Sunday, October 08, 2006


Hello from Champaign-Urbana,IL, the cornbasket of America.

The Builders have touched down here in central Illinois and it has been an autumnal blast. For those of you who know nothing of this place beyond what the University of Illinois invokes for you football-wise, it is not all just corn stalks and pumpkin patches here in the heartland.

Champaign is home to the first web browser, Mosaic and IU has all sorts of sophisticated web and digital technologies happening. They refer to this place as the "silicon prairie" and there are lots of folks doing all kinds of incredible research and art and interesting stuff. We had two lovely performances at the Krannert Center for the Arts which is the Lincoln Center of the Great Plains. Ambitious programming and large scope, the building was also designed by the fellow who did the Lincoln Center on the Hudson and there are common architectural themes.

Our time here has been very productive and everyone at the Krannert was really great with us. It is a gigantic building and the university has a big theatre and music department, which includes an opera department. Rehearsals for things were going on a lot of the time we were in the building and it was cool to leave backstage for the corridors and hear choral music or band music or opera floating through the concrete echo chambers of the catacombs.

Let me not forget to speak of our fabulous accomodations. Now, I personally really like a hotel or a restaurant with a good theme. The greater the commitment to the theme, the better in my eyes and the place we are staying here in Urbana is really on my top ten of theme hotels.

It is called Historic Lincoln Hotel, which was its original name, but it has more recently gone by the name Jumer's Castle Lodge. It has a special Illinois hybrid theme of Olde English Inn and Germanic hunting lodge. There are two full suits of armour in the lobby. There are many taxidermied heads peering down at your breakfast eggs in the "Library" restaurant. Every room has a brass chandalier!

Apparently in days of yore, the good people that worked here were made to wear period costumes to do their jobs but now this practice has sadly gone by the wayside and there are no more dirndle dresses or puffy sleeves or codpieces to be seen. Sigh. This does not detract from the magic of Historic Lincoln and I highly recommend this inn as a place to stop on your tour of old theme hotels, if you embark on such an expedition.

OK, gotta hit the road for Chicago friends. You can catch Super Vision at the Musseum of Contemporary Art there, this coming week (October 12-14) if you are in the neighborhood. Please feel free to stay after the show and say hi. It takes me a while to get out of my outfit and all, so be patient. You can talk to any of the folks from the company. They are all very friendly and like to make acquaintances in towns we are visiting so please do stop by and say hello if you come see the show.

corny as Kansas in August,