Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, April 15

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All Hallow's Eve

Jim Coudal tells a touching tale, reminding us of the roots of this holiday.

Eaaaaarrrrllllyyy Admission

Today Roosevelt University offered all first and second year students at Social Justice High School a full ride, provided they graduate with at least a 3.0 GPA, earn a 20 or higher on the ACTs, and fulfill a handful of other obligations. Good luck, high schoolers!

Free Boo-rito

In other fast food news: dress up like a burrito and get one free.

KFC and McD's Vow to Lose the Fat

In a competition over who's on first, KFC and McDonald's Corporation have announced cutbacks in the use of trans fats in their products. KFC has proposed using low linolenic soybean oil in some foods, while their biscuits and mashed potatoes would still contain the stuff. Oak Brook-based McDonald's, which promised in 2002 to remove trans fats from its menu completely, is still in the process of becoming trans-free.

Freshman Arrested After Online Threat

A Niles West High School freshman was arrested today after FBI, Skokie police and school officials were notified by the administrators of Wikipedia after they discovered a troubling entry on the school's page. The entry was never posted, but because it "made violent threats specific to Niles West (High School) on Halloween," additional security was put in place at the school today.

Catching some ZZZ's (on camera)

The "Going Public" column in the Red Eye today talks to Yvonne Doll, a part-time cell phone photo snapper whose passion for photography has translated into a new web site For three months she has been taking pictures of slumping CTA riders who use their commute to catch up on sleep — whichever way they can. Droolers, beware!

Can You See Me Now?

Care to play a game?

Dominick's Redo

According to Crain's, Lakeview residents are very close to getting a new Dominick's to replace the one that burned down two summers ago. Three floors of condos are proposed to top the store at 3012 N. Broadway. It's a nice idea, but I'd probably still be too lazy to get milk.

Inner City Pastoral

A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship "genius grant," Kerry James Marshall is probably the most internationally esteemed of contemporary Chicago artists. The crew of Bad at Sports was able to sit down and talk to him in front of a studio audience, and the interview is now available via the latest edition of their podcast.

Obama 'n On'n'On

More Obama coverage, this time on the New Yorker's website. (Includes an mp3 of the whole 45-minute interview!)

Wrigleyville Assault

This morning, cops were posted at the Addison Red Line stop to pass out flyers requesting information on a 30-something man who robbed and sexually assaulted a woman as she was leaving the stop early Sunday morning. It's always jarring when you hear of attacks in a neighborhood in which you usually feel safe, but even more so when you realize it happened along the exact route you traverse everyday. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Belmont Area sex crimes unit at 312-744-8261.

Need New Specs, Four Eyes?

If you're looking for that perfect pair of eyeglasses, the dudes at the Lakeview and Bucktown Eye Spy Optical stores can totally hook you up. All this month, Eye Spy is holding exclusive trunk shows for a range of eyewear designers. Check out their site for a complete calendar.

Epic Theater for Penny-Pinchers

Mother Courage makes a fortune selling shoes, blankets and assorted geegaws during the Thirty Years War, but loses her children and her heart in the process. Vitalist Theatre's production of Brecht's meditation on war and capitalism seems timely, and is surprisingly entertaining. The show has been extended until Sunday, November 5. Tickets will set you back $20, but Hot Tix has discounted seats.

What's New at Rotofugi

Man, the crew down at Rotofugi are rockin' Chicago with some great upcoming events and artist appearances, including Nathan Jurevicius, MAD, Sket One and more. Check out their site for a full list of dates and times.

Sadie Hawkins Day Race

Sadie Hawkins is a fictional day from a L'il Abner strip. However, it is now also a bike race organized to encourage women of all kinds who ride bikes to come out and race for fun, as well as to benefit the Chicago Women's Health Center. There's a pre-race fashion party on Friday, Nov 10th in the Fulton Markets with the race happening on Nov 11th, followed with a post-party the same day. Want to race? Want to have fun? Check out the myspace.

Hollaback, Chicago!

The CTA Tattler alerts us to Hollaback Chicago, a new blog devoted to documenting women's stories of being harrassed on the streets (the blog was inspired by a similar site for NYC women).

Really Quick Review: ShawChicago

Going to a play is usually hit-or-miss; even when you attend a performance by one of Chicago's celebrated companies, the script might be a dud, or the acting uneven. ShawChicago, though, is always a sure thing. They do only a handful of shows a year, and most are staged readings, but the plays (since they're by George Bernard Shaw) are guaranteed terrific--smart and funny--and the performances are so consistently skilled that you forget you're not watching a fully staged production. See for yourself: You Never Can Tell is at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts until next Monday.

Dropping Delivery

I wonder if the Tribune's falling circulation numbers have anything to do with the paper suddenly appearing unbidden (and unpaid-for) on my doorstep for the past few weeks.

Breeches, Bloodhounds and All

What do you call a fox hunt without foxes? The Wayne-Dupage, apparently. BusinessWeek profiles the sport of the suburban gentry.

Falling Back and Fond Farewells

Don't forget to set your clock back one hour on Sunday morning, and when you do, say "good bye" to making the switch in October. Thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Daylight Savings Time will henceforth end on the first Sunday in November, undoubtedly causing trouble for college Halloween parties.

The New Suburban Venue

Now that the Sears Centre is officially open, the Daily Herald offers a review of its first night in action, and the Sun Times and the Trib provide some background.

Abrupt Trump

Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin describes a phone call regarding Trump Tower -- from The Donald himself.

French Scholarship

Rotary International lives up to their name: they have a number of scholarships where local students or business professionals can engage in long-term or short-term cultural exchanges. Local Rotary District 6450 is participating in an group study with France in May--so if you're interested in interacting with the French (with Rotary picking up most of the tab)--get your application in shortly. (Full disclosure: I participated in a Rotary exchange as did my sister, and they do a great job.)

Theft From Local Art Gallery

If you saw the "Wonder Twin Power, Activate!" group exhibition at Gescheidle a few months ago, you might recall a small but eye-popping collage by Rob Yamabushi. The artist is a designer and collagist who lives in North Carolina, and the show was apparently Yamabushi's first time publicly exhibiting in an art gallery. Reportedly, the work was stolen from the gallery earlier this month, and gallery director Susan Gescheidle is offering a reward for its recovery or return.

A Cinderella Story for the Cubs

A little old, but worth pointing to as the Tribune prepares to auction itself: An Open Letter to Bill Murray, in which it's recommended he buy the Cubs.

The Inside Scoop

Inside Chicago is a relatively new, really well done videoblog following host Ellen Fox's adventures around the city -- think "Wild Chicago" but less goofy. This site also runs the STOP Police! podcast, in which Darren Stephens covers highlights from the week's police blotter.

Transmission Feature: Xiu Xiu

Read all about Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu's YouTube confessions, the group's "nothing is off-limits" approach to art, and how Weezer influenced their experimental rock in today's Transmission feature.

Lollapalooza stays in Chicago

It's official: a 5-year deal with Lollpalooza has been approved by the Chicago Park District board.

Travel Outside the Loop

Local radio guys Mike Stephen and Andy Hermann (you may know them as "Broham" and "The Count" from The Nick Digilio Show on WGN) have teamed up to bring us Outside the Loop: Chicago's Almost Above-Ground Audio Magazine, a weekly podcast every Thursday highlighting local newsmakers, artists, musicians, and other folks doing great stuff in Chicago. And it's free -- wee!

The (Pumpkin) Orange Line

How else would railfan Tony Coppoletta say "Happy Halloween" but an 'L'-o-lantern?

Yellow Fade Special

If, after reading this week's Detour, you're curious about the 37signals mantra, you can now get Getting Real for free.

Blue Bags Dead, Long Live the Bins

After 11 years of trying to make it work, Mayor Daley has finally announced the end to the city's oft neglected blue bag recycling program. Instead, there's a seven ward pilot program in the works to use curbside bins in place of the rarely used blue plastic bags for recycling paper, glass, plastic and cans. The new bin color? Blue, of course.

DIY Holiday Cards

Hoping to stand out from the glut of generic "season's greetings" cards this holiday season? Try this: Sign up for the Chicago Center for Books & Paper's cheap papermaking class (Nov. 4 -- only $25!) and make your cards yourself!

Patty Burger Preview

I had a chance to go downtown and sample some of the much hyped and much awaited Patty Burger offerings last night, and my feelings are rather lukewarm about the whole place. Much smaller than I imagined, there were no promised milkshake samples, or fries, and I was not blown away by these wunderburgers at all.

The burgers are fine, really. The meat seems to be of slightly better quality than other fast food offerings, but "The Sauce" seems to be only a slightly tangy thousand island dressing, and the cheese was rather blah. The burgers without cheese, in fact, tasted better. You can pay an extra buck (on top of your $3.29 single burger) and get bacon or avocado as a topping, and McD doesn't do that, but is that the key to a successful hamburger establishment?

All the rumors of Patty Burger being the closest thing to the beloved In-N-Out Burgers just don't seem to be true. It's a good burger, but it ain't all that. I imagine the spot will do fine, since it's right in front of the Art Institute, and it'll make its money on delivery (with a $.49 per item delivery charge), but expect crowds even when it's not lunch time since the place is tiny and C-shaped which leads me to think it'll bottleneck fast. Check out some pictures of the space, the menu prices and the burgers at our flickr.

Beluga Q. McWhaleypants

Over the summer, a baby beluga whale was born at the Shedd Aquarium, and they're only just now getting around to picking a name for her. ABC's Good Morning America is helping out the aquarium running a name-the-baby-beluga contest. Submit your name suggestion now, and on November 2 the four finalists will be posted for the public to vote on. The winning name will be announced November 9.

Kevin GuilfoiLets Play a Game

Kevin Guilfoile (this month's Book Club author) is running an interesting name game with some great prizes over at The Outfit blog.

Outside Looking In is a really cool new blog & news aggregator organized locationally: you can search for posts based on your zip code or neighborhood name. Here's an explanation of its guiding principles.

Books That Will Haunt You

This week on the Gapers Block Book Club blog, we are celebrating Halloween by sharing a selection of books that are guaranteed to tingle your spines and chill your bones. Find out all the grisly details about the Chicago's most haunted places and well-known ghosts.

A Sad Slow Burn - Historic Chicago Building Ablaze

Tonight, Chicago lost another one. While sitting in the library at Columbia College cramming for a midterm, I noticed I smelled smoke, but somehow chalked it up to a photocopy machine in over-drive. Two seconds later, the entire school was evacuated. The fireball that turned the historic Louis Sullivan Wirt Dexter Building, built in 1887, and the former home to George Diamond's Steakhouse into ash, is a sad showing for Preservation Chicago.

Marathon winner released from hospital

Robert Cheruiyot, the Kenyan runner who won Sunday's Chicago Marathon but slipped & fell right at the finish line, was released from the hospital this morning after sufficiently recovering from the head injuries he sustained in his fall. A championship ceremony is happening downtown right now to celebrate his win, and he's expected to make a full recovery.

Beat-Bike v.1

Chicagoan Michael Una built this neat combination of bicycle and drum machine for Chicago Artists' Month (that's October to the uninitiated). "Beat-Bike v.1 rewards exercise and coordination with funky outer-space disco beats," says Una. Who are we to argue?

Cantu Finds Another Edge to Cut

Homaro Cantu is known for some very experimental cooking techniques at Moto, but he's also on the forefront of another area of culinary innovation: the copyrighting and patenting of recipes. [via]

Inge Direct

More in today's NYTimes on Charles Isherwood's recent Chicago visit: he notes the unlikely, informal William Inge festival comprising Shattered Globe's recently closed Come Back, Little Sheba and American Theatre Company's The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

In the Market for a Rollercoaster?

If so, head out to East Dundee for the Santa's Village auction. Don't forget to check out the full catalog [PDF] and supplementary photos so you'll be fully prepared to bid.

Check your pulse on National Oriental Medicine Day

In honor of National Oriental Medicine Day, local holistic health studio Source Healing is offering free info and refreshments from noon to 6pm Tuesday, Oct. 24. Get a Chinese tongue and pulse diagnosis, learn about Chinese nutrition for fertility, and prep for cold and flu season. More details in Slowdown.

Forty Under Forty

Speaking of 37signals, president Jason Fried and partner David Heinemeier Hansson were named two of Crain's top Forty Under Forty this week. Also on the list are GB faves Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart of Threadless and John Tolva of Ascent Stage. Go here for a full list of the youthful accomplisments.

Dag! Seriously, dag!

For the Lynda Barry fans out there: a chance to take a two-day writing course taught by Ms. Barry herself! Hurry up and decide soon; there's only 6 seats left in this class.

More Money for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council is accepting applications for major (up to $10,000, due February 15) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. For more information, call 312/422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

They Are What You Eat

Menuism is a new website that invites diners to review restaurants -- not just overall, but menu item by item. Yum.

Meter Switches Off

As Anne pointed out last week, Bob Mehr is leaving the Reader. The final installment of his column "The Meter" bids farewell on a note of musical diversity: police officer "Skipper" Keyes's quest to resuscitate the soul music of local legends and Alex White's plan to form a redhead-only rock 'n' roll band.

Book Club: Cast of Shadows Discussion Questions

The discussion questions for Cast of Shadows are now up on the Book Club page. Use our new comments section to post your thoughts and opinions before our November 13 meeting, especially if you can't make it to the meeting. We can't wait to see what you have to say.

Who Here Likes Pancakes?

The aptly named Illinois Pancakes blog has a simple goal: eat and review the pancakes of Illinois.

"The Door Has Opened a Bit"

No longer willing to say "no" outright, Barack Obama tells Tim Russert running for the presidency is now a "possibility," one he'll give further thought to after next month's elections. The drumbeat -- he's taken over the Times Op-Ed page: like David Brooks earlier in the week, Maureen Dowd gave him yesterday's column (sub. req'd); Frank Rich followed suit today -- has apparently had an impact. (The video clip only works on Windows machines running IE; those using other platforms may have better luck with the entire interview. Discussion of POTUS possibilities occurs around minute 25.) [ETA: Bob Herbert chimed in on Monday. Naturally.]

Cafeteria Critiques Not Cutting It

At least five suburban student newspapers are in trouble, and as Northwestern School of Journalism Dean Richard Roth puts it, "I hope they're not going out of business. We have enough problems with newspapers without losing them in high school."

Going through the motions

Stressed and needing to relax? Maybe attending the newly opened Taoist Tai Chi Society's space at 1922 W. Montrose is just what you need. They've got beginner classes starting ths week (Monday and Thursday 6-7:30pm) and membership is only $40 a month.

Supermodel (You Better Drink Red Bull)

The fabulous RuPaul will be performing at Circuit, 3641 N. Halsted, tonight. The doors open at 10pm, but the diva won't hit the stage until 1am and finishes up at 5am -- better hit those energy drinks! Tickets are $20.

'Bout Time for Bins

The Tribune reports that city officials are set to announce the expansion of the curbside recycling program to seven wards throughout Chicago. Shocking to no one who has lived municipalities that provide separate collection bins (in other words, every other major city in the country, and most minor ones), recycling participation has surged to 80% in Beverly -- a dramatic change from the rest of the city, where only 13% bother (and probably only about 3% believe their blue bagged waste is actually treated differently than the rest of the trash).

His Excellency Von Excellent

There are thousands of blogs started every day, sure. Few of them, however, are written by Germany gentry in exile in Chicago. No telling what The Barony will be about, but who can turn down a promised "transformation from unclean prolatarian ingnoramity to cultural aristocracy"? Certainly not I.

The Meter and Mehr Move to Memphis

Transmission has the scoop on music critic Bob Mehr leaving the Chicago Reader.

Color Your Space for Fall

Apartment Therapy is running a fall colors interior design contest; the winners receive a CB2 shop card for up to $2500. Go check out the Midwest entries, which are also running as they come in on Chicago.ApartmentTherapy.

New Ebert reviews

Another week, another couple more Roger Ebert reviews. This week he looks at Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (opening today at lots of theaters around town) and the indie film Man Push Cart (opening today at the Music Box). As always, these films and others are reviewed by our own Steve at the Movies, as well.

Optimized Around Happiness

You know you've made it in the world of software when Apple does a promo video about how much you love your Mac and OS X. But that's business as usual for 37signals lately, I guess. Read up on the Chicago-based web dev. firm in next week's Detour.

"He's Ready. Why Wait?"

Speaking on NPR, it's Obama on the current Fuel topic (itself inspired by the seemingly never-ending discussion): "If I decide to run for president, I'll make an announcement. Everybody'll be invited, and that will end the speculation at that point." (For more, watch the senator's appearance on Charlie Rose.)

Yankee Hotel Snotbox

Best headline about Jeff Tweedy punching out a fan who ran onstage comes from this blog posting on Billboard: I Am Trying To Break Your Nose.

Tell Blago You're Mad About Bell's

A follow-up to the earlier Bell's beer story: The Logan Square Draught Beer Preservation Society has written a draft (draught?) letter to send to Blago to help prevent the elimination of Bell's (along with other smaller brews) from Chicago. (This American Life has an excellent background on it in the prologue to their "The Fix Is In" episode if you want to hear more about how this came to be.)

Once, They Wanted To Be The Greatest

And, now, it seems, they are: Newcity presents the 2006 edition of its Best of Chicago.

Another Day, Another Google Maps Application

El and Metra lines overlaid on Google Maps. Sweet.

The Drum Beat Continues

Conservative NYTimes columnist David Brooks joins the chorus recommending Barack Obama run for president. Meanwhile, Oprah tried and failed to get Obama to commit, but she did get him to agree to announce it on her show ...if he does. (Meanwhile, somebody thinks that both of them should run.)

RESFEST's Anniversary - Film Fest. the Chicago Way

It's the big number 10 for the RESFEST group and this year the pioneering film festival is kicking things off at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. This global event offers such visuals as the documentary Rock the Bells from Paris, to graphics and animation in State of the Art showing in Lima, and let's not forget the after- parties rolling in Jakarta. What you can't make it to all these cities? It's ok, Chicago will be screening A Decade of RESFEST: 10 Seminal Short Films so you can catch up on all the past-production and playback.

Lover Caught My Eye on the 'L'

This morning, while reading my issue of Time Out Chicago on the 'L', this Critics' Pick item caught my eye. Lover is an adorable and pricey clothing line from Australia, which after months of anticipation has finally hit Chicago, landing at Hejfina. Among other chic brands, the upscale boutique in Wicker Parker carries Les Prairies des Paris--the kind of clothes Audrey Hepburn would wear. By the way, I applaud Steve Johnson, who recently wrote a letter to the Gap demanding they give us our Audrey back.

Transmission Feature: The Changes

Over at Transmission, our Thursday feature profiles young up-and-coming Chicago band The Changes. Learn about how they got not one, but two indie labels to represent them, their love of Color Me Badd and about their comparisons to The Beatles.

Book Cellar, Hideout or Library?

Tonight there are several literary events worth your while, but unfortunately they're at the same time. The Blackstone Branch Library is holding their monthly Voices from Home series, while the Harold Washington Library welcomes the famed E.L. Doctorow. The Book Cellar will be home to Joe Meno, Todd Dills and Steve Asma; meanwhile the Hideout will celebrate the Best American Comics release with series editor and local writer Anne Elizabeth Moore and guest editor Harvey Pekar. What's a book lover to do? Look to Slowdown to get all the info and make your decision.

She's the Running Back

Meet Lasaadia Jones, the first female varsity football player in Chicago Public League history.

Bears, Oil and the Mob

If I had the inside line on a conspiracy involving former Chicago Bears great Ed O'Bradovich, fraud, oil and the mob, I don't know if YouTube is the place I'd turn. But that seems to be the only place Joe Weinbender is telling his story.

You can put it on the ratings board, yes!

Or as Crain's puts it, Holy cow! For the first time in recent memory, the Sox beat the Cubs in overall TV ratings on WGN, WCIU and Comcast Sports Net. The Cubs still sold more tickets than the Sox; of course that was mostly at the beginning of the season...

Diversifying the U of C

Inside Higher Education notes that, thanks in part to the Collegiate Scholars Program, which identifies promising Chicago Public Schools students and assists them in applying to top-tier universities, the number of African-American students enrolling at the University of Chicago is at an all-time high.

Book Club: Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle

Every year the Newberry Library holds a colloquium and this year members of the Baker Street Irregulars came together to discuss one of literature's most eminent detectives: Sherlock Holmes. This week's Book Club feature takes a look at this bit of Doyleana and the ardent fans both behind the podium and in the audience.

More on Stage

If you do like Robert Fall's King Lear, then you might also like TUTA's Tracks, a series of violent vingettes about kids growing up during the Balkan war, which are tied together with eerily vacant American pop songs. The show runs through October 29th at the Viaduct Theater.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

NYTimes theater critic Charles Isherwood made another of his periodic Chicago visits, this time for a tale of two Shakespeares; surprising himself, he found he preferred Robert Falls' "aggressively raunchy, excruciatingly violent" King Lear (which closes this Sunday) to Chicago Shakes' "studiously tasteful, perfectly bland" Hamlet. (Perhaps he should have opted for Tiny Ninja Hamlet?) Speaking of excruciating violence, The House Theatre of Chicago's Shakespeare-inflected Hatfield and McCoy also closes this Sunday and is similarly not to be missed.

Lounges axed

Inspired by the closing of CBGB's in New York, The Beachwood Reporter remembers a similar event in Chicago's music scene: the closing of Lounge Ax.

Get Your Spook On

This Halloween season has plenty to offer the ghoul lurking inside of you. Unusual offerings include KFAR's Spookagogue Synagogue, the Apollo Theater's Haunting History, the Six Corners Monster Film Festival, and Ursula Bielski's Creepy Chicago Hauntings. Check slowdown for additional options.

Alright, Son?

Regardless of whether your reaction to Lily Allen's show last night was hurrah or ho-hum, chances are good you had a better time than Tyler Too Much Awesome, who passed out, and not thanks to over-imbibing. Not only was he mortified by causing a commotion, his mother didn't offer much comfort after the fact. Quoth Mrs. Much Awesome, "Well, it was your fault so it's understandable why you feel embarrassed." Gee, thanks, mom.

What Becomes of the Settling-Minded?

A follow-up on Mr. Undateable: Brian Wolf of "Settle For" fame has had some luck. While they've not yet reached the boyfriend / girlfriend stage, he tells NPR that he's currently seeing someone special. Hope springs eternal.

Journalism or Pulp Non-fiction?

Several weeks ago the Chicago Sun-Times printed a story with a questionably written introductory paragraph, about a woman who was allegedly kidnapped, raped repeatedly, and held captive for four days in Lincoln Square. A group of people at Beyond Today started a letter-writing campaign and had a meeting with representatives from the paper the same day they printed a story where another woman is pressing charges for sexual assault as well. And while the coverage of the initial story wasn't handled very well, the Sun-Times does seem to be the only local paper that is covering this story. correction The Chicago Tribune did run a less sensational story earlier this month.

Unabridged Online

Lakeview's favorite indie bookshop, Unabridged Bookstore at 3251 N. Broadway, is partying like it's 1999, and has gone live with its first store website. Woo! Check out new arrivals, sale books and much more. [via]

O'Hare to Get Jet Blue

Yesterday, discount airline Jet Blue announced that they will start flying out of O'Hare no later than January 2007. They've been trying to get into the airport since 2002, and now have FAA approval, but haven't yet announced destinations for their four daily flights. (At that time of year, I'm hoping that all their planes go someplace nice and warm.)

Looking Back on "American Cities"

All summer -- until Sunday, actually -- Catherine Opie's photographs were on display in one of the top-floor galleries of the MCA. Now, some of them are online, accompanied by an interview, thanks to the Morning News. [via]

"The Bears Are Who We Thought They Were"

Good luck finding a quiet spot where nobody's talking about last night's Bears game. Grossman sucked, but at least he admitted it -- and had the stellar defense and surprising special teams to back him up. My favorite soundbite is the one from Cardinals coach Dennis Green, who melted down at the podium and delivered that unintentionally ambiguous quote above; NSFW video accompanies MSNBC's story. (Also.)

Buy! Buy! Buy!

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is buying the Chicago Board of Trade for $8 billion, in a move to create a global derivatives exchange.

"For the Not-So-Safe Driver"

Looks like the Chicago Bike Federation has a new website for their Drive With Care campaign. At first, I thought it was real, but then I knew that any memorial like "The Brittany" had to be too good to be true. Well done, chaps.

Help Bring Back Bell's

Bell's is one of my favorite microbreweries (mmm, Oberon), so I was dismayed to find out their delicious beers would no longer be available in Chicago because of a distribution dispute. In response, members of the Logan Square Draught Beer Preservation Society will be meeting at Weegee's Lounge, 3659 W. Armitage, Tuesday night at 9pm to develop a plan of action. If you're mad as hell and can't take it anymore, join in!

TIME Backs Obama

Joe Klein joins the parade with a story on why Barack Obama should be the 2008 Democratic presidential candidate.

Afrocentric Bookstore Still Going Strong

The Chicago Defender has a nice profile of the Afrocentric Bookstore. First "opened 16 years ago at the back of a beauty supply store" on South Wabash, the independent bookstore is now located on South King Drive near 47th Street in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. As the Defender writes, "Afrocentric Bookstore has all the ingredients to warrant second and third helpings: friendly and knowledgeable staff, a wide selection of books and a desire to help you find what you came looking for."

Stadium ThreeWalls

This week, Bad at Sports commences a residency at West Loop gallery ThreeWalls (119 N. Peoria). Known for their irreverent podcast, the Bad at Sports team will conduct several "salons" and live interviews over the course of a month. The first, "What the heck do you mean Chicago art?," happens Friday night at 7.

Early voting starts today

It's three weeks before the 2006 midterm election, but you can vote today. For the first time in an Illinois general election you can cast an early ballot without needing an excuse. Check out the Voterinfonet site for details and a list of the early voting locations.

Share Your Secret -- Temporarily

Call 773/394-2017 and confess your secret. It will then be exposed -- but only for a day -- at One Day Secret.

Still Standing, But For How Long?

Despite recent presidential backing, Denny Hastert's House speakership continues to be the subject of speculation. Today's Washington Post assesses "the Coach" and his situation, not to mention his appearance, describing it in not particularly charitable terms as "a cross between actor Wilford Brimley and Jabba the Hutt."

Good Things To Eat

Even though I rarely follow them, I love reading recipes. And reading old recipe books just makes me giddy with the occasional "ew!" thrown in. So the dramatic intro aside, Rufus Estes wrote some interesting cooking points in 1911 when he published Good Things to Eat. And as a chef on the Pullman car that carried Princess Eulalie of Spain during the World's Fair, I think he's got the credits needed to back up a cookbook. But the Sardine Rarebit recipe brings back Snappy Mackerel Pudding nightmares.

A Force-ful Tryout Season

I love the current energy behind women's sports here in Chicago. I only wish I was a little more coordinated to do something like tryout for a women's professional tackle football team. The Chicago Force is ready to get next year's team signed up and in practice. Cause next year is the year we win!

Diddy, Daley Rap

In 2005, a planned "Diddy Day" celebration in Las Vegas never quite happened (it couldn't have helped that Diddy himself didn't make it). Mayor Daley was reportedly furious at this slight, and focused all of his efforts in the last year towards feting Sean Combs in Chicago. Today, that dream was realized.

We're Bringing Spooky Back

Speaking of pumpkins, The Reader has a convenient list of haunted houses, ghost tours and other Halloween events from tonight through the big day itself.

Still Haven't Seen Whom I'm Looking For

Sources tell me that Bono and Oprah were traipsing down Michigan Ave. on Thursday, purchasing items from the Gap, Motorola, Apple, and Armani, all in support of the "Red" campaign to fight AIDS in Africa. I don't know if I buy it because I certainly didn't see Bono and I'd hate to think I missed the chance to step outside and see my favorite live musician in the flesh. I'm going to have to believe it never happened.

A Work of Pumpkin Art

Are you a little bit bored giving your pumpkins the same triangle nose and staggered-tooth mouth, year after year? Pick up some tips on Sunday from Sacred Art as they open their doors for a Pumpkin Painting Workshop. $10 gets you apple cider, art supplies and tips, but you have to bring your own pumpkin. (You can buy one at Roscoe Blooms on the day of if you forget.) Head to Slowdown for the full scoop.

New Chris Ware comic preview

Check out a preview of Chris Ware's new project "Building Stories" in The Independent.

Sears Tower in Olympic Flames

Chicago doesn't have the 2016 Olympics yet, but it does have a real nice logo. And Jordan.

Prominent paper picks Pizano's prized pizza

The owners of Pizano's must be feeling pretty good these days. They represent Chicago in USA Today's top 10 list of great pizza restaurants in the US, and according to the Sun-Times they'll be featured on an upcoming episode of Oprah as the makers of the best thin-pizza crust in Chicago. Pizano's got a mention in a Fuel pizza discussion a couple years ago; check that archive for some more pizza recommendations.

Another Change in South Grant Park

It's almost time to say "goodbye" to the wooden bridge from the Roosevelt Metra station to Michigan Avenue. So break out your camera and sepia processing and take some old-time photographs this winter.

Business School Dropout

In BusinessWeek's 2006 rankings of graduate business schools, Northwestern's Kellogg slipped from no. 1 to no. 3. The best would-be MBAs won't have to look far for the new top dog, though: University of Chicago's GSB now leads the pack.

Free TAL downloads

After some previous conflicts with people setting up their own podcasts of This American Life, the radio program has decided to start making shows freely downloadable for one week after they air. Visit the TAL site to subscribe to the program's official podcast; the free downloads start next Monday.

The Metro Fights Poverty

Not doing anything Monday? The Metro, 3730 N. Clark, plays host to "Stand Up Against Poverty," a benefit for the international nonprofit Concern Worldwide's 2006 campaign to end world hunger. It'll be a night of great Irish music, with the legendary Scott Cleland (founder of the Drovers), Celtic band Baal Tinne and singer/songwriter Nancy Stone performing. Tickets are $10 in advance at the Metro box office or $20 at the door.

Transmission Feature: Lily Allen

Don't know the difference between what's Chav and what's Grime? Get schooled about it in this week's Transmission feature which is hot, now!

Surveillance Theater

A businessman crossing international borders is stopped by a customs agent; as he faces the agent's inquiries his virtual "data-body" becomes visible to the theater-goer: his fingerprint and personal data are projected on a monumental scale. See SUPER VISION tonight through Saturday at the MCA.

Ebert lives!

Roger Ebert writes from his recovery bed on the complications from last June's surgery, his slow rehabilitation, and when he expects to be able to resume movie reviewing. He's also written a review for Stephen Frears' The Queen which should be posted soon at Roger's Website.

Sox at 7:11

So you heard that weekday White Sox games will start at 7:11pm, right? Here's a story on how the team and sponsor 7-Eleven came up with the agreement, which will bring the Sox and extra half-mil a year for three years.

Johnny Apple's Favorite Pancakes?

The late R.W. Apple, legendary New York Times food critic, recommended the pancakes at Bongo Room in his last email message, Gawker notes. [Thanks, Jeb!]

Washington Under Wraps

Rush hours in the Loop are gonna be a little tougher in a couple of weeks, as the Washington Red Line stop ceases operation in preparation for Block 37 Superstation construction. Starting October 23, there'll be no train access, and the Blue Line tunnel will also be closed (transfers will only be available at Jackson). The CTA says work is "expected" to finish in Fall 2008. For more details, see Tony Coppoletta's run-down on the shut-down.

Open Letter to Criminals: Stay Away from MySpace

Another from our neck of the woods.

Missed Tapes

Jhumpa Lahiri's recent talk at the Chicago Public Library drew over 1,000 people, but only 700 were granted admission due to space constraints. If you missed the event you can listen and/or download it at WBEZ's Amplified page, where audio files of many of the CPL's author events are posted. Stay tuned for this Friday's David Mamet event, which is sure to draw a similarly large crowd.

Headline of the day

In the Trib: Downstate police kill mystery emu. (tip from Amy)

Suburb Name Game

Coudal points to a post about suburban "mash game" names and localizes it: "Fox, lake, river, heights, grove, villa(ge), park, oak, lawn, lake, brook, hills, fields, forest, elk. Choose two or three at random, and chances are you've named a real Chicago suburb.

Bookslut double-date

Fans of the Bookslut reading series will definitely want to make an effort to catch tonight's show; there will be no readings in November and December. As a consolation prize, the site will also guest host Jordan Davis' Million Poems Show tomorrow night; details for tonight and tomorrow's events in Slowdown.

Realtor Building Sprouts Pipes

The Realtor Building, 430 N. Michigan, sprouted some fancy new pipes overnight -- anybody know what they are? Matt Maldre has a theory: it's a waterslide.

Book Club: Cast of Shadows

This month's Book Club selection is Cast of Shadows, the much lauded debut novel from Kevin Guilfoile. You can read the introduction here and then join us at the Book Cellar on November 13, at 7:30pm, when the author himself will sit down to discuss his work. New members are always welcome!

My Lake Michigan Firing Range

The Coast Guard has proposed establishing 34 permanent live-fire zones in the Great Lakes. The 2,500 square miles of water would be closed to public while in use. As you might expect, people throughout the Great Lakes are more than a little upset. Currently, the Coast Guard's information site is offline although a comment page and a press release are available.

Support Collaboraction

Support this award-winning art/theatre collective by attending their October 14 gala, The Beggar's Banquet. In attendance will be stars from Gilmore Girls and Arrested Development, plus a bitchin' live auction. Buy your tickets today -- and support Collaboraction, whose offices were recently broken into and cleaned out!

Blast Theory at the MCA

Okay, so check this out. On Nov. 2-5, the MCA is sponsoring "Can You See Me Now?" by Blast Theory, a British interactive-art group. It's a chase game that happens simultaneously online and on the streets of Chicago. Players from anywhere in the world can play online in a virtual Chicago against Blast Theory chasers on the streets who use GPS and cell phone technology to guide them in tracking the players down. Totally awesome.

Five Down, 11 to Go

The Bears are looking damn good this year. Think they can go all the way? Then this new shirt, created by Coudal Partners, is the one for you.

Pileup in Grundy County

"The Midwest's Greasiest Hot Rod Show," the Hunnert Car Pileup, is this Saturday at the historic Grundy County Speedway and fairgrounds. Fast cars, fast women and fast music -- if you like traditional hot rods this is the show for you. (Thanks, Christian.)

How Do You Picket a Virtual School?

Chicago's first virtual charter school, creatively named the Chicago Virtual Charter School, is a month into its first school year -- and just got served its first lawsuit. The Chicago Teacher's Union claim it's more like homeschooling than a true school, and therefore shouldn't get public funding.

This Be Madness, Yet There is Method In't

Dov Weinstein performs the Bard's most famous play at breakneck speed with the help of a hundred plastic ninjas, a robot, and other assorted dime-store figurines. Weinstein's ingenious staging is hilarious, if not exactly enlightening. Catch Tiny Ninja Hamlet through October 18th at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

Zephyr closing

The Sun-Times reports that the Zephyr Cafe, the Ravenswood restaurant/ice cream parlor, is closing its doors on October 22 after 30 years at that location. That gives you less than 2 weeks to enjoy the Treasure Island milkshake, the King Kong burger, and the War of the Worlds 10-scoop sundae.

DailyKos is Coming to Town

YearlyKos, an annual convention for the Democratic blogsite DailyKos, has announced plans to hold next year's event at McCormick Place in August. [via]

Got vote?

The Cook County Clerk's office wants you to know that tomorrow's the deadline for registering as an Illinois voter if you want to vote in the midterm elections next month. See for registration forms, election dates, and even a form to check your registration status online (for suburban Cook County only; Chicago residents should check out to get polling place and district information).

MTV on Chicago's Block

MTV's "My Block," a show that takes viewers through the neighborhoods where artists came from, not just their nouveau-riche cribs, takes a tour through Chicago today. Here's a video preview of the episode.

Jean Le has a posse

Have you been down by Wicker Park and seen an Asian guy dressed in loincloth and knee socks, rocking out on his headphones? You haven't? Well, you'd better check out his Flickr fan group then, hadn't you?

Navy Pier (dot com) for Sale

How long do you think it'll take the City to notice they forgot to renew [Update: They renewed it. Screenshot here for posterity.]

From cow to Bean

Gadgetgirl reminds us that today is the 135th anniversary of the start of the Great Chicago Fire. It started at 8:30 PM (according to a newly found Chicago Fire Department log) and lasted for two days (see this interactive map of the fire's progression). The debris from the fire was pushed into Lake Michigan, forming the base for what would eventually become Grant Park. So if it hadn't been for Mrs. O'Leary's cow, there would be no Millennium Park group on Flickr.

Podcast addicts, rejoice!

insideChicago can provide you with another fix. It currently produces two programs: STOP! Police, a weekly news of the weird podcast, and insideChicago, an offbeat arts and entertainment video podcast that is published twice a week.

Where Fun Comes to...Have Fun?

Check out this quicktime movie of Good Morning America wherein the author of the Princeton Review's The Best 361 Colleges announces that the students themselves picked the University of Chicago as the best undergraduate experience. Who are these students? And how much were they paid? As a former occupant of "The Level of Hell that Dante Forgot," I find this shocking, indeed.

Jam on it

The Vic and the Riviera each debuted newly Jammed-out websites this week, matching the (rather clunky) design of their corporate sib Park West. Seriously, frames? Active Server Pages? No page titles? I guess Jam is partying like it's 1999.

Rollin' to the playoffs

You know you don't want to miss the Windy City Rollers' second-season playoffs this Sunday, with the Double Crossers vs. The Fury and Manic Attackers vs. Hell's Belles, plus halftime hula hoop hijinks by Hoopafreaks. But how do you get out to Cicero Stadium if you're carless? Appropriately enough you can take the oh-so-delicate Pink Line (the stadium is two blocks north of the 54/Cermak station), or for five bucks you can get on the WCR party bus from Liar's Club. Bout details in Slowdown.

Baboonfest is this Saturday!

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that this is the premier baboon-related fundraiser of the year. You should go!

Local Language

A newcomer to the Chicago blog/webzine scene, Jargon Chicago looks like it might have some staying power. Check it out.

Fullerton station renovations

The renovation of the Fullerton El stop, already pretty conspicuous with all the new construction next to the existing tracks, becomes even more inescapable for commuters this Sunday, as the CTA closes up the Fullerton stationhouse (and opens up a temporary station entrance) on Sunday. Although the station will still operate as usual throughout construction, the main station building will be closed for renovations through December of 2008, so this weekend might be a good time to take some pictures of the structure, just so you can do some before-and-after comparison in a couple of years (or whenever it really does reopen). More construction bulletins are available, as always, at the CTA site.

You Are a Beautiful Gallery Show

The You Are Beautiful public art collective's new show, "4 Years Later," opens at Ai Gallery, 676 N. LaSalle St., Friday night from 6pm to 10pm. Free stickers, posters and buttons, oh my! And if you pay close attention, you might be able to figure out who the anonymous artists are.

Nibbling Ankles in Glenview

Seems that the latest residents of the new $1 billion development in Glenview are a mess o' snapping turtles. The tough-jawed (and "pugnacious") reptiles found their way to the private lake by navigating the storm pipes. It sounds like these snappers are the friendlier sort, rather than their cousin the alligator snapping turtle, but you still should limit yourself to looking, and not touching.

Is a $100 Pizza Worth It?

Barcello's in Bucktown offers a caviar-topped pizza for $100. Chris LaMorte at Metromix tries it out and delivers the verdict.

Transmission Feature: Bloodshot at 10

This week's Transmission feature takes a critical look at Chicago record label Bloodshot's 10th Anniversary DVD, due out on Tuesday. Check out our exclusive clip of one of the DVD's featured performances!

The case of the impostor skull

In July GB mentioned a Trib report that there were doubts that the skull enshrined at the Goodman Theatre is not actually the skull of improv legend Del Close. And today the Tribune follows up the earlier story with confirmation from Charna Halpern, executor of Close's will, that she tried to get Del's skull, but ultimately could not pull it off. So to speak.

Ultimate Gapers Block

Eisenhower a bit slow for you this morning? A car rolled onto the CTA tracks between the Western and Cicero stops, leaving Blue line without power. No word on injuries yet.

Liver Confidential

New Jersey would follow the lead of Chicago and California if a recently proposed ban on the sale of foie gras becomes law. What does Anthony Bourdain really think about this apparent trend? "It's a win for the forces of darkness, willful ignorance and intolerance," not to mention "kicking Julia Child in the teeth." After all, he says, "these ducks aren't doing anything that a porn star doesn't do on a regular basis."

Burlesque Halloween

Why not spend October with the sexy, funny folks from the Star and Garter Burlesque featuring Brandy's worst enemy, Miss Exotic World Michelle L'Amour! Check out their Halloween-themed show "Thriller! I Hardly Know Her" at Fizz on Thursdays at 9:00 pm. Just $10!

37 Gigs

A lot more than that actually: 37signals has launched a gig board to complement their popular job board. Get your résumé in shape!

Falling for Autumn

Want to get away and enjoy autumn in the Midwest? The Gapers Block Book Club looks at four books this week that might help. Whether you have an afternoon, a day or want to plan a trip for the whole weekend, these books will give you plenty of ideas for where to go and tips for how to get there.

We Still Want a Two-Way Communicator Watch

Dick Tracy turned 75 today. Check the funny papers for several tribute strips, order the TV series on DVD, or drive out to Naperville for the celebration.

Clean-Up The Forests

Want to help improve the Cook County Forest Preserve but don't know where to get started? A new website,, helps point you towards opportunities in the preserves. They even have a calendar if you just feel like popping in unannounced.

Destination: Ebert

Readers aren't the only ones missing Roger Ebert as he recovers from surgery undertaken earlier this year; the Sun-Times News Group's web division is, too. His absence has contributed to a 25% decline in visitors to the paper's flagship site and a 65% drop-off in visitors to The date of Ebert's return remains uncertain.

Google Take On Chicago Bike Map

Want another cut on the Chicago Bike map? Try this google alternative.

Get in the "I Do" Lane

For a happier take on transit, we turn to today's Going Public column. You may have read the story about Joe Benarroch and Jason Fournier's love connection on the 146 on your own commute this morning. A surprised Fournier read it under different circumstances -- aloud over a breakfast with friends and family. The story's end is a sweet one: as the video captures, Bennaroch proposes, Fournier says yes. [Edit: The RedEye informs us Fournier remarks "this isn't a good picture" prior to reading the article; he does not comment on the paper as this item originally read. Apologies for the error.]

Outbound Express

Forget about Denny; let's talk about Kruesi. The editorial page at Crain's says "off with his head" -- more politely, of course. To wit: "An outsider with proven expertise in repairing broken transit systems must be brought in with authority to overhaul the CTA from top to bottom, both financially and operationally." Too right. [via]

Cubs Leave the City

No, not the lovable losers -- Cub Foods. The discount grocery chain is leaving the Chicago market, with its 14 stores being divvied up among several other companies. Meanwhile, Jewel is planning an expansion.

Fancy Footwork

The Tribune offers some video of Chicago's latest dance craze, footworking. Not enough for you? Try YouTube or MySpace.

Stop the Body Worlds?

As the Body Worlds 2 exhibit is being prepared for Chicago in January, some opposition to the show's artistic display of human bodies has already started. A Boston man started up a Website to protest the exhibit in Boston last summer, and he's added a page for the Chicago stop of the exhibit. But as the Sun-Times reports today, the MSI received few letters of protest for the original Body Worlds, and guestbooks at the museum had many favorable reviews of the exhibit. We'll see what effect the protest has on the second Body Worlds show when it opens at the MSI on January 17.

The House that Hastert Ran

As the Mark Foley scandal continues to wreak political havoc, the Washington Times has called for Aurora's Denny Hastert to resign. Neither the Trib nor the Sun-Times goes quite so far, but both express outrage over the Speaker's evasiveness and call for further action. The Tribune, in particular, describes Hastert's handling of the matter as "dismally short of adequate." Can he stay standing? Given the way this business is unfolding, there's no telling what even this afternoon will hold.

Did the Greeks Have Socks?

The theatrical genre of Sock Puppet returns with War Is Bad: Sock Puppet Euripides at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, tonight at 7pm. Is there any doubt that you should be there?

I Love My Sister, She's the Best!

As we noted back in 2003, Chicago has a lot of sister cities: 25, to be exact. If you're interested in learning more about them, Crain's has an interesting story about the business side of the program, including a list of events that connect us to places like Amman, Milan, and Petach Tikva.

Dirty Thing

One week before their site re-launch party, the guys at Radio Free Chicago heard that their headlining band, The Dirty Things, broke up and won't be playing the gig. RFC is now scrambling to find a replacement band for the upcoming show. Update: according to a comment on the RFC site, All City Affairs will be filling in for the missing band.

Dusty No Longer Trusty

The Cubs made official what's been expected for months now: Dusty Baker will not be returning as manager. The hunt for a Mr. October is now on.

Cell Phone Symphony

Last night, as we mentioned they would, the Chicago Sinfonietta asked audience members to skip vibrate mode and let their ringtones, well, ring. Morning Edition offers a snippet and a reminder: the group (and its patrons) will be performing again tonight. ETA: The uniqueness of the concert attracted the attention of the Times, which describes the sound as "like an aviary gone mad."

Really Quick Review: Sheba Cafe

Saturday night, in search of good Ethiopian food, I headed to a locale smaller than my regular haunts. What I found was a splendid, low-key alternative to the often long weekend lines up Broadway. Sheba Cafe (or Queen of Sheba Cafe as it is also known) is a fine little spot just north of Balmoral on Broadway in Edgewater.
The menu is filled with yummy and cheap meat and veggie dishes ($6-$12), along with some quite good deals on combination platters ($13 for 4 items). We chowed down on deliciously flavorful beg tibs (lamb) and misir wat (red lentils), yellow split-peas, tikil gomen (cabbage with potatoes and carrots) and a dish of shimbera fitfit (mashed chickpeas with garlic). Everything was lovingly prepared by our cook/hostess who disappeared in the back while delicious smells arose from the kitchen. It's BYOB, so that cut our bill down, but in comparison to other Ethiopian restaurants on the strip, this one cost us half as much for a similar table full of food.

The Herbivore's Diary

Speaking of "green thumb" options, newly launched blog Vegan Dinner is going the Julie Meets Julia route. Kinda: local couple Ian ("straight edge") and Kit ("strong, silent") are on a quest to try 365 new meals (vegan) in 365 days (one year). The recipes are accompanied by photos and organized by preparation time (20, 40, 60 minutes). I smell a book deal.

The Omnivore's Diorama

This week's Reader profiles Rogelino Tijerina, an SAIC instructor turned rancher, who casts his livestock as models: "'some of my pieces resemble 3-D butcher's diagrams,'" he says. And, true to "food as art" form, Tijerina's also involved in restaurant Dodo on Damen, where "green thumb" options let you admire the sculpture without having to eat the inspiration.

Skirmish at The Sun-Times

So Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg writes a column Thursday saying that he's against reparations for slavery. In her Sunday column, his colleague Mary Mitchell takes him to task.



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