Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Don't forget to vote in our Halloween poll, at right!
"Well, at least she didn't dress up the kitty!"
Fittingly, Alan Hovhaness' popular and otherworldly second symphony, "Mysterious Mountain," debuted on today's date in 1955, conducted by Leopold Stokowski. "Mountains are symbols, like pyramids, of man's attempt to know God," Hovhaness said of his subtitle, calling them "symbolic meeting places between the mundane and spiritual worlds." Of the work's structure he commented, "Things that are complicated tend to disappear and get lost. Simplicity is difficult, not easy."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"craigslistlieder": weird ads by misfits spark marvelous music

Gabriel Kahane's song cycle craigslistlieder uses texts from actual personals from craigslist; here's the 4th movement followed by the original ad:

neurotic and lonely - 20
Reply to:
Date: 2006-02-14, 9:45PM EST
average height, brown eyes (slightly disportionate), brown curly hair (jewfro), 20 y/o, slightly hunched, occasionally employed anthropologist, chainsmoking jew, currently living with parents, off from school to deal with emotional problems (medicated), seeks gorgeous artsy genius woman interested in philosophical discourse, making out, television, woody allen movies, thelonious monk, the nazis, chinese food, thomas pynchon, digestive disorders. must enjoy video games. must own a video game system. (my parents refuse to buy one for me) no ugg boots. no long island.
Delusional or what? I don't even know where to begin!

On another note, here's "Let's Not Settle Down"—Kahane's postmodern tribute to Cole Porter:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Anime & the psychology of delay

Two cool trailers today. The first previews a February 2012 release from Disney called The Secret World of Arrietty, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi from a screenplay by the legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa. It’s based on the novel The Borrowers by Mary Norton. The voice cast for this English-language version includes Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, David Henrie, and Moises Arias. In the meanwhile, if you haven't read the classic kids' book The Rescuers (also made into a Disney feature) you can snap up a copy from us.

The second cleverly previews a new title that addresses how we're programmed to procrastinate and what we can do about it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Comestibles as art

Under the rubric "Best Before," British photographer James Kendall memorialized these artifacts found in the pantry of his 90-year-old mother-in-law when she relocated to a nursing home. Needless to say, Kendall reports that dining chez belle mère was always a dicey proposition!

I had a vague idea from reading British kids' lit, but looked up definition of treacle:  "any uncrystallized syrup produced in refining sugar," mostly used in cooking (and consumed as treacle tarts in the Harry Potter books).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Introducing the Graphics Fairy

The Graphics Fairy, a.k.a. Karen, posts one or more pieces of downloadable, copyright-free art daily. Here's a particularly spectacular sample of her wares:

If you flit on over to her website, you'll see that she has categories galore (and you can also download a high-res pdf of this image). I just know that all of you crafty types will soon be up to your elbows in projects. To aid and abet you, view our bargain craft books offerings, such as Paper Crafts with Style: Over 50 Designs Made with Cut, Folded, Pasted, and Stitched Paper; or Decorative Knitting: 100 practical techniques, 200 inspirational ideas and over 18 creative projects; or the many excellent titles in the Dover Pictorial Archive series.
And for those whose preference is to sit in a cozy armchair sipping a beverage and flipping the leaves of a gorgeous book someone else put together, check the website frequently for hundreds of deeply discounted arts and graphics books—with many covetable new ones arriving daily.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Love makes the world go round

This youtuber obviously adores Patti LuPone, as do we. He's constructed a visual tribute around the opener from her fabulous CD Matters of the Heart. If you click on the link you'll see that the vivacious diva (and vocal powerhouse) also appears on the new Broadway cast recording of Cole Porter's Anything Goes. She's the top!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford—supreme playwright?

"They do protest too much, methinks."
Anonymous is not the first book or film to contend that Shakespeare did not write the plays that have come down to us under his name. It does, however, have the distinction of being one of the most riddled with errors. Some of them were pointed out by Stephen Marche in the New York Times:
In an early scene, Shakespeare’s contemporary Christopher Marlowe watches a new play, “Henry V,” which supposedly happens on the same day that Lord Essex departs for Ireland. But Marlowe died in 1593, while Essex left for Ireland in 1599. When Marlowe is killed, Ben Jonson confronts Shakespeare with the crime, saying that he “slit [his] throat,” but Christopher Marlowe was actually stabbed above the eye, according to the coroner’s report. Simple chronological or factual fudges, you might say — sure, but there’s more. The theatrical censor responds with shock to the idea that in Shakespeare’s version of “Richard III,” the king is portrayed as a hunchback. But Shakespeare did not invent that idea. In the influential “History of Richard III,” by Thomas More, written around 1516, Richard is “little of stature, ill featured of limbs, crook backed, his left shoulder much higher than his right.” And so on. In the film, Shakespeare’s fellow playwrights are all amazed that “Romeo and Juliet” is in iambic pentameter, but by the time “Romeo and Juliet” came out, drama in iambic pentameter was the standard; the first extant English play in iambic pentameter was “Gorboduc,” by Norton and Sackville, in 1561.
The craziest idea in “Anonymous,” however, is that Edward de Vere wrote a version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” 40 years before its performance at court, putting the composition of the play somewhere around 1560.....  To put the issue in a contemporary framework, it’s one thing to say that somebody other than Jay-Z wrote “The Blueprint”; it’s another to say that this clandestine Jay-Z wrote “The Blueprint” in 1961. You can’t write a hip-hop masterpiece before hip-hop has been invented. And you can’t write “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” until English secular comedy has come into existence.
The movie is doubtless great fun if one grants it a willing suspension of disbelief. Readers interested in the whys and wherefores of the history of attribution would be better served by James Shapiro's book Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, which we have in hardback for a few farthings (so, as Iago said, you can "keep money in your purse").

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Monday, so good to me

As the week commences, I have collated a few vivid and minimally brain-taxing items to help us all get our attitudes adjusted and our creativity flowing. First up. from, is a rainbow-hued approach to the age-old issue of how to organize your books:

And for those who embrace a minimalist approach to space, check out these combo lamp/chairs, dubbed "The Poet" (yes, e-book readers, we know your device comes w/ its own light!):

Books and their covers are a never-ending source of interest to us at Daedalus, as they apparently are to several fabric artists we recently came across. Witness two of Jillian Tamaki's lovely embroidered images for the Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics editions.

Over in France, Olympia Le-Tan has turned her considerable artistry to replicating book covers on an assortment of handmade handbags. Très très belle (& très cher) .... but we can look for free!

Finally, we have a tiny contest: can anyone guess which American poet painted this?

Don't forget to peruse our website for gift books, DVD sets, and CDs in your favorite categories: already online at fantastic discounts are many treasures that will be featured in our upcoming holiday print catalog. See you tomorrow!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What do these composers have in common?

Ástor Piazzolla, Virgin Thomson, Quincy Jones, Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Elliot Carter, David Diamond, Walter Piston, Louise Talma, Elie Siegmeister, Ned Rorem, Philip Glass, and Marc Blitzstein. 

They (and scores of others) all studied under Nadia Boulanger, who died October 22, 1979 at the age of 92. In notes to a program of works by her pupils put on by the American Symphony Orchestra, Leon Botstein writes:
It would be hard to imagine a more charismatic and forceful personality in the history of 20th-century music.... She began her career as a composer studying under Fauré, but eventually turned to performance in keyboard (she also studied with Charles Marie Widor) and conducting. She was central to the rebirth of public performances of pre-classical music during the first part of this century, particularly music from the Renaissance and Baroque. Boulanger’s first performance in the United States was as the organist in the premiere of the Symphony for Organ by her most famous pupil, Aaron Copland. Boulanger was the first woman to conduct the major symphony orchestras in the United States. One of her last appearances was here in New York with the New York Philharmonic in 1962, when she conducted works by her sister and the Fauré Requiem. With characteristic elegance and generosity, she dedicated the Sunday afternoon performance to the memory of Bruno Walter, who had died the night before. ....What made Boulanger a great and magnetic teacher not only for a cadre of famous composers but for many other distinguished musicians who studied with her was less the imposition of an aesthetic than the transmission of discipline and the encouragement of individuality.

"The first thing I ask a pupil is, 'Can you live without music?' If you can live without music, thank the Lord and goodbye…. The one that you must push will never do anything." Below, with Stravinsky and Bernstein.

Boulanger's profound influence can be seen in the books and recordings reflecting works by her pupils that even a cursory search of our catalog reveals. Among my favorites are those by Ned Rorem, Astor Piazzolla, and Quincy Jones.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"On the Road" in 19th-century Japan

Today our virtual art gallery brings you images from The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kisokaido, with images by 19th-century woodblock masters Eisen and Hiroshige.
And for those occasions on which you bestir yourself to send a beautiful card, we also have Utagawa Hiroshige: Landscapes: a folio of 10 notecards with envelopes (5 each of Evening Glow at Seta and Returning Sails at Yabase), pictured above and at left.


Images above are by Hiroshige; those below are by Eisen.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Angus McBean

In 1970, British theatrical photographer Angus McBean (1904-90) sold to Harvard his massive collection of 40,000 glass-plate negatives; it has since become the most-requested archive of visual material in their Theatre Collection. McBean (pronounced McBain) worked from the 1930s to the '60s; his career encompasses the early work of Alec Guinness, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh (she was his muse and he her favorite photographer) as well as that of Hollywood stars like Richard Burton, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor. The Theatrical World of Angus McBean: Photographs from the Harvard Theatre Collection takes an in-depth look at 111 of his most arresting images, including this one of Leigh as Cleopatra in Shaw's play.

A bit  more whimsical is this charming composite of Hepburn:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The big kahuna

''I will have no man in my boat,' said Starbuck, 'who is not afraid of a whale.''
Everywhere I look, a great, white, fictional whale is staring me in the face. My friend Marilyn, an early e-book adopter, chose Moby Dick as her first foray into Kindledom. (Since then, she's been suspiciously silent on its merits.) Then Melville's creature and his pursuer were apotheosized in a mad/brilliant work of homage by Matt Kish. To produce Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page, this former high school English teacher, blogger, and self-taught artist created an image a day (see above and below) corresponding to each page of his Signet Classics paperback edition—552 in all. His media were pages from discarded books and tools ranging from ballpoint pen to crayon to ink and watercolor.
"Call Me Ishmael."
'...and when the ship was gliding by, like a flash he darted out; gained her side; with one backward dash of his foot capsized and sank his canoe; climbed up the chains...'
'But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive.'
And the pièce de résistance? Today's date marks the 1952 debut of Peter Mennin's Concertato for orchestra, subtitled "Moby Dick." The composer describes it as conveying "the emotional impact of the novel as a whole rather than musically depicting isolated incidents." (According to Composer's Datebook, Bernard Herrmann wrote a Moby Dick cantata in the late 1930s, with a text taken from the novel itself. And in the late 1990s, performance artist Laurie Anderson mounted a two-hour multimedia opera, Songs and Stories from 'Moby Dick.')

To date I have resisted a re-perusal of this iconic work of American fiction, which I held at arm's length during high school due to what I perceived as its longeurs and its frequently disgusting explications of blubber rendering and such. But just today I came across a title that may yet convert me and people of my ilk: It's Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick. In his previous book, Heart of the Sea, he told the story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex, the real-life incident that inspired Melville to write the tale of the pale behemoth and the men who set out to bring him down.
Kish at work.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Broadening our horizons

Colm Toibin
We Americans can be somewhat insular in our embrace of world literature. Although I consider myself fairly well read, I had to admit to a huge dose of ignorance when I first encountered the lineup of best-selling novelists featured on the monthly "BBC World Book Club" podcast. Familiarity with ~20 percent of the authors is not a statistic to crow about!
Questions for these acclaimed writers come from the live audience and from the farthest reaches of the globe via e-mail and phone. It's a rare experience of global unity and honest-to-god cross-culturalism. I have learned so much and been so enriched by the readings from the books and the dialogues that ensue. When I saw that we had paperbacks by two authors I heard on the program, I snapped them up.
The first is Brooklyn, by Irish writer Colm Toibin. The BBC listeners (especially the female element) were quite taken with his perceptiveness toward his main character, an immigrant. Toibin grew up in a household of women, and admitted to being all ears and soaking up a lot. He also excelled at the period aspects of his tale (although a few hardcore fans critiqued him for having someone put ketchup on a hot dog!).
Boris Akunin
The second book is also historical fiction—two mystery novellas called Special Assignments by Russian writer Boris Akunin that feature his suave and brainy series detective Erast Fandorin.  I am in the middle of the first story, involving a master of disguise; and as the rain pours down and the mist rises to cloak the mountains in the distance, I long to be in bed devouring it at this very moment. Happy reading, y'all!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"To Autumn" / Edward Sorel

Here's the last stanza of an evocation of fall by John Keats, supposedly the most anthologized poem in the English language.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

From a series called "The Fall" by Norwegian photographer Christopher Jonassen.

"Summer School"
Addendum: Recently I ran a poem by La Fontaine highlighting the change of seasons ("The Ant and the Cricket"), with an illustration by Quentin Blake. I'm thrilled to report we now have in stock The Complete Fables of La Fontaine: A New Translation in Verse, with illustrations by Edward Sorel. I love it/him! Sorel has done innumerable New Yorker covers, is a children's book illustrator, had the longstanding "First Encounters" series in The Atlantic, and is a fierce satirist. There's a "Masters Series" tribute to him going on right now at the School of Visual Arts in New York. 

"Degas meets Cassatt"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bygone department store logos/movie titles

Designer Christian Annyas has created a super-nostalgic, virtual collection of classic hand-scripted department store logos. Here are a few.
Not only that, but he's amassed a striking collection of movie title stills, by decade.

To get your design mojo working, have a peek at our current offerings, which include art nouveau, modernism, and advertising.