Chicago

The Academy of Ebert

February 28, 2011
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The Academy of Ebert

While recovering from watching an Academy Awards broadcast helmed by a blasé multiplatform performance artist or two, we got to thinking about Chicago’s own cinematic rex. Or rather, he got us thinking, with a simple Tweet stating the obvious: “Is James Franco the first PhD candidate to host the Oscars?” Of course, we thought! This is probably the only time the Oscars have featured a host who may or may not be a regular at the Beineke Library. But in the middle of trying to read James Franco as a cipher for contemporary subjectivity—whose Method is this? Schneeman, not Strasberg, right?—we had forsaken simplicity. As ebertchicago had so aptly advanced in 140 characters or less: Whoa. The Academy met the academy. But Roget Ebert has long delivered pithy bites of criticism unflinchingly avoidant of the kind of postmodern meta-analysis James Franco probably delivers in his seminar papers. Ebert the man, like Ebert the Twitter feed, requires no introduction. In spite of this, a recent playbill for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Friday Night at the Movies tribute admirably attempted one: Through his decades of Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism, groundbreaking television work with Gene Siskel, acclaimed yearly film festival, and now his . . .

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The Reader, Mr. Rosenbaum

October 28, 2010
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The Reader, Mr. Rosenbaum

If you watch movies and read blogs about watching movies, or blog with movie-like aplomb and thus spend your days (sort of like I do) plaintively “watching” the Internet, then Jonathan Rosenbaum is a man who needs no introduction. He certainly deserves a better one, no? Preeminent critic, global film connoisseur, former bandmate of Chevy Chase, opiner of Dead Man and op-ed penner upon the death of Ingmar Begman, Rosenbaum has been one of the most important figures in American film journalism for more than a quarter of a century. His most recent book Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in Transition collects fifty pieces of his astute criticism from the past four decades, each of which showcases his passion for the way we view movies, as well as how we write about them. The book and its author have been receiving quite a bit of attention lately from outlets as varied as the films Rosenbaum engages, like the Onion‘s A.V. Club: Ceaselessly prolific, frighteningly well-informed on seemingly every detail of film history, and well ahead of the technological curve, Jonathan Rosenbaum has championed and contextualized many films in his 40 years as a critic. When print film criticism flourished, . . .

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David Royko on his father’s birthday

September 20, 2010
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Dad, a.k.a. Mike Royko, would have turned 78 yesterday, Sunday, September 19, and if he were still around, I would not greet him with a “Happy Birthday.” Many people, men and women alike, especially after a “certain age,” prefer to ignore their birthdays and wish the world would too. But the rest of us prefer to ignore their wishes and gleefully rub the day in the birthday boys’ and girls’ faces. Hey, we all get older, so get over it, right? Dad, though, was different. On September 19, 1979, Carol—Mom—died. He’d loved her since they were kids, married her when they were very young adults, and lost her on his 47th birthday. They had been coming up on their 25th wedding anniversary. She was 44. And that was it for birthdays. I might’ve tried a quiet, mumbled “happy birthday” one year, but the reaction, the grunt and turning-away, taught me not to try it again. So year after year, I’d try to find some excuse to stop by, either his home or down at the paper, and casually drop something off, like a book or CD, and never with any mention of why. He’d accept it with a quick “Oh, . . .

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In Which the Chicago Blog Makes an Important Announcement about the Mayoral Race

September 8, 2010
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In Which the Chicago Blog Makes an Important Announcement about the Mayoral Race

In the day since Mayor Daley’s surprise announcement that he won’t be seeking another term, speculation has run rampant and the rumor mill has been pulling twenty-four-hour shifts. So we thought we should be clear: unlike seemingly every other resident of our fair city, the Chicago Blog will not be running for mayor. Sure, we’ve got more than a century of accumulated knowledge about the City That Works (and how it works). And no candidate can come close to matching our backlist. But the rough and tumble of politics just isn’t for us. We’re more contemplative. Bookish, you might say. That doesn’t mean we don’t have some recommendations for those who are throwing their hats in the ring. First up are some good starting points for assessing Daley’s legacy—if you want to replace the king, you ought to take a close look at the crown first. Larry Bennett’s brand-new . . .

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Royko on ABC 7 News

September 3, 2010
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More television coverage of Royko in Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol. Last night David Royko sat down with WLS-TV news reporter Janet Davies: . . .

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Royko in Love on FOX Chicago News

September 2, 2010
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As promised yesterday, here is David Royko’s appearance last night on FOX Chicago News talking about Royko in Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol: . . .

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CMOS 16 in the News

September 1, 2010
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CMOS 16 in the News

The reviews are in, and they’re all raves! One day after the official publication date of The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, the Chicago Tribune weighed in with a feature-length story about the new edition and the readers who love it. Steve Johnson, the Tribune‘s pop culture critic, writes: Bound, famously, in orange and thicker with each new edition, the 104-year-old reference classic has kept watch over the publication of hundreds of great books and thousands of not-so-great ones, an arbiter and aide-de-camp for editors trying to decide how to handle items in a list, punctuation within quotes or, these days, the proper hexadecimal code for the German double low-9 quotation mark (201E, as you probably suspected). The Tribune article also quotes Wendy McClure, an author and editor at Albert Whitman & Company: “I love that big, crazy, orange book.… It’s what I’ve turned to when I’m unsure about something when I’m proofreading. But also, when you have your first publishing job and are trying to figure out how this all works, you’ve got this whole big book you can plunge into.” The New York Times Paper Cuts blog chimed in with a “usage geek’s” take on what’s new . . .

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Royko on TV

September 1, 2010
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Royko on TV

Royko in Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol, the newest edition to the Press’s collection of works by the award winning journalist, offers a rare look into the personal life of one of Chicago’s most beloved public icons. Through his writing Royko made a reputation for himself as the prototypical hard-nosed Chicago journalist—tough, funny, acerbic, yet eloquent enough to win a Pulitzer Prize. But in Royko in Love we see another side, both sensitive and vulnerable and passionately consumed with wooing his childhood sweetheart, Carol Duckman. Royko in Love was collected and edited by Royko’s son, David Royko and over the next few days he will be making several TV appearances speak about the book and offer further insights into his father’s life and career. Tonight you can catch David Royko on Fox Chicago News at 9:00 pm, tomorrow on ABC 7 Chicago News at 4:00 pm, and next week on the Tuesday edition of WTTW’s Chicago Tonight and Thursday September 29 on WGN’s Midday News. We’ll also post the video online as it becomes available. See also, photos of Mike and Carol Royko, with commentary by David Royko. . . .

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Chimpanzees Do Not Make Good Pets

August 26, 2010
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Chimpanzees Do Not Make Good Pets

Most pets in the US either bark or meow—Americans own more than seventy-seven million dogs and ninety-three million cats. But how many chimpanzees are kept at home as pets? It’s a question that, until now, had no easy answer. But thanks to the pioneering work of Lincoln Park Zoo scientist Steve Ross, we now have a figure: about 113. And, if Ross, has his way, that number will dwindle to zero. Today’s Chicago Tribune reports on Ross’s mission to change the way people view these primates and their (un)suitability as pets. His organization, Project ChimpCARE, hopes “to locate every chimpanzee in North America and assess its level of care.” For Ross, the ChimpCARE project is about protecting chimps and people from a dangerous public misperception that chimps are safe, people-friendly animals, which makes him opposed in particular to using chimps as actors. Chimps seen on screen are babies or prepubescent youngsters, never adults, Ross said. When they reach puberty, they become dangerously unpredictable and aggressive, a tendency that resulted in tragedy last year when one retired chimp attacked and severely injured a woman in Connecticut. And Ross should know a thing of two about chimpanzees. After all, he coedited our . . .

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Alex Kotlowitz reviews The Wagon

July 9, 2010
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Alex Kotlowitz reviews The Wagon

A recent review of Martin Preib’s The Wagon and Other Stories from the City for barnesandnoblereview.com begins by citing the some of the recent media coverage involving the Chicago Police Department—from the conviction of former commander Jon Burge “for lying about having tortured scores of suspects over a twenty-year period in the 1970s and ’80s,” to the recent death of officer Thomas Wortham IV, shot as a gang of thugs tried to steal his motorcycle, and, of course, the re-escalation of homicides in the city. The review continues: Martin Preib’s The Wagon and Other Stories from the City is a welcome, albeit at times maddening, effort to fashion a narrative that reflects the reality of this messy, yet vital American city. Preib has been a Chicago cop for eight years, but he’s not defined by his police work. He greatly admires Walt Whitman and William Kennedy, writers who despite having seen the worst in mankind were (in the case of Kennedy, still is) capable of maintaining a faith—admittedly quivering at times—in the human spirit. Before his police work, Preib worked as a doorman at a downtown hotel, and there witnessed the grueling and often humiliating labor of those in the . . .

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