News 10.05.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 10.05.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 10.05.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 10.05.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It’s unfashionable these days to play Bach on the piano. This, plus the fact that the authentic piano repertoire is Classical and Romantic, makes it easy for us to forget that the piano is above all a polyphonic instrument. No other keyboard instrument permits such subtle differentiation of parts (voice-leading, as it is called) through variation in the intensity and tone colour separately allotted to them. Yet it was possible for Alfred Brendel to remark in 1976: ‘pianists are about to lose the skill of “polyphonic playing”, once held in high esteem, a loss that makes itself felt not only in Bach, and not only in dense contrapuntal structures.’ He was discussing ‘Bach and the Piano’ in a dialogue reprinted, with a short reflective coda written in 1989, in his most recent collection of essays, Music Sounded Out. It is typical of the slightly unfocused nature of Brendel’s thinking that he should make the telling observation that pianists are about to lose the skill of polyphonic playing, and then fail to register its true, indeed its devastating significance, allowing it to be a matter of taste (‘once held in high esteem’) and of only slight or partial misfortune (‘a loss that makes itself felt’). For if in 1976 pianists really were about to lose the skill of polyphonic piano-playing, then to all intents and purposes the skill of playing the piano was at an end.

Read the rest of this article at: London Review of Books

News 10.05.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.05.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It took a gruesome crime to get Michinao Kono to take control of his life. In May 2019 a knife-wielding man attacked a group of people waiting at a bus stop in Kawasaki, killing two and wounding 18 others, including more than a dozen school children, before stabbing himself to death. News coverage alluded to the “8050 problem,” a reference to reclusive, middle-aged Japanese who live with their elderly parents.

The label applied to Kono, an out-of-work 45-year-old who never left his parents’ home in Nara. He was rattled by the thought that Japanese society viewed people like him as ticking time bombs. “There’s no chance I would commit a crime like this, but I thought, I have to stop being a shut-in, because my economic situation is heading for a dead end,” he says.

Kono seemed destined from birth to have a promising future. His father was employed by one of Japan’s legendary trading houses, the industry-spanning conglomerates that were the backbone of the postwar economy. He earned enough to afford a car and a home with a front yard, which marked the family as well-to-do in a country that embraced the phrase “100 million, all in the middle class.”

Kono himself got into Kyoto University, Japan’s second-oldest university and one of its most selective, but his lack of social skills made him a loner. He says that was a result of being bullied in middle school.

During his third and fourth years in college, Kono’s mailbox started overflowing with recruitment brochures, same as the rest of his classmates. (Even during the economic malaise of the 1990s, Kyoto University students were in demand.) Still, he didn’t take part in the highly choreographed ritual called shushoku katsudo (“job-hunting activity”) in which university students don black or navy suits to attend packed recruiting events and submit to marathon group interviews.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

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Fred Willard died in May, many of the obituaries and tributes that followed used a photo of his bowtied commentator from Best in Show. “Fred would have loved it, he’d have found it very amusing to see my face on his obituary almost everywhere,” says his broadcast partner in the film, Jim Piddock. “I found it slightly disturbing.”

Willard is remembered and beloved for many reasons, but maybe most of all for his role in Christopher Guest’s faux-documentary about competitive show dog handlers, which opened in the U.S. on September 29, 2000. The same could probably be said for many of the comic actors and improv geniuses who starred in the film—a lineup that includes Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Jennifer Coolidge, John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, and Parker Posey.

The “best” movie by Guest and his repertory company—among them, This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, and A Mighty Wind—differs for every judge, but Best in Show boasts the troupe in its absolute prime, songs about terriers, O’Hara’s wobbly walk and a parade of former paramours, McKean and Higgins playing a daddy and his boy toy, Posey screaming about her dog’s “Busy Bee” through a pair of braces … and, of course, Willard going off the leash about dogs wearing little Sherlock Holmes hats. Pound for pound, it might just be the funniest—and simultaneously the saddest—of the lot.

Read the rest of this article at: The Ringer

News 10.05.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.05.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I first started feeling sick on Sunday night, August 16. I had spent the previous week dealing with excruciating neck pain whose origins I couldn’t quite explain. My mother, a doctor who takes great pride in her formidable diagnostic skills, was sure that this was the opening salvo of a COVID infection. I waved it off, insisting that I had probably just gone a little too hard on the ab workout. But by Sunday night, it was clear something was wrong. I barely made it through grocery shopping and had to lie down several times while making dinner. By morning, I had chills, a runny nose, and a scratchy throat. Something told me my mother was right. I called my primary-care physician’s office in Washington, D.C., and went downtown to their testing site. A quick swab of the nose yielded a negative result two days later. I was elated. I wasn’t feeling awful, just a little under the weather, and now the test confirmed what I wanted to hear: I didn’t have COVID-19. But my mother and sister, a doctor who took care of COVID patients at the peak of the pandemic, were adamant: I was to stay home and quarantine for two weeks.

Gradually, the symptoms came back—though they never went away, really. They came in waves. I’d spend most of the day feeling fine, only to have my temperature spike as I swaddled myself in layers of clothing and blankets to fight the chill. Within an hour or two, I’d feel completely fine again. My senses of taste and smell started fading in and out. I could no longer smell my cat’s litter box and ice cream just tasted cold. Then my sense of taste would come back, but some things, like sweets, tasted intolerably intense. A brain fog pulled in, and I found myself constantly searching for simple words. It was the first time I had felt this way while speaking English, rather than a foreign language.

I was becoming increasingly convinced that I had COVID, so I tried to remember everyone I’d seen in the two weeks before I’d gotten sick in order to warn them that, by coming in contact with me, they might have been exposed. I told them by text that, even though I tested negative for COVID, I suspected I was infected and encouraged them to get tested. My friends’ responses surprised me: The vast majority said they felt fine and that they did not feel the need to get tested because my own result had been negative. In their minds, they could not have been exposed if I had tested negative—never mind the symptoms I was showing. There wasn’t much I could do to convince them, so I decided to get a repeat test. This time, I went to one of the walk-up testing sites the government of Washington, D.C., had set up all over the city. I filled out the questionnaire: “Have you experienced any of the following symptoms?” It listed the symptoms of COVID—cough, sore throat, body aches, chills, loss of taste, loss of smell, difficulty breathing. I checked nearly every box. A quick nose swab and I was home, where, 48 hours later, I received another negative result.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

News 10.05.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The house is a violent purple, an unusually arresting shade somewhere between maroon and magenta, although that’s probably the least weird thing about it. Inside, there are virtually no objects not adorned with flowers, feathers, or glitter; I use the word “objects” because most of them are not standard household fixtures that you or I might have, but things like “giant blow-up dinosaur” and “popcorn machine” and “mannequin wearing a tutu.” Visitors to the house are greeted by a neon mural of magic mushrooms and UFOs flanking the foyer and its rainbow light-up staircase. To the left is what is ostensibly a dining room, where everything is hot pink and it feels like the world’s most chaotic bubble bath, or maybe a very fun womb.

It is February in Sherman Oaks, a suburban neighborhood in California’s San Fernando Valley now home to a thriving cottage industry of beautiful young people trying to get famous online. The houses in this enclave — adjacent to but far removed from the glamour and status of Beverly Hills — are filled with social media collectives, or “collab houses,” groups of friends or sometimes strangers who have come from all over the country to film themselves being young and beautiful together. Mostly the videos are just dancing, or short staged skits. But you see the same person’s face on your phone enough times and you start to care about them.

Before landing in the Valley, these teenagers built astronomically huge fan bases, sometimes literally overnight, on TikTok, an app known for its unparalleled ability to create celebrities out of regular people. In the wake of sudden notoriety, hundreds of them did what other hopefuls have done for more than a century: packed up and moved to Los Angeles with a dream of ever greater and more visible success.

That’s how Alex Youmazzo got here. As I walk up to the door, she’s filming herself dancing in front of a ring light, the halo-shaped fixture favored by TikTokers, YouTubers, and now-quarantined Zoom-using regular people that gives the effect of a professional lighting setup. Like many of her fellow TikTok stars, she built her following of more than 5 million by lip-syncing to catchy hip-hop songs and joking around with friends. Unlike many of her peers, though, Alex has alopecia, and she pairs her trendy streetwear with her naturally bald head.

Alex, 19, has moved into the purple house to be part of a new collab house called Girls in the Valley. Like the more well-known Hype House and the Sway House, which debuted a few weeks earlier, Girls in the Valley is not a spontaneous occurrence of a handful of college-age social media stars choosing to live together, but rather the calculated product of a talent management company that plucked influencers from across TikTok to form a collective. Call it the boy-band model but for Gen Z, where stars leverage each other’s burgeoning fame against the backdrop of multimillion-dollar homes.

This world is fickle. Barely a month earlier, Alex was part of a different house, one that no longer exists because its manager allegedly withheld money from and mistreated its members. That manager now works for another talent company, one backed by a fancy New York real estate investor and based in an enormous mansion in Beverly Hills. By May, Alex will have left for a different collab house run by her then-boyfriend, a creator-cum-entrepreneur known among LA TikTokers for throwing raunchy warehouse blowouts. By August she will have sworn off content houses altogether. There will be more than a dozen new TikTok houses by this point, even after a pandemic has seized the globe.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

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