Posted inArts & Culture

Junior Brown

The term “new country” is, I’ll admit, used pretty sloppily: It now describes everyone from metaphysical cowboys like Jimmie Dale Gilmore to antique warblers like Iris DeMent to rockers like Steve Earle. But think of it another way–as country music that isn’t embarrassing–and it all fits into place. Latest submission is Junior Brown. This guy’s […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

What’s the name of that black stuff athletes smear on their faces to deflect the sun? Does it work? –Rita J., Kansas City, Missouri It’s called “eye black.” It’s supposed to reduce glare and has the added advantage of making you look pretty fierce or pretty weird, depending on the cast of mind of the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Eastern Standard

EASTERN STANDARD Fade to Black Productions at Cafe Voltaire What truly irks me about advertisements that quote reviews is that they’re cheap. You can never get to the heart of a play in just one word or sentence. You can’t even do it in one review. Especially if it’s a play as rich and complicated […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The City File

Nice work if you can get it. “Madonna is a hot item, extremely popular among cutting-edge academics right now,” says U. of I. comparative-literature graduate student Hartmut Heep, who presented a paper, “Madonna: The Politics of Sex,” to the April meeting of the American Popular Culture Conference. Heep’s Rhetoric 105 undergraduates at first “read Madonna […]

Posted inFilm

The Self-Aware Action Hero

LAST ACTION HERO ** (Worth seeing) Directed by John McTiernan Written by Shane Black, David Arnott, Zak Penn, and Adam Leff With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O’Brien, Charles Dance, Anthony Quinn, Tom Noonan, Mercedes Ruehl, F. Murray Abraham, and Robert Prosky. The word is out: Last Action Hero is an unmitigated disaster. The sound of studio […]

Posted inArts & Culture


COBB Raven Theatre Some playwrights are actors’ playwrights, creating juicy roles for lusty thespians to devour. Others are directors’ playwrights who load their plays up with wonderful opportunities for imaginative staging and interpretation. Lee Blessing, in his plays A Walk in the Woods, Eleemosynary, and Cobb, reveals himself to be a low-budget-producer’s playwright, crafting small, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Dances With Chance

ANIMALS Ann Carlson at Remains Theatre, through June 26 Ann Carlson’s Animals is an ardent, mysterious collection of five performance pieces addressing animals in themselves, their relationships to one another, and their relationships to humans. Carlson’s always controlled performances yet contain an energy that’s at once robust, ironic, and wise. Her work is also at […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Nappy Brown

They don’t make blues vocalists like Nappy Brown (“Night Time Is the Right Time”) anymore. He performs with the elegant panache of a classic big-band R & B shouter: dressed to the nines, flashing a sparkling smile, he manages to retain an air of sophistication even while mugging and clowning to his outre lyrics and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

After 21 years as the artistic head of the Ravinia Festival, James Levine is calling it quits. The official reason is his additional duties at the Bayreuth Festival, but I suspect that both he and the Ravinia crowd are tired of each other’s company. For the workaholic Levine, it seems, Bayreuth and Salzburg offer more […]