Category: Word

Smile Politely seeking Arts writers

Whether it's visual or performance art, literature or film, C-U has a vibrant arts scene, and this is your opportunity to be a part of it. There are constantly new artistic endeavors happening all over Champaign-Urbana, and as an Arts writer, you'll be able to have your finger on the pulse of the local art scene.

We're looking for some writers for this particular section, and in order for this to really work, you must have at least a mild grasp what's happening locally, and preferably a grasp on art as a whole as well. Don't worry, you don't have to be a perfect writer — we'll help with that part.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, fire an email off to


Did you know that The Canopy Club has game night every Tuesday?

I generally feel like I am entirely not cool enough to hang out at The Canopy Club, but this is something that I feel like I could be a part of. 

Every Tuesday night beginning at 7 p.m., is Tabletop Tuesday, where you can play board games, eat Manolo's slices, and drink $5 Long Island ice teas — though be careful with that last one, enough of those might severely impact your ability to successfully form words in Scrabble.

You can bring your own games, or use the ones they have on hand. 

Image from Facebook event


Have a beer on the patio at Barrelhouse

Earlier this week, I had a lovely Downtown Champaign outing with friends. We had dinner at Maize and then made the short walk to Barrelhouse 34 for drinks. (I had a sour from Big Thorn; it was tart and refreshing.) The weather was cooperative, so we sat on the roof patio, drinking and chatting and laughing for a bit. It was the perfect summer evening. 

Barrelhouse 34
34 E Main St
3 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily

Top photo from Barrelhouse 34's Facebook page; beer photo by Jessica Hammie


You should adopt a cat just because of this wonderful marketing

Champaign County Humane Society has these adoption events on a regular basis, usually with a cute theme that is timely and "punny" if you will. But this one — this one is a gem. 

Hurricane season began this month, and while we don't really feel the effects of that here in Central Illinois, according to CCHS there is a Cat-egory 5 Purricane descending upon us this weekend. Here's the info from their Facebook event:

BREAKING NEWS: A Cat-egory 5 Purricane is predicted to hit this upcoming weekend! The storm will effect CCHS on Friday from 2-7 pm and Saturday-Sunday from 11-5 pm. All cats will be available for reduced rates!

Kittens (under 5 months of age)- $75
Get 2 kittens for only $100!

Adult Cats (between 5 months and under 10 years of age)- $25
Get 2 adult cats for only $30!

Senior Cats (10 years of age or older)- FREE

I mean, how can you resist at least going to see some cats after seeing that amazing graphic. You can check them out ahead of time here


You can walk around with alcohol during Downtown Get Down this Saturday

Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin has designated a Temporary Outdoor Refreshment Area in Downtown Urbana for the upcoming Downtown Get Down on Saturday.

From 5 to 8 p.m., you will be able to get your alcohol to-go from participating establishments, and stroll through the marked off area as you enjoy the Get Down festivities.

Seems to be a trend for outdoor music events, as Champaign announced their intention to do something similar for Friday Night Live. 

Here are the boundaries:

Photo by Melinda Edwards


Eat some sushi this week

Yesterday was apparently International Sushi Day, which means literally nothing, save for aggressively suggesting sushi as a craving. Now that I must have it, I'll need to visit one of our sushi joints this week: Sakanaya, Miga, Sushi Kame, Moki Sushi, Kofusion

What's your favorite? 


���� moki sushi ����

A post shared by Jess Hammie (@jessica_hammie) on

Photo by Anna Longworth


Get ready for Bentley’s Block Party on July 3rd

Having July 4th in the middle of the week is like having a bonus weekend. So take that extra "Friday" on July 3rd (it's actually a Wednesday, but you see what I'm doing here) and party it up at Bentley's.

They are hosting a 3rd of July Block Party in their "back yard" or rear parking lot, if you want to be technical about things. There's a full line up of DJs beginning at 5 p.m. and continuing through 2 a.m., though at midnight the party will have to move inside. 

Chester's BBQ will be there to counterbalance your alcohol consumption, and Half Acre beers will be on special. If you love their signature White Lie drink (and we know you do), then you will surely enjoy their White Lie coffee tequila bar. 

No cover, but if you feel so inclined you can toss in $5 (or more) to show your appreciation.

Here's the schedule:

5 p.m.-6 p.m. DJ Ryan
6 p.m.-8 p.m. DJ Baub
8 p.m.-10 p.m. DJ Terry Gross
10 p.m.-11 p.m. DJ Baub
11 p.m.-12 p.m. DJ Nico
12 p.m. Outdoor event must move inside!
12 p.m.-1 a.m. DJ Ryan
1 a.m. 2 a.m. DJ Nico

Image provided by Bentley's Pub

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Graphic designers needed to create 2019 Pens to Lens posters

Calling all film-loving graphic designers and illustrators! Once again the Champaign-Urbana Design Corporation (CUDO) is partnering with Pens to Lens to create posters for the student-written films to be produced for this 2019 Pens to Lens Festival. 

This is a great opportunity to support our community's young screenwriters and the members of the CU Film Society who bring their scripts to the big screen. It's also a great chance for young designers or design students to build work for their portfolios; or for the pros to enjoy a passion project that gives back.

Find out more here

Check out the amazing posters from past years

Photo from the CUDO website. 


What local places play the best background music?

I spend a lot of time listening to music. Who doesn’t, really? You might have seen me around town in one of a couple local cafes slingin’ joe, which is my job when I’m not writing for Smile Politely. One of the best parts of being a barista is getting to pick the soundtrack for an entire public spacethe power goes right to your (my) head. I overthink my music selection at work constantly. Is this too happy? Too sad? Too explicit? Too Paul-Simon-every-single-shift-get-a-new-favorite-album-Graceland-is-old?

Sound invariably affects the mood of a space. Imagine trying to have a quiet conversation over a cup of coffee with death metal blaring, or getting pumped with your friends at the bar on Friday night to sweet slow shoe-gaze tunes. Not that those genres don’t have their place, and if you love conversation over metal music, I’m here for that. I’m just saying, sound and activity can be incongruous which is jarring, or it can be complimentary, which is satisfying.

It got me thinkingC-U has a fantastic live music scene, that’s a fact. But what about our favorite local places that provide the soundtrack for our activities?

For me, if I take out the places where I am the one playing DJ, which I guess is fair, Crane Alley in Urbana has my favorite background sounds. The volume is never intrusive, and every time I go, the playlist is just enough for the atmosphere of the evening. I regularly find myself thinking “Whoa! I forgot about this song! It’s so good!” I don’t know if they make playlists, or choose pre-made ones, or they’re using a music service that creates a station based on an artist someone chooses, or who’s doing the choosing. All I know is that if they had a Spotify account with their selections organized into playlists, I would follow them.

What other local places are the best (or worst?) for background music?

Photo from Crane Alley's Facebook page, original photographer uncredited

Deana Carter is performing at Allerton’s Prairie Sky Concert in September

This year's Prairie Sky Festival at Allerton will feature the country artist, who hit it big in the late nineties when country became super mainstream. I don't follow country much anymore, but I was all over it during that time, and can probably still belt the lyrics to "Strawberry Wine."  The Barefoot Movement will be opening. 

Tickets are $25 a person and are available for purchase here; kids 12 and under are free. There will be food and drinks available for purchase from the Greenhouse Café, and food trucks on hand as well. Following the concert there will be an "After Glow" party in the Sunken Garden, and an opportunity to camp in the meadow. You can make reservations for that here


State Representative Mike Marron is having a town hall tomorrow night

ICYMI, the end of the Illinois Legislative Session was a doozy, where we certainly saw how having a Democratic governor resulted in a whole bunch of progressive legislation moving right on through. Votes in the house went pretty much as you would imagine on said legislation, in terms of party affiliation.  

Rep. Mike Marron is a Republican, representing the 104th district. While a large chunk of C-U is in Carol Ammon's 103rd district, some of southwest Champaign and Savoy, as well as Danville and a whole bunch of rural Champaign and Vermillion counties. 

You might not agree with how he voted on things, but hey, having a town hall, which is more than can be said for our IL-13 rep. 

The town hall is happening Tuesday, June 18th from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Savoy Municipal Center at 611 N. Dunlap, should you want to go ask some questions or voice your opinion.