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Archive for September, 2014

stationelevenOn a winter night in present-day Toronto, an actor collapses onstage during the “mad scene” while playing the title role in “King Lear.” An audience member leaps to his feet and tries to assist under the bright lights and fake snow. Outside the theater real snow is falling and a deadly epidemic is encroaching. The world is about to change, for every single person on the planet.

Emily St. John Mandel’s darkly lyrical new novel kicks off with this scene – at the “beginning and end of everything” – then follows several key characters both forward and backward in time to give us an appreciation of art, love and the triumph of the human spirit.

After the opening chapters, we’re whisked twenty years into the future, where a group of performers known as the Traveling Symphony are roaming through a dystopian Great Lakes region rehearsing “King Lear.” The Symphony is made of assorted musicians and performers who survived the deadly epidemic in the opening chapters and are walking in the oppressive heat, preparing to perform at the next settlement on their route. When the troupe stumbles upon a self-proclaimed prophet and his followers, Mandel sets in motion a suspenseful storyline that has echoes throughout the book.

Then we head back in time, to a time before the “Georgia flu” as the epidemic is called, when the actor from the opening scenes (Arthur Leander) was famous enough to be hounded by paparazzi while going through a succession of wives and relationships. His first wife Miranda – a nod to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” – is a lonely soul who creates a futuristic graphic novel called “Station Eleven,” set on a faraway planet.

Mandel effortlessly moves between time periods, showing us how all these people are connected, through photographs, memories and family bonds. There is a great chapter early on where the members of the Traveling Symphony discuss their grievances, one that rings true of any group of people who spend a lot of time together. The passages involving the troupe’s life together are compelling and moving.

The book is full of beautiful set pieces and landscapes; big, bustling cities before and during the outbreak, an eerily peaceful Malaysian seashore, and an all-but-abandoned Midwest airport-turned museum that becomes an all important setting for the last third of the book.

Mandel ties up all the loose ends in a smooth and moving way, giving humanity to all her characters – both in a world that you might recognize as the one we all live in today (and perhaps take for granted) and a post-apocalyptic world without electricity, smartphones and the Internet. “Station Eleven” is a truly haunting book, one that is hard to put down and a pleasure to read.

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sweeeneytodd“Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd…” So begins Stephen Sondheim’s Tony award-winning 1979 musical about love, revenge and meat pies. The “PBS Arts Fall Festival” kicks off with this  concert staging featuring Bryn Terfel in the title role, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Lovett and The New York Philharmonic.  10:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, on KCTS.

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I saw this movie today. It was not what I expected. In a good way.

 

 

 

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Doctor-Mindy-KalingThis great comedy about the personal and professional lives of a New York City OB/gyn (Mindy Kaling) and her workplace full of (very funny) characters returns for a third season. Chris Messina, Ike Barinholtz, Adam Pally and Xosha Roquemore are chief among the laugh-getters. Season premiere, 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16, on Fox

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Yes, I’m kind of late to the party with this, but the new trailer looks promising.

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A to the Men, Meryl.

Ioadicaeu's Blog

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“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with…

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