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TODAY

Monday, November 20

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Secret interstate ramp!

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority has a secret entrance ramp onto I-88 that allows them to get from the parking lot of their Downers Grove headquarters right onto the interstate, saving a trip of several miles. As the Sun-Times reports today, the tollway board voted to make the ramp accessible to the public by building a route to the ramp from Ogden Avenue. Makes you wonder what other secret stuff is built into the interstate system. Keep your eyes peeled on the commute home tonight...

Bad Music News v2 - Disco Brunch

Did you ever think - this brunch is good, but what would make it really good is a little ABBA? The Wicker Park Ann Sather has a new sound system they want to test out and frankly what could be more, umm, Swedish, than some ABBA? According to the person I spoke to at the store, in addition to groovy beats they'll also have prizes and give-aways. A little Fältskog or Lyngstad with your Lingonberries?

Bad Music News, v1 - Hair Metal Lives!

Do you find it hard to drive 55? Did you have it hot for teacher when you were younger? Van Halen tickets go on sale tomorrow for the United Center. You can pick up tickets for the Poison/Kiss tour too. No word on David Lee Roth tour dates (since, well, his website doesn't work), but I'll keep you posted on all the latest hair metal news.

Metro Night Game

Metro has come up with an interesting way to showcase local bands on Cubs game days: This coming Tuesday, watch the game at Metro on the biggest screen Wrigleyville -- the back wall of the stage -- then stick around for a set by Burn Rome Burn. Admission is free during the game, and they're offering $2 Miller/Miller Lite pints. Doors open at 6pm.

March for Women's Lives recap

Whether or not you made it to the largest feminist march in American history, you're welcome to join area feminists Sunday at Women & Children First to hear stories about the march and get an idea of what the future holds. Beginning at 4:30, you'll get to hear Tracy Smith, League of Women Voters; Sheryl Ann Pethers, Circuit Judge; Veronica Arreola, vice-president of NOW-Chicago; and Mattie Weiss, League of Pissed-Off Voters talk about how to carry the momentum of the march into life back home.

MECA Music Conference

Check out the Musician’s Education and Career Advancement Conference this May 12-15. MECA features over 40 panels with topics ranging from Managers 101 to Starting Your First Band, in addition to workshops and performance clinics, mentoring sessions, 250 live music showcases, and other events. Today is the last day to register at a discounted rate of $275, and after that, the fee is $300.

Art Chicago Planning

It's time for your annual visit to Navy Pier. The reason? Art Chicago. From May 6 through May 9, over 200 galleries from around the world will display wares from thousands of talented artists. Looking for more captial-A Art? Try the Art Boat, a floating gallery event sponsored by BRIDGE magazine.

Noble Fool's noble effort ends

Hedy Weiss reports in the Sun-Times that the Noble Fool comedy theater is closing its doors, just two years after moving into its home on Randolph Street. Given that Noble Fool announced its 2004-05 season just last week, this comes as a bit of a surprise. The company's move to the Loop location, part of the School of the Art Institute's dorm development, was partially funded by a $1 million grant from the city.

Find A Famous Dead Person Now!

After you've read everything you want to know about Mike Brady in Ask the Librarian, go visit his grave in Skokie. You can search for other famous Chicago celebs like Al Capone or John Belushi at findagrave.com. Did you know that someone actually tried to steal John's remains, or that Clarence Darrow's grave is behind the Museum of Science and Industry?

Tomorrow is Critcal Mass Friday

So tomorrow is the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for Critical Mass, a monthly bicycle protest thingie. This month's ride will likely focus on Lucy Parsons, a labor activist involved in the Haymarket riot. After the ride there will be a play about Lucy Parsons at the Handlebar. Also, if you want to sample a bit of Chicago's bike culture and see what's in store for the ride tomorrow, check out this month's Derailleur.

Chess Records studios still active

The Tribune reports that the historic Chess Records studio at 2120 S. Michigan Avenue is still being used for recording, albeit not as frequently as its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. Yesterday marked the first time since 1989 that artists have recorded in the studio (and the musicians still had to truck in a lot of recording gear, since the studio has not been updated with new equipment). The studio will be refurbished in the coming years thanks to the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation, a program that provides blues education to children and provides business and medical financial aid to blues musicians.

H.H. Holmes Documentary

After a sold-out screening at the Chicago International Documentary Festival, H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer is now available on DVD. The feature was written, directed, and produced by local filmmaker John Borowski, who spent three years on the film. For more on H.H. Holmes, check out "The Murder Castle of H.H. Holmes," an excerpt from Troy Taylor's Haunted Chicago book. Or, visit the official website for Erik Larson's best-selling book about Holmes and Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893, The Devil in the White City.

Get your Matchbox cars out

Parking Spots is a silly site, one of those "waste your time while being bored to death at work" sites. Highly entertaining. It's international and you too can submit one, and there's quite a few from Illinois (scroll down to the US section). You'll have to see what I mean.

How'd we miss this one?

Bruce Sterling, author (and blogger) of note, speaks at Barbara's Bookstore in Oak Park tonight at 7:30 PM.

Ticket not, lest ye be ticketed

The next time you find a ticket stuck to your car, consider this statistic: city government employees owe nearly $2 million in unpaid traffic tickets and water bills. To take care of this large bill, the city has filed about 4,700 wage garnishment cases against deadbeat employees, and 44 workers have been suspended for nonpayment.

Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air and Chicago is cleaning itself up for the summer tourist crush. Leading the way is an ambitious plan to clean up the Chicago River involving a pontoon boat and a crew of five to help remove debris and graffiti along the river. Besides the cosmetic cleanup, water quality issues are also being discussed by city officials. Unfortunately, real progress on water quality is still many years off, but it's a good start. The city is also calling for an all-out citywide cleanup on May 1, the spring "Clean & Green Day". This event is coordinated by the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation and loans brooms, shovels and rakes and provides free trash bags to local groups to assist their volunteer clean-up efforts.

U of C to Return Ancient Tablets to Iran

In an attempt to reestablish ties with Iranian scholars and archeologists, the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago is returning up to 300 ancient clay tablets that provide information of the daily life in the Persian empire. This is described as the first U.S. return of loaned Iranian artifacts since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The tablets, inscribed with cuneiform writing from about 500 B.C., were among tens of thousands of such documents discovered by Chicago archaeologists that were lent to the institute in 1937 for translation and study.

I've got the source right here

Summer must really be close; the City's Office of Special Events has just released the line-up for the 2004 Outdoor Film Festival. This year sees a collection of classics from stars who died last year (Peck, Hepburn), stars who would be 100 years old had they been alive (Grant) and stars who are, according to the city, "larger than life" (Brando). In honor of the Mouse's 75th birthday, they'll be showing a Mickey comic short before each film. Come early, come often, just come without your chair.

Return of the King

The Tribune reports that Julie Taymor's musical adaptation of "The Lion King" will be coming back to Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre in June 2005. The same company that started its tour in Chicago last year will be doing the play, probably with much of the same cast in place.

Chicago Women in Trades

If you're tired of working in the pink collar ghetto and want to work with heavy tools and machinery, then the Chicago Women In Trades might be just what you're looking for. They've got four meetings in May for women who might be interested in changing careers. If you think you wouldn't be using your brain if you had a construction job, this list of learned skills will prove you wrong.

Seen the Bean?

There's a new sculpture going up at Millennium Park downtown. It's a 20 foot by 30 foot by 60 foot mirrored oval shape that's sure to be a real eye-catcher when it's unveiled. The sculptor has not officially named the sculpture yet, so it's just being referred to as The Bean. You can see a picture of it here (not an actual image, since the sculpture's still being assembled) and you can follow the building of the sculpture over at usequities.com. Well, you WOULD be able to follow it, except that they're building the sculpture under a tent. (The webcam goes inside the tent on May 1st.)

Ballpark Food

Sure, Wrigley Field is beautiful and historic and "US Cellular Field at Comiskey Park" is big and corporate. But The Cell still has one thing going for it: better food.

Library Lookup

As commented in our Ask the Librarian column, our friend in yours, Ian Olsen-Clark has improved and created a bookmarklet (?) that will allow one to access the Chicago Public Library's system. It's amazingly nifty. Here's an endorsement and further explanation of what you can do with it.

More Proof Racism is Dumb

John Kass reports today that in the wake of the conviction of white supremist Matthew Hale on charges of putting out a hit on a federal judge, several racist websites posted the address and phone number for Tony Evola, the prosecution's key witness. Problem is, they're not bright enough to check their information, so they got the wrong Evola. Now an innocent family is getting harrassing phone calls, and the police and FBI are involved.

The Walking Dude

Many of you may know The Walking Dude. I actually call him "70's Italian Loverman". Someone has made a really well-done and humorous short clip of The Walking Dude, A Dudementary. Does anyone personally know The Walking Dude?

More cameras to be installed at intersections

More bad news for Chicago motorists who like to run red lights: the Sun-Times reports that the city has been so pleased with the trial installation of security cameras watching accident-prone intersections that they're planning to install more cameras at 10 additional intersections. Over the last 6 months, the cameras have identified over 15,000 vehicles running red lights at various intersections in the city, generating nearly $1.4 million in potential revenues (assuming the ticketed motorists pay the fines). The new intersections will be chosen by mid-summer, and camera installation is expected to be completed by year's end.

Ice Cream, Ice Cream!

Yikes! We missed Ben and Jerry's Free Ice Cream day yesterday but do not fret! There is still free ice cream to be had. Baskin-Robbins has its Free Scoop Night tonight from 6pm-10pm. You can be like me last year: my friend and I hit three Baskin-Robbins in a row on the way someplace! It was perfect. Of course, we went back to one of them two hours later...

Somebody gonna Lotto? Anyone?

If you bought a lottery ticket in Calumet City last May with the numbers 03-23-28-29-38-42 on them, you have a week left to claim your jackpot. Nobody has stepped forward to claim the $2.5 million prize, and the deadline for claiming the prize is May 3rd. If nobody claims the money, you know what's going to happen to it? It's gonna get thrown to the wolves!

The Final Prime Shorts

Local film curator Xan Aranda brings the successful Prime Shorts film show to an end tomorrow evening at The Hideout. In her words: "Producing and curating this show has been the greatest! But we can't go steady anymore, Prime Shorts and me... It was a hot sweaty love affair that now needs to give way to other shiny objects and tempting projects." And: "With the promise of there being no uber-depressing dog-murder claymation, I hope you can make it to the swan song, the final sprint, the last (scheduled) Prime Shorts." If you've missed engagements at The Hideout and the Gene Siskel Film Center, then this is your last chance. 

Go Skokie!

Skokie has gotten a community weblog all of their own. Go Skokie is aims to "create a community driven Web site for Skokie that offers 'news for the people by the people.'" The site was created by a team at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.

Found on Late Night

Here's a reason to stay up late: The Late Show with David Letterman tonight features an interview with Davy Rothbart, one of the founders of Found Magazine (which is co-based here and in Ann Arbor, MI). Davy will be showing Dave some of the bizarre and interesting things people have found and sent in to the magazine.

Wall to Wall Recording

A while ago, I visited a renewed studio that some friends are working at. The place is called Wall to Wall and it's located deep in the bowels of a building downtown. It's a veritable maze of sorts, lined with deep crimson plush walls with recordings rooms and a main room that has history. Almost on this side of a pimp's love den from the 70's, you feel as if either Jimi Hendrix or The Beatles might have cut some tracks here back in the day. The pimp factor is quite high. While the photos on the site are cool, it's amazing in person. If you're interested in tracking and recording some music, this is the place to be. They're quite affordable too.

Don't die before visiting Superdawg

The Sun-Times reports that the best-selling travel book "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" has a number of Chicago locations in its list, alongside such exotic destinations as the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Egypt, and the North Pole. Among the Chicago locations mentioned in the book: the Art Institute, Charlie Trotter's, the Chicago Blues Festival, the Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oak Park .... and, yes, Superdawg.

March[ed] for Women's Lives

Wish you could have been at the largest March for Women's Lives in history, but couldn't make it? Local blogger Christine Cupaiuolo has days worth of "wish you were here" coverage at Ms. Magazine's blog.

Eat Chicago

You just can't get enough of foodie sites and EatChicago is looking mighty tasty. While relatively new, the site has brief reviews and some interesting categories. Another essential Chicago based foodie site: Vital Information.

Hot Doug's Closed by Fire

Gasp! Chowhound reports a rumor that celebrated hot dog stand Hot Doug's is closed and will have to relocate due to a fire in the apartment behind the store! More news as we get it. (Thanks James)
UPDATE: Our own AC verified this story at lunch today: a sign in the window confirms the store is closed until a new location can be found.

The Corporation

Award winning documentary,The Corporation, will be showing at the Cultural Center this Wednesday at 6 as part of the Version Fest. The documentary, based on Joel Bakan's book "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power", examines the nature of the corporate institution. It features interviews with Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Howard Zinn and Michael Moore and many others. Check out the trailer here.

Free Cone Day

Tuesday, April 27, is Free Cone Day at participating Ben & Jerry's stores across the country. This year they are teaming up with Rock the Vote so, not only can you get free ice cream, you can also register to vote! Participating Chicago locations include stores at 338 W. Armitage Avenue, 26 West Randolph Street, and Navy Pier. Check out the Ben & Jerry's website to find additional locations.

Stuphoto

Some Monday morning eye candy for you — Stuart Paul Mullenberg has a neat little photography portfolio site with some excellent portraits. The site is quick, simple and lets the photos do all the talking. My favorite shot is the photo in the bottom left corner (not directly linked to since the site is in Flash) — quite Chicago.

Bear-y Bear-erson?

The Brookfield Zoo has a new polar bear cub! And of course there's a contest under way to name the bear. The winning name will be selected by a group of judges from the zoo staff, its volunteers, and (of course) the Chicago Bears. Start working on your name ideas, because you only have until May 12th to enter.

Dining out for life

This Thursday is Chicago's 11th annual Dining Out For Life event. A number of restaurants in the city have pledged to donate a portion of their day's proceeds to help people living with HIV and AIDS. If you'd like to help out, take a look at the list of restaurants on the Chicago site, make reservations for Thursday, April 29th, and go out to eat. This year's beneficiary is AIDSCare, a nonprofit residence and service organization for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Chicago Latino Film Festival

The 20th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival continues through this weekend at locations around the city. Over 50 films from 20 different countries are featured in this year's event. Check out the official website for more information on locations, showtimes, and tickets.

Our Weird City

Metromix is soliciting suggestions of "bizarre people and places in Chicago." Give'em a hand and nominate someone/thing.

Neighborhood Link: Edison Park

My girlfriend and I discovered a charming little neighborhood on the far Northwest Side this week, Edison Park. Their Chamber of Commerce has a really fascinating and well written page about the history of Edison Park, including why all the streets are alphabetized in the West Side and what role Thomas Edison had in naming the community. There's plenty of good, cheap places to eat and it even boasts a little coffeeshop: Edison Perk.

Improv Film Challenge

Splitpillow has announced that teams wishing to participate in this year's Challenge 2.0 can now do so. What's The Challenge, you ask? It's a weekend of improvisational filmmaking, a madcap three days of filming, editing and production, culminating in a screening of the results at the Biograph Theater on June 3. Deadline for early (read: cheap) entry is May 1 -- check the site for more details.

Will Clinger departs Wild Chicago

Robert Feder reports that Will Clinger, host of Channel 11's "Wild Chicago," has resigned from the show to pursue a theatrical career. This may mean the final days of the once popular show; Channel 11 has failed to secure underwriting support for the show, and it's been in reruns for the past two years anyway.

Yeah, that oughta work

Not content with previous attempts to lift the Cubs' curse, State Rep. John Fritchey decided to write a piece of legislation declaring the curse "no more." Does this mean that if the Cubs don't win this year, they'll be violating state law?

Cold Stone Creamery

A new Cold Stone Creamery franchise is opening this Saturday, April 24, at 613 W. Diversey. Half of all the proceeds for the opening day will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois so go check it out.

Keep an eye out for beetles

The Sun-Times reports that, because city investigators have noticed that Asian long-horned beetle infestations appear to be occurring near places that are trafficked by El trains and cars coming from already infested locations, officials are asking people to check their cars for beetles before driving off. If you're unfamiliar with what the beetle looks like, have a peek at this informative site put together by people at UIUC.

Stunt Roping

Apparently Chicago isn't just a destination for leather fetishists anymore. At the end of May our fair city will play host to a Japanese rope bondage convention. I probably don't have to tell you that those links are not safe for work. [via the Story Hunters]

Technical Difficulties

Sorry, we were experiencing temporary server issues there for a moment, preventing us from posting and you from commenting. We're back up now, so back to your regularly scheduled GB. 

Tour Bohemian National

Bohemian National is not a golf or tennis tournament. It's a huge graveyard at Foster and Pulaski and is worth a visit to check out some of Chicago's roots in Eastern Europe. A historian on the graveyard will be leading walking tours for $10 at 10am and 1:30pm. Plus, at 12:15, there will be a concert by the "Moravian Societies Singers" in folk constume. While Bohemian National doesn't have the celebrities that other graveyards do, it's still got some fascinating headstones, including pictures etched into metal of the people buried there.

Mimi Smartypants in Newcity

This week's Newcity cover features a big ol' picture of Mimi Smartypants! The accompanying article discusses her book deal, mentions Gapers Block, and even has some quotes from another Chicago blogger with a book deal, Wendy McClure. Check it out, won't you?

The South Side is For the Birds

There are some reports that the monk parakeets have begun to come out this season on the South Side. Monk parakeets are originally from South America and came here as pets. They have established feral populations around the country, esp. in Illinois and Florida. They are most well known in Hyde Park, though they've been spotted in Wolf Lake on the far South Side. If you'd like to go and see these creatures
on the North Side or South Side, here are some instructions: Hyde Park: "It appears to me that these are the same parrots that inhabit Hyde Park, with several large nests, and a notable one on 53rd street, about 100 yards west of the lake. Take the lakefront path to 51st St, cross Lake Shore Drive, then ride south through the park 2 blocks, near the tennis courts. Further south in Jackson park (57th St - 63rd St) you can enjoy the lagoons and Wooded Island, along a major bird migration path (now's a great time to see the migration)." North Side (Margate Park): Margate Park is roughly 5000 N. Marine Dr. Take the Lake Front path north to Argyle and head under the ugly slab of concrete to the park. The nests were in the northern point near Foster last year. Wolf Lake: The Wolf Lake parrots are back in town. Their large hanging nests can be seen from the south end of the park by the ranger's residence (130th St. & Ave. O). Parrots can be seen flying around and perched in nearby trees. The low-stress way to get there from downtown via bike is to take the Lakefront Path to its southern terminus at South Shore Drive. Continue south on South Shore Drive following the "U.S. 41 South" signs to 95th/Ewing/Ave. "L". Three restaurants are on the corners; The Mexican Inn, Agua Blanca, and Skyway Hotdogs. Take Ave. "L" south to 104th St. Take 104th St. east to the Burnham Greenway. Take the Burnham Greenway south to the spur that goes to the William H. Powers Conservation Area. Follow the park road south through the woods and around Wolf Lake until you pass the ranger's residence. You will see the large parrot nests there. Alternately you could take the Red Line to 69th St. and then transfer to a #30 bus and get dropped off in front of the park. (Thanks to Bob Matter for compiling the reports!)

Humans escape from ape house

The Lincoln Park Zoo invited a group of professional climbers to test their new ape housing, to see if the apes are going to be able to escape from them. The climbers were able to escape from the outdoor yard, and so the zoo will continue working on the design of the $25.7 million structure, which is scheduled to have cimpanzees and gorillas living in it by May.

Corgan's New Sound

Monday night, Billy Corgan played his first solo concert to a sold-out audience at Metro. The show was organized around 12 songs about Chicago, an interesting departure from his work with Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan. He discusses this new sound on a blog at Integral Naked, including photos and notes from recent recording sessions, and Greg Kot has a review of the show.

Fifth Graders Take on Ambitious Project

Recently, Ralph Nader visited a crumbling Chicago elementary school and found something strange: all 19 students in Brian Schultz' classroom have taken on a new curriculum. What's this all about? To document the terrible disrepair and lack of facilities in the school; and, to build community, state and national support for a new school. These are fifth graders; they all live in and around the Cabrini-Green housing project and their school, Byrd Community Academy, is literally falling to pieces around them. Read more about this situation, and tell friends - get others involved, they need more media attention! Also, check out the tutoring program and see how you can lend a hand...

Flea Market Season Opens

Wolff's Flea Market kicks off its summer season this Sunday in the parking lot at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. They're out there nearly every Sunday from 6am till 3pm, hawking all sorts of stuff, from sunglasses to antiques to haircuts. (Thanks Heather)

Air America off AGAIN?

As part of the settlement stemming from Air America being kicked off the air in Chicago last week, it appears that the network will cease broadcasting on WNTD-950 AM in Chicago on April 30th. So now the network is looking for a new home in the city. Radio insiders pick WONX-1590 AM as a likely next home for Air America. Time to change your preset radio settings...

Junk food and soda pop out of Chicago schools

The Chicago Public Schools announced yesterday that it is banning carbonated drinks and junk food from being sold in school vending machines, starting next year. They are currently soliciting bids from contractors for a contract to sell beverages in the district's 500+ schools.

Four Bright Red Stars with Sharp Points

You may have noticed that the four stars in our logo are now "proper Chicago stars," which is to say they're six-pointed. T E Whalen over at introvert.net noticed how many different interpretations of the star there are and decided to demonstrate how to make one just like the actual flag.

2004 Illinois Art Fairs

Whether you're an artist looking for outlets to promote and sell your work or an art enthusiast, check out the 2004 Illinois Art Fair Directory. This comprehensive resource from the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago Artists' Coalition lists every scheduled fair in Illinois for the entire year. You can search by city or by month, and the directory entries include contact information, websites (where available), and deadlines for entry consideration.

The Futon Critic

There are plenty of places to read pithy recaps of your favorite TV shows, but for hard data on how the networks are doing and whether that dumb sitcom will make it through the season, head to The Futon Critic. This Chicago-based site gathers programming news, provides DVD release dates for your favorite shows and offers network-by-network analysis. Everything the serious TV watcher needs.

Chicago chocolates -- from South Bend

Coming soon to Chicago: chocolates from South Bend, Indiana under the name "Chicago Chocolates." The South Bend Chocolate Company is starting up a new candy company to try and populate the market that was vacated by Fannie May store closings. The company is planning to open stores here in Chicago, but for now you can only order Chicago Chocolates online.

Star Search

The warm weather had a lot of people out boy- and girl-watching this weekend. But there was also a lot of star-watching going on -- with three big-budget movies being filmed in town right now, there are plenty of opportunities to catch Clooney, Damon, Zeta-Jones and Roberts on the set and in the restaurants. Keep your eyes peeled.

Wal-Mart vote planned for today

At today's city council zoning committee meeting today, a vote on the much-delayed Chicago Wal-Mart store is planned. Alderman Emma Mitts believes she has line up enough votes to OK the Wal-Mart store for the city, even though the store has not responded to the demands by union leaders that was mentioned on GB yesterday (and Jesse Jackson has spoken out against Wal-Mart, calling the store "Kool-Aid and cyanide"). So we might be seeing a Wal-Mart store opening up on the West Side soon.

A Meteor's Demise

Remember that meteorite that exploded above Park Forest in March of last year? Here's a full account of the big space rock's explosion and origins. One of the scientists who examined the collected pieces of the meteorite happened to be present for the event (it exploded over his house).

And how would you spend $100 million?

The New York Times today has a profile of the new president of the Poetry Foundation, John W. Barr, and his thoughts on managing the foundation's famously large gift from Ruth Lilly. 

McDonald's CEO Dead

In corporate news, McDonald's CEO Jim Cantolupo dropped dead of a heart attack, this morning, just as his turn-around strategy of eating only at company stores was beginning to pay off.

Braid is back

Emo-popsters Braid were mighty popular with the kids a few years back, playing shows everywhere. They were most beloved here in Illinois. While other members went on to start other projects successfully, fans and rumors abound wished for a Braid reunion. It is here. They've rebanded, started to compile and list dates starting with two shows in Champaign (their hometown!) and one in Chicago then going east. If you've been waiting for this, best get your tickets now — they're not doing this again. Keep up to date with the members on their long running weblog, Are You Wearing a Wire? or their new tour specific one.

Chicago Opera Theater

Check out Chicago's other opera house, the Chicago Opera Theater. Slightly cheaper than the Lyric, they're putting on two operas in May. If you're an opera fan and missed your chance to check out the Lyric this year, this is your big chance!

Chicago marathon runner honored

You may remember Rachel Townsend, the teacher from Ohio who died of a heart arrhythmia after finishing last fall's Chicago Marathon. When she crossed the finish line, Rachel had qualified for the Boston Marathon, and would have run in it today, if she had survived. The Tribune reports that many runners will be wearing caps that say "Running For Rachel," and one runner will be wearing Townsend's number, so that she will end up with an official time in the race. In addition to these tributes, scholarships and memorial races have been set up in Ann Arbor, MI, where Townsend taught for seven years.

Wal-Mart battle continues

After a partial victory in California, Wal-Mart is continuing to push for a Chicago store, over the strong objections of union leaders, who have been mobilizing community support against what they see as the destructive impact of the stores. As a result, Wal-Mart is in discussions with union leaders about a proposed corporate responsibility contract. Union spokesmen are hopeful that, should Wal-Mart honor a contract promising decent wages and affordable health care, this may prompt the company to bring the benefits to other stores and cut back on its competitive practices that end up harming its workers.

"Sin" Wagon to Boston

Bailiwick Repertory's production of Sin: A Cardinal Deposed will travel to Boston in June. After Wellesley College reneged on an offer to bring the play, based on public-record depositions by Cardinal Bernard Law in the Catholic Church's sex-abuse scandal, to Boston, Bailiwick decided to produce the Boston run itself. The company is looking for donors and sponsors for the endeavor; those interested can contact Mark Steel at mark@bailiwick.org.

Teen Chicago

A new exhibit opens tomorrow at the Chicago Historical Society tomorrow: Teen Chicago, a look at the influence of teenagers in Chicago's history. ABC 7 reports that the exhibit will include information from all though the 20th century (from child labor in the early 1900s to teens being drafted for Vietnam), as well as oral histories recorded by 15 teenagers.

Screwball

The Sun-Times has a nice profile of Steve Walters, the man behind Screwball Press. There's no doubt you've seen his work -- Screwball and The Bird Machine print most of the silkscreened concert posters around town. Unfortunately, he has nearly no web presence.

Bake Back the White House

Do you like to bake? Or, do you just like baked goodies? Moveon.org has an exciting event planned for this weekend - a bake sale to demonstrate the powers of broad-based grassroots support. There are already 14 planned bake sales in Chicago alone, not to mention many others in the surrounding area. Click here and enter your zip code to find the nearest participating events. You can still volunteer to help, or just plan to stop by and support some good old grassroots politics, moveon-stlye.

Chicago man (among others) hired

As everybody knows by now, Kwame was fired and Bill was hired. Orland Park native Bill Rancic won the final round last night on NBC's "The Apprentice," and is going to manage the construction of a Chicago hotel and residential tower. But lest you think that Bill's going to be in charge, Trump reminded him who's REALLY in charge: "You're going to have plenty of supervision of that building, I don't care if you're president or not... I'll be the one supervising." (In a strange case of synchronicity, the Illinois Department of Employment Security released a report yesterday that says the state's unemployment dropped to 6 percent in March, its lowest rate in 28 months.)

Air America back!

The Tribune reports that Air America radio has won a temporary rerstraining order, allowing them to be broadcast on WNTD-950 AM in Chicago once again. The network expects to resume broadcasting on Friday.

Brookfield Zoo gorilla dies

Sad news from the Brookfield Zoo: Baraka, their 13-year-old female gorilla, died on Sunday from an abdominal infection.

Blogging a protest

U of I students are staging a sit-in at one of the administration buildings on campus, protesting the controversial Chief Illiniwek mascot. And, since this is the 21st century, they're blogging the protest.

Version 04

Version is back for round 4 of their creative melange of workshops, presentations and festival cheer. This time it's going for two weeks straight starting April 16th to May 1st. This is quite an ambitious endeavour and the program is almost too daunting to look through. Take a look through the various passes and prices to get an idea of what your best value is. I'm sure there's quite a few gems in there.

Google Local

For those of you who love Google, there is now Google Local. It's in beta but already seems useful. This quick search on sushi (I luuuurve sushi) displays great results and quite a refined interface. I know I'll be using this to find restaurants and local places.

CTA tokens to be melted down

An inglorious end to the CTA token: the Sun-Times reports that the CTA's remaining stock of metal tokens, 20 million pieces, has been sold to a Cincinnati-based company that plans to melt the stock down and use the metal in other works. (The tokens are made of brass, and were pulled out of circulation in 1998 in favor of those fancy magnetic cards that the CTA's already trying to phase out.) The CTA will keep about 2,000 tokens and make them into jewelry.

Life Imitates Cliché

Officer Terry O'Brien of the Town of Geneva Police Department in Lake Geneva, WI, won the Dunkin' Donuts World Cop Donut Eating Championship held last night in Rolling Meadows, the Daily Herald reports. O'Brien ate nine donuts in three minutes.

Tax day! Yes, already!

It's April 15th, and you (should) know what that means: Tax Day! If you haven't worked out your taxes yet (and about 2 million Illinois residents have put it off until today), the Sun-Times offers some simple tips to keep in mind when filing tonight, as well as the addresses of a couple of post offices that will be open until midnight tonight.

Pop Revolution

International Pop Overthrow starts its run tomorrow. Never heard of it? Well, this touring music festival (named after local band Material Issue's breakthrough album) features more than 100 bands playing over two weeks. The first show is tomorrow night at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, starting at 7:30 with Einstein's Sister. Tickets are $8. Check the schedule for the full lineup.

Air America gone already?

If you've been listening to the newly-formed Air America Radio network here in Chicago, you might have noticed that the network's programming wasn't running on the Chicago affiliate station this morning. The Tribune reports that Air America is already having trouble covering its bills, and owes more than $1 million to the owner of affiliates WNTD-950 AM in Chicago and KBLA-1580 AM in Los Angeles. (Update: Air America tells its side of the story.)

Deadbeat gassers on the rise

As Illinois gas prices escalate, gas stations are reporting a marked increase in people driving off without paying. The current loss to drive-offs is about $100 per week per station, a dramatic increase from a year ago, which was $100 per month. Chicago has had fewer incidents of drive-offs because nearly all stations in the city require drivers to pay before getting gas.

NYT likes Letts

We pointed out last week that Steppenwolf's Tracy Letts is the man of the hour in the theatre world. Today, the Times' Bruce Weber does the same.

Are you ready for some football?

Ha! You thought the days of shoulder pads, pigskin, and tight pants were over. Wrong! It's now time to see the Chicago Force, stomp the competition and make it to the playoffs, just like they did last year. These women are tough! These women are skilled! These women are playing their second game on Saturday! What better way to enjoy the warm weather, than hanging outside and watching a Chicago team win?

Let's Blog Two!

There are blogs about everything, so of course there are some that focus solely on the Cubs and Sox. And if your not a fan of the home teams, BaseballBlogs.org can point you to one for your team.

Make me one with everything ... no ketchup

The Times' R.W. Apple eats his way through some Chicago favorites, devoting much well-deserved attention to the "canine nouvelle cuisine" of Hot Doug's. He also drops in at Al's #1 Italian Beef and Ann Sather, but declines any deep dish: He "abhors the stuff."

Get $10 at Reckless from Toyota

In the "odd couple" category these days are Chicago's own Reckless Records and...Toyota? That's right, on Thursday and Friday April 15 and 16, between noon and 7 p.m., the Toyota Corporation and Reckless are teaming up. During those hours, if you come in to Reckless' Broadway store (at 3157 N. Broadway) and test-drive a Toyota Scion, they will give you a gift certificate for $10 to use at Reckless (if you can't drive, a "professional" driver will take you around the block). This may sound strange, but it seems that Toyota has a little Scion tour planned for April, and Chicago's one of the stops.

Brown Line expansion funded

Today, city officials celebrated the fact that federal funding is in place for a $530 million Brown Line expansion, which will consist of lengthening station platforms and making stations handicapped accessible. This means that you can officially say good-bye to all those bought-up buildings near Brown Line stops, probably including the long-suffering Demon Dogs. For the CTA's side of things, check out the project info on the CTA's Website.

Comix Revolution

The new issue of Bookslut is up and includes a profile of the Comix Revolution bookstore in Evanston.

Chicago's most powerful women

The Sun-Times has started a series this week profiling Chicago's 100 most powerful women. The areas already covered: the arts, business and politics. The profiles will be posted daily through April 21.

100 Years of Ravinia

Ravinia, one of the oldest outdoor concert venues in the country, will celebrate its centennial this season. Some concerts of note: Rufus Wainright and Ben Folds June 18, Aretha Franklin August 20 & 21 and the "Jazz in June" mini-festival June 10-13, featuring Medeski Martin & Wood, Roy Hargrove, Oscar Peterson, The Conga Kings, Lincoln Center Latin Jazz Orchestra, Dave Brubeck, Marian McPartland and Ramsey Lewis. And you don't even have to drive -- just get on the Ravinia Special Metra train for $5 round-trip.

Meigs Field park opening soon

City workers are planting bushes and carving out walking paths in the space formerly known as Meigs Field, in the hopes of opening it to the public in mid-July. The work is designed to allow the public to use the property while city officials discuss plans for a more permanent design for the land now known as Northerly Island.

21st-Century Lakefront Competition

Visit the lobby of 224 S. Michigan Ave., now through May 2, to see the new exhibit which answers the question, "What should a park look like in the 21st Century?" The exhibit drew more than 100 entries from around the country, and 30 select designs are on display in the lobby of the 100-year old office building designed by Burnham's firm and housed his offices. The show asked architects to create new visions of outdoor public space by fleshing out Mayor Richard M. Daley's idea to extend Lincoln Park northward 2 1/2 miles to the Evanston border.

Art Institute ticket prices going up

Due to decreasing attendance and bad investments, the Art Institute is thinking of increasing ticket prices to $12, in an attempt to make up a $150 million loss in assets and to fund a $280 million expansion project. If approved, the ticket hike would go into effect this July. (But on the bright side, Tuesdays will still be free.)

Sun-Times nearly handed Cubs promotion deal

Crain's Chicago Business reports that the Sun-Times was given a proposal by the Tribune that would have made the Sun-Times the sponsor of a "guess the attendance" contest during radio broadcasts of the Tribune-owned ball team. A few hours after the proposal was accepted by the Sun-Times, a WGN sales manager called to say that a Tribune exec had stopped the deal. Okay, everyone point at the Tribune building and say "Haw-haw!"

Hungry For Ladicakes

Ladicakes offers handcrafted delicacies including journals, photo albums, address books, decorative pillows, and stationery items. The beautifully designed books and journals are pretty enough to eat, they're incredibly affordable, and they make a wonderful gift. The ever expanding offerings will soon include mustache pillows, which no Chicago home is complete without. Visit ladicakes.com to sample some of the yummy treats!

Planes vs. cranes

A pair of sandhill cranes is nesting near the Lakewood Forest Preserve in the suburb of Wauconda, which has prompted preserve officials to shut down a model airplane airfield in the preserve, because the cranes are a threatened species and protected by state law.

Nader in Chicago

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader made an appearance at Columbia College Chicago last week, and nobody noticed. The Columbia College Chronicle has the wrap-up of the event.

Games et Macs

Which baseball team does the well-organized geek prefer? At iCalShare, various Cubs schedules have been downloaded 883 times, with 356 downloads for Sox schedules. (Surprisingly, none of the Cubs schedules have reminders to leave early to hit the bars and/or drive back to the suburbs.)

You're (sold) out!

The Tribune reports that expectations for the Cubs are still riding high from last year's close call with success, and as a result, despite increasing ticket prices at Wrigley Field, the ballpark is pretty well sold out for the entire year. (Obstructed view tickets, as always, are still available.)

Hey girl, wanna be in a show?

Bailiwick Repertory Theatre will hold an open house this Sunday, April 18 starting at 11am, for anyone interested in performing in or supporting the 2004 All-Girl Revue, sponsored by Bailiwick's Lesbian Theatre Initiative. "Musicians, poets, dancers, actors, and visual artists welcome," they say. Performances are May 23 and 24; performers should bring 1-2 minutes of material on Sunday. Email AllGirlRevue@aol.com for more info.

Wright house moved to Pennsylvania

A Frank Lloyd Wright house in suburban Lisle has been disassembled and shipped to Pennsylvania, because the homeowner died in 2002, and a developer wanted the land that the house sat on, but not the house itself. The house has been given to a man in Johnstown, PA, who will spend more than $100,000 restoring and renovating the house. The building is one of Wright's least expensive designs and was intended for mass production, which made it easy to disassemble and transport.

You've got stalkers!

Robert Wessel, trying to fight the building of a parking garage in suburban LaGrange with the Website LaGrangeNoGarage.com, has found himself the target of an obstinate stalker who has sent him over 100 emails, sent repairmen out to his place, and in general made a big nuisance of him- or herself. Wessel sued AOL to try and determine who was behind the emails, but didn't get anywhere with that tactic. LaGrange police have apparently conducted their own investigation, determined who the culprit is, and have determined that the sender no longer poses a threat. Which may be the only consolation that Wessel gets, because he has not been told yet who the stalker is.

Cheap, Sassy, Rideable

Spring is coming, and if you don't have a bike to get your drunk butt home from the bar (better than driving, better than the bus), then it's time to start shopping my friend. The U of C is having a huge bike sale where the bikes are "cheap, sassy, and rideable". For $100 or less - that's just a handful of cabs as opposed to a summer's worth of healthy cycling. Head down to Hyde Park's Hutch Court next weekend (April 16 and 17) and ride your need steel steed home.

This post brought to you by the letter M

If you were disappointed you couldn't get into the sold-out record release show last night at Schubas for The M's, Chicago's latest buzz band, then you're in luck. They've added a second show tonight at the Empty Bottle, playing with the previously scheduled Gris Gris and The Latest. 10:00pm, 8 bucks.

Walter Payton MVP

Walter Payton Prep's Brian Desmond is among the youngest to attend the exclusive and secretive Microsoft MVP Global Summit in Redmond, Wash. The youngest is a 14-year-old from Australia. (Being a Mac guy, I must take it for granted that this is a big whoop.)

'I Am My Own Wife' back to Chicago

The Goodman Theatre has announced that they've added this year's Pulitzer Prize winner in drama, I Am My Own Wife, to their 2004-05 season. The play by Doug Wright, about the German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who lived through the Nazi and Communist regimes as a woman, had a pre-New York engagement here last year presented by About Face at the MCA.

Them Chicago cats is smart

Chicago Fire Commissioner James Joyce presented a bravery award yesterday to Willie the cat, who warned his owners of a rapidly developing kitchen fire. Undoubtedly Willie put 2 and 2 together, and figured out that if the kitchen goes, the cat food goes as well.

This Is An Outlet

A new project from the artists behind You Are Beautiful. This Is An Outlet is a work that features 41 artists such as local artist Cody Hudson and non-local artist Shepard Fairey of Obey. It spans 12 countries. Check it.

Good Friday Refresher Course

The Week Behind has a little Easter story for you: "Jesus Had a Bad Day," a somewhat irreverant look at the son of a Jewish carpenter's last day on Earth. As a bonus, included is a pocket list of the 14 stations of the cross.

Chicago Might Be Hired

It's down to two contestants on "The Apprentice" -- Kwame from New York and Bill from Chicago. Regardless of who you pulled for early on, it's time to support the home-town boy. Catch the finale next Thursday.

Check yr receipts

Chicago's Consumer Services Department recently finished its latest survey of city stores, looking for unintentional mark-ups at the cash register. Their report shows that, while most supermarkets and retailers are improving their error-catching rate, an alarming 78 percent of Chicago drugstores are overcharging its customers. The department's tips on preventing overcharging are common sense ones: bring sales ads to the store; mention any overcharges right away to the cashier; and check your receipts for discrepancies.

Rooftop baseball argument settled

Last month, GB mentioned that Skybox on Waveland was the only remaining rooftop baseball business that was still being threatened by the Cubs in a lawsuit, and was going to have its view of the action in Wrigley Field blocked in some manner. Well, now comes word that an agreement between Skybox and the Cubs has been reached, meaning that Monday's season-opener at Wrigley Field will be free of controversy. At least as far as rooftop baseball proprietors are concerned.

It's Alive! In the Southwest Suburbs!

"Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature" is a traveling exhibition, currently at the Moraine Valley Library in Palos Hills, that encourages audiences to examine the intent of Mary Shelley's novel discuss her and their own views about personal and societal responsibility as it relates to science and other areas of life.

Chicago Wilderness

Speaking of favorite parks...Check out the website for the Chicago Wilderness Coalition, an alliance "of more than 170 public and private organizations working together to protect, restore, study and manage the precious natural ecosystems of the Chicago region for the benefit of the public." This beautiful website discusses the biodiversity of the Chicago region from the Wisconsin border to Indiana and includes information about how you can volunteer to protect our region's woodlands, wetlands and prairies.

Shotgun Blast, 10 O'clock.

Heard about those new gunshot-detecting surveillance cameras the police are installing around town? FuturePundit has a good round-up of the news. (Thanks Brenda.)

Clear Sky Clock

Wondering whether you'll be able to see the stars? Check the Chicago Clear Sky Clock. Designed for use by amateur astronomers, the clock shows a prediction of sky conditions for the area over the next two days. You can even get a mini version of the map to put on your own site, like this:

Wanted: Ronald McDonald

Police are looking for a man dressed in a Ronald McDonald costume, who showed up unannounced at two McDonald's restaurants in Joliet and "allegedly showed an inordinate interest in a cash register."

Zzz

There's a new fraternity at Northwestern: Zeta Zeta Zeta, or ZZZ. The Tri Zetas are a pseudo-fraternity that encourages "excellence through superior sleep," and was created as an alternative to the usual fraternities and sororities for NU students who are more interested in getting some more shut-eye. Great idea!

"Love OW!"

Kanji, Japanese caligraphic symbols, are increasingly popular for tattoos, typically among people who can't read them. The Tribune recently took a look at the kanji tattooed on six people and had a researcher at the Japanese consulate translate them. Their owners would not be pleased. [via signal vs. noise] (Interestingly, this same article appeared a year ago in Columbia College's Echo magazine.)

Dusable Park -- A Reality?

The land has sat vacant, lined with fences, for more than 15 years. In 1987, Mayor Harold Washington set aside more than 3 acres of land northeast of Lake Shore Drive and the Chicago River, to be named in honor of the city's first non-native settler. Financial, developmental and artistic issues have kept the peninsula fenced off and unused. Now, four years after park proponents came together to champion DuSable Park, the park district's $55 million capital plan set for a vote in May includes funds for the park's design drawings. Additionally, establishing the park is key to completing the vision of Daniel Burnham to make the entire lakefront a series of parks accessible to the public.

Peregrine falcons return to Chicago

We previously mentioned that bald eagles are coming back to the Chicago area, and now the Sun-Times reports that peregrine falcons are making a comeback, as well. The Illinois Endangered Species Board has changed the bird's classification from "endangered" to "threatened," which although it still sounds bad indicates that the falcon's numbers are on the rise. Used to nesting in cliff faces, the falcons are making their homes in any tall structure they can find: building ledges and rooftops, smokestacks, and tall trees.

Wireless Chicago

Good news for Wi-Fi users: Chicago ranks 11th nationally in wireless Web accessibility. We're behind cities like San Francisco, Austin, and Portland, but ahead of Los Angeles and New York City. Last year, Chicago ranked 18th, but the number of Wi-Fi hotspots has grown dramatically in the last year, from 3,700 to 9,800.

WLUW Record Fair

Calling all crafters! Wanna spend a Saturday listening to great local bands surrounded by cool people and selling all those cool things you make? The WLUW Record Fair is filling up Pulaski Park Auditorium (1419 W. Blackhawk--near Division and Ashland), but it's not just for vinyl sellers. Last year there were more than 800 shoppers and 50 vendors. They've got a lot more space, they're close to public transportation, and they're rockin' cool. Interested in vending? Drop them an email.

Raise the U-505!

If you head over to the Museum of Science and Industry this week, you'll see an amazing site: the museum's U-505 submarine being moved indoors. The sub's being moved from its old place outside because the decades of Chicago weather have taken their toll on the ship, in the form of rusting steel and disintegrating wood. The MSI's Website has the lowdown on the move, and the Tribune has a great picture, along with the moving schedule.

Photos from the Top

Archie at Screenager.org is a fine photographer. His most recent photos are incredible: long-exposure night shots of the city from the observation deck of the Sears Tower.

Jeff Tweedy's gonna kick it

In more Wilco news, Jeff Tweedy has checked himself into rehab, cancelling a European tour and postponing A Ghost Is Born by two weeks. Tweedy is battling an addiction to his migraine painkillers. The brief tour starting this month which ends with Coachella may also be cancelled. Get better Jeff. [Hat tip to Dan]

Downloaders with hearts of gold

After Wilco's upcoming album A Ghost is Born was leaked to the Net three months before its release date, some of the band's fans came up with a unique form of "payment." At justafan.org, downloaders can make a donation to the Wilco-selected charity Doctors Without Borders, as a "promissory note" to buy the album when it's released June 22. Over $4000 has been donated since Friday.

Get those kids out of my tattoo parlor!

Currently in the Illinois senate: a bill that would ban anyone under 18 from entering a tattoo parlor, unless accompanied by an adult. But don't worry too much about it, kids; the same bill would exempt minors from criminal charges if they tattoo another youth outside of a tattoo shop. So the message appears to be: if you're under 18 and looking for a tattoo, don't go to the professional inkers at Chicago Tattoo and Piercing near Clark and Belmont. Go get your friends to do it!

Chinatown museum finds home

The Chinatown Museum Foundation, created in 2002, has found a home, the Sun-Times reports. The foundation, created to showcase the richness of the culture in Chinatown, acquired a building on West 23rd Street, and hopes to have its grand opening by the end of the year. Its first exhibition, scheduled to open in the summer of 2005, will compare and contrast the role of Chinese culture in the world expositions of 1893 and 1933, both held in Chicago.

Steppenwolf's Letts a Pulitzer finalist

The 2004 Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, revealing that Steppenwolf ensemble member Tracy Letts was a finalist for the drama prize for his play Man From Nebraska, which premiered at Steppenwolf in November. Letts, whose play Bug is enjoying a healthy off-Broadway run, is also an actor who last appeared in Steppenwolf's Homebody/Kabul last year; he'll be back there in September with John Mahoney in The Dresser. Steppenwolf's run of Nebraska was also named one of Time's best of 2003.

seriouSeries #3

Infamous design site and Chicago brethren SpeakUp makes a return with seriouSeries, their show-and-tell panel style intimate exchange of ideas and grand discussion on April 29th. No. 3 explores Chicago and it's web fiends, namely Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners, Jason Fried of 37 Signals, Jake Nickell, Jacon DeHart and Jeffrey Kalmikoff of SkinnyCorp/Threadless and yours truly of well, this here website and other things. Space is limited but free, details and RSVP here.

Last Chance to Make Found Covers

A week ago, volunteer crafty types hand-decorated over 500 magazines to be sent out to subscribers of FOUND magazine. But lucky you, there's one more night of scissor snipping and scotch tape taping tonight over at Open End (2000 W.Fulton, at Damen) from 6:30pm to 10pm. Come and join the fun. Oh, and the word is out that they're getting low on quality finds for the covers, so take a look today as you're walking around town and see if you can grab a couple of choice pieces of found art to bring along.

Drinkers with a Running Problem

Like to drink? Like to run? You might want to join one of the city's Hash House Harrier clubs. The groups combine the pub crawl with the paper chase, following markers on the street to run from bar to bar, having a drink and moving on. Great exercise for your body and your tolerance. For more info, check the websites of the Chicago, Second City, Chicago Full Moon or Thirstday Harrier groups.

15-Cent Raise

Starting today, a copy of the Sun-Times will cost you a full 50 cents. The increase is meant to help offset production costs and brings it in line with the prices of the other area dailies. It's the first increase since 1988, when the paper cost a quarter.

Lake Affect: A Photographic Event

Othello Anderson, a renowned environmental photographer, brings "Lake Affect" to our attention. Over 20 years in the making, this exhibit features 250 photographs of Lake Michigan taken from the same vantage point, but at different times of the day and season over more than 20 years. Visit the City Gallery in the historic Water Tower (806 N. Michigan) this Friday through June 28.

Sushi Chicago

Ever been out on the streets of Chicago and wanted to know the best sushi place nearby? Well, now you can point your WAP-enabled phone to Chicago Sushi Finder and search by name, location (even just the nearest cross streets), neighborhood, or check out their top rated list of sushi restaurants (they've only got three so far). If you think you're the greatest sushi finder out there then you can register and rate restaurants yourself. Oh, and yeah, you could just point your computer to their website, I suppose.

Asian American Showcase

The 9th annual Chicago Asian American Showcase kicks off tonight at 5pm at the Gene Siskel Film Center with a gallery exhibit and reception. Stick around to watch a series of Asian-American films, and check the schedule to for more events. (Thanks Carly.)

Landmark Hotel

Purveyors of fine accommodation, Hampton Inns, would like us to explore Chicago's hidden (or not-so-hidden) landmarks at HamptonLandmarks.com. Not too many Chicago-related entries so far, but you can always submit your own. (Thanks Ian.)

Design Turtle

Add Palla Palla to your list of online design communities, this one specifically aimed at the Chi-town crowd. It's in a fledgling state right now, so if you're looking for a community to help shape in your own image, this is it.

Wal-Mart Blocked

Follow-up on this week's Revenge of the Second City column: The City Council delayed approval of a zoning variance yesterday that would have allowed Wal-Mart to open its first downtown store.

SCTV by Any Other Name

The Tribune reports that a soon-to-debut cable network, Stand-up Comedy Television, is in trouble with Second City over the acronym SCTV. The locally produced network uses the acronym, which Second City holds a trademark on for the Canadian sketch comedy show of the same name.

Chicago International Documentary Film Festival

Tonight's the starting night of yet another Chicago film festival, the Chicago International Documentary Film Festival. The 11-day event kicks off with a screening of the film Marina, a look at the life of the Afghani actress who played the lead in the recent film Osama. See the CIDFF Website for more info, and a complete schedule of the films playing through April 11.

Happy Kha B'Nissan

For Assyrians all over the world, April 1 is not a day for fools, but rather: The New Year!! You may think it's 2004 -- but you'd be wrong. It's 6754! April 1st is Kha B'Nissan (literally "First of April") and we celebrate with a parade and a party. So if you see a lovable Assyrian with an Assyrian flag hanging off their rearview mirror as you make your way home from work, roll down your window and let them know: Happy Kha B'Nissan!

Clown Time

I've always liked the weird little drawings that illustrate News of the Weird in The Reader. Turns out the artist, Shawn Belschwender, has a comic strip that's as twisted as you'd expect from something called Clowntime Comics.

Frail, infirm granny on the loose!

Betty A. Gooch of Algonquin, IL, was charged last month for passing bad checks at several Chicago area car dealerships, using her apparent frail health and age to persuade the salesmen to delay cashing the checks, and meanwhile running up the mileage on the vehicles while she had them. Ms. Gooch was supposed to appear at a court hearing yesterday, but in a move that perhaps the prosecutors should have anticipated, she did not show up after being released on her own recognizance for health reasons, and she has also lost the services of her defense attorney after she paid him with a bad check. An arrest warrant has been issued.

Final frame for Marigold Bowl

This week's Newcity confirms the sad news: Marigold Bowl is closing its doors on May 28. That gives you less than 60 days to go check out this lovely bowling alley one final time.

Women and New Media Conference

The tenth annual Guild Complex Women Writers Conference this weekend focuses on women and new media, complete with workshops on blogging and "electronically enhanced storytelling." Friday night, see keynote speakers Larissa Lai, Alexis O'Hara and Krista Franklin perform their work at Catalyst Ranch, 656 W. Randolph St. Saturday features two sets of workshops followed by a campus tour of Illinois Institute of Technology, 35 W. 33rd St. Check the site or call 773-227-6117 for schedule and price information.

 

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