• Figure skaters often have the reputation of being gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that) — sometimes the reputation is deserved, but sometimes it is not. Young pairs figure skater Robert Davenport was teased at a skating camp by hockey players who told him, “All figure skaters are fags.” Young Rob replied, “Look. You guys are in the locker room all by yourselves. You play hockey together while I’m surrounded by girls. Now who’s the fag?”
• The USSR was known for its men’s singles skaters and its pairs skating teams, but it never produced a really fine women’s singles skater until after its breakup. While the USSR was still together, pairs champion and coach Stanislav Zhuk was asked why. He joked, “Because I don’t coach them.”
• On 27 December 1904, James M. Barrie’s play, Peter Pan, opened. When Tinker Bell drank the poison, Peter Pan, played by Nina Boucicault, asked the audience to clap if they believed in fairies. This was an important moment in the play. If the audience clapped, the play would be a success; if they didn’t, the play would fail. The audience clapped thunderously, and Ms. Boucicault burst into tears on stage. By the way, Mr. Barrie created the role of Tinker Bell in Peter Pan after he saw a small child wave his foot at a firefly. Also by the way, one actress whose name has remained on the programs for Peter Pan since the play debuted, is Jane Wren (sometimes Jenny Wren). She is listed as Tinker Bell, even though Tinker Bell is actually a spotlight reflected in a mirror — her voice is created by bells. Also by the way, Peter Pan, was (and is) amazingly successful and provided some actors decades of work. The original Smee, George Shelton, played the part for 24 years. Bettering that record was William Luff, who played first Cecco and then Captain Hook for 45 years.
• Director Max Reinhardt (1873-1943) was serious about his Shakespeare productions. In 1933, he created a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Oxford University Dramatic Society. He looked over the countryside — it was an outdoor production — then said, “Very nice, but [here he pointed at the village of Headington in the distance] that village over there must be removed.” The effects he devised for the play were remarkable. At the beginning of the play, the actors simply stepped out from behind the trees where they had been hiding, and at one point Puck runs across the field, then vanishes — by jumping into a pit that was hidden from the audience.
• To publicize a performance of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues at the University of California at Santa Cruz, the cast and crew put up such signs as “Have you made a clitoris happy today?” and “‘What are we saying about our bodies if we can’t say vagina?’ — Eve Ensler.” By the way, Tovah Feldmanstern wished to direct Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues at her high school. Denied permission, she directed it outside of school. Also by the way, Ms. Ensler, writer and star of The Vagina Monologues, has had some interesting experiences. She was once served a salad made to look like a woman’s exterior sexual organs — bean sprouts represented pubic hair.
• William Schwenck Gilbert, a writer of genius as H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance show, was occasionally very sharp as a director. An actor once told him, “Look here, sir, I will not be bullied. I know my lines.” Mr. Gilbert replied, “That may be, but you don’t know mine.” By the way, Mr. Gilbert died a hero. On 29 May 1911, a woman swimming in his lake called out for help, and he helped her to reach land, but being 74 years old, he died as a result of his exertion.
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BRUCE'S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC
Music: "If It Ain’t Me"
Album: HIT IT 'N QUIT IT
Artist: Curtis Salgado & Terry Robb
Artist Location: Portland, Oregon
“Terry Robb and I are music lovers. That is to say we respect and are into all music. Both of us have our own bands that play a wide range of styles. But on our off nights we get together and play our first love, the stuff we cut our teeth on. The low-down, stinky, stunky, funky blues.
“We took some of our favorite songs, just went in and beat up on 'em. We moved away from trying to duplicate the old masters. (Look, nobody can do Muddy Waters like Muddy, or Elmore, etc.) Nuff said. Terry played acoustic hollow-body guitar on all cuts, no solid body guitar. None of the songs required more than two takes. The meter might change a little or my harp might be old and play a touch flat, but that is a part of the spontaneity and vibe that this music is about. We just went in and HIT IT 'N QUIT IT.”
Released January 1, 1997.
Price: Each song can be downloaded separately for free; to support the artists and download the 10-track album, the cost is $10 (USD)
HIT IT 'N QUIT IT
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Michelle in AZ
Jeannie the Teed-Off Temp
We are all only temporarily able bodied.
that Mad Cat, JD
In The Chaos Household
Marine layer rolled in & hung around most of the day.
Roddy Ricch Drops Out
Saturday Night Live has been hit with another Covid-related problem.
Roddy Ricch, who was set to be musical guest this weekend alongside host Ariana DeBose, has had to drop out of the show due to Covid exposure.
He will be replaced by pop band Bleachers, featuring Jack Antonoff, who has worked with the likes of Taylor Swift and Lana Del Ray. It is Bleachers’ SNL debut.
“Due to recent Covid exposure on my team and to keep everyone safe I won’t be able to perform on SNL this weekend. I’m working with the SNL team to lock in a new date though,” Ricch wrote on Instagram.
Screen Actors Guild Awards
The Oscar race may be missing in-person glitz this year, but it doesn’t lack for star power. Will Smith, Lady Gaga and Ben Affleck landed individual nominations for the 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards on Wednesday, while the casts of “Belfast” and “CODA” were among those nominated for the guild’s top award, best ensemble.
The nominees were announced Wednesday by actors Vanessa Hudgens and Rosario Dawson on Instagram Live. While the nominations were conducted virtually due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, the streamed announcement still represented one of the most meaningful mornings in an awards season largely snuffed out by the pandemic.
Joining Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical “Belfast” and the coming-of-age drama “CODA” for best ensemble were the casts for Ridley Scott’s true-tale, high-camp “House of Gucci,” Adam McKay’s apocalypse comedy “Don’t Look Up” and the family tennis drama “King Richard.” Notably left out were the casts of Steven Spielberg’s lavish “West Side Story” revival (which landed a supporting nod for Ariana DeBose) and Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog.” Campion’s gothic drama, though, landed individual SAG nominations for Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
The SAG Awards, presented by the actors guild SAG-AFTRA, are among the most reliable Oscar bellwethers. Seldom does a movie or performance not nominated by the screen actors end up winning at the Academy Awards. Actors make up the biggest percentage of the film academy, so their choices have the largest sway.
The 28th annual SAG Awards are to be held Feb. 27 and will be broadcast on TNT and TBS. The Oscars are scheduled for March 27.
Judge Steve Harvey? At least for its first week, having the comic serve as a reality show arbiter seems like an inspired idea.
His show’s premiere was the most-watched non-football program on ABC last week, its audience of 5.2 million people nearly two million more than a season-opening episode of the much better known “The Bachelor,” the Nielsen company said.
Despite the good vibes, Harvey couldn’t much help the well-reviewed sitcom, “Abbott Elementary,” that premiered in the next time slot last week to an audience of 3.45 million people, Nielsen said.
ESPN was the top-rated cable network, averaging 3.37 million viewers in prime time. Fox News Channel had 2.25 million viewers, MSNBC had 1.24 million, Hallmark had 1.2 million and HGTV had 1.17 million.
For the week of Jan. 3-9, the 20 most popular prime time shows, their networks and viewerships:
1. NFL Football: L.A. Chargers at Las Vegas, NBC, 17.69 million.
2. NFL Football: Dallas at Philadelphia, ABC, 13.7 million.
3. “NFL Pregame,” NBC, 13.08 million.
4. “The OT,” Fox, 12.11 million.
5. “NFL Pregame,” ABC, 11.93 million.
6. NFL Football: Cleveland at Pittsburgh, ESPN, 11.78 million.
7. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 9.9 million.
8. “Football Night in America, Part 3,” NBC, 9.59 million.
9. “FBI,” CBS, 8.52 million.
10. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 7.39 million.
11. “The Equalizer,” CBS, 7.18 million.
12. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 7.15 million.
13. “NCIS,” CBS, 6.939 million.
14. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 6.937 million.
15. “NFL Pregame” (Monday), ESPN, 6.68 million.
16. NFL Football: Dallas at Philadelphia, ESPN, 6.51 million.
17. “Ghosts,” CBS, 6.48 million.
18. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 6.07 million.
19. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 6.063 million.
20. “FBI: International,” CBS, 6.062 million.
University of Missouri
The University of Missouri has named a choral hall after musician Sheryl Crow, who graduated from the school in 1984 with a degree in music education.
The Columbia Missourian reports that the newly named hall is located inside of the Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Music Center.
Crow held a benefit concert in 2015 to help raise money for the $24 million center, which opened in 2020.
Julia Gaines, director of the School of Music, said they had hoped to align the unveiling of the hall with Crow headlining the Roots N Blues Festival this past September. But Crow’s COVID-19 policies prevented her from visiting the school.
Gaines said the hall will be used primarily as a performance space. Several classes, including choral and conducting, also will take place there.
Doctors Sign Open Letter
A group of 270 scientists, professors, doctors and healthcare workers wrote an open letter to Spotify recently expressing concern about “false and societally harmful assertions” on its most popular program, The Joe Rogan Experience. The letter, which Rolling Stone first reported on, asks the music streamer to “establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform.”
The doctors’ group takes issue with what it calls Rogan’s penchant for “broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Specifically, the group calls out “a highly controversial episode featuring guest Dr. Robert Malone (#1757). The episode has been criticized for promoting baseless conspiracy theories,” according to the letter. It goes on to note that Dr. Malone was suspended from Twitter for “for spreading misinformation about COVID-19,” and says he used his time on Rogan’s podcast to promote “an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public.”
The letter further asserts that, “Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust. These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”
Rogan, whose show is the most listened-to podcast in America, is no stranger to Covid controversy. He got into a public war of words with Dr. Anthony Fauci last year over an assertion about vaccination on the show.
The Los Angeles home best known as the abode of Nancy Thompson in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" has been sold for $2.98 million.
Don't let the sunny facade fool you — horror fans know this home well. It's a bright spot of the shady, tree-lined Elm Street and, most notably, the hunting ground for one striped sweater-wearing killer.
Or it was, as the focal point of the hit "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Freddy Krueger haunted this home in the original film, invading a young Thompson's dreams, though off-camera, it belonged to Los Angeles suburbanites and at least one filmmaker.
And now, it's been given a new life again — the iconic home just sold for nearly $3 million, according to Realtor.com, where the home was listed. (And, according to the site, that's about 98% more expensive than nearby homes, a stat that would spook even Freddy.)
The three-bedroom Dutch Colonial got a major facelift in the years since Wes Craven's 1984 film was released, though its exterior remained the same. But the rest of the home was "reimagined by an English designer in the mid-2000s," so it's brighter, whiter and airier than the famous movie monster would've liked. All egregiously '80s flourishes have been replaced — and the door, once blood-red, is now painted a stately black.
May Be Even Older
The course of human evolution never did run smooth. The emergence of hominins on the continent of Africa is full of twists, turns, gaps, and dead ends, which makes it all the more difficult to retrace the rise of our own species.
Today, we still don't really know when or where the first Homo sapiens appeared on the scene, although an archaeological site in southwestern Ethiopia is one of our best lines of evidence.
It was here, in the 1960s, that paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey uncovered the earliest examples of fossils with undisputedly modern human anatomies.
To be clear, older remains attributed to Homo sapiens exist, dating back hundreds of thousands of years. But the line between us and our ancestors is a smear of characteristics, leaving us with the remains known as Omo I as a starting point for what is unequivocally modern.
In the decades since, radioactive dating of the surrounding soil has allowed us to push back that age even further to about 200,000 years. And yet even that could be an underestimation.
Made Out of DNA
World's Tiniest Antenna
Scientists have built the tiniest antenna ever made – just five nanometers in length. Unlike its much larger counterparts we're all familiar with, this minuscule thing isn't made to transmit radio waves, but to glean the secrets of ever-changing proteins.
The nanoantenna is made from DNA, the molecules carrying genetic instructions that are around 20,000 times smaller than a human hair. It's also fluorescent, which means it uses light signals to record and report back information.
And those light signals can be used to study the movement and change of proteins in real time.
Part of the innovation with this particular antenna is the way in which the receiver part of it is also used to sense the molecular surface of the protein it's studying. That results in a distinct signal when the protein is fulfilling its biological function.
"Like a two-way radio that can both receive and transmit radio waves, the fluorescent nanoantenna receives light in one color, or wavelength, and depending on the protein movement it senses, then transmits light back in another color, which we can detect," says chemist Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, from the Université de Montréal (UdeM) in Canada.
World's Tiniest Antenna