An old couple visit their children and grandchildren in the city, but the children have little time for them.
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Elaine and Ed Kendall have more than their share of grief and suffering. Once a young couple in love they now struggle for a sense of stability in their Staten Island home. Their eldest son is suffering from the physical and psychological effects of war; his younger brother takes it upon himself to bring him peace and relief. Meanwhile, their special needs daughter brings another kind of chaos to the family. Even though Ed and Elaine explore options for her care, they’re really just hanging on to hope that things improve somehow.
Caroline, a young waitress who seems to have bad taste in men, is on her way home one night when thugs attempt to rape her. Adam, the mysterious busboy who works at the same diner, helps fight off the assailants, and she begins a relationship with him — but not all their fellow Minnesotans are happy for them. Meanwhile, the couple face their own difficulties when Caroline finds about Adam’s past, including his unique health condition.
Young Shakespeare is forced to stage his latest comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter,” before it’s even written. When a lovely noblewoman auditions for a role, they fall into forbidden love — and his play finds a new life (and title). As their relationship progresses, Shakespeare’s comedy soon transforms into tragedy.
Six years ago Jack “The Ripper” Stemmons, an American boxer had his career destroyed by a St. Louis bookie. After Jack seeks revenge he is forced into hiding. Jack disappears half way around the world in Thailand. There he falls victim to the addictive spell of Bangkok’s exotic and dangerous underworld. Eventually he finds solace in the arms of a beautiful prostitute who has been set in his path by a Russian gangster in order to get Jack back in the ring, This time in Bangkok’s notorious underground fight clubs. No matter how hard Jack tries to distance himself from his past, it always hunts him down like a Bad Penny. When a mysterious fight fan appears, it’s only a matter of time before Jack’s past, present and future accelerate and collide into a twisted climax.
The time: 1814. The place: Edo, now known as Tokyo. A much accomplished artist of his time and now in his mid-fifties, Tetsuzo can boast clients from all over Japan, and tirelessly works in the garbage-loaded chaos of his house-atelier. He spends his days creating astounding pieces of art, from a giant-size Bodhidharma portrayed on a 180 square meter-wide sheet of paper, to a pair of sparrows painted on a tiny rice grain. Third of Tetsuzo’s four daughters and born out of his second marriage, outspoken 23-year-old O-Ei has inherited her father’s talent and stubbornness, and very often she would paint instead of him, though uncredited. Her art is so powerful that sometimes leads to trouble. “We’re father and daughter; with two brushes and four chopsticks, I guess we can always manage, in a way or another.”