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Monitor: Television on the bottle and other views of the world

IT IS quite a remarkable strip of watering holes, leading from the Peach Pit to Moe's Bar to Cheers, where everybody knows your name but nobody ever seems to get drunk. To flip across the prime-time TV dial today is to visit a series of neighbourhood bars, albeit bars in awfully peculiar neighbourhoods. The booze may flow freely, but it sure doesn't go down the way it does in the real world. This was confirmed in a recent study by a group of Cornell University professors, who breathalysed 276 hours of prime-time TV over a one-week period. "Alcohol," they write, "is ... by far the most frequently shown food/beverage item." During that besotted week, TV characters underwent 555 "alcohol incidents," or about 2.2 per hour - a pretty good binge.

- Toronto Globe and Mail

SARGENT, unfashionable for many years, is now politically incorrect as well. Like Elgar, he is shamelessly redolent of the Imperial heyday. The men he painted might all have been viceroys and generals, even when they were not. The women are clearly cossetted and heaped with jewels and luxuries; the children are born to privilege. His great works are undoubtedly his most dashing portrait. If we could see them as a symphony, in the abstract, there would be no problem .... It is difficult not to be swept away by the sheer elan of it all. Why should we resist?

- Prospect

THEY EMERGED from Delhi's Kamani Auditorium in an awkward silence. "Rather bold, don't you think," remarked the wife. All her husband, a highly placed bureaucrat, could say in reply was a ponderous "Hmm". They had just walked out after uncomfortably sitting through the first half hour of Raga: in Search of Femininity, the latest sensational dance theatre. The production had elaborate and extensive scenes of two men making love. After decades of ignominy, the male dancer is back on the classical and modern dance scene with aplomb. So deep is the conviction of some of these traditional female impersonators that the late Mani Madhava Chakyar once confided that whenever he played the role of Yashoda or Putana from the Mahabharata, "My left breast actually starts lactating!"

- India Today

WHEN Jacques Stroumas presses his violin almost tenderly against his cheek and strokes his bow over the strings with real feeling, he seems to forget everything around him and lose himself in his memories. Memories about how the violin saved his life in the extermination camp of Auschwitz. The Jew of Greek descent lost his whole family there ... Stroumas played first violin in the macabre 65-strong prisoner orchestra ... Because he cannot forget his two-year ordeal, the aged witness of the Holocaust has been coming from Jerusalem to Germany again and again since 1992. In St Gertraud Church in the city of Frankfurt/Oder, to which Stroumsa was invited on the occasion of the east German city's first "Jewish Week", around 160 listeners hung on to his every word ... [But] hardly anyone dares to talk to the Auschwitz survivor. - Berliner Morgenpost