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Friday, October 25, 2019

Twyla Tharp Wants You To Move, by Gia Kourlas, New York Times

It took her about three years — or maybe four — to reconcile herself to writing a book about being older. In the dance world, age is not freely acknowledged; Martha Graham lied about hers for years. “You don’t do this,” she said of her decision to go for it in her book. “Some people are going to laugh. O.K. That’s their prerogative.”

And with “Keep It Moving,” Ms. Tharp has a clear mission. “I really tried to write it for the person who is completely not familiar with their body,” she said, “and I tried very hard to open up the community of dance, which can seem to the public as elitist — it actually is not.”

The Effort To Preserve A Million Letters Written By U.S. Soldiers During Wartime, by April White, Smithsonian

The letters he carries to make his impassioned plea—and the tens of thousands more he donated to establish the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University in California—are the personal stories of war, intimate descriptions of the battlefield and the home front that often get overlooked by history books focused on troop movements and casualty counts. They are also a democratization of history: Hundreds of handwritten missives of a World War II Air Force pilot remembered only by his family will be preserved as carefully as the previously unheard audio recordings created by then Army Col. George Patton IV, of the famed Fighting Pattons, in his command tent in Vietnam.

“These letters are America’s great undiscovered literature. They give insight into war and into human nature,” says Carroll. “We can’t lose this kind of history.” He calls his project the Million Letters Campaign—but he still has a long way to go.

What’s So French About The F-Word?, by Dan Lewis, Now I Know

It’s an odd phrase, right? The speaker says “excuse my French” literally, as “embonpoint” isn’t a curse word, it’s just a regular old French word. Further, while the speaker apologizes, he’s not apologizing for calling the other guy fat. He apologizes for using a French word to levy the insult. It’s a strange thing to apologize for — until you look into the history of it.

How Mermaid Stories Illustrate Complex Truths About Being Human, by Cristina Bacchilega, Literary Hub

Mermaids: What and who are they? What do they look like? How are they different from sirens? How are they related to other water beings around the world? What are the cultural, religious, and popular beliefs that sustain specific plots of human‑merfolk encounters? Why do we continue to tell stories about eerie mermaids and other water spirits in the 21st century?

Is Everything Made Of Particles, Fields Or Both Combined?, by Charles Sebens, Aeon

Is everything made of particles, fields or both?

This question is not front and centre in contemporary physics research. Theoretical physicists generally think that we have a good-enough understanding of quantum electrodynamics to be getting on with, and now we need to work on developing new theories and finding ways to test them through experiments and observations.

That might be the path forward. However, sometimes progress in physics requires first backing up to reexamine, reinterpret and revise the theories that we already have. To do this kind of research, we need scholars who blend the roles of physicist and philosopher, as was done thousands of years ago in Ancient Greece.

Doubting Death: How Our Brains Shield Us From Mortal Truth, by Ian Sample, The Guardian

Being shielded from thoughts of our future death could be crucial for us to live in the present. The protection may switch on in early life as our minds develop and we realise death comes to us all.

“The moment you have this ability to look into your own future, you realise that at some point you’re going to die and there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Dor-Ziderman. “That goes against the grain of our whole biology, which is helping us to stay alive.”

Baking Pies Made Me Feel More American And Less Afraid, by Rakesh Satyal, Eater

Pie — that quintessential symbol of coziness and culinary Americana, a dish so enticing that being simply left on a windowsill to cool causes it, in caricature, to extend wavy tendrils of scent into the surrounding air and draw neighbors in by their noses. Sadly, although I grew up in decidedly suburban Ohio, we weren’t so rural as to have pies cooling on window sills. My family was Indian; we weren’t in the habit of making pies at all. Instead, my mother would either make barfi, a traditional Indian confection composed of sweet condensed milk, coconut, and cardamom, or Betty Crocker chocolate cakes from mixes, which my dad brought home from his job at General Mills.

How Steak Became Manly And Salads Became Feminine, by Paul Freedman, The Conversation

Chain restaurants geared toward women, such as Schrafft’s, proliferated. They created alcohol-free safe spaces for women to lunch without experiencing the rowdiness of workingmen’s cafés or free-lunch bars, where patrons could get a free midday meal as long as they bought a beer (or two or three).

It was during this period that the notion that some foods were more appropriate for women started to emerge. Magazines and newspaper advice columns identified fish and white meat with minimal sauce, as well as new products like packaged cottage cheese, as “female foods.” And of course, there were desserts and sweets, which women, supposedly, couldn’t resist.

Fine Dining Has Become Boring. One Australian Restaurant Is Its Greatest Hope, by Besha Rodell, Eater

That act of translation, of revelation, was new to me. Even as someone who mined every meal for deeper meaning, I rarely found it at the fine dining table, which seemed primed only to pamper the braggadocio of the 1 percent. Here was something different, something deeper, something that mirrored the ambitions and accomplishments of ... well ... artists.

That the experience was enrobed in layers of pleasure — the food was delicious! the very good wine made me tipsy! the service was delightful! — all of a sudden made the case for true, heartfelt fine dining stronger, rather than weaker. Like a play; like a novel. Like a poem in edible form.

In The House In The Dark Of The Woods By Laird Hunt Review – A Shapeshifting Quest, by Justine Jordan, The Guardian

“Once upon a time there was and there wasn’t a woman who went to the woods … ” US author Laird Hunt’s riddling, shapeshifting novel makes full use of the fertile ambiguity of fairytale: its wide-eyed rhetorical certainty and resistance to final interpretation. Crumbs of information dropped throughout the text suggest that we are in colonial-era Puritan New England, where a woman has settled with her husband and son. “It was a great wide new world we had come to after we had left our troubles behind.”

'A History Of New York In 27 Buildings' Is A Love Letter To The Big Apple, by Gabino Iglesias, NPR

On the surface, Sam Roberts' A History of New York in 27 Buildings: The 400-Year Untold Story of an American Metropolis is a book about the architectural history of New York City.

But, actually, the book is much more. For starters it's a love letter to some of the lesser known buildings in one of the world's most important cities. It's also a nuanced, richly researched book that delves deep into the history of the city and speaks volumes about its past, present and future — as it tells the story of some of its residents and the politics, laws, disasters, and businesses that shaped it.

‘Cabinets Of Curiosities’ Delves Into The History Of Collectors And Their Stunning, Strange Acquisitions, by Reagan Upshaw, Washington Post

Many of us keep a tchotchke of some kind on a mantelpiece or dresser in our houses — a stone from a vacation beach, a dime-store gift from a grandchild now in college, a folk sculpture picked up in Mexico, a thing that embodies a memory of a place or a time in our lives. In “Cabinets of Curiosities,” Patrick Mauriès tells the story of some truly awesome collectors.