August 23, 2005
'Mademoiselle Non' — Sylvie Guillem at 40
Considered by many balletomanes the world's last true diva, Sylvie Guillem (above and below, as pictured on the home page of her website) has always danced to her own drummer.
At 23 she quit the Paris Opera Ballet rather than bend to the will of its director — Rudolf Nureyev.
At her next stop, the Royal Ballet in London, where she remains a principal guest artist, she quickly acquired the nickname Mademoiselle Non for her refusal to yield on anything.
(Her photo of her makeup table there is below.)
She continues to sell out ballet venues around the world within hours of an announcement of an upcoming performance.
At 40, when many — if not most — ballerinas have long since hung up their toe shoes or fallen back on less demanding roles, Mlle. Non continues her contrarian path, now embarking on a new partnership with British experimental dance choreographer Russell Maliphant.
As Jenny Gilbert wrote in the London Independent recently, "If there's one thing guaranteed to transform the fortunes of a struggling choreographer overnight, it's to be taken up by Sylvie Guillem."
Apropos of nothing, but just because it's interesting to see how artists do things, below is a photo of her makup table at the Théâtre Des Champs–Élysées in Paris.
Maliphant's highly physical style incorporates tai chi, hip–hop and capoeira and is taxing even for the enormously physical and gifted Guillem.
Alan Riding wrote about the new wave Guillem in Sunday's New York Times.
Her website, sylvieguillem.com, is chock–a–block with interesting things besides being, to my way of thinking, extraordinarily striking in both conception and execution.
I spent most of yesterday afternoon there. But I digress.
This past summer Guillem and her photographer husband, Gilles Tapie, produced "Invitation," a large–format book weighing 10 lbs. containing 430 pages of pictures of her from childhood up to the present.
The reviews on the amazon.uk website, where it's for sale for £35, are beyond ecstatic.
Catchy name, what?
It's a device created to let you insert your three middle fingers — what, you thought you only had one? Guess again... — into it, then clean your car's wheels.
As the website says, "Great for detail maniacs."
Howard Hughes would've worn these.
$6.99 for two here. (Wheels not included.)
You can listen to them on your computer or download them to your iPod and then listen while you enter a near–death state during your workout.
If you push hard enough maybe she'll be reading yours tomorrow.
Oh, to have a head the size of a three–month old.
Because then I could wear this wonderful hat this winter.
Alas, it's only made in one size, and that fits all — all who are newborn to six months old.
Yours will be hand–knitted from cotton especially for you when you order it so allow two weeks until you get it.
Death by Caffeine Calculator
"How much of your favorite caffeinated drink would it take to kill you?"
You don't know, you do?
"Take this quick test and find out."
LP Record–to–CD Burner
Interesting device: lets you take your old LPs and burn compilation CDs.
Take just a single song, turn it over, change records, whatever.
Burns from 33s, 45s or 78s.
If you'd rather not bother with digital technology then you can simply play your old records, using the built–in stereo speakers.
Comes with an AM–FM analog tuner, CD player and remote.
Weekends off at bookofjoe?
I'm hearing rumbles of discontent from belowdecks these past several months and they're growing louder.
The central topic seems to be whether or not I'm too demanding, what with the standard bookofjoe work schedule: 7 days a week/16–hour workdays are the rule here.
Hey, I like it but those who do the heavy lifting — my crack research team, on whom the the pressure to produce is (nearly) unbearable and among whom turnover is very high — are starting to annoy me with their complaints.
They point out to me the irrefutable numbers (above and below) indicating that about one–third of bookofjoe's fans take the weekends off.
So they're asking, why can't we do the same?
After all, this isn't Dickensian England — is it?
Well, it is in a way.
Just because others like to chill doesn't mean we should.
Once you start that kind of stuff it's a slippery slope.
The number of daily posts starts to drop from 8 to 6 and finally maybe one.
Then it's game over.
And what about bookofjoeTV?
When you turn on your TV — no matter what day or time —you expect to be entertained, right?
What kind of entertainment would it be on Sunday afternoon when you visit bookofjoe and see Friday's 4:01 p.m. post — no matter how amusing — for the tenth time, then look at your watch and realize it's still another 18 hours until 9:01 a.m. Monday morning and some new refreshment?
Someone with an addiction simply can't handle a two–and–a–half day long (65 hours!) withdrawal on a weekly basis.
Instantly life would be transformed for such sad individuals into a weeklong countdown until Friday afternoon and the onset of pain.
I'm a doctor: my cardinal rule is "Primum non nocere."
After all, I took the Hypocritic Oath.
Wait a minute — that's not right.... But I digress.
So we're keeping things just as they are because — and I know this perhaps isn't the most politic thing to say in public — up here on the top deck the air is mighty fine and the wind in my hair makes me sing with delight.
Gulliver in baggies?
Not quite: it's Jeff Bezos's latest brainstorm.
Characterizing the incessant probing of the boundaries of the possible and the plausible on the web, this new Amazon venture, unveiled yesterday, offers short literary works delivered digitally for 49¢ each.
All the content is original and never before published, by a wide variety (59 initially) of well–known authors including Danielle Steel and Terry Brooks, and available only at amazon.
The pieces range from 2,000 to 10,000 words, which amazon expects to translate into an average of seven pages each.
You own what you buy: save it, print it out and read it at your convenience, send it to anyone and everyone you know.
I wonder how long it would take to hear from amazon if I were to buy something from amazon shorts, then put it up on bookofjoe in its entirety.
Probably forever: I'm still small enough to be under the radar.
Once again, though, I muse on the economics of micropayments: if each visitor to bookofjoe paid one cent, that would yield, at my current readership level of around 5,000 people a day, about $18,000 a year.
Not chump change — at least, not where I live.