Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, October 17, 2021

Sci-opera Doctor Atomic has made its way to New York City, and I want to see it.

The thing is, it wouldn’t be cheap: The Metropolitan Opera seating chart starts at $80 a pop for decent seats. Day-of standing-room seats are cheap enough at 20 bucks, but I’m not much for camping out at Lincoln Center; plus it’s they’re not ideal for taking female companionship.

I could still see springing for it, because I’ve been intrigued by this operatic handling of the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project ever since first reading about it three years ago. I’d especially like to see the abstract rendition of the climactic Alamogordo test blast, because it sounds understatedly awesome:

And how does this opera with the most horrific of endings actually end? Not with a bang or a mushroom cloud - [composer John] Adams and [director Peter] Sellars are far too canny to try to pull that off - but not with a whimper, either.

Instead, there’s a skittering, anxious quality to the countdown, with the odd chime and muted trumpet, electronic scream and mournful chorus poking out of the orchestra’s dissonant chords. Then comes the glimmer of light from a distance, ambient street noise, the murmur of voices, the sound of a baby and, finally, a woman speaking calmly in Japanese.

Bringing the immensity of the bomb down to such an intimate, human level was a powerful piece of theater.

I’m hoping that still how they’re closing this performance. I’d say that that’s worth 80 bones. Better yet, maybe someone at the Met will comp me a couple of tickets, so I can blog-review it later (dare to dream)…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/17/2008 06:06:07 PM
Category: Creative, History, New Yorkin', Science
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I daresay it doesn’t get much more ’80s than Norwegian one-hit wonders a-ha, and of course their one hit, “Take On Me”.

That ultra-pop representation of the Lost Decade is what makes this too-literal comedic cover of the video’s lyrics so amusing:

I can’t decide which falsetto chorus refrain I like better: “Band Montage!” or “Pipe Wrench Fight!”. They both say just so much.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/17/2008 03:43:52 PM
Category: Comedy, Internet, Pop Culture
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Last month, when the head of the Nobel Prize for Literature award jury dissed Americans for being “too isolated, too insular” and generally too ignorant to compete for the big prize, he was basically telegraphing the eventual win by French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio.

If that insularity is real, it’s thanks to a pathetically low level of translated works making its way Stateside:

Only about 3 percent of all books published in the United States are works that have been translated, laments David Kipen, director of Literature and National Reading Initiatives at the National Endowment for the Arts. In terms of literary fiction, the number falls below 1 percent, according to the blog Three Percent.

I’ll invoke the previous time I’ve touched upon this dynamic: Contrary to the rest of the publishing industry, graphic novels in the U.S. are fairly dominated by international entrants. I’m not sure how many of those are translations, but I’m guessing the majority are (i.e., the graphic novel market isn’t flooded by British, Canadian, and Australian titles). Besides, not to warp the above numbers, but “translations” can be applied to the cultural as well as the language — the reader is exposed to a worldview originating from outside the U.S., thereby breaking down some of that literary isolation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/17/2008 03:08:32 PM
Category: Publishing, Society
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