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6:00PM | September 23, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

National vending machine show hits Chicago!

Vending machines have come along way in the past 2,000 years. According to the National Automated Machines Association, the first "vending machine" was put into use in 215 B.C., a device to dispense holy water used in the temples of Egypt. Uh, huh. Some other fun vending machine facts:

- The vending industry is a $30 billion a year industry, employing 700,000 people who work at an estimated 13,500 companies.

- 100 million Americans will use on of 7 million vending machines each day.

- 16.3% of all vending machines are located in schools and colleges. Most vending machines are located in manufacturing settings (30.2%)

NAMA will be set up in Navy Pier over the next two days, with dozens of vendors set up to show off their latest creations. Among the machines we caught - a cotton candy machine that whips up the sugary snack in seconds. The sticky will set you back $2.

Another is a futuristic, iPhone like machine called the Digi-Touch. This one was on display by Kraft Foods, who demonstrated how the flat-screen, Samsung created front allowed customers to touch their choice. If you insert a $20 bill, you'll get paper money in return. The machine also accepts credit cards. And in between orders, the flat screen turns into a large animated advertisement for the various products inside.

Kraft's Mike Miller told us about the various challenges the creative team had when designing the machine - which houses plenty of chocolate products.

"The heat from the screen was beginning to make the chocolate soft and melt a little bit," Mike told us. " What we've done, is we actually have two fans. One at the bottom to push the air out over the screen. One at the top to suck that air out of the top, so we don't have any issues anymore with soft or slightly melted chocolate."

Other machines include the Akoona Ice Machine, a behemoth of a product that pumps out bags of fresh ice for just 75 cents. It's a big improvement from gas station ice, which, according to Akoona Reps, often comes trucked in from large factories that use chemicals during the production process. Akoona's ice is chemical free and never touches a human hand. Pull your cooler up, and with three gushes, it's full to the brim.

The NAMA convention runs through Friday, but it's only open to vendors. Check out my video above to feel what it was like to be there. Plus, you'll get to keep some change in your pocket.
4:08PM | September 22, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 5

Chicago's Best Wings!


My toughest assignment yet? Following up on metromix.com's Best Wings feature (read it here). Seriously. Who wants to travel all over the city and eat wings all day? Oh, right. I do.

After narrowing the list down to 16 finalists, metromix asked Chicagoans to vote for their favorite - in Chicago, suburbs not allowed. The result was a crowning achievement for the Fifty/50 in Wicker Park, who was named the big winner. The tri-level sports bar has commanded plenty of attention since opening on Division Street a few years ago. Their wings are plenty meaty and smothered in your choice of sauce, all made right there in house. They'll cost you $9 for 8, but they boast only the best quality ingredients.

Another spot on the list that didn't even place or show - Abeng Stuart's Wings Around The World. I love this place on 75th Street. Abeng moved it there after the rent at his 35th street location became way too costly. The result is a smaller spot, but the same signature sauces remain. He makes them all from scratch, different varieties representing countries all over the globe. There's the award-winning honey lemon pepper (U.S.A.), Parmesan garlic (Italy), mango jerk (Jamaica), and so many more.

And to conclude, I have no idea how metromix.com left these wings off their list. I have to assume they've never eaten the Little Hotties at Take Me Out, Let's Eat Chinese on 18th Street in Pilsen. Other publications have referred to these wings as "chicken crack," and while I would never make a joking point about such a devastating drug, I have to concede the point. These wings are indeed chicken crack.

Karen Lim's family owns Great Sea Chinese Restaurant in Albany Park. The same chicken wings have been captivating locals for decades. Karen decided to franchise them out and stuck with the Take Me Out concept after a fire next door caused her to close and remodel. I find the wings at Take Me Out even better than the original - they're crispier, but still come slathered in that unbelievable asian sauce. Dare I say the Little Hotties are my favorite quick snack in Chicago?

If you're looking for the hottest wings in town, I've got you covered there as well. About a year ago, Jake Melnick's Corner Tap in River North unveiled their H-O-T Wings. These wings are SO hot, they claimed, customers would have to sign a waiver before eating them. Yeah, right. Nice gimmick. I went to try them myself. Here's what happened:


I know you all have an opinion, where can I find your favorite wings in Chicago? Leave a comment and let me know. Here are more details on the spots featured on tonight's segment:

The Fifty/50
2047 W. Division St.
Monday-Thursday 11am-2am; Friday 10 am-2am; Saturday 10am-3am; Sunday 10am-2am

$9 for 8 wings

Wings Around The World
510 E. 75th St.
Monday-Tuesday 2pm-12mid; Weds 12noon-2am; Thursday-Friday 12noon-4:30am; Saturday 12noon-5am; Sunday 12noon-7pm
$6.99 for 10

Take Me Out, Let's Eat Chinese
1502 W. 18th St.
$6.39 for regular order, $11.99 for family size
11am-9:30pm daily

8:18PM | September 16, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Chicagoland Nationals Hot Rod Show to feature 'Street Machine of the Year'

chicagolandnats.jpgIt's a gear head's paradise this weekend, as the 3rd annual Chicago Nationals Hot Rod Show invades the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. The event will feature over 2,000 Hot Rods, Customs, Classics, Muscle Cars and Trucks. There will be a swap meet, street challenges, and drag races at the Route 66 Raceway on Friday night. Tickets cost $17 for adults, and $6 for kids 12 and under. You can purchase them here.

On tonight's WGN News, I went to check out The Roadster Shop, a custom car design and manufacturing facility in north suburban Mundelein. Neal Gerber, along with his sons Phil and Jeremy, took a small auto-collision repair shop in Elgin and turned it into a thriving Chicagoland business. Two years ago they opened their 30,000 square foot facility that now employs 25 people. They take orders from all over the country - from rebuilds and restores, to complete constructions and detailing. The Roadster Shop does it all under one roof.

Roadster_Shop_Corvette_1.jpgTheir recent claim to fame comes with a design spearheaded by Phil Gerber, a complete retooling of a classic 1962 Corvette which won Goodguys "Street Machine of the Year" designation. Phil and the team tore the car down and modified EVERYTHING. It now features an aluminum front and grill, an exposed glass windshield, bright red leather interior, and some really cool electronic doors that open with the push of a button.

You can view the entire process of restoring the car on the Roadster's website here. It was made for a client in Wisconsin, and while the staff vows secrecy when it comes to how much customers pay for their vehicles, staff says an auto with as much modification and rarity as the '62 Corvette could sell for about $500,000. And no, they won't put it on your credit card. Or at least on my credit card.

If you'd like to check out the Roadster Shop in person, here's some information:

The Roadster Shop
28775 N IL Route 83
Mundelein, IL

6:15PM | September 10, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

"Rick Bayless Superstar" now playing at Xoco!


Rick Bayless can cook. Chicago didn't need a reality show to tell us that. Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" let America in on our not-so-secret master of all things Mexican.

His resume speaks for itself. In the late 1970's, Rick hosted the PBS television series "Cooking Mexican." He would spend time after that researching the culinary arts in Mexico. To this day Mr. Bayless still frequently travels down south, sampling authentic eats from roadside vendors and the finest chefs in Mexico. He's won the James Beard Award (like a culinary Oscar). He was one of the first chefs to open a fine-dining Mexican restaurant (Topolobampo). Last August, Rick was named Top Chef Master in Bravo's star-studded cooking show.

His latest restaurant Xoco, a quick-serve Mexican street-eats spot located next door to Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, opened just this week. The spot took two years to conceive and construct, which means Rick was in no way planning on the outpouring of popularity that has come since his "Top Chef" win. The lines for Xoco have been out the door, probably due to the fact that customers can get a taste of Bayless for just $8-$13.

I brought a WGN camera into Xoco today and grabbed a few minutes of Rick's time. He told me he's pulling 16 hour shifts this week, working the line with his new staff to make sure everything goes to plan. If you want to check out Xoco for yourself, here's some information:

449 N. Clark Street
Tuesday-Saturday, 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.
The lines might look long, but most customers are waiting 20 minutes at the most


Our feature on Xoco from tonight WGN News is above. I'll be posting my entire talk with Rick on the blog tomorrow. For now, check out Kevin Pang and Monica Eng's trip to Xoco on The Stew.

5:13PM | September 4, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Superdawg ready to rock the suburbs

superdawg pic.jpgIt was 1948. Maurie Berman had returned from World War II. He was going to college, and he and his new bride Florence (Flaurie) were looking for a way to help pay for his schooling. They decided to open a small hot dog stand on Chicago's northwest side. 61 years later, Superdawg (6363 N. Milwaukee, Corner of Milwaukee & Devon) still stands, offering up its vintage drive-in flair and jumbo dawgs in a box.

A few things different about the Super-dawg. It's a tad thicker than your standard wiener. Oh, that's another thing, don't call them wieners. They don't like it. The dawg comes with all of the standard Chicago style fixings - neon/alien relish, onions, pickle spear, mustard. They do include a tomato in the box, but it's a pickled green tomato. Lip puckering good.

I know what you're thinking - I'm different, I like ketchup on my hot dog. Here's my advice. Don't ask them for ketchup on your hotdog. They won't do it. However, they'll gladly provide a side of ketchup for your fries, and as their operations manager Don Drucker told me, what a man does with ketchup in his private dining area is his own business. Personal privacy is key at Superdawg.

But back to the matter at hand. Superdawg will be opening a second drive-in location, much bigger than the first. It'll feature their car-hoppers delivering grub right to your car window. All of the Superdawg menu will be there. It'll be just like hitting the original spot, but right in the backyard of Northwest Suburbians. Here's the location:

Superdawg Drive-In 2
333 S. Milwaukee
Wheeling, IL

They're aiming for a mid-November launch. We'll be sure to keep you posted, in the meantime, check out the Chicago Tribune's writeup on Maurie, Flaurie, and their new location.
9:25PM | September 3, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Chicago Blackhawks Ladd & Eager become Marines for a day

chicago blackhawks.gifToday was another one of those surreal days. I grew up watching Chicago Blackhawks hockey, many a memory on the second balcony of the old Chicago Stadium. To think that someday I would be standing on a football field with two members of the team as they try to complete military combat drills? Just one of those weird moments.

The fine members of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines invited us out to watch the wingers Andrew Ladd and Ben Eager beat themselves sweaty. They actually invited me to participate, but when I read it would entail scooping up a real-life marine, throwing him over my shoulder and running for about 30 yards? And hoisting a 30 pound ammo can over my head more than 100 times? There are certain things in life worth pinching a nerve over, I'll just tip my cap to the Marines and let the professional athletes show off their guns.

The guys participated in a Combat Fitness Test. The program was made a semi-annual requirement for all Marines in 2008. It consists of three different rounds:

toys for tots.jpg1. Running - Marines run a half mile sprint in less than 2 minutes and 45 seconds. A five minute break ensues, then...

2. Ammo Can Lift - A square can filled with ammunition is hoisted from underneath the chin up over the head, as many times as possible within 2 minutes. Ladd completely 120 reps, very impressive even by Marine standards.

3. The Maneuver Under Fire Course - Marines run a course of cones, carry more ammo cans, throw a grenade, and hoist a wounded Marine onto their back and run him/her to safety. The Marine will run 300 yards during this exercise, all in about 2 minutes.

Marines will complete this training twice a year, on top of any other exercises they might be assigned. And you thought you had a tough job.

Chicago Blackhawks hockey kicks off on October 2. You can view a full schedule of games here.

The 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines are once again participating in the Toys for Tots program. If you'd like to requrest any toys, or make a donation, head to their website here.
9:56AM | September 2, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Pilates....with your dog


I hope Joseph Pilates was a dog lover. Chicago fitness tycoon Andrea Metcalf is renowned for her unique workout classes. When she had her first child, she figured out a way to incorporate a baby into her routine. And now she has a new baby, an English Bulldog named Wrigley.

Andrea's gotten together with Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society. Together they'll be hosting a weekly class, "Pawsilates," which not only aims to get you off the couch, but that lazy dog of yours as well. Participants will stretch their bodies and flex their muscles, with their best friends right by their sides.

Andrea let us sit in on a run through of the course last night. It's 30 minutes long and will feature plenty of contorting and flex-banding. As for the animals, they'll get to walk around in circles, and if they're small enough, they might be picked up and used as resistance. You have to see the video, it'll air on the WGN News tonight at 5:30 and 9:00.

You might hear a few chuckles in the background, that was me trying my best not to bust up. The participants had just as much fun. As for the dogs? Wait until you see the nice massage the class ends with. That's the life right there.

anti-cruelty logo.gifIf you want to try Pawsilates for yourself....

WHAT: Pawsilates Workout Class
WHERE: Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society, 159 W. Grand (Grand & Lasalle)
WHEN: Five weekly Wednesday classes. 6 p.m. class for dogs under 25 lbs., 6:30 p.m. class for dogs over 25 lbs.
COST: $10 for one class, or $45 for all five classes.
WHY: To get you and your dog in shape. And all (100%) of the proceeds go to the Anti-Cruelty Society, who put 5,000 animals into adoption each year.

1:38PM | September 1, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Music Tuesday: The Giving Tree Band releases Green Album

giving tree band cover.jpgAbout a year ago, I caught up with local folk group The Giving Tree Band as they recorded their first ever green album, "Great Possessions." By green, I don't mean recycled packaging. The band went all out and traveled to the Aldo Leopold Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin - a facility that celebrates the finest in eco-friendly living. Here's a quick rundown of what the band went through to ensure their earthy cred:

- Used energy generated by Leopold Center to power any instruments and electronics needed for mixing.
- CD's produced using renewable wind power.
- Packaging created using 100% biodegradable materials.
- Guitars made from naturally fallen or reclaimed woods, with a non-toxic finish.
- The band camped each night and biked 10 miles to and from the Leopold Center each day.

The band will put on a free CD release show in Lincoln Park on Tuesday, September 15th at 6 p.m. in Lincoln Park at Clark & Armitage, in conjunction with the first annual Carbon Day. I profiled the band on "metromix" as they were finishing the album last October.....
Continue reading Music Tuesday: The Giving Tree Band releases Green Album »
3:17PM | August 31, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Monday Movie Quarterback 8/31: Stupid....IN 3-D!!!!

Thumbnail image for final destination 3.jpgIt was a milestone for the "Final Destination" franchise. For the first time, one of its entries opened #1 at the box office. So what put this one over the top? No, not the girl having her face removed in the car wash. It was the girl having her face removed in the car wash - IN 3-D! Here's a review from the "Movie Monster." If you were wondering what stunk during your screening (besides the movie), it was probably him.

Once again my predictions were slightly off. Here's how the box office came in:

1. "The Final Destination" - $28.3 million
2. "Inglorious Basterds" - $20 million
3. "Halloween II" - $17.4 million
4. "District 9" - $10.4 million
5. "G.I. Joe" - $8 million

Now let's lose another mortgage and put our money on some returns next week....

Continue reading Monday Movie Quarterback 8/31: Stupid....IN 3-D!!!! »
5:14PM | August 27, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Watch the flowers bloom at Chicago Drake Hotel

drake hotel lobby.jpgAfternoon tea just got a lot BIGGER. The enormous floral centerpiece at the Drake Hotel is the most photographed of its kind, at least according to staff there. Now, Chicagoans can get a chance to see the massive creation put together in person by Kevin J. Herman, head designer at Mangel Florist, located just steps from the Drake's famous lobby.

I got a chance to sit in on the demonstration for the first time, and to be honest, I was thinking it might be a little bit dry. But watching Kevin start with a vase full of 30 gallons of water and turn it into a beautiful blast of color was surprisingly thrilling. It's like watching an artist paint on a blank canvas. It starts out extraordinarily dull, but ends iconic.

If you are any kind of afficianado of greenery, it's well worth the hour of your time. The Drake had about 15 people show up today, but they're hoping positive word of mouth spreads. It costs $35 and features tea and sandwiches in their Palm Court afterwards. If you'd like to book a reservation, contact the Drake's special events manager Shaun Rajah at 312.932.4619.

4:11PM | August 26, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Museum of Science and Industry: This old heart gets an upgrade


It's the end of an era. The famous "Giant Heart" exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry was officially taken apart last year. Too refresh your memory, here is WGN's Larry Rhoderick with a story from 1988 after the classic exhibit underwent a major renovation.


The old heart beats no more. In its place is a technological marvel - a 14 foot 3D beating heart that uses state of the art projectors to bring our essential organ to life. Another key feature of the new heart? Interactivity. You can grab the sensors at the pulse station and watch the mammoth vessels thump along with your actual heartbeat. When it's finished, it will also be able to simulate a heart attack, and various other electrical firings that happen inside its chambers. Overall it's a big step up technologically from the previous version.

The Chicago Tribune's William Mullen had a great piece about the new heart in today's paper. Just as notable were a few of the comments from readers - upset that a piece of their childhood nostalgia was gone. Museum staff told me the old heart was simply impossible to keep. It was built around a column that had to be removed, and as they tried to pry it free, it was crumbling to bits. After 50 plus years in existence, the heart wasn't as strong as it used to be. Sound familiar?

The museum took the heart apart and gave the remaining pieces to family members and significant others of the people who originally built it. So the "Giant Heart" does indeed beat on, in the rightful hands of the people who created lasting memories for millions of Chicagoans.

After looking at the new heart and testing out its features, I believe it's a positive change. Today's youth will be able to take more away from this heart - it's the next best thing to looking into somebody's chest. While the old heart definitely had its merits, with today's technology it seemed extremely dated. It's too bad they couldn't keep them both. They assured me they tried their best. I'm satisfied with that.

But how do you feel about this development? Do you think the change is warranted, or do you think the museum has made a major gaffe in getting rid of an iconic piece of Chicago nostalgia? Leave a comment and let me know!
6:00PM | August 25, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Sarks in the Park: Sarkis Cafe slides down to Lincoln Park

It's a North Shore greasy spoon legendary for its cheap eats, scrambled eggs, and disasters. Josh Alomia was always a big fan - he went to New Treir High School, and recalls the days of heading to Sarkis before the first bell. He approached them with a grand vision, to provide the greasy goodness of Sark's all over Chicagoland and beyond. They accepted...and Chicagoans have been lining up at the corner of Clark and Fullerton ever since.

One thing I had to try at Sarks - the Bacon Loretta. It's a hogie sized sandwich, with bacon, cheese, green pepper, tomato, onion, and mayo - all smothered between two toasted pieces of French bread. I ordered mine with a side of "loaded hash browns," which also come with cheese and veggies. Both are extremely tasty - and $5.50 for the sandwich is a total steal. You won't stay skinny eating at Sarks everyday. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it back to the station had I finished it all. Here's the location...
Continue reading Sarks in the Park: Sarkis Cafe slides down to Lincoln Park »
3:11PM | August 24, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Monday Movie Quarterback 8/24: Heil Misspelleeng!

basterds 1.jpgIt was the biggest weekend of director Quentin Tarantino's career, or at least the biggest weekend he's likely to remember. "Inglorious Basterds," complete with its improperly spelled title and awesome Brad Pitt southern accent, took a baseball bat to the head of its competition with a $38 million weekend. It's been a good few weeks for the lower budget fare. IB cost only $70 million (how sad is it that I can put the word "only" next to "$70 million"), meaning it made back half of its budget this weekend alone. Congrats to my favorite Spaz of Cinema on the major return. Here's how the rest of the box shaped up.

1. "Inglorious Basterds" - $38 million

2. "District 9" - $18 million

3. "G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra" - $12 million

4. "The Time Traveler's Wife" - $9 million

5. "Julie & Julia" - $8 million

I've taken a few weeks off the movie blog, counted up all of my losses and settled some debts. Let's predict what's going to happen next weekend... 

Continue reading Monday Movie Quarterback 8/24: Heil Misspelleeng! »
12:09PM | August 20, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Holy Trailer Thursday! First looks at "Avatar," "The Wolfman," "Capitalism: A Love Story" hit the internet

Aliens, werewolves, and Michael Moore - oh my! It's a big day for movie fans. Three very anticipated trailers have been unleashed online, some with better results than others. Michael Moore's latest documentary will premiere its trailer tonight at midnight, but as for what's available right now....

"Avatar" - December 18, 2009

avatar poster.jpgJames Cameron has had his "Avatar" scripts sitting in a top drawer for a decade, waiting for technology to catch up to his grand vision. It's the 22nd century on a planet called Pandora. The land is populated with Na'Vi, an alien race with blue, shimmery skin and Sloth-like bending earlobes.

To interact with the Na'Vi, humans have created avatars, or Na'Vi bodies that can be controlled with a mental link. Like "The Matrix" or "Total Recall," but real.  Sam Worthington plays a paralyzed marine (I guess they can create mind-controlled, alien body-pods but still can't fix paralysis) who hops on board one of these avatars, and falls in love with an actual alien. Cue "Part of your World" anytime you like.

Here's the teaser trailer released today...

I realize this is just a teaser trailer. I have not read the script and have not subjected my ears to one line of dialogue. But if this is the "game changer" that has been hyped all over the media lately, I'm VERY underwhelmed.

The animation reminds me of something you would see in a video game between levels. You know, that sequence you jam on the start button to skip through? I'm thinking about "District 9" - a movie that cost just over $30 million to make, yet the CG looked so incredibly real. How does a movie like "Avatar," with its well-over $200 million budget, look so fake? I saw this stuff when it was called "Star Wars Episode I." But now it's blue, hopefully not nearly as bad.

I'm trying my best to wait for December 18th to reserve judgment, especially because the 3D is the big "game changing" element people seem to be raving about, but this trailer did nothing to blow me away or even get me excited for "Avatar" day. It looks like one of those films that's too grown-up for kids, yet way too "cartoony" for adults. Hopefully Christmas comes early and knocks my stockings off. Sigh.

As for "The Wolfman".....

Continue reading Holy Trailer Thursday! First looks at "Avatar," "The Wolfman," "Capitalism: A Love Story" hit the internet »
5:17PM | August 19, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 5

LaGrange: The Best Downtown in Chicagoland?


At least according to Chicago Magazine it is! In their August "Best-Of" issue, the mag cites the village's great mix of young and old, and it's walkability as strong points. It's pretty neat how chains have managed to converge on the area without forcing out the mom and pop shops. A few of the places we visited:

LaGrange Theatre
80 S. LaGrange Road
(708) 579-2173

Horton's Ace Hardware
60 S. LaGrange Road
(708) 352-2110

Knead Marketplace
13 S. LaGrange Road
(708) 482-7909

So what do you think - does LaGrange have the best downtown in all of suburban Chicagoland? Do you have a favorite downtown that must be seen? Leave a comment and let me know!
5:05PM | August 17, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

The Blackstone Bicycle Works: Fix a flat for a good cause


On tonight's WGN News, I'm checking out the Blackstone Bicycle Works. It's located in Woodlawn, just near the University of Chicago. Connie Spreen is the co-owner, she started the business as part of her Experimental Station, and organization that sheds artistic and recreational influence on the community. They also have a large garden and a bakery on the property, all raising money to support local culture and youth.

You can help the Blackstone's cause by doing your bike business there. And if you have an old 10-speed in the basement collecting rust, click here to donate it to the shop.

Local youth will stay off the street and fix up your bike. Once they rack up enough hours learning, they'll get to keep a bike of their own. Plus, they learn the ins and outs of what it takes to run a successful business. And most important, Blackstone is a non-profit, so all of the money they make is funneled back into improving the lives of the local kids and improving the community overall. Here's more info:

Blackstone Bicycle Works
6100 S. Blackstone

2:55PM | August 14, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

The Windy City Ribs Festival kicks off in Union Park!

windy city ribs festival.gifJust what Chicago needs, something else to do this weekend. On tonight's WGN Evening News at 5:30, I'm checking out a brand lip-smacking new ribs fest to hit Chicago. We'll see what makes the Windy City Ribs Festival different. Reading their press release, it sounds like they'll be featuring vendors from here in Chicago, as well as a few from out of town, even as far away from Texas.

You'll be able to vote on your favorite vendor at the fest, and the big winner will be announced on Sunday. If I had to vote without even tasting yet, it would be a toss up between Old Town's Fireplace Inn and Uncle Bub's in Westmont. Here's all the info about the festival:

Windy City Ribs Festival
Union Park - 1501 W. Randolph St.
Friday 4-10 p.m., Saturday/Sunday 12 noon - 10 p.m.
Click here to visit the official website
1:45PM | August 14, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Watch this John Hughes Tribute Video NOW!

Big props to Fry Cook On Venus, quickly becoming one of my favorite stops on the internet. Eclectic Method has put together and amazing, head-bop-inducing tribute to the king of 80's teen angst - the late John Hughes. A perfect way to start your weekend...

Eclectic Method - A John Hughes Production from Eclectic Method on Vimeo.

5:10PM | August 13, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

VIDEO: Inside the Red Bull Helicopter!

Ever wonder what it's like to do a flip in a helicopter? I know I did!

I had a chance to take a ride with one of my new heroes, Chuck "Malibu" Aaron, the pilot of this modified Eurocopter BO-105 CBS 4 Twin engine helicopter, better known as the Red Bull Helicopter. The chopper has a rigid rotor, as opposed to a semi-rigid rotor, which gives it the ability to do all kinds of fun stuff. We're talking flips, barrel rolls, free falls, etc.

First, I asked if we would be doing the maneuvers over the Gary Airport. I wanted my photographer to be able to shoot us from the ground looking up. I was then told that due to regulations, the tricks couldn't be performed over a populated area. We had to fly out over the lake to do what we were going to do. Not the most reassuring dialogue to have before going airborne in a FLIPPING HELICOPTER!

But Chuck immediately put me at ease. His flowing airman hair and adventerous mustache screamed "good pilot." Watching the video back, it doesn't look as crazy as it felt. But the Red Bull chopper was a wild ride, one I'll never forget. You can see my story about it above, but I did shoot some extra video in the cockpit. Sorry it's so shaky - we were in a FLIPPING HELICOPTER!...

And finally, the entire raw video of my ride. All shot from the tail on the chopper.

Again, this is a specially modified helicopter. Do not try this at home with the chopper you take to work. You'll crash. Seriously.

The Chicago Air and Water Show happens this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at North Avenue Beach, but you can catch it all along the lakefront on the North Side. Wave hello to Chuck for me!
1:44PM | August 12, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

World's Best Dancer on G4's "Attack of the Show!"

I simply recorded a gentleman dancing with a Flip Cam, and next thing you know, he's a superstar all over the world. My "Lollapalooza 2009: World's Best Dancer" video is quickly going viral on YouTube. Last night I started getting texts and comments that it was featured on G4's "Attack of the Show." After a little digging, here it is. Fast forward to 3:30 if you don't want to watch the whole thing....

How this quick-footed, fist-pumping legend was not ranked #1 is beyond me. Thanks to G4 and AOTS for the mention of this television station, but your complete ignorance when it comes to human gyrating ability at a music festival is astounding.
3:52PM | August 10, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Lolla 2009: My Sunday, with video!

kaiser chiefs lolla.jpgSo that's it. Lollapalooza 2009 is over, I'm showered and sitting at my recently elongated cubicle back at the station. Wondering what an "elongated cubicle" looks like? You don't want to know.

Yesterday was a good day. For one, I was riding a high from one of the best wedding receptions I've been at. The Saturday night party was at the Brookfield Zoo, with the cocktail hour in the "Tropic World: Africa" monkey house. Might sound strange, but watching two gorillas play-fight while sipping a cold beverage and snacking on Beef Wellington turned out to be one of the most exciting hours of my weekend. Am I getting old or what?

Anyhow, Lollapalooza Sunday consisted of me walking around Grant Park and taking in some much needed music. It was a late start...

2:30 KAISER CHIEFS (above)

If you've ever seen The Kaiser Chiefs, you know they're a great way to wake up your day. They've also got a great sense of humor.

Shaking off the heat, lead singer Ricky Wilson commented on how sweaty the crowd looked.

"We need 50,000 beers out there right now," he said. "Anything but Bud."

They were playing on the Budweiser stage. They ripped through their hits and anything else that would make the crowd get in the air. Great show.

Continue reading Lolla 2009: My Sunday, with video! »
8:13PM | August 7, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Lolla 2009: Day 1 Recap

As Depeche Mode bellows out in the background, Lollapalooza Day 1 is nearing a close. Overall, it was a pretty average day for the Grant Park Lolla Saga. But a great picture is worth so much more than what I can tell you...re-live the day with the RedEye's photo gallery.

Mud.jpgIt was the first day the fest has seen large amounts of rain. The result? Let's just say I hope you're not in a softball league at Grant Park, it'd be like playing outfield at Woodstock '94. The field looks absolutely trashed. We'll see if this tremendous heatwave coming through will help dry things up.
Continue reading Lolla 2009: Day 1 Recap »
8:06PM | August 7, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 5

Lolla 2009: The World's Best Dancer

The title speaks for itself. I ran into this man at Perry's stage. Best. Dancer. Ever.
2:47PM | August 7, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Lolla 2009: The Gaslight Anthem have some questions about Chicago...

The Gaslight Anthem, out of New Jersey, are ripping up the Chicago 2016 stage as I write this. A crowd loaded with umbrellas, ponchos, and thousands of sopping wet people are getting their money's worth. In the middle of a set that's included cuts off their latest album, "The 59 Sound," singer Brian Fallon stopped to ask a question that's been on his mind since he hit the stage.

He wondered about the Congress Hotel, seen off in the distance. He heard that Al Capone did something crazy in it.

"That's kind of creepy," he said. "We don't have anything like that."

Yeah, there's nothing creepy about New Jersey at all, right? It's my first time seeing these guys live, and it's nice to see they're just as entertaining between songs. TGA is quickly becoming one of my favorite young bands. I'm scheduled to interview them later this afternoon. I'll post it as soon as it's ready.
2:40PM | August 7, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Lolla 2009: Chef Graham Elliot Bowles cooks, talks tattoos!

You've seen him on Top Chef Masters, maybe you've been to his restaurant. Celebrity chef Graham Elliot Bowles is known to make a big impression on the plate. This weekend he's been giving his biggest task yet, cooking meals for a few of the headliners at this year's Lollapalooza.

It's a big honor for the chef. I caught him with my rain-covered Flip cam earlier, and we talked about how he's getting through the weekend, his life in music, and what all of those tattoos are about! Please excuse the poor quality, quite a bit of rain came down while I was walking the grounds!

2:13PM | August 7, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Lolla 2009: Hockey overcome power problems, wake up crowd


Once you see Hockey, you never forget them. Especially if you were at Lollapalooza 2009. The power went out on the band not once, but twice. They managed to get through it with an improvised drum session which turned into a dance fest. Continue reading Lolla 2009: Hockey overcome power problems, wake up crowd »
2:06PM | August 7, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Lolla 2009: Hey Champ get early crowd dancing...

Video coming shortly....

Hey Champ recently signed with Lupe Fiasco's new label, something the local guys were quick to point out during their set. Many of the fans stacked in front of the south stage were there to see them, while others were waiting on later acts. But by the end of their set, they were all bopping along in unison.

It's hard not to get into Hey Champ's funky, electronic beat. I'd love to see them in a later set with a bigger crowd. More people means more energy, but these guys made due with what they had. Definitely worth checking out if you get a chance sometime.
1:41PM | August 7, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Lolla 2009: Hardcore Depeche Mode fans line up....

Sorry for the delay in posting here, as usual 100,000 people converging on one area swamps any broadband capabilities. Just east of the media tent is the Chicago 2016 stage, and as early as 11 a.m. this morning, hardcore Depeche Mode fans were lining up in the front row of the stage. I say early because DM is headlining! They'll be playing about 8 p.m. and most of these folks will be setting up shop in the pouring rain all day to see them.

I talked with a few of them and put together some video......

11:21AM | August 7, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Lollapalooza 2009 is under way!

lollapalooza logo.jpgLollapalooza 2009 has opened for business. I'll be roaming throughout the grounds all day long, shooting video and taking snapshots. I'm hanging out all day with my colleagues over at "metromix on CLTV"...we'll be interviewing bands throughout the day.

So keep refreshing, follow my updates on twitter.com/marcusleshock and at facebook.com/leshock. So far I've only overheard one person throwing up in a urinal, but hey, it's only 11:30 a.m., right?
8:40PM | August 6, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con gets "Incredible"

hulk.jpgWhen I walked into work this morning, a colleague asked what I was working on for today.

"I'm going to be LIVE at the Wizard World Comic-Con," I replied.

"You know," he responded. "You have a pretty cool job."

Little did I know that hours later, I would be challenging Lou "The Incredible Hulk" Ferrigno to an arm wrestling match. He let me win (I think), but it's a memory I'll keep forever. The Hulk was a favorite show as a kid, which is why thousands of people flock to these conventions and throw down $20 to get Big Lou to throw his autograph onto a 8x10" glossy.

But back to the matter at hand. The Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con is taking place this Friday-Saturday at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. The fest features thousands of comic books for sale, some so valuable they're pretty-much just there for show. Unless, of course, you have the coin to throw down to take home the first appearance of Spider-Man. You could buy a house out in Rockford instead.

Single day tickets are available. You can buy them at the Wizard World website here. Other celebs scheduled to make an appearance include Todd Bridges, Gary Coleman, Michelle Rodriguez, Ernie Hudson, Billy Dee Williams, Jake Busey, Margot Kidder, and a few more.

alex meraz.jpgOh, wait...talk about burrying the lead. There's also this wildly popular "Twilight: New Moon" movie opening this fall. Three stars of the film will be at the convention on Saturday - Alex Meraz (left), Christopher Heyerdahl, and Cameron Bright. Too bad those "Twilight" boys are totally overweight and not good looking at all, right?

I don't expect these three to draw the Rob Pattinson crowd, but you never know. Anything "Twilight" equals chaos. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE!

Wizard World has always been good to me. Covering it was one of my first assignments ever, back when I was just getting my TV feet wet with "metromix on CLTV." Adding a Lou Ferrigno arm wrestling battle cements the convo in my memory bank forever. I can't guarantee it'll do the same for you, but it might be worth the try.
6:20PM | August 5, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Take a backstage tour of Wrigley Field!


On tonight's WGN News, I tagged along on one of the Wrigley Field Tours. They're offered during most Cubs road trips and some select home games. For just $25, the 90-minute tour takes you to all of the cavernous spaces of the ballpark regular fans don't get to see.

You'll get to visit both clubhouses, the mezzanine suites, hang in the dugout and step onto the on deck circle, and if you're really lucky - you're guide might let you try your hand at the 7th inning stretch!

Some things you won't get to do - go into the scoreboard or poke around in your favorite player's locker. The home clubhouse is pretty much roped off, but you can still get a sense of the space. Carlos Zambrano's locker is closest to the rope-off, and I couldn't help but notice the taped-up photograph of Megan Fox hanging from the empty locker right next door. I'm assuming Big Z would never put that there, but hey, maybe he's a big fan of her acting ability?

Another thing I noticed on the tour - how clean the place is. Sitting in the bleachers, I couldn't even see a remnant of a peanut shell. Cubs' PR staff told me the cleaning crew has the procedure down to a science, and they often work throughout the night to get the job done. There's a documentary waiting to happen.

If you want to take a tour of the park yourself, a full schedule can be found on cubs.com. You can also call 1-800-THE-CUBS. They recommend you get your tickets in advance, because weekdays might be easier, but some of the weekend tours are packed with about 70 people. Good luck and have fun!

2:45PM | August 3, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Monday Movie Quarterback 8/3 - Sorta "Funny People"

And who said the internet is ruining modern movie criticism?! All of the news today is about the Judd Apatow helmed "Funny People" under-performing at the box office. I picked it to finish #2. Instead, the Adam Sandler / Seth Rogen dramedy took the top spot, but with a disappointing $23.5 million.

Q: But Marcus, it was the number one movie, how could you call that disappointing?

A: Well, according to some box office experts, "Funny People" is going to have to cross $100 million to make it a commercial success. With it's long running time and so-so word of mouth, that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

The rest of my top four fell in line, but I completely overlooked the new "Aliens in the Attic," thankfully most of you did as well. Here's how the box office shook out:

1. Funny People - $23.4 million
2. Harry Potter Pt. 782 - $17.7 million
3. G-Force - $17.05 million
4. The Ugly Truth - $13 million
5. Aliens in the Attic - $7.8 million

Now, let's get to next week....

Continue reading Monday Movie Quarterback 8/3 - Sorta "Funny People" »
7:19PM | July 29, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Maybe the cutest kid ever...

Sometimes these interviews are just too good to sit on a tape. Behold the Lake County kid dragging her Grandfather from ride to ride at the Lake County Fair, just a year after his heart transplant. You can tell they're both living life and loving every minute of it.

4:56PM | July 29, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Monster trucks, beauty pageants and livestock - all at the Lake County Fair!


On tonight's WGN News at 5:30, I'll be reporting on the Lake County Fair. Though it's technically celebrating its 81st year this week, officials tell me the fair's been around in some form for about 150! They're also set up in a brand new location, the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake, on the corner of Peterson and Midlothian (1060 E. Peterson to be exact).

If you want to check it out, it's going on everyday through Sunday with various events on each day. The hours are from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., again, with different events scheduled at different times. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for the kids.

You'll find the fair's official website here. For the full schedule of events, click here.
3:55PM | July 27, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

The unique creations at Chicago's Dog House

Chicago's Dog House
816 W. Fullerton (right near the intersection of Fullerton/Halsted/Lincoln)
Chicago, IL
(773) 248-3647

Last Thursday I went to check out Chicago's Dog House after plenty of positive buzz was showered my way. It's the creation of two recent college grads (Ryan D'Arcy of Depaul, and Aaron Wolfson of Columbia College). The Dog House offers your traditional Chicago style hot dogs, but also a few specialty dogs and sausages.

The specialty dogs run $3.50 and include my favorite so far, the French Poodle - which features brie cheese, a sliced pear, and a zesty, Grey Poupon like mustard. It has a little spice from the mustard that is offset by the pear, but the brie cheese is the real star. A fun, yet tasty creation.

They also offer dogs with a sense of humor to them, like the Mayor Daley, complete with Irish cheddar and caramelized onions. Then there's the Blagojevich - a Chicago style hot dog featuring one strange ingredient - ketchup. It looks all there, but there's just something that ain't right.

As for the sausages, they feature an alligator, a prime rib, and the regular variety. All come with different toppings that are made fresh in house. Chicago's Dog House is definitely unique, but the first comparison has to be Hot Doug's, whose owner Doug Sohn has carved a niche in the specialty encased-meats market.

Owner Ryan D'Arcy told me that he respects Hot Doug's, but he's not in direct competition with them. Doug's is a little ways up the road, and he hopes there is more than enough room for two fancy-schmansy doggie shops to succeed in such a big hot dog market. If the positive reviews all over the internet are a sign of things to come, Chicago's Dog House won't have to worry.

Watch my visit to Chicago's Dog House on tonight's WGN News at 5:30 and 9:00.

9:54AM | July 27, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Monday Movie Quarterback 7/27: Guinea Pig Surprise!

Guinea Pig surprise - sounds like something out of your high school cafeteria, right? Turns out it was the recipe for success at the weekend box office. Yes I was wrong. Like (hopefully) millions of others I had thought "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" would hang on to the top spot for another week. But I was underestimating a few things - 1) The power of the animated animal, and 2) Animated animals in 3-D. I really hope you parents had fun at "G-Force" this weekend, because I foresee more than a few of those trips in the future. Here's how the box office shook out:

1. "G-Force" - $32 million
2. "Harry Potter 73" - $30 million
3. "The Ugly Truth" - $27 million
4. "Orphan" - $12 million
5. "Ice Age 3" - $8 million

Oh, and I dare you to watch that above video all the way through. Now about next week....

Continue reading Monday Movie Quarterback 7/27: Guinea Pig Surprise! »
1:56PM | July 24, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Mark Buehrle throws Perfect Game, White Sox fans celebrate!

I was in Lincoln Park yesterday afternoon, shooting an interview at Chicago's Dog House, a new hot dog stand opened by a young DePaul University alum. My phone went off, I took a call, and I was running out the door to get down to U.S. Cellular Field. White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle had thrown a perfect game, just the 18th time it had happened in Major League Baseball history. Pretty rare feat.

Continue reading Mark Buehrle throws Perfect Game, White Sox fans celebrate! »
1:00PM | July 22, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Touch a Beluga Whale at the Shedd Aquarium


There's a new program at the Shedd Aquarium that lets you wade into the water with their famous Beluga Whales. It's called the Beluga Encounter and they just started the program earlier this month. The Shedd hosted a media preview yesterday, and I strapped on my wetsuit and tried it out for myself yesterday. You can see my experience in the video above. Continue reading Touch a Beluga Whale at the Shedd Aquarium »
1:38PM | July 20, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Beastie Boys cancel Lollapalooza headliner show!

Two big blows for Beastie Boys fans today.

First, Adam "MCA" Yauch posts a YouTube video saying he has cancer of his salivary gland.

Next, they announce they will be canceling all of their summer shows and postponing an upcoming album, including their headlining gig at Lollapalooza. And while this is a HUGE blow to an already thin Lolla lineup, let's remember that the important thing is for Yauch to focus on fighting his cancer, and to spend as much time as possible with his family and friends.

Life is short. Less Adam now hopefully means more Beastie Boys later. I'll be sure to post who fills into the Beastie Boys slot as that information becomes available.
9:41AM | July 20, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Monday Movie Quarterback 7/20: Heeeeeloooo, Potter!

The second-to-last book in the "Harry Potter" series, "The Half Blood Prince," spawned one of the famous viral-videos of all time. It has now spawned the fastest grossing "Potter" movie yet, taking in an impressive $159 million in its first five days. Some were hoping it would pass "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's" near-record 5 day haul, but sadly that wouldn't happen. I say sadly because any movie that makes us forget about "Transformers 2" will be a blessing. And I mean ANY movie. Bring on a "Hannah Montana" sequel or something. So here's how the box office shook out:

1. Harry Potter 73 - $79 million
2. Ice Age 3 - $17
3. Transformers 2 - $13
4. Bruno - $8
5. The Hangover $8

The big story here has to be "Bruno," which took a complete nose dive and dropped 80% of its first weekend gross. Ouch. Even though the film was inexpensive to make, with all the marketing costs and time spent, Universal must be hurting with those numbers. Looks like the movie was a little too much for people to take in twice. We'll see how the DVD sales go.

Now let's get predicting for next week.....
Continue reading Monday Movie Quarterback 7/20: Heeeeeloooo, Potter! »
9:29PM | July 16, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Outtakes from the puppy fashion show!

From the Barque Canine Couture fashion show a few days ago. Puppies wearing all kinds of wild outfits. Cut to music. Oh snap.

8:19AM | July 16, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Barque Canine Couture hosts fashion show - for dogs

Last night on the WGN News at 9, I took a trip to an upscale Chicago fashion show - for dogs. Gay Roberts is the owner of Barque Canine Couture, a new company she created after discovering how frustrating it was to find fantastic threads for her Yorkie. She hosted a fashion show yesterday (in the clip above) to showcase the latest in hot doggie duds. In case you saw something you liked, here's how you can get your hands on it...

Continue reading Barque Canine Couture hosts fashion show - for dogs »
11:23PM | July 14, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

See how Hot Dog buns are made at S. Rosen's Bakery!

Tonight on the WGN Evening News at 5:30, I took a tour of the legendary S. Rosen's bakery - where they make their famous hot dog buns. These aren't just any hot dog buns, S. Rosen's supplies 90% of Chicago's hot dog stands with their buns. In fact, they make about 90,000 buns an hour at this place. It's pretty amazing. Above you'll see a video I put together of our entire tour, how they make the buns from start to finish.

It's the latest of our "We Made" series. A few weeks back I showed you how they made Gelato at Ristorante Al Teatro.

We were at S. Rosen's because this week they're fronting a major charity initiative. In honor of their 100 year anniversary, all week long they're donating 10 cents of each bun they sell to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Northern Illinois Food Bank, America's Second Harvest of Wisconsin, Northwest Indiana Food Bank, and the Chicago Anti-Hunger Foundation. They're hoping to sell 1 million buns, which would raise $100,000 total. You can buy S. Rosen's buns in most grocery stores, and in more than 1,700 hot dog stands across Chicagoland. It's national hot dog month, so grab a dog for a good cause.
5:11PM | July 10, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 4

ESPN Zone's Top 10 Chicago Sports Moments of the Past 10 Years

Bartman.jpgESPN Zone is celebrating 10 years of operation at Ohio and Wabash today. They're giving out free desserts with a $10 Game Card purchase, but more important, they're unveiling their list of the Top 10 Chicago Sports Moments of the past 10 years. They polled their customers both online and in the restaurant over the past month, and the result is this Top 10 list they emailed to us earlier today....
Continue reading ESPN Zone's Top 10 Chicago Sports Moments of the Past 10 Years »
6:50PM | July 9, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Weekend Haps: The U.S. Open of Mini Golf hits Chicagoland!


Tonight on WGN News
, you'll see my visit to the Ball Fore Mini Golf Course in south suburban Worth. This weekend, the U.S. Pro Mini Golf Association will be there all weekend, hosting their U.S. Open. Professional miniature golfers from around the world will be competing for $2,000 in prizes. Competition kicks off on Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. if you'd like to watch. Unfortunately the deadline to register for $100 was yesterday.

On another note, organizers tell me that Andy Richter, famous announcer/sidekick on "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" is scheduled to make an appearance. They say he'll probably be taping a segment for the show. These golfers are serious, but they're a very good time. So if Andy does come out I'm sure it'll make a hilarious piece.

If you happen to see him out there, or just experience Pro Mini Golf in all its glory, be sure to let me know how it went!
12:33PM | July 9, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 3

Leshock Value Review: "Bruno" 4/10

bruno 2.jpgLast night I was sitting on my couch, flipping through the television, and I came across "There's Something About Mary." I remembered how "edgy" that film felt when it came out. But four days after watching "Bruno," I felt like I was watching the Care Bears. How times have changed.

I have no idea how Sacha Baron Cohen's "Bruno" received an R rating. It's as close as a movie can come to an NC-17. There is plenty of full frontal nudity, extreme closeups of all kinds of nether-regions, and the lowest-of-low brow humor we've seen in movies. "Bruno" is offensive, immature, and just plain wrong. That said - I laughed. A lot.
Continue reading Leshock Value Review: "Bruno" 4/10 »
4:09PM | July 6, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Tech Talk: The oldest bible, the thinnest TV's, and a new iPhone Twitter app!

If you tuned into tonight's WGN Evening News at 5:30 p.m., you heard us talk about all kinds of fun new gadgets hitting store shelves soon. But one story really peaked my interest. Whenever science finds a way to preserve history, it's always worth a mention.

JohnMumford_full.jpgThe Codex Sinaiticus

Better known as the oldest Bible in existence, this hand written work has survived since the 4th century, around the time of Constantine the Great.

For the past four years, scientists and scholars have painstakingly restored and digitized what's left of this great work. On the website you can look up specific chapters and zoom in and out. You can even change the light value for each page. More from the AP story....

As it survives today, Codex Sinaiticus comprises just over 400 large leaves of prepared animal skin, each of which measures 15 inches by 13.5 inches (380 millimeters by 345 millimeters). It is the oldest book that contains a complete New Testament and is only missing parts of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha.

You can see the work for yourself here. They're experiencing heavy traffic right now so the site is pretty slow, but give it some time. It's worth the wait.

As for the rest of this week's Tech Talk.....
Continue reading Tech Talk: The oldest bible, the thinnest TV's, and a new iPhone Twitter app! »
9:49AM | July 6, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Monday Movie Quarterback: 7/6/09!

ice-age-3.jpgThe Monday Movie Quarterback took last week off on account of being embedded at the Taste of Chicago. 100,000 lbs. of BBQ Turkey Leg later, the Quarterback is loaded and ready to go. It was a real barn burner at the holiday box office this weekend. Personally, I had "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" rolling all over "Ice Age 3," but the 3-D toon proved much more popular than I imagined. Here's how the too-close-to-call weekend shaped up:

1 (Tied). Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - $42.5 million
1 (Tied). Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - $42.5 million
3. Public Enemies - $26.1 million
4. The Proposal - $12.7 million
5. The Hangover - $10.4 million

Next weekend brings a very interesting predicament. Can Sasha Baron Cohen repeat his "Borat" success and take the #1 spot?
Continue reading Monday Movie Quarterback: 7/6/09! »
9:09AM | July 6, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Leshock Value Review: "Public Enemies" 4/10

Public Enemies 4-10.jpg
This town deserves a better class of criminal.

Last summer's box office Joker made that statement. This summer, we get John Dillinger. Ironically both "The Dark Knight" and "Public Enemies" were largely filmed in Chicago, with very different results.

Director Michael Mann wants us to belive that Dillinger was indeed another class of criminal. Yes, he robbed banks. But he let the customers keep their money. The press ate it up, played right into the Robin Hood storyline that would make Dillinger famous with the public. He stole from the Fat Cats, made a mockery of them, and the little guy seemed to enjoy it.

Continue reading Leshock Value Review: "Public Enemies" 4/10 »
4:18PM | July 2, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Reverie performs "Carousel" at Taste of Chicago!

I managed to catch local rockers Reverie attracting a big crowd over at the Best Buy stage. Here's their performance of "Carousel." You can see more of them at myspace.com/reverieone.

2:36PM | July 2, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Wait, is that Bon Jovi at the Taste of Chicago?

Uhhhhhh, no it's not, but all of your friends can try their hand at Rock Band all week long. And trust me, you're probably much better than these two....

My favorite part is the little kid drumming, staring in the opposite direction. I think we might be hearing about a "rock band breakup" soon. Hilarious.
2:33PM | July 2, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Wonder why people hate the Taste of Chicago?

This probably has something to do with it. Suddenly, the large crowds have descended upon Grant Park. The last few days have been pretty nice, but it looks like people are taking long 4th of July weekends. Here's a little video of me trying to walk through the masses...

I don't know what's worse, the people eating while walking the wrong direction, or the TV guy holding his camera running into them. Sorry!
1:44PM | July 2, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Taste for $8: Three-course "Taste Portion" meals...

download.jpgIt's Taste of Chicago Thursday, and the crowd is officially pouring in. I thought I'd compile three "taste portion" meals you can have here at the Taste for a total of 12 tickets ($8). You can blow your entire 12 ticket strip on a Celebration Funnel Cake if you want (not recommended), but I think you should get those legs moving and hit at least three booths. Here is a short list of a few three-course "taste portion meals" for you.....oh, and don't forget to bring your own water!
Continue reading Taste for $8: Three-course "Taste Portion" meals... »
12:34PM | July 1, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

The Taste's Encased Meats - in honor of National Hot Dog Month!

There are 56 vendors at the Taste of Chicago, and only one of them is serving a hot dog. Hard to believe, right? But the encased meat goodness doesn't stop there. In honor of July being National Hot Dog Month, I thought I'd list some of my favorite booths to grab a dog or a sausage throughout the taste...

Vienna Beef / Gold Coast Dogs
Various Locations
Booth 27

Again, Gold Coast is the only booth serving up a traditional hot dog. You can get one Chicago Style, or even order their Fire Dog. But whatever you do, do not ask for any ketchup!

Continue reading The Taste's Encased Meats - in honor of National Hot Dog Month! »
2:33PM | June 30, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Ambush Review: Sesame Beef on a Stick at Taste...

The ambush review - you eat, you decide. I spotted this lucky group chomping down on a beef on a stick and corn on the cob, stuck a camera in their face, and now....they're food critics!
2:30PM | June 30, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Meet Taste's Marvelous the Clown...

I noticed Marvelous the Clown set up next to a pair of giant 21 sized shoes, and thought he might be worth a question or two. He even made a balloon animal for us. No need to be jealous folks, he'll be here all week.
12:34PM | June 30, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Taste Sides: Sweet Potato Hash Browns

I love me some hashbrowns, ironically I've never been to Hashbrowns (731 W. Maxwell). But that's why they're at the Taste, right? Walking by I noticed a sign for a Taste Portion of their Sweet Potato Hash Browns, and I couldn't resist.

The first thing I noticed about the browns? They kind of look like Spanish rice. More notably, they look just like the ones I cook at home. Even more notable, they taste just like the ones I cook at home - dissapointing. I prefer my hashbrowns a little bit more crisp, I found these very soggy. The portion isn't all that big, and they're surprisingly bland. I know what you're thinking - "Marcus, they're hashbrowns. Relax!"

Well, I like my breakfast sides to offend me a little bit. Wake me up, you know? I'm still going to check out Hashbrowns and see what they're all about, but I'd recommend taking a pass on their 4 ticket ($3) Taste Portion.

12:29PM | June 30, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 2

Taste Oddities: An Irish Egg roll?

You read that right, laddie! The Abbey Pub is staked out at the Taste of Chicago with an Irish Egg Roll. Forgive me if I sound ignorant here. I've been to the Abbey a few times and never noticed the Chinese-influenced Irish delicacy.

Thankfully, it comes in a Taste portion for just 4 tickets. Inside of the fried shell you'll find cabbage, cheese, and corned beef. Get it now? The throw a dollop of mustard into the dish for dipping, but I found it too overpowering. On it's own the Irish Egg Roll makes a neat snack but not much more. What's next, Corned Beef dumplings with a Guinness chaser?

I'll give the Irish Egg roll a 3/5 - fun and satisfying, but somewhat forgettable.
12:20PM | June 30, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Taste Value: Manny's Deli BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich

Yes, Manny's Deli BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich will set you back 10 tickets (roughly $7). But boy is it a big one. I made the mistake of making this my first order of the day. Now I'm looking for a tall tree with some comfy grass to rest it off (please don't tell the boss).

Maybe because it was one of their first sandwiches of the afternoon (I ordered at 11:15), but the Manny's beef was surprisingly tender. The sauce could use a little more kick for my taste, but if you prefer milder you'll really enjoy it. The only real trouble I had was fighting off all the gulls trying to get a piece when they noticed I was laboring. Where's Hitchcock when you need him?

I'll give Manny's Deli BBQ Sandwich a rating of 4/5 - too bad it doesn't come in a smaller taste portion. It's a little pricey, but it's massive, and will leave you VERY full. Bring a cot.

7:11PM | June 25, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Michael Jackson: 1958-2009

young michael.jpgThe King is dead - a shocking end to an American Tragedy. Michael Jackson unexpectedly passed away today. Then again, I should never use the word "unexpected" with Michael Jackson, you should expect the unexpected. Whether it was child abuse charges, plastic surgery, backyard theme parks, or dangling his baby off the terrace, Jackson knew how to make headlines for the wrong reasons.

Some of my earliest memories of childhood are of my neighborhood friends and I sitting on my driveway, taking turns showing off our sorry "moonwalks." All of us thought we could do it. Then, we'd go inside and watch the videotape of the King "moonwalking," and we knew we'd never be able to come close.
Continue reading Michael Jackson: 1958-2009 »
7:03PM | June 25, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

We Made....Gelato!

I'm going to try and collect as many recipes or preparations as I can from restaurants I visit across the city. Here's a little montage I cut together of the folks at Ristorante Al Teatro & Caffe Gelato, showing off how they prepare their signature Italian dessert.

6:54PM | June 25, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Ristorante Al Teatro's World's Fair!

On tonight's WGN Evening News, I checked out a new restaurant in Pilsen that's aiming pretty high. It's called Ristorante Al Teatro, 1227 W. 18th St. Owner Dominick Geraci and his son Vince have created a homage to Chicago's historic past. The building dates all the way back to 1892, just one year before Chicago landed the World's Columbian Exposition, or the World's Fair. Dominick scoured the city and found some amazing photographs from the time. He had them blown up and colorized, and they're on display all over the restaurant.

While there we had a chance to sample a few dishes. One a mushroom tortoloni - he corrected me when I referred to it as tortellini. These noodle pockets are much larger and handmade, each stuffed with a large portion of mushroom, and smothered in a mushroom sauce. Delicious and very filling.

Then, there are 20 different variety of pizza. I'll recommend the pizza galeto - a combination of garlick, shredded chicken, pesto, and goat cheese.

The restaurant is open daily - 4-10pm Sunday through Thursday, 4-11pm Friday and Saturday. Visit them online at alteatro.us.
3:48PM | June 24, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Chicago Arabesque festival hits Daley Plaza!

arabesque 2.jpgThe 3rd Annual Chicago Arabesque festival is back in Daley Plaza - celebrating the finest in Arabic music, cuisine, handicrafts, clothing and more! I'll be checking it out on tonight's WGN Evening news at 5:30. If you're wondering what kind of specific events you'll find at the festival, check out some of these highlights from the program guide....
Continue reading Chicago Arabesque festival hits Daley Plaza! »
1:20PM | June 24, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Oscar Shocker: 82nd Academy Awards to feature 10 Best Picture nominees!

jackman beyonce.jpgIf it existed, this one would win the "what in the world were they thinking" category. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis announced this morning that the 82nd Annual Academy Awards will feature 10 best picture nominees. The reason?

"After more than six decades, the Academy is returning to some of its earlier roots, when a wider field competed for the top award of the year," said Ganis. "The final outcome, of course, will be the same - one Best Picture winner - but the race to the finish line will feature 10, not just five, great movies from 2009."

Deadline Hollywood Daily's Nikki Finke speculates that Hollywood studios have been pressuring AMPAS to allow more nominees, giving more films award attention to up their February profits.  Plus, I bet AMPAS and ABC wished "The Dark Knight" had received a Best Picture nod, almost certainly leading to more fanboys watching the broadcast and giving it a ratings boost.

Whatever the reason, this absolutely waters down the nomination process. Why tune in at 5 a.m. to hear if you favorite film was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar? It's almost a given that most good films are going to get in. Why not start by nominating 10 films, then announcing a few weeks later the final 5? The corrupt documentary category already does this and makes it more interesting.

I'm afraid the answer lies in the almighty $. More films + more attention = more money for everybody! Let's hope it doesn't mean a Best Picture Song & Dance number twice as long. I'm throwing up a little already.
2:19PM | June 23, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

It's hotter than ________ outside!

dog beach.jpgOh boy it's a hot, dog day of summer out there! Newspapers are soaking up the moisture in the wind. Radio DJ's are raspy from dehydration. Every TV newscast in town is doing its standard "how do you beat the heat" story. Well, I couldn't sit that one out! So I posted a simple "fill in the blank" challenge to all of my followers at twitter.com/marcusleshock and all of my friends at facebook.com/leshock. All they had to do was finish this statement: It's hotter than ________ outside. Here are some of the highlights, names have been abbreviated to protect the cyber-shy....

@metromix CLTV: It's hotter than that song this is why I'm hot by MIMS outside (Holler!).

Mike F: It's hotter than Duluth outside (Never been, but I hear MIMS is very popular there).

Amanda O: It's hotter than a snakes ass in a wagon runt....what movie Marcus? outside (Easy, "Good Morning Vietnam").
Continue reading It's hotter than ________ outside! »
2:53PM | June 22, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

BMX Dew Tour coming to Chicago!

And you thoughts bicycles were just for getting from place to place, huh? I'll be hanging with BMX competitor Dennis Enarson on the WGN Evening News at 5:30 p.m. tonight. He's in town promoting the "Dew Tour," which is making a special stop in Grant Park this Friday and Saturday. The nationwide tour features competitions in skateboarding, BMX and freestyle motorcross. But the Chicago leg of the 2009 Dew Tour will focus exclusively on the sport of BMX. Tickets range between $15-$50 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster here.

On Friday @ 8:30p.m., Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco will be headlining a special concert in conjunction with the Dew Tour at the Chicago Theatre. They'll cost you between $23-$43, and you can pick those up here.

And in case you were still on the fence, check out these videos of Dennis showing off what these guys can do....
Continue reading BMX Dew Tour coming to Chicago! »
1:14PM | June 22, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Monday Movie Quarterback: 6/21

proposal.jpgIt hurts to come so close, then lose to Ryan Reynolds. Groan. Sandra Bullock bucked the trend and became a box office #1 over the weekend. "The Proposal" took the top spot with $34 million, not too surprising considering it was the only real chick flick out there. I predicted "The Hangover" would hang on to #1, but once again I was wrong, even though every thing else fell perfectly into place! Here's how the Bullock box office busted out:

1. The Proposal - $34 million
2. The Hangover - $28 million
3. Up - $21 million
4. Year One - $20 million
5. The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3 - $11 million

Gee, I wonder who will be #1 next week?
Continue reading Monday Movie Quarterback: 6/21 »
1:25PM | June 18, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and my memories of Michael Mann

Public Enemies.jpgThe stars of the John Dillinger biopic "Public Enemies" will be hitting the red carpet tonight at the AMC River East at 6 p.m. Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard and company spent much of last summer filming the movie right here in Chicago. WGN's Dean Richards will be on hand to grab as many interviews as possible. Be sure to watch WGN at 5:30 and 9:00 to get the scoop. As for my brush with directing greatness....

Continue reading Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and my memories of Michael Mann »
4:15PM | June 17, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 2

Lollapalooza 2009 Schedule Breakdown!

Perry Farrell and company are hoping this year's three day Lollapalooza music festival (August 7-9, Grant Park) follows on the record breaking business brought in last year. We'll have eight stages dedicated to music this year, and it looks like no "comedy" or "mindfield" stage on the schedule. Every night features two headliners, where in year's past a single band has closed out at least one of the nights.

Single day tickets cost $80. To order tickets and see the full schedule, click here. As for the rest of my breakdown....
Continue reading Lollapalooza 2009 Schedule Breakdown! »
4:56PM | June 16, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Biggie! See Bang & Olufsen's 103" Plasma HDTV...

On today's WGN News, I got a preview of high-end electronics retailer Bang & Olufsen's latest creation - the BeoVision 4, a 103" Plasma HDTV. Aside from the 600 pound motorized stand that turns the mammoth screen 20 degrees in either direction, the television boasts numerous other features - even a small calibration camera that descends from the upper lip of the screen to automatically calibrate your white balance. You can read more about it here. Details on how you can see the TV in person this Thursday, as well as a look at some other giant televisions on the market, after the jump....

Continue reading Biggie! See Bang & Olufsen's 103" Plasma HDTV... »
3:53PM | June 15, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Crosstown Classic: Where to watch the Cubs beat the White Sox!

ozzie pinella.jpgIf you follow me on Twitter, you know that I'm a Cubs fan. It's hard to hide the frustrated look on my face these days. But like many other fans, I still find myself glued to the television hoping they can pull out a victory. When I get out to watch a game I like to hit places with fans who enjoy watching baseball. I'm not looking for a dance party on game day - just a place with a seat, some good eats, and a few cold ones (and I'm not talking about $6 cans of Bud Light, shame on those guys). Here are a few places Cubs fans might run into me at during a ballgame.

Continue reading Crosstown Classic: Where to watch the Cubs beat the White Sox! »
3:52PM | June 15, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Crosstown Classic: Where to watch the White Sox beat the Cubs!

cubs sox.jpgAdmittedly, baseball hasn't been that much fun to watch on either side of town, but it's time for the rare mid-week Crosstown Classic. Maybe the brother-against-brother battle will lead to less bloodshed on a work day? Yeah, I doubt it. But many of you are going to be getting out of the house this week to catch YOUR team take on its cross-city rival. Sox fan - this blog is for you. If you want to get out of the house and cheer on the pale hose with your fellow black shirts, here are a few options for ya!

Continue reading Crosstown Classic: Where to watch the White Sox beat the Cubs! »
12:28PM | June 15, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Save Our CEOs: Michael Moore peddles new movie

Documentarian Michael Moore is readying his latest as-yet-untitled film. Over the weekend he debuted a new teaser trailer. Behold the usual dose of serious to sarcasm:

According to various online reports, in some theaters the lights actually came up and ushers holding "Save Our CEO" cans walked up and down the aisles asking for donations (Aint It Cool News's Capone attended one right here in Chicago).  No word on how much money they were able to collect. The film is scheduled to open on October 2nd.
11:05AM | June 15, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Monday Movie Quarterback: 6/15

hangover chicken.jpgWell don't I feel stupid. Everything about me knew that "The Hangover" would repeat as #1 at the weekend box office. Yet I allowed myself to be conned by the silly "Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3" - with its aging stars and bloviating title. This one hurts worse than an all-nighter at Ghostbar.

Another major gaffe last week came with Eddie Murphy's "Imagine That," of which I said "I have a feeling this is either going to do great or absolutely tank." Guess what? It ABSOLUTELY TANKED! Failing to crack even the Top 5. This proves my age old theory - unless Eddie Murphy is in a fat suit, he's box office poison. Here's how last weekend's Top 5 broke down:

1. "The Hangover" - $33 million
2. "Up" - $30 million
3. "The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3" - $25 million
4. "Night at the Museum 2" - $9.6 million
5. "Land of the Lost" - $9.1 million

But enough of the negative. Like every compulsive box office gambler, we'll shake off our losses and look forward to next week....

Continue reading Monday Movie Quarterback: 6/15 »
2:48PM | June 12, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Weekend Haps - Titanic: Treasures from the Deep exhibit

On Friday I checked out the new traveling exhibit Titanic: Treasures from the Deep. It's set up at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg through Sunday, in the parking lot between Macy's and JC Penny's. The exhibit features more than 50 artifacts that were pulled from the wreckage on the ocean floor, including a piece of the ship itself, personal heirlooms like mirrors and hairbrushes, and pieces of coal used to power the ship (you can even touch these). It's free of charge, and in case you miss it this weekend, it'll be stopping at various locations across Chicagoland all month long....
Continue reading Weekend Haps - Titanic: Treasures from the Deep exhibit »
11:34PM | June 10, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Memories from high school lunch

So I'm awake and can't sleep, probably due to the entire can of Amp I drank at the Taste preview this afternoon. Thanks Mountain Dew! Anyhow, I was looking over CT.com and came across this great article by Monica Eng about the unhealthy slop children are eating in Chicago Public Schools. The most popular item?

"...the longest line leads to lunch workers grabbing paper dishes full of yellow corn chips, topping them with a ball of ground meat and then smothering the ensemble in hot orange cheese product."

Right, the "meat" topping on those stellar campus nachos. Is that what they're calling it these days? Reading this article brought back memories of my favorite lunch time specialties at good old Schaumburg High School. Here they are....
Continue reading Memories from high school lunch »
5:12PM | June 10, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

2009 Taste of Chicago Preview!

The city hosted a special preview of the big event in Daley Plaza today, and for the first time it was open to the public. There were 6 booths in the plaza, showcasing restaurants from across the city. Among those you saw on our broadcast were....

Continue reading 2009 Taste of Chicago Preview! »
6:45PM | June 9, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

As seen on TV: Ice cream alternatives!

icream logo.jpgIf you tuned into the WGN News tonight, you saw my piece on the Frozen Yogurt craze sweeping Chicago. I checked out a couple places that are doing an alternative to ice cream with a unique twist. First up, we had.....
Continue reading As seen on TV: Ice cream alternatives! »
12:56PM | June 9, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Just a great story....

5 year old Martrell Stevens was sitting in a car when he was shot in the stomach. Afterward he was paralyzed. Today he walked across a stage and received his kindergarten diploma. WGN's Marcella Raymond reported from the south side this morning.

12:14PM | June 9, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Tuesday music 6/9: Mer

Happy gloomy Tuesday everybody. Hopefully some local music can cheer you up. I first met singer/songwriter Mer at Northern Illinois University, and I've been a fan ever since. He can tell you more about him in his own words.

Want to hear more? Here's another performance and some info about his upcoming shows.....

Continue reading Tuesday music 6/9: Mer »
5:35PM | June 8, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

A bird's eye of the Chi, without leaving the ground

This Wednesday, the Chicago Architecture Foundation is showing off its latest project - a scale model of the loop down to the smallest window. More than 1,000 buildings were created using a new three-dimensional computer generated printing process called stereolithography. Each building was designed in a computer, then spit out of a special machine overnight. Repeat a few thousand times.

Continue reading A bird's eye of the Chi, without leaving the ground »
9:08AM | June 8, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

UPDATE: Monday Movie Quarterback 6/8

*Update: The Monday Movie Quarterback has been changed to reflect the box office actuals. "The Hangover" has taken the #1 spot over "Up" by about $300,000-$400,000. Unless Disney/Pixar demands a recount, consider this official.will lost.jpg

Wow, don't I have some dino-egg on my face. We, or I should say I learned a few things at the box office this weekend. If a movie looks childish and perhaps a little stupid, adults aren't going to see it. Even if their favorite comic actor is on the Tonight Show introducing a clip where he pours urine all over himself - people still won't buy a ticket. I guess I misunderestimated America. Won't happen again, sorry about that.

I'm talking about "Land of the Lost," the movie I picked to come in #1 over the weekend. It was absolutely spanked to come in #3. "Lost" is a huge disappointment considering the amount of publicity it received.

On a lighter note, absolutely hilarious "The Hangover" has now been declared the #1 movie in the country, just skipping past Pixar's "Up." Despite a lack of huge stars, the movie benefited from great word of mouth and an even better trailer. Here's how the Top 5 came in.....
Continue reading UPDATE: Monday Movie Quarterback 6/8 »
3:59PM | June 5, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Weekend Haps 6/5: Gospel Fest, Hyde Park Art Fair, Garage Sales and more!

fantasia.jpgIt's another big (almost) summer weekend in Chicago. On tonight's WGN News at 5:30 p.m., we're breaking down the best things to get out of the house and do. First up, a music fest celebrating 25 years:

Chicago Gospel Music Festival
Millenium Park
Saturday and Sunday, 12-9:30 p.m.
50 artists on 3 stages
Full Lineup here.

Big shows have to be Donnie McClurkin closing out Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Also, you have Kirk Franklin headlining Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. Beforehand, look for American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino, performing with her mother Diane. That goes down at 7:20 on Sunday.

But wait! There's more....
Continue reading Weekend Haps 6/5: Gospel Fest, Hyde Park Art Fair, Garage Sales and more! »
6:22AM | June 4, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

In the Green Room with Matthew Santos!

Matthew Santos is best known for his work with Lupe Fiasco on last year's hit "Superstar" - but I had to be "that guy" that sells his solo career short. Matthew actually spent some time at Columbia College, which is how he made his bond with Chicago native Lupe. He was at WGN News today performing on the afternoon program (more of that video later), and as I said on the 5:30 p.m. news, he's one of my favorite artists I've had the pleasure to feature. Matthew is the subject of my first ever "In the Green Room" segment (above) - I'll be trying to pin down as many celebrities as possible as they trickle into WGN Studios and ask them some hard-hitting questions. Rough job, but someone's got to do it!

Matthew will be performing a FREE show tonight at the LaSalle Power Company at 8 p.m. If you still haven't made up your mind, Matthew's performance on the afternoon news is right after the jump....

Continue reading In the Green Room with Matthew Santos! »
5:38PM | June 3, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 9

Chicago's most unusual pizza toppings

On the WGN Evening News, we checked out a couple places to get some unusual pizza toppings here in Chicago. Websites, addresses, phone numbers, and my thoughts on both Piece and Ian's Pizza is right after the jump!
Continue reading Chicago's most unusual pizza toppings »
10:43AM | June 2, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Music Tuesday: Yea Big + Kid Static

"metromix on CLTV" re-ran my segment with local hip-hoppers Yea Big + Kid Static this weekend. I love the sound of these guys, a rapper/lyricist and a producer who loves to kick around beats, riffing on everything from Mega Man to sandwiches. My interview is above, but you might want to check out their full video and album for yourself....
Continue reading Music Tuesday: Yea Big + Kid Static »
2:38PM | June 1, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Drake Hotel's Palm Court named a Top 10 Bathroom in America

Your bathroom stinks. There's does not. It's about that time for the 8th America's Best Restroom contest brought to you by Cintas. This year, Chicago's own Drake Hotel is a top ten finalist, competing against Johns from Baltimore, Branson, and beyond. You can vote for any of the bathrooms, and check out photos of each, at bestrestroom.com. The winner will be announced in August.

I got a chance to walk through the Palm Court ladies room this afternnon with the manager of the Drake Hotel. I'll show you all of the highlights (there's no privacy in this business) tonight on the WGN News at 9 p.m.
1:13PM | June 1, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Monday Movie Quarterback: 6/1

up pic 2.jpgOnce again the Monday Movie Quarterback went 4/5 with his weekend box office predictions. It was a bigger than expected opening for Disney/Pixar's "Up." I never thought it would break the $60's without a cartoon robot like "Wall-E," but I was once again proven wrong. Expectantly the other top earners fell in line, although I had my four and five films mixed up again. I told you not to see "Terminator: Salvation" but you never listen. Good luck getting those two hours of your life back. Here's this week's Top 5 at the box office:

1. "Up" $68.2 million (One of the best films of the year. Can we get the Oscar race started now?)
2. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" $25.5 million (Another big Stiller weekend, even though he was ripped by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at the MTV Movie Awards for looking like a monkey.)
3. "Drag Me to Hell" $16.6 million (No, not what I was thinking while watching T4. The only horror fare this weekend did well.
4. "Terminator: Salvation" $16.1 million (Huge drop from opening weekend last week. Wah wah.)
5. "Star Trek" $12.8 million (Best summer blockbuster of '09 thus far. Go see it.)

As for next week.....
Continue reading Monday Movie Quarterback: 6/1 »
5:25PM | May 29, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Weekend Haps: Legends Rock & Roll Art Show!

The Wit Hotel at 201 N. State is open and ready to rock! This weekend they're hosting "Legends: The Artwork of Rock and Roll Royalty," showcasing works by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, and more - over 100 paintings all for sale. They range in price from just $200, all the way up to $20,000! Here's all the information for the show...
Continue reading Weekend Haps: Legends Rock & Roll Art Show! »
11:24AM | May 29, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

WGN's Pat Tomasulo takes it to the (play)house!

In case you missed it this morning - Pat made a kid cry, much like he did to me on my first day at WGN. I feel your pain, Tyler. Here's the video.....

Continue reading WGN's Pat Tomasulo takes it to the (play)house! »
10:28AM | May 29, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Box Office Forecast: 5/29-5/31

pixar up balloons.jpgThree dimensional and scary, with a chance of meltdown. If you caught my prediction in my previous Monday Movie Quarterback, you know that I called last weekend's Hollywood box office 4/5, with stupid "Dance Flick" ruining my perfecta. This week should be a little bit more tricky.

Disney/Pixar's "Up" seems like a lock to take the number one spot, but something about an old man in a house makes me hesitate a little bit. Families and kiddies might be drawn to take another spin with Ben Stiller's "Night at the Museum" sequel. But there is one big reason that won't happen.
Continue reading Box Office Forecast: 5/29-5/31 »
11:28AM | May 28, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Weekend Haps: Lincoln Square's Mayfest!

mayfest 2008.jpegTime for a taste of Germany - sausage, dancing, and plenty of beer in Lincoln Square. Mayfest, or Maifest as it's technically known, kicks off its 10 year anniversary today at Lincoln and Leyland. The highlights of this year's fest include:

THURSDAY: A performance from the Old Town School of Folk Music at 5:30 p.m. Beer spiggets tapped at 5 p.m.

FRIDAY: Official opening night party with traditional keg tapping at 8 p.m.

SATURDAY: Live music from 12:00 noon - 11:00 p.m. Featuring the likes of Paloma and the Austrian Express.

SUNDAY: My favorite event at Mayfest, the German/Ethnic program of events from 1-4 p.m., with traditional dancing around the Maypole at the center of Lincoln Square.

Good food, great beer, and pole dancing that won't leave you ashamed. Check out the full festival lineup and get more info at mayfestchicago.com.

Check out metromix.com's photo gallery of 2008's Mayfest here.

11:14AM | May 28, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Want to be an extra in the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" remake?

freddy_krueger.jpgIn case you haven't heard, New Line Cinema is filming much of its "A Nightmare on Elm Street" remake right here in Chicago. Bloody Disgusting says they're looking for extras (the non-speaking roles in the background) for a party scene they're filming early next week.

They're in need of attractive women between 18-27 who are comfortable working topless (though they're calling the scene "tasteful"). Also they need teens 16-19 for a house party scene somewhere in the suburbs.

It all goes down June 1, 2, and 3 - for more info and an email to extra casting agent Joan Philo, check out BD's post on the matter here.
10:40AM | May 28, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Pixar's Pete Docter talks "Up" with Marcus Leshock

It's one of the best reviewed movies of 2009 - sounds like Pixar has done it again. I've only seen a rough cut of "Up," which was pretty much complete minus a few minor music changes and an opening/closing credit sequence. I fell in love with this movie. So much so that yes, I even swelled up with tears at a few points. I had a chance to interview the film's director Pete Docter before I left CLTV for WGN. Below you'll find the video from our chat.

Continue reading Pixar's Pete Docter talks "Up" with Marcus Leshock »
11:26PM | May 27, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Here ARE the Hawks

huet great save.jpgI've spent all 28 years of my life in Chicagoland, and I've never been more proud of a sports team exiting the playoffs. In fact, the 2008-2009 Chicago Blackhawks should go down as the best sports story of the year - period. A team that was so dead to this city was jump started to life. A league, rather a sport that could hardly find its way into a newspaper was catapulted to the front page.

I spent last night lying on my couch, but my heart was pumping so far out of my chest I was starting to worry about my ceiling. In between miracle Cristobal Huet saves, I was laughing out loud at my Twitter feed, marveling at how many fellow former hockey fanatics were once again reveling in their Chicago Blackhawks.

Continue reading Here ARE the Hawks »
3:47PM | May 27, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Movie News: Pacino as Dr. Death, 'Navigator' gets compliance

pacino 2.jpgHe's a fan o' man! Now he'll be killing them softly. The Hollywood Reporter says Al Pacino has singed on to star as Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the HBO biopic "You Don't Know Jack." I do know "Jack" will chronicle the doctor's work in assisted suicide, and more than likely crescendo in a 10-minute monologue on how "I was just helping people live, damn it! Then you took a flame thrower to this place!"

In other (disappointing) movie news, we have a remake of one of those bad movies you used to think was a good movie.....

Continue reading Movie News: Pacino as Dr. Death, 'Navigator' gets compliance »
11:01AM | May 27, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock | comments: 1

Sign of the apocalypse: The Wearable Towel

That's right, it keeps you dry and looking fabulous at the same time! Behold the Wearable Towel - the latest product to dominate the internet blogosphere . Finally, a toga you can wear while picking up your newspaper! Or if you don't subscribe to any newspapers, while reading the news on your iPhone while in the shower!

It's the battle of Summer '09 - the Snuggie versus the Wearable Towel. If you own one of these I would love to speak with you about it. Send me an email here.

5:30PM | May 26, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Check out these Chicagoland John Hughes filming locations

bueller house garage 2.jpgHeard all about the Cameron Frye house from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" going up for sale today, didn't you? Well, the scenic Highland Park home isn't the only local location made famous by Mr. John Hughes. After the jump you'll find addresses to some of the neatest spots made famous by the legendary Brat Pack director.

Continue reading Check out these Chicagoland John Hughes filming locations »
5:00PM | May 26, 2009 | posted by Marcus Leshock

Buy Cameron Frye's Highland Park home!

bueller house garage.jpgHe's Ferris Bueller's lovable best friend (well, mostly lovable, minus that nasty Red Wings jersey he wears throughout the film). But differences aside -  he's selling his house! The gorgeous abode of the film's Cameron Frye is tucked into the woods at 370 Beech Street in Highland Park can be yours for a measly $2.3 million. You can find a link to the official listing here. We featured it on the WGN Evening News at 5:30 p.m. Video after the jump!

Continue reading Buy Cameron Frye's Highland Park home! »
4:33PM | May 22, 2009 | posted by Diane Yamazaki | comments: 1

Get ready to be Shocked...The Leshock Value Blog!

Marcus Leshock Headshot

Hello wgntv.com friends! Marcus Leshock here with my first post on the official Leshock Value Blog. For those of you who have checked out my other blog, I'm hoping this one will be equally as historic. Hopefully I can look back thirty years from now when I'm filthy rich from all my internet exploits.

This blog is meant as a portal of my thoughts and random musings throughout the day. I have a strong background in entertainment with my work on "metromix on CLTV," so we'll definitely be talking movies, music, theater and more.

We'll also be looking at what's happening around Chicago, eating some fantastic food, and trying to improve all of our social lives. Think of it as an extension of all the fun, informative work I'll be doing on television.

So enjoy the Leshock Value, and don't forget to push down, THEN pull up on your lap bar. Don't be that guy. OK?