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Our monthly Local Author Night returns featuring Kevin Theis (Invading Nirvana), Tori Telfer (Lady Killers), P.M. White (Buzz Ride), and Michael Moreci (Black Star Renegades).
About Kevin Theis:
Kevin is a Chicago writer, actor and director. His published works include "Confessions of a Transylvanian," written with co-author Ronald Fox (published by Berwick Court Publishing), "Invading Nirvana: a Chicagoan in the City of Angels" (published by Fort Raphael Publishing) and adaptations of both Thomas Heywood's play "The Fair Maid of the West" and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Sign of the Four," the latter of which was written in conjunction with Shanghai Low Theatricals (both published by Dramatic Publishing).
Apart from his writing, Kevin has been an actor on stage and screen in Chicago for over 25 years. He has appeared on stage in the roles of Salieri in "Amadeus," the title role in "Richard III," George in "Of Mice and Men," Edward in "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me" (Jeff Award nomination, Best Actor) and Mr. Lockhart in "The Seafarer" (Jeff Award winner, Best Ensemble).
Kevin is also a director for the stage, having been thrice nominated for Jeff Awards for his direction of his own "Fair Maid of the West," City Lit's production of "Jeeves and the Mating Season," and greasy joan and co.'s "The Mandrake." Kevin has directed over thirty shows in Chicago, including an adaptation of Terry Prachett's "Monstrous Regiment" for Lifeline Theatre, "A Moon for the Misbegotten" for Seanachai Theatre and numerous shows for the Oak Park Festival Theatre.
He has also appeared on television in NBC's "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago PD", Fox's "Empire" and ABC's "Betrayal."
About Invading Nirvana:
Chicago theater veteran Kevin Theis, co-author of the cult classic “Confessions of a Transylvanian: a Story of Sex, Drugs and Rocky Horror,” presents: “Invading Nirvana: a Chicagoan in the City of Angels” the story of one actor’s quixotic odyssey into the heart of the entertainment industry: Hollywood, California.
From the early preparations for his trip to La La Land to his search for representation, his encounters with the famous (and soon-to-be famous) as well as his deep-dive exploration of this unique and fascinating city, “Invading Nirvana” is a must-read for anyone considering moving to L.A. to pursue a dream of breaking into show business.
The author is both candid and unsparing in his description of the industry, the city of Los Angeles and the challenges of being a performer in Hollywood looking for work. Casting agents, pay-to-meet workshops, the comedy club scene, film and TV auditions as well as a peek inside the audiobook world; every aspect of the entertainment industry is thoroughly examined in this hilarious and comprehensive look at life as a professional actor in Hollywood.
About Tori Telfer:
Tori Telfer graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing. She was the recipient of both the Edwin L. Shuman Best Senior Honors Thesis in the English Major in Writing Award and the Edwin L. Shuman Fiction Award; an NU Undergraduate Research Symposium award; the J.G Nolan Scholarship and the Hulda & Maurice Rothschild Endowment for academic excellence; and a membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
After college, she worked in children's publishing and teaching before going freelance. Over her 4+ years of freelance experience, she has written marketing copy for everything from specialty manicure tools to indie theater companies, worked with CEOs and startup founders as the editor-in-chief of Hippo Thinks to help them publish in places like Forbes and Fast Company, edited numerous PhD dissertations, written viral reported pieces, and been featured several times on longform.org. She has also done plenty of catering, which she not-so-secretly adores.
Her writing has appeared in Salon, VICE, Jezebel, The Hairpin, The Awl, GOOD magazine, Chicago Magazine, The Establishment (forthcoming), and elsewhere. (See Clips.) Her screenplay, DETECTIVE IN THE CITY OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN, was awarded honorable mention in the Table Read My Screenplay contest. She has written, produced, and directed two plays.
Her first book, LADY KILLERS (Harper Perennial), will be released on October 10, 2017. It's a "thrilling character study of the most diabolically complex, fascinating female psychopaths in history." —New York Times bestselling author M. William Phelps, DANGEROUS GROUND: My Friendship with a Serial Killer.
About Lady Killers:
Inspired by author Tori Telfer's Jezebel column “Lady Killers,” this thrilling and entertaining compendium investigates female serial killers and their crimes through the ages.
When you think of serial killers throughout history, the names that come to mind are ones like Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacy, and Ted Bundy. But what about Tillie Klimek, Moulay Hassan, Kate Bender? The narrative we’re comfortable with is the one where women are the victims of violent crime, not the perpetrators. In fact, serial killers are thought to be so universally, overwhelmingly male that in 1998, FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood infamously declared in a homicide conference, “There are no female serial killers.”
Lady Killers, based on the popular online series that appeared on Jezebel and The Hairpin, disputes that claim and offers fourteen gruesome examples as evidence. Though largely forgotten by history, female serial killers such as Erzsébet Báthory, Nannie Doss, Mary Ann Cotton, and Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova rival their male counterparts in cunning, cruelty, and appetite for destruction.
Each chapter explores the crimes and history of a different subject, and then proceeds to unpack her legacy and her portrayal in the media, as well as the stereotypes and sexist clichés that inevitably surround her. The first book to examine female serial killers through a feminist lens with a witty and dryly humorous tone, Lady Killers dismisses easy explanations (she was hormonal, she did it for love, a man made her do it) and tired tropes (she was a femme fatale, a black widow, a witch), delving into the complex reality of female aggression and predation. Featuring 14 illustrations from Dame Darcy, Lady Killers is a bloodcurdling, insightful, and irresistible journey into the heart of darkness.
About P.M. White:
Intense, can’t-shake-it curiosity led Pat White (a pseudonym) to drive for Uber after researching his growing interest in ridesharing and other disruptive and “new economy” businesses for an article in a prestigious business journal. Pat’s articles on technology and strategic communication have been published in professional business journals.
Pat began working in 1979 for the Chicago Board Options Exchange before becoming a retail stockbroker for some of Wall Street’s largest firms. In 1996, he received an MBA in management. He went on to work for the business college he graduated from, focusing first on executive education and then serving as director of the university’s for-profit media company, where he showed his skill at rescuing ailing organizations.
The lifelong Chicagoan was president of a technology company owned by a founder of a prestigious leverage buyout/private equity firm on Wall Street before returning to Chicago after an eleven-year hiatus in Indiana. He has managed money for Hollywood celebrities and advised some of Chicago's most influential families and businesses in the areas of turn-around management and strategic business growth.
About Buzz Ride:
Why would a financially-comfortable, fifty-something father of two – with a Mercedes – drive Uber late at night on the toughest streets of Chicago? Pat White (pseudonym), a financial advisor and business strategist, decided to go undercover to research how the disruptive technology of ridesharing affects commerce. Soon his business study warped into a study of humanity . . . and himself.
This reserved Baby Boomer first had to face his fear of picking up strangers in his own car and driving them to unknown locations. Most were over-privileged, over-served Millennials in route to their next adrenaline rush or wherever they were crashing for the night. Some treated him like he was invisible – making out, arguing, discussing sex and drugs, and lying to lovers on the phone about their whereabouts as if no one else were in the car. Others wished him to partake in their partying or craved his counsel on the most intimate details of their lives. Still others were just looking to pick a fight. Rarer were the tired and the timid: those returning to family after working long hours with hopes of a brighter tomorrow, those fleeing abuse, and those just fleeing a thunderstorm.
This summer experiment took White down roads he never imagined he would travel. Soon he found himself embracing danger, longing for the thrill of voyeuristic glimpses into private lives made public, and facing the depths of his shadow personality.
Come along for the bumpy ride as this sharp-tongued observer shares the always wild, sometimes dark, often humorous, and surprisingly touching side of Chicago nightlife in the smart-phone generation.
About Michael Moreci:
Michael Moreci is the creator of numerous original comics series and has written and collaborated on multiple established properties. His most recent original works, Roche Limit (Image Comics) and Burning Fields (BOOM! Studios), were both recognized by many publications as being among the best comics of 2015. Roche Limit was called the “sci-fi comic you need to read” by Nerdist and io9, and Paste Magazine named it one of the “50 best sci-fi comics” of all time.
In 2018, Moreci's debut novel, Black Star Renegades, will be released with St. Martin's Press. Drawing inspiration from the space operatics of Star Wars and the swagger of Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping adventure that blasts its way from seedy spacer bars to sacred temples guarded by strange creatures--all with a cast of misfit characters charged with saving the world.
Moreci is also the author of Curse (BOOM! Studios), a modern-day werewolf story, which is in film development with Blumhouse Productions. His crime-noir series, ReincarNATE, has been optioned for television by Patrice Théroux and Buck Productions with David Hayter (writer of the first two X-Men films, as well as the Watchmen adaptation) attached as showrunner. His Image Comics series Hoax Hunters is currently in development for television with Craig Tittley (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) attached as the showrunner.
A recent graduate of the DC Comics Writer's Program, Moreci has published the Suicide Squad, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Superman stories. He also wrote the in-canon comic series that bridges the gap between Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. His other licensed property credits include Conan the Barbarian, The Shadow, Army of Darkness, and Robocop.
Moreci is currently writing the novel Spy Swap for Lawrence Gordon Productions, to be published by Tor Books. A film adaptation, written by Jacob Crane and Jonathan Stewart, is currently in development.
Additionally, Moreci also writes for LucasFilm, contributing to StarWars.com, and he is a regular contributor to Tor.com. A Star Wars obsessive, Moreci has released a Star Wars comics anthology the past two years; in total, they've been downloaded over 30,000 times. Moreci has been profiled by USA Today, Nerdist, Comics Alliance/AOL, Comic Book Resources, and the Hollywood Reporter. He lives in Chicago with his wife, two children, and his dog (who looks like Chewbacca on four legs).
About Black Star Renegades:
In the tradition of Star Wars, a galaxy-hopping space adventure about a galactic kingdom bent on control and the young misfit who must find the power within before it’s too late.
Cade Sura holds the future of the galaxy in his hands: the ultimate weapon that will bring total peace. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, and there’s no worse choice to wield it in all of space, but if he doesn’t, everyone’s totally screwed. The evil Praxis kingdom is on the cusp of having every star system under its control, and if that happens, there’ll be no contesting their cruel reign. Especially if its fanatical overlord, Ga Halle, manages to capture Cade and snag the all-powerful weapon for herself.
Cade can’t hide from Praxis, and he can’t run from the destiny that’s been shoved into his hands. So he only has one option:
He has to fight.
Cade’s not going to let destiny send him on a suicide run, though. With some help from his friends—rebels and scoundrels alike—Cade’s going to use this weapon to chart a new destiny for the galaxy, and for himself.
He just has to do so before everyone around him discovers that he’s a complete and total fraud.
Blending the space operatics of Star Wars and the swagger of Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping adventure that blasts its way from seedy spacer bars to sacred temples guarded by deadly creatures—all with a cast of misfit characters who have nowhere to go and nothing to lose.
Playwright Steven Simoncic comes to The Book Cellar for a reading from his recently published play Broken Fences. The evening will feature scenes read by local actors, followed by a discussion of the work.
About Steven Simoncic:
Steven Simoncic’s plays have received productions, readings and workshops at The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, The Second City, 16 th Street Theatre, Pegasus Players, Stageplays Theatre New York, and Soho Theatre London. Steven’s play, Heat Wave recently received a critically acclaimed production at Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep, and his play Once Upon a Time in Detroit, was recently selected as a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference. The Space Behind Your Heart was selected as a finalist for the 2017 Heideman Award from the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Ghost Gardens was a semi-finalist for the 2015 Global Age Project at Aurora Theatre. Broken Fences was selected as a finalist for the 2015 Woodward/Newman Drama Award, and his play, Toxic Donut, won the NAAA Playwriting Festival where it received a workshop production at the Wright Theatre at The London Central School for Dramatics. Steven recently completed critically acclaimed productions of Broken Fences with Ballybeg Productions in New York, 16 th Street Theatre in Chicago and The Road Theatre in LA. The 16 th Street Theatre production was featured in The Chicago Tribune’s annual “Best of Chicago” list. The Road Theatre production of Broken Fences received outstanding reviews, was recommended by the LA Examiner, and a was rated a “Top Rated play in LA” by Theatre in LA, and a “Top 10 Production in Los Angeles” by Stage Raw. In 2018, Broken Fences will be produced by The Detroit Repertory Theatre as part of their 61 st season.
Steven was recently nominated for a Pushcart prize, the Arts & Letters Susan Atefat Prize, and has won an Emmy for short form comedy. Steven was selected as a featured writer for RIPPED, a short play series co-produced by American Blues Theatre and the University of Chicago, and his play Words With C, was selected as a finalist for Play Lab at the 22 nd Annual Last Frontier Theatre Festival.
Steven is a resident artist at The Purple Rose Theatre, an alumni resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists Theatre and Writer in Residence at Pegasus Theatre Chicago, and 16 th Street Theatre. His plays and fiction have appeared in The Chicago Reader, Hippocampus Magazine, Conclave, New Millennium Writings, Spork Magazine, Ampersand and Drift Magazine. Steven’s work of creative non-fiction, “I Like You” was selected as one of the notable American Essays of 2015 by Robert Atwan in the 2016 Best American Essays anthology.
Steven holds BBA from the University of Michigan, an MFA from WarrenWilson and an MLA from the University of Chicago.
About Broken Fences:
In a neighborhood on Chicago's deep West Side, the momentum of gentrification has taken hold and things have begun to change forever. As property taxes rise and demographics shift, Hoody and D struggle to keep the only home they have ever known. But when April and Czar -- a white couple intent on starting a family -- buy their first home and move in next door, the very definition of home is called into question. With unflinching honesty and unapologetic humor, "Broken Fences" examines identity and invisibility, community and security, hope and hostility in a modern American urban village that is at once foreign, and the place these characters call home.
What's your all time favorite concet? Corbin Reiff may disagree. Come share yours as he discusses his new book Lighters in the Sky: The All-Time Greatest Concerts, 1960–2016.
About Corbin Reiff:
Corbin Reiff is the author of Lighters In The Sky: The Greatest Concert Of All-Time 1960-2016. He is currently the Deputy Music Editor at UPROXX and has contributed to some of the biggest publications around including, Rolling Stone, Spin, The Washington Post, Pitchfork, Complex, Guitar World, and The A.V. Club to name a few. He lives in Chicago with his wife Jenna and his two dogs Page and Hendrix.
About Lighters in the Sky:
Live. In the age of the studio and digital downloads, that four-letter word stands as the true test of the performer’s talent and the fan’s commitment.
The true greats deliver in concert, and every once in a while they deliver with a sound and fury that rings through the ages. James Brown at the Apollo. Led Zeppelin at Earl’s Court. Nirvana at Reading. The night Tupac, Biggie and Big Daddy Kane found a stage big enough to share at Madison Square Garden. Radiohead at Glastonbury. Some shows crystallize a particular moment in a great performer’s career, like Bowie’s farewell to Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith and Prince’s epic set at the Forum at the height of his purple reign. Some—the original Woodstock, The Last Waltz, Lollapalooza ’91 and Coachella ’99—define an era.
The live moment can be hard to capture with a microphone or a camera, let alone on the page. In veteran music writer Corbin Reiff’s deep dive through decades of epic gigs—often including interviews with the participants—he brings these concerts crackling back to life with revealing and lost details about what it was like on the stage and in the hall. Here are the cultural contexts, the backstage dramas, the split-second artistic decisions and the technical details behind the best shows of our amplified age. Year by year, concert by concert, this is a book that’s loud and guaranteed to start an argument.
Feeling a little pessemistic about politics? Come get inspired! The Book Cellar is excited to host Ron Aronson and his empowering new book, We: Reviving Social Hope.
Abour Ron Aronson:
Ronald Aronson grew up in Detroit and was educated at Wayne State University, U.C.L.A., the University of Michigan, and Brandeis University, where he earned a Ph.D. in the History of Ideas. He studied with William Barrett, Page Smith, and Herbert Marcuse. Swept up in the political activism of the 1960s, he became a community organizer in the African American neighborhood of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and an editor of the prominent New Left journal, Studies on the Left. In spring, 1968, as he was completing a doctoral dissertation on “Art and Freedom in the Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre,” he participated in the “Freedom School” organized in the aftermath of the student strike at Columbia University.
Aronson has taught at Wayne State University since 1968, first at Monteith College, and since 1978 in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, a nationally recognized program for working adults that was abolished by the WSU Board of Governors in 2007. He is now Distinguished Professor of the History of Ideas in the Department of History. Winner of several scholarly and teaching awards at Wayne State, Aronson is the past president of its Academy of Scholars.
He was Visiting Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago in winter, 2004. In 1983-4, he was Research Associate at University College London and in 1987 and again in 1990, a guest lecturer at the University of Natal and other South African universities. The story of his first experience in South Africa, at the height of the struggle to end apartheid, is told in Stay Out of Politics: A Philosopher Views South Africa (Chicago, 1990). In recognition of his scholarly career and political contributions to South Africa, in April, 2002, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa.
Author or editor of nine books, Aronson is an internationally recognized authority on Jean-Paul Sartre. He has focused above all on the process of Sartre’s transformation to a political thinker and activist. He has been Chair of the Sartre Society of North America and founding editor of the journal Sartre Studies International. With support by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1980 he published Jean-Paul Sartre - Philosophy in the World (Verso); the American Council of Learned Societies supported research for his Sartre’s Second Critique (University of Chicago Press, 1987).
Aronson’s latest book is Living Without God: New Directions for Atheists, Agnostics, Secularists, and the Undecided (Counterpoint, September, 2008). Other recent books include Camus & Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It (Chicago, 2004) and After Marxism (Guilford, 1995). He has published articles in The Nation, Bookforum, The Yale Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, The International Herald-Tribune, The Toronto Star, The (London) Times Higher Education Supplement, and The (London) Times Literary Supplement.
Aronson has produced televised political debates on democratic values and affirmative action (participants have included Cornel West, Barbara Ehrenreich, Abigail Thernstrom, David Frum, and Dinesh D’Souza) He is co-producer of the feature-length documentary film Professional Revolutionary about legendary Detroit social and political activist Saul Wellman and, most recently, 1st Amendment on Trial: The Case of the Detroit Six, focused on the Federal government's trial of Michigan Communist Party leaders in the '50s.
One of Aronson’s lifelong concerns has been to study and write about the nature of hope, especially as related to political commitment. Since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, he has been active in the Huntington Woods (MI) Peace, Citizenship, and Education Project.
About We: Reviving Social Hope:
The election of Donald Trump has exposed American society’s profound crisis of hope. By 2016 a generation of shrinking employment, rising inequality, the attack on public education, and the shredding of the social safety net, had set the stage for stunning insurgencies at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Against this dire background, Ronald Aronson offers an answer. He argues for a unique conception of social hope, one with the power for understanding and acting upon the present situation. Hope, he argues, is far more than a mood or feeling—it is the very basis of social will and political action. It is this kind of hope that Aronson sees brewing in the supporters of Bernie Sanders, who advocated the tough-minded and inspired disposition to act collectively to make the world more equal, more democratic, more peaceful, and more just. And it was directly contrasted by Trump’s supporters who showed a cynical and nostalgic faith in an authoritarian strongman replete with bigotry and misogyny.
Beneath today’s crisis Aronson examines our heartbreaking story: a century of catastrophic violence and the bewildering ambiguity of progress—all of which have contributed to the evaporation of social hope. As he shows, we are now in a time when hope is increasingly privatized, when—despite all the ways we are connected to each other—we are desperately alone, struggling to weather the maelstrom around us, demoralized by the cynicism that permeates our culture and politics, and burdened with finding personal solutions to social problems.
Yet, Aronson argues, even at a time when false hopes are rife, social hope still persists. Carefully exploring what we mean when we say we “hope” and teasing hope apart from its dangerously misconstrued sibling, “progress,” he locates seeds of real change. He argues that always underlying our experience—even if we completely ignore it—is the fact of our social belonging, and that this can be reactivated into a powerful collective force, an active we. He looks to various political movements, from the massive collective force of environmentalists to the movements around Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, as powerful examples of socially energized, politically determined, and actionably engaged forms of hope. Even in this age of Donald Trump, the result is an illuminating and inspiring call that anyone can clearly hear: we can still create a better future for everyone, but only if we resist false hopes and act together.
Four- time Emmy Award winner, a well-known Chicago pioneer in the documentary and TV film world Tom Weinberg comes to The Book Cellar with his newest immersive book, Chasing the Lost City: My Chronicles of Discovery in Honduras. If you loved Lost City of the Monkey God, come learn about the expedition from a whole new angle.
About Tom Weinberg:
Author and video/TV pioneer documentary producer Tom Weinberg has penned this personal account of a 20-year journey to discovery.
He is a fourth generation Chicagoan who started as a print journalist and became an out-of-the-mainstream producer of more than 500 nonfiction TV shows.
His credits include the breakthrough national PBS series THE 90’s, Image Union a public TV staple for 30 years, and more than a dozen documentaries. He has won four Emmy awards and taught college courses for 13 years.
His text about media and documentaries has been used by several university professors. He founded and is Board Chair of the Media Burn Independent Video Archive which contains more that 8,000 nonfiction videos, 3,000 of which are available free online at mediaburn.org. As of September, 2017, the site’s videos had more than 17 million page views from 200 countries.
He writes a monthly personal blog PY-O-MY Letter/Weinberg House Organ, founded in 1952 by his father which Tom revived in 2013.
About Chasing the Lost City: My Chronicles of Discovery in Honduras:
The story traces the 20-year quixotic obsession of a few guys that blossomed into a world-renowned scientific, historical and archaeological breakthrough. Pals since the 1970s, Weinberg and expedition leader Steve Elkins and his expert team
uncover incontrovertible evidence of a previously unknown civilization.
It includes the author’s private journals written in Honduras, plus more than 180 photographs and Weinberg’s deep reflections on his “Adventure of a Lifetime.”
The reader is brought into the world of the discoverers, complete with dangerous snakes and insects, gorgeous untouched beauty, exhilaration and a rare disease that came with the discovery.
It’s a great read and the pictorial and personal companion to the 2017 New York Times #1 bestseller, Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston (Grand Central, 2017.) Preston calls Weinberg “The Official Chronicler” who wrote on his laptop in impenetrable Mosquitia Jungle. Chasing The Lost City: Chronicles of Discovery in Honduras sparkles with the insights and foibles of a first-time explorer with pithy, sometimes self-deprecating and brutally honest reflections. The compelling images, many of which are video still frames from an upcoming major documentary, have been beautifully orchestrated by award winning designer Elan Soltes. As the stunning photographs prove, this tiny spot in the Mosquitia Jungle of Honduras is a rugged, pristine,frightening, and almost sacred place.