Bleader | Chicago Reader

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tom Hanks is important. Celebrate him.

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 05:15 PM

Tom Hanks cant believe it
  • Joe Seer /
  • Tom Hanks can't believe it
If I was to ask how International Tom Hanks Day began, one not-so-far-fetched conclusion would be that it was hatched by a group of college buddies sitting around on a couch one April Fool's Day afternoon in Kalamazoo with nothing to do. Makes sense.

Kevin Turk and a handful of Western Michigan University students began the homage to Thomas Jeffrey Hanks back in 2004 when one of the crew's visionaries was struck with an almost transcendental stroke of genius—seemingly delivered to his brain by the hand of God—and the words "Hey, do you want to sit around and drink and watch Tom Hanks movies?" were finally uttered.

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Condiment time: Tony's damn fine pasilla-tamarind salsa

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 04:59 PM

smoky, tangy, sweet

You know when you're strolling past the supermercado salsa shelf, eying the pink pico de gallo and graying salsa verde? Do you ever surmount the suspicion that management is extending the life of onions, cilantro, chiles, and crappy South American tomatoes about to go bad?


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Helen Thomas's last dinner?

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 04:33 PM

Helen Thomas
  • Helen Thomas
A year ago I wrote at length about the Society of Professional Journalists and its Helen Thomas problem. Thomas, then 90, had made remarks that greatly troubled many SPJ members as anti-Semitic—I'd describe them as anti-Zionist, but not everyone believes that a serious distinction—and the SPJ leadership asked itself what, if anything, should be done about the organization's Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement. Should it be left alone? Should it be renamed?

The executive committee voted six to one to leave the award as is, but retire it.

Thomas's most passionate champion a year ago was Christine Tatum, a former president of SPJ's Chicago chapter, the Headline Club, and in 2006-'07 president of the national organization. Tatum posted a long commentary on Facebook headed "How SPJ lost the P in its name when communicating with Helen Thomas." Its focus was "the shameful way" in which SPJ treated Thomas while it was deciding what, if anything, to do about the award in her honor.

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Living for the city: arty stuff to do this weekend

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 04:05 PM

Chillin.   Taxidermy leopard head from Room for Views
  • PeregrineProgram
  • Chillin. Taxidermy leopard head from "Room for Views"

New Paradigms

The Art Institute's Leadership Advisory Committee hosts its annual discussion program, New Paradigms, this year with Museum of Contemporary Art curator Naomi Beckwith and New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas discuss. Thomas is known for her bold paintings (many embellished with rhinestones) and her depictions of black female identity.

Friday, March 30, 7-9 PM, Art Institute (111 S. Michigan). Reservations required (312-443-3133).

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This is an irony-free zone

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 03:23 PM

Why the long face?
Stephin Merritt, a short, gay, laconic, and exceedingly witty person, is the lyricist for the Magnetic Fields (about whom this is the second Bleader post this week, sorry), in addition to other projects like the 6ths and the Gothic Archies. He writes impeccably and owns a chihuahua named for Irving Berlin. I've encountered people who think of Merritt's lyrics as "ironic," but I am here to submit that that's not the case. They have a weird earnestness, which I think is what makes them so effective. You just have to separate it out from the aggressively hilarious, like "You Must Be Out of Your Mind," from the 2010 album Realism, with its lines "I want you crawling back to me / Down on your knees, yeah / Like an appendectomy / Sans anesthesia." There's some funny shit on the new album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, too; see for instance “Your Girlfriend’s Face.”

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The avant-garde music hidden in The Hunger Games

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 03:00 PM

Will Katniss defeat Darth Vader and destroy the One Ring?
  • Will Katniss defeat Darth Vader and destroy the One Ring?
For a fairly devoted sci-fi nerd, I know remarkably little about The Hunger Games. I know that there are some sort of games involved, and that these games have something to do with some type of hunger situation. I know blah blah something something the Capitol. I know that my smart friends like to point out that our society's seemingly insatiable appetite for a movie portraying children murdering one another for the amusement of a fictional corrupt and decadent society is, from a certain somewhat reasonable perspective, not all that different from that fictional corrupt and decadent society's thing for bloodsport. Whenever someone tells me something to that effect, I act like I haven't already heard and read that exact same idea a couple dozen times already because I don't want to take away from their moment.

And now, thanks to an article in Wired, I know that the film's score—but not its T-Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack—contains bits of a nine-minute synthesizer piece recorded by an obscure pioneering electronic artist named Laurie Spiegel.

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A John Cage Q&A with composer and Aperiodic director Nomi Epstein

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 02:30 PM

John Cage turns 100
  • John Cage turns 100
In the latest Three Beats, I wrote about the upcoming A John Cage Festival organized and curated by composer Nomi Epstein (who also leads the terrific experimental-music collective Aperiodic) to celebrate the centennial of Cage's birth. I interviewed her for the piece, but I thought her answers were interesting and illuminating enough to stand on their own—so below is the complete conversation. After the Three Beats piece was published, Epstein let me know that I'd used one quote out of context: when she says, "I think there is a misconception that a lot of this work is 'easy' to perform based on a glance at the score, but I believe it requires a real commitment," she was referring to the Wandelweiser Group works that Aperiodic regularly tackles, not to Cage's music. I apologize for the mistake. The interview begins after the jump.

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Now playing: Mirror Mirror

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 02:10 PM

Obects in mirror are smaller than they appear
  • Lily Collins, center, as Snow White in Mirror Mirror
Reviewing Tarsem Singh’s grisly sword-and-sandal epic Immortals (2011), I took a stab at prognostication and described him as “a talented and eccentric visual artist with no creative future in the movie business.” I’m not quite ready to retract that judgment, but this fractured fairy tale provides him with a much more congenial vehicle for his florid imagery, more in line with his spellbinding fantasy The Fall (2006). Like Terry Gilliam—the filmmaker he most often calls to mind—Singh is much more skilled as a visual artist than a storyteller, and his artistic fortunes seem to rise and fall with the inspiration of his screenwriters. In this case he’s lucked out with Mellissa Wallack and Jason Keller, whose witty script retells the story of Snow White (Lily Collins) from the perspective of the wicked queen (Julia Roberts). If Singh can just stay away from those poison apples, he may live happily ever after.

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Army & Lou's mounts a comeback, and other food news bites

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 01:39 PM

Call it a comback

The late, great Army & Lou's is making a comeback, says Grubstreet. If one more venerable soul food spot rises from the dead, it's a trend. C'mon Izola's!

More notable food news, and other ramblings, after the jump.

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Spotify playlist: Rock with a 70 percent chance of keyboards

Posted By on 03.30.12 at 12:42 PM

  • Olivia Hemaratanatorn
  • Hunx
These days my relationship with rock music consists largely of two phases. First, there are periods where I complain at length about the way rock has become terminally obsessed with picking over its own past for recyclables. It seems to have given up on staying with the cutting edge and maintaining the vitality that comes with constant innovation, yielding them to rap music, EDM, and pop—and in the process basically committing itself to a future on the margins of pop culture. Then, there are periods where I listen to a lot of rock music. I hear that this sort of vacillation between bitching about the worst qualities of the partner you've chosen for life and then embracing that partner for some of those very same qualities is common in 30-year-plus marriages.

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