Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on December 7, 2004 · Page 5-1
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · Page 5-1

Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Tuesday, December 7, 2004
Page 5-1
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123456 SECTION 5 TUESDAY DECEMBER7,2004 NNWWCDSCNCS By Eric Gwinn Tribune staff reporter Today’s video games are so deep, complex and involving that you don’t play them, you live them. For people who already have a life, that’s a problem. Games now can take 24 hours or more to complete, because gamemakers want to make sure you feel you’re getting your 50 bucks’ worth from playing a game that cost $10 million or more to make. What happened to the Zen-like simplicity of “Pong,” the uncomplicated mad dash of “Pac- Man”? Actually, they’re coming back. Atari recently released the Flashback, a slim TV-top box stuffed with 20 games from the 1980s. Gamemakers Midway and Nintendo now offer Vol. 2 of their respective retro game compilations. “Xbox Live Arcade” brings in an Internet component so retro gamers with broadband-enabled Xboxes can compete against one another. The differences between retro games and today’s games are simple. INSIDE TEMPO DVD Letter perfect Fritz Lang’s “M” shines in new Criterion release. TV PAGE THEATER Polishing the ‘Gem’ August Wilson’s much-revised “Gem of the Ocean” opens in New York. PAGE 3 By Nathan Bierma l Special to the Tribune hey don’t call it the Windy City for nothing,” said an ESPN announcer during a recent Northwestern football game, as the camera showed the wind whipping the flags atop Ryan Field. But consult most tour books or talk to city history buffs, and they’ll gleefully point out that the nickname Windy City originally referred not to lake breezes but to Chicago’s long-winded politicians. The Chicago Public Library supports this definition. “In the early part of the nineteenth century, Chicago promoters went up and down the East Coast loudly promoting Chicago as an excellent place to invest. Detractors claimed they were full of wind,” the library says on its Web site. ON LANGUAGE Did NewYork Sun editor Charles A. Dana coin the phrase, or is that legend just full of hot air? Where did it come from? Dear Readers: We’ve been receiving all year. Now is the time to give. The following letter prompte d me to do some research on how to make the season bright for our soldiers serving overseas. D ear Amy: My nephew is in Iraq, and I want to send packages from home to him. I don’t have a clue about what is needed or acceptable. Do you have any suggestions? — Gramma Dear Gramma: I know a lot of people are wondering how best to support the troops this holiday season. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that, because of security concerns, very strict restrictions have been placed on all packages sent overseas. No packages or mail can be sent to “Any Servicemember.” Only friends and family may send mail and packages directly addressed to soldiers. The U.S. Army recently released this statement regarding donor programs: “There are many well-meaning Web sites, TV stations and charity groups that are promoting donations to overseas Servicemembers. While well-intentioned, you should not use these promotions, and you should discourage others from using them. These unsolicited letters of support or care packages to Servicemembers raise a force protection issue, since anonymous donors are different from legitimate family members and friends. “The Department of Defense has canceled mail programs which encouraged the American public in general to mail to Any Servicemember (versus a specific deployed person). These new programs attempt to do the same thing by gathering names of Servicemembers to send mail to. While legitimate mail from family members and loved ones is always encouraged, mail from these donor programs, which collect and pass out Servicemembers’ names and addresses, is For holiday mail to troops abroad, think USO first By Hal Boedeker Tribune Newspapers If you ask Kelsey Grammer, the latest to reincarnate Ebenezer Scrooge , I which actor gave the best Scrooge performance, he’ll give you a surprising response: the animated Mr. Magoo. The “Frasier’’ star so scrunched his eyes as Scrooge early in “A Christmas Carol’’ that you might think he was mimicking the cartoon figure. Grammer says that wasn’t his intent. “That was an active attempt to show how shortsighted [Scrooge] is,’’ Grammer says. “It’s hard to imagine somebody as out of touch as that guy.’’ Or somebody so pathetic who just keeps bowling over the public. Charles Dickens introduced Scrooge in 1843, and variations on the miser have spread through popular culture, from Cruella De Vil in “101 Dalmatians” to J.R. Ewing on “Dallas.” Hungry actors keep coming back to the juicy original, and producers never lose interest in the titanic tightwad. NBC unveiled an $18 million musical of “A Christmas Carol’’ with Grammer Nov. 28 and will rebroadcast it Christmas Eve. We can’t help loving that meanie. “Aren’t we all Scrooge?’’ film historian Jeanine Basinger asks. “He’s a protagonist who’s an antagonist we can identify with. We can all be cheap, angry, feel unwanted and unloved and think about taking it out on those around us.’’ After all the cruelty and regret, “A Christmas Carol’’ supplies a catharsis that never loses its power. That’s the genius of Dickens in creating Scrooge. “There’s a man who has led a life virtually devoid of sentiment,’’ film historian David Thomson says. “Grant him Christmas and that epiphany, and it all can come back. It allows every No humbug Actors keep coming back to Scrooge and ‘A Christmas Carol’ for the pure feeling of love and joy at the end “Air Sea Battle” is a 1981 game included with Atari’s new Flashback gaming system. CONNECTED Retro games offer an alluring respite “Later, Chicago and New York were competing to hold the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Charles A. Dana, editor of the New York Sun, wrote an editorial advising against the ‘nonsensical claims of that windy city. Its people could not hold a world’s fair even if they won it.’ This editorial is widely credited with popularizing the ‘Windy City’ nickname.” The Chicago Historical Society’s Web site agrees that Dana “dubbed” Chicago the Windy City. So do at least three pictorial guides to Chicago displayed at area bookstores, as well as Joel Greenberg’s “A Natural History of the Chicago Region” (University of Chicago Press, 2002) and Erik Larson’s recent best seller set in Chicago at the time of the Columbian Exhibition, “The Devil in the White City” (Crown, 2003). The Dana explanation has been printed over and over in the Tribune, the Sun-Times and The New York Times. There’s just one problem. The Dana editorial is nowhere to be found, and no one can prove it was ever written. Etymologists say it’s just a myth. In his new book “Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends” (Oxford University Press, 2004), etymologist Dave Wilton takes the City of Chicago — and, yes, the Tribune — to task for buying into the Dana story. “It illustrates a very important point about urban legends: If they are repeated enough, they become accepted unconditionally as truth,” Wilton writes. Wilton points out that no one has ever provided a date for the supposed editorial or supplied any other convincing evidence that Dana coined the nickname. Wilton adds that Mitford M. Mathews’ “Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles,” (University of Chicago Press, 1951) cited a “Windy City” reference to Chicago in the Louisville Courier-Journal from 1887, before the lobbying for the Columbian Exposition began. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the same article. Neither mentions Dana. Tim Samuelson, Chicago’s cultural historian, has doubts about Dana’s role too. Though he hasn’t specifically investigated the term, he says he has come across uses of the nickname “Windy City” for Chicago as early as the 1880s. “Based on things I’ve seen in the course of other research, the concept predates Dana,” he says. Author Larson says he knows there are various theories on where “Windy City” got its start, but he supports the idea of editor Dana’s influence during the rancorous exchanges between New York and Chicago over the world’s fair. By Paul Lieberman T ribune Newspapers NEW YORK — A long, long time ago, generations before this era of coed bathrooms and animalistic “hooking up,’’ Tom Wolfe was a college student himself, at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and there was a possibility still of — romance. This was half a century before he would decide to chronicle what he calls the “lurid carnival’’ that is campus life today in his new novel, “I Am Charlotte Simmons.’’ As a 74-year-old man, he imagines what it’s like to be an 18-year-old girl in that orgiastic scene, a risky leap even for someone who has made his name putting himself inside the minds of vagabond dopers, astronauts and Wall Street Masters of the Universe. Before all that he was T.K. Wolfe Jr., a kid from Richmond, Va., trying to both fit in and stand out at the Lexington, Va., school that promoted Robert E. Lee’s ideal of the Southern gentleman, where coat and tie was the rule and housemothers presided over the fraternities. There were other housemothers waiting — along with sign-in sheets — when Washington and Lee men road-tripped “over the mountain’’ to the girls’ schools designed to mold proper Southern women, places such as Hollins University and Sweet Briar College. “You almost had to give your blood type when you went there,’’ recalls James Roberts, 77, a Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity mate of Wolfe’s. If a visitor somehow got by a sorority’s parlor, a cry would echo out, “Man in the hall!’’ Another W&L student of that time, the writer-to- be Tom Robbins, remembers his excitement before a blind date with a girl named Cozy — the name alone gave him goose bumps. And although the date didn’t lead to “anything fulfilling,’’ Robbins says, it did teach him the truth of a French saying: How the best thing about an affair is the anticipation, the ``walking up the stairs.’’ To his contemporaries, the young Tom Wolfe was a model W&L man: an athlete (baseball), scholar and gentleman, just with, not surprisingly, an eccentric flair. He might not yet have discovered the plantation suits that would become his trademark but he had discovered hats, and what other college guy walked around wearing a fedora? He also was a teetotaler on a campus whose social life revolved around drinking, one way college life has not changed. A fraternity brother Students treat Tom Wolfe to a new education AP photo The evolving culture of campuses has been on Tom Wolfe’s mind since he revisited his alma mater, Washington and Lee University, and his daughter went to college. ask amy Advice for the real world By Amy Dickinson PLEASE SEE CONNECTED, PAGE2 PLEASE SEE WOLFE, PAGE4 PLEASE SEE WINDYCITY, PAGE5 PLEASE SEE ASKAMY, PAGE2 PLEASE SEE HUMBUG, PAGE4

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