Yale University have confirmed that the lecturer who sent an email stating that students should not seek to censor Halloween costumes has today resigned from her teaching position.
Richard Lewis reports: Erika Christakis, an expert in childhood education, sent the email as a result of student activist complaints about cultural appropriation and perceived racism on campus. The protests will best be remembered for producing this video where a female student screamed into the face of Nicholas Christakis, husband of Erika and a Bowdoin Prize winning academic, making the bold claim that the university campus isn’t an “intellectual space.” Mr. Christakis shall also be taking a one term sabbatical in the aftermath of the incident.
Why the email generated any controversy is anyone’s guess. Mrs. Christakis asked the question, “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious, a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” Read the rest of this entry »
Audrey Hepburn photographed at her London home for the Sunday Pictorial, May 1953.
Audrey Hepburn photographed by Bud Fraker for Funny Face (1957) (via)
Audrey Hepburn photographed by Marcel Thomas in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, June 1956.
Directed by Billy Wilder. With Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn, Maurice Chevalier, John McGiver. Director Billy Wilder salutes his idol, Ernst Lubitsch, with this comedy about a middle-aged playboy fascinated by the daughter of a private detective who has been hired to entrap him with the wife of a client.
Japan’s Creative, Ephemeral Homes
Lucy Alexander writes: Would you buy a house that you knew would lose its value as years passed? That you would never be able to sell? That you might have to pay to demolish?
In Japan, this is the willing choice of many houseowners. In Western countries, a home is typically an investment that most people expect to one day sell at a profit. In Japan, a house is a consumer good that rapidly depreciates in value, like a car. Because Japanese house hunters prize new construction, they will pay a premium for land, but build their own home on it.
“People have greater creative license to express their own taste because they don’t need to consider resale value. There is a deep-set ephemeral attitude to housing here.”
— Alastair Townsend, co-founder of Bakoko, a Tokyo architectural practice
This model has one happy side-effect: a flourishing of some of the world’s most wonderfully bizarre architecture. You can live in a nest of tangled staircases designed to represent the Internet (named S-House), or inside plastic walls shaped like a Gothic arch (called Lucky Drops)—and only be concerned that it pleases you.
“People have greater creative license to express their own taste because they don’t need to consider resale value,” said Alastair Townsend, co-founder of Bakoko, a Tokyo architectural practice. “There is a deep-set ephemeral attitude to housing here.”
Japan’s Ministry of Finance defines the “service life” of a wooden house (92% of all detached homes) as being 22 years, though many homeowners stretch their stay.
Architecture in Japan is big business, with 24 architects for every 10,000 people, compared with 3.4 in the U.S., says the International Union of Architects. And Japanese often show extreme deference to experts such as architects. “Sometimes the clients don’t feel empowered to question an architect’s design,” said Mr. Townsend.
One of Mr. Townsend’s clients, Chiyomi Okamoto, 53, worked closely with the firm on her home’s details. She wanted a house that felt comfortable to her and to her Australia-born husband, Joe Gayton, 58, an exports manager for the Victorian Government Business Office in Tokyo. Read the rest of this entry »
After her parents divorced, Audrey went to London with her mother where she went to a private girls school. Later, when her mother moved back to the Netherlands, she attended private schools as well. While she vacationed with her mother in Arnhem, Netherlands, Hitler’s army took over the town. It was here that she fell on hard times during the Nazi occupation. Audrey suffered from depression and malnutrition.
After the liberation, she went to a ballet school in London on a scholarship and later began a modeling career. As a model, she was graceful and, it seemed, she had found her niche in life–until the film producers came calling. In 1948, after being spotted modeling by a producer, she was signed to a bit part in the European film Dutch in Seven Lessons(1948).
Later, she had a speaking role in the 1951 film, Young Wives’ Tale (1951) as Eve Lester. The part still wasn’t much, so she headed to America to try her luck there. Audrey gained immediate prominence in the US with her role in Roman Holiday (1953) in 1953. This film turned out to be a smashing success, and she won an Oscar as Best Actress. This gained her enormous popularity and more plum roles…(read more)
A sublime Hollywood moment. Audrey Hepburn‘s voice is still as fresh as the day this was recorded. Nostalgic and melancholy, it’s perhaps one of Henry Mancini‘s best-remembered film scores. Though it’s a lighthearted mainstream romantic drama, it was the first to depict (though it does so gracefully, discreetly) a NYC prostitute in the romantic female lead role. More controversial is the male lead is also essentially a prostitute. An aspiring writer “sponsored” by a wealthy socialite. The contrast between the decadent fun of high-society New York city and Holly Golightly’s secret impoverished hillbilly origins, is a thinly-veiled profile of its author, Truman Capote. Holly is Truman. The novel it’s based on is a small masterpiece, darker, with a more realistic ending.
Hepburn’s story is as miraculous as any actress in the 20th century. Having survived hunger, deprivation (tens of thousands died of starvation) and dislocation as a child in Nazi occupied Europe, Hepburn emerged, frail, ambitous, grateful to be alive. Audrey studied ballet enthusiastically during early post-war reconstruction, with the aim of performing in London, only to discover that she didn’t have the fitness and endurance to compete with dancers who were healthier and more fortunate during the war years. Audrey settled instead for using her dance training to pursue work as a showgirl in theater. Young Hepburn was discovered, legend has it, in a hotel lobby, by Colette, who was captivated by her exotic, doe-like beauty. Colette immediately cast Audrey, only 19 or 20 at the time, in the starring role of her play, “Gigi“. The stage production was a success, and soon after Hepburn was sought by Hollywood, for a film called “Roman Holiday“.
Unable to interrupt stage performances of Gigi to come to the U.S. for the customary screen test, the Paramount sent a crew to Europe for a hastily-arranged “personality” test–an informal version of a screen test–instead. It was shot inside what appears to be a hotel room.
Legend has it that when the film made it back overseas, got processed, printed, and screened for studio executives at Paramount, it was recognized by at least one executive, who described it as the best screen test, by any actress, ever recorded.
[Roman Holiday (Special Collector’s Edition) at Amazon]
Watching this for the first time (in a documentary a few nights ago) I was struck by what I imagined was their experience of seeing the young Hepburn for the first time. It’s hard to convey (in a little window on a computer screen) but only seconds into the test, before she takes more than one or two steps, it’s all there. Read the rest of this entry »
From The Little Mermaid and Anna Karenina to Holly Golightly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Samantha Ellis examines the heroines written by men
I was delighted to see Truman Capote–the little freak was a genius–featured as an example of an author that excelled at writing woman characters. Holly Golightly is arguably one of the most compelling women characters in 20th century popular fiction.
Besides being a classic 1960s Hollywood movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a novella, a small book with a big character. Made famous, of course, by Audrey Hepburn. Which is unfortunate–many contemporary readers wouldn’t likely place Capote’s forgotten book on their must-read list. I came across it casually, in my 20s, and it was this exact thing that captivated me. The creation of this… indelible character. I almost felt like the detective in Laura, infatuated with a ghost. In this case, a fictional creation. The character is darker, more seductive, more melancholy, in Capote’s book, than the romantic, candy-coated version in the movie.
The other thing I found striking was that Capote was writing about himself. If we take the Holly Golightly character, and switch the gender, it’s a story of a young homosexual male from the south, hustling among the wealthy and famous in New York. Swinging between euphoria and depression, a sexual social climber, running from a troubled past. That’s a Truman Capote autobiography.
But we also know that Capote drew inspiration, like a reporter, from real women. One of Truman’s great talents was befriending talkative, wealthy, fascinating women. It’s said that he based the book on an actual young socialite in Manhattan (or a composite of a few women he knew) which involved discretion, misdirection, secrecy, and even threats of lawsuits, as the guessing game disrupted reputations and ignited rumors among New York’s elite. One wonders if the handful of society women in contention were insisting they were not her, or claiming that they were.
It’s also unfortunate that Capote was remembered more for his decadent celebrity, than his (regrettably thin) body of work. He was a writer of great promise who lost his way. After the obscenely-rewarding success of In Cold Blood (it made Truman literally the most famous writer on earth) Capote never wrote a serious novel again. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a forgotten little gem that gave us one of fiction’s great heroines.
Samantha Ellis poses a good question. She writes:
Can men write good heroines? Most of the heroines I write about in my book How to Be a Heroine are written by women. And most of the heroines I find most problematic are written by men. It’s very troubling to go back to Hans Christian Andersen‘s The Little Mermaid and find that it’s a story about a mermaid who gives up her voice for legs to get a man. And even as a girl, I was furious with Charles Dickens for letting Nancy get bludgeoned in Oliver Twist and, later, outraged that Samuel Richardson heaped pain and indignity on Clarissa and called her “an Exemplar to her sex” as though learning to suffer well made us exemplary.
It’s particularly distressing to see how male writers have punished their heroines for being sexually adventurous. Leo Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina throws herself under a train; Gustave Flaubert makes Emma Bovary pathetic even before she poisons herself. It’s striking that when Erica Jong wrote about an adulteress in Fear of Flying, she gave her a happy ending, in which she is reborn in a hotel bathtub, and summons her adoring husband back.