Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook - Meth-ology: Cult show ‘Breaking Bad’ toys now on the market

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


COLOR - Jeff There are just two episodes left in the cult classic “Breaking Bad” television series.
  This is a dark series about a boring science teacher — Walter White — who has cancer and turns into a badass meth cooker. Because of his science background, he makes some of the best meth around that the hopheads absolutely love. White is in cahoots with a former student of his — Jesse Pinkman — in dealing the product. What a duo these guys make.
  I’ve only seen the first season and it was dark and twisted. I hear tell it gets darker and more twisted in the seasons after that and there are plenty of surprises. According to experts here in the office, the less hair the character has, the more violent he is.
  Anyway, those who get into this series really love it. It’s not exactly “Father Knows Best” or anything remotely close to PAGE-3-1-col-JVCOL“Breaking Bad” plush figures — and other toys from the show— are available.wholesome, but it is intriguing and edgy.
  At first glance it doesn’t seem like a show that would morph into the toy market but boy, oh, boy, you should see the junk out there that spawned from this show.
  There is a Lego toy meth set that is not created or endorsed by the Lego folks. It is created by a company in Chicago called Citizen Brick. Since the cost for this 500-piece bad boy is $250, it’s doubtful a lot of parents will be putting it under the Christmas tree for Junior in December.
  “In the show, the underground laboratory is this major set piece in the storyline,” Joe Trupia, who runs Citizen Brick told a Wall Street Journal blog. “It felt like another character. It seemed like a great subject for a custom kit.”
  As you might expect, he is taking some squeak about it.
  “Some people object to the price, and a small minority thinks I’m trying to rally kids to manufacture methamphetamine themselves,” he said to the WSJ. “The kit itself never mentions drugs, or violence, or specifics of the show directly. You’d have to be a pretty precocious kid to build your own meth lab after playing with our set.”
  Oh, that makes it OK.
  It would be easy to pile on Joe and his toy, but he’s not alone. is selling a Walter White bobblehead, a Walter White figure in a blue hazmet suit (although that delight is currently sold out), a plush set featuring Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, a smaller plush set of the dynamic duo for keychains (oops, that’s sold out, too) and a Walter White action figure dressed in black with a gun in his hand (oh, no — that’s sold out, too).
  These items come from MezkoToyz. You know that company is cool because it spells toys with a “z”. I think they stole that idea from the Reporter’s “Whatizit”? but we’re too busy to sue.
  So enjoy the final couple of episodes and if you can’t get enough “Breaking Bad” after that, at least you will have some toys to play with.

Tony award
  Even though he works for one of the enemy newspapers, I have to give kudos to Worth resident Tony Baranek, a longtime sportswriter who is one of the first recipients of the Illinois High School Association’s Distinguished Media Service Award.
  He is one of four men to win this award and will be honored Friday at halftime of and Andrew-Lincoln-Way Central football game. That is all well and good, but this guy has been such a huge force in covering girls sports over the years that it would have more appropriate to have him honored before Tuesday night’s packed Marist-McAuley volleyball match.
  Either way, he is one of the good guys in the business who has impacted so many lives with his coverage and outstanding features and columns since the mid-1970s and this award is well deserved. After all of these years, he still loves what he is doing and is still spinning out some great stories.
  I know he has written about current athletes whose mothers that he covered back in the day. I wonder if he has yet written about any athletes whose grandmothers that he covered.

Bras and bagels
  One of the many e-mails we received last week was this ditty. With a few edits — mostly taking out about 1,000 exclamation points — I will let it speak for itself:
  “Come one, come all! The event everyone is still talking about a year later has returned!
  “Bras and Bagels for Breast Cancer Awareness will take place on Oct. 12! The Sorors of Eta Xi Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. will turn Carson Pirie Scott in Evergreen Park into Blue and Gold while wearing our pink ribbons! Please join us from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as we commemorate the life of our Soror Hattie McDaniel and Breast Cancer Awareness month!
  “Please plan to attend and bring a friend because breast cancer does not differentiate and all should be educated about this devastating disease — we just have fun doing so! For further information please contact our Community Service co-chairs, Rachel Deen or Yolanda Edwards at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by email or 708-320-1922 by phone or text. We cannot wait to see you!”
  Now that’s some enthusiastic writing. I don’t know about you, but that release has me fired up!


Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Cube could be melting attendance at high school sporting events

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Editor's Notebook

COLOR - Jeff  The sweaty people crammed in the stands probably didn’t notice.
  The folks watching all along the fences likely didn’t notice either.
  Oh, and those people who had to walk what seemed like endless miles from their car to the stadium probably weren’t aware either.
  Last Friday’s huge non-conference football tilt between Brother Rice and Marist drew about 4,000 fans at Marist. Not a bad crowd. One guy parking cars on the campus called it a “zoo.’’
  But the zoo was missing some animals.
  Marist officials said that two years ago, they put a limit of 5,000 tickets on sale for the game and thousands of more people who wanted to see the game were angry they were shut out. This year, 1,000 tickets were unsold.
  Some in Redhawk Nation say that High School Cube is the reason for the dropoff.
  High School Cube is a website that broadcasts sporting events and other high school happenings on the internet and has become a major player in broadband circles. It’s been around for a couple of years and has made an impact.
  When the broadcasts are done right, it’s a brilliant concept. When they aren’t…well…watching someone else’s home movies might be more thrilling.
  On a given night, a football or basketball fan can stay home with a computer or phone and have the choice of watching dozens of games either in Illinois or other parts of the nation. If your kid is playing football at Stagg and the game is on the Cube, Uncle Elmer in Idaho, grandpa in Florida or a cousin in the military stationed in the Middle East can watch the kid run for touchdowns live or watch a broadcast later.
  And that’s very cool.
  However, some of the concern I heard at Marist Friday night is stuff I started to hear from folks during the football playoffs last year and during the basketball season. People are staying home and watching the Cube rather than coming out to the games.
  High school sports attendance dropoff has been a topic for decades. In the 1960s and 70s, the blame was that more kids were getting jobs and cars and didn’t have time to watch their school’s sports. In recent years, kids’ addictions to video games received the blame.
  Now, it’s the Cube.
  I don’t think the Cube went into this venture saying “Let’s take attendance away from live games’’ but it appears that the technology is causing some of the downturn. Technology is also blamed for hurting pro sports including NASCAR and Major League Baseball. People buy high-definition TVs that make you feel like you are right on the field and may not want the hassle of actually being at the game, paying for parking and 10 bucks for a cup of beer.
  Look, 4,000 people at a Marist/Rice game isn’t a small figure, but if a thousand more fans stayed away, that’s some significant money that is not coming its way.
  And whether it’s Cube or any of the other reasons attendance is taking a hit, the ball is in the schools’ court to try to drum up some more interest to get those people out of their houses and back into the stadiums and gyms.
  It’s a tough war technology is presenting. Just ask anyone in the newspaper business.

The Marian kind

  Also over the weekend, St. Xavier’s football team, ranked fourth in the nation, erased a 14-point deficit and beat defending NAIA champion Marian 31-24 in overtime.
  The second half was thrilling.
  It was nail-biting.
  The overtime was dramatic.
  The postgame emotions after the OT were running wild.
  It lived up to the hype as a battle between the past two national champions.
  Marian played one of the dumbest games I have seen in a long time. The squad from Indiana was whistled 16 times for 139 penalty yard. These guys took themselves out of drives and kept St. X drives going with late hits, unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, leading with their helmets and a huge facemask penalty that hurt them during St. Xavier’s game-tying drive late in regulation.
  That team has a lot of talent but didn’t deserve to win the game.
  But in the long run, that might not hurt. In 2011, Marian won the regular-season meeting and St. Xavier won the national championship. In 2012, St. X won the regular-season hookup and Marian went on to win the national title.

‘Worth’ while winners

  The last of our winners from a drawing in August during our subscription drive in Worth were presented with tickets to “Next to Normal.”
  Winners were Robert Wagner, Mary Ann Aldrich, Edward Zajac, Elaine Johnson, Sharon Reinheimer, S.J. Gloede, Rose Marie Kunz, William Nilles, Joan E. Zoel and Patricia J. Schultz.

  In last week’s column on area tollway scofflaws, I forgot to mention that the state’s No. 11 company on the list, Excel Waterproofing, is from Chicago Ridge.


Citizen urges Palos Hills to bring Carson & Barnes Circus back

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne


  Carson & Barnes Circus was3-col-color-elephantsPETA says that the Carson & Barnes Circus abuses elephants but some Palos Hills officials say that wasn’t the case in August when the circus was in town. Photo by Kevin M. Coyne under immense fire after animal rights group PETA urged city officials to cancel the circus last month.

  Carson & Barnes Circus rolled through Palos Hills last month despite an uproar from animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleging that circus animals are being abused during training sessions.
  Carson & Barnes was criticized for a 15-year-old video posted by PETA that featured an elephant trainer abusing one of the circus’s many elephants during a private training session. The video is published on PETA’s website and is used to persuade city officials to cancel negotiations with Carson & Barnes Circus.
  Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett said he has no recollection of the circus abusing its animals and in the six years the circus has come to Palos Hills there have been no reports of animal abuse. Carson & Barnes held its shows for three nights in Palos Hills in August without incident.
  Despite the incident-free shows performed by Carson & Barnes reports have spread that city officials will pull the plug on Carson & Barnes for next year.
  Claudia Pasek, of Palos Hills, spoke during last Thursday’s city council meeting and urged elected officials to reconsider canceling the circus for next year. Pasek and her husband Palos Hills, Alderman AJ Pasek, have both attended the Carson & Barnes Circus and have found no wrongdoing.

  “There has been a lot of push back about the circus from the PETA organization and I think PETA is a very good organization that has raised a lot of awareness for animal abuse but I don’t think they’ve ever been to the circus,” Pasek said.

  PETA has alleged that abuse is the only way to get circus animals to perform painful and unnatural tricks. Pasek referenced the Carson & Barnes website for elephant training and how the circus has donated funds to benefit Asian elephants.
  “This circus is 80 percent people acts and these people are awesome, they are like Cirque du Soleil or like the people you see in Vegas and they are incredibly talented people,” Pasek said. “They’re doing most of the work and the animals are there for 20 percent of the time.”

  PETA posted on Facebook that the Carson & Barnes performers are trashy who beat and exploit animals, Pasek said.
  “Everything there is inexpensive and family-orientated and that is why there are so many people there from Worth, Hickory Hills, Palos Hills, Tinley Park and Orland Park,” she said. “I want to emphasize that the circus is mostly extremely talented people and the animals are not exploited during the circus act.”


Hickory Hills man fends off ruse burglars

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  A Hickory Hills man believes he was set up for a ruse burglary Aug. 13 by a man who claimed he was doing concrete work at a neighbor’s house, police said.

  The incident occurred in the 9300 block of 83rd Avenue at 6:10 p.m. when the man knocked on his door and asked to come inside. The resident would not let the man enter but asked what he needed, according to reports.
  The man said he needed the homeowner to move things that were in his driveway. The resident said he would move the items at a later time, police said. The offender again asked to come inside to use a pen and paper. The homeowner had a pen and paper with him and offered it to the man at the door, according to reports.
  The offender wrote his phone number on the piece of paper, which led the homeowner to suspect he was being setup for a ruse burglary, police said.
  The man then asked for water for his car, which the homeowner provided. He heard banging on the front door while he retrieved the water. When he opened the door, he was greeted by a woman who asked to come inside to get a glass of water and use the bathroom, police said.
  The homeowner agreed to get her a glass of water. When he returned the man and woman left in an SUV that was parked in a neighbor’s driveway. Nothing was missing from the house, police said.

Satan Disciples gang members arrested at Fall on the Green fest

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Two admitted gang members and another man were arrested Friday on drug and weapons charges at Oak Lawn’s Fall on the Green festival, police said.

  Mohammed Ziko, 19, of Bridgeview; Andrew T. Miller, 22, of Harvey; both members of Satan Disciples, and Daniel J. Holdcroft, 21, of Worth, were arrested at 11 p.m. near the entrance of the Oak Lawn Library, police said.
  Police recognized the men, as they had spoken with them earlier in the evening at the fest, according to reports. The men said they were leaving the fest when they were stopped by police.
  Holdcroft was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, after he told police that he was carrying a knife, police said.
  Ziko and Miller were charged with possession of marijuana and drug equipment. Miller also was charged with intent to deliver marijuana, police said.
  Police said Miller placed something in a flower bed, which turned out to be a plastic bag containing marijuana and a pipe. He tried to walk away from police when they approached him.
  A police officer activated his taser and ordered Miller to the ground. He complied and was arrested. He was in possession of a digital scale.
  Ziko told police the marijuana and pipe belonged to him and he placed them in the flower bed, which led him to be arrested, police said.