April 11, 2010
Mark Twain was an American wit like no other, willing and more than able in writing or in person to skewer the pompous and self-important, be they lying politicians, ham-fisted editors or petty tyrants on the local school board. But one subject did tend to command his respect. "When I am king," mused a character in his 1881 novel "The Prince and the Pauper," the people "shall not [only] have bread and shelter, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is worth little where the mind is starved."
February 19, 2009
Mark Twain's sadness and worries about money are all right there - hidden under the cross-dressing plot that puts a cigar-chomping gent in hoop skirts and hair bows, beneath the satirical swipes at the French, the art world and Limburger cheese. Is He Dead?, a recently discovered 1898 comedy by the great humorist and adapted by David Ives, has all the sparkle and brilliance of a shooting star. But it leaves behind a trail of dust, stones and space debris. In the farce, currently receiving a solid production at Olney Theatre Center, Twain cheekily placed a beloved, recent painter, Jean Francois Millet, in stage center.
December 21, 2008
Eric Roth won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay for Forrest Gump. It would be cosmically appropriate as well as overwhelmingly deserved if he won another one a lucky 13 years later for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This movie turns everything on its head, including time, cliched notions of luck and destiny, and conventional notions of the art of adaptation. (Starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, it opens nationwide on Christmas Day.) Benjamin Button takes little from the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story beyond its hook and its title.
March 2, 2008
Henry Johnson is a partner of Johnson/Berman, an interior design firm responsible for many high-profile projects, including the State House in Annapolis and the Maryland Club in Baltimore. Johnson has always had a keen interest in architectural history, which has informed much of his award-winning work for more than two decades. He says he believes that good design is not an accident, but the result of a thoughtful and purposeful approach to problem-solving with exact and specific goals.
December 23, 2007
Andres Alonso and his family left Cuba when he was 12. He arrived in Union City, N.J., speaking no English but found mentors in the public schools who saw his potential and encouraged him to apply to Columbia University. He graduated from Columbia magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, then earned a law degree from Harvard University. "With me, there were people who saw beyond a language problem, people who saw beyond the poverty," he said. Alonso, who is 50, was deputy chancellor of the New York City public school system before taking charge of the Baltimore system this year.
December 12, 2007
Tomlinson not squeezed out Remember all that talk in September about how San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson was the latest star ball-carrier to get used up like a tube of toothpaste that has been squeezed empty? After the first three games of the season, Tomlinson had a total of rushing 130 yards for an anemic 2.3-yard average and one measly touchdown. Well, as Mark Twain might have observed, reports of Mr. Tomlinson's demise were greatly exaggerated. In the past 10 games, LT has been a fantasy league superstar (and kept the Chargers alive in the playoff hunt)