Credit: Zoe Sheppard

Alison Fisher, assistant curator at the Art Institute, is exploring the unconventional at:

El Circo Cheapo Cabaret A friend recently introduced me to the amazing performances at El Circo Cheapo Cabaret, a kind of scripted open-mike night for professional and amateur aerialists and performers. The simple staging of the performance, which is held in a former warehouse, recalls the romance of 19th-century traveling carnivals, complete with an accordion player and juggler.

Yet it caters to a distinctly hip, local crowd, many of whom are repeat visitors with drinks and simple picnics in tow. The performers are extraordinarily talented, and the action is so close to the audience that for certain acts the first row is asked to move! Besides, it’s always heartening to support arts outside of the mainstream.

Duncan MacKenzie, cofounder of art blog Bad at Sports, is reminiscing with:

Office Girl For me, summer is a time that often drips with nostalgia. It is awash in memories of idle days and a misspent youth, both of which are served up in Joe Meno’s new novel, Office Girl.

Meno weaves a funny and emotionally complex story about two twentysomethings attempting, with only marginal success, to recover from their experiences at art school while they try to sort out what it means to be loved and to love. It is the perfect reminder of all the little stories, reckless stupidities, and big romances that we amass as we attempt to figure out what our future holds.

Also, being set in the dead of winter, it has helped keep my thoughts cool in the unsettling warmth of this Chicago summer.

Molly Brennan,
Barrel of Monkeys theater ensemble artistic director is knocked off balance by:

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

“Toynbee Idea in Movie ‘2001’ Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter”

This bewildering message has, since the mid-80s, appeared on hundreds of tiles embedded in asphalt in locations across the U.S., from Boston to Kansas City. The majority decorate Philadelphia streets. In John Foy’s 2010 documentary Resurrect Dead, Philadelphian Justin Duerr embarks on a quest for the “Toynbee Tiler” that made me deliciously uneasy.

After all, I am totally into resurrecting the dead on Jupiter.

In a world that can feel completely accessible (and therefore devoid of thrills) thanks to the Internet, it does my soul good to be reminded that there are things out there I don’t know about, mysteries still to be solved, and also that there are more reasons for me to be a David Mamet antifan. Watch it with the lights out and let the discomfort embrace you! It’s on Netflix, people!