RSSOffBeat With Phil Potempa

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Creative display for 2014 Brookfield Zoo costume contest

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Creative display for 2014 Brookfield Zoo costume contest

There were plenty of big (and little) winners over the weekend for Brookfield Zoo's annual Halloween costume parade and contest.

I served as one of the judges both days and I'll be back this weekend, too.

Brookfield Zoo calls this Boo! at the Zoo and it offers an array of "spook-tacular activities for the whole family."

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Steppenwolf's 'Animal Farm' riveting, relevant stage story

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Steppenwolf's 'Animal Farm' riveting, relevant stage story

Steppenwolf for Young Adults magically brings the weight-heavy words, themes and creatures of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" alive for a sensational world premiere stage adaptation by Althos Low.

Artistic and Educational Director Hallie Gordon imaginatively directs this 90-minute, no intermission Chicago production in Steppenwolf's Upstairs Theatre for a run through Nov. 14.

Orwell's "Animal Farm" was a required reading list must from my days in high school advanced literature class.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Are you older and starting new life to adapt?

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Are you older and starting new life to adapt?

Television shows throughout the decades always have reflected society and social change.

But one theme that has remained the same in many series is the idea of families with shared resources, including older characters incorporated as part of a combined household.

In the early days of television, when the "Lassie" CBS series launched in 1954 (often called "Jeff's Collie"), George "Gramps" Miller lived with the family as Ellen's father-in-law and Jeff's paternal grandfather. In the 1960s, even the competing creepy families like "The Munsters" on CBS and "The Addams Family" on ABC had Grandpa and Grandma living under the same family roof and contributing to everyday life. By the 1970s, "The Waltons" on CBS portrayed the same family formula as depicted in the 1940s story lines. And the ratings success "Fraiser" showed the same father and son roommate situation in the decade of the 1990s.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Like 'Wonka' finds, appraised items can be 'Golden Ticket'

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Like 'Wonka' finds, appraised items can be 'Golden Ticket'

Reader Ashley Halpern asked me to get the word out about "a new first-ever event" that helps uncover the value of treasures at home, while also raising money to help WANISS, the Women's Association of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Society.

"Our Women's Association of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Society's Antique Critique will be similar to the PBS TV show 'Antiques Roadshow,' with appraisers on hand to offer verbal appraisals and information related to their items," Halpern explained.

The event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Chicago Architecture free tours this weekend

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Chicago Architecture free tours this weekend

I never realized famed silent screen comedian Charlie Chaplin once lived in Chicago.

In late 1914, Essanay Studios in Chicago hired Chaplin away from Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios, offering him a higher salary and his own production unit. Chaplin made 14 short comedies for Essanay in 1915, at both the Chicago and the Niles, Calif., satellite studio location.

While in Chicago, Chaplin lived at Brewster Apartments, 2800 N. Pine Grove Ave.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: 'Submission's' Chicago debut tackles race, identity issues

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: 'Submission's' Chicago debut tackles race, identity issues

As study after study reveals, you only have one chance to make a first impression.

This is just one of the intricate considerations addressed for the Chicago premiere of "The Submission" by Jeff Talbott, winner of the 2011 Laurent's/Hatcher Award and the Outer Circle's John Gassner Award for Best New Play in 2012. It is the Pride Films and Plays follow-up to its sold-out Jeff Recommended run of Terrence McNally's "Some Men."

Running through Nov. 25 at the Apollo Studio Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., following Tuesday's opening night performance, "The Submission" also garnered a Jeff Recommended stamp.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Joan Rivers and other noted names in new Jewish cookbook

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Joan Rivers and other noted names in new Jewish cookbook

While I was working on my third cookbook, "Further From the Farm" published in 2010, I asked Joan Rivers if she might like to share a recipe for this latest installment.

Her answer was the only recipe she had, was one that she had used years earlier, submitted for a charity cookbook. It was her "old family recipe for how to make toast." Even though I opted not to showcase her "heirloom" recipe, I did include a photo with her in that last cookbook.

So imagine my surprise when I was contacted by New York publicist Allyssa Kasoff about a new cookbook that Rivers was involved in as one of her final projects. And yes, it even includes a (real) recipe!

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Goodman's 'Smokefall' celebrates tricks of life and love

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Goodman's 'Smokefall' celebrates tricks of life and love

On cable's TLC (The Learning Channel), there is a series called "My Strange Addiction" which showcases the odd attraction people have for dependencies.

One woman featured on this show ate laundry detergent soap powder. Another person couldn't help eating the stuffing in sofa seat cushions. And then, there was the person who compulsively ate pound after pound of facial tissues.

In the play "Smokefall" at Chicago's Goodman Theatre until Oct. 26 in the Owen Theatre, the story is set in Grand Rapids, Mich, as acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Noah Haidle "explores the passage of time and the fleeting pleasures of life through three generations of one family."

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: First Folio's 'Gravedigger' spooky, thoughtful stage fun

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: First Folio's 'Gravedigger' spooky, thoughtful stage fun

First Folio Theatre has the perfect stage setting for their production this month.

It's really also their permanent venue setting, at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st Street and Ill. 83 in Oak Brook, Ill.

It is capping this month with Mayhem in the Mansion, a special Halloween event filled with spooky activities and a bone-chilling performance of their new show, "The Gravedigger," for Oct. 31.

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OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Rensselaer reading on Friday includes Valpo writer

OFFBEAT with PHIL POTEMPA: Rensselaer reading on Friday includes Valpo writer

The Kankakee River is one of our most noted moving bodies of water near our family farm.

When reader Edna M. Williams, of Wheatfield, contacted me about a local author's work related to this water wonder, I was happy to agree to share it with readers, in addition to her other related new work.

"Good morning, Phil! Hope you are well. I have attended various events that you have been involved in. You came to my mind especially since you love the arts and I have enjoyed your column over the years. I'm wondering if you could help get the word out about the reading that will occur in Rensselaer next week on Friday, Oct. 17 at a relatively new venue called Embers. Angela Williams Palm is a 2004 graduate of St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer. She was born in Valparaiso and went to the Kankakee Valley Schools during her kindergarten through graduation years. She was quite involved in politics living in Indy and Denver before moving to Vermont where she followed her true passion, writing. It was just announced that Graywolf Press will be publishing her essay and story collection 'Riverine' in the Spring 2016. It is a collection of 14 essays and three stories exploring the community that inhabits an inlet of the Kankakee River in rural Indiana, a lyric narrative of place dwelling on violence and the past's inevitable influence on the future. There is more info about this work at angelapalm.com. Thank you, Edna M. Williams"

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