketchfest is a milestone for any comedian’s career,” he said.
  He was selected from a record-breaking number of applicants. Comedians perfecting their craft are invited to perform in an atmosphere of celebration, collaboration and community. Sketchfest attracts an audience of 10,000 patrons from every continent around the globe. It has been said to be the largest sketch comedy festival ever seen in America.
  Toolis said, “It took me 20 years to get comfortable with this. Comedic writing isn’t easy. I work at it every day.”
  Legendary performers such as Shelley Berman and Bob Newhart are two of the comedic entertainers that Toolis says shaped his craft.
  Prior to pursuing storytelling standup, Toolis spent a quarter-century building a business. He’s the former owner of Regional Truck Equipment of Alsip. His partners bought him out when he retired 10 years ago. He remarked, “Many people don’t have the means to pursue their dreams. Building a business afforded me that. But it takes more than money, it takes courage.”
  For Toolis, this is largely because a great deal of his material is autobiographical.
  “I’m a comedy writer who loves candlelight dinners, moonlit walks and all that jazz,” he said. “I only recently figured out why my career hasn’t taken off in 40 years. I never got married! If I had, I would have had an endless supply of comic material.”
  He spoke freely about his failures at love saying, “I’m nuts about women,’’ he said. “I’ve been tragically in love with a few of them but I just can’t get it right. When I get a Ph.D in relationships I’ll get married but that course isn’t offered and I’m terrible at studying.”
  Since 1975, Saturday Night Live has masterfully gotten people to shed light on their flaws through skits. Likewise, Toolis will bring a mixture of truth and fiction of his life during his act at Sketchfest.
  It’s about three male casualties, in a battle of the sexes, who tell their stories: The ultimate target of a woman scorn, a public relations man who has problems pitching the male brand to today’s women, and a teacher at a junior college who has problems with his students in a romance writing class.
  For tickets visit,
  Performing humor, sketch and comedy are important to Toolis but more than anything, he wants to be taken seriously as a writer. He’s enrolled in the writing program at The Second City in Chicago. His current writing project is called “There’s an App for That.” It’s a book scheduled to come out soon. To stay informed of its release or to connect to Toolis, visit his Humor, Sketch & Comedy Writing” blog -

Retro Reporter 12-19-13

  • Written by Compiled by Jeff Vorva

Retro Reporter ArtScience shows smoking ‘cuts the wind’
50 years ago
From the Dec. 19, 1963 edition
  The story: Oak Lawn Village President Fred Dumke pleaded with citizens about safe driving after finding out that 81.6 percent of accidents in Illinois came in urban areas.
  The quote: “Now science can prove that smoking really does ‘cut the wind’ — that is, it causes a marked decrease in breathing capacity…there is no longer any room for doubt that athletes should not smoke.’’ — an unbylined perspective on smoking nestled in the sports section.
  Fun fact: Subscriptions to the Reporter were $4 per year — a savings of 80 cents per year!

Chop Chop — former Hickory employee charged
25 years ago
From the Dec. 22, 1988 edition
  The story: Hickory Hills police filed charges against former city employee Chester Osipavicius, 27, for allegedly chopping down a blue spruce evergreen tree at the house of another resident.
  The quote: “We ask people to tie ribbons in the handles of the car door or antenna to remind people not to drink and drive.” Linda Phelps, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving on a statewide police “Tie One On” promotion.
  Fun fact: Rene Osborne, who was living at the Hickory Hills Nursing Pavilion, celebrated her 100th birthday and received a birthday card signed by President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy.

Cha Ching: Stealing cash registers for money
10 years ago
From the Dec. 18, 2003 edition
  The story: Frank and Jennifer Johnson of Alsip were arrested in Chicago by Oak Park police and charged with stealing cash registers in various communities including Chicago Ridge and Worth. Police said Frank admitted he was unemployed and a heroin addict and needed the money.
  The quote: “I’m ashamed of my behavior to get kicked out. I guess I let my team down.” Richards coach John Chappetto, who was whistled for two technical fouls and thrown out of a basketball game against Stagg. When he was ejected, his Bulldogs were down 14. While he was cooling off, they rallied to win, 51-47.
  Fun fact: Oak Lawn High School students had a goal of collecting 2,500 canned goods for the poor during its Holiday Food Drive and received close to 3,000.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Pregnant pause — nearby suburb wants no part of MTV reality show

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeff Vorva


jeff column  Many years ago, in the 1980s, I made a bold proclamation.
  There was a show that appeared in the afternoon called “Love Connection” in which couples went on a blind date and then came on TV to tell the world and smarmy Chuck Woolery all about it.
  It was then that I declared, “TV could not get any worse than this.”
  Boy was I wrong.
  Shows kept getting worse and then reality TV not only lowered the bar, it buried it 10 feet under.
  So I no longer say, “TV could not get any worse than this” even though some shows put that to the test.
  One such show is “16 and Pregnant’’ in which MTV follows a pregnant teenage girl around and the trials and tribulations of being a teen mom. Not to judge, but usually the girls they pick aren’t the brightest in the world and their boyfriends tend to have the IQ of plywood.
  Since people love bad TV, this show, of course, is a hit.
  I would love to have been in the MTV board room hearing the pitch for this dreck and listening to the other executives fall all over each other to agree how great it is.
  The show started in 2009 and it’s still going strong.
  And now a few suburbs south of us, it’s creating a stir.
  MTV is following a Tinley Park teen around and Mayor Ed Zabrocki and Andrew High School Principal Bob Nolting are not keen on letting the network film in the community or the school.
  “The initial concept of the show probably made some sense,” Zabrocki told WGN-TV News. “But over the years with reality TV…I think it glamorizes unwed mothers. This is a quick and easy way for some young ladies 14, 15 or 16 to have in their mind that this is a way to get on TV and have 10 minutes of fame.
  “I think that sends the wrong message, and I feel very strongly about that.”
 The story has gone national, thanks in part to a feature on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.
  Zabrocki was a longtime counselor at Brother Rice High School and is no dummy when it comes to seeing the real-life effects that pregnancies cause for both male and female students.
  But his take and my take on the show are vastly different.
  Any girl that would purposefully get pregnant just to get on TV probably would do just about anything if “16 and Pregnant” didn’t exist, so I am not buying that argument.
  While it’s true that some of the millions of viewers think that having a baby at that young age is pretty glamorous, there has to be some out there that think the opposite. There have to be kids out there watching saying “I’m glad that’s not me.”
  Therein is the show’s value. I still dislike the show. But there is a tiny bit of value.
  Parents can preach about the evils of having sex at an early age. Teachers can talk all they want about proper protection. At private schools, priests and nuns can try to put the fear of God into kids about abstinence before marriage.
  But I think the best way for kids who are straddling the fence on this issue to get the message is to see for themselves the life-changing consequences, responsibilities and hardships that having a baby can cause. That could be as frightening as those old “Scared Straight” show in which hard core prisoners verbally terrorize young troublemakers in a prison setting.
  The show doesn’t have too much socially redeeming value but it does serve as a trashy public service reminder.

Sick of my viruses
  They say a good journalist doesn’t blame his tools.
  I’m blaming my tools.
  To all the fine folks who might have sent some information my way and it did not make it to the paper, I am throwing technology under the bus. The e-mail has been acting up and there have been chunks of time when the e-mail just doesn’t come in.
  After our computer guru, Pat Engle, ran some tests he was happy to announce that I set the Regional Publishing record with having the most viruses ever — more than 1,200.
  It was something I didn’t celebrate.
  Hopefully all is well now, but use Christmas forgiveness if something you were hoping to make the paper failed to make it.


Forget Frogger, Ridge looking to light up Metra crossing area

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

  For Chicago Ridge residents who are worried about crossing Ridgeland Avenue at the 103rd Metra station, village officials vowed to put up light up signs, which is expected to help commuters cross over Ridgeland without feeling like they are in a real-life Frogger game.
  “There haven’t been an reports of commuters being hit by an automobile but when I was up there today you can tell that it’s just a mess when the police are not directing traffic,” Police Chief Robert Pyznarski said at Tuesday’s board meeting. “I would much rather see as many light-up signs as possible because it’s very difficult to see the current signage.”
  In addition to adding new light-up signage, the village is expected to contract Celtic Developments at a cost of approximately $30,000 to improve the lighting around the 103rd and Ridgeland Metra station.
  • In other board news, there were some shifts on the fire and police beats.
  After police officer Daniel Grant was selected for the Narcotics and Currency Interdiction Team, the already short-staffed village was in need of officers.
  In light of Grant’s void and other officers either getting hurt or retiring, Chicago Ridge officer Jonathan Hill was sworn-in by Village Clerk George Schleyer at Tuesday’s meeting.
  Village officials also approved the hiring of four additional on-call firefighters. A request was submitted by Fire Chief Robert Muszynski earlier this month. After weeks of deliberation the village approved the chief’s request.
  • Video streaming of board meetings is fast approaching. Trustee Sally Durkin and the village’s information technology department have found a way to stream board meetings on YouTube and link videos to the village website, which is expected to be updated in the coming months.
  “After speaking with the village’s IT guy I feel that we are able to use YouTube to post video online and link the videos to the village’s website,” Durkin said. “We would like to use Comcast to stream video live but they would require us to pay a lot more. If we use YouTube we would be able to stream video for under $1,000.”
  • Two Ridge residents, Joe and Nancy Oswald praised the village for the holiday display around the village, saying they are “proud to be residents of Chicago Ridge.”
  In November, village officials purchased the various lights and decorations for a total of $20,000 over two years. The manufacturer offered the village a half-now-half-later deal where the village is able to save renting costs by simply owning the LED lights.
  “If we purchase the lights now over the years we’ll save money by not having the rent the lights,” Trustee John Lind said at the November board meeting. “We’ll also have the light for the next 10 years and we don’t have to pay any interest on the long-term agreement.”

Archdiocese outlines process investigating misconduct allegation

  • Written by Tim Hadac

  Archdiocesan officials confirmed this week that they are investigating an allegation of sexual misconduct made against the Rev. Michael W. O’Connell, 56, who served as pastor of Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park from 1997-2012.
  At issue is behavior that allegedly occurred nearly two decades ago at Our Lady of the Woods, officials said.
  O’Connell previously served at St. Michael Parish in Orland Park from 1983-89, where he was part of a team that helped establish Our Lady of the Woods.
  He currently is on leave as pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish on Chicago’s North Side. According to the Rev. Shawn Gould, administrator of that parish, O’Connell “denies this allegation.”
  The full text of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s statement reads:
  “Rev. Michael W. O’Connell has agreed to step aside from St. Alphonsus Parish in Chicago, following receipt earlier this week by the Archdiocese of Chicago, of an allegation that he engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor almost 20 years ago while at his previous parish. Fr. O’Connell has agreed to take this action at the request of Cardinal George and is doing so out of pastoral concern for the safety of children.
  “The allegation was received by the Archdiocesan Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review and reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Cook County State’s Attorney. In compliance with the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Archdiocese has also begun its investigation of this matter.
  “This action is not a judgment of guilt. Fr. O’Connell remains, according to church law, the pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish; however, he has agreed to reside away from the parish until the investigation is concluded.
  “The abuse of any child is a crime and a sin. As always, the safety of children is of paramount importance. The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and encourages anyone who feels they have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee, to come forward. Complete information about reporting clerical sexual abuse can be found on the Archdiocesan website at”
  Archdiocesan Media Relations Director Susan Burritt told The Regional News on Monday that while the investigation is well under way, there is no rush to judgment and no way to predict exactly how long it will take.
  “It will take as long as it takes until a decision is made,” Burritt said, adding that the Archdiocesan website is “a treasure trove” of information that, among other things, clearly outlines the process of how such investigations are conducted.
  According to information posted on the website, “the Independent Review Board (Review Board) is advisory to the Cardinal concerning matters of allegations of the sexual abuse of minors against clergy of the Archdiocese of Chicago who are in good standing (i.e. active or retired). The Review Board consists of nine to 11 individuals who are appointed by the Archbishop. Six of the Review Board members are lay Catholics who are not employees of the church and represent one of each of the following backgrounds: a psychiatrist, a psychologist or social worker, an attorney, a parish council member, a parent, and a victim/survivor or parent of victim/survivor of child sexual abuse. Three of the members are clerics of this archdiocese (two priests and one deacon). The Archbishop, in consultation with the Review Board, may appoint one or two additional lay Catholics who shall be considered at large members.
  “The role of the Review Board is to provide determinations and recommendations to the Archbishop regarding the fitness of ministry for clerics accused of sexual misconduct with a minor, based upon the standard of safety for children.”
  Burritt encouraged everyone with relevant information about any situation regarding sexual abuse of children to report it promptly to authorities, including the Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review at (312) 534-5205.
  DCFS spokesperson Karen Hawkins told The Regional News on Monday that her agency is prohibited from commenting on the situation because it does not yet meet criteria of the state’s Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act — most notably that O’Connell has not been charged with a crime by the Cook County State’s Attorney.
  DCFS describes itself as an agency that “receives, investigates and acts upon a report of child abuse or neglect every five minutes and child sex abuse every two hours,” primarily via its hotline, 1-800-252-2873.
  Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has not yet responded to a request for comment.
  Archdiocesan conduct in the case has been criticized by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a group that bills itself as “an independent, confidential network of survivors of religious sexual abuse and their supporters.”
  A statement posted on SNAP’s website reads: “Despite promises to be ‘open’ in clergy sex cases, Cardinal Francis George is not disclosing where Fr. O’Connell is now. SNAP believes he should be put in a remote, secure, independent treatment center so that kids will be safe. According to church policy, Fr. O’Connell should be suspended, not allowed to ‘voluntarily’ step aside (which minimizes his alleged crimes and enables more parishioners to assume he’s innocent).”
  The response from Our Lady of the Woods Parish has been low key, with the only formal mention of the investigation contained in a three sentence post-script to the Pastor’s Notes page in the church’s current weekly bulletin.
  “In response to the letter I read from the Archdiocese regarding an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor made against Father Mike O’Connell, I would remind people that any notes or cards to Father Mike should go through Our Lady of the Woods,” wrote the Rev. Michael G. Foley, pastor. “Please keep all who are wounded in your prayers and remember that the investigation has just begun and will take time. No judgments should be made.”