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Rantoul Theatre Group seeks 4 male actors for summer production

Director Michael C. Nelson needs 4 male actors ages 16+ for roles in the upcoming Rantoul Theatre Group production of the mystery-comedy The Real Inspector Hound.

The synopsis of the play, from an RTG release, is as follows:

The Real Inspector Hound follows the story of two theater critics, Moon and Birdboot, who are assigned to review a play in London. Simultaneously, we trace the narrative arc of the theater critics and the narrative arc of the murder mystery play that they are assigned to review. So, it is a play-within-a-play. By the end of the play, the two narratives become entangled and are nearly impossible to separate.

Moon is a second-string theater critic with a deep desire to become first-string. Birdboot, on the other hand, is already well-known for his work. Although they are not equals in their field, they both struggle quite a bit with personal grievances. Moon fears that his whole existence is defined by Higgs, the first-string theater critic. When Higgs is present, Moon is absent, and vice versa. Birdboot’s fear, on the other hand, is that he has become better known for cheating on his wife than for producing great work. The evening prior, for example, he had a rendezvous with one of the actresses in the play. He tries to deny accusations of philandering, but as the play begins, he can’t resist falling for yet another of the actresses on-stage.
The murder mystery — the play-within-a-play — is set at Muldoon Manor, a typical setting for the detective genre. Nearby the Manor, a madman is on the loose. With a storm on the horizon, the police — led by Inspector Hound — cannot get to the Manor. Unbeknownst to the residents of the Manor, there is a dead body sprawled out across the floor of the drawing room....

Rehearsals will begin immediately, and the production will run weekends May 29th through June 7th, 2015.

Interested parties may contact the director at: webmaster@helicon7.com.


Yik Yak reps at Red Lion tonight

My girlfriend and I were driving home from Urbana when we saw this truck (above) that said Yik Yak on the side of it. For those of you unfamiliar, Yik Yak is an application in which users can send annonymous, location based, tweet-like messages into a forum. In addition, there's a up-vote/down-vote component. It's pretty fun.

Anyways, naturally, we followed the bus — which stopped at Red Lion on campus. I got out, went to the door and knocked on it. Out popped a young man, with long flippy hair, and a Yik Yak trucker-style hat on. He said that Yik Yak is touring around and that tonight they'll be at Red Lion giving away free swag and letting people ride the "Mechanical Yak."

If I didn't a sore throat and a clinical test out tomorrow, I'd definitly be on the bull, with my camera, taking photos for you to enjoy. But, since I can't go, I've asked Alisa Greene, one of our talented photographers to go document the epic-ness of the event. I imagine most of our readership spends their Monday nights downtown Champaign sipping whiskey, browsing Kickstarter (or something), or watching the latest hip television show, but if not, head down to Red Lion and let Alisa photograph you on DA YAK!


Revisiting the legacy of Chancellor Jack Peltason

In the N-G, I read that Chancellor Jack Peltason died at 91. He was the Chancellor during the 60's demonstrations and someone I had a lot of contact with. Overall, in hindsight, he probably was not a bad man and certainly leaves this world with more notoriety than I will ever have, but I did engage him in the following ways:

We were arrogant in those days, as most true believers who think they know best are especially when they are supporting causes for justice. Such was the case when both the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-War movement conjoined. Right during that time, Peltason became the Chancellor and it was his job to mollify the extreme right wing who wanted us all thrown out of school and the student leaders with whom, I think privately, he sympathized because he was a liberal politically and probably privately supportive of our causes. But he could not let us run amok on the U of I campus.

I have two memories of Chancellor Peltason. One, the height of my arrogance. Most days, as most faculty did, he ate at the Illini Union Colonial Room and afterwards would walk down the Quad to his office. I knew this and he was the target of our ire so I would intentionally walk directly at him and his aides and force him move when we confronted each other. His choice was to step aside or bump into me. He would always step aside and, just as he did, I would smile at him and ask, volubly: "How's your ass, Jack?" much to the delight of those who were part of my entourage and were tagging along.

In hindsight, I can't believe I actually had the temerity to do that (a number of times) and don't, now, feel very good about the disrespect I showed to him, but these were tumultuous times and we were feeling our oats. The action was puerile but it did express some of the rage we were feeling about a system that wanted mostly to continue business as usual despite the images of the war we were seeing daily on the TV, none more graphically painful than that young, Vietnamese girl running naked and screaming down the street with napalm stuck to her burning flesh. Somehow the decision to creatively call the chancellor a Jack (his first name) ass, pales beside that pain that constantly lived in our psyches back then.

Do I wish I had done it differently? Do I wish I had carried the cause to him less disrespectfully (and we/I did in many serious ways)? Definitely so, but hindsight is what it is and at the time that arrogance and disrespect seemed a vital part of getting the attention of those who were paying no attention to the horrors of the war. Like, let’s say, throwing a brick through an innocent window.

A more salient encounter happened in the Spring of 1970, culminating in a very successful, about six week long, strike in which thousands of students refused to go to class and instead held classes on the Quad (with and without professors) on topics like racism, Cuba, the relationship between the University research and the military, women's rights, etc.

I was one of those who architected that strike and was chosen to be the one who demanded and got a meeting with Peltason in his office asking the University to endorse the strike to show that they understood the seriousness of the anti-war movement. It was a contentious meeting and they did not agree and the paper this morning said that the U of I was one of the few schools that did not officially shut down (Columbia University even cancelled graduation!). We had some very negative exchanges, but they did again refuse to endorse the strike.

After that meeting, we went to the steps of Follinger Hall and I was one of those who spoke to thousands of students, declaring the strike any way which lasted from that March date until early in May when Nixon invaded Cambodia and major campus riots broke out everywhere, including at the U of I. Not until the student deaths at Jackson State and Kent State occurred in early May did the strike come to a screeching halt.


Be a partner with Uncork Urbana Wine Festival this summer

Last summer, the Urbana Business Association launched the Uncork Urbana Wine Festival. It was a great idea in which they put together a festival to highlight the best wines Illinois has to offer. This year, it’s back and scheduled for June 13th.

This great event is being put on by the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintner’s Association, the City of Urbana, and Busey Bank. With that said, UBA is looking for more partners to help make this festival even better.

If you or your business is interested in becoming a partner you can clink here.


JSM lists available four bedroom apartments and houses for Fall 2015

You and three friends need somewhere to live. Where do you go, what do you do, how do you handle such a massive undertaking? While finding a place to live may seem stressful, it doesn’t have to be with JSM. Our helpful leasing staff can get you into the right place, and our 24-hour maintenance team will help you keep said place in tip top shape. So, take a breath, and check out someone of our great 4 bedroom properties available for Fall 2015 below.

Up first are The Gardens located at 304 E. Clark St., Champaign IL.
These spacious 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartments are located on campus near the Engineering Quad. Rent is $1,700.00 a month along with the $72.00 utility fee for water, sewer, recycling, and internet. That breaks down to only $443.00 per person! Living here you get convenience, quality, and these great amenities:

  • Leased parking available
  • Fully furnished with new furniture
  • Air conditioned
  • Washer/Dryer in unit

If you are looking to get away from apartment life, we’ve got you covered. See below for two of our great houses.

807 W. California, Urbana, IL

Located in Urbana, to the east of the main quad, this house offers plenty of space for you and your roommates to spread out. Monthly rent is $1,790.00 plus the $36.00 utility fee which covers sewer, recycling, lawn care and snow removal. At only $456.50 per person, you can’t afford not to live here. Along with all the room and privacy a house offers, you also get these excellent amenities:

  • Fully furnished, including dinette and chairs
  • Hardwood flooring throughout
  • Washer/Dryer in unit
  • Leased Parking available
  • Basement storage

808 W. Oregon, Urbana IL

This 4 bedroom house has all the trappings of a great rental property. With the same rent rates as 807 W. California, each party pays only $456.50 monthly ($1,790.00 rent and $36.00 for utilities). As close to campus as it is to downtown Urbana, this beautiful Victorian style house has 2 floors with plenty of room for you and your roommates. It also includes:

  • Hardwood flooring throughout
  • On-site laundry
  • Leased parking available
  • Fully furnished

If you are interested in any of these properties, please contact the JSM Leasing Office at 217-359-6108, or send us an email at jsm@jsmliving.com. And of course, check out our website at www.jsmliving.com for more information, pictures, and floorplans. Now you’re ready for the stress-free process of living with JSM!


Anne Weisel, founder of Champaign Surplus, passes away at 97

One of the founders of Champaign Surplus, a longtime institution of Downtown Champaign, passed away last week. Anne Weisel, 97, was a massive part of the growth of the store, which opened in 1947. 

Here's a bit from the News-Gazette:

Anne was born Feb. 6, 1918, in Chicago, the daughter of Benjamin and Esther Watman Berman. She married Leo Weisel on Aug. 17, 1940, in Chicago. After World War II, she and Leo moved to Champaign-Urbana. In 1947, they opened Champaign Surplus in downtown Champaign. Anne was an excellent student, graduating second in her high school class, and her intelligence, business acumen and expertise contributed significantly to the success of Champaign Surplus. Anne was instrumental to the growth of the store, and she stayed active in the business until her retirement in 1988. Her example served as an inspiration to the two generations who have followed in operating Champaign Surplus in downtown Champaign.

Our thoughts go out to everyone at Champaign Surplus, a true staple of the local business community.


Jarling’s Custard Cup closing soon, will reopen under new ownership

Following the news of Jarling's Custard Cup being for sale a short while back, news came today that the Cup will close once they run out of their current product and reopen once new ownership is lined up.

Maybe Tom Hanks will buy it? Who knows.

Check out the Facebook post:

To our great Customers & Staff:We hate to do this after just opening. Our Staff has worked so hard to serve the crowds...

Posted by Jarling's Custard Cup on Sunday, March 29, 2015