A boom, a backlash, and a reckoning with Big Tech – The Boston Globe

Sing, O Muse, of geeks in garages. Then tell of Big Technologys fall.

Somewhere an epic tale is taking shape, and it goes something like this: Once, we found ourselves in a garden of information. Facts would set the world free. But too late we discovered that rumor, falsehood, and molten hatred could course along the pathways meant for truth. Age-old human impulses proved as adaptable as cockroaches, and have planted their flag in our new digital utopia.

Heightened by misgivings over the 2016 election, the backlash against Big Technology is now in full swing. The coming year promises new efforts to hold it to account, as Congress considers antitrust action and privacy initiatives, and Americans fret over the misuse of their personal data.

Until our great epic arrives, the growing spate of books on the Internets dark side will have to do. In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, Shoshana Zuboff lays important groundwork, conceding that her exhaustive study is just an initial mapping of the terrain.

An emerita professor at Harvard Business School, Zuboff began studying the rise of surveillance capitalism (her coinage) in 2006. Today, her alarm is palpable. In her estimation, virtually all of us are now imprisoned in a digital cage. A new, unprecedented form of power has entered the world. Promising greater connection, it concentrates might among a small number of companies. These companies have not naturally advanced the world toward the democratization of knowledge; instead, their formidable power serves commercial ends, through the manipulation of human behavior. Americans caught in this Faustian snare can either be defensive or pretend nothing is happening, but they cannot escape. If Zuboff is right, only a new era of progressive reform can save us.

Like most writers on what Big Tech has wrought, she ponders its prime movers, describing their mind-set as radical indifference. In The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, Margaret OMara identifies an anti-authoritarian streak among the founders, tracing their mentality to post-Vietnam disillusionment. Her wonderfully accessible history of Big Technology spans 50-plus years, and brings home just how extraordinary the rise of the digital world has been.

As OMara notes, the key players combined disdain for authority with an entrepreneurial fervor. Both fell nicely into the political slipstream of the Reagan years. Yet as she also demonstrates, to a large but underappreciated extent, government aided the rise of Silicon Valley. By opening the Internet to commercial activity in the early 1990s, it provided a crucial foothold. As tech companies grew, politicians hung back from intervening, partly because they did not understand what they were regulating.

Big Tech was tightly controlled by a coterie whose heedless, white male ethos masqueraded as the free market. Nevertheless, OMara tends to give these titans the benefit of the doubt: Geeks caught up in designing cool stuff could not be expected to reckon with bad actors exploiting their creations.

Journalist Noam Cohen suggests, to the contrary, that todays tech billionaires have simply been masters at letting themselves off the hook. If anything unites them, it is their shared belief in their own benevolence. In The Know-it-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball, Cohen presents a digital-age rogues gallery.

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and others figure in a set of interlinked portraits illustrating how Big Techs disruptive dream darkened, infecting the world with a libertarian outlook that has been great for winners but destructive for almost everyone else. Amid Cohens hard-nosed cast is Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, still evidently resentful toward his upbringing in small-town Wisconsin. Cohen wonders, not altogether facetiously, whether the world is being made to answer for Andreessens years of chopping wood and suffering through gym class.

New Yorker writer Andrew Marantz presents the Big Tech players as, primarily, naive optimists. In Anti-social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation, he probes the destructive forces unleashed by their creations.

For years, online social networks have been used to promote a white nationalist agenda. Intrigued, Marantz entered the world of right-wing extremists and returned a changed man. While outlets such as Twitter and Facebook have begun to crack down, their overlords still seek cover in a First-Amendment absolutism.

The most disheartening aspect of Marantzs journey may be the fierce animosity toward mainstream news organizations he encountered along the way. Thanks partly to algorithms that tap into high arousal emotions, we seem locked in an inane contest between globalist elites and the real Americans. Marantz has turned into a reluctant institutionalist, defending the role of traditional media in what may be an emerging form of conservatism. In the meantime, he and others are creating a vital chronicle of an unprecedented era.

M.J. Andersen is an author and journalist who writes frequently on the arts.

Continued here:

A boom, a backlash, and a reckoning with Big Tech - The Boston Globe

The 30 Best Texas Books of The Decade, from Amarillo to Utopia – The Texas Observer

The twists and turns of these 30 Texas novels, nonfiction narratives, and other works published between January 2010 and December 2019 reveal undercurrents that run deep through our Lone Star Statea whole decades worth. All of these authors have significant Texas ties: They were born here, raised here, write here now, or had significant parts of their lives shaped by the states traditions and history.

To deliver this inclusive roundup, we sought help from the Lone Star States literati. Our informal survey turned up celebrated gemsand some surprises. Youll find multiple entries from big cities like Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and El Paso. But outstanding Texas authors also inhabit little towns like Utopia, tucked deep in the Texas Hill Country, and Groves, in Southeast Texas. Three of the darkest Texas narratives here made other lists of the nations best true crime stories: Bloodlines, Midnight in Mexico, and The Midnight Assassin.

Feel free to use this as your boilerplate request to Santa, or as an investment strategy to support icons of Lone Star State literature.

Heres our list, organized by cities closely tied to authors. Read all 30 and let us know what else youd like to add.

These nominations were compiled and edited for length and clarity by Lise Olsen.


Lincoln in the Bardoby George Saunders

The life of Abraham Lincoln may seem like an improbable way into exploring the psyche of a grieving father. But through a world of spirits both demonic and benevolent, the debut novel (yes, really) from Amarillo native Saunders gives new depth to the 16th presidentnot as a politician, but as a man trying to keep it together in the face of tragedy.

Nominated by Abby Johnston, executive editor


Barefoot Dogs: Storiesby Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

These interwoven stories by Ruiz-Camacho, a Dobie Paisano Fellow who lives in Austin, capture what our review called the flawed but fascinating humanity of the extended Arteaga family: five children and seven grandchildren of kidnapped family patriarch Jos Victoriano.

Nominated by Rose Cahalan, managing editor

Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynastyby Melissa del Bosque

A fascinating and fast-paced tale of how a Texan blew the whistle on a pair of brothers who laundered millions through horse racing. Del Bosques vivid, meticulous book, born from border reporting she did at the Observer, was recently selected by the New York Times as one of Texas best true crime tales.

Nominated by Lise Olsen, senior reporter and editor

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American Historyby S.C. Gwynne

The deeply researched and compelling epic tale of Quanah Parker, the Comanches last brilliant chief, is intertwined with that of his mother, a pioneer girl who built her life with the tribe after being taken captive and marrying its leader. Gwynne later went on to write about Stonewall Jackson.

Nominated by Lise Olsen

God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star Stateby Lawrence Wright

Including a book explaining Texas on a list of the best Texas books of the decade might feel a little meta, but Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wright deserves it. God Save Texas takes on a formidable task: attempting to explain why, despite its flaws, Texas is great. Wright, who now lives in Austin, originally hails from Dallas.

Nominated by Abby Johnston and Lise Olsen

Im Not Missing: A Novelby Carrie Fountain

This YA novel from Fountain, primarily known as a poet, explores a young womans life after the disappearance of her best friend. This captivated me, Observer poetry editor Naomi Shihab Nye wrote. Poets take refuge in novels on long trips and long plane flights. I held this close to my body and read it with voracious interest!

Nominated by Naomi Shihab Nye, poetry editor

See How Smallby Scott Blackwood

A riveting novel about the aftermath of the slayings of three teenage girls, See How Small is written in surreal, incantatory paragraphs. The story is based on the infamous 1991 yogurt shop murders in Austin.

Nominated by Mary Helen Specht, contributing writer and author of Migratory Animals

The Sonby Philipp Meyer

Meyer drank buffalo blood as part of his research for this sweeping Texas epic, which follows one family for six generations. Its recommended for fans of Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner, as well as anyone looking to get lost in an absorbing, expansive novel. Meyer is an alum of the University of Texas Michener Center and later adapted his book for TV.

Nominated by Rose Cahalan

The Which Way Treeby Elizabeth Crook

Our review called this book a foray into the labyrinths of family and history in Texas and an absorbing coming-of-age adventure set in post-Civil War chaos, a time when not all that many people came to all that much of an age. And, as with Im Not Missing, Naomi Shihab Ney highly recommends it as a great read for long flights.

Nominated by Naomi Shihab Nye


The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoirby Domingo Martinez

Martinez left Texas long ago, but his books draw deeply from his painful youth in the barrio in Brownsville, as well as his later struggles as an adult. He was coronated as a literary king when his first memoir was named a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award.

Nominated by Lilly Gonzalez, executive director of the San Antonio Book Festival


Love Me Backby Merritt Tierce

Tierces quirky debut novel has been described alternatively as restaurant fiction and mom fiction. She breaks out of Texas stereotypes while still representing important experiences from our stateand her narrative voice is both edgy and dark. Tierce now works as a writer for Netflix in Los Angeles, but formerly ran a nonprofit in Dallas.

Nominated by Mary Helen Specht

The Midnight Assassin: The Hunt for Americas First Serial Killerby Skip Hollandsworth

A master of truly strange Texas tales, Hollandsworth turns his attention to a 140-year-old unsolved mystery. His book brings back to life the victims of a serial ax murderer dubbed the servant girl annihilator, reopening the whodunnit debate in an extremely cold case. Like others on this list, Hollandsworth claims ties to more than one Texas cityhe spent part of his childhood in Wichita Falls.

Nominated by Lise Olsen


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universeby Benjamin Alire Senz

Nominator Lilly Gonzalez dubbed this coming-of-age novel set in El Paso a painful triumph. Saenz, born in New Mexico, is both a former priest and a graduate of the University of Texas El Pasos bilingual creative writing program.

Nominated by Lilly Gonzalez

Midnight in Mexico: A Reporters Journey Through a Countrys Descent into Madnessby Alfredo Corchado

Named one of the true best crime books ever by Time, this memoir delves deeply into a particularly violent chapter in Mexico history that Corchado experienced firsthandboth as a Mexican-born U.S. citizen and as a Texas journalist who returned to cover Mexico as a foreign correspondent for the Dallas Morning News. Corchado spent much of his life in El Paso, where his parents run a caf named after him.

Nominated by Lise Olsen


Friendswood: A Novelby Rene Steinke

This novel is an illuminating journey inside the lives of the families who inhabit the Houston suburb of Friendswood. Everything seems normal on the surface, but the community is forever haunted and contaminated by a Superfund site. Steinke, who lives in New York but grew up in Friendswood, paints a deeply poetic and disturbing fictional portrait of her hometown.

Nominated by Lise Olsen


No Apparent Distress: A Doctors Coming-of-Age on the Front Lines of American Medicineby Rachel Pearson

In lyrical prose, Pearson recounts her time working at a charity clinic for poor and uninsured patients in Galveston. Many of the people she cared for were abandoned by a local hospital in the chaos after Hurricane Ike. This searing indictment of the broken health care system is grounded in personal stories.

Nominated by Rose Cahalan


Tropic of Squalor: Poemsby Mary Karr

Karr teaches writing at Syracuse University these days, but her roots are deep in East Texas. Her offbeat creative nonfiction is all about alcohol, insanity, and family secrets. But this 2018 poetry collection uses humor, shock, and good old-fashioned honesty to write about the divine! And Karr doesnt judge. Of course, her memoirs are must-reads too.

Nominated by Maggie Galehouse, editor of Pulse Magazine and former book editor at the Houston Chronicle


Bluebird, Bluebird: A Highway 59 Mystery #1by Attica Locke

The debut of Lockes Highway 59 series, which features an African American detective in East Texas, was hailed by Publishers Weekly as a tale of racism, hatred, and, surprisingly, love. The sequel, Heaven, My Home, released in 2019, unearths even more compelling Texas secrets. Now a screenwriter and producer in Los Angeles, Locke is originally from Houston.

Nominated by Rose Cahalan

The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story of Pathological Friendlinessby Jennifer Latson

A compelling narrative portrait, The Boy Who Loved Too Much follows the life of a mother raising a son with Williams syndrome, a genetic condition that prompts uncontrollable displays of love and emotion. Latson spent years observing this pair and places her readers deeply into their lives and struggles.

Nominated by Lise Olsen

Crazy Rich Asiansby Kevin Kwan

Its a little-known fact that Kwan, whose wildly popular satirical novel is set in Singapore, attended high school in the Clear Lake suburb of Houston. His prose is fresh and delicious, like bubbling champagne overflowing a glass.

Nominated by Maggie Galehouse

Lot: Storiesby Bryan Washington

Lot described parts of Houston I know but have never seen in books, and people Ive seen but never met, wrote Gwendolyn Zepeda, editor of Houston Noir. It was heartbreaking and filled me with hope. Manyagreed: Lot was nominated for this list by four people in our circle of critics.

Nominated by Gwen Zepeda, author and editor, and three others

Oleander Girl: A Novelby Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Divakaruni spins a complex cross-cultural romance and mystery. This tale plunges the reader into the life of an Indian woman on the verge of an arranged marriage who learns a secret that forces her to detour to America. Originally from India herself, Divakaruni is a professor at the University of Houstons creative writing program and has published more than a dozen novels.

The rest is here:

The 30 Best Texas Books of The Decade, from Amarillo to Utopia - The Texas Observer

The Best Game of 2019 Can Only Be Explained With Incredible Tweets – VICE

The older I get, the more I know what I want out of a video game, and 2019 simply didn't have a lot of it. Every year has its high points and low points, and 2019 was no different in that respect. But this is the first time in a long time that I struggled coming up with 10 new games I played this year, let alone 10 new games that I really loved.

For that reason, I'm commemorating 2019 with a list not just of my favorite games, but the games that defined it for me, for better or worse.

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint

I loved Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and was extremely excited to play this followup. Much like Rob Zacny, I liked it more than most reviewers because it provided a precarious power fantasy. When I was focused and careful, I was an elite soldier sneaking through tech company campuses on a libretarian island state utopia, dispatching dozens of enemies before they even knew I was there. But when I made one wrong move and tripped an alarm, I was suddenly running scared into the bushes, with a dozen autonomous drones taking easy shots at my big red ass. Breakpoint is mostly what I wanted, which is more Wildlands with touches of Silicon Valley revenge fantasy. But in the end, even I was overwhelmed by its deluge of map icons and activities. More importantly, I desperately missed the three AI squad members from Wildlands, which were delightfully overpowered.

The Division 2

I played The Division 2 for 60 hours and here's what I can tell you about it:

It was a fun, a good thing to play when I was in the mood for something like Destiny but didn't want to play Destiny. Ultimately, it was forgettable.

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw

Some people wax nostalgic about X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter. I didn't get on board until X-Wing Alliance, but I understand the love for the mostly-dead genre, a space sim that's somewhere between Star Citizen and Rogue Squadron in its complexity.

Is Rebel Galaxy Outlaw a worthy successor to those old Star Wars games? No, not quite. But it hits some of the same notes, most notably in its dogfights, and that kept my interest for 40 hours, even though the 40th was exactly like the first.

Gears 5

I'm a sucker for Gears of War. I basically love all of them, even Judgment. Gears 5 is mostly a good Gears game when it does the Gears thing: letting me and the bois violently push through obstacles with teamwork and brute force, exploding heads along the way with a kind of pimple-popping satisfaction. But then, curiously, Gears 5 also tries to be a more open-world game, and when it tries it fails.

Borderlands 3

It is almost bold how much Borderlands 3 players like Borderlands 2, which is fine with me because I liked Borderlands 2. Much like The Division 2, it's a game that I played when I wasn't playing Destiny 2. I put a ridiculous number of hours into it over a weekend, enjoyed the gun treadmill, and then never touched it again because there were new games and new Destiny 2 content to play. Basically, much of 2019 was spent wasting time between new Destiny 2 updates, which provides the kind of rote, repetitive action that my feeble brain craves these days. Which brings me to:

Destiny 2

Destiny 2 is less of a game than it is a bad habit for me now, like smoking. It's the game I turn to in-between other games. It's grown a lot since release, and I think at this point is overall a much better, more complete package that replaces and surpasses the place that Diablo 3 had in my life previously. There's no single thing that I can say is remarkable about it, but it's comfortable, entertaining, and regularly updated with new baubles for me to chase.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

I love both of the new Wolfenstein games and could not imagine how its kinetic, over-the-top action could ever get old. Youngblood defied my imagination and showed me how: an ill-conceived progression system, copy/paste level design, and some of the spongiest bullet sponges I've ever seen in a video game.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

The pitch for Fallen Order is my favorite game of the year. A Metroid-style game with more accessible Sekiro-style combat, set in the Star Wars universe. In practice, none of it worked for me. There were a few bright moments that pulled me through to the ending, but overall the world was more annoying to traverse than it was interesting, and despite the clever way it handled difficulty, combat was either frustrating or trivial. It is also the most embarrassingly buggy big budget video game I played all year.

Crackdown 3

I never played the original Crackdown, so I was curious to see what the fuss was all about. There's barely a game here, in the big budget video game sensean epic story, innovative new features, or endgame content designed to keep players around after they finish the game. Most of what you do is collect floating orbs, which is more fun than you think but not enough. Basically, this is a game about jumping really damn high. That's not enough, but on the other hand you jump so high. Like over buildings. It's not a good game but you should get in there and jump around a little bit.

The Outer Wilds

I have started playing The Outer Wilds because Austin Walker said I'd like it, and based on the first couple of hours, I probably will. It's just too soon to say for sure. I didn't have a lot of time to play games that required me to use my brain at all this year, but I suspect I will beat myself up for not playing it after this list is published.

Apex Legends

I have played many rounds of Apex Legends trying to understand the hype. I love PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds as well as the Titanfall games, but combining the two didn't work for me. Maybe the gear and characters were too complicated for me. Maybe there's only room for one battle royale game in my heart, and PUBG is it. Either way, not since The Witcher 3 have I been so confused by a game's mass appeal.

5. Void Bastards

I think one reason 2019 felt like a bad year for video games is that in recent years there have been a lot of smaller, unexpected releases that got my attention in-between tentpole releases. Void Bastards is the only game that fits that category for me in 2019. It's a first-person rogue-like with a flat comic visual style, and light immersive sim combat. Those are a lot of buzzwords smashed together but the end result is a rogue-like that I actually finished, which is something I rarely do.

4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

The new Modern Warfare is my most problematic fave. Its politics, as I wrote, are truly depressing. But I can't lie: it got its hooks into me in a way that only Call of Duty can. Its single player story is a thrilling, often deplorable rollercoaster ride that I have thought about long after I finished it. And I'm still playing the multiplayer mode regularly, which is more than I can about any other multiplayer game this year. I'm not proud of it, but when Call of Duty works there's nothing else quite like it, and this is the best game in the series in years.

3. Control

One thing I learned that I hate to do in video games is read, probably because my job is to carefully read things all day. In games like Skyrim, for example, I don't read any in-game books or other pieces of writing that expand on the world's fiction. In Control, I not only read every single piece of writing I found in the Oldest House, I actively went searching for internal Federal Bureau of Control memos just to learn more about its mysteries. Control's writing made me laugh, think, and do that annoying thing where I want to tell people who don't even care about video games all about it.

Though it falters in its final moments, it also doesn't hurt that Control is an excellent action game with shades of Max Payne and Half-Life 2's gravity gun.

2. Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima has talked a big game about Death Stranding for years, and he delivered a big game. Remember how Peter Molyneux would give wildly ambitious speeches about games, then reliably fail to deliver? Death Stranding is like one of those wildly ambitious ideas come to life. I don't think it's going to change the industry like Kojima imagines. I don't think it's an entirely new genre of game, like he says. It's a video game-ass video game, and one that I enjoyed playing a lot despite Kojima's famously indulgent and nonsensical cutscenes, which are more indulgent here than ever. But it is special, and boldly original. Out of all the games on this list, it's the one that I'm going to go back to over the break, because Kojima has somehow managed to make package delivery one of the most exciting things I've ever done in a video game.

1. Sekiro

I rest my case:

Continued here:

The Best Game of 2019 Can Only Be Explained With Incredible Tweets - VICE

What did Lexington read this year? Here are the most popular books at Cary Library in 2019 – MetroWest Daily News

We want to hear from you. Which Lexington topics do you think we should report on? Let us know here.

Last year, Lexingtons Cary Memorial Library was one of the largest and most popular in the state, despite the fact the towns population does not rank among the top 50 in Massachusetts. Cary Librarys 208,968 print holdings are the 11th most in the state. Also, it is the sixth busiest library in the state, coming in just behind the libraries of Boston, Newton Cambridge, Brookline, and Worcester, according to data from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The fact Lexingtons library is able to keep pace with those of much larger communities speaks to Carys significant and longstanding importance for residents of Lexington and the surrounding area.

This popularity did not wane in 2019, as visitors to Cary expressed their interest in a wide variety of books. Below is a list of the 10 books, in order, that were most frequently checked out in Lexington this year, according to information provided by library staff.

"Becoming" byMichelle Obama

The former first ladys memoir takes the top spot in 2019. Here, Obama takes readers from her childhood in Chicago through her time at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and beyond. Critics have praised Becoming for the intimacy and candor Obama imbues her writing with.

"Educated: a memoir" byTara Westover

Lexington readers loved memoirs this year. In Educated, Westover details her childhood in Idaho, where she was raised by survivalist parents in near-isolation. After going to school for the first time at age 17, Westovers world opened up. She went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and is now a bestselling author.

"Where the Crawdads Sing" byDelia Owens

When a North Carolina man is found dead in 1969, locals immediately suspect the marsh girl, a mysterious young woman who lives alone in the reeds outside of town. The novel that follows is one part murder mystery, one part bildungsroman, and entirely a hit with local readers.

"Transcription" by Kate Atkinson

This novel dives into and beyond the world of WWII-era espionage, following a woman who is recruited by MI5 to keep keep tabs on fascist sympathizers in England. After a time jump, her past comes to light and she must face the consequences of her actions.

"Unsheltered" by Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolvers latest tells two simultaneous stories. In one, a husband and wife struggle to make ends meet despite their best efforts. In the other, a science teacher and contemporary of Charles Darwin tries to make his voice heard in a repressive village initially envisioned as a utopia. As the tales grow, Kingsolver deftly intertwines them, creating another bestseller.

"Nine Perfect Strangers" by Liane Moriarty

The author of Big Little Lies sets her sights on a new age, remote health resort and the nine strangers who have decided to attend for a variety of reasons. Eventually, shocking secrets are uncovered about the resorts owner and the nature of their gathering there in the first place.

"The Witch Elm" byTana French

With this stand-alone thriller from the author of the Dublin Murder Squad series, French tells the story of Toby, a cocky young man whose world is upended when he is nearly beaten to death by burglars. While he struggles to recover his memory, a mysterious skull is found in a tree on the family estate and an investigation begins. Through Toby, French explores the nature and origin of upper-class white privilege while also crafting another acclaimed pageturner.

"Past Tense: A Jack Reacher Novel" by Lee Child

The latest in this long-running blockbuster series follows former soldier Jack Reacher as he searches for the truth surrounding his father in an isolated New England town.

"Normal People" by Sally Rooney

In Normal People, Rooney acquaints readers with Connell and Marianne, two childhood friends whose differences continue to draw them together through college and beyond. Critics have praised Rooneys book for its insight into class dynamics and its compelling love story.

"Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng

This novel details what happens when an enigmatic single mother and her teenage daughter become tenants of Elena Richardson, a buttoned-up woman from a seemingly idyllic Midwestern suburb. Ngs book has been praised for its unflinching look at the force of motherhood and the secrets that can accompany it.

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What did Lexington read this year? Here are the most popular books at Cary Library in 2019 - MetroWest Daily News

What’s going on Thursday (Hanukkah Night 5)? – Brooklyn Vegan

Dave East at Rolling Loud NYC 2019 (more by Marcus McDonald)

You can browse our fullNYC show calendarfor all of tonights shows, but here are some highlights

Dave East, Cruch Calhoun, Millyz @ PlayStation TheaterAfter a run of buzz-worthy mixtapes, Harlem rapper Dave East finally dropped his debut album Survival last month, and tonight he plays one of the last-ever Playstation Theater shows.

Yo La Tengo @ Bowery BallroomIts one of the great NYC holiday traditions: Yo La Tengo continue their 2019 Hanukkah run which will include surprise comedian and musical act openers, as well as special guests during the encore. Proceeds go to charity.

David Byrnes American Utopia @ Hudson TheatreDavid Byrne has retooled his acclaimed untethered 2018 for the Broadway stage and while the setlist and arrangements are much like what they were on his tour, songs are now threaded together with new monologues from Byrne, making for a much more theatrical experience.

Sandra Bernhard @ Joes PubSandra Bernhard plays her 10th-annual New Years run at Joes Pub, titled Sandys Holiday Extravaganza A Decade of Madness and Mayhem. Theres both an early and late show tonight, where she plans to lift you up and soothe your frazzled holiday nerves.

You can also find quality entertainment on almost any night of the week at:Barbsbar and performance space in Park Slope,Lunticoin Bed Stuy,Nubluin the East Village,Blue Notejazz club in the West Village,The Stonein multiple locations,Comedy Cellarin the West Village, andQ.E.D.comedy club in Astoria.

For all of tonights shows, and tomorrows, check out ourNYC concert calendar.

What are you doing for New Years Eve? If youre going to be in NYC, check outour NYE Guide.



For even more NYC show info, follow@BVNYCshowson Twitter.


For even more metal, visitInvisible Orangesand follow them onFacebook&Twitter.

What else?

Read the rest here:

What's going on Thursday (Hanukkah Night 5)? - Brooklyn Vegan

The Field Guide to Tyranny – The New Yorker

Dictatorship has, in one sense, been the default condition of humanity. The basic governmental setup since the dawn of civilization could be summarized, simply, as taking orders from the boss. Big chiefs, almost invariably male, tell their underlings what to do, and they do it, or they are killed. Sometimes this is costumed in communal decision-making, by a band of local bosses or wise men, but even the most collegial department must have a chairman: a capo di tutti capi respects the other capi, as kings in England were made to respect the lords, but the capo is still the capo and the king is still the king. Although the arrangement can be dressed up in impressive clothing and nice setstriumphal Roman arches or the fountains of Versaillesthe basic facts dont alter. Dropped down at random in history, we are all as likely as not to be members of the Soprano crew, waiting outside Satriales Pork Store.

Only in the presence of an alternativethe various movements for shared self-government that descend from the Enlightenmenthas any other arrangement really been imagined. As the counter-reaction to Enlightenment liberalism swept through the early decades of the twentieth century, dictators, properly so called, had to adopt rituals that were different from those of the kings and the emperors who preceded them. The absence of a plausible inherited myth and the need to create monuments and ceremonies that were both popular and intimidating led to new public styles of leadership. All these converged in a single cult style among dictators.

That, more or less, is the thesis of Frank Diktters new book, How to Be a Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century (Bloomsbury). Diktterwho, given his subject, has a wonderfully suggestive, Nabokovian nameis a Dutch-born professor of history at the University of Hong Kong; he has previously written about the history of China under Mao, debunking, at scholarly length and with a kind of testy impatience, the myth of Mao as an essentially benevolent leader. How to Be a Dictator takes off from a conviction, no doubt born of his Mao studies, that a tragic amnesia about what ideologues in power are like has taken hold of too many minds amid the current crisis of liberalism. And so he attempts a sort of anatomy of authoritarianism, large and small, from Mao to Papa Doc Duvalier.

Each dictators life is offered with neat, mordant compression. Diktters originality is that he counts crimes against civilization alongside crimes against humanity. Stalin is indicted for having more than 1.5 million people interrogated, tortured, and, in many cases, executed. (At the campaigns height in 1937 and 1938 the execution rate was roughly a thousand per day, Diktter writes.) But Stalin is also held responsible for a nightmarish cultural degradation that occurred at the same timethe insistence on replacing art with political instruction, and with the cult of the Leader, whose name was stamped on every possible surface. As one German historian notes, you could praise Stalin during a meeting in the Stalin House of Culture of the Stalin Factory on Stalin Square in the city of Stalinsk. This black comedy of egotism could be found even among neo-Stalinist dictators of far later date. In 1985, Nicolae Ceauescu, Romanias Communist leader, ordered up such television programs as The Nicolae Ceauescu Era and Science During the Nicolae Ceauescu Epoch. By law, his portrait was featured at the beginning of every textbook.

Diktters broader point is that this manner spread to the most improbable corners of the world. His most interesting chapters, in some ways, are on the tin-pot dictatorslike Duvalier, in Haiti, and Mengistu, in Ethiopiawho, ravaging poverty-stricken countries, still conform to the terrible type. The reason his subjects exhibit a single style is in part mutual influence and hybridization (North Korean artists made Mengistu a hundred-and-sixty-foot-tall monument in Ethiopia), and in part common need. All share one ugliness because all bend to one effect: not charm but intimidation, and not persuasion but fear.

The elements come together in almost every case to make one standard biography. Theres the rise, which is usually assisted by self-deluding opportunists who believe that they can restrain the ascendant authoritarian figure; old Bolsheviks like Grigory Zinoviev, countering Trotsky, played just as significant a role in Stalins ascent, largely through abstention, as the respectable conservative Franz von Papen did in Hitlers. (We can control him is the perpetual motto of the soon-to-be-killed collaborator.) Next there is the attainment of power, and the increasingly frantic purging, followed by a cult of personality made all the more ludicrous by the passage of time, because it is capable only of inflation, not variation. Along with that comes some re-identification with figures from the national past. The exploitation of the imaginary Aryan history, bestrode by Valhallan gods, became central to the Hitler cult. In the same way, Diktter shows, Duvalier took up the animism of Haitian vodou and presented himself as the avatar of the cemetery spirit Baron Samedi.

Then comes the isolation of the dictator within his palacefriendless and paranoidand the pruning of his circle to an ever more sycophantic few. The dictator, rather than exulting in his triumph, withdraws into fearful seclusion. Finally, after all the death and brutality imposed, the dictators power, and often his life, ends with remarkable suddenness. You can watch video footage of Ceauescu, in Bucharest, 1989, confidently addressing an assembled audience and realizing in a single moment that the crowd has turned. Comrades! Quiet down! the dictator cries out, while his wife shrilly shouts, Silence! The firing squad was only a few days away. Mussolini was ejected just as abruptly, and Hitler would have been, too, if he hadnt killed himself first. Stalin seemed to make it to a natural end, but, as that terrific movie The Death of Stalin shows, he probably died sooner than he otherwise would have, because his flunkies were too terrified to do anything when they found him unconscious in a pool of his own piss.

Still, Diktters portrait of his dictators perhaps underemphasizes a key point about such men: that, horribly grotesque in most areas, they tend to be good in one, and their skill at the one thing makes their frightened followers overrate their skill at all things, like children of a drunken father who take a small act of Christmas charity as proof of enormous instinctive generosity. Compare Diktters account of Hitlers rise with John Lukacss account, and one recalls how Lukacs, without softening the portrait one bit, recognized that Hitler did some things extremely well. Hitlers occasional moments of shrewdness and even statesmanshipin seeing that Stalin would trust him not to invade Russia, or that France was not prepared to fightmade his followers more convinced than ever of his genius.

The difference between charismatic leadership and the cult of personalitydifferent points in the trajectory of the dictatoris that the charismatic leader must show himself and the object of the cult of personality increasingly cant show himself. The space between the truth and the image becomes too great to sustain. Mao, like God, could be credibly omniscient only by being unpredictably seen. Imposing an element of mystery is essential. And so most of the subjects here rarely made public appearances at the height of their cults. Stalin and Hitler both remained hidden for much of the war; to show themselves was to show less than their audiences wanted.

During the Cultural Revolution, Maos image was everywhere, but, when preparing to greet Richard Nixon, he made much of the imagery disappear. All signs of the Chairman were removed from window displays, Diktter writes. Thousands of statues were dismantled, discreetly sent off for recycling. The king or the emperor has his glory channelled into the national religion or ritual; the dictator, rising with a revolution against the old order, is in some sense an iconoclast, and has to be more enigmatic. Months went by in which nobody saw Mussolini; Stalin refused to take part in his own victory parade after the Second World War, leaving the task to his top general, Georgy Zhukov; Duvalier holed up in his palace, then suddenly appeared shopping in little Port-au-Prince boutiques. Sometimes there, sometimes not, now you see him, now you dontless the hero of a thousand faces than the overseer with a million eyes. You never know when youll see Big Brotheror when hell see you.

The really significant historical question is how the modern authoritarians cult of personality differs from the monarchs or the emperors. Roman emperors, after all, were actually deified. It matters that the twentieth-century cult of political personality rose in the context of the broader twentieth-century cult of celebrity. Monarchs coming to power in the centuries preceding mass media could be mythologized and poeticized because myths and poems were the chief cultural material around. The dictators competed with movies, and with stars. Charlie Chaplin said once, When I first saw Hitler, with that little mustache, I thought he was copying me. Though Chaplin was retrospectively rueful, it was not a crazy notionand he would use it to fantastic comic effect in The Great Dictator, still the best satiric study of dictator style ever created. Fandom and fanaticism made their historical appearance hand in hand. (Even today, Donald Trump likes dictators not only because he likes authoritarians but also because they present themselves, in ways he understands, as kitsch celebrities, with entourages and prepackaged looks.)

Diktter makes a case that there has been a dictator style, stretching across the planet. Is there also a dictator sounda specific way that they use language? The Ogre does what ogres can,/Deeds quite impossible for Man, Auden wrote in 1968, after the Soviet tanks rolled into Prague. But one prize is beyond his reach,/The Ogre cannot master Speech. The idea that language was the last bulwark against lunacy was central, in the middle of the last century, to minds like Camus and Orwell. Lucidity is a test of integrity, as Orwell insisted in Politics and the English Language. Tyrants cant talk sense.

But what if, dreadful idea, the reverse is truewhat if language is exactly what the ogres have mastered, and bad people tend to have a better command of language than good ones, who are often tongue-tied in the face of the worlds complexities? What if the tragedies of tyranny were, in the first instance, tragedies of eloquence misappliedof language used for evil ends, but used well? For centuries, students learned Latin by memorizing the writing of the great Roman tyrant and republic-ending ogre Julius Caesar. They did it exactly because Caesars style was so clear, efficiently sorting out Druids and Picts, always focussed on the main point.

The worst dictators tend to be the most enthusiastic readers and writers. Hitler died with more than sixteen thousand books in his private libraries; Stalin wrote a book that was printed in the tens of millions, and though that is easier to do when you run the publisher, own all the bookstores, and edit all the book reviews (only Jeff Bezos could hope to do that now), still, he did his own writing. Mussolini co-authored three plays while ruling Italy and was the honorary president of the International Mark Twain Society, writing a greeting to the readers of his favorite author while installed as Duce. Lenin and Trotsky, whatever else they may have done, both wrote more vividly and at greater length than did, say, Clement Attlee or Tommy Douglassocial-democratic politicians who did great good in the world and left few catchy slogans behind. Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun and The revolution is not a dinner party, Maos apologias for mass killing, may not be admirable sentiments, but they are memorable aphorismsfar more memorable than the contrasting truth that some political power grows out of the barrels of some guns some of the time, depending on what you mean by power and political, and whom youre pointing the gun at.

This contrarian hypothesis is nicely put in Daniel Kalders The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy (Henry Holt). In many ways the literary companion to Diktters book, The Infernal Library is the work of a non-academic scholar with a staggering appetite for reading. The same dictators fill both books, but Kalders focus is on their words more than their acts. He has worked through a reading list that would leave most people heading desperately for an exit, and an easier subject. Anyone can read Mein Kampf who has the stomach for the maunderings of a self-pitying, failed Austrian watercolorist. But Kalder has actually made his way through the philosophy of Antnio de Oliveira Salazar, for decades the semi-fascist quasi-dictator of Portugal, and gives his 1939 tome, Doctrine and Action, a fair review. We may have heard that Stalins Foundations of Leninism was printed in the millions, but Kalder has read it, and with a certain kind of devils-due respect: He is clear and succinct, and good at summarizing complex ideas for a middlebrow audience: the Bill Bryson of dialectical materialism, minus the gags.

Kalders point is the disquieting one that the worst tyrants of the past century were hardly the brutal less-than-literates of our imagination. (Hitler, twenty and poor in Vienna, put down writer as his occupation on an official document. He wasnt, but it was what he dreamed of being.) Their power did not grow out of the barrel of a gun. It grew out of their ability to form sentences saying that power grew out of the barrel of a gun, when in fact it was growing out of the pages of a book. Mao was even more effective as an advocate than as a general. The trouble with these tyrants language was what they used it for.

Kalder proposes Lenin as the originator of the modern totalitarian style in prose, adopting Marxs splenetic polemical tone for the purposes of Communist revolution. Kalders Lenin is a useful corrective to the more benign version of Lenin that still crops up from time to timepartly owing, it must be said, to Edmund Wilsons 1940 book, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History. Wilsons Lenin may have been insufficiently sensitive to civil liberties, but he was fundamentally humane and philosophical, a first-rate intellect caught in a first-rate crisis. His flaw was a lack of patience with his own deeply felt humanism, self-censoring even his love of Beethoven in pursuit of the public good. (Following Wilson, Tom Stoppard, in his great 1974 comedy Travesties, showed Lenin listening longingly to the Appassionata Sonata.) Vladimir Nabokov, who knew better, regularly tried to disabuse Wilson of this belief. What you now see as a change for the worse (Stalinism) in the regime is really a change for the better in knowledge on your part, he wrote to Wilson in 1948. Any changes that took place between November 1919 and now have been changes in the decor which more or less screens an unchanging black abyss of oppression and terror.

Kalder shares that view. After reading Lenins The State and Revolution, he writes, Its impossible to be surprised that the USSR turned out so badly. Already in 1905, we learn from Kalder, Lenin is dismissive of the very notion of freedom within an exploitative society, writing, The freedom of the bourgeois writer, artist, or actress is simply masked (or hypocritically masked) dependence on the money-bag, on corruption, on prostitution. Its significant that the actress comes in for Lenins disapproval; John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor, in The Subjection of Women, from 1869, had singled out actresses as a cynosure of liberal feminism, since they were the one kind of woman artist whose equality, or superiority, to men was on public display. (Taylors daughter Helen, who also worked on the book, was herself an actress.) Demoralizing actresses as mere prostitutes is therefore an essential part of the Marxist attack on bourgeois feminism.

Stalin, in Kalders account, not only succeeds Lenin as an author but surpasses him. Against the Trotskyite view of Stalin as a Georgian bandit chief, Kalder argues that Stalin was actually a big thinker and a good writer, capable of popularizing Marx in ways Lenin could not. He was a devoted craftsman of prose, too, as his much marked manuscripts attest. Because Stalins primary means of interacting with the physical world was through paper, it is not surprising that he continued to demonstrate a superstitious awe for the power of the written word, Kalder observes. He was still fascinated by books, by novels and plays, and by the arts generally. Some writers even sought out Stalin for literary advice. The amazing thing is that they got it: one prominent playwright, Alexander Afinogenov, started sending his plays directly to Stalin for a first read, and, despite the burdens of ruling a totalitarian empire, Stalin would get back to him with notes. If you want to know what a country with an editor at its head looks like, there it is.

Stalin, Kalder concludes, was a nave romantic, at least insofar as he believed in the transformative power of literature. He recognized that words shape ideas, and ideas shape souls. In 1932, he cheerfully summoned forty of the leading writers of the Soviet Union to come to dinner, exhorting them with language one might expect from a faculty dean making a case for the humanities: Our tanks are worthless if the souls who must steer them are made of clay.... And that is why I raise my glass to you, writers, to the engineers of the human soul. Of the writers who were in that room, Stalin had eleven murdered before the decade was over. Editorial rigor could achieve no more.

After spending time with Stalin, one finds Hitler and Mussolini, taken as authors, almost anticlimactic. Yet Kalder spots something that is hard to articulate but worth brooding on. When Stalin addressed workers who made tractors, he was actually interested in tractors: they were a means toward a more productive Russia. The better lifebased on efficient, electrified, and modernized farmswas visible, however many lives you had to take to get there. By contrast, Hitler and Mussolini were apocalyptic pessimists. Their work expends far more energy on the melodrama of decline and decadence, on visions of Jews giving syphilis to Aryan maidens and on the Roman ruins, than on a positive future. (Part of what drew Hitler to the Wagnerian uvre was the imagery of downfall.) Kalder has read Mussolinis memoir, written after his deposition, and is struck by the Italian dictators self-pitying conviction that the price of power is complete self-enclosure: If I had any friends now would be the time for them to sympathize, literally to suffer with me. But since I have none my misfortunes remain within the closed circle of my own life. It is significant that his bleak estrangement is what he most wants to register. It really is all about him. This taste for despair was part of both mens romanticism, and, in Hitlers case, directly responsible for the horrific last months of a war already lost. He wanted the world to burn. Germany hadnt deserved him.

Kalders analysis suggests another signal difference. The Soviet Union, and left totalitarianism in general, is a culture of the written word; the Third Reich, and right authoritarianism in general, is a culture of the spoken word. Wanting the prestige of authorship but discovering that writing is hard work, Hitler dictated most of Mein Kampf to the eager Rudolf Hess. Hitler was always unhappy with the slowness of reading and writing, compared with the vivid electricity of his rallies. Where the Marxist heritage, being theory-minded and principle-bound, involves the primacy of the text, right-wing despotism, being romantic and charismatic, is buoyed by the shared spell cast between an orator and his mob. One depends on a set of abstract rules; the other on a sequence of mutual bewitchments.

Where does the double tour of dictator style leave us? Diktter, in How to Be a Dictator, seems uncertain whether he is writing an epitaph or a prologue to a new edition. On the one hand, he deprecates the continuities between the twentieth-century cults and the more improvisatory autocrats of our day. Even a modicum of historical perspective indicates that today dictatorship is on the decline, he maintains. But he sees ominous signs in Erdoans rise, in Turkey, and notes that, in China, Xi Jinping has become consistently idolized by a propaganda machine. In 2017, Diktter points out, the party organ gave him seven titles, from Creative Leader, Core of the Party and Servant Pursuing Happiness for the People, to Leader of a Great Country and Architect of Modernisation in the New Era. Meanwhile, he observes, as the regime makes a concerted effort to obliterate a fledgling civil society, lawyers, human rights activists, journalists and religious leaders are confined, exiled and imprisoned in the thousands.

Thousands are better than millions, certainlythough historically thousands have a way of leading to millions. If there is little comfort in numbers, there is even less in words. Audens noble picture, in which the poets fight the mute ogre, cant survive the shock of history. The ogres, it turns out, are part of literary culture and always have beenthey speak and write books and read other peoples books. If by protecting the integrity of language we mean upholding the belief that literary culture, or even just plain truth-telling, is in itself a bulwark, the facts dont bear out the hypothesis. Literary culture is no remedy for totalitarianism. Ogres gonna ogre. Rhetoric is as liquid and useful for the worst as it is for the best. The humanities, unfortunately, belong to humanity.

Perhaps the most depressing reflection sparked by both books is on the supine nature of otherwise intelligent observers in the face of the coarse brutalities of dictatorships. Kalder writes, as many have before, about Maos successful courtship of Western writers and leaders, who kept the Maoist myth alive as his cult descended into barbaric absurdity. He also writes of finding, in a small Scottish town, a contemporary English translation of Stalins Speech at a Conference of Harvester-Combine Operators, delivered in December of 1935, including interpolated parentheticals of audience response: Loud and prolonged cheers and applause. Cries of Long live our beloved Stalin! The marvel is that the pamphlet had been translated into English within days after the speech was given. Then, Kalder observes, berserk cultists spirited it across the waves, and read it, and found value in it, in a society where nobody was being starved to death, shot in the head or interned in a slave labor camp. The capacity for self-delusion on the part of cosseted utopians about the actuality of utopia remains the most incomprehensible element of the story of the twentieth century, and its least welcome gift to the twenty-first.

Original post:

The Field Guide to Tyranny - The New Yorker

Best podcasts of 2019: from true crime to nonfiction and comedy – Polygon

The sheer number of podcasts being made right now, it can be hard figuring out where to start. If you hear about a great podcast people love, you might find it has a daunting number of episodes--which is especially worrisome if the podcast is fiction, meaning you have to start at the beginning and listen in order.

Luckily, 2019 gave us some fantastic new shows to listen to during the end of the year traveling and long commutes ahead. To make things easy, weve chronologically catalogued the best podcast releases of 2019 based on their first episode so you can check out the best of the best based on timeliness.

Premiere date: Jan. 2Genre: Serialized fiction, comedy

Gay Future is a six-part, comedy mini-series based on a recently discovered, unpublished YA novel by Mike Pence, the show purports. In a future where everyone is gay, the storys protagonist comes to a terrifying realization: hes straight, and its up to him to lead the straight rebellion. Gay Future is a fantastic work of satire, using its lightning-speed comedy and over-the-top performances and sound design to hammer in how truly buckwild Pences story is and, by proxy, how so much homophobic rhetoric is, too. Its a hilarious, zany rollercoaster that youll need to listen to repeatedly just to make sure you catch every joke as they zoom by.

Premiere date: Jan. 6Genre: Episodic fiction, musical, slice-of-life

Loveville High is the story of one high school prom from the perspective of different students, all told as a musical. Another mini-series, each of its nine episodes is a self-contained episode of one characters prom night. The podcast looks into the life and story of high schoolers from different backgrounds, and carves out a surprising amount of depth, using gorgeous songs, each within about 10 minutes. The performances are all portrayed by actual musical theatre professionals, which means you know youre going to get some astounding acting and singing.

Premiere date: Jan. 7Genre: Serialized fiction, actual play, comedy

A new show from Atypical Artists, the production collective that gave us The Bright Sessions, Arcs is an actual-play Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition podcast following adventurers Larkin, a young human wizard played by Lauren Shippen; Jackson, a half-giant who is big, round, and not very good at things played by Nathan Stanz; and Barri, a half-orc bard with mischievous gay energy played by Briggon Snow. DM Jordan Adika wrangles the shockingly chaotic party into a series of hijinks thats hilarious, but also masterfully crafted. Full sound design work and original music adds to the dynamic between the hosts, whose timing and performances prove theyre polished podcast professionals.

Premiere date: Jan. 21Genre: Serialized nonfiction, investigative journalism, mini series

The Dropout is the surreal, fascinating story of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of the health-care startup, Theranos. The docu-series is the perfect podcast follow-up to the dual Fyre documentaries, a similar narrative structure leading us through the windy path of a wealth-motivated manipulator who convinces others to, not only trust her, but invest millions of dollars in her half-baked company. The difference here is that Theranos wasnt a party for Instagram influencers, but a medical technology company that real patients relied on for medical procedures. This mini-series interviews people affected by Theranos in different ways, including the employees who came forward about the companys dangerous fraud.

Premiere date: Jan. 24Genre: Serialized fiction, drama, comedy, weird west

Caravan is the story of Samir, a queer Desi man who falls into a canyon while camping with his best friend only to wind up in a surreal, parallel world. Caravan blends genre at every turn: its as intimate and dramatic as it is goofy and hilarious, and the weird Wild West setting is filled with ghosts, demons, banshees, unicorns, and cowboys. The world is meticulously built, and creator Tau Zaman integrates their education in political science throughout. Beyond the adventure and coming-of-age story, the series probes the notion of people who wield power and how that power is used. A product of The Whisperforge, the studio behind audio fiction standouts like The Far Meridian and StarTripper!!, Caravan sounds incredible, offering an immersive audio experience.

Premiere date: Jan. 24thGenre: Serialized nonfiction, personal narrative, mini series

Julie Yip-Williams documented the process of preparing for death in her posthumous novel, The Unwinding of the Miracle, and in this podcast. Diagnosed with terminal colon cancer, Yip-Williams wanted to record all of her preparations for death, including recounting stories from her life, connecting with her young daughters, finding the truth behind secrets, and coming to accept that her life was ending. The podcast is a deeply emotional, moving, heart-wrenching story that reminds listeners that everything is fleeting, and we need to make most of all of our time alive.

Premiere date: Feb. 19thGenre: Serialized fiction, drama, horror, midwestern gothic

Unwell is a Midwestern Gothic story about a bristly, frustrated woman who returns to her small hometown to take care of her mother after an injury. Following the current tonal trend of contemplative, quiet, slow-build horror found in works like Hereditary or The Haunting of Hill House, Unwell finds most of its unsettling moments not through big reveals or noisy jumpscares but uncomfortable quiet and stillness. Theres something ominous happening in the town of Mt. Absalom, and dark history between protagonist Lily and her mother, Dot, but listeners will tread in discomfort before anything is revealed. There are some great jokes about the Midwest in its first episodes, but even they help paint the picture of how truly bizarre everything in the town can be.

Premiere date: Feb. 25Genre: Nonfiction episodic, conversation, culture

All My Relations is a conversation podcast hosted by Matika Wilbur and Dr. Adrienne Keene that focuses on the lives and cultures of Native American peoples. Native American peoples are some of the marginalized voices that rarely get discussed in conversations about race, and All My Relations aims to fill in those gaps with profound ruminations, but also a good amount of jokes. The dynamic between the hosts is contemplative but casual, easily weaving between serious topics, personal anecdotes, laughter, and tears.

Premiere date: March 22Genre: Nonfiction episodic, conversation, arts

Night Vale Presents most recent foray into nonfiction, Start with This, offers conversations between the Welcome to Night Vale creators about a specific aspect of the creative process. Aimed to help aspiring podcasters make their first podcast, the conversations are sure to be beneficial to anyone who wants to work on any creative project. For the first 20 minutes, the hosts discuss something like creative restrictions or the merits of collaboration. Then, they give the listener a related, interesting, and very specific prompt to write on. The listener is then invited to share their progress, work, and responses in a forum of other listeners.

Premiere date: May 30thGenre: Nonfiction episodic, deep dive

[Ed. note: Nice Try! is a project from Polygons sister site Curbed, but comes recommended independently by Wil.]

Hosted by Avery Trufelman of 99% Invisible and spinoff Articles of Interest, Nice Try!: Utopian is a look back at historys attempts at building utopias, ranging from a Third Reich airport to Disney World. Trufelman chronicles each utopian plot, and then the eventual collapse, interviewing experts and weaving together the narratives with elegant structure. Nice Try!: Utopian is a combination of journalism and creative nonfiction at its finest, focusing on both what the utopia says about how humans work and the granular details of what actually made it anything but a utopia. Trufelmans insights are sharp and exciting, connecting points to a greater web of how societies work.

Premiere date: June 17thGenre: Nonfiction episodic, deep dive

Theres something to be said about schadenfreude in 2019, and Spectacular Failures brings a very specific catharsis to the listener by asking, How could something with so much potential go so wrong? Host Lauren Ober examines some of the biggest failures in business, like Moviepass or Toys R Us, with a balance of sardonic humor in delivery and relative neutrality in writing its just that the facts are almost always hilarious. Without Ober at the helm, Spectacular Failures could be a standard deep-dive podcast educating the listener; with the hosts often incredulous tone, its usually as funny as it is informative.

Premiere date: Aug. 23rdGenre: Nonfiction episodic, mini series, history, personal narratives

1619 is the New York Times examination of how slavery shaped America, and still shapes it to this day, 400 years after men and women were first brought from Africa to what were then the English colonies. Hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, each of the six episodes reveals how slavery informed the decisions and structures of the early United States, and how those decisions and structures remain today. 1619 doesnt exist to comfort or hold the listeners hand during tough moments: there are frank discussions of Abraham Lincolns explicit racism, the problems and built-in paradoxes with black land ownership, and the black musicians at the heart of essentially every piece of American music. Often, the stories of how slavery has affected the United States ties back to a personal narrative, showing how much the history of American slavery has impacted the country on every level: institutional, political, economic, cultural, and individual.

Premiere date: Sept. 16Genre: Serialized fiction, mystery, drama

From audio-drama veterans Lauren Shippen (The Bright Sessions, ARCS, The AM Archives) and John Dryden (Tumanbay, LifeAfter) and distributed by Radiotopia, Passenger List is a mysterious fiction podcast revolving around the disappearance of a plane on a transatlantic flight. Starring The Last Jedis Kelly Marie Tran as protagonist Kaitlin Le, Passenger List toys with the line between science fiction and conspiracy-theory thriller. But while the plot moves to raise stakes and ask more questions, Kaitlin Les experience as a woman grieving over her missing twin develops as the true focus. Shes arguably motivated to a fault, but definitely complicated, asking the listener to root for her while also questioning her methods and tactics.

Premiere date: Oct. 9thGenre: Serialized fiction, mini-series, realistic fiction, drama

Moonface is the story of Korean-American man, Paul, and his struggles to come out as gay to his mother. The problem isnt just because the act of coming out can be terrifying, especially with traditional parents; its also because he and his mother do not speak the same language, literally. Scored by pop songs, Moonface feels both like the indie coming-of-age movies of the early 2000s and quiet, intimate art films like LadyBird or Moonlight. Worth noting: the series isnt very not safe for work, so be sure to listen when you can comfortably and responsibly engage in something explicitly sexual.

Wil Williams writes, listens, and loves podcasts. She runs the website Wil Williams Writes, co-hosts the podcast Tuned In Dialed up, and has work featured in Discover Pods and Bello Collective. She is afraid of whales and suspicious of dolphins.

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Best podcasts of 2019: from true crime to nonfiction and comedy - Polygon

Friday 27 December 2019 – The Monocle Minute – Monocle

In 2010, while I was a design student at the University of Western Australia, I studied Ridley Scotts Blade Runner as part of the first-year architecture curriculum. My tutors spoke effusively about the films representation of class struggle through architecture and encouraged us to examine how technology in the Los Angeles of Scotts imagined future was reflected in our own cityscape.

The film was set in 2019 and some of its ideas talking computers and enormous digital billboards are all but reality even if flying cars have yet to take off. So it now seems appropriate to choose a new movie to challenge and inspire the next generation of city-makers. But does one exist? Im not sure. If I were to write, direct and lets be honest star in a film that was tailor-made for future architects and designers to study, the metropolis depicted would have a decidedly retro feel, using technology to make room for more analogue activities.

Imagine, for instance, a world where mobile-phone data was blacked out in select public areas, forcing people to stop scrolling through social-media feeds and pick up a conveniently placed local newspaper instead. We would marvel at how brakes on scooters would be automatically activated in designated zones, allowing pedestrians to go about their business without fear of colliding with someone on a two-wheeler. In short, hi-tech would be used to create soft-tech spaces, with the resulting streets feeling more friendly and inviting.

So if anyones thinking of funding an urban-utopia film project in the coming year, drop me a note. Because in a world of hi-tech effects, its the low-tech future that would really bring shock and awe to cinema audiences and perhaps improve our cities along the way.

Excerpt from:

Friday 27 December 2019 - The Monocle Minute - Monocle

Top 37 albums of the 2010s countdown on WMNF – WMNF – WMNF


December 26, 2019 by Sen Kinane and filed under Music, Station Updates.

Heres the list. Im sure youll have your own opinion, so please post them as a comment below.

(A lot of these bands put out more than one good album this decade I limited this list to one per band).

For one week only you can listen to the show on the WMNF.org archives. Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here.

number album band year a representative song

37 Trigger Hippy Trigger Hippy 2014 Pocahontas36 Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros 2013 Better Days35 Dos Amigos Una Fiesta Two Man Gentleman Band 2010 Chocolate Milk34 Elephant Stone Elephant Stone 2013 Setting Sun33 American Utopia David Byrne 2018 Everybodys Coming to My House32 Ive Been Meaning to Write Ronny Elliott 2012 A Doctor and a Lawyer31 Sea of Tears Eilen Jewell 2011 Rain Roll In30 Stay Human Vol. II Michael Franti & Spearhead 2019 Little Things29 What We Saw From the Cheap Seats Regina Specktor 2012 Small Town Moon28 Revelator Tedeschi Trucks Band- 2011 Midnight in Harlem27 Masseduction St. Vincent 2017 Masseduction26 Rebellion Rises Ziggy Marley 2018 Rebellion Rises25 They Will Find You Here Sleepy Vikings 2011 These Days24 Boys & Girls Alabama Shakes 2015 Hold On23 Lost On the River: The New Basement Tapes The New Basement Tapes 2014 Kansas City22 Everything Now Arcade Fire 2017 Everything Now21 Young Sick Camellia St. Paul & the Broken Bones 2018 GotItBad20 Trouble Will Find Me The National 2013 Demons19 Thank You For Today Death Cab For Cutie 2018 Northern Lights18 Monolith of Phobos The Claypool Lennon Delerium 2016 Boomerang Baby17 The Ballad of Boogie Christ Joseph Arthur 2013 I Miss The Zoo16 Critical Equation Dr. Dog 2018 Go Out Fighting15 Woodstock Portugal, The Man 2017 Feel It Still14 Mergers & Acquisitions Have Gun, Will Travel 2011 Time Machine13 Genuine Negro Jig Carolina Chocolate Drops 2010 Trouble in Your Mind12 Strangers to Ourselves Modest Mouse 2015 Lampshades on Fire11 Tell Me How You Really Feel Courtney Barnett 2018 City Looks Pretty10 If the River Was Whiskey Spin Doctors 2013 Traction Blues9 God Willin & The Creek Dont Rise Ray LaMontagne 2010 Beg Steal or Borrow8 TraLaLa Rebekah Pulley Hard Times7 Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats 2015 I Need Never Get Old6 Heavy On the Vine Ryan Montbleau Band 2010 Songbird5 Benjamin Booker Benjamin Booker 2014 Violent Shiver4 Blunderbuss Jack White 2012 -Missing Pieces3 The Carpenter The Avett Brothers 2012 Down with the Shine2 AM Arctic Monkeys 2013 Do I Wanna Know1 The Bright Light Social Hour The Bright Light Social Hour 2011 Back and Forth

Tags: Best Of, music


Top 37 albums of the 2010s countdown on WMNF - WMNF - WMNF

‘American Utopia,’ ‘Dragon Lady,’ And More: The Best Of Boston Theater In 2019 – wgbh.org

The years best in theater reveals a line-up of shows that challenged the conventions of the formfrom the sounds of silence in not one, but two shows to finding raw resonance in what could have been dusty classics. And then theres the impossibly talented theater artist whos destined for epic stardomin my humble opinion.

Robert Wade, Courtesy of Intiman Theatre (Seattle, Washington) and the American Repertory Theater

Sara Porkalob. Remember that name. A Seattle theater artist, Porkalob brought the two one-woman shows shes written and performs about her Filipino family to the American Repertory Theater for evenings that moved from the depths of poignancy to the heights of hilarity. Porkalob has a genius, star quality and stage presence that can scarcely be qualified other than to say she is destined to be one of the theater greats.

"Dragon Lady" and "Dragon Mama" ran at the March 20 through April 6, 2019 at the American Repertory Theater.

Mark S. Howard, courtesy of Lyric Stage Company

A moving production that never stopped moving, this exquisitely staged drama (and 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist) delivered us into a girls indoor soccer team practice. With a superb and highly athletic cast, "The Wolves" scored for its naturalistic look into the secret life of teenagers.

"The Wolves" ran from January 11 through February 3, 2019 at the Lyric Stage Boston.

Jeremy Daniel, courtesy of Williamstown Theatre Festival

Its one of the thrills and magic of theater when a director can take a classic like Lorraine Hansberrys "A Raisin in the Sun" and make you feel like youve never seen it before. Thats precisely what Robert OHara did this summer in a production led by the estimable S. Epatha Merkerson. In a production that belongs on Broadway, OHara brought us into a black 1950s family so earnestly trying to climb the next rung to the American dream, that every creak on the ladder was a lasting sucker punch to the gut. The emotion was real and raw.

"A Raisin in the Sun" ran from June 25 through July 13, 2019 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Matthew Murphy, courtesy of Emerson Colonial Theatre

Its no surprise that David Byrne on stage would be anything other than conceptual, engaging and just brilliantly brilliant. Byrne opened a Broadway-bound theatrical adaptation of his album American Utopia so stripped down that the heady shows focus had to be on the music (a mix of Byrnes solo work and Talking Heads songs), the performance and the ideas (everything from voting to the genesis of music). And it was all garnished with mesmerizing choreography by Annie-B Parson.

"American Utopia" ran from September 11 through September 28, 2019 at the Emerson Colonial Theatre.

T. Charles Erickson, courtesy of the Huntington Theatre Company

Billy Porter knows how to grab our attentioncertainly on-stage, on-screen or on the red carpet. But even when hes not front and center, his presence looms large as we found in "The Purists," a world premiere play he launched at the Huntington Theatre Company. This dramedy about a small group of neighborhood people from all walks and backgrounds meshing and mashing on a stoop in Queens exploded with energy, hilarity and provocative questions about who we all really are.

"The Purists" ran from August 30 through October 6, 2019 at the Huntington Theatre Company.

Judy Sirota Rosenthal, courtesy of ArtsEmerson

A production that defied all the notions and preconceptions of what theater is supposed to be, "The End of TV," by Chicago-based performance collective Manual Cinema, was a jaw-dropping experience unfolding entirely in imagery and song. Through a captivating blend of live-action silhouettes, projected puppetry, and pop culture TV, the show brought us into the Rust Belt and the struggles of two people just trying to get by. With nary a word of dialogue, it was ingenious.

"The End of TV" ran from January 16 through January 27, 2019 at ArtsEmerson.

Nile Scott Studios, courtesy of SpeakEasy Stage Company

Speaking of not speaking, this little gem of a play by Bess Wohl kicked off the year with a knock on New Years resolution wellness as a motley group of people gather at a silent yoga retreat. It could only take a roster of Bostons best actors to keep us spellbound for the better part of two hours with their near-silent performances. Hugely hilarious, it was a wry dissection of the jagged path to our better selves.

"Small Mouth Sounds" ran from January 4 through February 2, 2019 at the SpeakEasy Stage Company.

Nile Scott Studios, courtesy of Central Square Theater

A professor decides hes going to educate a poor, wayward woman how to comport herself to be more lady-like. How would that play in the Me Too era? Really well, as it turns out when the ever-innovative New York theater company Beldam (which has practically made Boston its second home) turned its attention to Eliza Doolittle. The group upped the relevance factor even more by making George Bernard Shaws heroine an immigrant played by Vaishnavi Sharma. As theyre wont to do, Bedlam made this "Pygmalion" strikingly modern.

"Bedlams Pygmalion" ran from January 31 through March 3, 2019 at the Central Square Theatre.

Broadway came to Boston for this one and we were all the better for it. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel and directed by Rebecca Taichman, who won a Tony for the play, "Indecent" was a remount of the New York production. It charted the course of Yiddish playwright Sholem Aschs 1907 drama "God of Vengeance," a piece that eventually fell victim to a fevered pitch of anti-Semitism in the United States. Gorgeous in style and form, it was a beautiful rendering of the purity of the human spirit.

"Indecent" ran from April 26 through May 25, 2019 at the Huntington Theatre Company.

Sharman Altshuler, courtesy of Moonbox Productions

The year closed with a striking effort by Moonbox Productions, one of Bostons smaller theater companies with a big vision. This musical about Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jew convicted for the 1913 murder of a 13-year-old girl in Atlanta, when his only real crime may have been that he was simply other in the closed South, was a beautifully conceived production. Director Jason Modica delivered a hit "Parade," balancing lush staging with a dark and deranged tone evoking Atlantas prejudicial society.

"Parade" is running from December 11 through December 28, 2019 at the Calderwood Pavillion at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Read more here:

'American Utopia,' 'Dragon Lady,' And More: The Best Of Boston Theater In 2019 - wgbh.org

Saluting the undersung British TV shows of 2013 – Den of Geek UK

Remember 2013? Prince Charles editing Countryfile. The debut of the new robot cameras after BBC News moved to Broadcasting House. Doctor Who aired its 50th anniversary episode and a lot more around it. And possibly some stuff happened on other networks too, but hey, our taxes paid for this one so lets stick with it as we look at what else was going on

Continuing our 10-part series revisiting some of the best undersung British and non-US TV shows of the decade, here are a few favourites that arrived in 2013.

Part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, but tucked away on BBC Four, this show was rightly lauded by Doctor Who fandom but somewhat ignored outside it. A one-off feature-length drama about the creation of Doctor Who penned by Mark Gatiss no less - gives a fascinating insight into the creation of one of the worlds most enduring sci-fi franchises. Ideal viewing for TV geeks as well as sci-fi geeks.

Much like its undead progeny, the zombie apocalypse is the genre that keeps on giving. This firmly post-apocalypse take is set several years after a zombie outbreak as normality restores or as close to it as possible. In taking a social commentary angle like Romeros original zombie films, it actually takes the idea back to its roots, and the nine-episode run is satisfyingly binge-able. Here's why we loved it.

Cruelly cut down in its prime, Utopia is smart, modern sci-fi with a blistering high concept, in which a graphic novel The Utopia Experiment ties in, somehow, to a conspiracy that could affect the course of humanity. Unresolved story notwithstanding, its as original a show as UK television has produced in years. Read our spoiler-filled reviews and more here.

The premise of this Sky One sitcom from the makers of Horrible Histories is nothing short of glorious. A 33-year-old suburban mother falls through a portal in her cupboard and arrives in Yonderland. Shes hailed as the chosen one only, it turns out, no-one in Yonderland knows what the chosen one has to do. Its a fantastic all-ages show theres a reason Den of Geek loves it.

Set against the historical backdrop of the English civil war, this TV miniseries was high-budget and high-drama, though its factual accuracy was criticised. Still, ignore that and theres tonnes to enjoy. It was followed by The White Princess in 2017 and then by The Spanish Princess, which aired its first series this year and will conclude in 2020, so if you like its style theres plenty more where that came from.

Comedy sketch group Pappys has never quite manage to translate their brilliantly anarchic live energy to the screen, but their sitcom Badults came closest to capturing the magic. A self-aware take on the classic sitcom format, it was everything sitcom fans claim they miss about comedy. A 2-series run began on BBC3 in 2013, just in time for the channel to be made online-only.

Starring Mad Mens Elizabeth Moss and with guest appearances by the likes of Holly Hunter and Nicole Kidman, Top Of The Lake was a show with star power. In it, Mosss Detective Robin Griffin investigates the murder of a pregnant 12-year-old in New Zealand. Hailed as a masterpiece, its brilliance has not been dulled with time, and would easily appear on best-of-the-decade lists if only more people had noticed it.

Charlie Brookers cultural footprint (possible alternative title?) is huge now thanks to the runaway success of Black Mirror on Netflix, but his Wipe shows are overlooked even by fans of his regular screen wipe column. Unpicking the news as we lived it, Weekly Wipes media savvy satire puts most modern satire to shame, and is sorely missed.

James Cordon doesnt seem like the kind of performer its possible to under-appreciate, but his action-sitcom The Wrong Mans, co-created with Cordons Gavin & Stacy castmate Matthew Baynton, is far better than most people credit it for. A bit The Big Lebowski, a bitWright/Pegg Cornetto Trilogy, if you didn't give it a chance at the time, this one deserves another look.

Fans of stand-up might have missed this small, Stewart Lee-curated comedy show that took 38 weird, idiosyncratic and atypical acts stand-up acts and put them on TV for the world to see. Some have gone on to be huge, while others still work the live circuit safe in the knowledge theyll never get back on TV. With 38 comedians across 25 episodes, its two series are not to be missed.

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Saluting the undersung British TV shows of 2013 - Den of Geek UK

12 Plays And Musicals That Mattered In Boston This Year – WBUR

Troublesome times call for troubling theater. Hence, "Hello, Dolly!" despite the joyous, candy-colored revival that cakewalked through the Citizens Bank Opera House this pastsummer will not be found on this list. Instead, we have singled out plays and musicals, including a few that arent new, that speak to the currently splintered zeitgeist. We were especially impressed by works that dealt with the ferocity of adolescence and our dealings with the world from American Utopia to the Middle East to the Far East. Doubtless, Dolly! has traveled to those places and then some but to an old-fashioned Broadway melody. Here, then, are 12 productions that got the modern music just right.

Lauren Yees 2018 play, seen here in a joint production by Pittsburghs City Theatre, Chicagos Victory Gardens Theater and MRT, proved an ingenious, intricately woven tapestry of horrific history and family mystery drama. Seamless, it was framed by the buoyant, thunderous songs of the California-based band Dengue Fever, whosemission has been to resurrect the psychedelic rock that was a youthful bulwark of the Cambodian Republic overrun in the 1970s by the Khmer Rouge (which, of course, snuffed out the music along with a quarter of the population). The plays action flips around in time between 2008, when a young Cambodian-American woman is in Phnom Penh working to catch a real-life Khmer Rouge henchman known as Comrade Duch, and the earlier life of her dad, who escaped the ruthless regime in the 1970s but has never talked to his daughter about his experience. We revisit the fathers exuberant youth as a member of the Cambodian rock band of the title and the unspeakable things that happened to him and his band mates in the wake of the 1975 crackdown. Audaciously, the dapper if sinister Duch emcees the proceedings. And the actors double quite credibly as the band, ripping through the Dengue Fever songs in both English and Khmer. Marti Lyons helmed the searing yet infectious production.

In this Tony-winning musical with book by Steven Levenson and score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the circle of hell that is high school becomes a gaping social-media maw as the titular teen finds himself backed into a lie that goes viral, tumbling the already anxious youth into a virtual stream of prolonged panic. It also leads him to fame as unlikely as the success of this curiously intimate, original musical in which the human action is dwarfed by a moveable, mutating feast of Facebook feeds, tangled tweets and, of course, cascading emojis. Yet it is on the heartfelt human scale that the musical triumphs. At its grief-stricken center is one gangly, troubled teen who feels diminished and invisible and who yearns to be seen and acknowledged. And in director Michael Greifs tight, fluid, never maudlin national-touring production, he was portrayed by Ben Levi Ross, a young actor possessed of a sweet gawkiness and a lovely tenor that soars effortlessly into falsetto like an adolescent voice, or a heart, cracking.

The Tony-nominated 2017 Broadway production of Paula Vogels 2015 play was gorgeously, grittily remounted for Los Angeles Center Theatre Group and the Huntington Theatre Company. Shaking the dust from the scandal caused by the 1907 Yiddish Theater classic God of Vengeance, which included a lesbian love scene and was shut down on Broadway in 1923, Vogels work proved a lively, fluid piece of stagecraft encompassing the fraught histories of Jewish culture, Yiddish theater, arts censorship and the love that for so long dared not speak its name all played out to a feverish, toe-tapping klezmer score. Director Rebecca Taichman deservedly won a Tony for her ghostly yet vibrant staging, which played out on an almost bare stage amid stacked suitcases before a looming if muted gold proscenium. The period-perfect ensemble was impeccable, and the ending, a cleansing soak in pouring rain and burgeoning same-sex love, was exquisite.

Composer, librettist, lyricist and orchestrator Dave Malloy and director Rachel Chavkins mighty if quirky musical adaptation of Herman Melvilles iconic 1851 novel doesnt run to 600 pages. But it is an epic undertaking: a three-and-a-half-hours-long, singing and dancing riff on the Pequod as a stand-in for America whether in the run-up to the Civil War or now, when our melting pot is captained by a megalomaniac. Stylistically, the work, like the novel, sprawls all over the place, encompassing not just Melvilles allegorical adventure tale but a vaudeville, a jazz cycle and a profane stand-up comedy routine by Captain Ahabs Parsee prophet, Fedallah. Not everything works, but Malloys score lush, dissonant, soaring and melodic is both wonderful and well rendered by the nine-piece band and the diverse cast. And Tony-winner Mimi Liens set puts us all in the belly of the whale, its wavy wooden ribs also the ribs of the Pequod encompassing the entirety of the Loeb Drama Center auditorium.

It pains me to report that this enigmatic, penetrating production will be the last by Israeli Stage, which has closed down after nine years of conversation-stirring staged readings and full productions of works by Israeli dramatists. The Return was not only the troupes last hurrah but its first offering by a Palestinian playwright, Hanna Eady, written with his frequent American collaborator, Edward Mast. Brief, cryptic and alive with emotion, the piece takes the form of four tense encounters between a Palestinian mechanic alone on Shabbat duty at an Israeli garage and a Jewish woman who show up seeking not car repairs but redemption or at least recognition. We are left with more questions than certainties regarding the characters (or the playwrights) motivations, and some audience members found the dramaturgical deck stacked against the privileged Israeli majority and the Jewish governments fierce, intrusive security apparatus as came out in the post-performance discussion that followed all Israeli Stage outings. But artistic director Guy Ben-Aharon helmed a staging that was more metaphoric than didactic, its four scenes separated by long ominous chords against which Cristina Todescos abstract white set pulsed with vivid color. And the performances by Nael Nacer and Philana Mia throbbed less with political pointedness than with yearning.

This 2016 play, a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, marked an impressive dramaturgical debut by writer Sarah DeLappe, who used her youthful experience on a girls soccer team to create a microcosm of female adolescence. In the playwrights words, the work is a portrait of teenage girls as human beings that, in the Lyric staging, proved a stretching, kicking, jumping-jacking whole and the sum of its idiosyncratic parts. Taking the form of a series of chatty warm-ups by the titular team, neatly packed into the 90 minutes allotted a soccer match, the play features random, overlapping dialogue that pings around faster than even the most deftly propelled ball. But what is most striking about it, even if you dont catch every word amid the shifting alliances and butt kicks, is that it takes its nine strong, budding personalities seriously even as it lays out the near-comic cacophony in their heads fed by parents, politics, schoolwork, social media and a lifetime of shared pop-cultural references. A. Nora Long was at the helm of the fast-moving, high-prancing production set on an AstroTurf slope surrounded by protective netting. And the nine Wolves, most portrayed by recent graduates of respected actor-training programs, were convincing in both their ferocity as a huddled, howling pack and their vulnerabilities as individuals bravely groping toward adulthood.

Carolyn Clay

David Byrnes interests and he has quite a few have taken a turn for the theatrical in recent years, particularly with choreographer Annie-B Parson at his side. His 2014 Here Lies Love at the Public Theater, a deeply immersive musical about Imelda Marcos, was one of the theatrical events of the decade. American Utopia wasnt quite in that league it began life as a rock concert though it did have Byrne and a company of dancer-musicians tearing up the Emerson Colonial stage trying to make sense out of these strange times we find ourselves in. Byrnes answer to todays divisive politics isnt so much Dont Worry, Be Happy but Do Worry, But Dont Give Up. And dont forget what unites us. Ill dance to that.

The third great musical of the 21stcentury, along with Here Lies Love and that Hamilton fellow, was the inspired collaboration between one of the worlds great playwrights, Tony Kushner, and one of the worlds great theater composers, Jeanine Tesori. The story is about the relationship between a young Kushner stand-in and his familys maid, as well as the challenges in both their family lives. Kushner treats both the Jewish and the African-American experiences with utmost respect and sophistication, and so does Tesori with an amazing, almost operatic mixture of klezmer,rock, gospel and theater music. Yewande Odetoyinbo, in the title role, and Davron S. Monroe were particularly in tune.

One of the many things that stands out in Spiro Veloudos historic 21-year term as artistic director of the Lyric Stage has been his championing of Stephen Sondheim musicals, and not just the usual Little Night Music suspects. He made people stand up and pay attention with Assassins early in his run and finished the Sondheim journey with the difficult but rewarding Pacific Overtures. Commodore Matthew Perrys cultural invasion of Japan in 1853 is the jumping off point for a score that reflects a broad interest in Eastern music and staging. Veloudos assembled some of his favorite designers for his 10thand last Sondheim as he steps down as artistic director from a theater he made an essential part of the local theatrical scene.

One of the happier developments in Boston theater the past few years was the residency engineered by Babson College and the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, producer of Shakespeare on the Common. One of the sadder developments in the past year was the demise of that Babson residency. Steven Maler embraced a modernistic aesthetic that brought us sterling productions of Samuel Beckett and Caryl Churchill with top-notch casts. This past year gave us Naomi Wallaces stirring adaptation of Birdy, which you might remember as a movie starring Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage. Maler did a fine job of casting the unlikely duo of high-school jock and bird lover with two different pairs of actors, younger and older. Its something of a clich that the title character teaches the jock to fly, but both the script and staging take so many chances that the spirit soars.

Maybe some creative producer will do with Sara Porkalob what the BBC did with Phoebe Waller-Bridges Fleabag and turn it into a great TV series. Porkalob is as transfixing a presence as Waller-Bridge and her stories are just as cinematic. Where Waller-Bridge, though, talks about a life on the run from her rich parents, Porkalob inhabits two (soon to be three) generations of Filipino-Americans who didnt have it so easy financially. And I do mean inhabits. She reprised Dragon Lady at the Oberon about her grandmother in a cabaret-influenced performance and followed it with the premiere of Dragon Mama, the gut-wrenching story of her mother, a more traditional voyage into solo performance, but no less emotional as it veers from comic to tragic elements. Porkalob dives not only convincingly into her mother and grandmother but into the men and women in their lives. Its Porkalob, herself, though, who emerges as fully formed, both as a person and an artist. Added kudos to the A.R.T. for SIX, the rock musical about the wives of Henry VIII, updated for the #MeToo times we live in.

There is an increasing void in the Boston-Cambridge area forthe kind of non-representational theater championed by the three Robs Robert Brustein, Robert Woodruff and Rob Orchard at the A.R.T. and ArtsEmerson. If youre a fan of this less overtly realistic style of theater then hie thee to the hills of Needham Heights where the Arlekin Players and play is a big part of their arsenal inhabit a space thats utterly nondescript from the outside and utterly enchanting and intimate inside. Most of their adaptations spring from the wildly creative mind of Igor Golyak, who this season staged a Germanavant-garde play, The Stone, a Holocaust-inspired story about history, honesty and ownership. And more recently, The Seagull, a meta-ish piece about a troupe of actors working their way through the wonders of Chekhov. Ive never felt as close to Chekhovs psychically-damaged characters literally, since the performers were almost in my lap, but more importantly, Golyaks sense of tragedy mixed with comedy melded perfectly with Chekhov.

Finally --A few shows from Western Mass. I can't not mention:

Ed Siegel


12 Plays And Musicals That Mattered In Boston This Year - WBUR

Peter Halley’s Heterotopia II explored the relationship between painting, architecture, and image – The Architect’s Newspaper

Peter Halleys Heterotopia II, a candy-colored shrine to geometric abstraction closed on December 20 at Greene Naftali gallery in Chelsea (Manhattan). The exhibition, which embodied the relationship between painting and architectural space, brought visitors into a disorienting, hyperreal world collaged out of references to science fiction, modernist architecture, and mass mediaall painted in fluorescent hues. The installation was both a fortress and a stage set and brought to mind the importance of creating alternative worlds and ways of seeing while also probing the ties between architecture, art, and image.

The experience could be described as stepping into one of the Neo-Geo paintings Halley became known for in the 80s. Or, like stepping into a Josef Albers color studythe same floor appearing to drastically transform in color as one moves from a room with pink walls to one painted orange. Housed between floor-to-ceiling yellow walls coated in Roll-A-Tex, visitors could catch small glimpses of the polychromatic, multi-level interior spaces from narrow cut-outs along the perimeter prior to entering and one could enter one of two ways: through a long hall covered in glimmering metallic tinsel, or an entry immediately confronted with a set of low, blue steps.

The rooms in the exhibition are organized around an unpenetrable, yellow core. (Courtesy Greene Naftali)

Six rooms in total contained eight new shaped-canvas paintings that incorporated the same Roll-A-Tex coating as the exterior walls. Like the three-dimensional space the paintings occupied, symmetry was abandoned in favor of variously sized stacked rectangles reminiscent of prison cells, circuit boards, or maybe a section taken through a PoMo building. The rooms emanated from a central glowing core which was the only space in the gallery that could not be climbed into and occupied, but only looked down into through three distinct apertures in the surrounding rooms. Both the positive and negative shapes recalled iconic elements from modernist architectsLuis Barragan or Ricardo Legorretas stairs (not a handrail in sight), Louis Kahns concentric cut-outs, or Peter Eisenmans grid.

Terminus, 2019. Acrylic, fluorescent acrylic, and Roll-a-Tex on canvas 84 x 80 inches. (Courtesy Greene Naftali)

Halley utilized such elements to compose sightlines, resulting in the most exciting views of the paintings being not from directly in front of, but mediated by the architecture itselffrom the top of a staircase, at the intersection of two contrasting colored walls, between beams and columns, or framed by a window. The paintings themselves are worlds within a world within a world and have accordingly been named after Isaac Asimovs fictional universes: Helicon, Galaxia, Terminus, and Gaia.

Installation view from one of two entrances into the series of interlocking rooms. (Courtesy Greene Naftali)

Creating paintings that depicted both social isolation and connectivity, the artists work has often looked to geometry as a metaphor for society. A heterotopia can be defined as institutions that are in opposition to the utopia, spaces that are different and that operate outside of societal norms (prisons, temples, cemeteries, and brothels are some of the examples Michel Foucault outlined in his essay Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias). At the same time, heterotopias often reveal as much as they conceal, acting as a mirror that reflects back the values of the dominant culture. Halleys Heterotopia II is a labyrinthian universe that highlighted visitors relationship to and perception of color in the built environment whether applied to a canvas, a wall, or pixels of a photo uploaded to social media. In todays terms, the installation is Instagrammable, to say the least.

From the other entrance, one stepped into a neon green room with the painting Terminus. (Courtesy Greene Naftali)

The work exhibited tensions and connections between rationalist geometry, color, and the relationship to technology that seem inescapable. So of course, I posted an image of the alien green room housing the painting Terminus to my Instagram story, to which my sister replied: Wow! It looks like Mario World. Despite her distance from any sort of contemporary art world discourse, shes not all that far off. And perhaps like Mario World, much of the essence or aura of the installation was lost in stillness, on pause, or in a photograph. It took traversing the space, hugging the wall so as not to fall off the different heighths of stairs, moving up to go back down again, hopping over obstacles, or darting past other gallery-goers to truly experience the work.

Its impossible to enter this exhibition and not think about the thousands of uploads it will, and has, generated in digital space. In the age of pop-up experiences and Instagram museums, Heterotopia II inevitably lends itself well to fashionable stories and selfie opportunities (yes, it was listed on FOMOFeed). Perhaps the work was more of a reverie than critique. The installation depicted digitally in the square cells of Instagram, rather than the physical location itself, could be viewed as the heterotopia at hand. How we see and perceive color on the screen, as opposed to witnessing the interplay of surfaces IRL, reveals a lot about how weve come to relate to, consume (and share) both art and architecture on a broader level.

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Peter Halley's Heterotopia II explored the relationship between painting, architecture, and image - The Architect's Newspaper

What to watch on Crave in January 2020 – NOW Magazine


New Eden

Beamed in from some cable channel in 1992, this true-crime mockumentary series from writer/stars Kayla Lorette and Evany Rosen investigates the large-scale feminist utopia of New Eden, a women-only retreat in rural BC established by two friends who had no idea what they were doing, and just kept digging a deeper hole for their poorly researched, alien-goddess-worshipping cult. Given that Lorette and Rosen have been part of some very weird, very funny things over the last few years among them the web series Space Riders and the comedy troupe Picnicface, respectively New Eden looks ready to build a cult of its own once it drops. January 1

Avenue 5

The new HBO series from Armando Iannucci (The Thick Of It, Veep, The Death Of Stalin) takes its name from its setting: a luxury space liner taking 5,000 people on a grand tour of the solar system, led by a dashing, confident captain (Hugh Laurie). So of course things go wrong almost immediately, sending the large cast which includes Frozens Josh Gad as an entitled mogul, Dr. Kens Suzy Nakamura as his exhausted assistant, Being Humans Leonora Crichlow as a beleaguered engineer, Silicon Valleys Zach Woods as an overwhelmed cruise director, Ethan Phillips as an ex-astronaut and Rebecca Front, Andy Buckley, Jessica St. Clair and Kyle Bornheimer as front-facing passengers on the voyage of a lifetime. Like all of Iannuccis projects, its a comedy about cranky, overmatched people trying to function within a badly broken system; its just that this particular system is a long, long way from home. January 19

Curb Your Enthusiasm (season 10)

Its been just over two years since we had new episodes of Larry Davids long-running improvised comedy series. The last time around, Larry wound up producing Fatwa: The Musical with Lin-Manuel Miranda though, as per usual, that loose narrative thread frequently took a backseat as trivial digressions snowballed into screwball scenarios. We dont know much about season 10 except that Laverne Cox, Jane Krakowski, Isla Fisher and Fred Armisen are among the guest stars, as is Jon Hamm, who plays himself. January 19

The Outsider

Stephen King takes a stab at a True Detective-style procedural in The Outsider, his recent novel turned HBO series. Jason Bateman plays a teacher arrested for raping and murdering a young boy. Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo play the investigators sifting through evidence and alibis and confronting monsters the kind you would expect from the guy who wrote It. The Outsider is premiering on Crave alongside original series Cravings: The Aftershow, which brings you post-episode recaps and discussions hosted by eTalk and The Socials Lainey Lui. January 12

Star Trek: Picard

Its a fascinating thought experiment: can any television series that brings back Patrick Stewarts beloved captain possibly satisfy the fan base thats been clamoring for more Next Generation action since that the crew of the Enterprise-E signed off in the profoundly disappointing Nemesis 18 years ago? Well, after a year of rumours and teases, were about to find out, as events conspire to bring good ol Jean-Luc out of a comfortable retirement and into the final frontier, accompanied (apparently) by a number of his old pals. Whatever this adventure holds, it wont be his last: CBS All Access has already ordered a second season. January 24


Inspired by Lindy Wests memoir and starring SNLs Aidy Bryant as a plucky aspiring reporter dealing with fatphobia and flaky dates, Shrills winning first season made an early impact on last years TV landscape. (That transcendent pool party episode! The scene where she tears her worst online troll a new one!) This season sees Bryants Annie dealing with the repercussions of last seasons decisions, including storming out of her job at an indie magazine, finally getting serious with crusty stoner fuckboy Ryan and throwing a cement planter through a dudes window. Were ready to devour it like so much post-sex leftover spaghetti. January 24

The Grizzlies

Marketed as an underdog sports movie about a high-school teacher (Ben Schnetzer) who inspires his Indigenous students to form a lacrosse team, Miranda de Penciers first feature is considerably more complex than that, thanks to a carefully established sense of place (Kugluktuk, Nunavut, circa 2004), thoughtfully fleshed-out characters and a refusal to shy away from the darkness that lurks at the edges of the story. The Grizzlies is a movie about suicide prevention as much as it is about sports, and about generations of trauma reverberating through a community thats long since stopped expecting anything to change. Screenwriters Moira Walley-Beckett (Anne With An E) and Graham Yost (Speed) tell their story with authenticity and heart, and that makes all the difference. Read our review here.January 10

Three Identical Strangers

Tim Wardles hit documentary about American triplets separated at birth told a sensational and disturbing story while thoughtfully exploring the way young boys have historically been raised. The movie recounts the incredible story of Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman, three brothers who reunited in the 80s by chance and became media sensations. Things take a darker turn as it becomes clear that the separation was intentional. Read our review here.January 17

For Nonna Anna

A year after screening at Sundance, Toronto writer/director Luis De Filippiss assured debut about a young trans woman (Maya Henry) who is left home alone to care for her ailing Italian grandmother (Jacqueline Tarne) is hitting streaming. The intimate short film explores generation gaps and the way grandparents can sometimes defy presumed biases to surprise their grandkids. Read more here.January 31

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Avengers: Endgame got Iron Man out the way, giving Tom Holland the room to stretch his legs and grow into his own as Spider-Man. Robert Downey Jrs iconic character is a structuring absence in Spideys European vacation, a light-hearted, fun and moving adventure that sees Hollands Parker step up to be a new figurehead among the Avengers. This sequel has the right balance of teenage drama and world-saving shenanigans. And in Spideys battle against a villain who conjures over-the-top CGI monsters, Far From Home parodies so many superhero movies before it. Read our review here.January 17

Bad Boys

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are returning to the roles that made them movie stars in Januarys Bad Boys For Life. In anticipation for that reunion, the first two Michael Bay movies are hitting Starz. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the original remains a groundbreaking guilty pleasure: its the first mainstream action movie to pair and lean into two Black leads (as opposed to having Eddie Murphy tempered with white people). Meanwhile, Michael Bay practiced his slow-mo swooping aesthetic, packing in the money shots and turning his movies into feature length trailers for themselves. January 17 (with the Starz add-on)

28 Days Later

A man (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a hospital, drags himself from its corridors and steps out into a London that has been left ragged and deserted. That eerie cold open is brilliantly slow and patient, contrasting the zombies who come sprinting Olympic-level fast when they finally show up. Danny Boyles bloody adrenaline hit opened alongside the first Resident Evil, reviving the zombie movie and whetting appetites for Shaun Of The Dead, Walking Dead and even Romeros late-career return to the genre he made iconic. January 24 (with the Starz add-on)

Full list of new titles available in January, by date. The + symbol indicates a TV show or movie that is only available on Crave+ . The * symbol indicates a TV show or movie that is only available with the Starz add-on.

January 1

New Eden (season 1)

January 3

Howie Mandels 5th Annual All-Star Comedy Gala

Gold Digger (season 1)

January 5

The L Word: Generation Q (season 1, episode 5)

Power (season 6, episode 11)*

Power Confidential (season 6, episode 12)*

Ray Donovan (season 7, episode 8)

Shameless (Season 10, episode 9)

Work In Progress (season 1, episode 5)

January 9

Star Trek: Short Treks (season 2, episode 6)

January 10

Daniels Tigers Neighbourhood (season 3)

Healthy Is Hot (season 1, episode 1)

January 12

Cravings (season 1, episode 1)

The L Word: Generation Q (season 1, episode 6)

The Outsider (season 1, episodes 1-2)+

Power (season 6, episode 12)*

Power Confidential (season 6, episode 13)*

Ray Donovan (season 7, episode 9)

Shameless (Season 10, episode 10)

Work In Progress (season 1, episode 6)

January 13

The New Pope (season 1, episode 1)+

January 17

Almost Naked Animals (season 3)

Om Nom (season 3)

Real Time With Bill Maher (season 18, episode 1)+

January 19

Avenue 5 (season 1, episode 1)+

Cravings (season 1, episode 2)

Curb Your Enthusiasm (season 10, episode 1)+

The L Word: Generation Q (season 1, episode 7)

The Outsider (season 1, episode 3)+

Power (season 6, episode 13)*

Power Confidential (season 6, episode 14)*

Ray Donovan (season 7, episode 10)

Shameless (Season 10, episode 11)

Work In Progress (season 1, episode 7)

January 20

The New Pope (season 1, episode 2)+

January 24

Real Time With Bill Maher (season 18, episode 2)+

Shrill (season 2)

Star Trek: Picard (season 1, episode 1)

Whisky Cavalier (season 1)

Wolfoo & Friends

January 26

Avenue 5 (season 1, episode 2)+

The Circus (season 5, episode 1)

Cravings (season 1, episode 3)

Curb Your Enthusiasm (season 10, episode 2)+

The L Word: Generation Q (season 1, episode 8)

Our Cartoon President (season 3, episode 1)

The Outsider (season 1, episode 4)+

Power (season 6, episode 14)*

Power Confidential (season 6, episode 15)*

Shameless (season 10, episode 12)

Work In Progress (season 1, episode 8)

January 27

The New Pope (season 1, episode 3)+

January 30

Star Trek: Picard (season 1, episode 2)

January 31


Real Time With Bill Maher (season 18, episode 3)+

Wows Cartoon Hangover Shorts

January 1

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu+

January 2

Read more from the original source:

What to watch on Crave in January 2020 - NOW Magazine

New Year’s Eve 2019: Top events across the West Midlands – expressandstar.com

It's time for the biggest party of the year - New Year's Eve.

Read more: New Year's Eve 2019: Top events across Shropshire

If you haven't decided where to fill yourself with buffet food and champagne to count down to 2020, here in the Midlands we have a perfect selection of themed events to wave goodbye to 2019:

Is there an event we've missed? Email webdesk@expressandstar.co.uk to let us know.

As we welcome 2020, Uprawr is set to celebrate the 'rawring twenties' in style with their annual New Year's Eve bash.

The themed event will include a confetti and balloon drop at midnight, as well as CO2 guns, big screens and themed drinks.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

The Twisted Circus returns to Birmingham for the sixth year running.

The event will include live entertainment with contortion and knife swallowing performances

There will also be giveaways, 'giant balloon attacks' and a confetti shower across two rooms of music, a VIP balcony, and even an adult ball pit.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

See in 2020 with laughter, food, and an after party to remember at The Glee Club.

The event will see performances from Andy Robinson, Mickey D, Joanne McNally and Robert White.

There will also be a countdown at midnight and a DJ.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Birmingham's Hare and Hounds is set to host a New Year's Eve carnival.

The event will include three rooms of music playing everything from disco to house, Latin, afro, funk, soul and hip hop.

DJs from Tropical Soundclash, Brum Tropicana and Youngculture will be spinning tunes throughout the night.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Birmingham's Resorts World is hosting a range of New Year's Eve events to welcome 2020.

Visitors can grab their glad rags and party like Gatsby at Sky By The Water, taking a trip back to the 80s at the World Bar, party like its 1999 at High Line and enjoy a classy night filled with glamour at the Sports Bar.

Resorts World will not be having a fireworks display this year, but there is plenty of entertainment, food and fun to enjoy at these events.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

The annual festive gala returns to Birmingham Symphony Hall for New Year.

The show will feature Ilona Domnich, Alexander James Edwards, Anthony Inglis and the London Concert Orchestra performing all of your New Year's Favourites.

Expect the works of Greig, Puccini, Verdi, Strauss, Suppe and Tchaikovsky among others.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Chase and Status will perform at The Mill Digbeth as part of A Weird and Wonderful New Year's Eve 2019.

The musical duo will be joined by a range of special guests yet to be announced.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Magic Door returns to LAB11 for another New Year's Eve bash.

Billed as the venue's biggest party of the year, the event is set to be a 'spaced out utopia' with mirrorballs and glitter galore.

Richy Ahmed will be DJing the event among a variety of special guests yet to be announced.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

The UK's biggest street food event is set to host a special New Year's Eve event.

Expect a four full-venue takeover as well as live music, DJs and more.

Children and dogs are allowed at the event until 9pm.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Enjoy three floors and four rooms of music and live entertainment at The Nightingale Club.

The annual event will include drag queens, go go dancers, pyro performers and more from 10pm until 5am.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Whether you prefer a quiet meal or a lively party, you can welcome in the new year in style at Moor Hall.

Visitors can enjoy a family disco, or dining options in the Oak Rooms Restaurant or the Country Kitchen Carvery.

The evening can be completed with a stay at the hotel and use of the onsite spa facilities.

For more information and to book, click here.

Rhythm at Wolverhampton's Grain Store celebrates its first anniversary with a New Year's Eve bash.

The event will include DJs and special guests yet to be announced.

Third release tickets are now available at a reduced rate.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Word of Mouth returns to The Bohemian with their roulette-themed New Year's Eve party.

There will be two floors of nu disco, house anthems, garage and R'n'B classics with DJ Stuart Ojelay, Rob Cook, Joe Williams and Dan Warby.

A smart evening wear dress code is in place, with an additional non-compulsory 'ladies in red and men in black' rule in place.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Blossoms Liquor + Grind marks its first year in Wolverhampton with a Pink Party to welcome the New Year.

Both floors will be open with performances from Dave Fogg, Alex Ceney, Jay Hatton, DJ Shox, Gavin Omari and Ant Nicho.

If you wear pink on the night, entry will be reduced to 5.

For more information, click here.

Perfect for the whole family, head to Perton Park Golf Club this New Year's Eve.

From 11am until 1pm the venue will be host to a magic show, dancing, games and more.

When midday strikes, kids will be able to celebrate the start of 2020 without having to stay up until midnight.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club will present the best in stand-up comedy in Wolverhampton this New Year's Eve.

The line-up for the event, set to include four top comedians, is yet to be announced.

The show will include full bar service as well as group discounts for 10 people or more.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Get your dabber ready as Bongo's Bingo returns to The Hangar ready for 2020.

Expect a mix of a live show, a rave and a heads-down game of bingo, with dance-offs, rave intervals, audience participation and countless classic anthems.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

T.Rextasy's annual New Year's Eve bash heads to Bilston's Robin 2.

T.Rextasy are the only band to have been authorised and endorsed by Marc Bolans Catalogue Management, are now officially recognised as the worlds number one group dedicated to the star.

The group has performed alongside artists such as Wizzard, Cockney Rebel, Ian Hunter and Slade among others.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Celebrate the start of 2020 in style at Hogshead.

Enjoy a free glass of fizz if you turn up in black tie attire as the venue rolls out the red carpet for the special occasion.

DJ Neil Jackson will start the new year countdown with fireworks on the big screens.

There will also be drinks deals and complimentary snacks.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Head to Patshull Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club for a night of live entertainment to wave goodbye to 2019.

Enjoy a five-course meal and disco until 2am as part of the celebrations.

There will also be entertainment from Liam Price.

For more information, click here.

Enjoy a glass of bubble, themed entertainment and more at Ramada Park Hall Hotel for New Year's Eve.

The ballroom will be transformed into a magical enchanted forest including music from the venue's resident DJ as well as a table served buffet.

For more information, click here.

Dress to impress at Mercure Wolverhampton with their New Year's Eve gala buffet and disco.

The Regency Suite will play host to a four-course bugget and disco for the whole family.

Overnight packages are also available including accommodation and breakfast the following morning.

For more information, click here.

Gave a ball and get your glad rags on for the Village Hotel's annual New Year's Eve celebrations.

The night's themed menu includes dishes such as beef wellington, roasted parsnip and pear soup, roast seatrout, warm chocolate fondant and more.

For more information and to book, click here.

Bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one at The Lyttleton Arms.

Guests can enjoy a three coarse meal as well as live entertainment throughout the night.

For more information and to book, click here.

Enjoy a Mexican-themed fiesta at Katie Fitzgerald's this New Year's Eve.

There will be tapas, tequilas and margaritas as well as performances from Giant and the Georges as well as The Loveless.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Dudley's Ye Old Foundry will be hosting its own New Year's Eve party.

Starting from 7pm, guests will be able to enjoy live entertainment, DJ sets, and music from Moose Jaw until 3am.

For more information, click here.


New Year's Eve 2019: Top events across the West Midlands - expressandstar.com

The books to read in 2020 – Sydney Morning Herald

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Asummer of smoke and red-stained skies has brought the environment to the forefront of our daily lives, and human interaction with the natural world is dominating the pages of contemporary fiction and non-fiction. There's a sense of things falling apart, of a centre not holding. But as systems and institutions come under question, there's room to imagine new ways of being, and there's no shortage of hope to be found. Here is a selection of books we are looking forward to reading next year.

The golden boy of Australian letters, Trent Dalton, releases his highly anticipated second novel All Our Shimmering Skies (June, Fourth Estate), which is set in Darwin in 1942 and follows an actress, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot, a sorcerer and a gravediggers daughter. Daltons 2018 debut, Boy Swallows Universe, inspired by his childhood in working-class Brisbane, broke Australian sales records and is being transformed for the silver screen.

Eyes and expectations will also be on Craig Silvey as he publishes his first novel, working title Honeybee (second half 2020, Allen & Unwin), since Jasper Jones became an instant Australian classic a decade ago. After her own hiatus from fiction, Kate Grenville returns to the historical landscape of The Secret River with A Room Made of Leaves (July, Text), a novel that follows Australian pastoralist and merchant Elizabeth Macarthur in a fledgling Sydney colony.

Former Booker Prize winner Tom Keneally reimagines the life of Plorn, the 10th child of Charles Dickens who was sent out to Australia, in The Dickens Boy (April, Vintage).

The year will also see two Miles Franklin Award-winners return to our shelves: Evie Wyld (The Bass Rock, February, Vintage) and Sofie Laguna (working title Big Sky, second half 2020, A&U). The German invasion of Russia during World War II forms the backdrop of Prime Ministers Literary Award-winner Steven Contes second novel, The Tolstoy Estate (August, Fourth Estate).

Craig Silvey will publish his first new novel in a decade in 2020.Credit:Steven Siewert

The apocalypse has well and truly hit Australian fiction, with climate catastrophe, extinction, human/animal relationships and the collapse of civil order recurring themes. Look for James Bradleys Ghost Species (April, Hamish Hamilton); Donna Mazzas Fauna (February, A&U); Kate Mildenhalls The Mother Fault (September, Simon and Schuster); Dennis Glovers Factory 19 (July, Black Inc.); and Patrick Allingtons Rise and Shine (June, Scribe). A fossil narrates over 13,000 years in Chris Flynns ambitious exploration of human interaction with the natural world, fittingly titled Mammoth (May, UQP).

Jamie Marina Lau follows her success debut with Gunk Baby.Credit:Simon Schluter

Sydney Morning Herald 2019 Best Young Novelists Robbie Arnott (The Rain Heron, June, Text) and Jamie Marina Lau (Gunk Baby, May, Brow Books) return with second novels after their highly successful debuts. Publishers were clamouring after Sophie Hardcastles Below Deck (March, A&U). Look out for rising talents: S.L. Lim (Revenge, June, Transit); Liam Pieper (Sweetness and Light, March, Hamish Hamilton); and Mirandi Riwoe (Stone Sky Gold Mountain, April, UQP).

While the future of UWA Publishing is in doubt, contracted books will go ahead, including Meaghan Delahunts genre-crossing feminist MeToo novel, The Night-Side of the Country (March). Other new releases include: Margaret Bearman (We Were Never Friends, March, Brio); Jon Doust (Return Ticket, March, Fremantle); Ceridwen Dovey (Life After Truth, Hamish Hamilton, November); Bem Le Hunte (Elephants with Headlights, March, Transit); and Kirsten Krauth (Almost a Mirror, March, Transit).

In short fiction, Mark O'Flynn brings his wit to Dental Tourism (February, Puncher & Wattmann); Laura Elverys collection is inspired by the 20 times women have won Nobel Prizes for science (Ordinary Matter, second half 2020, UQP); Elizabeth Tans Smart Ovens for Lonely People is recommended for fans of Black Mirror (June, Brio); and Emma Ashmere takes on the world around us in Dreams They Forgot (April, Wakefield Press).

In what is set to be the biggest release of the year, two-time Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel brings her Thomas Cromwell trilogy to an exultant close with The Mirror and the Light (March, Fourth Estate), eight years in the making.

Author Hilary Mantel will conclude her Thomas Cromwell trilogy in 2020.Credit:Reuters

And there will be huge interest in the latest Elena Ferrante to appear in English, The Lying Life of Adults (June, Europa Editions), which is set once again in Naples.

An Irish theatre legend and her daughter take centre stage in Anne Enrights Actress (February, Jonathan Cape) while eccentricities are celebrated in Anne Tylers Redhead by the Side of the Road (April, Chatto & Windus). Inspired by all the active wear she saw during a trip to Australia, Lionel Shrivers The Motion of the Body Through Space (Fourth Estate, May) promises a hilarious evisceration of the cult of fitness.

Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell produces his first novel in six years, Utopia Avenue (June, Hachette), about a British band in Londons psychedelic scene in the late 1960s. Isabel Allende's A Long Petal of the Sea (Bloomsbury, January) is an epic about refugees who escape Spains civil war and embark on a boat voyage arranged by the poet Pablo Neruda. More than a decade after her multimillion-selling debut, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke returns with Piranesi (second half 2020, Bloomsbury).

Lionel Shriver won't pull punches in The Motion of the Body Through Space.Credit:Edwina Pickles

Eimear McBrides Strange Hotel starts with a nameless woman entering a nondescript hotel room (February, A&U); Booker Prize-winner Graham Swift's Here We Are (February, Scribner) follows a Brighton theatre group in 1959; and The North Water author Ian McGuire transports us to 1860s Britain and America and the war for Irish independence in The Abstainer (May, S&S).

The limits of the novel are tested in Colum McCanns masterpiece Apeirogon, A Novel (February, Bloomsbury). Also playing with form is Michael Christies ambitious Greenwood (February, Scribe), an intergenerational saga that covers hundreds of years and is structured like the rings of a tree.

Look out for: Jeanine Cummins (American Dirt, January, Hachette); Louise Erdrich (The Night Watchman, March, Hachette); Jodi Picoult (second half 2020, A&U); Philippe Sands (The Ratline, May, Hachette); and Emma Jane Unsworth (Adults, March, HarperCollins). For a short-story fix consider Richard Fords Sorry For Your Trouble (May, Bloomsbury) and Matthew Bakers Why Visit America (second half 2020, Bloomsbury).

Gender, geography and sexuality emerge as dominant themes in a promising line-up of Australian debuts. Ronnie Scotts The Adversary (April, Hamish Hamilton), a coming-of-age novel that follows a friendship between two gay men in Melbourne, has already attracted rave reviews. Andrew Pippos' Luckys (second half 2020, Picador) visits a Greek-Australian family over six decades, and Pip Williams reimagines the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary in The Dictionary of Lost Words (April, Affirm).

A couple give polyamory a crack in Paul Dalgarno's Poly (August, Ventura) and Tobias McCorkell draws on his childhood growing up with his grandparents and troubled mother in Everything in its Right Place (July, Transit). Two novels offer intriguing examinations of human/non-human relationships: Erin Hortle's The Octopus and I (April, A&U) and Laura Jean McKay's The Animals in that Country (April, Scribe).

Author Alice Pung will publish her first adult novel, One Hundred Days.Credit:

Striking a fictional note for the time is memoirist and pianist Anna Goldsworthy with Melting Moments (March, Black Inc.), a story about love before and after World War II that is partly inspired by her grandmothers life. Alice Pung also has her first adult novel, One Hundred Days (October, Black Inc.).

Other new voices include: Laura McPhee-Browne (Cherry Beach, February, Text); Catherine Noske (The Salt Madonna, first half 2020, Picador); Dani Powell (Return to Dust, UWA); Madeleine Ryan (A Room Called Earth, September, Scribe); Rebecca Starford (Hidden, July, A&U); Josephine Taylor (The Rook, November, Fremantle); and Jessie Tu (A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing, July, A&U),

Look out for collections from Melissa Manning (Smokehouse, second half 2020, QUP); Wayne Marshall (Shirl, Affirm, February); Sean OBeirne (A Couple of Things Before the End, February, Black Inc); Stephen Pham (Vietnamatta, October, Brow Books); and Barry Lee Thompson (Broken Rules and other Stories, August, Transit).

Internationally, keep your eye on: L. Annette Binder (The Vanishing Sky, Bloomsbury, June); Kiley Reid (Such A Fun Age, January, Bloomsbury); Kate Elizabeth Russell (My Dark Vanessa, April, Fourth Estate); Kawai Strong Washburn (Sharks in the Time of Saviours, March, Farrar Straus Giroux); An Yu (Braised Pork, February, Harvill Secker); and C Pam Zhang (How Much of These Hills is Gold, April, Hachette).

The three musketeers of Australian crime writing return: Jane Harper (second half 2020, Pan MacMillan), Chris Hammer (second half 2020, A&U) and Dervla McTiernan (The Good Turn, March, HarperCollins). Call Me Evie author J.P. Pomare captures the dark side of small town life In the Clearing (January, Hachette). From Fremantle Press, Dave Warner looks to Sherlock Holmes in Over My Dead Body (July); David Whish-Wilson has the third in his Frank Swann series with Shore Leave (November) and Alan Carters sergeant Nick Chester takes on a scandal-plagued religious sect (December).

Crime writers to watch include Gabriel Bergmoser, who has signed a two-book deal and movie rights, starting with his debut The Hunter set on a deserted Australian highway, and Kyle Perrys Tasmanian-based The Bluffs (July, Michael Joseph), described as "Scrublands meets Picnic at Hanging Rock".

Dervla McTiernan will publish her third crime novel in 2020.Credit:Julia Dunin

Stephen King has four stories in his collection If it Bleeds (May, Hachette). Other for crime buffs include: Stuart Turton's second novel set on the high seas Devil and the Dark Water (second half 2020, Raven); Stephanie Wrobels The Recovery of Rose Gold (March, Michael Joseph); Max Brooks Devolution (May, Century); Dugald Bruce-Lockharts The Lizard (April, Bloomsbury); Jessica Moors Keeper (April, Viking); and and Iain Ryan's The Spiral (June, Echo).

In true crime, two books take on the case of vanished William Tyrrell: Caroline Overington (Missing William Tyrrell, March, HarperCollins) and Ally Chumley (Searching for Spiderman, March, Hardie Grant). Walkley Award winners Anthony Dowsley and Patrick Carlyon expand their journalism about lawyer turned police informant Nicola Gobbo in Lawyer X (June, HarperCollins), while embroiled cop Paul Dale has Cops, Drugs, Lawyer X and Me (March, Hachette).

An impressive line-up of Australian women writers offers genre-crossing works exploring emotion, trauma, bodies, sexuality and gender. Clementine Ford explores love through her own experiences in How We Love (second half 2020, A&U), while publisher Donna Ward reflects on being a spinster in She I Dare Not Name (March, A&U). Look out for Emily Clements' The Lotus Eaters (February, Hardie Grant); Bastian Fox Phelan (September, Giramondo); Eloise Grills' Big Beautiful Female Theory (August, Brow Books); and Ellena Savages Blueberries (March, Text). Storm and Grace novelist Kathryn Heyman details her remarkable story of being a deckhand on a trawler in the Timor Sea after experiencing poverty, violence and assault in Fury (July, A&U). Katerina Bryant looks at mental illness and how medical institutions treat women in Hysteria (May, NewSouth).

Clementine Ford will explore love through her own experiences in How We Love.

Indigenous fire practitioner Victor Steffensen looks at how Indigenous fire practices could help our country in Fire Country (March, Hardie Grant) while poet John Kinsella explores his relationship to the environment in Displaced (March, Transit)

Pollies in need of more air time include Malcolm Turnbull (A Bigger Picture, April, Hardie Grant), Scott Ludlam (Full Circle, August, Black Inc.), Christopher Pyne (July, Hachette) and Derryn Hinch (Unfinished Business, April, MUP).

Torres News editor Aaron Smith pulls no punches as he looks at the nation from its most northerly outpost, Thursday Island, in The Rock (November, Transit) and former ABC Middle-East Correspondent Sophie McNeill shares stories from war-ravaged corners of the earth in We Cant Say We Didnt Know (March, HarperCollins).

Two-time Miles Franklin Award-winner Alex Miller has a memoir about his dearest friend and mentor, Max Blatt (second half 2020, A&U).

Alex Miller has a memoir about his dear friend and mentor.

Biographer Darleen Bungey, the sister of writer Geraldine Brooks, turns the lens on herself with a memoir of their father, crooner Laurie Brooks in Daddy Cool (May, A&U). Also look out for memoirs from actor Miranda Tapsell (Top End Girl, May, Hachette), and renowned Australian ballerina Mary Li, wife of Li Cunxin (Ballet, Li, Sophie and Me, September, Viking).

Internationally, memoirs come from whistleblower Chelsea Manning (July, Bodley Head), musician Alicia Keys (More Myself, March, Flatiron) and Greta Thunberg and her family (Our House is on Fire, March, Allen Lane).

Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker look set to cause ripples with new reporting on Donald Trumps presidency, A Very Stable Genius (January, Bloomsbury).

The leader of the Hong Kong protests, Nobel Prize nominee Joshua Wong, tells his story in Unfree Speech (January, WH Allen) and long-term resident Antony Dapiran looks at the history of the protests and what they mean for the future in City on Fire (May, Scribe). Clive Hamilton follows his controversial Silent Invasion with a comprehensive exploration, written with academic Mareike Ohlberg, of communist China (Hidden Hand, May, Hardie Grant).

Hong Kong protest leader Joshua Wong tells his story for the first time in Unfree Speech.Credit:Bloomberg

In matters of gender, race and representation look out for Ada Calhoun's Why We Cant Sleep (January, Text); Ariel Gores F*ck Happiness (May, Black Inc); Peggy Orensteins Boys and Sex (July, HarperCollins, July); Layla F. Saads Me and White Supremacy (February, Quercus); and Tanya Talagas All Our Relations (March, Scribe). Former PM Julia Gillard explores gender bias in Women and Leadership (July, Vintage), written with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Carly Findlay edits the anthology Growing up Disabled in Australia (Black Inc, June).

There's no shortage of books on climate change. Bill Gates looks at new technologies in How to Avoid Climate Change Disaster (June, Allen Lane). Locally, expect to see Ketan Joshi (Road to Resolution, August, NewSouth); Paddy Manning (Body Count, May, S&S); Jonica Newby (Climate Grief, September, NewSouth); and Marian Wilkinson (Carbon Club, June, A&U). And now that we've messed it all up, Elise Bohan argues that we should embrace the transhuman in the thought-provoking Future Superhuman (October, NewSouth).

If youre after something a little more hopeful, Julia Baird explores the light within, the internal happiness, that she calls Phosphorescence (April, Fourth Estate) and Utopia for Realists author Rutger Bregman looks at how altruism offers a new way to think in Human Kind (second half 2020, Oneworld).

In current affairs, Bernard Collaery, a lawyer charged after exposing an Australian bugging operation in East Timor, publishes (Oil Under Troubled Water, March, MUP), and regional tensions are explored in Rory Medcalfs Contest for the Indo-Pacifc (March, La Trobe). Lindy Edwards looks at big business (Corporate Power in Australia, February, Monash); Royce Kurmelovs at our debt (Just Money, second half 2020, UQP); Supreme court justice Michael Pembroke (August, Hardie Grant) looks to the US in Play by the Rules; Peter Cronau reveals Australias role in the War on Terror (The Base, June, ABC); and political journalist Samantha Maiden takes us inside the Australian Labor Partys failed election campaign (March, Viking).

Bernard Collaery, author of Oil Under Troubled Waters.Credit:AAP

Others to look out for include Melissa Daveys book on Cardinal George Pell, A Fair Trial (second half 2020, Scribe);Stephanie Convery's account of the death of Sydney boxer Davey Browne (After the Count, Viking, March); GP Karen Hitchcocks The Medicine: A Doctors Notes (February, Black Inc); Teacher author Gabbie Strouds Dear Parents (February, A&U); Robert Dessaix on ageing (Time of Our Lives, second half 2020, Brio); and Randa Abdel-Fattahs Growing up in the Age of Terror (July, NewSouth).

Expect biographies on New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern (Madeleine Chapman, April, Black Inc.); NRL stars Owen Craigie (OCD : The Owen Craigie Disorders, Rupert Guinness, September, Affirm) and Cameron Smith (second half 2020, A&U); and Australian Jewish leader Mark Leibler (The Powerbroker, Michael Gawenda, May, Monash).

Cassandra Pybus publishes her long-awaited work Truganini (March, A&U). Other historical biographies include: Evelyn Juers on Philippa Cullen (The Dancer, September, Giramondo); Gabrielle Carey on Australian-born novelist Elizabeth von Arnim (Only Happiness Here, second half 2020, UQP); RobertWainwright on the great granddaughter of the Lindeman wines founder, Enid Lindeman (A&U, July); and David Duffy on the first Australian woman electrical engineer, Florence Violet McKenzie (Radio Girl, May, A&U).

Look out for a biography of New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden.Credit:Getty Images

Nick Brodies Force of Arms (May, Hardie Grant) looks at the history of the firearm in Australia; Patrick Mullins considers the publishing decision that forced the end of literary censorship in The Trials of Portnoy (June, Scribe); and Stuart Kells has the history of the Abbotsford Convent, The Convent (MUP, March). Mark Dunn (Convict Valley, June, A&U) and Peter Gross (Ten Rogues, February, A&U) tell of daring convict escapes, while Garry Linnell explores the fall of the Australian bushranger in Badlands (September, Michael Joseph). Military history includes James Phelps' exploration of a female team of code breakers in World War One (Australian Code Breakers, March, HarperCollins) and Elizabeth Becker on female journalists during the Vietnam War (Journaliste, September, Black Inc.)

Conversations presenter Richard Fidler turns his eyes abroad with a history of Prague (The Golden Maze, July, HarperCollins).

Felicity Plunkett has a long-awaited new collection, A Kinder Sea (February, UQP). Also from UQP comes Ellen van Neervens second collection, Throat (May), and an anthology of First Nations poetry, Fire Front edited by Alison Whittaker (April, UQP). Ellen van Neerven also collects hip-hop poetry written by First Nations young people in Homeland Calling (May, Hardie Grant).

Giramondo has collections from Michael Farrell (Family Trees, March), Laurie Duggan (Homer Street, April) and J.S. Harry's posthumous New and Selected Poems (May, Giramondo). Bron Bateman has a deeply feminist project in Of Memory and Furniture (February, Fremantle).

Ellen van Neerven has a second poetry collection due.

Look out for Thuy Ons debut collection, Turbulence (March, UWA), and Courtney Peppernells Pillow Thoughts IV (August, AMP).

Puncher and Wattmans list includes: Martin Langord's Eardrum (February); Ella Jeffery's debut Dead Bolt (April); Todd Turners The Thorn (June); Rebecca Edwards Plague Animals (July); and Louise Crisps Glide (November). Vrasidas Karalis brings us the experience of living on Glebe Point Road in The Glebe Point Road Blues (February, Brandl & Schlesinger)

From Wakefield comes Kate Llewellyn's Harbour (February) and Ali Whitelocks The Lactic Acid in the Calves of Your Despair (April).

Melanie Kembrey is Spectrum Deputy Editor at the Sydney Morning Herald.

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The books to read in 2020 - Sydney Morning Herald

America Is Still in Desperate Need for a Fiber Broadband for Everyone Plan: Year in Review 2019 – EFF

Earlier this year, EFF noted that the United States is facing a high-speed broadband access crisis. For the foreseeable future, it appears that a supermajority of Americans will not have access to fiber to the home. Instead, it is cable monopolies or nothing at all.

Government data indicates that this problem is particularly pronounced in low-income neighborhoods and rural markets. But this future is not set in stone. We support efforts to aggressively meet this challenge so that this generation can benefit from affordable, universally accessible, competitive high-speed broadband access.

This year we have worked hard to unwind much of the damage the incumbent telecom industry cause through laws theyve pushed over the last decade. We also conducted and published research to educate policymakers.

For example, we have shared our most recent findings that fiber is so vastly superior to all of its alternatives in wireless (including 5G) and cable as a data transmission medium that only universal fiber to the home will ensure a network viable for decades of growth. Our paper shows that claims made by industry that 5G or cable are sufficient are just tactics to prevent legislators from demanding what people need and deserve.

Every country that is ahead of the United States got there because government policies promoted competition, universality, affordability, and high-speed access. In the U.S. though, the FCC pursues a policy of total deregulation of the broadband access market through the Restoring Internet Freedom Order and greenlighting blatantly anti-competitive mergers like Sprint and T-Mobile. AT&T kicked off this year by just relabeling their wireless 4G services as 5G and calling it a day while simultaneously ending their fiber to the home construction efforts (Verizon stopped years ago) when the government mandate to build fiber expired, which is significant given that half of the fiber to the home construction for 2018 was by AT&T.

Policymakers in Washington, D.C. finally caught on to how far behind the U.S. is and why. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is openly debating spending billions on broadband infrastructure under the LIFT Act, although it has admittedly not fully committed to making it a gigabit future to match our international counterparts. The House of Representatives voted to put the FCC back on the job with the passage of the Save the Net Act and it awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate. And the FCC has made correct calls on spectrum policy and could potentially raise billions Congress can invest into fiber infrastructure while also expanding access to unlicensed spectrum, which will improve WiFi routers and small ISP access to high-speed wireless services. But all of these await action by Congress, support by the president, and for a federal agency to enforce competition and universal access policies already required under federal law. So long as these languish, the limited federal efforts to improve our fiber infrastructure situation will continue to remain inadequate.

At the state and local level substantial progress is being made to chart their own future. Californias legislature allowed an AT&T and Comcast law (Public Utilities Code 710) that prohibited the California Public Utilities Commission from addressing their monopolies after strong opposition from EFF and other consumer groups. Shortly following this major victory for Internet users, Governor Newsom announced plans to begin crafting a Broadband for All initiative that EFF supports so long as it is pursuing universal fiber access and a gigabit future. We believe this states lack of a broadband plan has contributed heavily to the fact that most of us that live here have monopolies or no access at all for high-speed access (with the exception of San Francisco). There is no good reason California is so far behind its international competitors, and EFF has been working with fiber experts and advocating to California ways to not just catch up to South Korea but to become number one in the world.

In other states, we are seeing progress driven by local leaders and citizens who demand more than the abysmal service they are offered. Utah is proving to be a hotbed of forward-thinking activity with the consistent expansion of an open-access fiber network run by local cities called Utopia where residents enjoy 11 options for gigabit service. This type of approach to broadband infrastructure where the government builds the wires but someone else sells the broadband service holds tremendous promise. One study predicts a structurally separated network deployment could connect rural homes to fiber without low-interest long term financing and new open-access fiber deployments are cropping up such as the multi-city effort of Neighborly.

Alabama recently made changes to its state laws to allow for the recent announcement by C-Spire to deploy fiber to the home through a joint venture with the electric utility. And in Colorado voters are repeatedly approving community broadband solutions with Fort Collins deploying municipal gigabit broadband at $60 a month. As each state and local communities rises up to demand more from their elected officials, we expect more progress to connect the nation.

Quite simply, if we do not build an infrastructure ready for the future Internet, then it will not be accessible to us. The next generation of applications and services that need high-speeds and low latency will just not work well for a great number of Americans. Testbeds for innovation will exist overseas where technology companies will have large local populations of high-speed users with access to near-instantaneous gigabit and 10-gigabit connections (and beyond) will be the norm while Americans spend 300% above market rates for their Comcast line. There is very little reason to expect the future Silicon Valley to be in the United States if we allow our telecom infrastructure to be bogged down by yesterdays infrastructure.

But more importantly, without a new commitment to the universality of future broadband access, then the digital divide of today will substantially worsen. Americans with little money will be forced to pay monopoly rates for an essential service while wealthy Americans will enjoy the benefits of cheap high-speed access. Rural Americans will fall even further behind with last centurys infrastructure (if they even have access to it) will hit its limited capacity with no means of upgrading absent a fiber transition.

But EFF remains committed to fighting for a better future. The ideas and what works are already available to us and can be adopted in new policies. History is full of examples of these national challenges being met from the roads, water, and electricity. It is just a matter of mustering the political will to transform a nation. We may not be completely on track yet today, but so long as we keep pushing together we will eventually reach that goal of a 21st-century connection for all people regardless of where they live or how much money they make.

This article is part of our Year in Review series. Read other articles about the fight for digital rights in 2019.


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America Is Still in Desperate Need for a Fiber Broadband for Everyone Plan: Year in Review 2019 - EFF

The Eternal and the Here and Now – Townhall


Posted: Dec 27, 2019 12:01 AM

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Many people reading this will have already taken down their Christmas lights. Just a few decades ago, it was pretty normal for Christians in America to leave up their lights for all 12 days of Christmas. Now, many think Christmas Day is the 12th day instead of the first. My lights will burn bright until Jan. 5, where, by tradition, the lights must be off before sunset. On Jan. 6, which is Epiphany, Mardi Gras season starts in earnest for those of us from Louisiana.

As I get older, I love the Christmas season more and more. Easter comes as a weekend. Christmas comes as a month of Advent on the heels of Thanksgiving. It gives time for more reflection, often centered around some pretty deep theology in carols. The basic gist of the caroling is all the same. God became flesh and humbled himself by being born in a manger and giving up the trappings of royalty and then dying a criminal's death having committed no crime.

In the United States, whether we like to admit it or not, we are already deep into political campaign season. Impeachment season is upon us as well. Everything is now political. Just two weeks ago, the author J.K. Rowling walked into a firestorm for having the audacity to be pro-science. She declared sex is immutable. Men cannot become women, and vice versa. Though she endorsed this scientific fact, woke protestors decided to burn her books. Even opinion writers in The New York Times denounced her for expressing an opinion others in The New York Times have expressed in the past.

Everything has become political. Every political cause has taken on religious fervor. It can wear a person out. In wokeness, every principled position firmly held will eventually give way to something more extreme, radical and wholly disconnected from reason. Truthfully, though, none of it matters. Too many people have separated themselves from the eternal to focus on the here and now. They have decided to seek a future utopia of some kind, aware their mortal life is limited and unaware there is an eternity. Behaviors change when one recognizes eternity.

Too many partisans have forgotten eternity. On both sides of the political spectrum, people are looking for political saviors to save them from people on the other side of that spectrum. It is sad to see secular progressives running in hamster wheels of outrage, perpetually spun up about some perceived injustice. It is hilarious to see Christian evangelicals insistent on loyalty to a politician to save them from the other side. Apparently, having the God of the universe on their side is not enough.

Americans need a recalibration on priorities. So much of what we argue about does not really matter. No Republican was ever profoundly impacted by Barack Obama except, arguably, in the area of health care. No Democrat has ever been profoundly impacted by Donald Trump except, arguably, in their take-home pay. Both sides treat Washington as more important than it is.

What is actually important is this: You have a soul, you will live forever, and there is a God who wants a relationship with you. One day you will stand before him, and he will judge you. Everything else should flow from that. For those who do not believe, one day they will, and hopefully that belief will come on this side of the grave. For everyone else, behaving in politics as if eternity does not matter might ultimately suggest one is not as truly committed to the idea of eternity as one might claim.

Protestant Christians believe we are saved by faith alone, and good works derive from our faith. Regardless of how one sees salvation, I would suggest a lot of us could stand to dwell more on it than on Washington. We find our welfare in our local communities, not in far off cities that affect us far less than we claim. As we move beyond Christmas and into a new year, I would urge you (and me) to dwell less on the here and now and more on eternity.

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The Eternal and the Here and Now - Townhall

Denvers 10 Best New Year’s Eve Parties – Thrillist

New Years Eve Eve & New Years EveColorado Convention CenterDecadence is back for two nights of dancing. Transport yourself to a utopia of lights, music, and art installations. The lineup features some of the biggest EDM stars including Bassnectar, Steve Aoki, Tiesto, and Diesel (aka Shaq himself).Cost: Single night tickets start at $89

New Years EveThe Woods at The Source Hotel + Market HallWith one of the best views of Downtown Denver, this is the most scenic spot to welcome the new decade. Along with the city lights and front row fireworks view, youll enjoy live music from the Quemando salsa band, small bites from The Woods kitchen, cocktails, and a midnight toast. Youll also be able to order up some special items from The Woods downstairs neighbor, Safta.Cost: Tickets are $95

New Years EveMile High StationIf theres ever a good excuse to break out a tux or gown and feel elegant as f*ck, its the dawn of a new decade. Go all in on NYE glam at this party, where your tickets include an open bar, live music and DJs, casino games, and 2,000 balloons falling from the ceiling at midnight.Cost: $100

New Years EveMcNichols Civic Center BuildingThis party is taking over the three floor McNichols building with DJs, dancing, live music, art installations, and open bars. This is the 11th annual Resolution Denver NYE party and theyre going extra big this year. Bonus: you dont even have to leave the party to catch the Downtown fireworks show at midnight.Cost: Tickets start at $99

New Years EveThe LobbyBeer fests are pretty much happening every week in Denver, so why should NYE be any different? Opt for the other kind of bubbly this year and spend your night sipping all you can drink craft beer. Theres also an optional three-course dinner, plus a midnight release of a brand new brew (the first beer release of the new decade, and you can be the first to sip it!).Cost: All you can drink tickets start at $70

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Denvers 10 Best New Year's Eve Parties - Thrillist

What did Lexington read this year? Here are the most popular books at Cary Library in 2019 – Wicked Local Watertown

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Last year, Lexingtons Cary Memorial Library was one of the largest and most popular in the state, despite the fact the towns population does not rank among the top 50 in Massachusetts. Cary Librarys 208,968 print holdings are the 11th most in the state. Also, it is the sixth busiest library in the state, coming in just behind the libraries of Boston, Newton Cambridge, Brookline, and Worcester, according to data from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The fact Lexingtons library is able to keep pace with those of much larger communities speaks to Carys significant and longstanding importance for residents of Lexington and the surrounding area.

This popularity did not wane in 2019, as visitors to Cary expressed their interest in a wide variety of books. Below is a list of the 10 books, in order, that were most frequently checked out in Lexington this year, according to information provided by library staff.

"Becoming" byMichelle Obama

The former first ladys memoir takes the top spot in 2019. Here, Obama takes readers from her childhood in Chicago through her time at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and beyond. Critics have praised Becoming for the intimacy and candor Obama imbues her writing with.

"Educated: a memoir" byTara Westover

Lexington readers loved memoirs this year. In Educated, Westover details her childhood in Idaho, where she was raised by survivalist parents in near-isolation. After going to school for the first time at age 17, Westovers world opened up. She went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and is now a bestselling author.

"Where the Crawdads Sing" byDelia Owens

When a North Carolina man is found dead in 1969, locals immediately suspect the marsh girl, a mysterious young woman who lives alone in the reeds outside of town. The novel that follows is one part murder mystery, one part bildungsroman, and entirely a hit with local readers.

"Transcription" by Kate Atkinson

This novel dives into and beyond the world of WWII-era espionage, following a woman who is recruited by MI5 to keep keep tabs on fascist sympathizers in England. After a time jump, her past comes to light and she must face the consequences of her actions.

"Unsheltered" by Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolvers latest tells two simultaneous stories. In one, a husband and wife struggle to make ends meet despite their best efforts. In the other, a science teacher and contemporary of Charles Darwin tries to make his voice heard in a repressive village initially envisioned as a utopia. As the tales grow, Kingsolver deftly intertwines them, creating another bestseller.

"Nine Perfect Strangers" by Liane Moriarty

The author of Big Little Lies sets her sights on a new age, remote health resort and the nine strangers who have decided to attend for a variety of reasons. Eventually, shocking secrets are uncovered about the resorts owner and the nature of their gathering there in the first place.

"The Witch Elm" byTana French

With this stand-alone thriller from the author of the Dublin Murder Squad series, French tells the story of Toby, a cocky young man whose world is upended when he is nearly beaten to death by burglars. While he struggles to recover his memory, a mysterious skull is found in a tree on the family estate and an investigation begins. Through Toby, French explores the nature and origin of upper-class white privilege while also crafting another acclaimed pageturner.

"Past Tense: A Jack Reacher Novel" by Lee Child

The latest in this long-running blockbuster series follows former soldier Jack Reacher as he searches for the truth surrounding his father in an isolated New England town.

"Normal People" by Sally Rooney

In Normal People, Rooney acquaints readers with Connell and Marianne, two childhood friends whose differences continue to draw them together through college and beyond. Critics have praised Rooneys book for its insight into class dynamics and its compelling love story.

"Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng

This novel details what happens when an enigmatic single mother and her teenage daughter become tenants of Elena Richardson, a buttoned-up woman from a seemingly idyllic Midwestern suburb. Ngs book has been praised for its unflinching look at the force of motherhood and the secrets that can accompany it.

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What did Lexington read this year? Here are the most popular books at Cary Library in 2019 - Wicked Local Watertown