Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Last March Readings

I'm overwhelmed with work deadlines again (is there ever a time when I'm not?--I'm not sure anymore), and it completely slipped my mind to remind everyone to check out Stockyards Theatre Project's final March play and scene readings tonight. (It's the final one because today's March 31--clever how that works out, isn't it?) We'll be back at Eisenhower Public Library in Harwood Heights. Tonight's presentation will feature The Many Faces of E.G.O. by Earliana McLaurin and Water Colored Roses by Jessica Marking. Both are new pieces--no recycling from previous readings--so if you've already been a faithful participant, you haven't seen these before. Eisenhower Library is at 4613 N. Oketo in Harwood Heights, and things get started at 7:00. Like all of these performances, admission is free. Come on out and see some great new theater in the making!

The Torture Regime

Now that the Bush administration is no longer in office, is there a stronger will to make officials own up to the consequences of their acts? It seems like there's a little bit more willingness to look at the situation, but we'll have to hold our breath to see how it develops.

For the time being, though, we had a front-page story in Sunday's Washington Post about the waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation" of Abu Zubaida, the Bushies' highest-profile detainee. Bush himself argued that information gleaned from "tough questioning" of Zubaida was integral to the success of the War on Terror, yet somehow the headline read, "Detainee's Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots." How could that have possibly happened?

We all know the answer to that question, of course. In Monday's Post, Dan Froomkin takes a look at the Sunday piece and points out that, although it's good to get the attention now, this information isn't exactly new. Ron Suskind discussed this in his 2006 book, The One Percent Doctrine. Froomkin talked about it then (and, now that you mention it, so did I), but with more than two years left until Bush left office, nobody seemed to want to pay attention. Today do we live in a whole new world? I don't know, maybe. Will people pay attention to it now? I suspect they will a little bit more now than they did then. It's a slow build, but at least it's building. Maybe one day it will lead to actual justice.

Monday, March 30, 2009

To Salon or Not to Salon?

Ever since went to a pay system a few years ago, I've bought a subscription. You got to do away with the ads, and there were a few other perks that came with the purchase. I don't recall off the top of my head exactly how much it costs, but I believe it's somewhere around thirty dollars. I've figured that it's money I can afford for a worthy cause.

This past year, though, for some reason my member name and password never seemed to take in the memories of either of the computers I normally use. Each time I'd try to read an article, it would ask for my name and password anew. At some point, though, it stopped asking. Every now and then, I'd see an ad pass by before I could access the story I wanted, but I've generally got several things going on with the computer, so I could just slip over to another screen until it was finished. Most of the time, however, it would just take me directly to the page I was seeking. I suppose it put pop-ups on my screen, but other sites do that, too, and I was never specifically aware of a particular pop-up caused by Salon. (And, since I've always got a pop-up blocker running, maybe I haven't even seen one.) So they've shown me that I can get along quite well without a subscription.

My sub is up in about a week, and I'm getting the reminder notices to renew. At this point, I'm not sure when was the last time I've actually logged in. One thing I'd lose is access to their Table Talk message board feature, but I never particularly participated in that anyway. There are other magazine subscriptions they usually offer, but, although I never minded receiving them, I often wouldn't have time to read the issues, they'd start to pile up, and ultimately Mrs. Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk would ask, "Who started sending us this?" I've checked their sign up page (from the outside, not as a renewing member), and I'm not really sure what to make of it. They offer nine different membership plans (although most of the difference is just in deciding which free book you want), and I'm not entirely sure what the difference is. I'm also not sure how far I have to venture into the sign-up process to discover what the price is.

On writing about this, I feel like I'm talking myself into not renewing--I'm really not that sure I see why it's necessary. My subscription doesn't lapse for a few days, though, so if anyone wants to make an argument one way or another, I'm willing to listen. My mind isn't entirely made up yet, so who knows--maybe I'm ripe for swaying.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quick Hits

The good news is that it appears that Fargo has avoided the worst predictions for the Red River. Forecasters now believe that the river crested last night at 40.82 feet, more than two feet below expectations. The cold weather that's seemed to work against residents as the sandbags froze may have been their salvation. Water that otherwise would have been adding to the level of the river is frozen and holding off for just a little bit longer. Part of the problem has been snow melt, and freezing temperatures keep that much more snow from melting. The forecast still calls for another week or so of raised river levels, so nothing's certain until the water starts receding. But it's a better situation than it looked like it was going to be.

I'll admit to complete selfishness in making sure that I had my tickets all lined up before I passed this on to everybody else. But now I do, so I'll let you know that I'm planning to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Terry Jones in a few weeks. He's making an appearance at Chicago's Lakeshore Theater, where we'll see the movie and then pepper him with questions. The show's announcement was made earlier this week, and as of a couple of days ago there were still tickets, though I can't say how long they may last.

We started talking about the weather, so we might as well end on it, too. Al Gore is writing another book on global warming, and I can only hope that he'll include information about a situation I just discovered last week. The movie The Blob was on last weekend, and when Steve McQueen and his pals finally figured out how to combat it, they sent it up to the arctic wastes. It seems that, although the creature can't be killed, it can be frozen into a sort of stasis. The final line in the movie announces that the world will be safe from the blob "as long as the arctic stays cold." I trust Gore will use this as another argument to reinforce the gravity if global warming.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

About the Weather

For anybody who thinks that the equinox earlier this week has any bearing on it actually being spring, just watch out for the accumulating snow we're supposed to be getting over the weekend. But that would still be preferable to what Fargo, North Dakota is going through at the moment. The Red River is reaching record heights--even higher than expected--and the sandbags may or may not be stacked high enough. It looks like there'll be no John Wayne, Montgomery Clift (hey, where did I see that guy?), or even Frances McDormand to ride to the rescue this time. If the cresting river itself weren't enough of a problem, the temperature in Fargo is far below zero, so the sandbags being used to prevent flooding are freezing instead. One official compared them to frozen turkeys--not the most effective tool to be deflecting water.

There's talk now that the river will wait until Sunday to crest. Although this gives more time for Fargo to prepare, I'm not sure what more they can do. And once the river crests, the National Weather Service says that the water won't start receding for about a week. Residents along the Red River still have a ways to go before anything starts getting back to something like normal. Keep watching the news to see how it all develops.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Market Mystique

I'm ridiculously busy these days, so I fear all I've got to offer tonight is a link to Dr. Krugman in Friday's NYTimes. And in case you think you can't be bothered to click over to his remembrances of the wondrous days when banks enticed you with free toasters (and that was considered enough), here's his open:

On Monday, Lawrence Summers, the head of the National Economic Council, responded to criticisms of the Obama administration's plan to subsidize private purchases of toxic assets. "I don't know of any economist," he declared, "who doesn't believe that better functioning capital markets in which assets can be traded are a good idea."

Leave aside for a moment the question of whether a market in which buyers have to be bribed to participate can really be described as "better functioning." Even so, Mr. Summers needs to get out more. Quite a few economists have reconsidered their favorable opinion of capital markets and asset trading in the light of the current crisis.

But it has become increasingly clear over the past few days that top officials in the Obama administration are still in the grip of the market mystique. They still believe in the magic of the financial marketplace and in the prowess of the wizards who perform that magic.

Now go and click.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

John Hope Franklin

Dr. John Hope Franklin, one of the architects of black history studies, died on Wednesday night. When I took a black history course nearly thirty years ago, we used Dr. Franklin's text, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. He'd published the first edition of it more than thirty years prior to that. (I've still got my copy around here somewhere.) Dr. Franklin was 94 years old, which means that he was born before the United States entered World War I. His grandparents had been slaves, and he lived through some of the worst of Jim Crow America. Walter Dellinger, a Constitutional lawyer who taught beside Dr. Franklin at Duke University, has a lovely remembrance in The Washington Post. You should go and read the whole thing, but this is a nice overview of some of his most important accomplishments:

He worked on a crucial brief for Brown v. Board of Education, he marched in Selma, he lectured all over the world and he taught all of America to see through his uncompromising eye. But it was not just what he did but how he did it that marked his greatness. He understood that the public good was not merely a set of substantive outcomes; it is also defined by how we go about reconciling our competing visions of that public good. It is about how we view one another when we peer across the great divides of policy, preference, political party and personhood. John Hope Franklin looked at those who opposed him and saw fellow human beings.

President Obama issued a statement saying:

Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people. Dr. Franklin will be deeply missed, but his legacy is one that will surely endure.

It is certainly meaningful that Dr. Franklin was able to live through the first two months of the Obama presidency. The Charlotte Observer helpfully posted a video of Dr. Franklin's reaction to that momentous occasion on the Website.

Goodbye, Dr. Franklin. You've earned your rest.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tear Off Your Own Head

A couple of weeks back, a friend sent me this link, and I haven't had a chance to pass it on yet. It's mostly about newspapers falling by the wayside and the great What's Next?, but what's most interesting to me is this section:

Elizabeth Eisenstein's magisterial treatment of Gutenberg's invention, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, opens with a recounting of her research into the early history of the printing press. She was able to find many descriptions of life in the early 1400s, the era before movable type. Literacy was limited, the Catholic Church was the pan-European political force, Mass was in Latin, and the average book was the Bible. She was also able to find endless descriptions of life in the late 1500s, after Gutenberg's invention had started to spread. Literacy was on the rise, as were books written in contemporary languages, Copernicus had published his epochal work on astronomy, and Martin Luther's use of the press to reform the Church was upending both religious and political stability.

What Eisenstein focused on, though, was how many historians ignored the transition from one era to the other. To describe the world before or after the spread of print was child's play; those dates were safely distanced from upheaval. But what was happening in 1500? The hard question Eisenstein's book asks is "How did we get from the world before the printing press to the world after it? What was the revolution itself like?"

Chaotic, as it turns out. The Bible was translated into local languages; was this an educational boon or the work of the devil? Erotic novels appeared, prompting the same set of questions. Copies of Aristotle and Galen circulated widely, but direct encounter with the relevant texts revealed that the two sources clashed, tarnishing faith in the Ancients. As novelty spread, old institutions seemed exhausted while new ones seemed untrustworthy; as a result, people almost literally didn't know what to think. If you can't trust Aristotle, who can you trust?

During the wrenching transition to print, experiments were only revealed in retrospect to be turning points.

. . .

That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn't apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread. Even the revolutionaries can't predict what will happen. Agreements on all sides that core institutions must be protected are rendered meaningless by the very people doing the agreeing. (Luther and the Church both insisted, for years, that whatever else happened, no one was talking about a schism.) Ancient social bargains, once disrupted, can neither be mended nor quickly replaced, since any such bargain takes decades to solidify.

I don't know whether it actually provides any comfort to recognize that we're entering an uncertain and somewhat anarchic time, but at least it takes the surprise out of it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Time for Another Reading

Stockyards Theatre Project's Playreading Series moves west tonight, over to Harwood Heights, where it will finish out Woman's History Month with a reading tonight and another one next Tuesday on March 31. On tap for tonight are two features, "Mimi & Mirna," a one-act by Naomi Finkelstein, and "A History of Two Broads in Two Acts" by Brenda Kilianski (I believe the second one will feature selected scenes). The action's expected to start up at 7:00 at Eisenhower Public Library, which is at 4613 N. Oketo in Harwood Heights. As always, it's free. If you're in Chicago, especially on the northwest side (although if you've got a car, you can be without too awful much trouble), drop in to support the arts, to support women's theater, and to support Stockyard Theatre Project (although not necessarily in that order).

UPDATED to add link and address clarification.

Where the Hell Are You, Man?

Here's something that's cheesy, hoaky, and oddly compelling as it asks one of the pressing questions of the day.

(And if you're not sure why this is one of the most pressing questions of the day, read this and weep.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Something Called "Money Well Spent"

Back a couple of weeks ago, when Barack Obama addressed Congress (but did not deliver a State of the Union speech--no matter what it might've looked like), Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal delivered the Republican response. His delivery wasn't terribly well received, and he was the target of a fair amount of criticism about his content. Among many criticisms he had of the president and his budget, Jindal complained about $140 million set aside for "something called 'volcano monitoring.'" It's not entirely clear why he used that particular construction, as if he didn't really understand the purpose of the concept, because you'd think that the meaning of the term would be fairly self-evident. He might have questioned the program's usefulness, but he came off looking ill-informed by seeming not to comprehend it at all.

But if the usefulness of the program wasn't obvious before, it sure is now. It helped provide warning of something called a "volcanic eruption" in Alaska and make sure the area was properly prepared. Mount Redoubt in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve erupted on Sunday (and has erupted four more times since) after the mountain had been growing more and more active. So far I've seen no reports of injury. All involved in monitoring this volcano (with our tax dollars) should be appreciated for a job well done.

Misreading the Public Mood

There are plenty of ins and outs surrounding our current economic meltdown, and I must admit that there's more going on than I can follow. But I've been very interested in how public perception has been playing into it all. Frank Rich takes a look at that in Sunday's column, "Has a 'Katrina Moment' Arrived?"

A charming visit with Jay Leno won't fix it. A 90 percent tax on bankers' bonuses won't fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner won't fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans' anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editor published by The Times last week: "President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived."

Six weeks ago I wrote in this space that the country's surge of populist rage could devour the president's best-laid plans, including the essential Act II of the bank rescue, if he didn't get in front of it. The occasion then was the Tom Daschle firestorm. The White House seemed utterly blindsided by the public's revulsion at the moneyed insiders' culture illuminated by Daschle's post-Senate career. Yet last week's events suggest that the administration learned nothing from that brush with disaster.

I wrote a few days ago that the AIG situation was a distraction from the larger problems we face, but it's a distraction that carries a lot of weight. The administration has been taking a far too paternal attitude, assuring us that they've got everything under control when clearly they do not. As Rich continues:

To get ahead of the anger, Obama must do what he has repeatedly promised but not always done: make everything about his economic policies transparent and hold every player accountable. His administration must start actually answering the questions that officials like Geithner and Summers routinely duck.

Inquiring Americans have the right to know why it took six months for us to learn (some of) what A.I.G. did with our money. We need to understand why some of that money was used to bail out foreign banks. And why Goldman, which declared that its potential losses with A.I.G. were "immaterial," nonetheless got the largest-known A.I.G. handout of taxpayers' cash ($12.9 billion) while also receiving a TARP bailout. We need to be told why retention bonuses went to some 50 bankers who not only were in the toxic A.I.G. unit but who left despite the "retention" jackpots. We must be told why taxpayers have so little control of the bailed-out financial institutions that we now own some or most of. And where are the M.R.I.'s from those "stress tests" the Treasury Department is giving those banks?

That's just a short list.

A short list, perhaps, but a longer one than Obama and his administration seem prepared to fulfill.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Refuse to Call This Post Living in the Past

On the latest Sound Opinions (the podcast isn't up yet for a direct link), the Sun-Times's Jim DeRogatis said that the new Decemberist's album, The Hazards of Life (due out on Tuesday) is the best album on "this ilk" since Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick. Now, once upon a time, I was a massive fan of Tull, and I considered Thick as a Brick to be their masterpiece. I did sort of lose much of my enthusiasm when I started following punk and new wave (which seemed to coincide with a change of direction and, for my money, a general decline in the quality of Tull's output), but I still enjoy a lot of their material before 1980. What DeRogatis was getting at in terms of the Decemberists, though, is that they're mixing folk music with the heavier guitar rock (there may have been some mention of metal, but "heavy metal" in 1972 meant something entirely different than it does now), which was very much what Tull was doing back then. DeRogatis was annoyed that, although the Decemberists namecheck various folkies as influences but never mention Ian Anderson or Jethro Tull. Sound Opinions only played some snippets, and if DeRogatis hadn't made the comparison, I must say that it wouldn't have occurred to me, so I'll have to hear the full album before arriving at my own opinion.

Another Tull tidbit that I haven't had a chance to drop into conversation yet concerns their 1976 album, Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! The cover, as well as the comics story that made up the gatefold sleeve, were drawn by Dave Gibbons, who went on to fame a few years later as the artist for Watchmen. I read an interview a while back in which he said that he wasn't particularly a fan of the band, though, but a record album job is a good gig.

Also, this one threw me for a bit of a loop a few years ago. As I've mentioned (and not even very long ago), I'm allergic to legumes, which makes Indian food a bit of a minefield for me. There's plenty that I can have at an Indian restaurant, I just need to know what I'm eating. So one night before I was getting ready to have an Indian meal, I thought I'd do a quick check on the Internet to see if I could identify which dishes I should stay away from. I don't remember exactly what I googled for, but I was essentially looking for a guide to Indian food. One site that came in near the top was Ian Anderson Indian food guide. I took a look and found it very informative, but I'd be curious what someone who's more conversant in Indian food might think.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Parking Woes

Today's Trib had an update on the city of Chicago's efforts to raise parking prices efficiently. Well, not exactly the city of Chicago--more like the company that the city of Chicago leased it's parking to for 75 years at the price of $1.2 billion. Apparently, they're not doing such a great job. On the streets near Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk headquarters, parking has recently gone up from a quarter an hour to a dollar an hour. While that's still not terribly pricey, the fact that the meters are set up only to accept quarters means that you've got to feed it with eight quarters to park for two hours. Who has a constant supply of quarters with them? If you go even closer into town, the price is two dollars an hour, so you need sixteen quarters for the full two-hour term. If you're in the Loop? The Tribune says that it's up to seven dollars for two hours. Seven dollars? I did the math--that's a quarter for every 4.173 minutes. I'm not convinced that the mechanisms on the meters are that precise, but I guess I'm not really in a position to argue.

I don't know that everywhere has them yet, but a number of the streets downtown have replaced their coin meters with automatic meters that print out a tag for the time the cars are parked at that location. These machines can take nickels and dimes as well as quarters, but more importantly, they'll let you use a charge card. I was downtown on Wednesday evening, though, and it appeared to me that the printing meter near where I was parked was charging the previous three dollars an hour, or a simple five minutes for a quarter. This brings up another problem with the new parking meter company: They haven't updated all the meters. Sometimes they've changed the mechanism so that the meter will take more money, but they don't update the signage and notifications so that drivers will realize that they owe more money. And if they put in the amount they traditionally paid, the meter company will be by soon to give them a ticket.

And this doesn't even touch on the most annoying problem the meters have. If, in my neighborhood, they've gone from a quarter and hour to a dollar an hour, that means that they're receiving four times as many coins as they had been. Follow the logic a little bit, and you'll realize that this means they need to be emptied four times as often. Except that they're not. That means many of the meters are breaking down and not taking new coins--but if the meter doesn't say "Fail," there's no indication that something's wrong, and drivers who park there are going to be ticketed. The Trib offers a phone number, 744-PARK, to call if you're at a meter that's not working correctly. Ed Walsh, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Revenue, reminds us: "This can be used later as a defense to an issued ticket, if need be." A word to the wise.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Keeping It Stylish

We've been dealing with some matters of editorial style at work the last couple of days, and oddly, what keeps running through my head is the first line of Vampire Weekend's "Oxford Comma."

No Longer Avoiding the Obvious

I feel like I've somehow been ducking the financial situation, and AIG in particular, by not addressing it on the blog, but in truth, I feel like I've got nothing to add to the conversation. Sure, I'm angry at AIG (and whoever else) for taking taxpayer money and turning it back as obscene bonuses for people who don't deserve it, but all I've really got to offer is just more venting.

I think that the Obama administration is sort of in the same place. They can't quite get their act together on how to address this. The House jumped in, though, with a legally questionable bill to tax the bonuses back to the Treasury. Ezra Klein wonders if the AIG mess has ushered in a new era in which the public not only demands accountability from financial institutions but wants retribution, as well. It certainly could, and that's what the House seems to be responding to. But I also feel to some extent that the AIG bonuses are a distraction from bigger problems. It's a lot of money, to be sure, but we've got a much bigger issue of the entire financial system. We can't let this annoying development throw us off from where our attention really needs to be.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

In Defense of Ringo

I've got to say, I don't understand why there seems to be an undercurrent of Ringo Starr bashing these days. It's not everywhere, but I've seen it in a number of places. The most recent I've experienced, and the impetus of this post, was at Jersey Boys. Mrs. Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk had a couple of tickets, so we went to see it (we'd already seen it a bit over a year ago, too). There are a couple of cracks about the Beatles in the show, which aren't terribly surprising. The Beatles and the British Invasion certainly took a lot of attention away from them (although they continued to have a hefty presence on the charts). A decade and a half ago, I remember reading a column that I believe was in LA Weekly that basically argued that the Beatles had usurped the career and success that rightfully belonged to the Four Seasons. Be all that as it may, you could see how the Beatles might not be the Four Seasons' favorite group. At one point, the good news/bad news dynamic of the Ringo snub is introduced: you're in the Beatles, but you're Ringo.

It's been several decades, I know, and although Ringo had a number of solo hits in the '70s (at one point, I think he was the most commercially successful former Beatle), he didn't exactly hit the heights of artistic achievement. But while the Beatles were an ongoing concern, Ringo was a beloved member of the group. Take a look at any Beatle movie, and you'll see that there wasn't a hierarchy of Beatles, with Ringo bringing up the rear. Ringo was utterly charming and was as charismatic as John or Paul or George, completely holding his own. As a musician, his contribution was also important--the Beatles' music wouldn't be the same if anyone else were behind the skins. He deserves much better than this back-door disparagement that for some reason seems to have come his way.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Couple of Things

How have I missed this!? Via Mark Evanier, I just discovered that General Mills is doing a retro packaging deal with Target. It's packaging a number of cereals such as Lucky Charms, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and others in vintage boxes, but apparently they're only available at Target. In an Advertising Age article that's no longer available without a login (I saw it earlier tonight--it was dated March 3, I think, so I suspect it went behind the subscription curtain 15 days after it was first published), a General Mills spokesperson said that they weren't really promoting the situation, instead just hopping that it would get some exposure through blogs. I'm happy to do my part, but I always find it funny when people make something available and simply expect it to go viral. Because some videos or trends go viral with no obvious particular reason, some people just seem to believe that everything will go viral. I don't know that this is always the case across the board, but many "viral" campaigns are carefully seeded in particular outlets that will get exposure and start other people linking. Unfortunately, this offer doesn't seem to have gone as viral as General Mills might have preferred, and I almost missed it. Apparently, the offer ends on Saturday, March 21. In fact, I might've missed it anyway, if there were only limited amounts of boxes put on sale, they may all be gone with only four days of the offer left. On the upside, there are also some T-shirts involved, and those remain available (as supplies last, of course) for a few months. I suspect I know what I'll be doing with my next lunch hour.

This story puts the lie to Dawn Steel's maxim that "they can kill you, but they can't eat you." I've always maintained that if they kill you, who's to stop them from eating you, if that's what they want to do? Nobody, that's who. And now we've got some empirical evidence to back that up.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Home Again

I've written a bit about Edwyn Collins and his recovery from a brain aneurysm and two strokes (here, here and here). I'm a long-time fan of Edwyn and his band Orange Juice, but he never got much of a foothold on this side of the Atlantic either with the group or in his subsequent solo career. I always assumed that there was more coverage of his situation in the UK than there is here.

Tonight I came across a BBC Scotland documentary about Edwyn's efforts in returning to the recording studio and to live performing. Called Home Again after his first single since his health problems, it's a bit more than 30 minutes and is quite inspirational in parts. Initially, Edwyn was unable to speak or walk, but two-and-a-half years after the strokes, he was back onstage. We see Edwyn going through physical therapy, relearning how to read again (using 1984), and relearning the words to the songs he's written. I'll admit to one segment that completely choked me up. In the TV show, at least, he did not recover the use of his right hand or arm (an artists as well as a musician, he simply taught himself to draw left handed), so he doesn't play guitar, but he's in full voice. We don't see the whole gig at Dingwalls (broadcast by the BBC, no less), but we see enough to fully recognize how Edwyn persevered and triumphed. You can find the documentary on YouTube in four parts: Here's one, two, three, and four. It's well worth watching.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Treatments for Food Allergies?

This is an interesting new development in responding to food allergies, which never particularly had any treatment, except for treating symptoms once an allergy flares up. I suffer from peanut allergies, and although I don't have as extreme a condition as some I've heard of (up to 75 people die from peanuts each year in the United States), I get a noticeable allergic reaction from small amounts of peanuts (or peanut butter). That reaction is unpleasant enough that I'll avoid anything with peanuts or the possibility of peanuts.

Although they don't seem like they can do anything for me, findings from a couple of studies were presented on Sunday showing that exposing children to small amounts of peanuts daily can build a tolerance in them.

The new treatment uses doses of peanuts that start as small as one-thousandth of a peanut and eventually increase to about 15 peanuts a day. In a pilot study at Duke University and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, 33 children with documented peanut allergy have received the daily therapy, which is given as a powder sprinkled on food. Most of the children are tolerating the therapy without developing allergic reactions, and five stopped the treatment after two and a half years because they could now tolerate peanuts in their regular diet. But four children dropped out because they could not tolerate the treatment.

In a related study of just 18 children, the researchers gave the treatment to 12 children and a placebo powder to 6. After 10 months, the children were given a medically supervised test exposing them to peanuts. In the placebo group, the children developed symptoms after ingesting the equivalent of one and a half peanuts. In the treatment group, the children tolerated 15 peanuts without symptoms.

It's only a start, and more research needs to be done before we'll know how certain these results are, but it's certainly hopeful for the children involved. At this point in my life, though, I suspect that it's too late to start taking minute amounts of peanuts. I'll continue having to do without the pleasures of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Relatively Few Watching the Watchmen?

It's not looking too good for Watchmen, I'm afraid. After a good but not quite as good as expected opening, there have been some questions as to what kind of legs the film would have. All week long, despite remaining in the top position, the movie has--according to Box Office Mojo--dropped viewers from one day to the next. Monday will obviously be down from Sunday, but some of the films in the Top 10 went up a shade on Tuesday. Wednesday, down, but Thursday, perhaps in anticipation of a weekend coming up, is up almost across the board. Not Watchmen, though--it went progressively down further every day.

Friday was a new weekend coming up, and with only Race to Witch Mountain and Last House on the Left showing real potential to draw away from the hoped-for blockbuster, Watchmen was expected to hold on to its first-place position. That didn't happen, though. Witch Mountain took the top position, and Last House opened a surprising second. And don't hold out hope that the International receipts will come to Watchmen's rescue--it's got an even more disappointing reception there.

The weekend's just starting, though, so we'll have to see what Saturday and Sunday have in store. But if things are going the way they look to be going, it appears that Watchmen may not even hold on to its No. 1 ranking.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Comics Rising

The comics biz (or parts of it, at least) seem to immune from the downturn in the economy. Sales figures (which in the case of comics means unreturnable sales from the publishers to the comic book stores--sell-through to the end consumer is pretty much guesswork) have been inconclusive as far as I've seen, but one place we can definitely see the numbers is in convention attendance. You'd figure (or at least, I would) that although some people might pay to come in and look around, that sales of merchandise would overall be down. It's not--in fact, recent shows have gone great guns. The New York Comic-con from just a bit over a month ago claimed that their numbers were up by 10,000 over last year, from 67,000 to 77,000. Vendors reported brisk sales.

You could wonder if that was some sort of East Coast fluke, but a couple of weeks later, San Francisco's WonderCon did knock-out business, with strong attendance and successful sales for venders. It doesn't just seem to be a lag until the economy catches up with the industry, either. On Friday, WonderCon's sister show, the massive San Diego Comic-Con International, sold out its 4-day full membership for 2009. That doesn't seem too surprising on its face, until you take into consideration the fact that the con is still more than four months away. Somebody at Comic-Con must be very, very happy. Of course, I'm not at all prepared to suggest what these numbers might imply for the rest of the industry. My assumption is that sales will tend to drop, and some stores might have to fold, but this kind of attendance at comics shows has to be circumstantial evidence that comics will weather the downturn just fine.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Stockyards Readings

The weekend's almost upon us, and Saturday evening brings another Stockyards Theatre Project reading for Woman's History Month. Last week at The Common Cup went well. That is, as long as you made sure the lid on your cup was snapped on tightly. I'd ordered a mocha or something, and the barista had poured a lovely pattern in cream at the top. He took a picture of it (for the Web site, he said, though I don't see it there) before putting the lid on (and he did it firmly). When I got to my table, I took the lid off to show my companions, and I didn't replace it firmly. I probably would've realized that had I not gotten up to get a napkin or something. When I returned to the table, I hadn't noticed that the lid was on top of the cup but wasn't firmly on, so I picked it up and took a sip. Unfortunately, more of the coffee ended up on my shirt than in my mouth--I lit out immediately to the restroom, where I had to take the shirt off to rinse it out in the sink. I was back at my table in time for the reading, and I held my coat in front of me until my shirt was dry enough. The three performance readings we had, though, easily lifted my spirits, though.

This Saturday, though, we shouldn't have the same problem. We'll be at The Book Cellar in Chicago's Lincoln Square, so there won't be any coffee or lids to worry about. This week there are three pieces lined up: "Forgiveness," by Anita Valentin; "The Tears of Release She Craved," by Lisa Siciliano; and "Forever Jung," by Gwyneth Davis. It starts up at 7:00, and there's no admission charge (although you can provide a donation to Stockyards, if you'd like).

This will be the final Saturday reading this month, but there are three more coming on the three remaining Tuesdays of the month. The first one, at the Northtown Branch of the Chicago Public Library is just a few days away. The works scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, include: "An Ounce of Truth: Deshuan," by Earliana McLaurin; "Important Issues," by Cyra K. Polizzi; and "As Yet Unknown," by Elana Elyce. The festivities begin at 7:00 for this one, too. Come on by and check it out if you're in the neighborhood!

Disclaimer: I should probably point this out in case anybody's not aware of it. Mrs. Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk (a.k.a. Francesca Peppiatt) is Managing Director of Stockyards, and I'm on the board. This is a completely biased recommendation.

Just Thinking

People who use the term insider baseball aren't really inside.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Twittering Our Lives Away?

I've stated before that I don't tweet, and I haven't been hooked into any social networks (although I may be doing some dabbling). I've never really wanted to be that connected to things, so I haven't felt a need to rush into the new situations. Although at one time in my life I like to believe that I was a somewhat early adapter of some of the arts--particularly music, but movies to an extent, as well, but I never jumped into the new technology that quickly. At this point, I'd say I'm a downright late adapter. I put off getting a cell phone until I recognized that pay phones have become really hard to find.

So I'm somewhat familiar with Twitter--I've been to their site, and I've looked at a few pages. Although I can see how Twitter can be useful in particular situations, such as if you're meeting up with friends and want some quick updates about location, or even if you're doing something and need some quick advice or instruction. But I'm not sure I'm that interested in friends or other people to want to know their every move. And yet Twitter continues to expand.

A week ago, our pal Todd Allen wrote about Twitter for business at Chicago Tech News. He looked at some of the drawbacks of trying to follow enough feeds and getting an ad message out. A couple of days later, though, another friend sent me this link describing and entirely other (unintended by the Twitter creators, as far as I can tell) way Twitter can be helpful: as a search engine. I've dabbled a bit in Twitter search, and I've got to admit that I don't get it just yet. There are things to be found, of course, but I'm not sure how to either find what I want or figure out how to use what I find. I'd better catch up, though. The piece about Twitter search was followed on Monday by a Washington Post article about businesses turning Twitter to their own purposes. It'll be a whole new world soon. I guess I'd better start catching up.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gingrich-Limbaugh, Round 2

It wasn't the most daring prediction, I'll admit, but I was looking for the Limbaugh bite back against Newt Gingrich, and the blowhard didn't disappoint. Ben Smith had the full transcript, but a few highlights included:

You know, I'm frankly getting tired of talking about Newt. I mean, it's a pointless exercise.

I mean, next week Newt could come out and profess his total admiration and love for me if it would serve his purposes.

They're running TV ads against me. Newt Gingrich wishes they were running TV ads against him. But they're running TV ads against me. So I love it. I'm up for it. I raise my hand. I'm the Last Man Standing.

He's not the last man standing yet, but he's making a grab for it. The serve now goes back to Gingrich. What's he got planned next? He's seen Rep. Phil Gingrey, Gov. Mark Sanford, and RNC Chairman Michael Steele cross Limbaugh and then grovel for his forgiveness, so he had to know how Limbaugh would react to his goading. Surely he's got something lined up, but you never know. Although I don't think he's an idiot, I do think that Gingrich's intelligence is usually overrated. Did Gingrich think he was too big for Limbaugh to attack? Did he think Limbaugh wouldn't notice? Or is Limbaugh playing right into his hands? Don't worry--I'll be staying tuned.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hard Times in the Arts

The tolls of the economy are beginning to be felt in the Chicago theater community. There have been various stories floating around. The House Theatre has cut back its season, and About Face Theatre must raise significant amounts of cash to keep their doors open (here's their donation page). Although Chicago Dramatists doesn't appear to be in danger of imminent failure, they're cutting back and making a new plea for donations.

Unfortunately, we seem to still be only at the beginning of the economic crisis. Things will definitely get worse before they get better. I'm more aware of the theatrical arts, but I suspect that we'll be seeing a winnowing out of arts organizations all the way across the board. Corporate profits are evaporating, so it goes without saying that corporate grants for the arts are drying up along with them. The Chicago public radio show Eight Forty-Eight presented a segment on Monday morning about how Chicago theater is faring. Listen here. I suspect we'll be talking about new developments on this topic as they arise.

Monday, March 09, 2009

GOP Retaking Control?

Like a lot of people, I've been enjoying watching the Republicans cower at the threat of being on Rush Limbaugh's bad side and on the receiving end of his radio attacks. Think Progress has been keeping score, and they provide nice, simple links to pieces about Rep. Phil Gingrey, Gov. Mark Sanford, and RNC Chairman Michael Steele crossing the broadcast blowhard. Well, it looks like our fun is either over or about to go up a notch.

In the past few days, prominent Republican opinion makers seem to be taking stands against Limbaugh's hope that Obama will fail. Bill Kristol led off the charge on Thursday by saying that it's appropriate for Americans to hope that the president is successful (it's almost odd that such a reasonable statement now takes the form of a challenge). He was followed today by David Brooks, who was willing to discuss "the problem with Limbaugh," and Newt Gingrich, who said he didn't think "anyone should want the president of the United States to fail." Although they didn't all seem to be overly confrontational, they're effectively calling Rush out. As we've seen by now, Limbaugh isn't one to shy away from a fight he wants to have. Will we see a response on the radio tomorrow? Or will he decide that he's been able to push the Obama failing thing as far as he realistically can without starting to undermine his own position? I could easily be wrong (because it's not like I actually listen to Rush or anything), but I have a hard time seeing him let all this slide. Tomorrow's radio presentation may contain quite the fireworks show.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Forever Young

I never thought that baby boomers weren't vain, but we may be starting to get ridiculous. Tonight we were in the grocery store and found a great new product that will help all of us hold on to their youth for just a bit longer. We've already had age-defying make up from Revlon, but your face isn't the only thing that can reveal what the years have done. Have you ever thought about your teeth? No, neither had I. But fortunately, the good folks at Arm & Hammer have. They've introduced new age-defying toothpaste. The enamel of our teeth has eroded away, and what's left of it tends to get discolored--Arm & Hammer claim that their formula can rebuild it (we have the technology). If you click through, Arm & Hammer are even offering a coupon for a dollar off! If you can't turn the years around, at least now you can keep your teeth youthful and beautiful.

Speaking of keeping yourself youthful, make sure you get enough sleep tonight. I'm going around in a couple of minutes to turn my clocks back. They always say that we lose an hour of sleep tonight, but not me. I sleep until I wake up on Sundays. "Spring forward" just means that I wake up an hour later than I would have otherwise. Good night!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Late-Breaking Reviews

A couple of days ago I highlighted some of the poorer notices Watchman was starting to get. In all fairness, now that we've reached Friday and seen the various newspaper reviews that have been released, I should update the figures. Metacritic has boosted its number of reviews from seven up to 39, and its rating is up to 57 from 34 the other day. Roger Ebert is a key reviewer who loved it and added his four-star rating into the mix (which translates to 100 at Metacritic). He even says he's going to see it again, but in IMAX this time. Rotten Tomatoes, which has upped their number of reviews from 38 on Tuesday to 198 today, has dropped a bit from the 76 I reported earlier--it's now at 65, which still keeps it above the more elite Metacritic. The elite Top Critics section of the site, however, only gives it a 43.

I talked to someone earlier tonight who was standing in line for a showing of the movie, and I've got another friend who's got his ticket lined up for an IMAX showing on Sunday. If you've seen it, feel free to drop your thoughts on the film into the comments thread.

UPDATE--I mentioned above that Roger Ebert intended to see it a second time in IMAX. Now he has, and he likes the movie even better. Here are his comments at some length.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Keeping Track

It's a new day for comics--The New York Times is tracking graphic novel sales and providing us with a bestseller list. They promise to update it weekly, so this will become one of the most significant ways to track sales and popularity we've got in comics. In the inaugural week, the second volume of the hardcover Starman Omnibus from DC is beating out the hardcover Watchmen (as does the first volume of the Eerie Archives). Watchmen rules the softcovers, though, beating out all comers. In manga (which I'd imagine vastly outsells either of the hard or softcover lists) it's almost all Naruto all the time. Volumes of that series hold eight of the top ten places.

As in its traditional lists, The New York Times doesn't completely spell out how it arrives at its numbers. There appears to be a mix of regular bookstores and comics stores reporting their sales, but there are no specifics, so we'll see how well the numbers are accepted within the comics community. I'm not sure precisely why, but there always seems to be a fair bit of contention in reporting sales statistics in comics.

Up until now, comics have had imperfect statistics available to the public. Regular issues are tracked through monthly Diamond Comic Distributors estimates by, but there's quite a bit of speculation about how close these estimates are to the number of comic books that are being sold in reality. In addition, the Diamond numbers represent comics sold to Diamond clients--comics stores and other businesses--and not to actual consumers, so there's no way of knowing how many might be sitting on comics store shelves. Bookscan, on the other hand, is a Neilsen company that tracks actual numbers of graphic novels (not issues of comic books) that are sold to the general public. Unfortunately, Bookscan is targeted to bookstores, and graphic novels are sold in a number of other places, so these numbers are incomplete, as well. Nevertheless, once a year San Francisco comics store owner Brian Hibbs analyzes the Bookscan numbers in what inevitably stirs up controversy throughout the comics blogosphere (here's his 2008 analysis--you can do your own google to find the contentious discussion threads on various other sites). So at the very least, the Times give us more data points to figure out what's going on in the market.

The First Playreading of March

Don't forget to come by The Common Cup in Chicago's Rogers Park on Saturday night for Stockyards Theatre Project's first reading for this year's Woman's History Month. Three different performances are lined up: "Forgiveness" by Anita Valentin, "Important Issues" by Cyra K. Polizzi, and a quartet of pieces by Joette Waters. Things start up 6:00. The Common Cup is at 1501 W. Morse Avenue, which is at Greenview Avenue. If you can't make this one, you've got four more opportunities to see other readings at other venues throughout the city. I'll be sure to remind you.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Standing Up for Ourselves

Yesterday I linked to Anthony Lane's review of Watchmen in The New Yorker. I read, but didn't comment on, his characterization of comics readers:

The world of the graphic novel is a curious one. For every masterwork, such as "Persepolis" or "Maus," there seem to be shelves of cod mythology and rainy dystopias, patrolled by rock-jawed heroes and their melon-breasted sidekicks. Fans of the stuff are masonically loyal, prickling with a defensiveness and an ardor that not even Wagnerians can match.

. . .

"Watchmen," like "V for Vendetta," harbors ambitions of political satire, and, to be fair, it should meet the needs of any leering nineteen-year-old who believes that America is ruled by the military-industrial complex, and whose deepest fear—deeper even than that of meeting a woman who requests intelligent conversation—is that the Warren Commission may have been right all along.

It's a pretty easy, well-trodden stereotype to toss out, and it seems to be eternally popular (I do have to wonder whether Lane ran it by New Yorker art director Françoise Mouly, though.)

Adam Serwer at The American Prospect was annoyed, though.

Not to question what is, I am certain, the vibrant and thrilling sex lives of film critics, but I'm not so sure that "film critic" is much higher than "comic book geek" on the social spectrum. Moreover, what exactly do Lane's thoughts on comic book nerds have to do with the quality of the film? What does the reviewer grant the reader by insulting the film's intended audience?

I'm not going to argue with Lane over the quality of a film I haven't seen, but I really find it hard to understand why comic book fans are the subject of such persistent abuse. You'd think we clubbed baby seals for a living or perhaps sold sub-prime mortgages. The unbridled contempt for people who like comic books reaches something close to the feelings people have for parking cops and tax collectors.

Comic book nerds can count Barack Obama, Rachel Maddow and Patrick Leahy among us. We might also include some readers of Lane's magazine, given that it was only three or four weeks ago that I spotted an ad for February's New York Comic-Con in its hallowed pages. For some reason, despite the fact that comic fans have reached the highest levels of professional excellence in this country, the image of a comic fan remains that of a chubby teenager in his mom's basement clutching a two-liter bottle of Shasta.

Hey, he forgot the Cheetos! (Oh, wait--that's bloggers.)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It's Quigley

Mike Quigley took the Democratic nomination in the Illinois Fifth Congressional District special election to replace Rahm Emanuel. His 11,910 votes (with 99 percent of precincts reporting) made up 22 percent of the Democratic vote. (Rahm had 170,728 votes in November, which made up 74 percent of the total 230,892 votes.) Quigley appears likely to go up against Republican Rosanna Pulido (who received 979 votes--also with 99 percent of precincts) and Mathew Reichel, who pulled in 34 percent of the 486 votes in the Green party platform (that's 165 votes in all). Quigley appears to be the guy to beat in the April 7 general election. It'll be anticlimactic when that vote actually takes place.

UPDATE--I was more tired than I realized last night and didn't really provide anything but vote totals. Mike Quigley, in case you're interested, is a Cook County commissioner, so he's been all about the local politics. For further information, here's his Web site for Cook County, and this is his Congressional campaign page.

Also, I was apparently too quick in calling the Green party winner last night. Reichel has his 165 votes, but opponent Deb Gordils is holding on to 32 percent of the vote, or 154. With seven precincts still waiting to report, Gordils needs an average of less than two more votes in each (although more than 1.5 votes in each) to take the whole enchilada. Keep watching!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Uh Oh

Initially reviews are coming in on Watchmen, and it's not looking great. At this moment on Metacritic, with seven reviews listed (including The New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly), Watchmen is coming in better than Bride Wars but not as good as Confessions of a Shopaholic.

UPDATE--I neglected to check out Rotten Tomatoes before posting that number. Although the same Top Critics represented on Metacritic continue to weigh it down, with 38 reviews in so far, Watchmen is coming in at a 76 percent rating.

The Big Fifth Race

Although it's the Congressional district directly below mine, I have to admit that I haven't been paying a lot of attention to the special election to replace Rahm Emanual in the Illinois Fifth District. The primary vote is tomorrow, though, so if it's your district, if you're not ready by now, you'd better do your research quick. There are twenty-three candidates representing the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties, so there's plenty of room to find the candidate most tailored to your preferences. For a little bit of help, Chicago Public Radio has interviews with most of the candidates.

All expectations are for an extremely low turnout, so a handful of votes could sway the election. This is a heavily Democratic district, so it's expected that whoever wins the Democratic primary will go on to win the general special election on April 7. Whoever has a plurality of the votes will take the nomination, so if ever there was an election in which every vote counts, excepting perhaps the Minnesota senatorial election, this is the one. If you're in the Illinois Fifth District, be sure to go out and make your voice heard.


It appears that the Playboy article I linked to last night may not be as clever as it wanted to believe (as far as articles can actually want to believe anything). Most damning is the fact that the link stopped working earlier today and the Playboy post and its accusations disappeared from the site. (I'd heard about that earlier today, but I didn't check out the Playboy site to confirm until I got home from work.) Further, Rick Santelli made a statement on the CNBC Web site denying any affiliations with any tea party organizations or Web sites. And just for good measure, Megan McArdle goes through the arguments that undermine the original piece.

Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk apologizes for spreading any misinformation, as well as for assuming the worst and jumping to conclusions in the first place. The post itself has been updated to reflect the new situation.

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Fake Tweet

I'm with (managing director) Mrs. Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk at Stockyards' Non-Benefit Benefit at T's Bar and Restaurant. Where are you?

Premeditated Populist Pretense

UPDATE--The column discussed and quoted below has disappeared from the Playboy Web site, apparently rescinded. There's more information here. We apologize for the misinformation.

The Rick Santelli rant has a new development. A couple of writers at Playboy did some digging and found a number of intriguing connections. (When I checked it, this link was not necessarily Not Safe for Work, depending on where you work, I suppose, but I imagine that the domain name itself could raise eyebrows in certain workplaces--you've been warned.)

What hasn't been reported until now is evidence linking Santelli's "tea party" rant with some very familiar names in the Republican rightwing machine, from PR operatives who specialize in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns (called "astroturfing") to bigwig politicians and notorious billionaire funders. As veteran Russia reporters, both of us spent years watching the Kremlin use fake grassroots movements to influence and control the political landscape. To us, the uncanny speed and direction the movement took and the players involved in promoting it had a strangely forced quality to it. If it seemed scripted, that's because it was.

What we discovered is that Santelli's "rant" was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a "Chicago Tea Party" was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.

As you read this, Big Business is pouring tens of millions of dollars into their media machines in order to destroy just about every economic campaign promise Obama has made, as reported recently in the Wall Street Journal. At stake isn't the little guy's fight against big government, as Santelli and his bot-supporters claim, but rather the "upper 2 percent"'s war to protect their wealth from the Obama Adminstration’s economic plans. When this Santelli "grassroots" campaign is peeled open, what"s revealed is a glimpse of what is ahead and what is bound to be a hallmark of his presidency.

John Amato has some more at Crooks and Liars. This is a situation that bears watching.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Happy Women's History Month!

It's officially March, so that means it's time again to do something to commemorate women's history.

That's just what Stockyards Theatre Project has planned in the next few weeks. They're starting off on Monday night, March 2, with a "Non-Benefit Benefit" at T's Bar and Restaurant at 7:00. It's got that name because there are no admission or cover charges--Stockyards gets a portion of every purchase, though, so the more people who are eating and drinking, the better. T's is at 5025 N. Clark in Chicago, between Lawrence and Foster.

After that, there are five readings throughout the month of material that's been developed in the Stockyards workshop program, Play for Keeps. They'll be held at various places in Chicago and the area:

Saturday, March 7 - 6 p.m.
Common Cup - 1501 W Morse Avenue

Saturday, March 14 - 7 p.m.
Book Cellar - 4736 N. Lincoln Avenue

Tuesday, March 17 - 7 p.m.
Northtown Branch Chicago Public Library - 6435 N. California

Tuesday, March 24 - 7 p.m. AND Tuesday, March 31 - 7 p.m.
Eisenhower Library, 4613 N. Oketo in Harwood Heights

All of these events are free (although Stockyards is always happy to take donations). Each reading will include different material, so come to as many as you can! For more information about these programs or Stockyards Theatre Project in general, check out the Stockyards Web site.

Here's the Stockyards Web site for more info.