Celebrating a Christmastime Birthday

My birthday is several days before Christmas. Before you go into sympathetic mode, let me preempt you. I love it. I’ve always loved it. I have never had a problem having a Christmastime birthday, even though everyone else seems to think I should. My whole life, people have kind of shaken their heads and tut-tutted... Read more »

The shameful police interrogation of Brendan Dassey (Part 2)

(In my last post, I explained that a 4-3 Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision released Dec. 8 held that Brendan Dassey’s 2006 murder confession was admissible and upheld his conviction, reversing a federal district court ruling that had granted Dassey habeas corpus relief.) For a very long time, I was one of those who... Read more »

Making a Murderer’s Brendan Dassey loses quest to have confession thrown out (Part 1)

Anyone who watched Netflix’s hit 2015 documentary Making a Murderer is familiar with the case of Brendan Dassey, a 17-year-old Wisconsin youth who was convicted of helping his uncle murder Theresa Hallbach. Last Friday, a bitterly divided Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals likely defeated any remaining chance Dassey had of having his conviction overturned and... Read more »
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Attempts to sanction bus operator for offensive ad could run afoul of First Amendment

Suburban Express, a Champaign-based bus line that serves Illinois college students, provoked outrage recently when it sent a promotional email to University of Illinois students that read: “You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses.” The line, from what I’ve read, was an apparent reference to the allegedly high number of... Read more »

This time, an American divorcee gets her prince and her royal title too

Monday’s announcement that Britain’s Prince Harry is engaged to American actress Meghan Markle was remarkable for a reason that seemed to receive relatively little attention. It’s not because the 36-year-old future Duchess of Sussex is American, three years older than Harry, or even because she’s biracial. (The reaction on the British tabloid comment boards Monday... Read more »

Keep those tops on, ladies. Federal court upholds Chicago's public nudity ordinance

A time may come when women can successfully make the case that as long as men are allowed to bare their chests in public (man-boobs and all), then in the name of gender equality women should be allowed to as well. But that time is not now, and that place is not Illinois. The U.S.... Read more »
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Freaks, Aliens & Things: Ten Must-See Classic Horror Films

“One of us, one of us…” 

This 1932 film about traveling circus “freaks” is just a little over 60 minutes long, but it’s one of the most profoundly disturbing films ever made. The ending alone makes the movie. The revenge exacted on the cruel and scheming female trapeze artist by the freaks will have you going, “But that can’t be right.”
It’s almost Halloween, my favorite holiday, which means horror movies, my favorite film genre. For years I’ve been reading other people’s top-horror-films-of-all-time lists, and been like, “How could they leave that movie out???” and “Poltergeist, really?” So back by popular demand (well not really, but it’s fun to say that), here are my Top Ten scarefests,... Read more »

Thank you Eric Barry, you reminded me of the good things about my city

While I was at Foster Beach the other day enjoying the waning days of summer, my thoughts drifted to, of all things and people, Eric Barry. You may have heard of him; he’s the self-styled “comedian” and writer who authored a “goodbye letter” to Chicago in Huffington Post that went viral, except not in the... Read more »

What new Fox Sports analyst Michael Vick really did

Fox Sports announced August 27 that it has hired former NFL quarterback Michael Vick as a studio analyst for its NFL Kickoff program that immediately precedes NFL Sunday on the Fox network. The news release announcing the hire was hilarious in the way it avoided the elephant in the room; namely, Vick’s 2007 felony conviction... Read more »
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Gone With the Wind, banned in Memphis, actually indicts the Confederacy

The Orpheum Theater in Memphis has cancelled its traditional annual screening of “Gone With the Wind,” apparently in response to the anti-all-things-Confederate sentiment that’s seizing the nation. As a longtime fan of both the film and the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel on which it is based, this saddened me. Having read the book something like five... Read more »