Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar's Best Picture Firsts

The very first movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture was a war film. It was 1927, the first year that the Oscars were held, and the winner was “Wings.” The most recent Best Picture winner was also a war film, “The Hurt Locker.” The shared genre is just about all that these two movies, 82 years apart, have in common. “Wings” was a silent movie shot in black and white and directed by a man, while “The Hurt Locker” was very much a “talkie” shot in full color and directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow. In fact, “The Hurt Locker” was the first film directed by a woman to win an Oscar for Best Picture.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"What (Good) Is the Internet, Anyway?"

This is a story that could not be written, or understood, back in 1994, when hardly anyone, including the hosts of the Today show, knew what the internet was.

(Watch Bryant and Katie try to figure out what email and the internet are)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Conservatory Garden in Winter

The young boy played his flute, calling to birds; his companion lifted a snow-laden bowl where they might drink.  While sparrows flitted near in search of seeds, not one came to visit this snowbound pair.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Listening to Penelope

Penelope "may be the best thing to happen to Homer since Joyce."
—George Wallace

It moves like a live thing in his hands
The story, his story
Bloody and sacred, truth and lie
—Ellen McLaughlin

A few years ago, a series of little novels started to appear, preceded by a book of introduction called A Short History of Myth.  The first novel in the series was The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood.  Atwood’s premise, “to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to the twelve hanged maids,” was promising.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bowled Over

Today is that most American of holidays. No, not Independence Day, or Thanksgiving, or even Labor Day. Today is Superbowl Sunday, the most-watched television event in the USA, and one of the most-watched programs in the entire world. Sports fans, spouses and partners of sports fans, and even non-fans will gather to watch the American football championship game.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Slouching Toward Lachenmann: Who Cares If I Listen?

 Schoenberg is dead.
-Pierre Boulez

Boulez is alive.
-Judd Greenstein

Milton Babbitt, 1916-2011.  In Memoriam.

I’ve been affected, in writing this post, by the Ecstatic Music Festival going on in New York City (through March 28, 2011).  I was able to attend only a small part of the opening day’s Marathon, but the part I attended was sublime.  The Chiara String Quartet played Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartet No. 3, and the NOW Ensemble played Judd Greenstein’s City Boy.  Both pieces were superb, the musicians excellent, and the composers were in attendance.  I was, yes, ecstatic, to be able to attend two more concerts that week.