Happy V-J Day, Rhode Island! Today is just another Monday at work for most Americans—except for state employees in Rhode Island, who get the day off. Rhode Island is the last state in the Union that still celebrates V-J Day, the anniversary of the World War II victory over Japan. Here's a list of other idiosyncratic holidays celebrated only in certain states.
Boyd Morrison was finishing a Ph.D. in industrial engineering when he wrote his first novel. Five agents rejected it. Nine years later he tried again, and this time he did get an agent—after nearly three years and three novels. But that turned out to be some kind of cosmic tease, because 25 publishers turned down The Ark. With nothing left to lose, Morrison uploaded The Ark and his two other unpublished novels to Amazon’s Kindle store in March 2009. Within three months, he was selling books at a rate of 4,000 a month—a number that attracted the attention of the same publishers who had rejected him. This May, when The Ark was released in hardcover from Simon & Schuster, it became the first self-published Kindle book to be picked up by a Big Six publisher. Morrison says that the phone call from his agent telling him he’d finally see his book in print was “one of the most amazing moments of my life.”
Since 2000, the dominant approach to displaying modern art around the world has been thematic. That’s when the Tate Modern opened in London, and one of its hallmarks is that it eliminates a sense of historical narrative, mixing together modernist and contemporary works. No wonder a new exhibition of works by the French modernist master Henri Matisse arranged in meticulously chronological order feels like such an outlier in the museum world.
"Despicable Me"—the latest in the epidemic of Pixar-inspired 3-D animated films with more to say to adults than to kids—strikes a chord precisely because the world it inhabits is such a thinly veiled version of our own. But will kids thrill to its bleak portrait?
Despite what you might think from its name, the Museum of Afghan Civilization will be the very model of a modern major museum when it opens in January. It will be housed in an angular, postmodern building, designed by France's Yona Friedman. It will display the art of Afghanistan from prehistory to today, with works collected from all over the world. And it will have a nifty Web site, complete with high-definition reproductions and interactive information guides. What the museum won't have is a front door. Or a parking lot. Or a cafeteria. That's because the museum is the first designed as a virtual building only.
It was a Sunday morning in 1989, and Gary Cooper was all over Warsaw. Nearly 10,000 posters, plastered around the city at daybreak, bore the image of the marshal from the 1952 Western High Noon. His photograph was black and white, save for the red Solidarity logo placed on his chest, and he carried a paper ballot in place of a pistol. The poster's inscription was simple: IT'S HIGH NOON, JUNE 4, 1989.That paper sheriff was on a mission: to encourage Poles to vote for Solidarity in that day's parliamentary elections. In the Western, the hero always wins; in the elections, Solidarity secured a landslide victory, and the High Noon poster became an emblem of triumph and new beginning. Yet the poster itself marked an ending. It was the last great work of the Polish Poster School.Half a century before Twitter became the medium of choice for underground communications in Iran, artistically innovative Poles used the power of images to slip subversive messages past the communist watchdogs. In...