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Arts and culture from around the Tri-State, including theater, music and poetry.

Marilyn Monroe, a global symbol of beauty, glamour and sex, died on Aug. 5, 1962. Fifty years later, she's still in style — and making more money than ever. Monroe's come-hither expression is emblazoned on posters, T-shirts and refrigerator magnets. She's become a multimillion-dollar brand, but that may never have happened if not for the will she left behind, a document that reveals a much quieter — and more complicated — side to her legacy.

The Bourne Legacy, which opens in theaters this week, is the fourth thriller in the series, and the first without either Jason Bourne or the star playing him, Matt Damon. They're suddenly not necessary, even though the series is named for Bourne? Why am I not surprised?

The internet age has only confirmed humanity's love affair with lists, not to mention multiplied how many we write. Lists simplify, they spark arguments and they establish canons. They're the least subtle form of criticism but nevertheless an important part of it. No more buts, maybes or howevers: With lists, critics have to make choices.

Lee Maynard's 1988 semi-autobiographical novel Crum is set in the small, poor West Virginia town where he grew up. The people of Crum who know the book tend to love it or hate it. It was even banned for several years in a state-run store. The sequel, Screaming With the Cannibals, which came out five years later, got his protagonist Jesse Stone out of West Virginia, across the Tug River into Kentucky.

In Gore Vidal's New York Times obituary, Charles McGrath described the writer as "the elegant, acerbic all around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization." Vidal died Tuesday at the age of 86.

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Recently, home canning has seen a rush in popularity, and even upscale retailers like Williams-Sonoma want a share of the idea that a pint of home-canned jam is a fun gift idea. But during both world wars, canning saw another surge, this time prompted by colorful propaganda sponsored by the United States government.

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Look for a review of the new science fiction epic "Total Recall" and you'll see headlines ready Total Makeover. You might recall the 1990 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. With our review of the remake, here's Kenneth Turan.

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Against All Odds, You 'Swim Your Own Race'

Aug 2, 2012

South African poet Mbali Vilakazi is also a performer and radio producer based in Cape Town. Vilakazi's poem pays tribute to South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, the first female amputee ever to qualify for the Olympic Games.

In the red corner, a leering Donald Trump, brandishing plans to build a luxury golf resort on one of Britain's last remaining wilderness areas. In the blue, a small group of dignified local homeowners trying to stop him. The setup is a documentary filmmaker's dream, and Anthony Baxter's You've Been Trumped fully exploits the conflict's inherent gifts — including Mr. Trump's incautious mouth — with the kind of gleeful umbrage popularized by Michael Moore and eaten up by audiences.

Sushi: The Global Catch, a shrewdly constructed documentary on the challenges of the modern sushi industry, functions like a densely packed information delivery system — heavy on content, spare on style. Yet it offers a few striking images that speak for themselves: a commercial fishing vessel netting thousands of pounds of bluefin tuna, buyers for clients all over the world inspecting hundreds of tuna laid out in Tokyo's Tsukiji Market, a statue in the small fishing town of Oma depicting a large bluefin rising from the waves and, opposite, a pair of fists advancing to meet it.

The easiest way to put divorce onscreen is to slap a couple of clearly mismatched souls up there and proceed to show them bickering over money, property, the kids, the family dog. Celeste and Jesse Forever takes the harder and more honorable way, giving us two people who genuinely care for each other, who are perhaps perfect for each other in all the ways you can list on paper, and who still fall victim to some essential loneliness that seems to be hardwired into their union.

For all the glum punditry about our brave new world of connected disconnection, there are endless possibilities for free play — though you'd never know it from the sorry crew of malcontents in 360, an ambitious post-millennial take on Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde.

Set in a high-tech yet shabby future, the remake of Total Recall is a fully realized piece of production design. But its script, credited to six authors, is more like a preliminary sketch.

Directed by Underworld franchise veteran Len Wiseman, the movie retains some elements of Paul Verhoeven's friskier (and more graphically violent) 1990 original. Yet it also makes lots of changes, notably by downplaying the brain-bending aspects of the scenario in favor of thought-free action. (Also, it never leaves a devastated Earth for Mars.)

South African playwright, actor and director Athol Fugard describes the time Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 as "a period of euphoria that was the most extraordinary experience of my life."

He says he was also convinced he would be the country's "first literary redundancy."

"My life had been defined by the apartheid years," he tells Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More. "Now we were going into an era of democracy ... and I believed that I didn't really have a function as a useful artist in that anymore."

Mid-20th-century mystery master Ross MacDonald is credited with moving hard-boiled crime off the mean streets of American cities and smack into the suburbs. In MacDonald's mythical California town of Santa Teresa, modeled on Santa Barbara, evil noses its way into gated communities, schools and shopping centers that have been built expressly to escape the dirt and danger of the city.

Writer Caitlin Moran believes most women who don't want to be called feminists don't really understand what feminism is. In her book How to Be a Woman, Moran poses these questions to women who are hesitant to identify as feminists:

What part of liberation for women is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man that you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Vogue by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that stuff just get on your nerves?

If only Nixon could go to China, only indie-comics master Jaime Hernandez could produce God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls, the brightest, purest, most quintessentially superheroic superhero yarn in years.

Good grammar may have came and went.

Maybe you've winced at the decline of the past participle. Or folks writing and saying "he had sank" and "she would have went." Perhaps it was the singer Gotye going on about "Somebody That I Used to Know" instead of "Somebody Whom I Used to Know." Or any of a number of other tramplings of traditional grammar — rules that have been force-fed to American schoolchildren for decades — in popular parlance and prose.

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