Smile Politely

Weekender: November 2–4


CHRIS CRINGLE CRAFT SALE, Assembly Hall, Noon–4:00 p.m., $1

The Chris Cringle Craft Sale is one of the Midwest’s largest craft shows, covering all three levels of the University of Illinois Assembly Hall. The show features over 140 booths displaying a wide variety of handcrafted items by local and area artists. Local displays are set up in area towns during the month of October. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. Proceeds support many projects, including an art student scholarship, Memorial 4-H Camp, memory boxes for hospitals, and sponsoring families through the Department of Children and Family Services. Continues Saturday, November 3, noon–4:00 p.m. (MG)

Samsara, Art Theatre, Friday–Sunday: 5:00 and 7:30 p.m.

Samsara is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life.” This documentary took five years to complete and includes locations in 25 different countries. From what I understand, the film contains no dialog, thus allowing us to form our own interpretation of what we see and hear.

Samsara will be shown at the Art Theatre from a 35mm print. It looks absolutely gorgeous. (TN)


13th Annual Chocolate Extravaganza, Champaign Hilton Garden Inn, 5:30–8:00 p.m., Free

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Champaign County is holding its 13th annual Chocolate Extravaganza on Friday, November 2, and over 40 local restaurants will have samples available, including Fannie May, Ruby Tuesday’s, Ribeye, Red Lobster, CaterMe, Bob Evans, Marble Slab Creamery, Jarlings, and Sun Singer. For the third year in a row, the event will be hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign. In addition to plenty of chocolate and ice cream, there will be wine, pizza, and other specialties from the participating restaurants. For entertainment there will be live music and a silent auction with chances to bid on prizes. It’s a good cause and all, but it’s okay to admit that you were interested based on the words “chocolate” and “extravaganza.” (MG)

A Dream Play, Krannert Studio Theatre, Friday–Saturday, 7:30 p.m. | Sunday, 3:00 p.m.

The Department of Theatre, with guest director Max Truax, knocks another one out of the park. I’ve never seen the wretchedness of the human condition illustrated in such a beautiful way. Read our review here. (TN)



C-U Folk & Roots Festival, all over Urbana all weekend, prices vary

The 4th annual C-U Folk & Roots Festival is happening this weekend, and it’s jam packed with entertainment all over Urbana. Various locations include the Urbana IMC, Iron Post, Buvon’s, The Rose Bowl, and many, many more. You can check out the full schedule, which went live not too long ago over at their site, as well as all the bands and musicians on the bill. This is a pretty great event, and one that takes advantage of a bunch of great spaces all over Urbana, filling it with a bunch of great acts you probably wouldn’t be able to see otherwise in C-U. Even if you hit just one show this weekend, it would be worth your time. (PS)

Sinfonia da Camera: No-Holds-Barred Beethoven, Krannert Foellinger Great Hall, 7:30 p.m., $12/student | $34/townie


Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73, “Emperor”

Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125

I’m going for the 9th Symphony alone.

Ian Hobson: Music Director and Conductor, also Piano
Ollie Watts Davis: Soprano
Viktoria Vizin: Mezzo-Soprano
Humberto Rivera: Tenor
Ricardo Herrera: Bass-Baritone
UI Chorale
UI Oratorio Society
Fred Stoltzfus: Choral Conductor

There will also be a free Student Performance Project at 6:40 p.m. in front of the Tryon Festival Theatre and a free piano performance by Rick Murphy at 9:40 p.m. at Stage 5. (TN)

Killer Joe, Art Theatre, Friday–Saturday: 10:00

This film will also be screened from a 35mm print. I saw this play performed at the Krannert back in 2010. In fact, my review of Killer Joe was the very first article I ever wrote for Smile Politely. I loved the play, but it is very dark. Not so much abusive, but raw. Having seen it once, I don’t think I’ll ever want to experience it again. That being said, if you’ve not seen Tracy Letts’ play, perhaps this film version will do.


Hamlet, The Station Theatre, Friday-Sunday: 2–4

Hamlet opened on Thursday, and you can listen and/or read about The Station’s production here. And look for our review next week! (TN)



Biaggi’s Soup n’ Salad: 11 a.m.–2 p.m., 2235 South Neil St., Champaign

Oddly enough, a solid meal in Champaign exists at the end of the line. The corner of Neil and Windsor, or just north of it actually, sits Biaggi’s.

Listen. It’s a chain. I get it. But there’s something about its consistency that you have to admire. On any given day, save for Sunday, a couple can walk in the door and eat as much salad and soup as they wish for $10 per head.

Me? I’ve stopped with the third refill by now. But you? You should do that, you know, if you’ve been killin’ it at the gym or making good on that CrossFit membership. It’s OK. It’s Saturday. And if you want, have a bottle of wine or three. It’d be very European of you. (SF)

A walk in Hessel Park; about 3:00 p.m. or so, perhaps 5:00 p.m.?

So, this is a good walk. The path is simple, but the activity going on in the park itself is worth the watch. New families, trying to put it together. Teenagers, in numbers, enjoying another day in the sun. Grad students, pondering a strike. Hessel Park exists as a place where just about anyone can go to get away, but not so far as to have to make a day of it.

So, after eating too much. Have a walk. A good one. Pick up the pace for chrissakes! You’ve got a night ahead of you. (SF)

A World of Shoes Exhibit, Spurlock Museum, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., free

You know how people always wait until the last minute to see really interesting special museum exhibits, and they’re really crowded the last week? Well don’t do that. This shoe exhibit has already been here two months, and there are shoes from all over the world waiting to be seen, from high-end designers (Rina Shah of Mumbai shown) to clown shoes worn by Emmett Kelly. Also open Tuesday 12–5, Wednesday through Friday 9–5, and Sunday 12–4. The exhibit will stick around until February 10. (SK)


2nd 5k Zombie Chase hosted by The Wildlife Society, campustown, $25 to run, free to volunteer or watch

If you see flesh-eating zombies running around campus Saturday and other people running away from them, and you’re wondering what’s going on, your problem is not that you’re crazy; it’s because you failed to sign up for the Wildlife Society’s 5k Zombie Chase.

Runners, zombies, and volunteers should sign up using the registration form online or register in person between 8:30 and 9:30 the day of the race. The Wildlife Society will provide assistance with zombie makeup if you arrive by 9. (SK)

Whiskey Daredevils, Krank Daddies at Cowboy Monkey, $5, 10 p.m.

Ohio’s rockabilly crew will play Cowboy Monkey with another outfit that’s right up their alley as well in the Krank Daddies. They have a bunch of albums and have a few dates in Illinois outside of this one, so we’ll see them when they make their way across the state. Should be a pretty rockin’ show to say the least. Get enough whiskey in your system for this one and it’s an absolute guarantee you’ll have something to talk about the next day. (PS)




NFL football and pozole; your house and El Charro, any time past noon

Here in Central Illinois, we’ve kind of failed as a food culture. I mean, really — what defines us? The best I can come up with is regional at best: the Horse Shoe Sandwich, which is delicious and devasting at once, if done right.

But for real, Champaign-Urbana has nothing that TRULY defines it as a culinary destination. But, you know what — no bother. Most places in America can’t really stake claim to a true slice of the pie when it comes to that sort of thing.

So, what to do? Eat up on some one else’s foods and own it as best you can.

We live in an area where we are blessed with the company of many, many, many Mexican transplants. And for that, we should be thankful. So, here’s what you do:

Go into El Charro about noon on Sunday and ask for a good few servings of pozole. And who better to tell you about it than Martha fucking Stewart? That girl is as Mexican as it comes.

For real though: best soup/stew in the city? Tough call. But it’s a contender. That’s for damn sure.

Also, the Bears are on. Yes. (SF)

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