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  • First African American Actor To Play Jean Valjean On Broadway, 21, Dies In Fall From Brooklyn Fire Escape

    “‘The tragic loss of Kyle to our company, just as he was on the threshold of a brilliant career, is a numbing reminder of how precious life is,’ said Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of Les Misérables, in a statement. ‘His spirit was infinite and his voice from God.'”

    The Complete MoMA Art Collection – All Of It – Available To See Right Now

    “For each piece, the database tells us the work’s title, some brief biographical information about the artist, the year of creation, the medium and dimensions, and how and when MoMA acquired it. These aren’t exactly trade secrets: It’s basically the data printed on the placards posted next to each painting. But, in MoMA’s case, it’s assembled in one place, comprehensive, easy to use, and recent. The museum made the database freely available online last month.”

    Can The Internet Crowdsource The “Perfect” Song?

    ‘This is an experiment in crowd-sourced songwriting. A melody is currently being generated, note by note, in real-time, using the popular vote of the crowd,’ says crowdsound.net.

    The Science Behind Why Some People Are Selfish

    “What is interesting, then, is that when you show calculating people what they expect — that you are ready to exploit their vulnerabilities for self-gain — there is no sign of surprise. When you respond to their selfish behavior with kindness, their brains immediately start planning how to best take advantage of you. They are, in fact, selfish jerks.”

    Frustrated: Editor Blasts Critics Complaining About Lack of Diversity And Transparency at Writers Conference

    Editor Kate Gale took aim at the charges in a blog post at Huffington Post in a plea for members to stop questioning (attacking) the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

    Editor’s Rant About Diversity Complaints Brings Down Wrath Of The Internet

    The language in Kate Gale’s piece has set off a firestorm. Discussing a complaint that AWP is not inclusive of various ethnic groups–and responding directly to a charge that the organization has been dismissive of Native Americans–Gale writes of trying to find the potential “Indian hater” in the organization. Then, speaking about issues of diversity around gender and sexuality, Gale asks, rhetorically, ” How gay is AWP?,” before stating that she feels she is “30% gay” because of “all the time with girls before I started dating guys.”

    Director Accuses Theatre Of “Setting A Dangerous Precedent” By Cancelling ISIS Play

    “If a single company gets scared and it is willing to pull work that it has invested time and money and love into… that is a very dangerous precedent.”

    Director Of Russian Museum Fired Amid Charges Of Theft And Forgery

    “Patrons and employees of the museum — also known as the Karakalpak State Museum of Art — vociferously protested her dismissal. They defended Marinika Babanazarova, the granddaughter of a former ruler of the region, as the collection’s stalwart protector.”

    Time To Abolish The Idea That Social Interaction Is A “Science”?

    “Social science was — it is best to speak in the past tense — a mistake. The dream of a comprehensive science of society, which would elucidate “laws of history” or “social laws” comparable to the physical determinants or “laws” of nature, was one of the great delusions of the 19th century.”

    Measuring The Creative Economy: Can We Measure How The Artists Are Doing?

    “Interestingly, in all the responses to the article, no one so far has been able to suggest a data source that suggests that mean or median incomes for musicians have declined since 1999, adjusted for inflation. Everything that I have uncovered in many months of researching this article suggests that the story of music since 1999 is one of steady but small growth for musicians. Not some glorious renaissance, but certainly not a crisis.”

    Photography As A Weapon

    “The weaponization of photography is a partial reflection of a modern culture that is willing to consume and interpret imagery without analysis or concern for who might be victimized by the image. And the rate at which photos and video can spread online feeds this insatiable consumption. It wasn’t always like this.”

    A Revolution In Photography? Maybe, But Not The Way You Think

    “The number of people armed with cameras today has never been greater – in the past 10 years the act has become utterly ubiquitous. But it isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. It’s the second.”

    Sometimes You End Up Having To Paint Your Castle Yellow: The Perils Of Historical Restoration

    “The story of how the restoration of the Great Hall of Stirling Castle led to it being painted bright yellow illustrates the unexpected complexity … It comes down to this question: When you choose to restore something, at which moment in time are you restoring it to?” (podcast with transcription)

    Fire Destroys Second City’s Chicago Offices

    Second City CEO Andrew Alexander: “It has gutted our two levels of offices. But we’ll fix it. … The theaters are fine. The most important thing is that no one is hurt. Thank the Lord.”

    ‘Happily Manipulated’: Peter Schjeldahl On Whistler’s Mother, And His Own

    The iconic status of Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 isn’t just because it marks “the peak of Whistler’s radical method of modulating tones of single colors.” It’s because, like Mona Lisa, The Scream, and American Gothic, “Whistler’s Mother” is “the distillation of a meaning instantly recognized and forever inexhaustible. In this case, it’s the mysteries of motherhood. Everybody has a mother, and something close to half of everybody becomes one.”

    Dangerous Satire? Americans Know Nothing Of Dangerous Satire

    “America simply never had a Werner Finck, and we certainly don’t have a Bassem Youssef, even though we’d like to think we do. It is far safer and easier to canonize Chaplin’s ballet performance [in The Great Dictator] while forgetting the unsafe, uneasy provocations of Finck [and Youssef]. Americans tolerate bullshit even when we know – we know – it’s bullshit. At the best of times, there is something luxurious about this.”

    Cancelled Play About Radicalisation Of British Muslim Girls Gets Lots Of Offers For Stagings

    “The playwright behind Homegrown, the controversial play exploring radicalisation and jihadi brides that was shut down less than a fortnight before its opening, … has been approached by numerous figures and organisations offering to put the play back on and discussions are currently underway.”

    The Red-Baiting Of Lena Horne – And How She Overcame It

    “Over the course of her long life, Lena Horne became a star of film, music, television, and stage, as well as a formidable force for civil rights. … Yet there was a brief period in the early 1950s when Horne’s career seemed to be over. … She continued to perform at nightclubs, but nobody in the TV or film industries would hire her.”

    Can You Picture Josephine Baker As A Senior Citizen?

    From the Guardian archives, a visit with the toast of 1920s Paris – and decorated veteran of the French Resistance – in France they year before she died.

    Stop Calling It ‘The Bechdel Test,’ Says Alison Bechdel

    After all, as she’s been saying for years, she wasn’t the one who came up with the idea. She simply put it in a comic strip, where it was eventually noticed.

    Ten London Museums Do A Virtual Collection Swap Via Instagram

    “Using the hashtag #museuminstaswap, each participating institution will share photos of its partner museum throughout the week, highlighting works that resonate with their own collections.”

    All The Stephen Colbert Stuff That Didn’t Make It Into The Time Cover Story

    On why he had to leave The Colbert Report: “I still enjoyed it, but to model behavior, you have to consume that behavior on a regular basis. It became very hard to watch punditry of any kind, of whatever political stripe. … To change that expectation from an audience, or to change that need for me to be steeped in cable news and punditry, I had to actually leave. I had to change.” (includes plenty of video clips)

    Top Posts From AJBlogs 08.27.15

    Slim Gaillard (Oroony)
    AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2015-08-27

    Raphael’s no Angel, but it’s not because he’s Jewish
    AJBlog: Plain English Published 2015-08-27

    So you want to see a show?
    AJBlog: About Last Night Published 2015-08-27

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    Stephen King: Does Being A Prolific Writer Make You A Bad Writer?

    No one in his or her right mind would argue that quantity guarantees quality, but to suggest that quantity never produces quality strikes me as snobbish, inane and demonstrably untrue.

    A Major New Dance School Rises In Los Angeles

    The Kaufman school, which started classes this week, is unusual in embedding a conservatory-style bachelor of fine arts program within a private research university of some academic rigor. It’s also distinctive in curricular focus; its motto — “the New Movement” — connotes revolution, and Jody Gates speaks of “reimagining dance education for the 21st century.”

    Israel Protests Plans By Daniel Barenboim To Perform In Iran

    “News of the proposed concert drew an angry reaction from Israel’s minister of culture and sport, Miri Regev, who denounced it this week on her Facebook page and said that she would that she would write German officials and urge them to cancel the concert.”

    Do Neuroticism And Creativity Go Hand In Hand?

    Think of it this way: Reacting to an ambiguous remark from your boss by coming up with crazy, unrealistic scenarios in which you are likely to get fired is, in a very real sense, creative.

    Lost Generation: Middle-Aged Classical Musicians

    “This is the art-form that reveres the aged master, but it’s no less enamoured of youth. The problem is that between charmed youth and revered old age comes the ‘awkward age’. To be musically talented and middle-aged is nowadays deemed worthy of no more than polite attention. Whereas to be musically talented and young is to be treated as a veritable god.”

    Judge Orders $10 Million Of “50 Shades” Royalties To Be Set Aside For Defrauded Woman

    “A jury decided in February that Jennifer Pedroza had been conned when the rights were sold to Random House. It found that Amanda Hayward, who signed the deal on behalf of their firm The Writers Coffee Shop, tricked Ms Pedroza into signing a restructuring contract that cut her out of royalties rights.”

    Stories From The Front Lines: Women Tell Their Stories Of Abuse In The Music Industry

    “Various tropes are repeated over and over again, like a riff you’ve heard too many times before: an aspiring bassist being told by a music teacher that bass is for boys, or a teenager being asked by her dubious male classmates to recite a band’s entire discography in order to prove her fan cred. The narrative gets even more disturbing and specific when you start charting the testimonials of women who pursued careers as musicians, sound engineers, executives, and journalists.”

    Is “Teach For America” An Idea Whose Time Has Passed?

    “As TFA’s applicant pool shrinks and recruitment dips, its critics are claiming that alumni horror stories and ideological critiques of the organization are finally starting to take their toll. TFA, on the other hand, maintains that ongoing economic recovery is impacting their recruitment by driving top-tier applicants away from teaching.”

    Cultural Appropriation – A Weapon Of Mass Destruction?

    “I worry that if we reach a place where a charge of cultural appropriation becomes a trump card, instantly condemning a work of art, a fashion line or a fitness craze, we won’t delve deeper on the important questions raised by cultural exchange.”

    ‘Born To Run’ At 40: Bruce Springsteen And The Fading Of The American Dream

    “Lost amid popular memories of kitsch – of waterbeds and pet rocks, mood rings and self-help books – is the story of a more complicated decade. The enduring sway of Born to Run isn’t just thanks to the music, which stands up strongly, four decades later. It stems also from the unique time and place in which Americans first came to know Bruce Springsteen.”

    When A Snuff Film Becomes Unavoidable: Social Media And The Virginia TV Shootings

    This is why Twitter and Facebook shouldn’t make video play automatically.

    Thieves Dressed As Tourists Steal Rodin From Museum In Broad Daylight

    Two men walked into the Rodin Room at the Ny Carlsberg Glypoteket museum in Copenhagen, walked right up to The Man with the Broken Nose, put it in a bag, and left – apparently unnoticed by guards and other museum-goers.

    Duke Freshmen Refuse To Read ‘Fun Home’ Because It’s ‘Pornographic’

    Said one of the scandalized young fellas, “the nature of Fun Home means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature.” Explained another, “I would [also] not have read the book if the pictures were of heterosexual intercourse.”

    ‘Fun Home’ Is Not Porn, And The Duke Refuseniks Know It

    “He wants us to believe, in other words, that he was turned off by a handful of panels in a comic with thousands of them. Grasso’s vague word choice [in his larger argument] suggests that he knows how ridiculous this objection really is.”

    How Jonathan Franzen Became America’s Leading Public Moralist

    “Do you love Jonathan Franzen? Does America? Does the world? These questions sound ridiculous, but they’re the ones Franzen has been posing over the past two decades, as he has, against long odds, made himself the kind of public figure about whom they aren’t entirely ridiculous or even unusual.”

    A 17th-Century Female Artist You’ve Never Heard Of (No, We Don’t Mean Artemisia)

    Like Artemisia Gentileschi, Josefa de Óbidos (1630–1684) was the daughter of a respected painter. But she developed a successful career in her own right, painting both sacred and secular subjects, in Counter-Reformation-era Portugal.

    Poignant Short Stories Composed Entirely Of Example Sentences From The Dictionary

    Yes, there’s a Tumblr for them – the brainchild of Jez Burrows. “The best part, though, is how existentially moving these stories become. Burrows creates recipes (where he features the aforementioned gallons of blood) and poignantly moving confessionals that turn on their head with the last sentence.”

    How (And Why) I Chose My 101 Greatest Plays (And Why I Left Out ‘King Lear’)

    Michael Billington: “Why do it? Why put my head on the chopping-block by writing a book hubristically entitled The 101 Greatest Plays? The answers are many and complex.”

    Fire Destroys Portion Of One Of Europe’s Largest Science Museums

    Firefighters battled the blaze at the Cité des Sciences in Paris for more than five hours. “Smoke and flames damaged an area of 10,000 square metres (107,000 square feet), ravaging a 110-million-euro ($122 million) scheme to turn the [auxiliary] building into an area for shops.” None of the museum’s exhibits were damaged.

    Radical Sandcastles – Now HERE’s Some Pathbreaking Architecture For You

    “His creations look nothing like classical interpretations. Instead of mounds and turrets and moats, [Matt] Kaliner’s structures are drippy archways that twist, jut, climb, and at times appear suspended in midair. They are otherwordly, like something you’d find on a beach in Neverland, or what it might look like if Antoni Gaudi had designed the fictional island of Laputa in a dream.”

    Sylvie Guillem On Nureyev And Being ‘Mademoiselle Non’

    “I trusted my instincts. It is a very short career [and] I didn’t have time to cope with the management of the company.”

    Men’s And Women’s Brains Are Indeed Different – But Only A Little

    “Two years ago, a study of the differences between male and female brains caused a storm. The researchers, based at the University of Pennsylvania, claimed to have found that, from adolescence onwards, men’s brains have more connections within each hemisphere, whereas women’s brains have more cross-connections between the hemispheres.” Well, they’ve updated their findings.

    Twyla Tharp Rehearses Her 50th Anniversary Tour: Day Eight

    “But today the ones in this room are tired. This is no surprise as last week was a hard one finishing the entire show, which is nearly 90 minutes of dancing. I always push the first week of a rehearsal period so that we can all see what we actually have.”

    How The Biggest Explosion In Recorded History Changed Culture All Over The World

    The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 did more than just cause the “Year Without Summer” and lead to months on end of storms, crop failures and epidemics. The aftermath of that catastrophe changed the course of painting and literature (though the participants didn’t know it at the time), and arguably led to the birth of an entire branch of popular culture.

    How To Structure A Radio Narrative, Explained In Comic-Book Form (Starring Ira Glass)

    A portion of the “Keep or Kill” chapter from Jessica Abel’s graphic non-fiction book Out on the Wire.

    The Cat Video And The Essence Of Art

    “Cats have purposiveness without a knowable purpose (Immanuel Kant’s much-cited criterion for true art). Cats are mysteries; their agendas, beyond food and sleep and sunlight, may constitute a kind of knowledge endlessly deferred. (They are born aesthetes, but also born deconstructionists.)”

    Fire-Eating, Projectile Weapons, A Mandy Patinkin Impression – Offbeat Skills That Have Gotten Actors Work

    Stage fighting? Lots of people can do that. Accents? Standard. Foreign languages? No longer uncommon. Here are seven actors talking about the really unusual gifts they have.

Read the story at