Halloween Words: Neil Gaiman and Penguin

Looking for a way to ring in this ancient Celtic holiday?

Author Neil Gaiman is aiming to inspire an annual tradition–give somebody a scary book to read every Halloween, and Penguin has a page with clips of Philip Pullman reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales and their backlist of spooky stuff and horror (offered at a discount and including lots of tried and true chillers, Shirley Jackson, Poe, Mary Shelly, and Patrick Suskind’s extraordinary Perfume, a hell of a read).

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A Beautiful Picture: Photos from the Heartland at Nelson-Adkins

Design Observer has a piece on photos of the American Midwest by Terry Evans–mostly taken from a Cessna airplane.

From the essay by Alan Thomas:

“The airplane,” Antoine de Saint Exupéry wrote, “has unveiled for us the true face of the earth.” [2] From the vantage of a Cessna, Evans could tell different stories of the prairie — stories of irrigation and extraction, flooded fields and drained wetlands, feedlots and bomb targets. Seen from the air, these features of the prairie could be shown in truer relation to one another, although in Evans’s photographs the aerial perspective offers not a panoptical view but a provisional and humble one.

The exhibit has a good web site. And the Nelson-Adkins was a spectacular museum even before the new building by Steven Holl, which judging from the photos is an astonishing addition.

Papercraft

No, I’m not battening down the hatches in advance of Hurricane Sandy, I’m doing Halloween paper craft. Perhaps why I am not a great candidate for FEMA or the Civil Defense Corp.

From a Web site called http://digitprop.com, which has, among other things, a very cool paper alphabet.

Tipped via Laughing Squid, which has a mess’o cool Halloween stuff.

Reasonable Words: MTT on Conducting

Nice piece by Geoffrey Norris on orchestral conductors in the current Gramophone. (Can’t find it on their hard to navigate web site.) Many great lines, including this reflection from Michael Tilson Thomas:

Tilson Thomas stresses that a conductor needs to ‘resolve issues of ensemble, balance, nuance, and to help a large number of people appreciate where “now” is’–to find a focus when each musician in the orchestra might have particular thoughts on what should be happening. ‘It’s the members of the orchestra who are actually giving the concert, and the conductor’s job is to inspire them, make them confident and do the best they can.”

Sounds like fodder for any management text, at least that “now” bit.

That said, the cult of the conductor seems at times to be a little much (BBC classical music producer Hans Keller and critic called it “the phoniest profession.”) And yet, it makes a difference, as any long-suffering audience member at the Boston Symphony of late can attest. (They have been without a music director since James Levine stepped down.)

Part of that is charisma and leadership, and one of the Norris’ subjects is Ukrainian conductor, Kirill Karabits, principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, who has it in abundance. Here’s a sample, and the pianist is no slouch either. First 60 seconds of Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1. Still as amazing as when I was 7.