I must admit that this year's "Built to Amaze" show was somewhat less slavishly linked to the show theme as some others have been in the past, just some messy dropcloths and frequent hardhats in the costuming department.
I'm not sure, but I think the most impressive feature today was the tiger trainer, and that might be simply for the number of tigers in the cage with him - 18 - which seemed like they could have taken over the act any time they got the notion to.
We got there early enough this year (largely due to The Wife mistakenly thinking it started a half hour earlier than it did) to be able to take part in the pre-show fun on the floor, which lets the audience come down and hang out with the circus folks, do some games, get temporary tattoos and clown noses, and even play beachball toss with elephants (and enter into a drawing to win one of the paintings by an elephant). The Wife dislikes that sort of thing, while I'm always into it ... so there might have been a certain push for an earlier departure this morning on my part as well.
After the show, we took the bus back to the Loop and set about looking for lunch. The Wife had initially wanted to go to a diner we'd seen previously over by the United Center, but it seems to have gone away since last year, so we we left trying to figure out some place that was not going to be packed with Black Friday shoppers. We came down to a choice between two "hidden gems", the original Heaven on Seven up in the Garland Building, and the Pittsfield Cafe. These are both, essentially, last hangers-on from an age where most of the old office buildings had a Greek diner in them somewhere. In the case of the Pittsfield, it's still very much true to its roots in the soaring inner atrium of the Pittsfield Building's lobby, with both a classic interior space and an "outdoor cafe" in the atrium (I am quite font of their very reasonable fried shrimp basket). The original Heaven on Seven (not to be confused with its chain-restaurant progeny) was one of these classics, until Jimmy Bannos took his passion for New Orleans food and converted his family's "New Garland Coffee Shop" into a Cajun and Creole temple. The Wife wanted Gumbo, so we ended up there.