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'True Blood' star says show is different from all the rest

Luis Arroyave
Chicago Tribune (MCT)

CHICAGO — Vampire-themed entertainment keeps coming in waves, including the "Twilight" sequel, another vampire flick, "Priest," which began filming last month, and the TV show "The Vampire Diaries," which premiered on the CW network last week. Some involved in the genre might worry about backlash and oversaturation, but actor Ryan Kwanten of HBO's "True Blood" insisted he isn't too concerned.

"Personally, I don't (worry), purely due to the creative forces that are behind our show," said Kwanten, who made an here Friday as host of clothing boutique Akira's "Dusk Until Dawn" fashion show along with "True Blood" co-star Nelsan Ellis.

"True Blood" had its season finale Sunday and will return for a third season of blood, sex and violence in June. The show has been pulling in HBO's best numbers since "The Sopranos," including an impressive 5.3 million viewers for its Aug. 23 episode.

"We knew we were part of something special before the fans did," Kwanten said. "But to hear the fans and critics speak out and watch the show in ways we couldn't imagine, even an optimist couldn't have predicted it."

The 32-year-old Australian actor plays Jason Stackhouse, the dumb-yet-likable brother of protagonist Sookie Stackhouse, played by Anna Paquin . Jason was McConaughey-esque in Season 1, going shirtless for many scenes and frequently dropping trou for sex scenes as well.

Nudity is common on "True Blood," one of the reasons Kwanten said the show would be a bit different on network television.

"It would be 25 minutes long," Kwanten said. "There's a reason it's on HBO."

Kwanten said "True Blood" can push topics in a way network television can't. In its first two seasons, the drama has taken racism, homophobia, drug addiction and orgies and given them a vampire twist.

Would Kwanten consider himself a fan of the vampire genre in general?

"I'm into a good story," said Kwanten.

"But I'm not answering your question," he said with a smile.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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