Links of the week, 2/10/2012

This week: fictional maps, a recorder-playing gorilla, and the surprisingly sweet Jessica Walter.

  • To this day, I can’t think about the children’s photo book Koko’s Kitten without tearing up (rest in peace, All Ball), so news of Koko the gorilla always delights me. Anyway, scientists have been giving Koko wind instruments (recorders, harmonicas, whistles, and the like) and are surprised that she’s learned to produce sounds with them—the kind of controlled breathing they had assumed was linked to speech capabilities. That’s all well and good, but the lack of posted video or audio clips is a travesty.
  • Victoria Johnson’s survey of maps in classic children’s books at The Awl is nostalgia at its best. (Plus, the map she links to—two fans’ extrapolated map of Panem from the Hunger Games series—is absolutely incredible, particularly in the explanations. Wow.)
  • Justin Davidson’s even-handed assessment of Peter Gelb’s uneven reign at the Met meshes well with my own experience. (For example, I adored Anthony Minghella’s beautiful, beautiful Butterfly but found the new Tosca production ridiculous.) The new Ring Cycle looks interesting—but probably not interesting enough for me to spend twenty hours with it.
  • Jessica Walter plays hilariously dreadful, profane mothers so well (in Arrested Development and Archer—two of my favorite shows) that it’s almost startling to be reminded that she is, of course, an actor. Her sweet-old-lady interview in The AV Club—in which she demonstrates utter naïveté about the Internet and admits that some of the salacious jokes she delivers initially go over her head—makes me love her all the more.