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Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Books

Remembering Don Carpenter, a Writer's Writer, with Three Hollywood Novels

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Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 8:35 AM
Don Carpenter
  • Don Carpenter
If Hollywood has never quite inspired the Great American Novel, it's not for lack of trying. Since the birth of Tinseltown, more than 500 books have fictionalized our most famous industry. And why not? Hollywood is a more than serviceable stand-in for America herself.

Don Carpenter — long regarded by his peers as one of the best writers in the West, long forgotten by the rest of us — wrote some of the genre's most distinctive entries. A Berkeley native, Carpenter spent much of his adult life in Mill Valley and a dozen years in and out of the movie business, an autobiography scattered throughout his 12 books.

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The Its Alive Project at Monsterpalooza. - MICHAEL GAVIN
  • Michael Gavin
  • The Its Alive Project at Monsterpalooza.
Halloween is still seven weeks away, but this week's best events are all about the scarily cool: a screening of creepy vintage morality films (for just $5!), a free author talk with mortician Caitlin Doughty, and Son of Monsterpalooza, a three-day horror make-up and prop extravaganza for those serious about the genre.

Scary not your thing? This Saturday night, almost every art gallery in Culver City is opening a new exhibit – from transgender love stories at Luis De Jesus to an Americanized painting of the Koran at Koplin Del Rio – and you can check them all out in one gallery-hopping night. And on Wednesday, opera comes to the masses with a live stream of La Traviata at the Santa Monica Pier – so you can watch under the stars, with a picnic, for free. Now what's so scary about that?

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Kimberly Manning Aker, left, and Alice Jurow with the object of their passion: a shoe - PHOTO BY AMANDA LOPEZ
  • Photo by Amanda Lopez
  • Kimberly Manning Aker, left, and Alice Jurow with the object of their passion: a shoe
On a blazing hot summer afternoon, designer Kimberly Manning Aker and ex-architect Alice Jurow are standing at a podium in one of the plush ballrooms on board the Queen Mary in Long Beach, presenting a winding, charming and not-at-all exhaustive discourse on shoes.

This weekend being the annual Art Deco Festival, their talk is entitled "The Golden Age of Shoes." Manning Aker and Jurow — both pretty, petite, well-heeled women of a certain age who dress in vintage style — are preaching to the converted. Their presentation is less a lecture than a fantasy shopping expedition throughout the centuries.

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Daniel Van Kirk's Mark Wahlberg wants to know: 'Which one  of you, has been to a Walmart?' - MEGAN BAKER
  • Megan Baker
  • Daniel Van Kirk's Mark Wahlberg wants to know: 'Which one of you, has been to a Walmart?'
Committing to the character is one of the oldest rules of thumb in comedic improv and on a Thursday night in late August at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, there were a number of performers sublimely submitting themselves to celebrity imitations.

One of the impersonation-driven shows anchoring was Seinfeld: The Purge, which has been running since May and set to return Tuesday, Sept. 23. Written by John Ford and directed by Justin Donaldson, it's a near-half hour scripted parody of the NBC sitcom crashed into the cult horror film. While Seinfeld:The Purge has been selling out, the show was upstaged by its predecessor, the debut of Daniel Van Kirk’s The Wahlberg Solution!, a 50-minute improvised current events show hosted by the comedian’s uncanny alter ego, Mark Wahlberg, and featuring his celebrity panelists Michael Caine (Kenny Stevenson), Anne Hathaway (Madeline Walter), John Malkovich (Paul Welsh capturing his creepiness) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (Emily Maya Mills nailing her neurosis).

While both shows largely boasted A-game impersonations, the mind boggled in terms of why one would outstrip the other. All laughs being equal, more butts were falling out of seats at Wahlberg. The show returns to UCB in October.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ezralow1.jpg
This week's dance events include the debut of Ezralow Dance, a sampling of Rosanna Gamson's musings on Scheherazade and the welcome return of Diavolo.  

5.  New kid in town worth watching
The summer dance season closes with a bang as Ezralow Dance, the Daniel Ezralow-led, L.A.-based contemporary company debuts with a site-specific premiere. wild Up performs the live music. A nationally and internationally recognized choreographer, Ezralow founded and led modern company ISO and was a dancer-choreographer with Momix, but is best known for choreographing part of the Sochi Olympics’ opening ceremony. His diverse resume includes choreography for The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil, Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and the film Across the Universe. John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hlywd.; Sat., Sept. 13, 8 p.m., $50-$100. 323-461-3673, www.fordamphitheatre.org.

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DeWanda Wise and Chris Bauer in Race - PHOTO BY CRAIG SCHWARTZ
  • Photo by Craig Schwartz
  • DeWanda Wise and Chris Bauer in Race

David Mamet's play Race, about a rich, white guy seeking a law firm to defend him from accusations of raping a black woman, ought to feel ripped from the headlines — even though it premiered on Broadway nearly five years ago.

The play's L.A. premiere, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, comes at a time when rape and race are making their all-too-regular return to the national zeitgeist. College students are forcing a conversation about how their campuses handle complaints of sexual assault — with one young woman famously vowing to lug a mattress around NYU until the student she has accused of assault is expelled. Meanwhile, the nation has been riveted by the protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, who have refused to go quietly after yet another young black man was shot by a white police officer. Want a combination of rape and sex? How about the events in Steubenville, Ohio, last year, in which two teens — one white, one black — were found guilty of raping a young girl while friends photographed and videotaped the attack?

Yet Race feels oddly stale, seemingly content to argue about yesterday's news rather than delving into today's variations on it. It's as if nothing has changed in Mamet's world since O.J. Simpson roamed Brentwood. It's a missed opportunity.

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Eric Radke of Team DOOM shows how it's done. - PHOTO BY ELVINA BECK
  • Photo by Elvina Beck
  • Eric Radke of Team DOOM shows how it's done.
Mark Acomb remembers the moment when he fell in love with dodgeball. He was in the first grade, running around the court like all the other kids, and his P.E. coach kept throwing and couldn't hit him.

"He was so frustrated," Acomb says with a smirk as he deflates a bright yellow dodgeball. It hisses and he grabs another ball, adding, "It was one of those moments that I realized, 'Hey, this is something I'm pretty good at.' "

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Man with Two Brains
  • The Man with Two Brains

Friday, Sept. 12
Starting today, the film portion of USC’s series Part of Being an Artist: The Dennis Hopper Collection — Selected Artwork and Ephemera begins with a free screening of Easy Rider at 7 p.m. at the Norris Cinema Theatre. Hopper wrote, directed and starred in this counterculture cult favorite about two bikers who travel the country in search of America. A light dessert reception will follow. To RSVP, go to cinema.usc.edu/events/event.cfm?id=14505.

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Photo by Ben Westoby, courtesy White Cube - MARK BRADFORD'S SHOOT THE COIN (2013)
  • Mark Bradford's Shoot the Coin (2013)
  • Photo by Ben Westoby, courtesy White Cube

5. Trying to recall

In German artist Julia Weissenberg's film Snowstorm, a memory athlete — someone who competes in mental sports — concentrates on memorizing binary code. In Spanish artist Ana Rodríguez León's Memorais, a woman loses her grip on reality while recalling a past relationship. Both screen as part of a memory-themed program that host M.I.A. (Moving Image Art) has titled Peak-End. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; Saturday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. (626) 792-5101, armoryarts.org

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Earl Skakel, wearing feather boa, with the hype crew - PHOTO BY AMANDA LOPEZ
  • Photo by Amanda Lopez
  • Earl Skakel, wearing feather boa, with the hype crew

As the clock flips from late Tuesday to early Wednesday, the capacity crowd of 125 swells. The Comedy Store's upstairs Belly Room swelters. Roast Battle host Brian Moses takes the stage amid shouts and whoops.

"You guys know the rules," he reminds undercard competitors Lance Allen and Jay Mandyam. "No. 1, nothing is off-limits except for physical contact. No. 2, original material only. No. 3, every battle ends with a hug. First round, you guys are going tit for tat, back and forth. Ladies and gentlemen, let's roast!"

"You guys don't know this, but Lance treated this roast like high school," Mandyam begins. "He kept dropping out!"

"Haaa!" the crowd mock-groans.

"Jay Mandyam's jokes are so weak, you would have thought them bitches went on a hunger strike," Allen retorts.

"Ooooh!" the audience hoots.

Insults fly back and forth and back again. Then Mandyam tosses out a one-liner — "You look like a Colombian Dennis Miller!"

"You look like D'ziz Ansari!" Allen retaliates.

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