Category Archives: Man’s Favorite Sport

PAVLOVIAN PT

Knee TLoop Lonagan

Ever’body’s gettin’ new knees, new hips, and what not. It’s an epidemic of elective surgery. And I’m talkin’ big money. An investor definitely wants in on a trend like this, but what’s da best play?

Take Jonelis, my good friend and boss. Da guy up ‘n’ gets two brand new knees—AT DA SAME TIME! Seems crazy, don’t it? What’s he s’posed to use fer legs?

So right away I gotta play bigshot. I invite John to my penthouse fer da whole rest ‘n’ recovery thing. Yeah, you guessed it—I wanna play Da Good Samaritan over Christmas. I figure they’s gonna carry him in on a stretcher ‘n’ I’ll be da hero that arranges fer all sorts o’ people t’ help out while he’s bedridden. Shows how much I know.

Two 2 Knees

Sometimes a guy gets faced with his own ignorance. Know what I mean? After two days, Jonelis checks outa da hospital and walks right into my place under his own steam. He’s accepting my offer. He’s stickin’ here fer da whole six weeks! My penthouse is now his personal spa!

I put ‘im in the biggest guest room—the one with a view o’ Da Lake AND da Chicago skyline. Then my dog Clamps deserts me and moves in with him.

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Next thing you know, tradesmen start showin’ up, gettin’ in da way o’ my Christmas decorating crew.

  • A plumber replaces da toilet with a throne near as tall as a barstool.
  • Movers install an electric reclining bed that tilts his legs 30 degrees above horizontal.
  • A carpenter shows up and installs cushioned tables, parallel bars, stairs that go nowhere, da works. Sure my penthouse is real big, but now I got a physical therapy facility insteada my dance floor. And 300 guests is coming.
  • Then six huge exercise machines show up ‘n’ lots o’ furniture gets shoved back t’ make room.
  • Then startlingly beautiful women show up unannounced.

One ‘o deeze ladies comes with da single-minded mission of assuring John’s wellbeing. She does all da stuff a nurse does—temperature, blood pressure, blood tests. She inspects his incisions. Does she shrink back in horror? No! “These are healing beautifully!” she exclaims with obvious ‘n’ genuine delight. They look like big sloppy wounds t’ me, but she’s da expert. And dis is da best dressed nurse I ever seen. No clunky white shoes. Shows up here in a real short skirt ‘n’ blouse cut way too low. I don’t think she wears underwear. I ask her on da sly if that’s da way all nurses dress nowadays. She blushes ‘n’ says, “It’s for the encouragement of the patient.” Hey, I feel encouraged, but she skips outa da door before I can take action.

And all da time, da purest narcotics is close at hand, should the whim lead to such pleasures. Oodles ‘n’ oodles of ‘em. And they’s all legal! And if you don’t like that, they got Acapulco Gold.

Blue Pills 2sw - JAJ

Did I mention da other woman? This one’s a long-legged exotic Asian gal, ready fer action in skintight leotards—a different color ‘n’ pattern every day. She’s PT—physical therapy. And she exercises with him—IN BED!

I ask her, “Why all dat equipment on da dance floor if you do yer work in bed?”

Her reply is matter of fact: “He’s still in the healing phase. The training phase comes later.”

Okay, but couldn’t they wait till he’s ready t’ set up all that equipment? Da way I see it, I’m stuck without a dance floor fer da big Christmas bash.

I peek in ‘n’ watch part o’ da session. Oh, the amazing positions she bends his legs! “Does this hurt?” she coos. Then she gushes shamelessly over the smallest physical accomplishments. I gotta admit, there’s no room fer a guy t’ indulge in self-pity under such circumstances, ‘n’ dat’s what makes her technique so effective. When this gal gets done, not only is a John’s body worked though da paces, but he’s under da delusion he’s Superman. Is there any bigger boost to da male ego than praise from a gorgeous, sexy, and intelligent female?

She covers his knees in ice, and is gone.

So I phone his wife, but she knows all about it. She says:

  • “These are professionals. What’s the harm in it?”
  • “It keeps him from slacking off on his PT.”
  • “It gets him out of the house and out of my hair.”
  • “What business is it o’ yours anyway, Loop Lonagan?”

Yeah, she tells me off real good. Sheesh! I feel like a heel.

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I gotta ask myself, where did John find this combination outpatient therapy and modeling agency? I mean, these gals is likely t’ raise da spirits o’ any normal guy. I can sure see how they do a lot fer da morale of a patient just outa major surgery. I look in on John after she leaves. His hand trails down and scratches Clamps’ behind da ears. And all da time his eyes is gently closed, a big dumb grin on his kisser.

Both o’ these gals wear a cute heart-shaped logo. They’s from a new startup company called Pavlovian PT and they plan to take physical therapy to new levels. I’m definitely taking da plunge on dis one. Maybe even get a joint replaced in da cause o’ research.

A half hour later, a buxom Swedish blond wrapped in a big white towel with da same logo peeks outa da bathroom door. Time fer a hot shower ‘n’ Swedish massage! I recognize Hilda from last year’s Christmas party. Wish I had a peek at what goes on in dat big bathroom.

Later, over coffee, I learn she’s da CEO o’ this startup ‘n’ John himself set her up in business before he did the operation. I gotta admit, sometimes Jonelis knows what he’s doin’.

So go ahead—go out and have that operation. Then call Pavlovian PT. What’s stoppin’ you? Insurance pays for it all. Seems t’ me, with these kinda benefits, It’s gonna get real hard to keep ‘em out of the operating rooms.

And an old tune plays in da back o’ my head:

♪♪ How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm?

Now that they seen Broad—waaaaaaay! ♪♪

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read KILLER SHILLER

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Characters, Chicago Ventures, Christmas, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, investor, loop lonagan, Man's Favorite Sport, vc, venture capital

HAWKS

Hawk Logo_JAJ0561by Mark T. Wayne

“Quit talking business!  This is important!”  A shocking pronouncement coming from one’s employer!  I go mum.  We sit behind thick glass, watching the Chicago Blackhawks clobber the Anaheim Ducks in the final game of the series.  The Hawks will win this game and go on to the coveted Stanley Cup.  That is correct, sir—an opportunity for a third championship in just a few years!

I comply with Jonelis’ rude order.  I do it because I sympathize with his lack of discipline in this arena of violent chaos.  And of course, like most men, I am quite prepared to revive my boyhood when the opportunity arises.  Certainly, there are subjects other than business worthy of utterance.

Mark T Wayne

Lonagan is at my right, constantly jostling, constantly booming, “Did ya see dat?” shouts the execrable fellow.  “He jammed da butt o’ his stick right into dat poor sap’s kisser.”  Permit me to note that Lonagan is able to perform a multitude of tasks simultaneously:

  • He shouts expert opinions about every detail of this free-for-all.
  • He gnaws great hunks from greasy bratwurst.
  • He swills beer from a paper cup with great skill.

I have never before witnessed a hockey game.  I attempt to test its worth with my closest scrutiny, but find it difficult to comprehend my editor’s rationale—dragging me out here to write about six bearded hooligans with faulty dental work beating up six over-muscled goons.  How can I stay abreast of the Chicago private equity action?  Nothing of impact happens in California.  Most of their financiers chase after the same-old, same-old mobile apps.  But I agreed not to talk business.

John thru the glass_JAJ05618B

Against the glass

Jonelis and Lonagan both jump to their feet and beer sloshes onto my fine white flannel suit.  “Goal!” they scream in rough unison, and the stadium erupts in opposing voices of victory and outrage.  Jonelis pounds my shoulder.  “Did you see that?  Did you?  A rebound—that’s the way to score a goal—always crowd the net!”  I am perplexed.  How can he possibly assume that I did not witness the occurrence?  Does the man think I am blind?  We are right here in the front row of the roaring crowd, watching this madness with an entirely unobstructed view!  A gentleman named Toews, who I am told, for some unknown reason, pronounces his name Taves, just flung a small black object into the goal by artful use of a stick.  I saw the act, as did every other bloodthirsty spectator in this crowded coliseum.

Meanwhile, Lonagan gesticulates broadly with both arms, then breaks into impassioned laughter that squeezes out a few tears.  He reaches across me and punches Jonelis square on the shoulder.  “Dis is da best!  First class airfare.  First class box seats!  I kin hardly believe I’m here!  What made ya ask me?”

Jonelis seems momentarily at a loss for words.  He grins sheepishly, then admits in a somewhat lower tone, “You know how to throw a party—I don’t.”  He clears his throat.  “After we win this game, I want to celebrate.  I want to do it right.”

I catch a glint in Lonagan’s eye.  “You want I should pour it on industrial strength?”

A wan smile.  “That’s the general idea.”

“Yer on!”  Lonagan grins like a slathering bulldog.  “What about old whisker-puss here?”

“He’s covering the game.”  Then Jonelis addresses me.  “Get the article out tonight, will you?”

I care not about a drunken felon denigrating the quality of my mustaches, but the second insult inflicts its sting.  My host reduces my status from guest to employee.  Such is the level of respect shown an accomplished novelist.  A writer is without honor, sir!  (I secretly resolve to delay the entire project for several days.  I, too, enjoy the Lonagan fellow’s raucous celebrations.)

Two huge bodies in bulky uniforms slam into the glass inches from my nose with an impact that rattles the structure of the enclosure.

I sit up and take notice.

Pinned, the Hawk reaches under an inadequate face guard and grabs the nose of the angry Duck, who bars his stick against the Hawk’s hairy throat.

A whistle!

With a bleeding nose, the Duck skates to the penalty box.

In the ensuing power play, I note amazingly deceptive and expert stick handling.  Fascinating!  Other members of the team, entirely out of the action of play, perform acts of sadistic menace upon each other’s persons.  These go unnoticed by the officials, otherwise engaged.  As an organ plays magnificent chants, I wonder how thugs learn to skate with such skill.

Toews scores another goal and I am wearing flecks of Lonagan’s mustard.  Only a few minutes have transpired since the splattering of beer—inadequate time to allow my suit to dry.

I stand and cheer!  “Hooray!”

This represents an important lesson!  Yes sir!  How is it that I have never before attended such an event as this?  And I speculate on the odds of bribing a season ticket from some luminary with the only real weapon I own—the promise to not write about him.

Read KIDNAPPED

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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LIES ABOUT PARADISE

Canada 2014-8643ATas told by Mark T Wayne

I recognize a sharp character flaw among outdoorsmen of all sorts—an uncontrollable urge to exaggerate—particularly after an excursion to a wilderness such as northern Manitoba. Permit me to treat you to a few horror stories of the Great North Woods.  I promise to debunk them all.

 Mobs of Tourists

Multitudes of crude drinking-age folk and their dirty urchins shack up in run-down resorts and shabby private cabins. They dot the shores and pollute these once-fine waters. Long, loud lines form at boat ramps.  Rough individuals engage in open hostility.

Mark T Wayne

Huge speedboats, stinking of gasoline and oil, cut across fishermen’s lines. Meanwhile, high-speed suicide boats equipped with 150 horsepower motors shoot up rooster tails of greasy water as they propel themselves gunnel to gunnel at 70 miles per hour in a desperate competition for the rare undisturbed fishing spot.

Canada 2014-8226A

That may be true of many waters one might fish.  But my experience is entirely different. Ours is THE ONLY LODGE ON THE LAKE.  I am speaking of a body of pristine water almost FIFTY MILES LONG with close to 150 islands!  Dense forest surrounds us for hundreds of miles.  NO ROADS.  That is correct sir!  Our magazine staff and I have the place all to ourselves and for a span of four days, we OWN this vast stretch of wilderness paradise.

Canada 2014-8279A

Yes, I must congratulate Jonelis, no matter what anybody says about the man. He picked a plumb spot!  This is the NORTHSTAR RESORT on KNEE LAKE, MANITOBA—one of the newest of Chicago’s startups.

“Chicago Startup?” you ask. “Aren’t you gentlemen thousands of miles north of that distinguished metropolis?”

Canada 2014-8343pAPermit me to justify my claim:

  • Most all the patrons either hail from Chicago, once enjoyed that honor, or pass through O’Hare Field on their way here.
  • This is Northstar’s first full season.

I submit that they qualify as a Chicago Startup.

We are guests of the Cree Nation and they provide abundant hospitality. Canada 2014-8168AThis is Cree water—a protected Trophy Northern Pike Lake.  Professional management handles the lodge.  The Cree handle our boats, chop our wood, fillet and cook our fish.  Most important of all, they bring us to the best fishing spots.  My only responsibilities are fishing, eating, drinking, gambling, and indulging in the time-honored tradition of gross exaggeration.Canada 2014-8722A. 150jpg

One note—Manitoba Law: Barbless hooks.  Artificial lures.  All pike released unharmed. But consider—if we kept them all, our boats would sink from the weight of our daily catch.  These fish live to bite again and according to local lore, some of the largest pike have names.

Canada 2014-8267 500

Pike Set Free

Harsh Conditions

I hear ugly reports of outdoor privies with no walls or roof whatsoever—one’s rump exposed to swarms of biting flies and mosquitoes, and interested bystanders.

My experience is entirely different. No pit toilets here.  The plumbing is all indoors—modern, new and clean.  Hot and cold running water.  Showers.  Facilities that rival fine hotels.

Canada 2014-8467A

Our Cabin

I have heard a typical base camp described as a set of rotting clapboard shacks or moldering canvas tents Canada 2014-8512Adating back to frontier times, swarming with biting flies, mosquitoes, and other vermin, and periodically overrun by man-eating bears.

Perhaps one can find such conditions if looking for trouble, but my experience is entirely different. I find solidly and exquisitely constructed log cabins gorgeously appointed with appropriate and tastefully rustic furniture.  Everything is meticulously maintained.  Tight-fitting screens grace all windows and the roofs do not leak.  We sleep upon firm new mattresses and choose between wood fire and electric heat.  The lodge generates its own electricity.

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Canada 2014-8505A

The main lodge boasts a full commercial kitchen, bar, billiards, and poker tables. Yes, they spared no expense constructing this magnificent facility.

I must admit that a bear pays us a kind visit.Canada 2014-8138A The abundant scent of cooking explains the presence of this noble predator.  The kitchen staff wastes no time chasing the animal off with angry shouts and vigorous gesticulations.

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I hear agonized complaints of Black Flies so thick they crawl across your eyeballs and into your mouth. The Mosquito is called the National Bird and you are out of Deet.

Canada 2014-8600AThat is enough, sir! Permit me to address this repeated barrage of braggadocio regarding swarming insects.  Fishermen love to blather about such things in polite conversation.  I will set the record straight forthwith.  Canada has no national bird.  Manitoba’s provincial bird is the Great Grey Owl.  Canada 2014-8602AOur sightings of flying creatures include the Bald Eagle, the Golden Eagle, and the Blue Heron.

It is true that some fishermen who have not done their research arrive at these shores during Black Fly Season. Such is the price of ignorance!  But a well-designed lodge is strategically perched on a high peninsula where cool lake breezes waft away flying vermin.  I do not require insect repellent on this entire trip!

Canada 2014-8821A

Our Cabin

According to popular wisdom, there is no protection in an open boat. Exposed to the elements all day, one is cold and miserable.  You endure constant driving rain and sleet.  You are constantly wet from head to foot, your energy and spirits entirely sapped. 

Canada 2014-8380AIt is true that on this trip, we experience the full range of weather. One day reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit and finds me decked out in short pants, my pale hairy legs exposed for all the wildlife to see.  The next day brings wind and rain but in my Gore-Tex rain gear, it cannot touch me.  The next day is refreshingly cold, but the simple addition of an insulated sweatshirt turns my rain gear into winter garb.  I laugh at the weather, sir!  Laugh, I say!

 

I am full to the eyeballs with stories of leaky boats with motors that sputter, stutter, then die. Others tell of harrowing canoe romps, paddling until—I suppose until one cannot paddle any longer.  Your frail craft pitches in the waves miles from shore as you frantically bail water from the bottom. 

My experience is entirely different. Canada 2014-8805AWe explore this enormous lake in comfortable fishing boats—ample even for Bill Blaire, the Paul Bunyan of Chicago.  These boats are tricked out with carpeted casting decks and plush swivel seats.  Depth finders and live wells.  Ice coolers and communication radios.  Fine big motors and guides to operate them.

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Horrible Grub

I am told that for breakfast, a surly cook serves up execrable mush slopped into dirty leaking bowls.

Canada 2014-8135AUp here, we awake to the heady aroma of bacon and eggs, flapjacks with real maple syrup, Red River cereal, and piping-hot coffee. We congregate at the well-appointed main lodge and roll up our sleeves to punish that food in a proper manner.  Blaire asserts that bacon is a basic food group and I concur.  He didn’t attain such gargantuan stature eating boiled vegetables.

I am led to believe that, likely as not, we will catch nothing fit to eat. At noon, we may be 20 miles or more from the lodge and will go hungry till supper. “Bring sandwiches,” they say. Then they go on to suggest peanut butter and jelly or cold canned beans shoveled down the gullet in a pitching boat. 

Canada 2014-8153AFirst let me state unequivocally that we suffer no difficulty catching our lunch. The only delay in capturing fat delicious Walleye are trophy Northern Pike that grab our twister tails before the jigs can reach the bottom.  Many times, we hook two of these savage water wolves at once!  To be fair, I must admit that the Walleye grab the Pike baits too.

After a full morning exerting oneself in the raw elements, no food on earth tastes better than freshly caught walleye!Canada 2014-8210A   Walleye is a delicacy served in the finest restaurants but these are not anonymous fish—no sir, these are OUR walleye.  This is an important point if you wish to understand the joys of a wilderness excursion.  An intimate connection with the source of food is emotionally satisfying in a profound way.  I admit it is difficult to convey the feeling in words.  One must experience such a thing to appreciate the bliss it engenders in one’s whole being.

Canada 2014-8208APermit me to expound upon our lunch experience because it gives me a great deal of pleasure. Every day, our boats rendezvous at a different rocky island and we conclave among the jack pine and birch to tell lies and drink beer.  Meanwhile, the guides fillet our fish, chop wood, and start a bonfire on which they will cook our meal.  Yes sir—we indulge in that glorious, overwhelmingly delightful tradition known as SHORE LUNCH.  To those of you lucky enough to experience this ritual please indulge me while I explain it to the uninitiated.

.While the food cooks, we explore the island, beer in hand. Naturally, everyone is in jovial spirits.  Kren casts a line from shore.  Ludditis snaps a photo of Jonelis and Bill Blair.  For some reason they wear camouflage.  Strange.  Can it be that those two actually believe fish cannot see them when dressed in such garb?

Canada 2014-8592p Bill Blaire SMALL A

Jonelis and Bill Blair in Camo

The head guide calls us to table. Our first shore lunch yields deep-fried walleye with onions and potatoes, hot beans and corn. To my tastes, this represents the ultimate in wilderness cuisine.  I am subsequently proven wrong.  Canada 2014-8576AThe next day, we are introduced to Walleye with peppers and sharp seasoning.  The day following that, they roll out Honey Garlic Walleye!  I squeeze my eyes closed to concentrate fully on that exquisite flavor!  I will always remember shore lunch as the pinnacle of life as we know it.

On this particular day, Alexander Harbinger is first to spot a floatplane headed directly to our island. The plane lands on the water and taxies to a rock slab.Canada 2014-8201A  Out the door pops the manager, dressed in his Sunday best, balancing a platter high like a professional waiter.  Martinis in long stemmed glasses!  I tell you sir this is my idea of roughing it!

After a full meal, we lay about on huge slabs of rock, looking perhaps like beached whales. Jim Kren finds sleeping quarters more to his liking.  If this is the wilderness, we lack for nothing.

Canada 2014-8211A 300When traveling to remote areas of the world, one is frequently warned about the dangers of drinking the local water. Consequences are colloquially known as Montezuma’s Revenge.

On this lake, I bring a mug along on the boat and dip it in the freezing water whenever the thirst takes me—no ice cubes required. And I suffer no unseemly maladies whatsoever!

Lousy FishingCanada 2014-8261h 2X3A F-500b

I have it on competent authority that fishermen typically sit in boats all day and return perhaps with a small bass and a couple puny pike of no account. 

Canada 2014-8558AUp here, we are well beyond the habitat of the Bass and Musky. The great Northern Pike is king and grows to prodigious proportions not seen further south.  The lake is virgin.  They do not even stock it!  No sir!  Yet, a man can almost walk on water across the backs of these ferocious predators.

And indeed, our hearty crew experiences glorious fishing with a pike strike about every five casts.Canada 2014-8360A The only impediment to a man landing 150 worthy fish is overindulgence in Canadian beer.  There is no other excuse sir!  And I repeat—they do not stock the lake!  These fish are aggressive!  Large Pike attack anything we attempt to bring to boat, including their own kind!

Canada 2014-8403AThis is akin to pulling pan fish out of a favorite fishing hole one after another. But we are throwing heavy lures on stout lines and steel leaders.  We cast with rigid rods at toothy giants that savagely attack the bait with a jolt that sends a shiver down a man’s shoulder.  These fish splash gallons of water, jump and dance on their tails, roll up in your line, dive under the boat, and generally do everything possible to escape.Canada 2014-8356A  With barbless hooks, it requires only a momentary slack in one’s line and the fish is free!  Repeated tug-a-war matches such as these strain a man’s entire body.

No one can call a pike fisherman lazy!

Canada 2014-8836A

No Night Life

Friends who travel to the wild tell of returning after a day of howling rain to dark leaky quarters buzzing with biting flies and mosquitoes. In total exhaustion and utter defeat, the intrepid explorers crawl under inadequate blankets and share body heat with friendly field mice, marmots and perhaps a snake or two.

Canada 2014-8459A

.I have yet to see these vermin you continually reference, sir!  We are back in the shelter of our fine log cabin. Weary but satisfied, I treat myself to a warm shower and then slip into the white terrycloth robe kindly placed on my king-size bed by the excellent maid staff.

.We all indulge in cocktails while Jonelis grills thick steaks on the deck in full view of the lake.

Canada 2014-8500pA

After a satisfying meal, we repair to the lodge for a night of poker and aggressive wagering. You may criticize such vice, but in defense of the entire group, let me point out that cards provide scant diversion after the experiences of such a day unless real money is at stake.  We trade our petty empires back and forth across that table.  Seated around me are men who know how to live!

Canada 2014-8518A

Sweet Home Chicago

Such experiences often come to an end before reaching a climax. The return flight yields none of the drama of our journey to paradise.  Canada 2014-8883

Too soon we find ourselves in the magazine’s corporate offices—the backroom of Ludditis Shots & Beer where you find the best potato pancakes in town.  Jonelis raises his feet to his battered WWII Air Force desk.  I raise a jigger of Sour Mash and read the words emblazoned upon his shirt:  SURGEON GENERAL WARNING:  FISHING IS EXPENSIVE, ADDICTIVE, AND MAY LEAD TO AN UNCONTROLLABLE URGE TO EXAGGERATE.

.Ludditis Shots and Beer 3

Our Corporate Offices

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The Real Thing

Ludditis discovers an online video that shows, in slow motion, a Northern Pike attacking its prey. I place it here for your edification.

Pike StrikesVideo of Pike Strike [click here]

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Go to – HOW TO TREAT THE OLD MAN

Go back to Episode One – ROUGHING IT

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Northstar Resort on Knee Lake can be reached at northstarresort.ca  Northstar Resort makes no endorsement of the statements and views expressed in this article.

Photographs by John Jonelis and Donatas Ludditis

Video of Pike Strike from Underwater-Ireland.com

T-shirt text ©earthSUNmoon.

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under big money, Bill Blaire., Canada, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, investor, loop lonagan, Man's Favorite Sport, Mark T Wayne, new companies

ROUGHING IT

Clark Gableas told by Mark T Wayne

“Don’t you want to feel safe?” asks Rosalind Russell.  In response, Clark Gable knits his brows. “I never have. What’s it like?” *  Vigorous travel is a grueling sport! One anticipates deprivation and hardship on any trip of significance. One seeks adventure! Exhilaration! One does not select air transportation to wrap oneself in a safe cocoon. No sir! Air travel exists for one and only one purpose. SPEED!

On this particular excursion, I am bound to a Wilderness Paradise with some questionable individuals. Traveling alongside me is the entire staff of that rag colloquially known as Chicago Venture Magazine.  As uncomfortable as that may seem, I have no recourse.  I must tolerate their companionship to reach my destination and my urge to visit the North Woods is almost too intense to bear.

We arrive at magnificent O’Hare Field–the busiest airport in the world–to find ragged lines of citizens in full commotion spilling out doorways onto the steaming pavement. Some chew their nails, others their neighbors. It takes just a few steps from our taxi to join the rabble. I always find these little conveniences such a pleasure. It is so re-assuring to arrive at a scene of anxiety and anger with hours to spare and no particular thing to do.

We inch through the line like a pig through a python. Several times I catch sight of security personnel examining various members of our group with a penetrating gaze and frightening intensity. I half expect one of them to break ranks and open fire, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking.

Mark T Wayne

In due course, we approach the official checkpoint and I am aghast—aghast I say—that a group such as ours clears security!  I must admit to a few tight moments.  Bill Blair experiences an awkward time of it, fitting his body through the x-ray booth.  There is that strange incident of the uniformed lady and her execrable and aggressive probe.  Then we are through!  Unarmed and entirely defenseless–our lives willingly surrendered to the whim of anonymous authorities.  We are now free to wander the protected concourses.  Free from malicious acts of maniacs, including any mischief we may perform on our own.  First we must wait for that Lonagan fellow to return from a strip search.

The man finally shows himself, shirttail wagging, carrying his shoes and a tumbler of what smells like cheap whiskey. Where he found that, I do not know, but I promise myself the same pleasure at the next opportunity. I lick my lips and scan for a tavern as we head to our assigned gate amid throngs of travelers trailing wheeled luggage. How such small bags carry sufficient weight to warrant wheels is a subject for speculation. The idea of gold bars comes to mind.

Through expansive windows we note the skies prematurely darkening.  This is contrary to all weather reports. We now face a more significant danger than random acts of violence.  Weather.  Apparently, no matter how often such events occur, it always comes as a nasty shock to one-and-all that it rains in Chicago. We can depend upon the authorities to protect us from this terrible threat, and looking around, I see anxious people, desperately clinging to hope that they might escape this fair city before the onrushing clouds envelop us.  I wonder, if given a modern weather bureau, Christopher Columbus would ever have discovered the New World.

No sooner do we find chairs than a sweet voice oozes from speakers overhead, informing us with utmost kindness of a delay and change in our gate assignment. I am almost oblivious to the import of the message, dazed by the beauty of that voice until Jim Kren rudely pokes me. “C’mon, we’re movin’,” he says in Midwestern style.

Mark T WayneTwo of our party sense trouble and take action in a timely manner. Ethan Sobriety finds a connection through Calgary, British Columbia. Warren D Mink boards a plane to Fargo, North Dakota. Perhaps he plans to hitchhike from there—I do not know. We are never to see those two souls again.

That leaves eight of us. Take a good look at this regiment, sir: If you believe that Loop Lonagan is a troublemaker, my compliments to your instincts! Jim Kren is that little one with his face balled up in a strange brew of anxiety and spite. I truly wonder how long he can keep that up before the inevitable coronary. Donatas Ludditis and I wager on it.

Ludditis is a genial man who has seen almost a hundred years of good and evil. I catch a glint of humor in his eyes and believe we share a common sentiment about our situation. Except for the irritating habit of cracking walnuts with his biceps, I enjoy the company of that old goat.

That giant blocking your sight of half the crowd is Bill Blaire. His grand scale is something to behold and he always reserves two airplane seats, preferably adjacent ones. I do not mean to imply obesity. The man is huge in a profound way.  I’ve seen him on airplanes before.  He bows low to cram his body beneath an overhead compartment then slips in, filling every available cubic inch of space like a huge overstuffed steamer trunk. I cannot believe that serves to improve his posture.

Alexander Harbinger also stands tall but only six-foot-five. I have never seen him slouch and find that particular trait obnoxious and inherently suspicious. That and his heavy accent. Joe Perogi owns an amazing flair for conversation if you do not sit beside him too long.  Then there is Jonelis, our host. The less said about that one the better. I feel generous today because he invited me on this delightful jaunt. And everybody is having such a good time.

You may ask how I, with my elegant mustaches, resplendent in my stately white suit, can possibly be associated with such people. I must admit, if I were a customs inspector, I would not permit this crowd to enter my country. Mark T WayneThese men are clearly desperate! They share a single-minded objective! They are all bound for a fishing excursion deep in the Canadian Wilderness! Our allotted time in Paradise is tightly scheduled, dearly purchased, and non-refundable! We do not take kindly to those who might cheat us out of a moment of our idle pursuit!

As the day grows old, another announcer—I believe the shift has changed—politely informs us in a mild baritone of yet another gate change. We rise and obediently shuffle to a new resting place. I find a comfortable chair and claim it. I will not relinquish it. No sir!

Ah, the comforts provided travelers these days. During the next twelve hours, mannerly messages pleasantly drift from the public address system, each repeating the status of our flight.  DELAYED. Cursed is more to the point. But that leaves sufficient time to read another chapter of my book, so I slouch back in my comfortable chair. This particular novel is written by America’s greatest author. It chronicles a delightful stagecoach journey to what was then the American Wild West and I cannot help but draw parallels to our current state of affairs.

Then finally, long after dark, when it is too late for recourse, they CANCEL our flight! I see the man making that dread announcement and overhear his cussing when he clicks off his microphone. His frustration is understandable. Cancelling a flight is a cowardly act bordering on criminal. I picture him at dawn, fighting a pistol duel with whatever craven official doomed us to this fate. Dawn is not far away. Perhaps I will see it–possibly act as second!

Then a voice over the speaker requests that we vacate the concourse. Immediately.  By some herding instinct, a huge line forms at the only desk assigned for re-routing this mob. Jonelis adroitly snags a loose ticket agent and leads him to a vacant computer terminal. After a half hour of rigorous and creative effort, the clerk throws up his hands. Then John whips out his enormous Galaxy Note and attempts to book a charter out of DuPage. Those airplanes are all grounded. One would think war had broken out, but all that has occurred is a little rain. I secretly dream about the joys of travel by horse.

Then I discover an enterprising establishment that has remained open throughout the chaos. Indeed, they do a brisk business—a very brisk business. American ingenuity at work! Yes sir! I am delighted to sample the fruits of free enterprise and take this opportunity to sip a Sour Mash or two. As I watch people scramble in all directions and others pile into that enormous line, I sit at the bar and order another happy round. One can scarcely expect to buy advance tickets to witness a spectacle like this!

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No room can be found at the inn but the airport authorities thoughtfully set up thousands of cots, edge to edge, each furnished with a warm blue blanket. We all settle in for a fine night’s rest where the lights never dim and the public address system cycles through the same recorded doggerel—useful information regarding the smoking of cigarettes on the premises. These first-rate sleeping quarters are set up like magic within the concourse itself so we will not again suffer the indignities of the security personnel. That sir is what I call consideration! That is what I call luxury!

That night I wake to the horrible screech of rending aluminum as Bill Blaire’s cot collapses. His snoring attests to the fact that he, at least, loses no sleep over such trifles. I admire that in a man. A true woodsman, that Blaire—the Paul Bunyan of our group. That crumpled cot still resides somewhere beneath his great comatose body but I cannot see it so I cannot swear it. I nudge him with the toe of my boot. His snoring intensifies.

The police kindly keep their protective eye upon us until 4:00 am when security rousts every groggy being to attention with a commanding shout. It is a new day. As a seasoned traveler, I have already made necessary provision for my needs at the only privy in the vicinity. While the line to that vital facility grows, I march off in search of sustenance, and find it. Excellent bagels and lox, served ironically beside crisp bacon, with plenty of hot coffee. But presently, Jonelis whisks us away, back down the concourse to a waiting aircraft.

Two of our party get called by name for that flight. Then two more. We are standby passengers and Jonelis wrangles with the gate clerk as an officious woman with some sort of frequent flyer rights rudely exerts her authority to horn-in ahead of us with her entire party. That would mean the splitting of our group. I see the others flipping coins to determine who goes, who stays. But our host prevails. Another of life’s adventures conquered. We board a diminutive commuter plane and the broad shoulders of this city stack like spoons in cramped seats. Stinking in wrinkled, slept-in clothing, we finally escape this town. As wonderful as the experience has been, I am glad to move on to the next adventure. After all, we have lost a full day of wilderness leisure.

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Ah, the miracle of modern flight! It takes twenty eight hours to board the plane in Chicago but a mere hour and a half  to reach Winnipeg International Airport!  In another hour, we clear customs. That sir is what I call FAST. That is what airlines are all about!  I gaze in admiration at our magnificent craft–its sweeping lines and powerful engines–so obviously built for speed and speed alone.  Yes sir!  That airplane looks fast standing still!

Meanwhile, Kren and Lonagan argue over the advantages of automobile transportation. Jonelis finds a Facebook page about a friend’s son who accomplished the amazing feat of skateboarding across the entire continent. That is an awesome adventure.  No officials coddling you with safety.  Picture yourself winding down a steep mountain road on a longboard. Such contraptions have no brakes sir! But that is a story for another time. ** I prefer the sublime comfort of the stagecoach bounding down a rutted road. On second thought, make it a train.

At this point we learn that the airline has misplaced all our luggage. That includes gear vital to the completion of our mission in the vast wilderness, especially our fishing rods! I overhear the customs inspector utter an unkind and unnecessary expletive regarding United Airlines.  That remark strikes me as unsporting after that brave entity has accomplished such a miracle–whisking us from Chicago to Winnipeg in an hour and change–and in such a painstaking cocoon of safety!

Grown men swear and gnash their teeth. After a dramatic display of emotion, our party repairs to the lobby for a meal.  Lonagan leads us to a place by the name of Louie’s Lotsa Pasta. But Jonelis vetoes that, and we enjoy exquisite repast at an excellent bistro named Stellas. I recommend it! Never take the pleasures of a good Jambalaya lightly.

Just a few hours later our gear arrives and we happily retire to our hotel. With precious fishing rods clutched in greedy hands, we head toward luxurious showers and soft beds.

We draw lots and I get Bill Blair’s room. That means another noisy night of it. But with customary forethought, I have purchased earplugs. Bill drops unconscious on one of the enormous queen-sized mattresses and uses all of it. The bed does not collapse and he starts snoring immediately–tired but safe. I must admit that I find it difficult to get the whole of him in the picture.

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  Bill Blair on a queen-sized bed

Our bush plane will depart early next morning for a 500 mile leg further North. Perhaps I will tell you about that next time. Maybe.

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Go to Next Episode – CLOSER TO HEAVEN

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* Quote from the motion picture, They Met in Bombay.

** Longboard America Facebook Page Longboard AmericaA

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Photography by John Jonelis, except for Clark Gable, Mark T Wayne and Longboard America.

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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