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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

(Abrams), by David A. Beronš

Graphic novels have been all the rage for the past 20 years, but Art Spiegelman’s groundbreaking Maus, depicting the Holocaust in drawings of Jewish mice and their feline Nazi predators, wasn’t the first original novel told primarily in pictures. Wordless Books examines several little-known artists from the early 20th century who composed “woodcut novels.” The author, who teaches at Vermont’s Center for Cartoon Studies . . .
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Designing for the urban age

Cities are like organized religion: richly layered, often paradoxical and uniquely qualified to bring out the best and worst in humankind. A new book edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic, titled The Endless City (Phaidon), conveys the oft-contradictory nature of cities, including their innate ability to both quell and incite social and political conflict. At least, that’s the salutary subtext of the book. Its more arrant objective is to lend fire-and-brimstone urgency to the sharp rise in the world’s urban population within the past century. Even the book’s blazing orange cover, inscribed with eye-popping statistics (75% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050!) is used to convey the apocalyptic immediacy of its appeal . . .
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Theater Review

Ideally, an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the middle of summer should capture some of the magic of Shakespeare’s script. Door Shakespeare’s intimate outdoor production captures a fair amount of this magic, and does so in a way so pleasantly unexpected that it actually ends up being one of the more satisfying productions of the summer.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Theater Review

Outdoor theater has a strange kind of life when seen by a small audience in an intimate setting. It’s this sense of intimate immediacy that gives Door Shakespeare its charm. It may lack the funding found in other summer stock, but makes up for it in depth of performance. The company’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand’s tale of love and valor, resonates beautifully even if it suffers from lack of breadth. A charming, romantic fellow whose appearance keeps him from being romantic with a woman, Cyrano is very popular with everyone he comes into contact with. The problem with the Door Shakespeare’s . . .
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mama sorts them out

For me, ABBA was never a guilty pleasure. It was usually a pleasure, period. Most of the group’s hits were great little soap operas sung in Berlitz lesson English to irresistible melodies with unassailable arrangements. It was pure pop for now people in the ’70s. ABBA was never as big in benighted America as elsewhere, but that began to change with the 1999 Broadway debut of one of the most lucrative musicals ever, Mamma Mia! The plot, loosely strung together through a sequence of ABBA songs, concerns a fatherless 20-year-old girl about to be married. Reading her mother’s diary, Sophie gathers that mom was never certain of who fathered her.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Heath Ledger’s Gotham Nights

Life overtook art in January with the death of Heath Ledger, the Joker in The Dark Knight. Ledger was one of Hollywood’s rising actors and his role as the supervillain in the much-anticipated sequel to Batman Begins would cinch his stardom. Dead or alive, Ledger was destined to dominate The Dark Knight. An unspoken rule is in effect: The bad guys tend to get the best lines in Hollywood; they are usually more flamboyant than their opponents, more intriguing and mysterious. Poor Christian Bale never has a chance. As Batman (or “the Batman” as he’s often called in a nod to the earliest comic strips), he is left to brood . . .
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

There are few musicians in today’s indie scene as enigmatic as M. Ward. His latest album, 2006’s critically acclaimed Post-War, came across like a series of bulletins from a long-gone era, with Ward’s voice often sounding like it was channeling the highs and lows of American history. The result was a record that had something of an otherworldly feel to it. Post-War was clearly rooted in the past, but there was something about Ward’s delivery that made the record feel incredibly relevant . . .
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

   At 53, Earle has seen and experienced most everything, from drug addiction to jail time. It’s reflected in his fiery brand of rock, country, folk, bluegrass and now techno, courtesy of a DJ who joined him for part of his intense, t...
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The great Norwegian novel?

Oslo must be a dull place, not only because the protagonists of Reprise dream of escaping it, but also because the city nurtured them. We meet Phillip and Erik, a pair of wannabe novelists, at a postal box, slipping their manuscript envelopes into the chute. After Phillip’s novel is accepted, he is anointed as Norway’s young literary lion, only to suffer an emotional breakdown. Erik’s is at first rejected, but he rebounds and embraces the acclaim that Phillip was unable to handle.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Enter Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan’s birthright was to captain a small, nomadic tribe across the grassy sea of Mongolia. He grew up and made a bid for the whole world. He conquered as far as his eyes could see: Central Asia, portions of China, Persia and Russia. His name became synonymous in the West with cruel tyranny, but his conquests were no bloodier than most campaigns of his era and his empire was more tolerant, more wisely governed, than many states in our time.

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