Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

I have heard for as long as I can remember (and even read in a book somewhere) that a major ingredient of Chanel No. 5 perfume is the sweaty excretions of the Abyssinian civet cat. I have even heard that they stretch these cats out on some type of medieval rack and whip them mercilessly […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Nicholas Payton

NICHOLAS PAYTON I suppose if anyone deserves to have his centennial celebrated for two years running, it’s Louis Armstrong, jazz’s first genius. (Though recent investigation proves Armstrong was actually born in 1901, the birthday he always claimed–Independence Day, 1900–has become a permanent part of his legend.) Amid the hoopla of the last year or so–even […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Friday 5/25 – Thursday 5/31 MAY By Cara Jepsen 25 FRIDAY Since the early 90s, hundreds of young women have disappeared in Juarez, Mexico. Most of the 200 bodies that have been found showed signs of rape and torture. Lourdes Portillo’s new documentary, Señorita Extraviada, examines what may have happened to the women–many of whom […]

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The Island

The Island, Congo Square Theatre Company, at the Chicago Cultural Center. This elegant 1973 Athol Fugard work, written through improvisation with famed actors Winston Ntshona and John Kani, is both a “township play” (an intimate, bare-bones evocation of South African life) and a “statement play” (given its date and relatively direct confrontation of apartheid). Two […]

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The Father

The Father, Writers’ Theatre Chicago. Though August Strindberg assumed his place in the theatrical pantheon long ago, history has smiled more favorably on his contemporaries. Strindberg may have lacked Chekhov’s ear for dialogue, Shaw’s talent for manipulating language, and Ibsen’s keen sense of drama, but he was every bit their equal when it came to […]

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Journey to the Sun

Every shot counts in this drama set initially in Istanbul, where, writer-director Yesim Ustaoglu has said, “all the problems of Turkey exist in microcosm.” A night of danger solidifies a friendship between two men from opposite ends of the country: Berzan, a street vendor, is from a Kurdish village near the Iraqi border, and Mehmet, […]

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Electronic Puppenhorten Festival

ELECTRONIC PUPPENHORTEN FESTIVAL Usually it’s terribly annoying to watch attention-starved musicians go apeshit arty onstage–in their desperate attempts to alienate the audience, they end up boring us instead. In the era of extreme fajitas, it takes more than zombie makeup or plastic boobs to make us scratch our heads. But all the bands on this […]

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Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia!, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Powder puffery spun into sickly sugar, this Abba retrospective regales us with 22 tunes (inexplicably excluding “Waterloo” and “Fernando”) by the Swedish songbirds, who peddled bubblegum from the early 70s into the 80s. The finale, a full-throated salute to disco madness, is thrilling but shows what’s wrong with […]