Red Alert

RedBall Project
Photo by Kurt Perschke

Squashing a gigantic inflatable ball into tight spaces sounds a little like one of those Olympic events that didn’t score much NBC airtime (half-lightweight judo gets no respect). But artist Kurt Perschke’s RedBall Project—a public art installation in which a 15-foot vinyl ball makes its way across the city, stopping at landmarks (The Field Museum, Union Station) and overlooked nooks (perched atop bridges, crammed into alleys) alike—is more about fueling the public imagination than fanning the competitive flame. That’s not to say there’s no international rivalry: The ball has already rolled through Barcelona; Sydney; and Busan, South Korea. Catch the ball on stop number one of its Chicago tour, Monday, September 1st from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Millennium Park (Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street), or check out its full local itinerary at Viewing and touching is free and encouraged—which is more than we can say for Bob Costas’s hair.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

And another option for those in Olympic withdrawal: The North American Cycle Courier Championship (AKA the Super Bowl of bike-messengering) and the North American Bike Polo Championship (yes, bike polo) come to Garfield Park (100 N. Central Park Ave.) this weekend, Friday, August 29th through Monday, September 1st. Registration is still open—$35 for the closed-course courier race; $30 per person or $90 per team for polo—but watching is free. More info and schedule: and

Surrealist comic Emo Philips, who played Zanies’ first show in November 1978, returns for the comedy hub’s 30th anniversary with shows 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, August 29th; and 7, 9, and 11:15 p.m. Saturday, August 30th (1548 N. Wells St.; 312-337-4027). Tickets are $25. The occasion marks 30 years in the biz for Philips as well; read more about the Prince Valiant–coiffed funnyman in Chicago’s September issue, on stands now.

Peter Sagal, Carl Kasell, and the rest of NPR’s gut-busting quiz show Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! put on a free show 6:30 p.m. Thursday, September 4th as part of Blockbuster Week in Millennium Park (Pritzker Pavilion, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; 312-742-1168). Keep an ear on the news and impress your date when you deliver the answers before the night’s all-star panel: Paula Poundstone, Mo Rocca, and Tom Bodett. Full Blockbuster Week lineup:

It’s a blockbuster week for music as well. Local son Andrew Bird plays his own free show in Millennium Park 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 3rd—the same night Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche plays the Chicago premiere of his commission for the Kronos Quartet, Anomaly, at Ravinia (8 p.m.; $10-$40; Lake Cook and Green Bay Roads, Highland Park; And don’t miss the iconic jazz maverick Ornette Coleman, who tops a free bill 8:30 p.m. Sunday, August 31st at the Chicago Jazz Festival (Petrillo Music Shell, Grant Park, Jackson Boulevard and Columbus Drive;

Romantic comedies have been tanking on screen lately (Fool’s Gold, anyone?), but Chicago theatre is aiming to pick up the slack. It’s no small task, and it’ll be something of a trial by fire for Chicago native Daniel Janoff. Heroes and Villains, about a man who thinks he’s a superhero and a woman who isn’t convinced, is the first fully staged full-length play from this former America’s Most Wanted ghostwriter and was two years in development with Collaboraction. See whether the investment paid off: Previews run through Sunday, August 31st; the play opens Tuesday, September 2nd and runs through the 21st at Theatre Building Chicago (1225 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-327-5252). Tickets are $18 to $25.