Posted inArts & Culture


An instant classic, Alexander Payne’s 1999 high school comedy seems even more scathing now that we’re losing control of our own election machinery. Reese Witherspoon was born to play Tracy Flick, a frighteningly perky overachiever whose obsessive campaign to become student council president touches a nerve in her devoted civics teacher (Matthew Broderick). Angered by […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Playwrights Anthony Ruivivar (an actor on NBC’s Third Watch) and Tony Glazer (a writer on the same show) offer an intriguing premise in their 2003 off-Broadway play. Three bank employees and two customers are locked in a room-size safe after a robbery–along with a huge stash of money. Was there really a robbery? Is one […]

Posted inNews & Politics


[snip] And the winner is . . . Iran! So says University of Michigan historian Juan Cole in Salon: “The Shiites of Iraq increasingly realize they need Iranian backing to defeat the Sunni guerrillas and put the Iraqi economy right, a task the Americans have proved unable to accomplish. And Iran will still be Iraq’s […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Fatty Four-Eyes

Six really big guys with glasses perform this long-form improv show, giving it a good-hearted goofiness. The ensemble, directed by Liz Allen, plays with male stereotypes of all sorts, straight and gay. The night I attended, the comedy was about the tension between men: if you like a guy, do you hug him or throw […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Brute Materiality

An art project begun in outrage in 1972 led Buzz Spector to discover what he really wanted to do. In his last undergraduate semester at Southern Illinois University, he came across an Artforum article on Robert Ryman’s all-white paintings. “The claim was being made that these white paintings were art,” Spector says. “I remember thinking, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Free Music Ensemble

Ken Vandermark (reeds), Nate McBride (acoustic bass), and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) really stretch out on their third and latest album, Cuts (Okka Disk): the shortest of the five tracks is more than eight minutes long and the whole disc clocks in at 74:24. But the playing is so focused that every gesture counts, and the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Unraveling Rhythms

Wendy Clinard is a flamenco dancer with a difference. In 2001 she created a piece for puppets and dancers about the nature of water, Shifting Landscapes. Now she looks at the intersection of flamenco and bharata natyam in Unraveling Rhythms, which she performs with classical Indian dancer Siri Sonty and modern dancer Orazio Giurdanella. Together […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Leela James

“Where’d the soul go? / It’s all about the video,” Leela James sings on “Music,” the first song on her debut album, A Change Is Gonna Come (Warner Brothers). Laments like that have become a cliche in the neosoul camp, but James can be forgiven since she’s actively redefining the genre. She coproduced the album […]