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Red Star Liquors opened tonight…

... and I must say, it's a really really dope spot. It's located in the former Embassy space, and the design is really terrific: simple, clean, red (of course). The pattern next to you is the wallpaper, and it is lining the walls. The Art Deco-era bar remains, but for some reason, it looks about a million times better in the new space than it did before.

Cheers to those who made it happen. Perhaps Urbana will become the new spot to hang out in the next decade?


HuffPo’s “15 Funniest Pet Videos” a prime example of bad best-of lists

As SP continues to dangle its judgment over the precipice of public opinion, I'm happy to tell you that there's no WAY we'll do as poor a job at "best of" as HuffPo did here.

Superlatives are way, way overboard here. These videos aren't even funny!

The orangutan is heartwarming, but that's different. (I am a Terry Pratchett fan.)

Where's Drunk Squirrel? Where's the barfing/fucking dog? Where's Cat on a Ceiling Fan?

These noobs are showing off their interweb illiteracy.


GEO Rally tomorrow

Last chance to prevent a strike!! Rally in solidarity with the GEO and show your support for our efforts.

Can't make it to Springfield? Not to worry! If we yell loud enough, they will hear us! Come to an on-campus rally on Thursday and invite your undergrad students, sympathetic faculty and bring your friends and family!

WHAT: All-Campus Rally
WHEN: November 12th, 12-1 p.m.
WHERE: Meet at the Illini Union, march to Swanlund Administration Bldg
WHO: Graduate students, undergraduates, faculty, campus workers, and community members
WHY: The Graduate Employees are on the brink of the strike. Here's how to avoid it: unite as a campus community that cares about it's workers, the quality of it's instruction, and access to education for all!

***Want to make a solidarity statement during the rally? Contact and make your voice heard for a fair contract, living wage, and access to education for all!


This week in late-night

The landscape of late-night TV gets more colorful this week with the addition of two shows: The Wanda Sykes Show, which premiered Saturday night on Fox and Lopez Tonight, which begins tonight on TBS, both promise to deliver a new format of talk show.

I caught the premiere of Wanda Sykes Saturday night and I was rather impressed. Though it was not nearly as "original" as was hyped, Wanda is a great alternative to SNL if you're staying in on a Saturday night. Her monologue is a refreshing return to true standup on the late night circuit. The guests are handpicked by Wanda, which keeps the show real, as opposed to watching an hour of clips and plugs with some comedy thrown in. Her panel discussions incorporate humor into current events, reminiscent of Real Time with Bill Maher. It may be too early to tell, but after one episode I give Wanda a solid thumbs-up.

The Wanda Sykes show airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Fox.

Lopez Tonight, which pledges to "bring the party back" to late-night television, will feature Eva Longoria-Parker, Kobe Bryant and Ellen DeGeneres in its premiere. I'll make sure to check it out and report back next week.

Lopez Tonight premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on TBS.

As for the rest of the week, here's what the regulars have to offer:

Monday: The Jay Leno Show features Diablo Cody (NBC, 9pm), catch Bill Murray on the Late Show with David Letterman (CBS, 10:35pm) and flip over to the Tonight Show to watch David Gray perform (NBC, 10:35pm).

Tuesday: In what should be a hilarious interview, Maria Shriver stops by the Colbert Report (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.).

Wednesday: Letterman's got Norah Jones, and Bored to Death star Jason Schwartzman stops by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC, 11:35 p.m.).

Thursday: Speaking of Bored to Death, Al Gore is on with Conan (bad joke). And don't forget to check out the show everyone should be watching, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on FX.

Friday: Speaking of It's Always Sunny, you can catch Danny DeVito on Conan (probably shamelessly promoting the show).

Next week I'll review the first week of Lopez Tonight and as always, give you the lineup of guests and music acts you won't want to miss. (I promise, next week looks a lot better.)


Hersh to accept Illinois journalism award in D.C.

Man, when I first saw this, I thought maybe the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh was coming to C-U, but alas: "The prize will be awarded Saturday (Nov. 7) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., following an evening reception and dinner." Oh, well. Congratulations, Mr. Hersh, on being the third recipient of the Illinois Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism.


Illinois and local authors

Looking for local authors? The Urbana Free Library and the Champaign Public Library couldn't provide a full list of local authors — but we thought it might be nice to provide these links and start an on-going thread of other local authors on Smile Politely.

For a brief list of Champaign authors and Urbana authors.

Or check out the authors' work directly:


Furloughs possible; essential hiring only through June

Outgoing President B. Joseph White and Interim President-designate Stanley O. Ikenberry e-mailed all University employees this morning regarding the state and University budgets which look bleak for the foreseeable future.

"We do not plan furlough days before the end of the calendar year and we hope they can be avoided completely. It will be necessary, however, for departments, colleges and administrative units to manage any hiring on a critical needs, by exception basis for the remainder of the 2010 fiscal year that ends next June 30," White and Ikenberry said.

It sounds like furloughs are likely in spring 2010 with a hiring freeze of all but exceptions through June 2010 at the University of Illinois Urbana campus.


Northwestern Game Time & TV info

Nov. 14 Big Ten games:

Noon EST/11 a.m. CST
Northwestern at Illinois, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Classic (*)
Michigan State at Purdue, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Classic (*)
Indiana at Penn State, Big Ten Network
Michigan at Wisconsin, Big Ten Network
South Dakota State at Minnesota, Big Ten Network

3:30 EST/2:30 CST
Iowa at Ohio State, ABC (ESPN mirror)

(*-Network designations TBD after November 7 games)