Frank's Weekend Faves, Feb. 11, 2018

Frank's Weekend Faves, Feb. 11, 2018

The Insect Fear Film Festival isn't until later this month, Roger Ebert's Film Festival doesn't arrive until April and even the next showing in The News-Gazette Film Series isn't until next month. What's a cinephile to do?

Check out the 'Science on Screen' film series at 7:30 p.m. Mondays through March 12 at the Art Theater, that's what.

For a sci-fi fan like me, this is cooler than a Swiss Army knife equipped with a lightsaber. This brilliant idea for a film series is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and features a post-screening discussion led by an expert in each movie's theme science. The lineup of movies and speakers scheduled include:

Feb. 12: "Gattaca" (1997), featuring Gene Robinson, director of the Institute for Genomic Biology (sponsored by the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology).

Feb. 19: "Ex Machina" (2014), featuring Rhanor Gillette, emeritus professor of molecular and integrative physiology (sponsored by the Beckman Institute).

Feb. 26: "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), featuring Dave Leake, director of the Staerkel Planetarium.

March 5: "Empire of the Ants" (1977), featuring May Berenbaum, professor and head at the University of Illinois Department of Entomology and founder and organizer of the Insect Fear Film Festival.

March 12: "Robot & Frank" (2012), featuring Amy LaViers, assistant professor of mechanical science and engineering at the UI.

Incidentally, if you're looking for a romantic idea for a Valentine's Day outing, take your sweetie to the Art's Wednesday night showing of my personal fave for most romantic movie ever, "Casablanca" (1942). Show time is 7:30 p.m.

Looking to spread your wings artistically this week? This just might be the best bird-brained idea yet.

At The Vault Art Gallery in downtown Tuscola, you can felt a colorful wool cardinal (the state bird of Illinois, not a St. Louis ballplayer or Catholic bishop) with Vault artist Joellyn Cobb from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15. The cost is $45 per person (for those who do not have a felting needle and foam there is an additional $15 cost). The sign-up deadline is this Wednesday.

If it's your ears rather than your hands that are itching for some smooth-as-felt entertainment this week, here's an idea: Catch virtuoso fingerstyle guitarist Richard Smith at 7 p.m. Friday at The Upper Bout in Champaign.

This English-born musician's fretwork has been wowing audiences since he was 5 years old and played onstage with Chet Atkins. His repertoire ranges from Bach to Beatles, Scott Joplin rags to Sousa marches, Chopin and Mozart to fiddle tunes, jazz standards to gypsy swing, not to mention his influences — Atkins, Merle Travis and Jerry Reed — as well as his own originals.

Admission to Smith's performance at the retail music store at 723 S. Neil St., C, is $20. Trust me, the guy wasn't 2001 National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion for nothing ...

Normally, I confine the scope of these Weekend Faves to the C-U area, but when the greatest idea for a one-day festival — ever — is happening just 50 minutes away, I just have to share it with you.

I'm talking, of course, about the first Bacon & Beer Festival this Friday at Bloomington's Grossinger Motors Arena.

I know, right? Can you believe it? This celebration of all things bacon and beer runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and offers a mouth-watering opportunity to sample bacon-inspired dishes from local restaurants and approximately 100 different craft beers. VIP tickets are available for $65 and include one-hour early entry (6 p.m.), two Bloody Mary drink tickets and a commemorative gift.

The event will feature live music, a bacon-eating contest and the chance to vote for the best bacon dish and best brewery that night. All bacon and beer samples are included with the $30 general admission price, and each patron will receive a complimentary pint glass at the end of the night.

Tickets are available at, by phone at 800-745-3000, or in person at the arena box office, 101 S. Madison St., Bloomington.

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Topics (5):Art, Film, Food, Music, Theater