Posted inArts & Culture

Bodily Functions–the Musical; The Grand Scheme

BODILY FUNCTIONS–THE MUSICAL, Corn Productions, and THE GRAND SCHEME, at the Cornservatory. Robert Bouwman and Todd Schaner’s new musical is like a Farrelly brothers movie–but not quite as funny. The good-hearted story is punctuated by gross-out humor and underscored by a trite message: individuality is good, conformity is bad. The oddball Bodily family–who spend their […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Johanna Billing

At first I disliked Johanna Billing’s music video You Don’t Love Me Yet, which shows a group of Swedish amateurs performing a sappy version of Roky Erickson’s 80s song. Following music-video convention, she intercuts group shots with solo views and intersperses high and low angles. But she also edits with real subtlety, avoiding predictability by […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

You had to know letters would pour in from women pissed off at your blatantly fat-phobic, sexist response to Butter With Your Rolls, the man who thought “girl love handles” created by low-rise jeans were “revolting.” You agreed with him “100 percent” and said that women “should get the obesity epidemic under control” if we […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Pajama Game

THE PAJAMA GAME, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. This irresistible 1954 Broadway classic harks back to a time when you could pin a plot on a threatened strike, here by workers at a pajama factory in Cedar Rapids. (Solidarity, alas, isn’t forever.) Complete with plenty of novelty numbers (including the Bob Fosse signature items “Hernando’s Hideaway” […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Seldoms

I want to go live in Preston Bradley Hall. Once the reading room of the former Chicago Public Library, now the Chicago Cultural Center, it’s topped by a Tiffany dome (one of the largest in the world) and decorated with sumptuous mosaics; grand arches lead to its distant reaches. Here, one imagines, people could read […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Born Heller

When I first heard Josephine Foster sing, with local duo the Children’s Hour a year and a half ago, I couldn’t believe she hadn’t already been adopted by the burgeoning “new weird America” scene: plenty of so-called acid-folk singers sound like rock vocalists trying to backtrack into a purer, more idiosyncratic style, but Foster has […]

Posted inFilm

Let’s Go With Pancho Villa!

Despite its commercial failure, this 1935 feature, the last installment of Fernando de Fuentes’s trilogy on the Mexican revolution, remained his favorite film. The country’s first big-budget epic, it was funded by a state company sponsoring images of Mexico’s progressive populism, but de Fuentes had witnessed both the revolution and its aftermath, and at midlife […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Hot Club of Cowtown

Since 1996 this Austin trio has been staking out a middle ground between Django Reinhardt’s Gypsy jazz and Bob Wills’s western swing. They usually emphasize the latter, in part because guitarist Whit Smith is no Reinhardt–though he effectively evokes the master’s characteristic dusky mood, he can’t hope to match him rhythmically. But the more important […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ron Sexsmith

On 2002’s Cobblestone Runway, Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith was so euphoric about his new love that his usually lacerating wit seemed about as dangerous as a butter knife. He’s still counting his blessings on the new Retriever (Nettwerk), spelling out the many ways his partner brings out the best in him, but on tunes like […]

Posted inArts & Culture


CREEPS, Boxer Rebellion Theater. In David E. Freeman’s drama, disgruntled workers hide out in a men’s room, depising themselves for staying in a job they loathe, venting their frustrations by bickering. Their animosity is focused on a former coworker promoted to management and on the managers themselves. The very familiarity of the story is a […]