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Friday, November 17


Getting Inside Your Head A new study suggests that religious people who believe that God can take over their minds and cause them to "speak in tongues" are at least correct that those in such a state are not fully in control of their own brains at the time. Another study proves that brains can like ice cream. "These studies play with the ticklish notion that our brain mediates all of our inner experience—whether we're angry, or in love, or enjoying a vanilla ice-cream cone. Every feeling can be expressed in patterns of neural activity spread out on a computer screen. But does the specific pattern associated with enjoying ice cream tell us anything new—about the brain, or ice cream, or ourselves?" Slate 11/17/06
Posted: 11/16/2006 10:23 pm

Whaddya Mean There's Nothing Funny About Religion? To Americans steeped in the daily rhetoric of the Iraq War, the words "Islam" and "comedy" might seem jarring together. But even as the cultural chasm between Christian and Islamic fundamentalists widens, a new generation of Muslim comedians are attempting to bring everyone who falls in between the two extremes back to their senses, and to the basic reality that everyone loves to laugh. The Age (Melbourne) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/16/2006 9:41 pm

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Visual Arts

Museums - Plying Both Ends Museums are complaining about changes in the tax code about gifts. They're also selling pieces of their collections. "Museums are trying to have it both ways: benefiting from tax subventions because they supposedly can’t survive in the marketplace yet stepping into the marketplace when they deem it appropriate. Some are actually renting out parts of their collections. What’s so disturbing about collection rentals and sales is that they violate the reason that museums are treated differently from businesses."
OpinionJournal.com 11/17/06 Posted: 11/17/2006 9:08 am

Bill Would Block Barnes Move "Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), who narrowly won re-election last week, on Wednesday followed through on a pledge to introduce legislation that would prevent the Barnes Foundation from being relocated to Philadelphia from suburban Merion, Pa. The bill would penalize any charitable institution that solicits donations contrary to the original benefactor's wishes."
Los Angeles Times 11/17/06 Posted: 11/17/2006 5:43 am

Fashion As Art (And Where Does It Belong?) The fashion exhibition at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts is surprisingly substantial, but the expected question remains: Are such exhibitions a sign of the coming apocalypse? "I want people to ask questions while they are walking through the gallery," MFA curator Pamela Parmal explained. "Is this reflective of the time? Is this art? Is this marketing? Are these people crazy?"
The New York Times 11/16/06 Posted: 11/17/2006 4:26 am

Met Still Running In The Red New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art ran a $3.2 million deficit for fiscal 2006, the museum's fifth straight year in the red. In a clear effort to bring its budget under control, the Met hiked its admission fee to $20, and made good strides in boosting its endowment. The museum also sold off nearly $27 million worth of the art in its collection this year (compared to just over half a million the year before,) and spent only $34 million on new art (a third of what it spent in fiscal '05.)
Culturegrrl (AJ Blogs) 11/16/06 Posted: 11/16/2006 9:28 pm

Now That The Dust Has Settled At MoMA... New York's Museum of Modern Art has finally completed its $850 million expansion, and is now hoping to maintain the public interest that has been stirred up by its dramatic new digs and perceived upgrade in status. In a new interview, MoMA director Glenn Lowry responds to criticism of his supposed top-down management style, and insists that he has no intention of following other museums like the Tate and the Pompidou in creating branch museums in other cities and countries.
The Art Newspaper 11/16/06 Posted: 11/16/2006 9:13 pm

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Berlin's Opera Mess Deepens The general director of the foundation that funds Berlin's opera companies quit, then recanted. Michael Schindhelm, "in office for only 18 months of his five-year contract, quit in disgust over a mandate by the federal government to cut the foundation’s budget by 16 percent by 2009, from $143.5 million to $127 million." Musical America 11/17/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 9:10 am

Cuban Heirs Trump US Publisher In Rights Fight "A copyright struggle over some of the finest music to emerge from Cuba ended yesterday after a six-year legal process in which a British judge presided over court hearings in London and Havana. Mr Justice Lindsay, ruling on a wrangle over rights to 'lively and expressive music' made famous on the Buena Vista Social Club album, declined to give a declaration sought in the high court by Peer International Corporation, a US publisher, that it owned the rights to 13 songs dating back to the 1930s." The Guardian (UK) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 7:49 am

Toronto Finally In The Black The Toronto Symphony announced a small surplus for fiscal 2006 this week, the orchestra's first balanced budget since it nearly succumbed to bankruptcy five years ago. Ticket sales also increased slightly, and subscriptions held steady. But the TSO isn't completely out of the woods yet - it's still carrying a CAN$9.5 million accumulated debt, and further internal cost reductions don't seem feasible. Toronto Star 11/17/06
Posted: 11/16/2006 10:18 pm

Come On, Smell The Noise Scratch 'n sniff music? Why not, say the organizers of this year's Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in the UK. "An electronic chamber opera that breaks new ground in the field of concert-going by combining sounds and smells" is the headline-grabbing phenomenon of the season. "Scent diffusers that look like spotlights are mounted on a heavy steel frame, controlled by a converted light mixer. There are 120 of these diffusers ranked above the audience’s heads, ready to produce bursts of specific aromas during the performance. Yet the audience is unaware of them, as this is a performance that takes place in pitch darkness." The Times (UK) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/16/2006 10:08 pm

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Arts Issues

On Museums And Antiquities, Two Opposing Agendas "In two different parts of town last night, two very different voices in the debate over museums and antiquities made their arguments heard. Uptown at the Metropolitan Museum, the Met's director, Philippe de Montebello, delivered to a rapt audience an impassioned defense of museums continuing to collect antiquities –– while, downtown, Peter Watson, the author of 'The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities — From Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums,' spoke to a group at the Chelsea Art Museum about the responsibility of museums not to contribute to the illegal trade in antiquities." New York Sun 11/17/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 8:14 am

Betting On Your Own Philanthropy For-profit companies have long known the power of the investor to infuse them with cash just when they need it most. But non-profits are saddled with a fundraising model that requires them to beg for money while promising no fiscal return. Why does it have to be this way? Why not create a fluctuating market for non-profits, just as publicly traded companies have now? Slate 11/13/06
Posted: 11/16/2006 9:06 pm

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Sarah Kane: Brilliant Or Overrated? Sarah Kane is a polarizing playwright. Some call her great, while others link her high posthumous profile more or less directly to her suicide. In any case, there is "the creeping correlation of Kane's suffering with her talent (pace Plath). ... There are kinds of plays you can't say you find lethal without people assuming that you loathed them because they were too visceral, too truthful for you. And I suspect critics are increasingly afraid of being thought uncool if they express disgust with brutality on stage." The Guardian (UK) 11/16/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 7:39 am

Taking Woolf From Page To Stage, Ill-Advisedly "'Writing one's mind' was Virginia Woolf's own description of her experimental 1931 novel, The Waves. But how do you put on stage an extended prose-poem made up of a group of interior monologues? ... Like Woolf's book, this version traces the inner lives of six characters from childhood in 1893 to early middle age in the 1930s. In the process, the production uses a variety of devices: speech, sound-effects, video-images, even rhythmic dance-movements. But although fragments of the solitude and discontent of the sextet emerges, there seems to me something extravagantly pointless about trying to give Woolf's words a physical reality." The Guardian (UK) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 7:33 am

Bill Blass As Radical, By Way Of Paul Rudnick Fashion is not only invading television and museums; it's on the New York stage, too, in the form of Paul Rudnick's play, "Regrets Only," whose central character is based on the late designer, Bill Blass. Rudnick says he's surprised by the public's fashion savvy -- but should Rudnick have been a little more savvy about who Blass was? Cathy Horyn, who edited Blass's memoir, seems to think so. The New York Times 11/16/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 4:39 am

So Much For The 'New South' Actors Delta Burke and Leslie Jordan were scheduled to appear on a local TV talk show in Nashville this week to promote the plays they are starring in. But once the show's producers realized that the plays (both of which have won several prestigious drama awards) contained gay themes, the stars were told not to bother showing up. The station explained that its viewers are "very conservative," and it didn't want to risk offending them. TMZ.com 11/16/06
Posted: 11/16/2006 9:21 pm

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Put Book To Nose. Inhale Deeply. "There I was, reading On Opera by the late philosopher Bernard Williams, and I was suddenly transported back to my childhood. How so? Because of the way it smelled. ... How to describe why one book smells nicer than another? I could burble on about the Williams book's hints of musk, fresh grass, and topnotes of vanilla, but you can see that I'd never make it as a wine writer. But maybe there is a secret community of book-sniffers out there who know what I mean." The Guardian (UK) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 7:58 am

Steal A Name And Your Book May Be Pulped With his novel, "Johnny Come Home," Jake Arnott inadvertently libelled a man who shares a name and other traits with a fictional character. "Where real names are involved, an author cannot hide behind that all-purpose shield: 'any resemblance is purely coincidental'. Nor do the courts accept ignorance as a defence. If you can be shown, by using a real-life name, to have injured a real-life reputation, then you will pay. The law is right alongside the Bard: 'He who steals my purse, steals trash. But he who steals my good name, steals all that I have.' You're safe, of course, if your named victim has no good name to lose." The Guardian (UK) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 7:25 am

University Gets Lost Poem By Canadian Rebel Leader "In the weeks leading up to his hanging for high treason 121 years ago today, Louis Riel struck up a friendship with his jailer. This week, a poem the Métis leader wrote for Robert Gordon becomes a prized part of the archives at the University of Saskatchewan. ..." Written in English "in Riel's flowing script, the poem was apparently penned at Mr. Gordon's request. The loose pages, now yellowed with time, are dated Oct. 27, 1885. Riel was hanged about three weeks later on Nov. 16." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/16/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 7:15 am

At Last, All Of Solzhenitsyn In Russian "Alexander Solzhenitsyn's wife on Thursday presented the initial three volumes of the first full collection of his works to be published in Russia, a country still struggling with the legacy of the oppressive era he documented. It was a cherished moment for the aging Nobel laureate, who has been through prison camps and exile and, Natalya Solzhenitsyn said, feels the 'draining of the life force' as his 88th birthday approaches. He was not at the presentation and his wife did not elaborate on his health." Los Angeles Times (AP) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 5:33 am

Iran Cracks Down On Publishers "Dozens of literary masterpieces and international bestsellers have been banned in Iran in a dramatic rise in censorship that has plunged the country's publishing industry into crisis... The clampdown has been headed by the hardline culture minister, Mohammed Hossein Saffar Harandi, a former revolutionary guard and close ally of [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. It follows a relative thaw during the eight-year presidency of Mr Ahmadinejad's reformist predecessor, Mohammed Khatami." The Guardian (UK) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/16/2006 9:49 pm

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Is This Progress, Or Regression? With World War II now more than 60 years behind us, a long-enduring taboo may be starting to show signs of a crack. But surely it can't really be the case that filmmakers are beginning to create sympathetic depictions of Nazis? Well, not exactly. But "the sheer horror of German civilian suffering, and the despairing heroism of its shattered armies" now seems to be fair game, as do "scenes of numbed Germans shuffling through the Third Reich's ruins." The Independent (UK) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/16/2006 10:00 pm

Rumble In The Record Stores "A mammoth 40% of the UK's annual music sales take place in the six weeks up to Christmas. With this season's trading forecast to be the toughest ever, record-shop managers around the country are lining up for a serious scrap. Commercially, of course - for now." The Guardian (UK) 11/17/06
Posted: 11/16/2006 9:55 pm

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Dance As Ratings Titan: Who'd Have Thought? "Nearly 28 million watched Wednesday's hour-and-change finale of 'Dancing With the Stars' at the end of which the three-time Super Bowl champ was crowned best amateur ballroom dancer. That's the show's biggest audience ever. ... 'Dancing' topped the combined audiences of CBS, NBC and Fox in the Wednesday hour by about 4 million viewers and delivered ABC's biggest non-sports audience in the time period in nearly seven years." Washington Post 11/17/06
Posted: 11/17/2006 6:08 am

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