Posted inArts & Culture

Deanna Varagona

DEANNA VARAGONA Sparse and smoky, dusky and pure–that’s the mantra of neotraditionalists and contemporary folksingers. But though that balance is easy to try for, it’s hard to achieve, and technically flawless but emotionally DOA records litter the pop landscape. What you hear in the spaces between the notes on Deanna Varagona’s solo debut, Tangled Messages […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Cecil Payne & Eric Alexander

CECIL PAYNE & ERIC ALEXANDER Veteran baritone saxist Cecil Payne and young tenor man Eric Alexander first paired up in 1993 to record a Delmark album called Cerupa, released under Payne’s name. That led to a 1994 gig at the old Bop Shop, then to two more Delmark discs–and though the 77-year-old Payne needs a […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Reader to Reader

I’d just left the Jewel with a trunk full of groceries that cost about half a week’s paycheck and switched on the radio in time to hear Judas Priest shrieking, “Breakin’ the law, breakin’ the lawww!” Singing along like Beavis and Butthead, I picked up speed and made the turn from School to Marshfield, only […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

Welcome to the first installment of “How Sleaze Is Lived in America,” a four-part series inspired by my old college roommate, Ann Landers. For the last year or so Ann’s been running cute how-we-met stories sent in by her readers. Most of these stories, like most of Ann’s readers, have been grimly wholesome. But not […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Farewell, My Cucumber

FAREWELL, MY CUCUMBER, at TinFish Theatre. The kitchen-sink approach is the solo performer’s worst enemy. It’s certainly the biggest strike against Robert Buscemi, a likable goofball who’s distilled 30 years of clowning around into this one-man show. Buscemi, who tested much of this material at the Factory Theater’s “Shut Up and Laugh!” festival, hasn’t sufficiently […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Polling Place

POLLING PLACE, Smock Alley Theater, at Center Theater. Sparsely populated, decidedly lethargic polling places in this era hardly seem prime locations for dramatic events. It’s to first-time playwright and former Cook County assistant state’s attorney Frank Mahon’s credit that he’s able to deliver a modicum of intrigue in this story of election-day shenanigans during an […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Sports Section

In the first weeks after the all-star break, the White Sox played .500 baseball, which according to the major prognosticators was all they had to play to keep the Cleveland Indians at bay, thanks to the huge lead the Sox built up during the first half of the season. But despite winning as much as […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Dreamer Examines His Pillow

THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW, Circle Theatre. John Patrick Shanley’s giddy comedy of unsure lovers and their equally clueless parents lends itself to such a wide variety of interpretations that every production seems to spring from a different script–a quality that probably accounts for its popularity among young theater artists. Circle Theatre’s production opens with […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Rituals of Polite Seduction

It’s such a pleasure to come across feminist artists with a sense of humor–and a gift for iconoclastic thinking. Holly Quinn and Julia Rhoads, both dancers with Xsight! Performance Group, have been collaborating since 1995 on quirky pieces like the 1998 Royal Flush, in which they dress up like the heroines in the Disney cartoon […]