Digging Up Petrarch

“A team of 14 researchers exhumed the bones of the 14th century Italian poet Francesco Petrarch on Monday, in the attempt to uncover new aspects about his physical appearance and health.” The researchers plan to spend several months examining the nearly-intact skeleton, and hope to eventually use computer technology to create an approximation of what the poet’s face might have looked like. Creepy? Sure. But Petrarch is used to it: this is the fourth time his remains have been dug up by scientists.

No Solutions Yet In Houston

Only a few months after a crippling strike in which the musicians of the Houston Symphony Orchestra called for the resignation of their orchestra president and much of the board, the HSO has announced that it ran a whopping $3.56 million deficit for the 2002-03 season. Slumping ticket sales and decreasing donations have a lot to do with the fiscal problem, but the HSO has also had to contend with the costs of severe flood damage to its concert hall in recent years. The orchestra acknowledges that the deficit is as large as it’s ever been, but says that its long-range plan calls for surpluses by the 2005-06 season.

Closed – Three High-Profile Projects Trip On The Way To Broadway

“In the last week, three shows headed for Broadway – the long-gestating Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical “Bounce” in Washington, D.C., the Barry Manilow-Bruce Sussman musical “Harmony” in Philadelphia, and Nancy Hasty’s play “Bobbi Boland,” which had already begun previews at the Cort Theatre – closed before opening here to critics and audiences. New York-bound projects failing are not uncommon, but three high-profile shows in a row facing this fate is most unusual.”

A River Of Illegal DVDs

In the UK one of every three DVDs sold is said to be an illegal copy. “No one knows exactly how big the market is for bootleg discs, but already this year more than a million copied DVDs have been seized in the UK. Compared to videos, which are bulky and offer compromised quality, the new digital format is a bootlegger’s delight. The discs are cheap, light and easy to transport, while copying is quick and quality does not degrade.”

NYTimes Book Review – Caught Between Two Worlds?

The New York Times is looking for a new books section editor to replace Chip McGrath. “Mr. McGrath’s successor will arrive at a time when there is actually some larger debate about book reviewing going on. It’s all a bit strangely polarized: On one end of the spectrum are the likes of the militantly mild Believer editor Heidi Julavits, issuing rambling screeds against “snarky” book critics. On the other are bomb-throwers like the novelist Dale Peck, who routinely goes after big quarry in his long reviews in The New Republic, and whose supposed acts of critical derring-do got him an anthropological profile in The New York Times Magazine last month, as if an ambitious, bloodthirsty critic were some kind of special case that demanded to be analyzed. Some see these extremes, and the attention they’re getting, as reactions to the wishy-washy state of the Book Review.”

You Mean Beer And Aviation Don’t Mix?

Twenty U.S. legislators are asking the Smithsonian Museum to remove beer logos from a historic stunt plane being displayed there. The logos were added to the plane twenty years ago as part of a sponsorship deal, but the legislators say that they are an inappropriate advertisement and inducement to young people to drink. Not surprisingly, the company which paid to have its logo splashed all over the plane is objecting to the attempt to have it removed.

Children’s Theater On The Rocks In Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater is seriously strapped for cash, and the situation is so dire that the company will be asking its audience to help out at this week’s performances. The company has a $60,000 deficit, which is roughly the same amount that the city of Pittsburgh used to give the group in goods and services each year. That donation was scrapped this year, leaving PICT scrambling for alternatives.

Video In The Concert Hall? Only If It’s Really Good Video.

There has been a recent slew of concerts in New York in which the musicians brought along a video component to complement their performance. But is the move to add multimedia to the staid old classical concert form really a positive step? Allan Kozinn isn’t sure. “If there’s no compelling reason to do it beyond simply doing something new — and if it isn’t so thoroughly thought through that it becomes an organic part of the show… it can do more harm than good.”