People

“Thorn Birds” Author Colleen McCullough Dies at 77

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“The Thorn Birds, which has never been out of print, has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 20 languages. In hardcover, it spent more than a year on the New York Times best-seller list; the paperback rights were sold at auction for $1.9 million, a record at the time.”

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Such A Stoic: How Seneca Became Ancient Rome’s Philosopher-Fixer

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“Even in imperial Rome, matricide was, apparently, bad P.R. … And so Nero turned to the man he had always relied on … The letter ‘explaining’ Agrippina’s murder is just one of the ways Seneca propped up Nero’s regime – a regime that the average Julius, let alone the author of De Ira, surely realized was thoroughly corrupt. How to explain the philosopher-tutor’s sticking by his monstrous pupil?”

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Who Was Chaucer, Really? We Know More Than We Think

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“In Chaucer’s case, the division between life and art is especially glaring: 494 different ‘records’ of his life survive, including matters such as courtly and civic posts he held, awards he received, and at least one place he lived … but not one of them mentions that he was a poet. Why, then, bother to look at these records? What had Chaucer’s busy London life and world of work to do with his poems, other than preventing their completion?”

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Did Archaeologists Just Find Cervantes’ Grave?

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“Archaeologists made the find over the weekend during excavations to solve the centuries-old mystery of where the famed Spanish writer was laid to rest. The initials on a plank of the coffin were formed with metal tacks embedded into the wood.”

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Reconsidering The Maria Callas Phenomenon

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“Callas wasn’t perfect, to be sure. (And perfect can be boring, as some of her successors have demonstrated.) But she was something more: even when she falls short of her best, she gives an intimation of what an ideal performance might sound like. Few more perfect singers have managed to do that.”

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A Charlie Hebdo Survivor’s Testimony

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Philippe Lançon: “I thought about Bernard, Cabu, and the others in my narrow field of view, all dead now, and I wondered, with no idea of how seriously I was hurt, what determined life or death … The only difference between us was a couple of inches’ variation in the paths of the bullets and our respective locations when the black-legged men came in.”

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Henri Matisse – The Lost Interview

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“On August 5th 1946, two years after Paris was liberated from the Germans, a young American soldier named Jerome Seckler visited Henri Matisse. … Until now this interview has never been published.”

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First Lady Of Arabic Cinema, Faten Hamama, Dead At 83

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“For a half-century, she stayed current by taking topical roles in films dealing with social justice and women’s rights. As an idolized national figure, she not only galvanized support for those causes but also helped redefine the Arab woman.” (She was also, by the way, the frequent co-star and erstwhile wife of Omar Sharif.)

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Tony Verna, Who Invented Instant Replay, Dead At 81

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“Mr. Verna was directing the Army-Navy football game for CBS Sports in 1963 when he ran the first instant replay on television, changing the way sports were viewed by fans and, over time, refereed by officials. His invention, for which he received no patent or payment, is considered one of the most momentous in sports and entertainment history.”

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The Woman Who Made Playboy A Literary Outlet, Alice K. Turner, Dead At 75

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“While not known most widely for its literary fiction, Playboy was for many years one of the few mainstream monthlies that published ambitious short stories. Ms. Turner became fiction editor in 1980 and guarded that tradition, shepherding works by John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Bob Shacochis and other acclaimed writers into pages better known for Playmates and other pinups.”

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Painter Jane Wilson Dead At 90

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“In the postwar era, Wilson marshaled the dominant Abstract Expressionist style – loose brushwork and wide swaths of color – to record real places, from the endless skies of her Midwestern childhood and the seascapes of Long Island’s East End to Tompkins Square Park in New York City.”

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Wallace Shawn Says He’s A “D-List Actor Who Does Animal Voices For A Living”

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“Being an actor is a strange thing that came up in my life, and I’ve had great good luck with it … I take myself much more seriously as a writer, but I understand why people might not like my writing. I mean I really understand why it’s not as popular as the writing of some other people. … I actually don’t understand why I haven’t been taken more seriously as an actor, in the sense of being given better parts.”

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Understanding Creativity: Why John Updike Loved Comics

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“Literary biography—an enterprise Updike regarded with some skepticism—is largely a hunt for such deeply buried evidence. As an aid to future biographers and anyone else interested in pursuing the mystery of Updike’s prodigious talent, I’d suggest paying attention to his lifelong love affair with cartooning, a passion that burned hottest when he was young but remained warm until his dying days, when he ceased to draw but still repeatedly referred to the comics he had loved in childhood.”

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Milton Hebald, 97, Little-Known But Ubiquitous Sculptor

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“Most art lovers won’t recognize the name Milton Hebald. But it’s safe to assume that tens of millions of people have seen his work: sculptures, installed in prominent public places in Los Angeles and New York City, that include a monumental display of the 12 signs of the Zodiac that stood for decades at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.”

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Elaine Summers, Co-Founder Of Judson Dance Theater, Dead At 89

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“Throughout her work, Ms. Summers was fascinated by the interplay of form and movement, something, she realized, that dance and film could exploit both singly and in combination. Through film, she was able not only to capture the motion of a dance itself, but also to add contrapuntal movement through camera work and cutting.”

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Architect Buys, Tears Down Ray Bradbury’s House

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“According to Curbed, Bradbury’s house was purchased by “starchitect” Thom Mayne, of the firm Morphosis, and his wife, Blythe Alison-Mayne. Mayne, who is on the faculty at UCLA, is a winner of the Pritzker Prize. Bradbury, who typed “Fahrenheit 451″ on a pay-as-you-go typewriter at the UCLA library, was presented with the National Medal of Arts in 2004.”

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Mark Rylance Gets Metaphysical

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“We have people we admire, like Einstein, saying mystery is the most beautiful thing a human being can experience. Yet everywhere in our culture everything that is truly mysterious is immediately dismissed. In a way I think science is the modern religion and at times I despise it as much as I despise other religions, because it really will only accept stuff that fits its masculine ability to define the world.”

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