Hell-no, Dolly! NYT, WSJ Critics Make Very Different Bettes

It’s always fun when the bull goose theater critics in The Big Town provide the Broadway version of Bizarro World over some megabucks production. Case in point: The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reviews of Bette Midler as the title character in the Shubert Theater revival of Hello, Dolly!

Let’s compare and contrast in clear idiomatic English, shall we?

Enter, stage right, New York Times critic Ben Brantley, whose review sports the headline Bright, Brassy and All Bette.

Money quote #1, regarding a solitary, expensive meal in Act Two.

Ms. Midler brings such comic brio — both barn-side broad and needlepoint precise — to the task of playing with her food that I promise you it stops the show. Then again, pretty much everything Ms. Midler does stops the show.

Money quote #2, regarding Midler’s overall performance.

Ms. Midler works hard for her ovations, while making you feel that the pleasure is all hers. In the process she deftly shoves the clamorous memories of Carol Channing (who created the role on Broadway) and Barbra Streisand (in the 1969 film) at least temporarily into the wings.

All good, yes?

No.

Enter, stage wrong, Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout, whose review features the headline Disaster Despite a Diva.

Money quote #1, regarding the – well – musical part of the musical.

Ms. Midler’s singing voice is in a desperate, sometimes shocking state of disrepair.

Money quote #2, regarding Brantley’s “clamorous memories of Carol Channing.”

As for the rest of the performance, Ms. Midler doesn’t even bother to act: She simply comes on stage and plays her familiar self, albeit at a disturbingly low level of energy. Unlike Carol Channing, who created the role, she can’t dance and isn’t funny (I was actually embarrassed by her mugging in the courtroom scene). All she has to offer is the memory of a great career, and if that’s enough for you, then you’ll be happy to shell out to see her in “Hello, Dolly!”

Ouch.

There’s one thing the two critics do agree on, however. The audience is more than happy to shell out.

Brantley: “Ms. Midler is generating a succession of seismic responses that make Trump election rallies look like Quaker prayer meetings.”

Teachout: “I’ve never seen a performance of anything at which there was so unanimous a consensus on the part of the audience that the diva could do no wrong.”

Exit, stage right.

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Memo to T.S. Eliot: In Boston, April Is the Coolest Month

We all remember The Waste Land, right?

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Except right now, as the hardchilling staff sits on our porch, we desire a much warmer spring.

But, cruelly, no.

According to The Weather Channel, here’s our immediate future.

Well that totally blows.

But not as much as this:

And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

Yeah – we’ll take the Mostly Cloudy vs. the handful of dust any day.

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New York Times: All the Nudes That’s Fit to Print

As the hardblushing staff has noted on previous occasions (see here and here), the Grey Lady has been opening the kimono more and more of late, from an ulp-skirt Louis Vuitton ad several years ago to this eye-popping Christie’s ad last fall.

 

 

Now comes the latest edition of the Nude York Times – this M.S. Ray Antiques ad on A7 in yesterday’s paper.

 

 

An artwork so nice, they showed it twice. Just one more sign o’ the Times.

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Liz’s New Book Warren(ts) Full-Page New York Times Ad

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Nevertheless) has a new book out – This Fight Is Our Fight – and a spiffy marketing campaign to go along with it.

Exhibit A (5): This full-page ad in today’s New York Times.

 

But that’s not the only publicity Warren’s book will be getting, according to this Politico piece by local gal Lauren Dezenski.

Conservative PAC takes aim at Warren during book tour

BOSTON — America Rising PAC, a conservative group that hounded Hillary Clinton following the release of her book “Hard Choices” in 2014, is about to do the same to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Warren’s latest book, “This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class,” will be released on Tuesday. The Massachusetts Democrat will set out on a book tour with stops in New York and Massachusetts this week.

“We view book launch as the soft launch of her presidential campaign. We’ll do the same to her as we did with Hillary Clinton in 2014,” said America Rising executive director Colin Reed.

Dezenski adds that the group “will build and maintain opposition research, use video tracking, Freedom of Information Act and public records, and deploy rapid-response communications to ‘make Warren’s life difficult’ during her 2018 Senate reelection campaign, according to a memo outlining the group’s efforts.”

And, apparently, post videos to YouTube like this one, which uses news clips to contrast Warren with – oddly – Ted Kennedy. The subject: presidential ambitions.

 

 

Loved this line: “He would be senator from Massachusetts, uninterrupted, for the next 47 years.” Right – because his attempt to rub out a sitting president of his own party in 1980 failed miserably.

So, what do we have here? The Lion of the Senate vs. the Liawatha of the Senate?

That book tour should be fun.

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Quote o’ the Day (To Know Trump Edition)

We are reminded every day that Pres. Donald Trump (R-Donald Trump) is, for all practical purposes, pre-verbal. See the transcript from his recent Time interview for the gory details.

But every once in a while we get a glimpse of the Trump who’s, well, precognitive. Latest exhibit: This interview in today’s Wall Street Journal, in which Trump says he has a “renewed confidence in the Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans he had just two weeks ago suggested targeting for defeat in next year’s midterm election,” because, of course, they blowtorched Trump’s meshugge healthcare reform.

And whence comes this renewed confidence?

 

 

Clearly, it’s time to summon Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Of something, anyway.

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WSJ Plays the Stooge for Anti-Union Gunsel Rick Berman

As the hardtsking staff has diligently noted lo these many years, Rick Berman is a hired gun American corporations use to fight labor unions, public-health advocates, and consumer, safety, animal welfare, and environmental groups, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, an unabashedly left-leaning organization.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal featured yet another instance of Berman’s wet work, in the form of this op-ed.

Honey, I Shrunk the Union

The Service Employees International Union last week held yet another national protest. The “racial justice-themed Fight for $15 day of action” spread to dozens of cities but failed to live up to the hype.

A few dozen people showed up in Boston. The turnout appeared even smaller in San Diego. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless tweeted a picture of “16 homeless workers.” The union should be embarrassed. Ignore the SEIU’s political theatrics and Potemkin protests, and you’ll find a cash-strapped group waging a losing war.

Potemkin protests? That’s Rick Berman’s middle name.

From CREW’s bermanexposed.com:

 

 

So, to the point here.

The Wall Street Journal should have disclosed Rick Berman’s financial interest in the failure of SEIU’s fight for a $15 minimum wage.

But it didn’t.

Then again, the Journal has been suckered by Berman before.

So maybe the paper just doesn’t care.

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More Pom Poms From News Media Pep Squad for Truth

As the hardworking staff has diligently noted, all kinds of news organizations are busily marketing their truthfulness and reliability to a skeptical public.

Call the roll: New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and some outfit called News Media Alliance.

Now come two more – the Financial Times and the Texture app.

From an FT press release:

FT marketing campaign prompts readers to seek trusted journalism in a complex world

11 April 2017: The Financial Times today launches a marketing campaign challenging readers to think beyond ‘black and white’ and turn to the FT for a more complete perspective on the news agenda . . .

The creative images feature issues and events driving the news agenda as overly simplified dichotomies presented in black and white, before prompting readers with the line, ‘For the full perspective, turn to the FT.’ The campaign demonstrates how the FT takes readers beyond the headlines and helps them make the right connections in complex and uncertain times.

Indeed.

Next up is this full-page ad from Sunday’s New York Times.

We can’t figure out if all this effort is a) preaching to the choir, or b) whistling past the graveyard.

Probably both, come to think of it.

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NYT Photog Sergey Ponomarev’s Page One Pic Is . . . Art

The hardlooking staff has long admired the photographic skill of New York Times shutterbug Sergey Ponomarev, who dominated the paper’s 2013 Year in Pictures review.

Yesterday, though, Ponomarev outdid himself with this front-page photo.

 

 

Close up:

 

 

Man, that is one beautiful image. And he even worked in The Gherkin.

Brilliant!

The piece by Sarah Lyall gets four – count ’em, four – pages inside with lots of other Ponomarev pix.

Here’s betting you’ll see at least one of them in the Times 2017 Year in Pictures bakeoff.

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New York Times Publishes Chinese Government Propaganda

In the run-up to yesterday’s Donald Trump-Xi Jinping hoedown at Mar-a-Lago, the New York Times ran this full-page piece of aditprop from Chinese government mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency.

 

 

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, just because the Times took Chinese government money and ran the ad doesn’t mean the paper endorses it.

But . . .

Wouldn’t discretion have been the better part of dollar in this case?

Wethinks so.

How about you?

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MFA’s ‘Matisse in the Studio’ Gets Two WSJ Rave Reviews – And It Hasn’t Even Opened Yet

Get ready for the next Boston Museum of Fine Arts blockbuster.

Matisse in the Studio opens this Sunday, but already it’s gotten two – count ’em, two – boffo reviews in the Wall Street Journal.

Start with this swoon from Susan Delson two weeks ago.

Matisse’s Masterpieces From Ordinary Objects

Boston exhibition traces how a vase, a chair and textiles became immortal

A glass vase, picked up in Spain. A small Congolese figure, bought from a dealer in Paris. A pot for making hot chocolate. A pewter jug. A vivid textile from North Africa.

As we learn from a new exhibition in Boston, such inexpensive, ordinary things often served as the wellsprings of Henri Matisse’s art.

Nut graf:

Opening April 9 at the Museum of Fine Arts, “Matisse in the Studio” assembles some 40 objects that the artist surrounded himself with—including that Venetian chair—along with more than 80 of the paintings, drawings and other artworks that they inspired. The French artist (1869–1954) once said about his collection, “A good actor can have a part in 10 different plays; an object can play a role in 10 different pictures.” Painting a likeness wasn’t the goal. Instead, Matisse wanted to capture his own emotional response to the object at that moment.

As well he did, according to Eric Gibson’s piece in yesterday’s Journal.

‘Matisse in the Studio’ Review: A Master’s Objects of Inspiration

By pairing works by Henri Matisse with objects from his studio, a portrait emerges of the artist and his creative process.

How does an artist’s mind work? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but broadly speaking we can say that it passes external stimuli through the refiner’s fire of an individual sensibility or vision. The trouble is, we have almost no access to this process since we see only the end result, the finished work of art on the wall or pedestal.

But the MFA exhibit overcomes that problem, Gibson says. “[The MFA’s] exhibition is nothing short of a revelation—and not just about Matisse. I can think of no other exhibition that has told us so much about what artists do and how they think.”

Excellent!

See you at the MFA, yes?

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