News Feed

YPClogo3

YPC Erie to Sing with Jim Brickman at Holiday Concert

‘On a Winter’s Night’ set for Sunday, Dec. 14, at Warner Theatre  The Young People’s Chorus of Erie has been invited to sing...

City Scape

Arts & Culture News

LONDON (Reuters) - A "shimmering" Paul Cezanne painting of the Mediterranean with a castle in the background is expected to attract the big-money buyers at a February auction that includes works by Modigliani, Giacometti and Picasso, Christie's said on Wednesday.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Federal agents and police in Los Angeles have recovered nine paintings worth millions of dollars that were stolen from the home of an elderly couple six years ago, including works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera, and FBI spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has allowed a Seattle artist's intellectual property lawsuit to go forward over her claims she was cheated out of possibly millions of dollars from the sale of "Angry Birds" pet toys she designed, her attorney said on Tuesday.

GENEVA (Reuters) - Researchers into the provenance of a painting dubbed the "Early Mona Lisa" reported on Monday they had identified an English noble who probably bought it in Italy in the late 18th century and a country house where it was found in 1911.

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An online buyer from New York overcame spirited bidding to grab a painting by modern Indian artist Tyeb Mehta for $2.8 million at a Christie's auction in Mumbai, highlighting global interest in the finest works of Indian art.

Sports News

(Reuters) - The Dallas Mavericks landed point guard Rajon Rondo in a trade with the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel, the one shining light in an injury-hit campaign where the Eastern Conference finalists of the past two seasons have resembled a sinking ship has been the team's strong unity.

(Reuters) - Sidney Crosby returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup on Thursday after missing three games when he became one of the latest National Hockey League players to be sidelined with the mumps in the past month.

(Reuters) - Brooke Henderson, a 17-year-old Canadian who was golf's top-ranked female amateur, on Thursday announced her decision to turn professional and sign up with sports management company IMG (International Management Group).

LONDON (Reuters) - Boxer Amir Khan will donate a pair of 30,000 pounds ($47,007) shorts to the Peshawar school in Pakistan where 132 children were killed by Taliban gunmen earlier this week.

Science News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - You might want to be careful about who you call a birdbrain. Some of our feathered friends exhibit powers of perception that put humans to shame.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies is delaying the planned launch on Friday of an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket, which will carry a cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA, to early January, officials said on Thursday.

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's space agency successfully tested on Thursday its most powerful satellite launch vehicle that can put heavier payloads into space, and, it hopes, win India a bigger slice of the $300 billion global space industry.

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The United States and China are making progress in talks over Beijing's acceptance of new biotechnology for crops, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Wednesday.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies will attempt to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a sea platform following launch on Friday, company officials said, a vital step to prove its precision landing capabilities needed before it can gain a ground landing license.

Movie Reviews

As districts are devastated above ground, other struggles rage underground. We’re not just talking Woody Harrelson’s straggly Games vet Haymitch Abernathy’s problems with “prohibition”, either. With her role beefed up from Suzanne Collins’ third and final Hunger Games novel, how can Elizabeth Banks’s future fashion grotesque Effie Trinket hope to look ab fab in a rebel hold-out with serious wardrobe issues?

Given Effie’s egregious situation, it’s a wonder she looks as presentable as she does. For Effie, read Mockingjay - Part 1. Even with the odds against him, returning director Francis Lawrence joins sturdy-handed writers Peter Craig (The Town) and Danny Strong (The Butler) to mount a rich, punchy, well-paced treatment of a tricky novel: an unlikely victory comparable to felling hoverplanes with arrows.

After all, the outcome was never certain. If Gary Ross’s first Hunger Games flick benefitted from lunging fast into the arena, Catching Fire repeated the trick and proved it stood repeating. Now that Katniss Everdeen’s revolt at Fire’s climax has pushed the future districts into a climate of unrest, countered by state oppression, there are no games to play but political ones. This time, it’s war? Yes, but for unwary viewers expecting the fun stuff of bonkers baboons terrorising teenagers it could just be a bore.

The issue of division is equally sticky. Tackling an already divisive novel with the divisive decision (see The Hobbit, Deathly Hallows) to divide it into two movies, the third and fourth Games films raise a question: how many divisions can a story take without collapsing?

But Part 1 holds up, mostly, with Jennifer Lawrence doing some proper heavy lifting. On the page Katniss initially lacks her old spark, a point flagged on screen by District 13 President turned rebel Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) when she tells rebel-leader Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), “This is not the girl that you describe.” As Plutarch and Coin slowly coerce Katniss into becoming a symbol for revolt against the venomous President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) decadent Capitol, the plot rests less on scraps than strategy; less on action than debates about how to start the action; and less on Katniss than the absence of the girl on fire. With heavy doses of recap and semi-meta stuff about making propaganda movies stacked on top, the focus shift threatens to distance viewers.

But J-Law tugs us in to Katniss’ fraught humanity, invoking memories of Aliens’ harrowed Ripley as she wakes from troubled sleep in District 13’s rebel base. (And yes, the ginger cat is here.) These layers of trepidation firm up Katniss’ position as a reluctant hero we can engage with, not a superhero: qualities rare enough in some A fiction, let alone YA fiction.

Francis Lawrence pushes YA boundaries further as Katniss visits districts decimated by Snow’s army, where streets spill with skulls. When Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and a rag-tag propaganda film crew explore the devastated District 8, a makeshift hospital oozes with what censors like to call “injury detail”. If the reverence for Katniss among the wounded verges on cheesy, the rubble-strewn war-zone images and ear-bashing hoverplane attacks imbue Katniss’ subsequent big speech with a sense of high-stakes potency. As she “becomes” Katniss again here, Lawrence steers her fear and rage into air-punching “Get away from her, you bitch!” terrain.

If one particular District 8 atrocity seems torn from today’s headlines, the rebel debates about how to use the media as a weapon are equally, achingly of the now. But Mockingjay isn’t a course in Advanced Media Know-how: the two-part split provides the elbow room needed to flesh out a boosted character count. In his last bow, Hoffman invests Plutarch with weathered heft. Judiciously expanding the novel beyond Katniss’ perspective, added Coin-age benefits from Julianne Moore’s authoritative delivery. Good, no-nonsense ground-level support comes from Natalie Dormer’s Cressida, sort of Kate Adie with face tats.

Less successful is the decision to boost Effie’s role: like Derek Zoolander gate-crashing Fury to pimp a tank, she lightens the tone but draws sniggers. The vote’s still out (and probably out for good) on the narrative value of Gale’s charisma vacuum, though less is more for Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta. Seen largely through ambiguous TV broadcasts, his arc ranges smartly from turn-coat interviews with Stanley Tucci’s Capitol creep Caesar to well-administered shocks.

Even with the pace-dampening burden of time spent on Katniss visiting old haunts, Francis Lawrence makes up for the arena’s absence with punch-packing action jolts. The rebel assault on a dam is Lord Of The Rings-sized. Later, a tense night-time raid on the Capitol successfully splices sprawling effects work with grounding war-movie grit.

These beefed-up action beats are well integrated with Katniss’ viewpoint, especially when the Capitol incursion runs parallel to a tense vid-screen stand-off between two key verbal combatants. That poised weighting holds until the climactic cliffhanger, a better-paced send-off than the sudden drop that closed The Desolation Of Smaug.

Francis Lawrence faces more trials tackling Collins’ rushed finale in Part 2, but the two-film split could give him vital air, assuming he doesn’t go all Return Of The King on us. “I’m optimistic,” shrugs Plutarch at one point, facing a new dread. On the strength of this gutsy, considered rewrite of the Games’ rules, there’s reason to be.

Stills of Tom Hardy pursing his lips at a puppy might have made Twitter melt, but The Drop did well to change its title from Animal Rescue. This is no cutesy romcom or inspirational adventure but rather a downbeat, character-driven crime drama set in a squalid neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Facial stubble and handguns are de rigueur, for this, as the opening voiceover goes, “is where all the things happen that you’re not allowed to see.” Running bar for his Uncle Marv (James Gandolfini in his final big-screen role), Bob Saginowski’s (Hardy) life turns upside down when he’s robbed at gunpoint. The money belongs to the Chechen mob – they were using Marv’s bar as the drop point for their bookmaking business – and Bob and Marv need to get their hands on $5K fast. Enter Twitter’s favourite pup, found by Bob in a trashcan on his way home. The bin belongs to Nadia (Noomi Rapace), and the dog, it transpires, was stuffed there by her headcase ex Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts). Bob takes it home and begins a tentative friendship with Nadia, his actions inevitably met by sinister visits from Eric and an escalating tension that promises violence. The US debut of Belgian filmmaker Michaël R. Roskam (2011’s Bullhead), The Drop, based on Dennis Lehane’s short story, melds European sensibilities with the tropes of an American crime picture. The dilapidated setting and its hardscrabble inhabitants are observed with an outsider’s eye and an insider’s knowledge, while the narrative simmers rather than bubbles over like so many Hollywood thrillers. Gandolfini, in Nike tracksuit and leather jacket, is as tough and tender as ever, and a hesitant, slouching, mumbling Hardy evokes Stallone’s Rocky and Brando’s Terry Malloy – perhaps a little too consciously. Over-familiarity clings to The Drop, but it’s a crafted, admirable picture with a halo of hope around its melancholic heart – a melancholy deepened, of course, by Gandolfini’s passing.

With a title like The Imitation Game, you’d be forgiven for expecting a contemporary CIA thriller – rather than a carefully constructed character study of one of WW2’s largely unsung heroes. It’s centred on Alan Turing, the man responsible for cracking the Nazis’ Enigma cipher, thus helping end the war. Enemy dispatches, however, are not the only guarded secrets. Bletchley Park’s efforts to outthink the Germans’ most cunning device has been covered before in Michael Apted’s Enigma (2001), where Dougray Scott played a vague approximation of Turing. But this digs far deeper. Adapted by first-time screenwriter Graham Moore from the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, the story begins in 1952, several years after Turing’s moment of triumph, when the police (led by Rory Kinnear) investigate a suspicious break-in at his house. Benedict Cumberbatch swiftly and compellingly differentiates Turing from his other ‘genius’ roles – Stephen Hawking, Sherlock – though the latter flashes through when the narrative winds back to 1939, as Turing enters Bletchley for the first time. Arrogant and assured, he’s also uncompromising and unpopular, divorced from the Matthew Goode-led codebreaking team. When Turing demands to be put in charge, even petitioning PM Winston Churchill, it seems never in doubt that he’ll solve the riddle of the Enigma machine, a device that changes its settings every 24 hours to make detecting coding patterns nigh-on impossible. But this achievement, aided by Keira Knightley’s crossword-fanatic Joan Clarke and under the watchful eye of Mark Strong’s MI6 operative, is only part of The Imitation Game, which takes a darker turn with revelations that Turing is gay. The result is less a portrait of WW2 innovation than it is of a man drowning in secrets at a time when homosexuality was illegal. He even asks for Joan’s hand in marriage – but theirs was always more friendship than frisson. Given the frequent shots of Turing in training (he was also a marathon enthusiast), you’re left to wonder if he’s running from himself – or public censure. Director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters), essays the same attention to detail that fellow Scandinavian Tomas Alfredson brought to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. If The Imitation Game doesn’t emulate that film’s dazzling direction, it equally captures the texture of past British life and features a similarly exemplary Cumberbatch-inclusive ensemble. Only this time, he leads from the front, pouring body and soul into Turing. Cracking, you might say.

The world’s most influential film critic, the late Roger Ebert knew the importance of good direction. That Ebert chose Steve James to direct this exceptional documentary, based on his own memoir, says much about its subject’s character. Ebert always believed in cinema as a machine for generating empathy, citing James’ Hoop Dreams as a classic example. With full access to Ebert during the final months of his life, James brings the same insight here. Critical peers debate his legacy here: did Ebert’s famously populist, “thumbs up” approach to cinema dumb things down, or help to pioneer the internet’s renaissance in grassroots criticism? Meanwhile, directors like Martin Scorsese recount the double-edged sword of Ebert’s patronage: every good review a boost, every bad notice a blow. A truly rounded, complex character emerges, especially in the central relationship with TV show co-host Gene Siskel, Ebert’s equal and opposite. Yet, as the title suggests, there was more to Ebert than watching movies. James reveals parallel lives: the student editor who spoke out for civil rights; the rambunctious reporter nearly destroyed by alcoholism; the mischievous screenwriter behind Russ Meyer’s manic Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. James follows each facet thematically as much as chronologically; the mosaic resembles not only Ebert’s beloved Citizen Kane but also the treasured jigsaw puzzle that provides a stand-out moment. Latterly, of course, there was Ebert the cancer sufferer, robbed of his voice but reaching new readers via his blog. Ordered by Ebert to show “the full reality”, James achieves an unvarnished, desperately sad portrayal of this once towering figure reduced to frailty and discomfort. Ebert eventually becomes too ill even to reply to emails – yet the film’s power lies in its use of archive footage, voiceover and even Ebert’s computerised speech translator to keep the writer’s voice alive.

The feature debut of Irish director brothers Rob and Ronan Burke, Standby is a gentle, funny rom-com for which the term ‘heart-warming’ might have been coined. Alan (Brian Gleeson, son of Brendan) lives a dead-end life, manning the tourist-info desk at Dublin airport, when back into his life swims Alice (Mad Men’s Jessica Paré), with whom he shared a brief romance eight years ago in New York. Her NYC flight’s not till the next day, so he offers her a night on the town – strictly on a platonic basis, of course. Ok, you can guess how it’ll end – but getting there is a delight.

CD Reviews

- Harriet Gibsone

(Moshi Moshi)

Featuring a collective of Scottish musicians – François and The Atlas Mountains, Findo Gask and Lauren Mayberry from Chvrches – Gerard Black’s debut is an understated, unclassifiable album of incongruous compositions; chintzy synths, tropicália percussion, jazz guitars, pillowy vocals and underlying surrealism. Black lists Armando Iannucci as an inspiration, and while the spirit of satire is perhaps an indirect influence, there are traces of flouncy silliness throughout, not to mention Orange Juice, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Badly Drawn Boy and the whacky bend of Tilt, which borrows its bassline from Prefab Sprout. More recent purveyors of wonky pop Everything Everything and Wild Beasts are evident, too – and as with the latter, its songs are virile, verdant, instruments coursing through the soundscape like a plant’s roots ripping through the earth. However, instead of a band writing these songs, there is a singularity to Black’s sound that benefits this album, a consistency of uncompromised character that is as odd as it is charming.

Continue reading...

- Lanre Bakare

(Brainfeeder)

The first I heard from Taylor McFerrin, son of jazz great Bobby, was his collaboration with vocalist Nai Palm, the Antidote. It was low-slung and somewhere between hip-hop, soul and freeform jazz. His debut album Early Riser was equally eclectic and followed up on his work with Grammy nominees Hiatus Kaiyote. That group came from a similar place to groups such as Bugz in the Attic or labels like Tru Thought or Sonar Kollektiv, Early Riser, on the other hand, sounded less like contemporary neo-soul and more like an experimental take on where it could go next. Songs such as Decisions, featuring Emily King, could easily have been placed in the troubled alt-R&B box by some, but the musicality elsewhere on the album probably spared him that misfortune. He collaborates with Robert Glasper and Brainfeeder’s go-to bass man, Thundercat, on Already There, a brazenly jazz-influenced instrumental that reins in what could otherwise have been self-indulgent noodling. Whereas fellow Brainfeeder man Flying Lotus finally embraced free jazz on You’re Dead!, McFerrin seeks to take some of those flights of fancy and turn them into something that’s compatible with modern hip-hop and neo-soul.

Continue reading...

- Robin Denselow

(World Village)

Cuba’s greatest diva returns to her roots. Omara Portuondo is best known for the crucial role she played in the Buena Vista Social Club, but she had established her reputation long before a lucky meeting with Ry Cooder brought her even greater success. She started working with her sister, mixing Cuban and American jazz styles in the celebrated Cuarteto Las D’Aida, and recorded her first solo set, Magia Negro, in the late 1950s. Now, at the age of 84, she has decided to re-visit those songs in a record that provides a boisterous reminder of the sounds of pre-revolutionary Havana. The songs include a spirited Spanish-language treatment of That Old Black Magic, along with selections from Gershwin and Ellington, and though her engagingly enthusiastic singing is, at times, a little patchy, she includes a gloriously cool and slinky Latin jazz treatment of Bésame Mucho.

Continue reading...

- Michael Hann

(Finders Keepers)

This former psych-folk singer has ditched the latter half of that appellation and boosted the former: The Silver Globe owes an audible debt to the space-rock of Hawkwind in its first half, even sampling that band’s Star Cannibal for the central theme of The Electric Mountain. But The Silver Globe doesn’t actually sound much like Hawkwind, largely because of Weaver’s voice: one of those cut-glass, unfailingly true English voices, completely untouched by even the slightest tinge of R&B, that have the ability to make a song sound like the soundtrack to a chilly drawing room. Cells, in fact, sounds more like a B-side from Saint Etienne – never a band obviously troubled by the desire to remake In Search of Space – than anything Dave Brock ever came near. Weaver’s voice is the key to the album: she can’t help but add melody, even when what lies beneath is the drone.

Continue reading...

- Alexis Petridis

(Domino)

In the past, you might have been forgiven for thinking that Owen Pallett’s music may have inhabited a world that was a little too rarefied for its own good: released in 2006 under the name Final Fantasy, his second album was called He Poos Clouds, a conceptual work based on the eight schools of magic in Dungeons and Dragons. On In Conflict, however, the Oscar-nominated singer-songwriter (and sometime Arcade Fire and Caribou alumnus) hits a perfect art/pop balance. On the one hand, it’s an almost painfully personal piece of work, filled with aching songs like I Am Not Afraid and Song for Five and Six, the arrangements are hugely ambitious confections of strings and electronics, and there are segues and guest appearances by Brian Eno. On the other, the melodies are beautiful and often strangely euphoric, tugging against the lyrical gloom to remarkable effect: in a different, slightly better world, The Riverbed could conceivably be the kind of song that stadium-sized audiences punch the air to.

Continue reading...

Book Reviews

Top 5 at a Glance1. THE CONFESSION, by John Grisham2. WORTH DYING FOR, by Lee Child3. AMERICAN ASSASSIN, by Vince Flynn4. THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, by Stieg Larsson5. SIDE JOBS, by Jim Butcher

Top 5 at a Glance1. LIFE, by Keith Richards with James Fox2. BROKE, by Glenn Beck and Kevin Balfe3. EARTH (THE BOOK), by Jon Stewart and others4. THE LAST BOY, by Jane Leavy5. AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN, VOL. 1, by Mark Twain

Top 5 at a Glance1. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson2. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson3. THE FINKLER QUESTION, by Howard Jacobson4. LITTLE BEE, by Chris Cleave5. CUTTING FOR STONE, by Abraham Verghese

Top 5 at a Glance1. THE LOST SYMBOL, by Dan Brown2. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson3. THE RECKLESS BRIDE, by Stephanie Laurens4. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson5. 61 HOURS, by Lee Child

Top 5 at a Glance1. EAT, PRAY, LOVE, by Elizabeth Gilbert2. INSIDE OF A DOG, by Alexandra Horowitz3. STONES INTO SCHOOLS, by Greg Mortenson4. THE GLASS CASTLE, by Jeannette Walls5. THREE CUPS OF TEA, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Funny Pictures

The Melting Pot

Awesome-8-Ball-Pool

Dates Announced for 2015 PA State 8-Ball Championship

Local Pool Leagues Forming Now in Anticipation of Tournament The Erie Sports Commission is pleased to announce that the Pennsylvania State...

books

Shortest Books Ever Written

1. HOW I SERVED MY COUNTRY by Jane Fonda 2. MY BEAUTY SECRETS by Janet Reno 3. HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN AIRPLANE by John Denver 4. MY SUPER...

nousavons

Internationally Acclaimed Book of the True Story of Two Holocaust Survivors is Now Available in French

Author and Holocaust survivor Leon Malmed kept a secret for more than 60 years – a secret he has unveiled in his moving book,...

sendinstead

‘Send This Instead’ App Gives Kids an Alternative to Sexting

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police, Child Sexual Exploitation Unit in Ontario, Canada launch a sexting alternative app for teens...

Local Scene

Best Wishes To You And Yours From All Of Us

E R I  Jams Arts & Entertainment Magazine As many of you may know, E R I  Jams Magazine each year allows our staff to share the...

Backstage Pass

cosmicrhythm

This Weekend’s Hot Spot

Cosmic Rhythm at the Sandbar By Terry Pentelli This Friday night, December 19th at 9:00pm the hard rocking, powerhouse band, Cosmic Rhythm...