Purrrrfect Mayhem

All An Act scores big with a kooky, British farce. By Rob Kocur So, there’s this...

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LONDON (Reuters) - Winnie-the-Pooh turns 90 this year and the much-loved children's character returns for a new adventure in which he meets someone else celebrating the same significant birthday -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

LONDON (Reuters) - A giant mural of Donald Trump locked in a kiss with former London mayor Boris Johnson in the style of a legendary Soviet-era image has been unveiled by a group campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union.

ROME (Reuters) - The mysterious British street artist known as Banksy has stenciled on surfaces from London to Gaza, but now a large collection of his work is going on display in a much more conventional setting - a museum in Rome.

MANILA (Reuters) - Polluted Manila river water has inspired a team of Filipino artists to paint watercolors using dirty water pigments to promote awareness of environmental degradation.

LONDON (Reuters) - Auctioneer Christie's has been fined 3,250 pounds ($4,750) for selling elephant ivory without the correct documentation, London police said on Tuesday.

Sports News

(The Sports Xchange) - LeBron James had 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and Kevin Love returned to form with 25 points as the Cavaliers dismantled the Toronto Raptors in a 116-78 win on Wednesday that gives Cleveland a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

PARIS (Reuters) - A dominant Rafael Nadal arrived at one career milestone on Thursday but the speed of the Spaniard's rampage through the early rounds of the French Open suggests his eyes are fixed firmly on another more significant one.

(The Sports Xchange) - The San Jose Sharks are going to finish their silver anniversary season chasing that big silver chalice.

TARTU, Estonia (Reuters) - Leila, Liina and Lily Luik from Estonia will make Olympics history when they cross the start line for the women's marathon in Rio.

MONACO (Reuters) - Australian Daniel Ricciardo set the pace for Red Bull in Monaco Grand Prix practice on Thursday, with crashes and a loose drain cover putting safety back in the spotlight at Formula One's showcase race.

Science News

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA called off an attempt to inflate an experimental habitat attached to the International Space Station after the fabric module failed to expand as planned on Thursday.

LONDON (Reuters) - Heat-tolerant Angus beef cattle designed for the tropics with white coats instead of black or red. A button mushroom that doesn't turn brown. Pigs that don't fall sick.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mysterious ring-shaped structures fashioned about 176,000 years ago by Neanderthals using broken stalagmites deep inside a cave in southwestern France indicate that our closest extinct relatives were more adept than previously known.

(Reuters) - An experimental airplane powered solely by energy from the sun landed in Ohio on Saturday night on the latest leg of its historic bid by pilots and developers to fly around the globe without a drop of fuel.

The unusual secretions of the Atlantic hagfish are being studied by scientists who want to harness the viscous and elastic properties of the creature's slime for human use.

Movie Reviews

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CD Reviews

- Erica Jeal

Brown University Orchestra/Phillips(Naxos)

“I wish people would think of me as a musician who writes novels, instead of a novelist who writes music on the side,” Anthony Burgess wrote in the Economist in 1991. Fat chance of that, especially after the release of Stanley Kubrick’s film of Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange . But Burgess kept composing – his lengthy worklist includes everything from recorder sonatas to perhaps the least likely operetta ever, based on Joyce’s Ulysses – and the US conductor Paul Phillips has been championing his music.

This disc starts with Mr WS, a jaunty mock-Tudor ballet suite nodding to Walton’s Shakespearian music, and the similarly Waltonesque Marche pour une Révolution, both dispatched with spirit if not ideal refinement by Phillips’s student orchestra; but keep listening and a more interesting voice emerges in Mr Burgess’s Almanack, a sequence of 14 modernist-inflected short movements for chamber ensemble written in 1987.

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- Erica Jeal


The cover says Violin Sonatas, but the tracklist says Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin – and as this is Mozart, both descriptions apply. The balance between pianist Cédric Tiberghien and violinist Alina Ibragimova on this recording is as beautifully calibrated as always in this long-standing partnership, but here, unusually, it is Tiberghien’s poised, lyrical piano playing that is, more often than not, to the fore. This double CD takes in seven works in non-chronological order, from the eight-year-old Mozart’s Sonata in B flat, K10 – originally published as a keyboard piece with optional violin – and the E flat major K481, written just before his 30th birthday. Each work gets a subtly different approach. Highlights include Ibragimova’s tone as she blossoms into the major-key slow theme in the adagio of K481, and Tiberghien’s echoey, bell‑like episode in the Sonata, K14; but there is something to raise a smile in every single movement.

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- Michael Hann


What music might you expect a former aide at the UN war crimes tribunals to make? Something raw and confrontational? Or, as Annelotte de Graaf makes under the name Amber Arcades, something so none-more-indiepop you feel like going out and photocopying 250 issues of a typewritten fanzine with a free flexi disc taped to the front? Fading Lines is a sustained exercise in restraint, De Graaf’s airy voice anchored by backing from assorted US indie luminaries, who provide just enough muscle without overwhelming her. This stuff – no production tricks, no style-du-jour hip points – stands or falls by the strength of the songs, and Amber Arcades has enough of them to keep you interested. The title track shimmers, a delicious descending lead guitar line snaking through it; the nearly seven-minute Turning Light takes the bassline to Friday on My Mind and goes with it on a long, droning drive. There are longueurs, but there’s also the sense of a real talent.

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- Phelim O'Neill

Stuffed with amazing footage, this magisterial history of pop – partly narrated by Liberace, partly written by Stephen Sondheim – got more than a little help from John Lennon’s contacts book

The subheading to this 17-part documentary says it all: The History of Popular Music. It shows what a massive undertaking this was, a seemingly impossible task. The fact that it succeeds so gloriously is, in large part, down to its director, Tony Palmer, who treated something as ephemeral as pop with a seriousness it probably didn’t deserve. That would certainly have been the opinion of most people working in the arts at the time – 1977 – but Palmer had by then already given us such classic documentaries as Bird on a Wire, about Leonard Cohen, and 200 Motels, co-created with Frank Zappa.

The result is quite simply stuffed with amazing footage, touching on everything from gospel, vaudeville, ragtime and musicals to protest songs, country, R&B, swing and acid rock. Palmer makes excellent choices in collaborators, with Liberace narrating the episode about vaudeville and Stephen Sondheim scripting the one about musicals. And he picked a good time to make his history: Elvis was still alive and so, therefore, was rock’n’roll; John Lennon, too, something that had practical benefits, as the Beatle was a longtime champion of Palmer’s, always willing to open his address book and make introductions – or beg favours – on his behalf.

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- Erica Jeal

Briggs/Royal Northern Sinfonia/Woods(Avie)

Conductor Kenneth Woods and the Royal Northern Sinfonia have been recording Hans Gál’s symphonies recently; now they combine, joining pianist Sarah Beth Briggs, to blow the dust off the composer’s Piano Concerto. Gál and his family fled Vienna in 1938, and perhaps if he had reached the US he might have joined fellow emigres in becoming a great composer for film – there is a touch of Korngold in his style, albeit with more piquancy and a lot less sugar – but he ended up in Edinburgh, writing prolifically for the concert hall. If this premiere recording persuades more pianists to take up this sweeping, lyrical concerto, then all to the good. Briggs’s playing is shapely but unassuming, which underlines the skilful transparency of Gál’s writing as well as how much of an ensemble piece this is. It is paired with a reticent yet still elegant performance of Mozart’s Concerto No 22 in E flat.

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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

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National Marionette Theater Returns to PACA This Weekend for FIVE PERFORMANCES of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty!!!

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