Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving From Our ChiIL Mama Family To Yours

Grateful for hearth fires, health, family, friends and plentiful food. Thankful for a pajama day where nobody has to drive anywhere and we can all relax together at home and watch movies & play games. Happy to share our lives with 2 big dogs & 3 guinea pigs. 

Thankful for music, theatre, art and culture. Thankful for gymnastics, ultimate frisbee, great schools, and living in a city as amazing as Chicago is. Grateful for enough freelance work to be able to do what we love. Thankful for travel, toys, teens & teachable moments. 

From our family to yours, 
Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Got Gamers? Get To GameStop For Deals on Black Friday and Beyond #ad

Here at ChiIL Mama, I have a tween and teen of my own, so I know how tough they can be to buy for. Thankfully GameStop is everywhere. They've become our go to source for the latest video games on the kids' must have lists.

Disclosure: We're happy to partner up with Game Stop for the 2nd holiday season now and we've been compensated for sharing their cool deals with our readers. As always, all opinions are our own.

In fact my 13 year old son was still up at 11:30pm the 21st, the night Pokemon Omega Ruby came out, pleading with us to GO TO the store for their midnight special release party, so he could have it ASAP. We didn't. Lessons in delayed gratification are important too. 

This kid was eagerly watching the count down clock for DAYS. Thanks a lot Pokemon! But ultimately he was just as happy & excited to get it after school the next day. GameStop even gave out double sided posters to everyone who did the advanced purchase option. 

Screen shot by Dugan Kenaz-Mara (13)

GameStop Deals Black Friday & Beyond:

It’s an exciting time for shoppers with various deals and new releases to keep gift-ers and gift-ees alike happy, such as:

· The big hit, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS: $39.99
· WWE 2K15 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4: $59.99
· Grand Theft Auto V for PlayStation 4: $59.99
· Family fave, Disney INFINITY Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 Edition Starter Pack:   $54.99 (reg. $74.99)
· Go next-gen with an Xbox One Limited Edition Call of Duty Advanced Warfare     Bundle: $449.99 (reg. $499.99)
· Upgrade-worthy, PlayStation TV System Bundle: $99.99 (reg. $139.99)

You can also easily find gifting guides, other holiday recommendations and the latest store information at GameStop’s Holiday Hub. As always, GameStop is accepting various payment methods, including trade-in value, to allow customers to shop with ease.

More than 4,000 GameStop stores nationwide will open at midnight on Friday, Nov. 28 (remaining stores will open at 5 a.m.), with top offers including:

· (Friday and Saturday only) Xbox One Assassin’s Creed Bundle: $329.99 (save $70) – includes digital copies of Assassin’s Creed Unity and Assassin’s Creed Black Flag

· PlayStation 4 Limited Edition Bundle: $399 (save $100) – includes Grand Theft Auto V and a digital copy of The Last of Us Remastered

· Super Mario 3D World Bundle for WiiU: $299.99 – includes the 32GB WiiU Deluxe Set, Super Mario 3D World and Nintendo Land video games

· Save $30 off popular PlayStation 4 and Xbox One titles, such as The Evil Within, Sleeping Dogs and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

· Free HTC Desire 510 4G LTE Smartphone with purchase of Cricket Wireless no contract service (after $75 mail-in rebate)

· $50 off ASUS 16GB Memo Pad HD 7 ($99.99) and Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 ($149.99)

You can find a complete list of this year’s Black Friday deals hereTo help shoppers save even more, GameStop will accept a range of different currencies, including Power Up Rewards credits and trade-in values for Black Friday purchases. For customers who wish to shop from home, GameStop is offering free shipping on all online purchases. Also, for all things holiday, the Holiday Hub offers gift guides, additional deals, and more.

Disclosure: We're happy to partner up with Game Stop for the 2nd holiday season now and we've been compensated for sharing their cool deals with our readers. As always, all opinions are our own.

GIVEAWAY: 4 FREE Tickets to Morton Arboretum Illumination ($80 Value)



-this year’s event features even more lights, music and new 
kid-friendly elements-

Disclosure: Here at ChiIL Mama we're thrilled to welcome Illumination: Tree Lights back for year 2. And we're excited to partner up with Morton Arboretum on a 4 ticket giveaway. They've also sent us 4 review passes and we'll have a full recap up after we have a chance to check it out. As always, all opinions are our own. 

Enter ENTER HERE through midnight December 3rd. Passes are good for your choice of dates/times pending availability.

This November, 50 acres of vibrant LED lights will once again transform The Morton Arboretum’s treescape into a winter wonderland of color and nature, as Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns for its second year.
Hailed as a “must-see event” by the media in its debut season, Illumination brings lights and nature together to transform a wintertime walk in the woods into an awe-inspiring experience. 

From Nov. 21, 2014 – Jan. 3, 2015, walk a mile-long path to marvel at trees illuminated in colors like electric blue, hot pink and neon green and interact with lighted trees that respond to voice or touch.
On the Illumination trail, sing to trees to make them change color and hug trees to see how they respond, then warm up at one of our toasty fire pits. Or stop at the warming tent to grab a snack and a warm beverage.

Illumination’s 2014 season offers new features and activities for the whole family. Come out to see:
  • Symphony Woods: Enchanting lights dance in synchronized patterns to seasonal music from the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • Meadow Lake Magic:  Light-patterned trees and a series of lit orbs dotting Meadow Lake create a visually entrancing experience.
  • The popular Tinsel Colonnade will be expanded in 2014 to double its size, as cascades of multi-colored strings of LED lights hanging from the trees like tinsel.
  • More kid-friendly features:  2014’s event incorporates child-friendly elements to engage the whole family, including simpler interactive stations and a scavenger hunt to find the “Glow Man” hidden along the Illumination path for a special prize.
  • More live entertainment: Catch top local bands every weekend during Illumination. Check the Illumination website for the latest schedule.
“We’re thrilled to bring Illumination back for its second year, following a successful debut season,” said Sue Wagner, vice president of education and information at The Morton Arboretum. “This year’s event offers the best of our 2013 season, along with surprising and engaging new activities and experiences for all ages.”  

Built in partnership with top experiential lighting designers Lightswitch, Illumination at The Morton Arboretum features energy-efficient, eco-friendly LED lighting.

Event Dates and Ticket Prices
Illumination runs from Nov. 21, 2014 through Jan. 3, 2015. The event opens each night at 5 p.m. and runs until 9:30 p.m., with the last entry at 8:30 p.m. General admission tickets go on sale starting Wednesday, Oct. 1.  Members receive an additional discount on tickets purchased between Oct. 1 –31. Tickets are available at, the Arboretum’s Visitor Services desk, or by calling 630-719-2066 ($5 handling charge for phone orders). See for updated information on dates and pricing, and follow The Morton Arboretum on Facebook and Twitter for the latest event information.
The Morton Arboretum thanks Presenting Sponsors ComEd and BMO Harris Bank for their support of Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum.

About The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum on 1,700 acres. Plant collections, scientific research and education programs support the mission to plant and conserve trees and other plants for a greener, healthier and more beautiful world. Designed with natural landscapes, the grounds include the award-winning, four-acre interactive Children’s Garden, the one-acre Maze Garden, plus specialty gardens, 16 miles of trails and nine miles of roads. Visitor experiences include the open-air tram ride, guided walks, Arbor Day celebrations, concerts, art shows, the Fall Color Festival, Illumination and special exhibits. The Arboretum welcomes 885,000 visitors annually and receives support from 38,600 member households.  Located 25 miles west of Chicago in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open daily 7 a.m. until sunset. Learn more at

Disclosure: Here at ChiIL Mama we're thrilled to welcome Illumination: Tree Lights back for year 2. And we're excited to partner up with Morton Arboretum on a 4 ticket giveaway. They've also sent us 4 review passes and we'll have a full recap up after we have a chance to check it out. As always, all opinions are our own. 


As if we needed another reason to dig Dee Snider.... He's auctioning off memorabilia to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS! Check it out. Here at ChiIL Live Shows it was our pleasure to catch opening night of DEE SNIDER’S ROCK & ROLL CHRISTMAS TALE, and it was freakin' hilarious. The script is wickedly witty, well written and exceedingly clever. The rock/metal jabs and jokes have the insight of an insider (LSD-Lead Singer Disease & the Ozzie Osbourne chalice were infinitely amusing.) Highly recommended, because Santa Rules! 

Dee Snider, creator and star of DEE SNIDER’S ROCK & ROLL CHRISTMAS TALE, will auction off various personally autographed awards and memorabilia for charity. In the spirit of the holiday, all proceeds from the auction will benefit one of his favorite charities Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS. The charity auction is currently running through December 22, 2014 and will be hosted at  A select number of awards and memorabilia will be available each week for one week only.  Dee Snider is starring as the narrator in DEE SNIDER’S ROCK & ROLL CHRISTMAS TALE at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E Chestnut) through Jan. 4, 2015.

“In deciding what to do with this myriad of items, it occurred to be that there might be people out there who would enjoy displaying some of these things in their own home—as a reflection of a past or present passion they might have or just because they were mine and be willing to pay money for them.  I’m hoping that there are some very generous people out there who will bid on them, knowing that their money will be going to help others in need,” said Snider.

In 2014, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS awarded over $175,000 to AIDS and family service organization in Illinois, with more the $150,000 specifically sent to 12 social service agencies in the Chicago area, including AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago House, Children’s Place Association, Howard Brown Health Clinic, Vital Bridges and more.

Tickets for DEE SNIDER’S ROCK & ROLL CHRISTMAS TALE at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place are on sale now. Dee Snider Experience tickets are also available and include seats in the first two rows and an intimate meet and greet, autographs and photos with star and creator Dee Snider.  Tickets are available for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.  Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at

Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations.  By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised over $250 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. 

BC/EFA is the major supporter of seven programs at The Actors Fund – the employee assistance program of the entertainment industry - including The HIV/AIDS Initiative, The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, The Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic and more. 

BC/EFA also awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide.  

For more information, visit

The Boot Campaign is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to Cultivating Awareness, Promoting Patriotism, and Providing Assistance to military personnel, past and present, and their families. Started in 2009 by five women from Texas known as the Original Boot Girls, the Boot Campaign encourages Americans to “get their BOOTS ON” as an easy and tangible way to express one’s Patriotism and Gratitude for all who serve. Proceeds from all Boot Campaign combat boot sales, events, direct donations and corporate sponsorships fund the campaign’s five Assistance initiatives: Jobs, Housing, Wellness, Urgent Assistance, and Family Support.

Items available in the auction are listed below with a personalized description by Dee Snider:

Doing these shows was definitely a memorable life experience.  What the public doesn’t realize is that we filmed 16 hours a day, six days a week, THREE shows a week!  And that’s just the guys.  Due to hair and makeup issues, many of the women are working 20+ hour days and functioning on only three or four hours of sleep a night.  Add to that the incredible heat in the “boardroom” (because of the television lighting and that they turn off the AC because it’s “too loud”) and you can better understand why people are having meltdowns on camera.  These posters are given to the show’s cast at the end of the season.  Each is signed by the entire cast and the only autograph missing from either of the poster is…Stephen Baldwin.  Why?  Well…he’s Stephen Baldwin.

This is one of the nicest plaques I received for sales of Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” album and one of my favorites.  I think the red and green leather represents the colors of Atlantic Records, and they probably thought it looked “heavy metal.”  Here’s a bit of trivia to stump your friends: In Australia they mistakenly list our song “Captain Howdy” as “Captain HONEY.”  Not a very scary name for a schizophrenic sexual sadist.

Received in ’84-‘85, this was one of only two countries where this song achieved a gold level in single sales.  While WNGTI is viewed as one of the mega hits of the 80’s, in reality it only made it to number 21 on the Billboard charts in the U. S. when initially released.  Fortunately, the song has had staying power and continued to grow in popularity!

Received in 2012 for ongoing sales of this single in Canada, this beautiful plaque is evidence of the said staying power of this song and WNGTI.  Only just barely making it into the top 40 in the U. S. (#35), and peaking at #44 on the Canadian charts, it received no awards initially.  28 years later, it achieves “double platinum” status.  Go figure.

Received in 2012 for ongoing massive sales of this single in Canada, this is a beautiful plaque.  Per capita, Canada was our biggest country in the world for record.  As I said earlier, Canada was one of two places in the world that this song achieved gold status when it originally came out.  28 years later, it is now “octuple” platinum status.  Thank God for that!

Presented in 1985, before receiving it, I was told the quintuple platinum plaque was a “coffee table top”.  It is.  The most impressive of our awards for this album it again brings home just how big Twisted Sister and this record were in Canada in ’84-’85.  And that was back then.  Since the 80’s, we’ve added at least another million album sales to Stay Hungry in the U.S.  One can only assume that continued sales must have taken it at least “octuple” platinum in Canada.  This of course would be a kitchen tabletop. 

When you set out to “make it”, you think in terms of your own backyard; record sales where you live.  It’s when you start seeing big sales in countries you’ve only read about in you geography books that the reality of how huge your band has become hits you.  Going “gold” in New Zealand was that reality check for me.  When we eventually toured there, I discovered one of the most amazing countries and one of my favorite places in the world to boot.  Kiwis rock!

This plaque just further shows the love Kiwis have for my band.  Unfortunately I haven’t been back since we played there in 1985.  I know there are fans there for my band Twisted Sister who would love to see us, but the right offers just haven’t come in.  That was a bit of an over share wasn’t it?

Scandinavia really embraced Twisted Sister and this is one of the few countries that our “Come Out and Play” album really did well in.  Our last show on that tour, and the last show with drummer A.J. Pero, was in Finland on June 21st at the “Festival of Lights”.  This is the longest day of the year, and the Fins (who deal in the winter with near total darkness and in the summer with a sun that virtually never sets) celebrate in style.  Half of the total alcohol consumed in the country for the year is consumed on that one day.  Crazy, right? When we finally made it to the stage to close the festival, 2/3 of the audience was literally unconscious! 

While Twisted Sister’s follow up to Stay Hungry did not do as well, we still got a lot of love for the album from the faithful Scandinavian fans.  I loved this album and it reflects the band finally having complete creative control from the songs, to production, to album art, to stage production and costuming.  Here’s some trivia: the song “Be Chrool to Your Scuel” has guest performances on it by Billy Joel, Brian Setzer and the late Clarence Clemmons.

Sweden really fell in love with Twisted Sister in 1984.  We were embraced not only by head bangers, but by the “beautiful people” as well.  The only country where our name was uttered in the same breath as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Springsteen and Prince, I remember signing albums for the children of the royal family and the Volvo kids as well.  Crazy.  The Swedes still adore us to this day.  This plaque is set in Beautiful clear glass with a metal frame.

Again, Sweden was (and still is) one of our greatest countries for Twisted Sister’s popularity.  Interestingly, unlike the rest of the world, when “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was initially released; the Swedes did not embrace the song.  It was the release of “I Wanna Rock” that ignited their interest, then WNGTI was re-released and Sweden fell in love with the song the second time around.  Presented in 1985.

In the 90’s, my wife Suzette asked me to write her a Christmas song.  I told her she was crazy.  Christmas songs have an indefinable sound that is incredibly hard to recreate.  How often do you hear a “new Christmas song?”  Suzette’s parting words on the subject were, “You can do it, you’re a classically trained countertenor.”  It’s true I am/was, but still she was asking me to do an impossible task.  Somewhere along the way during a “heavy metal” writing session, the song “The Magic of Christmas (God Bless Us Everyone)” poured out of me.  I recorded it and gave it to my wife as a Christmas gift that year, never intending to release it to the public.  Many years later, an engineer on the session, who had now become a Grammy Award-winning producer (Ric Wake) called me and informed me that Celine Dion wanted to record my Christmas song on her holiday album “These Are Special Times.”  This came at a particular tough time for me economically and my royalties from the more than eight million copies sold worldwide went a long way toward building my family’s home we now live in.  This is why we call her “Saint Celine.”

The following year, Saint Celine and Rosie O’Donnell (then known as “the Queen of Nice”) recorded a duet of the song for Rosie’s holiday album “A Rosie Christmas.”  Seeing Rosie and Celine opening a network holiday special, performing “The Magic of Christmas” with a children’s choir, was yet another truly surreal moment in my life and career.  I’m so glad my wife asked me to write her a Christmas song!  This beautiful presentation is for sales of more than one million copies of Rosie’s album in the United States.  Merry Christmas, Suzette!

Presented for over 500,000 paid downloads in the United States alone, this is a direct reflection of the longevity and continued popularity of this song.  As big as it was in the day, it missed achieving gold single status at that time. (In the 80’s, the gold single award was unfairly set at one million sold, then changed in the late 80’s to a half million after we had missed the former mark.)  Over the years the song has continued to sell and this plaque reflects those sales.  This said, with the rampant illegal downloading of music that has gone on for the last 20 years or so, one can only imagine how many actual downloads of this song have occurred.  If I had a nickel for every illegal download….

There are two countries I have experienced “Beatlemania” like fan hysteria in and those are Canada and Mexico.  The fans in Mexico were so aggressive and physical when mobbing me on a promotional tour there, I had to learn how to say, “Let go of my hair, mutha effer!” in Mexican just to survive.  This plaque is in a beautiful gold-leaf frame with an actual gold plated frame.  That’s right, the gold and platinum album awards are not actually gold and platinum.  They aren’t even the band’s albums in the frame!

The last of the Scandinavian countries to climb aboard the Twisted Sister train, “Stay Hungry” didn’t even make it to gold in Norway.  This would be the one country where our follow up record “Come Out and Play” did better than its predecessor, but hey, this is where black metal and church burnings was popular.  This said, we are still huge in Norway and regularly headline festivals over there.  And the songs from Stay Hungry are the most popular songs there of our live set.  Again…staying power.

I was asked to voice the introduction for a new horror/metal band called Lordi.  They were big fans of Twisted Sister’s and it meant a lot to them to have my voice (and Jay Jay French’s lead guitar) on their record.  Oddly, Lordi appeared on the annual, international “Eurovision Song Contest” and won!  The victory made them the pride of Finland and launched their careers.  Lordi’s debut album went on to go triple platinum—bigger than any Twisted Sister record – in Finland and I was presented this plaque for my participation in the recording.  It’s a beautiful plaque and will make a lovely addition to some Lordi/Twisted Sister fan’s home!

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp has become an annual event for so many “less fortunate” who have not gotten the breaks career wise or just want a chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the heroes of their youth.  (I for one count my lucky stars every day that I actually “made it”.)  While I’ve never been a “camp counselor” for the RNRFC (I just don’t think my focused, no partying lifestyle is the fantasy that the campers want to hear about), I did speak to the gathered masses at the NY camp.  It was a great experience and I was presented with this great portrait for my participation.  I really like this drawing.

When I started hosting Fangoria Radio – a weekly show on Sirius/XM—the owners of Fangoria presented me this framed issue #1 of their legendary magazine on my 50th birthday.  My birthday was actually filmed and broadcast as part of the “Party Planner” reality show on a stormy night in a castle.  It was very cool.  As a horror fan, I’d always loved Fangoria, and to actually work for the company and be appreciated in this way was amazing.  The issue is in mint condition.

This CMT reality show was a life-changing experience and one of my earliest introductions to reality television.  Eight, non-country singer/celebrities were sequestered, “Big Brother” style, in a 40,000 sq. foot log cabin for two weeks and challenged to become country singers.  With a houseful of non-rockers as housemates and Bobby Brown for a roommate, I experience things no human being should experience (Bobby drinks too much and sleep walks; you do the math) and I learned that singers from different musical genres share a lot of the same issues and life experiences.  John Rich (Big & Rich; Celebrity Apprentice) was a hell of a host and now a good friend.  I hated country when I arrived, but learned that there are some types of country music that I can embrace.  Yee-haw!

One day, on my nationally syndicated radio show “House of Hair,” I received a request from someone in a town called “Cridersville.”  I joked they should change the name of the town to Snidersville—after all it was only two letters—and a few months later the show received word from the Cridersville that the town was ready to honor me by doing just that!  Well, my family and I headed out there and enjoyed two amazing days of appreciation for the various career and charitable things I’ve done.  National discussion of the event actually made me one of the most talked about things on Google for a few hours (mostly, “Why the hell are they honoring him?” I’m sure.).  This beautifully framed poster celebrates the renaming of Cridersville, OH, “Snidersville.”  It was such a successful event for me that I have often thought of combing the names of towns around the world looking for others that rhyme with Snider so I can do it again.  But that might be pushing it…

While in “Snidersville,” I got to be in a parade, lead a motorcycle ride, have a barbecue with the Mayor and other “dignitaries” and visit the General Dynamics factory that manufactures our military’s tanks.  I also visited the Wilson football factory (official manufacturers of all NFL footballs), where I was presented this limited production “Snidersville” football in honor of the renaming ceremony.  It’s 1 of 3 or 4, I believe.

This simple metal-framed theater poster adorned the front of the Brooks Atkinson Theater during my run in the show as “Dennis Dupree.”  A truly great and life changing experience, being in that show has now taken my career down a musical theater/Broadway path.  While seeing this billboard outside the theater each day when I arrived filled me with joy (who would have ever thought I’d be on Broadway?  Certainly not me!), my greatest memory of it will be the photo my parents had taken of them standing in front of it when they came to see me in the show.  Being part of “the greatest generation,” they never truly appreciated my involvement or success in rock and roll.  It doesn’t speak to them.  But seeing their son’s name on Broadway was something they really connected with (as theater fans) and I don’t know when they were prouder of me.  

When my three-month run with the show ended, I requested the poster to hang in my home but was told it had already been destroyed.  As it turned out it had been put in storage and was quickly rescued and given to me.  I’m hoping one of the legendary ROA “Superfans” will bid on it and take ownership.  These amazing people have seen the show as more than 200 times!  They were so welcoming of me during my run and I thank them all for that!  It made my time there a hell of a lot easier!

In 1997, a scary movie I wrote, starred in and co-produced called “StrangeLand” was released to an unsuspecting public.  Really…they had no idea it came out!  The first film to have the dubious distinction of being rated R “for scenes of torture,” it is credited with starting the torture genre of horror movies.  If only I made a 10th of the money that StrangeLand inspired films like “Saw” and “Hostel” made….  But hey, I get “mad, dope props” from the horror community for my effort.  So I have that going for me….

This unique piece was created for a scene in the movie that ultimately landed on the “cutting room floor”.  The scene was where my character Carlton Hendrick (Captain Howdy), escapes his hanging and goes to his father’s grave for comfort.  The military designation on the grave and the inscription (“The engine is discipline.”) was supposed to speak volumes about what led to the characters fractured mental state.  Unfortunately, the scene was muted.

StrangeLand was not the original name of the movie.  It was “Helltown.”  Set in the fictitious town of “Helverton,” Colorado as the crime spree of Captain Howdy ensued, and the authorities were unable to stop him, some vandal spray painted the town sign changing Helverton to Helltown – reflecting the feelings of the community and what they were going through.  It was decided by my producers that since there was already a film called “Helltown” (starring Spencer Tracy, it wasn’t a horror film) and that having a movie with that name wasn’t cool enough for their company (they had just won an Oscar for “Slingblade”), that the name should be changed.  And “StrangeLand” it became.  Which for the record is much cooler.

This beautifully framed poster is from the promotion of VH1’s 2000 dramatization of the legendary Senate PMRC hearings.  In a real WTF life moment, I was asked to play the part of myself in this movie alongside actors playing Frank Zappa (Griffin Dunne), John Denver (Tim Guinee), Al Gore, etc.  Truly a surreal experience, I was the equivalent of a real tyrannosaurus rex on the set of Jurassic Park.  And I wore the actual clothes I wore before Congress in 1985.  It doesn’t get much stranger than that!

ChiIL Mama's Adventures at Ringling Brothers Legends #RinglingBros #Review #OriginalPhotos #ChiRingling

Legends came to town and it was epic! Think midget with a jet pack, exotics like kangaroos, an elephant masquerading as an adorable Wooly Mammoth and all our stunning super human favs like Alexander Lacey and the giant cats, The Torres Family-8 motorcycles & The Globe of Steel, breathtaking aerial arts, and so much more. 

Our favorite part was sharing the experience and making memories with 3 generations of our family.

ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List. 
Highly recommended family friendly fun.

You can still catch Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDS in the Chicago area through November 30th at The United Center. Click here to book your tickets.

Here's our Full Set of LIVE Show Shots:
Favorites are embedded below.

Iconic Ringling Bros.® Stars Meet Fabled Mythological Creatures in

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDS sm

The Greatest Show On Earth® Set to Capture Chicago Area’s Imagination,

through Nov.30, 2014

Here at ChiIL Mama we're HUGE fans of the circus arts and we love it when the big shows come to town. This one was particularly incredible as we're also enamored with mythological beasts! Get your tickets now for this unique melding of circus stars and the creatures of legends. We also dig the multicultural flavor that comes from having some of the top performers in the world from 25 different countries all collaborating.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS, an all-new edition that unites iconic circus stars with living mythological creatures in a celebration of the LEGENDS that have captured imaginations for centuries, is still playing through Nov. 30th at Chicago’s United Center.

Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson guides Paulo the Legend Seeker on his quest to discover real, living legends from around the world and presents Paulo’s fantastic discoveries to circus fans everywhere.

“Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is where legends live, and we constantly ask our audiences to believe in the unbelievable.  For this edition we’ve combined a number of mythical themes and stories into a lavish production of sight and sound unlike any show we have ever created,” says Producer Nicole Feld.

Mythology meets reality as Paulo encounters the wondrous Pegasus and the amazing Unicorn, as well as circus legends such as big cat presenter Alexander Lacey; the Riders of the Wind Cossack horsemen; and motorcycle daredevils, the Torres Family. They all come together along with a cast spanning 25 countries in a spectacular production.

Experience magnificent Asian elephants, a twenty-acrobat troupe perched atop only a pair of bicycles, and a never-before-seen double-wide, high-flying trapeze act.

“A legend is something so magical and larger than life that once you see it, you never forget it.  The talent in this show is unprecedented and embodies the name LEGENDS,” says Producer Alana Feld.  “My sister and I were speechless when we saw these acts the first time.  We searched the world for the best of the best and put them together in an unforgettable show.”

The extraordinary talent that can only be seen at Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS includes:

Hailing from Great Britain, Alexander Lacey’s special bond with lions, tigers and a majestic leopard allow him to present a legendary mixed cat display that has garnered him awards from the renowned International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo and The Festival International du Cirque de Massy (France). With each performance, Lacey demonstrates his lifetime dedication to training and caring for these beautiful animals as he showcases their natural agility, strength and the unconditional respect and cooperation they share.

The Riders of the Wind thunder into the arena on the backs of thoroughbred horses and are the protectors of the mythological Pegasus and Unicorn.  These speeding daredevil Cossack riders display their strength and amazing dexterity as they perform intricate maneuvers, including a remarkable five-man high pyramid, while galloping at more than 25 miles per hour in a 46-foot-diameter, specially-designed ring.

From Paraguay, the fearless Torres Family shatters records and dares to achieve the impossible by putting eight family members, including one female rider, on speeding motorcycles inside the Globe of Steel. Once locked inside the 16-foot globe, they will orbit at an unprecedented 65 miles per hour with only six inches to spare between each rider, avoiding collision by relying on their rigorous accuracy and confidence in each other.

An elite super-group of high-flying trapeze artists from the U.S., Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico, The Solar Hawkspresent a never-before-seen double-wide flying trapeze act designed specifically for The Greatest Show On Earth. This dream team exhibits precision, stamina, strength and perfect form while attempting four consecutive triple somersaults with only seconds between each release.

The Chinese National Acrobatic Troupe from Beijing impresses audiences with a number of diverse acts that include fast-paced hoop diving through astonishingly tall and impossibly narrow hoops, an elegant rolling ballet on bicycles where acrobats perform feats and build an incredible pyramid and breathtaking pole climbers executing flips and twists accompanied by traditional, dancing Chinese lions.

Also hailing from China, the Jade Statues come to life in a graceful display combining elegant choreography, precise timing and coordination with jaw-dropping diablo juggling skills. The spinning diablos dance in the air like synchronized fountains and are caught by these masterful artists in a unique and memorable performance.

A heartwarming presentation of showmanship with an animal menagerie ranging from ten to 10,000 pounds can only be found at Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS. Treasured Ringling Bros. Asian Elephants, from the largest herd in North America, are presented in an incredible spectacle that cannot be seen anywhere but at Ringling Bros.Other legendary animals from almost every continent include North American rescue dogs, donkeys from Europe, pigs from Asia, llamas from South America, kangaroos from Australia and a special surprise…Woolly the Mammoth.

Under the baton of bandleader Wages Argott, the dynamic, nine-piece Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Bandperforms an original score of over 200 pieces of music arranged by award-winning Hollywood and Broadway composers.

An hour before show time, families can come to the arena floor and participate in interactive, up-close circus experiences, the All-Access Pre-show and the brand new Ringmaster Zone.

Free to all ticketholders, the All Access Pre-show allows circus fans to learn juggling and balancing skills, meet the performers of The Greatest Show On Earth, get autographs, take photos and enter to win a one-of-a-kind Pachyderm Painting.

For the ultimate circus fan experience, the producers have created a new, exclusive, intimate experience: the Ringmaster Zone. A combined value with the best seats in the house, the Ringmaster Zone offers families an unprecedented look behind the curtain of The Greatest Show On Earth. Fans have the opportunity to walk on the Ringling Red Carpet with Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and the stars of the show, step inside the Globe of Steel, take photos on the ringmaster’s float and have an up-close elephant encounter.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS provides hours of thrilling entertainment that is fun for the whole family for about the price of a movie ticket. A great value in family entertainment, Ringling Bros. is Ticketmaster’s number one most purchased family event. Tickets, starting at $15, are available through Ticketmaster and United Center box offices, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or visiting 

Additionally, parking is FREE with ticket purchase in all official United Center parking lots. Service charges, facility and handling fees may apply. For general show information, call the United Center at (312) 455-4500.

Find Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and follow the latest updates on Twitter @RinglingBros #ChiRingling.

If you haven't seen Legends yet, GO already. Highly recommended. 

About Feld Entertainment:
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, Nuclear Cowboyz®, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt, Disney Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information on Feld Entertainment is available online at

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