Rest in Peace, Atticus

Listen: there once was a dog named Atticus. And he was kind and good, as you would hope dogs would be, managed to make this damp and dreary world brighter than it had any right to be.

He passed away this morning. Complications from surgery. I called the vet., spoke to her to make arrangement to put him to sleep. She called me back half a minute later, and he was going.

The impatient, beautiful had waited as long he could, and held out till he got the ok from me.

I don’t want to dwell on that. Dogs deaths are tragedies- it is always too soon- and their lives are magnificent. And I’ve never known as more magnificent dog than my glorious Atticus.

I met him a long time ago, back when I was almost young, in a land far far away from Chicago. Here he is, when you could pick him up with three fingers:


Atticus, being is adorable self, with me looking incredibly awkward.

From the start, he took care of me. He was calm and sweet. Crazy about people and dogs. He just wanted to meet and greet and play with everyone.

Look! Even as a puppy he knew that he was going to caring for me as much as I would be caring for him.

Oh, god he was a cute puppy.

Time passed. He grew up into 60 odds pound black lab mutt, who adored, as always, food, people, and other dogs. We’d take him to the dog park, and he would race around in circles, leading the other dogs. He could run like the wind when he was younger. When I’d run to him, attached with a leash, he would bound, and put up with me struggling behind him.

And god, how he was attached to me. Look at this dog!

Who is ready for a belly rub? Atticus is ready for a belly rub!

One day, we were walking in the forest near our house. And he demanded to go through the undergrowth. I didn’t think there was anything but more prickly undergrowth, but I was wrong.

When we came through the first layer, it opened up. And we found ourselves in a circle of trees, in a grove. It was 20 feet from a busy street, but it was invisible from it. I lived 100 feet away, and I had no idea it was there.

We played in the grove for a while. Eventually, Atticus found a stick, nearly as long as I was. He carried it home with him, balancing it like a balance pole. I was fairly certain it had a little bit of magic in it. I skinned the, really a small branch, and carried it with me in my travels. It’s being used in a production of 12th night that I’m in as a hook. Fair warning to the cast- it has some magic to it, much like Atticus.

The dog in one of his constant play modes. We liked to wrestle.

I’ll tell a few Atticus stories. He was always an optimist with food, even with food he didn’t like. At one point a piece of asparagus fell on the floor, and he scooped it up. He didn’t like the taste of it, so he spat it right out again. A moment later, though, his optimism returned, and he put it in his mouth again. He did this 5 or six times, and the asparagus slowly moved across the floor.

He was a smart dog, too. He knew his way around the old neighborhood. There was a dog store about a mile form our old apartment in the Ukrainian Village. I knew that if I started headed north, he would demand to be taken there to get a pig ear.

He loved people that brought him food. My father was the food bringer. At the office, before I could even hear the front door open a floor away, Atticus would begin barking, knowing that treats were on the way. My friend Christina once brought him a pig ear, and from then one, he loved her. Every time she came over, he would investigate her bag that had once contained the pig ear, to see if it had another.

Food? I would like some food please…

Time passed. He grew in snout, and large in belly. He was my best friend, of course, and I was his. This last week, when he was suffering from complications from surgery, if I moved too far away from his cage, he would attempt to get up and get closer to me.

I remember having to spend a night with him at a friends house, and he needed to be in a cage. He was used to getting to snuggling with me, but I was in a different room on a mattress. So he cried in his cage, till I came over with a blanket, and feel asleep with my hand through the cage on him.

We were close, to put it mildly.

Howl for the Scott in his silly costume.

He was not only sweet, but he was kind and gentle. He wanted to make you happy. On our walks, he loved people on porches or stoops. He would stop and wag his tale at them till they waved him over. And he would make them happy. It’s what he did- he made everyone as happy as he was.

I mean, everyone loved him. He’s Atticus.

I spent a lot of time at the pet ER- at least twice a day, with time in the waiting room with anxious people with sick dogs and cats. They all just wanted their beloved pets to get better.

For a while, Atticus did. Until he didn’t last night, and he never woke up. The staff did everything they could for him, and he needed the surgery. Sometimes you do everything write, you do whatever it takes, and you still end up failing.

You can look at death and shout, “Not Today!”, but sometimes it is today. Sometimes the best of us come to the end of our journey.

Before his the surgery, we took his out for one last Adventure. One last hike to Starved Rock. I was concerned because he hadn’t been doing well. He had a tumor that had to be removed. But he did did great- he hiked nearly seven miles. The key was that Christina was in front of him with a backpack full of dog treats. He’d follow dog treats to hell, I think.

Here he is, on that journey, being that magnificent beast that he was:

God, he was beautiful.

I made him as happy as I could, nearly as happy as he made me. We were paired. If there was any way for him to come back to me, I know that he would have. But our bodies are weak, and can betray us.

All I can do is what I suspect he’d want me to do- keep on living, and be as kind as he would have been. There’s a missing amount of love and kindess in the world that we would have been supplying. It’s up to me to fill the gap, and do his good dog work.

God, I miss him. Rest in peace, Atticus Priz-Mignoni. You were the greatest dog I never knew, and we are all less for not having you around.

Be at peace, my glorious dog.
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Meet Mia, glorious doggie of Tarifa!

Scott Priz, dog reporter, on assignment in Tarifa, Spain, for the Chicago Doggie News.

Meet Mia, glorious doggie of the Spanish port town of Tarifa.

She is a glorious Dalmatian doggie that I met at a restaurant here! Tarifa is a southern port Cory that is super close to Africa! Lots of dogs- if you wander the streets in search of Tapas, you are bound to run into a bunch of friendly doggies!

Have another exciting picture of Mia!

What a cutie! She is a six year old Dalmatian, with One brown and one blue eye! Went I held my hand out to her, she came forward, and I get to pet her!

And then, I got to pet her some more, and wagged her tail!

It was amazing for both of us!

17 out of 10, would pet again!

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Meet Hazel, Amazing Bag-Dog of Chicago!

Scott Prizzini, dog reporter here! On assignment in Chicago, at the local dog park with my trusty assistant, Scout.

Meet Hazel, an amazing dog in a bag at Horner Park!

You may be wondering- why is this sweet doggie hanging out in a bag at a dog park?

Because is human cruelty, and human kindness.

Their owners have another dog, who loves the dog park. But Hazel here, Hazel is not so good with dogs. Because, before she was rescued, she was a bait dog. To be used to train other dogs to be more vicious fighters.

But Hazel got rescued so 7 years ago. But you can understand why she is scared of other dogs.

But she still likes hanging out with her human rescuers at the dog park. She can be around dogs, without freaking out. I got to pet her and say hello, and she was a super sweet doggie.

So sweet.

Hazel is ok now. Scout says she’s a great doggie, and wishes she could say hello properly.

This is Scott Prizzini, dog reporter checking. See your tails shortly!

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Overly Personal Movie Reviews- Avengers: End Game

Spoilers ahead for a months old movie, and well, what happened to Atticus.

I don’t think that Avengers endgame is the best MCU film- I honestly don’t know how to rank it because of the circumstances that I saw it.

Let me explain: When we last left earth’s mightiest Avengers, Thanos had wiped out half of all life in Universe. With a snap of his fingers at the end of Infinity War, everyone hung between life and death. And, in a moment, half of us were washed away.

When I saw the film, Atticus had…wait, let me introduce this properly.

When we last left the greatest dog in the world, he had had surgery the day before to remove a tumor from his Adrenal gland. Although they removed the tumor, he was an elderly (12 years) dog, and his recovery was not going well! His blood pressure was low, and he found himself somewhere between life and death.

This was the last picture I took of him at home. He was ready for that early morning surgery, whatever adventure I had for him. Let’s go Scott, he’d follow me straight to hell and back.

I had bought tickets to the show few weeks before- always be prepared for an Avengers film. And during the showing of the film, I was expecting a call from the vet- when I left him earlier that day, they gave Atticus only about a 50-50 chance of pulling through. Earlier that day, he was doing slightly better, so we took him for a walk. He made it to the grass, and then collapsed. I carried him back in, and got him back to his oxygen tank.

And the Avengers were in a similar terrible spot, with half of their members dead. They kill Thanos right out, but it doesn’t solve anything. Their dead are dead, and nothing can bring them back.

Or..they can. Sort of. They have a model of they put together a time travel heist. “Whatever it takes!”

That was my motto to the vet. Whatever it takes for Atticus. I’d gotten him into this mess- he was twelve, shouldn’t I have explored other options besides this surgery, and I was willing to spend anything to get him out of it.

I made a little shrine to Her Majesty on my table. I had a tooth of his, some peanut butter, surrounded by all of the British monarchs I could dig up, along with Horatio Nelson himself. I believe in Britain. I believe in the Avengers. I believed in Atticus. If there was any chance of that dog getting out that mess, he was going to get out of it.

And the Avengers were going to do it- they were going to defeat death. Whatever it takes.

Halfway through the time heist, I got a call from the vet- Atticus was doing better. His blood pressure was rising, I could see him again in the morning.

Eventually, their plan works. They bring the dead back! The fallen Avengers right Thanos is a CGI masterpiece! Whatever it takes!

Puppy was not in good shape. He was barely eating any cheese. I didn’t know it, but he was dying.

But everything has a cost. There was the most affecting moment of the movie. Thanos- the big bad guy, the personification of death, says “I am inevitable.”

And Tony Stark has managed to get his engine of death, and says, “I am Iron Man”, defeats the bad guy, and sacrifices himself.

I wish I could have sacrificed myself for poor Atticus, but that’s not the way this works outside of the movies. It was great to see the heroes beat back death. It meant so very much to me at the time. I didn’t know what was going to happen to my dog, but it gave me hope.

And that last bit, that snap of the fingers Iron Man gave, where he beats death, is ingrained in my memory.

Death came for Atticus. It comes for all dogs, no matter how good. I couldn’t beat death, I couldn’t even sacrifice myself. He fought all weekend- whatever it takes, but his body betrayed him. He had a stroke as I tried to feed him cheese, and, things went downhill.

But there is another way to beat death. I don’t have an infinity gauntlet, I can’t snap my fingers and bring Atticus back to life.

I had an empty home. And I was in bad need of a dog. That same week, I adopted another dog, named Scout. She is half the size of Atticus and looks like a smaller version of him. Lisa and I adopting her was..inevitable.

We can’t really defeat death. All we can do is give the love that we gave to those we lost to others. It can, and will, take us all. And replace our loved ones with an empty spot in bed. Caring for another creature is the best way to beat it back. There was a dog in need of a home, and we had one to give. What got stolen got given to Scout. And that’s it. That’s the best we can do can- whatever it takes, whatever this dog needs.

Avengers End Game is…a film I can’t judge honestly. I’m sure it’s a fine film, taken on its own terms. On my terms, the terms that matter to me, it’s an amazing film with an unforgettable moment when Iron Man defeats death. And Scout- Scout is my best solution to defeat it in my home.

And this has been an overly personal movie review! Next up- the movie I saw the day my Grandmother died the day after we adopted Scout!

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My Guide to the Borscht of the Ukrainian Village

Borscht! Yummy! Picture from Wikipedia commons, originally posted here

And now, a brief guide to the Borscht of the Ukrainian Village. This was originally prepared for Belt Publishing’s Chicago Neighborhood Guide, which is going to print shortly, but was, alas, cut for space. Curses! I’m sure the guide will be lovely, although I would’ve really loved to have been printed by them. Maybe next time, I suppose.

It’s a slightly personal take on borscht- think of it as a love letter to the neighborhood I lived in for nearly a decade.

In any regards, here is my guide to the Borscht of the Ukrainian Village. Num num num- enjoy your borscht while it lasts!

A Guide to the Borscht of the Ukrainian Village

No one, of course, that we knew could afford to buy a home in the Ukrainian Village- it was much too nice a neighborhood for that.  When the time came to purchase a home, it also meant that it was time to say goodbye to the neighborhood that I’d lived in for 9 years.  First, in a lovely little apartment on Walton Street and then at a slightly less little apartment just west of Western.  It became a little more squalid once the rats invaded and climbed up the walls to get a top the fridge where I’d hidden my food.

But I was happy in that neighborhood.  I was never going to a real resident there, not by Ukrainian standards.  They’d been there too long, in successive waves of immigrations.  All I could do was enjoy the neighborhood for what it was, as I was.  And while I may have been gently nudged out of the Village by the amount in my savings, that does not mean that you can not benefit from the time I spent there.  I loved the people, yes, I loved the dogs, and I loved the quiet nights where it almost felt like I wasn’t quite in a big bustling city.  But what I miss the most is the easy access to borscht, glorious borscht, in a multitude of forms.  The proper Ukrainian Village is only about a square mile, and yet it still contains a string of places, mostly on Chicago Ave., that will serve that wonderful purplish red delight that will, as they say, stick to your ribs. 

Before we begin, a definition of borscht is in order.  Proper borscht is a slightly sour purple red soup that is popular throughout Eastern Europe.  Many of the ingredients will vary, but traditional borscht always has red beets as its mainstay.  It will typically have a chicken or beef base stock, and then the cook adds in the beets and any other vegetables they like.  It’s a fairly simple and delicious soup to cook.  Just start with some stock, add in some diced beets and other vegetables (I like carrots, turnips, and potatoes), simmer for a while, and suddenly, you have borscht. 

But this is a guide for those that would leave the simmering to the professionals, a guide to my favorite neighborhood in Chicago, a guide to the delicious borscht of the Ukrainian Village, going from my least to most favourite.

6.  Ukraina Deli- 2304 W. Chicago Ave.

If you travel west down Chicago Ave., just past Oakley, you will find a little yellow and blue sign that has the words “Ukraina Deli.”  You may think that you are getting the real Ukrainian experience, and you will likely find some plastic tubs of borscht in the deli.  But you would be making a mistake to eat here.  Four bucks for a little tub of borscht?  With nothing particular to recommend it?  It’s…fine.  And fine for a bowl of borscht is not fine at all, as you would be filling yourself up on sub-par soup and missing out on the rest of what the neighborhood has to offer.  It’s fine, I guess, but, you know.  You’re in the Ukrainian Village.  You have options, for God’s sake.

5.  Tryzub Ukrainian Kitchen- 2201 W Chicago Ave

This is a genuine almost fancy Ukrainian restaurant that opened up a few years ago. I was genuinely excited to try their delectable delights when it opened up.  And most of their food is delicious! 

But their borscht was less so.  Their summer borscht is cold, and just something that I wasn’t looking for.  Their winter borscht was better- made with beats, and served with black bread.  It reminded me a little, of the Borscht served at Russian Tea time downtime.  Overpriced borscht, perhaps, but still good.  But there is better.

4.  Ann’s Bakery- 2158 W Chicago Ave.

This is the wildest borscht that you will find.  Still red beat based, but you may find a chicken leg floating in your soup.  I am never quite sure what will be there, but I have always found it delightful to eat.  I don’t know what everything was in there.  Cabbage, sure, but not for vegetarians.  I’m not sure if the same things were in the soup in different visits, but it was a block away from my old apartment, and I miss it so.  It has the best hot deli food in the neighborhood, but it’s borscht is only very good, and not quite up to the potential of borscht.  Worry not, there is better.

3.  Rich’s Deli- 857 N Western Ave.

This is an excellent little market that hides itself fairly well on Western Ave.  In the back, you will find little tubs for $1.49.  They have standard soups but, oh me oh, the best is the borscht.  A little tub will provide a tasty meal, with perfectly cubed chunks of beet and vegetables.  It’s not perfect, but add some sour cream, dunk some bread into it, and you have a hearty, wonderful meal. 

2.  Shokolad Pasty and Café- 2524 W Chicago Ave.

My favorite of the restaurant borsches!  A hearty bowl of red purple goodness, I would wander over there from my second apartment in the Ukrainian Village in the heart of winter.  I would be warmed up inside, and always go home happy.  It is served with delicious garlic bread on the side.  Their pierogis are top notch as well, and a half dozen of them go perfectly as a meal with the borscht.  All manner of delicious things at this restaurant.  A charming shop, and delicious Borscht.

  1.  Kasia’s- 2101 W. Chicago Ave.

Oh, Kasia’s.  How I miss you.  I used to live on Walton St., just a block over Kasia herself.  I would see the Kasia’s van parked next to her house, and I would hope that she would drive around the neighborhood in her little pierogi mobile.

There is nothing as good as a vat of borscht from Kasia’s.  4 bucks for an extra large container- two meals worth that, of course, goes perfect with the pierogies they make.  

Kasia was Polish, like my grandfather who used to make me Duck’s Blood Soup when I was a child.  They sell that too, on special holidays.  It has the color of raw sewerage, but tastes so sweet, from all the fruits that are in it.  It’s not perfect, but it Is a unique cuisine.

But the borscht is perfect, just perfect, and the most wonderful thing to get in the Ukrainian Village. 

Kasia’s is like walking back into my grandfather’s kitchen.  He never made borscht, and I never had it till I moved to the Ukrainian Village, and went to Kasia’s.  And it, weirdly, reminded of his last little apartment.  I guess it’s just that Kasia’s reminds me him, and borscht reminds of Kasia’s. 

I’ve moved out of the Ukrainian Village, of course.  I miss the neighborhood so much.  I miss who I was when I moved in.  I miss my dog, who I spent so many hours wandering the neighborhood with.  He loved borscht, when he would slurp up the remains from the bowl.  I have a new home, a new dog.  I got married to a wonderful woman.  I even have a new supply of borscht on Milwaukee Ave.  It’s not quite the same, the same way I’m not quite the same.  I’ll never be able to afford to live in the neighborhood again, that’s just the way it is. 

But go!  Go and enjoy the Ukrainian Village, and its wonderful Borscht.  It’s a unique place in the city that is slowly being churned up as the money moves in.  Enjoy your borscht, enjoy your dogs, and enjoy your time while you have it.  I hope this guide provides you with many happy returns.


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The Power Level of Malvolio Through his clothes!

Spoilers ahead for…a Shakepearean play, and a few for our production that’s going up currently at the Theatre Wit.

(We are only running for one more weekend, out of two, and tickets are going fast. You can buy tickets here:

This is a post on the costumes of my character, Malvolio! He has one of the more famous costume changes in all of Shakespeare. In the course of one wonderful change of pants, he is reduced from stern, Puritan servant to a tormented clown.

And to set this all up, his costumes tell a little story of where he is in the play.

Some pictures would help, I suppose.

When we begin the play, he is the sternest character in the play, the breaker up of good times, the character who forces other to say, “Oh, Shit, Malvolio,” as he approaches while they drunkenly revel.

Photo by Peter Seroki

Malvolio is wearing such wonderful formal wear! He’s got a bowler hat, the jacket I wore when I got married, dress shoes, and normal dress clothes.

That is not his final costume.

In our play, he tricked by those treacherous clowns into believing that his Countess is in love with him, and that she would adore him in a chartreuse* tutu and leggings, and cross gartered.

Peter Seroki. Did I mention he has a light-up bow-tie?

I think he looks great. He does, too. Take a look at this reveal, and how happy I am on stage. I won’t reveal how I get there- that is a moment to be shared with paying customers only.

Photo by Elisa Shoenberger

Such joyful happiness! He is at the Apex of his power. And he will, perhaps, soon be….COUNT MALVOLIO!

It is not meant to be. He meats his Countess, and is met with….some confusion.

Photo by Elisa Shoenberger. Man, he looks good.

Alas, alack, she is not wooed by his the glories of his chartreuse. And the clowns’s trap closes upon him, and he is carted away…to an asylum!

Much of my costume is removed. Goodbye, beloved bowler hat. So long, vest and light up bow tie. You shall be seen no more, cross gartering!

In the asylum, he is placed upon a monstrous apparatus. And the clowns attempt to break him.

So, most of his costume goes away, and he is down to his Malvolio essentials, certainly including his beloved tutu.

Photo by Elisa Shoenberger. Look at this- toes pointed and everyone! It’s a Shakesmiracle!

They attempt to break him. They gaslight him. They are cruel and taunting. It’s honestly a scene out of a darker play that he played less for the laughs that I think Shakespeare intended, and more for the pain of what they are trying to do to poor Malvolio. He wanted to rise up, and all he got was cast down.

Photo by Elisa Shoenberger. Hey, that sorta looks cool!

After the asylum scene, Malvolio makes one last appearance on stage.

His coat is removed, and so it his beloved tutu. He is reduced to his white shirt, and chartreuse leggings. He is at his lowest, and has the least of his accoutrements.

Screenshot from a video, and so the quality is…not ideal!

But, and this is why I love Malvolio, he is not broken. In this final scene, while every other character is going off to get married and be merry, he will not forget what has been done to him. He retains, shall we say, ahem, the power of his inner chartreuse.

And he storms off, with my favourite line of his.

“I’ll be revenged upon the pack of you.”

And he goes, to plot his revenge. Oh, Malvolio. How I adore thee. We shall have our chartreuse revenge yet.

*In the original play, it is yellow leggings. Yes Maam circus, who are putting on this lovely show with me in in, knew that my favourite colour is chartreuse, and made the necessary changes to the text.

It was the right choice. – S

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Meet the other dogs I met in Portland!

Scott Priz, dog reporter, back at the home office in Chicago.

I met a bunch of wonderful dogs in Portland! I petted them all, and took pictures of as many as I could!

I will now attempt to post their pictures, and remember their names!

Whoa! Look at this dog! Amazing!

Have another one!

That’s quite the look. She was a good doggie who let me pet her! Bianna was her name, maybe? No, that’s not a name.

Awwoooooo puppy dog!

This is a wonderfully confused dog-face, as it tries to figure out what I am doing.

Video of a doggie! Enjoy!

Oh, that was a sweet doggie in the rose garden. Some sort of British name.

77/10, I would pet them all again.

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Meet Cona, Beach puppy!

Scott Priz, dog reporter, on assignment in the Pacific Northwest, with another lovely dog I met at Cannon Beach.

Meet Cona, who only appears to be as fierce as a lion.

What does Cona like to do? Play and be pet, of course! Take another look!

Oh my stars and garters! What a dog!

But wait! We have video of this magnificent creature! What amazing dog reporting!

Zounds!

What an amazing puppy! 14/10, would definitely pet again!

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