• If you're interested in the arts and entertainment, I hope you're following our stories and the events in our Suburban Chicago's Got Talent competition. When I first became familiar with the "American Idol" television phenomenon several years ago, my son was involved in the show choir at Prospect High School, so I had the opportunity -- indeed, the pleasure -- to see a lot of young men and women perform in various competitions around the region. I was repeatedly impressed with what rich talents exist at the local level. At event after event, I would find a performance -- sometimes by a Prospect student, sometimes by a student from another school, but invariably several times at every competition -- that personally moved or inspired me, easily as much as the excellent performances millions of people were voting on each week on television. And it was not that I was making allowances for the performers being students. They were simply that talented. The experience led me to think often that we are all missing something important when we pay high prices for concert or show tickets or focus our attention on television entertainers. We can be equally impressed and delighted by performers right under our noses. Our Suburban Chicago's Got Talent competition takes this theme even a notch higher. The Top 20 acts performed last Sunday ranged from dance groups to country music artists and opera singers. The competitors will be winnowed to 15 for the next performance on Sunday, July 13, at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg. For a taste of what you'll see, and to take part in the judging, check out videos of the performances at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent/.
• Programs like the Suburban Chicago's Got Talent, it's worth noting, are an opportunity for the newspaper to participate directly in the activities of our community. We also produce an inspirational Fittest Loser program annually, a popular Cook of the Week Challenge, a Prep Sports Excellence banquet and many other reader-oriented events, including, as with our forum last year on teacher pensions and a forum for Republican governor candidates last January, opportunities to engage in political topics. Of course, reporting the news is our primary function, and we hope our news stories have a material impact in our communities, but we also think it's important to go beyond reporting when we can and find ways to get people directly involved in the richness of suburban life.
• The World Cup isn't exactly a suburban event, but -- perhaps advancing the theme of my first item -- it's always fascinating to note how often there's a direct local connection to global events. Eric Peterson's story on Sunday told how an earnest young Palatine soccer player, Michael Bradley, turned pure determination into a world-class career and a spot at the center of the world stage. If you're not in the mood for checking out top-quality arts entertainment at your local high school, college or community venue, maybe athletics is your thing -- and, here too, you can find examples of the best right in your own neighborhood.
• Jim Slusher, firstname.lastname@example.org, is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.