45 Human Heads Found in Flight Cargo

New York Times

June 17, 2010

A Southwest Airlines cargo worker last week opened three suspicious boxes at Little Rock National Airport and found 45 human heads, bound for a medical laboratory in Fort Worth. The heads were to be used to help train neurosurgeons.

“As you might imagine, this is not something our cargo employees see on an everyday basis,” said Whitney Eichinger, a Southwest spokeswoman.

Body parts used for medical purposes are commonly shipped by air. But because the boxes on the Southwest flight were not properly labeled or packaged, the airline alerted the local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration.

An aviation agency investigator determined that the Arkansas company that shipped the boxes, JLS Consulting Group LLC, had not broken any federal laws involving the transportation of hazardous materials. But the Pulaski County coroner’s office in Little Rock, which seized the shipment, was investigating whether the company was operating legally.

JLS, whose Web site says it conducts medical education and research services, had its business license revoked last year, according to the Arkansas secretary of state’s online database. Natasha Naragon, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state, said the license revocation came because JLS had failed to pay its state franchise taxes and to submit proper documents.

The coroner, Garland Camper, said he had not ruled out that the heads had been harvested and transported illegally. He said he was working with state and federal agencies.

JLS’s founder, Janice Hepler, did not respond to a telephone message.

Inexplicably, this is how suitable wives are ‘selected’ in parts of India as well

June 7, 2010

Off Runway, Brazilian Beauty Goes Beyond Blond

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RESTINGA SÊCA, Brazil — Before setting out in a pink S.U.V. to comb the schoolyards and shopping malls of southern Brazil, Alisson Chornak studies books, maps and Web sites to understand how the towns were colonized and how European their residents might look today. 

The goal, he and other model scouts say, is to find the right genetic cocktail of German and Italian ancestry, perhaps with some Russian or other Slavic blood thrown in. Such a mix, they say, helps produce the tall, thin girls with straight hair, fair skin and light eyes that Brazil exports to the runways of New York, Milan and Paris with stunning success. 

Yet Brazil is not the same country it was in 1994, when Gisele Bündchen, the world’s top earning model, was discovered in a tiny town not far from here. Darker-skinned women have become more prominent in Brazilian society, challenging the notions of Brazilian beauty and success that Ms. Bündchen has come to represent here and abroad. 

Taís Araújo just finished a run as the first black female lead in the coveted 8 p.m. soap opera slot. Marina Silva, a former government minister born in the Amazon, is running for president. And over the past decade, the income of black Brazilians rose by about 40 percent, more than double the rate of whites, as Brazil’s booming economy helped trim the inequality gap and create a more powerful black consumer class, said Marcelo Neri, an economist in Rio de Janeiro. 

Even prosecutors have waded into the debate over what Brazilian society looks like — and how it should be represented. São Paulo Fashion Week, the nation’s most important fashion event, has been forced by local prosecutors to ensure that at least 10 percent of its models are of African or indigenous descent. 

Despite those shifts, more than half of Brazil’s models continue to be found here among the tiny farms of Rio Grande do Sul, a state that has only one-twentieth of the nation’s population and was colonized predominantly by Germans and Italians. 

Indeed, scouts say that more than 70 percent of the country’s models come from three southern states that hardly reflect the multiethnic melting pot that is Brazil, where more than half the population is nonwhite

On the pages of its magazines, Brazil’s beauty spectrum is clearer. Nonwhite women, including celebrities of varying body types, are interspersed with white models. But on the runways, the proving ground for models hoping to go abroad, the diversity drops off precipitously. Prosecutors investigating discrimination complaints against São Paulo Fashion Week found that only 28 of the event’s 1,128 models were black in early 2008. 

The pattern creates a disconnect between what many Brazilians consider beautiful and the beauty they export overseas. While darker-skinned actresses like Juliana Paes and Camila Pitanga are considered among Brazil’s sexiest, it is Ms. Bündchen and her fellow southerners who win fame abroad. 

“I was always perplexed that Brazil was never able to export a Naomi Campbell, and it is definitely not because of a lack of pretty women,” said Erika Palomino, a fashion consultant in São Paulo. “It is embarrassing.” 

Some scouts have begun tepid forays to less-white parts of Brazil. One Brazilian designer, Walter Rodrigues, recently opened Rio Fashion Week with 25 models, all of them black. 

But here in the south scouts still spend most of their time hunting for the next Gisele, and offer few apologies for what they say sells. 

Clóvis Pessoa studies facial traits that are successful on international runways and looks for towns in the south that mirror those genes. 

“If a famous top model looks German with a Russian nose, I will do a scientific study and look for cities that were colonized by Germans and Russians in the south of Brazil in order to get a similar face down here,” Mr. Pessoa said. 

Dilson Stein, who discovered Ms. Bündchen when she was 13, called Rio Grande do Sul a treasure trove of model-worthy girls. A year before discovering Ms. Bündchen, whose parents are of German ancestry, he found 12-year-old Alessandra Ambrosio, now famous for her Victoria’s Secret shoots. 

Today, younger scouts like Mr. Chornak have taken up the mantle. With catlike quickness, he jumped from his chair and strode up behind a tall girl with a hooded sweatshirt. “Have you ever thought of being a model?” he asked a 13-year-old with light blue eyes and pimples. 

The girl smiled, her metal braces glimmering. 

Later, Mr. Chornak pulled up at a school where the director, Liliane Abrão Silva, showed off albums from school beauty contests. She allows scouts to visit during class breaks. 

“Since I got to this school, five have left for São Paulo to become models,” she said. “The girls who do not have money to go to university will have to stay here and work in the fields.” 

The next morning, Mr. Chornak studied the girls returning with red lollipops from recess. “There is nothing special here,” he declared. 

At another stop, Mr. Chornak staked out a school in Paraíso do Sul (population 8,000) with the tools of his trade: business cards, camera, measuring tape and a notebook. 

The bell rang and students streamed out. Mr. Chornak stopped a tall, skinny blond girl. Within seconds he was fluffing her hair and taking her measurements, directing her to pose against the wall. 

Mr. Chornak also drove to Venâncio Aires, where a billboard heralded “the land of the Fantastic Girl,” alluding to a television show that featured a local girl. 

At a small tobacco farm he visited Michele Meurer, a blue-eyed 16-year-old discovered while riding her bicycle to school. Timid and shy, she cried profusely the first time she went to São Paulo. The next time, she lasted six days before Mr. Chornak sent her home. 

Her mother, who grew up speaking German, had never left the town until the São Paulo trip. They live in a four-room house with chickens and dogs. Michele keeps the freezer in her room for lack of space. 

Mr. Chornak counsels Michele to use sunscreen while working in the fields and to watch her diet. Bursting with pride, her father enrolled her in English classes in case she went abroad. 

“I want to give them a better life,” Michele said tearfully of her parents. 

Recently, she went to São Paulo again, where Mr. Chornak put her in a three-bedroom apartment with 11 other girls. Two weeks before São Paulo Fashion Week, Michele packed up and left. 

“I am very disappointed that Michele gave up,” Mr. Chornak said. “I invested a lot in her.” 

Myrna Domit contributed reporting. 

“Sometimes right, sometimes wrong–Everybody has to be careful.”

May 7, 2010, 1:05 pm

Times Square Evacuated After ‘Suspicious Package’ Report


| The north end of Times Square has been evacuated, from West 44th to West 47th Streets, after the police received reports of a suspicious package at Broadway and West 46th Street at about 12:45 p.m.

The package “looks like a cooler,” a police spokesman said. “We’re trying to see if it’s clear.”

It was the second suspicious-package call and at least partial evacuation in the area today.

Following in the footsteps of the Times Square hawkers who spotted the illegally parked Nissan Pathfinder, another street vendor on hyper-alert reported a suspicious package Friday morning.

The vendor, Hassane Soliman Elbaz, 30, parked his silver cupcake cart at the northwest corner of 45th Street and Eighth Avenue around 5 a.m. Several hours later, he noticed a small black duffel bag near a trash bin. He reported the bag to a mounted police officer shortly after 9 a.m.

Sometimes right, sometimes wrong,” Mr. Elbaz said. “Everybody has to be careful.”

Within 30 minutes, police officers cleared the area and brought in a bomb squad to check the bag.

They found a gray shirt, white tube socks, a toothbrush and pens.

The police deemed the bag not suspicious and left the scene before 11 a.m.

It was at least the seventh suspicious package brought to the attention of the police since the car bomb attempt on Saturday.

Mr. Elbaz, an immigrant from Egypt who lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, said he was relieved. It was only his second day running his Little Cupcake Lover cart. He sells coffee, bagels, croissants and other pastries in the morning before the red velvet, Oreo, Nutella mint and ocean-sprinkled cupcakes arrive.

He said the owners of the Chicken Bar, a lunch operation behind where he works, had given him a difficult time so far, but joked that not even a suspicious bag could have thwarted his business.

“Anything crazy can happen in New York,” Mr. Elbaz said as he dealt with a customer.

A Package Spotted, and Times Sq. Pauses

Authorities cleared streets around New York’s Times Square and called in the bomb squad Friday, after finding a suspicious item.
Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Times Square Reopened After ‘Suspicious Package’ Report 


DESCRIPTIONShannon Stapleton/Reuters An area of Times Square was evacuated on Friday afternoon after a suspicious cooler was discovered.

[VIDEO] BILL HICKS: The Tupac Shakur of Comedy

William Melvin “Bill” Hicks (December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994) was an American stand-up comedian and satirist. His humor challenged mainstream beliefs, aiming to “enlighten people to think for themselves.”[1] Hicks used a ribald approach to express his material, describing himself as “Chomsky with dick jokes.”[1] His jokes included general discussions about society, religion, politics, philosophy and personal issues. Hicks’ material was often deliberately controversial and steeped in dark comedy. In both his stand-up performances, and during interviews, he often criticized consumerism, superficiality, mediocrity and banality within the media and popular culture, describing them as oppressive tools of the ruling class, meant to “keep people stupid and apathetic.”[2]

Hicks died of pancreatic cancer, which had spread to his liver, in 1994 at the age of 32. In the years after his death, his work and legacy achieved significant admiration and acclaim, of numerous comedians, writers, actors and musicians alike. He was listed as the 19th greatest stand-up comedian of all time by Comedy Central in 2004, and 6th greatest in 2007 and 4th greatest in 2010 by Channel 4.

Born in Valdosta, Georgia, Bill Hicks was the son of Jim and Mary (Reese) Hicks, and had two elder siblings, Steve and Lynn. The family lived in Florida, Alabama and New Jersey, before settling in Houston, Texas, when Hicks was seven. He was raised in the Southern Baptist faith, where he first began performing as a comedian to other children at Sunday School.[3]

He was drawn to comedy at an early age, emulating Woody Allen and Richard Pryor, and writing routines with his friend Dwight Slade. Worried about his behavior, his parents took him to a psychoanalyst at age 17 but, according to Hicks, after one session the psychoanalyst informed him that “…it’s them, not you.”[3]

In 1978, Hicks, along with friends Slade, Ben Dunn, John S. and Kevin Booth, began performing at the Comedy Workshop in Houston. At first, Hicks was unable to drive to venues independently and was so young that he needed a special work permit to perform. By the autumn of 1978 he had worked his way up to performing once every Tuesday night, while still attending Stratford High School. He was well-received and started developing his improvisational skills, although his act at the time was limited.

In 1986, Hicks found himself broke, but his career received another upturn as he appeared on Rodney Dangerfield’s Young Comedians Special, in 1987. The same year, he moved to New York City, and for the next five years he did about 300 performances a year. On the album Relentless, he jokes that he quit using drugs because “once you’ve been taken aboard a UFO, it’s kind of hard to top that”, although in his performances, he continued to extol the virtues of LSD, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms.[4] He fell back to chain-smoking,[5] a theme that would figure heavily in his performances from then on.

In 1988 Hicks signed on with his first professional business manager, Jack Mondrus. Throughout 1989, Mondrus worked to convince many clubs to book Hicks, promising that the wild drug- and alcohol-induced behavior was behind him. Among the club managers hiring the newly sober Hicks was Colleen McGarr, who would become his girlfriend and fiancée in later years.

In 1989 he released his first video, Sane Man.[6] It was reissued in 2006.

In 1990, Hicks released his first album, Dangerous, performed on the HBO special One Night Stand, and performed at Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival.[7] He was also part of a group of American stand-up comedians performing in London’s West End in November (or December[8]). Hicks was a huge hit in the UK and Ireland and continued touring there throughout 1991. That year, he returned to the Just for Laughs festival and recorded his second album, Relentless.

Hicks made a brief detour into musical recording with the Marble Head Johnson album in 1992. In November (or December[8]), he toured the UK, where he recorded the Revelations video for Channel 4. He closed the show with “It’s Just a Ride”, one of his most famous and life-affirming philosophies. Also in that tour he recorded the stand-up performance released in its entirety on a double CD titled Salvation. Hicks was voted “Hot Standup Comic” by Rolling Stone magazine. He moved to Los Angeles in early 1993.

Censorship and aftermath

Hicks was constantly facing problems with censorship. In 1984, Hicks was invited to appear on Late Night with David Letterman for the first time. He had a joke that he used frequently in comedy clubs about how he accidentally caused a fellow class-mate to become wheelchair bound. NBC had a policy that no handicapped jokes could be aired on the show, making his stand-up routine difficult to perform without mentioning words such as “wheelchair”. Hicks was disappointed that the TV audience didn’t get to experience the uncensored Bill Hicks that people saw in clubs.[9]

On October 1, 1993, about five months before his death, Hicks was scheduled to appear on Late Show with David Letterman, his twelfth appearance on a Letterman late night show but his entire performance was removed from the broadcast — then the only occasion where a comedian’s entire routine was cut after taping. Hicks’ stand-up routine was removed from the show allegedly because Letterman and his producer were nervous about Hicks’ religious jokes. Hicks said he believed it was due to a pro-life commercial aired during a commercial break.[10] Both the show’s producers and CBS denied responsibility. Hicks expressed his feelings of betrayal in a letter to John Lahr of The New Yorker.[11][12] Although Letterman later expressed regret at the way Hicks had been handled, Hicks did not appear on the show again. The full account of this incident was featured in a New Yorker profile by Lahr[11], which was later published as a chapter in Lahr’s book, Light Fantastic.[13]

Hicks’ mother, Mary, appeared on the January 30, 2009, episode of Late Show. Letterman played Hicks’ routine in its entirety. Letterman took full responsibility for the original censorship and apologized to Mrs. Hicks. Letterman also declared he did not know what he was thinking when he pulled the routine from the original show in 1993. Letterman said, “It says more about me as a guy than it says about Bill because there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.”

Cancer diagnosis and death

In April 1993, while touring in Australia, Hicks started complaining of pains in his side, and on June 16 of that year, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver.[16] He started receiving weekly chemotherapy, while still touring and also recording his album, Arizona Bay, with Kevin Booth. He was also working with comedian Fallon Woodland on a pilot episode of a new talk show, titled Counts of the Netherworld for Channel 4 at the time of his death. The budget and concept had been approved, and a pilot was filmed. The Counts of the Netherworld pilot was shown at the various Tenth Anniversary Tribute Night events around the world on February 26, 2004.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Hicks would often joke openly at performances exclaiming it would be his last. Hicks performed the actual final show of his career at Caroline’s in New York on January 6, 1994. He moved back to his parents’ house in Little Rock, Arkansas, shortly thereafter. He called his friends to say goodbye, before he stopped speaking on February 14[citation needed], and re-read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.[17] He spent time with his parents, playing them the music he loved and showing them documentaries about his interests. He died of cancer in the presence of his parents at 11:20 p.m. on February 26, 1994. He was 32 years old.[18] Hicks was buried in the family plot in Leakesville, Mississippi.

On February 7, 1994, after his diagnosis with cancer, Hicks authored a short statement on his perspective, wishes and thanks of his of life, to be released after his death as his “last word”,[16] ending with the words:

“I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.”

Comic style

Hicks’s style was a play on his audience’s emotions. He expressed anger, disgust and apathy while addressing the audience in a casual and personal manner, which he likened to merely conversing with his friends, often making eye contact with individual audience members in smaller venues.

Hicks’s material was less focused on the everyday banalities of life and placed greater emphasis on philosophical themes of existence. He would invite his audiences to challenge authority and the existential nature of “accepted truth.” One such message, which he often used in his shows, was delivered in the style of a news report:

Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration — that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death; life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves… Here’s Tom with the weather! [19]

Another of Hicks’s most famous quotes was delivered during a gig in Chicago in 1989 (later released as the bootleg I’m Sorry, Folks). After a heckler repeatedly shouted “Free Bird”, Hicks screamed that “Hitler had the right idea, he was just an underachiever!” Hicks followed this remark with a misanthropic tirade calling for unbiased genocide against the whole of humanity.[20]

Much of Hicks’s routine involved direct attacks on mainstream society, religion, politics, and consumerism. Asked in a BBC interview why he cannot do a routine that appeals “to everyone”, he said that such an act was impossible. He responded by repeating a comment an audience member once made to him, “We don’t come to comedy to think!”, to which he replied, “Gee! Where do you go to think? I’ll meet you there!” In the same interview, he also said: “My way is half-way between: this is a night-club, and these are adults.” [21]

Hicks often discussed conspiracy theories in his performances, most notably the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He mocked the Warren Report and the official version of Lee Harvey Oswald as a “lone nut assassin.” He also questioned the guilt of David Koresh and the Branch Davidian compound during the Waco Siege.

Hicks would end some of his shows — and especially those being recorded in front of larger audiences as albums — with a mock “assassination” of himself on stage, making gunshot sound effects into the microphone and falling to the ground.


Arizona Bay and Rant in E-Minor were released posthumously in 1997 on the Voices imprint of the Rykodisc label. Dangerous and Relentless were also re-released by Rykodisc on the same date.

In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian’s Comedian, fellow comedians and comedy insiders voted Hicks #13 on their list of “The Top 20 Greatest Comedy Acts Ever”. Likewise, in “Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time” (2004), Hicks was ranked at #19. In March 2007, Channel 4 ran a poll, “The Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time,” in which Hicks was voted #6. Channel 4 renewed this list in April 2010, which saw Hicks move up 2 places to #4.[36]

Devotees of Hicks have incorporated his words, image, and attitude into their own creations. Because of audio sampling, fragments of Hicks’ rants, diatribes, social criticisms, and philosophies have found their way into many musical works, such as the live version of Super Furry Animals’ “Man Don’t Give A Fuck”. His influence on Tool is well documented; he “appears” on the Fila Brazillia album Maim That Tune (1996) and on SPA’s self titled album SPA (1997), which are both dedicated to Hicks; the British band Radiohead’s second album The Bends (1995) is also dedicated to his memory. Singer/songwriter Tom Waits listed Rant in E Minor as one of his 20 most cherished albums of all time.[37] The UK band Shack released an album in August 2003 quoting a Bill Hicks routine in the title: Here’s Tom With the Weather. The album also included other Bill Hicks quotes in the liner notes. English breakbeat artist Adam Freeland sampled Revelations for his track “We Want Your Soul.” Welsh punk rock band Mclusky reference a Hicks routine in the lyrics to their song “To Hell With Good Intentions”. Punk cabaret musician Amanda Palmer says, “I have my new Bill Hicks CD” in the song “Another Year” on her 2008 album Who Killed Amanda Palmer. The Swedish indie pop singer/songwriter Jens Lekman has written a song called “People who Hate People Come Together” after the same Hicks quote. The last track of The Kleptones album Yoshimi Battles the Hip-Hop Robots, Last Words (A Tribute), includes his “It’s just a ride” in its entirety.[citation needed]

Hamell on Trial’s 1999 album Choochtown includes the song “Bill Hicks,” featuring the lyric “I wish Billl Hicks was alive/I wish Bill Hicks had survived,” as well at the instrumental tribute “Bill Hicks (Ascension).”

Rappers Adil Omar and Vinnie Paz have also cited Hicks as an influence to their work; contemporary comedians David Cross and Russell Brand have stated that they were inspired by Hicks.[38][39] Irish Independent columnist Ian O’Doherty is also a great admirer of Hicks.

On their 2009 album There Is No Enemy, Built To Spill released the song “Planting Seeds” with the lyrics “I’ve heard that they’ll sell anything and I think they might…I think Bill Hicks was right…about what they should do.” referring to his stand up routine which asks marketers to kill themselves. The song title refers to a bit in the same routine when Bill explains, “Just planting seeds here, folks.”.

The British film Human Traffic referred to him as the “late prophet Bill Hicks,” and portrays the main character, Jip, watching Hicks’ stand-up before going out to “remind me not to take life too seriously”. Hicks even appears in the comic book Preacher, in which he is an important influence on the protagonist, Rev. Jesse Custer. His opening voice-over to the 1991 Revelations live show is also quoted in Preacher‘s last issue.[citation needed]

The British actor Chas Early portrayed Hicks in the one-man stage show Bill Hicks: Slight Return, which premiered in 2005.

On February 25, 2004, British MP Stephen Pound tabled an early day motion titled “Anniversary of the Death of Bill Hicks” (EDM 678 of the 2003-04 session), the text of which was as follows:

That this House notes with sadness the 10th anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks, on 26th February 1994, at the age of 32; recalls his assertion that his words would be a bullet in the heart of consumerism, capitalism and the American Dream; and mourns the passing of one of the few people who may be mentioned as being worth [sic] of inclusion with Lenny Bruce and George Carlin in any list of unflinching and painfully honest political philosophers.[40]

Film and documentary

A film about Hicks’ life and career, rumored to be directed by Ron Howard, is said to be in pre-production. Russell Crowe has been mentioned as one of the producers and may portray Hicks as well.[41]

A documentary entitled American: The Bill Hicks Story, based on interviews with his family and friends, premiered on March 12, 2010, at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.[42] The film has gone on to screen at multiple festivals including SxSW, London Film Festival and Sheffield Doc/Fest.

A Sly Suggestion Is All It May Take to Kill a Marriage

The New York Times

April 22, 2010


In the world of August Strindberg, where everyone is always armed and dangerous, it takes only 90 minutes to destroy a marriage. That’s the time required to perform the thrilling new interpretation of “Creditors,” which opened Tuesday night at the Harvey Theater of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. When this impeccably acted three-character drama has put the last of those minutes to cruel and careful use, you’re likely to feel you’ve had the breath knocked out of you. Despite yourself, you’ll probably be smiling too.

Pity and terror may have been what Aristotle demanded a tragedy elicit from its audience. But Strindberg, who held to the courage of his perversity, tweaked that formula like no other dramatist before him in his naturalistic plays from the late 1880s. Laughter and terror are what’s incited by his chronicles of to-the-death struggles between men and women, a hard laughter that both cuts and heightens the pain of your response.

It is unusual these days for a production to invoke that paradoxical response as thoroughly and skillfully as this one, an import from the invaluable Donmar Warehouse in London, directed with surgical exactitude by Alan Rickman. (An example of how Strindberg’s tragicomedy can slip into camp was provided earlier this season in the Broadway production of “After Miss Julie,” which starred Sienna Miller.) Presented in a new translation by David Greig that brings out the feral poetry in Strindberg’s prose, this portrait of a fatal sexual triangle is both coldly objective and scathingly passionate.

Both sides of that equation are fully evident in the opening scene. The setting is the lounge of a Swedish seaside hotel, and as rendered by Ben Stones it’s a disquietingly sterile place, as white as a hospital operating room and saturated in unnaturally even natural light (designed by Howard Harrison).

Just how appropriate this environment is for the action that follows becomes clear with the entrance of Gustav (Owen Teale), a composed man of tidy mien and measured speech, and the younger Adolph (Tom Burke), who has a limp and an open, anguished expression. Having met only recently, they are in the middle of a conversation about the state of Adolph’s marriage, and the older man questions and counsels the younger with professorial patience and persistence.

Adolph, an artist, says that he has given himself so completely to his older wife, a novelist, that he has no identity of his own left. Or that’s the conclusion that Gustav leads his new acquaintance to. The images used in describing the marital connection are biological, and Gustav’s diagnoses are literally, and sometimes grotesquely, medical.

It soon develops that under the paternal guise of a sort of psychological surgeon, here to cut away an unhealthy love as if were a tumor, Gustav is systematically poisoning Adolph by suggestion. At first, the dialogue has a breezy, almost Wildean wit. “That’s why one ought not to marry anyone one hasn’t been already married to — at least once,” says Gustav, though without a trace of an epigrammatist’s smirk.

As the conversation continues and deepens, the men’s interaction becomes increasingly physical, and there are moments when Gustav fastens his body onto Adolph’s, ostensibly to offer strength but looking like a succubus. “Life offers a thousand means by which we can hurt each other,” says Gustav, with a musing detachment that belies our awareness that he is a master of such means.

The missing member of the triangle, the wife, makes a late entrance into this laboratory of human feelings, though we’ve seen her naked image in a provocative, harshly ambivalent sculpture by Adolph. Tekla (Anna Chancellor) wears her strength more flamboyantly than Gustav does, and her hold over her boyish husband is still firm enough to bend him back to her own will, at least partly. Adolph leaves the room angrily, allowing Gustav — who has been waiting, hidden — to demonstrate anew his particular talent for hypnosis.

On one level “Creditors” isn’t so far from the classic French farce of infidelity. And it features some genuinely funny moments in that vein. “I feel you’re trying to steal my soul,” Tekla says breathlessly in the middle of a horizontal clinch with Gustav. “There is no soul,” Gustav says. Tekla, good free-thinker that she is, answers in a rush, “I know, I know, I know.”

But if these people are on occasion funny, it’s because they’re so deadly — and I mean deadly — serious. Only Gustav has a sense of irony about who he is and what he’s doing, and it’s not a pleasurable perspective. Though Strindberg is usually regarded as a painter of vampire women who suck the life out of their male prey, “Creditors” offers a view of the human predator that has, one might say, gender parity.

And what a lonely view it is. Relationships, even (no, especially) those of love and friendship, incur feelings of indebtedness. And debt breeds a resentment that festers and a need to break free of obligations. The characters speak with ostensible self-detachment of modern theories of psychology, which reduce people to genetically programmed animals, bereft of free will. What’s so killing about “Creditors” is how completely they embody those theories.

Mr. Rickman, best known as an actor, has steered his ensemble into making us believe that for each of these unhappy people character is fate, that they couldn’t act other than they do. Even more than Strindberg’s later “Dance of Death,” “Creditors” is a template for a kind of take-no-prisoners drama that would flourish in the 20th century, practiced by writers as different as Eugene O’Neill,Edward Albee and Harold Pinter. But it’s rawer and harsher than anything that would follow.

The cast here couldn’t be better in playing out the shifting power games that give the play its structure, keeping us in their grip even as the script slides into the devices and denouements of old-fashioned melodrama. Germaine Greer, in a program note, writes that the characters in “Creditors” are mythic archetypes. But what’s so compelling about these performances is how specifically defined each one is.

If Adolph is a sort of tabula rasa, to be written on by more experienced hands, the emotionally translucent Mr. Burke guarantees that this blank page has an achingly individual fleshly texture and shape. Ms. Chancellor’s Tekla is a magnificent amalgam of vanity, imperiousness and just enough lingering self-doubt to be taken advantage of. Mr. Teale calmly and devastatingly embodies a man who has drained himself of all feelings but one: the thirst for vengeance, to be top dog once again. And in Strindberg’s primal jungle of life, that’s really the only feeling that matters.


By August Strindberg, in a new version by David Greig; directed by Alan Rickman; sets by Ben Stones; costumes by Fotini Dimou; lighting by Howard Harrison; music and sound by Adam Cork. A Donmar Warehouse production, presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music. At the Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene; (718) 636-4100. Through May 16. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. WITH: TomBurke (Adolph), Owen Teale (Gustav) and Anna Chancellor (Tekla).

[Video] TVO: Sohail Rashid from the Psychology Department at Ryerson University presents his lecture entitled Birth Order and Personality—ALFRED ADLER, SIGMUND FREUD, ELLIOT SOLOWAY, MARTIN PAULUS

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Sohail Rashid on Birth Order and Personality

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Published Date: 03/13/2010

Length: 43:49

Views: 534

Sohail Rashid from the Psychology Department at Ryerson University presents his competition lecture entitled Birth Order and Personality.

TVO’s Best Lecturer Competition celebrates the most engaging lecturers in Ontario.The competition, sponsored by TD Insurance Meloche Monnex, allows anyone to nominate a professor in any Ontario registered post-secondary institution.TVO staff and an independent jury review the submission videos to select 10 finalists. The lectures of the top 10 will air on TVO in March 2010. The winning lecturer is chosen by viewers and a panel of judges, and the winner’s school is awarded a $10,000 TD Insurance Meloche Monnex scholarship.

Sohail Rashid

2010Department of Psychology – Ryerson University | I teach Introductory Psychology, Personality Theories, Social Psychology, Psychology of Thinking, and Industrial Psychology at Ryerson University. I received my undergraduate honours degree from the University of Guelph with a thesis in the area of Psychology and Law, and later completed graduate studies grounded in a “phenomenological” perspective, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

I joined Ryerson in 1986, developed an interest in Jungian theory and became a member of the Jungian Foundation. Over the years, I have taught many of the courses offered in the Psychology department at Ryerson. I have been nominated for Teaching-Excellence Awards over the years. I have been involved with R.U.N. Program, which involved teaching Introductory Psychology to at-risk high school students to encourage them to attend post-secondary education. I have also delivered voluntary lectures for the L.I.F.E. Program. This is a seniors program at Ryerson, where I lecture about Erikson and developmental issues. I am also currently teaching an Adult Developmental Course for the collaborative Ryerson-Centennial Nursing Program.

My personal interests include all forms of Art (though my main focus is literature) and in particular the Jungian approaches to Art. I live with my cat Maya.

What the Students Say:
“He is the most inspiring lecturer that students will encounter in their academic career… His enthusiasm and energy for psychology are so contagious, his students are motivated to immerse themselves deeper into the subject. His encouragement and sense of humour make the difficult subject matter easy to understand and enjoyable. Without a doubt, Professor Rashid’s dynamic teaching style leaves a lasting impact on his students.”

“He has amazing energy and enthusiasm for the course and everything he teaches… He delivers the material in a way that is fun and exciting and you can’t help but to hang on to his every word… He relates real world situations to theory that make even the most difficult topics easy to understand.”