Posted inArts & Culture

Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard has slipped into his 60s with such rare grace that he can be forgiven for letting a little nostalgia seep into his work over the last five years or so. The ballad-heavy If I Could Only Fly (Anti, 2000)–sort of his September of My Years–revisits the elegantly unadorned, largely acoustic approach that made […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Pinter Plays

The Pinter Plays, Clock Productions, at National Pastime Theater. In Harold Pinter’s The Collection two dress designers–a heterosexual woman and a homosexual man–play a prank on their mates, giving them conflicting stories of an out-of-town quickie together. Straight Jimmy is intrigued, but gay Harry is skeptical. “Don’t you know your wife?” he asks the befuddled […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Cyber Serenade

Cyber Serenade, Stage Left Theatre. As the last cell-phone-less person on earth, I sympathize with the basic observation behind Mia McCullough’s entertaining comedy: that marvels like cell phones and E-mail distort our closest relationships even as they pretend to enhance them. Sympathize so much, in fact, that I wish she’d taken it further. McCullough lets […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

My boyfriend doesn’t like snowballing, which I’m fine with, however he won’t even kiss me after oral sex, even if I’ve already swallowed. I feel like he sees me as dirty or nasty when he refuses to kiss me after oral sex. He says he wouldn’t ask me to do something I don’t want to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Richard Thompson

Each of the five studio albums British folk-rock great Richard Thompson put out on Capitol between 1988 and 1999 was what you might call a quality effort, a collection of smart, catchy songs punctuated by Thompson’s unpredictably wrenching guitar solos. But he seemed to be settling into a routine, and his music rarely burned with […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Dam Animals

The dry spell we’re experiencing this spring may have an upside: it will limit run-ins between man and beaver. The spring rains that cause rising rivers usually signal the beginning of beaver-busting season. April and May are traditionally when towns and park districts along Illinois rivers rip out beaver dams built during the winter. If […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Sports Section

The home opener was snowed out, but the Cubs got off to a hot start. They were 7-5 when I saw them play their first home night game two Mondays ago, and though they lost that game badly they followed it with five straight wins, all of them impressive, to seize first place in the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Grazyna Auguscik

Over the last five years, Polish-born vocalist Grazyna Auguscik has proved herself among the most venturesome and versatile of Chicago-based musicians. She’s explored new crannies of old standards (Pastels) and classic bossa nova (Fragile), but lately she’s been investigating her Polish heritage: on the 2001 stunner River (all albums on her own GMA label), Auguscik […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Louis Sachar’s darkly funny children’s book Holes, which nabbed both a Newbery Medal and a National Book Award, comes to the screen in a textured Disney adaptation that realizes the book’s complex characters without compromising its goofy fairy-tale elements. A misfit kid (Shia LaBeouf) is railroaded into an 18-month sentence at a west Texas juvenile […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

ELLIOTT 4/25, FIRESIDE BOWL For its third album, Song in the Air (Revelation), the Kentucky quartet Elliott scrubbed away the last trace of its punk past, then invited Christian Frederickson of the Rachel’s to drape a lofty string arrangement atop its overwrought homage to a quarter-life crisis. At least back in the 70s they could […]

Posted inNews & Politics

You Be the Judge

About a year ago, Stage Two Theatre Company cast a wide net for new one-acts. The company planned to make preliminary evaluations of the plays, then invite its audience to vote, along the lines of a poetry slam, for the best in a festival of the half dozen that would get staged readings. The response […]