Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Day weekend salamagundi

Today we have a salmagundi of a post, with interesting tidbits from hither and yon to ease you into a copacetic Labor Day weekend.
First up, for your viewing consideration: Anne Berry's soulful portraits of primates, as profiled in Slate. To me these are mesmerizing and deeply moving.
As reported in the Las Cruces Sun-News,  historian Frank Parrish says an anonymous New Mexico man has produced a rare photo—once part of the estate of Sherriff Pat Garrett—that seems to be the second known image of Billy the Kid. Parrish can positively identify the fellow on the left as Dan Dedrick, a pal of Billy. Forensic analysis of the image is pending.
The only verified photo of Billy the Kid (William H. Bonney), given to his friend Dan Dedrick.
If America wants to be a nation of waddlers instead of walkers, it will keep consuming the foodstuffs shown in Food Matters' gallery of the "30 worst foods in America." This Baskin-Robbins oreo shake weighs in with a whole day's worth of calories and three days worth of saturated fat. I took their nutrition quiz and only got 4 correct. Dang! Does it count if I was leaning toward most of the right answers? Oh well, I learned something at least.
One thing we're strong on at Daedalus is books on optimal nutrition and delicious healthy heating. Click here to sample our menu!

Gabriele Galimberte's "Delicatessen with love" photo project presents dishes made by grandmothers all over the world.
Even if you are careful about what you eat, you may unintentionally be sabotaging yourself. As reported by Salon: "a nonprofit organization called the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) ...  has raised $40 million to test their hypothesis.... They contend that easily digested carbohydrates—such as the sugars that are added to low-fat yogurt to replace the fat that has been removed—drive weight gain by promoting insulin resistance. This hormonal change, in turn, signals the body to convert more sugar into fat and to hold on to more of the fat found in food." Sad but probably true—just like the dismal info that using artificial sweeteners tricks your body into craving sugar!
In music news, Paul McCartney released "New," the first single from an album of the same title coming in October. It will be Sir James Paul's first collection of original solo material since 2007. Until then, we guarantee his two-CD set Wings Over America to be plenty entertaining!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tennis's Victoria Duval: a teenager to the majors born

American sports has a new sweetheart, and her name is Victoria Duval. While watching her rout of U.S. Open champion (and No. 11 seed ) Samantha Stoser the other day, we began to piece together data on this adorable pixie who is five ten and still growing, looked like she's 14 (in a baggy dress from Venus Williams' line), hails originally from Haiti, and whales on her forehand as if to the majors born.
Duval had to pass through the qualifying rounds just to get in the tournament! Part of the fun in watching the match was seeing the joy and pride on the face of her father, a doctor who is still recovering from injuries sustained during the earthquake in his home country. Here is a bit from her post-match interview:
Q. For people who are getting familiar with you, how would you describe your personality on and off the court?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Uhm, I am very goofy off the court, so... I think I'm very much of a child at heart. Uhm, on the court, you have to be a warrior because that's just the sport we are in. You know, off the court I think it's important to have fun and be a good role model for other people. Just, I don't know, have fun. My motto is 'have fun.'
Q. How did that mentality manifest itself in tonight's match?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Well, it was definitely more important in the closing out stages and in the tougher stages, because I wasn't thinking about the score or anything because I didn't want to get too wrapped up in what else was going on. Just staying focused I think is the most important thing.
Q. Can you clarify with your growth spurt, how tall are you and how much do you weigh now?
VICTORIA DUVAL: I'm 5'10", and last time I weighed I was 150.
Q. You're not the working with Bollettieri at the moment?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Well, I talk to him a lot. I mean, I'm not physically at IMG. I take help from everyone. We have a great relationship. I call him Uncle Nick.
Q. We're in the interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Q. Were you aware about 20 years ago he was in a protest for the rights of Haitian refugees in Washington and was arrested at that time?
Q. Arthur Ashe.
VICTORIA DUVAL: Okay. I didn't know that, no. That's fantastic. Was he in this chair?
Q. I don't think he was around when this stadium was built.
Q. He was at the US Open the day before that occurred.
VICTORIA DUVAL: Thank you. That's a great fact right there.
Q. Can you talk about your path from when you won the 10 and under tournament to becoming a very good junior with your parents, was it financially difficult, teaching, all of that?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Yeah, it was definitely financially difficult, especially after the earthquake. My dad wasn't able to work anymore. I've been very fortunate. A couple family members have helped me. Hopefully with this win today, that will change a little bit.
Q. Your dad went back to Haiti during the earthquake while you were in Florida?
VICTORIA DUVAL: Yeah, we were in Atlanta at the time. But, yeah, he flew back the day before it happened,

Love sports? Have a gander at The Best American Sports Writing series, as well as The Only Game in Town: Sportswriting from The New Yorker. And should you want to bone up on the fine points and lore of tennis (plus many other sports), check out The Ultimate Book of Games: Rules and Ideas for Over 250 Indoor and Outdoor Games.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rev. M. L. King's "I Have a Dream" speech: 50 years ago

Contemplating the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s immortal "I Have a Dream" speech, given to such galvanizing effect on August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, I was happy to find that we have two relevant items that suitably honor this great man and martyr for justice. 
The first is At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965–68, the last title in Taylor Branch's award-winning trilogy devoted to the civil rights leader. As Michiko Kakutani wrote in the New York Times:
Selma, in many respects the high-water mark of the civil rights movement, stands as the narrative anchor of "At Canaan's Edge," the third and final volume of Taylor Branch's monumental history of the life and times of King. As familiar as the epochal Selma showdown may be to readers, it is recounted here with enormous dramatic verve - and a keen understanding of both its historic significance and the ways in which so much that occurred in America in the ensuing years "would be a consequence of, or reaction to" it…. What "Canaan's Edge" makes indelibly clear is the daunting burdens of leadership cast upon King's shoulders. Mr. Branch not only shows King's inspirational and managerial skills in dealing with the Selma crisis ... but he also shows the continuing, day-by-day balancing act that King continually had to perform: trying to reconcile the demands of grass-roots groups with larger, national agendas; trying to mediate between more radical figures like Stokely Carmichael and more conservative ones like Roy Wilkins; trying to work with the federal government on the War on Poverty while protesting that same government's prosecution of the war in Vietnam; trying to continue to promote his faith in nonviolence in the face of growing militancy on the part of a younger generation.
That King was a humanitarian, man of conscience, and advocate for world peace is amply demonstrated in the documentary King: Man of Peace in a Time of War. One segment shows him in a rare and candid TV interview, speaking from the heart about race relations, patriotism, justice, and Vietnam. It's a beautiful example of civilized, respectful political discourse. Also included is footage of the "I Have a Dream"  speech (a moral, inspirational, and rhetorical masterpiece that never ceases to amaze), along with seldom-seen interviews from the days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Other countries are marking the anniversary of King's 1963 speech, given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, as well. Britain's Radio 4 is broadcasting a reenactment at 2:30 pm (their time?) on the BBC World Service. The Guardian reported as follows:
The speech will be recreated in its entirety using audio of King's original delivery, interwoven with lines recorded by figures associated with human rights campaigning including Doreen Lawrence, Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for going to school, and Nelson Mandela's granddaughter, Ndileka Mandela..... The recording will feature contributions from US congressman John Lewis, who also addressed the Washington crowd on 28 August 1963; singer-songwriter Joan Baez, another leading figure in the American civil rights movement, and writer Maya Angelou, a co-ordinator for King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Other contributors will include the Dalai Lama; Nobel laureates John Hume, Shirin Ebadi, Muhammad Yunus and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia; Mary Robinson, former UN high commissioner for human rights and first female president of Ireland; Ariel Dorfman, the Chilean-American writer and human rights campaigner; Wei Jingsheng, the Chinese democracy campaigner; Indian peace activist Satish Kumar; and Maestro Abreu of the Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar.
Further reading: Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy; The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America; Root and Branch: Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and the Struggle to End Segregation; Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall. Supreme Court Justice Marshall (right) struggled tirelessly to combat racism, discrimination, and segregation during his tenure with the NAACP.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Books as art; the art of the book / Julie Harris

These three images are from Art Made From Books (forthcoming from Chronicle Books), featuring 25 contemporary artists engaging with books in wildly imaginative ways. Left:  'Birds Attack Man on Bike' by Mike Stilkey, 2010. Acrylic on books. Below: 'Flights of mind' byVita Wells, 2007. Book, hair, lights, fan, key, screws, hinges, glue. / 'Paper Typewriter,' by Jennifer Collier, 2011. Vintage typewriter manual pages, gray board, machine stitching.
Abe Books has put together a nice little feature on Art Deco book covers. At left is The Book of the Camp Fire Girls—impressive (and surprising)! Wonder if it was a WPA thing. I can't remember my Girl Scout pubs looking so good!
In 1933, French artist Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski de Rola) created 15 lithographs for a limited edition of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Balthus closely identified with Heathcliff, modeling the character's features in the prints on his own. (The French title was "Hauts de Hurle-Vent.")
The winner of six Tony Awards, Julie Harris was often called "the first lady of the American stage," but she lit up many a movie screen also. Harris starred famously with James Dean in East of Eden, but we have her in a lineup of other films as well (including Reflections in a Golden Eye, with Brando and Taylor). Below, Harris with Ethel Waters and Brandon DeWilde in "A Member of the Wedding." The trio played in the adaptation of the novel by Carson McCullers both on Broadway and in Hollywood.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wonder women, real and imaginary

"Invented by a psychologist with a love of bondage, Wonder Woman has become an all but forgotten superhero," writes The Guardian. "Now Grant Morrison, writer of Batman and Superman, is hoping to resurrect the Amazonian." His manner of doing so is a graphic novel titled The Trial of Diana Prince. It seem to have been be a week for comics here at the Glean, but except for Fletcher Hanks' exceedingly strange Fantomah, we seem to have forgotten to "remember the ladies" as Abigail Adams cautioned us. So back to WW's intriguing origin story, as recounted by The Guardian:
Wonder Woman, for those not in the know, is an Amazonian warrior princess, known in her homeland as Diana of Themyscira. Dreamed up by US psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston in 1942, the superhero's interests are justice, love, peace and sexual equality. To help her achieve these goals, she has a boomerang tiara, indestructible bracelets and a lasso of truth (Marston also invented the lie-detector test). She occasionally flies an invisible plane, too, presumably being careful to remember where she parked it.
Morrison spoke to me briefly about Marston at last year's book festival. "William Moulton Marston was basically a kind of proponent of free love," he said. "So he and his wife had a lover called Olive Byrne, an 18-year-old, and Olive was the physical model for Wonder Woman. They created the character because they felt Superman represented a kind of blood-curdling masculinity. They wanted to introduce somebody more feminine."
Marston had some other colourful kinks: "He had this idea that the world would be better if men would just submit to women's complete instruction. But he took it all the way – not just submit to instruction but get collars on, and get down on all fours, and just admit that's where you belong, guys. So a lot of the Wonder Woman stories had this thread through them, this idea of bondage. But Marston called it 'loving submission'."
An un-inked panel from Grant Morrison's forthcoming graphic novel The Trial of Diana Prince.
Thinking about female heroines put me in mind of the biography Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias. What a phenomenal athlete! The collage below shows just a few of the sports at which she excelled. In fact, I think there were very few sports at which she did not excel! "I didn't know a whole lot of things about Babe (1911-1956) until I picked up 'Wonder Girl,'" wrote Mike Downey in the LA Times, "a biography .... about one of the most remarkable (and remarkably unappreciated) women who ever walked (and ran) the Earth.... So do you know who made the Top 10 when ESPN chose its 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century? Here they are: (1) Michael Jordan. (2) Babe Ruth. (3) Muhammad Ali. (4) Jim Brown. (5) Wayne Gretzky. (6) Jesse Owens. (7) Jim Thorpe. (8) Willie Mays. (9) Jack Nicklaus. (10) Babe Didrikson Zaharias. So do you know what this means? It means the Babe — the female one as well as the male — was a greater athlete than Joe Louis, Carl Lewis, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Montana, Mark Spitz, O.J. Simpson and Secretariat, all of whom placed back in the Top 50."

"'Wonder Girl' was what some called her, but a wonder woman is what she was, no costume or magic lasso required."—Mike Downey, LA Times

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Celebrating Marian McPartland, the "delightful, delicious, de-lovely" host of Piano Jazz

An enduring wonder of the jazz world, Marian McPartland was so personable and self-effacing that on first acquaintance one might not grok her vast knowledge of jazz improvisation and of the greats who practiced it. Scores of them appeared on her 30-year NPR show Piano Jazz, telling priceless anecdotes of days gone by and grooving in duets with their host, who was always genuinely enthusiastic and seemed forever young, even as the decades rolled by. Hip, cool, and copacetic, well into her '90s (she gigged the night before the big nine-oh), McPartland constantly sought out new talent—such as Norah Jones and Diana Krall—to bring to the forefront.
McPartland, with Marylou Williams and Thelonius Monk (a detail of the famous photograph of jazz musicians "A Great Day in Harlem")
NPR has put up a sampling of their 30 favorites from among Piano Jazz's 700 episodes. (Her pairing with the legendary Bill Evans was so good it was released commercially.) In addition to keyboard giants like Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, and Oscar Peterson, McPartland's guests on Piano Jazz included vocalists (e.g., Mel Tormé, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson, and Elvis Costello) as well as all-star trumpeters, saxophonists, guitarists, and other instrumentalists. She was an outstanding composer, and in terms of her recordings, The Single Petal of a Rose: The Essence of Duke Ellington is an album we go back to again and again. You can hear her perform Ellington's Take the 'A' Train on a lovely compilation we're carrying called Concord's Women in Jazz: The New Century. And here's a "fine and mellow" video of her performing "In a Mist" by Bix Biederbecke.

More great jazz piano: The Definitive Bill Evans on Riverside and Fantasy.  And Evans' advanced harmonies are a perfect match for Chet Baker's lyrical trumpet on The Very Best of Chet Baker
On a more boisterous note: on today’s date in 1929, Walt Disney released “The Skeleton Dance,” his first “Silly Symphonies” cartoon. Enduringly popular, it was voted #18 in a 1994 poll of “The 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time” by professional animators. 

More and more classic cartoons are being rounded up in special sets with historical background and bonuses. Right now we have ones devoted to Felix the Cat (yay!), Popeye, Betty Boop, and a cadre of Saturday Morning Favorites, like The Jetsons, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, and Quick Draw McGraw.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hollywood stars with their kitties; Goodbye to novelist Elmore Leonard & pianist Cedar Walton

Behold some of Hollywood's most beautiful people with their slinky, furry friends. With some of the ladies, it's a contest as to just who is more bewitching! Scroll down for the IDs.
Roll call: Audrey Hepburn, Anita Ekburg in La Dolce Vita, Ann-Margret, Lauren Bacall, Brando!, Carole Lombard, Elizabeth Taylor, Eartha Kitt as Catwoman, Gene Tierney in The Egyptian, Cary Grant, Jeannette McDonald with "Pussums", Kim Novak, Steve McQueen (who knew he could be such a pussycat!), Mia Farrow, Michael Wilding and Elizabeth Taylor, Stephen Fry, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. Love to contemplate cats? You've come to the right place! Click here to browse our three pages of cat-related books. And if you have a particular feline friend, please share his or her name with us (especially if book-related)!
Reporting that crime novelist Elmore Leonard died yesterday, NPR offered his 10 Rules of Writing, which I couldn't love more.
1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said."
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Leonard was massively popular, writing almost 50 books—many of which were made into films. He is included in A New Omnibus of Crime, which looks to me like a fantastic read for mystery/crime fiction addicts.
Another highly creative person we will miss greatly is jazz pianist Cedar Walton, who died Tuesday.  Thankfully, like Leonard's, his work lives on. Don't miss his collaboration with singer Ian Shaw: In a New York Minute. Here is Walton at a festival with a beautifully lyrical take on Coltrane's "Naima."