OFFBEAT: Local author pens mystery, 'Twilight' stars coming to Chicagoland cinema

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2011-11-06T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Local author pens mystery, 'Twilight' stars coming to Chicagoland cinemaBy Philip Potempa (219) 852-4327

A fun, interesting, entertaining and intriguing new mystery novel written by one of our own regional notables hit booksellers last month.

Gloria McMillan, a research associate for the department of English at University of Arizona, may not be a name that sounds familiar to The Times readers. But her maiden name Gloria Ptacek from her region days likely rings a bell for many.

She was born in East Chicago and attended East Chicago Washington High School. But after 25 years in Northwest Indiana, she left to pursue her career. She still has family in Schererville and gets back this way from time to time, including when her stage mystery play "Pass the Ectoplasm," about the art of the seance for connecting to the netherworld, was produced in Chicago following its opening in Tucson.

Her new book, "The Blue Maroon Murder" ($15 Anaphor Literary Press), is a 200-page paperback murder mystery novel imaginatively inspired by the English Department at University of Chicago.

Gloria had to ride the wave of some legal wranglings after some serious chats with who she calls the "U of C legal eagles" about her original intent to use the University of Chicago name in this fictional work.

"They could not positively swear that they would not sue for any damage to the U of C image and what having a murder mystery set there would do," Gloria said. "So, alas, it is now called historic 'Midway University,' the home of the 'Maroons' in Hyde Park. I changed all building names and street names slightly, as well."

Even the cover of her book, featuring a body cloaked in a white sheet has a unique story.

"Those feet on the front cover belong to my astronomer husband Bob McMillan, who is with the Spacewatch Asteroid Camera-Kitt Peak National Observatory," she said.

"He graciously posed as the corpse, Andy Smitherman, of both Harvard and Midway University."

As for the book plot, a famous campus figure is found blue in the face after some terrible accident or possible murder.

Dinah Cassidy, a 30-year-old literature grad student who recently lost her young husband in a fatal bicycle accident, is swept up in the clues.

Fellow grad student Jerry Mason tells her a mystery document has surfaced in the university's rare books library and may prove a love affair between famed Chicago journalist Theodore Dreiser and social work pioneer Jane Addams.

But after an ambitious and womanizing literature professor has been found dead, signs point to an inside job.

The book is available on or visit

Teethy entertainment

Here's something fun for fans of the "Twilight" film series to sink their teeth into.

Innovative theater owner and all-around-good-guy Ted Bulthaup, who successfully launched the concept of the dinner and a movie theater in Indianapolis in 1991, has announced some of the stars from the new "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" film will spend the movie's opening weekend next week at his cinema properties.

Friday through Sunday, actor Daniel Cudmor, who plays vampire Felix, and Alex Meraz, who plays werewolf Paul, will attend the screenings each day, greet fans, pose for photos and sign autographs.

Hollywood Boulevard Cinema Bar and Restaurant, 1001 W. 75th St., in Woodridge, Ill., and Ted's new Hollywood Palms Cinema, Bar and Eatery, between Aurora and Jefferson avenues in Naperville, Ill., will serve as the locations for the weekend fun.

Both venues boast displays of Bulthaup's personal collection of movie props and collectibles.

For tickets and info, visit, or call (630) 427-1880.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.




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