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City File

Former video-game addicts do “amazingly well” at learning airplane instruments, reports the University of Illinois, and they will probably be better airline pilots because of their superior hand-eye coordination. Why teenagers should nag their parents not to smoke. “Boys from smoking families had significantly thicker heart walls and stiffer aortas” and less “good” cholesterol in […]

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Beware the Angry Young Playwright

To the editors: Re: John Bliss’s letter (January 15) concerning the cover story “Look What They’ve Done to My Play” (December 18): What a sight! It’s not every day you get to read an angry young “playwright,” spewing streams of bile at the contemptible masses who just don’t understand the theater. You think they only […]

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Chicago String Ensemble

While some other musical organizations in town are retrenching, the Chicago String Ensemble, under the direction of Alan Heatherington, keeps coming up with bountiful samplers of string music at its most edifying and refreshing. This all-American fare includes not only old favorites but also brand-new pieces: Leon Stein’s Oboe Concerto and Oscar Haugland’s Interlude, both […]

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Glib Smear

To the editors: Despite my fervent belief in democracy, as a concept, C.C. Pyle’s glib smear [“Our Bodies, Their Selves,” January 15] made me crave a return to the elitist position of intuitive study held prior to the rediscovery of the human-growth field that followed Shirley MacLaine’s success in popularizing her life search. How stupid […]

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Tot Control: Week 12

To the editors: It has been quite interesting to follow the response over the past two months to the article entitled “Tot Control” (November 13). As a parent whose situation was discussed there, I admit these letters have provoked much reflection. Unfortunately, the majority of those folks who felt the need to respond to this […]

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM Pegasus Players at the Edgewater Theatre Center August Wilson plans to chronicle the black experience in 20th-century America by writing a play set in each decade. Sounds fine, but there’s a hitch: the black experience has been haunted by slavery and racism. Wilson can’t ignore that. But that confronts him with […]

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Subduing the Yeast Within

To the editors: I’d like to thank you for your fine article on Environmental Illness and candida [“The Yeast of Our Problems,” January 22]. Let me note a few things that were not mentioned in the piece. For many of us with this form of severe, chronic illness, there is not an obvious distinction among […]

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The Sports Section

Boxing combines the best elements of sport–its competition, its physical nature, and its pop-culture relevance–in a potion that even the most devoted of sports fans sometimes find too heady. Its appeal is at once easy to explain and as elusive as the silence before the ring of a bell. Great heavyweights, meanwhile, not only reign […]

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Conventional Wisdom

To the editors: In Ben Joravsky’s story about the Board of Tax Appeals in your December 25 issue [Neighborhood News], it is stated, “The conventional wisdom was that it [a seat] should go to a Jew, because Semrow was Jewish.” Harry Semrow was of German and Polish extraction and definitely not Jewish. Irwin B. Rosen […]

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Thrill Seekers

PASSION PLAY Goodman Theatre English playwright Peter Nichols, better known for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, wrote Passion Play. It’s the story of a middle-class, middle-aged couple whose marriage unravels when the husband’s middle-life crisis leads him into adultery. The Goodman’s choice of this drama seems to reflect their estimation of, and […]

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Phil Alvin

The possibilities of Phil Alvin as a solo act have turned out to be greater than one might have suspected back when he was the tortured, mannered lead voice of the Blasters. Since parting company with that band and with his guitarist/songwriter brother Dave, Phil has undertaken one of the decade’s more fascinating explorations of […]

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Stage Business: a young director mixes it up at the Goodman

“In contemporary theater we’re seeing a wonderful mix of disciplines,” explains David Petrarca, the remarkable young director currently in residence at the Goodman Theatre. “Interdisciplinary work, while it has always existed, has been historically relegated to the avant-garde. Now a theater audience comes to expect a dance-theater-music performance. All of that cross-fertilization of the arts […]