Posted inArts & Culture

T.J. and Dave

In what is perhaps the country’s best improv city, this is perhaps the best ongoing improv show, long-form or otherwise. T.J. and Dave hasn’t changed much since its debut in February 2002: same stage, time slot, and price, same opening Ike Reilly songs and introductory caveat, “Trust us, this is all made up.” There’s still […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Treatment

Friday 2 BE YOUR OWN PET This Nashville quartet seems determined to make punk rock sound fun again, without sacrificing a sense of musical adventurousness. The short, raucous, and playful tunes on their latest EP, Summer Sensation (Ecstatic Peace), are hardcore without the grim political machismo, garage rock without the self-righteous authenticity fetish, and emo […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Brief Reviews

THE NYMPHOS OF ROCKY FLATS | Mario Acevedo | Rayo | Former infantryman Mario Acevedo manages to seamlessly blend several genres in his smooth, wryly funny debut novel. Nymphos starts off as a war thriller: enlisted grunt Felix Gomez is just trying to survive in Iraq when he mistakenly shoots a civilian girl who bleeds […]

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The Sunset Limited

Actors Austin Pendleton and Freeman Coffey lend intellectual and emotional depth to this engaging, nuanced world premiere of novelist Cormac McCarthy’s two-man play. They’re so good they almost compensate for the script’s inertia and racial stereotyping, as an uneducated, plain-talking “old country nigger” rescues a white New York intellectual from suicide, then spends 135 minutes […]

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An Inconvenient Truth

A movie of Al Gore lecturing on global warming may sound dull beyond measure, but this documentary by Davis Guggenheim is hugely dramatic, arguing that the world’s governments have little more than a decade to avert a planetary disaster. Speaking to a small audience in a black-box theater with a giant screen behind him, Gore […]

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Bad Review

Each week this Chemically Imbalanced Comedy team selects a disparaging theater review from the latest Reader and performs an hour-long improvisation of “the show we feel the critic would have rather seen.” When I went, they read aloud Zac Thompson’s review of Invasion of the Minnesota Normals (which he said “tries to make a case […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ilona Knopfler

Jazz vocalist Ilona Knopfler throws together an odd assortment of ingredients on the opening track of her 2005 album, Live the Life (Mack Avenue). “I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song,” is a hymn written by gospel pioneer Thomas A. Dorsey, but instead of the church choir you might expect, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Synapse Arts Collective

“Hideous Transformations,” a show organized by Synapse Arts Collective, isn’t nearly as dire as it sounds. Subtitled “Strange Tales of the Ordinary,” it highlights the oddity of often-overlooked activities and experiences. Synapse artistic director Rachel Damon presents a reworked piece from 2003, Language Body, set to her complex, layered score of involuntary sounds: sighing, snoring, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bang the Drum Slowly

Ever see a production irretrievably sunk by a single moment? That’s what happens in this staging of Eric Simonson’s 1992 adaptation of Mark Harris’s 1956 novel (also a 1973 movie). The tone of Simonson’s ball-club tearjerker, about a dim-witted catcher with a fatal illness, is understandably macho. The only sustained evocation of emotion is indirect, […]