Never give a Cuban a microphone … Babel’s Richard Blanco

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The 2013-2014 season of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel series start a tad late as the largest contingent of audience members since Salman Rushdie (or perhaps ever) shuffled into Kleinhans to see Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco talk about his career and inspiration. Even after a nice poem written and read by one of the artists […]

David Simon speaks on the failure of the War on Drugs

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While the first time visiting the Chautauqua Institution—a non-for-profit, 750-acre educational center set up as an experimental, out-of-school educational spot for vacation learning—David Simon was very much aware of its existence and mission towards the “American spirit”. Bolstered by an anecdote to prove as much, the former Baltimore Sun beat reporter turned TV icon shared […]

Nothing human is alien to us … Babel’s Julia Alvarez

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The last installment of Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s sixth season of Babel made for an intriguing night. From the Talking Leaves Books counter being moved farther from the parking lot doors for the first time since being at Kleinhans to the playing of a Christmas song while waiting for Barbara Cole to take the stage […]

Writing the truth … Babel’s Alexandra Fuller

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With what might have been the largest audience Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel series has seen since Salman Rushdie, novelist Alexandra Fuller brought the house down with her unparalleled candor and humor. Without notes or books to read she treated her lecture as she would one of her works—a carefully composed soliloquy spanning a life […]

The 85th Oscars recap through tweets …

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@jaredmobarak • and the #Oscars begin … #Oscars13 @jaredmobarak • SUCCESS!! Tommy Lee Jones smiles! #Oscars13 @jaredmobarak • poor Don Cheadle #Oscars13 Welcome to the 85th annual Academy Awards from the newly renamed Dolby Theatre. Bankruptcy is a drag, ain’t it Kodak? Hopes were high after host Seth MacFarlane‘s surprisingly hilarious Ted made me wonder […]

Top Ten Films of 2012: Ensembles upon ensembles

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Many have been saying 2012 was a great year for movies. I’m not sure I fully agree. There were a ton of solid 7/10s and 8/10s, yes, but how does that compare with previous years when the amount of 10/10s were also drastically reduced? It took until September for me to give a film four […]

Picking Winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards

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Supporting Actress: Amy Adams: The Master Sally Field: Lincoln Anne Hathaway: Les Misérables Helen Hunt: The Sessions Jacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook William Altreuter: It often seems to me that the Best Supporting categories are where the most interesting things are to be found in the Academy Award nominations, and this year is proving me right. What we often get—especially with Best Actress […]

Starting and ending in doubt … Babel’s Nuruddin Farah

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Deliberately enunciating his words, novelist Nuruddin Farah used a calculated cadence to talk about his tireless ability to find trouble. The second speaker in Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s 2012-2013 Babel series, his Somali roots provide a very interesting connection to Buffalo considering the nation’s past two prime ministers came from here. His own history with […]

Teaching us what it is to be human … Babel’s Russell Banks

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As novelist Russell Banks admitted during the first lecture of the 2012-2013 Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Babel season, he is the series’ first participant with a clear “American accent”. I’m not sure if that fact made my brain marginalize his inclusion because he wasn’t some international luminary from an exotic corner of the world or […]

All new homes come with a clarinet … Babel’s Alexander McCall Smith

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The Michael Kelleher-less era of Babel began tonight with one of the biggest crowds the series has ever seen. If Alexander McCall Smith didn’t find himself standing before more audience members than Salman Rushdie two years ago, the numbers must have been close. But while the popular kilt-wearing author is probably used to the spotlight […]

If I were satisfied, I wouldn’t keep doing it … Babel’s Zadie Smith

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Not to overshadow the presence of British novelist Zadie Smith ushering in 2012′s year of Babel, the sobering news that Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Michael Kelleher was stepping down as Artistic Director to head up a position at Yale came with some shock and a well-deserved standing ovation. The man who really spearheaded the series […]