The Calculations Behind A Successful Christmas Movie

Welcome to element philosophy. Scriptwriters use them to tell their story, composers sprinkle scores full of sleighbells and producers use them to influence us to buy a ticket. “Element placement” dictates our emotional rollercoaster journey… – The Conversation
Tags: Art, Media

The Formula For A Good Christmas Song

Plenty of explicitly Christmas-themed songs will have certain musical characteristics, even though they’re always optional. These include a major key, an accessible pitch range and a moderate tempo, making them both easier to sing and easier on the ear. – The Conversation
Tags: Art, Music

All The Books That Won Big Prizes This Year

From the Pulitzer to the Booker, the Nebula to the Edgar, here are the winners of the biggest book prizes of 2021. – Bookmarks
Tags: Art, Words, Edgar

In The Middle Of The Night, Hong Kong Authorities Remove Tiananmen Memorial

The 26-foot-tall artwork, known as the “Pillar of Shame,” had stood at the University of Hong Kong for nearly a quarter-century and honored the hundreds, if not thousands, of students and others killed on June 4, 1989, when the Chinese military crushed pro-democracy protests. – Washington Post
Tags: Art, Hong Kong, Featured, Visual, Tiananmen Memorial

Why Our Ideological Fights Descend Into Fights About What Words Mean

The well-rehearsed rhetorical drama over this kind of conceptual terminology is only one of the ways in which arguments over definitions and usage have risen to prominence and in some cases become almost synonymous with the desire for social change in recent years. – The Point
Tags: Art, Words

American Contemporary Theatre Closes Its Acclaimed MFA Program

The program consistently ranked as one of the top five graduate acting schools in the country, after more than five decades educating such distinguished alumni as Denzel Washington, Anna Deavere Smith, Annette Bening, Elizabeth Banks and Anika Noni Rose. – San Francisco Chronicle
Tags: Art, Featured, Theatre

How Jewish People Eating Chinese Food Became A Standard Part Of American Christmas

It’s not only because Chinese restaurants were the only places open on Christmas back in the day … – Mental Floss
Tags: Art, Issues

Man Buys $30 Drawing. Now It Could Be Worth Millions

“It was either a masterpiece or the greatest forgery I had ever seen,” he said. – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Visual

Holidays with music, in person or not

Despite my avowed abhorrence of Christmas music, I enjoyed maestro Kurt Elling leading his hometown quintet in a holiday-themed performance at Chicago’s City Winery last Sunday. Kurt Elling © Marc PoKempner My entire evening — accompanied by best friends, and including the surprise discovery after the Winery show of a heartening young trumpeter at the Hungry Brain — was a reminder that hearing music in person with others is a key experience, even if the potential for spreading disease...
Tags: Art, America, Chicago, Williams, New Orleans, Jesus, Herbie Hancock, Hall, Ajblogs, Berman, NOLA, Kurt, Levinson, Outer Space, John Pizzarelli, Dana Hall

An Iconic Chicago Building Is Saved

Chicago has a forest of imposing skyscrapers, and nothing else like this squat concoction of glass and steel that looks from the outside like a spaceship docked in the heart of the Loop, and reveals, on the inside, the city’s most vertiginous and spectacular atrium.  – Chicago Reader
Tags: Art, Chicago, Visual

Christkindlmärkte: A Brief History Of Germany’s Christmas Markets

The mercantile/community gatherings date back to at least the 14th century, and though they’ve since spread through much of the world, they’re especially dear to Germany (where pandemic-induced cancellations hit very hard). Here’s the story of the markets, from prune Zwetschgenmännle to hot Glühwein. – Quartz
Tags: Art, Germany, Issues, Zwetschgenmännle

When Maurice Sendak Created a Dark Nutcracker Ballet

Children are the perfect audience for The Nutcracker.  (Well, children and the grandmothers who can’t wait for the toddler to start sitting still long enough to make the holiday-themed ballet an annual tradition…) Maurice Sendak, the celebrated children’s book author and illustrator, agreed, but found the standard George Balanchine-choreographed version so treacly as to be unworthy of children, dubbing it the “most bland and banal of ballets.” The 1983 production he collaborated on with ...
Tags: Amazon, Facebook, Books, Design, College, Dance, K-12, Dallas, Nuremberg, Kent, Seattle, Clara, Maurice Sendak, Tchaikovsky, Hoffman, Maurice

Is The Golden Age Of Travel Over?

The old way it was practised, at vast scale, and across increasingly porous borders, has begun to look like it might be a terminal casualty. At the time of writing, there are only memories, and the work of reorienting ourselves to a more inert and less hospitable world. – Aeon
Tags: Art, Featured, Ideas

A Small Ballet Company Bounces Back From Hurricane Ida

Flooding caused by the storm wrecked the studios of Roxey Ballet in Lambertville, NJ; said director Mark Roxey, “The building was submerged in water. It looked like everything had been flipped upside down and shaken in a snowglobe.” Here’s how the community came to the rescue. – Pointe Magazine
Tags: Art, Dance, Lambertville, Roxey Ballet, Mark Roxey

“Dirty Harry” At 50: Portrait Of A Seminal ’70s Antihero

“Partisans on either side looking for affirmation of their stance will be disappointed. … Neither condemning nor condoning his actions, the film offers what may be the clearest image of the archetypal cop’s self-perception as the only one willing to do the dirty jobs holding America together.” – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Media, America

Is Paris’ Grand Palais Throwing Out Its Big Art Fair?

RX France is challenging the validity of the process, claiming that it has received two written commitments to the fairs from RMN-Grand Palais, the public body that owns the beaux-arts building, in 2019 and in 2021. – Artnet
Tags: Art, France, Paris, Visual, RMN

Do Egyptians Think Verdi’s “Aïda” Is Cultural Appropriation? Merely Silly? Actually, They Don’t

to Cairo and asked people there about it — and she found that people, even those who’ve never seen it themselves, seem generally proud of Aïda and its glorification of their homeland’s ancient history. – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Music, Cairo, Verdi, Aida

Omicron Shutdown Comes At A Bad Time For Broadway

This selective information release does little to quell anxieties, and resentment toward the Broadway establishment is often triggered. – Washington Post
Tags: Art, Theatre, Broadway

Even The Color Blue Is Having Supply-Chain Problems

Two factories in France produce much of the world’s synthetic ultramarine pigment; one stopped making it, and the other couldn’t meet the extra demand and froze exports, causing difficulties for all sorts of businesses worldwide. And there are similar issues with other colors. – Yahoo! (The Washington Post)
Tags: Art, France, Visual

Brigitte Lefèvre Helped Transform France’s Entire Dance Scene Into What It Is Today

She led the way in introducing the country to contemporary dance, not least at the Paris Opera Ballet, which she ran for two decades, and she helped establish choreography centers with resident companies throughout France. Here she talks about her choices and her legacy. – The New York Times
Tags: Art, France, Dance, Paris Opera Ballet, Brigitte Lefèvre

Enormous Changes At The Last Minute At The Philadelphia Orchestra’s “Messiah”

The scheduled conductor and all four soloists, who’d been rehearsing together, tested positive the day before Wednesday’s concert — and, rather than canceling, the orchestra managed to round up another cast and conductor within 24 hours. David Patrick Stearns reports on how it went. – The Philadelphia Inquirer
Tags: Art, Music, Philadelphia Orchestra, David Patrick Stearns

England Doubles The COVID Arts Relief Funding It Announced Just Days Ago

On Monday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that £30 million ($40 million) was being added to Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund. On Thursday, that amount was raised to £60 million ($80 million), including £1.5 million ($2 million) earmarked for freelancers. – Artnet
Tags: Art, England, Issues, Exchequer

Fifteen Minutes Before Curtain Time, Broadway Playwright Steps In To Save Performance From Cancellation

With three cast members testing positive for COVID and only two understudies available, Keenan Scott II grabbed his script for Thoughts of a Colored Man and decided to go onstage himself. (Alas, after the following night’s performance, the run was cancelled anyway.) – Playbill
Tags: Art, Theatre, Keenan Scott II

Conservatives Trying To Ban Certain Books From Schools Forget About The Streisand Effect

In Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, whether the topic is race, sexuality, history, or something else, grownups trying to keep particular books from teens end up reminding the teens that those books exist and can be obtained from booksellers. – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Words, Virginia Texas Pennsylvania

Replay: John Fahey plays “Joy to the World”

Go here to listen to John Fahey play “Joy to the World”: (This is the latest in a series of arts- and history-related videos that appear in this space each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
Tags: Art, Ajblogs, John Fahey

In person—or at home

In today’s Wall Street Journal I review stage versions of A Christmas Carol in Providence, Rhode Island and Philadelphia. They can both be viewed in person and on line. Here’s an excerpt. *  *  * Staged versions of “A Christmas Carol” come in every possible flavor. In 2020, though, they were all streamed, for America’s theaters were still shut tight by COVID-19. This year, though, they’re mostly open again—at least for the moment—and several regional theaters have opted to break the long...
Tags: Art, America, Charles Dickens, Philadelphia, Trinity, Wall Street Journal, Rhode Island, Ajblogs, Providence, Dickens, Weaver, Providence Rhode Island, Trinity Repertory Company, Anthony Lawton, Lantern Theater Company, Christopher Colucci

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