Friday, December 25, 2015

Bono, Hozier, Glen Hansard busk together on Dublin’s Grafton Street (VIDEOS) By James O'Shea

Bono, Hozier, Glen Hansard, The Script, The Coronas and Kodaline were among the artists who performed for free on Grafton Street in Dublin last night. All proceeds from the massively popular street show went to The Simon Community, a charity combatting homelessness. It has become an annual event for Bono and for the massive crowds who gathered. The U2 legend and Hozier kicked off with Hozier’s huge hit “Take Me to Church;” and followed with a U2 number. The Grafton Street lollapalooza has become one of the highlights of the holiday season in Ireland and crowds began lining up in the late afternoon to find their places. They were not disappointed. At 7 PM local time Bono and Hozier and the other musicians appeared. Irish Central

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What Happened to the Polar Vortex? By Andrea Thompson

The polar vortex has strengthened this year, helping exacerbate current mild weather.

It has been ridiculously warm across the eastern half of the country this month, with many spots likely to see their warmest December on record. New York City may reach as high as 72°F on Christmas Eve. Washington D.C. is forecast to reach the mid-70s, and Miami the mid-80s. One of the factors behind this decidedly un-Christmas-like weather is a feature that came to be associated with the brutally cold winters of the past few years: the infamous polar vortex. But if you like warm winter days, enjoy it while you can. Because while the current state of the polar vortex is keeping dreams of a White Christmas at bay, a shift could soon be in the offing, one scientist says, potentially ushering in a more typical winter wonderland in January. Over the past two years, the term polar vortex became synonymous with the bitter outbreaks of Arctic air that sent teeth chattering from Boston to Atlanta (after all, polar is right there in the name). The polar vortex is a feature of the atmosphere defined as the fast moving current of air encircling the Arctic that forms during the cold months because of the increased temperature difference between the dark, frigid Arctic and the warm tropics. There are actually two vortices, one in the layer of the upper atmosphere known as the stratosphere and one in the lower section, where our weather happens, called the troposphere. These two features interact with each other and can affect the meteorological goings-on outside of the Arctic. The polar vortex also interacts with other features and fluxes in the atmosphere, which causes it to vary in strength over time. When the polar vortex is strong, as it is now, it keeps arctic air fenced in. That is part of what is currently keeping the weather so mild in the eastern U.S.. But when the vortex is perturbed or weakened, the jet of air becomes more wobbly and can set up southward excursions of frigid air — what we saw plenty of times over the last couple winters. The polar vortex is particularly susceptible to such weakening when it reaches its peak in mid-winter, Judah Cohen, an atmospheric scientist with the private firm Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), said in an email. And that is what Cohen is forecasting will take place in January. Cohen expects some pulses of energy working their way from the lower to upper atmosphere to perturb and weaken the polar vortex over the next few weeks. That weakening would favor a dip in temperatures over the eastern U.S. and potentially an uptick in snowstorms, Cohen wrote in an AER blog post. Some research suggests that the rapid warming of the Arctic, which is happening at about twice the pace of the planet as a whole, could be impacting the polar vortex. Cohen and others think that declining sea ice and increased snow cover in Siberia are two manifestations of this amplification that are exerting a weakening influence on the polar vortex, which could be fueling more outbreaks of Arctic air. Cohen thinks that the pulses of energy he expects to perturb the vortex over the next few weeks are related to particular areas of low sea ice and high snow cover present this fall and winter. But this research is hotly debated. “There are many that argue that any influence of Arctic amplification cannot be detected above the noise of the intrinsic or natural variability of the atmosphere,” Cohen said. If the Arctic chill from the weakening of the polar vortex blows in next month, Cohen, a self-avowed fan of winter weather, would welcome the switch. At first he didn’t mind Boston having a break after last year’s epic snows, “but I have to admit I miss winter and this is just crazy,” he said.
This article is reproduced with permission from Climate Central. The article was first published on December 22, 2015. Scientific American

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Send Her My Love Photo

Spain wins first ever Miss World title

A 22-year-old from Barcelona has become the first Spaniard to be crowned Miss World. Mireia Lalaguna [Royo] a model and pharmacy student, beat Miss Russia and Miss Indonesia – the first and second runners-up – at the finale of the 65th edition of the world’s oldest beauty pageant, which was held in the Chinese city of Sanya on Saturday. The event had been clouded by controversy following China’s decision to ban Miss Canada for her statements against human rights violations. The young woman could not conceal her disbelief when she was announced the winner, beating out the big favorites from France, Venezuela and China. "I think I should be the next Miss World because I believe in strong women” EL PAÍS Photo

Saturday, December 19, 2015

31 Signs You're Not Getting Enough Vitamins

Dietitians Emily Haller and Keri Gans on the dead giveaways that you need to step up your nutrient intake.

Back in 2004, nutritionists everywhere were screaming at movie theater screens, threatening to boycott Mean Girls when Regina George "innocently" (you never know with Queen Plastic) asked how butter's contents translated into nutritional value.  We'll limit this healthy-eating lecture to a minimum: In order for your body to function, you need to make sure you're consuming enough essential nutrients in your everyday diet with actual healthy food. Just so you know...butter does not count as a good carb and no, your beloved chicken-and-broccoli combination platter doesn't satisfy anything but your 1:33 a.m. craving for Chinese food. Okay, so you might be the outlier and pack kale for lunch and reach for a banana post-workout—TEACH US YOUR WAYS—but are you 100% sure you're meeting the daily requirements of all that is good? We tapped into the minds of registered dietitians Emily Haller and Keri Gans for dead giveaways you need to step up your nutrient intake. Blurred vision? You might need to eat more carrots—not be prescribed glasses.
Vitamin A
  • Dry eyes
  • Blindness at night
  • Scaling, dry skin
  • Diarrhea
  • The next time you get a paper cut, grab a bandage and chew on some carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, or tuna. Vitamin A encourages healthy cell production to heal wounds, boost your immune system, and strengthen your vision. Aim for roughly 2,333 IU a day.
    Vitamin C
  • Depression
  • Gingivitis
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Corkscrew hair follicles
  • Prone to bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • High blood pressure
  • An orange a day—not really, but 85 mg daily will do—keeps everything that we just listed above away. This antioxidant protects against don't-want-ever illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, asthma, and the common cold.
    Vitamin D
  • Softened bones (over an extended period of time)
  • Susceptibility to infectious diseases like the flu
  • There are no clear symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, however, the longer someone goes without getting the nutrient—by not basking in the sunlight enough or eating enough almonds or fatty fish—the more likely it is your skeletal health decreases. The only way to be positive of your status is to get yourself checked. The daily recommendation is 600 IU.
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent muscle cramps
  • Prolonged abnormal appetite—meaning eating isn't appealing to you (WHAT??)
  • Development of osteoporosis (over a longer period of time)
  • You remember those Got Milk commercials? Brilliant. But there's a slight chance their message didn't stick when you were a kid. Calcium helps your heart, prevents bloods clots, and of course, fortifies your bones and teeth. Adults should aim for about 1,000 mg per day from sources like milk, yogurt, cheeses, almonds, and salmon.
  • Hair that falls out
  • Thinning hair
  • Sore muscles
  • Not building muscle while exercising (if you're trying to bulk up)
  • Constantly getting sick
  • Muscle loss
  • Is it just us or is everyone talking about protein these days? Although standard recommendations for women say to consume about 46 g per day, fitness experts usually suggest eating 1 g of protein per pound if you're trying to gain muscle mass—so 130 g of protein for a 130-pound woman. Don't go overboard with your red meats though: The quality and quantity of protein sources can impact your risk against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Constipation
  • Constant hunger
  • So this is why we're starving by 11:39 a.m. (sorry, donuts). A healthy fiber intake—of about 20 to 35 g every day from oats, beans, and broccoli—can help with irritable bowl syndrome, high cholesterol, and irritable bowel disease. Basically, fiber is your gut's best friend.
  • Pale skin
  • Always feeling cold
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ahhh, iron—it's the mineral that allows our cells to retain oxygen and keep our blood circulating. When you don't hit the recommended 18 mg a day, you put yourself at risk of things like anemia. All you need is to stock up on spinach, fish, nuts and seeds, and you'll survive.
    From: Marie Claire  Harper's Bazaar Photo

    Monday, December 14, 2015

    Barbara Mandrell

    1976 Let Your Love Flow
    Barbara Ann Mandrell (born December 25, 1948) is an American country music singer and actress. She is known for a series of Top 10 hits and TV shows in the 1970s and 1980s that helped her become one of country's most successful female vocalists of that period. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009. Born in Houston, Texas, the eldest daughter into a musical family, Mandrell was already reading music and playing accordion at age five. Six years later, she had become so adept at playing steel guitar that her father took her to a music trade convention in Chicago, where her talents caught the attention of Chet Atkins and Joe Maphis. Soon after, she became a featured performer in Maphis' Las Vegas nightclub show, followed by tours with Red Foley, Tex Ritter, and Johnny Cash. Her network TV debut came on the NBC-TV series Five Star Jubilee in 1961. While growing up, Mandrell learned to play the pedal steel and lap steel guitars and many other instruments, including the accordion, saxophone, and banjo. She played steel guitar for the legendary Patsy Cline, who once wrote to a friend that Mandrell was, "a 13-year-old blonde doll who plays the steel guitar out of this world! What a show woman!" Mandrell toured at age 13 with Cline, Johnny Cash, and George Jones. She also played guitar for Joe Maphis in Las Vegas and on the Town Hall Party show in Los Angeles. A couple of years later, Mandrell and her sisters Louise and Irlene, as well as her parents, founded the Mandrell Family Band. They toured across the United States and Asia. Their drummer, Ken Dudney, became Mandrell's husband shortly after graduating from Oceanside High School. Dudney later enlisted in the Navy, serving as a pilot, and was sent overseas. Mandrell decided that she would become a country singer and moved to Nashville. Her father was then her manager and with his help, she signed with Columbia Records in 1969. Over the next couple of years, Mandrell had a few minor hits. Her producer at the time was Billy Sherrill, known for producing other well-known singers in country music such as Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich, and Tanya Tucker.
    Barbara Mandrell married Ken Dudney on May 28, 1967. Dudney had been the drummer in the Mandrell Family Band. Mandrell and Dudney have three children, Kenneth Matthew Dudney (b. 1970), Jaime Nicole Dudney (b. 1976), and Nathaniel Mandrell Dudney (b. 1985).
    Photo Wikipedia   

    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    Julianna Margulies publishes children's book in tribute to late father

    Actress Julianna Margulies has paid tribute to her late father by publishing a children’s book he wrote for her and her two sisters when they were little. The star of The Good Wife has penned Three Magic Balloons, which is based on a tale her dad Paul used to recite when she was a child. After he passed away in 2014 at the age of 79, Julianna thought it was fitting for his wonderful story to be shared with the youngsters of today. “He was a special guy, and it feels good to be able to put something out into the world that he wrote,” she told People magazine. “It’s a very loving, sweet story, and it’s just about giving.” The book tells the story of three sisters whose father gives them money for treats at the zoo, but they use it to buy food for the animals instead. It has been illustrated by Grant Shaffer, who is married to Julianna’s co-star on the hit CBS drama Alan Cumming, and the 49-year-old thinks the pictures elevate the story to a whole new level. “A balloon man who has been watching them gives them magic balloons because they have kindness in their hearts,” she explained about the plot. “They tie them to their beds at night and the balloons make them go up, up, up into the sky, and all these angels and majestic animals come out to greet them. All because of the kindness that they show.” The actress thinks her father would be delighted to see his story being made available to other children so many years after he originally came up with the idea. “I think he would love it,” she smiled. “He wanted everyone to have love in their hearts. He hated any kind of animosity, he really wanted everyone to find peace. That’s what this book is bringing to people. I feel lucky enough that I could have gotten it out there for him. It’s just a really sweet, hopeful story that I think the world could use right now.” YOU

    Saturday, November 28, 2015

    Bing Crosby

    Twelve Days of Christmas Photo Wikipedia
    Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby, Jr. (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977)] was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark warm bass-baritone voice made him the best-selling recording artist of the 20th century, having sold over one billion records, tapes, compact discs and digital downloads around the world.

    Saturday, November 21, 2015

    Season's first snow is Chicago's largest November snowfall in 120 years By Marwa Eltagouri

    The season's first snowfall dropped as much as 17 inches across Chicago's northern suburbs, and the total of 11.2 inches at O'Hare International Airport made it the largest November snowfall in 120 years. The steady stream of snow began Friday evening and carried into Saturday, bringing cold winds and slushy puddles to Michigan Avenue. But it also fashioned a wintry backdrop to the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, transporting Chicagoans into a life-sized holiday snow globe. Lake County was walloped. By about 2 p.m. Saturday, there were reports of 17 inches in Grayslake, 16.5 in Hawthorn Woods, and 15.5 inches in Mundelein, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jamie Enderlen. McHenry County also was socked, with 13.6 inches in Bull Valley, 12.5 inches in Woodstock and 9.5 inches in Hebron by about 7 a.m. Saturday, according to the weather service. Communities further south saw less precipitation. Naperville had 6.4 inches of snow as of midafternoon, and Romeoville had 4.7 inches as of early evening, according to the weather service. Batavia had 7.5 inches by late afternoon. As of about 6 p.m. Saturday, 11.2 inches of snow was measured at O'Hare International Airport, where some airlines reported delays of up to 20 minutes and more than 260 flights were canceled. Midway Airport reported 5.8 inches. Naperville Sun reporter Susan Frick Carlman and freelance reporters Gary Gibula and Denys Bucksten contributed. Chicago Tribune

    Laith Al-Deen

    Bilder von Dir Photo
    Laith Al-Deen, born February 20, 1972 in Karlsruhe, Germany, is a German language pop musician. Born of an Iraqi father and German mother, Al-Deen grew up in the United States and Mannheim, Germany. He achieved his first fame with his debut album, Ich will nur wissen (English: I Only Want to Know), from which came his first two singles, Bilder von Dir (English: Pictures of you, German version of the 1995 hit Everlasting Pictures of B-Zet with Darlesia) and Kleine Helden (English: Little Heroes). His second album, Melomanie, released in 2002, resulted in the singles Dein Lied (English: Your Song) and Jetzt, Hier, Immer (English: Now, Here, Always), and was just as successful as his debut album. Al-Deen was also nominated for the Comet, a music award given by the German broadcaster VIVA in the category of Hip hop/R&B, which he declined, saying that he would only seek recognition for German-language music rather than an international award Wikipedia

    Thursday, November 19, 2015

    Tracy Porter at Poetic Wanderlust

    I'm keeping Pearl. As for our bedding it's available @macys @bedbathandbeyond @nordstrom @bloomingdales @dillards @belk Tracy Porter

    Adele’s Hello to New York, Plus Cate Blanchett at MoMA’s Film Benefit By Marshall Heyman

    Hello It isn’t really possible to overstate how special the Adele concert was on Tuesday night at Radio City Music Hall. The British singer, whose new album “25” will be released on Friday, hadn’t performed live in New York since 2011, so she was especially anxious and excited and giddy at the same time. The Wall Street Journal Photo

    Tuesday, November 17, 2015

    Should Gay, Endangered Penguins Be Forced to Mate? By John R. Platt

    What do you do when a species is rapidly disappearing in the wild and two of its most likely in-captivity studs decide to cuddle with each other instead of with eligible bachelorettes? That's the problem Toronto Zoo is encountering this week as two endangered male African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) recently brought to the zoo for breeding purposes seem more concerned with spending time with one another than with two eager females. Penguin homosexuality is not unknown in nature or in zoos, and although it's not yet known if Pedro (age 10) and Buddy (age 20) are actually homosexual, Toronto Zoo is already planning on separating them to more forcefully pair them with mates who already have a case of puppy love for the newcomers. It's kind of sad, actually. "The two girls have been following them; we just have to get the boys interested in looking at them," Tom Mason, the zoo's curator of birds and invertebrates, told the National Post. African penguins (also known as black-footed penguins) only live on South Africa's southern coast. Their population in the wild has dropped nearly 75 percent in the past two decades, from as estimated 225,000 in the 1990s to around 60,000 today, most likely due to changes in food availability brought on by climate change. The population drop is even more dramatic when you look at a broader time period. According to a 1999 IUCN report (pdf), just one of their breeding colonies was home to 1.4 million birds back in 1910. Other threats the penguins have faced include egg harvesting (a practice that is now prohibited) and numerous oil spills in their habitats. With the penguins' wild population at risk, zoos are actively taking up the breeding mantle. According to the National Post, "the sexual partners of almost all captive African penguins are carefully mapped out by researchers at Chicago's Population Management Center. There, penguins are paired, split up and even moved to different zoos purely on the basis of maximizing genetic diversity." Separating the two male penguins might be enough to get them breeding. A study released in 2010 by the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology and published in Ethnology found that supposedly gay penguins weren't solely attracted to the same gender, but were instead just "lonely." Scientific American Photo

    Friday, November 13, 2015

    Why music is good for you By Philip Ball

    A survey of the cognitive benefits of music makes a valid case for its educational importance. But that's not the best reason to teach all children music, says Philip Ball. Remember the Mozart effect? Thanks to a suggestion in 1993 that listening to Mozart makes you cleverer, there has been a flood of compilation CDs filled with classical tunes that will allegedly boost your baby's brain power. Yet there's no evidence for this claim, and indeed the original "Mozart effect" paper did not make it. It reported a slight, short-term performance enhancement in some spatial tasks when preceded by listening to Mozart as opposed to sitting in silence. Some follow-up studies replicated the effect, others did not. None found it specific to Mozart; one study showed that pop music could have the same effect on schoolchildren. It seems this curious but marginal effect stems from the cognitive benefits of any enjoyable auditory stimulus, which need not even be musical. The original claim doubtless had such inordinate impact because it plays to a long-standing suspicion that music makes you smarter. And as neuroscientists Nina Kraus and Bharath Chandrasekaran of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., point out in a review published July 20 in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, there is good evidence that music training reshapes the brain in ways that convey broader cognitive benefits. It can, they say, lead to "changes throughout the auditory system that prime musicians for listening challenges beyond music processing." This is no surprise. Many sorts of mental training and learning alter the brain, just as physical training alters the body, and learning-related structural differences between the brains of musicians and non-musicians are well established. Moreover, both neurological and psychological tests show that music processing draws on cognitive resources that are not music-specific, such as pitch processing, memory and pattern recognition--so cultivating these mental functions through music would naturally be expected to have a wider pay-off. The interactions are two-way: the pitch sensitivity imbued by tonal languages such as Mandarin Chinese, for example, enhances the ability to name a musical note just from hearing it (called absolute pitch). We can hardly be surprised, meanwhile, that music lessons improve children's IQ, given that they will nourish general faculties such as memory, coordination and attentiveness. Kraus and Chandrasekaran now point out that, thanks to the brain's plasticity (the ability to "rewire" itself), musical training sharpens our sensitivity to pitch, timing and timbre, and as a result our capacity to discern emotional intonation in speech, to learn our native and foreign languages, and to identify statistical regularities in abstract sound stimuli. Philip Ball's latest book is The Music Instinct (Bodley Head). Scientific American Photo 

    Thursday, November 12, 2015

    East-West Story: The Parallel Lives of Two World-Class Dancers By Samiha Shafy

    Joy Womack is from California, Sergei Polunin from a poor city in Ukraine. One went East to pursue a career in ballet, the other West. For both, talent has proven to be a double-edged sword.
    When she appears, the other dancers strike a quiet pose. She takes off, jumps and does a split mid-air in a swirl of white tulle. Her movements seem effortless, as if she requires no momentum at all -- not even a chance to catch her breath. She imperiously raises an arm, liberating the others from their paralysis. They fall into line behind her and follow her steps, for she is Myrtha, their leader, the Queen of the Ghost Girls in the ballet "Giselle." En pointe, with her head held high, the queen receives a round of applause. Then she glides away. Backstage, she lets herself fall on a yoga mat, panting and sweating. After a short pause, she's back to being Joy Womack, a 21-year-old from Santa Monica, California. In her company, the Kremlin Ballet Theater, she is one of the select few who dances solo. She is the first American to perform here, behind the walls of the Kremlin.
    Dreams of Ballet Stardom
    She lives for these moments. Womack is in Moscow because she wants to be one of the world's best dancers. She moved a lot closer to achieving her dream when, six years ago, she left the United States for the first time and traveled to Russia on her own. Today she is a prima ballerina in the ballet capital of the world. But she's still a bit shy of reaching her goal. Being here is a fight for survival. She is, as CNN reported in April, "the American dancing in the Kremlin for $8 a day." "Well," says Sergei Polunin, "I assume she agreed to these conditions herself." He has never met Womack. They come from different worlds. He hails from the East, while she is from the West. Yet theirs are similar stories of talent, the quest for perfection and childhoods that never were. Their lives are filled with agony and intoxication, triumph and defeat. Polunin, 25, is probably the most talented dancer of his generation. Critics compare him to Rudolf Nureyev, the dancer of the century. He was 19 when London's Royal Ballet conscripted him as the youngest First Soloist in its history. Today, Polunin gets to pick which world stage he wants to dance on. In the same week, he'll also be performing in Moscow at another staging of "Giselle" -- at the Bolshoi Theater, whose dance troupe is considered the most famous in the world. Polunin has achieved everything that Womack dreams of. And for him, that is cause for despair. A year ago, he was on the verge of giving it all up, Polunin explains, his voice soft and shy. He hated it, the drudgery and the pain -- and what for? Dancers torture their bodies and ruin their health, but even the best of them don't come close to earning as much as an opera singer or football player. The majority are exploited, Polunin says. "A ticket for a performance at the Bolshoi often costs more than a dancer earns in a month." At the high point of his existential crisis, Polunin met David LaChapelle. A British-American film team that had been following Polunin around arranged the meeting. The documentary film would be called "Dancer," but the protagonist already had bigger dreams of a Hollywood career now. Spiegel Online International Sergei Polunin

    Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin to Unite at Sadler’s Wells By Roslyn Sulcas

    LONDON — Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin, two of ballet’s biggest stars, will perform together in a program of new work by Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Arthur Pita at Sadler’s Wells next year. The theater announced the new partnership at a news conference on Thursday. It was the news about Ms. Osipova and Mr. Polunin that generated most excitement, however, particularly when they confirmed — after an intrepid question at the news conference — that they are a couple offstage. The Ukranian-born Mr. Polunin, who trained at the Royal Ballet School from the age of 13 and became the youngest-ever principal dancer at the Royal Ballet at 19, made headlines in 2012 when he abruptly quit the company, a year before Ms. Osipova joined it as a principal. Since then, Mr. Polunin has danced mostly with the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theater and the Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, and has been little seen in Britain. His solo performance in a video by David LaChapelle has had over 13 million hits to date. The program of new pieces, which is to be performed from June 29 to July 2 next year, will feature a duet by Mr. Maliphant for the pair, as well as “a dance prequel” to Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire,” by Mr. Pita. It is not Ms. Osipova’s first foray into contemporary work; last year she performed all over the world with Ivan Vasiliev in “Solo for Two,” which included new works by both Mr. Cherkaoui and Mr. Pita. With Mr. Polunin as her translator, Ms. Osipova, who has not danced because of injury for the last few months, said that she felt it was important to tackle new styles of dance while she was still young. As well as holding a principal dancer contract with the Royal Ballet, Ms. Osipova is a regular guest artist with American Ballet Theater and at La Scala. On Tuesday, the Bolshoi Ballet announced that she will be a regular guest star over the next season. International New York Times

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015

    Government dismisses Moody's report, calls it opinion of junior analyst

    NEW DELHI: Government today dismissed a recent report quoted to Moody's Analytics, saying it was the personal opinion of a junior analyst which was passed off as a commentary on India by a rating agency "by the media to buttress the narrative it wants to portray." "It is with regret the Government of India notes the irresponsible and distorted reporting by certain sections of the Indian media on what was the personal opinion of a Junior Associate Economist employed with Moody's Analytics," an official release said. The Economic Times Photo

    Sunday, November 1, 2015

    Behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil By Gurveen Kaur

    It is 1pm on a Friday and just days before Cirque du Soleil's production of Totem opens here. In one corner of the troupe's tent - the training and preparation area for the 46 cast members - three women are sewing sequins onto dazzling costumes and adjusting the mane on a mask. Farther inside, a young man bounces 5m into the air on a pole held by two burly men, while another spins and jumps through hoops. Elsewhere, a massage therapist is kneading the back of a cast member, while the sound of weights clinking and powerful roars can be heard at the other end. The artistic tent - which includes a fully equipped training area, gym, dressing rooms, wardrobe area and physiotherapy room - stands alongside the trademark big top where the show takes place, the kitchen, entrance tent and offices housed in large steel containers. Welcome to Cirque du Soleil's mobile village, located next to Marina Bay Sands in Bayfront Avenue. Says Eric Hernandez, 25, a hoop dancer who is in two of 11 acrobatic acts: "Besides rehearsals, we pretty much decide when we want to train and practise. Many of us have been in the Totem production for so long that we know what to do." Since its premiere in 2010, Totem has been performed more than 1,600 times in 32 cities in seven countries including the United States, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Company manager Genevieve Deslandes says: "Our artists are professionals; they have competed in gymnastics or performed in circuses around the world. We can advise them on training routines, but most of them know exactly what their bodies need." Rehearsals for each act follow a specific schedule each week. On average, the cast performs eight to 10 shows a week in each city. They travel from one place to another for most of the year with a support team of 72 technicians and other staff. Each cast member is responsible for decorating his own face too. Between cities, they get a break of one to two weeks, says Ms Deslandes. They also head home once or twice a year for two to three weeks. The troupe is made up of performers from 17 countries including Belarus, China and Australia. A performer might be on stage for less than 10 minutes during the 2-1/2-hour show but he spends hours training every day. Canadian Sarah Tessier, 24, who is one half of the fixed trapeze duo, says: "Our act is only about seven minutes but warming up, practising and putting on make-up can take up to four hours before each show." Cast members are disciplined in the maintenance of their bodies and perfecting their routines. Tessier says it can be a challenge to do the same act over and over again. She has performed her routine more than 1,000 times. She adds: "The repetition and staying alert can be tough, but knowing that it is the audience's first time seeing the act makes us give 100 per cent each time." For the duo, it was a dream come true to join the world-renowned troupe. They both trained at the National Circus School in Montreal, Canada, and were selected for Cirque du Soleil in 2012. While most of the performers have to go through auditions, Russian acrobat Nikita Moiseev was born into the troupe. "We are one big happy family who support one another and have formed deep connections," he says. The Straits Times Photo

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015

    Christmas-crazy Cambridge pub pulls out all the stops

    A Cambridge pub has pulled out all the stops to kick Christmas cheer into overdrive. David Utting, who owns The Empress on Thoday Street, has decked the halls of the pub with lashings of tinsel, lights and decorations in anticipation of the festive season. Mr Utting said it takes weeks for him and his employees to decorate even a single room, and they could be working "all through the day, for hours and hours". He said: "People keep saying, 'Dave, it's not even Hallowe'en yet, and I tell them, 'do you know how long this stuff takes to put up?'." "All the walls are covered in chimney brick work, which is like wallpaper, so that takes a long time to do. Then we have probably around 60 or 70 sets of lights to put up, and then we have got probably 500 baubles. It's beautiful." The interior is also adorned with teddy bears and models of snowmen and santa. Crackers and seasonal socks hang like wintery stalactites. Members of staff wear Santa hats and Mr Utting has his very own elf costume. But if you think all these decorations come cheap, think again. "Every year I spend a little bit extra," he said. "And over a period of about nine years, you can imagine how much stuff I have collected. I spend about two or three grand a year." Mr Utting was ill last year and was forced to scale back decorations. This year, however, customers have really noticed the difference, he said. "People know I'm going for it this year. They've come up to me and said 'this looks really cool, Dave'." Following in The Empress tradition, free food will be served on Christmas day. Mr Utting said of last year's event, "we did a roast dinner for free for people, but it was a lot of work for my wife. "Still, this year we'll be doing Shepherd's Pie for free. I don't need the money and it's what Christmas is all about. I don't mind putting out a few trays." "It's really nice to do it for the local community." Cambridge News

    Monday, October 26, 2015

    Bernie Sanders Greets Trick-or-Treaters By Ethan Kuperberg

    All right, all right, you don’t have to shout. You want a treat or you’ll trick me. Makes sense. Silly? A little. But also? Very aggressive. I like aggressive. You’re good people. Hardworking. You’ve got families. And the fact that you can’t simply earn the treats you deserve, you’ve gotta go around begging, I don’t like saying this, but here’s the reality: it’s an international embarrassment. Everyone on the block knows it. You? What are you supposed to be? A ghost? Very nice. Very cute, with the sheet. I dressed up as a ghost a few times, too, back in Brooklyn. It’s a fine costume. Maybe you’ll get a fun-size Snickers, if you’re lucky. But let me tell you who the real ghost is. The American middle class. And it’s not just a white blanket with some scissor holes in it. It’s actually disappearing. And it’s certainly had enough tricks, let me tell you. By the way, I’ve spent a lot of time living in scary-looking houses. I don’t give a damn about ghosts. What are you? Speak up, I can’t hear you. A vampire? Huh. With the black suit and the fangs? I thought you were some sorta Wall Street guy. My mistake. I apologize. But let’s cut the B.S.—nothing’s scarier than living in an oligarchy. Not even those pointy fingernails. What’s that on your mouth there? Fake blood? You spent actual American dollars on fake blood? Listen to me. Get some ketchup. Squirt it out and wipe it on your mouth. That’s it. Cheaper than any fake blood you’ll buy at a corporate Halloween chain store. You don’t even need name-brand ketchup. Now take the money you saved on fake blood and invest it in a strong national grassroots movement—we’re not asking for much more than thirty dollars. I mean, stand up and organize. For God’s sake, organize. Well, aren’t you a cute little ballerina? Let’s not sit on the fence here—you’re not going to get all the treats you deserve until we start a serious discussion about why you are all walking more blocks for less candy than ever before. You can wave that pirate sword all you want, young man, but I’m telling you it’s shortsighted. You won’t fill up those pillowcases until you demand treats from every house—goddam it, from the entire neighborhood. I hear that some people in the gated community down the road even give out full-size 3 Musketeers bars. But only if they decide that your costume is good enough. Disgraceful. Let me ask you kids something. What do you really care about? Because, let’s be honest, dressing up is a distraction from the real issues. Look at this block. Who’s giving out the candy? A tiny group of individuals. And they’re diverting you with their decorations—the cobwebs, the skeletons, all that candle-in-a-pumpkin hullabaloo. But who’s doing the walking? Who’s doing the doorbell-ringing? Who’s doing the suggestion of tricking? Which, might I add, is something you all must continue to do in such a highly competitive neighborhood economy. Who’s doing the work? You are. The unequal distribution of treats is the great issue of our time. And I’m sick of— Hey, stop crying. You, little boy dressed as a banana, what’s with the tears? Sponge who? You’re a sponge-blob with a square dance? I’ve never heard of such a thing. I thought you were a banana. Look, I’ve got no time for made-up nonsense if we’re going to save the middle class. And neither do any of you. As for treats, I’ve got a loaf of bread, only one day old, I’ve got a couple of Altoids, and if anybody wants they can pet my cat. The New Yorker

    Sunday, October 18, 2015

    Baryshnikov Arts Center Receives $3 Million Gift from Nureyev Foundation By Jennifer Schuessler

    The Baryshnikov Arts Center, which turns 10 years old this year, has received a $3 million birthday check from the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation. The gift is the first toward a permanent endowment for the center, which provides artistic residencies and presents some 20 shows a year at its two-theater facility in the Hudson Yards area of Manhattan. One of the studios there will be named for Mr. Nureyev, who died in 1993 and trained at the same ballet academy in St. Petersburg as Mr. Baryshnikov. “This gift attaches his name to something I think he championed — artists experimenting, challenging themselves to do better, taking risks,” Mr. Baryshnikov told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the gift. The Baryshnikov Arts Center opened in 2005 with the mission of creating a gathering place for artists of all disciplines. The fall season includes shows by the puppeteer Ronnie Burkett, the Aakash Odedra dance company and the experimental theater director Daniel Fish. The gift is the largest yet made by the Nureyev foundation, which is based in Chicago and has disbursed some $12 million over the past 20 years, according to Barry L. Weinstein, its board chairman. “The gift is intended as a meaningful tribute to one of the world’s greatest dancers, Rudolf Nureyev,” Mr. Weinstein said in an interview. While the gift is intended specifically to support dance at the center, he added, both Mr. Nureyev and Mr. Baryshnikov were “connected by being nourished by an appreciation of all the arts.” International New York Times Photo Wikipedia

    Saturday, October 17, 2015


    A post at Tía-Bonita Blog March 29, 2010. It's about coffee today and am very pleased that the grocery in walking distance carries my brand . . . Dallmayr. A visit to the Dallmayr store in Munich is a sensory experience -- a kind of Dean & Deluca of Germany. You walk into the Dallmayr store and a blast of fragrance hits you and you're immediately drawn into the gourmet of all specialties -- especially those folks preparing for the holidays. Although, despite its sensational charm, it lacks the very essence of "gift exchange". An American walks into the store hoping to find a holiday basket as a gift, and there's next to none. If any, a small bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates, not even decorated, just product. A German walks into the store and darts for the cheese and dried meats showcase and is inundated by crowds of people wearing heavy obtrusive clothing and sassy handbags -- the who's who of Munich, which could be interesting, although not imminently. It takes a good couple of minutes for the American to settle into the Dallmayr culture and not feel annoyed. You tour the store, you wait elbow-to-elbow with guests, you order, you've finally got your Dallmayr bags -- sans holiday baskets -- you're thinking * fine * you're moving towards the door, it's pouring rain outside, and you wonder, "would it be better if i stay and order a cappuccino"? Photo

    Friday, October 16, 2015

    What Adults Need to Know about Pediatric Depression By Deborah Serani

    Research shows that children, even babies, experience depression. The clinical term is called Pediatric Depression, and rates are higher now than ever before. In the United States alone, evidence suggests that up to 1% of babies, 4 percent of preschool-aged children, 5 percent of school-aged children, and 11 percent of adolescents meet the criteria for major depression. According to American Association of Suicidology, Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in adolescents ages 15 to 24, and is the 6th leading cause of death in children ages 5 to14. Suicide is significantly linked to depression, so early diagnosis and treatment of Pediatric Depression is not just extremely important – it is life-saving. The fields of neurology, psychology, psychiatry and pediatrics started tracking symptoms of longing, sadness and anxiety in children, which helped launch the official discipline of child psychiatry in 1920. Many pioneers like Melanie Klein, John Bowlby, Anna Freud, D.W. Winnicott, Rene Spitz, and Erick Erickson broadened the field of child depression, detailing theories on trauma, despair and melancholic reactions in children. But it would take almost a century more for science to truly root itself in the belief that children could, without a doubt, have depression. The 21st century showed a rapid growth of clinical interest in mood disorders in children, influenced by advances in medical technology and the field of neurobiology joining forces with psychology and psychiatry. Evidenced based research studies started streaming in, each one validating aspects of pediatric depression, its symptoms, etiology and methods of treatment. Scientists agreed that though children had immature and underdeveloped affective (emotional) and cognitive (thinking) skills, depression was something they can experience. Children have mood changes, are capable of having negative thoughts, and tend to show depressive symptoms in more behavioral ways. Examples like joyless facial responses, listless body posture, unresponsive eye gaze, slowed physical reactions and irritable or fussy mannerisms, just to name a few. Not only did studies confirm the existence of Pediatric Depression, but distinctive symptoms were seen in differing stages of childhood. These results widened the scope of understanding depression in children, and helped highlight that patterns of depression vary with a child’s age. So, the history of Pediatric Depression began with a steadfast “No way it could ever be” to a more thoughtful “Oh yes it can,” to a postmodern “and it’s intricately unique.”

    Facts Every Adult Should Know

    1. Myth: Depression looks the same in children as it does in adults.
    False. Children don’t have the verbal language or cognitive savvy to express the textures of depression. Instead, body symptoms like aches and pains, fatigue, and slowness present as can tearfulness, unrealistic feelings of guilt, isolation and irritability.
    3. Myth: Pediatric Depression will go away on its own.
    False: A serious mental illness cannot be willed away or brushed aside with a change in attitude. Ignoring the problem doesn’t give it the slip either. Depression is a serious, but treatable illness, with a success rate of upwards of 80% for children who receive intervention.
    5. Myth: The risk of suicide for children is greatly exaggerated.
    False. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in adolescents ages 15 to 24, and is the 6th leading cause of death in children ages 5 to14. Suicide is significantly linked to depression, so early diagnosis and treatment of Pediatric Depression is extremely important.
    6. Myth: There are no proven treatments to treat Pediatric Depression.
    False. Volumes of studies show that talk therapy treatments like play therapy, family therapy, and individual therapy offer significant improvements for children who experience depression. Upwards of 80% of children who receive treatment move into remission. The other 20% may require medication to help with their illness – and, though this is often a hot topic for controversy, there are evidenced-based studies that support this as a treatment option.
    7. Myth: Antidepressants will change a child’s personality.
    False. Antidepressants normalize the ranges of moods in children who have a mood disorder – and will not change your child’s personality what-so-ever.
    9. Myth: When a depressed child refuses help, there’s nothing parents can do.
    False. If your child refuses to go to talk therapy or take medication, there are things you can do. You can seek therapy with a trained mental health specialist to learn how to help your child in spite of the fact that he won’t attend sessions. In a crisis situation, you can drive your child to the nearest hospital emergency room, or contact family, friends or the local police for assistance in getting him there.
    10. Myth: Seriously depressed children CANNOT lead productive lives.
    False: Many children with depression can grow up to live full, productive lives. In fact, many high profile people, including President Abraham Lincoln, Writer J.K. Rowlings, Artist Michelangelo, Actor Harrison Ford, Choreographer Alvin Ailey, Actress Courteney Cox, Entrepreneur Richard Branson, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Rocker Bruce Springsteen and Baseballer Ken Griffey, Jr. have been very successful in their chosen professions – despite struggling with depression in their young lives. If you suspect that a child is struggling with depression, immediately contact a physician. Share your concerns and plan for a full medical evaluation to begin this diagnostic process. Once medical tests show no other reason for the fatigue, sadness, aches and pains that often come with depression, a mental health professional will evaluate further for this pediatric mood disorder.
    Pediatric Depression is a serious, but treatable disorder. And there is great hope for healing when detected early. Scientific American Photo

    Thursday, October 15, 2015

    Celine Dion and R. Kelly

    I'm Your Angel

    Céline Marie Claudette Dion, born 30 March 1968) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, businesswoman and occasional actress. Born into a large family from Charlemagne, Quebec, Dion emerged as a teen star in the French-speaking world after her manager and future husband René Angélil mortgaged his home to finance her first record. In 1990, she released the English-language album Unison, establishing herself as a viable pop artist in North America and other English-speaking areas of the world. Celine Dion's music has been influenced by genres ranging from rock and R&B to gospel and classical. Her recordings are mainly in French and English, although she also sings in Spanish, Italian, German, Latin, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. While her releases have often received mixed critical reception, she is renowned for her technically skilled and powerful vocals. Dion has won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for Falling Into You and Record of the Year for "My Heart Will Go On". She is the second best-selling female artist in the US during the Nielsen SoundScan era, with her albums Falling Into You and Let's Talk About Love both certified Diamond in the US, In addition, her 1995 album D'eux, is the best-selling French-language album of all time. In 2004, after surpassing 175 million in album sales worldwide, she was presented with the Chopard Diamond Award at the World Music Awards for becoming the best-selling female artist of all time. Dion remains the best-selling Canadian artist in history and one of the best-selling artists of all time with record sales of more than 200 million copies worldwide. Wikipedia

    Robert Sylvester Kelly (born January 8, 1967), known professionally as R. Kelly, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, rapper and former professional basketball player. A native of Chicago, Illinois, [he is] often referred to as the King of R&B. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has recognized R. Kelly as one of the best-selling music artists in the United States with 40 million albums sold as well as only the fifth black artist to crack the top 50 of the same list. In March 2011, R. Kelly was named the most successful R&B artist of the last 25 years by Billboard. Kelly has released 12 solo studio albums, and sold over 100 million records worldwide making him the most successful R&B male artist of the 1990s and also one of the best selling musical artists of all time. He has been credited for helping redefine R&B and hip hop, earning the nicknames "King of R&B" and "King of Pop-Soul". He is listed by Billboard as the most successful R&B/Hip Hop artist of the past 25 years (1985-2010) and also the most successful R&B artist in history. Throughout his career, Kelly has won numerous awards, including a Guinness World Records as well as countless of other awards like Grammy, BET, Soul Train, Billboard, NAACP and American Music Award. Wikipedia Photo ABC News

    Tuesday, October 13, 2015

    Bruce Hornsby

    Mandolin Rain Photo

    Bruce Randall Hornsby (born November 23, 1954) is an American singer and keyboardist known for the spontaneity and creativity of his live performances. Hornsby draws frequently from classical, jazz, bluegrass, folk, Motown, gospel, rock, blues, and jam band musical traditions with his songwriting and the seamless improvisations contained within.
    Hornsby's recordings have been recognized on a number of occasions with industry awards, including the 1987 Grammy Award for Best New Artist with Bruce Hornsby and the Range, the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album, and the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Hornsby has also achieved recognition for his solo albums and performances, his touring band Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, his bluegrass project with Ricky Skaggs and his appearances as a session- and guest-musician. He also collaborated with Grateful Dead and was an unofficial member of the band from September 1990 to March 1992, playing at over 100 shows during that period. Wikipedia

    Saturday, October 10, 2015

    Basel chef Peter Knogl gains third Michelin star By Caroline Bishop

    The Basel region now has its first three Michelin-starred restaurant after chef Peter Knogl at the Hôtel Trois Rois received his third star in the 2016 Michelin guide to Switzerland, published on Thursday. German chef Knogl, who arrived to run the Cheval Blanc restaurant at the famous Basel hotel in 2007, achieved his first star by the end of that year and his second a year later. The 47-year-old now joins only two other chefs in Switzerland – Benoît Violier at the Hôtel de Ville in Crissier and Andreas Caminada at the Schloss Schauenstein in Fürstenau – in holding three Michelin stars, generally acknowledged as the highest accolade possible for a chef. Revealing the new guide, Michael Ellis, international director of the Michelin guides, said in a statement that Knogl’s cuisine “hasn’t stopped evolving over the last few years”. He praised the chef’s “refined ideas” which make dining at his restaurant “a unique experience”. Reacting to the achievement, Knogl said it was “a life-long dream come true”. “The choice of our inspectors, who work independently and anonymously, confirms once again for 2016 the high level of Swiss gastronomy and reflects the huge culinary diversity in the country,” said Ellis. He also praised Switzerland’s mix of traditional restaurants and innovative, modern establishments. The Local Switzerland

    Why Leonardo DiCaprio should win an Academy Award By Héctor Llanos Martínez and Martin Delfin

    The eternal nominee might finally pick up his first Oscar for Iñárritu’s ‘The Revenant’

    He is infallible as an actor; his conservation work fills the pages of newspapers, while at the same time hundreds of magazines are quick to publish photos of him and his latest girlfriend.
    So why hasn’t Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar? The 40-year-old actor has spent half his life trying to win an Academy Award, and now many are saying his time has come with his role in The Revenant, a western-thriller directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. The new film by the Mexican director – whose Birdman scooped four awards at this year’s Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director – focuses on the survival of a fur-trapper who is left for dead and abandoned somewhere in the Dakota mountains by his hunting companions. As well as being one of the favorites for next year’s awards ceremony, the film is almost entirely carried by DiCaprio and in certain ways is centered on his brilliance. Both the director and actor undertook a filming odyssey in the snow-filled landscapes of Calgary, Canada, and will be hoping to be recognized for their efforts when the Oscar nominations are announced in mid-January. EL PAÍS

    The Revenant Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man's epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. THE REVENANT is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker, Academy Award (R) winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel). (C) Fox Rotten Tomatoes Photo

    Friday, October 9, 2015

    Rome's Spanish Steps Closed for Bulgari-funded makeover

    ROME (AFP) - Rome's famous Spanish Steps closed to the public Wednesday for a restoration project funded by luxury jeweller Bulgari that is expected to last several months. Bulgari, bought in 2011 by French luxury giant LVMH, is putting €1.5 million (S$2.3 million) into the refurbishment. The 18th-century Baroque-style stairway, which has 144 steps, was last restored 20 years ago. The work, which will be carried out by local restorer Il Cenacolo, is expected to be finished by spring 2016, at which point the steps will be "restored to the whole world in all their beauty and splendour," Rome mayor Ignazio Marino said. The steps will be closed to pedestrians until Dec 7 - the start of a special Jubilee year expected to draw millions of Catholic pilgrims to Rome - after which a side ramp will be opened to allow access to tourists. "Rome has always been the number one source of inspiration for Bulgari, so it is right to give back to Rome what Rome has given Bulgari," the jeweller's CEO Jean-Christophe Babin said as work began. The work includes re-levelling the steps to repair natural wear and maintenance of the rainwater drainage system, as well as restoring the original lamps which illuminate the steps by night. The Spanish Steps, which links Bernini's "boat" fountain with the Trinita dei Monti church at the top, were made famous in the United States by the 1953 film Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Bulgari pledged the money last year in response to a government plea for help in financing Italy's heritage monuments. The private sector is already helping restore other Unesco monuments: in Rome, luxury shoemaker Tod's is financing works at the Colosseum, while high-end fashion house Fendi is refurbishing the Trevi Fountain. The Straits Times Photo

    Wednesday, October 7, 2015

    Roman Holiday By Paula Diperna

    With some time to kill waiting in Rome for a bus to Abruzzo, I was planning on a nice Sunday lunch in the city center. I took a taxi from the station to the Via Margutta. The cab approached my destination and the streets were throbbing with tourists. I was suddenly gripped by the need to get far away. “Never mind, let’s leave,” I said to the taxi driver, who had been gently threading his way through the ancient pathways of the eternal city. “Let’s go instead to the Piazza Bologna,” I said, which was near the bus station. “I’ll have lunch there.” “But do you know that’s the other direction completely?” the driver asked. I said so be it, and I would explain en route. I explained that even though I was a tourist, I preferred not to be surrounded by them. I added that I was headed to Abruzzo to visit relatives. His face broke into a huge smile, “I also have relatives there, signora.” With that, he unleashed a cascade of helpful hints: Abruzzo was “wild and known to be tough but gracious;” the bus station could be dangerous and I should be very careful. The driver took me to a restaurant in the Bologna neighborhood. He kindly put my bags on the sidewalk and we said goodbye. The day was unrolling perfectly, thanks to this fellow. When I later told my relatives about his niceties, they said it had to be a miracle. Ten days later, I was back in Rome, this time with a full-day. I had no agenda, but a Dutch couple I had met had raved about a sculpture they had seen by chance — “Il Pugile,” a first-century A.D. bronze of an exhausted boxer. So contagious was their passion for it that I decided I should see it too. My hotel concierge spent about 30 minutes on the Web trying to locate the piece. He found it, but when I got to the museum, the guard told me the Pugile was elsewhere, in another museum on the other side of the city. Not to be thwarted, I crossed town. The Dutch woman had eloquently called the piece “a kind of time machine, defying any moment.” And she was right. The spent hero sat slumped, hands wrapped, nose broken, head turned in amazement at his survival, it seemed, though one couldn’t actually tell whether he had won or lost his match. I couldn’t take my eyes off “Il Pugile.” I, too, was awed by its silent drama. Still reflecting on my good fortune of receiving this tip from strangers, I stepped onto the street, and decided to go back to the “wrong” museum, which I had given short shrift. I hailed a cab. The driver squinted with disbelief at me, me at him. “You!” we exclaimed in unison. Here was the very same fellow of my Sunday afternoon escapade nearly two weeks ago. He went on about destiny: “Signora, this is impossible. It has never happened to me before in all my years of driving. Do you know how many cabs there are in Rome? Eight thousand at least! Only fate could have brought you to my cab again.” Indeed. I’ve never gotten the same taxi driver twice in any city, and it seemed incredible that a search for Sunday lunch had somehow connected Abruzzo, a random Dutch couple, “Il Pugile,” me and him. Ever helpful, he recommended I not miss the Caravaggio paintings at San Luigi dei Francesi, which was near where I was headed. He dropped me off and again we said goodbye, both delighted with the turn of events. Friends have asked me why I didn’t take his name, but I think it’s because our calling card is not who we are, but the indelible joy and memory of the unexpected experience we had shared. Paula DiPerna is an environmental policy adviser and author who lives in Cooperstown, New York. International New York Times Photo

    Tuesday, October 6, 2015

    Gold Standard Oscar Watch: 'The Martian,' 'Steve Jobs' and 'Bridge of Spies' make their cases By Glenn Whipp

    Days are getting shorter, pumpkin spices are contaminating our coffee and beer, and the temperatures in L.A. are dropping into the 80s.All of which means it's high time to roll out the season's first Oscar Watch column, where, every Monday, I'll chronicle the smiles, the frowns, the ups, the downs of the film awards season, culminating with the Academy Awards in February.

    'Bridge of Spies'

    Steven Spielberg's Cold War thriller premiered Sunday at the New York Film Festival, but not as one of the event's prestigious opening, closing or centerpiece slots. That put expectations in check and, it would seem from the initial response, correctly so, as words such as "low-key" and "unassuming" were bandied about when the closing credits came up. There would appear, initially at least, to be a generation divide at work here with older critics, those who have been around long enough to remember, you know, the Soviet Union, showering the movie with respect and love, while the youngsters are having none of it, calling "Spies" a "schmaltzy bore." Fortunately for Spielberg and actors Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance (who has a showy role as a Soviet spy), the academy is made up of people predisposed to love this kind of classical filmmaking. And the story, chronicling lawyer James B. Donovan’s negotiations for the release of downed U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, is a stirring celebration of personal integrity ... with a Coen brothers co-authorship credit. There are going to be a lot of older academy members eager to line up behind that.   

    Movie Info

    Tom Hanks stars as the American attorney tasked with negotiating the release of a U-2 spy plane pilot who was shot down over Russia at the height of the Cold War in this historical drama from DreamWorks Studios. Steven Spielberg and Mark E. Platt produce a film written by Matt Charman. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi Los Angeles Times Rotten Tomatoes

    Saturday, September 26, 2015

    Graphic Syria: An interview with Riad Sattouf By Nadja Vancauwenberghe

    Riad Sattouf's two tomes (The Arab of the Future I and II) were huge successes in France and undeniably the big hype at this year's Graphic Novel Day at the Literature Festival. Following many bestselling comics (like Handbook for a Virgin) and strips in French media including in Charlie Hebdo (The Secret Life of Young People), the cartoonist and filmmaker finally risked straight autobiography and revisited his childhood in Gaddafi's Libya and (Hafez) Assad's Syria in the 1980s. The son of a French-Breton mother and Syrian father, Sattouf was born in Paris but lived until age 11 (except for two years in Libya) in Ter Maaleh, a small village near Homs. The Arab follows Riad, an adorable little boy with delicate French manners and flowing blond locks, to the brutal, archaic world of his dad's native Syria – a remote village rife with violence against dogs, women and children, and where anti-Semitism is just another facet of the surrounding superstitious ignorance. Told without any political subtext but with humorous simplicity, The Arab displays Sattouf's trademark genius in expressing volumes through the sharp observation of the most mundane reality. Appearing in English next month (it's already been translated into 15 languages, including German), this must-read transcends political passions and refreshingly brings a Syrian chronicle down to eye-level – that of a small boy with a healthy cat's curiosity and an elephant's memory.
    After Jeremie (No Sex in New York ), Pascal (Pascal Brutal) and even Esther (Esther's Notebooks), Riad is finally the hero of your books. Why now? It was something I had in mind for many years now. But the trigger was when I found myself helping part of my Syrian family come to France. It was a difficult process – and my idea was to describe what we had to go through with immigration authorities, etc. But then I thought it would make sense to tell the whole story – from the beginning.
    Despite all his shortcomings, are you thankful to your dad for something?
    Yes! See, in principle given his education level we should have been sent to a big city – Damascus or Aleppo – but he absolutely wanted to go back to the village where he grew up. So it was bizarre, almost surreal. We were put in a position to see and experience things we shouldn't have normally seen or experienced. I shouldn't have lived with farmers and gone to such a school. In Damascus I would have been sent to the International French School and hung out with the Syrian bourgeoisie. So I'm grateful he got me to see all that, to meet the people I met in that school, people who will never be given the chance to talk about their lives – and I'm glad I could do that in my book. It was great luck that I could witness that life, and... that I could get out of it! EXBERLINER Photo

    Thursday, September 24, 2015

    Dieses beklemmende Bild eines Flüchtlingskinds zeigt, warum Syrer ihre Heimat verlassen müssen

    A picture created by a young Syrian in Passau, the picture on the left of his/her country Syria and its devastation and horror, and the picture on the right of his/her arrival in Germany. He/She writes "Polizi" which is Polizei meaning Police. The Police are managing the arrival of the Migrants at the train station and some are staying in Passau and others are being shuttled via Police Buses to other nearby cities for accomodations and care. Focus

    Peter Cornelius

    Du entschuldige I kenn' di Photo