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Monday, September 28, 2015

Steppenwolf's Terry Kinney and Frank Galati talk about East of Eden and the power of myth

Posted By on 09.28.15 at 04:04 PM

Tim Hopper (Adam Trask), Stephen Park (Lee), and  Francis Guinan (Samuel Hamilton) in the naming scene in Steppenwolf's new production of East of Eden. - MICHAEL BROSILOW
  • Michael Brosilow
  • Tim Hopper (Adam Trask), Stephen Park (Lee), and Francis Guinan (Samuel Hamilton) in the naming scene in Steppenwolf's new production of East of Eden.

John Steinbeck intended East of Eden to be the book of his life. He planned to set down the story of his own personal origins for his two sons, and he meant that both literally and cosmically. Originally he called the book My Valley, and he intended it to unfold in alternating chapters that cut between his mother's family, the Hamiltons, who arrived in California's Salinas Valley from Ireland in the late 1800s, and their fictional neighbors, the Trasks, who embodied what he called "the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil." (As if this weren't clear enough, two generations of Trask sons have the initials "A" and "C"; if you know your Bible, you know which ones the fathers love better and how the others feel about it.)

This scheme didn't last long; family history is interesting, but it doesn't quite compare to the "one story in the world." Still, there are plenty of Hamilton stories interspersed throughout the Trask epic (a small boy named John Steinbeck even makes a few appearances), as well as long philosophical discussions between the characters that apparently relate more to the book's themes than its plot, and short essays from the author himself. The whole thing runs to nearly 800 pages. It's puzzling and ambiguous—even Steinbeck doesn't seem to have everybody all figured out—and magnificent.

But how do you dramatize such a thing?

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News flash: Someone said something nice about Carly Fiorina

Posted By on 09.28.15 at 02:15 PM

Well, she inspired someone. - SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
  • Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Well, she inspired someone.

As of Monday, Carly Fiorina was tied for third in popularity among candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. I had never heard anyone I know say a good word about Fiorina. (It’s a sign of how high the walls rise in the silos so many of us live in.) Nor had I read a line of praise for her that went beyond nodding respect for her gumption. She can look Donald Trump in the eye and put him in his place—which isn’t all we’re looking for in a president. 

But last week I drove out to Downers Grove for a friend’s book signing, and in this arty milieu somebody mentioned that she used to work for Hewlett Packard.

While Fiorina was CEO? I wondered. 
"Yes," she said. "So what did you think?" I asked. 
"Actually," she replied, "I liked her."

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Listen to a track featuring Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Shabazz Palaces, and George Clinton

Posted By on 09.28.15 at 12:00 PM


Yes, that's right, Woke is a new collaborative project featuring three of the most adventurous musicians working at the moment: fractured fusion-influenced beat maker Flying Lotus, four-handed bass player and avant-R&B singer Thundercat, and former Digable Planets member and left-field hip-hop artist Shabazz Palaces. For their first single, "The Lavishments of Light Looking," debuted through late-night Cartoon Network programming block Adult Swim's "Singles" series, they've managed to bring on none other than George Clinton as a guest star. If you can imagine the sonic characteristics of all four artists coexisting on one track, well, that's what "The Lavishments of Light Looking" sounds like; but it's not a mess, and if anything the song augurs a fluid, promising long player from this supergroup. It's today's 12 O'Clock Track—listen to it below.

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Did you read about smartphones, Red Delicious apples, and Star Wars toys?

Posted By on 09.28.15 at 11:17 AM

  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • Disgusting

Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, alarm, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read

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A Vie chef ferments his own tepache, a classic Mexican pineapple drink

Posted By on 09.28.15 at 10:00 AM

"I was looking for bags of brown liquid on the side of the road, but I didn't see any," Dan Compton of Vie says of his search for tepache. Challenged by Nathan Sears of the Radler and DAS to create a dish with the fermented pineapple drink popular in Mexico, Compton headed to Little Village to locate it. But while he didn't see any being sold on the side of the road, he did find some in the second restaurant he stopped into. "I think the woman was pretty proud of it, actually," he says. "She was excited that I asked; she drank some with me."

In addition to buying a jug of tepache from the restaurant, Compton made his own, combining pineapple—both the rind and the flesh—with sugar and water and letting the mixture ferment for about four days. Natural yeast in the pineapple rind causes the fermentation; the drink usually has a very low alcohol content (less than 2 percent ABV). Let the liquid ferment too long and it'll turn into vinegar. In Mexico, where tepache has been made for centuries—originally with corn, which is where the name comes from—it's often mixed with beer.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

What people were wearing at Expo 2015

Posted By on 09.26.15 at 08:00 AM

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

  • Isa Giallorenzo

Expo Chicago attendee Bruce somehow creates a coherent look out of two seemingly mismatched pieces: a pair of shorts and a suit jacket, with a perfectly placed pocket square. It's creative, fun, and polished, perfect for this year's Vernissage, which is promoted by the MCA. See a few more art-show looks below.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

There's an overload of must-see jazz concerts in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 09.25.15 at 02:00 PM

David Virelles - JOHN ROGERS
  • John Rogers
  • David Virelles

By most accounts the biggest weekend of jazz in Chicago happened a few weeks ago, when the Chicago Jazz Festival took place. But the deluge of great jazz and improvised music this weekend looks awfully strong, leading to some unfortunate conflicts for those who enjoy live music. The marquee event is the Hyde Park Jazz Festival on Saturday and Sunday, but there are also Roscoe Mitchell's two trio concerts at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Sunday and Matthew Shipp's duo concert with bassist Michael Bisio Saturday at Constellation. That's to say nothing of Ravi Coltrane's engagement at the Jazz Showcase, singer Kurt Elling at the Green Mill tonight and tomorrow, up-and-coming drummer Jeremy Cunningham leading his quintet with Jeff Parker tonight at Constellation, and the trio of Edward Wilkerson, Jim Baker, and Steve Hunt Sunday night at the Owl. Choices, choices.

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Jean-Luc Godard's A Married Woman is back and as relevant as ever

Posted By on 09.25.15 at 01:00 PM

A Married Woman
  • A Married Woman

Not surprisingly the freshest movie in town this week is the one directed by the eternally youthful Jean-Luc Godard. A Married Woman (1964), showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center in a new digital restoration, finds the writer-director (then 33) so enraptured with filmmaking that he has to try out a different technique in practically every scene. Godard shoots one scene at an angle perpendicular to the action; processes the negative of the image in another, so that whites appear as blacks, and vice versa; ventures into the realm of cinema verite, incorporating interviews with members of the cast and with another filmmaker (documentarian Roger Leenhardt); and executes ambitious long takes and Eisenstein-worthy montages. The film is almost as stuffed with ideas as Godard's recent Goodbye to Language (which played at the Siskel earlier this year), and it even covers some of the same intellectual territory. A Married Woman's critical portrait of consumer culture still stings, which makes it one of the most relevant of Godard's 60s films, along with My Life to Live and Two or Three Things I Know About Her.

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Freak show—the sisterhood of the Chicago Tribune and LA Times

Posted By on 09.25.15 at 12:30 PM

  • Chandler West/Chicago Sun-Times
  • Tribune Tower

Back in the day, the reality that Sam Zell now owned the Tribune was hard enough to swallow inside Tribune Tower. It was even more galling on the coast, where Sam Zell of Chicago now owned the Los Angeles Times. Zell is long gone, but the occupation rages on—a great city under an imperial thumb. The other day the lead headline of LA Observed, an online news sheet published by a former metro editor of the LA Times, announced: Chicago imposing deep new cuts on LA Times, report says.

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Causings come to town with abstract free improv you can call on the phone

Posted By on 09.25.15 at 12:00 PM

Derek Baron, Adam Gundersheimer, James Krivchenia, Sandy Gordon, and John Welsh of Causings on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls earlier this week, near a guy with a selfie stick. - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy the artist
  • Derek Baron, Adam Gundersheimer, James Krivchenia, Sandy Gordon, and John Welsh of Causings on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls earlier this week, near a guy with a selfie stick.

Certain forms of free improvisation, far removed from the technique's roots in jazz, take "free" to its logical extremes. Brooklyn-based electroacoustic collective Causings create restrained, microscopically detailed, almost entirely abstract sound art that's defined more by its process than by a fixed lineup—they attempt to eliminate any parameter that might crystallize into habit, so that every performance begins with a blank slate.

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June 13
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