The Psycho-bio Problem

Why do we feel the need to pass artists such as Shakespeare under a magnifying glass for clues to their work? Such psycho-bios often sell better than the actual artist’s work. “The explanations of literary activity which are required by the market for literary biography tend to be made up from a dash of Freud, a handful of social aspiration, a scratching from Foucault’s armpit, and a willingness to entertain simple-one-to- one correspondences between fiction and life.”

Riding Laziness To Good Health

Want to live longer? A new book says the way to make it happen is kick back and be lazy. “The book begins with an explanation that we are all born with a limited amount of “life energy”. If we use it all up quickly – by exercising and getting stressed out – we will die early. If we do very little and live life at a snail’s pace, we can eke it out and live much longer. It’s a theory that doesn’t find much support in the scientific community…

Is Bush Good For Indie Film?

Reagan was good for independent filmmakers. “As we enter Bush’s second term, the country’s extreme rightward turn could ignite the type of movie renaissance not seen since eight years of nuclear proliferation, HIV discrimination, and materialist greed helped produce the American independent film movement of the late ’80s and early ’90s. If the careers of Todd Haynes, Spike Lee, and Steven Soderbergh were all launched during the Reagan-Bush regime, imagine what’s possible over the next four years.”

Prompter As Air Traffic Controller

Prompters sometimes take a very active role in an opera performance. “In the prompter’s box during performances, she calls out the first few words of every line a second or so before the singer is to sing it, her linguistic repertoire including Italian, German, French, Spanish and Russian. Comparing her job to that of an air traffic controller, she is hyper-alert, keeping track of several performers at once.”

Penn Ballet’s Nutcracker Holds Steady

“Though houses at the Academy of Music ran at 70 percent sold, the same as last year, the number of performances was down by three, and Nutcracker income crucial to the company fell by about 4 percent. Last month, the ballet performed its Tchaikovsky-Balanchine classic 25 times, generating revenue of $1,940,000, down from last year’s $2,015,070. About 38,000 paying listener-viewers experienced The Nutcracker this season, down from 40,500 last season.”

Where Are America’s Music Geniuses?

“What musical geniuses has America produced? From the nineteenth century, the pickings are slim. If the idea of musical genius is defined by Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert , Brahms, Wagner, Mahler, Stravinsky and others in the list of immortals, it can’t be appropriate to consider Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Stephen Foster, Scott Joplin in that category, however remarkable and special their gifts and contributions. In the 20th century, Copland, perhaps, Gershwin, but then when we talk about Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, to pick a few others from a longer list, the term genius seems inapplicable.”

Canadian Provinces Duke It Out With Film Tax Credits

The tax credit game continues. Recently Ontario boosted its tax credit program for film production from 11 percent to 18 percent, trying to lure back business lost to the US. Then Quebec raised the stakes to 20 percent for foreign productions. Now British Columbia’s film industry is pressuring the provincial government for similar action. “I was two minutes into the phone call before they said, ‘Well, is it possible to shoot the film in Ontario instead of B.C. so that we get the extra percentages?’ “

Reviving The Juke Box In The Age Of Internet

For a long time, juke boxes have been in decline. But attached to the internet, instead of offering a few hundred selections, juke boxes offer hundreds of thousands. And the choice is reviving the corner juke. With expanded choice, it’s not just the big hits that get played. Turns out people aren’t as hit driven as we’ve been led to believe. “A typical CD jukebox generates about $400 a month in revenue. With our product, a jukebox generates an average of $1,000 a month.”

Spamalot – This Year’s Big Hit? (The Reviews Are In)

Sure, the Pythonalia is all there. But it all has undergone a drastic sea change, too — crossbred with a century’s worth of Broadway conventions, and with bits of additional genetic material lifted from Las Vegas and Super Bowl halftime shows, from pop music sound bites and the trans-Atlantic trills of Andrew Lloyd Webber. A wacky hybrid (with Broadway proving to be the dominant strain, especially in the show’s second act), it has arrived with such a blindingly bright sheen — and at the same time with such a sense of the loopily quirky teamwork that made the original Pythons who they were — that you don’t know whether you should sing ”Hail to the Queen,” ”The Star-Spangled Banner,” ”Havah Nagilah” or ”YMCA.”