Laura Miller: “Instead, the Lynch of [the new memoir] Room to Dream lives a bit like a medieval peasant, in a realm of signs and portents, a cosmos whose ultimate design he cannot grasp but devoutly trusts.”
“I had felt prepared for Vancouver. I was a Prince Edward Islander, sure, but one who had suffered under two decades of linguistic nitpicking from my (formerly) Ontarian parents. I never considered that the locals in my new town would even notice I was from out East. All of my parents’ hard work, and still I sounded like some backwater pirate?”
Emoji, which have grown from an original set of 176 characters to a collection of over 3,000 unique icons, present both opportunities and challenges to the academics who study them. Most agree that the icons are not quite a language—the emoji vocabulary is made up almost entirely of nouns, and there’s no real grammar or syntax to govern their use—but their influence on internet communication is massive. By 2015, half of all comments on Instagram included an emoji.
Tech has now captured pretty much all visual capacity. Americans spend three to four hours a day looking at their phones, and about 11 hours a day looking at screens of any kind. So tech giants are building the beginning of something new: a less insistently visual tech world, a digital landscape that relies on voice assistants, headphones, watches and other wearables to take some pressure off our eyes.
Ofelia Esparza, an 86-year-old artist who has been making Day of the Dead altars for much of her life, became a National Heritage Fellow last week. She says “that for her, altar making goes beyond tradition. It’s an obligation, a show of respect for the loved ones who are no longer with us.”
Look, theatres … you have to get permission to gender-swap roles (or make any of a number of other changes). So now a woman is playing a role that was written as male – but as a man, not as a woman, which is how the actor started playing the role. “The problem is that in the contract, it says that we can’t change pronouns,” the theatre’s business manager said.
Anne Tomlinson has been at the helm for 22 years, taking the chorus numbers from 100 to 450 and from three ensembles to six. Though she’s firm with the kids at rehearsal, “it is quite clear that plenty of fun is being had. The fun, however, is in the execution of the craft. And craft is elevated above all else.”
Sure, there’s a place for the literary work we all read in the winters. But “sometimes, in place of a two-page long vivid description of a wooded area or a contemplative soliloquy, all you really want — nay, all you really need — is simplicity. In summer— when one is most consumed by a uniquely ceaseless craving, for a good story, a delicious meal, skin against skin; when patience for artifice is low and the thirst for a fast and painless escape is high — this is particularly true.”
African literary magazines and journals don’t just shape literary culture, they offer the most rebellious responses to political and social movements. They not only respond to the cultures they’re in, these magazines also create distinct cultures of their own that reflect the personalities of their editors.
“A part of the difficulty of opening a bookstore in this day and age is the years of work we’ve put in up to this point and how little credit booksellers get. Friends, family, loved ones, strangers all want to give you advice, often because they care, and one can get weary of very gingerly saying No Thank You.”
True crime has outgrown the news magazines in favor of in-depth episodic storytelling. In thinking about whether the stories themselves have changed, it’s important to note the goals haven’t. First and foremost, podcasts, like documentaries, strive to put us in the room, and to explore the context of a murder. True crime audiences need to go deeper than the motives and the method. We’ve seen that summary level story on Dateline for the past twenty-five years.
“My central aim was to give the reading public an informed yardstick of opinion by which they could measure their own reactions to a given performance. … Contrary to what many assume of critics, I took no delight in panning performers. I always tried for balance in my reviews. I appreciated the power of the pen but was often reminded of the limitations of language when it comes to evoking arguably the most word-proof of the arts.”
“The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation wound down its Artist Awards in 2017, only to bring it back in a modified form as a core component of its mission moving forward. It just announced the seven winners of its 2018 class, and in doing so, addressed two of the big trends in arts philanthropy right now.” Mike Scutari explores how and why.
The research conducted with 11 to 19 year olds found that young people have a flexible relationship with arts and culture, but one that remains most influenced by their family. It found consuming or creating art was a ‘passion’ for almost half of young people, but that definitions of arts and culture used by the funded cultural sector fail to resonate with young people who have “much wider perceptions”.
The latest report by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), due to be published on Thursday, shows median earnings for professional writers have plummeted by 42% since 2005 to under £10,500 a year, well below the minimum annual income of £17,900 recommended by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Women fare worse, according to the survey, earning 75% of what their male counterparts do, a 3% drop since 2013 when the last ALCS survey was conducted. Based on a standard 35-hour week, the average full-time writer earns only £5.73 per hour, £2 less than the UK minimum wage for those over 25. As a result, the number of professional writers whose income comes solely from writing has plummeted to just 13%, down from 40% in 2005.
“Much like awesome once served a greater purpose, the exclamation point has been downgraded from a shout of alarm or intensity to a symbol that indicates politeness and friendliness.” As email etiquette mavens David Shipley and Will Schwalbe put it, “The exclamation point is a lazy but effective way to combat email’s essential lack of tone.”
“Union representation has traditionally been the purview of established companies, but many dancers working today are freelancers. As dance employment shifts away from the company model, how can independent artists advocate for themselves? Could unionizing ensure them fair treatment? Is a union for freelance dancers even feasible?” Evvie Allison considers the issues involved.
Using a revival of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem as a hook, Michael Billington offers his choice of the best stage dramas written and produced in the UK since that play’s 2009 premiere. (He includes a couple that didn’t go down nearly as well when they made it to the States.) Let the arguing begin!
“For decades, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s all-volunteer group of singers, dazzled audiences with its performances, delivering masterful renditions of intricate scores in German, Czech, Latin, and French — almost always from memory. But discordant notes are being struck after the chorus’s new conductor, James Burton, has unceremoniously decimated its ranks, forcing out a large swath of singers, including many of the group’s most senior members.”
“Mr. Jackson was an unlikely starmaker who demanded nothing less than perfection as he drove his children toward stardom. To a remarkable degree, he succeeded … Collectively, the Jacksons may have been the most prominent family in pop-music history, but their fame came at the cost of family feuds, lurid accusations and an unending stream of tabloid headlines. Over time, nearly all of the children rebelled against the brutal manner of their father, who was known to some as Joe but preferred to be called Joseph, even by his children.”
“Disney has moved one step closer to purchasing a big chunk of 21st Century Fox. On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced it had approved the proposed deal, valued at a total $71.3 billion … with one caveat: Disney, the owner of ESPN, must sell off 22 regional sports networks that were originally a part of the purchase, to avoid undue dominance in sports broadcasting.”
“The Philadelphia History Museum, [known until 2010 as the Atwater Kent and] mandated by the City Charter as Philadelphia’s official attic for things made and owned here — whether President George Washington’s desk or Mike Schmidt’s batting helmet — will close to the public Monday for an undetermined period of time, museum officials said Tuesday evening. The closing comes as Temple University has withdrawn from talks about a possible partnership with the museum, surprising city officials who had expressed optimism about such an alliance as recently as April.”
“Fifteen minutes into an otherwise smooth interview, Battle takes a deep breath, stops talking and puts down the phone, never to return. No goodbye. No explanation. Nada. Even stranger is the fact that the interview-killing question wasn’t even a tough one. It was a softball query about how it feels to have her career still going strong as she approaches 70.” (Has she never heard of the Streisand Effect?)