Posted inNews & Politics

39th and Indiana

Once, when it was cold and raining, I caught the train at 39th and Indiana. “What are you doing here?” asked a motherly woman–my mother’s age, but three times her size. Because no one ever talks to anyone else on the trains, let alone the platforms, I was surprised. “I’m going home,” I told her. […]

Posted inFilm

Class Encounters

BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED *** (A must-see) Directed by Matthew Robbins Written by Robbins, Brad Bird, Brent Maddock, and S.S. Wilson With Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and Michael Carmine. Batteries Not Included is either the most ingenuous or the most subversive film of the year, and I’m not sure there’s a way of figuring out which. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Big Time

Your lover’s leaving you, your job is in shambles, you’re kidnapped by fundamentalist Islamic terrorists–what’s an 80s guy to do? Keith Reddin’s sharp, swift play wryly targets the philosophical conflict between the religious zealots of the Middle East and the spiritually empty compulsive achievers of the West. In extending the play’s engagement, the Remains Theatre […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Caged

Probably the most ferociously effective and polemically potent women’s prison film ever made, John Cromwell’s 1950 melodrama charts the gradual hardening of an innocent 19-year-old (Eleanor Parker) in relation to the brutality of her surroundings. Parker and Hope Emerson (as a sadistic prison guard) both received Oscar nominations for their roles here; others in the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

When we are fortunate enough to discover someone willing to visit our excruciatingly drab apartment, a topic which invariably comes up is the nature and origin of our vintage red lava lamp. Just what is a lava lamp and how does it work? Is it the result of some ghastly industrial accident or did someone […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Anootation of Figaro

THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO Northlight Theatre The Northlight Marriage of Figaro’s a pleasure. A classic satire, cunningly realized. The actors are marvelous. The design elements are gorgeous. Richard Nelson’s adaptation oozes playful elegance. And Beaumarchais’ 18th-century tale of sex and intrigue is a subversive masterpiece: a clownish, savage, delightful demonstration of how very personal–how downright […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

Headlines we could have lived without, from Real Estate Guide (October 1987): “Glove Makers Take Future Into Their Own Hands.” “I remember one bitter winter in Chicago,” says Juan Molina-Crespo in the 1987 annual report of United Charities of Chicago–“I heard a radio commentator say that the cold affects everyone the same way. I couldn’t […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Montrose Harbor

The man was wearing a suit and driving an American car. Inside, there was a haze of cigarette smoke. He was leaning over the passenger’s side, his outstretched arm rolling down the window as he talked across the front seat. “Howya doin’?” he asked, nervous and a bit rough. He gave the words a kind […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Field & Street

Coal miners used to take canaries into the shafts to warn them of gas. The birds were much more sensitive to the lethal vapors than people, so the miners kept an eye on the bird while they worked, and if the canary fell off its perch, the miners skedaddled. This is one of the first […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Secrets of the Illuminati

To the editors: Last week [Cecil Adams] mentioned the Illuminati twice in [his] column [November 6]. In regard to [his] answer to the question about the Trilateral Commission, he stated that “an organization that everybody already knows about hardly qualifies as ‘secret.’” If you know anything at all about the workings of the Illuminati, you […]

Posted inNews & Politics

A Neat Place to Live

To the editors: I find it particularly interesting that Harold Henderson found it necessary to refer to the quarters of Vegetarian Times [December 11] as being above a “greasy spoon and a pet store.” He also placed the location as being in downtown Oak Park. First of all, the location is not downtown Oak Park. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Super Minutiae

To the editors: [Re: “Reading: Superman’s Make-over,” by Geoffrey Johnson, November 20.] I was so disappointed that the first Superman movie did not follow the comics that I never went to the sequels. Here’s my list of the most glaring inconsistencies: 1) The Phantom Zone projector did not look like Hula-Hoops in the comics; 2) […]