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Terrence Mann (#110 of 4)

Watch: Star-Studded “On Columbine” Video Reflects on Two Decades of Gun Violence

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Watch: Star-Studded “On Columbine” Video Reflects on Two Decades of Gun Violence
Watch: Star-Studded “On Columbine” Video Reflects on Two Decades of Gun Violence

The music video for “On Columbine,” a track from the star-studded concept album Guns: The Album, made its online premiere last March but understandably got lost in the flurry of media attention surrounding the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and the historic March for Our Lives demonstrations that followed. The song, featuring singer-songwriter Claudio Parrone Jr., and its accompanying video are moving meditations on America’s school shooting epidemic, featuring clips of three of the last four U.S. presidents lamenting the lives lost to gun violence (Donald Trump, meanwhile, can be heard, in a speech at the NRA last year, declaring an end to the “assault” on the Second Amendment).

Climb on Board: Pippin at the Music Box Theatre

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Climb on Board: <em>Pippin</em> at the Music Box Theatre
Climb on Board: <em>Pippin</em> at the Music Box Theatre

Ladies and gentlemen, don’t be a sucker. Step right up to Pippin, the greatest homegrown show of the season. It even has a puppy. This eye- and pelvis-poppin’ extravaganza seems willing to stop at nothing to make us ooh and aww. But miraculously, it never stoops. Instead, most of its nonstop thrills, chills, and threat of spills fly as high as the tip of its big-top tent. Yes, director Diane Paulus has traded out the original’s trope of an itinerant commedia dell’arte band of players for a troop of traveling cirque performers. And the dazzlingly executed change gives the Broadway revival, its first, a leg up facing down its biggest threat: the looming shadow of Bob Fosse.

The legendary director-choreographer won two Tonys for the first production and was roundly credited for its blockbuster success. Without his hands-on involvement, such as a later tour with Chita Rivera and returning star Ben Vereen, much of the magic was gone. Subsequent reimaginings in London (with a video-game concept) and in regional and community theaters have usually failed, giving the material a reputation as a relic tied to an era and a genius long since passed. But Paulus, of the recent Tony Award-winning revivals of Hair and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, has come to the rescue. Her Pippin moves as fast and forcefully as if it were shot out of a cannon.

Wizard of the Unexplained: The Dresden Files

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Wizard of the Unexplained: <em>The Dresden Files</em>
Wizard of the Unexplained: <em>The Dresden Files</em>

Do you remember all those times when you thought you saw something but didn’t? Or heard a noise that nobody else heard? Dogs barking at something you can’t see? A feeling of dread, impending danger—and you can’t explain it?

Those are Harry Dresden’s specialty—he’s a wizard and he can help you.

SciFi Channel’s The Dresden Files (Sundays at 10/9C) is based on author Jim Butcher’s series of novels starring Harry Dresden—Private Investigator and contemporary Chicago’s only openly practicing Wizard. Using his brains, friends and no small amount of magic, Dresden is the classic detective novel hero who constantly gets mere humans in and out of trouble by getting himself in and out of trouble.

5 for the Day: On the Outs, or 5 Irritating Things in Otherwise Perfectly Serviceable Baseball Movies

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5 for the Day: On the Outs, or 5 Irritating Things in Otherwise Perfectly Serviceable Baseball Movies
5 for the Day: On the Outs, or 5 Irritating Things in Otherwise Perfectly Serviceable Baseball Movies

The average baseball movie is not actually about baseball. It’s usually about something else—reconciliation, triumph over adversity, love’s redemptive qualities, blah blah blah—with baseball serving as the metaphorical backdrop for, or parallel to, much grander stories.

The result is often sentimental to the point of cheesiness. Most sports movies share a certain embarrassing sincerity; American culture cherishes an almost compulsive desire to watch the little guy overcoming long odds (Hoosiers) or heart and guts trouncing skill and superior size (Rocky IV, Seabiscuit). But because each baseball game contains a narrative about coming home, baseball films tend to take these truisms to extremes. The camera gets that fond faraway look, warm brown filters wrap the audience in the protective embrace of a better time gone by, and as the protagonist digs into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Hero’s Journey is officially underway. In slo-mo.

This is, mind you, not a complaint. If one of the great pleasures of baseball fandom is telling the game’s stories to each other, and if, like Bull Durham’s Annie Savoy, you believe in the Church of Baseball, this is its call-and-response. Baseball fans enjoy it as a ritual—overly solemn, in the way of most rituals—and as a result, I can forgive baseball movies their self-seriousness, their sometimes sophomoric attempts at philosophy, because I recognize them as expressions of love.

Cheese is delicious. But now and then I find a hair in my food.