Say, wasn't this touted as a weekly feature? In any case, another hodgepodge of news and links from elsewhere:
- Limerictionary Dept.:
Having only managed a single double dactyl since the beginning of the year, you can imagine how intimidated I am by the contributors to the OEDILF: The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form.
Among poetry webloggers, Henry Gould mentioned the project at the beginning of the month, but it first came to my attention some time back via Graham Lester's point2point weblog. Graham has just posted his own ten most recent contributions to the Great Work.
- "It's Raining, Time to Cover Up" Dept.:
Los Angeles' remarkably wet winter/rainy season is at or near its end, and is widely reported to have been the "second wettest" on record, following the winter of 1883-1884. The Pasadena Star-News, for example, reports as much here. But is it true?
At least two nay-sayers have begged to differ, arguing strongly that the real championship season in the Los Angeles rain stakes was the winter of 1861-62. They have submitted opinion pieces to the Los Angeles Times, but the Times, which seemingly has some vested interest in backing 1883, has refused to print the truth.
L.A. Observed is all over this scandalous journalistic lapse and has provided a forum for the otherwise suppressed articles. Here, journalist Frances Dinkelspiel provides a near-apocalyptic description of the damage wrought by 28 straight days of rain:
The surging waters from the Los Angeles River rushed through the small downtown, carrying driftwood, mud and sand as it enveloped the row of shops. [Isaias W.] Hellman, who not long before had made his home in the store’s back room, rushed with his two cousins to salvage any goods they could. As the three men started to grab shoes, books, tobacco and other goods, the saturated adobe walls started to crumble and they were forced to flee.
When the floodwaters receded, Los Angeles had been transformed. The façade of the Church of Our Lady the Queen of Angeles, which had stood sentinel in the Plaza for 40 years, melted away, its straw and mud bricks unable to withstand the water’s onslaught. The cascading river ripped out thousands of grapevines. Sand lay a foot thick over once-fertile orchards. Roads became so impassable that Los Angeles went without mail for 5 consecutive weeks.
Here, you can read Professor Ralph Shaffer of Cal Poly Pomona to similar effect, complete with citations to the Times' own archives. Professor Shaffer also takes the opportunity to mount his own particular hobby-horse, the silly idea that Los Angeles exists in "a desert":
Some day the Times will finally concede and print my oft-rejected op-ed about the myth promoted by the paper that LA is a desert. Name another "desert" city in the world that has 34 inches of rain 4 times in 143 years, or has an average [rainfall] of 15 inches!
- High Tech vs. High Culture Dept.:
Two articles this week emphasize the sorrows afflicting both consumers and producers of recorded classical music in this high-tech, highly litigious era:
Pity the classical-music fan. While lovers of pop, rock, jazz, folk and rap can surf the Web and easily download everything from Iggy Pop to 50 Cent, the digital age has left consumers with a taste for portable Tchaikovsky more or less in the lurch. Popular sites like Napster, Yahoo Inc.'s Musicmatch and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Music devote only 2 percent to 10 percent of their offerings to classical works, and the hunt for a specific track can be tough going, especially for classical fans with sophisticated tastes.
'It's like the budget bin at a record store,' says opera singer Susan Graham, who has searched sites like Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes for specific recordings of works such as Mahler's 'Songs of a Wayfarer' or his 'Ruckertlieder' but has come away empty-handed. ITune's selection, she says, 'was very mainstream, with only the most popular or generic offerings.'
I spotted an oddity on display in the classical materials in Apple's iTunes Music Store myself: I was looking for a recording of Carl Nielsen's short orchestral piece Saga-Drom. The piece is available as part of this Herbert Blomstedt-conducted collection of Nielsen's concertos and miscellaneous pieces, which is for sale in the iTunes store. Saga-Drom itself is downloadable, however, if you download the entire album. (If I want the entire album, which I might sometime, I'll buy it as a CD, thanks.) More oddly, it appears that the only portions of the album that are for sale as individual tracks are excerpts (the first third of each of the two movements, but not the remaining two-thirds of either movement) of the Violin Concerto. Peculiar.
- This morning's Los Angeles Times spotlighted a copyright case now on appeal in the UK in which Lionel Sawkins, the musicologist-editor of the scores of French Baroque composer Michel-Richard de Lalande, has been awarded substantial damages for infringement against Hyperion, a smallish record company that used his edition for a well-received recording. The issue is whether the "edition" has an existence and copyrightability separate from that of the preexisting, public domain compositions it contains. The Times hides the story in its pay-only Calendar section, but PlaybillArts also provides a report:
In an apparently unprecedented move, Sawkins demanded royalties from the label, claiming that the intense research involved in creating the edition entitled him to the same rights as the author of a work. Hyperion agreed to pay a 'hire fee' for the use of Sawkins' version, but refused to pay royalties, arguing that 'an edition of existing musical work that is a faithful reproduction of Lalande's music cannot itself be an original music work.'
* * *
'I am not persuaded that one can reject a claim to copyright in a new musical work simply because the editorial composer has made no significant changes to the notes,' Justice Patten wrote. 'The question to ask in any case is whether the new work is sufficiently original in terms of the skill and labour used to produce it.'
* * *
'I am delighted with the outcome, which should fire a shot across the bows of record companies,' Sawkins said in a statement last year. 'Too often in the past editors have been prepared to sacrifice their rights in order to see their edition of a long-forgotten masterpiece recorded.'
A statement recently issued by Hyperion said, 'If the…decision is allowed to stand, the consequences for the recording industry will be far-reaching. Publishers will be able to exert copyright on a whole swathe of editions which are currently in the public domain.'
(Italics added.) If Hyperion's appeal is unsuccessful, the damage award is predicted to exceed one million pounds, which the company says will significantly cripple its business.
- Favorite Symbols from American Literature Dept.:
Dr. Eckleberg, we presume.
"Why do the Wrong People Travel?" Dept.: