Posted inArts & Culture

Inside a Joke

Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious Neo-Futurists at the Neo-Futurarium, through December 9 By Jack Helbig The Neo-Futurists have a knack for finding the funny in even the most serious issue. That’s one reason their late-night hit Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind has been running continuously for almost 12 years. Early […]

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Tongue of a Bird

Tongue of a Bird, Gilead Productions, at the Theatre Building. Two playwrights are at war in Ellen McLaughlin. One is so attuned to theatricality that she writes dramatic tours de force. The other forgets that her work will be spoken out loud and produces pretty writing rather than dialogue. These two fight to a draw […]

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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden, Bog Theatre, at Prairie Lakes Community Center. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s evergreen children’s classic, the story of a young orphan finding happiness and friendship in a secret garden on her aloof uncle’s property, is enchanting. But this stage adaptation by Bog Theatre’s director in residence, Daniel Scott, is dutiful and dull. The familiar […]

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Hedda Gabler

HEDDA GABLER, Circle Theatre. In this production of Ibsen’s tragedy, which finds Lynn Ann Bernatowicz directing Jon Robin Baitz’s recent adaptation, the acts have been framed with musical exposition that spells out Hedda’s state of mind. Why the lack of trust? Ibsen gives ample clues to Hedda’s mad motives and fatal weakness. If the actress […]

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Jess Klein

JESS KLEIN With her third album, Draw Them Near (Slow River/Rykodisc), Boston singer-songwriter Jess Klein has evolved from coffeehouse fixture–she’s a member of the Voices on the Verge klatch, along with former Chicagoan Rose Polenzani–to gentle roots rocker, surrounding herself with a batch of crack Nashville musicians that includes guitarist Will Kimbrough, pop-savvy bassist Brad […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Sports Section

The kids can’t play–not yet, anyway. Yet to tailor another familiar Chicago sports slogan to the Bulls, if all the pieces aren’t yet in place–if, in fact, it sometimes looks as if not a single piece is in its proper place–at least they have a lot of pieces to choose from. Coach Tim Floyd used […]

Posted inNews & Politics

According to Webster

To the editors: I haven’t yet seen either production in the Motley Crew repertory performances of John Webster’s The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi (November 3). But your review gives readers a mistaken impression by calling The Duchess a “potboiler.” It’s one of the most widely admired tragedies of the period (including Shakespeare), […]

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The Written Face

This feature-length documentary (1995, 89 min.) by Swiss filmmaker Daniel Schmid pays tribute to Kabuki performer and female impersonator Tamasaburo Bando, including a great deal of performance footage. It bears the visible influence of Roland Barthes’ wonderful and utopian short book about Japan, The Empire of Signs, and benefits greatly from this happy input. Like […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

RUSSELL SIMINS 11/10, DOUBLE DOOR Jon Spencer Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins plays host to members of the Beastie Boys, Luscious Jackson, and Cibo Matto (who also collaborated with him in Butter 08) on his solo debut, Public Places (Grand Royal). But beneath the album’s star-studded crust is thoroughly middling, trying-too-hard funk-hip-hop-rock featuring occasional lyrical […]

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Third Spud From the Sun

Almost Famous Directed by Cameron Crowe By Richard Meltzer In the merry sequence of things, Cameron Crowe was the third of a conspicuous trio of teenage rock-crit wannabes, junior spuds from the gitgo, whose paths crossed mine in the early 1970s. The biggest cheesepuff of the bunch, if also initially the most ambitious, Jon Tiven […]

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An Ugly Tiff

Dear Mr. Pipensmokit, Thank you so much for coming to my fat daughter’s and my fourth annual Halloween scarefest, Tales From Mom’s Crypt IV: I Know What Tiff Ate Last Supper [Erik Piepenburg, November 3], now playing at Cornservatory at 4210 N. Lincoln, closing November 10. After reading your review–well actually someone had to read […]

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Peter Case

PETER CASE In 1989, singer-songwriter Peter Case titled his second solo disc The Man With the Blue Postmodern Fragmented Neo-Traditionalist Guitar–an apt, if unwieldy, characterization of the sound he’s pursued since disbanding the Plimsouls over 15 years ago. On this year’s Flying Saucer Blues (Vanguard) his rootsy picking draws from traditional blues, rockabilly, and acoustic […]