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Blasco Concert

The Gem City Concert Band will be performing at the Blasco Library.  The concert is free to the public. Sunday November 2, 2014 2:00...

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Arts & Culture News

NEW YORK (Reuters) - British actress Keira Knightley will make her Broadway debut next year in a new adaptation of "Therese Raquin," based on the novel by Emile Zola.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Leaving Time," the newest novel by Jodi Picoult, shot straight to the top of the best-seller list on Thursday, nudging "Deadline" by John Sandford from the No. 1 spot into third place.

LONDON (Reuters) - The man who runs London's Tate Modern - an art gallery in a former power station that looms over the River Thames - was named on Thursday the most powerful figure in the world of contemporary art.

LONDON (Reuters) - Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly knows that Milan's legendary La Scala opera house, where he takes over as principal conductor in January, is a political and cultural pressure cooker. So he's going to give the public what it wants: Italian opera.

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - U.S. officials returned two stolen, colonial-era paintings to the government of Peru on Wednesday in a repatriation ceremony at the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Sports News

(Reuters) - Denver quarterback Peyton Manning added three more touchdowns to his career record as the Broncos beat the San Diego Padres 35-21 in a National Football League game on Thursday.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The irresistible talents of the Kansas City Royals' outfielders may be tested by the inscrutable elements of San Francisco's quirky right field when the World Series resumes on Friday.

(Reuters) - Los Angeles Lakers' point guard Steve Nash will miss the entire 2014-15 season, the National Basketball Association team said on Thursday.

(The Sports Xchange) - The Tampa Bay Lightning reassigned defenseman Luke Witkowski to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League on Thursday, the team announced.

(The Sports Xchange) - The Philadelphia 76ers and point guard Michael Carter-Williams established Nov. 13 as the target date for Carter-Williams' return, ESPN.com reported Thursday.

Science News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a bleak, treeless landscape high in the southern Peruvian Andes, bands of intrepid Ice Age people hunkered down in rudimentary dwellings and withstood frigid weather, thin air and other hardships.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - They lived on a remote dot of land in the middle of the Pacific, 2,300 miles (3,700 km) west of South America and 1,100 miles (1,770 km) from the closest island, erecting huge stone figures that still stare enigmatically from the hillsides.

LONDON (Reuters) - As researchers from Africa to China to America race to develop vaccines and treatments to fight Ebola, health experts are grappling with the economics of a disease that until this year had been off the drug industry's radar.

ASNIERES France (Reuters) - Two French entrepreneurs have launched a portable device to test for the presence of pork in food for use by Muslims who abide by dietary laws.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In July 1965, two gigantic fossilized dinosaur arms replete with menacing claws were unearthed in the remote southern Gobi desert of Mongolia. Measuring 8 feet (2.4 meters), they were the longest arms of any known bipedal creature in Earth's history.

Movie Reviews

Who would be a cop during the Easy Rider era? All the hippies hate him, but diminutive highway patrolman John Wintergreen (Robert Blake) just wants to do a good job. James William Guercio’s cult hit straddles the fine line between straight-up procedural thriller and comedic character study as surely as ‘Big’ John rides his Electra Glide motorbike. It looks and feels like typical drive-in fare with its chases and slo-mo violence, but this is an altogether richer, stranger film. Subversively shooting in John Ford’s Monument Valley, Guercio pokes fun at Dirty Harry-style cops as Wintergreen transforms into one of Hollywood’s unlikeliest cult heroes.

There are some films that don’t just stimulate your eyes and ears. Take Fury, David Ayer’s grim, grimy but utterly gripping movie, set in April 1945 at the fag-end of WW2. You can feel the mud squelching in your toes. You can taste the blood in your mouth. And, boy, can you smell the stench of rotting corpses, burning flesh and unwashed men. This is a film that puts its boot on the back of your neck, and pushes you face-down into the shit and the scum of wartime conflict. A former member of the US Navy, Ayer has always seasoned his scripts with real-life grit. Corrupt-cop dramas Training Day and Dark Blue and last year’s vérité-style LAPD drama End Of Watch, which he also directed, all boast a lived-in authenticity. Same goes for Fury, a film that captures the ragged, desperate hysteria at the end of WW2 – not to mention the “fanatical resistance” faced by the Allies as the troops push for victory across a war-torn Germany. The vehicle, as it were, for Ayer’s film is a battle-scarred Sherman tank – nicknamed ‘Fury’. In charge of this beast is a US Army Sergeant named ‘Wardaddy’ (Brad Pitt), a veteran who has already fought his way through North Africa. From the moment he knifes a Nazi in the eye, you realize why he’s survived this far; he immediately recalls Robert Duvall’s Lt. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now – the sort who knows he’s not going to get so much as a scratch out there. Forget that Nazi-scalping, swastika-carving Lt. Aldo Raine Pitt played in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. With an attitude as severe as his sides-shaved haircut, the star’s never been so brutal. Ayer reinforces this from the outset, in a shocking scene where the tank’s rookie recruit Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is given a baptism by fire(arms), when he’s handed a pistol and told by the Sarge to “put a big fat hole” in the back of a captured German, who otherwise would’ve done the same to him. Never having killed before, Norman, a former pencil-pusher who has been thrown into the maelstrom, refuses to bloody his hands, only for Pitt’s character to practically force him to pull the trigger. Such is the sheer gale-force of this it’ll leave you trembling almost as much as Norman (finely acted by Noah star Lerman). But in the words of Wardaddy, “Ideals are peaceful, history is violent” – a phrase that haunts Fury as the blood and guts of war spill out onto the screen. Much of this is left for Norman to witness; it’s his gradual transition from innocence to experience that powers the film, acting as our way into the conflict, and Ayer doesn’t spare him (or us). One sequence sees a soldier set on fire right in front of Norman; rather than burn, the luckless grunt takes a gun and shoots himself in the head – the sort of sight that will scar a man for life. Yet it would be easy for Ayer to simply slather this story with violence and flag-waving patriotism – something he carefully avoids. As much as Wardaddy is a fighter, he’s not a monster. Witness the crucial scene where he shows kindness to two German girls he and Norman encounter (even if Ayer shamefully squeezes in a blatant shirt-off scene for Pitt, as he washes up in time for eggs and tea). Certainly, there’s humanity under the bravado – even as ‘Bible’ (Shia LaBeouf), ‘Gordo’ (Ayer’s End Of Watch star Michael Peña) and Travis (Jon Bernthal), their fellow operators in the tank, show their baser instincts. Really, Fury recalls Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot: like that submarine classic, it shows how being in such a confined wartime space can generate both camaraderie and claustrophobia. The film rolls along at a thundering pace, danger hangs in the air like the shrouds of mist that DP Roman Vasyanov beautifully captures. Credit also the work of production designer Andrew Menzies, evocatively recreating wartime Germany in the English countryside of Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire. In a way, there isn’t much more to Fury – stripped of subplots and intrigue, it offers a grunt’s-eye view of the war, with Pitt only occasionally stopping off to talk tactics with Jason Isaacs’ captain. Detractors may claim that, emotionally, Ayer never really brings out the heavy artillery, but there’s enough here for audiences to get thoroughly involved with these spit’n’sawdust characters. Like Norman, Ayer straps us into the front seat and doesn’t let up until the last shell is fired of the final act – a breathless all-guns-blazing sequence that gives Pitt one of the most heroic moments he’s ever played on film. In the end, though, it’s Lerman who leaves the most lasting impression. It’s his film, really, and he grabs his chance with both hands. The result is highly memorable.

Great horror films are always about something other than what they purport to be. Golden-age classics such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, for example, reenacted the traumas of Vietnam; while Japanese ghost story Ringu resonated with millennial techno-fear. Based on her 2006 short, Monster, Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent’s feature debut is both a terrific spook story and a moving ode to mourning. The fact Kent keeps both elements so elegantly aloft is just one of the film’s many surprises – most of them rather more unpleasant. Widowed mum Amelia (Essie Davis) lives alone with her troubled son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who’s young enough to believe in magic – and monsters. One night he picks a bedtime story she’s never read him before, Mister Babadook, a beautifully designed pop-up book decked out in doomy blacks about a creature who comes to visit then can’t – or won’t – be moved: “If it’s in a word or in a look, you can’t get rid of a Babadook,” the tome warns. Amelia swiftly puts it away. With Samuel expelled from school and Amelia alienated from everyone except co-worker Daniel Henshall, the pair become increasingly isolated. And you can probably guess the identity of Samuel’s invisible new playmate. Scared, scarred and scary, Davis and Wiseman both give extraordinary performances. A mess of maternal contradictions, Amelia is a weary, frazzled presence, her outlook skewed by sleep deprivation, shattered patience and aching loneliness. Samuel knows she loves him, and that she doesn’t always like him; the possibility of more loss and rejection looming over them like a malevolent presence. Adding to the poisonous atmosphere is the threat of the Babadook itself, an amorphous nightmare conjured from shadows and dressed in the cast-off clothes of Amelia’s late husband. It would be a mistake to give too much away about the eponymous beastie, mainly because we’re still terrified of it. But you know a filmmaker’s doing their job when even the title sounds scary – hell, looks scary. Expect a series of decreasing sequels explaining its origins – and avoid them. This isn’t about introducing a new franchise, it’s a film about fear. Fear of being alone, of death, of not being loved, of being weird, of the encroaching darkness – all legitimate parts of being alive. The Babadook could be a symbol for any unwelcome intruder – jealousy, grief, depression – that creeps in unbidden and can’t be exorcised. And that’s just one of the reasons the film is so devastating.

Between Satyricon and Roma, Fellini made this rather more modest curio for Italian TV, a mix of narrative, documentary and mockumentary that explores his childhood obsession – part joy, plenty fear – with circus clowns. It begins with a recreated memory of the Big Top coming to town, and ends with painted jesters coming out of retirement to stage an outlandish funeral for one of their fallen brethren. In between, Fellini and crew investigate the great European clowns of yore, and film themselves doing it. By turns magical and ponderous, this minor work spotlights the life-is-a-circus theme glimpsed in many of his other films.

In David Cronenberg’s recent Maps To The Stars, Mia Wasikowska arrives in Hollywood, where glittering surfaces play host to seething desires. In 1975’s Shivers, a young couple arrive at Canada’s luxury Starliner Towers, where an aphrodisiacal parasite will unleash orgiastic outbreaks of lust. Re-watched 40 years after it outraged moral guardians (and his landlady), Cronenberg’s film breakthrough reminds us what a singular slug-trail of sex, suggestion and psychoanalytic subversion he has left behind him. It’s almost as if he had his route to auteur fame mapped out, so clear is his imprint. Of course, it isn’t that simple. Interviews on decent archival extras (no new DC input, alas) suggest Cronenberg almost didn’t even get to direct his own script: the production company pencilled Jonathan Demme in. When Cronenberg did begin directing, he was winging it so much he worried he wasn’t cut out for film. But Cronenberg’s control and vision resonate. The opening sales pitch for the Ballard-ian apartment-block setting is a droll masterstroke of scene-setting and tone-pitching: it lays out the land and the sting of this satire on repression. Once we’re inside, Cronenberg’s boundary-blurring sensibility kicks in. The sense of outward paranoia while hell erupts inside is set by the contrast between the door-man armed to defend against invaders and scenes of a doctor murdering someone inside. Said Dr Hobbes invented a sex parasite to cure society’s rationality; now he wants to kill it. He fails, it spreads, and residents become lusty zombies in an ingenious psychosexual inversion of attack-from-outside narratives (‘They Came From Within’ was an alt-title). Elsewhere, there are bathroom violations, muddy hygiene and infection divisions, while Cronenberg assiduously rejects good/evil binaries. The slug, he’d say, is just doing its job. Seen from its eyes, critic Jason Anderson joshes on the extras, “It’s actually quite a nice story.” But Cronenberg isn’t afraid to max the nasty. If “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”, as one on-screen poster declares, then Cronenberg’s wisdom inspires his slugs’ work. Taboos are uproariously bust: equal-ops sex is rampant, the gore generous. Add Joe Blasco’s gooey FX work and it’s easy to see why Shivers inspired genre fans and French cineastes alike. It isn’t perfect: the acting (mostly amateur, Barbara Steele aside) and sound mix lurch and wobble erratically. But it was an intelli-punk declaration of intent for Cronenberg’s cinema of sexual symbiosis and visceral smarts, where mind/body and art/horror sensibilities shared fluids. As the parasite is spread city-wide in a cavalcade of cars, you half expect to see a bespectacled, softly spoken, fiercely articulate Canadian behind the wheel: ready to spread his seed across cinema.

CD Reviews

- Alexis Petridis

Why do people take Taylor Swift so much more seriously than her peers? Great songs, smart turns of phrase and a noticeable lack of the usual hollow pop platitudes all help Taylor Swift: Sexy? Not on my radar

At 24 years old, Taylor Swift inhabits something of a unique position within the teen pop firmament. Its not merely the fact of her immense popularity, although the sheer devotion of her fans can sometimes knock you back a bit: earlier this week, when Swift released a track consisting of eight seconds of static to iTunes alas, the result of a technical malfunction, rather than a radical new power-electronics direction influenced by Right to Kill-era Whitehouse and Genocide Organ her fans in Canada bought it in such quantities that it went to No 1. Its more that Swifts music attracts the kind of serious critical attention afforded almost none of her peers. You dont get many learned articles in the New Yorker about the songcraft of Swifts mortal enemy Katy Perry. No acclaimed noveliest has felt impelled to take to the pages of Salon to defend the fact that he doesnt like Jessie J, which Rick Moody did after expressing a dislike of Swift.

On one level, that is irrelevant. What do the vast majority of Taylor Swift fans the tweenage Instagrammers to whom Swift, according to her ghastly record company biography, represents a loyal friend, fierce protector of hearts and one of the worlds greatest ambassadors for the power of just being yourself care whether their tastes have been anointed by the New Yorker? But on another, its intriguing: what is it about Swifts music that causes it to be singled out in this way?

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- Peter Bradshaw

André Benjamin gives a fine performance as Hendrix in a meandering biopic, but it needs the punch of great music Jimi: All Is by My Side: watch a clip from the Hendrix biopic video That never happened: the biopic conundrum

A rambling, zoned-out but interesting biopic jam session based around Jimi Hendrixs years in swinging 60s London. Its an interesting, speculative approach to what Hendrixs life might have been like, and André Benjamins laidback lead performance is intelligent and sympathetic. However, copyright issues mean that none of the great songs can be used, so Hendrixs musical presence is lacking. Imogen Poots plays Linda Keith, the posh, smart young woman from England who sees Hendrix perform in New York and becomes an evangelist for his greatness. Andrew Buckley as Chas Chandler, the Animals bassist who becomes a manager and another disciple, and Hayley Atwell is his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham. What we get is a potentially interesting if meandering account of his offstage existence, hanging round, shopping, getting hassled by racist coppers. Benjamin conveys something of Hendrixs gentleness and charm.

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- Michael Hann

(Trouble in Mind)

Jack Cooper and James Hoare have history with two of Britains best traditionalist indie bands, Mazes and Veronica Falls respectively. So its hardly surprising that their album together as Ultimate Painting doesnt exactly crash through sonic barriers in its quest for musical novelty, relying instead on a familiar model: the third Velvet Underground album, with a dash, perhaps, of Young Marble Giants. The playing is precise, subdued and autumnal; voices are hushed and expressionless, in those muted two-part harmonies familiar from thousands of indie albums in this lineage. But, oh, the songwriting! Both Mazes and Veronica Falls have made outstanding albums before, but this is surely the best record either Hoare or Cooper have been involved with. Every arrangement is perfect for the melody, and every melody sticks: the cardboard-box drum machine, walking bassline, cheap keyboard and simple guitar arpeggio of Riverside would be nothing individually; together theyre perfect.

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- Tshepo Mokoena

(Infectious)

There was no better decade than the 90s for Birmingham indie four-piece Superfood or at least thats what their debut album Dont Say That seems to say. For their dedication to Britpops golden years, look no further than the bands website, fashioned in the aesthetic of BBCs Ceefax teletext service and prefaced by an imitation arcade game, or the chugging guitar melodies and bobbing basslines of singles Right on Satellite and Melting. Superfood wear their 90s alt-rock influences on their sleeves and thus run the risk of being shunted aside as yet another nostalgia-rock band. Luckily, they do justify themselves thanks to the winning combination of singer Dom Gandertons Supergrass-esque falsetto and guitarist Ryan Malcolms vigourous, playful riffs. Its not all Britpop-inspired either: there are notes of early Vines, Howling Bells and Radiohead, too. At its weaker moments the album feels frustratingly backward-facing, but is played with enough skill to compensate for its lack of ingenuity.

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- Michael Billington

Shaftesbury, LondonThe singer combines charisma and power alongside a Sinatra-like Killian Donnelly in this exciting take on a key moment in pop history

This delightful American show, set in Memphis in 1955, pins down a pivotal moment in musical history with liberal gaiety. It is propelled as much by Joe DiPietros book as by the pounding score of David Bryan, a founder member of Bon Jovi.

The shows story is relatively simple. Its hero, Huey Calhoun, is a poor white guy who inveigles his way into one of Memphiss Beale Street clubs, where he falls head over heels for both the intoxicating rhythm and blues sound, and a young black singer, Felicia. He then insinuates himself into one of Memphiss mainstream radio stations as a DJ and substitutes R&B for the blandness of Patti Page and Perry Como, with devastating results. But Tennessees strict segregation laws inevitably blight his romance with Felicia, and she is forced to choose between Huey and her burgeoning career.

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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

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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...

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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,...

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‘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...

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Turn Back Time with Oldies Music Radio Which Brings Good Old Hits Back to Life

Nimaxy presents a new radio app for the most enjoyable music experience. Nimaxy studio has the pleasure of announcing the release of the...

Local Scene

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Eerie Erie…, In The Shadows

By Julie Caldwell In this, the second edition of our tales from Erie’s dark side, we will visit a few more of our local creepy...

Backstage Pass

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Find Out Where Your Favorite Band Is Playing

                Want To Know Where The Best Bands Are Playing And Where The Hottest Shows Are In...