Posted inArts & Culture

Pretty/Ugly

AMANDA MILLER AND THE PRETTY UGLY DANCE COMPANY at the Dance Center of Columbia College, November 5 and 6 Amanda Miller’s dances are pretty/ugly. Her phrases are clear and fresh, her transitions neat, her allusions to ballet clever, and her dancers often give the choreography a pretty balletic finish. On the other hand, sometimes the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Story In July JoAnn Suggs was convicted in Raleigh, North Carolina, of hiring Bill Bateman to kill her estranged husband. Testifying in the case, Bateman said he pulled a gun on Suggs one night at Suggs’s condo, but then put it away and helped Suggs unload groceries from his car. Suggs offered Bateman a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Down the Road/Independence

DOWN THE ROAD Triumvirate Productions at Cafe Voltaire Down the Road, Lee Blessing’s 1988 play about a married couple hired by a serial killer to write his story, is a rather sinister tale that asks questions about the psychology of serial killers but then deliberately leaves them unanswered. Blessing, best known for his play A […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Yo La Tengo

One of Yo La Tengo’s most likable traits is their unapologetic fandom. The Hoboken, New Jersey-bosed trio plays music–from tender folktinged ballads to hooky indie-pop to droning noisefests–informed by an encyclopedic knowledge of rock and roll’s diversity. Their songs frequently have antecedents in the record collections of Ira Kaplan (the group’s guitar player), Georgia Hubley […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Peace in the Hood

Santaru Stephens is brushing sunshine yellow paint on a rough brick wall at Clybourn and Division. Shadows are forming across his mural on this crisp fall day, and he’s pulled the hood of his paint-speckled sweatshirt over his head to keep warm. He looks vulnerable standing alone on the narrow sidewalk with cars and trucks […]

Posted inFilm

Prisoners of History

FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE **** (Masterpiece) Directed by Chen Kaige Written by Lilian Lee and Lu Wei With Leslie Cheung, Zhang Fengyi, and Gong Li. For his fifth film, Farewell My Concubine, the director of Yellow Earth has made a big, raucous, bawdy, sometimes violent, occasionally funny epic that follows two Peking Opera stars through much […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Billy Boy Arnold

As a youth in the late 40s, harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold sat briefly at the feet of John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, then turned his ear toward the likes of Junior Wells and Little Walter. He seemed destined for blues stardom: his tone was supple and powerful, and he combined the lessons he’d learned […]

Posted inMusic

Groove uber alles

It doesn’t take a genius to notice all the echoes of the 70s in the 90s. Queen and Led Zeppelin have never been more popular, and Neil Young has scored his biggest successes in years by recording two albums that sound exactly like ones he recorded 20 years ago. New bands are also getting in […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ballet Chicago

It’s my guess few grown-ups have ever harbored a wish to see O. Henry’s brief, sentimental Christmas tale “The Gift of the Magi” dramatized. But dancing has a way of making simple things fresh and immediate again, and so it is with Gordon Peirce Schmidt’s version of this tale for Ballet Chicago. His choreography for […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Rubber Dolly

RUBBER DOLLY M.P.D. Productions at Chicago Dramatists Workshop “I always thought being a killer was the worst thing you could be.” Fern, a young mother who’s murdered her five-year-old son, utters these words in disbelief. She admits that she killed the boy, but she just can’t see herself as evil. And watching Don Hannah’s effective […]

Posted inFilm

A Home of Our Own

Director Tony Bill (My Bodyguard, Five Corners, Crazy People, Untamed Hearts) brings a lot of feeling and detail to this sort-of-true-life tale written by executive producer Patrick Duncan. It’s about a single mother (Kathy Bates) with no savings who leaves Los Angeles with her six kids for rural Idaho in 1962, and much of the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

What really happened at the OK Corral? I’ve consulted a couple history books, and they don’t even mention it, yet it’s the stuff of Wild West legend. My suspicion is that it was far tamer than the kind of thing that goes on in some parts of my own city, yet it’s been in a […]