This Will Kill You

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Deep-fried Twinkies don't belong in your grocer's freezer aisle

Posted By on 08.17.16 at 06:36 PM

Deep-fried Twinkie - T.J. SALSMAN/AP
  • T.J. Salsman/AP
  • Deep-fried Twinkie

I journeyed to Springfield for the Illinois State Fair last weekend on a quest to eat the holy grail of decadent fair foods: the deep-fried Twinkie. Hostess's recent decision to launch a supermarket version of the treat usually only found at fairgrounds felt like a minor act of blasphemy, and I sought redemption for the snack cake's spongy soul. 

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

‘Racism doesn’t taste very good’ and other reactions to Lay’s new international potato chip flavors

Posted By on 07.28.16 at 01:43 PM

This year's new Lay's flavors, all laid out for the taste test - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • This year's new Lay's flavors, all laid out for the taste test

It is once again that wonderful time of year, eagerly awaited by Reader staff, when Lay's releases its experimental potato chip flavors. In past years, Lay's entrusted the conception of its new flavors to the masses and, last year at least, in a beautiful and touching gesture, even gave them credit on the bags. This year, though, it's back to dreaming up flavors in-house. I guess that's not really such a bad thing; based on our taste test, last year's American regional-based flavors were not very good. (Though it's completely understandable why they didn't give anybody credit for the cappuccino chips of 2014. The shame would be everlasting.) 

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

These Illinois elected officials tried to ban assault rifles like the one used by Omar Mateen

Posted By on 06.14.16 at 02:41 PM

Omar Mateen used an AR-15 that he purchased legally when he killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub over the weekend. - AP PHOTO/RICH PEDRONCELLI, FILE
  • AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file
  • Omar Mateen used an AR-15 that he purchased legally when he killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub over the weekend.
The United States once had a ban on the kind of semiautomatic rifle that was used in the Orlando massacre. The assault weapons ban was instituted in 1994, with a ten-year life span, and—thanks to the efforts of the National Rifle Association and the (mostly Republican) politicians in its pocket—was allowed to expire in 2004.

In April 2013, California senator Diane Feinstein introduced a proposal that would have brought back a national assault weapon ban. It was defeated by a vote of 60 to 40 that saw 15 Democrats joining with Republicans to squelch it. Both Illinois senators—Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk—voted in favor of the ban. 

Notably, Kirk was the only Republican to support it. 

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Friday, February 26, 2016

In a month full of horror movies, the minimalist The Witch stands out

Posted By on 02.26.16 at 03:00 PM

The Witch
  • The Witch

Hollywood's annual release calendar is divided roughly into thirds: the summer-action season (which actually starts in the spring); awards season, which begins in earnest in September; and the rest of the year, the postholiday winter months when some scrappy genre movies get to fight for screen time against prestige, Oscar-buzz holdovers. We're currently in the third period, and during the past month a number of horror movies have made it to local theaters. Three of the releases are notable: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the Screen Gems release that tanked at the box office; Southbound, a low-budget anthology (or omnibus) film from the Orchard, a burgeoning indie distributor that specializes in youth-oriented fare; and The Witch, which premiered at Sundance last year, won filmmaker Robert Eggers the best director prize, and was quickly snapped up by tastemaking distributor A24. In terms of quality and ambition, they range from inept to impressive, and only The Witch has anything resembling a new approach to the genre.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Behold the mother of all cheese cakes

Posted By on 09.24.15 at 01:30 PM

The cake, Great American Cheese Collection - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • The cake, Great American Cheese Collection

Cheese-wheel wedding cakes have been a thing for at least a few years, but for me they've always existed in some photo-filtered Pinterest fairyland. So I was adrenalized when my friends Tim and Pat asked me to help put one together for their nuptials. It couldn't have been easier. The first person I thought of was cheese whiz Giles Schnierle of the Great American Cheese Collection, the 13-year-old wholesale distributor that focuses on small American producers. Schnierle, armed with just a broad outline of the couple's tastes, budget, and number of guests, invited Pat and me to his current HQ, a rented warehouse on the second floor of the Plant, where his massive 3,000-square-foot cooler houses around 300 different cheeses from more than 60 producers. There are 30 cheddars alone, ranging from one to ten years old

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How Black Mass and Everest are similar in their use of ensemble acting

Posted By on 09.22.15 at 12:30 PM

  • Everest

This past weekend saw the commercial release of two solid, old-fashioned genre films, the gangster picture Black Mass and the man-versus-nature saga Everest. Each one is a measured ensemble drama that contains at least a dozen good-to-very-good performances, most of them underplayed, from a roster of respected actors. And each one revolves around a central, attention-grabbing spectacle that deserves to be seen on a big screen. The spectacle of Everest is, of course, Mount Everest, which the characters ascend over the course of the story. The spectacle of Black Mass is Johnny Depp's scenery-chewing performance as James "Whitey" Bulger, the Boston crime boss who evaded investigation for years because of connections in the FBI.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The horror film Sinister 2 considers the real-life horror of domestic violence

Posted By on 08.25.15 at 01:30 PM

Sinister 2
  • Sinister 2

About halfway into Sinister 2, there's a scene in which two lonely people share a drink on the porch of a country house late at night. One (Shannyn Sossamon) is a young mother who recently fled her possessive, abusive husband. The other (James Ransone) is a former deputy sheriff who lost his job after he was falsely accused of a horrific crime. He's since become a private detective, and his most recent investigation led him to the abandoned farmhouse where the mother is temporarily living with her twin boys. He happened to be looking around just when the woman's husband showed up, state troopers in tow, to take the boys away—wielding his knowledge of the law, the former deputy explained that the father had no claim to the children, and this got him to leave. The mother, grateful for the stranger's intervention, invited him to dinner and then to spend the night, saying that she and the boys feel safe in his presence. It's after the boys go to bed that the adults have that drink together. Finally relaxed after the events of the day, they confide in each other about their disappointments in life.

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Allen make you think twice about murder in Irrational Man

Posted By on 08.07.15 at 04:00 PM

Phoenix stars with Emma Stone in Irrational Man.
  • Phoenix stars with Emma Stone in Irrational Man.

This week I came down pretty hard on an Italian moral drama called The Dinner, which is now playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center. The movie "characterize[s] its protagonists in such basic terms (and [director Ivano] De Matteo maintains such a ridiculously genteel tone)," I wrote, "that it feels less like a drama than like a hypothetical moral dilemma that friends might hash out around the dinner table." I suspect I wouldn't have been so disappointed with The Dinner if the early passages didn't remind me so much of the late, great French New Wave director Claude Chabrol (Just Before Nightfall, The Ceremony, The Flower of Evil), who specialized in genteel, Hitchcock-inspired dramas about moral dilemmas, typically involving murder. Chabrol, who died in 2010, developed a light, refreshing style in the last couple decades of his career, which made his films as entertaining to watch as they were satisfying to digest. By contrast The Dinner is ponderous and literal-minded—it feels as if De Matteo is doing all the thinking for you.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Reader intern drinks Bowser Beer for Dogs

Posted By on 07.23.15 at 01:00 PM

Pictured: an idiot - TYLER DASWICK
  • Tyler Daswick
  • Pictured: an idiot

As soon as I started reading a post that ran on this very blog last week, "A dog drinks Bowser Beer for dogs," a question burst into my mind. The mystery enveloped me—it wormed its way into my head and burrowed into my brain—I couldn't escape it: What did Bowser Beer, a drink made specifically for dogs, actually taste like? I read the article three times. No answer. As I sat there, unable to rid myself of this cursed query, fate settled itself onto my shoulders. I knew what I had to do.

I had to drink Bowser Beer myself.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Headquarters hosted a pinball tournament for masochists

Posted By on 05.22.15 at 08:00 AM

Michael Anthony (far left), Lucas Nunez (middle left), Leah Wheatley (middle right), and Ted Powers (far right) all managed to survive the first night of Hands-on-a-thon.
  • Ryan Smith
  • Michael Anthony (far left), Lucas Nunez (middle left), Leah Wheatley (middle right), and Ted Powers (far right) all managed to survive the first night of Hands-on-a-thon.
Steve Dau can't remember how old he is.

The burly, bearded Elgin man reaches into his wallet and pulls out his driver's license to check after I ask him. "Oh, I'm 33," he slurs. "For some reason I thought I was 35. But 33, it says here."

Dau does, however, manage the delicate task of sliding his license back in his wallet and then into the recesses of his pocket with one trembling hand, while keeping the other firmly pressed on the glass of a Metallica pinball machine—the same spot he's kept it for most of the past 71 and a half hours.

"I'm kind of delirious right now," he admits.

It's Saturday night and—at last—we've reached the final hours of Headquarters Beercade's Hands-on-a-thon, a pinball tournament for extreme masochists. The part where you win the grand prize by outscoring your opponent? That only starts after you've kept one hand affixed to the machine while standing on your feet for 72 sleepless hours. Never mind cognition. Physical endurance and sheer force of will trump everything else. To quote the heavy metal smiths whose cartoonish visages adorn the game Dau is touching, ". . . and nothing else matters."

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Performing Arts
Rhinofest Prop Thtr
January 16
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Death of a Salesman Redtwist Theatre
February 04

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