What I plan on listening to and looking at this week, and other things that are making my world a better place:
- The Orchestra Rocks (music)
Rare it is when the local symphony orchestra plays a work by Philip Glass. Rarer still is it when the local symphony orchestra plays an entire program of contemporary classical works, not just a short piece inserted at the front of the evening as a palette cleanser. This Thursday (16 April), the Alabama Symphony Orchestra is stuffing their “The Orchestra Rocks” lineup with two works by Frank Zappa (“Dog Breath Variations” and “Uncle Meat”), the “Neuköln” movement from Philip Glass’ David Bowie-inspired Heroes Symphony, a piece by composer Philip Ratliff entitled “Travolta,” and three compositions by Michael Daugherty. The Daugherty triad includes the world premiere of an ASO commision called “Gee’s Bend for orchestra and electric guitar.” When I think of Gee’s Bend and those quilting ladies, the first instrument that pops into my mind is a hammered dulcimer, maybe a fiddle and banjo, or something that simulates the sound and feeling of a gently rolling river, but certainly not an electric guitar. My conclusion about this performance: it should be fun (and new). Info here, in case you care to join me.
- Celery (foodstuff)
A friend recently told me how much he dislikes celery, primarily because of the taste. I scoffed, thinking that celery was about as tasty as water. I had to re-think my position last week. Heading out on the road for work and packing a daily box lunch, I included a baggie full of three- to four-inch celery sticks as a snack. Driving around Bibb County backroads, munching on celery, it occurred to me that the vegetable has a most distinctive taste, not dissimilar to the celery seed flavors that help to make my mother’s potato salad legendarily delicious. Add to that a crunchy busy-ness, and you have one hell of an entertaining and guilt-free snack!
- Interactive journalism (media)
You hear a lot of moaning about the state of newspaper journalism these days, and the moans are not without merit. The challenge is this: how does one adopt new strategies that work against making journalism obsolete…and, more immediately, what are the strategies? It seems to me that the survivors will be those who think outside of the proverbial box and, possibly, those who embrace the constantly evolving communicative technologies. I “became a fan” on Facebook of one of my college classmates, Nicholas Kristof, who writes for The New York Times, and it seems that he has incorporated social media marketing as part of his daily routine. Check out his Facebook fan page for an up-to-the-minute example of a journalist reaching out to his “constituency.” He regularly throws ideas-in-progress out on this page, asking for input and opinions from those who follow him there. Here is an interesting example that Nick posted on Easter Sunday (12 April):
Here’s an Easter question. My family just returned from an Easter service in which the minister bravely chose as his text Mark, the earliest gospel, in which there isn’t even a sighting of the resurrected Jesus. So how literally do you think most Christians today interpret the Resurrection? And if one doesn’t accept it literally, then is one still a Christian?
After 24 hours, that post had 240 comments, the large majority of them thoughtful and constructive. Being in touch with one’s readers is definitely more labor-intensive and time-consuming, but my gut feeling is that it is these journalists who will be the survivors. We’ll have to wait and see how that all shakes out, but, in the meantime, we can enjoy new ways of interacting with those who bring us our news.