Dinosaurs Among Us – Birds!

Armed with new tools like CT scans to see the shape of lost brains, scientists now have found even more evidence from bones and modern birds that lumbering dinosaurs were the original birds, developing over 230 million years ago into small feathered versions with nests and eggs as well as monsters like titanosours, until 150 million years ago the first birds appeared, from which 18,000 species evolved today. Lots of models of primal specimens with progenitor spiny feathers, including a dodo, and scope for children to play.

When Archaeopteryx was described in 1861, it caused a sensation. With wings and feathers, it was considered the first bird, although now scientists don’t think it could fly that well. But unlike modern birds, it also had teeth and a bony tail. Discovered not long after Charles Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by means of natural selection, Archaeopteryx provided an example of evolution in action—a fossil that showed the transition between non-avian dinosaurs and birds. Archaeopteryx by Z. Chuang

American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, 10024 NY, United States

NEW EXHIBITION AT THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

DINOSAURS AMONG US

Dinosaurs Among Us examines how one group of dinosaurs evolved into the fascinating living creatures we call birds. The exhibition highlights the continuities between living dinosaurs—birds—and their extinct ancestors, showcasing remarkable new evidence for what scientists now call one of the best-documented evolutionary transitions in the history of life.

Dinosaurs Among Us features ancient, rarely seen fossils, and life-like models, including a 23-foot-long feathered tyrannosaur (Yutyrannus huali) and a small four-winged dromeosaur (Anchiornis huxleyi) with a 22-inch wingspan and vivid, patterned plumage. Visitors will encounter a tiny dinosaur whose sleeping posture precisely echoes that of a living bird, an extinct-dinosaur nest containing remains of the adult that guarded the hatchlings, and the fossil cast of a relative of Triceratops that had simple feathers on its body.

The exhibition, which comes on the heels of the unveiling of a 122-foot-long titanosaur cast on permanent display in the Museum’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center, is part of a series of events, public programs, exhibitions, and digital offerings highlighting dramatic developments in paleontology.

Dinosaurs Among Usis curated by Mark Norell, Macaulay Curator in the Division of Paleontology and the division’s chair. The exhibition will be open to the public from Monday, March 21, 2016, to January 2, 2017. Members will be able to preview the exhibition on Friday, March 18 through Sunday, March 20.

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Music’s Greatest Choral Work, Bach’s Mass in B Minor at Heavenly Rest 5th/90St by Canterbury Choral Society

Outsized now by the grubby works of Mammon, the Church of the Heavenly Rest will rise above them in spirit to host the City's finest choral society on Sunday afternoon for a celestial performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor, the celebrated composer's most brilliant and glorious testament to the power of God to invest creative genius in his mortal supplicants

Outsized now by the grubby works of Mammon, the Church of the Heavenly Rest will rise above them in spirit to host the City’s finest choral society on Sunday afternoon for a celestial performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, the celebrated composer’s most brilliant and glorious testament to the power of God to invest creative genius in his mortal supplicants

The greatest and most tuneful heavenly choral music in the universe will be sung by the Canterbury Choral Society at their resident venue, the fine spacious Church of the Heavenly Rest at Fifth/90th Street, at 4pm on Sunday afternoon.

Conductor Jonathan De Vries took up the baton of leadership at Canterbury Choral Society when its founder Charles Doddsley Walker died two years ago, and continues the tradition of presenting the finest choral works from musical history

Conductor will be the masterful Jonathan “Jon” De Vries, who chairs the music departments and teaches at St Hilda’s and St Hugh’s School. He has been rehearsing the orchestra and the 80 member choir for the last few months in the tall and elegant space, which he says is well suited for the massive work because “although it is built of stone walls it does not have a long-lasting echo” partly because the crumbling around the organ when it caught fire a few decades ago was never resurfaced. This is unlike the elongated echo at St John the Divine, he says, a church which is said to be even longer than St Peters in Rome, where to deal with that resonance “as a conductor you have to have your wits about you”.

Meanwhile he emphasizes that the Mass in B Minor was actually composed in parts from many previous works by Bach to tempt a patron to release him from the bondage of the church and that the sacred work therefore is full of melodic and harmonic appeal to the average mortal. From the musician’s point of view it is a demanding and rewarding adventure in playing a work where “there is so much detail, yet there is not a single extra note, for every note means something.” He points out that every listener enjoys a privilege withheld from its composer. “Bach never heard it, since it was never performed as a whole in his lifetime.”

Met star counter tenor Jeffrey Mandelbaum in rehearsal at Heavenly Rest on Friday for his Sunday performance of the Mass in B Minor

The soloists will be Mozart, Handel, Bach and Haydn specialist, soprano Laura Jobin-Acosta, Texan mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert of the classical alt/rock band the Knells, tenor Blake Friedman, soloist this season at the New York City Ballet, Met bass Matthew Anchel, and Met star countertenor Jeffrey Mandelbaum (whose name means ‘almond tree’). Mandelbaum debuted at the Met three years ago in The Enchanted Island alongside Placido Domingo, sang later at the Met in The Tempest.

The Canterbury Choral Society choir rehearses the complex harmonics and soaring spirit of Bach's famous B Minor Mass on Saturday under the firm but magical wand of conductor Jonathan De Vries

The Canterbury Choral Society choir rehearses the complex harmonics and soaring spirit of Bach’s famous B Minor Mass on Saturday under the firm but magical wand of conductor Jonathan De Vries

In rehearsals in the church concluding on Friday and Saturday the artistic director and conductor Jonathan De Vries demonstrated his famously sanguine temperament by congratulating the performers at frequent intervals on their flair for navigating the elegant but propulsive and richly satisfying turns of the music. “Really, really, truly you keep moving and moving!” he said at one point, and at the finish exclaimed “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!” He then asked the choir, “Can we thank the soloists and the orchestra?” and the 80 strong ranks of the singers, some of them home owners from the exclusive family neighborhood of Carnegie Hill which surrounds the church, burst into grateful applause, partly for him.

Tickets $25 b($20 seniors, $10 students) from Smarttix, from any member or at the door.
More details at the Canterbury Choral Society, where auditions are also available for those with choral experience who wish to join the Society.

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ZOOM’s Final Days – Megasale of Cultural Treasures in Video and Games

Landlord busts an Aladdin’s cave already being stifled by megastores nearby

Sixty years of fantasy on the block for half price or less

Among the treasures being sold off at 50% discount as Zoom’s emporium of fantasy are these beauties, accompanied by a Cosby kid doll!

Cognoscenti of fantasy culture in this city of niche specialties such as novel games and toys should know that it’s the last two weeks of final sale at the unique and irreplaceable Harlem store Zoom. This commercial but cultural gem has been brought down by a greedy rent increase (from $3800 to $6000) after its customers’ payday splurges were slowly siphoned off by the arrival of Costco, Best Buy and other megastores five years ago over in the 117 St Mall.

Where are you going to find this again, in a store in which you can actually look at and handle it to size it up properly?

Run don’t walk to this small Manhattan storehouse of imagination on Third at 109 Street in the next two weeks while it is still replete with wonders such as a giant four slice ultra hospitable toaster, video game figures and sitcom dolls, choice DVDs (eg Godard’s Breathless, Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf, A Fish Called Wanda, and Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, not to mention The Words of Ayn Rand), with benchmark VHS tapes such as Arthur, Local Hero or The Producers (not to mention the unmentionable The Vagina Monologues), and hard to find stuffed toys including a striking 3 foot tall Spiderman, some well costumed Superwomen dolls including Marilyn Monroe and Madonna, and even a wide eyed Bill Cosby kid doll, a couple of monkey heads which grimace, and a really far out prize, a $150 bottle of real Moet et Chandon champagne, vintage 1971. Originally cost three times as much, says Manny.

Maybe a $150 toast to the achievement of a store which served culture?

Zoom is as much clubhouse as store in the late afternoon as owner Manny Villefane exchanges stories rooted in local New York life not yet entirely obliterated by the heavyfooted march of the megastores nearby

In charge is Manny Villfane who for three decades has run the store his mother started thirty years before that, who presides over the clubhouse atmosphere in late afternoon (the store is open 2pm until 8pm) from his seat behind the far end counter, while a local specialist in computer rebuilding picks up a home phone designed in payphone format with a slot for 25 cent coins, and a baseball card collector shuffles boxfuls of rarities and reminisces with him about champion sluggers of the past.

This home pay phone with coin slot will keep your guests from freeloading, if you don’t buy it for changing it into a computer

Of course the end of Zoom is a sad loss for the city and just one more hole in the sidewalk city fabric which once knitted together the lives and interests of locals in a social network built on personal encounters with owners and their assistants, who became encyclopedias of information and explanation on their products and related activity such as fairs and shows of the latest versions available, whether they were in mundane hardware or drug stores or specialists in electronic excitement like Zoom.

Raymond behind the counter is himself a storehouse – of advice on the quality of movies you may not have heard of, but which at a giveaway $1 you can hardly afford to pass up, as well as how everything works

We recall running into Mayor Bloomberg a few years ago when he was cutting the ribbon on a new installation of wifi in the City’s parks – whatever happened to that? – and mentioning that we were covering the replacement of a storied Mafia barber nearby on 116 St by yet another Chinese takeout, another casualty of the perfect rent hike storm of the last decade blasting small storefronts in Manhattan and replacing them with Duane Reades.

A rather magnificent toaster “worth $300” went for $65 to some lucky buyer to warm up his kitchen and make it the most hospitable room in the apartment

We suggested that there was a need for legislation to slow the commercial rent tornados obliterating the small guys with their irreplaceable knowledge and all the what economists call human capital they had built up in a neighborhood over the years.

Detecting my English accent the good mayor replied “Oh we let money decide everything in this city, that’s the way we do it here!”

After a pause, though, he added,”of course, if it was my barber maybe I would do something!”

A box of 45s includes Tom Jones’ Its Not Unusual on a Parrot pressing

The barber was lucky enough to find a substitute location in the basement of a house along 116 Street recently bought by a doctor at Mt Sinai who heard about his predicament. But in the case of Zoom, a blank shutter is all that will be left as the month ends.

Landlords off the leash are eviscerating New York’s storefront culture, and blank walls is soon going to be all that is left of a vibrant local institution which was far more than a store

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Polish Champion Artur Szpilka Challenges Heavyweight Deontay Wilder

For nine rounds it seemed a good match despite Wilder’s 4 inches height advantage, but then a literally stunning end

Wilder and other top rank boxers unimpressed, as Szpilka Talked Destiny

But Knocked Out Cold as He Began to Win, Szilka Nearly Got There

In a magnificent theatrical saga worthy of updated Greek tragedy, or at least modern television Dickensian soap opera, a Polish underdog who had talked as if he were a man of Destiny met his match in the form of a taller Afro-American heavyweight champ with glistening biceps and unfairly long reach, and despite making headway by pummeling him in a blur of speed which brought them to a ninth round where Alabama native Deontay Wilder was acting slightly winded and the Polish ex-hooligan Artur Szpilka was possibly making uphill progress towards the far off prospect of an upset victory suddenly there was Szpilka tumbling out cold to the canvas, ready to be carted off to hospital on a stretcher to make sure he wasn’t too badly damaged by a knockout blow that he really shouldn’t have exposed himself to so openly as he got in too close to reach for Wilder’s head.

Presumably this untoward reversal was the result of the many blows that Wilder had landed on Szpilka’s face over the course of previous rounds which must have caused him to lose some measure of concentration on the one overriding priority he had to keep in mind, evasion of Wilder’s notoriously solid right hand punch which had already won him 34 knockouts in 35 fights. But contributing to the sudden debacle was the undoubted fact that the Bronze Bomber was following a watchful waiting policy that guaranteed that the slightest moment of vulnerable exposure would see the challenger stymied and dazed by a swift right to the head if not actually stretched out on the floor, and this was a perfect set up, a huge door of opportunity which Wilder was not going to miss because all he needed was a reflex which is his most used deadly weapon.
Along with the engaging interviews by both parties before the fight, with Szpilka vouchsafing he was fighting for Poland as much as himself, the parade onstage with both wearing masks in what appears to be a new tradition of boxing theatre rising to match the pre fight antics of wrestling. Wilder in his bronze mask reminiscent of Persian invaders, and Szpilka in a red handkerchief emblazoned with the arms of Poland, the determined penetration of Wilder’s long reach in the developing rounds of the battles, with points generally measuring a neck and neck equality but with Szpilka suffering more face blows than Wilder, it seemed, and the outcome not only in doubt but with a slightly improving chance that Spilka might pull it off, to the delight of the substantial crowd of Poles gathered in in the Center to support him in what was a christening of Brooklyn’s new home for boxing’s top fights and the return of major fights to what is rapidly becoming the new center of New York City after 115 years.

Then the sudden collapse, with Szpilka’s typically pretty Polish girlfriend at ringside consumer with anxiety for the welfare of her star quality partner. (Calm down. – Ed)

As an edge of the seat cliffhanger it couldn’t have been better scripted, even though the general opinion among boxers and at home in Poland before the fight was that Szpilka didn’t stand a chance again Wilder power and longer reach.

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Silicon City, the New York Historical Society’s Gift to the Geek in Us

Gadget Paradise Lost: Parade of Early PC Inventions Made Here in New York

How Computer History was Made First in Silicon Alley

This beautiful monster console and light array is the SSEC which operated in the heart of Manhattan in mid last century, one of the magnificent and rather beautiful and sometimes huge or minute artifacts of 20th Century built in New York City and proof that here was the throbbing heart of computer invention then, not Seattle. Twelve thousand five hundred tubes and over twenty one thousand relays stood at the core of IBM’s Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator. Developed by astronomer Wallace Eckert of Columbia University the calculator was installed in IBM’s headquarters at 590 Madison Avenue and was operated from 1948 to 1952. The SSEC is known to have calculated the position of the moon and the planets, the first computer to store data, as well as being the last electromechanical calculator ever built.

From Saturday Nov 13 to Apr 17, the New-York Historical Society stages an exhibition to delight every gadget enthusiast in America, a parade of magnificent engineering from mechanical to electronic showing off an under celebrated truth of history, New York’s central role in the digital revolution.

“Highlighting the pioneering work and technological innovations developed in the city that have transformed daily life. Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York, on view November 13, 2015 – April 17, 2016, presents New York as a technological hub where the intersection of commerce and innovation gave birth to the first computers and tech companies.

Featuring nearly 300 artifacts, including early computers and telecommunications hardware, archival materials, photographs, digital artworks, and interactive experiences that immerse visitors in the evolution of technology, Silicon City presents computer-related milestones in the New York region from the late-1800s to the 1980s. The exhibition was curated by New-York Historical’s Chief Curator Stephen Edidin, with assistance from Research Associate Christian Panaite.”

One of the IBM 700 series, the company’s first commercial main frames, formed with vacuum tubes, integrated input and output, and memory, this one being an IBM 702 Arithmetical and Logical CPU Unit, from 1954.

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