Monthly Archives: August 2011

Chicago Jazz Festival: Yes, it’s Free

Rock out with your oboe out.

Boy oh boy am I taking a lot of crap at MAPHCentral for my post on fancyboy restaurants. LIKE I’M THE ONLY JOE SCHMO IN THE WORLD WHO LIKES PORK SHOULDER OR TAKES THE METRA TO HYDE PARK.



But please, allow me to redeem myself, because this weekend, while you’re wearing white pants for the last time till next May (what? Is THAT just me too??), you can attend the granddaddy of all FREE Chicago events, the Chicago Jazz Festival. Continue reading

Barbecue Attire

Looking for inspiration about what to wear to make your first MAPH impression? Here’s footage from last year’s kickoff event (due to, well, something we are not legally allowed to talk about there will unfortunately NOT be hovercrafts this year):


Braving Public Transportation

With MAPH starting in a few weeks and the colloquium reading assignments just around the corner, I don’t think we’ve stressed enough how important it is to get out of Hyde Park while you still have the time to do it. Last year, my plan was to explore a different area or attraction of Chicago every weekend during the program but, even with the best intentions, it gets harder and harder to make the trek into the city once you have papers and thesis topic proposals looming over you. Needless to say, I’m now having fun, post-MAPH exploring Chicago because of my poorly executed plan. So, those of you who are here now…take advantage of this time!

A-J already posted his important annual exhortation stressing the need to get out of Hyde Park, but you still might be wondering how you actually go about doing that. There are a plethora of options to get into the city and up north from Hyde Park, but there are really only three viable ones if you want to get there within a reasonable time frame and feel safe doing it. (More on the three options after the jump…)

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Use that Student Loan “Living Expenses” Money

Bring Wine to HB. Stay for Dinner

What recession? You’re flush with loan money (aka Play Money….aka money that you’ll have to be careful with and keep safe and spend on books).

Or, well, for now, you’re new to town, and can use your green status as an excuse so treat yourself to (just one, you swear) really fantastic meal before the whirlwind starts up. Chicago is up there with New York and San Francisco when it comes to gustatory delights. And if you think it’s a steakhouse-only town, here are some places that will disabuse you of this rumor. These places won’t break the bank wide open (and if you’re interested in Alinea, Charlie Trotter, L2O, or any of the others, you might start trying to get reservations now…).

Rather, these places are more than delicious for the price of entry.

1) HB: Up in Lakeview, chef and owner Joncarl Lochman puts together a menu of wildly different flavors and ingredients that are locally sourced. HB offers a contemporary take on comfort food, and it’s one of two BYO’s on my list. Prices are really, really reasonable for both the portions and the quality of the food. You never feel rushed either–but make a reservation if you can. (Wallet impact with wine: Pricey / Without wine: downright reasonable)

If you’re stumped on wine, hop across the street to The Gourmet Grape and pick up a bottle. Here are some recommendations of some CA wines they have on offer:

  • Merlot: 2005 Duckhorn, Napa (expensive, but really delicious: $57)
  • Zinfandel: 2006 Trentadue, Sonoma (moderate: $17)
  • Sauvignon Blanc: 2007 Trinitas, Napa (moderate $18)

(More guilt-inducing indulgences after the jump…) Continue reading

Free (or cheap) Autumn Entertainment

So it seemed like it was time to update the blog with a new batch of free or cheap ways to entertain yourself as a graduate student.  Courses haven’t started so there is no excuse for not trying out a few of these options before you are drowning in reading.

First for incoming students it is great to know that your University of Chicago ID serves as your arts pass to get you in free or discounted to many area museums and theaters.

The Chicago Cultural Center

Ceiling at the Chicago Cultural Center

Festivals and Lectures

There will be many fantastic lectures on campus. However, the Chicago Humanities Festival hosts events all over the city in October and November. Most of them free or very cheap for students there is no excuse not to go see Steven Sondheim, Laurie Anderson or Jonathan Franzen speak.

Many Chicago street festivals are still happening in September and October.

Check out the Renegade Craft Fair September 10-11, Oktoberfest, September 23-24 or the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, September 24-25. A full list is here. Don’t miss free concerts in Millenium Park or Grant Park.


Discounted theater tickets are available the week of performances at hottix It is always worth asking for a student rate or checking your arts pass discount at most theaters.

Be sure to check out my guide to Chicago theaters here.  There are over 200 small theaters in Chicago covering ever style, taste and price range, many small companies still have industry nights, or pay-what-you-can nights.

More free things after the jump . . .

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MAPH Libs: Our Mentor Email in Mad Lib Format

__(Salutation)___ Everyone!


Welcome to ___(an acronym)___! We know this is already your ___(large #)___ welcome e-mail from people in the program, but we’re important. As we mentioned in our first ___(noun)___ on the MAPH Blog (read it!), we mentors completed the program last year and are staying on to offer ___(adj)___ advice and provide new MAPH students with the benefit of our experience. At any point during the year, drop by the office, make an appointment, or send us an email–whether things are going really ___(adj)___, or if they’re going the opposite of really ____(the same adj)___.


During colloquium, we’ll be in front of you to an almost-nauseating level to make sure you’re settling in to MAPH, the University, and your new city. First off, there will be an opening barbecue and ___(noun)___ screening, giving you the chance to meet staff and other students in the program. At the end of the first week, we’ll hold a breakfast where we’ll ___(verb)___ ourselves, speak on a couple of ___(adj)___ topics, and feed you lots of ___(plural noun/ideal breakfast food item that will probably not actually be served)___. Though we won’t start holding office hours officially until colloquium, we’ll be around over the next several weeks if you have any ___ (plural noun)___.


Then, as the year moves forward, we’ll be here to help with course registration, possible/probable thesis anxiety, social events, professional development, etc. As you can see, right now we have an excess of __(adj)___ time on our hands…but that’s only because you have yet to arrive and most of our job is acting as your resource.


We look ___(a direction)___to meeting you all at the opening barbecue. Until then, come by the office during the day or send us an email with any questions you may already have (keeping in mind that Course Registration is NOT happening yet, but will take place toward the end of colloquium and that the colloquium/core readings are in their final planning stages and are NOT YET available).


In the meantime, read the blog, stop by the office and introduce yourself (have we said that enough yet?), __(verb)__ the last glints of the summer sun, and go enjoy some non-compulsory reading. Trust us, once winter rolls around, reading something you haven’t been assigned will seem like some mythical pleasure you’re not sure ever really existed.


Take ___(noun)___ of yourselves,


Ben and Whitney


Oh…and the first one to e-mail us with a list of the words they used to fill in the Mad Lib will receive ____(some kind of reward)___.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

As September swiftly approaches, we know you nerds are getting just as excited about buying a stock of your favorite pens, cracking open the spines of brand new books, and hunkering down for some serious assigned reading as we are. But, alas, as these days are still several weeks away, here are some pre-core-reading videos with which to wile away your last precious days of summer…

In case you’ve already faced various forms of censure from your family about being a graduate student in the Humanities, this will put your mind at ease. And when we say at ease, we mean, “don’t fret…everyone feels the same way your family does about Humanities grad students.” Everyone. Including your professors.

This next one needs no introduction. Except to say that this is probably the best flash mob in history.

And this one is really just in case you forgot what Daniel Radcliffe looked like at age 11. I wouldn’t be opposed to hosting a MAPH Harry Potter Movie Marathon. We can take a vote during Core.

Speaking of, the syllabus for Core will be released soon, so you’ll have plenty of delicious theory and philosophy to occupy your time the few weeks before Colloquium. But, in the meantime, make sure you’re enjoying your summer! For those of you who have recently moved to the area, we’re currently planning an early-arrivals meet up so you can start schmoozing with one another before colloquium even starts. More on that coming soon.

Chicago: Home of the Used Bookstores

If there’s one major character trait that all MAPHer’s tend to have in common, it’s a borderline nerd-level appreciation for books (and, perhaps, booze…but that’s a post for another day). Thankfully, you now (or soon will) live in a city that is chock-full of fantastic book stores ready to cater to your every-reading need. And, thankfully, you have three mentors who share this trait and are happy to impart our knowledge on to you.

So, take a break from Core prep reading (syllabus coming soon) and mosey on down to one or two (or all) of these gems to pick up some books that should really be on your summer reading list (see A-J’s post on non-required summer reading for several suggestions). And, be sure to share any good title recommendations with us at MAPH Central (see where to go after the jump)… Continue reading