Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

I saw a bottle at the pharmacist’s today that said “Shark Cartilage” on it. My curiosity was piqued, so I asked if it really was shark cartilage. My pharmacist said it most certainly was and that a lot of people take it for its alleged immunity benefits. She told me that sharks don’t get cancer, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Mission of Burma

When Mission of Burma played their first reunion show in Chicago, in November 2002, I had to be cajoled into going. I’m always skeptical of reunions–especially when the band in question meant something to me in the first place. The group, active between 1979 and 1983, mixed aggressive, angular guitar rock with avant-garde tapefoolery, paving […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chris’ Slumber Party National Convention

Two shows get squeezed into one lumpy mess in this Chemically Imbalanced Comedy late-night offering. Creator Chris Churchill describes it in press materials as “a kid’s show for…angry grown-ups.” This translates into occasional attempts at clumsy quasi-political commentary delivered by four pajama-clad adults, who also spout irritating non sequiturs and insult one another–their relationships feel […]

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Our Country’s Good

In her 1988 play about convicts sent to an Australian penal colony in the late 18th century, Timberlake Wertenbaker speaks passionately about justice, the civilizing role of theater, and the role of government in shaping society. This Piven Theatre ensemble, however, is anything but passionate in Jennifer Green’s staging: the cast hams it up throughout […]

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Reaching the end of this exquisite Writers’ Theatre production, all I wanted was to watch it again, backward. I longed to see its bitter climax give way to the sweet beginning I’d enjoyed so much, even though I knew the sweetness was false: a little sugar to palliate the bad bets made, bad breaks got, […]

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Howie the Rookie

Contemporary Irish drama checklist: Nearly indecipherable blue-collar brogues? Check. Crude euphemisms for sex with ugly girls? Check. Whiskey? Check. Stories detailing grotesque violence? Check. Mark O’Rowe’s two back-to-back monologues have all the most corrosive elements of recent Irish plays, but in Mike Tutaj’s staging they also offer humor and poetry. Pickled blackguards Howie and Rookie […]

Posted inArts & Culture


The warmly charismatic David Pompeii has a wit that can cut political fallacies and dopey politicians into shreds. An excellent stand-up comedian, he makes you laugh–and think. Unfortunately there’s little stand-up material in this 45-minute show. Instead Pompeii’s “one-man cabaret” is an unsuccessful melange of quirky videos from the Internet, a DJ mix of dance […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chicago Book Festival

The city’s annual literary festival continues through October 30, with readings and book signings by local and national writers, poets, and scholars as well as discussions, lectures, workshops, and children’s activities at bookstores, public libraries, and other venues. All events are free unless otherwise noted. For more information call 312-747-4300, see, or contact the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Lost Sounds

The Lost Sounds provide proof, in case anybody still needs more, that interbreeding is the way of the future. Formed in Memphis in March ’99 as a trio–with Jay Reatard and Rich Crook, formerly of ultraprimitive garage howlers the Reatards, and Alicja Trout, who’d collected a pile of analog synths during her stint in the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Incident at Loch Ness

In this sly mockumentary, Zak Penn persuades German filmmaker Werner Herzog to direct a documentary on the Loch Ness monster. Herzog explains that he’s less interested in the monster than in the human need to believe, but Penn, acting as his producer, is more consumed by the human need to sell tickets, and behind Herzog’s […]