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The Digest of Arts, Culture and Ideas
Updated: 12 min 38 sec ago

Take That, Ken Burns! Why “Drunk History” Sorta Works As Documentary Television

July 24, 2014 - 3:24am

“The show is exactly what the title says. A narrator … gets very, very drunk, on camera. As she downs her whiskeys or fancy cocktails, she delivers a historical account … It is ridiculous – and very funny. The surprising part is that it’s also a perversely effective way to deliver historical information.”

Top Posts From AJBlogs 07.23.14

July 24, 2014 - 1:19am

If “Creative Director” Title Fits A Museum, Why Not?
AJBlog: Real Clear Arts | Published 2014-07-24

Inventing an America
(How Kyle Gann would teach the history of the symphony in the U.S.)
AJBlog: PostClassic | Published 2014-07-23

Announcing Hothouse: Exploring new ideas in co-working with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
AJBlog: Speaker | Published 2014-07-23

What nonprofits are for
AJBlog: The Artful Manager | Published 2014-07-23

How Do Writers Make Their Living?
AJBlog: CultureCrash | Published 2014-07-23

Civil Rights Museum
AJBlog: Engaging Matters | Published 2014-07-23

Spain’s Prado Museum Missing 885 Artworks

July 23, 2014 - 6:16pm

“A spokesperson for the museum downplayed the situation, telling the paper that many works had been lost over the years to fires and even armed conflict, but without proof of destruction or loss the records for these works remain.”

What Happened To Charlotte’s Brave Experimental Theatre?

July 23, 2014 - 6:13pm

“Was there really no alternative to euthanizing a company that had achieved so much over its 22-year history?”

The Next Big Musical Tool – Your Phone

July 23, 2014 - 12:13pm

“Your phone is now a recording studio, a music school, and a Guitar Center. Thousands of music apps enable you to do everything from autotune your voicemail greeting to compose a symphony.”

What We Lose Of Books In E-Readers

July 23, 2014 - 11:08am

“Regardless of their printed contents, books tell their own alternative stories, whether this be from smudges on the pages, or edges crinkled from a spilt drink; corners curled or margins dotted with sneaky annotations. Before self-service check-out systems, you could always tell how popular a library book was by how many pages were glued to the inside page, stamped with a list of past loan due dates.”

This Year’s Booker Prize Nominees (Americans Included)

July 23, 2014 - 11:07am

“Thirteen novels were named on the longlist for the prize which for more than 40 years has rewarded only Commonwealth writers. The rules changed last year, sparking fears that it would quickly be dominated by Americans.”

Why Don’t We Have Alternative “Director’s Cut” Versions Of Books?

July 23, 2014 - 10:59am

“While the film industry eventually embraced the notion of a director’s cut and ran with it – ran, in fact, with the idea of releasing multiple versions of films, each definitive in its own, idiosyncratic way –publishing did not. Despite a few exceptions, there seems to be very little enthusiasm today for multiple editions of the same contemporary book.”

This Year’s National Medal Of Arts Winners

July 23, 2014 - 10:51am

It’s a “diverse roster of big names in the arts, literature and entertainment – including Linda Ronstadt, dancer-choreographer Bill T. Jones, author Maxine Hong Kingston, Broadway composer John Kander and L.A.-nurtured visual artist James Turrell — will receive the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.”

The Physicists Who Are Redefining The Art Of Animation

July 23, 2014 - 10:47am

There is “an expanding cadre of high-level physicists, engineers and other scientists, including many former NASA employees, who have left careers in aerospace and academia to work in the movie business. Demand for their services has grown as animated movies, once created by hand, push the boundaries of what can be created on a computer screen.”

Scaling Back Plans For New York’s Museum Of African Art

July 23, 2014 - 10:40am

“After years of outsize promises and repeated postponements, officials now acknowledge that fund-raising travails have compelled them to scale back the grand design for the museum’s new home on Fifth Avenue.”

Boycott An Israeli Theatre Company Over Politics? Where’s The Logic?

July 23, 2014 - 10:38am

“The demands for censorship speak to the illiberal tendencies of much of the art world and their self-important overestimation of the impact of cultural boycotts. They are the kind of artists who call for artistic freedom for themselves, and for those whose opinions they approve of, but deny it to those who they disapprove of, or, in this case, those whose countries they disapprove of.”

Angel Corella Named Pensylvania Ballet’s Artistic Director

July 23, 2014 - 4:11am

The 38-year-old Spaniard, a former star at ABT, “is slated to start part-time in September, then full-time in January.” Earlier this year he announced that he would close his company in Barcelona and leave Spain.

Rome’s Cinecittà Opens A Theme Park

July 23, 2014 - 4:02am

“In its nearly 80-year history, the Cinecittà film studio lured the world’s greatest directors and biggest movie stars to this Italian capital, earning it the title of Hollywood on the Tiber. Now the studio, its fortunes in decline and its edges fraying, is hoping to attract some less famous visitors when Cinecittà World, a new theme park dedicated to its golden era, opens on Thursday.”

How Can Classical Music Save Itself?

July 23, 2014 - 3:57am

Alex Ross, Greg Sandow, pianist and educator Orli Shaham, and Peabody Institute dean/former St. Louis Symphony CEO Fred Bronstein talk issues and strategies with public radio host Diane Rehm. (audio)

Ian McKellen Calls For Living Wage For Actors

July 23, 2014 - 3:47am

“Most actors are not rich – they are very poor indeed. … The one thing you can ask, I think, is that actors get paid a living wage. I would like it if all the repertory theatres that currently exist could do that. It would make a huge difference.”

In Defense Of The Jukebox Musical

July 23, 2014 - 3:32am

“Done well, jukebox musicals, which are by nature about popular music, can have great music and dramatic insight, too. I propose that we stop being embarrassed by them, and I hope that producers and librettists continue to make the genre better. Great pop music can be celebrated well and enjoyably.” Sarah Lawson explains how, with examples.

Keeping Kabuki Populist – And Funny

July 23, 2014 - 3:25am

“Compared with some other forms of Japanese theatre – Noh, for example – Kabuki had humble beginnings. It was made by common people for common people. … Other forms of Japanese theatre, such as Noh and Bunraku, subsist on government funding. Kabuki lives on ticket sales.”

Japanese “Vagina Artist” Released From Jail Following Arrest On Obscenity Charges

July 23, 2014 - 3:04am

Megumi Igarishi, a 42-year-old sculptor and illustrator who uses the professional name Rokudenashiko (roughly “little good-for-nothing”), spent a week in custody after being arrested for distributing obscene materials. She had sent contributors to a crowdfunding campaign a file for 3D printer that would produce a replica of her vagina.

Stop Trying To Get Our Kids Into The Ivy League: The Stress Is Wrecking Them, And The Schools Are Overrated

July 23, 2014 - 3:01am

“Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.”