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OFFBEAT: Happy Anniversary Day and Oprah basket contest update

OFFBEAT: Happy Anniversary Day and Oprah basket contest update

Happy 10 year anniversary!

It was a decade ago on this day when this daily entertainment feature launched.

One of the most popular features associated with this daily column is our Today's Celebrity Birthdays list of notables adding a year.

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OFFBEAT: 'Experimental theater' abstract offering, 'Bully' book event Sunday

OFFBEAT: 'Experimental theater' abstract offering, 'Bully' book event Sunday

When something is new, it is exciting. Some of the excitement comes from the challenge of uncharted territory.

Silk Road Rising theater group in Chicago has a new production that immerses audiences in the creation of a play, while loading the content with symbolism and serving up characters caught in the moment by moment world of media.

This is Christopher Chen's new work "The Hundred Flowers Project."

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Retro Round 2 of 2014 Brookfield Zoo costume contest

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Retro Round 2 of 2014 Brookfield Zoo costume contest

The second, and final, weekend for Brookfield Zoo's 2014 Halloween costume parade and contest yield plenty of great "blasts from the past" for interesting themes

I served as one of the judges both days this weekend for what Brookfield Zoo calls Boo! at the Zoo.

Prizes this year were scooters courtesy of Radio Flyer for first place and Halloween-themed pinatas from Dulcelandia, both among the corporate sponsors for this year's fun. This year, Microsoft donated a prize pack for first place Best Group, including gift bags and an Oak Brook Microsoft Store Youth Experience Package.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Hammond grad's great talent is for 'The Birds'

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Hammond grad's great talent is for 'The Birds'

I can't imagine it, but November 2007 was the last time I caught Hell in a Handbag Productions' very funny parody staging of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."

Hammond High School grad David Cerda has been friends with actress Tippi Hedren ever since she caught his stage spoof of her famed 1963 high-flying Hitchcock flick when first launched in 2003.

This year, Cerda, a clever theater genius (of sorts) has remounted the stage show with some fun inventive twists, and it's now playing through this weekend, Nov. 1 in Chicago.

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Your chance to win $700 Oprah-inspired gift basket of goodies

Your chance to win $700 Oprah-inspired gift basket of goodies

When Oprah Winfrey had her weekend home in Northwest Indiana, she loved to open the gate of her driveway to allow trick-or-treaters up to her front door to give out sweet treat surprises. Here's a chance for Times readers to win a basket filled with $700 of Oprah-inspired "favorite things," including plenty of restaurant and theater tickets. Included inside:

• A canister of Serendipity 3's "Frozen Hot Chocolate Mix," which ranked as one of Oprah's "Favorite Things" in 2006.

• A branded mug from "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that includes Oprah's signature on the back.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Local author ready for scary fun with new horror novel

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Local author ready for scary fun with new horror novel

Local author Chad Hunter, of East Chicago, has had a busy "before Halloween" weekend.

On Saturday, he was at Tenth Planet Comics in Schererville signing his just released 212-page paperback horror novel, "The Monster Man - King of Fools," (2014 CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform $22.99). It features a celebrity book foreword written by Chicago's creepy claim-to-fame Son of Svengoolie, aka TV personality Rich Koz.

And from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 15, Hunter will among the 25 authors signing, selling and reading at the second annual Local Authors Fair at the main Lake County Library branch on U.S. 30 in Merrillville. FYI: (219) 769-3541

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An Offbeat anniversary: Times daily entertainment column celebrating 10 years of star treatment for readers

An Offbeat anniversary: Times daily entertainment column celebrating 10 years of star treatment for readers

"If you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come." — Oprah Winfrey

Oprah's quote about careers best conveys the passion and pride I have for the privilege to connect with Times readers every day via my column. Whether it's bolded celebrity news, movie screenings or pop culture, contest giveaways, theater reviews or answering readers' TV show questions, each day's column provides a chance for reader interaction.

When the daily Offbeat entertainment column first launched Oct. 30, 2004, it was part of our newspaper's latest new look and redesign.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Hottest show ticket here in Merrillville this weekend

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Hottest show ticket here in Merrillville this weekend

Cirque Italia features America's FIRST touring water stage and Northwest Indiana audiences are getting a first look this weekend.

This exciting tour will be in Merrillville this weekend, and then in Joliet for the Halloween weekend.

Starting last night with a Friday performance, and continuing today and Sunday, the tour's entertainment landmark swirl-striped tent is set up in the parking lot of Southlake Mall, just outside the JC Penney department store.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Little People upset with use of term in Sunday story

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Little People upset with use of term in Sunday story

Sunday Times readers likely saw the front page news feature cover story I wrote about Jeff Williams, who stands at 4 feet 4 inches. Earlier this week I received the following letter from Michael Spears, one of the organization leaders for Little People of America.

"Hi Philip: My name is Michael Spears and I am the District 5 Director of Little People of America. I just read the article that you wrote about Jeff Williams and wanted to reach out and discuss some of the concerns that I have from the piece. I applaud Jeff's success with his career and his life. But I am concerned about the usage of the word 'midget' throughout the piece. While Jeff may refer to himself by this, the correct terminology is 'dwarf' or 'little person.' As stated in the 'Associated Press Style Guide,' dwarf is 'the preferred term for people with a medical or genetic condition resulting in short stature. Plural is dwarfs. Midget is considered offensive when used to describe a person of short stature. Dwarf is the preferred term for people with that medical or genetic condition.' Philip, that word is very hurtful in our community and considered in the same context as an epithet to describe a person of race, national origin, skin color and disability. October is Dwarfism Awareness Month, and one of the many things that we continue to educate society is that 'the M-Word' is not acceptable. The State of Indiana recently declared October, Dwarfism Awareness Month in 2012, and one of the points that Gov. Mitch Daniels issued in the proclamation was that the word is offensive and antiquated to individuals with Dwarfism. Each October, chapters and districts from have across the country reach out to the state legislatures to have their states proclaim October, Dwarfism Awareness Month, and as of now, we have many states including Ohio, New York, and California that have issued the proclamation. Again, I applaud his successes, but I like to invite you to check out lpaonline.org, which has valuable resources and key points that educates not only new members, families, but society as well. I would be happy to discuss this more with you if you would like, as I am getting ready to help our District host the District 5 Regional Conference in Cleveland this weekend. I hope you have a great day. Take Care, Michael Spears, District 5 Director for Little People of America."

Thank you, Michael, for reading my story and taking the time to write to me. While (as you mentioned as well), I can't journalistically change Jeff's words (or thoughts) nor ethically change his quotes, I'll be happy to run your letter here below as a way to further educate others and raise awareness about this reference. And this month is a perfect time to do it, since as you've also mentioned, it's a special month. As you read through the story, you'll also note that my writer's voice never used the term "midget," with the exception of giving the word's dictionary origin. I used the term "little people" for any of my references.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: BoHo's stage 'Parade' riveting real story of jailed man

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: BoHo's stage 'Parade' riveting real story of jailed man

At the turn of the last century, in 1913, the name Leo Frank made sensational newspaper headlines for the murder of a young girl in the heart of the South.

A Brooklyn-raised Jewish businessman living with his wife in Georgia, Frank was put on trial for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker under his management. A sensationalist newspaper publisher and one of the factory janitors' false testimony made Frank's legal fate even more uncertain, with his only defenders being a governor hoping to not make further headlines, and Lucille, Frank's wife, and her persistence to prove her husband's innocence.

This is a true story and it is the basis for the new sensational production of the musical "Parade," the final offering for Chicago's BoHo Theatre as it closes out a milestone 10th anniversary season.

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