Batman, Hockey and The Price of a Hot Dog

It got plenty Dark at Navy Pier IMAX last Knight.

And I enjoyed every minute of the new Batman flick.

All 150 of them.

Smacking his lips and screwing with the mind, Heath Ledger was creepy-funny-incredible as the Joker. Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent was “Believable.” And the rest of the film’s cast — along with its deft script and deeper-than-you’d-think dialogue — was utterly captivating.

Not to mention, haunting.

“The Dark Knight” is one of those few movies that lingers, and leaves you still thinking about it the next day.

And, really, what more can you ask from any form of entertainment?

Gotham: My Kind of Town

As great as the actors were in the “The Dark Knight” — and they were great, indeed — no role in the film stood out more than the Windy City’s turn as Gotham City.

The majesty of Chicago — the city I consider to be the best in the world (yeah I’m biased, so what?) — was played up to the hilt throughout the movie, especially when viewed on the IMAX’s sprawling 58-foot-tall screen.

And making things even more enjoyable for me were the many shots of “Gotham” taken along the stretch of Wacker Drive in Chicago’s Loop where I work each day.

I look forward to “The Dark Knight” coming out on DVD just so I can hit pause on the Chicago city scenes and get an even fuller appreciation of its gorgeous streetscapes and skyline.

Chicago rocks.

As a result, Gotham does too.

Hockey’s New Year’s Daze

When I first heard the rumor months ago that the Chicago Blackhawks were hoping to play a regular-season hockey game outdoors at Wrigley Field, I thought it was a stroke of genius.

After all, for a city that often doesn’t seem to remember the Blackhawks even exist, what better way to jog the memory than to play a game at the ballpark no Chicagoan can ever forget?

(Don’t deny it, White Sox fans.)

The siren song of Wrigley is the ideal bait for the NHL to attract that casual fan (such as myself) it so desperately needs if pro hockey ever hopes to grow.

And get its games off the Versus network.


Last week, the NHL officially announced that at noon on Jan. 1, 2009, the Blackhawks will indeed host the defending NHL champion Detroit Red Wings at the Friendly Confines. The news prompted sports columnists far and wide to gush about how wonderful the whole thing will be.

And, sure, it could have been. It should have been.

But, in my opinion, the Blackhawks and the NHL pucked this one up.


Because, why — really, why? — would you ever schedule a juicy hockey game such as this one for noon on New Year’s Day, a date on the calendar that’s eternally owned, lock, stock and barrel, by college football?

It just makes no sense. None at all.

The simple fact is, all the people who the NHL wants to convince that hockey is just as cool as football will, you know, already be watching football that day.

Or actually off at a football game in Florida or California.

Sure, the hockey game at Wrigley will sell out (most likely with a vast majority of die-hard hockey fans who don’t need to be sold on the sport). And, I don’t doubt that the atmosphere at the ballpark will be electric (how could it not be?).

But by foolishly attempting to compete with New Year’s Day bowl games (a fight that hockey couldn’t win with an army of goons), the Blackhawks and the NHL really dropped the puck on this one.

What should have been a wonderfully unique opportunity to promote hockey to all of America will instead end up being relegated to a diversion most people flip on for a few minutes during a football game’s halftime and TV timeouts.

Honestly, what was wrong with scheduling Wrigley on Ice for Saturday, Jan. 3 — a date that’s bowl game-free?

Suggested 2009 New Year’s Resolution for the NHL:

Don’t schedule marquee games on New Year’s Day.

The Price of a Hot Dog

Last week, I posted a blog entry about a humorous sign I saw a homeless man holding in as he sat with a cardboard box containing a handful of pennies. It read:

“Senator Obama is campaigning for change … So am I.”

Several Wisch List readers contacted me about the amusing placard, which got me thinking about the many encounters that I’ve had with Chicago panhandlers over the years.

As you can probably imagine, working in the Loop, I’m asked for money more times each day than a loan shark.

When I go to lunch, four guys ask me for change. When I come back from lunch, the same four guys ask me for change.

Most of the requests are mundane, but occasionally they’re clever. And my general rule of thumb is that if a panhandler can make me smile or laugh, I’ll pony up a little bit.

To me, a chuckle is worth something.

It certainly was about 9 years ago when my buddy Ryan and I were out in Wrigleyville late one night when Ryan was approached by a charismatic homeless gent with an intriguing proposition.

“I’ll bet you the price of a hot dog,” the man said to Ryan as he sidled up alongside us, “that I can tell you how many kids your daddy had.”

“Okay,” Ryan said, his curiosity piqued. “You’re on.”

The man proceeded to look Ryan up, look him down and then shout out:

“None! Your momma had all the kids!”

Ryan paid up.

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  1. 1/1/09 – this is my opinion. I don’t think the NHL or the Chicago Blackhawks are trying to attract the casual fan with this game. Although, it does give them some more exposure.
    Something like this, I believe, is to bring back the fans the organization has alienated over the years.

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