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Wednesday, July 23

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From Ali G to Abbie

Sacha Baron Cohen, the mastermind behind Ali G and Borat, is slated to play Abbie Hoffman in Steven Spielberg's The Trial of the Chicago 7. The city's image is still reeling a bit from the clash between Chicago police, Hoffman and other anti-war protestors.

TB Risk Includes Chicago

Been on a plane from India to Chicago recently? You might want to give the Center for Disease Control a call. A California woman infected with a drug-resistant strain of the virus flew on a plane here before heading on to San Francisco. The CDC is seeking passengers who may have been exposed.

Fly South Side

Wired reports that all the major airports suck in terms of delays, but Midway is the ninth least sucky of them all. (O'Hare is toward the back of the pack, naturally.)

Ivy League Meets MTV

Local hip-hop artists The Ivy League will be rockin' your television during a commercial break on MTV's new year's extravaganza ... if you have Comcast. Check out other NYE music news in Transmission.

CTA Service For New Year's Eve

If you're planning to go out tonight for your New Year's Eve celebration, keep in mind that the CTA will be increasing the frequency of some downtown bus lines and all train lines. Full details over at the CTA Website. And if you're saving up your pennies for those famous "1-cent fares," you might want to read this post at the CTA Tattler for the startling truth about penny fares!

Time Bandit vs. Miss Piggy

Have you ever wanted to know how bank robbers get named? In Chicago, look to the FBI's Ross Rice.

No Wigs for You

Chicago-based retailer Club Libby Lu -- purveyors of Princess Gifts, Charmettes, Sparkle Spas and other beautacular things -- recently sponsored a contest in which the winner received tickets to a Hannah Montana concert in Albany, N.Y. and a blonde Montana wig. Now, Club L.L. might take the prizes away from the winner, who allegedly cheated her way to victory by writing a fake essay about her dad dying in Iraq.

Excessively Lazy Assassins are Disqualified.

Today is the last day to register for the Chicago Assassins' Inaugural Tournament. Part tag, part urban (squirt gun) death match, this three-week long tournament sets participants hunting after a single name - all while knowing that someone out there has theirs. The last remaining assassin wins the tournament and a $200 cash prize. Reflective aviators optional.

Looking Ahead to Olympic Dates

Olympic coverage already seems plenty stale, but some important deadlines are coming up. The most significant date before the June decision on formal candidacy is the January 14th filing deadline for the vision, venues and budget. Prepare for the first real look at the plan and some serious politics.

Home Fugly Home

YoChicago wants to hear about the city's ugliest townhomes. There's a t-shirt in it for you.

Peacing Out in '07

The Associated Press reports that Chicago's homicide rate was the lowest in 2007 that it's been since 1965, with 435 murders recorded through Dec. 26. Good work, everybody!

Gene Lee, RIP

GB reader Laura let us know that Gene Lee, best known for dancing in hotpants and not much else at the corner of Milwaukee and Damen, passed away last week. Fans may pay their respects on his MySpace page, where his family has posted many of his self-recorded songs.

The Year in Review

Our own David Schalliol joined Steve Rhodes from the Beachwood Reporter and Margaret Lyons from Chicagoist on Outside the Loop Radio's 2007 "year in review" episode. Have a listen!

Watching the Intersection

Chromium, a nightclub near the intersection of Halsted and Lake, had a problem with fights and drunk driving. A neighbor took to videotaping the activity outside the club, and caught a shooting on tape. The videos on YouTube garnered national publicity, and Chromium was closed on Dec. 3.

A Public Housing Museum?

Efforts to create the Public Housing Museum on the West Side are gaining ground but still require more than $13 million.

Holy Roller's New Year's Eve

A little birdie told me about this shindig, especially if you're into bikes and bike people. Ring in this New Year in high style at Holy Roller's New Year's Eve. This dance party benefits West Town Bikes. The evening's entertainers include Matt Roan + E, DJ Andrew Foster and DJ Coyote DG. Enjoy a midnight dance-a-long with Chicago's own Team Band. There's a secret location that you have to RSVP for, as well as some other fancy spy like stuff. Details in Slowdown.

Worth More Than 1,000 To Us!

Congrats to GB staffers Lauri Apple and David Schalliol, whose photos were picked as part of The Reader's 1,000 Words Photo Issue.

Local Pakistanis Mourn Bhutto

"She was the only hope for democracy," said local cab driver Syed Raza. Bhutto spoke at the University of Chicago in 2000.

Ones to Watch

We've been watching them for awhile, but Wired thinks 37signals is one of the top 10 startups to watch in 2008.

Salvia Divinorum Legal until the New Year

As of January 1st, Illinois law will ban the possession and sale of the herb Salvia Divinorum. Reportedly, the plant can cause hallucinations within seconds after it's smoked, licked or chewed. The penalties for possession or sales will be akin to those for heroin or LSD.

Officer Fin-dly

A Chicago cop plans to swim the entire perimeter of Lake Michigan... in the summer, not now, silly. He's no fool.

Smoke'em While You Still Can

The state-wide smoking ban goes into effect on Jan. 1; the Trib and Time Out lay out some of your options should you be desperate for an indoor smoke.

Transmission Feature: It Sounded Good to Us

Next door in Transmission, we take a trip down memory lane, laying out the best music we heard in Chicago over the last year.

Charges Filed in TV Station Crash

Gerald Richardson, the driver of the minivan that struck the WLS studio, has been ticketed and charged with felony criminal damage.

The Return of Belmont Army Surplus

Two long years after the CTA tore down Belmont Army Surplus, the store has finally reopened in a shiny new building down the block. If you've been saving up for a new Ben Sherman, big stompy boots or a secondhand German military rain poncho, head on over to the new four-floor store at 855 W. Belmont.

"Year of the Blog"

Chicago News-Star picks the top 10 local news stories of 2007. Number 10: the rise of the neighborhood blogs.

NOW What's Your Excuse?

The Chicago Park District is making it easy for you to stick to your (perennial?) New Year's resolution of getting in shape by offering two weeks of FREE admission to any of its 55 fitness centers beginning January 2.

Photo No No

Jean Johnson was in court dealing with a probation violation when she took four photos of R. Kelly on her phone's camera. What happened next? Jail time.

Scott Skiles Fired

At this time, no decision has been made on Skiles' replacement.

Bring Your Own Bottle

Chicago's new bottled water tax goes into effect in January, so get ready for "a black market for water" and other doom and gloom. I suppose that means you should also probably prepare for Waterworld.

Takin' It to the Streets

It's not every day that a minivan crashes into the ABC 7 studios in the middle of a live broadcast.

Santa vs. El Diablo!

A venerable holiday tradition returns: the Sound Opinions holiday music mix. Over at the Sound Opinions Website they've posted both the complete mix by contributor Andy Cirzan (aka DJ lo-fi) and this weekend's program where hosts Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis discuss the mix.

Make Every Song a Holiday Song

Don't think your Shellac album will go over well with the in-laws this Christmas as you play it during after-dinner talk? Never fear, The Jingler is here to add a festive bell track to all your music. The results? Hilarious.

Hard Boiled Getting Out of the Movie Biz

Roscoe Village's Hard Boiled Records and Video is dropping the "and video" part of its name to make room for more vinyl. All DVDs are priced to move, which means tons of last-minute holiday gifts for your loved ones who love indie films, foreign flicks, obscure TV series, and super-bloody Asian cinema. Nothing says Christmas cheer like Hong Kong action!

Thanks for the Earmark, Dick!

Senator Dick Durbin earmarked some cash for a few local projects in the big Federal spending bill this week. Included were millions for CTA Circle Line development, Brown Line reconstruction, Metra expansion and bus and train service statewide. (Thanks, Sarah!)

Lost Voters, Lost Voices

The Chicago Reporter has a scathing new story, Lost Voters, Lost Voices, regarding the evisceration of a once-influential (and essential) political force, public housing tenants. Has dispersal been de facto disenfranchisement? And why have CHA residents been disappearing from the voter rolls? Jeff Kelly Lowenstein has the scoop.

Get Those Chairs Off the Street

The Department of Streets and Sanitation wishes that you wouldn't use your crappy furniture to claim a post-snowstorm parking spot, but if you insist on calling dibs they will be "tolerant of it." Hmm. However, the city's patience has worn out today and they will be removing any placeholders still remaining on the streets.

Tribute to Pigeon Man of Lincoln Square

Barbara Mahany, the author of the profile of Joseph Zeman that was found on him the day he was killed, wrote a heartfelt tribute.

The Holiday Train's Leavin'

The CTA's Holiday Train will be finishing its 2007 run this weekend, so if you haven't caught the train yet, it's your last chance! The train will be running on the Yellow Line today, and on the Orange Line this Saturday. See the CTA site for a schedule, and check out the Holiday Train photos on Flickr.

We're Here When You Knead Us

Your buddies at Drive Thru reviewed several new and classic cookbooks just in time for last-minute holiday shopping recommendations.

Monitor Your Carbon Output

The Delta Institute, a non-profit organization, has launched a Website where you can measure your annual greenhouse gas emissions, learn how to reduce your impact, and offset your carbon footprint through the purchase of carbon credits certified by the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).

Give the Gift of Reading

Books make great gifts. Today the GB Book Club features a few local booksellers and publishers and tells you what they are recommending this holiday season in the book club's "Last Chance Gift Guide."

Transmission Feature: Some Sound Opinions

Today in Transmission, we have a dandy feature on the world's only rock n' roll talk show — Sound Opinions — which (lucky for you and me) is produced right here in Chicago. Not only have Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis conquered the printed word and the radio waves, but now they're breaking into movies! Well, kind of.

The Changing of the Guard

It's been anticipated for months, but today it's official: FitzSimons is out (with a massive severance package) and Sam Zell is in as Chairman and CEO of the Tribune Company. "Whether other Tribune executives will follow him out the door [is] uncertain," says the Tribune. Either way: Good luck, Zell.

The People in Your Neighborhood

An interesting story in he Trib contains both the best mug shot and most pointless crime in recent Chicago history. IMHO anyway.

Not Quite as Charming as Ivy

Scaryideas.com tackles Wrigley Field...with Tide.

R. Kelly's Bad Luck, Part 43

R. Kelly missed his court date in Chicago today. Was he trapped in the closet? No: Heavy snowfalls in Utah -- where his tour bus was passing through -- plus trouble from the authorities hindered his traveling progress. He'll be back in town in time for his show at the United Center on Friday, Dec. 21.

More Pedal Power

The SRAM grant program has awarded $10,000 in mini-grants to four causes that advance bicycling, including Bike Winter and West Town Bikes.

Look Out! He's Got a Map!

Chicago's thin blue line wants shoppers and public transportation users to keep an eye out for photographers, map users, note-takers, traffic light timers, and scenario players. Happy holidays! [via]

All He Wanted For Christmas...

A generous dentist in Geneva, Ill. has given Bears legend William "The Refrigerator" Perry a new set of choppers. Seeing as how he's even bigger than he was in the 1985 Super Bowl season, the fact that he somehow managed to scarf down food without them makes him all the more legendary.

Learn a Skill, You Slacker

Links Hall artists are offering a series of "skill-sharing" workshops in January, where you can take a short class for a small fee in topics such as screenprinting, toy theatre and basic winter bike maintenance. There's also a potluck-style skill share at the end of January, where you can bring your own crafty expertise to the party.

Work for a Home

In a significant policy change, most adult CHA residents will be required to work or attend school at least 15 hours a week to remain eligible for housing. Further expansion of the plan may include Section 8 users. I can't wait to see what Residents' Journal has to say about the change.

Black Sox Revealed

The Chicago History Museum has acquired an archive of documents related to the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The collection was on auction in Burr Ridge and will eventually be available for viewing by the general public here and copies will be on display in Cooperstown.

"Pigeon Man" Killed

Joseph Zeman, the Pigeon Man of Lincoln Square, was struck and killed by a van yesterday afternoon. Zeman's daily routine of sitting on a hydrant at the corner of Lawrence and Western, covered head to toe in pigeons, earned him a 2004 profile in the Trib. A laminated copy of the article was found with him when he died.

Grant Achatz Tastes Again!

Following up on the news that Alinea chef Grant Achatz was diagnosed with lymph cancer earlier in the year: Achatz has released a statement saying he has successfully completed his treatment. And according to Achatz, the doctors at the University of Chicago Medical Center were able to "achieve a full remission while ensuring that the use of invasive surgery on my tongue was not needed."

Ray-cing Against The Clock?

Minute No. 13 of Rachael Ray's 15 minutes of fame will be spent at the Borders on State and Randolph, where the ubiquitous Food Network cook will sign copies of her new book, "Just In Time" at noon tomorrow. Wristbands are required to attend and will be handed out beginning at 8 a.m.

Gas Crisis? What Gas Crisis?

AAA Chicago predicts there will be an increase in holiday traveling this season, despite "unprecedented" gas prices.

Our Skies Being a Little Too Friendly

The FAA says it wasn't a near miss but for the third time in a little over a month two planes flew closer to each other than regulation allows in Chicagoland airspace.

The Top Seven

Chicago Magazine has picked their Chicagoans of the year.

A Haven for Criminals!

In a warning to artists and other small businesses throughout the city, 30 tenants of the Fine Arts Building were issued $200 fines for not possessing a business license. The licenses cost $225 for a two-year period.

Every Quarter Counts

The Chicago Tribune is raising its newsstand price from 50 cents to 75 cents. This is the first increase in 15 years. The Sunday price will stay the same.

...And There's Always the Heart O'Chicago

The Times of London offers an inquisitive reader a few tips on the best Chicago hotels. Did you know the Hotel Burnham has a "swish" ground floor cafe?

Squeal!

Via MenuPages: The Morton's Steak House site store offers copies of the restaurant's distinctive pewter pig lamps for sale. And just in time for Christmas! That'll do, Morton's. That'll do.

Chicago's Very Own Grinch

Hundreds of donated presents intended for needy children were stolen from a church on the South Side. Thanks to the Christmas Spirit, many presents have already been replaced. You can help, too: Mail or bring donations to the Sanctuary Family Worship Center, 711 W. 120th St.

Lights Out

You've got some time to plan, but put it on your calendar now: on March 29 from 8 to 9pm, turn out all your lights.

Your Local YouTube

ChicagoLive.com is a new video site by the Tribune, hoping to jump on the bandwagon of user generated content. Enter their holiday contest and your video could appear on CLTV! (That's all they could spring for?)

Move Over, Virginia - O'Hare is for Lovers, Too

A new study sponsored by AXE (a male grooming brand) finds that flight delays can lead to romantic connections. Thanks to its poor on-time percentage, O'Hare places a respectable 13th on the list of major US airports; Midway limps in at number 31. The best matchmaker? Philadelphia International Airport. Start rearranging your connecting airports, people.

Probably Not the Best Guy to Mug

Alderman Tom Tunney was the victim of a botched robbery on Saturday. Of course, two suspects have already been charged.

Home is Where the SubZero Fridge Heart Is

A sigh of relief for those irritating people concerned that too much of Chicago real estate consists of demolishing old buildings in order to replace them with state-of-the-art monstrosities: according to a New York Times article, New York is now the "Teardown Capital" of the US, bumping Chicago to the #2 spot. Huzzah!

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

but Apartment Therapy has a few suggestions to keep the temperature in your apartment so delightful. (Sorry. I couldn't help myself.)

Circa Handmade 2.0

The New York Times ran an article about the popular DIY-crafting movement and mentioned the Chicago folks behind Circa Ceramics as a shining example of DIY-style success. There's still time to Pledge Handmade and buy gifts from them or one of the other Etsy sellers in Chicago.

Tree (Price) Trimming

Paid full price for that Christmas tree? Sucker. Here's how to hone your holiday haggling technique when it comes to conifers.

Da Cookie

Looking for some ways to pay tribute to the Windy City when doing your holiday baking? Head over to Drive-Thru for some clever decorating tips in our newest Feature story, Sweet Home Chicago.

Who Owns the Machine?

Modern Mechanix blog reprinted a charming blurb from the September 1934 issue, showing how perpetual motion was soundly discredited at the Century of Progress International Exposition. Who owns the machine? No one does. That's right. No one.

OFFICE Everywhere

Chicago Public Radio recently announced it will host OFFICE in January at The Biograph. Also: MTV tells us why the band received a package from a porn star.

AIC Seeking Donations

What the heck, add one more gift to your list and donate it to the American Indian Center of Chicago for their annual Christmas party on Saturday, Dec. 15. Donations of new or gently used toys and other items for children and families will be accepted at their headquarters in Uptown today and tomorrow.

Bird Poop

In another case of bird hate and time ill-spent, a couple of alder-folks are working on that pesky pigeon feeding habit some people have. UPDATE: In case you missed it, City Council is still sitting on the Chicken ban.

Dr. Atomic

Tonight at 7:30PM, the much-anticipated opera Dr. Atomic opens at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Earlier this week at a panel discussion, Nobelist Norman Ramsey, who worked at Los Alamos on the first A-Bomb, told us that we should be more worried than ever (about the bomb, not the opera).

Unwelcome Inspiration

US Rep Danny Davis was inspired by a run in with Chicago police. He believes he was ticketed unjustly by two white cops because, in his words, "I was driving while being black". The charge is alleged, but it's hard to argue with his response; introduction of the End Racial Profiling Act of 2007 to the House.

Monday Won't be as Bad as We Thought

In the next step in the highly choreographed Doomsday Dance, CTA workers agreed to call off a one-day action Sunday and Monday at the request of religious leaders.

StreetWise: The Movie

In this week's Reader, news about a documentary about StreetWise vendors. The movie has its premiere tonight at the Park West; details in Slowdown. And if you miss the film tonight, you should be able to buy a DVD copy from your favorite StreetWise vendor.

Who Died in the Chicago Fire?

The answer is not as easy as you think.

Closing In?

Add Chris Kelly and Abdelhamid Chaib to the list of Gov. Blagojevich associates who have been indicted by the feds.

Through Worsom's Lens

Teacher and photographer Will Okun profiles his favorite photographer, Worsom.

Nice Kicks

NewCity investigates the culture of street wear.

Chicago and the Mitchell Report

A quick search for the word "Chicago" in the Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball yields these players who had stints with the Cubs or White Sox: Todd Hundley, Matt Franco, Rondell White, Glenallen Hill, Todd Pratt, Kent Mercker, Scott Schoeneweis, Jerry Hairston, Jr., and Jim Parque. The only thing we can fairly say at this time is that these people are named in the report. Cancelled checks, FedEx slips -- they've got the goods. Matt Karchner provided some snitch-alation. The word "Sosa" appears but once, in a note indicating that Mitchell wrote him a letter with specific questions. Sosa didn't write back.

Beware the One-Day Walkoff

Possible CTA strike from Sunday night through Monday.

Review: Bicycle Men @ Lakeshore Theater

The Bicycle Men, a sketch comedy show featuring native Chicagoan Dan Castellaneta, begins a promising four-day run at the Lakeshore Theater tonight
Castellaneta, known for his voicework for the Simpsons, plays Steve, an uptight guy stranded in a French town full of R-rated puppet shows, restaurants that are never open, and an inept repair shop when his bicycle breaks down. The show is a mix of musical numbers that range from outlandish lullabyes for a baby ("You can pray, but no one will hear you") to a homage to fake breasts and dialogue between Steve and L'Homme du Bicyclette (Second City alum John Rubano), a God-like character who keeps reminding him that the only way to leave town is on a bicycle. While a few of the jokes were somewhat corny, the acting was committed and strong (especially from Castenellata, whose normal voice sounds exactly like Mayor Quimby, which was distracting at times), and overall the show did get a lot of laughs and is memorable. Recommended. Tickets are $35, show is at 8pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; the Sunday 3pm performance is a benefit for the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Ovarian Cancer Early Detection & Prevention Program.

From St. Pauli to St. Nick...

Grab a brewski, sit on Santa's lap and tell him what you REALLY want for Christmas at the Avenue Tavern's "Slam One Back With Santa" party tonight (Thursday), 8pm to midnight. You can even get your picture taken, if you think that's a wise idea.

Transmission Feature: Thrill Jockey's 15!

Today in Transmission we help local label Thrill Jockey celebrate its 15 years. Of course, they're celebrating with music coming at you from every which way.

Kiss Kiss

Been to the MCA lately? There's a slo-mo makeout session happening in the fourth-floor gallery, the work of British-born artist Tino Sehgal. Witnessing the crowd's reaction is half the experience.

Shedd Aquarium Artists in Residence

Precocious 4-year-olds, your 15 minutes of fame are up. The Shedd Aquarium sea lions are here, and they're feeling artsy.

The Dark Knight Begins

Batman fans will be excited to hear that a six-minute prologue from the next installment will show at the Navy Pier Imax Theatre before I am Legend.

Keep Watching the Skies... from Inside

The good people of Lisle believe they came under an airplane lavatory attack during Monday's sleet storm. The FAA isn't so sure, suggesting it was the work of a flock of birds. "It is mysterious. It is very mysterious," says one resident.

Classical Comps

Chicago Classical Music recently revamped their site and is promoting it with a contest for free tickets and other swag. Log in as a registered user before the 19th to be eligible to win.

LeBeouf in the Clear

Walgreens has dropped trespassing charges against actor Shia LeBeouf stemming from a 2:30 a.m. Nov. 4 incident at their Michigan Ave. store.

Sharpton Knows Best?

Someone at the Sun-Times thinks the Rev. Al Sharpton, a New Yorker, should "butt out" after his Chicago Police Department reform ultimatum to Mayor Daley. They cite inconsistencies in his policy and the same ignorance of the facts that the folks at Secondcitycop pointed out.

Bollywood Obama

YouTube is a funny place. (Thanks, Dubi!)

Daavat in River North Closed

The place has been going downhill for years. We were not surprised to hear officials have closed Daavat, one of the first great Indian-Pakistani cabbie restaurants in River North. There are still several good ones along Orleans, including a relatively new one at Chicago Avenue.

The Fraud

"The Faun," a sculpture owned by the Art Institute purported to be the work of Paul Gauguin, is a forgery.

Defend the Indefensible Drew Peterson

Lawyers for Drew Peterson have set up a web site where you can donate money to defray his legal costs. Although the site is currently down, the following message posted at DefendDrew.com really tugged at my heart strings: "For the cost of a few cups of your morning coffee, you can help to ensure that Drew can afford to support his ongoing legal defense, find his missing wife and divert any remaining funds into a trust for his children." Yeah, good luck, buddy.

In Your Face, "Quixotic"!

Congratulations "w00t"! Your blending of "whimsy and new technology" has earned you the title of Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2007.

Adoption Countdown

A Chicago couple are among the thousands of U.S. families hoping to complete their adoption of Guatemalan children before the end of the year, when new laws that would clamp down on the "exodus" are slated to take effect.

Have You Seen These Teeth?

Mug shots give way to molar shots. The Chicago Homicide Unit asked the ADA to help identify the teeth of a woman who was found dead in a North Side alleyway last January. The cops "would like to speak to dentists who have any knowledge about a patient who obtained braces and never returned for follow-up care."

Is it REALLY A Wonderful Life?

Holiday classic or pandering schmaltz? Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life is the next film thrown into the ring in the latest round of Cinema Slapdown at the Columbia College Film Row Cinema tomorrow night; full details in Slowdown. Columbia staffer Brigid Murphy will defend the film while Tribune movie critic Michael J. Phillips goes on the offensive. Mr. Potter would be proud...

The Can that Could

Lake Michigan deposited a Chicago Park District trash bin onto the shores of Holland, Michigan last week. Much poking with a stick ensued.

Make Clothes, Not War

Subterranean hosts national design competition "Style Wars" tonight, which is described by its founders as "Project Runway" meets "Iron Chef". Hopefully the guy trying to revitalize Zubaz doesn't show up.

Eight Days Recycled

Chicago students are building menorahs from recycled materials, inspired by the idea that just-enough-oil-to-last-eight-days is a green sentiment.

QSLOL

Our very own Ron Slattery collects ham radio QSL cards, and recently turned his blog into a gallery for the funnier and odder ones. It caught BoingBoing's attention.

Get Your Glogg On

The St. Lucia Festival of Lights procession will highlight the "Late-er Night Andersonville" celebration Thursday, Dec. 13, beginning at 3pm. In addition to the carole-filled walk down the Clark Street, there will be live music, tours and gift-wrapping demonstrations. There's also PDF schedule and a coupon you can print and clip for store discounts.

More Press for Unison

Local bedding designers Robert Segal and Alicia Rosauer, a.k.a. Unison, are in the latest edition of the uber-hip fashion/culture mag Metropop. Their graphics-heavy linens are reminiscent of Marimekko, where they used to design. Get them online or at CB2 stores.

Who'd Outlast Whom?

Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us, offers some thoughts about what would happen to Chicago if we were all to disappear tomorrow.

Food for a Good Cause

GB's Drive-Thru is participating in this year's Menu for Hope campaign to raise money for the UN World Food Fund. Check out our prize here, and the rest of the prizes at Chez Pim!

Screen Magazine's "Production Bible" Now Online

Find production crews, set designers, DVD duplicating services, audition space and more in Screen Magazine's film industry guide targeting that geographical area "between the coasts."

Judge Cuts Black Some Slack

Ex-Sun-Times boss Conrad Black gets a break from the judge and will serve 6 1/2 years in prison for fraud, rather than the maximum 24 to 30 years.

The Art of PBR

Pabst Blue Ribbon lovers, prepare to have your minds blown at The Empty Bottle tonight. For one night only, view an exhibition of PBR-inspired art while guzzling your favorite low-cost libation. Doors open at 7pm for the exhibit, followed by the Bottle's weekly free show at 9pm (details in Slowdown).

Chicago and the Bomb

Speaking of doomsday scenarios, the Lyric Opera's upcoming run of Doctor Atomic gave the Tribune reason to explore the opera, its Chicago connections and the life of Robert Oppenheimer.

Bike for CTA Doomsday

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has released their CTA Doomsday Survival Guide. They list bicycle routes for five of the bus routes that CTA says will be eliminated January 20. The guide includes instructions for using bicycle racks on buses and reminds us that bicycles are permitted on all CTA trains during non-peak hours, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Who Would You Believe?

Will Okun, the Chicago school teacher who won a trip to Africa with the NYT's Nick Kristof, has a complex and honest piece about who he believes in the Aaron Harrison shooting. Short answer: the cops.

Riverdale Can Read the Small Type

Crains has a nice map that shows neighborhoods with the most foreclosures per square mile in the first half of this year. Not pretty.

Swayze Spotting

That's right, Road House fans. The Patrick Swayze is in town filming an A&E show, "The Beast." We spoke with a crewman at the Wicker Park unit who showed us the shooting schedule, so if you want to spot yourself some Swayze, head to Emmit's this eve. He'll be in the area.

Ho, Ho, Ho

In a case of automatic content filtering gone mad, the Trib's comment approval system prohibited posting comments using the word "ho" in a piece highlighting the controversy over Santa's trademark phrase.

Political Factors

"When I drive, I'm literally unable to stop myself from factoring the numbers I see on license plates. The plan is that after I win, I'll spend all that energy working out the state budget." -- Daniel Biss, people-powered candidate for State Rep and a prof at U of C, in an interview with Chicago blogger Claire Zulkey.

Man Arrested in Franklin Murder

Reginald Potts Jr., a former boyfriend of pharmaceutical sales rep Nailah Franklin, has been charged with her September murder. Potts had been a suspect from the beginning, as Franklin had filed a police report about receiving threats from him one week before her murder.

One Cookie to Rule Them All

In Drive-Thru, the tale of the seven-layer cookie.

Swapped Out

Thanks to everyone who made it out in the cold and snow for our GB/Calumet Photo Swap last night!

Forgotten Chicago

Though the design is often frustrating, Forgotten Chicago has put together a rather wonderful archive of places gone from our city. Stop in to see the

The Center for Neighborhood Technology wants pedestrians to be as safe as possible. So they're offering a new PDF "Pedestrian Rules of the Road" (PDF) to keep you out of danger.

...For The Rest of Us

Seeking "serenity now"? Head to Elemental Gallery and Gift Shop's "Festivus Celebration" this Saturday, Dec. 8. Be sure to bring your list of grievances.

"Low point in the history of this newspaper"

Job cuts at the Chicago Reader. Four veteran staff writers - John Conroy, Tori Marlan, Harold Henderson and Steve Boriga - are out.

Da Coach Sure Likes to Golf, Huh?

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka displayed his well-developed sense of outrage this year to Congress over how the NFL treats it retirees. Now comes USA Today, with a report that the charity he formed in 2004 expressly to help those players has spent $57,000 on them and $715,000 on golf outings.

Grammy Nominators Like Kanye and Common

A big day for Chicagoans Kanye West and Common: West was nominated for eight Grammy awards, Common for three.

John Cusack Says

"I don't know how you can be pro-human and not anti-war," John Cusack says in an interview about his new film, Grace Is Gone, (shot in and around Chicago) which officially opens tomorrow.

Shovels at the Ready

Hope you like snow, 'cuz there's more on the way.

Transmission Feature: Arkestra to Orchestra

Chicago jazz labels Atavistic and Delmark Records once again deliver some fine tunes to the table (and not just to the turntable). With two new reissues of albums by Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra from Atavistic and fine local contemporary jazz from Kahil El'Zabar's Infinity Orchestra from Delmark, your ears are sure to be burning hot even when it's cold outside. Check out what they're all about in Transmission.

Devin Devotees Unite!

Stopping just short of calling opposing coaches chickens, a new website pretty much DEMANDS that teams be forced to kick to the Bears' freakishly-amazing return man Devin Hester.

Join The Fowler Family (But Don't Really Join It)

Be one of those people who can say "I saw them back in the day," and go check out the Fowler Family Radio Hour's Christmas season shows. This isn't your parents' variety hour, primarily because Charo is not involved. It's performance, interactivity, character development and ab-workout hilarious, with the added benefit of also letting you laugh at rubes. Get down to the Skybox on Wells and meet the Fowlers.

Spending Bucks in Bucktown

Dread the thought of giving another George Foreman Grill this Christmas? Hit the ninth annual Bucktown Holiday Art Show to buy one-of-a-kind gifts and original art for the folks on your list... or yourself. The event takes places this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Holstein Park Fieldhouse, 2200 N. Oakley Ave.

Do Not Look Mr. Cox in the Eye

John C. Reilly will take the stage at the Cubby Bear tonight - in character as Dewey Cox - to promote his upcoming film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Fingers crossed that Chris Gaines joins him for a number or two. [via]

Not a Biological Weapon

Frequent flyers take note: O'Hare and Midway will be offering flu shots near the gates this year.

Calling All Hot Moms & Daughters

Yikes. WGN is looking for hot mom-daughter combos to publicize the new CW reality nightmare "Crowned." So if you and your totally hot mom want to with $1,000, tell them in 50 words or less why you deserve to win.

Keep the Kids Off the Streets

If you've got some kids in school and have no idea what to do with them when they have weekdays off, do we have a solution for you. The Hyde Park Art Center is offering a series of five all-day creativity programs for kids. The series is $80 for members, $100 for non. Check it out here.

Chi Classical Site Relaunched

Chicagoclassicalmusic.org, a blog and calendar produced by a consortium of regional classical organizations, relaunched this week and is offering free stuff.

"Ren" is Skimpy

While the Chicago Public Schools' "Renaissance 2010" program (or "Ren10") is nearing its goal of opening 100 new schools by 2010, almost half of the communities identified as the most in need of high-performing schools have yet to get them, according to the Chicago Catalyst.

That's Rough

The golf world is aghast at a Golf Magazine survey that placed Chicago 46th out of 50 best cities in America for golf.

Text Ad Deal

Gapers Block's text ad rates are increasing in 2008 -- to $35 for a week, up from $25. But if you book by Dec. 31, we'll give you this year's rates, no matter when the ad runs. Learn more here.

A Tale of Two Brownies

Of course, the first brownie must have been made at the Palmer House.

Repeal Day

Today is Repeal Day, the anniversary of the repeal of the 18th amendment (the one that prohibited the sale and transportation of "intoxicating liquors"). Drive Thru encourages you to celebrate with a mid-week drink (or more).

Lakeshore Club Building Saved!

The Lakeshore Athletic Club Building, usually one of the entries on the list of the state's most endangered historic places, appears to be saved! The Sun-Times reports that Northwestern University is selling off the building to be turned into housing for seniors.

Let The Games Begin

The Barack Obama team has launched a new website to track Hillary Clinton's mudslinging. [via]

Work in Bicycle Advocacy

Chicagoland Bicycle Federation advocates for better bicycling in Chicago with events like Bike the Drive. They're hiring a full time Membership Manager to coordinate the organization's membership programs and campaigns.

Weather or Not

Hey Loop folk, what color is the Weather Bell right now?

Therapeutic House Tour

Apartment Therapy: Chicago is hosting a House Tour and after-party this Friday; join them for a tour of five live/work spaces in Fulton Market. Don't forget to RSVP!

A Steampunk Wedding

...right here in Chicago. Check out the full flickr set. [via]

Funny for Five Bucks

Every Tuesday, Chicago Underground Comedy presents some of the finest in local funny people for just five bucks at The Beat Kitchen. This week, catch Hey You Millionaires plus Mike & Duane.

Be Friends with Cheese

Kraft's Cheese Singles now have a MySpace page. [via]

You Say Tomato...

So is it Channukah or Hanukkah or...? You'd better figure it out fast because it starts tonight. WBEZ has a brief interview with a local rabbi who tries to bring you up to speed. His description of how to pronounce the word is also worth a listen.

Must Be An Exam Day

Class are cancelled in Barrington today due to "severe bus vandalism."

Live Video Chat with Ron Huberman

Submit questions now and show up today at 2pm for a live video chat with CTA President Ron Huberman.

Giants Covering Spread Against Bears?

The Freakonomics guys are wondering out loud why the Giants risked kicking to Hester on Sunday. Could it be... gambling?

Check Out Some Art

The Chicago Artists' Coalition has redesigned its website and added a new video segment.

Barack Obama's Elementary School Ambitions

Presidential hopefuls beware: what you did as a 5-year-old may come back to haunt you. The Clinton campaign is waging an attack on Sen. Barack Obama's credibility based on an essay he wrote in kindergarten titled, "I Want to be a President." They also tracked down a second essay with a similar title that Obama wrote in third grade. No word yet on how many times he was sent to the corner for not playing well with others.

A-Tisket, A-Tasket...

At the risk of inciting a lot of bad scat singers, The Northlight Theater and The Spot are teaming up to hold the second of their Ella Fitzgerald Karaoke Contests this Wednesday, Dec. 5. Tone-deaf renditions of "Too Darn Hot" notwithstanding, it's a good way for Northlight to promote their production of "Ella" that's currently running.

The Economic Force Be With Us

Keep your eyes pealed: George Lucas is in town tonight for a talk with the Economic Club of Chicago. He'll be appearing with his current girlfriend, Mellody Hobson, president of Chicago-based Ariel Capital Management. (Thanks, Adam & Andrea!)

Thanks for the Memories

FuzzyMemories.tv is a treasure trove of vintage Chicago television clips. Until Dec. 25, they're featuring a holiday-themed clip every day -- lots of Christmas parades from the '80s so far!

Welcome to Chicago, Onion Staffers

The Onion has moved all but one executive to our fair city.

Don't Eat the Ice

A Sun-Times investigation revealed that the ice cubes at some Chicago area fast food and casual dining establishments were holding a dirty little secret: high levels of coliform bacteria. Several of the restaurants identified in the study as the worst offenders have responded here.

So Which is Positive?

The Field Museum is now using color-changing badges which they describe as "like a pregnancy test but without the anxiety."

Double Dragon Lawyer Technique

Filmmaker Floyd Webb, at work on a documentary about rogue kung-fu instructor Count Dante, is being sued for alleged trademark infringement. Webb argues he's protected by Fair Use.

Holiday Video Cheer

After celebrating October with 31 days of horror clips, the fine folks at Facets' blog are celebrating December with 31 days of video clips for the winter holidays.

Please Do.

Please Don't, a new Chicago-based online literary journal, has released its first issue. Contributors include Jonathan Messinger and Patrick Somerville.

 

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