When a copy of Vintage Attraction, the new novel by Chicago author Charles Blackstone, arrived at the office weeks ago, it immediately caught our eye—not for its scenic cover photo, featuring the lovely blue-domed churches of Santorini, but for a small detail in his author bio: "Blackstone is married to Master Sommelier Alpana Singh, owner of the Boarding House restaurant in Chicago."
Mentioning his partner's career is a marketing move—the "semi-autobiographical" novel is about a young English teacher, Peter Hapworth, who falls in love with celebrity sommelier–slash–TV host, Isabelle "Izzy" Conway (Singh was the host of the WTTW show Check, Please!)—but it's still weird. Weirder still is the Bookslut managing editor's narrative style, rife with brand names, ham-handed metaphors and confusing syntax. We read sentences like this aloud, in amused disbelief: "For twenty years, my cock had stood at perpetual attention, stoic, compliant, dimly guileless, smiling dumbly, yet capable, in theory, of wreaking great havoc, like an armed and overweight bank branch rent-a-cop." See more examples in the slideshow above.
When our theater editor tweeted about how reading the book aloud had derailed the workday, Blackstone replied, "I see drinking game potential." Since the novel is about drinking wine, we had to agree. In advance of the novel's October 22 release, we present…
Vintage Distraction: A Vintage Attraction Drinking Game™
Some sticklers may be put off by the way the CW's new teen soap Reign plays loose with history, but for sheer entertainment value, this drama about a young Mary, Queen of Scots is trashy good fun. With a French palace stocked with sexy teens making eyes at each other, dastardly plots to steal the young queen's virtue, a conniving queen played deliciously by Anne of Green Gables star Megan Follows and prophetic dreams from a hunky Nostradamus, Reign is packed with over-the-top entertainment that's incredibly silly but irresistibly amusing.
Fiona Apple's best work of late has been a cover of tune from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, "Pure Imagination," as heard in a long commercial for Chipotle. Last night in the Bank of America Theatre, the 36-year-old covered Conway Twitty's 1958 chart topper "It's Only Make Believe."
For an artist whose power comes from uncut, often uncomfortable emotion, there is still a heavy dose of nostalgia and fantasy to what Apple does. Her Chicago stop was in a theater that has housed Jersey Boys and Buddy, after all. As postmodern as her piano pop can get, the artistry is balanced with the traditions of the old fashioned American songwriter. There is a theatrical sense to what she is doing, though intimate it may be. Wearing a dark wool coat and chopped black hair, Apple largely stuck to recent material from the difficult The Idler Wheel…. After one particular roar of audience cheer, Apple responded, "How am I supposed to have my meltdown?"
This tour is a collaboration with understated guitarist Blake Mills, who has previously backed Julian Casablancas. Apple performed two new songs, "Tipple" and "I Want You to Love Me," as well as "Dull Tool" from the This is 40 soundtrack.
Local Author Night This installment of the Book Cellar's Chicago-area author showcase features Janice Deal (The Decline of Pigeons), Kelly Daniels (Cloudbreak, California: A Memoir) and Jude Stewart (Roy G. Biv: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color). It's an eclectic lineup, as per usual. To quote the Book Cellar: "If variety is the spice of life, then Local Author Night is pretty much a giant jar of cayenne pepper." The Book Cellar. 7pm. Free.
Comfort Films and the Logan Square International Film Series Every Wednesday night in October is a double feature at Comfort Station. October 16 is campy night, so don't miss out on the schlock fest including Troll 2 (1990). October 23 is What the Hell is Happening night with Blue Sunshine (1978) and Pontypool (2009). And finally on the eve of Halloween, Japan Night, featuring Wild Zero (1999), starring Japanese garage rockers Guitar Wolf, and Hiruko the Goblin (1991). Comfort Station. 7pm. Free.
I said it before and I'll say it again: In the realm of ideas, Chicago Ideas Week isn't exactly original.
In its third year, the seven-day series running through October 20 is packed with panel discussions, hands-on labs and "master classes" on a wide range of subjects (entrepreneurship, innovation and other tech-industry baiting topics). It basically amounts to a midwest TED conference. Except that there already is such an event, TEDxMidwest, which happened back in May.
Peruse Ideas Week's lineup and you'll see a number of events that sound a little squishy. Take "Vocalo: Public Radio with Swag" or "Me So Far: Interesting People Are Attractive" or "Arrfscarf: A Pizza Party For You and Your Pet." IDEAS!
But to be fair, Ideas Week also brings to town plenty of prominent thinkers, creatives, media personalities and politicians. Herein, a look at some of the big names—and their big ideas.
The Steppenwolf cofounder and active philanthropist rounds out the panel Work: Fueling Performance, which centers on tips for being productive in today's increasingly digital and remote office life.
Cadillac Palace Theatre. Oct 16, 4–5:30pm.
Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss
The famously litigious Winkelvoss twins—social media's sorest losers and now the Bitcoin-obsessed principals of Winklevoss Capital Management—headline Next: Tomorrow, Today, a panel discussion that looks at the question "What's next?"
Cadillac Palace Theatre. Oct 17, 7:30–9pm.
While it seems that a restaurant can't open these days without a craft cocktail menu, that definitely wasn't always the case. If you've ever wanted to learn about the rise of cocktail culture, you'll want to duck out of work early on Monday and head to the Music Box Theatre for a screening of Hey Bartender. The documentary, released earlier this year, explores America's growing interest in cocktails and tells the stories of a couple of bartenders as they try to make it behind the stick.
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We saw the film this summer and spotted some Chicagoans (like Mike Ryan), but also learned about the early days of the craft cocktail movement and the growing importance of the bartender.
There's a special screening this Monday afternoon and we have 10 tickets to give away. Malty Madness, held every third Monday of the month, features beer and cocktail tastings from Wirtz Beverage, Vanberg & DeWulf and Binny’s Beverage Depot. The tasting, which starts at 1:15pm, features a specialty cocktail and Monk's Stout, a Belgian interpretation of stout. Hey Bartender begins at 2pm.
Lovers of whimsical kitchenware throughout Chicago were crushed earlier this year when Johanna Lowe, owner of Martyn George, announced that she was closing her Grand Avenue culinary antique treasure house. “So many people came to our closing sale,” remembered Lowe. “The shop was completely full for the entire weekend with lines out the door. There was praise and good wishes and a little bit of sadness.” Good news—Martyn George is back, at least in a small way, with a retail space inside of Bang Bang Pie Shop.
Lowe decided to close her retail store after she was unable to find another location. “I needed better foot traffic,” Lowe explains, “but the rents were just insane.” After some thought, she decided to try to preserve the brand by doing business in a smaller way. “I started to think about doing a focused presence in other established yet independent businesses.”
Oyster Fest Shaw's Crab House is hosting their 25th annual Oyster Fest with half-priced oysters and a nightly slurp-off challenge to eat a dozen oysters as quickly as possible. The week-long event culminates in the Block Party, with a Grand Slurp-Off, beer from Goose Island, wine, and live music from blues legend Buddy Guy. Shaw's Crab House, 21 E Hubbard St • 1900 E Higgins Rd, Schaumburg. Oct 14-18. Block Party: Shaw's Crab House. 21 E Hubbard St. Oct 18, 3–10pm. $30 cash only.
Whiskey Women Fred Minnick explores the importance of women in the history of whiskey with his book, "Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch & Irish Whiskey." The talk will feature a discussion panel with Monique Huston of Stoller Wine & Spirits, Karen Sisulak of Southern Sisters Spirits, Meg Bell of Death's Door Spirits and Sonat Hart of Koval Distillery. There will also be whiskey samples from Death's Door Spirits, Koval and Stoller Imports. The Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont Ave. Oct 16, 6–8pm. Free.
1. Eugene Mirman + John Hodgman + Kristen Schaal Three of our favorite erudite weirdos team up for the six-city "MirmanHodgmanSchaal Sandwich-to-Go Tour." We keep trying to find a way to extend the drive-thru metaphor, but it all just sounds creepy. Still, that delicious graphic has us wondering why on earth Hodgman hasn't guested on Bob's Burgers yet. Vic Theatre. Oct 19 at 8pm. $37.50.
2. Janeane Garofalo The acerbic, politically outspoken comedian holds forth over a two-night stand at Mayne Stage. We imagine she'll have some choice words if the government shutdown is still on. Just don't ask her to tell you the truth about cats and dogs. Mayne Stage. Oct 18, 19 at 8, 10:30pm. $30–$40.
Frank Lloyd Wright Tour A visit to the Chicagoland area wouldn't be complete without a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District in Oak Park, home to the world's largest collection of Wright-designed buildings, including the architect's own home and studio. There are both 75–90-minute self-guided walking tours (in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish) and 60–75-minute guided walking tours. Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. 10am–3:30pm.
ART & DESIGN
"Imperfect Symmetry: A Compendium" Curated by Sara Black and Karsten Lund, this group exhibition features multimedia explorations of "imperfect symmetry"—or the indeterminate border between symmetry and asymmetry. Artists engaging with the topic—via photographs, videos, sculptures, sound words and performances—include Sarah & Joseph Belknap, Escape Group, David Horvitz, Judith Leeman, Lucky Dragons, Carrie Schneider, Younger and others, each offering different takes on what imperfect symmetry might be. A print publication, featuring additional work by the participating artists, accompanies the show. A+D 11th Street Gallery, Columbia College. 11am–5pm.
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I'm a fan of the clever costume over the slutty one, but I have to acknowledge that there are going to be a lot of twerking Mileys this Halloween. So here's where you can find the perfect perverted teddy bear costume and Beetlejuice Robin Thicke costume to go with it. Plus check out more costumes for couples and groups at costume shops around Chicago.
Wondering why there is no mail in your mailbox? Why there are kids skateboaring in the Loop? Today is Columbus Day, the most forgotten of national holidays. The day is largely reserved for celebrations of Italian-American heritage. While Chicago's Columbus Day parade pales in comparison to New York's, we at least run our floats down a road named for the explorer, Columbus Drive. In the middle of a delightful fall Monday, crowds gathered to wave the red, white and green in Grant Park. We were there to snap photos.
Ursula Bielski It wouldn't be October without hearing scary stories from local author, historian and parapsychologist Bielski. The woman behind Creepy Chicago: A Ghosthunter's Tales of the City's Scariest Sites, she's an expert on haunted Chicago landmarks. The Book Cellar. Oct 17 at 7pm. Free.
Bonobo and Bonobo (DJ set) Crown prince of the Ninja Tune kingdom and all things downtempo, Bonobo returns tonight with his live outfit for a performance at the Riviera Theatre. He brings the band onstage supporting his new album, the extraordinarily detailed and lovely The North Borders. His latest record gets a touch Putumayo at times, but the Brit understands soul as much as technology. The live act has no simple task in recreating the producer's lush, jazzy creations with strings, flute and guitars all playing in the mix. Simon Green then floats over to the Mid to spin for the afterparty. Riviera Theatre. Oct 18 at 8pm. $36, advance $26. Afterparty: The Mid. Oct 18, 10pm–4am. $20, advance $15, with Riviera ticket stub free.
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Chicago Ideas Week 2013 What's the big idea? Oh, just 200 speakers hitting the city for seven days of TED-style talks on topics ranging from creativity to entrepreneurship. The lineup of the third annual event includes Tracy Letts, Dan Savage, Malcolm Gladwell, Elizabeth Smart and the Winklevoss twins. Various venues. Oct 14–20. Prices vary.
Chicago International Film Festival CIFF's 49th annual event features more than 150 features and shorts from around the world. The festival opens October 10 with James Gray's The Immigrant, starring Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix. Highlights of this year's lineup include Abdellatif Kechiche's Palme d'Or–winning Blue is the Warmest Color, Alexander Payne's Nebraska (starring Bruce Dern, who will accept a career achievement award), Errol Morris presenting his new Donald Rumsfeld doc, The Unknown Known, and an appearance by Italian horror maestro Dario Argento for a screening of Dracula 3D. The fest closes out with the latest from the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis. See the full lineup. AMC River East 21. Through Oct 24. $14, Cinema/Chicago members, students and seniors $11; special presentations $20, Cinema/Chicago members, students and seniors $16.
Story Club South Side This storytelling open-mic night attracts everyone from newbies to the Moth StorySLAM champs. This week's featured lineup features storyteller Lara Levitan; host of the Encyclopedia Show, Patrick Allan Carberry; and actress/solo performer Jane deLaubenfels, all of whom tackle the theme "Are We Uncomfortable Yet?" An open mic follows. Co-Prosperity Sphere. Oct 15; open mic sign-up 7:30pm, show 8pm. $5 suggested donation.
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Local Author Night This installment of the Book Cellar's Chicago-area author showcase features Janice Deal (The Decline of Pigeons), Kelly Daniels (Cloudbreak, California: A Memoir) and Jude Stewart (Roy G. Biv: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color). It's an eclectic lineup, as per usual. To quote the Book Cellar: "If variety is the spice of life, then Local Author Night is pretty much a giant jar of cayenne pepper." The Book Cellar. Oct 16 at 7pm.
Illinois breweries took home four medals this weekend at the Great American Beer Festival, an annual tasting event and competition that takes place in Denver. The competition awarded gold, silver and bronze medals across 84 categories, like Extra Special Bitter, Fruit Beer and American-Style Stout.
For Illinois breweries, BrickStone Brewery took home the gold in the American-Belgo-Style Ale for their BrickStone Belgo-APA. Two Brothers Brewing Co. won a silver for Ebel's Weiss South German-Style Hefeweizen, while Ram Restaurant and Brewery won two silvers, for its Barrel-Aged Frostbite Lager in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer category and the Bavarian Sun in the German-Style Wheat Ale category.
Bright kanji characters illuminate an artificial fog in hues of green, red and yellow. The stage design for the Weeknd's Kiss Land tour is an impressive vision of the Kabukichō red-light district in Toyko's Shinjuku ward, or at least a Blade Runner-like dystopian approximation of it. However, this sexual playground is largely occupied by only one man, Abel Tesfaye, whose melancholy R&B grind attempts to capture both the allure of the strip club and the emotional emptiness of its denizens. The 23-year-old Canadian sings a lot about fucking, but he rarely seems to enjoy the end results.
In many ways, his slow, synth-clouded grooves have more in common with emo than hip-hop, thematically. Tesfaye's falsetto can be a stunning dead-ringer for Michael Jackson—if the King of Pop decided to front the xx. The impressive feat has been his ability to transform such insular bedroom music into large-scale spectacle. This was the first evening of a two-night stand on State Street.
Tickets are still available for tonight's 6:30pm show.
1) Bonobo and Bonobo (DJ set) Crown prince of the Ninja Tune kingdom and all things downtempo, Bonobo returns tonight with his live outfit for a performance at the Riviera Theatre. He brings the band onstage supporting his new album, the extraordinarily detailed and lovely The North Borders. His latest record gets a touch Putumayo at times, but the Brit understands soul as much as technology. The live act has no simple task in recreating the producer's lush, jazzy creations with strings, flute and guitars all playing in the mix. Simon Green then floats over to the Mid to spin for the afterparty. Riviera Theatre. Oct 18 at 8pm. $36, advance $26. Afterparty: The Mid. Oct 18, 10pm–4am. $20, advance $15, with Riviera ticket stub free.
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2) Boys Noize From his early work with International DJ Gigolo and Kitsuné to the barrage of releases on his own label, Boys Noize can be counted on to turn the tables on dance-music conventions. The man roots his sound in techno and electro, but disco, funk, rock and even hints of a hip-hop mentality find their way into the fold. The versatility is key to his popularity, which has already proven steady given his headlining spot at Wavefront and a recent appearance at Lollapalooza with Dog Blood, his side project with Skrillex. Concord Music Hall. Oct 18 at 9pm. $25.
1) Fiona Apple + Blake Mills Fiona Apple is a throwback to the old-school notion of the "difficult artist"—a gangsta avant la lettre, if you will—who has proven to be worth every bit of trouble. She's mellowed. These days, her most rebellious antic is simply taking her time between albums. Thankfully, her 2012 release The Idler Wheel... was well worth the wait. Bank of America Theatre. Oct 15 at 8pm. $48.50–$68.50.
2) Earl Sweatshirt If Tyler, the Creator is the controversial figurehead of the Odd Future gang, Earl Sweatshirt is the reclusive savant. The young rapper disappeared just as the Los Angeles collective began to take off in 2010, only to reappear in 2012 with his relentlessly clever rhymes still intact. His major label debut, Doris, is a deeply personal record, largely abandoning the violent, gross-out verses favored by his cohorts. Like Frank Ocean before him, Earl is maturing into an artist with something to say. Metro. Oct 15 at 7pm. $21.
Chicago Ideas Week 2013 What's the big idea? Oh, just 200 speakers hitting the city for seven days of TED-style talks on topics ranging from creativity to entrepreneurship. The lineup of the third annual event includes Tracy Letts, Dan Savage, Malcolm Gladwell, Elizabeth Smart and the Winklevoss twins. Various venues including Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre. Mon 10am.
collision_theory Collision_theory, a part of Link Hall's Artistic Associates program, is a series of improvised performances where musicians and dancers—with little collaborative experience—are paired to create an impromptu show. The series was created in 2009 by Rachel Damon and Dan Mohr and has showcased artists from across the U.S. in more than 20 shows and workshops throughout Chicago. Links Hall at Constellation. 7:30pm. $10.
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Some people just love to show off. Some people just love to stand out in a crowd. Some people just can't pass up the opportunity to wear a costume. We salute those people with a slideshow of some of the best costumed athletes we saw running the Chicago Marathon.