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Broaden Your Horizons

This week

Center singers

The Center, 12700 Southwest Highway, Palos Park, invites new members to join its choir, which rehearses on Monday evenings from 7 to 8 p.m.

Known as the Center Singers, the choir performs once a month on Sunday afternoons at Wayside Chapel Vespers services and at special seasonal Center events. The choir is led by Director Penny Wills and accompanied by rehearsal pianist Shirley Swanson.

For more information, call 361- 3650 or visit thecenterpalos.org.

New Mandala class

The Log Cabin Center for the Arts, 12700 Southwest Highway in Palos Park, will offer a Mandala class on six Wednesday afternoons, beginning Feb. 6, from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

Robin Neumann will help students create mandalas using metallic gel pens and vibrant Prismacolors to create symmetrical circular-patterned designs. Mandalas are an ancient symbolic art form. Examples of Neumann's mandalas can be seen on her blog (openeyesmindheart.blogspot.com).

The class costs $103. Registration is required. To register and to receive a list of required supplies, call The Center at 361-3650.

Papermaking workshop

Artist Marilyn VandenBout, of Evergreen Park, will offer a papermaking workshop at The Log Cabin Center for the Arts on Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at 12700 Southwest Highway in Palos Park.

VandenBout helps students to make handmade papers embedded with pressed flowers. The papers can be used as Valentines, stationery or gift boxes.

The papermaking workshop costs $14, plus a $5 materials fee. Registration is required. Call The Center at 361-3650.

The Bridge Teen Center events

  • Just For Parents - The Bridge Teen Center, 15555 S. 71st Court, Orland Park, will host a free FAFSA clinic facilitated by Illinois Student Assistance Commission for parents of high school seniors and college students on Feb. 9. This free event is intended to give parents a forum in which they can gain valuable insight about what is out there to help pay for their student's college education. This clinic will include one-on-one sessions and a lunch/financial aid workshop with lunch provided by Chick-fil-A. Spots are limited; call 532-0500 or visit thebridgeteencenter.org.
  • Sign Language - 4:30-5:30 p.m. Feb. 5-19, The Bridge Teen Center will host a sign language program. Participants will spend three weeks learning the basics of sign language and will learn hand signs that represent vocabulary words and phrases. This free program is for teens in 7th through 12th grade.
  • Acoustic guitar - 5-6 p.m. Feb. 5-26, The Bridge Teen Center will host acoustic guitar. Participants will learn the basics of guitar including chords and strumming patterns. This free program is for teens in 7th through 12th grade.
  • Winter Craft - 4:30-5:30 p.m. Feb. 6-20, The Bridge Teen Center will host DIY Ear Warmers. Participants will learn how to crochet a cozy ear warmer perfect for the winter season. This free program is for teens in 7th through 12th grade.
  • Taco Culinary - 4:30-6 p.m. Feb. 7, The Bridge Teen Center will host Tacos 3 Ways with Rock Bottom in Orland Park. Participants will learn three simple recipes that puts a twist on the traditional taco. This free program is for teens in 7th through 12th grade.
  • Attention and Focus - 5-6 p.m. Feb. 7, The Bridge Teen Center will host Attention and Focus with Intellect Learning Center. Participants will learn strategies on how to improve focus, receive higher grades and get more done in less time. This free program is for teens in 7th through 12th grade.
  • Trivia Night - 7:30-10:30 p.m. Feb. 8, The Bridge Teen Center will host Trivia Night. Students will also receive complimentary samples from Jimmy John's. This free event is for teens in 7th through 12th grade with a completed student membership application on file.

To sign up for any program, call 532-0500, or visit thebridgeteencenter.org.

Upcoming

Valentine's show: 'The Killer and King' at Georgios Banquets

Georgios Banquet & Conference Centre in Orland Park will present a show paying tribute to two of music's greatest icons.

"The Killer and the King" will feature the songs of Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

Coming from Branson, Mo., Everett Dean and David Brooks will have you stomping your feet while enjoying a seven course dinner.

Georgios Banquet & Conference Centre has consistently been voted the No. 1 Banquet Facility in Chicago's Southland.

Reservations are on a first come basis. Ten percent discounts are offered on tables of 10. A portion of proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society.

The show will be held Sunday, Feb. 10. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $50 with a cash bar.

Georgios of Orland Park is at 8800 W. 159th St. (403-1757; georgios.com)

Intermediate art clay copper techniques

Instructor Katie Baum will continue the series of jewelry workshops at the McCord Gallery and Cultural Center, Palos Park, on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Students will learn to add dimension to their copper work, creating a hollow form and embellishing with tiny gemstones. This class adds techniques in shaping and texturing and incorporating gems into designs. Once the pieces are fired, heat patina will be used to bring out the uniqueness of the design.

In addition to being a Master Instructor, Katie Baum is the current Director of the Art Clay World, USA. She teaches across the U.S. and internationally, and has had articles published in industry magazines and is co-author of "Silver Clay Keepsakes."

Fees are $40 for members, $55 for non-members. Materials included. To register, call 671- 0648.

The McCord Gallery and Cultural Center, at 9602 W. Creek Road (129th Street and La Grange Road) showcases the work of local and regional artists and provides a learning center for the arts and a home for cultural history. For information, visit mccordgallery.org.

Obscene and obnoxious, just because


by Jase Howell

There are really special movies every once in a while. They don't come along often, but when they do they are unforgettable.

Granted, there are bad movies every year, and this late winter season is always a showcase for them. But, every once in a while, you get a legendary film of such bad proportions that it separates itself from simply horrible movies and into the Hall of Fame of Horrible Flicks. You may know the ilk of which I speak: "Ishtar," "Howard the Duck," "Leonard Part 6," anything starring Paulie Shore - you get the point.

So, welcome our newest inductee, "Movie 43." I'm at a loss to describe how this mess came to be, let alone try to make sense of the jumble of sketch comedies strewn together, seemingly with the aim of insulting movie-goers' intelligence as well as their sensibilities.

Producer Peter Farrelly started "Movie 43" some years ago, piecing it together with various writers and directors. If anyone was really waiting four years for this, believe me they would have been better off waiting until the end of the Earth. Considering the studio's release date there was some faith the Mayan calendar prophecy could have spared everyone this torture.

The Farrelly brothers have been on a slow but steady decline ever since "There's Something About Mary," which seems like eons ago. Here, Peter Farrelly has not only hit rock bottom, he's fracking for oil. The truly amazing thing is the vast amount of talent he is bringing along for the plunge. Somehow, star after star agreed to participate in these shorts, none of which you could ever imagine these stars signing on for unless hostages were involved. I guess part of the idea was as it's promo suggests, to make the most offensive movie you have ever seen. It is, in a way, but I don't think in a way they intended. They are, indeed, going after laughter but little of that is to be found here. The humor angles range from schoolyard humor, to the sophomoric, to the kind of comedy Paulie Shore would be good at, to "my God who are these writers I hope nobody is letting them near sharp objects."

You may think I'm exaggerating, so I'll give you just a taste of some of the stars and the brilliant humor in "Movie 43."

Let's start with the wraparound story, "The Pitch." Dennis Quaid is, um, I guess, supposed to be a screenwriter, but quite frankly looks like he stumbled out of a crack den. Yet he somehow has gotten onto a studio lot to meet with an exec played by Greg Kinnear. The rapper Common also appears in this wraparound. Nothing is really funny in the beginning, middle or end; but it does introduce the avenue for Quaid to give us the rest of the shorts that make up the "film."

And there is Nothing like starting out with a truly mature bit featuring Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman on a blind date, "The Catch." Winslet's character thinks she has won the jackpot with New York's most eligible bachelor, until he removes his scarf and revels he has something growing on his chin. If it wasn't cringe worthy at first, it certainly gets there as the overly long segment endures. Yes, Hugh Jackman and Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet. In a scene about a guy with balls on his chin.

Don't worry, they have plenty of company in this nonsense. Not to be outdone, real life couple Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts follow with "Homeschooled," in which they explain to dinner guests how their version of schooling works. It's funny for about two seconds, until Watts tries to make out with her son and Schreiber winds up hanging from a flagpole covered in feces.

Another real life couple, Chris Pratt and Anna Ferris, get credit for the most stomach-churning of the shorts. Pratt plays a man wanting to marry Ferris' character, and she is so in love with him she wants a special gift from him in the bedroom. I could go on, but I won't.

"Veronica" is a bit that somehow managed to drag the upand- coming Emma Stone into the mess. Stone's character has an extremely graphic conversation with her ex (Kieren Culkin) over a grocery store loudspeaker. Luckily for Stone, this segment is mercifully short.

"Truth or Dare" brings us Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant as a couple on a bizarre first date (this one also directed by Farrelly). Suffice to say, Berry was already following Farrelly's career trajectory and continues to do so here.

"Super Hero Speed Dating" stars Justin Long, Jason Sudekis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, Kristen Bell and Leslie Bibb and is pretty unremarkable. "Middle School Date" (directed by Elizabeth Banks) may as well have been written by junior high school boys. "Victory's Glory" is weak in concept, but Terrance Howard makes the most of a retread joke. "Beezel" starring the aforementioned Banks and Josh Duhamel - you have to wait until midway through the credits see this - that is if you've made it to the credits somehow. It's about a man, his girlfriend, and a psychotic cartoon cat.

"Beezel" is nearly as bizarre as director Brett Ratner's "Happy Birthday," in which mster thespian Johnny Knoxville kidnaps a leprechaun for his best friend (Sean William Scott). The foul mouthed little guy is digitally portrayed by Gerard Butler. When I say foul mouthed I mean an "American Psycho" kind of deranged and demented potty mouth, and considering the bloodletting here it may have played better on "Tales from the Crypt" had it not been so profane.

If I haven't given you an idea how bad this all is, I don't think I can help you. Sure, you may think a little over the top is great sometimes, and I would agree - when it has some semblance of a point and is not just obscene and obnoxious just to be obscene and obnoxious. Think of it this way: South park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were supposed to do a short for this film, but backed out, probably because it was (doubtful) too offensive or (more likely) because they saw how incredibly un-funny it was going to be. As far as being any of the big names here, the only bright side they can say is, "I wasn't the only one in that movie."

The other bright side is with a film this horribly bad you can hope no one ever sees it. Sadly, though, whether it's at the box office, on DVD, or on cable people will see it. Sorry, and welcome to the hall of fame - all of you.

Broaden Your Horizons

This week

Womantalk discussion

The Center, 12700 Southwest Highway, Palos Park, will host its monthly Womantalk coffee hour and discussion on Tuesday, Jan. 29, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Led by MaryAnn Grzych, ladies are invited to join the discussion of "Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach or other inspirational readings that participants wish to bring.

There is no cost, but reservations are required. Call The Center at 361-3650.

Hearts and snowflakes paper workshop

The Log Cabin Center for the Arts, 12700 Southwest Highway in Palos Park, will offer both afternoon and evening Paper Hearts And Snowflakes workshops on Wednesday, Jan. 30, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., and from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Lois Lauer will help participants make a variety of simple paper hearts and snowflakes by folding and cutting papers into intricate-looking designs. The hearts and snowflakes make charming window and Valentines window decorations.

The workshop cost is $14, which includes all supplies. Registration is required. Call The Center at 361-3650.

Documentary film tells story of Chinese adoptees

The award-winning film "Somewhere In Between" will have a showing at The Beverly Art Center at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 30.

In profiling Chinese adoptees in contemporary America, director Linda Goldstein Knowlton's documentary illustrates that even the most specific of experiences can be universally relatable. Of the roughly 80,000 girls who have been adopted from China since 1989 - a decade after China implemented its One Child Policy - the film intimately follows four teenage adoptees who try to answer the question of feeling "Somewhere In Between"

The Beverly Art Center is at 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at beverlyart center.org or by phoning (773) 445-3838. Cost is $7.50 for general admission.

The Bridge Teen Center

  • Just For Parents: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 30, The Bridge Teen Center, 15555 S. 71st Court, Orland Park, will host A New Year a New You with Emily Smith of Simplify with Smith. In an effort to start the New Year organized, The Bridge is bringing in a professional organizer to give tips and tricks on organizing your life. This free event is for parents of teens in 7th through 12th grade. To sign up, call 532-0500, or visit thebridgeteencenter.org.
  • Just For Teens: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Jan. 25, The Bridge Teen Center will host Friday Night Live with music from pop/rock band The End of December plus free samples from Qdoba. This free event is for teens in 7th through 12th grade with a completed student membership application on file.
  • Cupcake Decorating - 4:30 to 6 p.m. Jan. 29, The Bridge Teen Center will host Cupcake Decorating with Sweet Dreams Cakes. Participants will learn how to make frosting and how to properly use a decorating bag to create festive cupcakes as seen on Ace of Cakes. This free program is for teens in 7th through 12th grade.
  • Destress Yoga - 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 30, The Bridge Teen Center will host Destress Yoga with Yoga 360. Participants will build strength and improve flexibility with a variety of yoga techniques. This free program is for teens in 7th through 12th grade. (532-0500)

Upcoming

Memoir writing workshop

A memoir writing workshop is offered at The Log Cabin Center for the Arts, 12700 Southwest Highway, Palos Park, on six Thursday afternoons, beginning Feb. 7, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Personal historian Beth LaMie will teach students to write their family stories. Using writing prompts, exercises, and techniques to capture memories, participants will learn to organize their thoughts and experiences, to elicit stories from others, and even how to publish their work.

The class fee is $84 per person, plus a $10 workbook fee to be paid directly to the instructor in class. Students should bring paper and writing instruments. Registration is required. Call 361-3650.

Thursday morning basketry classes

The Log Cabin Center for the Arts, 12700 Southwest Highway in Palos Park, will offer Basketry classes for six weeks beginning Thursday, Feb. 7, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

New basket students make an easy beautiful wood-bottomed basket, with their choice of colored trim. Instructor Ann Fowler then teaches techniques for weaving a variety of shapes and sizes of baskets. Students can expect to make two-to-three baskets in six weeks, depending on their style and choice of projects.

The basket class costs $84 per six week session, plus a $25 materials fee. Registration is required. Call The Center at 361-3650 or visit thecenterpalos.org.

Jewelry workshop at McCord

  • Art Clay Copper - Explore an inexpensive new flavor of metal clay on Saturday, Feb.2, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the McCord Gallery & Cultural Center. Instructor Katie Baum will demonstrate Art Clay Copper which marries the simplicity of working with clay with the elegance and beauty of pure copper. Students will design, shape, texture, and sculpt jewelry pieces from start to finish. All of the jewelry pieces will be ready to wear home. Previous experience with either clay or metals is not required.
  • Chainmaille - On Sunday, Feb. 3, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Katie Baum will teach Chainmaille which has been both a functional and artistic staple for hundreds of years. Students will begin with Lacy Chain, a simple ring-weaving pattern to get their minds into "maille mode." Then attention will be turned to Byzantine, a chain that lends itself to multiple simple variations and incorporations with other designs. In these few hours, students will gain knowledge and inspiration with limitless possibilities.

Each workshop costs $40 for members of McCord and $55 for non-members. Materials are included. McCord Gallery & Cultural Center is at 9602 W. Creek Road (129th and La Grange Road), Palos Park. For more information, call 671-0648, or visit mccordgallery.org.

Ayurveda workshop at McCord

The McCord Gallery & Cultural Center will present the workshop Health and Well-being According to Ayurveda with Certified Ayurveda Consultant Paul Gardner on Sunday, Feb. 3, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Ayurveda (Sanskrit for knowledge of long life) is the Indian approach to staying healthy of mind, body, and spirit. This class will explore how to balance body and mind using simple techniques that have been around for millennia. Students will learn how to use food, oils, spices, herbs, exercise, rest and daily routines to balance their constitution which can lead them to greater health.

Participants will be able to sample Ayurvedic herbs, oils, and creams. The price for the workshop is $10.

McCord Gallery & Cultural Center is at 9602 W. Creek Road (129th and La Grange Road), Palos Park. For more information, visit mccordgallery.org.

Hathaway mesmerizes in 'Les Mis'


by Jase Howell

Well here we have the newest musical adapted to film, "Les Miserables." It's amazing that "Footloose" and "Hairspray" made it - twice in both cases - to the big screen quicker than the famous Broadway hit, but I suppose it was worth the wait.

I say suppose, because I must beg for forgiveness. I have never read the novel by Victor Hugo, nor seen a stage production of the story. I remember its tremendous success in the 1980s, and of course I had heard a few of the songs over the years, but this was my first exposure to the entire story.

For those who like me are ignorant to the story, here it is in nutshell. Then again, this is an epic story, so a nutshell may not be so easy, and believe me, the nearly three hour running time proves that. The story opens with protagonist Jean Veljean (Hugh Jackman), a prisoner-slave serving his last day after spending 19 years in prison. The opening sequence, like the rest of the film, is all musical and bombastic, as the prisoners try to pull a ship to port during a storm.

Pardoned Veljean travels to monastery, where he gains the conviction to change his life. This is not so easy as in opening sequences we are reminded of officer Javert, who took any chance he could to get the parolee behind bars. Away from Javert, Valjean begins a new life as a businessman and mayor six years later.

Eventually, Valjean, stumbles across an ex-employee of his, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), who is sick and in desperate need to take care of her daughter. The daughter, Cosette, grows some years later into a woman portrayed by Amanda Seyfreid (who, I'm sorry, is not nearly as gifted as Hathaway in the vocal department). If Valjean's issues aren't enough already, the grown Cosette has fallen in love with Marius (Eddie Redmayne), a revolutionary. Maruis, being the strapping-devil that he is, already has an admirer in Eponine (Samantha Barks). Thus bring on the revolutionary segment. Oh, the drama.

But let's get to reality - either you're a musical person or you're not. The dialogue and plot maneuvers here are all told in song. One would think the characters awake in the morning singing, and loudly at that. The book by Alain Boubil and the script by William Nicholson provide the background, but the questions really are in the acting and directing departments.

So, how does this memorable Broadway hit translate to the big screen. I think director Tom Hooper (with a whopping budget) is able to make this as magical as possible, if not magical certainly bombastic enough.

But let's get down to the details of who can pull off the singing and who can't. Believe it or not, they all can - even Russell Crowe, although Crowe's singing is more like a Catholic priest delivering Mass. Jackman we knew could do this, but as talented as he may be a little goes a long way. The final scenes of him are almost painstakingly over the top. Seyfried and Raymayne are on their marks, despite not being exceptional vocally. Sasha Baron-Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter also have several scenes in the movie. I admire both, but neither seemed needed to the extent they are used.

In the end, this is music, music, music and more music, with some French uprisings and melodrama. Hooper ("The King's Speech") does a good job of making this engaging, especially considering its length. But the star is Hathaway, who proves herself as a dual threat killing you emotionally with her acting while singing. Her performance is nothing short of amazing. Also watch for Barks, a theatre actress making her first turn at cinema. There is a lot to like in her.

If you don't enjoy musicals, go see something else, but if you do enjoy musicals this may be an extraordinary treat. I may not have a frame of reference, but I can recognize determination and talent. That is abound in "Les Miserables." Just don't make me sing it, I haven't the chops.

Top Country Albums

  1. Red, Taylor Swift, Big Machine Records
  2. Night Train, Jason Aldean, Broken Bow
  3. Blown Away, Carrie Underwood, Sony Nashville/Arista
  4. Here's to the Good Times, Florida Georgia Line, Universal Republic
  5. Tornado, Little Big Town, Capitol
  6. Tailgates & Tanlines, Luke Bryan, Capitol
  7. Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes, Atlantic
  8. Red River Blue, Blake Shelton, Warner Bros.