What's your #BucktownBlocks story? (2)

Ms Allred generally liked her daily commute to Pritzker School, alas not everyday was great because the Blue Line is frequently crowded. But today she couldn’t help smiling. She was standing in the back by a window and got a great view of the 606 right before getting off at Damen. #BucktownBlocks

three bucktownblocks

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer

What's your #BucktownBlocks story? (1)

Once Chris got started playing at Walsh Park it was pretty much impossible to get him to leave. Between the playground and running laps he was having too much fun. At least until he remembered what was for dinner! C-ya! #BucktownBlocks

four BucktownBlocks

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book review: Superstitions

Superstition: Black Cats and White Rabbits by Sally Coulthard offers a history of common folk beliefs, and being a UK publication, many of the tales are heretofore unknown to most Americans. And even those you might already know — such as “touch wood” or avoiding sidewalk cracks — are illuminated with nuance and history. I found several new superstitions to add to my usual repertoire of practices.

Gordon Meyer with book

But aside from Coulthard’s content, the production and design of the book are both outstanding. The illustrations by K.J. Mountford are lovely. (Don’t you think that “Coulthard & Mountford” sounds like a Broadway team?) And I guarantee you’ll appreciate Hardie Grant’s clever, and perfectly executed, two-books-back-to-back design. The “white rabbit” side of the book covers superstitions that bring good fortune, while the “black cat” pages feature practices we should all avoid.

Well, as you can tell by now, I think this book is simply delightful. It might be difficult to find in a US bookstore (provided you can still find a US bookstore) but it’s available at Amazon. If you read it, I promise you’ll never look at a rainbow in the same way.

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Tablet Stands I’ve Known

I love the AmazonBasics Adjustable Tablet Holder Stand so much that I’ve purchased four of them. Not because of breakage or loss, but because they work so damn well. In addition to being suited for a variety of digital devices — I use mine with iPhone, Kindle, and iPad Pro — they work great for displaying collectables such as plates, awards, or books. They’re inexpensive, and pack light enough (and small enough) that I carried one across Europe for five months. (And I hate hauling stuff around that I don’t need, I needed this!) What makes it so versatile is the degree of adjustability. (Amazon’s photos really don’t do it justice in this regard.)

Now, having said all that, I’ve also tried the AmazonBasics Multi-Angle Portable Stand. It’s nominally smaller, but not nearly as adjustable. But if I were looking for a stand that would mostly remain in one place, adjusted to a single angle, I’d choose it. (For example, an iPad kept on the kitchen counter.)

Finally, I should mention the Twelve South Compass. It’s beautiful. It is a lovely piece of art and craftsmanship. If an intruder broke into your home, you could use it to knock him out and then plunge one of its arms deep into his chest. As much as it aesthetically pleases me, I don’t travel with it, and rarely use it.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Shopping Bag Museum returns

After a long absence (caused by the debacle at FatCow) the Shopping Bag Museum has finally been restored online. That’s right, breathe a sigh of relief, as you can one again peruse the decades-old lovingly curated collection. See it at ShoppingBagMuseum.com


shopping bag museum

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: Chicago Gets Four Stars

Gordon Meyer

Local writer Joe Mason (of The Chicago Reader, among other publications) has new zine titled Chicago Gets Four Stars that offers succinct and interesting summaries of offbeat Chicago history. Mason has chosen (if the book were more expensive I’d say “curated”) some really good stories, and tells them in a way that makes you feel like you’re two old friends chatting over a beer at a local pub. Even if you’ve heard some of the bits before, he’ll shed new light and make you nod your head with respect for the telling. I’m happy to give Chicago Gets Four Stars …wait for it…five stars. (The only downside is that his passionate argument for Chicago’s claim to the jibarito might make you hungry to eat one.) Get your copy of Mason’s zine at Quimby’s.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Quick fix for the KitchenAid Nespresso Espresso Maker

If you have a Nespresso Espresso Maker by KitchenAid (Model KES0503SZ) then you have likely discovered a minor flaw. Namely, the design of the water tank can make it difficult to see how much water is in its tank.

If you’re experiencing this issue, here’s a simple fix. Drop a cork from a wine bottle inside the tank. It’s easy to spot from the outside and you’ll know exactly how much water is present before you push the brew button.


cork in water tank

Aside from this hiccup, I rather like this coffee maker. It’s sturdy, cosmetically matches my other KitchenAid appliances and (most importantly) offers a size setting that is larger than the Lungo that other Nespresso machines have.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: The Little Winter Book of Gnomes


Gordon Meyer with Book

This charming book artfully combines two meanings of the word “gnome.” That is, it features not just woodland wee-folk, but also wise and pithy sayings. (Interestingly, the latter definition is the oldest, according to the O.E.D.)

The author of the book, Kirsten Sevig, is a Minneapolis designer with (as if you haven’t guess from her name) Nordic roots. Her watercolor paintings perfectly complement the wisdom, such as “She who chops her own wood will be warmed by it twice.”

Also included are a handful of Norwegian recipes (such as Gløgg) and crafts (such as Woven Heart Baskets) that she grew up with. My favorite is the rice porridge recipe, which Sevig helpfully adds is also useful for earning the favor of Gnomes. By the time you reach the end of this small volume you’ll agree with the parting apophthegm: “The journey is the reward.”

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: Why You Should Read Children’s Books

It was almost as if this book was following us around the bookstores of London, almost like a lost puppy. There it was, near the cash register at every store we visited (which was, frankly, too many to count), waiting for us to finally adopt buy it. (Who could resist that cute cover?) At The London Review Bookshop, I finally gave in.

gordon with book

Boy am I’m glad that I did! What an utterly charming, earnest, and convincing book. The author, Katherine Rundell, makes a compelling argument that adults should allow themselves to enjoy children’s fiction. We can rediscover our childhood selves (with the benefit of wisdom earned) and enjoy reading for pleasure, not obligation. As I read her arguments, memories of the joy that the Scholastic Book Catalog would bring to the school year came rushing back.

So pick up a copy of Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise, then the next time you’re in a bookstore, stop and linger (but not creepily, of course) in the young fiction category. I dare you to allow yourself to pick out a title. You have my, and Rundell’s, permission to do so.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Announcing: Bizarre Fact Files

My newest publications are now available!

Bizarre Fact Files are pocket-sized books of Chicago neighborhood history and tidbits.

Bizarre Fact File boolets on table

Fact File volumes now available:


  • Bucktown

  • Wicker Park

  • Notable Neighbors

  • Notorious Neighbors

For sale now at Quimby’s bookstore (mail order and curbside pickup). #LoveYourLocals

For more info or to order directly, visit Bizarre Chicago

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site should you happen to purchase a qualifying product. Humbly, Gordon Meyer