Too Much Choice? Yeah, Well, That’s Why You’re Unhappy…

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“We evaluate ourselves by comparing ourselves to other people. Well, if you compare yourself to other people in life, you get to see their good moments and bad moments. But if you’re comparing yourself to other people on Facebook, well, everyone is a superstar on Facebook. The result is you feel that your life is duller and duller, shabbier and shabbier. You seem less and less special, less and less competent, because everyone else is living this perfect life.”

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A Gajillion Gallons Of Water, A Piano, And A Concert

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“The Armory’s latest installation-meets-performance piece Tears Become…Streams Become…required its staff to slowly, over the course of a 10-minute piano piece, fill the 55,000 square feet of the Wade Thompson Drill Hall with a standing pool of water that would mirror the hall’s gilded ceilings.”

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The Highs And Lows Of Classical Music In 2014 – A Roundtable

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“Joining host Naomi Lewin for this discussion … are Anne Midgette, the classical music critic of The Washington Post; David Patrick Stearns, classical music critic of The Philadelphia Inquirer and for WQXR’s Operavore blog; and Zachary Woolfe, freelance classical music critic for The New York Times.” (audio)

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MoMA Will Bring Its Matisse Show To Cinemas

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“Borrowing a page from the opera and European museums, the Museum of Modern Art will soon begin to experiment with taking its exhibitions into movie theaters. On Jan. 13, Matisse – a documentary based on the highly popular exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs … – will open in movie theaters across the United States.”

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“One Of The Most Bizarre Cultural-Political Episodes Of Recent History”

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Andrew O’Hehir: “Let me see if I have this right, because the whole thing stretches credulity: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has apparently managed to kill a major Hollywood movie. … We had a choice – ‘we’ being a term of art that does not actually include you and me – of whether to stand tall for the supposed principles of free expression and free enterprise or ‘let the terrorists win.’ We let them win, with barely a moment’s hesitation. … It’s a breathtaking and total victory by a despised, isolated and impoverished nation (or by those acting on its behalf), over one of the biggest media corporations in the world.”

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North Korea Is Not Funny, And “The Interview” Is Not Brave

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Adrian Hong, co-founder of the refugee rescue organization Liberty in North Korea: “It takes no valor and costs precious little to joke about these things safely oceans away from North Korea’s reach. … To pretend that punchlines from afar, even in the face of hollow North Korean threats, are righteous acts is nonsense.”

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U.S. Gov’t Should Pay Costs Of Releasing “The Interview” (Argues Pundit)

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Jonathan Chait: “We don’t entrust for-profit entities with the common defense. And recognizing that the threat to a Sony picture is actually a threat to the freedom of American culture ought to lead us to a public rather than a private solution. … Either Washington should guarantee Sony’s financial liability in the event of an attack, or it should directly reimburse the studio’s projected losses so it can release the movie online for free.”

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Watching What Might Have Been One Of The Last-Ever Screenings Of “The Interview” – With Seth Rogen

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Your correspondent talks with the co-star/co-producer/co-writer of the comedy-turned-cause célèbre about why he decided to make a movie about Kim Jong-Un in the first place, negotiating with Sony about the details of the Dear Leader’s exploding head, and what he listens for at the many, many test screenings he attends.

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Hollywood’s Other North Korea-Themed Project Just Got Canned

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“New Regency has ditched plans to produce Pyongyang, a paranoid thriller starring Steve Carell that was to be set in North Korea. … New Regency is 20% owned by News Corp., parent of 20th Century Fox. The studio had indicated to New Regency that it would not release the project.”

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Amazon Publishing ‘Suppresses’ Book With Too Many Hyphens

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“When they ran an automated spell check against the manuscript they found that over 100 words in the 90,000-word novel contained that dreaded little line,” says author Graeme Reynolds. “This, apparently, ‘significantly impacts the readability of your book,’ and, as a result, ‘We have suppressed the book because of the combined impact to customers.'”

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Would People Really Rather Get Electric Shocks Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts? Don’t Be So Sure

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“Texting, email, social media – we use these to self-stimulate throughout the day and, for some of us at least, throughout the night as well. So there’s got to be something deeply right in the finding that, in the words of the paper, ‘most people do not enjoy ‘just thinking’ and clearly prefer having something else to do.’ Deeply right, maybe, but there is good reason to doubt some of the findings of the study. Not the data, so much, as the way it gets interpreted.”

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Why I Became A Philosophy Journalist (And Why We Need Such A Thing)

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Steve Neumann: “I feel I owe a debt to philosophy. It liberated me; it gave me the courage to leave behind the comfort and security of a religious worldview, and provided me with a purpose I will be glad to pursue for the rest of my life. So despite having a demanding day job as a guide dog mobility instructor, I spend much of my free time studying it, working out my own positions and trying to inject it into popular culture so that others can be touched by it the way I was. I’ve become not an academic philosopher, but a sort of hybrid – a philosophy journalist.”

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An Old Membership-Only Library Remakes Itself As A Thriving Intellectual Equivalent Of Church

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“The [Providence] Athenaeum, a Greek Revival edifice that still gives its solid wooden card catalog pride of place, looks and feels like it belongs in another century. But it has lately become a vital part of 21st-century civic life, thanks to a lively Friday night salon series with discussion topics ranging from the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to the Rhode Island quahog clam industry.”

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Virna Lisi, 78, Italian Actress Who Won, Then Fled, Hollywood Stardom

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“In the 1960s, like many other female Italian actors of the time, Virna Lisi was tempted to try her luck in Hollywood. However, after films in which her co-stars included Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Frank Sinatra, she returned to Europe, where she had painstakingly built up a reputation, particularly in Italy and France. It was in these countries that Lisi … had the opportunities to show her mettle.”

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“If They Stop Clapping, Tinker Bell Will Die”: What “The Colbert Report” Taught Us About The Psychology Of American Conservatives

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Leslie Savan: “You can’t stick with that kind of truthiness-based character (and play him in public appearances off the show) without some sympathy for him, and even for conservatism itself. Colbert expressed that sympathy by showing that beneath his character’s assertion of omnipotence and certitude, there’s a fragility, one that’s also buried in most of the real-life blowhards and their dittoheads. If they stop clapping, Tinker Bell will die.”

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The Colbert Report’s Executive Producer And First Co-Head Writer Remembers

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“One of the tricky things about the show, especially early on, was figuring out what the honest point of view of the show was, and then how to communicate that through the character of Stephen’s contrasting point of view. When you’re working very quickly on complicated stories, that can get hard. It always reminded me of driving in reverse. Usually, we knew our destination, but we had to drive there super-fast and backwards.”

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Why John Waters Is a National Treasure (By Jerry Saltz)

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“No one gets the cross-section of showbiz and fandom like him. In giving us these extraordinarily particular individuals and distinct visages – both psychological and visual – Waters gets you to know in your bones that the more we are part of a vast crowd of people who idolize someone or something, the more alone and special we feel in our idolization.” (includes slide show of Waters’s art)

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