The Bleader | Blog + Reader, the Chicago Reader's blog

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Watch chef Christopher Thompson create the most expensive pizza ever made with Chef Boyardee ravioli

Posted By today at 05.41 PM

Chef Boyardee's line of prepared pasta is not a standard to which most chefs aspire. That includes Christopher Thompson of Coda di Volpe, who was challenged by Kevin McCormick (Beacon Tavern) to create a dish with Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli in Tomato & Meat Sauce. "It's kind of the antithesis of my philosophy on Italian cooking," Thompson says. That philosophy includes "buying amazing ingredients and processing them as minimally as possible, leaving them true to their natural form," he says. He doesn't even have fond childhood memories of Beefaroni or any of the other Chef Boyardee products: "Fortunately, my parents never cooked this for us."

Trying the ravioli as an adult did not leave Thompson impressed. "I think the sauce is way too sweet," he says. "I also find the texture of the pasta to be unpalatable." He solved the issue by disguising both the flavor and texture as much possible: his finished dish was a meatball pizza without a single mushy raviolo in sight.

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For Chelsea Rectanus, 30, owning a used bookstore is ‘as great as the romance would lead you to believe’

Posted By today at 02.30 PM

Chelsea Rectanus at her Edgewater store, Heirloom Books - MICHELLE KANAAR
  • Michelle Kanaar
  • Chelsea Rectanus at her Edgewater store, Heirloom Books

Pretty much every morning when I wake up, I try to remember my dreams right away, and then gather myself and figure out where I am mentally for the day ahead. It always starts with: "OK, what do we do today? You own a bookstore. This is your life now." I don't have family in Chicago, I don't live with anyone, I don't have any pets, so it's just me and the shop and my friends.

I make myself coffee, I get ready for the day, just standard stuff. I usually walk or bike to the shop. Turn all the lights on. Do a little bit of dusting. I put my sign out. I open anywhere between 8 AM to 11 AM; it really just depends on how up and at 'em I am. I consider this place a second home, so I don't have a rigid structure. I just want to be there when my sign is posted that I'm there. It's just me on staff. I have a volunteer who helps me stock books sometimes.

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Bad News From the Past never gets stale

Posted By today at 09.00 AM


The Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

Old newspapers are really fun. No writer in Reader history understood this better than Cliff Doerksen. Trained as a cultural historian, Doerksen was highly skilled in combing through archives in search of really good stuff. In his ongoing blog series Bad News From the Past, Doerksen would conduct a search for a random term. The results were usually hilarious. For example, the newspaper ad above, which he discovered in an issue of the Trentonian from August 3, 1995.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

A Gilda Radner play and more of the best things to do in Chicago this week

Posted By on 02.19.18 at 11:30 AM

Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner, a Sort of Love Story plays at the Mercury Theater Wed 2/21-Thu 2/22.
  • Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner, a Sort of Love Story plays at the Mercury Theater Wed 2/21-Thu 2/22.

As the weather warms up, take the opportunity to get out and about in Chicago. Here's some of what we recommend doing this week:

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Black Panther’s identity politics give the superhero genre a fresh spin

Posted By on 02.18.18 at 02:58 PM

The first black superhero in mainstream American comics, Marvel's Black Panther came with an African pedigree: in real life he's the ancestral king of a small, impoverished sub-Saharan nation that conceals a secret empire, the whole operation empowered by an asteroid from outer space.

That premise provides most of the fun in this big-screen adaptation, particularly in the form of the Dora Milaje, the king's security team, who are badass women with shaved heads, neck rings, and flaming-red uniforms. Chadwick Boseman is appropriately noble and dull as the title character, and director Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) brings along the compelling Michael B. Jordan, his frequent collaborator, to play the Panther's philosophical antagonist.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Statement from Sun-Times Media CEO on change in Chicago Reader leadership

Posted By on 02.17.18 at 07:15 PM

Sun-Times Media CEO Edwin Eisendrath released the following statement this evening:

"I am announcing today the departure of Mark Konkol from the Reader. Mark came to the publication bringing great hope for a new direction and a new life to a storied brand. Sometimes things don't work out as planned. A tumultuous ten days culminated in the publication of a Reader cover that we believe was not in line with either our vision for the Reader or that storied history. We wish Mark well.

"While controversy is sometimes seen as part and parcel of the alternative-weekly world, we believe it's necessary in this instance to apologize to anyone who was offended by this week's cover. The published cover in my view distracted from the publication as a whole.

"The reporters at the Reader work hard to be great journalists. They can and will take on the toughest stories—including issues of race, injustice, and people struggling to be heard.

"We will put in place interim leadership and plan for the future."

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Pow Wow is a wry documentary about Americans' distance from their own history

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 03:13 PM

Pow Wow
  • Pow Wow
Robinson Devor’s Pow Wow, which opens tonight at Facets for a weeklong run, is a compact and provocative documentary about Americans’ relationship to history. Running just 75 minutes, the film covers plenty of thematic ground, considering the legend of Chemehuevi-Paiute Indian "Willie Boy,” the transformation of California’s Coachella Valley into a suburban environment, the present-day experience of Khaweya Indians (who live on a reservation in the Valley), and the habits of well-to-do whites in the suburban community. Devor subtitled the film “Ethnographic Encounters With the People of the Desert Empire (2010–2015)” and divided it into short chapters with academic headers like “Rites and Rituals.” Pow Wow advances a curious, if somewhat detached perspective that befits an ethnographic study, whether Devor is looking at a Native American reservation, a golf course, or a car dealership. The insights are sometimes wry and sometimes saddening, but always compelling.

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Atomic’s Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and Håvard Wiik explore folk hymns and elastic improvisation on their own albums

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 02:22 PM

  • Ziga Koritnik; Peter Gannushkin /
  • Ingebrigt Håker Flaten; Håvard Wiik

This weekend one Scandinavia's best jazz combos, Atomic, rolls into town for Friday and Saturday shows at Constellation. I wrote about the quintet's latest album in my concert preview, but its members all play in many other contexts—and recently bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and pianist Håvard Wiik released strong new records of their own.

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Music Frozen Dancing is the only festival where you can see Oh Sees in the snow

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 11:18 AM

Oh Sees headline Saturday's fifth annual Music Frozen Dancing. - JOHN DWYER
  • Oh Sees headline Saturday's fifth annual Music Frozen Dancing.

In theory, it's still a few months till festival season. In practice, that season never ends—the events just get smaller and usually move indoors. The key word there is "usually," because tomorrow the Empty Bottle hosts its fifth annual Music Frozen Dancing, which has succeeded despite the fact that it's clearly batshit to hold a free outdoor music festival in the middle of a Chicago winter. Apparently the Bottle's great reputation as a booker—and the absence of a cover charge—is enough to convince perfectly sane people to volunteer for possible frostbite watching bands playing in the street outside the venue.

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CSO's Chinese New Year concert and more of the best things to do in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 09:59 AM

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra holds a Chinese New Year Celebration concert on Sat 2/17.
  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra holds a Chinese New Year Celebration concert on Sat 2/17.

Welcome the Year of the Dog with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, plus more things to do in the city this weekend. Here's some more cool stuff we recommend:

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Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
Works by Ed Paschke, 1969-2004 Ed Paschke Art Center
July 03
Galleries & Museums
The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery Water Tower Place
June 16

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