Friday, February 28, 2014

Pioneer Girl, or little Vietnamese cafe in the suburbs

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 04:28 PM

pioneer_girl.jpg
It's kind of amazing, if you think about it, how many common experiences have never been described in fiction, even though they seem so obvious in retrospect. For instance, how many bookish girls have read the Little House series and desperately wanted to be Laura Ingalls, to be a brave and plucky pioneer girl and live in a log cabin or a hole in the ground and get to be around horses all the time and churn butter?

Wendy McClure explored this phenomenon in her wonderful 2011 memoir The Wilder Life. Now it's gotten a fictional treatment in Bich Minh Nguyen's lovely new novel Pioneer Girl.

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Peter Evans and Cory Smythe promise to take early jazz into the stratosphere

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 02:00 PM

This Sunday afternoon International Contemporary Ensemble presents the latest event in its OpenICE concert series at the Chicago Cultural Center. ICE, of course, is one the most adventurous and accomplished exponents of contemporary composition, but this weekend's concert veers toward raucous improvised music with a duet performance by trumpeter Peter Evans and pianist Cory Smythe. Both musicians are equally at home in many disparate contexts—from harrowing modern composition to modern jazz—and this event, billed as Early Jazz to White Noise, promises to draw on those expansive abilities.

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"Promiscuous Code," "This Was Supposed to Help," and the rest of your weekend in visual arts

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 01:15 PM

Diary comic, 2012, by Rachel Foss
  • Diary comic, 2012, by Rachel Foss
After a week of staring at a computer screen, it's about time you expose your eyes to something exciting. Here's what's going down in visual arts this weekend.

Friday 2/28

"To Perform, To Conceal" at Crowded House Gallery Today's the last day to see an exhibit curated by Paul-David Young that features photographs he discovered in a Humboldt Park Dumpster. Digital artist Molly Soda was identified as the photographer after word got out about the exhibit, and she said she was perplexed by the whole thing. Read Aimee Levitt's write-up about the show, and her follow-up story on Soda.

Saturday 3/1

"Pigeon Hill: Then and Now" at Catherine Edelman Gallery Your last chance to see Jeffrey Wolin's presentation of photographic portraits featuring low-income residents of Bloomington, Indiana.

Sunday 3/2

"Promiscuous Code" at Julius Caeser The closing day of an exhibition by the Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality (ATOM-r) collective.

Ongoing

"This Was Supposed to Help" at Beauty & Brawn Art Gallery and Think Space Cartoonist and illustrator Rachel Foss depicts life's joys and frustrations in a collection of works. Read Sarah Nardi's write-up here. Exhibit runs through 3/30.

"Renoir's True Colors: Science Solves a Mystery" at Art Institute of Chicago The conservation team tasked with maintaining Renoir's Madame Léon Clapisson in all its glory discovered there's more to the impressionist painting than meets the eye. This exhibition shows the scientific and technologic processes used to uncover the painting's secrets and restore its original bright hues. On display through 4/27.

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Matias Piñeiro's Viola riffs on Shakespeare and messes with your mind

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 12:30 PM

A few of Piñeiros mysterious women
  • A few of Piñeiro's mysterious women
On Sunday at 7 PM Doc Films will present the Chicago premiere of the 2012 Argentinian film Viola as part of their superb series of recent Central and South American cinema. It's a curious film, starting out as a breezy, dialogue-driven comedy before growing increasingly mysterious and ending up in the realm of paranoid fantasy. Writer-director Matias Piñeiro (who's made six movies since 2006) handles these shifts in tone so subtly that you might not recognize them until after they've occurred. The unrushed vibe is especially impressive considering the movie is only an hour long. "Piñeiro arrives here with what seems to be a fully developed style and distinct set of interests," J. Hoberman wrote last summer on the occasion of the first New York retrospective of his work. "Set in a vague urban bohemian milieu, [his films] evoke Jacques Rivette or early Raul Ruiz in their elaborate, literary conspiracy games and Eric Rohmer in their fondness for talkative young people."

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12 O'Clock Track: "Dig" is loud and dreamy shoegaze from Nothing

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 12:00 PM

Guilty of Everything
  • Guilty of Everything
It's always interesting to see what happens to hardcore kids when they grow out of being young and angry. My current musical obsession is one of these cases: Nothing is a postrock-influenced shoegaze-revival project fronted by Dominic Palermo, once known as "Nicky Money," former front man for the hyperaggressive mid-aughts Philly hardcore band Horror Show. The brand-new Guilty of Everything by Nothing comes out this Tuesday, March 4, on Relapse, and shares absolutely no sonic similarities with Palermo's hardcore past. Instead it falls somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Hum, with massive guitar tones, dreamy synth layers, and hushed vocals—it brings a whole new deeper meaning to posthardcore. The record as a whole is beautiful and loud as all hell, crammed with dramatic dynamic swells and rich, engaging melodies. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is "Dig," my favorite song off the record.

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Did you read about J.K. Rowling, Paula Deen, and normcore?

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 11:28 AM

J.K. Rowling
  • AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
  • J.K. Rowling
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

• That the Old English name for February was Solmonath, which means "mud month"? (It was also known as Kale-monath, or "cabbage month.") Aimee Levitt

• That records show the fondness high-ranking members of Congress have for expensive golf resorts and steak dinners? Mick Dumke

• About the the Internet's key holders? John Dunlevy

• That seven staff members of the Baltimore City Paper were laid off? Tal Rosenberg

• About the British crime author who asked J.K. Rowling to stop writing adult crime novels so others could have their turn at being best sellers? Aimee Levitt

• That Paula Deen compared herself to "that black football player who recently came out"? (She meant Michael Sam.) Taylor Tolbert

• Or take the quiz on which Oscar-nominated movies most ignored women? Steve Bogira

• Luke O'Neil on the sound of normcore? Leor Galil

• About the ex-NYPD cop who's opening a police-themed bar, complete with jail cell? Ben Sachs

• About the price of pizza in neighborhoods across the country? Taylor Tolbert

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Cast off winter's cruel grip with oxtail polenta at Cellar Door Provisions

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 09:26 AM

oxtail, polenta, baby fennel, Cellar Door Provisions
  • Mike Sula
  • Oxtail, polenta, baby fennel at Cellar Door Provisions

If you must have a reason to venture out into the rimy hellscape of never-ending winter, I'm going to suggest it should be to hunch over the oxtail polenta at Logan Square's Cellar Door Provisions and thank Providence for good grain and meat. It's listed at the very bottom of the changing menu at this new, minimalist breakfast-and-lunch spot from some of the guys behind the underground dining posse Thurk. The warm corn mush is surprisingly light and buoyant, sweetened by garlic confit, and the tender braised meat is carefully extracted from the knobby vertebrae. A few garnishes of refreshing baby fennel complete a bowl as simple and delicate as it is fortifying and life affirming. It'll thaw the ice-bound lump you once called a heart in no time.

I was told it's not going to be on the menu forever—just as long as it's cold like this—but it's a very good sign of what these fellows are capable of, working with all-local ingredients in this former Guatemalan bakery. Right now that means a smoked beet salad, celery root soup with apples and brown butter, a couple of tartines, a quiche with roasted Vidalia onions, and house-made sausage with poached eggs and mustard.

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Public housing, private prisons, and the rest of this week's screenings

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 07:37 AM

Legacy
  • Legacy
This year the Chicago International Film Festival turns 50, and in observation of that milestone, WTTW Channel 11 will be broadcasting a monthly series of notable features that screened in the festival; it kicked off last night at 10 PM with Legacy, Tod Lending's Oscar-nominated documentary (2000) about a family trying to escape from the nightmarish Henry Horner Homes (since demolished) in West Town. We've also got a review of 3 Days to Kill, a dopey thriller starring Kevin Costner as a CIA assassin trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter.

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Manhattan, 12 Monkeys and other Reader-recommended movies to watch online this week

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 07:00 AM

12 Monkeys
  • 12 Monkeys
Each Friday, we recommend seven Old Movies to Watch Now, all of which come recommended by one of our critics and can currently be screened online. Read the review, watch the movie, feel accomplished.

12 Monkeys, Terry Gilliam's SF mind bender.

Walking and Talking, Nicole Holofcener's first film.

The Witnesses, Andre Techine's drama about the AIDS epidemic.

Manhattan, "Woody Allen's great leap forward into character development and dramatic integrity," according to Dave Kehr.

Eyes Without a Face, Georges Franju's horror classic.

Orphans of the Storm, D.W. Griffith's late silent epic.

The Life of Oharu, the Kenji Mizoguchi masterpiece.

For even more selections, check out OMTWN, your go-to spot for streaming recommendations. Happy watching!

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Reader's Agenda Fri 2/28: Ron Funches, Wes Anderson Anthology, and Revelations

Posted By on 02.28.14 at 06:06 AM

Four Corners
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered.

With his trademark sweet and soft delivery, comedian Ron Funches riffs about the differences between Chicago and Oregon and what it's like raising a child with autism. The former Chicagoan and his infectious schoolgirl giggle will be at Zanies through 3/1.

Before The Grand Budapest Hotel hits local theaters, the Music Box presents the Wes Anderson Anthology, an overview that features screenings of all of his films to date. Expect all the dysfunctional families, charming pastels, and Futura typeface you can handle. Tonight it kicks off with films from Anderson's early days, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore.

Alvin Ailey's Revelations set out in 1958 to explore the different conditions of the African-American soul in the throes of slavery and newfound freedom, and according to Jena Cutie, "it had a backbone that moved with the fluid pulp of sorrow and jubilation and everything in between." Tonight's program at Auditorium Theatre features an adaptation of the work, along with Wayne McGregor's Chroma (2006) and Ronald K. Brown's Four Corners (2013). Read Cutie's write-up here.

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's Agenda page.

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Agenda Teaser

Food & Drink
Taco Tuesday Lagunitas Brewery
March 28
Lit & Lectures
Jay Chandrasekhar Music Box
March 28

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