Stories by Marc Vitali

When Monty Python Put the Squeeze on PBS Pledge

39 Years Ago, Members of the Famed Comedy Troupe Turned Channel 11’s Membership Drive Into a Flying Circus

“Would you like to subscribe to public television, or would you prefer a knee to the groin?”

The Sting from Another World

Meeting a Pop Star is Like Meeting Royalty from A Distant Planet

Love him or not, people want to know: what was Sting like? Honestly, I was in King Sting’s galaxy for exactly 14 minutes last Thursday in a room with a lot of other people. If you want a real take on his personality, you should ask someone who’s known him for at least 15 minutes.

Gorey Details

13 Thrilling Things You May Not Know About the Mysterious Mr. Gorey

Edward Gorey was a Chicagoan. It’s amazing how many people are unaware (myself included, until recently) that the great Gorey was born in Chicago in 1925.

The Jokers Are Wild

A Still Life Artist Isn't Clowning About Portraiture

Clowns are funny. Clowns are scary. Clowns are divisive – people love ‘em or hate ‘em.

Writing in Ernest

App Helps Make Your Writing as Clear and Strong as Hemingway’s

A free new app is a fun and easy way to improve your writing. Brothers Ben and Adam Long created a program that aims to simplify your writing in the style of Ernest Hemingway.

Recommending a Theatrical "Train Wreck"

The Show Must Go On – A Big Top Tragedy Inspires Both Lunacy and Reverence

This Train Wreck isn’t really a disaster – quite the opposite – but it’s about a disaster: the tragedy that occurred in 1918 near Hammond, Indiana when an empty U.S. Army troop train crashed into a fully-loaded circus train stopped on the tracks.

Let It Beatles

You Don’t Have to be a Baby Boomer to Love The Beatles

Forgive me, but I don’t remember The Beatles arriving in America 50 years ago or their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

A Hollywood Alternative

Movie Posters Reveal a Parallel History of American Filmmaking

An upcoming art exhibition promises to be a fascinating look at film history and African-American history.

Fred Rogers, Artist (and Superhero)

The Beloved PBS host was a Master of Music with Powers of Persuasion

Fred Rogers was a friend to every child -- he was also an artist and a brave citizen.

Big Country in the Big City

Find out why Nashville’s loss is Chicago’s gain

One of the finest singer-songwriters of country music is based in the Chicago area.

Stocking Full of Fond Memories

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Here is a list of the most memorable art I saw and heard this year. From opera in a swimming pool to barn-blazing bluegrass and forgotten artists, 2013 was a very good year for enthusiams old and new.

Peaceful, Uneasy Feeling

Sunshine and Shadows Co-Exist on New Record from One-time Chicago Songwriter

Cass McCombs returns to Chicago on Friday, December 6 to play The Empty Bottle on Western Avenue.

Pencil Him In

Finding a Creative Voice at the Swap O Rama

Besides the main arteries of museums and galleries, the Chicago area has endless capillaries of creativity.

Theater of Desire and Doom

Stage Spectacle Balances Hilarity and Emotions

Once or twice a year, a show is so breathtaking that it must be seen a second time. And you really have to see it in the theater -- once it closes, it’s gone. DVDs or on-demand cannot capture the live experience of sitting in the dark, bonding with the strangers onstage you seem to know so well. Read the Artbeat blog.

Bo Knows More Than Diddley

Rock Pioneer AND Aspiring Advice Columnist?

Yes, he was a legendary songwriter and storyteller, but recent evidence shows Bo Diddley could have had a second career as an advice columnist if he wanted.

Hungry for Art

Art Institute Curator Digests One of Her Favorite Paintings

The curator of Art and Appetite dishes on one of her favorite pop art pieces in the show, Tom Wesselman's "Four Roses."

The Modern Wing is Currently Clipped

Attention Art Institute Attendees: Annex Abridged until April

Visitors to the Art Institute hoping to see Picasso and Matisse masterworks in the Modern Wing must wait until spring. That’s when the third floor galleries of European modern art reopen.

Children’s Author or Dirty Old Man?

Meet the Graphic Artist Who Paid the Price for Being Too “Graphic”

The Three Robbers is a children’s book to cherish. The story revolves around fierce bandits who threaten violence and kidnap a little girl. But that’s OK with her – she doesn’t want to live with her wicked aunt anyway.

Ship Shape

Spellbinding Seascapes with Sunken Ships

A Chicago painter pays tribute to ships lost at sea.

Exuberant “Rascals” Return to the Spotlight

Long Dormant ‘60s Band Erupts On Stage

You get the distinct feeling that this is a band that a) wants to make up for lost time and b) has something to prove. They accomplish both in the feel-good show of the season.

The Art of the Terrorist

Field Museum Exhibition Looks at Nazi Propaganda

It’s profane to even call it “art.” Art usually inspires a viewer to think deeply. But this art wasn’t about inspiring -- it was about conspiring.

Get off the Couch and Go to SOFA

“Sculpture Objects Functional Art” = Lots of Cool Stuff

SOFA CHICAGO is the exceptional art fair devoted to design, and this year marks its 20th anniversary. It fills Festival Hall at Navy Pier through Sunday.

A British Knight's Chicago Sculpture

Late Sculptor Has Prominent Work in Chicago

English sculptor Sir Anthony Caro died last week at the age of 89. This was big news in the art world, where his abstract works created a new language for the medium. In Chicago, it wasn't news.

Pool of Talent

A Theatrical Approach to Opera Performed on a Liquid Stage

One of the more daring highlights of the fall arts season promises to be Chicago Opera Theater’s staging of the mythical romance “Orpheus and Eurydice.”

Buon Giordano!

Sensational Jazz Dance Served with a Side of Chicago History

Giordano Dance Chicago promises something extraordinary when Escape Ordinary opens their fall season at The Harris Theater at Millennium Park this weekend.