Monday, February 23, 2015

He was the king's favorite

At the same time J.S. Bach was an obscure church musician and teacher.

Now Bach has surpassed Handel (see The Obscure Composers Index™), but today is G.F.'s birthday, and worth reconsidering his story and extreme creative powers....he was a real force of nature, but quite human, just the same.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Really Bad Week For The Supplements Industry

A Really Bad Week For The Supplements Industry

Ground houseplant?

Thanks to Raika C. Sarkett for this pointer....

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Smoke-Free Carmen

by Denis Dutton

The Auckland Opera received complaints for its most recent production of Carmen when its advertising posters showed offensive cleavage. In deciding to withdraw the posters, the general manager of Auckland Opera sensibly explained, “It behooved us to find a more imaginative way to sell our product than just to resort to blatant sexist imagery.” In the new ads Carmen had a completely covered chest.

Auckland Opera has taken a step in the right direction of providing a more wholesome, nonsexist Carmen. It is regrettable, however, that other productions continue to promote inappropriate role models and behavioral messages regarding gender relations, animal rights issues, and tobacco consumption. Admittedly, some of these problems are incorrectly dealt with in Prosper Mérimée’s original story. Yet a few minor changes would enable audiences to enjoy the beautiful music of the opera without being exposed to offensive and outdated stereotypes.

Herewith, a Carmen for our time:

The first scene takes place in a square in Seville. Young factory workers spill into the street for their morning break of fresh fruit. One of them, the dark Gypsy Carmen, sings a lovely habanera, reminding us that love occurs between all genders, races, and body types. Before returning to the factory, Carmen throws a rose to the Basque soldier, Don José. A fight breaks out between two of the young persons in the factory, and while trying to instruct them on the futility of violence, Carmen is arrested. Don José is ordered to guard her, but she convinces him to allow her to escape, explaining that they are all victims of patriarchal oppression.

The second act opens in the smoke-free environment of a vegetarian restaurant. Carmen and ethnically-diverse friends are enjoying whole-meal buns and spring water when they are interrupted by the wicked Escamillo, a rich and famous bullfighter. Escamillo sings an aria in praise of wine, cigars, thick steaks, and women. This disgusts the young people, although Carmen is strangely attracted to the bullfighter. Don José arrives and, alone at last, he and Carmen vow to live together. They will respect the importance of protected sex and acknowledge each other's unique cultural identity. Don José will do the ironing.

The third act opens in a wild place in the mountains. Carmen, Don José and other members of the Animal Liberation Collective are plotting to end the exploitation of bulls. Don José is enraged when Carmen nobly volunteers to seduce Escamillo, so exhausting him that he will be unable effectively to fight in the bullring. Carmen patiently explains that the lives of many bulls, and the contentedness of cows, is at stake. Escamillo enters and begins a duel with Don José, but the Collective intervenes, insisting that the two men find viable nonviolent means to settle their dispute. The jealous Don José must seek anger-management counseling.

The final scene returns to Seville. Escamillo’s colorful procession enters the bullring. A disheveled Don José confronts Carmen. He is suffering from low self-esteem. Counseling has only made his anger worse, recovering repressed childhood memories of satanic rituals, where he was forced to drink blood, eat babies, and smoke cheap, unfiltered cigarettes. Acknowledging his trauma, Carmen insists he begin the healing process by getting a bath and a shave. The two lovers embrace and sing a lovely aria, detailing plans to offer workshops in cultural identity and empowerment. The bull wins.

******* “The Smoke-Free Carmen” is part of a larger project to update and refresh classic operas for a sophisticated, postmodern audience. Other chapters include “Rigoletto, the Story of a Person with Disabilities” and “The Ring of the Nibelung: Breaking the Cycle of Abuse.”

To which we say:  "Bravo" Denis Dutton:, who left us too soon, and thanks to Carl Grapentine, WFMT, for the on air presentation of same, and who thankfully is still with us.....and whose birthday it is today....happy birthday!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Unknown authors don't sell; name brand authors do

When J.K Rowling, the bestselling author of the Harry Potter series, released her new book in 2013, The Cuckoo’s Calling, the book only sold 1,500 copies in its first four months.


Not when you realize that she released it under the unknown pseudonym
of Robert Galbraith. But once Rowling was identified as the true author,
sales of the book skyrocketed, pushing 225,000 copies sold in a single month.

Author branding is critically important in today’s increasingly digital
publishing world. Although new authors face bigger challenges, even
established authors are realizing they must build and mobilize a fan
base with more direct approaches, including giving away books for free.

So what are authors doing to reach new fans and build their brand? It
turns out the list is quite large and really benefits book lovers. But
the two biggest benefits are direct access and cost savings.

Direct Access to Authors

Many authors maintain blogs, email lists, Facebook pages, and Twitter
accounts for loyal followers to keep up with their latest news and
releases. Using these channels, authors communicate with fans, listen to
feedback, and even offer special contests.

In addition to authors’ own social pages, readers are connecting through third party
social sites. Goodreads, the largest reading community, recently
launched an “Ask the Author” feature where readers can ask questions

Joe Finder, one of the participating authors, said,
“The Internet has made writers incredibly accessible to readers
directly, and Goodreads members are a particularly passionate and
engaged group of readers. ‘Ask the Author’ seems to be a good way to
bring authors in contact with readers.”

Flash Sales Save Readers Money

Limited-time book deals have become a go-to tactic, even for bestselling authors. Our daily email alert has featured free and discounted ebooks from authors such as Dan Brown, Stephen King, and Nora Roberts.


In a recent article, branding expert David Vinjamuri called flash sales a “powerful tool” for authors looking to build a following. Many
authors, for example, will discount the first book in a series to get
readers hooked. Additionally, authors may discount older bestselling
titles to prime the pump for a new release.

“I think limited-time price promotions — mine are often 24 hours —  are a
fabulous way to help gain visibility for my books,” Bella Andre, an
independent, bestselling romance author who has used BookBub’s service a
half dozen times over the past year, said in a recent interview.

BookBub subscriber Mona Estrada from Stockton, CA, regularly takes advantage of
flash sales from her favorite authors. “I actually download several
books a week,” said Estrada. “I’ve saved approximately $40 or more each
month using BookBub.”

Readers Take Advantage
Years ago, shopping for books meant going into your local bookstore, speaking
with an employee, and getting recommendations for books on the shelves.
But it’s a different world now. The rise of ebooks and digital
marketing has given people more power than ever, and smart readers know
how to take advantage.