December 29, 2011 |
MOST ATHLETES train for years in hopes of accomplishing a feat worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records. The 900 teenagers poised to gain the title for most dreidels spinning at once in a single place had about 20 minutes of warm-up time before trying for the record book yesterday in a ballroom at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. The four-sided spinning top is part of the tradition of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, and there are different ways to approach the art of dreidel-spinning.
November 18, 2011 |
George Smiley, the soft-spoken, reticent, aging MI6 officer featured in five of John le Carré's best novels, is one of the most memorable, and moving, fictional spies in the genre. That is partly because of Alec Guinness, who played Smiley in two British Broadcasting Corp. mini-series, 1979's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and 1982's Smiley's People . Acorn Media has released both series to coincide with the Dec. 6 release of Tomas Alfredson's big-screen remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy , featuring Gary Oldman as Smiley.
November 12, 2011 |
In some classical music circles, the ultimate put-down is declaring some famous conductor as the world's greatest interpreter of The Pines of Rome - usually implying a shallow personality and huge ego. Fortunately, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has solid depth credentials, if not from European radio broadcasts of his Mahler Symphony No. 9 then from last week's Brahms A German Requiem with the Philadelphia Orchestra. So Friday afternoon's concert at the Kimmel Center was about having some high-tone fun in a mid-to-lightweight program, ending with a Pines of Rome that left the audience pleasantly stunned, not unlike last week's German Requiem . If there's one consistent characteristic with the orchestra's next music director, it's this: Agree or not with his interpretive ideas, he stands behind them, fully committed.
August 27, 2011
The Guard Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle are the improbable cop duo in John Michael McDonagh's (brother of In Bruges' Martin McDonagh) blisteringly funny Irish country caper, in which a brazenly irregular constable and a straight FBI guy go on the hunt for big-time drug smugglers. Flurries of wild, irreverent dialogue and pints of dark, creamy Guinness ensue. R Our Idiot Brother Paul Rudd has the title role - as an exasperatingly naive stoner stumblebum - in this good-natured, goofy comedy.
August 12, 2011 |
BUDDY-COP FILMS have jumped every shark in the sea, but "The Guard" imagines a wickedly funny fish-out-of-water twist. An incorruptible black FBI man travels to rural West Ireland to coordinate a big international drug bust. His only real ally among the useless local cops is an abrasive bugger with a taste for drugs, prostitutes, Russian literature and racist wisecracks. Sgt. Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) hasn't got much use for the niceties of the law. If he finds drugs at the scene of a car crash, he'll swallow them.
March 31, 2011 |
LONDON - No need to bell this cat: A gray-and-white tabby named Smokey has cat-apulted to fame with purring so loud it has been recorded at a potentially record-setting 73 decibels. The British community college that measured the sound said it peaked at 16 times louder than that of the average cat. By some estimates, that is about as noisy as busy traffic, a hair dryer or a vacuum cleaner. The 12-year-old, ordinary-size feline first came to national attention last month when her owner, Ruth Adams, decided to run a local competition for the most powerful purr.
January 8, 2011 |
Coming into view slowly before he takes the post of music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2012, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has only begun to fill out a public profile, and what the public thinks of him inevitably hinges on what expectations one harbors of an orchestra leader in this unfortunate trough of institutional ambition. If, for instance, you feel the group's way out of financial and organizational chaos is to connect a podium personality and a community, then Nézet-Séguin's Thursday-night guest appearance was a tidy triumph.
November 26, 2010
G UINNESS STOUT is one of the most well-known brands of any kind in the world. Its harp logo is as familiar as the McDonald's arches. Its dark body and tan, cascading head are instantly recognizable from across the bar. Even beer drinkers who've never left Port Richmond can tell you it's been brewed since 1759 at St James's Gate, in Dublin, Ireland. It is the very definition of Irish stout. Turns out, Americans really don't know Guinness. At least not the Guinness that much of the rest of the world enjoys.
November 24, 2010 |
NEW YORK - Even if Verdi is your favorite composer and Don Carlo the most substantial of his 28 stage works, you could still be relieved that conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin wrapped up the opera 15 minutes under its near-five-hour estimated running time Monday at the Metropolitan Opera. That's not to suggest the opera needs to be shorter. The opening night of this new Nicholas Hytner production was a clear-cut hit, with all working parts falling so easily into place that the hyper-alert reading of the score - so richly detailed as to warrant comparison to Herbert von Karajan - by the Philadelphia Orchestra's music director-designate could put you in a rare state of Verdi overload.
October 24, 2010 |
BERLIN - The music was finished. Many bows had been taken. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra had left the stage Thursday night, except for a few straggling double bassists. But listeners were still there and still clapping. Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin obligingly scooted back onto the Berlin Philharmonie stage with characteristic energy, and was greeted with yet another approving roar. The orchestra had played not just well, but interestingly, with a spontaneity that sometimes teetered on the edge of chaos in ways that suited the music and were encouraged by the guest conductor.