Street Smart Chicago

Dark Matters: Astronomers dispel doomsday rumors

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1As part of the Adler After Dark promotion, appetizers and cocktails are served on this Thursday at the Adler Planetarium against the dark Chicago skyline, hardly discernable from the murky waters of Lake Michigan. It’s truly a serene sight, and also a stark contrast with the night’s theme: the end of the world. Dr. Mike Smutko, an astronomer at Adler, says, “Adler After Dark grew out of a way to try to reach the twenty- and the thirty-somethings, who haven’t been to the planetarium in a while and have forgotten how great it can be.”

“It’s very tongue-in-cheek,” says Smutko on tonight’s theme. “We were originally inspired by the CERN particle accelerator, which will be the world’s most powerful accelerator. They’re powering it up again this weekend.” He continues, “There have actually been lawsuits filed to prevent that from happening, because some people are worried that they might make these exotic particles that will destroy the whole world, and most people agree that would be a bad thing.” These tenuous concerns, however, hold no scientific backing. Dr. Don Lincoln, author of “The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider,” is here to soothe peoples’ fear. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the Capricious Contours of Celebrity

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This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 Oprah Winfrey

With the announcement that the media mogul’s closing up shop in 2011 and focusing on her own cable network OWN, Winfrey was cited in several news stories as the most powerful woman in the world who will change the future of television. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): One of the greatest superpowers a human being can have is the ability to change herself in accordance with her intentions. Let’s say you’re tired of feeling shame about something there’s no good reason to feel shame about, and you decide to do whatever it takes to dissolve that shame, and you succeed in doing it. Or let’s say you no longer want to attract bad listeners and flaky collaborators into your life, and you resolve to transform that pattern, and you ultimately achieve your goal. These are acts of high magic, as amazingly wizardly as anything a shaman does. It so happens, Aries, that this superpower is especially accessible to you right now. Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Events: Music, theater, shopping and more

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THe Cratchits rehearse for The Goodman's "A Christmas Carol"/Photo: Liz Lauren

The Cratchits rehearse for The Goodman's "A Christmas Carol"/Photo: Liz Lauren

Remember the Twelve Days of Christmas? Now the holiday season fills up a month or more. But with our handy guide, you should be able to ensure a winter’s worth of seasonal cheer.

Neville and his brother Charles perform holiday classics as well as some of his greatest hits, hopefully including 1966’s “Tell It Like It Is.” The Venue, 777 Casino Center, Hammond, (866)711-7463. Dec 10, 7:30pm. $29.50-$49.50.

Each Christmas, people celebrate the birth of one of history’s greatest stars and the crucial, crunch-time guide work of another (literal) star. It’s only logical to make some stars of the prime-time variety—Idols, perhaps?—on your annual merry-making. Paramount Arts Centre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora, (630)896-6666. Dec 19, 8pm. $48.

A rotating roster of sixteen short holiday-themed comical plays performed by A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company. The Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln, (312)409-6435. Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm. $15 or two for $25, $12 for students.

An exhibition with more than a hundred contemporary Nativity scenes from around the world. Loyola University Museum of Art, 820 N. Michigan, (312)915-7600. Dec 5-Jan 17. Free with general admission of $5-$6 and free on Tuesdays. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the Capricious Contours of Celebrity

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This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 Mayor Daley

After a years-long battle with neighboring town Bensenville, a settlement was reached which allows the city’s O’Hare Expansion Project to move forward. Read the rest of this entry »

A Climb So High: Summiting Willis Tower for a cause

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sears-tower-exterior3The awaiting crowd erupts with joyous congratulatory support as each racer reaches the top of Willis Tower. Drenched in sweat and smiles, the participants in this year’s Sky Rise Chicago couldn’t be happier to finish the 103-flight climb, if only to glimpse one of the best views in the world. Racers catch their breath and converse with fellow climbers, gazing out the windows of the Sky Deck, able to not only see their houses from up here, but miles beyond.

This is the first year the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago organized this event, which raises money to continue awareness for their cause. Founded in 1954, RIC has been named the “#1 Rehabilitation hospital in America” by U.S News and World Report every year for the last eighteen years. Their standards of care and innovative research are commended, especially in the field of bionic medicine, robotics and neural regeneration. But you don’t have to be a Harvard graduate to understand the immensely positive affects the RIC has on its patients.

The more-than-1,800 participants include current and former RIC patients and employees, local firefighters, high-school track teams, elite climbers and Paralympics athletes, who have a hand-cycle event that allows them to peddle the distance and resistance of the massive 103-floor climb.

Read the rest of this entry »

Scrabbling for Literacy: Raising awareness through triple-triples

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scrabbleScrabble has been broadening players’ lexicons for decades. This day, November 14, the game proves to take that dynamic a step further at the annual Scrabble for Literacy Challenge, held in the Grossinger City Autoplex. All proceeds go towards adult and family literacy programs, in addition to the Jump Start program, which helps incarcerated youth.

“It’s kind of amazing,” says Dorothy Miaso, executive director of Literacy Volunteers of Illinois. “People are often surprised at what our literacy rate is in the United States. Generally we are thought to be one of the most powerful countries in the world, but national studies indicate that almost twenty-five-percent of the adult population have literacy problems.”

Player Steve Hartsman goes by the anagram “Trashman.” He’s not having the best of days. “I started off three-and-oh, had a great morning, and have lost all three this afternoon,” he laments. “So I went from being one of the contenders to one of the pretenders, and lost all three in heartbreaking fashions.” Earlier in the day Hartsman made some impressive plays: “Well I had a triple-triple—140 points—‘parities.’ That’s by far my highest scoring play, but I also had a non-bingo for 99 points. I played ‘quezal’ (a Latin American bird). The ‘z’ was on a double letter and it was a triple word, so that was the highlight of my day.” Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. My wish for you, Aries, is that you will have many such days in the coming weeks. In fact, I hope that you will be blessed over and over again with the hair-raising thrill of having your imagination pricked, causing it to half-blossom, half-explode. To get the most out of the fantastic possibilities, set aside any tendency you might have to be a know-it-all, and instead open up your heart’s mind and your mind’s heart as wide and deep as they will go. Read the rest of this entry »

Best of Chicago 2009: The results are in

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111209 BoC155 items + 75 you voted for. Check it out at

And how about this cover, from Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi of Sonnenzimmer, who were recently profiled in our art column, Eye Exam. And Sonnenzimmer discusses the story behind this cover, here.

And, finally, be sure to check out Fred Sasaki’s, um, ode to the Best head waiter on our Resto site.

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): A whitewash happens when you use deceit to cover up the messy facts about a situation. A blackwash is just the opposite: It’s when you invoke candor as you reveal complications that have previously been veiled. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, the coming weeks will be prime time to enjoy a jubilee of blackwashing. But I suggest that you proceed gently. Remember that not all hidden information is a sign of malfeasance or evil intentions. Sometimes the truth is so paradoxical and nuanced, it’s hard to get it completely out in the open all at once. And sometimes people are motivated to keep things secret mostly because they’re afraid to cause pain. Read the rest of this entry »