The Morning’s Most Interesting Cultural Stories [Opening Lines]

Books: “San Francisco based artist Matt Furie recently put out the second issue of Boy’s Club, a wonderfully bizarre collection of one-page stories featuring anthropomorphic monsters reminiscent of muppet monsters like Sweetums crossed with Chewbacca in an outfit that screams Saved by the Bell.” [Bookslut]

Dance/Opera: “The alarm goes off at 7. I shower, stick on jeans and trainers and head out the door. Most mornings I have an early Pilates class or a session at the gym. On the way to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, I’ll stop and buy a croissant and a coffee. It takes me about three coffees before I feel like myself, but by 10:30 everyone in the company needs to be ready for the first class.” [Times]

Design: “Over the years I have stayed in some real ‘shoeboxes’ around the world — rooms which have lacked not only size, but also character and comfort. But thanks to German scientists, the hotel experience is about to be transformed. At the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and Organisation, they have developed a ‘hotel room of the future’.” [BBC News]

Film: “We’d be lying if we said we weren’t excited for Cleo, Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming 3-D Cleopatra musical/possible practical joke starring Hugh Jackman and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Now, Soderbergh has revealed insane new details.” [Defamer]

Music: “Freddie Hubbard, the Grammy-winning jazz musician whose style influenced a generation of trumpet players and who collaborated with such greats as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, died Monday, a month after suffering a heart attack. He was 70.” [LAT]

Television: “Live shows were once a staple of television. Ditto game shows and shows with sponsor products interwoven into the contents. Now the Spike TV cable channel is bringing all three genres back in one fell swoop.” [NYT]

Theatre: “When he’s crashed the chandelier of the Paris Opera House and driven away the woman he loves with the sight of his abhorrent face, where does a musically gifted phantom go for a little R&R? Brooklyn, of course. In an interview with The Times of London, Andrew Lloyd Webber said that a recently completed sequel to his musical The Phantom of the Opera would send the title character to 19th-century Brooklyn, where he is reunited with his lost love, Christine, on the sands of Coney Island.” [NYT]

Visual Arts: “Art prices extended a seven-year surge for much of 2008, with a Claude Monet painting of water lilies, Lucian Freud’s portrait of a civil servant called Sue and a Francis Bacon triptych setting records.” [Bloomberg]

Web: “In a move widely anticipated ever since the XBox expanded its service with Netflix, Nintendo announced over the Christmas holiday that it is adding a video-on-demand option to its popular Wii console.” [Wired]