It’s been a memorable year. I for one, misplaced a pair of black Converse and made a tolerable mustard/soy sauce marinade. I know many other Chicagoans had similarly staggering peaks and heartrending valleys. That’s why today’s blog is devoted to celebrating the common man. The New York Times may have award-winning photographers and poignant headlines, but I have my parents standing inches from me having an irate discussion about the temperature of my father’s oatmeal. That friends, is what it’s really about.
Recently in Wrigleyville Category
8 p.m. at Stage Left Theatre; $22
A locked-and-loaded speculative drama, playwright Andrew Hinderaker's "Kingsville" puts a piece of conservative rhetoric to the test of imagination: What if the solution to guns in schools was more guns in schools? Tensely performed and smoothly executed, director Vance Smith's production brings it down to a contest of masculinity.
9 p.m. at Metro; $16-$22
With the release of his fourth studio album, Simon Green (aka Bonobo) has taken a much-needed step away from his roots in the downtempo scene. Songstress Andreya Triana steps in where Bajka left off, and the result is an undeniable display of musical synergy. For Bonobo's show at the Metro, you can expect both Triana as well as a live band, which ought to give fans the full breadth of what Green is capable of.
Bumps, Bruises and Bedtime Stories
7 p.m. at Zanies; $20
Talk hockey with former NHL goons Stu Grimson, Jim McKenzie and Reid Simpson. Harry Teinowitz of ESPN Radio hosts.
Death Toll: A Drinking Game
11 p.m. Friday-Saturday at Cornservatory; $10-$20
Get splattered and plastered at this brilliantly moronic distillation of the Halloween season. It's a game, and it's simple: Watch a series of ultra-violent sketches. Whenever a character bites it, drink. BYOB and plenty of it. The body count in the Cornservatory will be high.
More: Halloween theater guide.
Deerhunter, Real Estate, Casino vs. Japan
9 p.m. Friday at Metro; $19
Atlanta's Deerhunter kicks out the most blissfully disturbing sounds on this neo-chill wave bill. Lead man Bradford Cox recently cut his finest lyrics to date, inspired by the "sad" way in which we can "digest" our memories as we please, most likely playing heavily from recently dropped Halcyon Digest. Real Estate, not too keen on the twisted metaphors, rolls on mid-eve with a taste of their Jersey Shore relaxitude, combining beach-comber guitars with floating choruses from their best-of '09 charting self-titled debut. Opener Casino Versus Japan is a ringleader of the Intelligent Dance Music boom, serving up a dream ambient segue into the night’s chill vibe.
Chicago International Children's Film Festival
All weekend at the Center on Halsted, Facets; $6 for kids, $9 for adults
Now that the Chicago International Film Festival is over, the kids take over. See host of films for all ages, chosen by a child-led jury. Check out the schedule of weekend screenings, workshop dates and info on the opening and closing events. Kids can also participate in the Young Chicago Critics Program and tell everyone what they think.
9 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Hall; $13
After gaining popularity with U.K. label BBE, the hip-hop duo Phantogram (Joshua M. Carter and Sarah D. Barthel) recently signed with Barsuk Records in order to reintroduce themselves to fans here in the U.S., and so far the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Their show at Lincoln Hall will be in promotion of their latest album Eyelid Movies, but don't be surprised if they come to the stage with a set of new material from a forthcoming EP. Opening for Phantogram will be Why? drummer Josiah Wolf, who is also promoting an album entitled Jet Lag.
The Nervous Breakdown's Literary Experience
6:30 p.m. Sunday at Cary's; free
Our favorite arts blog comes to Chicago for a free reading. The event is emceed by Gina Frangello (Slut Lullabies) and contributors include Rob Roberge (Working Backwards from the Worse Moment of My Life), Mathew Frank (Barolo), Davis Scheiderman (Drain) and Zoe Zolbrod (Currency).
Big Buck Hunter Championship
5 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday at Cubby Bear; $5 cover
Hunting season hits Chicago with the third annual Big Buck Hunter World Championships, the pinnacle of competition for this bar-friendly arcade game. Top players from around the world - including X-Games star Travis Pastrana - will attempt to shoot their way to $50,000 in prize money. The event is open to the public and features free game plays for spectators and raffle prizes, such as the new Big Buck Hunter Wii Game.
Oktoberfest Kickoff Party
5 p.m. Friday at Faith & Whiskey; free
Work your way through all 10 $3 Oktoberfest pints and receive a free $15 gift certificate to a Chinese restaurant. More decidedly German offerings include a free bratwurst buffet from 5pm-8pm; a $100 cash prize for the best Lederhosen wearer or German beer wench costume; and a "Germany's Best Video Power Hour" at 8 p.m. featuring clips ranging from The Hoff to Dirk Nowitzki to Claudia Schiffer, to the lyrical stylings of Rammstein (to keep it light).
10 p.m. Friday at Subterranean; $13-$15
Hailing from SoCal, Pac Div has spent the better part of their young careers trying to carve themselves out a niche. Many have compared them to fellow up-and-comers The Cool Kids, but you'd be surprised how focused a vision they have as opposed to the straight party rap material. A strong buzz has been surrounding their newest album, Grown Kids Syndrome, and if the product lives up to the hype, it should pave the way for a big breakout year. Their performance at Sub-T will serve as an official album release party as well as a celebration for Ground Lift Media (now in its fourth year) and Jugrnaut clothing (third year). Opening will be talented lyricists Mic Terror and Que Billah.
Nightmares on Lincoln Ave Too - Totally Tubular Tales of Terror
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday at Conservatory; $7-$15
Quake, 1980s pop culture hegemony! The children of the '90s are on the rise. Kick off Halloween season with the latest show from the Cornservatory, which draws on the rich heritage of Nickelodeon, parodying beloved ephemera from "Troll 2" to "Are You Afraid of the Dark" to "Goosebumps." Pair with trick or treating for the perfect evening of regression.
Fork, Cork & Style
Saturday at Arlington Race Track; $12
This tailgate-themed food and wine festival will feature unique dishes from America's best restaurants, chef cooking demonstrations by Emeril Lagasse and other celebrity chefs, a high-end wine tasting with 250 elite brands and innovative ways to dress up tailgating parties.
A Chorus Line
1 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Marriott Lincolnshire Theater; $45-$55
Kick your way out to Lincolnshire to watch this classic story of 17 dancers trying to make their dream come true. Got the day off? Catch the Wednesday matinee show for a discounted price.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy
7 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $20
Dubbed an "Appalachian post-punk solipsist," Bonnie "Prince" Billy, otherwise known as Will Oldham, notched his eighth record of folk benders under the "Prince" imprint. He took collaborators the Cairo Gang out on the road to showcase The Wonder Show of The World (Drag City), a rather dynamic sweep through everything from jazz to Spanish guitar, harmonies intertwined by the Cairo Gang's lead man, Emmett Kelley.
7 p.m. at Sheffield’s
Learn about beers from Warrenville’s Two Brothers beers with a brewery representative available to talk and answer questions. And flights of six beers are just $12.
Tall Ships Chicago
10 a.m.-9 p.m. at Navy Pier; $9-$20
A boarding ticket gets you on the pirate-like ships, with programs and activities for the kids. Or just hang out on the pier and watch the big ships come in all weekend (show runs until Sunday).
7:30 p.m. at United Center; $20-$500
Look for the R&B sensation to perform a bunch from her upcoming, yet-untitled dance album, including the first single “Only Girl.” Don’t have tickets to the show? You can catch her after party at Vision Nightclub, starting at 10 p.m. ($20).
Chicago Air & Water Show
Saturday-Sunday along the lakefront; free
The lakefront fills up rapidly for this event, especially at the North Avenue Beach "Main Stage", where you'll get the best views and play-by-play commentary. You can get good views from other locations, including nearby Oak Street Beach. Wanna beat the crowds? Check out the practice flights, which go on periodically Thursday and Friday.
Catalina Wine Mixer
5 p.m. Friday at Faith & Whiskey; free
Inspired by the movie "Stepbrothers," this after-work event will feature $30 tableside boxed wine and $5 Harvey Wallbangers, DJ Texas Street Jesus spinning "Yacht Rock" hits, a $100 cash prize for best nautical-themed outfit and free pizza. "It's the f---ing Catalina Wine Mixer!"
The People's Drum Circle Pandora
Friday-Sunday at Quest Theatre Ensemble; free (donations accepted)
Let your inner flower child make some noise with Quest Ensemble. This take on the story of Pandora (and her box o' troubles) features a genius hippie-style drum circle, with the audience invited to bang away. Yes, a drum circle. You've been warned. Like everything produced by Quest, this show is as free as love.
Saturday-Sunday at Seminary and Roscoe; $5
Put your street fest donation to good use, as proceeds benefit Resurrection Lutheran Church's after-school program and preschool. A Kids' Zone includes pony rides, a petting zoo, moonwalk, climbing wall and plenty more activities to keep little ones occupied. And don't forget to enter the bags tournament.
Long Grove Art Festival
Saturday-Sunday at Archer Municipal Lot near Fountain Square; free
Find a wide variety of original artwork: watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings, jewelry, photography, sculpture, ceramics, glass, fiber and mixed media. Continuous live music plays all weekend and a great variety of food and drink offered throughout the Fest. There's also a Wine & Dine in the Mill Pond lot off Robert Parker Coffin Road.
Dusk at Chicago History Museum (outside); free
Is it bad that we always rooted for Val Kilmer’s character to wipe that stupid grin off Maverick’s face? Yeah, probably. Anyway, bring back that lovin’ feeling for Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise as part of the Movies in the Parks series. Also showing tonight: "The Blind Side" (Fulton River Park, 601 W. Kinzie St.) and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" (Smith Park, 2526 W. Grand Ave.)
Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Alter Boys
9:30 p.m. at Buddy Guy’s Legends; $10
Voted Milwaukee's best blues band by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry earlier in his career, the Reverend aligned himself with harpist Madison Slim and a crew of Chain Smoking back-up singers to jam his own breed of chug-a-lug funk and blues. Expect a raucous romp at one of Chicago's best blues venues.
One Man Chicago ‘Meet the Men’ Happy Hour
6 p.m. at Rockit Wrigleyville; free
Meet the 20 contestants for the One Man Chicago pageant, which awards $5,000 to the winner’s charity of choice. Check out the contestants here, and then go mingle with them tonight with free apps and $5 “One Man Martinis.”
10 p.m. Friday at Kingsbury Hall/The Vibe; $30
We're gonna go ahead and assume that you know Lollapalooza is in town this weekend, but the best part of the annual mega-festival is all of the after-parties and shows associated with Lolla artists. Since Saadiq (of '90s R&B sensation Tony! Toni! Tone! fame before going solo) has the fan-unfriendly 2 p.m. Friday slot at Lollla, this might be the best chance to see him.
More: Can't decide which acts to see at Lolla? Let us help.
Retro on Roscoe
Saturday-Sunday in Roscoe Village; $6
Billed as Chicago's most popular neighborhood festival at over 50,000 people, Retro on Roscoe includes three stages of continuous entertainment (including Too White Crew on Saturday, Wedding Banned on Sunday and Hairbangers Ball both nights), an antique car show, kids' activities and interactive cooking demonstrations from award-winning chefs. And don't miss the Windy City Chili Cook-Off.
Northalsted Market Days
Saturday-Sunday on Halsted;$5
Welcome to the largest two-day street fair in the Midwest, with 17 entrance gates and three music stages featuring more than 30 local and national acts. Know this: it's a very, um, lively crowd.
Rod Blagojevich Superstar
Friday-Sunday at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre; $28.50-$33.50
We've got this play, and it's so bleeping golden, you just knew it had to come back. Second City takes it to the 'burbs (Arlington Heights, to be specific) for another run, just as we await our favorite ex-governor's fate in his bribery trial. We're gonna assume Blago won't make any more appearances anytime soon, but it's still a pretty funny show.
Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound
8 p.m. Saturday at SPACE; $12-$22
Want to avoid the Lolla scene, but still get your music fix for the weekend? Head to Evanston for this show, which mixes zydeco, blues and some African-sourced rhythms to the point of ska.
8 p.m. at Metro; $100
The Pumpkins play a special benefit show for Madina Lake bassist Matthew Leone, who was hospitalized after intervening in a domestic dispute on the street. Hopefully you got lucky in the weekend raffle for tickets, because they are just about sold out. But true Pumpkins fans will find a way in, even if it means “negotiating” with one of the guys who hang out on Clark and Waveland before Metro shows. Just tell ‘em Our Town sent ya, and they’ll give you a discount. (Note: Don’t really do this.)
8 p.m. at SPACE; $30-$40
Didn’t win a raffle ticket, or just don’t want to drop a hundo on the Pumpkins? How about a more low-key show in Evanston with this soulful R&B crooner, who is touting his new album Keep Coming Back. While the album is getting rave reviews, he’s even better in person.
Bordello Artist Series
7:30 at Studio L’Amour; $60
Aspiring artists, don't miss this opportunity to draw the human form in its most alluring and sultry with this life drawing class, a more sedate version of the popular Dr. Sketchy's series. Meant to evoke a salon-soft, absinthe-tinted vibe, "Bordello" will let members of the public practice their art with stars of the neo-burlesque. This month's theme is "Scenes from a German Brothel," so remember to bring plenty of blue.
Smoking, religion, parenting are all accepted, and obvious, deal breakers.
But if you are dating in the city, sometimes it's the quieter ones that hurt your budding romances first. In the spirit of finding the mildly bumpy but everlasting road to true love, keep these deal-breakers in mind for your next first date if you are hoping it will be the last.
RuPaul's Drag Race
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party
5:30 p.m. at Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club
Is there anywhere else you’d want to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race? House diva (and former contestant) Jade will make an appearance.
Joanna Connor & Lance Lewis
8:30 p.m. at Harlem Avenue Lounge, free
Slide guitar heroine Joanna Connor enlists her longtime drummer for this duet in Berwyn. Expect her to cut the frills and let her Bonnie Raitt likeness burn as bright as the judgment day guitar work that led her to both Chicago and Blind Pig Records in the late '80s.
Laugh It Up, Kid
9 p.m. at Schubas, $5
Join local funnymen Adam Burke, James Fritz and Joe Kilgallon and others as they take the stage for this joke marathon.
The Three Little Pigs burger will have you huffin' and puffin'.
How does a burger sound for lunch today? How about a different burger every day this week? Your cardiologist may not approve, but Rockit chef James Gottwald won't tell. His restaurant's annual Burgerfest returns to both the River North and Wrigleyville locations today. In addition to the usual Rockit burger, and turkey, angus and lobster versions, Gottwald will offer a different specialty burger each day through Friday. Take a look at the menu below and take your pick. Each is $12, including fries. Shakes and root beer floats are also available for $5 each.
Three Little Pigs Burger
Ground pork patty, pulled BBQ pork, sugar-cured bacon and cheddar
Fruit de Mer Burger
Shrimp, scallop, salmon and lobster with tobiko caviar aioli
Turkey Dinner Burger
With all the fixins’, including turkey gravy and cranberry relish
Black Angus "Oscar" Burger
Black angus beef, lump crabmeat, asparagus, with a béarnaise sauce
Chicago Style Burger
Seven traditional toppings of a Chicago-style hot dog but on a burger
Hockey fans and rock fans alike can join together to cheer on the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals at Metro on Sunday. The music venue and XRT will be showing Game 5 of the Hawks’ series against the Philadelphia Flyers with a special show from Jon Fratelli. … You know, of the rock group The Fratellis. … Not ringing a bell? OK, it’s the group that sings Chelsea Dagger. … Still nothing? OK, it’s the “duh duh-duh-duh duh-duh-duh” song they play at the United Center after every Hawks goal. Ohhhhh, that guy!
The free show starts at 5 and the game is at 7. Get tickets at XRT’s web site or text HOCKEY to 5-9393.
And if you’re looking for other places to watch the Hawks in the Finals, check out our top picks.
Ah, the good old days.
Aspiring Playboy Bunnies (and the oglers who love them), make sure to clear your schedule for the next couple of weeks.
On June 10, The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana will host the 50th Anniversary celebration of the original Playboy Clubs. Among the festivities will be the selection of a single girl to feature on www.playboyclub50.com (and have her photos submitted to Hef for consideration for Playboy magazine). Where will those girls be found? All over Chicago, of course. Here's the schedule for upcoming Bunny search events over the next two weeks (find full details here):
Friday, May 28, 9:30 p.m.: Red Ivy (call 773-472-9000 to register)
Saturday, May 29, midnight: Heat Nightclub (register at facebook.com/heatnightclub or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sunday, May 30, 10 p.m.: Bull & Bear (register at email@example.com)
Wednesday, June 2, 8 p.m.: Meyer's Castle (1370 Joliet, Dyer, IN)
Thursday, June 3, 9 p.m.: Martini Park (register at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Friday, June 4, 8 p.m.: Tilted Kilt, Elgin
Saturday, June 5, 10 p.m.: VLive
Saturday, June 5: Stage 151@Harrah's, 151 N. Joliet, Joliet
Baseball games make for great dates. Depending on who's pitching, you get three to four hours of quality time -- including beers, snacks and plenty of people-watching. Plus with all the down time, you get a real chance to talk without missing any of the action. Now that I've convinced you, get some tickets and make sure to heed these three lessons I learned from a recent date at Wrigley Field:
1) Pay for decent seats. They don't have to be steps away from home plate, but minimally should be on the first level outfield or right behind the plate on the second or third levels. This way, you can avoid much of the frat-tastic bunch known to frequent the area.
2) Go on a slow weeknight. The mood is way more low-key and chill than, say, during a weekend game where there will undoubtedly be violence and vomit. Plus you can afford the decent seats previously discussed.
3) Take in the ballpark and stay the whole game. Declare ahead of time you demand to stay for the whole game. Yes, it's a long time to be sitting, so be sure to take a walk around by the 4th or 5th inning. Buy a postcard at the gift shop or search for that elusive funnel cake -- the historic Wrigley Field is majestic for fans and non-fans alike.
The Gaslamp Killer (photo via Last.fm)
The Gaslamp Killer
10 p.m. at Smartbar; $8-$10
Ten years ago William Bensussen aka Gaslamp Killer wasn't considered a very popular DJ. In fact many would have called him a dance-floor killer, and it was a surprise, even to him, that club promoters bothered to take a chance on his bugged-out blend of psychedelic rock, hip-hop and grunge. But today, over a decade later, those promoters were proven right as GLK is now known worldwide for the same high-octane performances that began years ago in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter.
Beer Under Glass
5:30-8 p.m. at Garfield Park Conservatory; $35-$45
Seven local breweries (Argus, Goose Island, Half Acre, Hamburger Mary's, Metropolitan, Rock Bottom and Two Brothers) will be on hand to serve samples to go along with food from Marion Street Cheese Market and Green Zebra at this event at the West Side conservatory. In addition to the refreshments, attendees can enjoy a composting demonstration, chocolate tastings and a beer-growing and brewing tutorial.
5-6:30 p.m. at Harold Washington Library Center (YOUMedia); free
The popular blogger (he's the co-editor of Boing Boing) and science-fiction writer comes to the library to discuss his latest book, For the Win, about online gaming and thievery. Copies of the books will be available for purchase, and pre-registration is required (call (312) 747-5260).
The calendar has flipped to May, which means it’s officially pub crawl season in Chicago. Here are three in the next week that should be very interesting:
Cinco de Mayo Bar Crawl
8 p.m.-midnight Wednesday, starting at Rockwood Place/Bar Celona
Mariachi bands will play until 9 p.m. at both opening bars, then trolleys will take the fiesta to Grand Central, then to Angels and Mariachis. Kiss FM (103.5) will be at Angels & Mariachis all night, including one of Kiss FM’s “Beat Freak” DJs. Drink deals include $5 Cazadores margaritas, $5 Cazadores Reposado or Blanco shots and $4 Corona bottles.
Historic Pub Crawl of Hegewisch
Wednesday, 6 p.m.
Learn all about the venerable South Side neighborhood through Landmarks Illinois, sponsors the event. It’s a great chance to learn a little about our fair city – while having a drink or three along the way. Details are scarce on locations, but we’re thinking maybe some Pudgy’s Pizza? Chicago Pita Kitchen? The Ford Assembly Plant?
Anyway, cost is $10, or free if you’re a Landmarks member. Call (312) 922-1742 or click here for more info.
Northalsted Spring Fling Pub Crawl
Saturday, May 15, 2 p.m. at Roscoe’s
Head to 11 fabulous venues throughout Boystown, with each stop offering $5 Absolute Acai cocktails and $4 Coronas. Included on the crawl: Buck’s Saloon, Cocktail, Halsted’s, Hydrate, The Lucky Horseshoe, Minibar, North End, Rehab, Roscoe’s, Scarlet and Spin.
Back to the Pub Crawl
Saturday, May 22, 1:30 p.m., throughout Wrigleyville
Go back in time with the ninth annual celebration of all things ‘80s. Your $10 entry fee gets a free T-shirt, 22-ounce cup, slap bracelet, beads and all sorts of beer specials. Performances by 2 Live Bans, Mer and Red Pop Fury keep things swingin’. Our favorite part: They’ve rented a DeLorean for photo ops outside. No word on whether Doc Brown and Marty McFly will be there, but we're pretty sure they'll be able to produce the 1.21 gigawatts necessary to keep the party going all night long.
Want to see more? Check out our list of May bar crawls.
Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.
Dodo -- The popular breakfast spot is back, taking over the Dino's Morgan Inn space on weekends.
The Piggery -- The former Cordis Brothers Supper Club turns into a BBQ sports bar in Lakeview.
Fountainhead -- Expect better-than-bar food options from the menu of this gastropub on the border of Lincoln Square and North Center, and a quality beer list headed by Phil Kuhl, of Sheffield's "Beer School" fame.
Pizzeria Serio -- Get NY-style thin-crust at this 150-seat Roscoe Village spot.
Be Le Cafe -- This sister spot to Ba Le Sandwiches & Deli (just a storefront north) offers the same Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) in a more modern space.
Floriole Cafe & Bakery -- The Green City Market fixture opens up a new, two-floor spot in Lincoln Park. Don't miss the macarons.
Crepes A Latte -- This North Center cafe offers...you guessed it, crepes and lattes.
Wrigleyville Wild Wings -- The former Fly Me To the Moon has morphed into this wings-and-beer bar in the heart of Cubs territory.
Taco Fuego -- Want a foot-long burrito? This Lakeview/Roscoe Village spot is where to get it.
Joe's Cafe -- You'll have to go elsewhere for jibaritos in Berwyn.
Los Tamales -- Small Mexican shop in Cicero is no more.