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December 12, 2013 | By Maeve Reston
It was just last week when officials at the state's health insurance exchange, Covered California, gave the green light to Obama impersonator Iman Crosson to come up with a rap song to sell young people on the virtues of Obamacare. The turnaround was going to be quick. The 31-year-old actor began scrolling for beats that might work with President Obama's "flow, his cadence, his pauses," Crosson said - traits he has perfected after performing as Obama for years. With some help from comedy writers, he began writing lyrics against the melody of a Snoop Dogg song; after two hours in the studio, Obama doppelganger "B-Rock O'Beezy" was born, jamming to what might be the first rap song about preexisting conditions.
December 12, 2013 | By Martin Tsai, This post has been corrected. See note below for details
One of the all-time top-grossing films at the South Korean box office, "Friend" played at the AFI Fest in 2001 but never saw a stateside theatrical release. Writer-director Kwak Kyung-taek's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story - set against the Busan underworld - resonated with an entire generation of South Koreans, but much of its appeal eluded audiences abroad who weren't privy to that collective memory. Nevertheless, its sequel, "Friend 2: The Legacy," arrives in a dozen American theaters 12 years later, perhaps as a testament to the thriving ethnic enclaves across the nation.
December 10, 2013 | By Tina Susman
NEW YORK - First terrapin turtles. Now snowy owls. Humans are not the only species flocking to airports this holiday season. At least five times in the last two weeks, airliners at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports have been hit by the fluffy white owls, which airport and Audubon officials agree are migrating south in far higher numbers than normal. One was even spotted in Bermuda recently, said Glenn Phillips, executive director of New York City Audubon.
December 3, 2013 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
There is an unnerving moment deep inside the working-class drama "Out of the Furnace" when a primal scream cuts short an old argument between two brothers. Ripped from the emotional core of the younger, a burned-out Army soldier, Rodney Baze, played by Casey Affleck, it is frustration made manifest - a wordless rage against the death of the American dream. Painful, searing, eloquent, it puts the film's central themes of ordinary folks weathering the worst of times in sharp relief.
December 2, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
A young sea eagle stole a wildlife camera in Western Australia seven months ago and flew it nearly 70 miles away, where rangers recently found the purloined video recorder with snippets of outback scenery and a "selfie" of the feathered delinquent. The motion-sensor camera had been set up on the banks of the Margaret River in the Kimberley area in May, intended to record freshwater crocodiles lured to the lens by food left in the vicinity, the Australian Broadcasting Co. reported Monday.
December 2, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera and David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - Inc. and other online retailers suffered a legal setback on Cyber Monday as the Supreme Court turned away their challenge to a New York law that requires Internet companies to collect sales taxes. Delivered on one of the year's busiest online shopping days, the court's decision is expected to accelerate the move by states to try to capture the taxes due on online purchases made by their residents. The court's refusal to take up the issue also increases pressure on Congress to settle the long-standing dispute between online and conventional bricks-and-mortar retailers and to enact legislation standardizing online sales tax collection.
November 26, 2013 | By Betsy Sharkey
There is a kind of reassuring steadiness to Tom Hanks' acting. Even in the silliness of "Big," the time-shifting comedy that turned a boy into a man, he was zany, not outrageous. Sincerity made "Sleepless in Seattle" and his widowed young father impossibly romantic. His entrenched decency in "Philadelphia" helped push AIDS into the mainstream conversation and won Hanks an Oscar in 1994. His second Oscar came a year later for the masterful simplicity of "Forrest Gump. " There have been fallow years as the actor struggled to find his middle-aged niche.
November 26, 2013 | By Robert J. Lopez
A San Gabriel con man who skipped sentencing after pleading guilty to defrauding more than $11 million from dozens of families has been captured in Las Vegas, the FBI said Tuesday evening. David Kaup, 30, was arrested by federal agents Tuesday morning at a Las Vegas home where had been living. Authorities received a tip on Kaup's whereabouts after news organizations reported about his case, the FBI said. Kaup pleaded guilty to defrauding more than 50 families in three separate fraud schemes.
November 25, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
Steven-Charles Jaffe's first-rate documentary "Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird" appears right on the heels of "Dear Mr. Watterson," another enjoyable cinematic profile of a famed cartoonist ("Calvin and Hobbes'" Bill Watterson). But Jaffe's film has a distinct advantage: Wilson, unlike the reclusive Watterson, happily and thoroughly participates in this highly dimensional recap of his life and career, to compelling effect. The jaunty, eccentric Wilson, 83, has been generating his unique brand of humorously macabre cartoons for more than 50 years.
November 23, 2013 | By Steve Appleford
Photographer Ellen von Unwerth is European by birth and a New Yorker by choice, but during her semi-monthly trips to Los Angeles she happily settles in to work at the Chateau Marmont. The old hotel's long photographic legacy includes frequent stays by Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon and Bruce Weber, even as the paparazzi are kept at bay just beyond the driveway. The German-born Von Unwerth mainly comes to Los Angeles for work, shooting celebrity portraits, fashion magazine layouts and, increasingly, her daring personal work, sometimes at the Chateau itself.
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