Chicago Bears: 3 moves to make before free agencyon February 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm

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Chicago Bears, Ryan Pace

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears have already made a couple of key moves before free agency.

When NFL free agency officially begins on March 18, the Chicago Bears may look a little different. Already, the team has chosen to move on from a couple of respected veterans.

Just last Friday, the team announced it would cut ties with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. After coming to the Bears from the Atlanta Falcons two years ago, Gabriel provided the offense with speed it hadn’t seen in quite some time.

In addition, the Bears terminated the contract of cornerback Prince Amukamara. The long-time New York Giants corner spent one year with the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to playing the last three seasons in Chicago.

These two roster moves will end up saving the Bears roughly $13.5 million against the cap. At this stage, the Bears are sitting around $27 million in cap space, give or take a smidge.

In order to fill the spots left by Gabriel and Amukamara, the Bears have a couple options. For Gabriel’s spot, they might look at a cheaper veteran like Travis Benjamin. Although, this year’s draft class is loaded with receivers and Ryan Pace could find some speed later on even.

As for Amukamara’s spot, the Bears very well may have their replacement already. Former CFL standout Tre Roberson chose time sign with the Bears over nine other teams, and could end up having the most significant CFL-to-NFL transition since Cameron Wake signed with the Miami Dolphins.

Before we get to free agency next month, or even look further down the road to the draft, the Bears have more moves to make. Pace could open up additional cap room if he so chooses, and has the potential to shore up one major roster issue before players are able to sign with new teams.

There are three major moves I would love to see from Pace over the next couple of weeks, and together, each one would end up leading this roster towards a Super Bowl run.

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Chicago Blackhawks: Last game before trade deadline brings questionson February 23, 2020 at 1:00 pm

The Chicago Blackhawks are going into the last game before the trade deadline. They are probably going to be sellers, so this team could look different soon.

The Chicago Blackhawks are going into tonight’s game coming off a win over the Nashville Predators. It is going to be a tough game against the Dallas Stars on the road. It is also the last game for Chicago before Monday’s trade deadline. This could be the last game for a few of these players as a member of the Blackhawks. With where they are in the standings, it is tough to predict what is going to happen.

There are guys on expiring contracts like Corey Crawford. Robin Lehner, and Erik Gustafsson. There are also guys like Brandon Saad who the Hawks could probably move for a really nice return. Either way, there is a good chance that after this game the team looks a lot different. There is also the possibility that guys are held out for precautionary reasons.

So what about the Dallas Stars? If anything, they are going to be buyers at the deadline. This is a team that is good enough to win the Stanley Cup. At 35-20-6, their 76 points have them at third in the Central Division. They are four points behind the St. Louis Blues for the Division and conference lead in points with one game in hand.

With stars like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov at forward, it is easy to understand why they are so good. What really makes them click, however, is their defense. Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg, and Esa Lindell are half of a really solid defense playing in front of Ben Bishop who is one of the best goalies in the world.

Related Story: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews deserve no blame for this season

Dallas and Chicago always play entertaining games. The Blackhawks probably feel like they still have a chance at the playoffs whether they do or not. They, at the very least, know that they can play spoiler for other teams trying to make the playoffs, win divisions, or secure playoff positioning. For the last time to all play together potentially, this should be a fun one.

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‘Secret of My Success’ musical breathes dynamic new life into much-needed, smart updating of movieon February 23, 2020 at 6:55 pm

Let’s start with the facts.

The 1987 Universal movie “The Secret of My Success” is a dumpster fire, despite starring the undeniably endearing Michael J. Fox. The plot is a primer in Entitlement 101: Brantley (Fox) is a young guy from Kansas who gets mad because he isn’t handed his dream job when he arrives in New York City. He soon lies and cons his way into an executive office while constantly ogling and/or sexually harassing Prescott Industries’ sole female executive, Christy (Helen Slater). Brantley gets the girl and saves the company with his underhanded ways.

Which brings us to the obvious question surrounding the world premiere musical of “The Secret of My Success” at Aurora’s Paramount Theatre. How on God’s green earth could anyone watch the 1987 film’s parade of stereotypes and misogyny and think, “Hey! Let’s make it a musical!”?

Composers/lyricists Alan Schmuckler and Michael Mahler did just that, along with book writers Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen, and the result is a triumph over source material.

Directed by Greenberg and choreographed by Amber Mak, the Paramount production turns the movie’s problems to its advantage by satirizing the cliches and blasting Brantley for his privileged cluelessness. The writers have also set it in contemporary times so the landscape is mercifully free of shoulder pads. The script uses the bones of the film: Brantley (Billy Harrigan Tighe) gets a low-level job in the basement of Prescott Industries. After stealing the identity of a of a junior exec out on paternity leave, Brantley then finagles his way into the corporate board room and begins wooing Christy (Sydney Morton).

The score is a rollicking delight, from Brantley’s “32-Hour Bus Ride” to New York to temp worker Lester’s (Gabriel Ruiz) showstopper “You’re a D-Bag, Brantley Foster.” If nothing else, “The Secret of My Success” gifts the planet with dancing, adult human-sized emojis. This old world needs more of those.

There are some problems, too. Brantley’s climactic discovery that money can’t buy happiness is horseradish. You know what money can buy? Healthcare, shelter and food. Try being happy without those. Still, the often chirpy script takes pains to acknowledge the existential dread that engulfs us all. Lester’s got a meditation app on his phone that that reminds him “You are going to die” five times daily. His work uniform is a dignity-sucking chartreuse T-shirt bearing the slogan “it’s only temporary.” Yes it is, Lester, yes it is. “Secret” understands that this is both the tragedy and the triumph of human existence.

The musical mocks the stereotypes peppering the movie’s original story (by A.J. Carothers) by making the supporting roles satirical while adding much-needed layers to the leads. Brantley retains several glaring blind spots, but he’s also genuinely open-hearted and curious about the world around him. He doesn’t have an ounce of meanness, even when he’s scheming against the temporaries’ boss Garth (Ian Michael Stuart serving Billy Idol by way of “The Office’s” Michael Scott).

Christy here is far more than the object of her co-workers’ obsessions. We meet her mother (Melody Betts) and son (Kai Edgar) and see her at home as well as at work. With the angry, resolute “Get It Done,” Morton captures the frustration and rage that results from endlessly sacrificing family time to keep to a 60-hour work week in a toxic workplace. Morton is a dynamo who seems to carry her own light, along with a clarion voice that’s as effective on love ballads as it is on cathartic revelations.

Brantley Foster (Billy Harrigan Tighe) and Christy Lockhart (Sydney Morton) take a romantic ride on the Staten Island Ferry in Paramount Theatre’s world premiere “The Secret of My Success.”
Liz Lauren

Wealthy share-holder Vera Prescott (Heidi Kettenring) is not the predatory harridan of the movie, even though she is so rich she travels with backup dancers. Her delivery of “You Can Have It All” veers from defiance to disenchantment with stiletto-stomping force. When Vera joins Christy on “(I Think) I Like You,” it’s the sound of newly discovered power. Vera’s husband/villainous boss Piers (Jeremy Peter Johnson) is straight-up Snidely Whiplash, at least until “When You Feel Feelings.” As manly man-suffering songs go, it’s up there with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s” “Fit Hot Guys Have Problems Too.”

Finally, we need to take a moment for Sara Sevigny’s Sylvia Popkin, an executive assistant whose nudist brother figures briefly in the lyrics. Ms. Popkin’s big reveal (which we won’t) sets up a sequel that in a just world would already be in workshops, ideally with Sevigny attached.

Paramount has taken the bones of a trash heap movie and phoenixed them into something entertaining and commercially viable. “The Secret of My Success” could be the lightning-strike new musical that actually has the potential for Broadway.

Catey Sullivan is a local freelance writer.

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Michael O’Brien’s Super 25 high school basketball rankings for Feb. 23, 2020on February 23, 2020 at 7:15 pm

The Class 1A and Class 2A playoffs get underway tomorrow. The big schools are next week. There are some interesting non conference matchups this week and some of the crossover championship games. But basically, it is playoff time.

New additions

Indian Creek (30-0): There has been a revolving door at the bottom of the rankings for the last few weeks. Are the Timberwolves as good as Fenwick or Benet, Hinsdale South or Niles North? Probably not. But those teams have all had multiple weeks in the Super 25 and if a perfect regular season doesn’t get a team into the rankings what will?

Dropping out

Fenwick (23-7): The Friars lost to Loyola at home this past week. No shame in that and clearly they will be a major factor in the playoffs.

With record and last week’s ranking

1. Curie (25-2) 1

Notre Dame up next

2. Bloom (25-5)

Peaking at the right time

3. Thornton (27-1) 3

Incredible regular season

4. Simeon (22-8) 5

City champs had week off

5. Notre Dame (26-4) 6

Hosts Curie on Wednesday

6. Morgan Park (19-9) 7

Isaiah Burrell so important

7. Homewood-Flossmoor (23-3) 8

At Bolingbrook on Tuesday

8. Bogan (25-3) 9

Kennedy Brown is back

9. Young (18-9) 10

Had the week off

10. Evanston (25-4) 4

Lost to Kenwood

11. Marian Catholic (22-7) 11

Travels to Richards Tuesday

12. Joliet West (24-4) 12

Slowly getting healthy

13. Stevenson (24-4) 13

Knocked off Benet

14. Oak Forest (25-2) 14

Learned a lot in Curie loss

15. Bolingbrook (25-5) 16

Beat Lockport, Sandburg

16. Loyola (26-4) 20

Catholic Blue champs

17. Glenbrook South (26-4) 15

Split with Evanston

18. Kankakee (23-4) 17

Beat Crete-Monee

19. York (27-3) 18

Solid win vs. Hinsdale Central

20. Mundelein (25-4) 21

Handled, Libertyville and Lake Zurich

21. DePaul Prep (22-5) 19

Lost to Loyola

22. Orr (17-7) 22

Favorites in Class 2A again

23. Hillcrest (20-8) 23

Mar’Keise Irving beat TF North

24. Cary-Grove (27-3) 24

Beat Schaumburg

25. Indian Creek (30-0) NR

Can Timberwolves win 1A?

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KILL MOVE PARADISEon February 22, 2020 at 11:26 pm

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KILL MOVE PARADISE

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Hey, Cubs Fans, was the party worth the hangover?on February 23, 2020 at 1:28 am

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My Breast Cancer Journey Part 18: My Twin Sister is Done With Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy!on February 23, 2020 at 3:22 am

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Chicago Craft Beer Weekend, February 28 – March 1on February 23, 2020 at 4:47 am

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My Cousin Was The Gateway To Metal Churchon February 23, 2020 at 6:28 am

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Pioneering postpunks Wire continue to chart new ground on Mind Hiveon February 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm

In 1987, British punk and postpunk pioneers Wire pulled an unforgettable power move: After a few years’ hiatus, the band reconvened and announced a comeback tour. However, they were only interested in their new electronic material and refused to perform any of their beloved early songs. So they booked a Wire tribute band, the Ex-Lion Tamers (which included Chicago music critic Jim DeRogatis), to open for them and play their iconic 1977 album Pink Flag in its entirety. Decades down the line, they’re not so reluctant to revisit their storied history. Wire’s second act (or is it third?) has been under way since 2003, when they regrouped with original drummer Robert Grey (aka Robert Gotobed) following a ten-year break. The new Mind Hive (Pink Flag) is their eighth album since then (and their 17th full-length altogether), and it showcases much of what still makes the band unlike any other. Even when the arrangements are full and rich (as on the Krautrock-ish “Hung” and the droney, dreamy “Unrepentant”), their songs retain a distinctive chill austerity. The dystopian stomp of “Be Like Them” and the understated horror story in “Off the Beach” demonstrate that they haven’t lost their dark edges either–there’s an uneasiness lurking in every corner and in all 35 minutes. And this will continue to be a good year for Wire fans: not only is there a new album and tour, but the band are also collaborating with writer Graham Duff and director Malcolm Boyle on a forthcoming crowdsourced documentary, People in a Film, that spans Wire’s entire career. Footage from the film–including the bandmates walking around a village, riding a tractor, and collaborating in the studio–can be seen in their video for “Cactused.” On this tour, Wire will also show off their DJ skills; a different member will spin an opening set each night. v

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