January 20, 1991
In his thoughtful review of "A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya" (Dec. 23), reviewer Victor Perera says that some vignettes "suffer from insufficient underpinning." In particular, he asks: "How do we know that captives sacrificed at Chichen Itza died a gentle death 'because no one ever made a sound when his heart was cut out' ?" All of our attempts to bring the Maya world to life through dramatic interludes are extensively annotated with end notes, and the Chichen Itza dance-sacrifice scene has four notes.
April 5, 2010 |
I shouldn't have had a heart attack 11 days shy of my 55th birthday. Just one month earlier I'd passed a physical with flying colors. My blood pressure was its usual 110/70. My bad and good cholesterol levels were respectively low and high. I never smoked. I never had diabetes. I exercised pretty regularly. I'd been avoiding "bad fat" and salt for many years and ate a fairly healthful diet. I wasn't overweight. My parents, who are now in their 80s, never had high blood pressure or heart disease.
June 8, 1986
I was very much taken by Holly Prado's review of Toby Olson's "The Woman Who Escaped From Shame" in the May 18 Book Review. I found the review highly readable, concise, intelligent and good-hearted. WILLIAM DAVIS South Pasadena
October 15, 2013 |
Mumford & Sons have called it a day (for now) at the top of their game. Avicii is dropping bluegrass into his overcaffeinated EDM. Ed Sheeran is hanging out with Taylor Swift and One Direction. What the heck is going on with mainstream folk music today? Now that we're a few years into the pickin'-and-grinnin' takeover of U.S. top-40, the world's vintage-clad pop acts are figuring out where to go next. The Seattle combo the Head and the Heart opens up a bit on "Let's Be Still," its first since 2009's surprise self-titled hit, proving there is life after banjos for these bands.
January 13, 1990
A response to Sheila Benson's Dec. 22 review of "Always": In what has to be the darkest slate of holiday movies ever, Benson ironically implies that hell may be realized by seeing the movie "Always." I too gaze in horror at Oliver Stone's nightmare vision of Vietnam, and the Holocaust is something that should never be forgotten, but I also mourn the certain death of sentimentality and heart in today's movies. When critics consider the only serious directors to be those who bludgeon us with the pain and torture of man's inhumanity to man, then those who choose to show life as a more uplifting and joyous experience become a rare and endangered species.
February 23, 1986 |
The cross-country Pro-Peace March, with many celebs joining in for global nuclear disarmament, doesn't begin until Saturday. But Richard Rifkin, a volunteer marcher, is already trying to peddle the rights to his story. Rifkin, who describes himself as a writer-actor, placed a trade-paper ad offering producers an option on his upcoming nine months of "adventure, romance, humor . . . all for the continued existence of humanity."
January 28, 2011 |
As the hangdog title character in "A Somewhat Gentle Man," Stellan Skarsgard promises a more complex and full-blooded portrait than the film is able to deliver. The adamantly deadpan story concerns a goodhearted, self-effacing killer ? a movie staple of sorts, particularly in the quasi-Coen-esque crime-comedy territory that this Norwegian feature occupies. But like the Coen brothers at their least convincing, the mix of low-grade depression and amped quirkiness never shakes off the feel of self-conscious posturing.
April 9, 2013 |
Actors' Gang stalwart Brian T. Finney invites us to once again venture deep into the interior of the African Congo in his adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," now at the Ivy Substation. This stripped-down Actors' Gang production zooms in on Finney's intensely contained performance as Marlow, the seaman who tells the story of his obsessive pursuit of the mysterious Kurtz, an ivory trader who has come to symbolize, among other things, the insatiable greed of imperial conquest.
November 7, 2009 |
Meteor flying too close to the ground. . . . Any tragedy in Allen Iverson's life has nothing to do with his basketball career, which was inspiring and earned him hundreds of millions of dollars, some of which we hope he kept after all those widely chronicled trips to Atlantic City, N.J., when he was in Philadelphia. Everything that came before was tragic, the poverty growing up in Hampton, Va., the controversial 15-year jail sentence for his part in a bowling alley race riot as a teenager, of which he served four months before he was granted clemency and his conviction was overturned.
October 29, 2012 |
Bob Baffert is flat on his back and hears those around him saying he has the "widow maker," like he doesn't already know his chest is killing him. He's in Dubai this past March. He's 59 and figures he's doomed. "It was like, 'oh man, this is it.' I'm just waiting for them to turn out the lights," he says. Because he makes his living training horses, in his business people expect the worst and hope for the best. He gives his wife, Jill, a verbal last will and testament, telling her to "keep this, sell that and here's what you need to do when I'm gone.