January 24, 2014 |
One day, David Stuart MacLean forgot who he was. "It was darkness darkness darkness, then snap. Me. Now awake. " He was a blank slate, standing in a bustling train station in India. Things went downhill from there. From these dark days, MacLean has created a deeply moving account of amnesia that explores the quandary of the self. The book's short, episodic sections are particularly well suited to evoking the hellish psychosis MacLean endures after "waking up. " These disorienting snippets of experience offer little reflection, context or connective tissue.
January 16, 2014 |
"The Rocket" winds through the mountains of northern Laos, the contemporary drama carrying a touch of fable and a powerful sense of place. Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe), the 10-year-old at the center of the movie, makes an appealing rooting interest, not only because he's sparky and resourceful but also because he challenges the superstitious antipathy of his grandmother, who believes he's cursed. Displaced from their village by a dam project - after viewing a heartlessly chipper corporate video on the wonders of relocation - Ahlo and his family find themselves in a barren field of tents.
January 9, 2014 |
Magdalena Zyzak's delightful first novel, "The Ballad of Barnabas Pierkiel," has no noble characters, a good deal of mean-spirited behavior, and it all ends badly - in other words, it's a comedy. For those who think that religious fanaticism, racial hatred and Nazis are not fit subjects for humor, Zyzak mounts a spirited defense. "Prejudices and stupidities … in any time, in any people, serve as worthy targets for a bit of mockery," she writes. "This may be considered, in its modest way, a document of protest, as lightheartedness has become rather rare in this part of the world.
December 30, 2013 |
Ready yourself for the real-life glowing green menagerie. Ten little piggies that glow in the dark have been created by scientists at the South China Agricultural University. (See the video above.) A sheep that glows green under a black light will soon be announced by researchers in Turkey, and that same Turkish team has already created glow-in-the-dark bunnies . By the light of day these animals all look normal. But turn off the lights and hit them with a black light and parts of their bodies glow fluorescent green.
December 25, 2013 |
All that tens of thousands of people really wanted for Christmas was to have their electricity back after fierce ice storms felled power lines in a wide swath from Michigan through parts of upstate New York, New England and Canada. More than half a million customers lost power when ice storms coupled with ferocious winds toppled power lines beginning last weekend. Repair crews from utilities across the region, helped by out-of-state workers, toiled to fix the lines, but tens of thousands of customers remained without power Wednesday.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 20, 2013 |
The winter solstice may mark the longest night of the year, but for Iranians, it's also known as Shab-e Yalda , a celebration with ancient ties that commemorates the triumph of Mithra, the Sun God, over darkness. Feasting on fresh fruits from the summer season and reciting works by 14th century Persian poet Hafez, Iranians all around the world stay up to mark the start of winter. "It's not an official holiday in Iran, but similar to many other ancient traditions, it has become a significant cultural celebration observed by all Iranians," said Bita Milanian, executive director of Farhang Foundation, a nonprofit that celebrates Iranian art and culture in Southern California.
December 10, 2013 |
Perhaps the Red Planet's dry equatorial region is still a little wetter than we thought. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has discovered strange dark lines that vanish and reappear with the seasons, and scientists think they could be signs of salty water that may intermittently flow near the surface of Mars. These recurring thin lines are typically less than 16 feet wide and can stretch for three quarters of a mile. They fade in cooler times and reappear in warmer ones - perhaps because in the warmer seasons or in direct sunlight the water would evaporate, leaving the salt marks behind.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 8, 2013 |
They started by videotaping one Holocaust survivor's story. Then came another and another. Nearly 20 years have passed, and the stories have added up - to almost 52,000 eyewitness accounts collected all over the world. Each month, the USC Shoah Foundation gives a public tour to talk about the collection and how it is being used. People gather in the lobby, where a collage of faces stripes the walls beneath the words: "Every survivor has a story to tell. " On a recent morning, an elegant 91-year-old woman sat on a couch beneath that message, waiting for the tour to begin.
November 29, 2013 |
It sometimes seems like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power specializes in frustration. In September, the utility flipped the switch on a new $162-million customer information system that had been in the works for three years. The system includes meter reading, billing and customer service, and it replaces a 40-year-old model that was outdated 20 years ago. It's designed to be more efficient and more accurate, let customers resolve inquiries with one call and eventually enable the DWP to switch from bimonthly to monthly bills.
November 23, 2013 |
Bring out your dead The Brooklyn Nets' season is unfolding a bit like owner Mikhail Prokhorov's favorite work of Russian literature. Anyone who has read Nikolai Gogol's "Dead Souls" knows that's not a good thing. The novel starts with its protagonist, Chichikov , spending lavishly to buy the "dead souls" of the townspeople's serfs in a convoluted get-rich-quick scheme that quickly unravels. Prokhorov is paying about $183 million in salary and luxury taxes for a fossilized roster that is hemorrhaging players as injuries and defeats mount.