ARTS: So who showed up for ‘American Idiot’ at Bass Concert Hall? Well, a lot of people, for starters, which was a little surprising since the show was only moderately successful on Broadway. From the social looks of the crowd, some belonged to Broadway’s core demographics — you know who you are — and likely purchased season tickets without knowing too much about the punkish Green Day show. The second tribe would be the hardcore Green Day fans, who overcame their likely aversion to the adapted hit album to enjoy the stunning arrangements, lively cast and brash staging. They probably forgave the slim plot and raw youth-angst theme. The third group is harder to define: Fans of modern musicals. These young adults were brought up on "Rent," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "Kinky Boots," "Next to Normal" and such. They wouldn’t be caught dead at "South Pacific." Producers must know they exist, however, or they wouldn’t bet the ranch on shows like "American Idiot." (You need all three fan bases.)

FOOD: Five soups you can make now, freeze for later. From Addie Broyles story in the Statesman: "The polar vortex is long behind us, but that doesn’t mean winter is over for good. If you’re already tiring of your favorite soup recipes, here are five new ones to try. Several can be made vegetarian or vegan, and most are healthy enough to help you keep your New Year’s resolution of eating better. Another popular resolution I’ve been hearing is to waste less, which means either making smaller quantities of food so that you don’t have leftovers or finding a way to eat the leftovers you have. The great thing about soups is that they almost always freeze well. I’ve started making big batches of vegetarian chili specifically to freeze in small portions that I can reheat at work." http://shar.es/U0D6O(Planning to make all five.)

Politics: How the War on Poverty was won (in four easy charts). From John Cassidy’s story in The New Yorker: "The War on Poverty "has failed," Paul Ryansaid last week, at an event held to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 State of the Union address, where the new President coined the famous phrase. Significantly, Ryan did not feel the need to justify his claim, which is regarded as an article of faith in conservative circles and even among some progressives. We "keep dumping money into programs we know don’t work," Ryan lamented. By now, the figures on which these claims are based should be well known. As Ryanpointed out during last year’s election campaign, there are close to fifty million people living in poverty, according to the standard government measure—nearly one in six Americans. In 1964, the poverty rate was about about nineteen per cent. By 1966, it had fallen to just under fifteen per cent. Almost half a century later, in 2012—the last year for which the Census Bureau has provided an official estimate—the poverty rate is still fifteen per cent. Doesn’t this suggest Ryan is right, and the War on Poverty has been a monumental failure? No, it doesn’t. If you measure poverty properly, which is only now being done, you find that the poverty rate has fallen pretty dramatically since the middle of the nineteen-sixties. Indeed, according to an important new study by a group of economists at Columbia University, it has dropped by forty per cent. The main driver of this fall, in fact, has been the very type of anti-poverty programs that LBJ championed: food stamps and housing subsidies, Social Security and Medicare, and generous income subsidies, in the form of tax credits, for the low-paid." http://nyr.kr/19uMnki(It dropped 40 percent!)

HEALTH: Ten ways caring for a parent is like raising a toddler. From Mimi Swartz’s story in Texas Monthly: "Let me begin by saying that I feel your pain. Just as you start to accustom yourself to the benefits of being an empty nester—planning that long-awaited vacation, picking up a hobby like figure drawing, dirt-bike racing, or binge watching the Sopranos—you get the phone call. Mom has fallen. Or Dad is disoriented. Or maybe the labs didn’t come back the way everyone had hoped. Disaster can strike gradually or abruptly, and unless you are an expert in denial or have a sibling who has a passion for playing Florence Nightingale, you realize that you have been transferred into another stage of life: welcome to the Caregiver Years. My own journey began late last fall, when it became clear that my father, a widower in his mid-eighties, was no longer capable of managing his life alone, and that I would have to step in. As anyone who knows my father will tell you, he is a wonderful man, and so taking care of him is an act of gratitude and love, to be sure. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been challenging; it wasn’t long before I found myself canceling lunches to take Dad to the internist, or stepping out of meetings to take emergency phone calls, or, more recently, designing sitter schedules so complex that they resemble CIA anti-terrorist flow charts. I had the eerily familiar feeling that somewhere a giant stopwatch was running and I was losing the race." http://bit.ly/1eSW8a2(Often Topic No. 1 at dinner parties with people my age.)