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Quick Fiction

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Contributor, Kevin Fink

A website dedicated to quick reads and a reading series called Quickies, sounds like a perfect match, right?

Quickies creators Mary Hamilton and Lindsay Hunter seem to think so. This Tuesday, March eighth, they’ll use their monthly literary event to showcase “The Fiction At Work Biannual Report,” a collection of flash fiction culled from website, fictionatwork.com. Published through Caroline Picard’s Green Lantern Press, the book, says Picard, represents “a great opportunity to showcase a wide number of authors working within specific word count constraints. This work is intended to be read in those liminal spaces, a companion for those instances when you're on your way [somewhere] but haven't yet arrived.”

The book’s antecedent, Fictionatwork.com was created by writer Tobias Bengelsdorf. “Work is what inspired the website,” says Bengelsdorf. “Offices. Timesheets. Meetings. Memos. Dress Codes. I never want to read fiction more than when I'm not supposed to be reading fiction. But sometimes a full-length story is too long to read at work, so we publish very short stories. That you can read at work.”

“The Biannual Report” too, can be read at work. Compact, almost postcard-size, the collection is perfect for hiding in a desk drawer, even a back pocket. According to Bengelsdorf, contributors like Jac Jemc and Ira S. Murfin were chosen by submitting work published on the website to a panel of judges, at which point, “a group of stories very quickly rose to the top of the pile.”

One of those stories, Kevin Fink’s “Waiting,” though perhaps shorter than other pieces, is nonetheless striking. Fink describes his micro-fiction as “dramatic and almost stream-of-consciousness, a moment in the mind of someone desperate.” A contributor to both fictionatwork.com and Quickies, Fink believes both encourage the same “exciting challenge,” to create work like “Polaroid snapshots.” He credits fictionatwork specifically with focusing his writing. “I like working within constraints. It can be a challenge to fill a three hundred-word story with emotional resonance, but it's such an exciting challenge.” As for Quickies, Fink calls it “a casual, totally non-pretentious environment. Plus, some guy always sells cheese tamales at the bar where Quickies is held, and who doesn't like cheese tamales?”

Come taste the tamales, listen to select contributors read and maybe buy a copy of Green Lantern’s latest release this Tuesday, March 8th, 7:30 p.m. at the Innertown Pub. You can also purchase “The Fiction At Work Biannual Report online.

A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually. Follow Our Town on Facebook and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

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Mayfest Chicago
Thursday-Sunday at Lincoln and Leland; free
We're on board for any festival that celebrates its opening by tapping a keg of beer. At this traditional German fest, you can enjoy authentic food and music, including shows by the Polkaholics and Paloma. Oh, and beer. Lots of beer.

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Ellen Allien
9 p.m. at Smartbar; $10-$15
German-English hybrid DJ, Ellen "Allien" Fraatz, made her name in Berlin on the crest of the IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) wave. The movement swept underground club nation with new sequencer tricks featuring sonic landscapes only a computer could dream up, yet with the right human touch, it could feel as organic as watching a plant grow, especially with the addition of Fraatz's airy coo. Her crowning achievement came in 2006 on a split with producer Apparat, dubbed "Orchestration of Bubbles," which visualized the new electronica frontier. It felt like a shotgun blast of marshmallows with its blips and swooshes, and even with two follow-up flops, we're still excited to see what she's got up her sleeve. This will be great way to follow up LCD Soundsystem's show at Metro earlier in the evening. Get in for $10 before 11 p.m. by signing up with Smartbar's text message service.

Tour of Puglia
6:30-9:30 p.m. at Macello; $6-$12
Get a taste of Italy's Puglia region with this interactive event at the West Loop ristorante. Diners can purchase a $12 "passport" which allows access to red or white wine flights and a sampling of deli meats, cheeses, olives and salads in the butcher shop-themed space. Or just go for the $6 individual pizzas, topped with your favorites.

BYOP (Bring Your Own People)
8:30 p.m. at California Clipper; free
The Guild Complex's semi-quarterly "literary cocktail party" returns tonight with plenty of noteworthy offerings. Expect readings from The Encyclopedia Show, The Reconstruction Room and Rhino Reads.


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The Ghosts of Treasure Island
10:30 a.m. at Vittum Theater; $12-$17
Playwright Eric Schmiedl has adapted Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 classic of pirates and buried treasure,for contemporary young audiences. The play features most of the book's major characters and plot twists, and adds a band of rowdy, rockin' pirates to the mix.The play provides yet another version of the coming-of-age tale, full of bold characters, mysterious atmosphere and some moral commentary for young audiences.

Craft Beer Bodega
6-8 p.m. at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba; $25 (plus tax and tip)
Goose Island and several other breweries will offer tastings of over 30 handcrafted beers to go along with this Lincoln Park tapas restaurant's paella and appetizers like short rib sandwiches with caramelized onions and horseradish cream, manchego croquettas with fig jam and beer-battered asparagus with goat cheese.

Dead Meadow
9:30 p.m. at Empty Bottle; $12
This heavy yet not overhanded hard rock trio is known for its intense live show, featuring psychedelic dream scenarios. Come see what all the fuss is about. Fun fact (according to Wikipedia): vocalist/guitarist Jason Simon is the nephew of 'The Wire' creator David Simon. No wonder he's so intense.

Small Black, Washed Out, Pictureplane
9:30 p.m. at Empty Bottle; $8
Batched in a thickening haze of skuzzy, Casio-threaded pop, Small Black, Washed Out and Pictureplane are all a reaction to 2009's chillwave boom, when twenty-somethings seemed to collectively raid their parents' attics, retreat to their bedrooms and have solo dance parties. Now this stuff is starting to get a bit more club-friendly, with drum machines kicked up a notch (Small Black), key plunks tweaked with industrial effects (Pictureplane) and even some near-funky bass lines (Washed Out). Consider it a night in voyeur grooves, as they all bring the bedroom to the stage.

J. Bradley reads from Dodging Traffic
7 p.m. at Quimby's; free
The acclaimed poet has been called "the Veruca Salt of the literary chocolate factory," and his new, childhood-influenced collection is likely to gain him a lot of new fans. Readings at Quimby's are always a good time, so stop by and then grab some curry at Zen Noodles next door.

Black Violet Act III
7 p.m. at Chicago Cultural Center; free
The third and final act in this multimedia collaboration between chamber group Fifth House Ensemble and artist Ezra Claytan Daniels debuts at this downtown performance. Follow the continuing adventures of a black cat living in Plague-stricken London. There will also be a performance on Thursday, April 8 at SPACE in Evanston (8 p.m., $15-$25).

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Nothing's funnier than Canadians at summer camp.

The 3 Penny Was Here: A Lincoln Hall Movie Night
7 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; free
Continuing its celebration of the space's former resident, 3 Penny Cinema, Lincoln Hall presents a double feature sure to cure any lingering winter blues. "Wet Hot American Summer" and "Meatballs," two summer-camp classics from different eras (2001 and 1979, respectively), offer sophomoric laughs, color-war battles and at least one graphic display of guy-on-guy action. Enjoy $3 Bud drafts, $3 Busch tallboys, $3 s'mores and half-price mac 'n' cheese.

The Streets On Fire
9:30 p.m. at Empty Bottle; free
It's not often you get to see a buzz band for nothing, let alone three. This garage-dance-rock act headlines HEAVEmedia's showcase of emerging Chicago bands for good reason, having gained a lot of local support for its debut EP, Hot Weekend (see Loud Loop Press's 10 Chicago Bands to Watch). The Nothingheads and Yours Truly & The Heroes support.

Instant Theatre
8 p.m. at Chicago Dramatists; free
A week to write, an hour to rehearse. This low-key gig, a monthly event at Chicago Dramatists, gives playwrights the chance to mix it up on stage and see what rises. What'll it cost you for a taste? Exactly one hour of your time and exactly zero of your dollars.

Whether you got the day off or not, you should still give our ol' hero Casimir Pulaski some respect today. Here are five ideas:


  • Get an ethnic education. Head to the Polish Museum of America to learn more about where the great man comes from. Now that the crowds from this morning's celebration have died down, you'll be able to browse the archives with ease. Don't miss the Joseph Conrad exhibit. Open until 4 p.m.; $3 suggested donation.
  • Review your military history. Pulaski was a huge part of our country's Revolutionary War victory. Find out more about the past at the Pritzker Military Library, open until 4:30 p.m.
  • Eat Polish food. There's a Chicago restaurant specializing in pretty much any kind of traditional delicacy you crave. For pierogi, we'd suggest Kasia's, Podhalanka or one of these other favorites. If you're more into meat, the new Lincoln Square location of Gene's Sausage.
  • Take a trip. Hop on the Orange Line and get off at the Pulaski stop, where you'll find plenty to keep you entertained 'til late in the evening -- from pizza and donuts to a classic Chicago tavern.
  • Listen up. Does this Sufjan Stevens song have much to do with national history? Not really. But it's still a darn good listen.


3 Things To Do Today

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Que for the Choir: A Benefit for The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

8 p.m. at darkroom; $15
Local chamber-pop favorites Scotland Yard Gospel Choir were involved in a bad van accident in September, cutting short their tour and leaving the Bloodshot Records artists with a lot of medical bills to pay. Thankfully, their compatriots in the Chicago music scene are coming to their aid with this benefit show featuring The Whiskey Drifters, Mikey Peterson and The Trust, Weepin' Willows and DJ sets by Bald E., DJ MR and DJ Elia. There will be free chili, BBQ and vegetarian fare courtesy of Man B Que.

The Following Are Pages Torn From Our Most Favorite Imaginary Books
4-10 p.m. at OhNo!Doom Gallery; free
This is the second-to-last week to catch this innovative show, featuring original children's stories by local authors, with accompanying illustrations by local artists. We're especially excited for the creation of standouts Joe Meno and Cody Hudson, Amy Guth and Pea-Be and Lindsey Markel and Jason Brammer (links go to Centerstage interviews with the artists).

Alec Ounsworth, Ezra Furman & the Harpoons
8 p.m. at Schubas; $15
It's not always a shortcoming, wearing influences on your sleeve. Especially when they're Byrne or Bowie. As the frontman of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alec Ounsworth has had the pleasure of playing in front of both of his idols (when folks cried 'rip-off', the legends came to see for themselves). Ounsworth has proven to be the real McCoy, creating some of the most infectious and genuine indie rock of the decade. His first solo effort spills over with the same horn-driven blasts of pop cacophony that made him someone to watch. Same story with Evanston's folk poster-child Ezra (Dylan, ahem) Furman, save for the celebrity audience members and solo split off.

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Louder Than A Bomb: Chicago Youth Poetry Slam Festival
Starts Friday at various locations; see the full schedule
The 10th anniversary of the two-week event kicks off this weekend with an all-day Intersections Youth Literary Conference (Friday) and viewing of the "Louder Than A Bomb" documentary (Saturday). Both events are at Columbia College's Film Row Cinema.

Quote of the Week

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"I was asked once if I was as good in bed as I am on the drums. That kind of stuck in my head."
- "Angry Joe" Dorenbos of five-piece funk band The Jordan Years

Check out the full Centerstage interview, then head to darkroom on Friday, February 19 for the band's Dre Day performance with local rapper Psalm One.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Lockdown Bar & Grill
One-of-a-kind heavy-metal burger bar in Ukrainian Village.

Off the Beaten Path: The Glenwood
Rogers Park bar is open to any and all.

Weekly Treat: Two-dollar Tuesdays at Leg Room
Domestic beers, well drinks and bombs are all just $2 tonight.

Man We're Crazy About: Karyn’s on Green
More meatless fun from the vegan health food empire.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

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