Category: Word

Velvet Rut playwright to speak at Station Theatre tomorrow

James Still is going to be here hanging out by the railroad tracks. Who the hell is James Still?

It's quite clear that James Still is a perfectionist with a hell of an output. A long-time playwright-in-residence at Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, the Kansas-born, Seattle-dwelling writer has produced over a dozen plays, a screenplay or two, plenty of children's television (our twenty-and-under readers have almost certainly experienced his work on Nickelodeon with the Little B's-Bill and Bear), and he has encountered, in the process, much critical acclaim.

Last year he premiered three new dramas. One of which was commissioned by Ford's Theatre (Yes...that Ford's Theatre...) for a grand re-opening and to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. Attended by the Obamas. No biggie. Another of last year's fruits was The Velvet Rut, a two-man drama about an existentially out-of-control high school English teacher with a penchant for poetry secret, and a curious Boy Scout.

Here, you can see what James Still looks like, and what his play looks like as interpreted by somebody else, but with a much lamer promotional poster than the Station's

This is fresh, piping-hot drama served up with a side of savory author.

Under the direction of Joi Hoffsommer, our own Station Theatre, that tucked-away depot in downtown Urbana that makes our Broadway at least something like the other "Broadway" (since lord knows the Save-a-Lot wasn't pulling its weight in that department), will play host to the man and the work this Sunday. After a performance at 8:00, Still will talk-back with the audience about craft, process, the Mid-West, his play, Parcheesi strategies, or maybe even his favorite kind of Thai food. It all depends on what you ask him. Because you get to ask him things!

Otherwise, The Velvet Rut runs through March 20th, Wednesday through Sunday at 8:00 P.M. sharp!



UC2B Granted $22.5 Million, Champaign City Council Deciding Tuesday Whether to Accept Funds

The Champaign City Council is deciding at their meeting on Tuesday at 7pm whether to accept $22.5 million federal grant already awarded to the two cities and the University for creating jobs and building internet connectivity in our community. If you support the deployment of a municipal broadband network in Champaign-Urbana, please consider contacting your city council member to express your support of the plan. Here is a .doc file containing contact information and a sample correspondence. Whether or not Champaign accepts the grant funds has a strong bearing on whether federal stimulus money under the Broadband Opportunities Program will be used to create jobs in both Champaign and Urbana or provide essential services to underserved parts of our community. Our acceptance of this money also has a strong bearing on the viability of our round 2 funding proposal for community centers, libraries, and schools. Additional, it may have a bearing on Champaign-Urbana's viability for Google's fiber to the home project and future federal stimulus grants.

Project description from the NTIA press release below:

The Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband project plans to construct 187 miles of fiber-optic broadband network to provide high-speed connectivity to area community anchor institutions and support fiber-to-the-home services in four low-income neighborhoods. Known as a leader in computer networking technology, the University of Illinois plans to bring its experience to bear as it works to close the digital divide in Urbana-Champaign. The project will directly connect 143 anchor institutions, including 40 K-12 schools, 17 social service agencies, 14 healthcare facilities, nine youth centers, four public library systems, and two higher education institutions. A majority of these institutions expect to receive their first high-speed Internet connection via this project. The project proposes to create a fiber-to-the-home pilot project for 2,500 low-income households to purchase an affordable high-speed Internet service plan from commercial providers. In addition, the project expects to spur affordable broadband Internet access for local consumers, including up to 50,000 households and 3,700 businesses, by enabling local Internet service providers to connect to the project's open network.



Stories & Beer returns!!

Stories & Beer | Sunday March 14th | 4 p.m. | Iron Post | Free

Driven by our compulsion to repeat, Smile Politely and HOBART: another literary magazine has tossed together another Stories & Beer event for you drinking/listening pleasure. If you missed the last one, check out Aaron Burch's recap, wherein you can listen to the audio for each of our readers — and while you should definitely take the time to listen to all of them, make sure you check out Josh Bishoff's reading of "Librarians of the Midwest" for the generally raucous response it evoked. 

As for this month, we have taken to heart the various calls for "more estrogen." Now, if I were in an apologetic mood, I'd say that the reason we didn't have any readers who were of the feminine persuasion last time was because we were in a rush to get readers and we weren't really concerned with inspecting anyone's reproductive organs (apologies to Judy Butler) — we just wanted to make sure our readers (a) could read, and (b) were willing to read something that wasn't about their uncle's funeral. But since I'm not in an apologetic mood, I'll say screw that, it was a great reading, and if you missed it, you missed out.

Now on to this Sunday, when the following readers will try to live up to the lofty standard set last month.

Featured Writer: Bryan Furuness

Bryan will be driving in from Indianapolis, where he lives with his wife and two smartypants boys.  He likes to write stories and teach composition and watch the Chicago Bears; in other words, he doesn't require a lot of reward in this lifetime.  Today he spent all day helping a buddy with yard work, yanking out strange vines that may leave him covered with a hideous rash by Sunday.  Come to the reading to find out (see what I did there?  That's called suspense, son).  

Emily Cody

Emily is from Chicago, where she used to spend her time writing snarky things about the Chicago Transit Authority. Now she teaches middle school in Champaign, and writes snarky things about children.

Sara Gelston

Sara Gelston comes from Maine. She has an affinity for rural life and soul music and an aversion to most games. When asked for directions, she always points east.

Quoth Sarah: "An old boyfriend of mine took a business trip to Indiana and sent back a postcard. He circled the place he was staying on the front and on the back wrote "Can you believe people live here?" We were from Maine; we couldn't imagine it. We laughed and laughed. Then I moved here."

Brian Kornell

Brian Kornell grew up in Mentor, OH, 20 minutes east of Cleveland. Not exactly on the wrong side of the tracks, but very close. In first grade, he won the JC Award from St. Mary's Elementary School for being the student who most exemplified the teachings of Jesus. He took this as a free pass to never go to church again. His work has appeared in Storyglossia, Ninth Letter, and on his grandparents' refrigerator.

Sidney Sheehan

Sidney Sheehan was born not too many years ago somewhere in the Midwest.  She loves elephants and cornbread.  She doesn’t like littering or when people inquire about where her life is going.  Someday she will buy a motorcycle with a sidecar.  She’ll fill it with her stuffed animals and ride off into the sunset.

So come on out and listen to some stories while you drink some beer. It'll make you feel better.

Note: Even though nobody complained about the lack of gingers, we made sure that our readers adequately represented C-U's population of redheaded people.



Expose…the strange

Date: Thursday, March 11, 2010Exposed
Time: 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: Boltini Lounge
Street: 211 N Neil St
City/Town: Champaign, IL

An imaginative evening, inspired by an awareness of experience expressed through meaning, sound, and rhythmic language. A night nearly impossible to define.

Featuring Poetry by Amy Ali

Poetry readings by:

Ben Mathews
Suzy Requarth

Featuring the soulful sounds of Kevin LeSure on the Bass Guitar

$4 Martini Specials




“Beyond Coal” Campaign

Parker Laubach
Lead Organizer, Students for Environmental Concerns

Students for Environmental Concerns and Sierra Club Announce "Beyond Coal" Campaign in Front of Abbott Power Plant

Representatives from the organizations Students for Environmental Concerns, Sierra Club and Prairie Rivers Network held a press conference this morning to kick off the "Beyond Coal Campaign" in front of Abbott Power Plant on the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign campus. Students for Environmental Concerns, the oldest environmental organization on campus, organized the coalition and hosted the press conference. Members of SECS delivered a Freedom of Information Act Request to University administrators regarding operations at Abbott. The event was to announce the beginning of a statewide partnership to lobby the University to make the transition from burning mostly coal at Abbott to burning natural gas.

The coal systems at Abbott power plant date back to the 1930s, and require extremely high levels of investment to keep operating reliably―The University of Illinois Energy Task Force commissioned a report that anticipated a need of approximately $205 million over the next 15 years, mostly needed for the coal system. Abandoning coal use would allow this money to be used to retire the campus energy debt, fund aggressive energy conservation, and install renewable energy.

Students for Environmental Concerns' lead coal organizer Parker Laubach said, "It makes no sense for the University to shovel money into the coal boilers when it has made a commitment to climate neutrality. Schools across the country, like UW-Madison, Cornell and Stanford have committed to stop burning coal―it is past time for us to show leadership here."

"The economic case for ending coal burning at Abbott is abundantly clear as the deferred maintenance costs are so high." says Students for Environmental Concerns' President, Anthony Larson, "This case can be made without even discussing the climate impact."

These maintenance costs are an opportunity for the University to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability by breaking its reliance on coal. Recent events show that sustainability is important to Illinois students. Last week, a referendum to raise the campus green fees passed last week with 77% of the student vote.

Transitioning to natural gas at Abbott is an important step in cutting the University's carbon footprint, will avert hundreds of millions in maintenance costs at the power plant, and is necessary in order to meet the University's goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.


Beat Kitchen Brings the Funk to Allen Hall!

Friday, March 12

Main Lounge of Allen Hall
Free and open to the public

Beat KitchenIMC Shows presents: Beat Kitchen

Beat Kitchen is Champaign-Urbana's premiere nine-piece high energy funk/soul/reggae band, known for its intriguing repertoire of classics that, in the words of front man Brandon T. Washington, "you may have heard before, but you've never heard quite like this." Their energizing shows include music from the Meters, Toots and the Maytals, Grant Green, The Dap-Kings, Radiohead, Sly and the Family Stone, The Roots, and more.



Libertarians host “Dealing With Cops” seminar

The Champaign County Libertarian Party will show the film "Busted: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters" at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Urbana Free Library auditorium.

The event is free and open to the public.

The 45-minute film illustrates the right and wrong ways to handle common police encounters and pays special attention to demonstrating how viewers can confidently protect their rights and themselves.

After the screening, defense attorney Mark Lipton and Lt. Anthony Cobb of the Urbana Police Department will answer questions from the audience, and refreshments will be served.

For more information, contact Dianna Visek at 367-5027.


McCamey First Team All-Big Ten; Richardson Freshman of the Year

McCamey Earns First-Team All-Big Ten Honors
Richardson Named Freshman of the Year by Coaches; Tisdale and Davis also Recognized

Champaign, Ill. — Big Ten postseason awards were announced this evening on the Big Ten Network and the Fighting Illini had four players recognized. Junior Demetri McCamey earned first-team All-Big Ten honors by both the coaches and media. D.J. Richardson was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year by the coaches and to the All-Freshman team. Junior Mike Tisdale received honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades by the coaches and media, while junior Mike Davis was named All-Big Ten by the media.

McCamey is the first Illini to earn first-team all-conference honors since Dee Brown in 2006. McCamey leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.9 points, and ranks second in the nation in assists with an average of 6.8 apg. He accounted for 51 percent of the Illini offense in Big Ten play, scoring 274 points and assisting on another 312 points for a combined 596 out of Illinois' team total of 1,167 points. McCamey tied a school record with 16 assists at Purdue, equaling the most assists in the NCAA this season and ranking as the No. 3 all-time performance in a Big Ten game. He has registered nine 20-point games on the year and has been the UI's top scorer in a team-leading 15 contests. McCamey is just the third Illinois player ever to reach career milestones of 1,000 points and 400 assists in three seasons, joining Frank Williams and Deron Williams in this exclusive club.

Richardson is the first Illini to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year since Brian Cook in 2000. Richardson has started 30 games, the third-most starts by a true freshman in UI history. He is the Illini's fourth-leading scorer and the No. 2 freshman scorer in the conference, averaging 10.3 points. Richardson ranks ninth in the league in 3-point field goal shooting at 39 percent and his 55 three-pointers are the fourth-highest total ever by a UI freshman.

Tisdale receives honorable mention recognition for the second straight season. The only Illini player to start every game this year, he is second on the team in both scoring (11.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.1 rpg). Tisdale ranks third in the conference in field goal shooting at 57 percent and second in free throw shooting at 84.4 percent. He also stands fifth in the league in blocked shots, averaging 1.7 bpg. Tisdale has scored in double figures in 19 games on the year, led by a career-high 31-point effort vs. Northwestern.

Davis was named honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media after ranking second in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and third on the Illini in scoring (10.3 ppg). He has been the UI's leading rebounder in 23 games, with 14 double-digit performances. Davis has recorded 12 double-doubles on the season, ranking second in the Big Ten. He also ranks second in the conference with 21 career double-doubles.

Illinois returns to action on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, taking on Wisconsin at 1:30 p.m. CT on ESPN.



Hooey Batiks Hosts Art Sales in Urbana

Animalia FrogArt ushers out the last days of winter this weekend at the second annual Hooey Batiks Spring Open House in Urbana.

The event features four artists, including host Jill Miller and her Hooey Batiks, who will display and sell their work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday the 13th, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday the 14th (please take note of daylight savings time change over the weekend). The open house takes place at 905 S. Lynn St., U.

Miller specializes in unique batiked clothing, pillows, and lamps.

Other artists participating in the open house are Dogtown Artworks of rural Champaign County, with their "dog people" photographs, books and notecards; Animalia Pottery of Columbia, Mo., with their fun, whimsical pottery and hand-knit hats; and Weenerware of Chicago, with cool bottle cap and resin jewelry.

"What I think is great about the mix of artists is that we're all on the silly side," Miller says. "It comes out in the artwork."

Animalia and Weenerware are both from outside the Champaign-Urbana area and less well known than Hooey Batiks and Dogtown Artworks. The addition of new artists adds to the unique flavor of the event.

"I wanted to do a spring home show and, really, it's just people I like and I want to show off their work as well as mine," Miller adds. "It's sort of like the Amazon gimmick: ‘People who bought a Hooey Batik also bought stuff from these artists.'"

Miller is also one of the hosts and organizers of the popular and well-attended Art HooHa that takes place in December.

Please go to for more information about the artists and the event.