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Driving to vacations spots with no Wi-Fi and TVs

  • Written by Joe Boyle

The Chicago Auto Show has just rolled out of the city. A variety of vehicles were on display and the annual event again drew large crowds that come to stare at the latest models.

Of course, there are people who attend the auto show with the sole purpose of buying a new car, truck or SUV. I was never one of them. The vehicles on display are interesting to look at. We can all fantasize when we get behind the steering wheel.

But after about an hour or so, I tended to get bored. I was not going to buy any of these cars because none of them were in my price range. So, after a while it just becomes kind of futile. It’s like going to a party that you were not invited to.

Hey, I like new cars. I’m amazed at the features these vehicles have. Newer vehicles can park themselves. And to think I used to agonize over learning to parallel park when I was in driver’s ed in high school. Learning to parallel park in Chicago was necessary when I was in high school. Living in the suburbs where many of the homes have driveways means that I’m a little rusty with that skill.

But with newer cars, you don’t have to worry about that. Many vehicles have been equipped with TVs for some time now. Wi-Fi is becoming a standard feature in most vehicles. I think it’s great, that is if you can afford it. When I look at the prices of a lot of new vehicles today, it would probably be better to put money down for a house.

In the long run, it might be a better investment. The main problem with a new car is that as soon as you drive it out of a lot, it depreciates in value.

My philosophy is to get as much mileage out of my car as possible. I’m actually driving a car right now that has become extinct. My 2002 Saturn sedan still rides well. The heat works fine during the winter and the air conditioning will keep me cool when it gets hot again. The radio works and so do the speakers. I still have a CD player and I often listen to CDs on my way home from work.

Heck, about 20 years ago what I have in my car would be big deal. Now when I enter a new car, I’m sort of lost perusing through the interior. Vehicles have so many additional accessories that it’s hard to find everything.

When I was young and would go on vacations during the summer with my family, we did not have TVs in the car. To make the time pass as we traveled to either Michigan or Wisconsin, we would play a game where we would count gas stations. One sibling would be on the other side of the car counting how many they could see. Another sibling might work as sort of an intermediary, checking to see if we are accurately counting the gas stations.

Yes, there were some disputes. Sometimes I saw gas stations that didn’t exist. Hey, sometimes we just made it up. We were having fun but we could be competitive. But it was a way of passing time on roads leading up to cabins or houses that our family would stay in for a week. When we would go to places like northern Wisconsin, the best thing was to just go to sleep for a while. But with three brothers and two sisters, it was usually a little too loud.

Looking back at those days, I felt sorry for my father and mother. Dealing with a carload of kids who would get cranky must not have always been fun. I suppose my dad could have used those TVs in the back. But you don’t miss what you don’t have. For the most part we had fun. The landscape offered more than gas stations. We would see horses at stables and cows on farms. Those were sights we did not see in our Chicago neighborhood back at home.

My dad had a radio in the car. It was nothing special and this was in the days when it was strictly AM. Sometimes he might be listening to a talk show or a ballgame. Often he had the volume down low and tried to conduct a conversation with my mother.

That’s another reason we were loud in the car. We had to talk louder because the windows were mostly likely open. Air-conditioning was not featured in most cars in the mid-1960s. Depending on how far we were traveling, my dad would be listening to a ballgame that would begin to fade out, or blend in with another local station.

We could hardly wait to drive up to our vacation spot. We would swim, fish and play board games. These places usually did not have TVs. We would keep each other company. I guess that is one advantage of having a big family.

Rather than having TVs or Wi-Fi when we got to those vacation homes in our old Rambler., we had Clue, Life, Monopoly, the beach and each other.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reach at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Academy Awards welcomes controversy, ratings

  • Written by Joe Boyle

The Academy Awards is this Sunday night. We will hear about the fact that the 20 people nominated for major awards are all white. This is just the latest controversy in the years the Academy Awards have been in existence.

I guess I’m not all wrapped up in this debate. I know Jada Pinkett Smith, the wife of actor Will Smith, is going to boycott the Academy Awards. She is appalled that no African-American is up for an award. She does not mention her husband, who was passed up for his role in “Concussion.” Smith plays the doctor who discovers a link to lifelong brain damage of former NFL football players who have suffered repeated concussions.

“Concussion” is supposed to a good film. I know some people who have seen it when it was released near Christmas. The fact of the matter is I have not seen it. That symbolizes some of the problems of the Academy Award voting process. Other members of the voting academy have not seen it either.

I recall hearing about this years ago. You would think that would be a requirement but it isn’t. The academy provides an honor to many of these voters that they can take part in the process for life. The only problem with that is how engaged are some of these voters as they age? Many of them vote on previous formulas that they believe makes a good film.

The Academy Awards, despite the controversy and hoopla surrounding this event, will still draw huge ratings on Sunday. Black comedian and actor Chris Rock serves as host this year. No doubt he will take aim at the “so-white” Academy Awards with a series of jokes. Even when the academy is criticized, it draws more attention. Maybe more people will be watching this year.

That’s the amazing thing about the Academy Awards. The motion picture industry puts on an awards show every year for the world to see and then they proceed to congratulate themselves on being so significant and relevant. And then there are speeches by some of the winners who take themselves much too seriously. This year, nominees will provide to the academy a series of names of people they would like to thank. The names will scroll past our TV sets. That’s good news. Many of these winners in the past insist of thanking everyone from stagehands to first-grade teachers as they ramble on past their designated 45 seconds.

That’s why we often tune out the Academy Awards as it drags past three hours. A little brevity along with humility can go a long way.

In regards to a lack of minorities being nominated, the Academy is sensitive to being criticized for being, well insensitive An effort is being made to have a larger minority presence among the academy voters. Critics would also like to see more women in roles as directors and studio executives, along with more representation of Asians and Hispanics.

It may take a few years before these changes have any real impact. A lot of those old white guys will still be around for a few more years. They will be replaced in part by more white men who will become old white guys.

But the Academy Awards, even with it faults, is still interesting when they pick up the pace. I can recall when the independent film “Crash” won Best Picture for 2005 over some heavy contenders like “Good Night. Good Luck” and “Brokeback Mountain.” Maybe “Crash” was not really the best film but had people talking about it.

Those are the things that make a movie memorable. I mean was “Titanic” really the greatest film of 1997? That can be debated. The special effects were great but the story line was like a predictable Lifetime movie. But it moved people and got them talking about the Titanic again.

And was “Ordinary People” the best movie of 1980? I thought it was a solid movie with Mary Tyler Moore playing a cold and distant mother, a surprising twist. But was this better than Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull?” I’ve seen both movies and Robert De Niro’s portrayal of self-destructive boxer Jake La Motta was magnificent.

Regardless of the ethnicity and race of the nominees, the Academy Awards are consistent. They love lavish productions and often vote for actors who portray someone with a disability. Musicals are also hailed by academy members. The Academy likes to be important, but not to controversial.

So, enjoy the Academy Awards on Sunday. If the show tends to drag, you can always turn the channel to let’s say, HBO’s “Vinyl.” I will be watching because I actually saw two movies that are up for Best Picture – “The Big Short” and “Spotlight.”

And the winner is…

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

When we are confronted unjustly, don’t back down

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Claudia-NEW

How often do you “exercise” the right to stand up for yourself?

   I recently found myself in a “What Would You Do?” situation. You know the Primetime television show with John Quinones, right? I seriously didn’t know “what I would do” if what I observed was happening to me.

I was smack-dab in the middle of a fight at the gym.

Most gym members know there’s a lay of the land. You wipe your machine down before and after use. Be mindful of your time spent on popular equipment and if you see personal belongings on a vacant machine, it usually means that machine is taken. Which leads me right into the aforementioned confrontation.

Gym-girl A was on the rolling staircase to my left when Gym-girl B approached from the locker-room. I was feeling rather sluggish that Saturday morning because I couldn’t use my iPod. I’d forgotten my earbuds and found myself singing inaudibly to the video playing on the flat screen overhead until I heard, Gym-girl A and Gym-girl B… going at it!

“That’s MY machine. I just cleaned it. You need to move,” demanded Gym-girl B.

“You don’t own it. You weren’t here. I’ve already started my workout -- use that one,” directed Gym-girl A. She was on the machine to my left. I was climbing away on the middle machine. The machine to my right was unoccupied and that’s exactly where Gym-girl A felt Gym-girl B needed to go. She stretched her hands, extending to Gym-girl B the belongings that had once occupied the machine; a towel, water bottle, iPod and earbuds.

Gym-girl B appeared completely incensed by the audacity of Gym-girl A and snatched the items saying, “I cleaned this machine and left to use the bathroom. I was gone all of two seconds and you’re going to take it? Really? OK! Well guess what? You’re going to clean it now!” The next thing I saw was Gym-girl B glazing Gym-girl A with her water like a Thanksgiving turkey.

I have to admit, I could appreciate Gym-girl B’s position at first. I too have placed my belongings on a machine and walked away for a brief period but she lost my support completely with the water assault. “Did she really just take it there?” I thought. I looked around and caught eye contact with one of the personal trainers from clear across the gym floor. I mouthed, “Get over here quick!” Then I did a wide-eyed, clenched teeth facial expression. I was thinking, “If a riot breaks out, where’s the nearest exit?”

By this point Gym-girl A had informed a few of her friends from nearby machines. They threw out a few verbal assaults but Gym-girl B wasn’t intimidated and didn’t back down from her fighting stance. Luckily, my panic appeal to the personal trainer caused cooler heads to prevail. I don’t think these women wanted to cross her, she’s built like mixed martial artist Rhonda Rousey. This trainer was professional but pretty much told them to knock-it-off. Tempers were still flaring so the duo involved a mediator, the gym’s general manager.

Both women made passionate appeals for their position. Their arguments were so equally persuasive the GM didn’t know who to believe. Of course, neither party was being totally honest. Gym-girl A said the machine had been unattended for over 10 minutes and she assumed the belongings had been forgotten. Gym-girl B vehemently denied pouring water on Gym-girl A citing, “The water spilled when she was handing it to me.”

I continued to climb away, not saying a word. As far as I was concerned it was none of my business. I wasn’t investing anymore of my work-out on the shenanigans. But the one thing I could appreciate about both women was they stood up for themselves.    

I once lacked a sense of self-worth to the point where I allowed myself to be mistreated. We don’t have time to get into that now, I literally wrote a book, “Becoming a Mother While Losing My Own,” that gives a detailed account of my journey. But not everyone has time to read a memoir.

So I’ll leave you with this: we can’t allow anyone to undermine who we are. If you find yourself being treated unfairly, disrespected, violated or abused, it’s NOT OK. I don’t recommend being belligerent or getting physical with anyone, that wouldn’t be appropriate. However, as long as you have a voice, it’s OK for you to exercise your right to stand up for yourself. If you don’t, who else will? Recognize your worth. You have value and you matter!

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.  

Wolves begin to circle after Scalia’s death

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Justice Antonin Scalia was described as dedicated and uncompromising in his interpretation of the Constitution. He based many of his Supreme Court decisions on the language used in that original document. He was unwavering in his interpretation of the beliefs and thoughts of our founding fathers.

Scalia was found dead Saturday morning in his Texas hotel room. He was on a vacation trip with a group who planned to go quail hunting. He excused himself Friday night and retired to bed. He had told some people at the hotel that he was not feeling well.

The 79-year-old justice reportedly died of natural causes. His wife said that an autopsy will not be necessary. Scalia’s legacy will be his keen mind and his conservative principles. At least that’s the impression most of us will be left with. Many headlines in newspapers across the country said he was the “Conservative champion.”

His rulings against certain liberal causes were filled with caustic comments. He loved to argue but remained friendly with members of the Supreme Court in which he did not usually agree with. He was close friends with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who often has a more liberal interpretation of the law.

Scalia often said that you can disagree with someone but you don’t have to be disagreeable. He liked to argue with his more liberal justices but he did not take anything that was said personally.

Maybe some of our current Republicans who take up space in Washington, D.C. should take note of Scalia’s beliefs. If they did, they would respect the office of the presidency and realize that Barack Obama has a duty to select a nominee to replace Scalia.

Scalia had not even been laid to rest and Republicans were already ranting that Obama should not be allowed to choose a successor to Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) essentially said that Obama should not be allowed to select another chief justice. McConnell said that people should have a voice in deciding the next Supreme Court justice.

Well, that sounds so noble. But actually, it is pure politics. McConnell has kept his Senate majority by appealing to a conservative base, moderates and some members who are on the extreme right. The latter part of this group view Obama as the arrival of the anti-Christ. By saying that the will of the people needs to be respected, McConnell lets himself off the hook somewhat. But expressing that this is the will of the people, the focus will be on him, McConnell believes.

If McConnell can stall any selection to replace Scalia as Obama leaves office, he can look victorious in the eyes of his proponents. McConnell would like nothing more than to have one more final victory against Obama.

So, apparently that’s what this comes down to. McConnell and even some of the GOP presidential candidates are fearful of that the balance of the Supreme Court will tilt left. This is where everyone needs a dose of reality. McConnell knows better. The president has every right to select a nominee for the Supreme Court.

All you have to do is ask Donald Trump. The volatile GOP candidate said in the debate Saturday night that Obama has the right to choose the next nominee for the Supreme Court. Trump realizes this because Obama is the president. Trump added, of course, that it is up to McConnell and his GOP posse to stop him. They can do that be delaying and delaying, said Trump.

The assumption here by his opponents is that Obama will select an ultra-liberal justice to replace Scalia. What actually will occur is that Obama will wait a respectable amount of time before considering candidates, the majority of which will go under the title of moderate.

And what is wrong with that? A fair and balanced voice is needed during these chaotic times. A fight will occur whoever Obama chooses. I guess we will just have to see how this plays out in the end. Maybe Obama’s opponents will succeed.

They may succeed with no regard for all of the people. In the words of Scalia, we don’t have to be so disagreeable. Scalia was approved by a judiciary committee with a vote of 98-0 after President Reagan selected him in 1986. Maybe the Democrats were sidetracked by the simultaneous selection of Justice William Rehnquist, who had 33 opposing votes.

Scalia’s passing assures of one thing. A chaotic year will become even more chaotic.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

‘Super’ day for Manning, Coldplay, Beyoncé and Mars

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

The Super Bowl is over. We can all relax now.

Perhaps now we can concentrate on other matters, like choosing a presidential primary candidate. For the record, the Denver Broncos staggered the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, in Santa Clara, Calif. This goes under the category of an upset victory, not that most of us mind. The majority of people I talked to did not have a preference in this game.

But Peyton Manning goes out a winner. The 39-year-old Denver quarterback has had a great career and is considered one of the game’s greatest at his position. But the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback is no longer great. Neck injuries have taken its toll on his once strong throwing arm. And he was never all that mobile to begin with.

But he is still a great field general, eluding several Carolina blitzes by throwing short quick passes. He simply did enough to win while the defense did the rest. The Broncos forced four turnovers and sacked Carolina quarterback Cam Newton six times.

So, in my opinion, Manning should retire. He now has two Super Bowl rings. The first one was against our Chicago Bears. If Manning retires, he goes out on top. Nothing is better than that. Manning said he needed time to think about it. He was going to kiss his wife, his kids and then drink a lot of Budweiser.

My advice to him is that when he gets over that hangover is to talk to the Denver Broncos’ general manager, John Elway. The former star quarterback of the Broncos, Elway won Super Bowl titles in his last two years. He retired after that. Elway, like Manning is now, was a shadow of himself at the end of his career and was more like a game manager. Elway just did enough behind a great offensive line, strong running game and a great defense.

When Manning sobers up, he will make the right decision. It is better to go out on top.

But the big game is over and life goes on. A lot of people were watching who do not even care about Manning, Denver linebacker MVP Von Miller, Newton or Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. They may have been more impressed with Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem. The game was played near San Francisco but Tony Bennett was nowhere in sight.

And then there were the commercials. I’m not a TV critic but they were not controversial or that memorable. Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan were amusing in a “Bud Light Party” ad. The majority of the ads seem to involve dogs that talked, drive cars or standing in the checkout line at the grocery store.

The halftime show did feature Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce, in that order. My only concern when I mentioned it last week was that the stage was going to be a little crowded for a 20-minute performance. But I also said that the National Football League is all about excess. Coldplay zipped through three songs, followed by Mars and then Beyonce marching down the field. My concern about excess was beginning to be realized.

But I thought it ended well and since this was Super Bowl 50, images of previous performers were shown, like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder Diana Ross, U2, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Katy Perry, and Beyonce and Mars.

But the show is over. For football fans, I’m not sure what they will do. Maybe they will get pumped up over the NFL draft, which will again be held in Chicago’s Grant Park. We may not be able to pass a budget but we sure know how to throw a party.

The Grammys are coming up this week. The Academy Awards are just around the corner. A lot of people hold parties for these award shows as well. I guess it helps us get through the winter.

College basketball has fans across the country and that means March Madness will be in our midst. Personally, I find it easier to keep up with the Grammys and Academy Awards then to figure out where 64 college teams fit in.

Of course, there is the Chicago Blackhawks. Enough said there.

Now, dare I say it? The groundhog has predicted an early spring (I will believe it when I see it). Does that mean the Chicago Cubs and White Sox will begin the season playing baseball in 50-degree weather instead of the 30’s?

I guess we will just have to wait and see. By then, Manning will have quit partying and made his decision.

                                                        

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .