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Smile Politely now seeking Tech Editor

Good afternoon, readers. Smile Politely is a magazine full of opinions written by our community writers and editors, and now that we're rolling out Smile Politely Tech in 2015 — we're looking for an Editor for that section. The ideal candidate will be a very engaged and interested community member with a penchant for the written word, a knack for managing a small team of community writers, a good sense of grammar, and a solid knowledge of the local tech scene in Champaign-Urbana (and beyond, really). In addition, the right candidate will be willing to write at least once or twice per week, and develop other authors from the community along the way.

There is an ample amount of topics in the C-U area to discuss in regards to Tech, so we're looking for someone who is interested in helping us cover the bases in that section, while seeking out writers in the community to contribute to the section each week.

If you're interested, please get in touch with us at info@smilepolitely.com with qualifications and other necessary information that might be relevant to us.


Champaign Surplus holiday gift shopping

Champaign Surplus is your one stop shop for shopping this holiday season. Friday, December 19th from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. we will offer FREE gift wrapping for any purchases made in store. We'll help you find the perfect gift, wrap it for you, and you get to walk out ready for the holidays!

Need some last minute gift ideas? Now through Christmas Eve, we'll be offering special sale prices on some great items so you can find that perfect stocking stuffer or gift you're looking for!

Special Holiday Deals:

Outdoor Technology Bluetooth Speakers and accessories- 20% OFF

Hippy Tree Men's Clothing- 20% OFF

Art by Abby Trucker Hats- 20% OFF

Ex Officio All Give-N-Go Underwear- 20% OFF

Freaker USA One Size FIts All Bottle Insulators- Buy 2 Get 1 FREE

Greenola Style Fair Trade Jewelry- 20% OFF


All Lights and Safety Gear- 20% OFF

Power Practical PowerPots- 20% OFF

Skhoop Women's Clothing- 20% OFF

Sakroots Boots and Bags- 20% OFF

United By Blue Apparel- 20% OFF

ALL Wigwam Socks- Buy 2 Get 1 FREE

Timbuk2 Bags- 25% OFF

ALL Sunglasses & Ski Goggles- 20% OFF

ALL GoalZero Solar/Power Products- 20% OFF

BioLite Stoves- 20% OFF

All Nomadic Traders Clothing- 20% OFF

All Timex Watches- 20% OFF

Make holiday gift shopping easy on yourself and come into Champaign Surplus! In addition to the great special deals we're offering right now, we also carry the best from brands like The North Face, Columbia, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, Merrel, Sorel, and many more. With thousands of items in outerwear, clothing, footwear and gear, you'll be sure to find the perfect gift at Champaign Surplus!


Illini basketball preview: Braggin’ Rights

“The toughest game to coach.”

"A heavyweight fight."

“Throw the records out.”

These are three platitudes John Groce used to describe the Missouri “Braggin’ Rights” game, which tips off at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The annual contest pitting Illinois versus Miznoz in St. Louis is always a challenging and exciting game, but I feel like maybe the ball coach was selling it a little hard this year.

So far the Tigers have put together a 5-5 record with losses to powerhouses like Missouri-Kansas City, Purdue, and Xavier. In other words: this is the worst Missouri team in the last decade. For perspective, KenPom.com ranks Mizzou as the 159th best team in college basketball right now; American (whom Illinois beat 70-55) is ranked 119th and Baylor (whom Illinois beat 62-54) is ranked 13th(!).

The problem with Missouri comes from a lack of depth, as only one of the team’s top five scorers is not a freshman or sophomore (senior guard Keith Shamburger, averaging 8.6 points per game, fourth on the team). While there are definite weapons in the Tigers lineup — Johnathan Williams III, for instance, who is averaging 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, or Montaque Gill-Caesar, who’s putting 12.6 per game--neither of these weapons are consistent at a high level for Missouri, leading to their middling record.

For Illinois to reclaim the crown this year all that needs to be done is execute. If the Illini follow the game plan, don’t have a stretch like the final 6 minutes of the Oregon game, and make shots about at the season average (44%), there’s no way Missouri is walking out of the Scottrade Center with the trophy.

My prediction: Illinois 71-Missouri 58


Tonight on SP Radio: Live Action Games

Tonight on Smile Politely Radio we're getting ready to relax over the winter break by chatting with the folks at Live Action Games on University. We'll discover the best things to plug into over break and what the deal is with local games. There might even be "best of 2014" talk. Who knows.

Smile Politely Radio airs each Friday at 5:30 p.m. on WEFT 90.1 FM in Champaign and is available as a podcast the following week. You can find our past episodes here.


Oh What a Lovely War extended, Sullivan Project postponed at Krannert

Per a press release from Krannert Center/Illinois Theatre:

Illinois Theatre is pleased to announce the extension of its acclaimed fall production Oh What a Lovely War. After a highly successful November run, Oh What a Lovely War returns to the Studio Theatre at Krannert Center from Wednesday, February 18, through Sunday, February 22. Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, producer of Illinois Theatre, states, “We have so much terrific work happening in our classrooms and on our stages here at Illinois Theatre that we can sometimes be flexible about our programming. In this case, we can make a truly wonderful production available for a larger audience when we reopen Oh What a Lovely War in February.”

This return engagement replaces The Sullivan Project, which is being postponed and will not be presented this season. Daniel Sullivan, Swanlund Chair in Theatre, notes, “The project I have in mind needs more development time before we can bring it to a Krannert Center stage. We’ve decided to delay The Sullivan Project until next year to allow for that time.”

Patrons holding tickets for The Sullivan Project will be contacted by the Ticket Office and will receive first option on tickets for Oh What a Lovely War. Tickets will go on sale to the public at 10am on Monday, January 5.

As the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign commemorates the centenary of the beginning of World War I, Illinois Theatre revisits the era with Oh What a Lovely War. Fifty years ago, as the war’s semicentennial approached, Joan Littlewood and her company at the Theatre Royal in London captured events surrounding the “Great War” with this collectively developed piece. A 1963 response to growing cultural interest in uncovering truths about World War I—the first modern, industrial, mechanized war—the company’s work drew into sharp relief the human impact of global conflict. The News-Gazette recently called the musical production “brilliant and beautiful . . . theatrically fresh and provocatively honest.”

Performance dates for Oh What a Lovely War are:

We-Sa Feb 18-21 at 7:30pm

Su Feb 22 at 3pm


It's The Travis Wayne Hurt Christmas Special Again

Hello, weirdos. If you can't get enough of local personalities, skits, funny podcasts, sofas, and only slightly awkward on-camera interviews, then do we have a treat for you.

From a missive sent to Smile Politely via elf-scented email:

"This is The Travis Wayne Hurt Christmas Special Again. It is set to start airing on UPTV later this week. It is full of CU's most desirable people. As far as I know, it's the only televised holiday special that is being produced locally."

I think that pretty much sums it up. Be on the lookout for Lindsey Gates-Markel and Andrew Schiver of You Big Dumb Idiot, as well as a holiday host of recognizable local arts/entertainment/music/trivia aficionados.


Vym Magazine features interview with local drag artist

The first issue of Vym Magazine, an art/idea magazine about drag, features an interview with local drag artist Veronica Bleaus, a frequent performer at local venues.

Bleaus the self-proclaimed "worst drag queen in the midwest" and author of many inspiring quotes, including the one featured to the left.

Vym Magazine is currently running a Kickstarter to fund future issues. More information about the magazine and ways to donate here


Visit the last Holiday Market of the season this Saturday

Hi, market lovers —

The staff here at the Holiday Market would first like to offer our sincerest thanks to all that supported us this season — our wonderful vendors, loyal shoppers, sponsors, performers — all of you we can't thank enough!

We'd also like to encourage you to visit the market this Saturday, the last of our season. Stop in for all of your last minute gift items, baked goods, sweet treats and other tasty food items for holiday gatherings, holiday wreaths and other decorations, and so, so much more!

And if you're sad to see the end of the Holiday Market, have no fear! The Middle Market is coming up quick — a six-week indoor market that bridges the gap between the Holiday Market and Urbana's Market at the Square. Isn't it great to be able to eat and shop local year round in this community?

Again, thank you for another great season, and we'll see you on Saturday!

Holiday Market staff


Christmas classics start tonight at the Virginia

December 16 through 20, the Virginia Theatre will host its considerations for The Best Christmas Movies Ever. (Although, personally, I’m a White Christmas man, their choices are pretty good.) All shows begin at 7:00 p.m., and all tickets are just $4, so it’s a great excuse to see some classic films on a big screen in a lovely atmosphere. Plus, if you wear an “ugly Christmas sweater” to any of the features, you’ll get a small popcorn free.

Here’s the lineup:

December 16—Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and Fred Astaire’s feet.

December 17 & 18—Miracle on 34th Street, starring Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, and baby Natalie Wood.

December 19 & 20—It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and and Donna Reed.

Visit the Virginia website for more info.


UHS production of Little Women at Illinois High School Theatre Festival

From an Urbana High School press release:

Urbana High School’s production of Little Women: The Musical has been selected to perform at the Illinois High School Theatre Festival, January 8-10, 2015. It is the second time in two years that UHS theatre has earned this honor.

While the Theatre Festival is not open to the public, a benefit performance will be staged in the UHS Cobb Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday, January 6 at 7:00pm. All proceeds will help defray the costs associated with taking the show to the festival.
UHS Director of Theatre Tim Broeker referred to the show, written by Alan Knee, as a “bestkept secret of Broadway.”

“This adaption brings the classic story to life with some of the most colorful and beautiful orchestrations and lyrics,” Broeker said. The music is challenging, he added, but the level of vocal talent currently in his theatre program made this the year “to pull off the show.” With a cast of only 11, the production doesn’t lean on large ensemble numbers for momentum and energy. Instead, strong vocals and character development carry the show, stirring real emotion. UHS Senior Caitlin Elliott, who plays the lead role as Jo March, said that when the show ran in early November, real tears were shed on stage and in the audience.

“We go through such a range of emotion in this show—sometimes we would come off the stage from a scene crying,” Elliott said, pointing to “the beauty of the writing” and the cast’s character development work as keys to that emotion. “We had the luxury of a small cast, which allowed us to devote a lot of time to character development—there are so many strong character personalities in the show,” she said. “It was also important to really examine each of the relationships between the characters. The energy on stage makes up for not having a huge ensemble.”

Other contributions to the success of the show, Broeker said, include the minimalist scene design, the decision to put the 15-member orchestra on the stage behind a scrim, and the use of projection to guide the audience through the story’s timeline, and to enhance Jo’s role as a writer. A stage and technical crew of 30+ students make everything come together.

In producing Little Women: The Musical, Broeker was assisted by vocal director Cullyn Murphy, technical director Breanna Morton, and orchestra conductor Darren Hicks.

The Illinois High School Theatre Festival, produced by the Illinois Theatre Association, is the largest and oldest non-competitive high school theatre festival in the world. More than 4,000 students from 150 schools, as well as teachers, university representatives, exhibitors and volunteers, come together to put on over 25 different high school productions and over 150 workshops. In addition to Urbana High School, downstate Illinois will be represented at the 2015 festival by Centennial High School and St. Joseph-Ogden High School.