A young man stands in front of a theremin, which is a small black box with a three-foot pole antenna on top. The man is holding his hands in front of himself the way a conductor might direct an orchestra.
Professor Pierce (shown here on the left) demonstrates how to play a theremin made by Theremaniacs of Milwaukee.

After several dark years, the Portage Theatre in my neighborhood now is presenting classic silent films with live music accompaniment, independent movies, ethnic cinema and stage shows.

This past Friday night, the Portage screened the 1924 Soviet production "Aelita, Queen of Mars" as part of The Silent Film Society of Chicago's "Silent Summer Film Festival." Jay Warren played the organ, Professor Pierce performed the theremin sequences.

For our podcast, the Professor was kind enough to talk about the theremin and put it through its paces. First up, he demonstrates the various sound effects and theremin tonalties that were such a hit with the audience last Friday. Then the Professor chats with us about the importance of the theremin -- and, most of all, how he learned to play one of these unusual instruments.

And for those who wish to squeeze just a little bit more from their theremin, might we suggest this not-safe-for-work technique?

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Direct download: theremin.mp3
Category:Chicago -- posted at: 6:54 AM

Last night, I accompanied Leah Zeldes and Dick Smith to the Chicago incarnation of Hamburger Mary's, a dee-luxe burger joint that grew famous in San Francisco and expanded nationwide -- at one point, I think there was even a Hamburger Mary's in Honolulu. Cartoon character logo for Hamburger Mary's that looks sort of like the depiction of Elizabeth Montgomery in the opening animated credits of BewitchedThe Chicago franchise, which opened earlier this summer, is owned by twins Ashley and Brandon Wright. If you'd like to read along as we discuss what we ate, the Chicago restaurant posts its menu. I was especially curious to experience the place, having eaten at the Hamburger Mary's in San Francisco some time ago. Our verdict: Great stuff with a couple of minor misfires, most notably the cherry pie dessert. Read more about Hamburger Mary's at CenterstageChicago.com and metromix.com. ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Direct download: hamburger_mary.mp3
Category:Chicago -- posted at: 12:09 AM


Travel to the Mideast is a dicey proposition at best right now. But it hasn't always been that way. My friends _____ and _____ visited Egypt a few years ago and had a great time. They learned enough Arabic to ask "Where is the restroom?" and "When does the next steamer depart for Luxor?" And they even received a valuable social tip from a guy they met on the plane. "We have two types of women here," the helpful Egyptian explained. "Gazelles and water buffalos." Ah, gazelles and water buffalos. Here in Chicagoland, last time I checked, we have cougars and porcupines. Ouch! Photo of smiling guy in business suitI've always wanted to visit the Middle East and to photograph it with my vintage Stereo Realist -- preferably in Kodachrome before it's discontinued entirely. That region has, unfortunately, been in the news far too much lately. My friend Tom Lambros Bornstein (that's him at the right) is a partner in a company, AMI Travel, which leads tours to the Holy Land and the surrounding Mediterranean countries -- so, I sat down with him and asked him about the business, current events in the Middle East, and how he sees the near future unfolding. Tom talks about the history of that part of the world, the types of tours AMI Travel leads, and we even discuss Dead Sea salt therapy for psoriasis and the Israeli citrus industry. By the way, that fruit I asked Tom about is apparently called a citron -- aka an etrog. Coming up next on ChicagoScope: I accompany Leah Zeldes and Dick Smith to the new Hamburger Mary's in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood. ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Direct download: bornstein.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:04 AM

Newspaper ad from the late 1920s or early 1930s with photo promoting cowboy movie star Tom Mix and his horse Tony for an upcoming appearance at Chicago's Uptown Theatre

Above: Cowboy movie star Tom Mix stayed at a local hotel when making appearances at the Uptown Theatre.

On my first day of work at my first real newspaper job, the publisher gave me some advice that I've always taken to heart.

"Remember," he told me, "we are chroniclers of our times."

Those times occasionally turned out to be sensational murder trials and spectacular fires, but more often than not involved swimming meets, county fairs, zoning board meetings and the like.

Later, I learned to appreciate that whenever our newspaper would publish an article, a sports story, a photo or a calendar listing about a spaghetti-dinner fundraiser, we were actually communicating with people in the future.

That future usually was the next day or the next week -- but when I filled in for an editor during her vacation, I learned that readers could be in a different century.

My job that week was to search the newspaper's archives and assemble one of those "remember when" columns: what happened this week five, 10, 25 years ago -- and more, since this newspaper's history stretched clear back into the late 19th century.

I gained a new appreciation for the seemingly routine stories and ads published in our papers because viewed years up the line, everyday news opened windows to the past.

When I worked at Lerner Newspapers here in Chicago, colleague Jack Bess created a similar column for the News-Star and Booster weeklies. He called it "Turn Back the Clock" and it proved to be among our most popular features.

In this podcast, Jack talks about how he researched all those Chicago neighborhood yesterdays, and speculates about what future generations of readers might find fascinating about the news of today.

Below: The Alba "Go-Go" promised "a teenage nite club" that featured WLS radio disc jockey Ron Riley, as well as The Buckinghams. Note the dress code: "Dresses or skirts for girls -- sweater or sport coat & slacks for boys."

Newspaper ad from the late 1950s or early 1960s for a nightclub for teenagaers showing silhouettes of people dancing

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Direct download: turnback_1.mp3
Category:Chicago -- posted at: 8:02 AM



Above: After my first workout with Nike+ shoes.

Podcasters often are told we ought to take a cue from broadcast radio. In that spirit, I've decided to adopt a recurring element that's been a staple of your favorite AM station for many years:

LOSE WEIGHT WITH THE OVERWEIGHT ON-AIR PERSONALITY!

For my birthday last month, I received a pair of those new Nike+ shoes -- and after just one run, I'm amazed. Using an embedded sensor, the shoes and an iPod nano communicate using their own Wi-Fi network. The Nike+ shoes did a great job measuring my run and keeping track of my pace. Even better, you can buy music that's designed to "program" your workout. I couldn't find anything suitable by Dwight Yoakam, so I bought the album by The Crystal Method. This approach really works: I found myself pushing to keep pace with the varying beat of the cool electronic music.

I'll keep you posted. And I promise not to embrace that other radio staple, the live remote from the car dealership.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Category:general -- posted at: 7:49 AM

Contributing Editor Brendan Shultz visits the Davis Theater in Chicago's historic Lincoln Square neighborhood and takes in a showing of "Superman Returns." He gives us his opinion on everything -- ranging from the nachos at the concession stand (stale and uninspiring) to the film itself (fresh and exciting).

Then ChicagoScope highlights upcoming events, including an all-chimpanzee film exhibition and a demonstration of how striptease moves can help women bump and grind their way to fitness.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Direct download: cscope_3.mp3
Category:Chicago -- posted at: 7:41 AM


Contributing editor Brendan Shultz weighs in with his review of "Click," then helps ChicagoScope executive editor L.T. Hanlon figure out whether he acted appropriately when a dwarf or a midget (Hanlon can't figure out which) sat down next to him on a subway train.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Direct download: Brendan1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:13 AM

Not too long ago, I joined Leah Zeldes and Dick Smith at Tagine, a new Chicago restaurant serving Moroccan cuisine. After the meal, Dick and Leah drove me over to Halsted Street so I could do some nightlife photography for metromix. On the way, we discussed the food -- and a variety of other subjects, too.

Reviews
Leah Zeldes
WBBM Radio's Sherman Kaplan
Centerstage Chicago
AOL CityGuide
metromix

BYOB
The wine we enjoyed was The Little Penguin.

For information about Morocco, courtesy of the CIA World Factbook, click here.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Direct download: tagine.mp3
Category:Chicago -- posted at: 8:15 AM



"The Straight Dope" does its usual yeoman job of explaining things -- in this case the difference between boys and girls bicycles. And the folks at Urban Dictionary clear up why invoking a step-through bicycle frame is seldom a compliment.

But nobody seems to be able to tell me why I see so many middle-aged men pedaling girls bikes around the Northwest Side of Chicago without a hint of public shame or guilt. Maybe it's just me, but I'd walk a couple of miles out of my way to avoid being glimpsed astride a girls bike.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Category:Chicago -- posted at: 1:58 AM

I did this test podcast just to see -- and hear -- how the equipment is working. I'm reading a portion of the introduction to Frank Harris' "My Reminiscences as a Cowboy." This memoir was published in February 1930 by Charles Boni Paper Books. Literary lilliputian that I am, I only became aware of the works of Harris after seeing the 1958 movie "Cowboy," based on his book.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Direct download: cowboytest.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:00 PM

 



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About Me
I'm Leigh Hanlon, a writer and photographer in Chicago. Before moving to the Windy City, I worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. (Photo by Marty Larkin)



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ChicagoScope Podcast Audio and Text by Leigh Hanlon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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