November 7, 1988 |
Take Robin Williams and Steve Martin and put them in Waiting for Godot under Mike Nichols' direction, and you can pretty much forget about Samuel Beckett, who only wrote the play. What you have, inevitably, is not a play but a phenomenon - a show-business event, a "special," in TV parlance, starring famous performers who have spent years practicing how not to submerge their identities for the sake of art. Just as inevitably, the show is a sellout success for its seven weeks in the little Off-Broadway Mitzi Newhouse Theater in Lincoln Center.
December 6, 2012 |
Sometimes, the Philadelphia Orchestra needs an outsider to remind it of who it is and what it was. Gianandrea Noseda - a guest conductor so popular with the orchestra that he was reengaged for a two-week stint this season starting Thursday (with other return visits in the works) - happens to be the foremost Rachmaninoff specialist of his generation. This week, he's conducting that composer's Symphony No. 2 Thursday through Saturday at the Kimmel Center with what is generally considered to be "Rachmaninoff's orchestra.
September 2, 1996 |
Inside a glass case in the physical anthropology lab at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, alongside skulls and casts of skulls, sits a particular jawbone cast that was formed from the fossilized mandible of a young member of the primate group known as australopithecus. The cast is gray-and-white plastic, and it holds a healthy mouthful of plastic teeth. It was molded from the jaw of one of our ancients, from a hominid child whose sex cannot be determined but who, scientists believe, walked on two legs rather than four.
May 9, 1995
This topic was suggested by a letter from John Cog of Norfolk, Va. Here's the entire text: "How come when I'm standing in front of a full-length mirror with nothing on but socks, white socks look OK, but dark-colored socks make me look cheap and sleazy?" This letter was passed along to me by my Research Department, Judi Smith, who attached a yellow stick-on note that says: "This is true. " Judi did not say how she happens to know it's true; apparently - and I'm sure there's a perfectly innocent explanation - she has seen John Cog of Norfolk, Va., wearing nothing but socks.
April 18, 1992 |
Line up, ladies! Ahron Leichtman is in town! Or was. He left last night, but he did leave his video - in four video- dating centers around Philadelphia. He says: "I've always loved women from Philadelphia. " But don't think you're in exclusive company. He's also left his video in Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Washington, Baltimore, Mountain View and Sausalito, Calif., where he says you find the "highest per capita of amazing women. " Ahron Leichtman, you see, wants to get married.
October 6, 1989 |
Lhamo Dhondrub was not yet 3 when Tibetan monks found him in 1939, living in a faraway village surrounded by Himalayan peaks and shimmering fields of barley. They carried him off to become their god-king. Renamed Tenzin Gyatso, he was reared in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, then an isolated, medieval enclave. When he was 15, the Chinese invaded and - with their troops closing on Lhasa - he officially assumed the responsibilities of Tibet's 14th Dalai Lama, becoming his nation's secular and spiritual leader.
November 8, 1996 |
The mystery began on a foggy dawn in January 1994, when one of Syria's best-known young men crashed his Mercedes on a treacherous bend near the airport. Some in this secretive capital now say he was driving 150 miles an hour when he was killed. There is no mystery about why the country was plunged into mourning. At age 31, Basil Assad was the eldest son of President Hafez al-Assad and the man many Syrians believed was being groomed as their next leader. But almost three years later, the memorialization of Basil shows no sign of abating.
June 15, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - New tests show that crude Spanish cave paintings of a red sphere and handprints are the oldest in the world, so ancient they may not have been by modern man. Some scientists say they might have even been made by the much-maligned Neanderthals, but others disagree. Testing the coating of paintings in 11 Spanish caves, researchers found that one is at least 40,800 years old, which is at least 15,000 years older than previously thought. That makes them older than the more famous French cave paintings by thousands of years.
January 17, 2016 |
The scraggly West Philadelphia beard and its scruffy hipster cousin have some well-groomed competition. The trendlet Full and impeccably cared for beards growing on faces that never fancied facial hair. That means the smooth baby face - once the signature of the conservative corporate gent - has more or less gone the way of pleated, baggy khakis. Where does it come from? Beards were standard facial fare until the 18th century, when razors became widely available. Beards came back in style in the 1800s, but when men traded field labor for office and manufacturing work at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, they fell out of favor again.
March 31, 1987 |
Somewhere in the scientific research on sleep, there is a finding that a dream lasts only a few seconds, even when it seems like an eternity, as the bad ones always do. Playwright James McLure has written a dream that, as staged by Princeton's McCarter Theater Company, lasts about 85 minutes. I'd swear it was longer by several hours, but that's a common reaction among sleepers, and McLure's Napoleon Nightdreams turned me into one fast. The work seeped into my consciousness incompletely by a series of striking images that came and went as if the lights were being flicked on and off. The best one was a round Japanese lantern that made a slow, mesmerizing trip on a red velvet rope that stretched from the ceiling of the theater to the back of the stage.