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'Writer's Almanac' to feature locally published poem

BlazeVOX Books publisher Geoffrey Gatza announced today that Garrison Keillor will read a poem that was published by the local company on Wednesday's version of the popular program "The Writer's Almanac." The poem, Burt Kimmelman's "Old Age Home," is reprinted with permission below. Listen to Keillor read the poem here.

The ride from Manhattan — slipping her
into the passenger seat, swinging
in her legs, shutting the door — to the
suburbs of New Jersey, its trees and
freshly-painted houses, was as neat
as her empty apartment. We placed
some photos on her table, hung up
a few paintings on the walls, arranged
some of her sculptures here and there, plugged
in lamps and the television set.

We made our way along the hallway
to a room full of sun, where people
were gathered to talk a little, though
she had nothing to say. There was a
stereo playing music, and once
in a while someone sang the lyrics,
which had returned from some dim region —
a man seated in an easy chair
had wanted, years ago, "a girl just
like the girl who married dear old Dad."

We went to dinner. Someone poured her
a glass of juice. She ate, spilling food,
with a sudden hunger. Afterward
we sat on some couches. Someone asked
her to dance. The music played. She danced
with slight, tentative steps, a tulip
too heavy for its stem. When we had
to go we kissed goodnight, and left her
to lie down in her soft bed, her head
on her pillow, to slip into sleep.

Cathy Opie at the Burchfield Penney

An untitled 2009 photograph from Cathy Opie's "Surfers" series is in the collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

On Monday night, the photographer Cathy Opie gave a lecture in the Burchfield Penney Art Center's auditorium as part of a lecture series co-sponsored by the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the University at Buffalo's visual studies department and Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center.

Opie's work ranges from black-and-white portraits of the gay, lesbian and trans communities of Los Angeles to elegant pictures of curving freeways in the style of the great 19th century landscape painters. It includes matter-of-fact street photography that directly comments on American politics and formally accomplished images of radical messages carved with a scalpel into her own body.

Continue reading "Cathy Opie at the Burchfield Penney" »

Why 'Austenland' disappoints

“Austenland,” the novel by Shannon Hale, is a light, breezy read that balances entertainment value with respect for author Jane Austen. A young woman, unlucky in love, is obsessed with Austen's novels, especially her handsome, though difficult, character Mr. Darcy. That is specifically Mr. Darcy as personified by Colin Firth in the BBC miniseries of “Pride & Prejudice.”

“Austenland,” the movie, seemed like a couldn’t miss idea. Many of those making it, including director Jerusha Hess and producer Stephenie Meyer are Austen fans. The novel's slim length and easy plot were tailor-made for a screenplay. Actress Keri Russell, cast in the lead role of Jane Hayes, has been one of the most likeable actresses since her teen years in TV’s “Felicity.”

But, simply put,  “Austenland,” the film, is a bummer of a disappointment. It feels like a movie made by people who laughed at the source material, not admired it. From the silly opening montage, the film makes fun of Jane’s obsession with Darcy (Jane kisses her life-sized cutout of Darcy; her bedroom looks like a little girl’s room with Darcy spelled out above her Regency-styled bed), as well as the idea of Austenland, a place where you could live for a time as Austen did. Characters are caricatures and the overacting is mortifying. The all-female soundtrack that I’m sure sounded like a great idea at the time, is too obtrusive and cloying -- a good word for the film.

If you want to watch a film that celebrates Darcy, see “Pride & Prejudice” (1995) with that wonderful  scene of Firth rising wet, but respectably clothed, from the water. Or director Joe Wright’s surprisingly great 2005 film starring Keira Knightley. In it, Darcy (Matthew Macfayden) emerges from the fog, his black cape swirling about him, on his way to profess his love for Elizabeth Bennett. Those are two great romantic films, whether you read Jane Austen or not.

--Toni Ruberto

Extra! Extra! 10 great songs about newspapers! Read all about it!

I love newspapers.

I especially love THIS newspaper, but I love them all. And much like as a child I used to perk up whenever a character on a network television show would say the word "Buffalo" - Hey! That guy just said Buffalo! We're famous! - I now perk up at any pop culture reference to newspapers.

(Watch "Seinfeld." It's amazing how often Jerry or George have a newspaper or talk about something related to them.)

This is a long way of explaining why I compiled my list of songs that reference either a particular paper or the act of reading one.

Here they are, in descending order, with the pertinent lyrics and video links.

10. Paperback Writer, The Beatles:  "... his son is working for The Daily Mail."

9. Escape (The Pina Colada Song), Rupert Holmes: "... so while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed."

8. Stayin' Alive, The Bee Gees: "We can try to understand the New York Times effect on man."

7. Alley Oop, The Hollywood Argyles: "There's a man in the funny papers we all know. (Alley-oop, oop. Oop, oop.)"

6. Get a Job, The Silhouettes: "... then I get the paper, I read it through and through."

5. American Pie, Don McLean: "But February made me shiver, with every paper I'd deliver. Bad news on the doorstep ..."

4. Want Ads, The Honey Cone: "Gonna put it in the want ads, I need somebody new."

3. Rock 'n' Roll Never Forgets, Bob Seger: "Check the local newspapers, chances are you won't have to go too far."

2. New York State of Mind, Billy Joel: "But now I need a little give and take, The New York Times, The Daily News."

1. A Day in the Life, The Beatles: "I read the news today, oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade."

Disagree with my choices? Tell me about it. I'm on Twitter @BAndriatch. But I might not respond right away; we've got a paper to put out.

--- Bruce Andriatch

Herbie, Carlos, Billy and Friends at the Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center just announced its 36th annual batch of honoress for next year. They are: Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine, Martina Arroyo and Carlos Santana.

Among those smirking, no doubt: Clive Davis and the ghost of Miles Davis.

--Jeff Simon


Unpacking Echo Art Fair

Kayla Philo, left, and Jared Barto of Elmira look at “Enchanted Forest 2,” a mixed media piece by Nancy Belfer, at the third annual Echo Art Fair at the Central Library on Saturday. Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News


Just want to to share a couple of reactions to the weekend's Echo Art Fair, which I found to be the best-organized and most successful of the event's three-year history.

The first is this writeup by the prolific Paddy Johnson of Art F City, who, unlike nearly everyone to whom I spoke to at the fair for my brief event story in Sunday's paper, thought the quality of the work was substandard.

The second is a letter from local artist Paul Lloyd Sargent protesting the fair's consumerist raison d'être, which I will post after the jump. That letter carries echoes -- no pun indended -- of last year's somewhat more widespread dissatisfaction about the fair from a group of local artists and others upset with its being run on a for-profit basis and other issues.

Though some other assignments prevented me from delving as deeply as I'd have liked into the kaleidoscopic offerings and installations or Echo's attempts to build a local art market, it seems to me as if fair founder E. Frits Abell has hit his stride with the event and seems well poised to expand upon its success year by year. I disagree with Johnson about the quality of the artwork, which like many visitors I found to be a great deal better than in past years and on par with much art one might find at larger and glitzier fairs.

My overall experience at Echo, including an often intruging Q&A between Johnson and Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director Janne Sirén, was lovely.

--Colin Dabkowski

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BPO and Buffalo praised by American Record Guide


By Mary Kunz Goldman

The venerable American Record Guide has praised the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's May performance in Carnegie Hall's "Spring For Music" Festival, a memorable concert pictured above in a News file photo.

The magazine, founded in 1935, does not have an online edition. With luck they will forgive us if we cut and paste.

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra announces holiday shows

Trans-Siberian Orchestra will make its annual holiday visit to the area with performances at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30 in the First Niagara Center.

For the matinee performance, tickets are $70.50, $60.50, $50.50, $40.50 and $32.50. For the 7 p.m. show, tickets are $70.50, $60.50, $50.50 and $40.50. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 13 through the FNC box office, at or charge by phone at (888) 223-6000.


Buffalo Reading Invasion returns to Larkin Square

Buffalo Reading Invasion, the flash mob-like series of gatherings that celebrate the role of reading, public space, and community in Buffalo's cultural life, returns to Larkin Square, 745 Seneca St at the intersection of Swan St., tonight from 6:30  p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with the final event on its Summer 2013 calendar. 

Geoff Schutte, the Buffalo educator who is the founder and organizer of Buffalo Reading Invasion, encourages the entire reading community to bring a book or magazine, a chair or blanket (though Larkin Square has plenty of available seating), and several friends or family members for an hour of quiet reading and fellowship in one of Buffalo’s most popular and successfully-reclaimed public spaces.  Visit  for further details and to learn more about Buffalo Reading Invasion.

--R.D. Pohl

Jay Z to play Buffalo in January

Jay Z Ron Howard.JPEG-03895
Superstar rapper, hip-hop artist and record producer Jay Z is bringing his "Magna Carter" world tour to town with a concert Jan. 30 at the First Niagara Center.

Tickets, priced at $39.50, $59.50, $99.50 and $125, go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept 12 at the FNC box office, through, or charge by phone at (888) 223-6000.

Jay Z's latest album, "Magna Carter ... Holy Grail," has gone double platinum. He just wrapped up a successful summer stadium tour with Justin Timberlake. There is no indication that Timberlake will join Jay Z for the North American leg of his tour, which starts Nov. 30.


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