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March 1, 2014 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Master of the viol, Jordi Savall is also a master joiner. His specialty is a narrow-seeming one, his six-stringed instrument's heyday having been the 16th and early 17th centuries when the viol was second in popularity only to the lute. Viol repertory is fertile, to be sure, but limited in historical scope and relevance (the Renaissance and Baroque eras), in sound (it is a quiet instrument), in tone (it has a dark, subdued character) and in geography (Western Europe). Yet Savall, who is Catalan and who founded and conducts the outstanding period-instrument ensemble Hespèrion XXI that will be appearing Sunday in Walt Disney Concert Hall, has what could be the broadest vision among any musicians today of how cultures connect and the historical significance of that for a modern, changing world.
February 28, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
Here are some findings that could scare you to death: In a study published this week, Finnish and Estonian researchers report that they have identified specific levels of four chemicals circulating in the blood that offer a reliable signal that death is near. The four harbingers of death can be readily detected in a blood sample, and are even predictive when seen in apparently healthy people, their new study shows. It's not just a life insurance saleman's dream. The study, released this week in the journal PLOS Medicine, suggests that several potentially deadly conditions -- cancer, cardiovascular disease and a welter of non-vascular causes of death -- may share signs, and even origins, that have been hidden in plain sight.
February 24, 2014 | By Mary MacVean
A vegetarian diet may help lower blood pressure, researchers who reviewed data from 39 previous studies said Monday. The researchers suggested that a vegetarian diet could be an alternative to drugs for people whose blood pressure is too high -- a condition known as hypertension and one that is a risk factor for heart disease and other problems.  About a third of Americans have high blood pressure. Seven clinical trials, with 311 participants, and 32 observational studies, including 21,604 people, were analyzed by researchers from Japan and the Physicans Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, which advocates for plant-based diets.
February 22, 2014 | By Ben Bolch
The rivalry that produced Jerry West versus Bill Russell, Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird and Kobe Bryant versus Paul Pierce offered a new matchup Friday night: MarShon Brooks versus Jerryd Bayless. It was actually more enticing than it sounds, Brooks nudging a proud but wayward franchise ahead of its archnemesis, if just for one night. Brooks sparked an 11-point comeback in the fourth quarter of his Lakers debut, helping his new team blow past the hated Boston Celtics in a 101-92 victory that had Staples Center rocking for one of the few times this season.
February 13, 2014 | By Robert Abele
In Manuel Carballo's pre-apocalyptic zombie drama "The Returned" - set years after an outbreak has been medically contained - getting bitten is no walking-death sentence, as long as you get your timely zombie protein shots. Then you can still be a functioning - if often discriminated against, or outright hated - member of a still-fearful society. So why, then, is returned-advocate doctor Kate (Emily Hampshire) secretly hoarding doses for her loving, infected boyfriend Alex (Kris Holden-Ried)
February 7, 2014 | By Gary Goldstein
Livelier and more amusing than its studio's advance-screening ban suggested, "Vampire Academy," based on the bestselling tween book series by Richelle Mead, should largely satisfy fans of the seemingly unkillable parade of hot-young-vampire tales. That said, this likable comedic-thriller is something of a narrative mishmash as the script by Daniel Waters ("Heathers") continually strains to explain - and then make good on - the dense ins and outs of Mead's secret society of good and bad vampires.
January 30, 2014 | By Oliver Gettell
The Gecko Brothers are back. So promises the first full-length trailer for the upcoming TV series "From Dusk Till Dawn," based on the 1996 cult horror flick directed by Robert Rodriguez, penned by Quentin Tarantino and starring Tarantino and George Clooney. The 10-episode series, which will air on Rodriguez's new English-language El Rey Network aimed at Latino audiences, revisits the saga of bank robber Seth Gecko (played by Clooney in the film and D.J. Cotrona in the series) and his unpredictable brother, Richie ( Zane Holtz, taking over for Tarantino)
January 18, 2014 | By Yvonne Villarreal
June Squibb has proven she's adept at playing feisty gals -- whether an insult-slinging patient on HBO's "Getting On" or the thorny wife to an alcoholic husband in "Nebraska. " There's a reason for that. "I'm a hot-blooded woman!," she joked Saturday on the SAG Awards red carpet. "I think with any character, you find a bit of yourself in them. I can get fired up like the best of them. " The 84-year-old actress was up for recognition for her role in "Nebraska. " A treat, she said, because it allows her to reminisce about her time working on the film -- and among the memories are Bruce Dern's backseat-driver tendencies.
January 13, 2014 | By Karen Kaplan
As far as scientists can tell, green tea has many health benefits. It contains natural antioxidants called flavonoids that appear to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and various types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, lung and skin. Plus it tastes good. But a new report in the journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics flags a possible problem with green tea: It may prevent the body from absorbing a drug used to treat high blood pressure, probably due to one of the antioxidants for which it is prized.
January 2, 2014 | By Robert Zaretsky
For food, fashion and fast trains, few labels are more sought after, and rightly so, than "Made in France. " But when it comes to the making and unmaking of empires, not so much. Take the case of the Central African Republic. Three weeks ago, as bloody mayhem engulfed the CAR, François Hollande did what French presidents do best: He sent in the paratroops. With the blessing, and precious little else, of his European neighbors, Hollande declared his intention to protect 100 or so French nationals in Bangui, the capital, and to disarm both the outlawed Seleka fighters, overwhelmingly Muslim, and the vigilante anti-balaka (or "machete")
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