Almanac: Eric Hoffer on leisure

Almanac: Eric Hoffer on leisure

“The superficiality of the American is the result of his hustling. It needs leisure to think things out; it needs leisure to mature. People in a hurry cannot think, cannot grow, nor can they decay. They are preserved in a state of perpetual puerility.” Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind
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Turning loose

Mrs. T and I boarded a train in New York last Sunday, and twenty-six hours later we got off in West Palm Beach. The next day we drove to Sanibel Island. Since then I’ve read three and a half books, watched nine movies, taken a sunset cruise, plucked a stray coconut out of the Gulf […]
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Almanac: George Santayana on skepticism

Almanac: George Santayana on skepticism

“Skepticism like chastity should not be relinquished too readily. Indeed skepticism is the chastity of the intellect and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer. There is nobility in preserving it coolly and proudly through long youth until at last, when instinct and discretion have ripened, it can be […]
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Hold the breadsticks, pass the melancholy

In today’s Wall Street Journal I review two new off-Broadway plays, Pocatello and Every Brilliant Thing. Here’s an excerpt. * * * Originality is overrated. Even the most hackneyed-sounding plot can be made fresh by a writer who understands that life is always the same—and always new. That’s the secret of Samuel D. Hunter’s “Pocatello,” […]
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Vinyl sales rare bright spot for US music industry

Vinyl sales rare bright spot for US music industry

Vinyl sales and music streaming both soared by more than 50 percent in 2014 in the United States, even as overall sales kept declining, a music industry monitor said.
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The iron will of Horton Foote

In today’s Wall Street Journal “Sightings” column I look at the long career of Horton Foote, who struggled in obscurity for decades before establishing himself as a major playwright. Here’s an excerpt. * * * Horton Foote’s “The Traveling Lady” opened on Broadway in October of 1954 and closed three weeks later. Forty-three years later, […]
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Whatever happened to Archie Bunker?

Whatever happened to Archie Bunker?

I wrote about Norman Lear’s recently published autobiography for the January issue of Commentary: Throughout much of the 1970s, Norman Lear was the most powerful TV producer in Hollywood. He created a string of situation comedies so successful that five of them, All in the Family, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Maude, and Sanford and Son, […]
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The DVDs I brought to Florida

Not having advanced technologically to the point of being able to suck movies from the Web, Mrs. T and I usually bring a varied assortment of DVDs with us whenever we’re going anywhere for a long stay. We’re going to be in Florida for two months, so we decided that it might be wise to […]
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Almanac: Peter Drucker on success

Almanac: Peter Drucker on success

“A success that has outlived its usefulness may, in the end, be more damaging than failure.” Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices
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Something is about to be

I don’t need to tell any of you that 2014 was appalling in countless ways. That said, it was also the year that Satchmo at the Waldorf came to New York and ran off Broadway for four wonderful months. In the larger scheme of things, I suppose that event must go under the heading of […]
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Continuing irresolution

Continuing irresolution

I posted the following resolutions in this space eight years ago tomorrow: • To finish Hotter Than That: A Life of Louis Armstrong. I changed the title to Pops, but otherwise done and done. • To see fewer plays—and write more thoughtfully about the ones I do see. If anything, I now see more plays […]
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How Fox Hopes to Build an Empire Via Radio Airplay and Music Fans

Empire, Fox's upcoming hip-hop soap opera, is aiming to win over radio programmers and music fans when it premieres on Jan. 7 . Unlike the network's Glee, Fox's last big scripted musical, Empire will feature almost all original songs instead of covers.”That presents a whole lot of new challenges,” says Geoff Bywater, senior vice president of music at 20th Century Fox TV, which produces the show. Unfamiliar tracks can be a tough sell for audiences, says Bywater, but “one thing we really did learn on Glee, as much as we tried, is that trying to get a cover single is difficult. Original music will lend a stronger, credible voice to Empire.” (The covers from The Voice and American Idol contestants don't get radio play either.)Veteran record producer Timbaland and his team (See Original Article

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Snapshot: NBC’s very first TV broadcast

Snapshot: NBC’s very first TV broadcast

A sound film of NBC’s first TV broadcast, which took place in 1936. To read more about this program, go here: (This is the latest in a series of arts-related videos that appear in this space each Monday and Wednesday.)
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The books I brought to Florida

Since Mrs. T and I will be spending the next two months in Florida, we took the precaution of shipping some of our stuff ahead of us. I sent a box containing books and DVDs. These are the books I plan to read on the beach and elsewhere. Some are new to me, some not: […]
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Almanac: Lord Byron on love and happiness

Almanac: Lord Byron on love and happiness

Juan seemed To her, as ‘t wer, the kind of being sent, Of whom these two years she had nightly dreamed, A something to be loved, a creature meant To be her happiness, and whom she deemed To render happy; all who joy would win Must share it,—Happiness was born a twin. Lord Byron, Don […]
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Almanac: Eric Hoffer on the future

“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition
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Lookback: a Christmas visit to my mother

Lookback: a Christmas visit to my mother

From 2004: My days are for the most part happily uneventful. I always sleep late. I usually take my mother out to lunch (nowhere fancy–there aren’t any fancy places to take her in Smalltown!), after which we run whatever errands may need running. I brought home a couple of unfinished pieces that require my attention, […]
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Friendly ghosts

I recently saw a small-town Nutcracker danced by an ensemble of Connecticut students. I don’t usually have occasion to attend such homely events, but I had a horse in the race—Ian, my nephew, played Dr. Stahlbaum, the genial host of the first-act party scene—and I was curious to find out what America’s best-loved ballet looks […]
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Just because: Julius Katchen plays Schubert

Just because: Julius Katchen plays Schubert

Julius Katchen plays Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3, D. 899, on French TV in 1968: (This is the latest in a series of arts-related videos that appear in this space each Monday and Wednesday.)
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Almanac: Oliver Goldsmith on happiness

Still to ourselves in every place consign’d,
 Our own felicity to make or find. Oliver Goldsmith, “The Traveller”
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