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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Street View 196: Learning to love summer pants

Posted By on 05.31.14 at 09:35 AM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.


If there's one rule in fashion, it's this: never say never. For example, I've always thought it was kinda crazy for women to wear pants in warm weather. Save for a case of unshaven legs (for those who care), I never understood why we'd prevent air from reaching our lower limbs. But now I get it. I've been seeing those loose printed pants around, and I'm loving them. Printed leggings too. I must say—with my share of guilt—that Forever 21 carries the best printed leggings, for like, ten bucks. I'm still not a huge fan of the boring black office pants. I'm sure that aversion will also come back to bite me in the ass.

Anyway, check out Jessie. It's not just her fresh flowery pants that make me wanna bend my silly rules: just look at that exotic multicolor hair! Her transparent backpack is also pretty major; check it out below.

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Reader's Agenda Sat 5/31: CAKE, the Dance Mile, and Corey Wilkes Quintet

Posted By on 05.31.14 at 06:15 AM

  • Courtesy Chicago Alternative Comics Expo
  • CAKE
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered.

Independent comics artists, publishers, and fans from across the country gather for the third annual Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE). Along with exhibitions, the expo hosts panel discussions, workshops, and artists, including Tony Millionaire and Edie Fake. The two-day expo begins today at the Center on Halsted.

No need for warm-up sprints—the Dance Mile is a race where running is against the rules. Dance down Randolph Street and across the finish line right into a postrace party with a beer garden, live music, and a costume contest. The moving dance party begins at Chicago Journeyman Plumbers Hall.

Trumpeter Corey Wilkes plays Andy's Jazz Club tonight, accompanied by vibist Justin Thomas, pianist Robert "Baabe" Irving III, bassist Aaron Zachary, and drummer Xavier Breaker. Of Wilkes's performance, Peter Margasak writes, "His expansive treatment of the [Miles] Davis material continues to be a staple of his live sets, and he also promises new tunes, which should turn up on an album early next year."

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

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Chicago Opera Theater's two-opera/one-film weekend

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 05:00 PM

Andrew Wilkowske and Cassidy Smith in The Emperor of Atlantis
  • COT/Corey DiNardo
  • Andrew Wilkowske and Cassidy Smith in The Emperor of Atlantis

This weekend, for the first time since its move from the Athenaeum to the Harris Theater a decade ago, Chicago Opera Theater is opening a subscription-season show in a different venue. The double bill of Viktor Ullmann's The Emperor of Atlantis and Carl Orff's The Clever One will have a four-performance run beginning Saturday (and continuing June 4, 6, and 8) at DePaul's Merle Reskin Theatre.

The move to the smaller venue is a onetime budget balancer, according to general director Andreas Mitisek, who adds that COT's next season will be back at the Harris in full.

The two short operas were both written in the early 1940s under Nazi rule—one in a concentration camp, the other not. The Orff work is "more of a supernatural fairy tale," Mitisek says, while the Ullmann, composed at Terezin, is a "darker satire." Both focus on the struggle to control an isolated and dangerous tyrant.

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The year's best summer movie played here five months ago

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 04:14 PM

Laura Colella in Breakfast With Curtis
  • Laura Colella in Breakfast With Curtis
As spring turns to summer, I find myself thinking a lot about Breakfast With Curtis, the Rhode Island-shot indie that screened at the Siskel Center back in January. Set over a sweet, lazy three-month vacation, Curtis, like The Green Ray or Dazed and Confused, is a quintessential summer movie. Too bad it played here in the middle of an extended deep-freeze. I doubt if many Chicagoans got to see it in a theater, and in any case, it really should have played here closer to this time of year. Netflix and Amazon Instant Video have it available to watch, if you want to catch up with it—I highly recommend that you do.

Though I wrote favorably about the film when it came through town, I regret a good deal of that piece now. In particular I regret having labeled Curtis a "doper reverie," as that may have created the false impression that it's all about getting high. Marijuana does factor crucially in the narrative—informing the loping manner of the storytelling and providing the set-up for the movie's climax, wherein the teenaged title character discovers that his father is a fallible human being like himself (a poignant moment that recalls the climax of Ozu's I Was Born, But. . .). But this movie is not really about pothead subculture, or even drop-out culture, as I also wrote, inaccurately. It's about accepting yourself and the people around you for all your quirks—and about learning to make your own fun. These lessons may be as played-out as stoner humor, but one of the remarkable things about Curtis is how it makes them seem new by rooting them in the behavior of its unique characters.

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Street View 195: Triple A

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 02:32 PM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.


Khalfani picked basic but strong pieces, creating a minimal look that's totally worthy of notice. His garments fit him just right, loose enough to be casual, tight enough to show his frame. Love his unfussy black high tops and cool sunnies, but what is really killing it here is his Asian-African-American hair, quite a statement in itself.

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Chris Speed extends the lineage of the saxophone trio

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 02:00 PM

Next Wednesday Bad Plus drummer Dave King brings his superb quintet the Dave King Trucking Company to town for a show at Constellation. The lineup includes the mercurial New York reedist Chris Speed, a dazzling player of exquisite restraint, intelligence, and range. Speed originally made his name as a member of Human Feel, a Seattle quartet that also introduced the world to fellow reedist Andrew D'Angelo, drummer Jim Black, and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and that reunited band will make its long overdue Chicago debut at the same venue on July 2. In the years since Human Feel started, Speed has been an integral part of numerous outfits, many of them complex in their contrapuntal attack—including Tim Berne's Bloodcount and Speed's own Yeah No.

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The miniseries Labyrinth will leave you longing for that Bowie movie

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 01:31 PM

Vanessa Kirby as Alice Tanner
  • Tandem Productions GmbH & Film Afrika Worldwide
  • Vanessa Kirby as Alice Tanner
Did you read that the CW was airing a Labyrinth miniseries, and then assume that it was a TV adaptation of the 1986 Jim Henson film of the same name? You know, the David Bowie-fueled vehicle that helped launch Jennifer Connelly's career? Well, it's actually an adaptation of the 2005 award-winning bestseller by Kate Mosse, a 700-page work of commercial and historical fiction masquerading as a Holy Grail story. And neither the miniseries nor the source material gets that right.

Labyrinth—which originally aired in Canada, Sweden, Korea, Portugal, and Poland in 2012, and the UK in 2013; it aired here last Thursday and Friday on the CW—features two heroines, Alaïs Pelletier du Mas (Jessica Brown Findlay) and Alice Tanner (Vanessa Kirby), who are separated by about 800 years but are connected by geography, history, and maybe something else. In 1209, Alaïs lives in Carcassone, a city of the Languedoc province; in 2005, Alice helps excavate the former site of Carcassone. She finds two skeletons, one of which bears a golden ring with an intricate design—the titular labyrinth. I think. We are alternately in medieval and contemporary Carcassone, and the heroines are alternately in danger as they pursue and protect the Holy Grail.

Yes, Labyrinth is, ostensibly, a story of the Holy Grail. The Grail's protectors (Alaïs, Alice, and John Hurt's character, Audric Baillard) are known as "navigators." However, all we actually see them protecting/hiding are three books which contain instructions on how to locate the Grail. In 1209, Alaïs's sister, Oriane (Katie McGrath), wants the books and Grail, and convinces her Catholic husband (Curran) to help her get them. In 2005, a renegade priest and a woman who (mistakenly, as it turns out) believes herself to be a navigator are trying to hunt down the relics.

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Is Stuart Dybek one of the greatest-ever Chicago writers?

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 12:25 PM

  • Farrar Straus and Giroux
I don't know how to begin to describe Paper Lantern, Stuart Dybek's new collection of stories. The subtitle describes the collection as "love stories," which I guess is as good a description as any. But a "love story," as opposed to a "romance," cannot be easily summed up, or broken down into neat elements like epiphany or foreshadowing or the three forms of irony like the tidy stories you had to read in ninth-grade English.

The experience of reading Paper Lantern is like entering into a series of dreams full of recurring images—a woman in a black slip, a blindfold, a lonely figure swimming out into Lake Michigan, opera (both the music and people behaving operatically)—overlaid on a background of ordinary Chicago neighborhood life. "Four Deuces," the longest of the stories, is, in its most basic shorthand description, a tale of magical luck and love and revenge, but it all goes down at the old Sportsman's Park in Cicero and in a corner bar on Dybek's home turf, the Polish south side. Dybek describes the fantastical and realistic elements with equal precision. The waking portions sometimes read like personal essays. The dreams are almost unbearably beautiful. Think of them (to perpetuate the opera motif) as recitatives and arias.

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12 O'Clock Track: 'Bite Me' is brilliant slacker rock from Toronto's Marvelous Mark

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 12:00 PM

Bite Me b/w Paralysed
  • "Bite Me" b/w "Paralysed"
Marvelous Mark, who played in the Toronto glammy pop band Marvelous Darlings (alongside Ben Cook of Fucked Up, Young Governor, and Yacht Club) has recently released his own solo effort, a two-song tape via Cook's Bad Actors label. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is the tape's A-side, "Bite Me," and I can't remember the last time I heard a song that had this much replay factor. It's a yearning slacker-rock anthem, incredibly indebted to the moody alt-rock of the Replacements. I've found myself obsessed with this track during the past few days, losing count of how many times I've repeated it. You can listen to it a few times for yourself—and check out the accompanying video—below.

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Did you read about Daisy Cutter, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Billy Jack?

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 11:18 AM

Daisy Cutter: Get it while you can
  • John Voorhees
  • Daisy Cutter: Get it while you can
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

• This look at how the Associated Press has decided to style religious terms? Tony Adler

• About how the former Sun-Times photographers are doing one year after they were all laid off? Aimee Levitt

• That Daisy Cutter will be hard to come by this week due to a can shortage? Brianna Wellen

• Whet Moser's interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates? Mick Dumke

• About the untold story of Billy Jack? Drew Hunt

• About the possibility of Walter White's return? (Spoiler from the Breaking Bad series finale, but if you haven't watched it yet, c'mon.) Brianna Wellen

• About the lives of combat dogs and their handlers? Aimee Levitt

• About the abrupt shutdown of TrueCrypt?John Dunlevy

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