I am not a fan of surrealism or excessive flights of fancy in art: when confronted with Salvador Dali or Hieronymous Bosch’s mind-warping visions of the unimaginable, my flesh feels like it is creeping off my skin and my eyes avert themselves. The one exception to my distaste for surrealism is Rene Magritte, whose paintings, photographs, handwritten essays, and the productions of his ad agency in Brussels, is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in their special exhibition Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926-1938, which runs through October 13.
Full disclosure: I love Jenny Lewis. She is my musical alter ego, and an indie rock goddess. Her lyrics are poetry and they say everything I could ever want to say but can’t.
Lewis writes about insecurity and falling in and out of love and the impermanence of everything, including and especially ourselves. At this time, I’d like to thank my junior year college roommate for constantly playing the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack because it contained “Portions For Foxes”; thus began my journey into the depths of Rilo Kiley, the now-defunct band Lewis co-fronted.
When I was in college, I had few female friends — the ones I did have were not close, and more often than not they were the girfriends of my guy friends. I didn’t think much of it at the time, and possibly even prided myself on what I saw as passing as “one of the guys.” I wasn’t passing, and looking back now, I can see that while I was busy trying to be the cool girl surrounded by guys, I missed out on a lot by rejecting female bonds.
The All-Star Game grooved right on by, and now the American League will receive home field advantage in this year’s World Series. That’s about as far on the record as I’m willing to go with regards to second-half certainties in Major League Baseball. Everything else remains in flux, from division winners to potential trade candidates, from award winners to statistical oddities. Anybody who says they can see something coming from a mile away is, more often than not, lying – insider information only gets you so far. With that being said, here’s 10 fun predictions for the second half of the 2014 MLB season.
A friend and I went to Tour de Fat Saturday, July 12, despite a torrential downpour that morning, which flooded area streets and completely saturated the ground in Palmer Square where the event was held. New Belgium Brewing, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, hosts the touring festival each summer, bringing along a circus of bicycle-centric activities, contests, and — of course — beer. Chicago was the third stop of the event’s 10-city tour this summer. [Read more...]
It’s been a great few weeks of international soccer, and we now arrive at the apex. For one last time, Alex & -J. reflect upon World Cup 2014, and make their inexpert-but-enthusiastic predictions for the final couple of games.
2014 Reflections & Discoveries
-J.: As we approach the final two games, I’m both ready for it to end, but also a bit sad to see the end arrive. I’m looking forward to devoting my full attention to being disappointed by the Chicago Fire and demoralized by the Milwaukee Brewers. I’m waiting to see what happens in Brazil — culturally and politically — now that the financially crippling World Cup did not result in a 6th title for host Brazil. They laid out so much money and sacrificed so much of the common good for FIFA twice (Confederations Cup last year, World Cup this year), and are doing the same for the IOC (Summer Olympics in 2016). I’m going to enjoy the ability to pretend that Sepp fucking Blatter does not exist on a regular basis.
But I will miss the fans and the coverage of this tournament. Chicago went outlaw wild for Team USA and the World Cup. I loved the ESPN coverage, which is no small feat for a network I tend to give the side-eye. The nightly analysis from former World Cup stars like Michael Ballack, and from the few American international vets like Alexi Lalas, was entertaining and illuminating. When the analysis would break up for the “last call” style of reflection, it was a perfect way to end the day. Hell, I could watch Lalas and Ballack go back & forth, even if Alexi needs to let others get a few more words in. [Read more...]
I know the best place in town to hear music and try literally dozens of beers, and it is not Taste of Chicago. Tonight, I checked out the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square, and it was awesome. The Square Roots Festival runs from Friday, July 11 through Sunday, July 13, and you (yes, you) should check it out. Despite getting there shortly after 8:00 p.m., music was pumping out of the north stage and there were hundreds of people in the street between Montrose and Wilson on Lincoln Ave. Most of the vendors were still open, including an amazing line up of food trucks, tents, and…oh, right, the beer: Fifteen primarily local breweries each with at least two of their lineup for you to try.
Most street festivals and art shows in Chicago put forth the same line up of art vendors, and this festival isn’t much different, save that a number of local vendors from Lincoln Square have tents offering their wares. A score of local restaurants have food stations lining the street, including Lincoln Square favorites Bistro Campagne, Fountainhead, Gather, and Cheesie’s Pub.
Music, however, is the biggest draw for the festival, proceeds from which will help support the Old Town School of Folk (full disclosure: I take guitar lessons at the school). Tonight, Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate were creating amazing African/hip hop/reggae awesomeness (that’s a thing, right?) to a crowd of well over two hundred. They were followed by Ivan & Alyosha, a Seattle based group with a fantastic name (any other Literature geeks get the reference?), a remarkably upbeat folk band whose album I’ll be purchasing as soon as my bank account will allow. Tomorrow’s headliner is Bobby Bare, Jr’s Young Criminals Starvation League. You can check out “Valentine” on YouTube.
Folk and World Music bands aren’t the only acts getting stage time. Old Town offers a number of awesome music ensembles and classes. Sunday will feature their Brazilian Folk Ensemble with Paulinho Garcia (5:00-5:45 p.m); visitors can try out their African Dance (1:30 – 2:30 p.m) or Flamenco classes (2:45- 3:45 p.m), or just hang out and watch Aloft Circus Arts (8:00 – 8:30 p.m). If you want to catch up with Travis and me, you’ll find us in the 2nd Half Guitar Jam (1:30 – 2:15 p.m).
There’s always something to do on summer weekends in Chicago. There’s a street fest happening almost every weekend, and this weekend there’s Taste of Chicago to compete with as well. If you want over-crowded places with absurd food prices and too many tourists, go to Taste. If you want a chill atmosphere, great beers, and an amazing musical experience, then go to Square Roots.
LeBron James announced yesterday that he will be leaving the Miami Heat to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland, of course, is his hometown (Editor’s Note: Shut up, Akron; you’re a suburb of Cleveland! – Alex) and he played the first seven years of his all-time great career with the Cavaliers. Since many of us are from Ohio, or lived there at some point in our lives, we have some thoughts.
Alex and his wife Becky watch a lot of TV. Probably too much. But that means that they sort of know what they’re talking about when the annual Emmy nominations come out. For reference’s sake, Becky has seen 24 of the programs we talk about here. Alex has seen 12. He may be talking out of his ass a lot more.
Should Win: Uh…we really, really like Louie and Orange is the New Black, but it’s a stretch to call this past season of the former a comedy and the latter is a drama through-and-through. Of the nominees, we vote for Louie, but the consensus choice for us this year was Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Will Win: Modern Family has won four in a row, which is apparently the cap on a series winning consecutive awards at the Emmys. Plus, it’s remained pretty damn mediocre since…season one. Another win would be awful. So we think that Orange is the New Black will prevail. Huge buzz and fandom, groundbreaking gender and sexuality politics, and new blood in a stale category.
WTF?: Why is Silicon Valley here? Alex watched the pilot and Becky watched one other episode, but it seemed like…not much. Maybe we missed out, but this feels like it got nominated solely for being on HBO.
We’re at the midway point. Chaos rules in all parts of the land. Teams jockey for positions, clashing with regularity. The balance of power sways between the mighty, whilst the dispossessed plot their next moves. Rumbles are heard of a mighty battle yet to come, as aging legends rise against the hungry youths of the world. Meanwhile, an aged man sits atop his perch, overseeing all with a hand that smites as often as it rewards.
Welcome to Major League Baseball.
I’ve been open here and elsewhere about recently re-reading the entire Song of Ice and Fire book series as my summer project. Consequently, I’m feeling a little Game of Thrones-centric these days. At the same time, the baseball season has passed its midway point, All-Stars have been selected, and we know… well, relatively little at this point beyond the facts that: the A’s are good, the Cubs are bad, Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet, and Mike Trout might be from another world.
Usually, I disdain power rankings. The chance to do one with a Game of Thrones theme, however, struck me as all too much fun. What follows is simple: I pair each team with a corresponding character from the book/TV series, based on said team’s performance to date, their expectations going into the season, and what their future looks like. Any disagreements can be argued out in the comments section.