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September 26, 2013 | By Leah Ollman
Alison Saar's work makes a tremendous visceral impression on contact. Its own physical potency, the concise urgency of its forms, acts on the body. Though it needs no verbal scaffolding for support or rationale, titles often help actualize its metaphorical potential. Consider one small, tabletop sculpture in Saar's engrossing show at L.A. Louver. The standing female figure is 14 inches tall, cast in bronze and loosely covered by a square of sheer white silk, like a handkerchief to be lifted for the big reveal.
September 25, 2013 | By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
The three solo performance pieces being presented on separate bills at the Kirk Douglas Theatre - Luis Alfaro's "St. Jude," Roger Guenveur Smith's "Rodney King," and Trieu Tran's "Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam" - haven't much in common stylistically. And why should they? They're the product of different sensibilities in a theatrical form dedicated to celebrating radical individuality. But taken together these DouglasPlus offerings, which are part of the Radar L.A. festival, present a portrait of an America made up of insiders and outsiders.
September 18, 2013 | By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
John Pollono, author of the much-feted "Small Engine Repair," has supplied Rogue Machine with the world premiere of another gritty New Hampshire drama, "Lost Girls. " The play, about the reunion between a stressed-out retail clerk and her recovering alcoholic ex-husband after their teenage daughter goes missing, provides further theatrical evidence that the traumatic past doesn't die but rather moves underground, waiting for justice yet grateful for even a flicker of sympathy. The production, directed with emotional sensitivity by Rogue Machine artistic director John Perrin Flynn, lays on the local color a bit thick in the opening moments.
September 13, 2013 | By Rayya Elias
"What do you think of 'Orange Is the New Black?'" Since Netflix's series about life in a women's prison premiered this summer, I've fielded the same question from almost everyone I know. I guess it's because I have some experience on the subject. Before I got clean, I spent many years in and out of jails and correctional institutions. I did a short stint at New York City's Rikers Island in 1995, and participated in a six-month alternative-to-incarceration program administered by the Women's Prison Assn.
September 11, 2013 | By Cathleen Decker
Politics addicts across the nation will engage today in the post-election tradition of gleaning great, defining truths from smallish, specific races. Much of the time, singular election results are just that, a reminder that all politics is local. But a few clear lessons did emerge from Tuesday's two hallmark contests: Opposites really do attract. Bill de Blasio's sweeping victory in the Democratic primary for New York mayor rested at least in part on the fact that he campaigned against the image and policies of the incumbent, billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
September 10, 2013 | By Meredith Blake
Sorry, world: You've been had.  If you're one of the 9 million or so inhabitants of Planet Earth who watched this video last week and laughed out loud at the spectacle of a girl whose sexy "twerking" home video turns into an epic fiery disaster, then the joke's on you.  On Monday night, Jimmy Kimmel revealed that not only was the video staged, as many viewers suspected but perhaps didn't want to believe, but that he was the mastermind...
September 10, 2013 | Chris Erskine
Keith Jackson has some stories, all right. Of riding his horse four miles to his rural Georgia high school. Of nights carousing with Paul "Bear" Bryant. Of the time Howard Cosell, smelling like a Russian distillery, set Jackson's pants on fire during a telecast of "Monday Night Football. " "He had the cigar, all that vodka," he recalls. "I almost threw him out of the booth myself. " It's not just the stories that are so captivating, either. It's The Voice, the envy of cellos everywhere.
September 9, 2013 | By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
It's always a privilege to be in the company of an actor who doesn't worry about being liked by an audience, who refuses to ingratiate himself as a performer to soften the sharp edges of his character. Charlie Robinson, star of the South Coast Repertory revival of "Death of a Salesman," is such an actor. His Willy Loman isn't out to win fans and influence producers. This veteran salesman is too bitter to put on a smiling face. Simple courtesies elude him. When his wife tells him she bought American cheese instead of Swiss, he growls in disgust.
September 6, 2013 | By Karen Ravn
Most of us would rather not think of ourselves as irrational or dishonest. But in the books "Predictably Irrational" and "The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty," Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University, makes the case that we're all probably both. And what's more, he says, that's not entirely bad. Does everyone behave irrationally sometimes? Absolutely yes. Irrationality is not about stupidity. It's about being human. Actually it's about both. Sometimes we behave irrationally because we don't think, or we don't think long-term.
September 1, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Both Gov. Jerry Brown's ill-considered plan for complying with a court-ordered prison population cap by contracting out for inmate beds, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's much smarter plan to control the flow of new inmates into prison, are based on the desire to prevent, at almost all costs, the early release of inmates. And that is understandable. California's 33 prisons are overpopulated by about 9,600 felons, according to courts that have ordered the number of inmates to be reduced to 137.5% of design capacity by Dec. 31. The prospect of that many convicted criminals being released onto the streets in a single wave is frightening.
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