January 22, 2012 |
At dawn on the dock, a few sailors kiss spouses and dogs goodbye. Then we muster on the quarterdeck: 17 crew (nine volunteers and eight professional sailors) ranging from a 19-year-old South Carolina college student to a 76-year-old Michigan farmer. I have cruised the South Pacific, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean on the most luxurious ships afloat and have been crew on sailing and racing sailboats for decades in inland lakes, the Great Lakes and the Caribbean. As a volunteer on a tall ship, however, I knew I'd have a rare chance to learn classic skills and be part of a genuine adventure.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 17, 2011 |
Reporting from San Francisco -- Ebenezer Scrooge is a corporate banker, busy foreclosing on the hapless masses. Bob Cratchit and his beleaguered family live in a chilly tent in an anonymous Occupy encampment. The ghost of Christmas future sports a flowing black robe of taped-together trash bags and plastic sheeting. Tiny Tim dies. At least that's how the San Francisco Mime Troupe's resident playwright, Michael Gene Sullivan, has re-imagined "A Christmas Carol" for the troubled 21st century.
December 7, 2011 |
We have a love/hate relationship with Christmas carols. By the time Thanksgiving has rolled past, the limp versions favored by malls and their ilk have sucked the life out of even the best of them. But of course in the right hands, these evergreens can be full of energy and good cheer. Only grinches could hate on a candlelit chorus of "Silent Night" or a choir, brass and organ rendering of "Adeste Fideles. " Several big caroling concerts are coming to town. Non-singers may enjoy the Los Angeles Master Chorale's Festival of Carols, while those who like to belt out a tune or 10 will find the Holiday Sing-Along at Disney Hall just the ticket.
November 20, 2011
Reading anything by or about Charles Dickens is a year-round pleasure for many readers, but it's especially difficult not to associate him and his world with the holidays thanks to "A Christmas Carol. " In Claire Tomalin's new biography, "Charles Dickens: A Life," the author (whose other books include lives of Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen) suggests, in the following excerpt adapted from "Prologue: The Inimitable 1840," why Dickens the man - not just his books - presents such a feast for any biographer.
November 6, 2011 |
This much is clear: It's 1891, a year after their first adventure, and the great English detective and Dr. Watson are facing off with Professor Moriarty, a mysterious, peripheral character from their initial blockbuster. Ask the creative forces behind "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" for more details on the new Robert Downey Jr. movie, due in theaters Dec. 16, and you'll find tight lips. But the set here, a 40-minute train trip west from London, was rife with clues last winter.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 5, 2011 |
Oscar Handlin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian at Harvard University whose classic portrait of 19th century European emigrants launched the modern study of immigration as the predominant American story, died Sept. 20 in Cambridge, Mass. He was 95. The cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Lilian. Handlin, who taught at Harvard University for nearly 50 years, was a prolific scholar best known for "The Uprooted: the Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People.
June 19, 2011 |
The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century Scott Miller Random House: 432 pp., $28 Veteran journalist Scott Miller has done something very interesting in his first book: He has conjoined two kinds of histories to create a portrait of the United States at the turn of the 20th century as a country divided between worldviews so radically dissimilar that they hardly seemed to be describing...
May 13, 2011 |
Shortly after beginning a tour of Hacienda Buena Vista, a historic coffee plantation in Puerto Rico, guide Lucy Morales shooed her guests indoors as the heavens opened. "This is very unusual here," she said, almost apologetically, once the visitors had made it into the shelter of the hacienda's stunning manor house, the family home of the plantation's former owners. At the hacienda — on an old, twisting highway in the foothills above the parched coastal city of Ponce — rain, let alone a thundershower, is rare.
April 16, 2011 |
The Lady Liberty of the Las Vegas Strip lacks the gravitas of her East Coast lookalike. She is half the size, a century younger and represents a coarser form of democracy: the freedom to choose which slot machine gobbles up your savings. Yet the Las Vegas replica recently snatched an honor from Lower Manhattan's celebrated greeter of the tired, poor and huddled masses: a star turn on a U.S. postage stamp. Postal Service officials, who issued the stamp in December, apparently thought the photo they'd selected was of the Lady Liberty dedicated in 1886 — not her progeny, who since 1997 has beckoned gamblers outside the New York New York Hotel & Casino, alongside an imitation Empire State Building.
February 20, 2011 |
The standard line on the career of Luchino Visconti is that he went from being one of the founding fathers of Italian neorealism to a master orchestrator of sumptuous historical melodramas. This shift is often viewed as a contradiction ? one of several that defined Visconti, a bisexual Marxist aristocrat ? and some even called it a betrayal, a turn from the present-day, working-class environments in which such early films as "La Terra Trema" were set to the titled, moneyed world of the past from which he came.