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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Making an Orchestra

This week, your correspondent cut up a first edition signed copy of 1931's Making an Orchestra by Dorothy Berliner Commins.  How could he do it? Only because someone in the 30's had already begun the cutting!  He was simply completing a work in progress.  And what a work-- kind of a cross between an obsessive-compulsive disorder (not that there is anything wrong with that) and a Kafka novel (ditto).

Printed on good-quality paper that hasn't been seen since the war, this book features drawings of all the members of a standard symphony orchestra, and a few outliers, meant to be cut out and pasted onto a diagram, where they stand up with the maestro at their head.

Delightfully, every string section is made up entirely of clones.  Also, there is only one horn player, though even Haydn used two, and Mahler generally required eight.  But, there is one of every percussion instrument.  There is even a basset horn, which apparently is an alto clarinet, and is certainly arcane by today's standards.  But then, so is the orchestra getting to be.

Noteworthy is that there is not one woman, not even playing harp (a notoriously feminine instrument-- or perhaps of undetermined gender, like the angels that traditionally play it).

Ms. Commins was a pianist and the author of several books.  She lived until the ripe age of 102. Times may have changed since the 1930's, but Making an Orchestra lives on, now in 3 dimensions.

--written by Kam

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Museum of Weird Books: The Poodle

It is no surprise that man's best friend has many volumes devoted to him/her/it.

Nonetheless, with the passage of time, certain tomes achieve the status required for incorporation in Pistil's Museum of Weird Books. To wit:  Poodle Books.

The Poodle, 1984 incarnation:

Has the poodle had its day?  In 2017, your correspondent judges that the soi disant Labradoodle is more   popular than his sire.

To contemporary eyes, the poodle of 1971 looks like a marshmallow confection (and that goes for the moustaches of the poodle handlers as well).

The poodle of 1966 looks like certain big-haired celebrities we can all call to mind.

The future of poodle books?  It is too early to speculate.  Maybe the poodle will have a comeback, sporting the sophisticated, digital- and laser-cuts of the 21st century.

Au revoir, Fifi!