Friday, March 2, 2012

On Feb. 29 the Vatican kicked off a six-month exhibit at Rome's Capitoline Museum that will place 100 documents, usually locked away in the pope's personal archive, on display. A papal bull excommunicating Martin Luther from the Catholic Church; the judicial acts of the trial of Galileo Galilei; and a letter from the guillotine-bound Marie Antoinette, are just a few examples of the kind of history-in-the-making documents that rarely are seen by the general public. "We don't want this material to be kept secret," Vatican archivist Enrico Flaiani told a group of reporters this week as he guided them into an underground bunker that houses part of the archive. Mr. Flaiani cast the archive as a mere victim of Latin lost in translation. The decision to call the Archivum Secretum Vaticanum the Vatican's "secret archive" was a mistake, the archivist said, adding that he preferred the translation "personal archive." Stacy Meichtry

Signature Theatre Company, founded in 1991 by James Houghton, exists to honor and celebrate the playwright. Signature makes an extended commitment to a playwright’s body of work, and during this journey, the writer is engaged in every aspect of the creative process. Signature is the first theatre company to devote an entire season to the work of a single playwright, including re-examinations of past writings as well as New York and world premieres. Signature has presented entire seasons of the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, and a season celebrating the historic Negro Ensemble Company. In October 2008, Signature announced the creation of the Signature Center, a permanent home to open in late 2011. Designed by Frank Gehry Architects, the Center will comprise three theatres, two rehearsal studios, a café, bookstore, and offices all on one level—a configuration that allows the company not only the space to expand its programming, but also the proximity for natural interaction between artists and audiences of the different programs. In its new home, Signature will continue its Master Residency and expand the Legacy Program. Signature will also introduce an Emerging Playwrights Residency that will feature early- and mid-career playwrights and guarantee them three full productions over the course of a four-year residency. This groundbreaking facility will offer a vital presence on West 42nd Street and will make it possible for Signature to collaborate with playwrights throughout the entire trajectory of their careers.
Signature, its productions and its resident writers have been recognized with a Pulitzer Prize, eleven Lucille Lortel Awards, fifteen Obie Awards, five Drama Desk Awards, and twenty-two AUDELCO Awards, among many other distinctions. Find season histories and links to Signature sites at:

See a description and a design model of Frank Gehry's Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, part of the Pershing Square Signature Center on 42nd Street. at:

Edith Pearlman has published more than 250 works of short fiction and short non-fiction in national magazines, literary journals, anthologies, and on-line publications. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Collection, New Stories from the South, and The Pushcart Prize Collection – Best of the Small Presses. Her first collection of stories, Vaquita, won the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature and was published by the University of Pittsburgh University Press in 1996. Her second, Love Among The Greats (Eastern Washington University Press, 2002) won the Spokane Annual Fiction Prize. Her third collection, How to Fall, was published by Sarabande Press in 2005 and won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction.

Edith Pearlman's "Binocular Vision" turns on three words of offhand dialogue. Each of her efforts takes three or four drafts, and "very little of that first draft will appear in the final draft." She takes away everything that she can until she finds "the statue in the slab." Her penchant for brevity has made her fastidious about her craft. "I love the ellipsis at the end of a line or paragraph to indicate what is happening next is more or less simultaneous with what has just happened," she says between bites. Fond of the semicolon ("I overdo them"), she also wishes the question mark had "a younger sister." The phrases "doesn't it" and "shouldn't we" are not true questions to her ear. "I use a period for the right intonation." A large circle of fellow writers in the Boston area has sustained her for years. She belongs to an essay-writing group and has a "writing partner," Rose Bloom, to whom she shows everything, and vice versa.
Richard B. Woodward

Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull apologized Feb. 29 for sending a racist email about President Obama from his office to a few friends. "To say it's inappropriate and stupid is an extreme understatement," Cebull said in his courthouse chambers in Billings. "There is no doubt it's racist. It wasn't forwarded for that purpose," Cebull said. "If anything, it was political." The judge admitted he forwarded the racially charged email he received to seven friends, including his brother, on Feb. 20 from his office computer. Cebull said he does not remember who sent him the email and said he had deleted it before Wednesday. The judge also said he did not write the introduction. The judge said he was at a loss to explain why he forwarded the message. Cebull said he has emailed the other federal judges in Montana apologizing for his conduct. He said he will never forward or send another email from his office that isn't business related.

Words with animals hidden in them
capricious from Italian capriccio (caprice), literally head with hair standing on end, from capo (head) + riccio (hedgehog).
bucolic From Greek boukolos (herdsman), from bous (ox).
cuckold From Old French cucu (cuckoo) + -ald (pejorative suffix), from the female cuckoo's habit of leaving eggs in another bird's nest.
lyceum From Latin lyceum, from Greek Lykeion, an epithet of Apollo meaning wolf-slayer, from lykos (wolf) which also gave us words such as lupine (like a wolf) and lycanthropy (the delusion of being a wolf).
jubilee Via French, Latin, and Greek from Hebrew yobel (ram, ram's horn trumpet). Traditionally a jubilee year was announced by blowing a ram's horn.
A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg

The real test of a chef doesn't come from elaborate dishes with luxury ingredients such as foie gras and caviar but from how well he uses the most humble foods in the pantry. Consider the egg. I'm fascinated by seemingly simple dishes like an omelet or a crème caramel because they not only showcase the quality of their ingredients, but, more important, they also demonstrate the skill of the cook who prepared them. Thomas Keller,0,1107254.htmlstory

“The Lifespan of a Fact,” is less a book than a knock-down, drag-out fight between two tenacious combatants, over questions of truth, belief, history, myth, memory and forgetting. In one corner is Jim Fingal, who as an intern for the literary magazine The Believer in 2005 (or it might have been 2003 — sources disagree) signed on for what he must have thought would be a straightforward task: fact-checking a 15-page article. In the other corner is D’Agata, who thought he had made a deal with The Believer to publish not just an article but a work of Art — an essay already rejected by Harper’s Magazine because of “factual inaccuracies” — that would find its way to print unmolested by any challenge to its veracity. Read book review at:

New Zealand's Anglican church is to demolish a 131-year-old cathedral in earthquake-devastated Christchurch because it is too dangerous and expensive to rebuild, the stricken city's bishop said on March 2. The Victorian-era, Gothic-style cathedral, which dominated the city's central square, was badly damaged in the February 2011 quake. The 6.3 magnitude quake killed 185 people and destroyed large areas of the business centre and more than 6,000 homes. The landmark cathedral was a favourite meeting place and tourist attraction, but any chance of saving it was ended by several strong aftershocks that caused more damage.

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