April 22, 2014 |
No mass killer terrorized the Chicago streets on Easter weekend. But the joyous spring holiday of renewal was anything but tranquil. At least nine people were killed and 36 others, including children, were shot and wounded. It was the second weekend in a row that at least 36 people were shot in Chicago. No armor-clad gunman invaded a movie theater. No gunman went into an elementary school, killing 20 children and six educators. No white supremacist opened fire on places associated with Jewish activities.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 14, 2014 |
At the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department headquarters, a winding hallway leads to an unexpected oasis. Surrounded by trees, with a built-in grill and tables, the patio is an ideal place for a barbecue. Until recently, though, only a select few enjoyed it, smoking cigars and fashioning it into their own private hangout. In his first week as interim sheriff, John Scott announced that the cigar patio, as it was called, would be open to all employees. A contest would be held to choose a new name and smoking would no longer be allowed.
April 4, 2014 |
The state of Texas on Thursday executed a man named Tommy Sells after a series of whipsawing court decisions that ultimately denied Sells his due process right to investigate whether the lethal injection met constitutional standards. This is no defense of Sells. If evil exists in this world, he was it , responsible for a series of known heinous murders, and who knows how many others. But that is still insufficient cause for the government to kill him. It is sufficient cause to have locked Sells away from society until he died of natural causes.
March 26, 2014 |
The documentary gods are smiling on us this week. One of the real knockout docs of 2013 is back in town. That would be "Big Men," an astonishing look inside the world of oil capitalism in the West African nations of Ghana and Nigeria. The film took director Rachel Boynton seven years to make and was worth every minute. Boynton's last film was the excellent "Our Brand Is Crisis," and she specializes in the kind of insider access filmmakers only dream about. In this compelling doc, she offers an incisive look at how the enormous wealth oil creates subverts the morality of individuals, corporations, even entire countries.
March 22, 2014 |
"The aim of the poet is to inform or delight, or to combine together … both pleasure and applicability to life. " These words of the Roman poet Horace remain encoded in our cultural DNA. Even after the artistic revolutions incited by the Romantics, the realists and the various rabble-rousing factions of the avant-garde, the expectation endures that art should instruct or entertain or, better still, do both at the same time. Horace hard-liners, a conservative crew who would rather be educated by artists than amused by them, would no doubt cast a disapproving eye on the Echo Theater Company's indecorous (though sensationally acted)
March 20, 2014 |
What would you do for $500? For $15,000? For $250,000? That's the engine behind "Cheap Thrills," which begins as a simple "guy walks into a bar" story and snowballs into a mind-blowing little horror show. Directed with screw-tightening efficiency by E.L. Katz, from a savvy, wildly twisted script by Trent Haaga and David Chirchirillo, this nervy morality tale finds cautious, financially strapped family man Craig (Pat Healy) running into a former high school friend, the sketchy Vince (Ethan Embry)