Cook County Social Club
Cook County Social Club Credit: Ryan Ward Thompson

Dan Bulla, one-fourth of improv troupe Warm Milk, firmly believes in:

Cook County Social Club If you live in Chicago and you’ve never seen a Cook County Social Club improv set, you’re missing out. Bill Cochran, Mark Raterman, Greg Hess, Brendan Jennings, and Tim Robinson—these guys are the funniest dudes in Chicago. Maybe you hear “improv” and you groan. Maybe you saw your coworker’s cousin’s improv group once and you thought it was “kind of weird,” or “hard to follow,” or “bad.” Fair enough. But I’m telling you, Cook County Social Club is funny. They’re beyond funny. You’ll laugh so hard your poor little face will hurt the rest of the night. You’ll laugh so hard that you and your friends will talk about it for days and days. It’s that good. Also, you should go see your coworker’s cousin’s improv group—you’ll have a good time. Cook County Social Club performs at the iO Theater every Tuesday at 8 PM.

Rachel DeWoskin,
author of Big Girl Small, finds meaning in:

The Still Point of the Turning World In January of 2011, writer Emily Rapp learned that her infant son, Ronan, had Tay-Sachs, a rare, incurable genetic condition that would claim his life while he was still a baby. Emily made the choice not to avert her eyes. She dignified her beautiful, singular boy by giving him as full and textured a life as she could, and simultaneously altered the lives of countless readers by giving us a live, luminous, and heartbreaking record: The Still Point of the Turning World. If you read nothing else, don’t miss this brilliant, harrowing narrative. It’s written with five-alarm urgency and honesty that has a vertical dimension, that leads straight to the core of what it means to be human and tears up any easy ideas about difference, disability, faith, love, or loss. Ronan Louis died on February 15, 2013. He was three years old. His inimitable mama’s book is the most beautiful tribute I’ve ever read. It gives us what life-altering books should: a flash of what we know least and most certainly, that we aren’t here forever, but we can make our—and each other’s—lives matter.

Elizabeth Hope Williams and Michael Hahalyak in <i>CCX</i>
Elizabeth Hope Williams and Michael Hahalyak in CCXCredit: Henry H. Perritt, Jr.

J.R. Robinson,
sound artist behind Wrekmeister Harmonies, got out of his winter funk with:

CCX Feeling like I don’t get out much (a beautiful giraffe of a woman recently called me antisocial), I decided it was time to see some plays this winter. I saw Steppenwolf’s The Motherfucker With the Hat, which was good, plus it had ex-TV cop Jimmy Smits in it. Another show I saw recently was CCX at Rivendell Theatre. CCX struck me as an amazing amalgamation of The Wire and a Max Fischer production from Rushmore. Henri Watkins plays Sam Rollins, the crafty veteran and bad cop, sweating both his young partner, Tommy (Michael Hahalyak), and the can’t-be-fazed perp, Lacroix (David Lawrence). What really stunned me was the performance of Elizabeth Hope Williams as the prosty/junkie girlfriend of Lacroix. At the point when her cover is blown during interrogation, she turns off the cooing, sweetly slurred come-ons and flies into the most unnerving rage, kicking doors and walls and spitting out caustic sexual bile at the rookie cop. It left me tense and nervous and in no way able to anticipate what was a sheer hellish miasma of an ending. Go see it.