The Bleader | Blog + Reader, the Chicago Reader's blog

Friday, January 29, 2016

Early gunpowder was made from the 'pisse' of church ladies, and other historical tidbits

Posted By on 01.29.16 at 01:56 PM

Musket volley by English civil war reenacters in West Sussex. - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • Musket volley by English civil war reenacters in West Sussex.

Here's a rule of thumb that will never let you down: if you come across a magazine more than 20 years old, pick it up. We all like to think we live in exciting times, but the truth is we’re all so jammed by the details of lives needing to be lived that today is in many ways the least interesting day there is.

The day before yesterday shines by comparison.

Even more brightly shines the day before that. The other day I posted a story on the Bleader inspired by a 1997 issue of New England Quarterly that I’d spotted in the lounge of the Newberry. The issue offered an article on the 17th century Indian rebellion remembered as King Phillip’s War, and I thought it had more to say about matters that currently bedevil us than the next three Republican presidential debates possibly could.

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Making sense of Measure for Measure—in Russian

Posted By on 01.29.16 at 12:30 PM

Keep your eyes on the stage, not the supertitles, for the Cheek by Jowl/Pushkin Theatre production that launches Shakespeare 400 Chicago. - JOHAN PERSSON
  • Johan Persson
  • Keep your eyes on the stage, not the supertitles, for the Cheek by Jowl/Pushkin Theatre production that launches Shakespeare 400 Chicago.

Presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater as part of Shakespeare 400 Chicago (a yearlong, citywide tribute to the Bard on the 400th anniversary of his shuffling off, mortal-coil-wise), this collaboration between Moscow's Pushkin Theatre and London-based Cheek by Jowl puts a wobbly but exhilarating spin on an especially problematic problem play.
 
Measure for Measure is notoriously creepy, only partly because it concerns a prim bureaucrat named Angelo who tries to coerce a novice nun into sleeping with him. Modern audiences tend also to be disquieted by (a) the weird reticence the novice, Isabella, exhibits when it comes to saving her brother from execution, (b) the dangerous flakiness of Angelo's boss, the Duke of Vienna, and (c) the Duke's own hots for Isabella.

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Celebrate Groundhog Day, drink some winter brews, and more to do this weekend

Posted By on 01.29.16 at 12:15 PM

Nothing goes better with Bill Murray and Punxsutawney Phil than pizza and beer.
  • Nothing goes better with Bill Murray and Punxsutawney Phil than pizza and beer.

Time to plan the final weekend of January (hooray!). Here's some of what we recommend:

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Ty Segall sideman Charles Moothart debuts his band CFM

Posted By on 01.29.16 at 12:00 PM

The cover of CFM's Still Life of Citrus and Slime - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy the artist
  • The cover of CFM's Still Life of Citrus and Slime

Ty Segall and his crew are notoriously prolific. Segall himself is constantly releasing new records and announcing new projects, and over the years, his sidemen have started stepping out into the spotlight themselves, most notably Mikal Cronin with his albums of bubbly, baroque pop. Now it's Charles Moothart's turn: the guitarist for the Ty Segall Band and Fuzz is now fronting his own project, CFM, and its first tune has crept out of the shadows. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is "Lunar Heroine" off CFM's debut LP, Still Life of Citrus and Slime, which is due in April via In the Red Records. It's an outer-space punk-rock blast that smashes together the sounds Moothart and Segall have perfected together in the past: fuzzed-out garage-rock fury, creepy vibes, and stoner sludge. And like everything else these guys whip up, it's great. Check it out below.

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Son of Saul opens at Music Box, plus more new reviews and notable screenings

Posted By on 01.29.16 at 07:00 AM

Cemetery of Splendor
  • Cemetery of Splendor

László Nemes's acclaimed Holocaust drama Son of Saul opens Friday at Music Box, and longtime Reader contributor Jonathan Rosenbaum weighs in with a four-star review. We've also got new reviews of: Anesthesia, an indie ensemble drama featuring Kristen Stewart, Sam Waterston, Gretchen Mol, Michael K. Williams, and Tim Blake Nelson (who also directed); The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young, a documentary about the annual footrace that leads through Tennessee's treacherous Frozen Head State Park; Cemetery of Splendor and Mekong Hotel, the two most recent films by Thai filmmaker (and SAIC graduate) Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who will attend the Monday screening of Cemetery; The 5th Wave, a sci-fi adventure about invading aliens that stars Chloe Grace Moretz; and The Finest Hours, a Disney drama about the daring U.S. Coast Guard rescue of a commercial tanker that split in two during a storm off the Massachusetts coast in 1952.

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Rahm lays into Rauner, Jonathan Toews to sit out NHL All-Star Game, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 01.29.16 at 06:00 AM

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews in Tuesday's game against Raleigh - AP/GERRY BROOME
  • AP/Gerry Broome
  • Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews in Tuesday's game against Raleigh

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, January 29, 2016. It's our last news briefing of January!

  • Weather—Get ready for a warm weekend

It will be an unremarkable Friday, with a high of 34 and a low of 31 with some sunshine. But Mother Nature is giving us a gift to close out January: temperatures in the mid-40s and lows above freezing on Saturday and Sunday. [AccuWeather]

  • Rahm blasts Rauner after State of the State Address

The feud between the mayor and governor, which has been bubbling up for some time now, escalated when Emanuel lashed out at the governor on Thursday, saying he had "the most unproductive first year of any governor in recent memory." [Tribune]


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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fed up with sexual harassment, Chicago's female comics call for industry blackout

Posted By on 01.28.16 at 05:29 PM

click image Participants at a December meeting addressing sexism in comedy left their grievances about being a female in the industry on a 'wall of baggage.' - WOMEN IN COMEDY/INSTAGRAM
  • Women in Comedy/Instagram
  • Participants at a December meeting addressing sexism in comedy left their grievances about being a female in the industry on a 'wall of baggage.'


UPDATE: The date of the blackout and the meeting at the Laugh Factory has been changed to Sunday, January 31 in order to accommodate as many female comics as possible.

When Chicago native Beth Stelling revealed in December that she was abused and raped by a former boyfriend, it opened a floodgate for female comics in both LA and Chicago. Dozens came forward with their own stories of harassment and assault in the comedy scene, both openly and anonymously. Chicago nonprofit Women in Comedy followed up with an open Google form called "Gross Things That Happened to Me As A Woman in Comedy" and posted the anonymous responses on their blog.

While the posts were mostly met with support, a backlash emerged Monday, when iO founder Charna Halpern wrote a post on Facebook saying, "There are times when there are women who just like to either cause trouble or get revenge or just want attention so they make up stories." She has since removed the post and issued an apology, but not before sparking outrage among Chicago’s female comics.

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Are we learning to live with Trump?

Posted By on 01.28.16 at 07:00 AM

Donald Trump arrives onstage before speaking during a campaign stop in South Carolina. - AP/RAINIER EHRHARDT
  • AP/Rainier Ehrhardt
  • Donald Trump arrives onstage before speaking during a campaign stop in South Carolina.

I'm not sure if Neil Steinberg is more aware of himself than other people are, or simply writes about himself more honestly. At any rate, in Wednesday's Sun-Times he admits (to his own horror) that he's coming around a little on Donald Trump: "The really scary part is, at least while reading the story [about Trump buckling down to serious and traditional campaigning in Iowa], I found myself nodding my head, thinking, 'Yes, yes, Donald Trump, working hard, maybe the man deserves to be president.'

"And I had to catch myself, and remember that this is the guy firing up the yahoos and the haters in this country, condemning Muslims, playing into the hands of ISIS, slurring Mexicans, promising results domestic and international that are impossible to achieve and you'd have to be a fool to expect. But I forgot myself, for a moment. Imagine what’s happening to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sixpack."

I don’t know what’s going on inside the Sixpacks’ heads and I don’t think Steinberg does either. But we know our own heads, and like Steinberg I'm concerned.

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The Rip Van Rauner State of the State

Posted By on 01.28.16 at 06:00 AM

Governor Bruce Rauner waits to be announced before delivering his State of the State address. - AP/SETH PERLMAN
  • AP/Seth Perlman
  • Governor Bruce Rauner waits to be announced before delivering his State of the State address.

If you missed Governor Rauner's State of the State speech, you're a lot luckier than I am.

I ruined the better part of Wednesday morning watching a speech that managed to be depressing and bizarre at the same time.

It was depressing because Rauner made it clear that he wasn't going to budge from his assault on collective bargaining rights, if that meant that programs for the ill, the aged, and the indigent ran out of money for lack of state funding.

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Chicago cops purposely blocked audio on dash-cam videos, Homan Square scandal gets even more interesting, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 01.28.16 at 05:00 AM

Protesters at a February 2015 demonstration push for the shut down of Homan Square. - KEVIN TANAKA FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Kevin Tanaka for Sun-Times Media
  • Protesters at a February 2015 demonstration push for the shut down of Homan Square.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Thursday January 28, 2016.

  • Weather—Be ready for some light afternoon snow

The temperatures are still above average with a high of 38 and a low of 21. It will be cloudy and breezy with a good chance of some light snow showers in the afternoon. [AccuWeather]

  • Chicago police officers found ways to block audio in dash-cam videos

The Laquan McDonald dash-cam video was made even more eerie by its strange silence. Now we know that in order to block the cameras from recording any sound, officers would intentionally put the microphone in the car's glove box or pull out the batteries. Around 80 percent of dash-cam videos don't have audio because of cop errors or "intentional destruction". [DNAinfo Chicago]


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