Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

They’re everywhere–Fedco, Costco, Price Club, and all sorts of other “club” stores that charge a membership fee and claim low prices. The other day I tried to join one of them, but there were a host of restrictive qualifications for membership: you had to work for the state, or be a federal employee, or be […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Sports Section

By Ted Cox When the New York Knicks showed up in Chicago for the National Basketball Association Eastern Conference semifinals, they had the bearing of a team that had long ago come to peace with the idea of losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. The question was, did that make them an easy foe […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Damon, Ring and F. Scott

DAMON, RING AND F. SCOTT, Writers’ Theatre–Chicago. Continuing the crusade he began with a respectable but somewhat flat one-man show about Ben Hecht, writer-director J.R. Sullivan here honors three more literary lights whose reputations have faded somewhat over the years. But instead of paying tribute to Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald with […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Napoleonade

The Napoleonade, Eclipse Theatre Company. In this ribald spoof, the 18th-century concept of the “feast of reason” turns into a feeding frenzy of false glory. Written in 1994 by Trevor Anthony and Thomas McCarthy, then grad students at the Yale School of Drama, this irreverent 65-minute “burlesque of conquest” compresses Napoleon’s career from 1798 to […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

JOOST VISSER 5/17, EMPTY BOTTLE This Dutch oddball once fronted De Artsen, the swell band that later became Bettie Serveert, but based on his superbly bent solo debut, Partners in Hair (Ajax), Joost Visser would probably be stifled by a regular band. Aided on some songs by members of Holland’s like-minded Furtips, Visser explores his […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Demons in the Rough

Factory Theater By Adam Langer Not long ago the Factory Theater raised eyebrows with Second City Didn’t Want Us, a reportedly mean-spirited send-up of that most sacred of Chicago improv institutions. Partly because the show smacked of sour grapes and partly because I thought I might laugh too hard and blow my cover as an […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Emotional Hemophiliac

A Village Voice reporter last fall quoted me as saying that Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls “talks a great show….But it’s backfired on him because he can fail to deliver.” What he left out was the context of my criticism: Like any artist Falls can fail, but when he does deliver, his productions are […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Mark Eitzel

MARK EITZEL To those who followed San Francisco’s late American Music Club, the stylistic turn taken by front man Mark Eitzel on his recent 60 Watt Silver Lining (Warner Brothers) should come as little surprise. While AMC crafted a slick guitar pop with stylistic variations–a bit of country here, some murky textural swirls there–Eitzel’s singing […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Sonny Fortune Quartet

SONNY FORTUNE QUARTET If they gave Oscars in jazz, saxist Sonny Fortune would have a lock on that “best supporting actor” category. It’s no accident that McCoy Tyner, when he established the working quartet that solidified his career in the early 70s, chose Fortune to front the band; or that, a few years later, the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Endgame

It takes a touch of genius to sum up Beckett, the gloomiest of modern playwrights, in a laugh. But Jonathan Harris as the preternaturally servile Clov does just that in the first minute of Splinter Group’s heartbreakingly funny Endgame. His laughter, after peering out the window at the desolated earth where he sees “zero, zero, […]