Credit: Chris Ware

Bill Arnett,

improv performer and teacher at iO Theater, finds he is not alone thanks to:

Building Stories Graphic novels aren’t the first thing I reach for, but I can’t put down writer-illustrator Chris Ware’s latest, Building Stories. It’s a boxed set of books, pamphlets, and a newspaper that tells a meandering story about a one-legged woman and the building she lives in. I discovered Mr. Ware in the early 2000s, when his serial Rusty Brown got a full page (in color!) in the Reader each week. His work features loneliness, crushed dreams, and unfulfilling fantasy lives presented in detailed geometric and (intentionally?) convoluted layouts. Accept that, press through, and you will discover amazing humanity. The Rusty Brown series was released as ACME Novelty Library #19. Also worth your time is the award-winning Jimmy Corrigan. Ware’s books can be tricky to find. Try comic-book stores and online retailers. I’m not trying to be saccharine, but when I read his stuff I don’t feel alone.

Credit: Bobby Talamine

James Kinser,

gender-bending multimedia artist floats away at:

SpaceTime Tanks Given the amount of time we all spend huddling from the grouse-inducing winter, it’s a wonder that our shoulders aren’t permanently pinned to our ears by now. Having recently felt the winter cramp, I treated myself to a massage and float at SpaceTime Tanks in Lincoln Park. When you enter, there’s an immediate wash of “om” from the dimmed lights and voices, earthen tones and textures, and the meandering tropical fish in a wall-to-wall tank. On the menu can be found an assortment of experiences, including light and sound therapy, multisensorial relaxation, massage, and float. For a healthy dose of bliss, go for a 90-minute deep-tissue and healing massage, followed by an hour-long float. The float prolongs the massage work and is said to produce the same effect as hours of deep sleep. Afterward, give yourself plenty of time to recompose before venturing out into the world. Your mind and body will thank you.

Kelsie Huff of the KatesCredit: Johnny Knight

Leah Pickett,

pop-culture blogger for, laughs out loud at:

The Kates Would you like some cupcakes with your comedy? Then head on down to the Book Cellar for a package deal of heavenly baked goods and uproarious live performances from one of the best comedy groups in town, the Kates. Led by local comedians Kelsie Huff and Amy Sumpter, this exclusively female troupe puts on a show twice monthly—every second Friday at 8 PM and last Saturday at 7 PM—with acts that vary from clowning to stand-up to outrageous song-and-dance routines. Onetime Chicago rookies Tina Fey and Amy Poehler proved that women can be just as funny as their male peers; now the Kates are carrying the torch of laugh-out-loud girl power for a new generation. So what do the fabulous Kates have planned for audiences in 2013? Follow them on Twitter (@thekatescomedy) or visit their official website ( to learn more.