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Bobbies on tobbagans is not in keeping with the classic British reserve, it seems.

These Oxfordshire coppers, taking a break to enjoy the snow using their riot shields - inventive! - as sleds got a stern talking-to from their commanding officer who does not see the humor (humour?) in his boys acting like boys.

Local policing area commander Supt. Andrew Murray said the snow had "a habit of bringing out the child in all of us. I have spoken to the officers concerned and reminded them in no uncertain terms that tobogganing on duty, on police equipment and at taxpayers' expense is a very bad idea should they wish to progress under my command"

So back to beating on soccer hooligans, fellas. Break's over.

There's nothing like an inbound CTA/Metra ride to make one think of drinking - at least that's what Budweiser is banking on in a new video ad spot.

The twist? It's a spot running in the United Kingdom and Ireland as part of a campaign for the beer's licensed brewer, Diageo Ireland.

Set to the tune of the Beatles' "All Together Now," the spot almost makes you forget you're watching an ad - and almost makes the schlep downtown something to look forward to for the work-a-day drones stuck on the various "L" and Metra lines used in the piece.

Sliding by scenes both famous and simply familiar, it's not the usual glamour shoot you'd see from a Chicago-shot ad campaign, but rather an insider's view to the city. There's the usual skyscraper footage and the like, but no ballparks. No lakeshore. No Michigan Avenue.

Irish blogger Darragh Doyle touched on some of the Chicago-centric aspects of the ad in a post in July. Here's what Doyle had on the city - and its people - as star:

Written by Dave Henderson and Richard Denney, and shot by award winning Director Chris Palmer, it was shot over 5 days from an actual train on the metro-rail as it tracked around the city of Chicago.

All in all, the film and crew were on the train for 50 hrs over a 5 day period in temperatures that were often below freezing. All of the actors were outside for up to 10 hrs a day in the freezing temperatures, often in costumes that provided little warmth. As such there was almost an entire crew of people dedicated to keeping the actors warm with blankets, thermoses and portable heaters.

The people of Chicago were brilliant as well and invited actors into their homes and offered them some respite from the bitter weather during shoot down time glorious stuff.

The band playing the Beatles cover is The Hours, a London-based duo.

The work for the "Lyrics" was written and conceived by DDB London and during a blogger release party for the spot, DDB's Matt Delahunty tells what it took to get the add off the ground - a 17-month process. It's an interesting look behind the scenes:

Delahunty talks about not only the technical challenges of getting the shoot timed perfectly, but his surprise at the freezing Chicago weather that surprised him on his first trip to the States.

You can find much more on the making of the video - behind the scenes and concept work, as well as upload your own video clips - here, though you'll need to be 21 - or at least tell the site you are - to get through the age wall. Some very cool insights to be found.

In the end it is just an ad campaign for a mediocre beer, but any Chicagoan can appreciate the glimpses into our city. And anybody who appreciates the creative process will find the explanations behind the work a treat for sure.

Hat tip to the Windy Citizen for finding this Chicago gem. Stop by and give it a vote up if you're so inclined.

Black hole sun / won't you come ...

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Wednesday is a big day for the ultimate shiny object: it's the longest total solar eclipse that will happen this century. Yep, no other eclipse for the next 91 years will top it.

But you can't see it.

Animation from NASA

Unless, of course, you're on a flight tonight to Shanghai or Bangkok or a tiny island in the southwestern Pacific. And many amateur and professional stargazers are doing just that.

Complete details, maps and more are available from NASA here.

It being a solar eclipse, and we being starry-eyed dopes, plenty of scary predictions are collecting around the event. The AP reports:

"Astronomers hope the eclipse will unlock clues about the sun, while an astrologer in Myanmar predicts it could usher in chaos. Some in India are advising pregnant relatives to stay indoors to follow a centuries-old tradition of avoiding the sun's invisible rays. ...

Man has been recording solar eclipses for 4,000 years, and even today they inspire a combination of fear, fascination and wonder.

One astrologer in Myanmar, also known as Burma, predicted in a magazine that the eclipse would trigger wars, instability and natural disasters for the next several months."

But, hey, relax. The true horrors of the eclipse-predicted end o' the world are still three years off ...

6-18-08 Hein.jpg

Elijah Morton and friends test the waters of Foster Ave. Beach last June.(Rich Hein, Sun-Times)


A sailboat and a sunny Chicago skyline to steer her by does it get any better? (John J. Kim, Sun-Times)

You can find some more sunny Chicago photos here.

And now for the weather ... blah, blah, blah.

OK, you can just make that one, big BLAH

Seem like the sun has been a rumor all spring, not to mention the warmth and happiness it brings? Well, you're right, the big orange ball has been conspicuously absent since April1.

Shockingly so according to Andy Boxell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Chicago office. Andy pulled out the following stats to quantify our misery, so far, and it ain't pretty. Keep in mind, this is just days with precipitation, too, since the NWS doesn't really track crappy, err, cloudy in and of itself.


18 out of 30 days, for 5.19 inches


14 out of 31 days, for 3.63 inches

And the worst of the bunch so far ...


8 out of 11 days, for 1.08 inches

Wow, it just keeps getting better, huh? Oh, and if you think it's also been cold to complete the gloom pie, you're kinda right.

According to the measurements at O'Hare, April was a little below average daily temperature, at 47.25 degrees, and May was actually a little above average, at 60.45 degrees.

June the jerk has been way below the historical average, a balmy 68.2 degrees, keeping us in coats at 59.2.

And yes, it is cooler near the lake - but not in a good way. Boxell points out that we have seen a steady stream of days with the wind blowing out of the northeast keeping things frost for the city.

So what does all this mean, apart from increased sales of sun lamps and cases of seasonal affective disorder?

Not much, of course. In a month or two we'll all be whining about the heat and humidity and pining for Bears games (you may be able to forget about October baseball). But in the meantime, enjoy the photos of sun in the Second City and keep telling yourself there will be more soon enough - just not too soon, according to the week-ahead forecast. Damn weather.

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