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Wednesday, March 8


Video Games - A Cure For Aging? Can video games help stave off old age? Millions of Japanese believe so. "Players have to complete puzzles as quickly and accurately as possible, including reading literary classics aloud, doing simple arithmetic, drawing, and responding rapidly to deceptively easy teasers using voice-recognition software. The player's "brain age" is then determined. A physically fit, yet cerebrally past-it 30-year-old might be told after his first few attempts that his brain is into its 50s; a retired woman could, over time, end up with a brain age 20 years her junior. The challenge, to reduce one's brain age, is proving addictive among Japan's baby boomers." The Guardian (UK) 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 7:29 pm

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Visual Arts

Denver Museum Gets $30 Million In Art, Plus A Summer House The Denver Art Museum is preparing to accept one of its largest bequests ever - "more than $30 million in contemporary artworks by such marquee names as Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman; Fifteen million dollars in cash; [and] A house and gallery in Vail." The gift comes from a Vail couple who "have spent more than 14 years acquiring work from around the world, anticipating collecting trends and tapping new sources, including the booming Chinese market. They are included on ARTnews magazine's prestigious annual list of the world's top 200 art collectors." Denver Post 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 6:38 am

Website Ranks Artists And Their Market Value A new website has developed a mathematical formula to determine where in the food chain any artist lives. "Today, nearly 60,000 internationally recognised artists are listed. The number of points awarded reflects the importance of the artist in the eyes of the curators who select the artists for exhibitions. From these charts it is possible to get an idea of an artist's standing on the international exhibition circuit. The key points from the prediction point of view are the sudden rises in the flow charts which suggest the revaluation of an artist's career or the blossoming of a new one." The Telegraph (UK) 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 7:43 pm

Auction Houses Say Buyers Pay New UK Levy Sotheby's and Christie's say auction buyers will have to pay a new UK levy on the resale of art. "The artists' resale royalties are paid on a sliding scale, based on the hammer price, and are capped at 12,500 euros ($14,904) for any individual item sold. Works costing less than 1,000 euros are excluded." Bloomberg.com 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 4:49 pm

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It Stinks, It Bites, It Sucks - So Buy A Ticket! It's not often that a critic will mercilessly pan a performance, and then suggest that readers attend anyway. But David Patrick Stearns says that everyone within spitting distance of New York ought to hustle to see a new Metropolitan Opera production that he refers to as "breathtakingly vulgar, amazingly wrongheaded," and a disaster on the scale of the Exxon Valdez. Philadelphia Inquirer 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 6:48 am

Idol Hands Do The Devil's Work Fox TV's runaway hit, American Idol, is apparently making kids more interested in singing, and some school music teachers are even using Idol-style competitions to add some spice to their otherwise dry curriculum. But are the Idol worshippers really interested in music, or just in bandwagon jumping? And more importantly, are they really learning anything about music by prancing around in a classrom mimicking the godawful singing technique of the average Idol contestant? The Christian Science Monitor (Boston) 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 6:33 am

Conductors On The Run The past week saw two major music directors - Boston's James Levine and the London Phil's Kurt Masur - fall ill on the eve of a major tour. In both cases, podium replacements were quickly named, and the tours went ahead. But what about those substitute conductors? Were they just sitting around waiting for something to do? Not a chance - Marek Janowski, who stepped in for Levine, was in the middle of a two-week conducting stint in Minneapolis when he was asked to make a one-day, 3000-mile detour to conduct one of the most difficult programs imaginable at Carnegie Hall. Meanwhile, Minnesota's own hometown conductor, Osmo Vänskä, scrambled to reach Southern California to take over Masur's duties. Minneapolis Star Tribune 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 6:13 am

Baltimore In Trouble The Baltimore Symphony ran a staggering deficit of $7.3 million in fiscal 2005, and expects to tally another $4.5 million in red ink this season, raising the organization's accumulated debt total to a whopping $16.2 million. The numbers represent some of the largest deficits of any American orchestra in the last decade, even though Baltimore's annual budget ($30 million) is considerably smaller than those of orchestras in Cleveland and Chicago, which have faced similar-sized deficits in recent years. Oh, and the musicians' contract, which already included financial concessions meant to reduce debt, expires this September. Baltimore Sun 03/07/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 5:24 am

Another Proposal For Louisville Orchestra Musicians Louisville Orchestra management has made a new proposal to its musicians. The orchestra would be "a two-tiered structure with 55 full-time and 19 part-time players. Last month management had offered a plan with 53 full-time and 21 part-time players. Management also offered to pay a $5,000 bonus to each of 16 players who are now full-time but who would become part-timers." Louisville Courier-Journal 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 8:40 pm

ENO Settles On Gardner Edward Gardner is the English National Opera's new music director. "The conductor Oleg Caetani was to have started as music director this month, but resigned at Christmas even before he began. The company has, since November, also lost an artistic director and a chairman. Gardner is music director of Glyndebourne Opera's touring arm, and a former assistant at the Hallé Orchestra to Mark Elder, who himself was 32 when he became music director of ENO in the 1980s." The Guardian (UK) 03/08/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 5:28 pm

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Arts Issues

Feds Channel Millions To NYC Cultural Rebuilding More than $27 million in federal grants intended to revitalize New York's downtown district were announced yesterday. Among the organizations benefitting from the new influx of cash will be the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Flea Theater and the National Museum of the American Indian. "Some downtown arts groups have repeatedly expressed frustration over the time it has taken for the development corporation to make good on its 2002 pledge to help cultural institutions downtown. Yesterday, their leaders just sounded grateful." The New York Times 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 6:07 am

Architecture Isn't The Kimmel's Real Problem Peter Dobrin says that the settlement between the Kimmel Center and architect Rafael Viñoly is filled with elements of "pure fantasy" that don't begin to hold up under scrutiny. "It is a stunning fantasy to call the Kimmel Center a wonderful civic space. It could be a wonderful civic space. Nothing in the architecture prevents it from becoming one. But in its current state, there's nothing wonderfully civic about the center's gorgeous, oft-deserted rooftop garden and ground-level plaza... The Kimmel won't be done until it has an appropriate amount of money - that is, an endowment - to make it fully come alive." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 5:34 am

Arts As Weapon? "New Labour has been pouring money into the arts, not just because this is a good thing but because of the belief that the arts will heal communities, reduce crime and raise the aspirations of those not educated enough to know whether they like Bartók or Birtwistle. The arts have long been used as a weapon. In the Cold War they were a beacon of intellectual freedom of expression, in stark contrast to the repression of dissent in the USSR. Now the enemy is what Andrew Brighton calls 'the limitations of working-class culture'." The Times (UK) 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 7:40 pm

The Kimmel's World-Class, Stunning, Beautiful And Unique Settlement Philadelphia's Kimmel Center and architect Rafael Vinoly have reached an out-of-court settlement on Kimmel complaints about the building. It must have been some settlement. The joint statement says: "the Kimmel Center recognizes that the Viñoly-designed and delivered Kimmel Center is a stunning, state-of-the-art concert hall that attracts world-class artists. It is one of the most beautiful and unique buildings of its kind in the world, a world-class performing arts center, a wonderful civic space, and an economic engine for the entire area. As one of the best facilities of its kind anywhere, it has achieved its goal of becoming a cultural center for all tastes." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 9:16 am

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Row over Israeli tolerance museum BBC News 2/17/2006
The Cartoon Crisis GothamGazette.com 02/06
The Washington Post Freelancer's Guide to Not Getting Fired Washington City Paper 2/16/06
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Grammy-Winning African Guitarist Dies "Ali Farka Touré, the self-taught Malian guitarist and songwriter who merged West African traditions with the blues and carried his music to a worldwide audience, winning two Grammy Awards, died in his sleep on Monday at his farm in the village of Niafunke in northwestern Mali, the Ministry of Culture of Mali announced." The New York Times 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 6:23 am

Trailblazing Director Dies Photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks, who broke down racial barriers throughout his career, has died at 93. "He was the first black person to work at Life magazine and Vogue, and the first to write, direct and score a Hollywood film, The Learning Tree (1969), which was based on a 1963 novel he wrote about his life as a farm boy in Kansas. He also was the director of the 1971 hit movie Shaft, which opened the way for a host of other black-oriented films." Washington Post 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 5:17 am

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Small Theatres Struggling In Minny Minneapolis-based Pig's Eye Theatre has canceled the remainder of its 2005-06 season and will focus on raising enough money to mount a comeback next winter. Pig's Eye, which operated on a shoestring and was known locally for an offbeat combination of classic repertoire and edgier fare, is at least the second small company in the Twin Cities to face its own mortality in the last year, as high rents and economic malaise take their toll in a region loaded down with theatre. St. Paul Pioneer Press 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 6:58 am

London's Theatre Museum On The Brink London's Theatre Museum is in danger of closing down after its second bid for £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund was turned down. The Stage 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 7:51 pm

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The Spoetry Of Spam Spoetry is email spam poetry. "In an unedited, authorless spoem (spam poem) 'aardvarks sweat in gibbon rucksacks' and 'freight trains rejoice toothpicks, merrily'. Reminiscent of Ezra Pound, or William Burroughs' cut-ups, spoetry transcends its mundane commercial aim and becomes, yes, art." The Guardian (UK) 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 4:57 pm

Lost In Translation "Though translators often get the short shrift, they are more important than ever in this global age. Literature from foreign lands is one of the best ways to understand and experience distant cultures. Yet it represents only a tiny fraction of the books published in America. Of the 195,000 new titles printed in English in 2004 (the most recent year for which numbers are available), only 891 were works of adult literature in translation." News & Observer (Raleigh) 03/05/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 4:42 pm

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Hollywood Hates Your Homebrew PVR Ever since TiVo took over the American television landscape, there has been an explosion of homemade versions of the personal video recorder that do most of the same things TiVo can do, but cheaper, and without a monthly subscription. However, a new round of "digital rights management" legislation threatens to make all but the "official" recorders obsolete, and Hollywood is pushing hard for passage. Wired 03/08/06
Posted: 03/08/2006 5:46 am

Pixar Has Its Most Profitable Year "2005 marks Pixar's 10th year as a public company and, I'm pleased to report, our most profitable year ever," Pixar chairman and chief executive Steve Jobs said." Yahoo! (AP) 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 5:05 pm

U Michigan Investigating Public Broadcasting Stations The University of Michigan is investigating the school's public radio and TV stations after the recent departure of two key staffers. "U of Michigan administration and campus police say they have launched investigations of Michigan Public Media, the umbrella organization for Michigan Radio, Michigan Television, the Flint-based public TV channel broadcasting as WFUM-TV, and the Michigan Channel, a cable affiliate." Detroit Free Press 03/04/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 4:35 pm

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The Dancing Computer Microsoft is showing off a computer interface that is controlled by dancing in front of it. "The dance pad has designated arrows and buttons that are normally used to correspond to beats in the game, but for Microsofts system it will be used to navigate and scroll through a wide variety of applications." Gizmodo 03/07/06
Posted: 03/07/2006 7:55 pm

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