Rufus Wainwright on opera in the New York Times (via both Stereogum and Alex Ross). Thanks to Indiana University's estimable School of Music, I've been to a handful of operas in my life, and would like to fancy that I appreciated them as much as I was capable, given my lack of point of reference. But, hearing one of my favorite musicians rhapsodize about the art form makes me really want to dive in and self-educate. Seems you could devise a pretty kick-ass beginners' course just by going through the selections he cites in the article.
I read Jonathan Ames's most recent novel Wake Up, Sir! in the course of about two days this week. It is borderline embarrassing how much I love him. I will save you the self-indulgent quoting of my favorite passages here, but, sweet Jesus, is it funny as all get-out. It's a bit slow at the beginning, but once he finally gets to the artists' colony in New York, you will be treated to the funniest description of a seersucker suit you will undoubtedly ever read, the pure genius of the phrase "corn on the macabre," and the most accurate, if just this side of hyperbolic, representation of what happens when a bunch of neurotic, self-important artists live together in extremely close, isolated quarters. I could swear I recognize veiled references to at least three faculty members from IU's English department (Ames was artist-in-residence or somesuch there during the second semester of my senior year, which is how I was first introduced to his work), but I'm sure that anyone who's ever known a socially maladjusted painter or poet or photographer probably sees more than a passing resemblance to them in these characters, too. Just for snicks, here's an interview with Ames from Powells.com.