Flush with federal cash, states invest in their crowded parks
For years, Michigan officials have fretted about the ever-growing list of overdue maintenance needs at their 103 state parks: roads and trails, water and sewer systems, restrooms and electrical infrastructure. All are in dire need of replacement or repair — with a price tag that exceeds a quarter-billion dollars. “A lot of these parks are coasting on the fumes of the investments we made in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” said Dan Eichinger, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “We’ve had this $264 million millstone around our neck.” Much of that aging infrastructure was pushed to the ...
UFO buffs await release of Pentagon report into unexplained sightings
CHICAGO — Chicago-area UFO aficionados are buzzing in anticipation of a Pentagon report into strange aerial phenomena, but not T.J. Japcon. He doesn’t need the government to validate what he recorded hovering above Tinley Park almost 17 years ago. “I don’t think it makes a difference,” he said. “I know what I saw.” Japcon, who still lives in the southwest suburb, is the foremost chronicler of what has come to be known as the Tinley Park Lights — a trio of color-shifting orbs, seemingly connected, that slid across the horizon before a crowd of witnesses. Some experts have dismissed the images h...
Fast, faster, fastest: Ranking 20 years of 'Fast and Furious' movies
When "The Fast and the Furious" hit screens on June 22, 2001, there was little indication it would kick off an industry-rocking franchise that would bring in billions at the box office and would still be going strong 20 years later. That first film — which introduced Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto, a street racer criminal who lives by a strict code of honor, and Paul Walker's Brian O'Conner, a cop with a taste for street racing who goes undercover to infiltrate Dom's crew — is now quaint compared to what would come down the line: supersized over-the-top stunts, hundreds of crashed cars and a ser...
The Detroit News
3 crime novels of different types engrossed this book critic this month
This column is a tale of three novels, all bought in local bookstores during Independent Bookstore Day (which was actually Independent Bookstore 10 Days) back in April. I didn't realize how these three books were connected when I picked them up; now, having happily made my way through all three, I see them as a trio of examples of how broad the category of "crime fiction" can be — and how very much there is to discover in this rich genre. I've been meaning to read Ivy Pochoda's work for some time (still intend to get to her award-winning "Wonder Valley") and so I picked up a brand-new paperbac...
The Seattle Times
Elizabeth Wellington: The world is opening up, but we are still living in a state of discomfort. Here's how to handle it
PHILADELPHIA — Dining out felt funny at first. So did going to indoor malls. A few weeks ago I stopped by Jasper Studios for the launch of a shoe by local sneaker designer Darrell Alston named after Philly boxing legend Bernard Hopkins. And at a recent stylish Center City soirée, I hugged long-lost friend after long-lost friend, happy to see them after 15 months. I couldn't imagine doing either of these things ever again just a few months ago, let alone 15. But here I am, basically, falling back into my old, overbooked habits, and it has been a pretty easy pattern to fall back into. What hasn'...
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Erika Ettin: Does shared humor equal happiness?
From 2009 to 2013, I was in a serious relationship — one where we talked about the “M” word (marriage, not mirrors or mugs, like the ones we bought together). In that relationship, I was blinded by my partner’s “on paper” perfection — prestigious schools, high-profile job, wonderful family, etc. And it didn’t hurt that I was really attracted to him. But how did we relate to each other? Really well… for the most part. I’m a bit kooky. I sometimes like to skip while crossing the street. It’s not unusual for me to write an entire to-do list in hot pink marker. And my favorite thing in the world t...
Tribune News Service
Blackstone to buy Home Partners of America, a single-family home rental company, for $6 billion
As residential real estate continues to sizzle, private equity firm Blackstone has agreed to buy Home Partners of America, a Chicago-based single-family home rental company, for $6 billion. Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust announced the acquisition Tuesday, adding the Home Partners’ portfolio of more than 17,000 rental homes across the U.S., and its growing lease-to-buy platform toward homeownership. “The fundamental premise of the HPA platform is to provide residents with the opportunity to live in their chosen home with the option to purchase it — we intend to build on that goal and expan...
National Weather Service working to ‘solve the puzzle’ of Illinois tornado
CHICAGO — Meteorologists with Chicago’s National Weather Service generally spend their days sitting in their Romeoville office, looking ahead — analyzing data and trends to warn some 10 million area residents what conditions to expect in the future. Since Sunday night’s devastating thunderstorms, however, roughly half or more of the 14 meteorologists who work in the office have spent their shifts in the field, working on damage-surveying teams in Naperville, Woodridge, Darien, Burr Ridge and Willow Springs. They are trying to quantify past events to answer lingering questions about the stronge...
Bob Wojnowski: With NBA draft lottery jackpot, Pistons finally see positive signs
DETROIT — It was the most suspenseful moment in recent Pistons history, and finally, finally, something to celebrate. One of Detroit’s teams was due for a building boost and the Pistons got a huge one, landing the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft lottery. When the final card was revealed Tuesday night, Pistons representative Ben Wallace unleashed a wide smile and shouts of joy could be heard behind him. The likely prize is Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham, who could be the immediate-impact star the team has craved. There’s no easy way to accelerate a rebuild but this certainly will help, the fi...
The Detroit News
Magic come away from NBA draft lottery with fifth and eighth picks
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Magic will go to the 2021 NBA draft with two top-eight picks for the first time in franchise history. The Magic earned the fifth and eighth picks during Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery. Orlando finished the regular season with the third-worst record and had a 14% chance of earning the No. 1 pick and a 52.1% chance of finishing in the top four. The Detroit Pistons earned the No. 1 pick, followed by the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors. Orlando was jumped in the order by Cleveland (fifth) and Toronto (seventh). The Magic’s No. 8 pick comes via its ...