Ragnarock Axe Throwing

Can I “axe” you a question?  Do you have an “axe” to grind?  Do you have the “chops” to take on some target practice?

Axe throwing is trending as the latest date night/girls night/team building activity.  It is just what it sounds like, but with games.  My SO and I found a Groupon (naturally) for an axe throwing location in Chicago, however,  they are popping up all over the suburbs as well.

At Ragnarock Axe Throwing, you get a 90-minute session that includes training and some throwing competitions in a game-like setting.  The size of your group depends on how many people sign up in each time slot but they cap it off at 24 (split between two throwing bays).  Each bay has an “Axepert” (get it?) to instruct you in the proper way to stand, hold, and eventually, throw the 1.5 lb axe.

Our group had 9 people in it and each bay has two throwing spots so this does move along fairly quickly.  After the safety training portion, they take two people at a time to do some practice throws.  The hardest thing for me was getting it to stick.  I was basically on target with each throw, but I don’t think I was throwing it hard enough.  I need to go in angrier next time.

Once everyone was comfortable with how to hit the target, we were split up (within our own group), into two smaller groups.  The first game we played was TIMBER.  This is the axe throwing version of horse.  You went head-to-head with someone from the other team and, after two throws, whoever had less points got a letter.  The bullseye has number values within each ring.  Next, we played “21” where each team had to get enough point to total 21.  Exactly.  So getting that last number was challenging.

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After the last game (a version of “hangman”) we moved into the double-elimination head-to-head tournament with our small group.  Of course, they paired my SO and I against each other in the first round.  My shining moment was getting a bullseye in this round to move him into the losers bracket.  Making it count when it matters!

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It was also a requirement that you come up with a “punny” name for the competition.  As you can see from my name tag I was Mrs. Axehole.  My SO was just plain Axehole.

An extra bonus is that this location allows you to bring food and drink into the space.  Alcohol, however, is not permitted.  For some reason the city of Chicago doesn’t believe that drinking and axe throwing are a good combination.

This was also quite the core workout.  I was sore the next day.  But it was worth it.  So grab your significant other, and maybe some friends, and go get your lumberjack on!

Yippee Ki-Yay Merry Christmas! A Die Hard Musical Parody

Welcome to the party pal!

First, let’s start with the decades-old debate: Is Die Hard a Christmas movie or not?  The answer is clearly YES.  The movie takes place on CHRISTMAS EVE at a CHRISTMAS PARTY.  I could keep going on to support my argument, but this article breaks it down even further.

As further proof that Die Hard should be considered a Christmas movie is the fact that The Den Theatre is hosting the (now) annual holiday production of “Yippee Ki-Yay Merry Christmas!  A Die Hard Musical Parody”.  This is the fifth year for the show (but it has not always been at this location).  They even have a few cast members who have continued to reprise their roles since its origination in 2014.

It is over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek, comedy gold.  Let’s start with the character names.  John McClane is now Bruce McClane.  Holly Genero is now Holly Generic.  Hans Gruber is now Hans Olo.  Come on.  That’s good stuff right there.

One of the first big musical numbers takes on Holly Generic’s move away from New York, and her husband, to take a high-powered job for the Nakatomi corporation.  The whole “Working Girl” (another classic 80’s movie) vibe included the power suits and the hilariously big hair.

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My SO and I appreciated some of the authenticity as well.  Bill Gordon (Bruce McClane) sounded just like Bruce Willis.  Even better, Gary Fields (Hans Olo) sounded just like the late, great, Alan Rickman (sexiest bad guy voice ever – amiright?).  And Erin Long’s Klaus is one of the best things about this production.

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The show is a mix of 80’s references peppered with some current jokes.  Like most parodies, we want to go and see it again because I am sure we missed a few puns or gags the first time around.  As a bonus, I was almost giddy when, intentional or not, the head FBI agent looked just like Bert Macklin, FBI.  (If you don’t get this Park and Recreation reference we might not be able to be friends).

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A few things to know before you go: 1) the Den theatre is small.  Maybe 150 seats.  Shows are already starting to sell out. 2) there is no parking at the theatre.  Metered parking and street parking only.  Plan accordingly.  3) Tickets are $45, however, I was able to find them on Goldstar (discount ticket site) for $22.50.  I know.  It’s a gift.  You’re welcome.

If you are a fan of the original Die Hard movie, this is a really fun date night idea.  If you can’t make it in before Christmas, you are in luck.  This play runs through January 12.  Yippee Ki-Yay . . . !

Christkindlmarket and Naper Lights Show – Naperville

A Christkindlmarket, or Christmas market, is a street market that is open during the weeks leading up to the holiday.  This outdoor shopping/dining experience originated in Germany back in the Middle Ages but can now be found in cities around the globe.  In Chicago, the Christkindlmarket can be found at the Daley Plaza.  In 2016, a second location popped up on the grounds of the Naper Settlement in Naperville.

The Christkindlmarket in Naperville is smaller in scale to the one in Chicago but it is just as quaint.  It is open Thursday – Sunday through December 16 and then it is open daily through Christmas Eve.  Also, bonus – it is free.  Admission AND parking.

We did not have any food that night, but they have a number of stands with a variety of options.  Austrian specialties, cheeses, crepes, Belgian waffles, pierogi, chocolates, pretzels, cookies, and candies.  There are also quite a few options for beverages.  Belgian hot chocolate, beer, wine, and ciders.  We tried the Honeycrisp apple cider and the salted caramel cider (whipped cream topping).  And of course we had to buy the signature Christkindlmarket mug.

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There are craft vendors as well.  Some of them have very unique pieces of jewely, wood carved statues, and hand knit creations.  If you are a fan of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, I found the snowblowing/ski mask that you didn’t know you needed:

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And then there are the ornaments and other Christmas collectible.  Do you collect Nutcrackers or buy them for someone who does?  Check out this selection:

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How about white lace ornaments?

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Or just ornaments in general?  If you gift special ornaments each year or participate in an ornament exchange (it’s a thing.  It’s not my thing, but it’s a thing), you need to hit this market.  Every size, color, shape you can imagine.  Or theme.  Animals, sports, occupation, hobby.  The list goes on.

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Click here for a full list of vendors and what they offer.

There were no choirs or other groups performing the night we were there but, you could plan your night around some additional entertainment as well.

When you have finished eating/drinking/shopping, take a stroll through the Naper Lights display.  It is right there on the property.  Multiple light displays, some set to music, can be found on this short walk.  It’s just festive, so why not?

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This holiday event is only open until Christmas Eve so get out there while you can!