A recent piece in the New York Times titled "‘Riveting!': The Quandary of the Book Blurb" asked: Do book blurbs serve readers? Do they help writers?
Stephen King: "One thing I'd never do is blurb a book just because a friend wrote it. That's the road to hell."
Bill Morris: "They're a bit like the vermouth in a martini: can't do any harm, might do some good, so let's have it."
Pulling random books from the shelves of my office, we find:
Performed in Italian but written for an English audience, Rinaldo premiered in London in 1711 as a lavish spectacle, in a theater equipped with the latest technical wizardry. In that production, a poignant moment was punctuated by a flock of birds that buzzed the audience, and the sorceress at the center of the story (sung here by terrific young soprano Elza van den Heever) entered in a flying chariot pulled by fire-breathing dragons. Lyric audience education manager Jesse Gram, who’s giving the preperformance lectures (free with ticket, an hour before curtain), says that attending that show 300 years ago was akin to seeing Avatar in 3-D at Imax today.
But the most exotic feature of the original Rinaldo was the result of a technology that’s really, truly, gone obsolete. The title character and several supporting roles were created for castrati.
The conventional wisdom in the newspaper business these days is that nobody reads game leads online. And in considering and researching the topic today, with the Bulls' win as Exhibit A, I have to admit there's something to that.
In 1957 Plymouth introduced its new cars with the ingenious theme, “Suddenly . . . It’s 1960.” Here was progress, or novelty, so brutal that it made the Plymouth models for 1958 and 1959 obsolete before they even existed. I guess existing is something they never got to do.
Thank goodness for the box score, although even that is struggling with dwindling space in print these days.
Last week's "Variations" was about pinball.