Independence Day 4 Alien Craft

One of the cool things I saw while vising the “Special Effects 2” exhibit back in 1996 at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was this alien craft model from Independence Day 4.

My wife here is making a gesture to show how small the model was in real life, compared to how big it looked on screen. After commenting that the ship was roughly the same shape as her hair-do … well, let’s just say it was a long, quiet ride home from Chicago the following weekend.

Odyssey Fun World

Last month while on vacation in Chicago, my wife, kids, and I made a detour to visit Odyssey Fun World in Tinley Park, Illinois.

We’ve been to Odyssey Fun World a few times now — it’s about a 10 minute drive from my Grandmother’s house. One of my favorite things about the front of the building are those smaller, “kid only” doors on the front of the building.

The ground level of Odyssey Fun World looks a lot like most other modern arcades, with ticket redemption games covering the majority of the prime real estate. There are a couple of small, kid-friendly rides inside, toward the rear is a giant jungle gym that costs a few dollars extra, and upstairs is an indoor laser tag arena. For the most part, everything else downstairs accepts tokens and returns tickets.

Above is a shot of the ground floor, taken from the upstairs level. What else is upstairs, you might ask?

One of the first things you come to is this line of retro fighting games. In case you can’t make out the titles, that’s (from left to right) Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 3, Tekken 3, and X-Men vs. Street Fighter.

The row behind those games contained Missile Command, Donkey Kong, a Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga combo cabinet, and several other classic games, including a dedicated Trog machine.

Yeah, baby! Unfortunately there were only two pinball machines, and the other one (Star Wars) was out of commission. I still had a good time playing a few rounds on this one.

And with all this retro gaming goodness around them, where do you think my kids were?

That’s them, drooling at the ticket redemption booth. Why they would rather plunk token after token into crane machines and kid-friendly gambling devices is beyond me. What could they possibly have worth trading in those tickets for?

A Tron Legacy movie stand up? For only 30,000 tickets? Excuse me … I have a few more rounds of Skee-ball to play.

One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Odyssey Fun World again was that I heard that they recently purchased an updated set of the Rock-a-Fire Explosion animatronic band. Just my luck, the day we visited the band was “out to lunch” (read: broken). I did find this video of the band performing at Odyssey Fun World though. Maybe they’ll be back together the next time we visit.

Swingin’ in Marina City

For anyone familiar with the Chicago skyline, Marina City’s distinctive shape should be familiar. The dual “corncobs” have been a Chicagoland fixture since 1964, and even adorned the cover of Wilco’s album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Sayeth Wikipedia:

The Marina City complex was designed in 1959 by architect Bertrand Goldberg and completed in 1964 at a cost of $36 million financed to a large extent by the union of building janitors and elevator operators, who sought to reverse the pattern of white flight from the city’s downtown area. When finished, the two towers were both the tallest residential buildings and the tallest reinforced concrete structures in the world. The complex was built as a city within a city, featuring numerous on-site facilities including a theatre, gym, swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley, several stores and restaurants, and of course, a marina.

Man, that description just drips “jet age,” doesn’t it? And contemporary marketing materials made it look the part, too.

So is she the wife, or just some nice dame that brings around Cuba libres for the whole family?

via Calumet 412

If you grew up in Chicago in the 80s, this was a very familiar TV jingle…McDade’s!


There aren’t too many local department stores in America anymore. I suppose you have regional stores like Menards Hardware but I don’t think I see anything truly local in the big cities like we once did.

If you grew up in Chicago, McDade’s was a destination shopping trip for all your needs! With eight stores around the city, it was a warehouse separated in two halves. The first half was a luxurious, carpeted department store with TVs, jewelry and video games. They referred to it as a “catalog showroom.” The second half was an early big box styled store that housed shelves of small appliances, toys and other bric a brac.

One of the coolest parts of your trip to McDade’s (ours was in Lincolnwood – across the street from the very famous “Purple Hyatt” – featured in the film Casino) was at the end of your shopping. You would make your purchases through the store, but for the big ticket items, you wouldn’t put them in a cart. You would hand the cashier a ticket and then go to the conveyor belt near the exit where you item would come rolling out to you.

My mother bought several of my Bally Astrocade (and later Sega Master System) video games there. Watching that little box come zipping out at me was pretty exciting stuff.

Of course, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. (When do they?) After 30 years in business, McDade’s closed in 1988. Our store became a site for a condo. But, I have many wonderful memories of buying GI Joe guys there. I’m pretty sure that’s where I got Blowtorch.

So, enjoy a McDade’s Christmas Commercial from around 1980! That little jingle is etched in my memory forever.