February 23, 2013 |
MUNICH, Germany - Wagner's "The Ring of Nibelung" is no picnic. The epic four-evening mythic drama is the macho challenge with which operas prove themselves. It practically did in Los Angeles Opera when the company finally got around to mounting this monumental if confrontational pillar of Western civilization in 2010. The "Ring" has been no picnic, that is until now. As audience members found their seats at the Bavarian State Opera's historic National Theater here last month for "Das Rheingold," the first opera in the cycle, some 100 exceptionally good-looking young people dressed in summer whites (it was snowing outside)
February 14, 2013 |
About 30,000 years ago, a tiny mutation arose in a gene known as EDAR and began to spread rapidly in central China, eventually becoming common in the region. This week, scientists at Harvard University offered some explanations for why the EDAR mutation may have been so successful - by observing how it affects mice, animals long used in disease research but never before pressed into service for the study of human evolution. The small change, substituting one chemical letter of DNA for another, may have helped humans in Asia survive crippling heat and humidity by endowing them with extra sweat glands, the scientists reported Thursday in the journal Cell.
January 27, 2013 |
Senate committees will soon be asked to vote on President Obama's nominees to head the departments of State and Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. Many, if not most, of the senators' questions will be focused on the nominees' views on the pressing security problems the United States faces in the greater Middle East and Afghanistan. But it would be a mistake for the committees to let the hearings pass without also examining the administration's own stated policy priority - the "pivot" or "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific region.
January 24, 2013 |
PARK CITY, Utah - A new title has been added to the list of movie credits that describe jobs few people understand. Move over, gaffer, best boy and second second assistant director, and make room for the "written by" credit on an increasing number of documentary films. "It's a niche within a niche," admits Mark Monroe, one of the best. "There's certainly a lot of discussion about whether it belongs or not. It's a question I get asked five times a day. But no one I've ever worked with has ever had any issue with giving me a writing credit.
January 24, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Hopes dimmed Thursday for vast rules changes in the Senate to limit the filibuster as a weapon in the partisan obstruction that has ground action in the chamber to a near standstill. Senators, mostly liberal Democrats, had sought to bring reforms at the start of the new Congress, and a key component was the requirement that any senator wishing to conduct a filibuster must remain talking on the Senate floor in the style actor James Stewart made famous in the film “Mr.
January 17, 2013 |
Beautifully envisioned, badly constructed, the only truly terrifying things in the new horror movie "Mama" are the fake tattoos, short black hair and black T-shirts meant to turn "Zero Dark Thirty" star Jessica Chastain into a guitar-shredding, punk rocker chick. That misfire becomes just one more bump in the road when you long for more bumps in the night. Though there are a few frights - a skittering shape that keeps showing up is the best - rather than dishing out pure scary movie chills, first-time director Andy Muschietti serves up a darkly twisted allegory about a mother's protective instincts.
January 15, 2013
Re "Not a good fit?," Jan. 10 On the same day a study showed Americans are the least healthy among citizens of wealthy countries, there is a front-page article about residents of Santa Monica complaining that too many people are exercising on public land at Palisades Park. That's more than a little ironic. Lack of physical activity is one of the main drivers of poor health in this country, and you would think everyone would be in favor of more people exercising. This is just an example of the unexpected challenges faced when trying to help people be healthier.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 15, 2013 |
Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal may be too optimistic, but California's finances still have shown dramatic improvement, the Legislature's top financial advisor said Monday. Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor said the state is likely to generate $2.1 billion less in revenue and savings than the governor is counting on. But after years of catastrophic deficits, that's a relatively small gap in an estimated $97.7-billion proposal, he said. "That's not a startling difference," said Taylor, who called the governor's plans "reasonable.
January 13, 2013
Two months ago, the state's legislative analyst delivered a familiar warning: The budget that the Legislature had approved in June, which was supposed to include a $948-million surplus, was actually heading toward a $1-billion shortfall because of lower-than-expected revenue and higher costs. It was the same kind of message the Legislative Analyst's Office has delivered midway through every fiscal year since the housing market collapsed in 2007 - a sure sign that budgets held together by chewing gum and baling wire were coming apart.
January 13, 2013 |
The place felt so familiar. The air was dry and warm and slightly smoky. Streets were unpaved, rutted, edged with weeds below ramshackle wooden fences. Swaybacked horses and muscled pickup trucks dueled for right of way on the dusty roads. I was invited almost immediately into the humble homes of extraordinary artists and encouraged to inspect pieces of delicate pottery displayed on oilcloth-covered kitchen tables or arranged on sagging beds. I looked over the shoulders of men and women who shaped, polished and painted at tiny sunlit work stations.