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This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 Andre Dawson
The Cubs great outfielder was voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Let’s hope he dons the white and blue, rather than that ugly Expos uni. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The Earth’s north magnetic pole is not the same as the geographic North Pole. If you take out a compass to orient yourself toward due north, the compass arrow will actually point toward a spot in the frigid wilds of Canada. But what’s really odd is that the north magnetic pole has been on the move since 1904—scientists don’t know exactly why—and has dramatically sped up in recent years. According to National Geographic, it’s now zooming toward Siberia at the rate of almost forty miles per year. I suspect that your own metaphorical version of magnetic north will also be changing in 2010, Aries. By January 2011, the homing signal you depend on to locate your place in reality may have migrated significantly. This is a good time to start tracking the shift. Read the rest of this entry »

Life 101: The 2010 Education Issue

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education_coverWe learn every day. About ourselves, about others, about…gather ’round…life. The beauty of learning is that it never stops; we never grow too old, and it’s never too late.

Fantasies come and go. You might want to be a rock star one week, a contestant on “Top Chef” the next. That’s natural—most of our brains are wired to bounce between desires. If you’re lucky, you don’t have one dream, but a whole army of them. Dreaming is ageless, too.

We live in a great city bulging with prestigious universities and arts schools. We’re also blessed with smaller-scale learning centers that specialize in certain fields. When we discussed what should be the theme for our 2010 edition of annual Education Issue, two things became instantly clear: not only does Chicago boast an abundant amount of educational outlets, but many of those outlets have the potential to properly prepare you for immediate work in the applicable field, even in the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Education 2010: Youth in Revolt

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Martin Atkins believes he’s beginning a revolution. Fed up with traditional educational systems, believing academia doesn’t adapt quickly enough to properly educate students and challenge their minds, he’s bringing chaos into the classroom through his new school, launched last summer, Revolution Number Three.

Atkins is a music-industry veteran. A member of bands such as Public Image Ltd., Ministry, Pigface and Killing Joke, he’s also run his own independent label for two decades and has taught—most recently at Columbia College—courses on the behind-the-scenes aspects of the music business, like the logistics of touring. Last Spring Atkins helped re-brand Columbia’s student-run record label, AEMMP, the subject of a 2009 Newcity cover story.

Atkins is quick to note that he “doesn’t have all the answers. Teachers used to be, ‘I’ve got all the answers, let me regurgitate answers to you.’ But the Internet has taken away the need for that. Once you start to realize that we might not have all the answers, just knowing we don’t have all the answers, we’re so far ahead of traditional academia, which is still pretending that it does.” Read the rest of this entry »

Education 2010: Digital Planet

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logo_1000The starving-artist stereotype has unfortunately maintained a decent amount of credibility, which could explain why myriad parents scoff at kids who harbor Dawson Leary-like dreams of being the next Spielberg past adolescence. Flashpoint Academy, with its combination of real-world practicality and a passion for the digital arts, is helping to dispel that notion. “Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of media, and the downscaling of technology, anyone can make a living in the arts—with the right education to get them started,” says Academic Dean Paula Froehle.

Founded in 2007, the fledgling digital-arts college in downtown Chicago offers intensive two-year programs in one of four areas: Game Development, Film & Broadcast, Recording Arts and Visual Effects & Animation.

Flashpoint differs from other four-year colleges in its cross-disciplinary, immersive approach to teaching that keeps current with the pace of the industry. “Today keeps changing to tomorrow; it’s a constantly evolving field,” says Perry Harovas, Chair of the Digital Effects and Animation Department. Timeless skills, like the ability to follow a project through from start to finish, teamwork and problem-solving skills are emphasized. “Rather than having them be button jockeys, [they] learn how to use all the tools together and have them know everything that’s going on behind the scenes.” Read the rest of this entry »

Education 2010: We’re Rolling

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summercampFor some movie fans, if not all fanboys between the ages of 15 and 25, film school is a distant dream, an unlikely path that even if accomplished will lead to more barista jobs and, if lucky, a P.A. gig on a second-rate television show. Trying to get your own film made in Hollywood might be a near impossibility for an outsider, but scaling back, surrounding yourself with dedicated, skillful artists and learning how to put together your own project might just make your movie come to life. That’s where Chicago Filmmakers Co-op comes in.

“Chicago Filmmakers Co-op is designed to offer students a chance to participate in making media, specifically people who otherwise don’t have access, voices left out of the mainstream marketplace,” says Todd Lillethun, program director at Chicago Filmmakers, a position he took just over a year ago. “We try to get different perspectives, invite people from different backgrounds to participate in making media.” Read the rest of this entry »

Education 2010: Death and Discovery

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42-19733426Part of our disillusionment as we journey into adulthood is learning there is no such thing as a school for crime fighting or a major in being an international spy. Fortunately Northwestern offers something nearly as neat in a three-course foray into forensic science. Although the real-life career options are a lot more varied than shows like “CSI” would have you believe, not everything is exaggerated for the small screen; real-life courtroom activity is equally riveting. For instance, to recreate a blood splatter on a wall, a squishy bag (made to mimic a human body) may be filled with red dye and stabbed in the manner suspected to create similar splatter on a screen for a jury.

Northwestern’s Forensics Professional Development Program introduces students to the different areas of specialty in forensics, which have CSI-sounding names like Blood Splatter and is a part of the School of Continuing Studies (SCS), which allows non-degree-seeking students to enroll in certificate programs without an application to the school or a time commitment beyond their desired courses. Read the rest of this entry »

Education 2010: Wigging Out

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WHC2 058Continuing-education programs in Chicago consistently prove to be as diverse as they are fascinating. Catering to the city’s vast theater community, DePaul University offers a program designed to teach students the art of wig making. “The basics are that if you go to a typical theater show, there’s about eighty wigs on stage,” says Nan Zabriskie, program director and co-teacher of Wigs and Hair Chicago (WHC). “Wig making is a skill that requires a lot of patience and art. And it takes training.”

WHC offers numerous courses. Students can earn certificates in both Wigs and Hair Production and Wigs and Hair Maintenance. These classes are designed to cater to both experienced professionals and beginners, and no prerequisites are necessary. As such, DePaul welcomes anyone who is interested in wig making to enroll in classes. “We have people who are really looking to hone their wig-making skills, and we have some who are just curious,” says Zabriskie. “It’s a diverse mix.”

The production class allows students to learn the arduous process creating and ventilating wig fronts and facial hair. Students learn essential skills such as hair coloring, hair choice, choosing lace and dressing facial hair. And the program is expanding. “This year we’re going to try and offer Production II, which will be a continuation of the first production class,” says Zabriskie. Read the rest of this entry »

Education 2010: Music City

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Merit_072809_023 (Small)Founded in 1979, the Merit School of Music aimed to give Chicago Public School students access to music education after it was eliminated from the curriculums that year. After starting out in borrowed space at Roosevelt University, it eventually ended up at the West Loop’s Joy Faith Knapp Music Center, where it now offers space for everything from meetings to rehearsals as well as instruction to adults and children of all ages and skill levels.

President Duffie Adelson says the nearly three-million-dollar annual budget allows them to support over six-thousand interested students a year “regardless of financial circumstance.” The faculty covers ensembles, brass, woodwinds, guitar, percussion, piano, strings, voice and composition—so, everything, basically—and holds more than five-hundred group classes and six-hundred private lessons each week, which continue throughout the summer for children still in school. These classes and lessons take place at the Joy Faith Center and over ninety other locations throughout Chicago and Northwest Indiana, including schools and community and homeless centers. Read the rest of this entry »

Education 2010: Acting Out

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Second_City_002_facade“BOOM! Detective Michael Scarn! I’m with the FBI!” yells Michael Scott, Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch. “Boom! Boom! Boom!” he continues as he shoots everyone else in the room. “I’m not even in this scene!” one classmate says.

That’s a scene from NBC’s “The Office,” but perhaps it’s the picture you get in your head when someone mentions improv classes.

It’s not surprising that Carell performed at Second City, which for fifty years has been a breeding ground for famous comedians and actors, a list far too long to even really consider fully. Just glancing at alumni from the 1990s is mind-boggling: Carell, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Jack McBrayer—all on every Thursday night on three of the best comedies currently airing—plus Amy Sedaris and “The Colbert Report”’s very own Stephen Colbert, and that’s just a recent sampling.

Though Second City is branching out and offers classes in other areas like music and directing, writing and improv is still the main focus. Read the rest of this entry »