How Lesbian Was Sappho, Really?

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There’s an awful lot of hearsay (many centuries’ worth), much of it conflicting, and just about no direct evidence. Even the surviving poems themselves aren’t clear: were they personal outpourings of passion or lyrics meant for public performance by a chorus? Daniel Mendelsohn looks at the facts we have.

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Sam Simon, 59, “Simpsons” Co-Creator And Philanthropist

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“The nine-time Emmy Award-winning comedy writer and producer … served as the showrunner on the sitcom Taxi at the age of 23; wrote for and produced the comedies Cheers and The Drew Carey Show.” But he was best-known for developing, with Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, the long-running animated series that began as filler on The Tracey Ullman Show.

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Hilary Mantel Wants To Try Playwriting

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“The British author whose best-selling novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies have been adapted for a stage production soon to open on Broadway … said, ‘The process of working with this team has changed my vision of what I might want to do in the future.”

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Lebanese TV Host Cuts Off Islamist Scholar Who Tells Her To Shut Up Because He Doesn’t Have To Listen To A Woman

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Sheikh Hani Al-Siba’i: “Are you done? Shut up so I can talk.” Rima Karaki: “How can a respected sheikh like yourself tell a TV host to shut up?” Sheikh Al-Siba’i: “It’s beneath me to be interviewed by you. You are a woman who -” (Mic cuts off.) Karaki: “Either there is mutual respect or the conversation is over. In this studio, I run the show.”

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The Brooklyn Filmmaker Who Says There’s Room For More Than Just Lena Dunham At The Table

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Desiree Akhavan: “I don’t see my male counterparts written about in the same way, as being the new Woody Allen, or the new Noah Baumbach, or Todd Solondz. I think the implication is that there is a limited amount of space for an intelligent, funny woman and right now it’s Lena Dunham. You can hang out, but the space has been occupied. But there is an infinite pool for men to play in.”

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Albert Maysles, 88, Dean Of Documentary Filmmakers

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Often working with his late brother David, Maysles was known for such popular and influential nonfiction films as Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens, Salesman, When We Were Kings, studies of Vladimir Horowitz and Mstislav Rostropovich (the latter on his return to Russia), and five films about the work of artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

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Composer Ezra Laderman, 90

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“A prolific composer of symphonic, chamber and vocal music, Mr. Laderman won public notice thanks to his work about Marilyn Monroe for the New York City Opera.”

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Veteran Theater Critic Margaret Croyden Dead At 92

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“Born in Brooklyn and educated in New York, Ms. Croyden contributed regularly to The New York Times during the 1970s and 80s, The New York Times Magazine, The Village Voice, American Theatre, The Nation and Theater Week” and wrote books about stage directors Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook.

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Logical: Canadians Are Turning Their $5 Bill Into Tributes To Mr. Spock

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“For years, Canadians have been wielding pens to draw Spock’s pointy Vulcan ears, sharp eyebrows and signature bowl haircut on the fiver’s image of Laurier. Contrary to what many believe, the Bank of Canada said Monday it’s not illegal to deface or even mutilate banknotes, although there are laws that prohibit reproducing both sides of a current bill electronically.”

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The Great Pianist Who Keeled Over Dead Performing In Carnegie Hall

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“In the 1950s world of classical music, Simon Barere was mentioned in the same breath as other superpianists of the era – Georgy Cziffra, Ignatz Friedman, Vladimir Horowitz and Josef Lhevinne. But his most ardent admirers say he was actually in a class by himself. Barere had given frequent solo recitals, sometimes twice a year, at Carnegie Hall to packed houses, with such musical giants as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Leopold Godowsky and Vladimir Horowitz often in the attendance.”

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Maggie Smith Will Do No More Theatre – “It’s So Exhausting”

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“I just don’t think I could cope with it. Almost every Wednesday and Saturday I wake up relieved it’s not a matinee.. … It’s hard enough doing film and television, but at least you know it’s not day, after day, after day. I just found it so exhausting.” (By the way, what she actually said about Downton Abbey is less definitive than you think.)

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A Day With Machiavelli In Exile

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Johns Hopkins classicist Christopher Celenza looks at a letter Machiavelli wrote to a close friend describing his daily life in the country, not long after he was banned from Florence, during the period in which he wrote the first part of The Prince.

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Yasar Kemal, Turkey’s Master Novelist And Fierce Critic, Has Died

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“Mr. Kemal’s home region — Cukurova in southern Anatolia, known in antiquity as Cilicia — is the backdrop for his sweeping tales of rapacious landlords, callous bureaucrats and peasant heroes who fight injustice. He wrote more than two dozen books, using a colorful narrative style that appealed to a broad audience, fiercely criticizing injustice and creating noble outlaws who became permanent parts of Turkey’s cultural landscape.”

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Bob Hope Captured America, But His Legacy Is Sinking Fast

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“These days few readers may know or remember just how big a deal Hope was in his prime. … Hope was both ‘the most popular’ and ‘the most important’ entertainer of the twentieth century, ‘the only one who achieved success—often No. 1-rated success—in every major genre of mass entertainment in the modern era: vaudeville, Broadway, movies, radio, television, popular song, and live concerts.'”

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Leonard Nimoy, 83, Who Was Star Trek’s Spock And So, So Much More

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“His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: ‘Live long and prosper’ (from the Vulcan ‘Dif-tor heh smusma’).”

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The Designer Who Became Apple’s Biggest Asset

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Jonathan Ive “establish[ed] the build and the finish of the iMac, the MacBook, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. He is now one of the two most powerful people in the world’s most valuable company” – on whom 100,000 employees and a not-insignificant chunk of the stock market depend. Says Steve jobs’s widow, “Jony’s an artist with an artist’s temperament, and he’d be the first to tell you artists aren’t supposed to be responsible for this kind of thing.”

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Louis Jourdan, 93, Suave French Film Star

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“Lithe, debonair and exceedingly handsome, with a tide of dark, wavy hair, Louis Jourdan became Hollywood’s ideal of Gallic charm and seduction in the late 1940s and 1950s. His peak came in the Oscar-winning musical Gigi (1958), which cemented him in the popular imagination as a debonair playboy.”

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The Man Who Saved Impressionism

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The story of Paul Durand-Ruel, who repeatedly risked bankruptcy to support Monet, Degas, Manet, Pissarro, and their fellows – and created a market for their work, especially in the United States.

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“Not Useful For Creating Original Work”: Why John Cameron Mitchell Avoids Social Media, Even For “Hedwig”

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“It’s hard to keep up with that; it takes a lot of energy and recently [there was] some study that overusing social media can make you depressed and jealous, so I actually chose not to go there. … User comments-culture is not useful for creating original work, I think. I’m all for information diets, which are helpful for the mood and for the art.”

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