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Culture Vultures: Improv performer Pat Ivansek on Rod Serling's Night Gallery

Plus: WordPlaySound's Ryan Singleton on the mob history Deadly Valentines

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Pat Ivansek, improv performer, satiates his unwavering hunger for The Twilight Zone with episodes of:

Night Gallery If you're like me, you grew up obsessed with the original Twilight Zone, each episode a completely different story, with the inevitable plot twist and Rod Serling's slick voice-over, all in glorious black-and-white. Recently I've started watching Night Gallery, Serling's follow-up series, which ran beginning ten years later later, from 1969 to '73 (it's streaming for free on Hulu). Night Gallery has a similar anthology format, but in this case each hour-long episode features two or three story segments, and the series overall has a darker, more horrific edge than its predecessor. Serling again hosts, introducing each segment by walking through a darkened art gallery where he comes upon a painting representing its tale. Did you ever wonder what Rod Serling, the self-described "undernourished Alfred Hitchcock," would look like in color? How about with shaggy hair and a voice graveled by another decade of cigarette smoke? Then watch this series. There are a lot of great episodes, but two segments to check out right away are "The Caterpillar" and "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar."

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Ryan Singleton, founding editor of WordPlaySound, ponders the life of a made man with:

Deadly Valentines "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn was the muscle behind Al Capone's infamous Chicago mob in the Roaring Twenties, pulling the trigger for the Big Fella and putting the outfit in position to make tens of millions of dollars from trafficking alcohol illegally. Prohibition was in full swing, but that didn't quash America's thirst for liquor; rather, it ignited an underground movement that cost hundreds of lives, made a few people rich, and culminated in the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, when seven members of the rival North Side Gang were slaughtered. Local author Jeffrey Gusfield's eloquent biography of McGurn, Deadly Valentines (Chicago Review Press, 2012), is an unmatched entry point into Chicago's seedy history of corrupt politicians, gangs, and gun violence—issues that plague the city nearly 90 years later. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore or visit the author's website, deadlyvalentines.com.

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