December Events

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! December is a very busy month, which means lots of fun activities around campus and Champaign-Urbana. Take a break from studying and enjoy the holiday season around town as fall semester comes to a close.

Urbana First Fridays

ff

https://www.facebook.com/UrbanaFirstFridays/?fref=ts

Kick off the month with the Urbana December First Friday. From 4:30 to 11pm on December 2nd, stop by participating businesses in downtown Urbana for a night of delicious food and various cultures with over 30 events.  Mistletoe Market will also be taking place during this time. With 25 local artisans selling handmade items, this is a good chance to shop for holiday gifts (or #treatyoself) and support the local community.

The Nutcracker

nutcracker

https://krannertcenter.com/events/nutcracker

Starting Thursday, December 1st and running through Sunday, December 4th, watch the Champaign-Urbana Ballet perform the holiday classic, The Nutcracker, accompanied by the Champaign-Urbana Orchestra. The ballet will be performed at the Tyron Festival Theatre. Tickets range in price from $21 to $45, and they are going quickly!

Annual Krannert Carol Concert

krannert

https://krannertcenter.com/events/annual-carol-concert-2016

Come to the Foellinger Great Hall this Sunday, December 4th, at 3pm to join in with the choruses, instrumentalists, and fellow audience members to “celebrate the winter season!” With tickets starting at $4, this would be a fun and inexpensive way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Season of Light

planetarium

http://www.chambanamoms.com/events/season-of-light-3-2016-12-02/

On December 17th, head to the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College to learn about the history of many of the world’s holiday customs which all involve lighting up the winter season. Find out more information about historical religious and cultural rituals that take place during the winter solstice.  Tickets are $6 and can be purchased at the door.

Public Ice Skating

ice

https://campusrec.illinois.edu/programs/ice-skating/public-skating/

Really embrace the winter season by going ice skating! University of Illinois students receive free admission and $2 skate rentals. Check out the website for a complete list of times when the arena is open to the public.

Free Yoga

yoga

http://kam.illinois.edu/events/experiences.html

Did this semester stress you out? Find some relaxation at a free yoga class, offered every Tuesday from noon-1pm, at the Krannert Art Museum.

We hope we’ve covered the major events happening in Champaign-Urbana for the next month…but if we missed anything, let us know! Check out our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

 

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Alternative Thanksgiving Recipes

With Thanksgiving Break right around the corner, you may be looking forward to an abundance of football, family, and FOOD! This Thanksgiving, instead of the usual turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole, try changing it up a bit with one of these fun alternatives. All of these recipes are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or kosher, and taste just as great as the traditional! All these recipes are from the UGL’s cookbook collection, so get creative and explore what fall food has to offer!

 

Thanksgiving - Flickr Creative Commons

Thanksgiving – Flickr Creative Commons

Butternut Squash Latkes (vegetarian, kosher)

1 3- to 4-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeds and pith removed

1 medium onion, grated

1 cup matzo meal

½ cup chopped fresh sage

5 large eggs

1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil

Makes 25 to 30 small latkes

Cut the squash into chunks and pass them through the grating disk of a food processor. Then combine the squash and grated onion in a large bowl and mix them together with your hands. Add the matzo meal and mix together, then add the sage. Finally, add the eggs and massage them into the squash mixture until thoroughly incorporated. Add the salt and pepper and mix it in with your hands.

Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Work in batches so that the latkes are not crowded in the skillet, take a golf ball-size portion of the squash mixture, flatten it between the palms of your hands, and add it to the skillet. Repeat. Cook the latkes until they’re crisp and brown around the edges, about 4 minutes; then flip and cook for another 3 minutes, until crisp and deep golden brown all over and still tender inside. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining squash mixture, adding a tablespoon or so of oil between batches.

You can reheat the latkes in a 450 degree oven in 3 to 4 minutes.

Source: Bernamoff, Noah and Rae. “Butternut Squash Latkes.” The Mile End Cookbook: Redefining Jewish Comfort Food, from Hash to Hamantaschen. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2012. 168-169. Print. Call Number: TX724.B4646 2012

 

Onion Gravy (vegetarian, vegan)

4 tablespoons light sesame oil

A pinch of sea salt

¾ cup onion, sliced into thin half-moons

4 garlic cloves (optional)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon rice or agave syrup

2 tablespoons unbleached plain/all-purpose flour

1 cup water

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Crushed black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped herbs

Makes two cups

Slice the onions in thin half-moons lengthways. Add the sesame oil and salt to a large frying pan/skillet over a low heat and sauté the onions until they’re translucent and soft. You can also add a few chopped fresh mushrooms or 2 tablespoons soaked, drained and chopped dried mushrooms to the onions while sautéing, for extra flavor. Add 4 crushed garlic cloves if desired, and cook until fragrant. Slightly bring up the heat, add the soy sauce, vinegar, and syrup and stir well until it sizzles.

Slowly add the flour and whisk vigorously for a minute, then, still whisking, add the water little-by-little until a gravy consistency is reached. There should be no flour lumps! (If you want to avoid flour you can use a diluted thickener of choice, such as cornflour/cornstarch, kuzu or arrowroot powder). Add mustard and pepper, taste and add more soy sauce if needed. Finally, sprinkle with chopped herbs to garnish, just before serving.

Source: Gulin, Dunja. “Onion Gravy.” The Vegan Pantry: 60 Naturally Delicious Recipes for Modern Vegan Food. London: Ryland Peters & Small, 2014. 160. Print. Call Number: TX837.G85 2014.

Lemon-Garlic Crusted Leeks (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free)

6 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only

1 large lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

cup Gluten-Free Bread Crumbs

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the leeks: Trim the leeks, discarding the dark green leaves. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse well in cold water, being careful to keep the halves intact. Set aside.

To prepare the lemon and steam the leeks: Zest the lemon into a small bowl and set aside. Cut the zested lemon in half and keep squeeze 1 teaspoon of juice into the zest. Squeeze the remaining lemon juice into a large pot equipped with a steaming basket. Add the 2 lemon halves to the pot, along with enough water to steam the leeks. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Arrange the leeks, cut-sides up, in the basket. Fit the basket in the pot, cover, and steam the leeks until slightly tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well. Arrange the leeks, cut-sides up, on a lightly oiled baking sheet and set aside. The leeks can be prepared 1 day ahead. If preparing them ahead, cover and refrigerate.

To prepare the topping: In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic in the olive oil until tender, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the bread crumbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Stir until blended.

To cook the leeks: Preheat the broiler. Position the oven rack 3 to 4 inches from the heat source. Using a teaspoon, spoon the breadcrumb mixture onto the cut side of the leeks and gently pat the mixture down with the back of the spoon. Broil until the leeks are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Serve hot or warm.

Source: Jardin, Denise. “Lemon-Garlic Crusted Leeks.” Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2012. 115. Print. Call Number: RM234.5.J373 2011

 

Lentil Loaf (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free)

1 ½ tablespoons avocado oil

6 mushrooms

3 celery stalks

½ white onion

¼ cup fresh parsley

3 cloves garlic

1 cup firm tofu

1 16-oz. can lentils

1 cup gluten-free rolled oats

3 tablespoons tomato sauce

3 tablespoons tamari

1 tablespoon chia seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup pumpkin seeds

Makes two loaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease your loaf pan with ½ tablespoon of oil. Finely chop mushrooms, celery, onion, and parsley. Mince garlic. Place remaining oil in frying pan and add veggies and minced garlic. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes, or until soft. Place in large mixing bowl.

Next, crumble tofu and add to bowl with sautéed vegetables. Add lentils, oats, parsley, tomato sauce, tamari, chia seeds, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Once the mixture is the right texture (you should be able to form into balls if desired), place in greased loaf pan. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeks and bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust is browned.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing to serve. Enjoy!

Source: Browne, Jennifer. “Lentil Loaf.” Vegetarian Comfort Foods. New York: Skyhorse, 2015. 155. Print. Call Number: TX837.B876 2015.

 

Rosemary Drop Biscuits (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 cup Dairy Milk Alternative

1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar

2 cups Gluten-Free Flour Mix

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon xantham gum

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons coconut oil or dairy-free margarine

Makes 10 biscuits

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line an insulated baking sheet with parchment paper.

To prepare the dough: Combine the milk and vinegar in a measuring cup, stir to blend, and set aside. Combine the flour, rosemary, baking powder, baking soda, xantham gum, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until thoroughly blended. Add the coconut oil and crumble the mixture with your fingertips until it resembles coarse pebbles. Add the milk to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated and the batter pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

To form and bake the biscuits: Using a greased ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop a level amount of batter and drop it onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, placing the biscuits about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes. Serve warm.

Source: Citation: Jardin, Denise. “Lemon-Garlic Crusted Leeks.” Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2012. 144. Print. Call Number: RM234.5.J373 2011

Looking for more non-traditional Thanksgiving ideas? Have some ideas of your own? Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

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If You Like Netflix, You’ll Like These Board Games

We love Netflix as much as the next person, but there are only so many hours you can binge before even TV gets boring. Don’t be afraid to mix it up this week! We’ve got a list of favorite TV shows—and board games to match.

Join us on Wednesday, October 12th for the UGL’S Board Game Night from 7-9pm! We’ll have our games out for you to play, along with staff to teach anyone who wants to try something they’ve never played before.

If you like The Walking Dead, try Pandemic.

Pandemic, from Z-Man games

Pandemic by Z-Man Games

It’s the game that’s trying to kill you. After selecting a card assigning you a job, it’s up to your team of players to use those skills to defeat four infectious diseases. While you fly from city to city to create cures, the cards you draw bring the world closer to destruction. You’ll have to work together if you want to survive.

If you like The Americans, try Codenames.

Codenames, from Czech Games

Codenames by Czech Games

You can’t trust anyone at your table. Codenames is a game of spies—teams compete to see who can locate all their agents first. The players chosen as spymasters can only use one-word clues to try and get their teams on their side—but if the spies guess wrong they could end up in enemy hands, or killed by the assassin.

If you like House of Cards, try Diplomacy.

Diplomacy by Avalon Hill

Diplomacy by Avalon Hill

This strategy board game is fraught with tension–in order to win, you have to betray the other players before they can betray you. Taking place during World War I, you’ll have to create alliances if you want to win, but with none of the players able to trust each other, you’ll need to break out your inner Frank Underwood to succeed in negotiations.

If you like Firefly, try Race for the Galaxy.

Race for the Galaxy by Rio Grande Games

Race for the Galaxy by Rio Grande Games

Would you be a browncoat, or join the Alliance? Players draw cards to determine the fate of their worlds. What planets will your people settle on? Will you have technology? Resources? This fast-paced card game is a race to find who can build the strongest galactic empire before you run out of cards. Will you have a few, strong planets or a large empire to colonize?

Try out these games or some of the other games in the UGL’s board game collection at the UGL Game Night on October 12, or check them out any time! Got a favorite board game you’d like to play? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

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October Events Blog

Fall is finally here, and with the month of October comes sweaters, pumpkins, apple cider, spooky ghost stories, and crisp falling leaves. Read up on the events around campus and Champaign-Urbana to fill the spookiest month of the year!

 

C-U Oktoberfest

C-U Oktoberfest

C-U Oktoberfest, October 1 3-Midnight — $5 Entry

Kick off the month at the fourth annual C-U Oktoberfest in Downtown Champaign! Indulge in German beer, pretzels, dancing, and face painting and a bounce house for the kids. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Developmental Services Center.

Midwest Mandeng: West African Drum and Dance Festival

Midwest Mandeng: West African Drum and Dance Festival

Midwest Mandeng: West African Drum and Dance Festival — October 7-9, Prices Varied

Hosted at the Krannert Center by the C-U West African Drum and Dance Collective, this weekend of drumming, dancing, shopping, and community building celebrates the West African drumming tradition. Attendees can watch or participate in drum and dance classes.

Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch

Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch

Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch —Throughout October, free entry, activity prices varied.

Just a fifteen minute drive from campus, Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch features U-Pick apples, a petting zoo, corn maze, pumpkin patch, hayrides, and live music. Throughout the month of October, Curtis Orchard is offering a Groupon deal for discounted rates for U-Pick apples and corn maze entry, so snap up this deal before it’s gone!

Shocktober 2016

Shocktober 2016

Shocktober 2016 at the Art Theater Co-Op — Throughout October beginning October 6, prices varied.

Beginning with a free kick off event on October 6, the Champaign Art Theater Co-Op is hosting a month-long Halloween movie event. With the return of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, live trivia, music, and horror movies, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser for Halloween lovers. The event’s finale is an all-night movie marathon featuring the classic George Romero horror flick Dawn of the Dead, don’t miss out!

Spurlock Museum

Spurlock Museum

Spurlock Museum Ghost Story Events — October 29, $6 for students

This pair of events at the Spurlock Museum features storytellers from the C-C Storyteller’s Guild. At 2:00 pm, the storytellers will regale kid-friendly multicultural ghost stories, and kids will leave with candy to kick-off their trick or treating. At 7:30, the storytellers will shift to adult-themed horror stories with heightened fear factors. The later event is restricted to adults only (16 and up). Get in the mood for Halloweekend with these bone-chilling tales!

Illinois Wind Symphony Halloween Concert

Illinois Wind Symphony Halloween Concert

Illinois Wind Symphony Halloween Concert — October 30, $4 for students

For more of a low-key event, check out the Illinois Wind Symphony Halloween Concert, just $4 for current U of I students. Hosted at the Foellinger Auditorium, the Illinois Wind Symphony will play six Halloween-themed works, including Night on Bald Mountain, which students may recognize from Disney’s Fantasia, led by director Stephen Peterson.

We hope we’ve covered the major events happening in Champaign-Urbana for the next month…but if we missed anything, let us know! Check out our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

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June Events

Although campus seems empty, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do this summer in good old Champaign-Urbana! This is only a selection of the bundles of events that will keep your social life sizzling this summer.

Photo Courtesy of UGL Media Commons

Photo Courtesy of UGL Media Commons

Photo Courtesy of Illini Union

Photo Courtesy of Illini Union

Copa America and UEFA Viewing at the Illini Union – June 3-26 and June 10-July 10 – Free

If you thought the Union would be deserted over the summer, think again! Visit the Courtyard Cafe in the Illini Union during these major soccer tournaments to see your favorite–and least favorite–teams duke it out on the field.

Photo Courtesy of Illini Union

Photo Courtesy of Illini Union

Eye in the Sky on the Quad – Thursday June 9, 9pm – Free

After a day of frollicking in the sun, enjoy a June night on the Quad with your friends and Alan Rickman! The Illini Union will be showing this film that explores ethics during war. With a 95% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a pricetag of $0, there’s no excuse not to give it a chance.

Photo Taken from Facebook Event

Photo Taken from Facebook Event

The Princess Bride at the Virginia Theater – Monday June 13 and Tuesday June 14, 7pm – $4

Always wanted to see Wesley on the big screen? As you wish! This classic spoof on the Romantic Comedy movie genre is just one movie being shown as part of the Virginia Theater’s ROMCOM16 series. Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity would be better than missing this!

Photo Taken from Urbana Business Association Facebook

Photo Taken from Urbana Business Association Facebook

Uncork Urbana Wine Festival – Saturday June 18, 1-9pm – Admission $15 online, $20 at the gate (includes 5 tastings and souvenir glass)

For the 21 and up crowd, be sure to check out the Uncork Urbana Wine Festival this month. The festival features wine tasting, food trucks, and live music in downtown Urbana. Nab your tickets a couple days early to save $5 on admission!

Photo Taken from Champaign Parks Website

Photo Taken from Champaign Parks Website

StreetFest – Saturday June 18, 7pm-Midnight – Free

This annual live music event also features food and drinks from all your favorite local spots. Enjoy the great June weather with bands The New and Slightly Used, Sun Stereo, and Jim Markum Swing Band. If you can’t make it in June, StreetFest will be back with new bands on July 16.

Photo Taken from Lola's Brush

Photo Taken from Lola’s Brush

Wine Bottle Painting at Lola’s Brush – Wednesday June 22, 6-8pm – $20

Paint a wine bottle and get a little tipsy at this BYOB event at Lola’s Brush in Champaign. Admission includes materials. If you can’t make it on this day, don’t fret! There are BYOB painting events at Lola’s throughout the summer, including a couple’s paint and wine glass painting.

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May Events

May has finally graced us with its presence and it brings wonderful events along with flowers and sunshine just before (and some after, for those of you sticking around) graduation. We’re going to avoid having graduation itself on this list so those of you ignoring its ever-looming presence may be at ease and are instead going to focus on some of the lighter and less real-life-inducing things you can do around town this month. With events ranging from the swansong of a local music staple to the always pleasant opportunity to take in some nature, we hope we’ll find a little something for everyone this month.

For those of you graduating, we wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors and we thank you for sharing some of your time at the U of I with us here at the UGL. Congratulations to the class of 2016!

Photo taken from methodshop on Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo taken from ScypaxPictures on Flickr Creative Commons.

 

How to Be Single at the Illini Union – May 6 and 7 at 7pm

Sometimes it seems like the only way to make it through finals is to watch a laugh-out-loud movie with friends. Lucky for you, the good folks at the Illini Union are going to screen the new How to Be Single movie, starring Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson for those of you looking looking to take a break from all that cramming. This funny, smart, not-so-original rom-com may be all you need to get you through this coming week.

Photo taken from Facebook event page.

Photo taken from Facebook event page.

The Final Show at Mike N Molly’s – May 13 at 7:30pm

Many of the events blogs we’ve posted in the past have featured glimpses into the deep musical soul of our twin cities and many of those past events have been hosted at one of CU’s finest local music venues: Mike N Molly’s. As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end” and May 13 will be the final night for locals to bask in the glorious sounds that can be found emanating from the glorious green bar in Downtown Champaign. Local giants Withershins will play the final set ever and while we would advise seeing them anytime they’re playing around town, we think this performance will be even a bit more special. It’s a night that will be remembered for many years to come just like the ceremony happening the days following it.

University of Illinois Arboretum.

University of Illinois Arboretum.

Visit the UI Arboretum – Anytime

If you’ve never been to the Arboretum over near the intersection of Lincoln and South Florida Avenues, anytime in May would be the perfect time to visit. The Japan House is a serene spot where you can simply sit and watch an afternoon slip on by or if you head toward the back of the Arboretum you’ll find yourself lost in the flowers of the Selection Garden, sure to be in bloom by the end of finals and offering more colors than you can imagine in one place. The Idea Garden is another beautiful spot to spend some time in and overall, we think you’ll find some sense of inner peace when walking around on a sunny day. And after finals, that may be just what you need.

Photo taken from the Champaign Park District.

Photo taken from the Champaign Park District.

Sounds at Sunset Concert Series at Clark Park – May 22 from 6pm to 8pm

Champaign-Urbana is chock full of lovely parks that are a great place to spend a summer day and the Parks District is looking to bring even more people to them this summer with their Sounds at Sunset Concert Series. May 22 will feature the Craig Russo Latin Jazz Project, a group that is sure to play some lively and intricate tunes that could be the cap to a perfect weekend. The parks department encourages you to bring chairs and refreshments, so put on your weekend shorts and shades and listen to some great music as the sun goes down before another work week.

Photo taken from the Champaign Park District.

Photo taken from the Champaign Park District.

Sholem Aquatic Center Opening Day Celebration – May 28 from 11am to 7pm

Summer and all its sunshine and warmth will hopefully be in full swing by the end of the month and the best way to cool off is to hit the pool. Sholem Aquatic Center will be celebrating its opening day and for only $9 for admission, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to beat the heat.

 

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April Events

There’s movies, there’s art, there’s even Mom’s weekend (though we’re gonna skip that to highlight some other cool things going on). As the semester winds down and graduation looms, you may find yourself feeling a little misty-eyed and shut-in, so why not try to hit the town and beat the end-of-the-year blues by going to one of the cool events we’ll highlight below?

Photo taken from event's Facebook page.

Photo taken from event’s Facebook page.

Boneyard Arts Festival – April 7-10

Champaign County is filled to the brim with creative people making art in a variety of ways and the yearly Boneyard Arts Festival brings the work of these varied and abundant individuals to the forefront of the community for 4 days each Spring. This festival isn’t limited to just the typical art galleries across campus and around town; you can find work from artists in non-traditional locations such as retail stores and salons. It’s the perfect time to go out and get inspired and see the huge amount of work being produced by artists of all kinds right here in our own backyard. Their new website is also really cool and features some videos from past festivals that will give you an idea of the variety in store.

Photo taken from event's Facebook page.

Photo taken from event’s Facebook page.

Ebertfest – April 13-17

One of CU’s most noteworthy former citizens and a proud alumnus of UIUC is Roger Ebert, the famous film-critic who popularized the now everyday idea of giving things a “thumbs up” and informed moviegoers of what was new and exciting at the cinema for years. Each year, CU is fortunate to have a small slice of Hollywood drop in for a few days in Ebert’s honor as new films are premiered and stars of the screen find their way to our humble sister cities to present their films. This year will be no exception with famed director Guillermo Del Toro making an appearance on opening night and plenty of movies are slated to delight audiences. If a festival pass is too pricey, and you just wanna catch a movie, tickets are $13 for students. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet Guillermo and find yourself in the next Pacific Rim!

Photo taken from event's Facebook page.

Photo taken from event’s Facebook page.

Jim Ottivani Talks Comics and Science at Grainger Engineering Library- April 15 at 7pm

Alan Turing was a wholly brilliant scientist that was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the recent Academy Award winning film The Imitation Game. That film was based on a book about that brilliant man and Grainger is now happy to bring the author of a graphic novel based on that book to their library! Ottivani is also an alumnus of UIUC and his graphic novels have won many awards and are available in our graphic novel collection on the Lower Level. RSVP to the Facebook event by following the link below:

http://www.facebook.com/events/1574951326157402/

Photo taken from Illini Union's calendar page.

Photo taken from Illini Union’s calendar page.

Phoenix Improv at lllini Union – April 21 and April 28 at 7

If you’ve never been to any sort of improvisational comedic performance, you absolutely need to rectify that situation by catching Phoenix Improv at the Union for free. Improv is the basis for a lot of the TV plots you watch in your favorite comedy shows and some of the funniest actors and actresses of all time got their start doing improv at various levels. And, since we’re only a short trip from the famous Second City in Chicago, you never know who might move on from one of these Union performances to make a splash in Hollywood.

Illini Baseball vs. Minnesota – April 29 – May 1

By this time, the sun should be shining and those May flowers should be popping out of the ground and we can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend than root root rooting for the home team as they take on Minnesota in three games across the weekend. Two day games also mean you can still have the night to do as you please!

Did we miss anything? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

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March Events

March is possibly the best month for events as winter finally starts to dwindle away and as the snow melts, the city shakes itself into a frenzy of activity. We can’t promise that the snow is going to stay away all month, but we can promise that CU is rife with events that are worthy of your time and we’ve done our best to come up with a list of some of the greatest you can find. We’ll assume you already have plans for spring break and will leave that week and weekend out.

Poster for Grapes of Wrath at Krannert

Photo taken from Krannert website.

The Grapes of Wrath at Krannert March 3-13
John Steinbeck is undeniably one of the greatest authors America has ever produced and many believe “The Grapes of Wrath” to be his finest work. Yeah, that book you read in high school about the Dust Bowl, you remember it. Well, Krannert is putting on the staged production of the novel for a few weeks and it’s definitely one you won’t want to miss. The working class struggles of the Tom Joad and his comrades are ones that resonate as deeply today as they ever have, so give yourself a nice night at the theater and check this one out for only $10 student tickets.

Poster for Urinetown

Photo taken from Illini Student Musicals website.

Urinetown at Gregory Hall Theatre – March 11 and 12 at 7:30pm and 13 at 2:30pm
Illini Student Musicals is an organization dedicated to putting on high quality musical productions here at the University and will be presenting “Urinetown”, the Tony-Award winning musical romp by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis. Musicals aren’t necessarily for everyone, but this is one that even the most discerning person will find themselves in stitches by intermission. Tickets are only 10 bucks for student and the three nights make it a flexible plan for even the busiest person.

Photo Noir Art Show at Gallery 217 – March 11 through April
While one could simply visit the new Student Art Gallery on the Upper Level of the UGL, one may also want to make a trip out of seeing new and exciting local art. Gallery 217 has a fantastic downtown location and has been putting on amazing art shows featuring local and regional talent. We suggest hitting Pekara just up the road for some bread then checking out the brooding and beautiful noir photography work this show will offer.

Watson’s Shack & Rail – Anytime
Normally we try to pick specific events for these posts, but since Spring Break falls right in the middle of March, we thought we’d give everyone something they could do that week if they’re around or another week if they feel like it. One of the hottest new restaurants causing mass salivation in downtown Champaign is Watson’s Shack & Rail, the new fried chicken place. If that alone doesn’t excite you, take a look at their website. How good does that look? And for those of you with dietary restrictions, the locally sourced salads and grilled cheese look like they surely won’t disappoint. Make a night of it!

Poster for Spotlight Film Series

Photo taken from Illini Union website.

Spotlight Film Series: Carol at the Illini Union – March 29 at 7pm
Though this blog was written before the Oscar’s and we therefore do not know the results, we can still say that “Carol” is one of the top movies that came out in 2015 and is one you surely don’t want to miss. So long as you have your i-Card, you can see this movie at the Union on March 29 for free (along with other great movies featuring stories highlighting the struggles women have faced throughout history the rest of the month). This one’s a no-brainer, really. Free. Award nominated (and possibly winning). Free. Done.

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International Science Fiction Film Festival

The University of Illinois Library is excited to announce the International Science Fiction Film Series, to be held February 23rd and 25th from 7 to 10 PM in room 66 of the Main Library. Each day of this fantastic cinematic event will consist of two films, one acclaimed short, food, and discussions. Check out the schedule below!

Tuesday, February 23rd from 7-10 PM:

International Science Fiction Film Festival

Come find your new favorite science fiction film at the International Science Fiction Film Festival!

Planeta Bur
The first film of the lecture series will be the Russian feature Planeta Bur (Planet of the Storms). Released in 1962, Planeta Bur follows two Soviet spaceships on a mission to Venus. After one ship is destroyed by a meteor, the remaining two ships land and explore the planet hoping to gather information about Venusian life. The trip takes another turn as the crew of the two ships encounter beastly aliens, mysterious rocks, and unforeseen dangers. Because of its groundbreaking, and often copied visuals by Pavel Klushantsev, Planeta Bur has had a significant influence on the genre, making it the perfect film to launch our lecture series. The film will be introduced by Richard Tempest, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.

International Science Fiction Film Festival

Brainstorm
Have you ever wanted to experience someone else’s mind? Brainstorm features an all-star cast led by the incomparable Christopher Walken and Hollywood icon Natalie Wood, in her final role. A group of brilliant researchers have developed a system of recording people’s actual life experiences and thought processes with incredible detail. These events can then be experienced by others using a special device. The head researcher, played by Walken, loses control of the experiment as nefarious government agencies aim to manipulate the technology for their own agendas. This film will be presented with commentary by College of Media Professor and sci-fi effects expert Julie Turnock, whose Plastic Reality: Special Effects, Technology, and the Emergence of 1970s Blockbuster Aesthetics has just been published by Columbia University Press.

Thursday, February 25th from 7-10 PM:

International Science Fiction Film Festival

Yongary
The second night of this exciting film series will delight fans of kaiju on rampages. Yongary, directed by Korean filmmaker Ki-duk Kim, begins when an atomic blast causes massive earthquakes—or so it seems. The earthquakes are revealed instead to be a new and terrifying threat that was awakened by the blast: Yongary, an amphibious monster who shakes up Seoul. Often called the Korean Godzilla, Yongary is a definite popcorn movie that is sure to delight fans of classic monster tropes and effects. The film will be presented with commentary from Robert Cagle, the cinema studies specialist for the University of Illinois Library.

International Science Fiction Film Festival

Big Man Japan
The final film of the lecture series will bring humor and subversiveness to the genre. Big Man Japan follows the life of Daisoto, who is continuing his family’s long-standing tradition of defending Tokyo from monsters. Constantly belitted, and always lamenting his family’s history, Daisoto must conquer not only the monsters at Tokyo’s door, but his own negative reputation. If you are looking for a movie that offers excitement, a contemporary twist on super-monster films, and a hefty dose of weird, this is the movie for you. This 2007 film will be introduced by Richard Leskosky, a local legend in the film community and internationally renowned expert on animation film.

The Science Fiction Film Lecture Series will take place in room 66 of the Main Library. The series will be open to UIUC faculty, staff, and students only. Refreshments will be provided during the series. Have any questions? What are your favorite international science fiction films? Tweet at us (@askundergrad) or let us on know you’re coming on Facebook (Undergraduate Library at UIUC).

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Valentine’s Week Events

Valentine’s Day can be a bummer for some and a lovely day for others and we’re here to help you with however you plan on feeling this coming Sunday and all week. There are a ton of things for those of you lovebirds who haven’t made plans yet and for you lone wolves looking to spend this week like it was any other week, one of which is happening all week right here in the UGL!

Blind Date with a Book Display

Use our dating service Sparks to swipe right and fall in love with a book!

Stop by the Upper Level to find your match made in heaven (or someplace else) this Valentine’s week. We have books and movies ready for those of you that love a good love and for those of you that hate a good love. Our dating service “sparks” is sure to find some sort of match to you, so be sure to swipe your new companion right to the Circulation Desk and enjoy!

And for those of you that don’t plan on making it into the library, check out this nifty infographic to find an appropriate piece of media to indulge in.

Valentine's Day Movie Flowchart

What movie should you watch next? Check the flowchart to find out!

Now, onto the non-UGL events.

Coconut Macaroons

Photo from Flickr Media Commons, courtesy of Stacy.

Coconut Macaroons at Mirabelle, Pekara, Rick’s Bakery, and/or Strawberry Fields – When they’re available

Smile Politely did the seriously difficult and life-threatening (joking) work that was tasting these little bundles of coconutty joy and reviewing the bakeries that baked them for you. No one stood above the other according to the article, so we suggest hitting up every single bakery listed and grabbing some of these macaroon’s to snack on with or without a partner. While you’re at Pekara, we also highly suggest getting a frozen hot chocolate despite the cold because it’s one of the most delicious things you can have.

Casablanca Movie Poster

Photo from Flickr Media Commons, courtesy of Breve Storia del Cinema.

Casablanca at the Art Theater – February 14 at 11:30am and 7:30pm

If you’ve never seen this masterpiece of American cinema, now is the time. Casablanca is a seriously amazing movie that has stood the test of time and stayed in the public consciousness like no other movie; it’s just one of those movies. Humphrey Bogart is the epitome of cool and his performance is worthy of a full text-book alone; it’s not exactly surprising, therefore, that there literally are books dedicated to this movie alone. The Art Theater is one of the crown jewels of downtown Champaign and if you need a date idea for the night, there’s probably nothing more romantic than catching this black-and-white masterpiece and hearing Ingrid Bergman’s world famous “kiss me” line (among the million other amazing quotes from this).

Bullnettle

Bullnettle. Photo taken from The Accord website.

FREE show at The Accord featuring Bullnettle, Tongue Party, and Orator – February 14 at 7pm

Unofficially dubbed the “Valentines Shmalentines” show, this free night at The Accord in downtown Champaign is the perfect getaway for those of you that literally want to shut all the love and good feelings out of your ears on Valentine’s Day. Bullnettle and Orator are two heavier/louder local acts that often make noise around town and they are joined by the heavy/loud from Minneapolis, so if heavy/loud music is your thing, it’s probably the safest way to avoid all the googly eyes and kissy faces.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Tweet at us (@askundergrad) or contact us on Facebook (Undergraduate Library at UIUC)!

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