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…the theater and film industry are beginning to recognize the need for “intimacy directors,” people who specialize in choreographing onstage intimacy.

They are practitioners who use concrete guidelines and techniques, such as the “four pillars” of intimacy direction, according to Alicia Rodis, a member of Intimacy Directors International.

Consent: Get the performers’ permission — including concrete boundaries and out of bounds body parts, and do it before you start.

Communication: Keep talking throughout the process. What’s working, what’s not, who’s touching who and how and do they feel safe.

Choreography: Performers wouldn’t spontaneously add an extra pirouette to a dance number or an extra kick to a fight scene. Don’t add an ass grab or extra kissing.

Context: Just because you kiss someone in one scene doesn’t mean you can kiss them in another scene without communicating about adjusting the choreography and seeking consent to do so. Just because someone is topless with you on stage, it doesn’t mean they won’t mind being topless around you offstage, or in another scene onstage.

To explore the ideas of intimacy and safety on stage in a variety of situations, LEO spoke with Rodis, as well as Tony Prince, a local director; and Sarah Flanagan, a Louisville-based fight director.

And:

Rodis, the New York intimacy director, started as a fight director, and that led to her new focus. She shared one experience from that evolution.

“There was one show I was working on where there was a woman who slapped the man and then kissed him. So I was brought in for the slap.”

She ended up working on the slap and the kiss. For that kiss, she used her stage combat skills. That included asking standard questions like where do the actors touch each other, and new questions like how long does the kiss last?

Here is the full story, via Catherine Rampell.

Monday assorted links

by on August 7, 2017 at 12:09 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The costs of sports segregation are higher than you think (NYT): “Dr. Eric Vilain, a medical geneticist, helped create the International Olympic Committee’s hyperandrogenism policy, which requires a competitor with the condition to undergo treatment that lowers her testosterone levels.”

2. Why people think Germans aren’t funny.

3. The Price for Lighting (per million lumen-hours) in the UK in British Pound,1300-2006.

4. The effects of common ownership on bank behavior, properly measured, seem quite small.  And newer version of the paper here.

5. “Our results show that participants liked the faulty robot significantly better than the robot that interacted flawlessly.

6. Redux: a 2014 NYT column of mine on women in the workplace.

Recently Macedonia signed a “good relations” treaty with Bulgaria, so Macedonia cannot be said to have bad relations with all of its neighboring countries; they get along OK with Kosovo too.  Israel is another possible candidate, although it could be argued that de facto relations with Egypt are not so bad.  How about Palestine?  Qatar is a country surrounded by hostile powers, and for the time being they win this designation.

Belarus is on increasingly bad terms with Russia, but Russia has quite a few adjoining countries, and I am not sure if all of those relations are so bad.  China has frosty relations with many neighbors, although with Russia you would call it mixed and “not yet negative.” And relations with “the Stans” are not terrible.  They don’t like North Korea so much any more, even if they won’t topple it.

I think of Chile as bordering on a hostile Bolivia, but relations with Argentina are acceptable, even if Porteños look down on the Chileans for being provincial.

Africa?

Then there are countries with only one neighbor, such as how Haiti and the Dominican Republic rather uncomfortably share the island of Hispaniola.  Relations across Central America seem to have improved considerably.

Which countries are the other contenders for this honorary designation?

There’s no point in doing a complete survey, but here are a few observations and suggestions:

1. I am not intrigued by much Mozart written before K330 or so.  Piano Concerto #9 is one exception to this.  But Toscanini was right to claim that too much of it sounds the same.

2. The string quintets are the best Mozart pieces you might not know, but skip K174.

3. The string quartets and Requiem might be the most overrated Mozart, though the latter would be wonderful if he could have finished it.  It is better to listen to the fragmented version, without the artificial Süssmayr ending.

4. The Milos Forman Mozart movie is worth a viewing, if you don’t already know it.  I thought I would hate it, but didn’t.  Don’t try to learn history from it, however.

5. Clive Geoffrey, The Romantic Enlightenment, has my favorite essay on Mozart.  A reasonably priced reissue is needed.  The standard biographies are very good, also read Mozart’s letters.

6. The operas reign supreme.  Try Currentzis or Colin Davis for Don Giovanni, Haitink or Klemperer for The Magic Flute, Boehm for Cosi Fan Tutte, Giulini for Figaro, and Rene Jacobs for Idomeneo.  I don’t know of a definitive version of Abduction from the Seraglio, but Beecham and Krips are good and Harnoncourt does the overture best, as he never lets up on the rambunctious in it.  If I had to choose the operas, or all the rest of Mozart put together, I would go for the operas.

What I’ve been reading

by on August 6, 2017 at 1:39 am in Books, Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad.  At first I feared it was too trendy, but I ended up engrossed.

2. Stephen R. Platt, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War.  Pseudoerasmus calls this the best book on the most underrated big war in human history; he is right.  It also gives you a good sense of how 50-100 million people might have died.

3. Mark Bowden, Hue 1968: A Turning Point in the American War in Vietnam.  Both a very good Vietnam War book, and a very good Vietnam book.

4. Rousas John Rushdoony. The Foundations of Social Order: Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church.  Uneven in argumentative quality, but brilliant in parts, this is one of the conceptually most interesting books on early Christianity.  It turns out your views on Christology really do shape your politics, and furthermore there is a coherent version of libertarian Calvinism, except it isn’t very libertarian, and it comes from…having the right Christology.  Recommended, it opens up new worlds for the reader.

5. Thomas Mann, Der Zauberberg.  I had never read this in German before.  For all its extraordinary intellectual and emotional peaks, it is also remarkably witty.

Saturday assorted links

by on August 5, 2017 at 12:14 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

Amanda Lea Robinson has a new paper “Nationalism and Ethnic-Based Trust: Evidence from an African Border Region,” here is her main result:

In diverse societies, individuals tend to trust coethnics more than non-coethnics. I argue that identification with a territorially-defined nation, common to all ethnic groups, reduces the degree to which trust is ethnically bounded. I conduct a “lab-in-the-field” experiment at the intersection of national and ethnic boundaries in Malawi, which measures strength of national identification, experimentally manipulates national identity salience, and measures trust behaviorally. I find that shared nationality is a robust predictor of trust, equal in magnitude to the impact of shared ethnicity. Furthermore, national identification moderates the degree to which trust is limited to coethnics: while weak national identifiers trust coethnics more than non-coethnics, strong national identifiers are blind to ethnicity. Experimentally increasing national identity salience also eliminates the co-ethnic trust advantage among weak nationalists. These results offer micro-level evidence that a strong and salient national identity can diminish ethnic barriers to trust in diverse societies.

Hat tip goes to Ben Southwood.

1. Turkey $1200

2. Brazil $1,115

3. Russia, $1,086

4. Greece $1,028

5. Poland $1,005

6. Italy $995

7. Czech Republic $994

8. Norway $993

9. Denmark $986

10. Sweden $982

See the whole list, but the United States is cheapest at $815, tied with Japan, with Hong Kong next at $821.  One lesson is that having crummy, overregulated retailing is worse for some of your prices than being an expensive country.

Too many people think of him as ordinary and earthy, compared to Mozart or Beethoven.  Yet he composed amazing amounts of pathbreaking, first-rate music, and it wears remarkably well upon repeated listenings.

My approach to Haydn is pretty simple:

1. Some of the early piano music is boring, but a simple availability metric will point you to the best material.  The deepest are the six last sonatas, and most well-known performances are quite good.  Ax, McCabe, Kalish, Richter, and Brendel are among the first choices, Jando (Naxos) and Buchbinder are good enough to listen to but not preferred.  By the way, piano > pianoforte, there was no great stagnation.

2. Listen to as many of the string quartets as you can, with preference given to Opus 76.  On average, the later opus numbers are better, yet Op.9 and Op.20 still are worthwhile.

3. Listen to the London Symphonies.  Again and again.  All of them, Dorati being one option for conductor.

That’s hardly the only wonderful Haydn, but those are the pieces that work best through recordings.  See the choral and vocal music live.  Most of the concerti bore me, as do the piano trios.  Many of the earlier symphonies are good, including the Paris set and the “Sturm und Drang” period, but unless you have lots and lots of time I say focus on the London ones for now.

As the years or decades pass, you will realize you have been underrating Haydn.

…most important of all was the gulf between the man and the national media, who could not understand each other — Romney’s billboards in New Hampshire read THE WAY TO STOP CRIME IS TO STOP MORAL DECAY; he could not understand why newsmen found the slogan funny; and they could not understand what he meant by moral decay.

That is from the still-engaging Theodore H. White The Making of the President 1968.  And here is Rod Dreher on crime and morality.

Why their sudden inward turn, and why the Chinese state’s abandonment of the oceans?  Some historians, like Bruce Swanson, cite a power struggle within the bureaucracy between eunuchs and conservative neo-Confucians, dubbed “continentalists,” with the eunuchs ultimately losing out.  Another important factor was probably China’s reopening of its enlarged and completely renovated Grand Canal, an extraordinary feat of engineering that connected northern China to the increasingly populous breadbasket of the south.  At eleven hundred miles long, the canal was controlled by numerous locks, much like New York’s Erie Canal, which measures only one-third its length and was not built until four hundred years later.  In 1415 the state banned the shipment of grain to the north by sea to compel use of the canal, for which thousands of barges were built.  Such a decision would have dramatically reduced the need for shipping, and hence shipbuilding and the maintenance of fleets, leading to the halting of oceangoing ship construction altogether by Yongle’s successor in 1436.

That is from the new and interesting Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power, by Howard W. French.  I believe the definitive economic history of the Grand Canal remains to be written, it will be a major achievement when it happens.

Thursday assorted links

by on August 3, 2017 at 1:49 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Why do the Chinese hug less?

2. Linguistic practices of Chinese state media, recommended.

3. “No less than 72% of the most ‘authoritarian’ group voted to leave, while just 21% of the most ‘libertarian’ group did so.” A post-mortem on Brexit (pdf).  And in Germany there is a pub The UnBrexit.

4. This piece is a good meditation on what efficiency really means (with apologies to Benjamin L.), here is one bit: “[Chris] Paul can’t consistently create easy shots against an elite defense, but he’s also too disciplined to take bad shots, which limits his upside against higher levels of competition. Paul has averaged more than 25 points a game in a playoff series only once, and it was in his most recent seven-game battle against the Jazz. Westbrook has done it nine times, and Curry has done it eight. Paul’s tricks don’t work as well against his All-NBA peers.”

5. Eduardo Porter on tax reform (NYT).

6. Russ Roberts on emergent order.

In the period from January to June criminal homicides have risen 10 per cent in the state of Rio, compared with last year, while homicides in confrontations with police have risen 45 per cent, according to the state security secretariat. Violent deaths resulting from attempted robbery have risen 21 per cent.

The violence is taking its toll on Rio`s cash-strapped police, who complain they lack funds even for petrol for their vehicles. News organisation Globo reported that every 54 hours, a policeman is killed in the city.

That is from Joe Leahy and Andres Schipani at the FT.

Wednesday assorted links

by on August 2, 2017 at 11:47 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

Yes, I am in Vienna, but I will take this country in discrete chunks because the contributions are so significant.  Today is literature, here are a few remarks:

1. Thomas Bernhard.  One of the very best post-war writers, obsessive and funny and extremely neurotic.  The Loser [Der Untegeher] is the one that works best in English, though his unique style is not at its most fevered pitch.  Wittgensteins Neffe [Wittgenstein’s Nephew] is my favorite, one of the smartest and funniest novels I know, close to perfect.  Das Kalkwerk is entrancing, though I suspect unreadable in English.  He remains grossly underrated in the English-speaking world, mostly for linguistic reasons but also he is a rebellion against the idea of a culture of entertainment.  In my personal canon he is one of the more significant writers.

2. Hermann BrochDeath of Virgil is a 20th century classic, again much under-read amongst the American educated classes.  Die Schlafwandler [The Sleepwalkers] is impressive, and perhaps seen as his major work, but it is more uneven in quality and eventually it falls apart.

3. Robert Musil. There are wonderful and historically significant major passages in The Man Without Qualities, but the drama loses its interest, the loose ends are not tied up, and ultimately I will call him overrated, especially compared to Bernhard or Broch.

4. Peter Handke.  In German only, I say, and in any case not my taste.  He is serious about politics in exactly the wrong way, and I hope future generations reject him.

5. Elfriede Jelinek.  Many were surprised when she won the 2014 Nobel Prize in literature, and you are most likely to know her for writing the book behind the movie The Piano Teacher.  Like Wagner, you could say her work is “better than it sounds,” but still it doesn’t sound that good.  I find it irritating and offensive, plus she is a communist.  Nonetheless, irritating fiction is better than boring fiction, see “Günter Wilhelm Grass.

6. Karl Kraus.  I used to think his work would eventually “come together” for me, but the more of it I read, and the more I read about him, I conclude he is a figure of historic interest only, and a good aphorist, but not an enduring literary artist.  He was a keen satirist of the mores and totalitarian tendencies of his time, and that is to be appreciated.  But if you try reading the rambling 500-page The Last Days of Mankind, in either English or German, you will conclude it was a work of its time only.

7. Arthur Schnitzler and Hugo Hofmannstahl.  Both remain underrated, and don’t forget Hofmannstahl’s libretti for Richard Strauss, including Der Rosenkavalier.

8. Christoph Ransmayr.  He is popular in contemporary Austrian literature.  I was not convinced, but will try again, if you love The Last World let me know.

9. Heimito von Doderer — I have not yet read him but am hopeful.

9b. Ingeborg Bachmann.  I just bought some this morning.

10. Johann Nestroy.  From the Enlightenment, mostly a playwright, worth spending some time with to get a perspective on Austrian literature before the 20th century.

11. Sigmund Freud and Ludwig Wittgenstein are both often best read as literature.

12. Stefan Zweig. The World of Yesterday is a favorite, sad and bittersweet, and it treats the European civilization that was passing away at the time of the Second World War, still relevant.  Zweig committed suicide in Brazil, here is an excellent biography.  The rest of his fiction still is read around much of the world (not so much America, famously in Russia), but I find it pretty ordinary and of its time.

I’m not counting Canetti, Kafka, and the like, who are not properly Austrian, though they lived in the Empire.  Rilke does not count either, though he is one of the greatest of poets.  Joseph Roth was born in Galicia, yet I think of him as an Austrian rather than Polish writer, again still somewhat neglected in the English-speaking world.  Try Radetzky MarchFranz Werfel I find ordinary, though I have not yet read Forty Days of Musa Dagh, for some his masterpiece, I did buy a copy of that one recently.

The bottom line: There are amazing wonders here, and yes “weird stuff.”  Most of the educated people I know are not clued into them.