Recently in Chicago Category

Floating Chicago - A collection of mirrored skyline timelapses from Craig Shimala on Vimeo.

Videographer Craig Shimala says on his Vimeo page that he had a bunch of timelapse bits and pieces of the Chicago skyline sitting around and decided to put them to good use.

What we get from his efforts is this trance-inducing clip of clouds and water and time flying past out city - in mirror form:

Through the past couple years I've shot a decent amount of time-lapses of the Chicago skyline. I figured why not take all of those and throw the same mirror filter that was warmly welcomed by a lot of people on this.

Shimala has a bunch of other interesting Chicago scenes documented, so check out his work.

Thanks Chicagoist for sharing.

A cast of millions. Boxes of Kleenex. Josh Groban. Four hours of raw emotion and dramatic buildup.

Yep, Oprah must have been taping her final shows after 25 years of ruling the daytime airwaves, book clubs and your soul.

Couldn't be there? Can't watch? You're in luck. A bevy of Sun-Times reporters was on hand to witness the festivities and tweeted about the whole, two-show taping extravaganza. So grab a green tea, your favorite exfoliant and some paint swatches and pick through the night that was Oprahmageddon at the United Center.


The high-flying Chicago Bulls are the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, a fun team to watch and the home probably league MVP Derrick Rose.

But for those of us who can't make it to the United Center in person, perhaps the best thing about watching a Bulls game is the over-the-top enthusiasm and calls provided by former Bulls big man Stacey King.

As D. Rose is a game-winning machine, King is a catchphrase-making marvel. His numerous nicknames - Windy City Assassin - for players and gleeful spouting for hot sauce help get the TV fan from seat to feet.

So it's only fitting that there's finally a line of t-shirts to help commemorate the moments King creates. The Stacey Shirts venture is pretty new and you can contact them on Facebook to suggest new shirt phrases or take a look at the $17.99 shirts, available in white or red and expanding as Stacey spits brilliance. But act quick - before the NBA, Bulls, Comcast or King sue them for trademark infringement.

Now, some hot sauce ...


Charlie Sheen is everywhere lately, including filing a massive $100 million suit against his former bosses at "Two and a Half Men."

And if you suspected Chicago might escape the Apocalypse Sheen, well, not so much.

Sheen announced a theater tour that includes the Chicago Theatre - and a swing through Detroit to add a little destruction to that town. He's booked for 8 p.m. April 3 at the historic venue with tickets going from $35 to $69 on sale Saturday, March 13.

Is it worth the price? That's for you to say. But here's the promotional chatter from the booking page on Ticketmaster:

My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option Show is coming for you. I'm going on the road. LIVE. Will there be surprises? Will there be guests? Will there be mayhem? Will you ask questions? Will you laugh? Will you scream? Will you know the truth? WILL THERE BE MORE?!?! This IS where you will hear the REAL story from the Warlock. Bring it I dare you to keep up with me.

Sheen announced the shows on his volcanic-hot Twitter page - now more than 2.5 million strong in followers.

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Aren't you a little sad to be a stormtrooper?

Chicago band Scattered Trees is about to drop their next album, Sympathy, due April 5. In fact, they've released the first single, Love and Leave.

But if you're off to see them tonight at Shubas, you may want to pack your ray shields. The video for that single brings a tortured love story from far, far away into the band's Chicago apartment, complete with some really sad stormtroopers and a withering Boba Fett.

The Force is strong in this one. So is the heartbreak.

Who knew stormtroopers were so emo?

President Obama is no stranger to taking a shellacking at the polls. Or a beating in the press. Or even a tongue-lashing from the right.

But a flattening from a fish sandwich?

Such is the case from the KFC ad that ran, however briefly, in Hong Kong for a fish sandwich.

Two things are evident from the effort from Yum! Brands ad: 1) This clearly didn't deliver the message they wanted and 2) they serve lemon wedges with fish sandwiches over there!

The spot, a riff on the Obamamantra of "Change," was pulled before the fish had a chance to flatten KFC's image too much. But, before the presidential pardons roll out, consider some of the stunning dialogue:

"Change, not only for your mom, but for you, your stomach, for a better taste! Mmm, change is good."

Change. It tastes bittersweet. And lemony.

"It was meant to be a spoof and no disrespect was intended," a spokesman for Yum! Brands of the Hong Kong market spot thant ran when Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the U.S. "It is no longer airing and will not be re-aired."

Would they have done this when Rahm was still running the White House?

It's well-documented that Kanye West provides some of the best content that Twitter has to offer.

Now, when you add the music of Josh Groban, like Jimmy Kimmel Live did, well, Kanye's tweets get even better.

The language for this video is straight outta New York. Fugghedabout playing it loud at work.

Chicago is a town that appreciates clean streets after a snowstorm. In fact, mayoral careers have risen and fallen on the ability of the Department of Streets and Sanitation to pull a Mr. Plow and get the white stuff packed away.

The good folks of the Big Apple have been whipping themselves into a blizzard frenzy as New York struggles to get anything done following their big snow over the weekend. "Where are the plows?!?" they cry. "When will the snow be cleared?!?" they demand as the situation becomes critical and, in some cases, apparently deadly.

And along comes a city worker to answer their question with a resounding "be careful what you ask for."

Investigations and lamentations ensue after a front-loader, apparently stuck in the snow, is dragged out by a tow truck repeatedly into a parked SUV - with the angry screams of the apparent owner in the background and a semi-gleeful videographer capturing the whole mess.

Indeed, a supervisor may not be enough to fix this as it seems like shoveling teens may not be the only ones hitting the rum out there.

Paging Michael Bilandic: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has some questions for you ...

Are you on the naughty list? Expecting coal this year? License plate read HUMBUG? Don't trust the Defense Department?

Then this is not for you.

It's time again for NORAD and Google to tema up to tell us exactly where Santa is in his delivery cycle. No, they're not tracking him with Patriot Missiles. It's a service for the parents of the world to convince the kids to get to sleep before the Big Guy shows up in town.

Google has an iGadget available to watch the Jolly Old Elf and crew as they jet around the world at 650 feet per second.

You can also follow the trip on Twitter and via Google Maps Mobile - search for Santa.

I fantasized about this back in Chicago ...

So begins Kanye West's so-called full-length film for "Runaway" posted to YouTube.

And like his recently controversial proposed album cover for the upcoming album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," this is a NSFW effort. And yes, there is a half-naked bird woman in the film, but the issues are more with some naughty words than anything else. So earphones should insulate you from repercussions (clean version here).

And as with most of his work, Kanye just might have an instant classic.

Explosions, fast cars, the aforementioned bird woman (fallen angel/Phoenix) and discussing every thing from Devil worship to Illuminati conspiracies to booty calls with ballet in the background, sheep and even some fowl cannibalism, there really is something for the whole family here.

Now, at 34-plus minutes, this won't be getting massive play on MTV. Of course, unless Kanye turned into a "Guido Juicehead" macking at Miami Beach, his best chances of cracking that channel's primetime lineup revolve around awards show hijacking anyway.

But the real question may be whether the world is ready for the rock opera - hip hopera? - again? If anybody can pull it off, Kanye can.

But you can judge for yourself. Settle in at your desk, keep an eye out for the boss and put your company broadband to good use for a half hour.


Kanye West just can't win.

The thought-filter challenged Chicago rapper/producer/gadfly/awards show menace is finishing work on his fifth studio album in six years - "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy". Normally a cause for celebration. But hold on, controversy has a habit of following West around.

Late Sunday afternoon he tweeted that his album art had been nixed by the nefarious "they":

Yoooo they banned my album cover!!!!! Ima tweet it in a few...

Side note: If you aren't following Kanye on Twitter, get on it now. He might be the best thing going in the microblogisphere.

But the days of keeping things under wraps are long behind us and, as promised, Kanye delivered the album art seen to the right via his Twitter stream. You may not be able to buy it anywhere, but there it is for free via TwitPic.

Banned in the USA!!! They tried to play me fam! They don't want me chilling on the couch with my phoenix!

Now, this being Kanye, who knows if it's the real album cover he had planned. But, as always, it does make for a fun moment in the spotlight.

He went on on Twitter to criticize the "they" - he's yet to elaborate - and the history of nudity on album covers.

In the 70s album covers had actual nudity... It's so funny that people forget that... Everything has been so commercialized now.

And there's this thought as his stream of consciousness continued:

I know that cover just blew yall minds ... I wish yall could see how hard I'm smiling right now!!!

More likely to come.

UPDATE: West continued to rap up on Twitter, defending the art direction and his artistic vision in regard perceived appropriateness:

In all honesty ... I really don't be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers #Kanyeshrug!

I wanna sell albums but not at the expense of my true creativity.


It's still a mansion, but there's little else about the former Playboy HQ that says sexy these days. More photos here.

playboy2.jpgThere are historical homes, and historical homes. Then there are historical homes that helped usher in the sexual revolution.

And it's not too often they go condo.

Yet here we are, looking at a listing at 1340 N. State St. A beautiful home in classic architectural style by Gamble Rogers, built in 1899 for Dr. George S. Isham. The stone giant was chopped into condos, with unit 1S on the market for a cool $2.9 million.

Why take the leap on this unique property? It used to be the hopping ground of the original Playboy bunnies. This was Hugh Hefner's first Playboy mansion.

Hef bought the mansion in 1959 and it would soon become famous for the 24-hour bacchanalia that encompassed the gardens and spacious, leather-bound rooms.

The bunnies and Hefner blew out in 1974 - the whole building was donated to the Art Institute and used as dorms - when the operation took off for Los Angeles. In 1993, according to the Presidential Rubloff listing, it was converted into seven luxury condos, on of which is on the market now, promising a lovely view of the garden and private patio.

But no, no grotto. And a dearth of Bunnies as well.


Sun-Times graphic by Greg Good - click for full size. Or download the PDF: SEWAGE14.pdf

Chicago is, famously, the City that Works. We know how to get things done. Keep the mail moving.

Chicago knows how to take care of business. But what happens when the business is done in a major metropolitan area? That's right, sewer reclamation!

OK, it may not be the sexiest subject. In fact, it's at least borderline disgusting for lots of people. But without an efficient waste removal and treatment system, well, we're in the Middle Ages.

Dysentery, anyone? No? Exactly

So, perhaps the cornerstone of modern society comes down to doing away cleanly with what we flush down our sewers and let flow down our drains. And despite what you might infer its usual color, that muck is not just dumped straight into the Chicago River. The Chicago Water Reclamation District takes 1.4 million gallons of raw sewage and wastewater each day from the entire metro area and in just 8 hours pulls off what Mother Nature takes a few weeks to do - filter impurities out of the water that flows through our lives.

The above graphic offers an explanation of how we get from nasty to natural. Something the ponder the next time you're taking a few moments of quiet time for yourself.

Ahh the heyday of media in the 1980s, when experts like Roger Ebert could magically beam Star Trek-style into your cocktail party for your personal edification.

A kind soul was good enough to post these gems to YouTube, complete with bad suits and big hair. And advertising budgets. Those were the days.

Thanks to Brad Flora's Windy Citizen for highlighting the find. Go vote it up, people!

1977018RM023_xgames.jpgHugh Hefner, the nearly mythical man behind the swinging "Playboy" ethos, was not born in a smoking jacket with buxom, interchangeable women on each arm. The Mansion wasn't always there, the Grotto not always the epicenter of his sexually-charged revolution in glossy print.

Hugh grew up a clean cut Chicago kid. And he spent his formative years at Steinmetz Academic Career Centre (High School in the early 1940s when Hefner attended) where he was, by all acounts, a popular, smart, witty kid.

And, as it turns out, creative. Hefner churned out drawings, writings and other thoughts on paper for himself and lifelong friend Jane Sellers that offer clues to the relative innocent that one day would become synonymous with anything but clean living. And it's those works that are up for private sale from Lux Mentis, Booksellers - 60 years worth of correspondence between the two.

While the two were never boyfriend-girlfriend - though they did date eachother's best friends at some point, according to a Lux Mentis statement, the lifelong letter chain began when Sellers moved to California, years before Hefner would follow suit.

Ian J. Kahn of Lux Mentis explained the relationship and Hefner's chronicle of the high school friend group to

I should point out that Hugh and Jane did not date. He dated her best friend and she his...the four were the core of what they called "The Gang". The really interesting element is that as he evolved into "HH", this group of high school friends served as a touchstone...they were the ones who loved him *before*...and he turned them off and on for many, many years. My favorite story out of this is that Jane and the other girls would go over to Hugh's to read "School Daze" to see which of their boyfriends were "stepping out"...Hugh did not edit *anything*. He took notes during the day as to what people were wearing so he could sketch them accurately that evening. It is a remarkable visual diary.

The collection also contains drawings done in and for class at Steinmetz, bits of Playboy memorabilia, invitations to parties at the mansion, music, business forms - Playboy's IPO filing among them - and all manner of other items, both profound and mundane.

Following is a selection of the collection shared between the two friends:


"My typical day at Steinmetz" hand drawn color illustration by Hefner.

More after the jump ...

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    This page is an archive of recent entries in the Chicago category.

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