Friday, December 7, 2012

Dave Brubeck, the pianist, composer and leader of the iconic Dave Brubeck Quartet, died Dec. 5 at age 91 in Connecticut, according to the AP.  Brubeck, whose music helped define the style of West Coast Jazz in the '50s, is best known for the 1959 classic "Take 5," which was written by collaborator Paul Desmond and featured on the album Time Out.  To date, it remains one of the top-selling jazz records of all time.  Brubeck wasn't just a music icon – he was also a patriot. Born in California in 1920, he was drafted into the army to serve in Europe during World War II.  Upon returning home in 1946, music teacher Darius Milhaud encouraged him to pursue music.  "He told me if I didn't stick to jazz, I'd be working out of my own field and not taking advantage of my American heritage," Brubeck told TIME in a 1954 cover story.  Kevin O'Donnell,,20653659,00.html  See also:  NOTE that Dave Brubeck would have celebrated his 92nd birthday on Dec. 6. 

Ronaldus Shamask:  Form, Fashion, Reflection  Philadelphia Museum of Art through March 10
In the airy gallery where the exhibition "Ronaldus Shamask: Form, Fashion, Reflection" is on display at the Perelman Building (an annex of the Philadelphia Museum of Art), three designs in the same shade of butterfly yellow are given pride of place on the back wall.  These three pieces—two short dresses and a poncho—are not made of fabric but of tissue paper.  In each, a long plastic "infinity" zipper acts as a traditional closure, yet also doubles as ingenious structure—spaghetti straps on one dress, a halter strap on another.  All three pieces are lighted from within, an illumination that accentuates the folds and seams that give the designs their shape.  Paper, zipper, an incandescent bulb, the sun-struck yellow of Apollo—these elements merge into the kind of eureka moment that is the modus operandi of fashion designer Ron Shamask.  Born in Amsterdam in 1945, Mr. Shamask was raised in Australia and spent his early 20s in London.  Though trained as an architect, he worked as a fashion illustrator for English newspapers, studied stage design, and painted.  He came to the U.S. in 1972 and, in partnership with Murray Moss six years later, a fashion label was born: Shamask.  Laura Jacobs  View slideshow at:

Eat the Invaders, Fighting Invasive Species, One Bite at a Time  "You don't have to leave home to eat your way around the world.  There are snails from France, greens from England, fish from Africa, rosehips from Asia, and aquatic mammals from South America just outside your door.  You can eat these invaders raw, eat them boiled, eat them with butter and garlic, or au gratin.  This spring, instead of dressing your lawn with herbicides, consider balsamic vinaigrette."  Over a dozen species to choose from, including kudzu.

Before boarding his flight to Stockholm on Dec. 5, Nobel Laureate Mo Yan said his speeches in Sweden will focus on storytelling, homeland, and an ancient Chinese writer he calls his mentor.  Mo said part of his speech would focus on:  "telling, hearing, and writing stories" throughout his whole life.  His homeland Gaomi, in Shandong province, also the location depicted in his literary creations, will be another major topic.  "I'll will also talk about family members and friends," Mo said.  After giving speeches at the university and enjoying a concert, Mo will attend the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony and Nobel Banquet on Dec. 10.  NOTE that Mo Yan is the second participant of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program to receive the Nobel for literature, the first being Istanbul-born novelist Orhan Pamuk in 2007.

If you've ever complained online about a business, you may want to think twice about it.  A contractor is suing a Virginia woman for criticizing his work on two major websites, and those bad reviews could cost her big money.  Outside Fairfax County court Dec. 5, a lawyer for Jane Perez flipped through pictures allegedly showing botched home repairs.  The photos include door hinges, trash allegedly left behind, and what are said to be strands of hair in a refinished floor.  James Bacon, attorney for Perez, said, "I think we presented evidence sufficient to establish that the work was not completed, that he charged for work that had not been done, and that the workmanship was very poor."  Perez hired Christopher Dietz -- a former high school classmate -- in June 2011 to do cosmetic work on her townhouse.  Unhappy with the results, she gave him an "F" rating on Angie's, a consumer review website.  On Yelp, she accused Dietz of damaging her home, billing her for work he didn't do, and suggested he stole jewelry.  She ended her scathing review with this advice, "Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor."  Dietz issued his own response, and then fired back with a $700,000 lawsuit for defamation.  Dietz said, "There was no question in my mind that I did 150 percent professional job in her house."  He says Perez's claims are all lies -- lies that cost him $300,000 in lost business.  Dietz said, "I believe that people should have the right to state how they feel, but when you state stuff as fact and it's not fact or it's not able to be supported there has to be some type of -- for the lack of better words -- punishment."  Wednesday, Dietz was awarded his first victory.  A judge ordered Perez to take down any allegations of theft and comments about legal action.  Bacon said, "If we need to, we will appeal to make sure that people are not afraid to speak out."  The court still must decide whether there are grounds for a defamation case.  CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford explained defamation and how it relates to this case.  On "CBS This Morning" he said, "Our constitutional right to free speech is not absolute.  There are limitations on it.  For instance, the classic one, you can't falsely yell 'Fire!' in a crowded theater. ... Because obviously, you can expose people to damage.  What you can do is offer up is your opinion about things.  As long as it's clearly an opinion.  Here's what you can't do.  And this is where you get into defamation.  You can't make a false statement of fact that damages somebody's reputation.  So if I wanted to say, in a situation similar to this, I was just not at all happy with the work that my contractor did.  That's okay.  That's my opinion.  But if i say, 'I was not at all happy with the work that my contractor did, and by the way my contractor is an embezzler' ... or 'he stole jewelry' or even make the argument saying, 'He damaged my house,' now you're making a statement of fact.  The law also says, truth is an absolute defense.  So if somebody did damage your house or somebody is an embezzler, then you're OK.  Even though it damages their reputation, as long as it's true, it's OK.  The classic thing to remember is [defamation is] a false statement of fact that damages somebody's reputation, as opposed to opinion."  Ford added, "The Internet is still kind of the wild west. You know, tradition news organizations, we have editorial processes we follow. Reliable sources, fact checking, even though you have the right to do it, is it the right thing to do? If you're going online, everybody uses this, goes and does research first before they buy stuff. Make sure you're doing it in terms of a genuine opinion on your part. Here's the other thing, don't try and cloak your statement of fact and say, 'It's my ... opinion that he damaged my house. It's my opinion this person is a serial killer.' Just because you say the word opinion, doesn't mean it's no longer a statement of fact.  The thing to be careful about a statement of fact that's false and damages their reputation."

In a similar case, a Minnesota doctor took offense when a patient's son posted critical remarks about him on some rate-your-doctor websites, including a comment by a nurse who purportedly called the physician "a real tool."   Dr. David McKee sued the son for defamation. The Duluth neurologist's case has advanced all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which is weighing whether the lawsuit should go to trial.  "His reputation is at stake.  He does not want to be a target for false and malicious remarks," said his lawyer, Marshall Tanick.  McKee's case highlights the tension that sometimes develops on websites such as Yelp and Angie's List when the free speech rights of patients and their families clash with the rights of doctors, lawyers and other professionals to protect their good names. 
David McKee MD vs Dennis Laurion, Minnesota Supreme Court Case A11-1154,  oral arguments held on Sept. 4, 2012  

Dec. 7  There are bargains aplenty at Goodwill stores but few that sell for more than $19,000. 
The item, a large oil-on-canvas copy of an Italian masterpiece that hangs in the Louvre Museum, dates to 1823 and is attributed to a little-known Parisian.  At one time, it had apparently been owned by early Toledo glass maker Edward Ford.  A 15-day-long online auction of the painting at closed at 10:13 p.m. Dec. 6, fetching $19,103, the highest sum for an item sold by Goodwill of Northwest Ohio, by far, said Bob Huber, president and CEO.  Toledo’s Goodwill sold two paintings, each for slightly more than $4,000 in May, and once sold an RV for $6,500.  Its online sales this year will surpass $1 million; estimated total revenues for 2012 is $12 million.  The top-selling piece of art ever sold at Goodwill was a Frank Weston Benson oil painting, dropped off anonymously, that sold for $165,002 in Portland, Ore.  Find details on the painting, The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine,  at:  NOTE that on Dec. 7, the online Goodwill site listed 618 paintings. 

Frank Weston Benson, frequently referred to as Frank W. Benson, (1862–1951) was an American artist from Salem, Massachusetts known for his Realistic portraits, American Impressionist paintings, watercolors and etchings.  He began his career painting portraits of distinguished families and murals for the Library of Congress.  Some of his best known paintings (Eleanor, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Summer, Rhode Island School of Design Museum) depict his daughters outdoors at Benson's summer home, Wooster Farm, on the island of North Haven, Maine.  He also produced numerous oil, wash and watercolor paintings and etchings of wildfowl and landscapes.  In 1880, Benson began to study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston under Otto Grundmann, and in 1883 at the Académie Julien in Paris.  He enjoyed a distinguished career as an instructor and department head at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  He was a founding member of the Ten American Painters, American Academy of Arts and Letters and The Guild of Boston Artists

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