Smile Politely

The Weekender: June 10 – 12

Hey, remember when we used to do this every week? Probably not, as a child conceived on the date of the last Weekender would be plotting the overthrow of a small Arab dictatorship by this point.


Catch the last session of Off the Page: If you’re in the campus area at 5 p.m., head over to the Illini Union Bookstore for a book signing by Ellen Steinberg and Jack Prost, authors of From the Jewish Heartland: Two Centuries of Midwest Foodways. It’s the final author appearance of their Off the Page Book Festival. Prost and Steinberg are Chicago-area residents, and Prost is an anthropology professor at UIC. From the book description: “Settling into the cities, towns, and farm communities of Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota, Jewish immigrants incorporated local fruits, vegetables, and other comestibles into traditional recipes. Such incomparable gustatory delights include Tzizel bagels and rye breads coated in midwestern cornmeal, baklava studded with locally grown cranberries, dark pumpernickel bread sprinkled with almonds and crunchy Iowa sunflower seeds, tangy ketchup concocted from wild sour grapes, Sephardic borekas (turnovers) made with sweet cherries from Michigan, rich Chicago cheesecakes, native huckleberry pie from St. Paul, and savory gefilte fish from Minnesota northern pike.” (JG)



Try an elotes at our new Food Truck Parking Lot: Recently, Lisa at Champaign Taste pumped out one of her finest columns to date on her venerable and influential blog, and it bears repeating and linking here. And well, why not — again here. On the corner of Bradley and Prospect, there seems to be a small Food Truck culture emerging and Lisa spent a few trips over there getting the goods. Try what you will, and don’t forget Bobo’s BBQ on the other end of the lot (I’ve yet to try it so can’t say one way or the next), but if you’ve just gotta couple bucks in your pocket, roll the dice and try an elotes, a Mexican corn-on-a-stick type dish, covered in a mayo/butter mixture and sprinkled with cotija cheese, chile powder, and lime juice. Oy vey… even the Jews line up for this. (SF) Photo by Lisa Morgan

Hey Mister DJ: I don’t think that I’ve ever attended an event that had a DJ. But then, I’m old. On Saturday night, at 11:00 p.m. DJ Bob Bass will be ― what do the kids say? ― “on the decks” at Emerald City Lounge!

Drink specials are $2.00 Domestic Bottles and $3.00 Sobieski Cocktails. And best of all … No Cover! (TN)

Dancing in the (parking lot next to the) street: If you’re in downtown Champaign Saturday night you’ll probably realize that you hear music outside somewhere (assuming the weather isn’t terrible). What you’ll be hearing is the WPGU Presents: Brat Pack with the 80s cover band, a beer truck and a mobile bar. You can check it out from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the parking lot adjacent to Cowboy Monkey. (JS)



Get Your Goth-Artisan On: The Danville Public Library (just a short drive on scenic I-74) is offering a hands-on workshop on gravestone repair this Saturday June 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

From the press release: Outdoor and on-site cemetery gravestone repair that will include fixing simple breaks, resetting a marker, determining original location of broken gravestone, appropriate adhesives, mortar mixes and filling cracks. Gain valuable hands-on experience repairing and resetting stones.  Heider will teach basic methods to preserve a grave marker and how to improve a cemetery’s appearance.

In these dire economic times, it makes good sense to gain as many marketable skills as possible. (RH)


Support the Bees: Did you know U of I had a pollinatarium? Neither did I, but that’s bad-ass. This weekend marks the kickoff of the Pollination Fascination series Sundays at 2 p.m., June through August at the Pollinatarium.  There will be talk about gardening to support bees and a few of the demonstration plants will be given away as door prizes. And, who knows, maybe some other Oprah-type giveaways. (RH)

An app that works: Sorry to speak out in support of a chain restaurant, but Chipotle’s online-ordering functionality (both the web-based variety and the free iPhone app) is exceedingly useful. I may be easily entertained, but there are few experiences more fulfilling than: submitting my order online, walking up to Chipotle, seeing a line of Naperville’s finest stretching out the door (roughly half of whom are dicking around on their iPhones), calmly strolling past them up to the counter, collecting my food, and walking back out as 40 undergrads stare daggers through me while I try unsuccessfully to suppress a smirk. Also, they have a really slick setup for putting together group orders that I just tried out the other day for a Bike Project meeting. You can input the email addresses for everyone who’s going to attend, and the other attendees get an email with a link where they enter their order, it collects the orders in one place, you select what time you want to pick it up, and they put stickers with each person’s name on their individual order in the bag. Victory! (JG)

Spend the afternoon at The Art: With the weather being what it is, the smart money says it will either be too hot or too rainy for the outdoors. So, Sunday afternoon allows you the opportunity to spend about four hours inside the halls of The Art to get you A) excited for the release of Super 8, the new JJ Abrams / Spielberg film and B) excited about the idea that Will Ferrell is turning into the dynamic actor that I think we all know he can be. That Everything Must Go is based upon the wonderfully written and heart-wrenching tale penned by arguably the greatest short story writer of the previous century, well, that just gives us more to love. You can check out A.B. Koontz’s glowing review here. As for Cloverfield, well, it’s pretty awesome too. And yes, I might have a penchant for that particular film, as my wife, and SP editor Justine Bursoni went to high school with, and used to get blazed with its star, Michael Stahl-David. He’s actually a pretty down-to-earth fella, but always seems to be just a bit too busy to actually get brunch with us when we are in town. It must be hard being in his position. (SF)

A Trivial Matter: I love The Blind Pig. It is, hands down, my favorite watering hole in C-U. And Lord knows, we’ve got plenty, so ― at least from me ― that’s high praise. I also love playing trivia games, though I think the only one that I’ve ever won was in a dive bar in Lubbock, Texas. Long story, horribly boring, happy ending.

And yet, I’ve never been to The Blind Pig Brewery and I’ve never participated in Trivia Night there. Every Sunday The Blind Pig Brewery has trivia night. Sunday is a work night, and, again, I’m old. But I’ll bet it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It begins as 7.00 p.m., and it is free to play. I believe that you can win Blind Pig gift cards.

And there are drink specials too: $2.00 Schlafly Pilsner Draughts, $2.00 Jameson Whiskey, & $3.00 Guinness Draughts. (TN)

Art at Kopi: One of the things that makes Cafe Kopi a cultural hub of downtown Champaign is the fact that they present a variety of artists to the public in a casual, engaging atmosphere. To my daily enjoyment, Kopi has played host to my two favorite local artists for the past few weeks: Michael Curtin and Jason Patterson. This is a great chance to see Patterson’s 23 Portraits, if you haven’t already, but moreover, it’s a chance to see Curtin’s work displayed in public for the first time. As you can see from the picture (left), Curtin’s work (a) is awesome and (b) adds a welcome new wrinkle to the C-U art scene. Have some coffee this weekend and check it out before its gone. (CDC)

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