July 6, 2015

Cultural News

Maria Leaves Sesame Street After 44 Years On The Block

 Gordon (played by Roscoe Orman), Maria (played by Sonia Manzano), and The Count on Sesame Street's 42nd season. Manzano is closing out a Sesame Street career that began in 1971.
Zach Hyman/Sesame Street 
For the last 44 years, you could ask Maria how to get to Sesame Street, but not any more. Sonia Manzano, the actress who has played the character since 1971, is retiring and won't be part of the next season.
Manzano, 65, announced the news earlier this week at the American Library Association Annual Conference.
On the show, Maria owned the Fix-It shop, repairing all sorts of things, including a lot of toasters, with her husband Luis, writes the Associated Press:

"In confirming Manzano's retirement, Sesame Workshop said 'she will always be a part of the fabric of our neighborhood. During her 44-year career as the iconic "Maria," and the first leading Latina woman on television, she was a role model for young girls and women for generations.' "
The AV Club writes that she was nominated for an Emmy Award twice as an actress but didn't win. She did win 15 of the awards as a scriptwriter for the show.
Manzano grew up in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in the Bronx. She attended Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Her acting career began when she was in the original cast of Godspell, a musical which began as a student production on campus, according to the AP.
She talked about Sesame Street at the ALA conference:

"Sesame Street, as everyone knows, was set in the inner city and there was a particular reason for that. Our first target audience were the children in the inner city that were underserved. And we thought that if they learned their basic cognitive skills, they could start kindergarten on an even level with their middle-class peers. And it was a very idealistic time — we thought we'd, like, close the education gap by doing that.
"But the first thing we had do to was make sure kids in the inner city could relate to us, and what better way to do that than have the show come to them from a place that was familiar to them. And the stoop in Harlem was the most familiar to them."
Here's a clip of Maria helping Oscar the Grouch:

How will Sesame Street solve the problem of Maria's absence? The AP says that Sesame Workshop hasn't explained how that will play out on the show.


June 24, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

-Anya Peters

Literary Pick (****)

Kitchen Confidential
-Anthony Bourdain

Belated RIP

Anne Meara
Born: September 20, 1929, Brooklyn, New York City, NY
As one-half of the country's most renowned and universally beloved comedy duos, Anne Meara charmed millions with her hilarious and sometimes absurd banter with real-life husband Jerry Stiller. Known by many simply as Stiller and Meara, the pair incorporated their personal anecdotes - from relationship squabbles, to personality differences and cultural clashes - into their decades-long comedy act. Stiller and Meara's routine garnered national attention after numerous appearances on the seminal variety series "The Ed Sullivan Show" (CBS, 1948-1971). Apart from her husband, Meara also established a successful career as a hardworking actress, appearing in feature films and making memorable guest appearances on shows such as "The King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007) and "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004) throughout her career. Dedicated not only to her craft, but also to her family - raising their son, blockbuster movie star Ben Stiller - Meara shared her life with the world and made it collectively laugh, a feat that could only be accomplished by a true comedy legend.  


June 1, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

The Tao of Humiliation
-Lee Upton

Honor Spotlight

Omayra Sánchez Garzón (August 28, 1972 – November 16, 1985) was a Colombian girl killed in Armero, department of Tolima, by the 1985 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano when she was 13 years old. Volcanic debris mixed with ice to form massive lahars (volcanically induced mudslides, landslides, and debris flows) that rushed into the river valleys below the mountain, killing nearly 25,000 people and destroying Armero and 13 other villages.
After a lahar demolished her home, Sánchez became pinned beneath the debris of her house, where she remained trapped in water for three days. Her plight was documented as she descended from calmness into agony. Her courage and dignity touched journalists and relief workers, who put great efforts into comforting her. After 60 hours of struggling, she died, likely as a result of either gangrene or hypothermia. Her death highlighted the failure of officials to respond promptly to the threat of the volcano, contrasted with the efforts of volunteer rescue workers to reach and treat trapped victims, despite a dearth of supplies and equipment.
Sánchez became internationally famous through a photograph of her taken by the photojournalist Frank Fournier shortly before she died. When published worldwide it generated considerable controversy; it was later designated the World Press Photo of the Year for 1985. Sánchez has remained a lasting figure in popular culture, remembered through music, literature, and commemorative articles.

Literary Pick of the Day (***)

28 Stories of AIDS in Africa
-Stephanie Nolen

Stephanie Nolen writes 28 compelling stories of people living with AIDS in Africa, and the bureaucracy that surrounds the availability of antiretroviral drugs and care.

May 20, 2015


B.B. King
(September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)







B.B. King Was the Blues

The guitarist, dead at 89, built himself into the figurehead of the genre.
In 1949, the legend goes, B.B. King ran into a burning building to save a guitar he loved. The dance hall he’d been playing at in Twist, Arkansas, caught flame when two men knocked over a barrel of fuel while fighting about a woman. The woman’s name was Lucille—and from that point on, King’s guitar was named Lucille, too.
Though Gibson would later launch a B.B. King Lucille model, and King indeed favored that company’s instruments, there wasn’t just one Lucille. Most any guitar he’d play would get the name.
Much like how the name came to stand in for the instrument, King’s name came to stand, in the public’s imagination, for the kind of music he played. When people today talk about the blues, they’re talking in part about B.B. King; when they talk about B.B. King, they’re talking about the blues. The two concepts are the same.

Credit that fact to King’s talent, which launched him from Mississippi sharecropper to worldwide sensation who influenced generations of musicians. “The tone he got out of that guitar, the way he shook his left wrist, the way he squeezed the strings ... man, he came out with that and it was all new to the whole guitar playin' world,” guitarist and friend Buddy Guy wrote today on Instagram upon learning that King had died at age 89. “He could play so smooth, he didn't have to put on a show. The way BB did it is the way we all do it now.”
But also credit King’s work ethic and his personal vision. He called himself an “ambassador of the blues,” and it was a title he lived up to. “B.B.” was short for “Blues Boy,” his handle as a disk jockey when he worked at a Memphis station in the late 40s; he kept evangelizing for the blues on the radio for much of his life, and still has a Sirius XM channel in his name. In the last three decades, he established a chain of blues clubs that remain vibrant outposts for the genre in places from Times Square to Miami to Las Vegas, the city he made his home since 1975. Most importantly, he toured constantly, playing hundreds of dates a year right up until the fall of 2014.
The whole time, he and his guitar kept telling the story of his life, and the story of the blues. “Lucille took me from the plantation and, you might say, brought me fame,” he sings on the title track of his 1968 album Lucille, on which he tells the story of his guitar’s naming. The song’s more than 10 minutes long, with King’s tangled, mournful solos communicating more about the instrument’s power than words ever could.Sounds pretty good to me, can I do one more?” King asks, toward the end. “Look out, Lucille. Sounds really good, I think I'll try one more.” Of course, there would be one more after that, and after that.

April 30, 2015

Quote of the Day

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” 
Frederick Douglass

April 19, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

Fun Home a Family Tragicomedy
-Alison Bechdel

This tragi-comeday brought out too many old skeletons from my closet.. a little too shrinky for my taste.


Roberto Gómez Bolaños
Born: February 21, 1929, Mexico City, Mexico
Died: November 28, 2014, Cancún, Mexico 

Roberto Gómez Bolaños ("Chespirito," "el Chavo del 8") (1929-2014):
Roberto Gómez Bolaños was a Mexican writer and actor, known around the world for his characters “El Chavo del 8” and “El Chapulín Colorado,” among others. He was involved in Mexican television for over forty years, and generations of children all over the Spanish-speaking world have grown up watching his shows.
Early Life:
Born into a middle-class family in Mexico City in 1929, Roberto studied engineering but never worked in the field. In his early twenties, he was already writing screenplays and scripts for television shows. He also wrote songs and scripts for radio shows. Between 1960 and 1965 the two top shows on Mexican television, “Cómicos y Canciones” (comics and songs) and “El Estudio de Pedro Vargas” (Pedro Vargas’ study) were both written by Chespirito. It was about this time that he earned the nickname “Chespirito” from the director Agustín P. Delgado: it is a version of “Shakespearito,” or “Little Shakespeare.”
Writing and Acting:
In 1968, Chespirito signed a contract with the newly-formed TIM (Televisión Independiente de México) network. Among the terms of his contract was a half hour slot on Saturday afternoons over which he had complete autonomy: he could do with it whatever he wanted. The brief, hilarious sketches he wrote and produced were so popular that the network switched his time to Monday night
and gave him a whole hour. It was during this show, simply called “Chespirito,” that his two most beloved characters, El Chavo del 8 (“The Boy From Number Eight”) and El Chapulín Colorado(The Red Grasshopper) made their debut.

The Chavo and the Chapulín:
These two characters were so popular with the viewing public that the network gave them each their own weekly half-hour series. El Chavo del 8 is an eight-year old boy (played by Chespirito well into his sixties) who gets into adventures with his group of friends: he lives in apartment #8, hence the name. Like Chavo, the other characters in the series, Don Ramón, Quico, and other people from the neighborhood, are iconic, beloved, classic characters of Mexican television. El Chapulín Colorado, or the Red Grasshopper, is a superhero, but an exceedingly dimwitted one, who foils the bad guys through luck and honesty.
A Television Dynasty:
These two shows were immensely popular, and by 1973 were being transmitted to all of Latin America. In Mexico, it is estimated that 50 to 60 percent of all televisions in the country were tuned into the shows when they aired. Chespirito kept the Monday night time slot, and for 25 years, every Monday night, most of Mexico watched his show. Although the show ended in the 1990’s, reruns are still shown regularly all over Latin America.
Other Projects:
Chespirito, a tireless worker, also appeared in movies and on stage. When he took the cast of “Chespirito” on a tour of stadiums to reprise their famous roles on stage, the shows sold out, including two consecutive dates at the Santiago stadium, which seats 80,000 people. He wrote several telenovelas (soap operas), movie scripts and even a book of poetry. In his later years, he became more politically active, campaigning for certain candidates and vocally opposing an initiative to legalize abortion in Mexico.
Chespirito received countless awards. In 2003 he was awarded the keys to the city of Cicero, Illinois. Mexico has even released a series of postage stamps in his honor.
Chespirito passed away on November 28, 2014, of heart failure, at the age of 85. His movies, telenovelas, plays and books all succeeded greatly, but it is for his work in television that Chespirito will be best remembered. Chespirito will always be known as a pioneer of Latin American television and one of the most creative writers and actors ever to work in the field. His legacy continues today: the animated series “El Chavo del 8,” launched in 2006, is very popular. The shows continue to be aired around the world, reaching yet another generation of young Latin Americans.

April 7, 2015

Behind the scenes

Julia Child

March 18, 2015

Quote of the Day

“Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.”
— Tacitus, C. (A.D. 55-120)

March 5, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

A Child Called "It"
-Dave Pelzer

A story too traumatizing to read. I still cringe when I think of the abuse this poor child had to endure in the hands of his mother, a tragic abuse that was witnessed by his father who did nothing to stop it. Sad to think there are children out there right now suffering this badly. My heart aches for them.

Literary Pick (****)

Love Lucy
-Lucille Ball

Literary Pick (*)

The Hedgehog and the Fox
-Isaiah Berlin

February 6, 2015

Literary Pick (**)

Dark Places
-Gillian Flynn
Simply the idiotic style of literature.

January 27, 2015

Literary Pick(***)

The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up 
-Liao Yiwu 

Very interesting interviews. Every single story was quite fascinating. I learned a lot about China during Mao's regime.

January 23, 2015

Literary Pick (****)

The Elephant Vanishes
-Haruki Murakami

Not a fan of short stories, but this has to be one of the better ones I've read by Murakami, or anyone for that matter.

Literary Pick (***)

Touch Me
-Yoko Ono

I appreciate the installation, but there was really nothing to the book. There are only about 4-5 readable pages. Wish there was more information about both the artist and installation.


There's a Bluebird In My Heart
-Charles Bukowski
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out.
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out.
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep..
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be sad.

then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do

January 7, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings -Michelle Knight

Literary Pick (***)

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education And Was Shot By The Taliban
-Malala Yousafzai

January 1, 2015

Literary Pick (**)

There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up In The Other America
-Alex Kotlowitz


Edward Herrmann, an Emmy- and Tony-winning actor who portrayed Franklin D. Roosevelt, narrated History Channel documentaries and became a prime-time television star in the long-running series "Gilmore Girls," died Wednesday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He was 71.
He had brain cancer, said his agent, Robyn Stecher.

FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this article said that Edward Herrmann graduated from Bucknell in 1955. It was 1965.

The 6-foot-5 actor schooled in London was a natural to play aristocrats and authority figures. He portrayed Nelson Rockefeller in Oliver Stone's 1995 biopic "Nixon" and William Randolph Hearst in Peter Bogdanovich's 2001 film "The Cat's Meow."
But for many TV viewers Herrmann was indelibly linked to FDR, playing him in the 1976 ABC miniseries "Eleanor and Franklin" and a 1977 sequel, "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years," both of which brought the actor Emmy nominations.
He also portrayed the 32nd president in the 1982 movie musical "Annie" and was FDR's voice in the recent Ken Burns documentary series for PBS, "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History."
Herrmann "brings the man to life again here — and does so with such authority and accuracy, that his vocal impersonation stands proudly alongside recordings of the real Franklin," David Bianculli said in his review of the 14-hour nonfiction epic that aired in September.

The seasoned actor brought the same gravity to hosting and narrating dozens of other documentaries on PBS and the History Channel, including a 1998 Burns biography of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
His roles over a four-decade career also included a number of decidedly less weighty characters. He was the Frankensteinian Herman Munster in a 1995 Fox TV movie revival of the popular 1960s sitcom about a family of Transylvanians in suburban America. He played the head of a vampire gang in the satirical 1987 film "The Lost Boys" and a wacky inventor in 1975's "The Great Waldo Pepper."
He once said that playing Munster was harder than playing Roosevelt.

"You have to play Herman absolutely sincerely, absolutely straight," Herrmann told the Chicago Tribune in 1995. "Once you get the audience to believe in you, don't betray the situation by winking and nudging. When you're driving that hearse, you've got a job at last, and you've got to think it's the greatest thing in the world."
Herrmann won an Emmy in 1999 for his guest role in the ABC legal drama "The Practice" and in recent years appeared in several episodes of "The Good Wife."
He won a Tony in 1976 for his portrait of a charming ne'er-do-well in George Bernard Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession," starring with Ruth Gordon and Lynn Redgrave, who also won a Tony. He earned raves for his star turn in David Hare's "Plenty" on Broadway in 1983.
Edward Kirk Herrmann was born July 21, 1943, in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Grosse Pointe, Mich., an affluent Detroit suburb. His father was an auto executive, his mother a schoolteacher.
He graduated from Pennsylvania's Bucknell University in 1965 with a degree in English. He later went to England on a Fulbright scholarship and studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
"At that time in the '60s in the United States, you were a movie actor or a TV actor or a stage actor — you just didn't cross-pollinate," he recalled in Back Stage West in 2003.
He came to envy English actors because they "could do a West End farce, and then Hamlet, and then a radio play at the BBC — you could have a multifaceted life.… As luck would have it, I've been able to have the career I wanted in London over here."
He began his acting career on the stage, apprenticing in Dallas regional theater before making his New York debut in a 1971 Joseph Papp production of David Rabe's Vietnam War drama "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel."
Movie roles soon followed. His more than 45 credits include "The Paper Chase" (1973), "Reds" (1981), "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985), "The Aviator" (2004) and "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013).
He found his largest, and most youthful, audience when he became Richard Gilmore, the head of a WASPy, fictional Connecticut family whose trials and tribulations were the subject of the highly rated comedy-drama "Gilmore Girls," which debuted on the WB network in 2000 and ran for seven years.

"I wanted to do WB because your audience gets old. You've got to reinvent yourself," he told Associated Press in 2004.
Herrmann also was the TV spokesman for Dodge for eight years, although his own taste in cars ran to classics like the LeBaron-bodied Packard 120 B he once entered in the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Although the car failed to win its class, its owner was invited to serve as the competition's master of ceremonies, a role he filled for more than a decade.
His first marriage, to actress Leigh Curran, ended in divorce. Herrmann is survived by his wife, Star; a brother, John; a son, Rory; daughters Ryen and Emma; and a granddaughter.


Literary Pick (****)

Growing up Bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World
-Jean Sasson

Literary Pick (***)

There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me
-Brooke Shields

Literary Pick (****)

-Cheryl Strayed

November 12, 2014

Literary Pick (**)

To The Friend Who Did Not Save My Life
-Hervé Guibert

November 5, 2014

Literary Pick (***)

Tales of Ordinary Madness
-Charles Bukowski

November 4, 2014

Photograph of the Day

Charles Bukowski

Just like my father.

October 26, 2014

Song of the Day

I Thought It Was You
-Herbie Hancock

Featured in Jazz Funk Sessions

Just glance from behind
Happened by chance or design
The perfume she wore
Took me back through a door
I had closed long ago

I thought it was you
Thought it was you
Thought it was you
Thought it was you
Remember what we knew
I thought it was you
Thought it was you
Thought it was you
Remember when i thought it was you

We were young love was new
Warm as the sun shining through
In your arms it seemed
I went back to a dream
I had seen long ago

I thought it was you
Thought it was you
Thought it was you
Thought it was you
Remember what we knew
I thought it was you
Thought it was you
Thought it was you
Remember when i thought it was you

October 20, 2014

Art of the Day

by Arthur Hughes

October 16, 2014


Elizabeth Peña
(September 23, 1959 – October 14, 2014)

Actress Elizabeth Pena, who co-starred in “Jacob’s Ladder” and “La Bamba,” died Oct. 14 in Los Angeles after suffering from a brief illness, according to her nephew, Latino Review writer Mario-Francisco Robles. She was 55 and had a career that spanned four decades.
Born in Elizabeth, N.J., and raised by Cuban immigrant parents, Pena began performing in New York theater, and got her professional start in 1978 with Leon Ichaso’s “El Super.”
She went on to appear in films including “Rush Hour,” “Blue Steel” and “Batteries Not Included”; starred in her own primetime series on ABC, “I Married Dora”; and lent her voice to the “Justice League” animated series, “American Dad!” and to Disney-Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” voicing Mirage.
Pena also had a recurring guest role on ABC’s “Modern Family” as Pilar, the mother of Sofia Vergara’s Gloria.
The actress recently wrapped work on the first season of El Rey Network’s “Matador,” in which she played the title character’s mother.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague, Elizabeth Peña,” El Rey said in a statement. “She was a role model, a truly extraordinary performer and an inspiration in every sense of the word. Our thoughts are with Elizabeth’s family and friends during this difficult time. She ‎will be deeply missed.”
Pena is survived by her husband, two children, mother and sister.


September 28, 2014

Art of the Day

Gilbert Stuart
-George Washington (1796)

Literary Pick (**)

Reasons to Live
-Amy Hempel

Wasn't really impressed by this work.

September 21, 2014

Literary Pick (****)

A Stolen Life
-Jaycee Dugard

I'm amazed how this woman is able to have such a positive outlook on life after all she's been through, and has even been able to somewhat forgive her captors. I feel sad that she still feels the need to hide in her life (from the media). I hope one day she's able to live a fully public normal life like the rest of us.

September 14, 2014

Literary Pick (***)

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch
-Alison Arngrim

Now I don't hate Nellie Olsen anymore. Way to own being a bitch.

September 10, 2014

Literary Pick (****)

A Prairie Tale
-Melissa Gilbert

I think, for the most part, I really enjoyed this memoir. She talks about a lot of the actors and shows I grew up watching, and the book is overall a pretty good lazy-day read. However, the thing that annoyed me is her claim to being a genuine addict and alcoholic. I just don't buy that part of her story. Not saying she didn't do drugs and alcohol, but I don't think she was as hardcore as she wants you to believe.. It seems to me actors claim addiction to be a struggling badge of honor, and it's so played out.
Sure, she experimented with drugs, just like most people do during their adolescent and young adult years. It's just so annoying that she wants you to believe she truly and legitimately struggled with addiction. Yes, I did enjoy her life story, but she comes off as someone who wants to be perceived as a flawed little miss goodie two-shoes. Hearing her talk about her "addictions" and AA meetings induced major eye-rolling moments for me, but other than that I really enjoyed this memoir.

btw, I hate the book cover, it's really tacky. It looks fundamentalist.


Joan Rivers
Born: June 8, 1933, Brooklyn, NY
Died: September 4, 2014, New York City, NY

No one transformed bad times into sidesplitting comedy like Joan Rivers, who kept audiences laughing through a 50-year career that included bankruptcy, getting banned from The Tonight Show and seeing a husband commit suicide.
She even built a standup routine around caring for a handicapped boyfriend.
"I lived for nine years with a man with one leg," she told audiences in her 2012 standup special, Don't Start With Me. "One leg! He lost it in World War II. ... He didn't lose it, he knew exactly where he left it. ... [And] in my mind, that's littering."
But Rivers' talent for rapid-fire jokes and edgy humor was stilled Thursday, when the comic died of complications following a throat procedure. She was 81.

Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in 1933, she ignored her family's objections to become an actress and comic. She performed in the same New York clubs as Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand, writing lines for more established acts like Phyllis Diller and the puppet Topo Gigio.
Asked whether she felt bad writing for a puppet while starting out, Rivers told WHYY's Fresh Air in 2012, "I'll write for Hitler [for] $500. ... When you're starving and got a car payment due? You go through any door that opens, and you don't know which is gonna be the one."
By the mid-1960s, she was appearing in front of the camera for variety programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, where she talked frankly about women at a time when you couldn't even say the word "pregnant" on TV.
"A girl, you're 30 years old, you're not married, you're an old maid," she said in one 1967 Ed Sullivan Show routine. "A man, he's 90 years old, he's not married, he's a catch. It's a whole different thing!"
But even though Sullivan and his wife were godparents to her daughter, Melissa, it was late-night host Johnny Carson who would become something of a mentor for Rivers, featuring her regularly on his Tonight Show.
In one famous exchange, Carson asked Rivers if men really liked smart women more.
Rivers shot back: "No man has ever put his hands up a woman's dress looking for a library card."

Carson made her the show's permanent guest host in 1983. But their friendship would end a few years later after Rivers called to let him know she would host a rival late-night show on the Fox network.
"He hung up on me," she told the Archive of American Television in an interview. "[I called] and said, 'Johnny, it's Joan, and I think I'm leaving the show. I have my own show at Fox,' and then click. So then I called him back and I said, 'Johnny!' And he clicked down again. He would not hear me out."
Carson would never speak to her again; he died in 2005.
Rivers' Late Show struggled from its start in 1986. She and her executive producer husband, Edgar Rosenberg, clashed with Fox while she struggled to compete with Carson.
A year later, Fox canceled the program, leaving Rivers banned from the Tonight Show and looking like a showbiz pariah. Rosenberg killed himself soon after; Rivers said her daughter was the one whom authorities told first, leaving the then-teenager to tell her mother.

But she used humor to break the ice with audiences even then, remembering during the standup special An Audience With Joan Rivers the first joke she told at her first performance after his death.
"I told the audience, 'My husband killed himself and it was my fault,' " she said. " 'We were making love and I took the bag off my head.' "
Rivers told Fresh Air the toughest thing about old age was seeing loved ones die.
"The loss is horrific," she said. "When I go upstairs at night — it sounds so stupid — I always turn to my living room and I say, 'Good night, Orin' — he was a man I lived with for nine years — and 'Good night, Edgar.' ... It's terribly sad."
But Rivers kept going through the '90s, hosting a daytime talk show, developing a line of jewelry for the home shopping channel QVC and teaming with her daughter to offer biting commentary from the red carpet for Oscar pre-shows on the E! and TV Guide channels.
A recent documentary on her life, A Piece of Work, highlighted her drive to stay relevant and youthful — working at a pace that would tire comics half her age. Its opening featured close-up shots of her face without makeup, revealing the nips and tucks of the countless plastic surgeries she joked about onstage.
The film also showed how tough she could be, taking on a heckler during a performance who objected to a joke that included a reference to deaf icon Helen Keller.
"Comedy is to make everybody laugh at everything and deal with things, you idiot," she shouted from the stage.

And the controversies kept coming. Rivers was criticized for calling Michelle Obama transgender and saying Palestinian civilians deserved to die in the Gaza conflict.
But the fuss didn't stop her from working. In her 80s, Rivers still juggled concert performances, a TV show on fashion, an Internet show and promotion for her 12th book, Diary of a Mad Diva.
True to form, she had been talking up the book in New York the day before she stopped breathing during a minor procedure in a clinic Aug. 28. She was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, where doctors placed her in a medically induced coma, and she breathed with assistance from machines.
In a statement announcing her mother's death, Melissa Rivers said she died peacefully "surrounded by family and close friends."
"My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh," the statement continued. "Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."
Joan Rivers' attitude about show business was summed up in an appearance on comic Louis C.K.'s FX show, Louie, where she gave him a pep talk after a tough show.
"Think it's been easy?" she said. "I have gone up, I've gone down; I've been bankrupt, I've been broke. But you do it. And you do it because ... because we love it more than anything else."


September 2, 2014

Literary Pick (***)

A Long Way Home
-Saroo Brierley

In my opinion this book was poorly written, but a fascinating story, nonetheless.

August 30, 2014

Literary Pick (*****)

SLAVE: My True Story
-Mende Nazer
-Damien Lewis

My throat is filled with emotion. So deeply evocative.

Heart-wrenching, and unbelievable story. I spend 6 hours straight reading this book because it was simply impossible to put down. Possibly the best true story account I've ever had the honor of reading.

What I find even more inconceivable than the actual raid and kidnapping, if that's at all possible, is how Al Koronki and his bitch wife have not been extradited back to London where this crime was committed, so he could be tried and convicted. I'm not an attorney, but I can come up with at least a couple dozen questions asking him how exactly did he came about finding Mende, and how on hell was he able to even get a visa for her to enter the U.K. from Sudan when she obviously had no paperwork that proves her existence as a human being on this earth at all to begin with.

Also, if the Sudanese government denies any of these allegations of raiding and kidnapping, why haven't they gone to Rahabs house to see what Nanu is doing there? that girl, woman, person needs to be rescued, immediately, right this very minute! What the fuck is going on with people of power in London? It's like they have their heads up their asses.

Also why haven't they visited Abdul Azzim, and see what him and his wife are up to? I don't understand any of this. Why hasn't any of these people brought to trial, or even investigated?

I was relieved to find out through a google search that Mende was finally able to be re-united with her parents after all these years.

You are a remarkable woman, Mende. Keep up the wonderful work in helping stop this modern-day atrocity.

August 27, 2014

Literary Pick (***)

The Continual Condition: Poems
-Charles Bukowski

Although not one of his best works, it was still comforting reading work created by Bukowksi.

August 26, 2014

Literary Pick (***)

A Grief Observed
-C.S. Lewis


Although there were parts in this journal that were quite profound, and spiritually insightful, I didn't appreciate it as much as I thought I would. I was expecting to read more about his own personal heart-wrenching process through grief, and not so much about his wavering faith in God. I do, however, have the distinct feeling that this book will be of some solace to me down the road when time decides it is my turn to experience loss.

Literary Pick (*)

Naked Lunch
-William S. Burroughs 

I don't have a review. I have questions.

First of all, I wish someone would've told me this wasn't a novel.

Second, why would you want to waste your time reading a book by a drug addict who claims he doesn't even remember writing it? especially a book that doesn't even make any fucking sense?
I'd like to know what made so many readers carelessly, and hypnotically relinquish their time (mine precious)to willingly read this bizarre, idiotic, and pointless account of someone in a constant drug-induced state?

I'm not afraid to give this book one star. I fucking hate Jack Kerouac,  and William Borroughs too, and all the Beat generation assholes, and their soulless dreary, drab lives.

August 22, 2014


Lauren Bacall
Born: September 16, 1924, The Bronx, New York City, NY

Actress Lauren Bacall, who paired with spouse Humphrey Bogart in films including The Big Sleep and Key Largo, has died at the age of 89, according to her family's estate.
As NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske, in the Bronx, to working class Jewish parents. As Lauren Bacall, she lived in New York City until the end. In her autobiography, Bacall describes becoming a fashion model as a teenager. She studied acting, begging for parts, even working as an usher just to get close to the stage.
"I always believed that the theater was the place to learn your craft," she told NPR in 2005. "... When I was a kid, when I wanted to be an actor, I only wanted to be on the stage."
In 1943, the wife of film director Howard Hawks spotted her modeling on the cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine. The director cast the 19-year-old actress opposite Humphrey Bogart, in To Have and Have Not. You've undoubtedly heard her most famous line: "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow."
Before the film came out, director Hawks renamed her Lauren Bacall, and she credits him with encouraging her to cultivate the low, sultry voice that became her trademark.
During filming, "Baby" and "Bogie" — as Bacall and Bogart called each other — fell in love. When they married in 1945, she was 20, and he was 45. She told WHYY's Fresh Air in 1994 that it was the most romantic experience of her life.
"When you are young and when it's your first love ... you are just carried away by it and ... that's all you can think about," she said. "You see, Bogie was the kind of man who believed in taking care of a marriage in taking care of a relationship. He believed you had to work at it and keep it fresh and fun and interesting — and he did."
In the 1950s, Bogart and Bacall spoke out against the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and they campaigned for Adlai Stevenson's presidential bid. Bacall's politics, her tendency to turn down roles and her commitment to her marriage may have limited her film career. She talked about it all in two candid autobiographies, says Alonso Duralde, film review editor of the Hollywood website .
"[These] very frank and forthcoming books solidified her reputation as a straight-shooter," Duralde says. She was "somebody who had made it through the Hollywood system and had seen it all and was very frank about who she was. And as she became an older actress she very much maintained her ... star status even as she was playing smaller roles.
Bacall and Bogart were married until his death in 1957. She was later married to actor Jason Robards from 1961 to 1969. She had two children with Bogart and one with Robards. She told NPR's Morning Edition in 2005 that being so closely connected to her first husband frustrated her.
"The only thing that I am not pleased about is when people only talk about 'Bogie' to me as though I had no other life at all," she said. "When I had, unfortunately, many, many more years without him than I did with him."
Bacall's numerous post-Bogart film roles included Murder on the Orient Express, Misery and The Mirror Has Two Faces, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.
"I mean, my feeling is that you've got to keep working," Bacall told Morning Edition. "And I still seem to have a kind of ambition. And I still love my profession and I still love working with these independent young directors who have completely different approaches to moviemaking. I just don't see any point in stopping unless I have to."
Reuters notes that she also won a pair of Tony Awards:
After her film career cooled, Bacall returned to the stage. She won best actress Tony Awards for "Applause" in 1970 and "Woman of the Year" in 1981. Over the years she had transformed her persona from a willowy temptress with a come-hither look to a shrewd and worldly woman.
Of her career and life, Bacall once said, "I traveled by roller coaster, a roller coaster on which the highs were as high as anyone could ever hope to go. And the lows! Oh, those lows were lower than anyone should ever have to go — 10 degrees below hell."

August 13, 2014

Literary Pick (****)

-José Saramago

Nearly flawless.

August 12, 2014


Robin Williams
Born: July 21, 1951
Died: August 11, 2014










Robin Williams, Oscar-Winning Comedian, Dies at 63 in Suspected Suicide

Robin Williams, the comedian who evolved into the surprisingly nuanced, Academy Award-winning actor, imbuing his performances with wild inventiveness and a kind of manic energy, died on Monday at his home in Tiburon, Calif., north of San Francisco. He was 63.
The Marin County sheriff’s office said in a statement that it “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.” An investigation was underway.
The statement said that the office received a 911 call at 11:55 a.m. Pacific time, saying that a man had been found “unconscious and not breathing inside his residence.” Emergency personnel sent to the scene identified him as Mr. Williams and pronounced him dead at 12:02 p.m.
Mr. Williams’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said in a statement that Mr. Williams “has been battling severe depression.”
His wife, Susan Schneider, said in a statement, “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.” She added: “As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”
The privileged son of a Detroit auto executive who grew up chubby and lonesome, playing by himself with 2,000 toy soldiers in an empty room of a suburban mansion, Mr. Williams, as a boy, hardly fit the stereotype of someone who would grow to become a brainy comedian, or a goofy one, but he was both. Onstage he was known for ricochet riffs on politics, social issues and cultural matters both high and low; tales of drug and alcohol abuse; lewd commentaries on relations between the sexes; and lightning-like improvisations on anything an audience member might toss at him. His gigs were always rife with frenetic, spot-on impersonations that included Hollywood stars, presidents, princes, prime ministers, popes and anonymous citizens of the world. His irreverence was legendary and uncurtailable.
“Chuck, Cam, great to see you,” he once called out from a London stage at Charles, Prince of Wales, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. “Yo yo, wussup Wales, House of Windsor, keepin’ it real!”
And yet he never seemed to offend.
Almost from the moment that he first uttered the greeting “Nanoo, nanoo” as Mork from Ork, an alien who befriends a wholesome young Colorado woman (Pam Dawber), on the sitcom “Mork and Mindy,” Mr. Williams was a comedy celebrity. “Mork and Mindy” made its debut on ABC in September 1978, and within two weeks had reached No. 7 in the Nielsen ratings. By the spring of 1979, 60 million viewers were tuning in to “Mork and Mindy” each week to watch Mr. Williams drink water through his finger, stand on his head when told to sit down, speak gibberish words like “shazbot” and “nimnul” that came to have meaning when he used them, and misinterpret, in startlingly literal fashion, the ordinary idioms of modern life.
He went on to earn Academy Award nominations for his roles in films like “Good Morning, Vietnam,” in which he played a loquacious radio D.J.; “Dead Poets Society,” playing a mentor to students in need of inspiration; and “The Fisher King,” as a homeless man whose life has been struck by tragedy. He won an Oscar in 1998 for “Good Will Hunting,” playing a therapist who works with a troubled prodigy played by Matt Damon.
In a statement, President Obama said of Mr. Williams, “He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”
Robin McLaurin Williams was born in Chicago on July 21, 1951, and was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Marin County. He studied acting at the Juilliard School.
He is survived by a son, Zak, from his marriage to Valerie Velardi, and a daughter, Zelda, and a son, Cody, from his marriage to Marsha Garces.
Beginning with roles in the 1977 sex farce “Can I Do It ‘Til I Need Glasses?” and “The Richard Pryor Show,” a variety series hosted by one of his comedy mentors, Mr. Williams rapidly ascended the entertainment industry’s ladder.
Soon after “Mork and Mindy” made him a star, Mr. Williams graduated into movie roles that included the title characters in “Popeye,” Robert Altman’s 1980 live-action musical about that spinach-gulping cartoon sailor, and “The World According to Garp,” the director George Roy Hill’s 1982 adaptation of the John Irving novel.
He also continued to appear in raucous stand-up comedy specials like “Robin Williams: An Evening at the Met,” which showcased his garrulous performance style and his indefatigable ability to free-associate without the apparent benefit of prepared material. Alongside his friends and fellow actors Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, Mr. Williams appeared in an annual series of HBO telethons for Comic Relief, a charity organization that helps homeless people and others in need.
Mr. Williams’s acting career reached a new height in 1987 with his performance in Barry Levinson’s film “Good Morning, Vietnam,” in which he played Adrian Cronauer, a nonconformist Armed Forces Radio host working in Saigon in the 1960s. It earned Mr. Williams his first Oscar nomination. He earned another, two years later, for “Dead Poets Society,” directed by Peter Weir and released in 1989, in which he played an unconventional English teacher at a 1950s boarding school who inspires his students to tear up their textbooks and seize the day. (Or, as Mr. Williams’s character famously put it in the original Latin, “Carpe diem.”)
In dozens of film roles that followed, Mr. Williams could be warm and zany, whether providing the voice of an irrepressible magic genie in “Aladdin,” the 1992 animated Walt Disney feature, or playing a man who cross-dresses as a British housekeeper in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” a 1993 family comedy, or a doctor struggling to treat patients with an unknown neurological malady in “Awakenings,” the 1990 Penny Marshall drama adapted from the Oliver Sacks memoir.
Some of Mr. Williams’s performances were criticized for a mawkish sentimentality, like “Patch Adams,” a 1998 film that once again cast him as a good-hearted doctor, and “Bicentennial Man,” a 1999 science-fiction feature in which he played an android.
But Mr. Williams continued to keep audiences guessing. In addition to his Oscar-winning role in “Good Will Hunting,” which saw him play a gently humorous therapist, his résumé included roles as a villainous crime writer in “Insomnia,” Christopher Nolan’s 2002 thriller; Teddy Roosevelt in the “Night at the Museum” movies; and Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 2013 drama “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”
Mr. Williams made his acting debut on Broadway in 2011 in “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” a play written by Rajiv Joseph and set amid the American invasion of Iraq. (He had starred with Steve Martin in an Off Broadway production of “Waiting for Godot” in 1988.) In 2013, Mr. Williams returned to series television in “The Crazy Ones,” a CBS comedy that cast him as an idiosyncratic advertising executive, but it was canceled after one season.
Mr. Williams had completed work on several films that have not yet been released, including a third installment of the “Night at the Museum” franchise that Fox has scheduled for December, and “Merry Friggin’ Christmas,” an independent comedy about a dysfunctional family. He also provided the voice of an animated character called Dennis the Dog in a British comedy, “Absolutely Anything,” that is planned for release next year, and appeared in “Boulevard,” an independent movie that was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival but does not yet have theatrical distribution.
Mr. Williams was an admitted abuser of cocaine — which he also referred to as “Peruvian marching powder” and “the devil’s dandruff” — in the 1970s and ‘80s, and addressed his drug habit in his comedy act. “What a wonderful drug,” he said in a sardonic routine from “Live at the Met.” “Anything that makes you paranoid and impotent, give me more of that.”
In 2006, he checked himself into the Hazelden center in Springbrook, Ore., to be treated for an addiction to alcohol, having fallen off the wagon after some 20 years of sobriety.
He later explained in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer that this addiction had not been “caused by anything, it’s just there.”
“It waits,” Mr. Williams continued. “It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m O.K.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not O.K. Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.’ ”
In 2009, he underwent heart surgery for an aortic valve replacement at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, an event that Mr. Williams said caused him to take stock of his life.
“You appreciate little things,” he said in an interview in The New York Times, “like walks on the beach with a defibrillator.”
More seriously, Mr. Williams said he had reassessed himself as a performer. “How much more can you give?” he told The Times. “Other than, literally, open-heart surgery onstage? Not much. But the only cure you have right now is the honesty of going, this is who you are. I know who I am.”
Earlier this year, Mr. Williams checked himself into a rehab facility. His publicist told People magazine that he was “taking the opportunity to fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment, of which he remains extremely proud.”
Correction: August 12, 2014
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this obituary misstated the name and title of Prince Charles’s wife, with whom the prince once attended a London performance by Mr. Williams. She is Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall — not Lady Camilla Bowles.

-New York Times