All posts by alanwp

Esther Schor speaks volumes about Esperanto, the language that never was

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Honoring Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof on a 1987 stamp

When Esther Schor stumbles, she falls into the most fascinating subjects. Seven years ago, the author stumbled into the language and the world of Esperanto, with little sense of how it would change her life or how she would be gripped by the story of its creator, Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof.

A Polish Jew, Zamenhof had the idea in 1887 of putting an end to tribalism by creating a universal tongue, designed to be a second language to the entire world, one that would compel its users to transcend nationalism. Basing his invention on rational grammatical principles that would be easy to learn, politically neutral and would allow all to speak to all, Zamenhof launched a utopian scheme full of the brilliance and grandiosity that characterize all such messianic visions.

In Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language (Metropolitan Books, $32), the first full history of a constructed language, Schor traces the life of Esperanto from its creation, through its turn-of-the-century golden age as the great hope of embattled cosmopolites, to its suppression by nationalist leaders and its resurgence as a bridge across the Cold War. She follows Esperanto’s fortunes in the present, where it lives vibrantly on the Internet and is seen by its users as an essential human counterpart to twenty-first century globalization. And she recounts the impact of this language—which changes the very way one sees others—on her own experience, leading her to upend her life in pursuit of fulfillment.
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Rich and subtle, Bridge of Words is at once a biography of an idea, an original history of the twentieth century, and a spirited exploration of the only language charged with saving the world from itself. It is also a story of personal transformation, as Schor travels the globe in pursuit of Esperantists and discovers not only a language but a better way of being.

A great book, and we offer the opinion of it by another noted author, Jonathan Rosen: “Esther Schor has crossed continents, tunneled under the Tower of Babel, brooded over the Twentieth Century’s darkest traumas and brightest dreams, and spoken endless Esperanto in an effort to understand how a language freighted with human tragedy still lives like a kiss on the lips of its speakers. This is a beautiful, mysteriously moving book by a fearless writer who set out to find the soul of a language, knowing full well that it was her own soul she was after all along.”

“Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season” makes Santa’s list chilling and thrilling

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The best way to make your Halloween happy? We treat you will the news that AMC’s fan favorite Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season arrives on Blu-ray + Digital HD and DVD on December 13 from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Living in the same universe as The Walking Dead,  season one of Fear the Walking Dead explored a blended family who watched a burning, dead city as they traversed a devastated Los Angeles. In season two, the group aboard the Abigail is unaware of the true breadth and depth of the apocalypse that surrounds them; they assume there is still a chance that some city, state or nation might be unaffected . . . some place that the Infection has not reached.

But as Operation Cobalt goes into full effect, the military bombs the Southland to cleanse it of the Infected, driving the Dead toward the sea. As Madison, Travis, Daniel, and their grieving families head for ports unknown, they will discover that the water may be no safer than land.

  • In addition to show stars tarring Kim Dickens,  Cliff Curtis,  Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Rubén Blades, Mercedes Mason, Lorenzo James Henrie and Colman Domingo , Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season introduces new cast members including Dougray Scott, Arturo Del Puerto, Daniel Zovatto, Veronica Diaz, Danay Garcia, Carlos Segura and Alfredo Herrera.There. You have thrilling and chilling news to make your Halloween happy . . .  and a perfect guide to add to Santa’s list!

Rising to meet a truly Happy Halloween? Meet “Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise”

Forget the candy, bags o’ pretzels and popcorn and those awful waxed lips. When we trick or treat this year, we want Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise, the new Lionsgate DVD on which Saban’s Powers Rangers embark on all-new adventures.3d-power-rangers-dino-charge-rise-dvd-ocard In this spooktacular Halloween edition, the Power Rangers rise and take action-adventure to the next level as Tyler and Ivan put their differences aside to defuse a bomb; Chase races to free his friends from an underground tomb; Prince Phillip learns that he can’t buy his way into the Power Rangers; and Riley and Koda restore the team’s broken bonds of friendship. Now if we can only get them to melt all those waxed lips . . .

 

 

Holy Halloween! Candy factory Films triples the terror

Getting candy (wrapped preferred) on Halloween by the clown who answers the door is a treat . . . or so we hope.

When it comes to Candy Factory Films, they offer treats that are full of tricks. And terror. Make that terror tripled. On October 18, three thrillers, all from first-time filmmakers, escape on  Digital HD and On Demand on All Leading Platforms Including iTunes, Amazon,  Google Play and Vudu.

Let us prepare you:

Honeybee
From first-time filmmaker Nicki Harris comes this genre festival favorite, an award-winner at the 2016 International Horror Hotel Film Festival. Sixteen-year-old Hilary (portrayed by Connie Saltzman) has her head down, working hard to get good grades and just hoping to escape the small town life her family has lived for generations.  Just weeks before school is done for the year, her quiet town is jump-started by the arrival of an enigmatic family.  Hilary’s father is instantly charmed by Louisa, the statuesque mother, while she finds a strong connection to the middle son, Kadin (Garrett Richmond), ignoring her instincts.

And as the town’s inhabitants fall under the hypnotic spell of the two brothers, no one but Hilary sees the peculiar loyalty that holds them together and the lengths they will go to give their mother what she needs until it’s far too late. Dig the co-stars: Go-Go(er) Jane Wiedlin and Lorin Partalis.

Lights
Aliens and a decades-old secret government conspiracy may be at the center of the disappearance of Kurt (Keith Roenke) and his five friends who mysteriously vanished in the California desert one year ago. Lisa (Sara Radle), Kurt’s girlfriend and the mother of his child, has been driven to obsession to learn the truth.

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After being contacted by a retired sheriff haunted by similar cases, she heads to the desert with her brother Karl (Caleb Neet), guided by video footage recovered from Kurt’s tent.  And together, they hack through the lies, evasions and threats to unlock the dark mystery of “Majestic 12” in this sci-fi thriller, director Nils Taylor’s feature-length debut.

Burst Theory
After a colleague unexpectedly contracts a bird flu vaccine under suspicious circumstances, a biologist (Joseph Scott Anthony) at a remote research facility seeks answers.  Soon, however, he discovers his worst nightmares are about to become a reality with his life, and perhaps the lives of millions, hanging in the balance.
Hunting desperately for the truth, he spirals into a from conspiracy and is forced to question everything he once took for granted.  Including his own sanity.

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Zac pageWritten and directed by Zac Page, who won the Gold Reel Award for First Time Directors at the 2015 Nevada Film Festival, this official selection at the Canada International Film Festival, Virginia Independent Horror Film Festival and The Big House Los Angeles Film Festival also captured the Screenwriting Award at the 2016 Amsterdam Film Festival.

The odd and queer, the eccentric and extraordinary, are spotlighted in “Atlas Obscura”

She’s not the kind of girl, yet Lena Dunham promises that “Atlas Obscura may be the only thing that can still inspire me to leave my apartment.”

She may be right.

When Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton set out to write Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide To The World’s Hidden Wonders (Workman, $35), their goal was to create a catalog of all the places, people and things that inspire wonder. As the team behind AtlasObscura.com, a vibrant online destination focused on discovery, wonder and exploration, the trio had access to an unrivaled treasure trove of secrets, mysteries, intrigues, phenomena and curiosities. The result is an unprecedented guide combining compelling descriptive writing with arresting full-color photographs, maps and charts to share over 600 of the most unusual and fascinating compendium of wonders across all seven continents.

Just think! Lena can venture out and see . . .

Galileo’s severed middle finger, displayed in a goblet accented in gold in Florence, Italymiddle-finger-830x623

The “Door to Hell,” a fire that has been burning in the Turkmenistan desert for over 45 years

A sealed test tube containing Thomas Edison’s last breath

An Alabama museum displaying finds from unclaimed airline baggage, including a 3,500-year-old Egyptian burial mask and Hoggle, the dwarf puppet from the 1986 film Labyrinth

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On display at the Mütter Museum , located inside the headquarters of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Along the way, Atlas Obscura  reveals the world’s deepest places, hidden tunnels, greatest self-made castles, notable arbotecture (the art of shaping a living tree in order to create art or furniture), giant Buddha statues, abandoned film sets you can visit, murder houses, dinosaur parks, lake monsters of the USA, historical methods of preventing premature burial, a guide to psychotropic drugs used to enhance religious experiences, abandoned nuclear power plants and so much more.

Each entry for the astonishing sites in Atlas Obscura includes location information, GPS coordinates, and tips on when and how best to get there—and, sometimes, how to best sneak past the guards.

Claire Danes continues to prove she is a work of art

We always knew Claire Danes was a work of art. Now she paints broader strokes by narrating ART 21: Art in the Twenty-First Century: Season 8, coming out on DVD on October 18. Get inspired by today’s most compelling artists and discover the stories, ideas and methods behind their work in the ART21 documentary series Art in the Twenty-First Century. This Peabody Award-winning series takes viewers behind the scenes into artists’ studios, homes, and communities to provide intimate access to their lives, creative processes and sources of inspiration.

Season 8 reveals how artists today simultaneously draw inspiration from and influence their immediate surroundings, while engaging far-flung communities from all over the world—Amsterdam, Aspen, Basel, Bloomfield Hills, Bregenz, Brussels, Chiapas, Cuernavaca, Denver, Detroit, Istanbul, La Porte, Lisbon, London, Milan, New York City, Okanagan, Pasadena, Philadelphia, Puebla, San Francisco, Sinaloa, and Toronto. Through their work, artists participate in global conversations about the pressing issues of our time: from terrorism to environmental crises to the struggle for civil rights.

Artists and cities featured on the DVD are listed below.

Chicago: Nick Cave, Theaster Gates, Barbara Kasten, Chris Ware

Los Angeles: Edgar Arceneaux, Liz Larner, Tala Madani, Diana Thater

Mexico City: Natalia Almada, Minerva Cuevas, Damián Ortega, Pedro Reyes

Vancouver: Stan Douglas, Brian Jungen, Liz Magor, Jeff Wall

 

Making dinner making you go to pot? Andrea Chesman serves up food for thought . . . in one dish!

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do . . .

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Photo and recipe from book, permission of Storey Publishing

Three Dog Night got it all wrong . . . at least when it comes to the kitchen. In 101 One-Dish Dinners: Hearty Recipes for the Dutch Oven, Skillet & Casserole Pan (Storey Publishing, $16.95), best-selling cookbook author Andrea Chesman has arrived to save those cooks who are ready go to pot. She comes to the rescue with no-fuss recipes that solve the dinner dilemma deliciously and nutritiously by using just one dish. One, as in a more appropriate lyric: One singular sensation . . . 4fdc6c68be46242ce3fa33a185d04941-600x0-c-default

In 101 One-Dish Dinners, Chesman shows off the versatility of Dutch ovens, skillets and casserole pans. Classic baked dishes like ham and potato gratin, chicken pot pie and vegetable lasagne go head-to-head with diverse stovetop suppers like jambalaya, seafood paella and pad Thai. For those looking for something a little lighter but still filling, there are plenty of meal-in-a-bowl salads and timeless soups. A recipe for success: The ability to serve up a nourishing meal with little fuss and fewer dishes!

Seconds anyone?

Olivia-Newton John teams with two friends to create a CD that helps healing the pain of loss. Brava!

As gifted author Anne Lamott has said: “You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

Loss causes intense feeling of being lost. The pain seems endless. The darkness seems to shroud the heart. Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky have teamed  to lend vocal and songwriting talents to create Liv On, (UMe), a collaborative, newly recorded 11-song collection intended for those who wish to transcend loss while walking a journey toward new-found meaning and hope.  This powerful new album, now available through all digital partners, emerges on CD on October 14.71rscbpkf1l-_sl1200_

This inspiring new project grew out of the trio’s personal experiences with loss and illness, which they all survived to Liv On and celebrate each day with a depth of gratitude. This labor of love stemmed from the trio sharing their stories together and expressing their deepest feelings from the most difficult to the most celebratory. It’s the hope that this music can uplift hearts burdened by grief while at the same time bring comfort to the listener.

“As a group, it’s our intention with this album to create songs with a message of compassion and hope,” says Newton-John. “They are for anyone facing a time of challenge in their life, whether it is grieving a loss—or on the journey to health and recovery.”

Liv On–means “to thrive, to have hope and to remember.”  The message is clear in the lyrics of the album’s title song:

Live on, Live on
Brighter skies will come again
Cry the tears you cry
And then live on, live on
Love is all we leave when we are gone . . .
Live on

Loss and grief occur for many reasons—whether it’s losing a loved one, a relationship, one’s health, a pet or a job. It’s important to remember that each person’s grief is as individual as his or her DNA—and there truly is no timeline for healing from loss.

With the fast-paced society we live in, we are often forced to “get over things.” However, for every individual, grief has its own clock.  Olivia, Beth and Amy called upon their personal experiences in creating this collection of songs which will aid, uplift and comfort those working their way through the maze of grief and loss. While taking into consideration the many causes of grief, they hope to provide the unique ability for those in need of support to heal through this music.

With songs such as “Don’t Know What To Say,” “My Heart Goes Out to You,” “Immortality” and “Stone In My Pocket,” the lyrics express different phases of the delicate recovery process while validating the experience so the listener can heal once again and soar. In addition, each artist revisits songs that have brought love and light to many of their fans. The album includes new interpretations of “Grace and Gratitude” (Newton-John), “Sand and Water” (Nielsen Chapman) and “I Will Take Care of You” (Sky).

Why is this CD important? It’s estimated that approximately 76 million Americans and tens of millions more globally are set to enter into the end of life care continuum either as patients or caregivers.  At no time in our country’s history have we seen such an unprecedented need for bereavement care.

Liv On harnesses the unique talents of these three internationally-recognized artists – and showcases the transforming power of music—to heal and shed light on the fact that it’s OK to grieve—and that the process is different for everyone. The message of Liv On is clear and affirming: the reason we grieve is because we love, and therein lies the strength for healing.

“We are honored to partner with the artists and mission of this project by contributing funds for creating a unique grief outreach and educational initiative to coordinate with this inspiring music,” says Paul VerHoeve, President of the Gentiva Hospice Foundation.

Directing the outreach and educational initiative is Dianne Gray of Hospice and Healthcare Communications. Gray explains, “It’s how we grieve that asks so much of us.  We have choices to make as we venture forth. ‘Liv On,’ the music and the resources, will help people do just that—live on!”

 

A new TV special guaranteed to build the cult: “Building Star Trek”

When Star Trek debuted on September 8, 1966, the world was introduced to a number of alien concepts: Think hand-held communication devices, desktop computers, space shuttles, touch screens. Star Trek’s visionary creator Gene Roddenberry conceived of a world so unique that the series would go on to have a profound legacy in television history.screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-7-22-21-pm-580x460

Smithsonian Channel offers a behind-the-scenes look with Building Star Trek, an original special coming to DVD by PBS Distribution on November 1. The show follows the conservation team from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, led by Dr. Margaret Weitekamp, as they attempt to restore and conserve the original 11-foot, 250-pound model of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the original series. The program also tracks the progress of Brooks Peck, the charismatic curator of Seattle’s EMP Museum, as he attempts to rebuild a model of the original U.S.S. Enterprise’s bridge by using authentic set pieces and props.

The program also profiles a new generation of engineers and scientists who are making Star Trek’s visionary technology real, pushing the boundaries of physics with inventions first conceived on the iconic series: Warp drives, medical tricorders, cloaking devices and tractor beams. Proving that one TV show has truly gone where no man has gone before, the program showcases clips from the original series that highlight each scientific innovation as well as recent technologies inspired by the series, such as flip phones and touch screens.

Hmmm, as Kirk once wondered: “Is there anyone on this ship, who even remotely, looks like Satan?”

Seventy years later, more proof why, still, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

James Stewart always thought it was a wonderful life. So did Donna Reed. And movie mavens worldwide. But the classic Yuletide film It’s a Wonderful Life almost didn’t make it onto the big screen and into our hearts.

The film is based on The Greatest Gift, a 1939 short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern.  He spent years trying to sell his story to publishers. No success, so in 1943, Stern self-published his work and sent it to 200 friends as a 21-page Christmas card. RKO Pictures wound up getting a hold of the “card” and bought the rights to the story. They had Cary Grant in mind to play suicidal do-gooder George Bailey.9511755_1

Time passed, and in 1945 Frank Capra was came on board and cast James Stewart as the star. Actresses such as Jean Arthur, Ann Dvorak , Olivia de Havilland and Ginger Rogers (who called the character “too bland” ) refused the co-starring role as George’s wife Mary. Donna Reed nabbed the role, and from here to eternity, is noted for her terrific performance.

When It’s a Wonderful Life opened in theaters in December 1946, the film received generally mixed reviews; it did, however, earn five Oscar nominations but won none. Gulp! it was somewhat of a box-office flop, failing to recoup its $3.7 million cost (it made $3.3 million during its initial run).its-a-wonderful-life-foto

No wonder George was suicidal! In the years following its release, It’s a Wonderful Life fell  into obscurity only to re-emerge during the ’70s and ’80s when it began appearing on television during the holiday season. In 1990, the nearly 45-year-old film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress.

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Lionel Barrymore in a Sydney Greenstreet mode?

And who ever thought the baileys might think of a red Christ,as? In It’s a Wonderful Life received an official mark of disapproval from the FBI, which pegged the poignant film as Communist propaganda thanks to its populist themes and, more specifically, unflattering portrayal of big-city bankers.

Reads a section of a 1947 FBI memo titled “Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry”:

With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists. In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [redacted] related that if he made this picture portraying the banker, he would have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans. Further, [redacted] stated that the scene wouldn’t have “suffered at all” in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [redacted] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and “I would never have done it that way.”

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Why do we present such background? On October 11, Paramount Home Entertainment is releasing the 70th anniversary of one of the most beloved films of all time on Blu-ray and DVD. This 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition includes a beautifully colorized version of the film and the original black-and-white movie, as well as The Making of It’s A Wonderful Life, a documentary featurette hosted by Tom Bosley and the original trailer.  Plus, both the Blu-ray and DVD set include collectible, limited-edition art cards featuring images of original ads and lobby cards.