Archive for November, 2007

Nerd rock, ahoy!

Jonathan Coulton is coming to town!

He’s the folk rocker you like even though you hate folk rock. All his songs are about super villains, zombies, web coding, and the Kraken. Sound too hipster-y? Well, he doesn’t come off that way. The man’s style is sincere and literate, and he’s recommended by acclaimed humorist, Daily Show regular, and regular collaborator John Hodgman. There’s an endorsement even troubadour-haters can appreciate.

Threadless Store

So I basically just got to Chicago right on Thanksgiving, staying with a friend at his family’s. So this is my first impression on this blog, my name is Till, I spent all November mostly in NYC and everything else is on my profile page.

Last night we went to Lincoln Park for the Threadless store – Threadless, if you didn’t know is a website (the company is based in Chicago), community-driven, designers/artists submit t-shirt designs and everyone votes on them, the best are printed and sold (designers receive a cut or something) – anyway. They have a retail store now, t-shirts are awesome and mostly cost 10 bucks (CAN YOU SAY “ON SALE”?!).

It’s a pretty small space and there is also a small exhibition with works by the talented Chuck Anderson. So make sure to swing around!


I Go, You Go, We All Go for I-GO

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

The wife and I took advantage of our new I-GO membership yesterday. There is something odd about just getting in a strange car parked on the street and driving away in it. But that essentially is just what we did. I am in awe of how simple this program is. Plus, there is also great joy in knowing we can celebrate the holidays with family out in the ‘burbs without A) making it an overnight trip; B) renting a car; or C) worrying about the suburban train schedules. I have long thought there was a gap between public transportation and standard car rentals. This fills the niche quite nicely, without the headache of actually owning my own car.

A weekend with my favorite ladies

I could not let another day pass me by without mentioning how I got to see my two favorite ladies this weekend: Maria Bamford and Paula Deen. Two different ladies. Two different vocations. Two different days. Let’s go chronological with this then.

Friday, I journeyed to The Lakeshore Theater to watch the amazing stand-up comedy of Maria Bamford. You may have seen her on the Comedians of Comedy or on Super Deluxe, or you may have never heard of her. If the latter is the case, then please go check her out for laughter’s sake.

As I was drinking in the lobby pre-show, I see my friend Brady Novak followed by another friend of mine Ken Barnard give me a quick greeting and head directly into the theater. I think that they must really want to see Maria. Then I sit down to watch the show and it turns out that these sly dogs are the opening acts. Two great Chicago stand-up comics (Ken won second place in Time Out’s Funniest Person in Chicago Contest), and two great sets.

Saturday, I got to see celebrity chef Paula Deen at the Chicago Theater. She’s got shows on Food Network and magazines and books and such and the like. Very popular lady she is, and with good reason. She’s very entertaining and has southern charm just pouring from her. Needless to say, she packed the theater not once, but twice. She didn’t do much cooking which is fine because she entertained with her stories. Actually, it was an hour of her and her husband, Michael Groover, chatting with the crowd and about a half hour of cooking. And the cooking was just a pork roulade with mashed potatoes. Not super southern or anything a foodie like me has never done, but I love Paula too much to care.

Street Thief

Street Thief

I just watched Street Thief, a 2006 independent film by director (and lead) Malik Bader that purports to be a documentary*, following a professional burglar through his life and through the commission of several of his crimes. Bader is engaging and likable, despite his character’s decidedly anti-social profession. And the filmmakers have assured interviewers that the crimes presented are entirely realistic. That realism is aided by the real settings used around Chicago — in terms of setting, the movie feels right.

Without being heavy-handed, there are also some questions being raised by the film about the current state of documentary film and journalism, and perhaps about our celebrity-obsessed culture. Why else would a criminal like Kasper Carr consent to being filmed committing crimes? And what of the documentary crew — have they crossed a line when they accompany Carr into a building during a robbery? Have they crossed the line from observing to abetting?

There are few speaking roles in the movie other than Bader’s, but Wesley Walker does a great turn as an incarcerated thief interviewed by the documentarians.

* Evidently, this film has been shown at some film festivals as though it were a straight documentary, with inevitable backlash when the deception is discovered. It’s a shame that the filmmakers have let a gimmick like that cloud the reputation of a fine indie film.

High School Basketball

The Tribune had a special Winter High School Sports pull-out section today. Lots and lots of stats and “who to watch” and inspirational stories about twin bowlers and so on. But my fundamental question is where and when to go see some basketball games. Is there really no central schedule? It seems like the kind of thing that some fan would do, if there were no official listings. It’s defeating my usually powerful google-fu.

Further, I didn’t go to high school here, so I don’t have any allegiances to one school over another — I just want to see some enthusiastic young players play some good basketball. Any suggestions?

Blackhawks commercial

I saw this Blackhawks commercial announcing that their home games are finally available for TV viewing in Chicago and I appreciated the casual feel of the thing. Turns out, it’s one of four commercials that were shot on a Thursday for an air-date of the next Monday, by Coudal Partners.


You know, Chicago really is a very romantic city. If you wanted to ask someone to marry you, you could do it along the lake or looking out over the city from one of our skyscrapers or at a fine restaurant. You could even set up a fake art exhibit. Or… you could stay inside and do it inside a video game:

Halo Proposal

Congratulations, “Moviesign” and “Furtive Penguin”. I can’t really snark on you too much, since I asked my wife to marry me with a clever arrangement of Parcheesi pieces.

(via Xboxer)

The Bears QB Controversy – Now In It’s 57th Smash Year!

Chicago Bears starting quarterback du jour Brian Griese fell down and hurt himself last Sunday. Former Bears Savior and current Bears Scapegoat Rex Grossman stepped in and threw a 59-yard bomb to take the lead and win the game. Speculation immediately swirled about who would hold the starting job next Sunday. I feel it’s important to point out that it took Grossman two and a half quarters to score against the worst defense in the NFL. One should never, ever, need to execute a dramatic, last-minute, come-from-behind victory against the Oakland Raiders. The question, however, is this: If Griese hadn’t gotten hurt, could he have pulled it off?

The Dulcet Tones of the Balaclava

Until recently I would have guessed that a “balaclava” was some sort of Russian stringed instrument. Turns out, it is a kind of mask that keeps your head and face warm while engaged in cold-weather outdoor activities. What with the sudden drop in temperature and winter rapidly approaching, I thought it might be a worthy topic for this, my very first MetroBlogging post.

With the so-called CTA “Doomsday” approaching (again), it behooves us all to look into alternative modes of travel. My plan? Bike riding. I ride all over the city during warm weather, but I usually put my bike in storage during the winter. But not this year. I found this website on a sticker somebody slapped on a bike rack in Edgewater. It’s got tons of information, from clothing to maintenance and repair, to prepare you for bike riding through the heart of a Chicago winter. Turns out the biggest concern (aside from maybe losing fingers to frostbite) is salt. Go figure.

So, if you are headed up Lincoln Avenue this winter and pass a big heavy guy sweating through his polar fleece as he pedals against the North Wind, please give me a wide berth. Thanks!

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