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Eccentric Wentworth Woodhouse estate residence to centuries “old camellias” readies to bloom once again in Yorkshire

The rambling 365-room manor is being rescued from near collapse, starting with its tea house.

When the debris of the flattened roof covering and smashed home windows was cleared and the camellia trees at Wentworth Woodhouse were trimmed, the blossoms grew after more than 250 years at the Yorkshire estate. Restoration job will certainly quickly start there on the run-down Camellia Residence, house to several of the earliest and rarest samplings imported to the UK from China as well as Japan. Once it is back in operation as a tea room as well as night event room, as it was when Woman Rockingham captivated guests in 1738, the Camellia Residence will in turn start making money for bring back the main house, one of one of the most overwhelming preservation tasks in the UK.

Eccentric Wentworth Woodhouse Yorkshire

 Wentworth Woodhouse is not just one stupendous estate with the longest façade of any personal house in Britain; it is effectively 2 residences, back to back, wrapped around the core of a reasonably modest Jacobean chateau. The west front was started in 1725 in an English Baroque style, yet hardly ended up when job began on the 187m-long Palladian eastern front, for the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, a Whig grandee who was twice prime minister.

Generations produced a triumphantly unrestrainable home, with grand state rooms including the stone-pillared entrance hall supporting the magnificent double-height marble drinkery and, above them, a warren of oddly proportioned run-down rooms, stairs leading nowhere as well as a maze of hallways connecting the two sides.

All of it adds up to an approximated 365 rooms as well as 250,000 sq. feet of room. Dorian Proudfoot, the project architect of Donald Insall Associates, says he routinely obtains lost regardless of valuable arrows taped on doors.

When the Rockingham descendants sold the house in 1979, its components had actually long been scattered at public auction– George Stubbs’s imposing picture of the marquess’s racehorse Whistlejacket is now in the National Gallery.


The Quality I residence and also many detailed barns, harmed by open-cast coal mining as much as within 10ft of the wall surfaces, were also riddled with asbestos, rot, collapsing stonework and also ruined roofing slates. Studies forecasted total collapse. Two personal repair strategies fell short, however in 2017 the community-based Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust fund acquired your home for ₤ 7m. Job was then estimated at ₤ 130m; the best guess currently is twice that.

A government give of ₤ 7.6 m covered crucial roof covering job, as well as with further funding from counts on as well as charities, Historical England, the National Depend On and also the Lotto game, the concern is urgent repairs and making the estate earn its maintain. Plans include retail, vacation allows as well as leased workplace.

When the pandemic closed your house, the 55-acre premises opened, emergency situation give cash was spent on providing trucks to change the coffee shop, and site visitors crowded there. Your home is likewise currently open once again, and also the depend on wishes that the Camellia Residence will certainly greet visitors next year.

The depend on’s president, Sarah McLeod, a previous pub landlady made use of to dealing with any emergency situation, determines her time in containers. When she arrived, your house had one phone, one vacuum cleaner and 5 personnel whose main task was establishing scores of buckets under leakages. The depend on currently has 57 staff members as well as greater than 200 volunteers.

” The most awful part of the roofing system is done, we no more have water pouring into the state rooms, as well as I assume we’re down to six containers,” she claims. “There’s a long way to go, yet I call that a success.”

Overlooked No More: Janet Sobel, Whose Art Influenced Jackson Pollock


This article is part of Overlooked, a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

When Janet Sobel created one of the most recognizable artistic styles, drip painting, on scraps of paper, boxes and the backs of envelopes, she was 45 years old, had never taken a single art class and didn’t even have her own supplies.

Rather than use a brush, she threw paint onto a surface or used objects like glass pipettes to control the pigment as it fell. Sometimes she used a vacuum cleaner to move the paint around. The result was an allover composition not bound to conceptions of form and shape.

Though art historians say her spontaneous manner of painting is characteristic of Abstract Expressionism, it is another artist known for drip painting who gained fame as a founder of the movement: Jackson Pollock.

“No one would dare to make drip paintings just like Pollock,” Gary Snyder, an art dealer and expert on Sobel, said by phone, “and the wild thing is, Sobel did it before him.”

In part because of his use of drip painting, Pollock is recognized as one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Few people know that he was influenced by Sobel after seeing her work in an exhibit.

And yet, Snyder said, “Sobel is a footnote in Pollock’s story.”

Sobel was born Jennie Olechovsky on May 31, 1893, in Ekaterinoslav, about 300 miles south of Kiev, Ukraine. Her father, Baruch Olechovsky, was a farmer who was killed in a Russian pogrom against Jews when Jennie was young. Her mother, Fannie Kinchuk, was a midwife. Jennie was 14 when she emigrated to the United States with her mother and siblings, changing her name to Janet on arriving at Ellis Island and settling in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn.

Her granddaughter Ashley Shapiro said Janet had wanted to become an actress but never learned to read or write English. When she was 16 she married Max Sobel, who had also immigrated from Ukraine. The couple had five children.

How exactly Sobel entered the art world is a bit of folklore. As one story goes, Sobel’s son Sol was an art student who in the late 1930s threatened to quit his studies at the Art Students League, a storied nonprofit school in Manhattan that counts Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’Keeffe and Mark Rothko among its alumni.

According to historians and family members, Sobel criticized one of Sol’s paintings, prompting him to throw down his brush and tell her to take up painting herself instead. By then she had already been experimenting with painting on any surface she could find — mail, cardboard from the dry cleaners, even her granddaughter’s childhood drawings. She used brushes as well as an array of materials like enamel paint and glass pipettes that she obtained from her husband, a manufacturer of costume jewelry.

She was “bursting with a flow of creativity that couldn’t be stopped,” her granddaughter said by phone.

Sol was impressed with what his mother created, despite her artistic inexperience. In a 2005 paper, “Janet Sobel: Primitivist, Surrealist, and Abstract Expressionist,” Gail Levin, an art professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, wrote that Sol sent letters introducing Sobel’s work to prominent artists and philosophers like Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, John Dewey and Sidney Janis.

Her work was well received. “Janet Sobel will probably eventually be known as one of the important surrealist artists in this country,” Janis wrote in 1946 in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The art collector Peggy Guggenheim included Sobel’s work in a 1945 group show called “The Women” at her Manhattan gallery Art of This Century. And in 1946 Guggenheim gave her a solo show at her gallery. In a letter, Guggenheim referred to Sobel as “the best woman painter.”

The Guggenheim shows brought Sobel even more attention. The art critic Clement Greenberg, as well as Pollock himself, viewed her work.

“Pollock (and I myself) admired these pictures rather furtively,” Greenberg wrote in his essay “American Type Painting” (1955), adding, “Later on, Pollock admitted that these pictures had made an impression on him.”

Sobel’s most distinguished painting, “Milky Way” (1945), which is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was made a year before Jackson Pollock’s first drip painting, “Free Form,” which is also at MoMA.

But Sobel’s fame did not last long. The news media often referred to her as a grandmother and housewife first, then as an artist, said Sandra Zalman, an associate professor of modern and contemporary art at the University of Houston.

“Sobel did not fit into the categories that the art world conceived of her,” Zalman said in a phone interview. “She got attention for being an outsider, but then is quickly forgotten for being an outsider.”

Pollock, for instance, was the quintessential American artist. Dressed all in black, he would crouch or stand over a canvas while athletically flinging paint, a cigarette hanging from his mouth. Sobel, on the other hand, would lie on her stomach on the floor of her apartment in her high heels and stockings, passively watching the paint fall onto her canvas from the bristles of a brush.

“It is not easy to paint,” she told The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “It is very strenuous. But it’s something you’ve got to do if you have the urge.”

Some art critics dismissed her creations as “untrained” or “primitive.” Sobel’s skills, Zalman said, were not a threat to Pollock; her influence was merely a place holder for his fame.

Sobel later moved with her family to Plainfield, N.J., far from the glitzy New York art world she had influenced, further contributing to her swift disappearance from the public eye. There she maintained the household while her husband opened a new factory.

She died at 75 on Nov. 11, 1968.

“That notion of vanishing is so strange, because she entered the art world so powerfully,” Snyder, the art dealer, said.

He estimates that Sobel completed more than 1,000 works, many of which are owned by members of her family. Over the years her work has been shown in select galleries, but her name rarely comes up outside the scholarly art world.

“She deserves to be mentioned,” Zalman said. “That she could even play in this field with these men was a major accomplishment.”


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Alexandra Kleeman Finds Reality All Too Surreal


Whereas in “You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,” bodies themselves were plastic, shape-shifting until they lost all trace of their original form, in “Something New Under the Sun,” the plasticity is something foreign, and menacing. Nobody, including its suppliers, knows enough about WAT-R to foresee its true consequences — as Kleeman describes it in the book, it is born out of a capitalist desire to profit from human-inflicted scarcity.

“Things that we’ve always needed, like land, a place to live, resources, become privatized and turned into possessions, when they weren’t to start with,” Kleeman said.

In the novel, only the wealthy in the Malibu hills have access to temperature-controlled interiors and real water, which they drink while watching WAT-R wreak biological and topographical havoc on the less fortunate down below. Back in New York, Patrick’s wife, Alison, suffers a panic disorder, her sense of impending doom irreconcilable with the willful obliviousness of everyone around her.

“She is, to me, the most identifiable character,” Kleeman said. “A lot of me is in there.”

Patrick’s 9-year-old daughter, Nora, represents a younger generation’s precocious, guarded optimism. “It’s difficult to live a life without contradictions, but it’s not impossible to know what those contradictions are,” Kleeman said. “And to keep trying to think of a way out, or to a slightly better state.”

Too often, she thinks, pessimistic dystopian fiction ends up reinforcing the status quo, rather than remedying it. She quoted Fredric Jameson’s dictum that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.” Kleeman writes as if to say: Watch me.

An assistant professor at The New School, Kleeman teaches graduate classes on the dystopian genre. Her colleague, the novelist Marie-Helene Bertino, often gets students Kleeman has previously taught. “They’ll just rave about how intelligent she is and how she can unpack literature in a way that surprises them,” Bertino said.

One of the stories Kleeman teaches is “The Savage Mouth,” by the Japanese writer Sakyo Komatsu, in which a man systematically amputates and consumes his own body parts so as not to be responsible for taking the lives of other beings. She pulled it from her mother’s bookshelves and read it with horror and fascination when she was 11. “If you want to cause no harm in the world, do you truly have to turn inward?” she asked.


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Eve L. Ewing Adds a Dash of Black Girl Magic to STEM-Based Learning


By Eve L. Ewing
Illustrated by Christine Almeda

Diversity (or, more accurately, the lack of it) has long been a Very Big Problem in technology and science. Google and other Silicon Valley giants, for example, have disclosed that their work forces are dominated by white men. And the companies point to a “pipeline” issue — not enough Black and Latino children getting into tech and science in the first place whom they can later recruit. Now here comes a book that tackles this “pipeline” issue head-on.

“Maya and the Robot,” a delightful tale by Eve L. Ewing, champions young people’s interest in technology and the world of science fairs. The heroine is Maya, a shy brainiac who is Black and a fifth grader. The novel takes us through Maya’s first-day-of-school jitters and swiftly sets up a story line where she finds, fixes and amazes everyone with an artificially intelligent robot named Ralph.

Along the way, Maya explores popular tech tools and trends. Emailing with a renowned robotics professor at Stanford? Check. Learning about different types of batteries? Check. Finding out about a flavor of A.I. known as “natural language processing”? Check. The book even weaves a glossary of robotics terms — actuators, anyone? — into the story. Animated by Christine Almeda’s engaging illustrations, it all makes tech and science seem cool, fun and accessible. And the message, to me at least, is clear: Young readers, don’t be daunted by technology and science. Everyone can get into these subjects.

This message makes sense given Ewing’s background. As an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, she has focused on how social inequality and racism affect public schools and young people. Ewing, who is Black, also wrote “Ironheart” for Marvel Comics, featuring a superhero who is a Black girl genius.

The beating heart of “Maya and the Robot” is Ralph. A once-neglected project stowed away in a dusty store closet, the robot bursts to life with an unmistakable personality, smiling through his LED screen and even knowing how to hug people. Ralph, we learn, is part of a mission by his creator “to heal the world, to use technology to make the world a kinder place.”

Ralph leads Maya into a subplot that grapples with the sad consequences of gun violence. He helps her see some of her classmates in a new light and forge stronger connections with her neighbors, friends and teachers, ultimately deepening her understanding of human relationships.

I couldn’t help wondering what children might think of this novel, since they’re its target audience. So I asked my kids, ages 13 and 17, to read “Maya and the Robot,” too. My 17-year-old, who declared that she was too mature to read the book but did so anyway, immediately came to the same conclusion I did about how the portrayal of the intelligent and gutsy Maya would empower girls to get interested in STEM.

My 13-year-old had a different take, maybe because he finds it unsurprising for kids to be steeped in tech projects and science fairs, which have increasingly crept into school curriculums. Reflecting on Maya’s interactions with Ralph, he said the book is about friendship and how friends have each other’s back. Which, in the end, is a much more universal message.


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Floyd Cooper, Illustrator of Black Life for Children, Dies at 65


Floyd Cooper, a celebrated children’s book illustrator who explored the African American experience in stories rooted in history, like one about a boy in Alabama in 1955 trying to comprehend why a Black woman on his bus refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, died on July 15 in Bethlehem, Pa. He was 65.

His wife, Velma Cooper, said the cause was cancer.

Over 30 years and some 100 titles, Mr. Cooper illustrated children’s stories that not only carried his earthy and golden pastel impressions of Black life, but that also strived to recount chapters of African American history that he felt weren’t taught enough in classrooms — if they were taught at all.

In “Brick by Brick” (2012), he illustrated Charles R. Smith Jr.’s story of enslaved people who toiled to build the White House. In “Juneteenth for Mazie” (2015), also written by Mr. Cooper, a father tells his daughter about the origins of the holiday Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery one June day in 1865. And in “Granddaddy’s Street Songs” (1999), by Monalisa DeGross, an old man spins yarns for his grandson about his past as one of the Black fruit vendors who once traveled around Baltimore on horse-drawn wagons. The story about the boy in Alabama riding with Rosa Parks, “Back of the Bus,” by Aaron Reynolds, was released in 2010.

“To put a book about a little Black child into the hands of a little white child and to put a book about a little white child into the hands of a little Black child,” Mr. Cooper said in a 2016 interview, “it has been something that has been part of my career from the very beginning.”

“Right now,” he continued, “it’s very important that we all get a grasp on what it is that can build bridges between us. I really do see children’s books as a way to build those bridges early on.”

Mr. Cooper’s signature was a subtractive technique that he called “oil erasure,” in which he would wash a board in oil paint and use a rubber eraser to methodically knead the paint away. He’d then create radiant images in soft, shimmering tones.

“Floyd’s legacy is that he was storyteller who believed the greatest gift you can give is the truth,” Ms. Weatherford said in a phone interview. “And he believed that children deserved the truth. He didn’t hold it back from them. He believed in filling in the gaps of the African American story, which is to say, the American story.”

“Before there was any national conversation about these things,” she added, “Floyd had been doing that work all along.”

In a fruitful collaboration with the poet Joyce Carol Thomas, he earned finalist citations from the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, which recognize work for children and young adults, for “Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea” (1993) and “I Have Heard of a Land” (1998). And in 2009 he won the illustration award for “The Blacker the Berry” (2008), which pairs a series of Ms. Thomas’s poems celebrating the diversity of skin color with his illustrations of children as their narrators.

“I feel children are at the front line in improving society,” Mr. Cooper said in a 2009 interview with the Brown Bookshelf, a website dedicated to books for children by Black creators. “This might sound a little heavy, but it’s true.”

Floyd Donald Cooper Jr. was born on Jan. 8, 1956, in Tulsa, Okla. His mother, Ramona (Williams) Cooper, was a beautician. Floyd Sr. built houses. A grandfather had Muscogee Nation, or Creek, heritage, and his family had settled in the area after the forced relocation of tens of thousands of Native Americans from Southeastern states in the 19th century in what became known as the Trail of Tears. Raised in poverty, Floyd grew up in public housing projects, and he attended 11 different elementary schools.

As a boy, while his father labored on a house one day, Floyd picked up a piece of scrap and used it to etch drawings on the home’s exterior. His father rebuked him and told him to scrub them away. By Mr. Cooper’s account it was the start of his subtractive illustration style.

Encouraged by his art teachers, he developed his talents in high school and earned a scholarship to attend the University of Oklahoma, where he studied advertising and graduated in 1978. He became a greeting card designer for Hallmark. But aspiring to illustrate children’s books, he headed to New York in the 1980s, and as he tried to get his portfolio seen by publishers there, he worked as a designer for Olmec Toys, a company that produced multicultural dolls and action figures like Sun-Man.

Mr. Cooper got his break in 1988, when he illustrated Eloise Greenfield’s “Grandpa’s Face.” He went on to write and illustrate his own stories, like “Max and the Tag-Along Moon” and “The Ring Bearer,” and he was drawn to projects involving Black history. In “​​African Beginnings,” he illustrated ancient African civilizations like the Nubian kingdom of Kush, and in “Bound for America: The Forced Migration of Africans to the New World,” he chronicled the Middle Passage.

“I’m from Jamaica,” said his wife, who was Velma Hyatt when she married him, “and when I first came to America and met Floyd I didn’t want to believe what he was telling me about what we had to go through here. Who does these things? But that was his mission. He wanted to educate people about what really happened because they don’t teach this stuff in school. They don’t give the Black perspective.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Cooper, who died in a rehab facility, is survived by two sons, Kai and Dayton; two sisters, Robin and Kathy; and two grandsons.

Mr. Cooper kept up with the urgent conversation roiling the country about systemic racism and how African American history is taught in the classrooms. Galvanized by the moment, he undertook one of his most personal projects, illustrating “Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre,” a collaboration with Ms. Weatherford, published this year, that recounts for young readers the destruction of Tulsa’s prosperous Black neighborhood of Greenwood in 1921, an incident that had been largely ignored in history classes.

As a son of Tulsa, Mr. Cooper had long been interested in the massacre. His maternal grandfather had narrowly escaped the carnage.

“Everything I knew about this tragedy came from Grandpa,” Mr. Cooper wrote in a personal note in “Unspeakable.” “Not a single teacher at school ever spoke of it.”

To work on the project, Mr. Cooper shut himself inside his studio and drew feverishly for months. He emerged with illustrations that brought the past back to life.

“It happened in the place where he was born,” his wife said. “His family was involved in what happened. It was his history. It became his last book. He put everything he had into that book.”


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At The Ranch in Montauk, Plenty of Room for Art and Horses


“Renate, both due to geography and gender, has until now remained a subterranean figure of Anger’s underground, as if her multiple talents and interests in film, costume design and literature precluded serious attention to her work as a painter,” Levai said. “At a place like The Ranch, with its multiple histories,” he added, “it makes sense to showcase artists with this complexity.”

Born in Vienna in 1921, she studied painting at the Vienna Art Academy for Women. Druks, who was Jewish, fled Austria in 1938, on the brink of the Nazi occupation, with her husband, who was an American citizen. In the 1940s, she arrived in Los Angeles, where she became immersed in a midcentury art scene. A close friend of Anger and the writer Anaïs Nin, she threw famous (and infamous) costume parties in Malibu, including one for which she asked guests to come dressed as their particular madness — which inspired “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.”

“Her paintings are extraordinary, like a missing link between Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini,” said Lisa Janssen, who is working on a biography of Druks. Carrington, a British Surrealist who worked mostly in Mexico beginning in the 1940s, was known for her fantastical figures, many inspired by mythology and folklore; Fini, born in Argentina and raised in Italy, created groundbreaking paintings of powerful women and was part of “Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism” at the Museum of Modern Art in 1936.

Druks, for her part, “paints women with their animal familiars and pagan accouterments, still lifes of twilit tables set with magic objects, all in deep, jeweled colors, full of hidden dream meanings,” Janssen said. “She should be in the canon of women Surrealists. ”⠀


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‘The Evening Hour’ Review: Heart of the Country


A colleague of mine once floated a memorable thought experiment: if you could visit the picturesque fictional towns portrayed in 1940s Hollywood dramas in the present day, they might be ravaged by the opioid epidemic. The idea traces a thread of continuity in American life, which I believe is partly what “The Evening Hour” is trying to do.

Set in a small Appalachian town, Braden King’s luminous second feature centers on a wholesome nursing aide, Cole (Philip Ettinger), who moonlights as a drug dealer. His daily rounds of checking on seniors — including his grandmother — also entail picking up and dropping off pills. He’s a peacemaker with a casual girlfriend (Stacy Martin), a clingy old friend (Cosmo Jarvis), another pal (Michael Trotter), who’s also a client, and an absent mother (Lili Taylor), who suddenly shows up when his grandfather dies.

King works to portray a tight mesh of relationships around Cole, directing Elizabeth Palmore’s valiant adaptation of the sensitively rendered Carter Sickels novel. But lacking a strong central performance from Ettinger — who gets stuck on a half-pained, half-exasperated setting — much of the movie feels like a series of comings and goings, entrances and exits. And from the moment that a ruthless dealer in town gives Cole a hard look, there’s no question where his side hustle will lead.

In flashbacks, Cole longs for time spent with his grandfather and at religious gatherings. The movie opens and closes with appreciative pans of the verdant hills that suggest the heartland will live on. But what comes in the middle doesn’t quite hold together.

The Evening Hour
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes. In theaters.


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Bob Odenkirk in Stable Condition After Collapsing on Set of ‘Better Caul Saul’


Bob Odenkirk, the star of the AMC series “Better Call Saul,” was said to be in stable condition on Wednesday evening after suffering what his representatives said was “a heart-related incident.”

Odenkirk, 58, who plays the underhanded title character on “Better Call Saul,” was hospitalized on Tuesday after he collapsed on the set of that show, which is filmed in and around Albuquerque, N.M.

Representatives for Odenkirk said in a statement, “We can confirm Bob is in stable condition after experiencing a heart-related incident. He and his family would like to express gratitude for the incredible doctors and nurses looking after him, as well as his cast, crew and producers who have stayed by his side. The Odenkirks would also like to thank everyone for the outpouring of well wishes and ask for their privacy at this time as Bob works on his recovery.”

Odenkirk had previously written for “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and co-created the HBO sketch series “Mr. Show With Bob and David” before he came to wider renown as the comically unscrupulous lawyer Saul Goodman on the AMC series “Breaking Bad.”

After “Breaking Bad” concluded in 2013, Odenkirk’s character was given his own prequel series, “Better Call Saul,” which charted his character’s descent from a good-hearted but corner-cutting lawyer named Jimmy McGill to his sleazier Saul Goodman persona.

On “Better Call Saul,” which made its debut in 2015, Odenkirk received four Emmy Award nominations for lead actor in a drama series. The sixth and final season of “Better Call Saul” was expected to make its debut next year.

In a statement Wednesday night, AMC said: “The immediate outpouring of affection and concern from fans around the world is a clear reflection of his immense talents and ability to both move and entertain people. Like everyone else, we are so grateful to know he is in stable condition and receiving excellent care. We are holding him close in our thoughts and wishing for a fast and full recovery.”

Earlier, as news of Odenkirk’s hospitalization spread, there was an outpouring of support for him on social media.

David Cross — who co-created and co-starred in “Mr. Show” with him — wrote on Twitter: “I will share what I know when I can but Bob is one of the strongest people I know both physically and spiritually. He WILL get through this.”

And Bryan Cranston, the star of “Breaking Bad,” wrote on Instagram that he had been “anxious all morning” about the news of Odenkirk’s collapse. “He is in the hospital in Albuquerque and receiving the medical attention he needs but his condition is not known to the public as yet,” he wrote. “Please take a moment in your day today to think about him and send positive thoughts and prayers his way, thank you.”

This past spring, Odenkirk starred in the revenge thriller “Nobody,” which required him to undergo several months of physical training in preparation for the lead role.

Discussing his exercise regimen for “Nobody,” Odenkirk said in an interview with The New York Times that he had never previously attempted anything more strenuous than cardio.

“And I had never hurt my back, my knees,” Odenkirk said. “Everything’s good enough, it works. It stressed me to drive to the training facility — an hour and 10 minutes, some days more — in L.A. traffic, and think, ‘You’re training for a movie that’s never going to happen, what is wrong with you? What kind of midlife crisis are you going through?’”

He continued, “But I also thought, ‘If the movie doesn’t happen, well, I’ll be in shape. And I’ll have learned something about my body.’”

Odenkirk won Emmy Awards as a member of the writing staffs at “Saturday Night Live” and “The Ben Stiller Show.” He also directed the comedy films “Let’s Go to Prison” and “The Brothers Solomon,” and he acted in TV shows like “Fargo” and in films like the 2019 adaptation of “Little Women.”


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Dusty Hill, Long-Bearded Bassist for ZZ Top, Dies at 72


Dusty Hill, the quiet, bearded bass player who made up one third of ZZ Top, among the best-selling rock bands of the 1980s, has died at his home in Houston. He was 72.

His bandmates Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons announced the death on Wednesday through Facebook and Instagram. They did not provide a cause or say when he died.

Starting in the early 1970s, ZZ Top racked up dozens of hit records and packed hundreds of arenas a year with their powerful blend of boogie, Southern rock and blues. But the band really took off in the 1980s, when Mr. Gibbons, the lead singer and guitarist, and Mr. Hill grew their signature 20-inch beards and the band released a series of albums that added New Wave synthesizers — often played by Mr. Hill — to their hard-driving guitars, producing MTV-friendly hits like “Legs” and “Sharp-Dressed Man.”

The band paired their grungy sound and innuendo-filled lyrics with a knowing, sometimes comic stage act — Mr. Hill and Mr. Gibbons, in matching sunglasses and Stetson hats, would swing their hips in unison, spinning their instruments on mounts attached to their belts. (Despite his name, Mr. Beard, the drummer, sports just a mustache.) Their stage sets might include crushed cars and even livestock.

Though in public Mr. Hill and Mr. Gibbons were often mistaken as twins, their musical styles differed — Mr. Gibbons a showy virtuoso, Mr. Hill a grinding, precise musical mechanic.

Mr. Hill rarely gave interviews, preferring to let Mr. Gibbons speak for the band. And he gladly accepted his supporting role for his bandmate’s masterful lead guitar playing.

“Sometimes you don’t even notice the bass,” he said in a 2016 interview. “I hate that in a way, but I love that in a way. That’s a compliment. That means you’ve filled in everything and it’s right for the song, and you’re not standing out where you don’t need to be.”

Joseph Michael Hill was born in Dallas on May 19, 1949. He started his musical career singing and playing cello, but he switched instruments at 13, when his brother, Rocky, who played guitar, said his band needed a bassist. One day Dusty came home to find a bass on his bed; that night, he joined Rocky onstage at a Dallas beer joint.

“I started playing that night by putting my finger on the fret, and when the time came to change, my brother would hit me on the shoulder,” he said in a 2012 interview.

In 1969, Dusty was living in Houston and working with the blues singer Lightnin’ Hopkins when Mr. Beard, a friend from high school, suggested that he audition for an open spot in a trio, called ZZ Top, recently founded by Mr. Gibbons. They played their first show together in February 1970.

The band’s humor was evident from the start: They named their first album “ZZ Top’s First Album.” Real success came in 1973 with their third release, “Tres Hombres,” which cracked the Billboard top 10. That same year they opened for the Rolling Stones in Hawaii.

Many of their early songs leaned heavily on sexual innuendo, though sometimes they set the innuendo aside completely. “La Grange,” their big hit on “Tres Hombres,” was about a bordello.

In 1976, after a string of hit albums and nearly seven years of constant touring, the band took a three-year hiatus. Mr. Hill returned to Dallas, where he worked at the airport and tried to avoid being identified by fans.

“I had a short beard, regular length, and if you take off the hat and shades and wear work clothes and put ‘Joe’ on my work shirt, people are not expecting to see you,” he said in a 2019 interview. “Now, a couple of times, a couple of people did ask me, and I just lied, and I said: ‘No! Do you think I’d be sitting here?’”

The band reunited in 1979 to release “Degüello,” their first album to go platinum, and the first time Mr. Gibbon and Mr. Hill grew out their beards. It was also the first sign that they were going beyond their Texas roots by adding a New Wave flavor to their sound, with Mr. Hill also playing keyboard.

They achieved superstar status in 1983 with “Eliminator,” which included hit singles like “Legs,” “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Give Me All Your Lovin.’” It sold 10 million copies and stayed on the Billboard charts for 183 weeks.

In 1984, Mr. Hill made headlines when he accidentally shot himself in the stomach. As a girlfriend was taking off his boot, a .38 Derringer slipped out, hit the floor and went off.

The band’s success continued through the 1980s, and while later albums — in which they returned to their Texan blues roots — didn’t climb the charts, the trio still packed stadiums. And despite their raunchy stylings, they began to draw grudging respect from critics, who often singled out Mr. Hill’s subtly masterful bass playing.

“My sound is big, heavy and a bit distorted because it has to overlap the guitar,” he said in a 2000 interview. “Someone once asked me to describe my tone, and I said it was like farting in a trash can. What I meant is it’s raw, but you’ve got to have the tone in there.”

ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Mr. Hill married his longtime girlfriend, Charleen McCrory, an actress, in 2002. He also had a daughter. Information on survivors was not immediately available.

In 2014 he injured his hip after a fall on his tour bus. He required surgery, and part of the tour had to be canceled. On July 23, he left their latest tour, citing problems with his hip. It is unclear whether that had any connection to his death.

Contrary to their image — and the hard partying that their music seemed to encourage — Mr. Hill and his bandmates kept a low, relatively sober profile. And they remained close friends, even after 50 years of near-constant touring.

“People ask how we’ve stayed together so long,” he told The Charlotte Observer in 2015. “I say separate tour buses. We got separate tour buses early on, when we probably couldn’t afford them. That way we were always glad to see each other when we got to the next city.”

Alex Traub contributed reporting.


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11 New Books Coming in August


This debut collection, set in the Cambodian American community in California, focuses on queer characters. The legacy of the Khmer Rouge’s genocide looms, but So, who died in 2020, creates plenty of lighthearted moments, too. In one scene, a character chides a member from an older generation: “Violence will not solve our problems, and neither will the model minority myth.”

[ Read more about So. | Read our review. ]

King recounts the major accomplishments of her professional and personal life, from winning 39 Grand Slam titles and demolishing Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” match to throwing herself into political and social activism.

Mildred Harnack, born in Milwaukee, lived an extraordinary life: She was studying at a German university when the Nazi party, exploiting the country’s economic and political instability, rose to power. Alarmed, Harnack organized a large underground resistance group in Berlin, and was eventually arrested and killed on Hitler’s orders. Donner — Harnack’s great-great niece — draws on notes, diaries, letters and declassified intelligence materials to offer this window into 1930s Germany and Harnack’s remarkable actions.

Billy Summers isn’t a typical hit man — he’s thinking about Émile Zola when the book opens, for starters, and has a strict rule of only killing “bad guys.” Though he’s close to retirement, he’s persuaded to carry out a last hit, but is wary: “If noir is a genre, then ‘one last job’ is a sub-genre,” he thinks. “In those movies, the last job always goes bad.” His prediction comes true, of course, but King offers plenty of unexpected swerves.

Wilson, a noted literary biographer, uses Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” to structure this book, which focuses on the middle period of Lawrence’s life, from 1915 through 1925. Each section finds the author in a new location — England, Italy and the American Southwest — and follows how he essentially became a different man in each place. As Wilson writes: “For all his claims to prophetic vision, Lawrence had little idea what was going on in the room let alone in the world. His fidelity as a writer was not to the truth but to his own contradictions, and reading him today is like tuning into a radio station whose frequency keeps changing.”

Current discussions around the ethics of A.I. and other technological advances center on essentially ancient questions, O’Gieblyn says: “Today artificial intelligence and information technologies have absorbed many of the questions that were once taken up by theologians and philosophers: the mind’s relationship to the body, the question of free will, the possibility of immortality.” The philosophical queries that guide her book remain clear and accessible, and O’Gieblyn, who was once religious but no longer believes in God, draws on her own experiences to strong effect.

The first novel in a planned trilogy, this book borrows from Slimani’s family history in Morocco after World War II. Mathilde, a Frenchwoman, struggles to adjust to life with her Moroccan husband, Amine. The lead-up to Morocco’s independence exacerbates tensions at home, as Amine reconciles his political beliefs with his marriage to a Frenchwoman, and Mathilde works to find a measure of autonomy in a country that she finds hostile.

In her first novel, Jeffers, a nominee for the National Book Award in poetry, traces the history of one family from the arrival of its first enslaved ancestors. At its heart is Ailey, growing up in the 1980s, who returns each year to her family’s ancestral home in Georgia. As she gets older, she uncovers secrets about her history that challenge her sense of self and belonging.

“Like many of the ghost stories I’ve grown up with, this one needs to start with a death,” writes Chow, a founding member of NPR’s “Code Switch.” The death at the heart of this book is of Chow’s mother, in 2004. For years, Chow and her family rarely spoke of their mother, and even avoided looking at pictures of her. Now, Chow dives deeper into her mother’s life and the history of her family, from Hong Kong to the U.S. and beyond.

Kleeman’s fiction veers toward the dystopian: Her debut, “You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,” focused on characters whose enchantment with television led them down disturbing paths. Now, she follows a novelist, Patrick Hamblin, who arrives in Los Angeles to help with the film adaptation of one of his books. The usual Hollywood horrors are here — corruption, outsize egos, an unruly former child star — but Patrick is unnerved by the extent of the ecological damage he sees in California, which seems headed for an environmental apocalypse.

“America’s colleges and universities have a dirty open secret,” writes Harris, a staff writer for The Atlantic. “They have never given Black people an equal chance to succeed.” He details the lengths states have gone to to avoid integration — at the time of the book’s writing, six states had “not proved to the federal government that they have desegregated their higher-education systems” — and explores how these exclusionary approaches perpetuate inequity.


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In ‘Monsters at Work,’ a Roz by Another Name Is Just as Sour


Roz gets an “identical twin sister,” Roze, in “Monsters at Work.” Their voices sound identical. Please settle the score: Are they secretly the same slug?

Aren’t twins very much like the same person? Mike thinks he’s rid of Roz, only to meet Roze, who, except for her colored hair and no glasses, sounds exactly the same. People should keep watching Roze — there are some surprises coming up, and people can conjecture, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to guess what they are.

When can we expect a Roz/Roze spinoff series?

That would be fun. We could do it — I’d find a way.

You’ve voiced a number of memorable Pixar characters, including the squirrel-loving dog Dug in “Up” and Mr. Ray in “Finding Nemo.” What are some of your others?

I generally do scratch recording [a temporary voice recording] for every film I work on. For “Luca,” I played the dad for a while, and, at that time, it was more of an Italian accent, and I just could not do it. I was so glad when they said, “We’re not going to use you.” I was in “Finding Nemo” as the jumping dolphins and as the bird who, when the bubble comes up, says, “Nice,” and flies away.

Do you ever break out the Roz voice in public?

Before my mom passed away, when we’d go to the Monsters, Inc. ride at California Adventure, she’d want to make sure all the ride operators knew I voiced Roz. As we were getting on the car, she’d say, “Oh, my son, he does Roz; do the voice.” And I’d be like, “Eeeeeeh … Wazowski,” and the ride operator would be like, “That’s great, come on, let’s get on the car.” No one cares. I don’t do it too often, but sometimes I’ll do it to make a point — if someone insults me or something, I’ll give them an “Eeeeeeh” [in Roz voice]. Mostly I keep Roz contained, but, like the Hulk, she breaks out every now and then.


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Amar Ramasar, City Ballet Dancer, To Retire After Texting Scandal


A star dancer at New York City Ballet who came under fire for sharing vulgar texts and sexually explicit photos plans to leave the company next year.

The dancer, Amar Ramasar, will retire in May after a 20-year career with City Ballet, according to a 2021-22 season announcement released by the company this month.

Ramasar has been under intense scrutiny since 2018, when he and two other male dancers were accused of sending inappropriate texts and photos of other City Ballet dancers.

The scandal roiled the ballet company and became a high-profile test of the #MeToo movement. One female dancer accused the company of condoning a “fraternity-like atmosphere.”

In 2018, City Ballet fired Ramasar. Months later, he was reinstated after an arbitrator ruled that the company had overstepped.

City Ballet confirmed Ramasar’s retirement but did not offer further details, saying only that his farewell performance would be in Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Ramasar did not respond to a request for comment. He has previously said that he has learned from past mistakes. He has argued that he only shared pictures of his own consensual sexual activity.

Ramasar, a principal dancer, has also had success on Broadway, appearing in productions of “West Side Story” and “Carousel.”

But the texting scandal has continued to cloud his career. Critics have held protests at his performances and called for his firing.

Other City Ballet dancers have also accused Ramasar of inappropriate behavior. Georgina Pazcoguin, a soloist, writes in a new memoir that Ramasar often greeted her by touching her breasts. Ramasar has denied the accusations.

City Ballet has grappled with a series of scandals in recent years, including allegations of sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse by Peter Martins, its former ballet master in chief. (Martins has denied the accusations.)

The pandemic has also posed a challenge for the company, resulting in the cancellation of its winter and spring seasons.

City Ballet is set to return to the stage on Sept. 21 with a program featuring Balanchine’s “Serenade.”


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