peteg's blog

Haven Theatre: Hot Georgia Sunday at the Den Theatre.

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Goldstar: $15.00 + $4.50 service fee = $19.50. Walked over from neo-home past the never-finished roadworks on Division/Goose Island. It doesn't look like there's much left to do, and I figured they'd want to be done by the first snowfall. Had a pad thai at Pot Pan Thai on Milwaukee, opposite Filter Café, which I'd seen many times but never previously contemplated. Pretty good; with some tofu and capsicum it may even have been Tum's in Randwick. I'll be back to try their penang presently.

This play was billed as a Southern gothic, so how could I resist? Despite being less inventive than Summertime in the Garden of Eden, and sticking to very worn transgressions, it was quite fun in the small. The characters are centered on the local Baptist church: youth groups, the liturgical dance, trashiness, predation, booziness. Yeah. The acting was solid: each take it in turns to tell their part of the story, which are often peppered with laugh-out-loud detail that unfortunately does not add up to a super-interesting narrative arc. The accents had me spellbound. About half full, I'd say. Apparently Julie Schroll was in Season on the Line. I liked Emily Woods as the wide-eyed ingenue. I'm keen to see what they do next.

The young bargirl sold me a Three Floyds Robert-the-Bruce Red Scottish Ale as a substitute for the Samuel Smith Taddy Porter of which I've gotten bored. It wasn't stellar. The Wyder's pear cider from Vancouver I had at halftime was a bit too sweet for me.

Justin Hayford is on the money.

The Gambler (James Caan, 1974)

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I liked Caan's decade-later Thief and hoped for a similar neon wonderland here. Instead I got something of a morality fable with a fudged ending. I never found him particularly convincing here, apart, perhaps, from when he calls forth a three at a blackjack table. Paul Sorvino is the canonical standover man.

Saadat Hasan Manto: Kingdom's End, translated by Khalid Hasan.

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I found this one by myself at the Chicago Public Library. There is some overlap with Bombay Stories; a cursory comparison suggests that this is the superior translation, perhaps because Khalid Hasan was a Pakistani who lived through those times, and also that he had a keener ear for Manto's language and what would fly with Westerners. Once again the stories are quite bleak, being tales of Partition set around Kashmir and Bombay. That's enough Manto for me, but I'll be looking for more from Hasan.

LAMPO: Tristan Perich: Noise Patterns at the Logan Center for the Arts

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After lunch at the local downmarket Chinese (Empire Restaurant on Division, precisely what you'd expect; their Singapore noodles was solid), I took the red line down to Garfield and schlepped across to the University of Chicago. There is much urban blight and a sense of emptiness on that route; Hyde Park is a gentrified pocket in an undeveloped / boarded-up area. Turns out it was winter (exam?) break and almost entirely closed; I stumbled over some performance thing for parents and children while searching for the feted Hallowed Grounds. I ended up at the Plein Air Cafe, near the Oriental museum. Electricity, decent coffee, croissant, no wifi. A place to take your children for a snack if you're an early-career academic. Later on I grabbed a cheap and quick Pad Thai from Noodles etc., nearby.

The Logan Center for the Arts is a swank building on the edge of a swank campus, which reminded me most of Washington University in St. Louis. It is predictably huge, especially given that Google claims only about 15,000 students study there. Perich's "1-Bit" branding underplays the complexity of his mechanism: in the after talk he threw around probability distributions, duty cycles, and more in a general geek-out. I enjoyed some of his sound, but found it overly harsh for the most part; it is of the sort that people have been getting from their microchip projects on initial startup since 1974. I grant that he's put a lot of effort into composition, though it still felt like a formless, centreless kind of work that is far more alienating than Ben Frost's modulated noise. I was half hoping that he'd momentarily break into something mindblowingly coherent. Perich seemed to understand this as he introduced a solid beat somewhere after the midpoint. The whole thing went for an hour and I didn't find it was something to relax to, in contrast to most improv; perhaps the view out of the 9th floor windows was too captivating. I'm certainly keen to head back.

Their blurb:

The great Tristan Perich returns to Lampo to present "Noise Patterns," his new composition for sequenced 1-bit patterns of white noise, programmed for and performed by microchip. The work expands on his "1-Bit Symphony" and tonal pieces for electronic circuits and acoustic instruments.

N.B. the code in "Noise Patterns" outputs random sequences of 1s and 0s. The "notes" of his "score" are then varying probabilities of randomness, ranging from the sound of white noise to sporadic, instantaneous pops, which Perich composes into rhythmic patterns. In a wave of 1-bit noise, the music is an investigation into the foundational limits of computation.

Artist and composer Tristan Perich (b. 1982, New York, N.Y.) is inspired by the aesthetic simplicity of math, physics and code. Best known for his constructions that explore the physicality of sound and the polyphonic potential of 1-bit audio, his "1-Bit Music" (2004-05) and "1-Bit Symphony" (2010) celebrate the virtuosity of electricity. Neither release is a traditional recording. Instead, each is a music-generating circuit, housed in a CD jewel case with a headphone jack. Perich also has composed several works for musicians with 1-bit music accompaniment, and is in the music group the Loud Objects (with Kunal Gupta and Katie Shima), which performs by soldering its own noise-making circuits live in front of the audience. His award winning work coupling 1-bit electronics with traditional forms in both music ("Active Field," "Observations") and visual art ("Machine Drawings," "Microtonal Wall)" has been presented around the world, from Sonar and Ars Electronica to the Whitney Museum and Museum of Modern Art.

Tristan Perich first appeared at Lampo in October 2010, performing his "1-Bit Symphony."

Presented in partnership with the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.

Irish Theatre of Chicago: Shining City at Den Theatre.

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Goldstar, $13.00 + $4.00 service fee = $17.00. Walked home after taking the #37 bus this morning due to a timing accident (the bus was waiting for me when I got to the stop). I had some dinner at home and raced over to the Den in about fifteen minutes, straight down Division. I also figured out that I'd been parking my bicycle in the wrong carspace, oops.

I picked up a Toddy Porter on the way in, despite it being on the crapper end of porters; time to investigate the lighter-coloured beers perhaps. This piece was by Conor McPherson, as was The Night Alive. Again the acting and accent work was solid, but the dialogue this time was more extended monologue, and the putative transgressions were cringeworthy. Perhaps I've spent too long in liberal cities. Chicago Stage Standard gave it 3.5/4. They're right that Brad Armacost was great. Tony Adler at the Reader is (as always) far harsher. I don't think we got the "transition music".

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

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$11 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 6.30pm, Japanese with subtitles. They no longer have cheap Mondays (sniff). This is certainly the most beautiful hand-animation I can remember seeing. There are some awesome sequences, especially around the two-thirds mark. The flying scene at the end is pure Douglas Adams, Arthur and Fenchurch; I never considered that he may have also been big in Japan. The story itself is a bit too much of conservative-hokum folk story flim-flam to be bothered with. Motivated by a review in the Reader.

Saadat Hasan Manto: Bombay Stories

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According to some, Manto "has a good claim to be considered the greatest South Asian writer of the 20th century". Digging this book out of the Chicago Public Library took some doing: the super-helpful girl on level 7 of the Harold Washington found it somewhere I would never have thought to look. I heard about the author from Pankaj Mishra, and I guess I was hoping to read something more like what he described than a series of almost still-low-lifes in Bombay. Shades of Charles Bukowski. I did manage to plough through it in double-time, and for that I am thankful.

City Lit Theatre: Holmes and Watson

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Stool on bicycle, Milwaukee Avenue, 4.20pm.

Another Goldstar ticket: $14.50 + $4.25 service fee = $18.75. I unexpectedly bought a stool at a discount furniture shop on Milwaukee, and after walking it back to the flat, I got lazy and took the Red Line up to Berwyn, mistaking it for Bryn Mawr. The El at peak-hour in winter is not fun as everyone's dressed up to the max, so the carriage quickly becomes stuffy and I overheat. Layers are all well and good if you can shed them when you need to. I do wish I'd bought the stool a week ago; like the speakers it makes the space far more livable. At Bryn Mawr (a cute little strip of shops), I had dinner at The Little India: a combo, tikka chicken, a tikka masala chicken (really a butter chicken), vegies (aloo matar?), rice, naan. Decent, but no heat at all.

There were quite a few more people at the church than last time. I'm guessing about half of the audience was blind (literally; it was some kind of social outing), and this style of theatre accommodated that perfectly, being mostly spoken word with some suggestive mime. I was the youngest there by about a decade. We got two stories: A Scandal in Bohemia (featuring Irene Adler) and The Final Problem (featuring Professor Moriarty). I enjoyed Adam Bitterman's deft accent work as Watson and sundry characters, which glued the whole thing together, and James Sparling was quite fine as Holmes and Moriarty. Adrienne Matzen has a brief turn as Irene.

This is a somehow old-fashioned kind of entertainment; arch language, and unconflicted characters, with a moral clarity that only Batman and ghee have now.

The Chicago Stage Standard gave it a decent review, as did the Reader.

Haskell Apostasy #1: now where did they hide the higher-ranked polymorphism?

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About fifteen years after it was cool (to type systems people), I figured it was time for me to try ocaml, or more broadly, to make my peace with this call-by-value thing. One motivation was because I work with a Frenchman, and another was that I want more space- and time-efficiency than Haskell allows. No, I'm not listening to you talk asymptotics or microbenchmarks or parallelism. So, where else to start than by trying to port Bird and Paterson's de Bruijn encoding? (Edward Kmett's recent work places this scheme in the vast terrain of representations of higher-order languages and sets the bar for type insanity / wizardry.)

Here's what I ended up with: Bird_Paterson_deBruijn.ml.

You'll see that I ran out of patience / interest in working out a full showE function for the efficient representation. I think you're supposed to normalise it first and use showT. As I observe in the file, Yallop and White have thought about how to massage the syntactic overhead of higher-ranked polymorphism (think Haskell's functors, monads, traversables, this crazy nested datatype stuff, etc.).

I came to think that ocaml's module and object systems (really row polymorphism) give Haskell's baroque combination of features some solid competition. I like being able to define lightweight namespaces that actually do encapsulate things. The uniformity of ocaml's type declarations (just say type) is awesome, and would be even more awesome if they'd wired row polymorphism in there too, rather than adding a whole pile of constructs for an object-oriented style that is foreign to just about everyone. I don't care about the fine details of syntax but would observe that its treatment of user-defined operators frankly sucks. *shrug*

Note that Bird and Paterson's scheme is a non-starter in Standard ML due to the latter not supporting polymorphic recursion.

I also tried to test this representation using an ad hoc QuickCheck-alike, using Pierre Lescanne's ideas about generating λ-terms. As Oleg shows, it takes some doing to generate interesting ones. More on this later perhaps.

Zia Haider Rahman: In the Light of What We Know

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I picked this up on the strength of James Wood's fawning review in the New Yorker, and, of course, that the author is Bangladeshi and was going to say something about the 1971 civil war / war for independence / revolution / genocide. Oh, and finance. Wood is right: it wears its knowledge heavily, and oftentimes my eyes glazed over, wishing that the editor had eradicated the prevarications over adjectives, reduced the number of balls concurrently in the air, tied up all loose ends. Who wants to read an author's bleatings about the difficulties of writing? That's right, other writers. It also struck me that if the book is good, you read it fast because it sucks you in, and if it is no good, then you read it fast so you can get to the next one. So you read it fast, and in the case of these almost-500 page beasts, it can lead to a loss of cabin pressure. In any case I wasn't going to pore over it as I would a Francis Spufford.

Rahman is a sucker for epistemic jokes, just like me, though few can best Rumsfeld in the public domain and it's been a while since he vacated the pitch. He is often not careful with Gödel, whose famous theorem is about truth and proof, and not just truth ala Tarski. It is intuition that gives us a handle on truth, but as we don't trust ours or other people's, we demand proof, i.e., a justification rooted in what we take to be more self-evident. The theorem is difficult and slippery, and experts like Raymond Smullyan tend to carefully separate their commentary on it from their humanistic works. Wading in where angels fear to tread, indeed.

The plot is so very A Quiet American (and probably all the other things Wood gestures at, of which I know aught), with some splintering of characters and switcheroo of the cultural identities of the villains. I found Emily to be underwritten; she is no more than her sex and class, and I found her to be entirely resistable. Her mother, Penelope, is a flake, her father a cypher; shades of Gone Girl? The portrayal of working-class Englishmen as, well, workman-like pragmatists is unoriginal and unsurprising. These parts perhaps spoke more to the compatibility of caste and class, and race as a mediator, and I for one benefited from a longer exploration from elsewhere. One could imagine Ishiguro telling the same story more epically in about fifty pages.

The whole thing is overstuffed with novelty informational detritus of the kind easily found across the entire internet these days. A couple I liked (Rahman doesn't give references for his in-text factoids). Firstly, page 71:

Time appears to slow down, said Zafar [protagonist, authorial voice, often narrator], at moments of crisis, stress, or anxiety. Time slows down, we think, during a car crash or when a person falls from a great height into a net, the latter being the setting for certain scientific experiments conducted to explore this experience of the slowing of time. The experience of time slowing down is now understood as a function of the creation of memories. According to the science, it now seems that durig stress, groups of neurons known as amygdalae are engaged in activity. Associated with this is a spiked increase in the number of memories recorded by the brain in every tiny interval of time — in every instant, you might say. The sensation of how much time passed during an event is dependent on the number of memories associated with the event by the brain; the more memories, however instantaneous, the greater the length of time that is perceived to have passed. That is why we think time slowed down, when in fact we captured an album of photographs in the blink of an eye.

Secondly page 309, an excerpt from Liberty or Death by Patrick French (authorized biographer of V.S. Naipaul):

I can remember at one official function [in West Pakistan] where there was a group of women, wives of members of the elite, and I overheard one laughing to the others, "What does it matter if women in Bengal are being raped by our soldiers? At least the next generation of Bengalis will be better looking." That was the kind of attitude you found there in 1971, and it is still around today.

This book garnered reviews from all corners. Amitava Kumar at the New York Times. Louise Adler at the Smage. Sameer Rahim at the Telegraph is more sceptical. etc. etc. It is eminently quotable, and to be a little unfair, good at making people think they are thinking. I'm glad Rahman took the time to write this, but I had hopes he'd make it denser.

Big Hero 6

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$9.84 = $8.79 + $1.05 (freedom tax) at the AMC Loews 600, 3:30pm on Thanksgiving. Loan suggested I go see this one, and I remember thinking the short was promising. The animation is great and robot himself quite funny, but overall it's very derivative.

LAMPO: Lucky Dragons

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I missed the last LAMPO for not-particularly-good reasons; lethargy, weather, I forget. This one had them queuing out the front from 7pm, when I got here, after a rather expensive dinner at Big Bowl (good ingredients, mediocre penang sauce, decent brown ale sold as a stout). The light show on Michigan confused the route. As it turned out there was at least one empty seat; full but not packed, I'd say. At some point the organisers unlocked the doors but did not invite us in. They're a weird mob.

So this gig was closer to the improv I'm used to, but with many laptops and only a few instruments (a drum kit, xylophones, oboe (?)). They put some visuals on the roof, but nothing too exciting. The schtick was to play the same piece (in some sense) through twice, with the second influenced by an audience interaction / bikeshedding session in the middle. One guy opined "isn't chance the opposite of concensus?" which made me scratch my head about as much as the suggested mechanisms for terminating the chance movement. Anyway. I found it relaxing. Their blurb:

Los Angeles-based collaborative duo Lucky Dragons premiere "RSVP Partita," a new performance for Lampo that treats Lawrence and Anna Halprin's late 60's workshop-based approach to creative processes as a musical form -- folding score, performance and evaluation together into an iterative suite for instrumentalists, software and group conversation.

A collaboration between artists Sarah Rara (b. 1983, Livingston, N.J.) and Luke Fischbeck (b. 1978, San Francisco, Calif.), Lucky Dragons have been exploring the nuances of sound as a participatory medium for close to 14 years through recordings, performance, software design, workshops, and installations. Their work has been presented in a wide variety of contexts, including the Whitney Museum of American Art (as part of the 2008 Whitney Biennial), the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Walker Art Center, London's Institute for Contemporary Art, MOMA/PS1 and the Kitchen in New York, REDCAT, LACMA and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, MOCA Los Angeles, the 54th Venice Biennale, and the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, among others. The name "Lucky Dragons" is borrowed from a fishing vessel caught in the fallout from H-bomb tests in the mid-1950s; an incident which sparked international outcry, spontaneously generating the worldwide anti-nuclear movement.

Presented in partnership with the Graham Foundation, in conjunction the Graham’s current exhibition, Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966-1971.

Theater Unspeakable: The American Revolution presented by Adventure Stage at the Vittum Theater.

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$20.00 = $17 + $3 "convenience charge". I've walked and cycled past this theatre (near the corner of Milwaukee and Noble) so many times, and the strong recommendation from the Reader brought me to this. While I was waiting in the foyer, I hear a child who is asked to write something he holds to be self-evident on the board say "you're never too old to go to school." I also hear a parent trying to explain that onerous taxation justifies bloodshed to another child.

This production assumes more familiarity with the revolution than I had, which rendered some it quite opaque. I did learn that some of the native Americans lined up with the Brits, and that Washington freed his slave William Lee after passing himself. The American colonial army seems to owe a lot to a Prussian general, who was presented histrionically, somewhat evoking the world-famous German warmakers of the twentieth century. Intentional? I don't know. The French were foppish froggy clowns, familiar from ... well, any Ameican cartoon that refers to the French. The English generals were closer to the mark, desultory and misguided. King George was made into two people, which was both funny and apposite.

The acting was fantastic, physical with some effective mime technique, all crammed onto a tiny table that brought welcome constraints to the production according to the actors in the discussion afterwards. I really liked the flag hung from the front of the table: the Union Jack in the centre bleeding into the Stars and Stripes at the ends.

Promethean Theatre Ensemble: The Winter's Tale at the Anthenaeum Theatre.

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$24.45 = $20 + $2 restoration fee + $2.45 "Convenience Charge", bought 2014-10-21. I took the purple line to Wellington and schlepped up that street, and had an early dinner at the Golden Apple Diner: the first steak I'd had in six months or more, totally serviceable. After grabbing my ticket I headed back to Heritage Bicycles, which I think mostly functions as a repair and coffee shop. Their coffee was great, the decor flawlessly evoking the romance of bygone fixies and gramophones. Yes, it's a hipster stop.

This was a Megan DeLay segue from Smash at the Piccolo Theatre; Pete R. knows I'm not much into Shakespeare, especially not the drecky lesser-known later works like this one. It falls into two halves (and fortunately not three). The first is something like The Tempest or King Lear: in a barely-plausible fit of pique the King decides to ruin his life by ruining the lives of those most dear to him. OK, so far, so familiar. The second is a bucolic comedy, where the thief worryingly does not get his comeuppance. Am I not in America, the home of happy righteous endings?

The Anthenaeum Theatre is huge, but this was produced in the tiny Studio Theatre 1, which is smaller than the back room of the church I went to on Sunday. It proves beyond the actors, who are otherwise mostly fine, to scale down their vocalisations. This is unfortunate as the play itself is entirely about standing around and holding forth, and as it turned out, they often stood right in front of me (front right corner) and occluded what little action there was. Megan had one of the sensible characters and was as solid as everyone else at waiting for her turn to declaim.

The Reader got it about right, though I think Cameron Feagin over-emoted the whole time. There was some form of dance going on upstairs, attracting loads of younguns. The building itself is similar to the church that put on the Albee. Once again the #9 bus on Ashland got me home.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: Dvorák, Chausson, and Schubert at the Harris Theater.

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Somehow I managed to get free tickets to this from the 芝加哥中国文化 院 Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, Inc. The bloke sitting next to me with the phablet may have been there for the intended purpose, whatever that was.

Today was bloody cold. I walked up from work, grabbing a Thai from Siam on Washington and a hot chocolate from the Intelligentsia on Randolph, unfondly, for old times' sake. I enjoyed the Dvorák (Selections from Cypresses (Echo of Songs) for Two Violins, Viola, and Cello, B. 152, and Nocturne in B Major for Two Violins, Viola, Cello, and Bass, Op. 40 (1870, rev. 1882)) and parts of the Chausson (Trio in G minor for Piano, Viilin, and Cello, Op. 3 (1881)). Schubert's bucolic left me cold. The musicians were solid; I get the impression they are based in New York. The Harris Theater is conveniently almost connected to the Metra station at the top of Millennium Park, but I had to walk back to Wabash to get the green line out to Ashland.

Theatre Y: Happy Days at Saint Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Logan Square.

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Goldstar ticket: $10.00 + $3.75 service fee = $13.75. I was reluctant to go as I'm not a huge Beckett fan, which was well proven by Hellish Half Light. A review in the Reader tipped it. I schlepped up on foot from Noble Street via a totally-packed Filter Café, and the Sultan's Market. Sub-zero cold, yes, and rainy, of all things.

This is essentially a one-woman play, and Melissa Lorraine is superb as that woman. Buried past her waist in Péter Szabó's CRTs, LCDs and at least one ancient iMac, she ably demonstrates what it takes to keep body and soul together in these (and those) times of vacuous modernity. The second half is rapid-fire absurdism and less of a pretence that she is succeeding, which is somewhat distressing given her isolation. Melissa's ability to juice the repetitive dialogue for effect, especially humour and later pathos, is mesmerizing. I regret missing her Medea from earlier this year, despite it being a year of many Medeas. Her husband (Evan Hill) provided some able support with his nineteen lines and several falls. The sound (again by Péter Szabó) is immersive. The video segments were from real life.

Afterwards Melissa stepped down and cornered us all for a talkback, which they term "barrack dramaturgy" (coined by the director Andráz Visky, resident in Transylvania). Clearly still fired up by her performance, she ably disarmed the audience by discussing the material clearly and articulately, again with Evan's support. She made me regret not coming earlier in the season — apparently their interpretation has changed a lot in response to experience, and that would have been something to see. Wisely they passed the hat around at the end of the night, and so I got to pay $20 for the brewed-in-Holland Heineken that came gratis at the start of the evening. I took the blue line L back.

More plaudits from Kyle Whalen at the Chicago Stage Standard. I'll certainly go to whatever they do next.

Piccolo Theatre: The Love of Three Oranges

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Another Goldstar ticket: $13.50 + $4.25 service fee = $17.75. I really should pay full-price to these guys, as they really are worth it. Like last time, this was opening night. Damn cold. I left work at 4pm to get the 4.35pm Metra up to Evanston, and it turned out that Carl had the same idea. I spent a bit of time at Brothers K again, this time avoiding over-caffeination with a hot chocolate. The Thai across the road is passable, but slow; not enough waiters, it would seem. Unfortunately the Piccolo Theatre, sited in the erstwhile waiting room next to the southbound Metra line, does not serve beer.

I was originally going to give this a miss as I assumed that pantomime was not my thing, and I was half-right; I'd have been mortified if I was the only (type of) person in the audience. Fortunately there was a dear old couple, originally from somewhere in Europe (argh, crap memory) whose flawless American was a perfect shield. He was quite droll, she chatty, telling me they were both computer geeks from back in the days of paper tape (!), apparently 1958. I wonder how they balanced parentheses on those typewriters.

This is apparently an adaptation of an adaptation. All of the performers hammed it up as far as their characters allowed. Joshua D. Allard was the perfect host as Dame Celia, and if the Americans ever remake Red Dwarf then they have a perfect Kryten waiting in the form of rubber-faced King-of-Hearts Max Hinders. I missed all the TV references. The plot was totally ridiculous. The lighting design was quite amazing for the black-curtained witch-off "black arts" scene at the end between Celia and Fata Morgana (Amelia Lorenz).

I got the Metra back to Clybourn and North and Ashland, and the #9 going directly south brought me home; simply too cold to walk very far.

The Reader was less sold on it.

Interstellar

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With workmates Alex, Carl, Nick. 6.30pm IMAX, Navy Pier, 70mm. $20. Epic burger beforehand.

What is this, a space opera? In 2014? How very 2001-derivative, and so easy to sink the boot into. Marvin-style robots take on monolith forms when they're not being R2D2s, HAL is a misanthropic man who tries to steal a wheel (a weak antonym of Kubrick's elegant Discovery), McConaughey-and-monolith as star children, and the Deep Space 9 wormhole supplants the monolith. The science gets quite muddled once the black hole turns up, so I guess Hawking was too busy basking in his own movie to offer advice on this one. (Christian from work explained to me that it is a theoretical possibility thus far without much empirical support that Hawking radiation may transmit information out of a black hole, but that's more physics than I ever understood.) Leaving aside the question of the bandwidth of a twitching second hand of a watch, Chastain is going to have the devil's own time decyphering that data if it is in Morse as it is not a prefix code. I'm stopping here. Science, who needs it when you have gravity, lurv and massive blackboards.

There are some good visuals here, though Nolan is late to the party (hosted by The Tree of Life and Gravity) of cool cosmology. Hathaway phones it in. McConaughey is robust enough for two movies. I like Casey Affleck's signature low-key smolder, but he doesn't really get a chance to mumble. Chastain was surprisingly plausible. God save me from Michael Caine, who peaked shortly after 2001's initial theatrical release. Zimmer's music is overly intense, most of the time.

I was expecting the politics to be: get out there and resume space exploration, every geekboy's dogma, for the planet's rooted and we'll be rooned. The short certainly made it seem so. There is instead an attempt at complexification, with some concern with sustainability, though the conclusion seems to be we need to go anyway. What I really don't like is that Nolan reckons we're screwed unless God shows up, and/or we send ourselves information from the future. Last time God showed up we nailed him to a tree, though perhaps Nolan is suggesting that next time around we won't have trees, so it might work out better. The other fork smells too much of Terminator causality bullshit to me. None of this is surprising as Nolan has always cleaved to the one-great-man-of-history storylines. What I really want to know is why McConaughey was chasing Hathaway at the end. In any case the whole thing is terribly derivative.

Reviews are, of course, plentiful. Dana Stevens somehow misdiagnoses originality here but gets it right in the end. Correct result from false premises and unsound reasoning? Yes, the movie had that in spades. Apart, possibly, for the correct result. I wish I'd seen the movie A. O. Scott did. Denby brackets this with the Hawking movie.

Oracle Theatre: Romulus at the Public Access Theatre.

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I reserved a spot at this thing back on 2014-11-03. It was fairly packed, but not so much that I would have missed out without one. Their schtick is to provide free access to theatre, and as is always the case in these situations, it ended up costing me more ($20) than I usually spend. I got half an over-gassed beer in return, and a pretty funny show. Written by Gore Vidal "from the play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt", directed by Kasey Foster. Kevin Cox is great in the lead, with excellent comedic timing.

Justin Hayford at the Reader has it just about right. Kerry Reid at the Chicago Tribune.

Tympanic Theatre: Social Creatures at the Den Theatre.

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Goldstar. $10.50 = $7.50 + $3.00 service fee. Some sort of zombie apocalypse thing. Justin Hayford at the Reader has the salients. I was too out of it after four beers (I got cornered by some traders at work) to get into this one.