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October 28, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
Building Stories Chris Ware Pantheon: Boxed, unpaged, $50 Chris Ware has been asking us to rethink comics for a long time, since his early days drawing for Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly's RAW. He's best known for the 2000 graphic novel "Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth," a multilayered narrative that won several awards, as well as his ongoing comic book series the "Acme Novelty Library. " Still, it's no stretch to suggest that with his new work, "Building Stories," he has upped the ante, pushing comics in a new direction while paying tribute to their history.
October 10, 2012 | By Mark Olsen and John Horn, Los Angeles Times
TORONTO - Martin McDonagh is no stranger to movie violence. The British playwright-filmmaker's debut feature, 2008's hit-man tale "In Bruges," had no shortage of blood, and McDonagh's new movie, Friday's R-rated crime drama "Seven Psychopaths," is hardly a musical comedy. The writer-director won't have to wait for critics and audiences to comment on the surging body count - "Seven Psychopaths" is as much a commentary on screen violence as a story overflowing with it. At various points throughout the film, McDonagh points out the real-life consequences of aggression and stages some scenes with so much over-the-top mayhem that it's clear he's poking fun at how movies typically, and casually, glorify bloodshed.
September 30, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
The Polish Boxer Eduardo Halfon Translated from the Spanish by Daniel Hahn, Ollie Brock, Lisa Dillman, Thomas Bunstead and Anne McLean Bellevue Literary Press: 188 pp., $14.95 paper In the closing pages of "The Polish Boxer," a book that willfully and delightfully blurs the boundaries among novel, memoir and meditation, Guatemalan writer Eduardo Halfon exposes what he, what any author, is up against. "Literature," he explains, "is no more than a good trick a magician or a witch might perform, making reality appear whole, creating the illusion that reality is a single unified thing.
September 29, 2012 | By Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times
Every Thursday at lunchtime at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, several dozen people turn off their cellphones and take seats in the bright pink chairs of the Billy Wilder Theater. They come to spend half an hour with Diana Winston, a former Buddhist nun and one of the nation's best-known teachers of mindfulness meditation. The lights go down, and Winston takes a seat in an office chair and speaks quietly into a microphone. Occasionally she is accompanied by Michael Perricone playing about 20 Tibetan bells, the haunting, wave-like sounds enhancing her voice, which is so soothing it's as if she were born to the work.
July 21, 2012 | By Amber Dance, Special to the Los Angeles Times
When it's time to meditate, sit comfortably, focus your attention … and reach for your smartphone? More and more people are doing just that, ifApple's iPhoneApp Store is any indication - a search for "meditation" results in more than 1,000 possible downloads. But isn't the point to unplug? The guidance offered in these apps "allows you just to let go and stop worrying about whether you're doing it right," says Stephan Bodian, a psychotherapist in Tucson and the developer of the Mindfulness Meditation app. "You can just relax and let yourself be led. " Plugging in to a meditation app - having turned off the phone's ringer and other functions, of course - could have a host of benefits.
July 2, 2012 | By Danielle Paquette
Russell Brand, how do you stay so happy-go-lucky? "I meditate often," he told the Ministry of Gossip on Saturday. "It connects you to a source of energy that's more powerful than the material world in which we primarily dwell. It helps you relax and unwind. " That's something clearly needed by the comic and actor, who has been percolating on a publicity tour for “Rock of Ages,” shooting his FX comedy show “Brand X” and navigating a media firestorm linked to his divorce from Katy Perry, whose new documentary “Part of Me” includes personal footage from their marriage.  Hardly relaxing stuff.
June 27, 2012 | By Philip Brandes
At what point does creative freedom collide with moral accountability? Sheila Callaghan's bleakly sardonic “Roadkill Confidential” at Son of Semele Theater poses the question in uniquely unsettling terms. Ethical considerations don't deter megalomaniacal artist-provocateur Trevor Pratt (Melissa Randel) from knowingly constructing her latest work out of furry accident carcasses infected with a strain of tularemia that's lethal to anyone who touches them. Her dangerous project incurs the invasive surveillance of a sinister one-eyed FBI Man (Daniel Getzoff)
March 18, 2012
A Zen-inspired garden marks the entrance of a Mar Vista home designed in the International style and surrounded by stands of bamboo. At the heart of the U-shaped home, which looks out on a lap pool, is a two-story great room with a wet bar, fireplace and clerestory windows. Location: 3571 Grand View Blvd., Los Angeles 90066 Asking price: $2.695 million Year built: 2006 Architect: Ron Godfredsen House size: Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, 4,250 square feet Lot size: 10,804 square feet Features: Floor-to-ceiling glass windows, recessed doors, 40-foot lap pool, guest suite with patio, two fireplaces, skylights, basement, den, media room, office, wine cellar, gym. About the area: Last year, 263 single-family homes sold in the 90066 ZIP Code at a median price of $705,000, according to DataQuick.
March 17, 2012 | Jeannine Stein
We know filmmaker David Lynch for the dark surrealism of "Eraserhead," "Blue Velvet," "Inland Empire" and "Twin Peaks," as well as for his deep, abiding love of coffee. Lynch is also passionate about transcendental meditation, which he first took up "on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning" in 1973. That passion spawned a book, "Catching the Big Fish," and the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. Lynch spoke about what TM means for him and why others should try it too. Catch the longer podcast at
March 14, 2012 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
A yoga meditation program could reduce depression symptoms and boost mental health, a study finds, and that's not all - it may also show benefits at the cellular level. The study, published recently in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry , involved 49 caregivers ranging in age from 45 to 91 who were taking care of family members with dementia. Caregivers are at risk for high stress levels, often with no outlet or relief, which can lead to health problems. The participants were randomly assigned to two programs: Kundalini yoga Kirtan Kriya meditation or passive relaxation with instrumental music.
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