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Friday, March 23, 2012

This American iPad: A Q&A with Ira Glass

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Those familiar with Ira Glass' wry, quizzical voice as the host of public radio's This American Life will get to experience his unique brand of storytelling in person when he appears at the Durham Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 23. The appearance comes after a week in which This American Life made headlines when a piece involving monologist Mike Daisey's trip to a factory creating Apple computer products was revealed to be mostly fabricated. We were able to get Glass on the phone in New York to talk about his appearance at DPAC, and while we were told by...

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Man vs. Machine at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 11:55 AM

There were some surprise winners at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament last weekend in Brooklyn, even as last year's victor, Dan Feyer, won his second straight championship. Filling in answers to a very difficult puzzle with a dry erase marker on a whiteboard before a crowd of 600 vanquished contestants, Feyer defended his title in rather anticlimactic fashion, beating the runner-up by more than three minutes. (Finishing second was none other than Tyler Hinman, whom viewers of the 2006 documentary Wordplay would recognize as the red-haired wunderkind who became the tournament's youngest champion. Hinman went on to win the next...

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Documentary filmmakers investigate Frank Matthews, 1970s East Coast heroin kingpin and Durham native

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 9:31 AM

The life of notorious Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas may have gotten the epic, big-screen treatment with American Gangster, starring Denzel Washington as Lucas. But if you ask documentary filmmakers Ron Chepesiuk and Al Bradley, there was another black, New York capo named Frank that made Lucas look like small potatoes. Chepesiuk and Bradley collaborated on The Frank Matthews Story: The Rise and Disappearance of America's Biggest Kingpin, which will be playing Friday at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham. It's a fast-paced, investigative chronicle of Matthews, the Durham-born drug dealer who ended up controlling all the heroin dealings up...

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Monday, March 19, 2012

El Anatsui's optimistic objects

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Artists are a resourceful lot. In their hands, common materials become artifacts charged with new significance. Often this transformation is powered by an artist’s imagination or vision of metaphorical possibility. Other times it comes from sheer necessity—one uses what is at hand, almost regardless of the material itself. Western artists typically use found or discarded materials to revel in their materiality or to implicate the wasteful systems and habits that caused the materials to be discarded. There’s a whole disorganized era of “recycle/reuse” art. But this term is a luxury of the First World, a place where an infinite amount...

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Joey the war horse comes to Durham, and what the new DPAC season says about Broadway

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Photo by D.L. AndersonUnveiling JoeyLast week, the slogan "New York Has Never Been So Close!” was proclaimed at least four times in the presentation for the 2012-2013 SunTrust Broadway series at the Durham Performing Arts Center. But while I’m certainly looking forward to several of the touring productions, including the season opener, War Horse, I was left wondering, What does this lineup say about the current state of Broadway? Eight plays will come through DPAC starting in October: War Horse, Jersey Boys, Million Dollar Quartet, Jekyll & Hyde, Mary Poppins, Anything Goes, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Sister Act....

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Friday, March 9, 2012

How John Carter is the grandfather of modern fantasy

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 4:16 PM

It is a testament to how poorly Disney has handled the John Carter property that the non-geek public still knows very little about the movie, much less that the character is celebrating its centennial this year. Indeed, audiences might be excused if they think the new Disney movie is ripping off Star Wars, Total Recall, Avatar—hell, even Dances with Wolves—when it is Edgar Rice Burroughs' creation that curls throughout their DNA. The swashbuckling pulp hero first appeared in print in 1912, several years before Burroughs' other invention —Tarzan of the Apes—who, thanks to cheaply produced movie serials and TV shows...

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

High school company takes on "Universal Robots"—and UNC playwright returns to see it

Through Saturday at ECHHS

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 3:55 PM

The cast of UNIVERSAL ROBOTSUNIVERSAL ROBOTSEast Chapel Hill High SchoolThrough March Czechoslovakian playwright Karel Capek’s influential 1920 drama, R.U.R., wrestled with some of the principal dilemmas confronting the 20th and 21st centuries. The play that famously gave the word “robot” to the world brooded on the ability of technology to alter the meaning and value, not only of labor, but life itself. It presciently anticipated a future in which technological innovations could rapidly—and disastrously—change a culture’s economics, politics and military might; a world whose ethics are regularly challenged, if not outstripped, by the speed of such developments. For all...

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Friday, March 2, 2012

For fans, and smokers, only: Tim and Eric's really weedy movie

Posted By on Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Photo courtesy of Magnet ReleasingEric Wareheim in TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIETIM AND ERIC'S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE* starOpens today at the Colony Theatre I don’t smoke weed, which perhaps give me a slight disadvantage in enjoying things weed smokers would normally find amusing. One of those things is the comedy team of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (aka Tim and Eric), the duo whose surreal sketch show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! has been a staple on Adult Swim, the Cartoon Network’s pothead-friendly block of nightly programming. Like most comic performers whose weird, subversive brand of humor...

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