“James Richard Shinn was a master book thief. Using expert techniques and fraudulent documents, he would ultimately pillage world-class libraries to the tune of half a million dollars or more. A Philadelphia detective once called him ‘the most fascinating, best, smartest crook I ever encountered.’ And yet, despite the audacity of his approach and the widespread effects of his crimes, Shinn has been relegated to a footnote in book history.”
“When television networks resort to adapting books that haven’t even been written yet,” – and that’s what the Game of Thrones folks are doing at this point – “it’s time to start looking for new source material. Luckily, salvation might be as close as their smartphones. As the supply of books and comics ripe for adaptation dwindles, TV producers are looking to podcasts for fresh material – and finding stories with audiences as loyal as any book club’s inner circle.”
“Television viewers, exposed to hundreds of different dialects every day, are increasingly aware of the tiniest differences in how people speak, even as the number and degree of distinctions continue to expand. … But the specificity isn’t relegated to stars. [Coach Samara] Bay says she was recently dispatched to the set of another TV show to work on a bit player’s Haitian Creole.”
“If you’ve got somebody as distinguished and inventive and good as [director] Marianne Elliott, and she says, ‘I would love to do Company with a female central character.’ … What is there to lose? It can only make the play either interesting or, if you dislike it … dislikable … but still. I’m fumfering here, but the point is: That’s what keeps the theaters alive. So I’m always open.”
“Although the status of librettists has waxed and waned over the centuries, it’s time to recognize their importance again, particularly in the creation of contemporary opera. The resurgence of storytelling, along with the heightened media attention accorded premieres, has helped fuel the commissioning of a plethora of new operas in the U.S. in recent years. And the seemingly insatiable appetite of presenters for “celebrity” operas, as well as adaptations of well-known films and books, has put leading librettists like Mark Campbell, Gene Scheer and Royce Vavrek in great demand.”
Can the U.S. ever catch up? Hm. “Americans say we are modern and experimental. … But for me, I don’t see that. I don’t think it’s that much of a provocative performance at all.”
“A symptom of modern living, but a no less inevitable one, require we live in a state of constant negotiation: between the pull of the world and one’s own conditioned desires. The writer Jenna Wortham, in 2013, described selfies as part of “a timeless delight in our ability to document our lives and leave behind a trace for others to discover.” If social media first intended to connect us, its promise has taken a sharp, inauspicious turn inward: the self has become paramount, the correspondence second.”
Barbara Weldens was singing at a church in the village of Goudron in southwestern France as part of the Festival Léo Ferré when she collapsed mid-song. There are conflicting reports regarding her cause of death with some reporting that she suffered a cardiac arrest and the BBC saying that she may have been electrocuted. Police are investigating, and the remainder of the festival has been canceled.
The feeling we call “empathy” has shifted dramatically over the last century from a description of an aesthetic response, to a moral and political aspiration, to a clinical skill, and today, to the firing of neurons. Returning to empathy’s roots—to once again think about the potential for “in-feeling” with a work of art, a mountain, or a tree—invites us to re-imagine our connection to nature and the world around us.
“That Big Publishing remains conservative and homogeneous — and viewed with increasing ambivalence and disdain by the larger population — should not be surprising or contentious; axiomatic in antitrust law is the idea that a reduction in market participants, whether a result of competition, attrition, or consolidation, correlates with a reduction in consumer choice. We’ve seen this across any number of industries in our society, including airlines, automobiles, banks, pharmaceuticals, newspapers, and commercial publishing, where somehow Penguin Random House isn’t the punchline to a joke. Then there’s Amazon.”
“Prop. 1 is the culmination of a decade-plus struggle to pass a state law allowing counties to tax themselves for arts and culture education, and asks voters to approve a sales tax of 0.1 percent — a penny for every $10 — to support arts, culture and science access and education. In the campaign’s projections, that means $30 a year for a household with an income of $80,000. That might sound like a small ask, but Prop. 1 is provoking a large debate about our state’s tax system and whether this measure asks voters to make an either/or choice about funding priorities: homelessness or culture education? Mental-health services or the Wing Luke Museum?”
“These artists all have a mainstream presence – performing at major festivals, appearing on Spotify and Radio 1 playlists, nurturing healthy social media accounts – but their popularity feels more microcosmic than an all-conquering march. Look at the charts. No female solo artists or groups have scored a UK No 1 this year, and beyond Anne-Marie’s vocal on Clean Bandit’s No 1 Rockabye in January, and Little Mix’s No 1 album, the year has been dominated by male artists.”
“What becomes of the ground-floor city when retail mutates into new forms? Some luxury brands might keep their boutiques as indulgences and loss leaders. But as national chains’ contracts give up on physical locations, commercial rents could fall, clearing the way for a resurgence of small stores: designer cookies and pet spas, but also used-book stores and shoe-repair shops. Or maybe only bars and restaurants will survive, and we will repurpose vacant storefronts into living spaces for a housing-strapped city.”
“Among a large group of Americans who were tracked for up to two decades, the death rate was far higher among those who viewed themselves as less active than their peers. Intriguingly, this held true even “after adjusting for actual levels of physical activity.” This suggests that, while spending too much time on the sofa is clearly bad for your health, there are dangers in simply thinking of yourself as couch potato.”
“Despite the immeasurable good work independent bookstores and their staff do—from promoting children’s literacy to hosting readings and book clubs to being a vital part of local economies, and more—I’d hazard that the primary goal is always going to be customer satisfaction. So what can you do when a customer wants a book that you not only find objectionable but also believe actually dangerous in the lessons it portends amidst such a politically precarious time?”
“Week by week we hear claims from neuroscientists that would appear to confirm the prevailing “internalist” view of consciousness. If the brain creates a representation in our heads of the world around us through the firing of neurons, the argument goes, then we can identify neural activity that corresponds to particular aspects of consciousness. How, then, can the internalist theory be tested and demonstrated scientifically?”
“The complaints — some anonymous — surfaced only after an internal dispute about whether the theater’s latest production should have an intermission boiled over, angering many of the community volunteers the theater relies on to function. As anger over the theater board’s oversight gained steam, MPR News interviewed these six people and one more who said they personally had been subjected to unwelcome sexual advances.”
Barbara Weldens, a 35-year-old Frenchwoman who took first prize in last year’s Jacques Brel Young Talent competition and who released her first album in February, was performing at a festival in southwestern France when she abruptly collapsed, apparently having been electrocuted.
“Yuval Sharon has instigated a mobile opera involving 126 performers, 24 limousines and six composers. He’s produced a headphone opera, set among commuters passing through one of the country’s busiest train stations. … And, in 12 months, he’ll become the first American to direct a production at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, founded by Richard Wagner in 1876.”
“‘It was a huge gamble,” Mr. Maillot, the director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, said in a phone interview from Monaco. ‘Everything was in place for it to fail.’ It did exactly the opposite. A success since its 2014 premiere, The Taming of the Shrew has become a calling card at home and abroad for the Bolshoi.” Laura Cappelle reports on the difficulties and delights of the project.
“The House bill, part of the process of thrashing out the federal budget for fiscal year 2018, includes $145 million for each endowment. The amounts represent a cut of about $5 million to each agency, but is a stark contrast to President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the endowments entirely as outlined in his first federal budget plan he announced in March.”
About 25 years ago, at a rap concert in Canada, Homer Bryant had an idea: “I thought if I put rap and ballet together, I might have a hit on my hands.” Eventually, he did: video of his dancers went hugely viral (and got the pearl-clutchers a-clutching). Now (if he can find the donors) he’s hoping to go fully pro. (includes slideshow and video)
The Fable of One Turtle and Four Humans: A Story of Community
How did the turtle cross the road? The answer according to Greg Milo: thanks to a cardboard box and a community. … read more
AJBlog: Field Notes Published 2017-07-20
Laura Gisler shares a beautiful meditation on what community means to her through these drawings and reflective, poetic words. … read more
AJBlog: Field Notes Published 2017-07-20
“My country is living through dark and complicated times, following a dangerous path that may lead us inevitably to the betrayal of our deepest national traditions.”
“More than 50 academics around the world collaborated to research a new book, Milton in Translation, discovering that the works of the 17th-century author have been translated more than 300 times and into 57 different languages. These range from Faroese and Manx to Tamil and Tongan, from Persian and Hebrew to Frisian and Welsh.”
“Hastings’ revived seaside pier will go head to head with a stealthy addition to the British Museum and a photographer’s concrete studio in west London in the race to win the RIBA Stirling prize for the UK’s best new building. They are joined on a diverse shortlist by a new visitor centre at Chatham’s historic naval dockyard, a little brick tower of six apartments in east London and a gargantuan complex for the City of Glasgow College – the second year running that the young institution has made the shortlist.”