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Sipyard Tap Takeover

This Friday, November 27th, Sipyard will host a tap takeover (starting at 11 a.m.). Per its Facebook page: 

Enjoy post-Thanksgiving with Southern Hopishere, a special collaboration between Triptych Brewing and Arcade Brewery. Only one keg will make it down to Urbana!

For the beer geeks:
Southern Hopisphere is a must for the Belgian IPA fan. Brewing with only hops from the southern hemisphere, Southern Hopisphere has big tropical and citrus hop character with a slight amount of the Belgian yeast character shining through
Malts: Pils, Pale, Melanoidin
Hops: Wakatu, Summer, Vic Secret
Adjuncts: Blond Soft Candi Sugar

Happy Thanksgiving, and hoppy drinking. 

Sipyard is located at 204 W Main Street, Urbana. 


Illinois-Chicago State preview

Chicago State (3-1)
All-time: 0-11 (last meeting: Illinois 77--53 Chicago St., 11/22/13)
Tip-off:  7 pm in Springfield
TV: ESPN 3 (streaming)

After four games, Chicago State is averaging 96.75 points per game. With Illinois’s defense looking as lively as your uncle after the dessert round on Thanksgiving, this is a rather scary proposition. The big, and I mean big, caveat with the Cougars’ scoring is that so far they have played Illinois Tech, Indiana University Northwest, Trinity International, and (#7) Iowa State: only one of those schools is real, I’m pretty sure.

Though the comps are hardly better than games against the Culinary Institute of America, a few things stand out about the Cougars. Against the Cyclones, CSU lost 106-64, with 10 players getting at least 10 minutes of playing time. In other games the rotation has been slightly less deep, but having many players that can be thrown into the mix will be a benefit for CSU against a very shallow Illinois team. Another thing Chicago State is doing frequently is just chucking up threes: against ISU they were 10 for 37, against Indiana Northwest just 9 for 30. Opposing teams have killed Illinois from deep, but getting CSU to take threes, especially forcing bad shots, would still be a good game plan for the Illini.

More than anything, Illinois needs to lead wire-to-wire. In each of its four games Illinois has trailed at half. This has much to do with scheduling talented mid-majors thirsty to knock-off some big schools in nonconference play (North Florida and Chattanooga were both picked as preseason favorites to win their respective conferences). Chicago State, despite its high-scoring start, is not one of the giant-killer schools on Illinois’s schedule. So this is a chance for the Illini to just go out and ball on someone. If they don’t take that opportunity, well John Groce may as well resign.

Predicted lineups

Gut feeling

It’s really hard to imagine Illinois dominating this one after blowing a 9-point lead late in the Chattanooga game, but I do think they win it. If it’s not a blowout I hope it will at least be convincing.


Mayor Feinen weighs in on Syrian refugees

Despite the fact that Champaign is a non-partisan electorate for city offices, Mayor Feinen is a known Republican. Because of the overwhelming amount of attention that potential refugees from Syria have been given from the GOP in the House and by Governors (including Illinois' Bruce Rauner), I asked her to give us her feelings on the situation.

Smile Politely: Despite the fact that only the President has any power to do so, by now we've heard about Governors, including our own Bruce Rauner, attempting to suspend any Syrian refugees from entering the States. As both a lawyer, and as an elected official to the Mayor's office, what is your response to that?

Mayor Deb Feinen: I am not an immigration attorney so I am certainly not an expert as a lawyer and I have not done any independent research to answer this question.  However, I believe that this issue is a Federal one and that as a Governor there is no authority to suspend any refugees from entering the State.

As for my reaction, I think it is unfortunate that the Governors have taken this position.  It does not make sense to me to punish individuals and families fleeing the situation in Syria.  The Unites States is a Country of immigrants.  We also should not turn a blind eye to refugees desperate for help and a better life.  In particular in this community we have a rich diversity of ethnicity and we are better for it. We also have compassionate individuals and groups willing to help and support others in need whether they are from the United States or other Countries.


And so there you have it. Our Mayor in Champaign once again displays her seemingly endless rational approach to socio-political issues that our country, state, and own community is facing.

Well stated, Mayor Feinen.

Photo by Sam Logan.


Nando Milano opening November 30th

According to its Facebook page, Nando Milano (204 N Neil Street, Champaign) is opening on Monday, November 30th. You can make your reservation here. Right now it looks like the restaurant will be open Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.


Illinois-Chattanooga preview

Chattanooga (2-0)
All time:
0-1 (Chattanooga 75-63 Illinois, second round 1997 NCAA Tournament)
Tip-off: 7:30 pm in Springfield
TV: Big Ten Network

The Mocs most recent game is no comparison for Illinois (a 94-55 drubbing of Hiwassee), but its first game certianly is. In the opener, Chattanooga took Georgia to overtime and came away with a 92-90 victory. It was the depth of the roster that earned the victory, with the Mocs outscoring Georgia’s bench 40-17. Johnathan Burroughs-Cook accounted for 23 of the bench’s 40 points by himself, tying the game high of guard Casey Jones.

Whether Illini fans like it or not, Georgia is a good comp this year; in fact, KenPom.com has the Bulldogs ranked a few slots ahead of Illinois (with better adjusted defense, but slightly worse adjusted offense). The lesson John Groce and his players can learn from Georgia’s loss, however, is that Chattanooga is very foul prone. Three players, including top scorer Jones, fouled out in the overtime win. Though depth may be a strength for the Mocs, getting their best in foul trouble will be a smart strategy.

Of course, Illinois has its own foul issues (Mike Thorne Jr. fouled out in 13 minutes and Leron Black picked up 4 in 4 minutes against Providence), but they played smart defense and held arguably the nation’s best player in Kris Dunn to just 10 points and 3 assists. The key to that was walk-on Alex Austin, whom I thought would not even crack the starting lineup. He’s obviously proven to Groce that he has the chops to get significant minutes, and if he can repeat his performance and Illinois can make dunks (ugh), this could be a bounce back game.

Predicted lineups

Gut feeling

The Providence loss was heartbreaking (words do no justice), but it was a very good and well-coached game from the Illini. If they can get past the final outcome, there should be plenty to take forward and I think this game will see them back at .500.


Big Grove Tavern wins Golden Beet Award

Big Grove Tavern just won the 2015 Golden Beet Award for Restaurants and Institutions, which recognizes those that are paving the way for a local food system develop here in Illinois.

The winner is selected through a non biased committee and out of the entire state, Big Grove Tavern was chosen as the one that worked best with local farmers and to create a community-based food collaboration.

It's truly a great honor, but Executive Chef Jessica Gorin and her team are still hard at work at the restaurant as usual, bringing in constantly new fresh creations inspired by the farmers' market.

You can find all of the info in the press release below:

Big Grove Tavern wins 2015 Golden Beet Award.

Executive Chef Jessica Gorin and her team at Big Grove Tavern has been selected a winner of the 2015 Golden Beet Award for Restaurants and Institutions!

The Golden Beets are annual awards given out by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a statewide non-profit organization that promotes local food and sustainable farming, in order to recognize those outstanding individuals, organizations, and businesses that are paving the way for local food system development through-out Illinois. That might entail anyone from the classroom teacher who is starting up her own school garden, to the restaurant whose core value is to buy locally produced food, to the activist group fighting for fair local food policy rights, or even the blogger providing local food recipes and gardening tips for the community. Six Golden Beets are awarded each year under the following categories: Farm to School, Restaurants and Institutions, Community Food Projects, Innovative Farmer, Scaling Up, and Other Varieties.

An unbiased selection committee made up of individuals involved in local food work around the state selected Big Grove Tavern as the winner of the Restaurant and Institutions category from all of the nominations that we received.

About Big Grove Tavern

Big Grove Tavern opened its doors in May of 2012 bringing the first true farm to table restaurant in the Champaign Urbana community. Executive Chef Jessica Gorin and Sous Chefs Terrah King and Tomasz Nilges draw inspiration from the local farmer's market and utilize exceptional ingredients at the height of their season. Each menu reflects a solid commitment to using naturally-raised and organic ingredients sourced directly from local farms and farmers' markets.

Our name comes from a large stand of trees called, “The Big Grove,” which offered shelter from the wide open prairie skies during the earliest days of our community. Now known as Busey Woods, you can still see the remnant of Big Grove in Urbana today.


Exclusive stream: Marathon's Sanctuary

We're happy to host the exclusive stream for Marathon's new record, Sanctuary, before the official release tomorrow at the Art Theater. You can stream the whole thing below, and check out the event page to grab tickets to the show tomorrow evening.

The record stems from the project of Brandon Beachum, which was his solo recording project for quite some time before it became a much larger collaborative endeavor with many musicians. Two drummers, six guitarists, a vibraphone and a bass, plus more went into this piece. The record was recorded earlier this year at Matt Talbott of HUM's Earth Analog Studio, mixed by Talbott and Matt Wenzel, and mastered by Jonathan Pines of Private Studios in Urbana. Heirship Records is releasing it this weekend on vinyl.

The record stretches out across a half hour mixing improvisation, spread over what is mostly a single thematic chord — integrating drone, experimental, tribal, and ambient sound across the board. (Much emphasis on sound here.) Several outfits and artists come to mind when listening, though I would imagine Marathon as a group would be grateful for these comparisions — Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Stars of the Lid, and Boredoms, to name a few, are summoned when digesting Sanctuary. That's just the beginning, and I'd imagine that sitting in the Art Theater and taking this one in on Saturday evening would be quite the treat.

Though I don't believe the "album" has been lost upon most nowadays — especially with the consistency of local releases and albums coming out in Champaign-Urbana — this is one of those true album listens as a piece of music. Not that you have much of a choice, but as a sprawling composition, Marathon nails this one from a conceptual standpoint — especially with a wax release.

Take a listen for yourself below:


Tonight on SP Radio: SPEAK Cafe

Shaya Robinson joins guest host Cope on the show this evening to discuss Krannert Art Museum's SPEAK Cafe. SPEAK (Song, Poetry, Expression, Art, and Knowledge) Cafe is an open-mic public space for hip-hop, activism, and Black Power expression. 

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. Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes!


UIUC in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons… again

The Indendent picked up the story about the horrific (and short-lived) "white student union," contributing to U of I's continued tailspin in the national and international spotlight. From the news coverage:

Students at an American university have sparked anger after reportedly forming a white student union to counter what they describe as “terrorism” from black students.


Wolfram and Unit 4 schools partner for STEM

This Friday at Franklin Middle School, employees from software and computing giant, Wolfram, will be visiting STEM classes as part of “coding Fridays”. The event is an ongoing partnership between Wolfram and Unit 4 schools aimed at utilizing local STEM experts to enhance middle school STEM experiences and learning. As per the press release:

Wolfram will be assisting students in using code to generate a "ninja name" and then 3D printing their name as part of this Friday's lesson. This hands-on opportunity is an extension of the partnership Unit 4 Schools has been developing with Wolfram over the past year, which is bringing local tech expertise into our public school classrooms.

The event will be lasting from 1:30-2:50 p.m. at Franklin Middle School in Champaign.