With book of three, so ends this trilogy

"The Book of Life" is the highly satisfying end of Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy, and makes John Orr hope that she is planning to write more stories about the witch Diana Bishop and the vampire Matthew Clairmont. The entire trilogy is fascinating — it is a thinking person's magical vampire romance. Read the review of "The Book of Life."

in the Stone Age

"The Spirit and the Skull" is a fascinating stand-alone from one of our favorite writers, J.M. Hayes, about an indian spirit man who has murders to solve. And who finds himself traveling, in spirit dreams, 15,000 years into the future. Read John Orr's review.

Sequel to "Brilliance"
is, in fact, brilliant

"A Better World" is a terrific science-fiction thriller, with plenty to say about a schism that may already be happening in our own time and society. Plus, it's a fun read. See John Orr's review.

See more reviews and interviews in Books.



Internet Movie Database



American Conservatory Theater
A Christmas Carol
Kevin Berne / A.C.T.
"Are there no prisons? Are the workhouses no longer in operation?" James Carpenter as Ebenezer Scrooge, left, with Alexander Bires as Peter Cratchit, Nina Toracca as Sally Cratchit, Rafael Karpa-Wilson as Ned Cratchit, Calista Cesewski as Belinda Cratchit, and Carmen Steele as Tiny Tim Cratchit in "A Christmas Carol" at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, December 6-28, 2013. The show returns, December 5-28, 2014.
"A Christmas Carol" at A.C.T. is one of the best productions ever of this timeless story by Charles Dickens, about the distance between the have yachts and the have nots. Tony Lacy-Thompson reviews.

Mermaid dance
Kevin Berne / TheatreWorks
And what happens, class, when ordinary fish swim through "star stuff"? They become mermaids, of course, and perform the mermaid dance in goofy costumes by B. Modern, to open the second act of "Peter and the Starcatcher" at TheatreWorks. From left are Kenny Toll, Christopher Reber, Patrick Kelly Jones, Suzanne Grodner and Michael Gene Sullivan.
"Peter and the Starcatcher" is TheatreWorks' holiday play, the production Artistic Director Robert Kelley calls a "gift to the community." And what a generous gift it is, with almost an overload of fun and hilarity, provided by an excellent cast and creative team. Do not miss this show. Read John Orr's review.

City Lights
Richard Mayer / City Lights
German and English soldiers socialize during the 1914 Christmas truce in "Truce: A Christmas Wish from the Great War," a world-premiere play running November 20 through December 21, 2014, at City Lights Theater Company in San Jose. Clockwise from left are Nik Duggan, Jacob Marker, Drew Benjamin Jones, Max Sorg, Danraj Rajasansi and Jeremy Ryan.
"Truce: A Christmas Wish from the Great War," by Kit Wilder and Jeffrey Bracco, is getting its world premiere at City Lights, telling the story of when English and German troops stopped killing each other long enough to sing some Christmas carols during World War I. John Orr reviews.

Berkeley Rep
Kathleen Turner / Berkeley Rep
Kathleen Turner is delightful as the title character in "Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins," a one-woman show about journalist and satirist Molly Ivins. The show runs at Berkeley Rep November 21, 2014, through January 4, 2015.
"Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins" at Berkeley Rep, with Kathleen Turner in the title role, kicks ass and tickles tears of joy and sadness. Excellent show. Read John Orr's review.
Kathleen Turner
Mark Garvin / Berkeley Rep
Kathleen Turner in "Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins."
Kathleen Turner — that is, Kathleen the Great — is at Berkeley Rep with a one-woman show, "Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins." She talked with John Orr about doing the show about the great columnist, who was a friend of hers. Read the story.

Cirque du Soleil
Mini Lili
Martin Girard / | Costumes: Philippe Guillotel © 2014 Cirque du Soleil
Mini Lili shows up with a smile on her face in "Kurios."
"Kurios — Cabinet of Curiosities," the latest show from Cirque du Soleil to arrive in San Francisco, is an absolute feast for the eyes and a kicking-off place for the imagination. Kevin Kelly reviews.

Kelley, Booker, Eshoo
Drew Altizer / TheatreWorks
TheatreWorks Artistic Director Robert Kelley, left, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, right, listen as U.S. Senator Cory Booker speaks at TheatreWorks 45th Anniversary celebration, November 9, 2014, at the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood Shores.
TheatreWorks 45th Anniversary Celebration was held November 8, 2014, at the swanky Sofitel in Redwood Shores, and a lot of money was raised for the troupe's excellent educational programs, not to mention its busy production schedule. Founder Robert Kelley and Stanford President Emeritus Donald Kelley were honored, and a one-act version of the most popular show in TheatreWorks history, Paul Gordon's beautiful "Emma," was performed. John Orr was there, and writes about it.

Berkeley Playhouse
gibboney, Raphael
Ben Krantz Studio / Berkeley Playhouse
Mary Gibboney as Mrs. Brill, left, and and Billy Raphael as Robertson Ay lament the lot of the working class in Berkeley Playhouse’s production of "Mary Poppins."
"Mary Poppins" is quite charming, in the most delightful ways, as produced by Berkeley Playhouse. Directed by Kimberly Dooley, there is no dawdling in this show, which makes it a lot more fun than many stage productions of this magical tale of family love. The show opened on October 30 and runs through December 7, 2014. Read John Orr's review.

Having a Ball Dept.
Frank Ockenfels 3 / AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, left, and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, in a scene from Season 5 of "The Walking Dead."
"The Walking Dead" begins Season 5 tonight, and we'll be watching. Why do we like this gore fest? It has something to do with excellent writing, acting and direction. Read what John Orr has to say about it.

Caught it on Netflix Dept.
Stand Up Men
Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Katheryn Winnick and Alan Arkin in "Stand Up Guys."
"Stand Up Guys" is a gem of a gritty crime comedy that really shines because of the performances of Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. Alan Arkin is fun to watch, too, and there are other good performances, but Pacino and Walken make this one special. Read John Orr's review.

Chris Cain Band
Tony Lacy-Thompson / Regarding Arts
Chris Cain, on Gibson 335, leads his band at Little Lou's BBQ in Campbell, California, on Monday, December 8, 2014. In the band, from left, are sax player Mark Whitney, Greg Rahn on keys, Steve Evans on bass, and Mick Mestek on drums.
Chris Cain shows up once at month at Little Lou's BBQ in Campbell, California, and that's an amazing thing; the cat is one of the greatest guitarists on the planet, and there is no cover charge. Have a brain? Do what Tony Lacy-Thompson did, and go see him. Read Tony's review of the experience.

Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval
Courtesy of Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval, 10-time Grammy Award winner, is to perform with his quintet at at Schultz Cultural Arts Hall in the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto on October 30, 2014. Call 650-223-8664 or visit He spoke with Steven Ackley for Regarding Arts.
Arturo Sandoval got a job driving his own car in Cuba, just so he could meet the great Dizzy Gillespie. Now Sandoval is a great one, too. He's coming to the Schultz Cultural Arts Hall on October 30, 2014. Steven Ackley spoke with him. Read the story.

Imelda May
Tony Lacy-Thompson / Regarding Arts
Imelda May on Thursday, October 9, 2014, at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
Imelda May brings passion and plenty of it, in her live shows. Tony Lacy-Thompson reviews her show at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

Tower of Power
Tower of Power
Courtesy of Tower of Power
Tower of Power in concert, in an undated photograph. In front is vocalist Ray Greene. The horn line includes, from left, Adolfo Acosta, Sal Cracchiolo, Stephen "Doc" Kupka, Tom Polizer and Emilo Castillo. On the riser, from left, are Dave Garibaldi, Rocco Prestia, Jerry Cortez and Roger Smith.
Tower of Power has been around for more than 45 years, and is still one of the funkiest, hottest bands in the biz, with that amazing horn line and the amazing rhythm section. They'll be at Shoreline Amphitheatre on Saturday. Tony Lacy-Thompson talked with tenor sax player Emilio Castillo. Read the interview.


For ears and eyes

Puddles the Pity Clown performs an amazing cover of Lorde's "Royals." Yes, it's a weird act, but ya know, whatever works. This guy's done plenty of interesting work as an entertainer, including under his real name, Mike Geier. Check out his fabulous video.
Judy Garland was an amazing talent, unmatched in many ways. Want the proof? Lend eyes and ears to her singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in a poor quality recording from the ancient days of TV. Fabulous.
Some guys singing "Bad Romance." It's so much fun.
Molly Bell is amazing. We have a profile of her here in Triviana Arts & Entertainment, but here's a favorite video of her performing in Divas for Life. Find out more about Divas for Life.
Lake Street Dive is a band formed by Rachael Price, who is a wonderful vocalist. I love this tune, which I heard on A Prairie Home Companion. Then I found this video.
Johnny Swim. I heard this duo perform "Home" on "A Prairie Home Companion" and was knocked out.
"Laundry Room." Another from The Avett Brothers. Here is another tune that delves deep into emotion and yearning.
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Fabulous band performs in 2004 to honor George Harrison upon his posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jeff Lynne, Steve Ferrone, Dhani Harrison and Prince. Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers does the early solo stuff. Prince shows up and takes over.
"Deportee." The Kingston Trio version, posted July 14, 2012, in honor of Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday. Thank you, Mr. Guthrie.
Tim O'Brien: "Hey, Joe," at Celtic Connections 2009, Glasgow Scotland.
Trucks & Tedeschi Band: "Midnight in Harlem," at the 2010 Guitar Festival.
Asylum Street Spankers: "Monkey Rag," and "If You Want Me to Love You."
Van Morrison: "Real Real Gone."
OK Go: "This Too Shall Pass." Incredible Rube Goldberg machine video.
Willie Dixon: "I'm Nervous." Funny and charming video of the great songwriter, singer and bassist.
Boxing Gandhis: "If You Love Me (Why Am I Dyin')" Hip, funky and hot in every way.
John Lee Sanders: Fabulous musician. Give a listen to "Midnight in New Orleans".


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