Can You Tell A Stradivarius From The Rest?


“When the researchers totaled up the results, there was no evidence the players could reliably pick old from new. And when players were asked to pick their favorite instrument, the winner was a modern, freshly made violin.”

In Praise Of The Power Of Slang


“For centuries, English’s defenders have decried the language’s decline. Looking back, it is hard to understand why they created a fuss about words that are now part of polite speech.”

How Freud Infiltrated Everyday English


It goes far beyond Oedipus complex, Freudian slip, and id – to father surrogate, sublimation, libido, character trait, and beyond. (We’ll leave aside parapraxis. And don’t even start about you-know-what envy.)

Who Didn’t Make Jonathan Safran Foer’s List Of Writers For Chipotle’s Cups And Bags?


“Not Pulitzer Prize-winning Junot Diaz, who also won a James Beard award for one of the finest pieces of food writing I’ve ever read. Not the doña of Chicano literature, Sandra Cisneros. Not best-selling author Luis Alberto Urrea. Not Tex-Mex loco Dagoberto Gilb. Not any other number of Latino authors who could easily contribute a story or two that would be appicable a Mexican-food chain. Judd Apatow made the list–but not one Latino.”

Can Action Movies Kill You?

Vertical Limit

Watch out: While test subjects watched an action film clip, “blood pressure increased, the pace of breathing became faster and the heart’s natural rhythm began to shift.”

Why “Franchise” Fiction Gets Dissed By The Literary World


“The parochial world of literary fiction tends to deal with mass-media franchises in the same way it deals with genre fiction, comics and the other narrative arts that eclipse it by magnitudes for size, influence and profit margins: by giving them the silent treatment. This isn’t an entirely stupid strategy.”

Incoming La Scala Boss: “I Am Not A Dunce!”


“Alexander Pereira, the incoming director general of La Scala has vowed to show the world’s most famous opera house he is “not a dunce” after a humiliating controversy between Milan and his current employers, the Salzburg festival, resulted in his original five-year contract being torn up before he had even begun.”

Why A New Production Of “Miss Saigon” Is Breaking Records


“It turned out that the return of this ambitious, sung-through musical, which tells the story of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly transposed to the Vietnam War, with its melodious, some might say soupy, love songs, and its bitter depiction of an urban underworld where desperate West meets impoverished East, was the most eagerly anticipated in theatreland. If this is a surprise, it shouldn’t be.”

Rush Limbaugh Wins Prominent Children’s Book Award


“From the moment Limbaugh’s nomination was announced, in March, conservatives were delighted, liberals angered and others simply puzzled — emotions only amplified by Limbaugh’s victory, which raised his book from No. 71 on Amazon the day before to the top 10 Thursday.”

Andre Previn At 85


“Nowadays, if I had to fill out a blank thing that said what do you do, I would say I compose. And conduct and play the piano. But I’m really a composer. I really like that.”

La Scala Will Keep New Superintendent For One Year, Then Fire Him


“Alexander Pereira, the director of the Salzburg Festival, was to begin his six-year tenure at La Scala, the opera house here, in October, but Mr. Pisapia, the chairman of La Scala’s foundation, said that the board would honor his contract only until the end of the 2014-15 season, which coincides with Expo Milano 2015, the world’s fair expected to draw an estimated 20 million visitors.”