Cursing Before We Walk

“Cursing, they say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech. Some researchers are so impressed by the depth and power of strong language that they are using it as a peephole into the architecture of the brain, as a means of probing the tangled, cryptic bonds between the newer, “higher” regions of the brain in charge of intellect, reason and planning, and the older, more ‘bestial’ neural neighborhoods that give birth to our emotions.”

Connecticut Town Tries To Revive A Classic Theatre

The town of Stratford, Connecticut is trying to revive the venerable American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Conn. in “a long-range, $50 million redevelopment plan intended to turn it into a ‘prominent player in American drama and the entertainment industry.’ The theatre fell on tough financial times during the late ’60s and early ’70s due to a slowdown in the economy and the loss of some key financial supporters. [It] struggled along into the 1980s, but when hoped-for success failed to follow ‘Othello’ in 1981, the theatre closed.”

Royal Opera House Removes Vilar’s Name

London’s Royal Opera House has removed Alberto Vilar’s name from the house. “Vilar pledged £10 million to the ROH development appeal in 1999, but paid only a fraction of that. As a result, the iron and glass atrium centrepiece – which was named the Vilar Floral Hall – will be renamed the Floral Hall with immediate effect. Mr Vilar is currently facing charges of fraud and money laundering in the US.”

Ballet Austin In Line For New Home

Thanks to a couple of generous patrons, Ballet Austin is getting a new home. “Designed by the Bommarito Group, the Butler Dance Education Center will feature seven dance studios, including the Austin Ventures Studio/Theatre, a flexible performance space with 270 seats. Plans call for it to open in January 2007. Ballet Austin officials said the new building will allow them to increase the number and types of programs and performances that they present, as well as contribute to downtown development.”

SHHH! Type Quietly (Here’s Why)

Researchers have found they can tell what someone is typing on a computer by the sound of the keystrokes. “Because the sound generated by each keystroke is slightly different, the researchers were able to generate a computer program to decode what was written. Using statistical learning theory, the computer can categorize the sound of each key as it’s struck and develop a good first guess with an accuracy of 60 percent for characters, and 20 percent for words. We then use spelling and grammar check to refine the result, which increased the accuracy to 70 percent and the word accuracy to 50 percent.”

Can We Finally Call An End To The Reality TV Craze?

There are few reality series on American TV’s fall schedule. “Scripted shows are hot right now, with drama on a real roll and sitcoms poised to make a comeback. Given a choice, the networks would always prefer to develop a scripted hit, which could have a long life in syndicated repeats and pay off for years or even decades to come. But the networks also reined themselves in because so many of last season’s reality shows failed.”

A Spanish City’s Cultural Buildings Splurge

“In a city full of venerable architectural gems, Valencia’s City of the Sciences and Arts is the 21st-century ultimate. It is an enormous complex, more like a world’s fair than a museum plaza. Its science museum is the biggest in Spain, its aquarium the largest in Europe. Its reflecting pools could submerge several football fields. Opening in October, the final piece — the Performing Arts Center — will put the crowning touch on this remarkable complex.”

What Good Is Art In Disaster?

“Orchestras are starting to program benefit concerts. And at some point, it will seem appropriate for a composer to put perspective to Katrina with a piece that is to this horror in New Orleans what John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls was to 9/11. In the meantime, a Schubert Mass in G won’t save lives, a Brahms German Requiem won’t comfort the victim, and no artwork will assuage the guilt many may likely feel as the arts season gets under way and we find ourselves slipping into enjoyment mode, even as misery continues for hundreds of thousands of others. For those of us who chronicle culture, that wondrous residue of civilization that plucks immortality from life’s daily flotsam and jetsam, the last few years have shaken our idea of permanence.”