Oscars’ Problem With Historical Dramas


“I don’t mean to sound cynical, but when I look at the films nominated for Best Picture, I can’t help but feel disappointed that such a glittery, bloated event, which costs roughly $38 million to produce, doesn’t have more substance to justify its self-congratulatory pride.”

Who Owns “Happy Birthday”? (And Why That’s A Problem)


“Happy Birthday” generates an estimated $2 million each year in licensing fees for Warner/Chappell, largely from television and movie producers, and it’s not currently set to lose copyright protection until 2030. Avoiding these fees is why restaurant chains like Red Robin and Joe’s Crab Shack serenade customers with their own unique birthday songs.

How Publishing Is Failing Science


“Peer review is failing to ensure the quality of published research, and new research fails to get into the hands of those who need it, ending up behind journal paywalls after a review process that can take more than year.”

Are We Wrong About Who We Are In The Universe?


“For a long time, we’ve had this preconception that life is here on Earth, but the universe is dead. But maybe we should be thinking of this as a living universe. We may be relative latecomers to the game.”

Why Coverage Of That Smashed Ai Wei Wei Vase In Florida Was So Bad


“Stories of vandalism, destruction, forgery, and theft fascinate us because they are such tidy allegories of our relationship to art, a relationship that, at least since the time of the Armory Show, has consisted of a bizarre admixture of suspicion, discomfort, and occult reverence. Today, these attitudes are neatly characterized by the large fortunes that art sometimes commands.”

The Wellesley Sleepwalker After The Viral Controversy Dies Down


“The sleepwalker, now knee-deep in snow, has turned into an attraction akin to a meteorite that lands in a farmer’s field. People are coming from all over to see it. It has been clothed, posed with, and photographed almost constantly. Oddly, given the reaction of some at Wellesley, the general feeling generated by the work (at least while I was present) seems to be one of bemused endearment rather than trepidation.”

Why Is The Vienna Philharmonic So Slow To Change?


Sixteen years after the Philharmonic became one of the last big European orchestras to admit women, they are still an exotic sight onstage. Despite a blind audition policy, in which candidates are not visible when they play, the orchestra currently has just seven female members out of 130 total.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts Director Steps Down

Boston MFA Rogers

“Museum of Fine Arts director Malcolm Rogers, whose 19-year tenure has been marked by massive growth and a slate of exhibitions both popular and controversial, announced Thursday night he will retire as soon as a successor is hired to run the region’s largest art museum.”

Craig Lucas, Climbing Back From the Bottom

Craig Lucas

The playwright and screenwriter (Reckless, Prelude to a Kiss, Longtime Companion, Marry Me a Little, The Light in the Piazza) talks about drinking with his mother, running out of money and work even after he became famous, overcoming addiction, and what Philip Seymour Hoffman literally chased him down to say.

Well, They Won’t Be Shutting Down the Rome Opera Just Yet

Rome Opera

“Threats of a strike at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, which would have prevented Thursday’s opening night performance of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and damaged the company’s account books, were averted at the last minute.” The theater’s finances are so bad that Rome’s Mayor has been saying that a strike could force the company to close its doors.

The Most Unlikeable Hero in Children’s Literature

unlikeable hero

Laura Miller: “So she’s kind of creepy and something of a hypocrite. She may be the most unlikable hero in any children’s book, yet children, by the millions, insist on liking her. What’s [her] appeal?” (Miller includes in passing quite a pithy little takedown of Jonathan Franzen.)

Is Pussy Riot’s Music Actually Any Good?

Is Pussy Riots music any good

“Victims of state persecution, ambassadors for day-glo knitwear and wank fodder for beardy liberals the world over, the members of Pussy Riot have been filling both prison cells and column inches since 2012. In the process, they’ve also become one of the most famous bands on the planet. But let me ask you this – have you ever actually heard any of their music?”

The Limitations of Eve Ensler’s Dance-Based Activism

dancing Eve Ensler

“Last year, when I first heard about One Billion Rising, the day of action Ensler had declared to ‘break the silence’ about violence against women, I did not immediately think (as 999,999,999 other women evidently did), ‘Oh hooray, the famous vagina lady is doing something about violence!’ Instead I thought, ‘They’re going to tell us to dance, aren’t they.'”

Mothers, Sons, AIDS, Terrence McNally, and What a Difference 25 Years Make

Terrence McNally

McNally’s 1988 play Andre’s Mother is a cry of rage and pain by a man who just buried his lover at his lover’s ever-disapproving mother. His new Broadway outing, Mothers and Sons, “dramatize[s] the head-spinning changes in gay America since that earlier play, affecting not only same-sex couples but also people like [that still-disapproving mother].”