A Better World

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.

Terrific thriller strands an astronaut on Mars

"The Martian," by Andy Weir, is the most fun we've had between hardcovers for a while, an excellent thriller about an astronaut stranded on Mars and his ongoing struggle to stay alive and hope for rescue. It's a fascinating read, filled with palatable science, charm and humor. Read John Orr's review.

Shuffling off this mortal coil

"Changing the Way We Die" is an excellent book about the hospice movement, covering it from its beginnings centuries ago on the trail to the Holy Land to the United States today, where it has begun big business and has big bureaucracy hanging around its neck. It's a better way to shuffle off this mortal coil, and writers Fran Smith and Sheila Himmel have produced an excellent book about it. Read John Orr's review.

A terrific Pendergast thriller

"White Fire" is a return to high form for Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child in their mostly excellent series about FBI very Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. In this one, his protégé, Corrie Swanson, gets in trouble when she visits a Colorado town for rich people to do forensics on some very old bones. A fun read, with plenty of thrills. Read the review by John Orr.

A surprising turn in a Jack Reacher story

"Never Go Back" is another fun read from novelist Lee Child, but it's kind of a departure from Reacher's usual kick-ass ways. In this one, he meets a woman who is his match. Read the review.

Creating a fantasy world in Palo Alto

"Someone Dark Has Found Me" has witches, wizards, geniuses, homeless people and a lot of kissing. Mark Johnson reviews. Read his review.
John Orr

A fun outtake from 'Someone Dark Has Found Me'

A Maximilian's Window plays in an important part in the book, toward the end, when the evil is really hitting the fan. We're running a healthy chunk of charming words that didn't get in the final book. Read it here.

The trip from Jamaican cane fields to San Francisco

"From Rum to Roots" is an excellent first novel by photo journalist Lloyd Francis. It touches on the history of Jamaica and its people, but mostly is a well-told tale of people born on the island who want more for their families, in Jamaica and in the United States. Read John Orr's review.

Walter Mosley brings Easy Rawlins back from the dead

"Little Green" is a great story that finds our hero back from a two-month deep sleep to find hippies, peace and free love on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. And, some very nasty drug dealers. Read John Orr's review.

See more reviews and interviews in Books.

Video games

Regarding Arts
Testing a KontrolFreeks Phantom.
KontrolFreeks are doodads that attach to the tops of game-controller joysticks, for the purpose of increasing speed, control and comfort. We were doubtful, but tried 'em and liked 'em. Read all about it.


Internet Movie Database



great pretender
Kevin Berne / TheatreWorks
Steve Brady, as children's TV host Mr. Felt, gives his puppets and his viewers a lesson about The Beatles in the World premiere of "The Great Pretender" at TheatreWorks in the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto, July 9-August 3, 2014. Read John Orr's review.
"The Great Pretender" moves the audience to tears of laughter and sweet sadness in its world premiere at TheatreWorks. Don't miss it: The script by David West Read is brilliant. Read John Orr's review.

Dragon Theatre
Take Me Out
Producer and actor Dale Albright, left, and actor Brandon Jackson in "Take Me Out," which runs July 11-July 20, 2014, at Dragon Theatre in Redwood City, California. Read John Orr's review.
"Take Me Out" is a very impressive show, with a great script, and an amazingly excellent, 11-man cast. But it's a 2nd Stages production, which means it only has four performances left, as of July 14, 2014. Go see it! Read John Orr's review.

Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble
Carlitz Ensemble
Yaron Kidron photo
Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble performs "Julia & Mandelbrot" (fractal), part of the "Momentum" program to be performed in October 2014 in San Francisco.
"Momentum" is a program by the Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble that was previewed on June 13 and 14, 2014. The full show is to be performed in October, and Virginia Bock gives us an idea of what wonderful things match, music and dance can do together in the show. Read Ms. Bock's review/preview.

Review: 'Suzy Barnard: Uncharted Waters'
Suzy Barnard
Copyright © Bryant Street Gallery. All rights reserved
"Over There," oil on wood panel, 16" x 19," by Suzy Barnard
Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto is showing 15 oils by Suzy Barnard that capture the color and the depth of meaning of the waters of San Francisco Bay. DeWitt Cheng reviews.

Review: Mark Kitaoka's '29 Hands — 15 Artists'
Ruth Waters
Mark Kitaoka photograph
Name: Ruth Waters, wood sculptor. August 2013
Peninsula Museum of Art in Burlingame is offering photographer Mark Kitaoka's intriguing photographs in the show "29 Hands — 15 Artists." Read DeWitt Cheng's review.

Review: 'Imagine': Lennon anthem inspires 10 Bay Area artists
Mei-Ying Dell’Aquila, “Creation”
Triton Museum of Art celebrates John Lennon's great song, "Imagine," with 10 artists who show the song's influence in their work. DeWitt Cheng reviews.

Gallery: Mark Kitaoka's '29 Hands — 15 Artists'

Rob Browne
Mark Kitaoka photo
Sculptor Rob Browne poses for photographer Mark Kitaoka. This image is now part of Kitaoka's exhibit at Peninsula Museum of Art. See Regarding Arts' online gallery.

Mark Kitaoka is a nationally respected performing arts photographer who also makes photos for the sheer artistic joy of them. He has a gallery here in Regarding Arts, and also an exhibit of his prints at the Peninsula Museum of Art in Burlingame. See Regarding Arts' online gallery.

Kepler's mystery
John Orr photo
Lookin' for clues: Kepler's Books in Menlo Park held a Mystery/Thriller Day, and John Orr was there, and allowed to sell a few copies of his novel. And he got to meet some other wonderful authors! What fun. Check out Orr's column about the experience.

Janiva Magness
Janiva Magness
Jeff Dunas photo
Singer Janiva Magness
Janiva Magness is some kinda powerful blues singer. She's touring, in support of her latest album, "Stronger For It," and talked with us about the path that put her on the blues highway. Read the interview.
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.


For ears and eyes

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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