That Rowling Magic

Another Harry Potter comes out this summer. Author JK Rowling “would be the first to admit she’s perfectly ordinary, but because the public doesn’t have easy access to her, a tiny sparkle of magic is preserved. Would JK really command the same extraordinary appeal if she delivered herself unconditionally into the hands of the media?”

A Wendy Chronicle

In an end-of-year reminiscence, Frank Rich remembers his longtime friend, playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who died last January. “The Wendy Wasserstein who was always there for everybody (including me) at every crisis and celebration, the Wendy with that uproarious (yet musical) laugh and funny (yet never bitchy) dialogue for every fraught situation, the Wendy the whole world knew and adored was also an intensely private person who left many mysteries behind.”

Saddam Images And Unreality

Video of the execution of Saddam Husein was on the internet within hours. “But the images of his execution and his body seem to point to a new era in the way images are used politically, what might be called a post-propaganda era. So many images that were supposed to have such profound impact on public perception — the now infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ photo op or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s bloody head tastefully framed for the cameras — have failed to connect with the reality of either public opinion, or the facts on the ground.”

One Night You’re On…

“It is a truism in opera that you’re only as good as your last performance. Human variability is supposed to be one of the exciting things about live music, making it like a high-wire act. Will the tenor successfully negotiate the course? Or will he fall spectacularly, in plain sight of everyone, cracking on a high note. This mutability has given even superstar singers screaming cases of stage fright.”