A Valentine's week arts roundup!

February 13, 2012

1. It was a Chicago sort of night - sort of - at the Grammys. Native daughters Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Khan were tapped to pay tribute to Whitney Houston, but only Hudson performed in a grand, graceful way (though that didn't stop the local CBS 2 anchors from including Kahn in their post-Grammy rundown).

Meanwhile, the also recently departed Don Cornelius was honored by hitching together Chris Brown, Deadmau5, Lil Wayne and Foo Fighters in a strange, part-rave, part-rock mash-up - all told they didn't add up to a soul caboose, let alone a Soul Train.

Congrats to Eighth Blackbird for winning Best Small Ensemble Performance; condolences to all the other Chicagoans who didn't bring home gold. 

My favorite performance was by Nicki Minaj, who brought the weird factor big time. Hey, critics tearing her apart for ripping off Lady Gaga?  Weren't y'all just last year lambasting the Lady G for ripping off Madonna??

2. "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

Switch out "conservators" for "people" and Abraham Lincoln kindly provides the best summation of a story that appeared this weekend, on what would have been the President's 203rd birthday.  

As The New York Times reported, a portrait long thought to be of Mary Lincoln Todd is now revealed to be a fraud!  

The backstory of the con that fooled Lincoln's descendants is a good read. Not entirely covered: how in the late 70s the painting passed muster with conservators at the Art Institute of Chicago - where are the folks from Antiques Roadshow when you really need them?

Also unclear - why aren't we doing our patriotic duty and celebrating Lincoln's birthday the best way we know how - by staying home and sleeping in?

3. Speaking of legal types and bait/switches this weekend, some renowned University of Chicago law professors will swap their courtly getups for actor's garb.

As part of the Manhood in American Law and Literature conference, Judges Richard Posner and Diane Wood (along with others) will perform a scene from the The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. Professor Martha Nussbaum, meanwhile, will play Regina Hubbard Giddens in a scene from Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (she'll also provide music - is there anything this woman can't do?!).

Previous conferences have involved acting debuts - most notably Justice Stephen Breyer as the Ghost in Hamlet.

4. The Bulls play the Celtics Thursday night - and if you a) have tickets b) get there early you could grab a Derrick Rose MVP Bobblehead doll. Unfortunately Rose himself may not play - he's still getting checked out for back pain.

5. Finally, if you are looking for non-traditional ways to celebrate Valentine's Day tomorrow, you could follow the lead of my colleague Molly Adams, who is planning to give blood.  

Or show the old Prentice Women's Hospital some love. Preservation Chicago is asking folks to design a valentine to the endangered Bertrand Goldberg building - today's your last chance to submit.

And if it is true that the holiday was originally connected to the Pagan celebration Lupercalia, maybe a screening of The Grey is in order? If reviews are to be believed, you and your honey will be hanging onto each other for dear life. Sweet!