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December 18, 2013 | By Deborah Vankin
Chinese pianist Yuja Wang is widely admired for her astonishing technical skills at the keyboard and a charismatic stage presence. The 26-year-old also draws attention for her fashion statements and sometimes daring style choices on the concert stage. Her newest album, released in October, is a live concert recorded last spring of the challenging Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto and Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto. Wang played them in Caracas with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.
December 15, 2013 | Bill Dwyre
Mark Trumbo was traded Tuesday. He went from being an Angel to a Diamondback. If we are talking personality only, the previous name suited him better. There is nothing venomous, nor ever will be, about Trumbo. He took the trade the way he takes everything else. "I'm pretty much all right with anything," he said during an interview a few days later. He was responding specifically to a question about playing various positions. But the answer can stand as an all-inclusive definition of the man. As a baseball player, Trumbo is an exceptional talent.
December 12, 2013 | By Jon Healey
This post has been updated, as indicated below. A belated arrival on the streaming-music scene, Led Zeppelin quickly shot up the charts on Spotify this week despite not having released an album of new material in more than 30 years. The service made the band's first two albums (both from 1969) available Wednesday -- the first Led Zep releases to appear on any of the licensed music subscription services -- and within a day they were both in Spotify's Top 25. [ Updated, 12:15 p.m. Dec. 13: Spotify made two more of the band's releases available Thursday, and all four were in the Top 25 by noon Friday.]
December 12, 2013 | By Booth Moore, Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic
This year's best dressed Hollywood newcomer is Lupita Nyong'o, the Yale School of Drama-educated actress garnering awards buzz for her role as the abused slave Patsey in "12 Years a Slave. " Nyong'o, who is styled by Micaela Erlanger, has been working the red carpet circuit since September and hasn't made a misstep yet. What's she doing right? She's got range, and each look has something special to say. Nyong'o is comfortable in everything from an indie cool Rodarte flame-colored brocade and leather dress (an inspired choice for a film festival in the Mardi Gras capital of the world, New Orleans)
December 3, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
There's water in them thar planets - five massive “hot Jupiters” spied by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. But if you just thought "Life?!" think again. Despite the presence of water molecules in their atmospheres, none of these five planets is suitable to life as we know it. They are all gas giants, and they are all too close to their suns to sustain liquid water on their surfaces. These planets -- WASP-17b, HD209458b, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b -- are tidally locked with their stars so that the same side of the planet always faces the star and is constantly bombarded with a powerful stream of solar radiation.
December 1, 2013 | By Hugo Martin
After a nasty storm ripped through the East Coast on the busiest travel day of the year, you might think that buying travel insurance for holiday travel would be a no-brainer. Not so much. The 114-year-old National Consumers League concluded recently that travel insurance is usually a bad deal because most policies are riddled with exceptions that allow insurance companies to reject claims for payoffs. Most insurance companies won't disclose their track record for paying out claims, making it nearly impossible to judge whether insurance is worth the money, the league says.
December 1, 2013 | By Joyce Appleby
Senators have long considered any change to filibuster rules to be "the nuclear option. " But the recent action by Democrats to limit the use of filibusters in blocking most presidential nominations didn't go nearly far enough. Now is the time to get rid of the Senate's archaic and abusive filibuster in all matters that come before it. And fortunately, Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) are taking advantage of the momentum from the Senate vote to try to do just that.
November 26, 2013 | By Mike Bresnahan
WASHINGTON -- Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni was happy Kobe Bryant received a two-year contract extension. Or maybe just relieved. "It got it out of the way before you all started talking about it," he said Tuesday, envisioning the uncertainty that could have followed if Bryant became a free agent next July. "It's good for Kobe, that's for sure, and good for the team. And he should finish a Laker. All good. " The Lakers think Bryant will return to the player he used to be. "I have no idea, I don't think anybody knows, but I would never doubt Kobe," D'Antoni said.
November 25, 2013 | By Salvador Rodriguez
Apple has confirmed its acquisition of PrimeSense, an Israel-based company that specializes in making chips used in 3-D motion sensors. The move may signal Apple's plans to increase use of the technology that allows gestures to control functions on devices. So far, PrimeSense's biggest claim to fame is helping Microsoft create the Kinect, a 3-D motion sensor for the Xbox. Apple was rumored to have purchased PrimeSense last week, but it has just now been confirmed by the two companies.
November 22, 2013 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
When we think of Russell Banks, what comes to mind are the novels: "Continental Drift," "The Sweet Hereafter," "Cloudsplitter," "Rule of the Bone. " These are ambitious books, dealing with politics and history, the aftermath of tragedy, the specter of drugs and sexual abuse. For me, though, Banks is equally noteworthy as a writer of short fiction, and not just because in the early years of his career, he matched collections to full-length efforts, nearly one-to-one. No, it's that in his stories, Banks focuses on smaller moments between parents and children, wives and husbands, the domestic dramas out of which we build our inner lives.
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