This Week In Culture, July 18–24, 2020

Stories about sports returning, museums struggling, and the world's most famous composer all contributed vocabulary to this week's list of words from the culture beat.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. behemoth
    someone or something that is abnormally large and powerful
    As behemoths like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York have closed their doors, their ticket revenue has been shut off.
    The American Alliance of Museums published a report that says as many as a third of the country's museums may not survive the pandemic without financial assistance. Even as many work on reopening plans, attendance will likely be a fraction of its pre-pandemic levels for a long time. B'hemoth means "monstrous beast" in Hebrew, which likely comes from the Egyptian p-ehe-mau, meaning "water ox."
  2. conundrum
    a difficult problem
    Majors likens it to the conundrum white Americans find themselves in today in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
    Fresh off his role in Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods, actor Jonathan Majors is about to star in an HBO series called Lovecraft Country, which is executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams. The show combines period drama — it's set in 1950s Chicago — with supernatural monsters and the oppressive racism of Jim Crow era. Conundrum is of uncertain origin, but it may have been a joke: a fake Latin word invented as part of a game in 17th-century Oxford.
  3. hiatus
    an interruption in the intensity or amount of something
    This matchup should give us a look at Nuggets All-Star big man Nikola Jokic, who, before a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, had lost 40 pounds and transformed his body during the league's hiatus.
    The NBA starts back up again soon, and fans are excited to watch games again. With only eight regular-season games per team before the postseason begins, the competition is sure to be intense right from the beginning. Players, coaches, and staff have all been in what the league is calling "the bubble," separated from their families and the public to avoid any outbreaks.
  4. nonconformity
    failure to follow accepted standards of behavior
    With each phrase fitted into the contours of Gray’s quicksilver saxophone solo, “Twisted” became a hipster’s anthem of nonconformity.
    The Jazz singer Annie Ross died at 89. A member of the famous vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, she pioneered a style of singing known as "vocalese," where she would write and sing lyrics to existing song and solo melodies. The group was a huge success, providing a hip and captivating soundtrack to American popular culture in the late 1950s and early 60s. She struggled with addiction, but continued to sing and act in TV and film until a few years ago.
  5. parlay
    stake winnings from one bet on a subsequent wager
    Takei would parlay his opportunities into acting roles in films such as “Ice Palace” with Richard Burton and “Walk, Don’t Run” with Cary Grant.
    George Takei, the actor best known for playing the role of Sulu on Star Trek, did the voice acting for a mob boss character in the new video game Yakuza: Like A Dragon. He said that the role was meaningful for him, because as a child he spent years in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. In the camp, he learned about the Japanese voice actors, known as "Benshi," who would dub Western movies into Japanese, and he wanted to do what they did.
  6. phalanx
    any closely ranked crowd of people
    “The Imperial March,” from “The Empire Strikes Back,” for example, has a bright, brittle edge, with skittering figures in winds and strings surrounding an expected phalanx of brass.
    John Williams is world famous for composing the music for all eight Star Wars movies, but did you know that he also wrote the music for the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park franchises, as well as the Raiders of the Lost Ark films and Jaws? Besides his incredible catalog of movie music, he also writes standalone orchestral works and helps to raise money for orchestras by serving as a guest conductor all over the world.
  7. proliferate
    grow rapidly
    "Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to proliferate, causing us to reevaluate our release dates.”
    After originally setting a July 17 theatrical release date for Christopher Nolan's Tenet, Warner Brothers postponed it twice and then announced an indefinite delay. Blockbuster films make most of a studio's profits, so industry watchers say they're unlikely to do a digital release, but the studio says it's exploring a number of options that will allow the public to see it soon while ensuring good earnings.
  8. roster
    a list of names
    According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, team training camp roster sizes will also sit at just 80 players to open camp.
    Fans attending NFL games in the upcoming season will be required to wear masks. According to a statement from the league, teams are working on plans to open their stadiums with limited seating that leaves empty seats between fans for safety. There will be no preseason games, and the schedule and details still remain to be worked out. 59 players have tested positive for Covid-19 so far.
  9. succumb
    give in or consent reluctantly
    Work buddies and corporate cogs Matt and Jake (Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman, who created the series along with Pat Bishop) and their co-workers at the soul-sucking mega-conglomerate Hampton DeVille have all but succumbed to the apathetic fog that serves as their method of coping with being awake.
    As people ponder the future of office jobs, and consider whether many careers may continue in a more remote form even after the pandemic is over, workplace shows like Corporate offer useful commentary on the unhappy and exhausting places that many offices can be. The Comedy Central show finished filming its third and final season just before the industry shut down. Succumbere is a Latin verb meaning "to lie down."
  10. utopia
    ideally perfect state
    “With David Byrne’s American Utopia, he brings Byrne’s classic songs and joyous stagecraft to the screen just when we need it.
    Before the pandemic, Spike Lee made a concert film of David Byrne's American Utopia show. The film will open the Toronto Film Festival in September, which will take place online and via remote screenings and panels. Utopia is a word with Greek roots, but it gained its present meaning as the title of Sir Thomas More's book about an imaginary island with a perfect society.
Created on July 22, 2020 (updated July 22, 2020)

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