Posted inArts & Culture

Diner Tales

In Coffee on Wednesday, the first of two overlapping one-acts by Tim Joyce, he shows genuine compassion for a pair of middle-aged buddies who meet regularly at the neighborhood diner. We’re won over by their overgrown-adolescent banter–leering at the waitress, giggling over baseball players with funny names–masking uneasiness over their places in a changing universe. […]

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Ambition Facing West

This much I know: Anthony Clarvoe wrote a play about successive generations of a single family who spend the 20th century migrating westward, from their native Croatia to the United States and then on to Japan. What I don’t know, having only this amateurish Thunder & Lightning Ensemble production to go by, is how Clarvoe’s […]

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Fetes de la Nuit

Charles L. Mee’s exuberant revue mixes the high-, the low-, and the middlebrow to celebrate Paris, and, by extension, amour–romantic, erotic, tragic. As in his other work, Mee creates some unexpected and often illuminating juxtapositions: in one scene, an actor recites Derrida’s remarks on the structurality of structure as a bizarre fashion show unfolds and […]

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Barbara Morgenstern

Barbara Morgenstern is one of minimal techno’s most unconventional artists, a subtle and strange pop singer in the mold of Joe Jackson or Kate Bush. Her gorgeous 2003 release, Nicht Muss, was all meditative electro-pastorals, and heard from a distance her new The Grass Is Always Greener (Monika) could almost be mistaken for wine-bar music. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

When I told my wife that one reason our refrigerator was having trouble maintaining a low temperature was that it was overfilled, she instantly produced three household-tips books that said a refrigerator is more efficient stuffed to the gills than it is empty. This seems to contradict the first law of physics: You don’t get […]

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Flora, the Red Menace

Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb began their partnership with this nearly forgotten 1965 delight, also Liza Minnelli’s Broadway debut. In this survival saga with a cautionary ending reminiscent of Sweet Charity, hopeful Hungarian Flora, a fashion illustrator turned radical, gets entangled with the communist party–until she’s asked to sacrifice love for independence. This […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Story In a May article on eating habits in the “Stroke Belt”–a group of southeastern states with stroke death rates well above the national average–a Chicago Tribune correspondent described two signature dishes at Mulligan’s bar in Decatur, Georgia: the Hamdog, a hot dog wrapped in half a pound of hamburger meat, deep-fried, and served […]

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The Flowers of St. Francis

Roberto Rossellini’s buoyant masterpiece (1950, 83 min.) is a glorious hallucination of perfect harmony between man and nature. The Franciscans arrive at Assisi in the first reel and leave in the last. In between, as they say, nothing happens and everything happens. Rossellini is able to suggest the scope and rhythm of an entire lost […]

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Oceany Flutter

The comic characters Nancy Friedrich plays in her one-woman show aren’t that original: a garrulous drunk girl, a stilted woman auditioning for a musical, a flustered administrative assistant eager to communicate her edginess. But she gives each of them a richly nuanced portrayal. With her charisma, physical control, and willingness to be silly to get […]

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Other People’s Stuff

The online Chicago Freecycle Network connects people who are getting rid of things to people who want them, with the goal of cutting down on trash and waste. Popular items include dishes,clothing, furniture, appliances, and electronics, but nothing’s too big or small, as long as it’s in good shape. With almost 11,000 Chicago-area members, the […]

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Garrick Ohlsson

Garrick Ohlsson, a student of Claudio Arrau, entered the Juilliard School at 13, and in 1970, at 22, he became the first American to win the prestigious International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. He’s probably best known for his Chopin–he’s recorded the complete works–but last year in Switzerland he performed all 32 Beethoven sonatas, a monumental […]