The Trouble With Self Publishing

There are about 4.5 million books in print. And the number of new books each year has been growing at an alarming rate. Why? The proliferation of digital self-published books. There are some downsides to the new publishing – self-published books haven’t been vetted through the usual process of editors and publishers. And print-on-demand publishers don’t take returns from bookstores…

Met Museum Neighbors Sue To Stop Expansion

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which attracted 5 million visitors a year, has expansion plans. But those plans have run afoul of the museum’s neighbors on Fifth Avenue. “A coalition that represents residents of 15 buildings, mostly along Fifth Avenue, sued the Metropolitan and the City of New York on Thursday in an attempt to block the museum’s longstanding plan to expand.”

Feeling Back In The Pink

From 1959 until two years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle painted its Sunday arts section pink. “The Pink” was a beloved Bay Area tradition that the Chron, in a wave of house-cleaning, did away with, much to the unhappiness of long-time readers. Now the paper has reinstated its distinctive salmon-colored section…

Progressive Art – Dead End Conversation?

American artist John Currin doesn’t think much of American art. He’s also tough on the ideas-over-technique crowd. “Progressive ideas are just a machine for ruining art. I believe in the old idea of technique. I believe you need it if you’re going to have magic and genius and masterpieces. No one would question the value of technique in any other field. No one would say that a tennis player would be better if only he could stop hitting the ball.”

Seuss The Movie

Seussical didn’t exactly turn the heads of fans of the late Dr. Seuss. Undaunted, producers are attempting a movie version of “The Cat in the Hat.” The risks are considerable. “We didn’t want to have children despise us. Everyone loves this book, and if the movie isn’t that good, people will get hostile.”

RSC On The Rocks – Can It Be Saved? (Some Wonder)

The Royal Shakespeare Company has had some rocky years recently. But the larger measure of the company’s dire situation is beginning to dawn. “There are fears it might be too late to save a company riddled with debt, lacking a London base, rumoured to be cutting costs on productions, stunned by the resignation of its chairman, ‘on trial’ for its public funding and trailing in the wake of the powerhouse National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe. Some observers have already begun to think the unthinkable: that the Arts Council might axe its £13.3 million grant to the RSC. There is even speculation in theatre circles that the RSC’s right to use the term ‘Royal’ could be in jeopardy.”

The Tiny Film That Made A Huge Impact

The film showing the assasination of John Kennedy 40 years ago is only 26 seconds long – 494 tiny frames. But its impact on American culture was huge. “The Zapruder film has wormed itself so deeply into the culture that many of the pathways it opened are no longer visible. Still, enough traces of its legacy can be seen — from rampant paranoia about government and disgust with the news media to a loss of faith in photographic truth and the acceptance of graphic violence as part of the movie experience — that recognition of its legacy is in order 40 years later.”

When Nutcracker Became An American Tradition…

Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker has been ousted from its annual nest in the Wang Center (replaced by a high-stepping Rockettes show). It is, the ballet company says, a blow against a tradition that has entertained Bostonians for generations. Maybe not – the Nutcracker tradition didn’t take root seriously around the US until the 1950s, and is only 35 years old in Boston. And while it’s a cash cow for ballet companies, there are certainly many who would not be unhappy artistically if the whole thing went away…

Is Tolkien Too Popular For His Own Good?

“JR Tolkien’s staying power is unprecedented. That a spotlight-shunning Oxford professor, dead for three decades, who specialized in the rather mundane field of philology still casts such an enchanting spell over contemporary culture is a remarkable achievement. But amid this unharmonious convergence of forces clambering for some acreage of the Tolkien empire, there is also a literary reputation at stake. Can the words of Tolkien, the serious author, be heard above the din of Middle-earth’s ravenous strip development? Should Tolkien’s heirs safeguard the family name? Will the movies bring critical acclaim to the books, or will the combination of fan devotion and marketing savvy prove lethal and taint Rings as mere ‘adolescent fantasy’ forever?”

Take This Mcjob And…

So McDonald’s protests the inclusion of “mcjob” in the new Mirriam-Webster Dictionary. “If McDonald’s couldn’t accept satire as the price of fame, though, why didn’t it protest the McJob coinage long ago? The first use in the Nexis database, it’s true, wouldn’t have raised hackles: It was an innocent play on words in a 1985 UPI story on the labor shortage. ‘Ronald McDonald has a mcjob for you,’ it began, with no scorn intended. But McJob in the ‘robotic, dumb’ sense popped up in the Washington Post just a year later…”