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Articles by Diana Beechener

A fun action flick with a buzzkill for a lead

In Seth Rogen’s (Funny People) latest leading role, which he wrote for himself, he creates a superhero with all the personality faults of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man but without any of the charm or competence. It’s a bold choice to craft a possible superhero franchise around a tiresome jerk, but Rogen relishes the challenge. 

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Digging up the origin of Jumpers Hole Road led to a few facts and plenty of fiction

Part of our What’s With That series has been a challenge to you, dear reader. We invite you to write in your queries, with the promise of an upcoming solution in our pages. 

Turns out, this was a foolish assertion. 

Pat Nesbit of Arnold wrote seeking the origin of the name Jumpers Hole Road. After a day of research, I got a bad feeling that I was about to be stumped.

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He’s Got His Mother’s Nose

He doesn’t have a name yet, but the National Zoo’s baby giant anteater already has a photo blog and a ghostwriter. Keeper Marie Magnuson has been posting status updates and photos of the long-nosed baby boy since his birth in December.

Magnuson had close contact with the baby in the early days, because mother Maripi wasn’t producing enough milk to keep the little guy gaining weight.

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Come for a love story, stay for an emotional evisceration

Blue Valentine isn’t a romantic drama; it’s a horror movie for romantics. Derek Cianfrance’s (Cagefighter) film asks questions that most modern romantic movies attempt to avoid: What happens to a married couple when they fall out of love? What if you’re not meant to be with the person you married?...

Finding the source of a local river

“What on earth does Magothy mean?” asked a guest as we walked down to the river by my Pasadena home.

“It’s the name of the river,” I explained.

“But what is it? Is it a person? Or a special word?” persisted my curious guest.

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A B-movie with an A-List cast earns a failing grade

A priest, some crusaders and a witch wander into the woods. Turns out the joke is on whoever pays to see the movie. An overwrought, overstuffed tale of medieval mysticism, Season of the Witch fails on every possible level, from storytelling to acting to star Nicolas Cage’s improbable hairpiece.

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The Latest Addition to the National Zoo Has a Nose for Trouble

Born on the seventh of December, the latest addition to the National Zoo has already caused a fuss among the zookeepers. The giant anteater pup was found lying outside his mother’s cage with a dangerously low body temperature. The month-old cub was rushed to the vet, then given the all-clear to go back to his mom.

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A speech impediment proves to be a royal pain in this excellent drama

At the close of the 1925 Empire Exhibition, England’s Duke of York Albert (Colin Firth: A Single Man) stands before a live audience for his radio broadcast debut. Instead of a refined address, the Duke broadcasts a halting stuttering address as his countrymen regard him in horror. 

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Natalie Portman pirouettes to the dark side in this ballet thriller

When watching ballet dancers leap and spin across a stage, it’s hard to remember that these dedicated athletes punish their bodies to create such grace. Director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) is happy to remind you. His psychological dance thriller (which may be the best new genre in years) — Black Swan is awash with close-ups of battered toes, bony arms and raw bloody flesh — and that’s just the normal ballerinas. 

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The Annapolis Chorale takes Messiah to the masses

In the middle of the shopping rush on the last Saturday before Christmas, one Nordstrom customer stopped browsing and started singing. Another 100 voices joined in, singing a seemingly impromptu but suspiciously professional “Hallalujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.

The reason for the effortless harmony: The Annapolis Chorale was adding an enticing fourth performance to the usual three nights of singing the Messiah.

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