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Someone

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust [email protected] By Alice McDermott Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2013 288 pages If you have time to read only one novel during the upcoming end-of-the-year hectic holiday season, I urge you to consider Someone by Alice McDermott. She is back after a 7-year absence. For those of you who unfamiliar with Alice McDermott, she won the National Book Award for Charming Billy in 1998 and has been thrice nominated as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Five of her six previous novels have been nominated for national awards. I do not write this because I am bedazzled by ... Read More »

Piracy and Heroism

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REEL REVIEWS By Monte Lazarus [email protected] “Captain Phillips” starts quietly enough. Captain Rich Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his wife (Catherine Keener) leave their Vermont home one morning. The Captain is off to Oman where he will take charge of a freighter, the Maersk Alabama, destination Kenya. The ship carries various goods, including relief supplies for those suffering in Africa. Phillips is a by-the-book, firm New Englander, and he is aware of the threat of piracy as the ship must go past the Horn of Africa where Somali pirates abound. Two small powerboats chase the Alabama, but must turn back. One ... Read More »

Go ahead and Blame it on Beckett

The cast prepares for their moment in the spotlight SUBMITTED PHOTO

Submitted The Box Office is open and tickets are currently on sale for the Island Theater Company’s production of Blame It On Beckett sponsored by Centennial Bank. What really goes on behind the scenes in a major regional new England non-profit theater? Blame It On Beckett, is the clever, witty, comedy by John Morogiello, that gives a peek into all of the drama found backstage. A wonderful comedy with heart and a message, Blame It On Beckett asks the question: how far are we willing to sacrifice our soul to get ahead? And once we do it, was it worth ... Read More »

Promise Me: How a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust [email protected] By Nancy G. Brinker with Joni Rodgers Crown Archetype, 343 pages The first National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was observed in October 1986, and now it is a global event. Promise Me is the story of Susan Goodman, her younger sister Nancy, and how their sisterly devotion brought that about. Three-year-old Susan welcomed home baby sister Nancy Goodman in 1946 with an intense looking-over and accepted her with, “Well, she’s quite a character,” announcement to their parents. The sisters lived in Peoria, Illinois, an area I know very well as I was born (a little after ... Read More »

Go Gatsby for Cancer Awareness

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Submitted Slip back to the time when flapper skirts and suits were popular at the first annual GirlTalkTV Roaring Gatsby Affair on Thursday, November 7. The ball will benefit the American Cancer Society Collier County Chapter to aide men and women battling cancer. “It is a fabulous way to look your best and help others recover and feel their best,” said Sherry Bryant, owner of GirlTalkTV. The GirlTalkTV Roaring Gatsby Affair will feature entertainment, drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction valued at more than $4,000. Donated getaway package, travel, fashion and beauty will be available in the raffle and ... Read More »

RUSH

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REEL REVIEWS By Monte Lazarus [email protected] The setting is Europe. The critical year is 1976, although it’s mingled with a number of flashbacks. The movie centers about the rivalry of two Formula One race car drivers, one handsome, dashing and British; the other Austrian, not so handsome, not so dashing – indeed dour, arrogant – and Austrian. This fascinating thriller is more about the two opposite personalities, and their approaches to life, than it is simply about racing incredibly fast cars around the European Circuit. Interestingly, both main characters, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) were from ... Read More »

ENOUGH SAID

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REEL REVIEWS By Monte Lazarus [email protected] Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced masseuse with a daughter, Ellen, about to enter college (impeccably played by Tracey Fairaway). Albert (the late, great James Gandolfini) is a divorced father of a girl also bound for college. Thus begins “Enough Said,” a charming little comedy that gets into the foibles of middle class, middle aged life in California. Eva has a self-deprecating sense of humor that sustains her through her loneliness. She lives for her job, daughter and a few very good friends. She meets Albert at a party, and they share a few ... Read More »

Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust [email protected]   By David Berg Scribner 2013, 254 pages I am very fond of the genre Real Crime, but I believe “Run, Brother, Run” is the first of such that I have addressed in Book Remarks. For the past month or so I have been working on reading the nominees for the Man Booker Prize, due to be announced on October 15. (I predict “Harvest” by Jim Crace takes the prize.) However, after I read that “Guardian US” readers had picked “Run, Brother, Run” as their favorite Summer 2013 read, my interest was piqued and I had ... Read More »

Prisoners

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REEL REVIEWS By Monte Lazarus [email protected] As the first scene begins a father is repeating a prayer as his son prepares to shoot a deer for their Thanksgiving dinner.  This is the fitting prelude for almost three hours of tension and superb performances in a far-from-ordinary “crime thriller. The setting is a wintry, somber, dank Western Pennsylvania town.  It appears to be a normal suburb, but the Thanksgiving dinner celebration of two families goes awry when the daughters of both families disappear.  The story becomes a study of rage by one father (Keller Dover, brilliantly played by Hugh Jackman) while ... Read More »

Sisterland

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust [email protected]   By Curtis Sittenfeld Random House, 397 pages   Violet and Daisy Shramm are psychic identical twins who live in Saint Louis, Missouri, but dwell in Sisterland, the name the older-by-eight-minutes twin, Violet, gave to the bedroom they shared as children. Her sign “Sisterland – Population 2 – Do NOT Enter Without Permission” that hung on their bedroom door was a declaration of both physical and psychic boundaries. As children, both girls accepted their innate ability to “know” future events and other people’s secrets. They also knew others did not understand this trait, including their own ... Read More »

Blame it on Beckett

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Submitted The Island Theater Company is pleased to announce the cast of “Blame It On Beckett.” The cast includes: John Moulton as dramaturg, Jim Foley; Mai Puccio as famous playwright, Tina Fike; Jared Wagner as theater general manager, Mike Braschi; Abby Yetter as literary intern, Heidi Bishop. John Moulton made his stage debut earlier this year in ITC’s Mama Won’t Fly. He had several signature parts, including bar-keep “Mitch,” truck driver “Red,” and his most memorable and fashionably dressed character, “Spud Farley,” complete with spike heels. This is John’s first lead role. Mai Puccio is a graduate of Bennington College ... Read More »

The Butler

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REEL REVIEWS By Monte Lazarus [email protected] By trying to do too much, “the Butler” ends up doing too little. It intersperses the life of White House butler named Cecil Gaines (modeled on real life butler Eugene Allen) with episodes of the Civil Rights Movement. In a huge cast, including Robin Williams (who is supposed to be Dwight Eisenhower, but looks more like Mr. Truman), Alan Rickman as a very soft toned Ronald Reagan, Liev Schrieber who plays Lyndon Johnson, even down to dictating while on the John, Vanessa Redgrave, Mariah Carey, and others in small roles. The two characters supplying ... Read More »

Marco Players: Forty Years of Theater

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By Natalie Strom [email protected] The Marco Players Theater is setting its sights on the 2013 season and beyond. After 40 years in the business, the 501(c)3 non-profit theater’s board of directors, marketing team, actors, directors and volunteers have created a successful style of choosing plays, selecting cast members and entertaining its audiences – around 5,000 or so per year. The live performance art group “was started in 1973 by residents that wanted a kids theater, as I understand it,” explains Beverly Dahlstrom, President of the Board of Directors for the theater. “It just grew from there.” Thirteen years ago, The ... Read More »

Woody’s Best Blue Jasmine

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REEL REVIEWS By Monte Lazarus [email protected] From the moment we first see Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) we’re entranced, even though she’s talking to herself and her neighbor on a flight from New York to San Francisco. Jasmine is dressed to the nines in Chanel and a huge Hermes purse. That’s all accompanied by monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage awaiting her on the carousel. What follows are flashes backward and forward as it becomes clear that Jasmine has left the Manhattan high-life destitute and is moving to San Francisco to live (temporarily?) with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins). If all this hints of ... Read More »

I Hate To Leave This Beautiful Place

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust [email protected] by Howard Norman 208 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt   Lest you think this is a book about gorgeous vacation spots, let me explain the book title. “I hate to leave this beautiful place” is the call of a man turned into a goose in an Inuit tale. He repeatedly cries out this phrase as migration time, winter, approaches. That this is an exceedingly apt title becomes evident as you read the five sections of the book. The publisher calls this a memoir, but that term does not do this exquisite book justice. This is one of ... Read More »

Summer theater camp presents Wicked

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By Noelle H. Lowery [email protected] They truly defied gravity. The 30 kids of the city of Marco Island’s summer theater camp flew to new heights in their performance of Wicked after a whirlwind two weeks of rehearsals. This was the second two-week summer theater camp session, which is sponsored by the city of Marco Island and The Marco Players Theater. Earlier this summer, campers brought down the house with their performance of West Side Story. Wicked was a departure from Director GIna Sisbarro’s original plans for the second summer session. Oklahoma originally was slated, but Sisbarro felt something was missing. ... Read More »

Red 2 – Sit Back And Escape

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REEL REVIEWS By Monte Lazarus [email protected] No Zombies. No Vampires. Not even an Alien. RED2 is all about good old earthly mayhem with enough one-liners and visual gags to make for excellent escapism. The old gang of semi-retired (and retarded) not so secret assassins is back again. Bruce Willis (Frank), John Malkovich (Marvin) and Helen Mirren (Victoria) reprise their identities as “Retired and Extremely Dangerous (RED)”. This time they are after a deadly super weapon built and hidden by a dotty British scientist well played by good old Anthony Hopkins. He manages to confuse and surprise everyone. Is he really ... Read More »

Deadly News

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust [email protected] By Don Farmer with Chris Curle 309 pages, Publisher Page, 2013 Atlanta is hosting the Olympics for the second time. One week before opening day, the planning committee is meeting at the Global News Service boardroom. Each of the 18 people present is assessing his or her readiness for the event. The mayor proudly shares his solution to a prickly problem: “We’ll urge our homeless friends who wander around downtown talking to themselves to walk in pairs. Visitors who come here during the Olympics will think they’re talking to each other.” The characters in the book ... Read More »

Local Author Joins MIHS Movie Series

Robert Messier’s movie knowledge is extensive. PHOTO BY NATALIE STROM

Submitted Something new has been added to the Marco Island Historical Society Summer Movie Matinee Series. Robert Messier, author of “100 Years of Thrillers and Chillers 1912-2012,” will be offering a short preview/critique of every movie we have on tap for this summer. Prior to each show, Messier will be giving interesting insights that will enhance the wonders of movie magic of old. Mr. Messier’s book is considered to be an ultimate collection of all the best thrillers and chillers in cinema history. He studied drama and film making in Long Island, New York. He now resides on the Isle ... Read More »

The Racketeer

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BOOK REMARKS Maggie Gust [email protected]   By John Grisham Doubleday 2012 340 pages As a long-time Grisham fan, I didn’t hesitate to read this book when it was recommended by a friend. It is never difficult to get engrossed in a Grisham novel, at least not his legal thrillers. I did not want to put this book down. I have not been this mesmerized by Grisham since The Client, my first Grisham novel. The protagonist is Malcolm Bannister, a small-town Virginia lawyer imprisoned (wrongly) to a 10-year federal prison sentence for money laundering. We find him halfway through that term, ... Read More »