Sunday Salon 4-20-14

Time: 8:00 on a quiet Easter Sunday morning. Happy Easter!

Place: At my main computer.

Reading: I am continuing with Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, which unfolds at a leisurely pace but is still very interesting. I’m also at about the two-thirds mark in Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live. This book has been helpful for many people, and I am working through it a few pages at a time with the hope that it will help me identify what it is I want to be doing with my life.

Viewing: The only film I watched this week was The Kid With A Bike (2011), the latest from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (they also have a new film, Two Days, One Night, with Marion Cotillard that will be receiving its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in a few weeks). It’s a portrait of a boy enmeshed in violence and abandonment, and how he finds his way out through the kindness of a young woman. As is typical with the Dardenne Brothers, we receive only the barest hints of the “back story” of the characters, simply witnessing how they react to current circumstances. The ending is, also typical with them, quite abrupt, suggesting future possibilities but leaving the viewer with much room to speculate. My favorite of their films, perpetually in my top 20 of all time, is Rosetta (1999), an even more searing portrait of an angry, inscrutable young person charging her way through her difficult life. I also love The Son (2002) and The Promise (1996). But all of the Dardenne Brothers’ films have great impact, including The Kid With A Bike, and I’ll avidly seek out anything they do.

Listening: I’m still working my way through Longing for the Past: The 78 rpm Era in Southeast Asia, and marveling at how these rare recordings, many of them made in the 1920s and 1930s, still exist. They sound just fine, especially with the careful remastering they’ve received here, and there are happily people who have dedicated themselves to finding and researching this music, and sharing this obscure but wonderful stuff with us. It seems that these recordings came into being simply because of the enthusiasm and hard work of a handful of sound engineers who physically took their equipment to out-of-the-way places to record music that had never been so documented before. I for one am very grateful.

Sunday Salon photo 4-20-14Blogging: The travel journal from February’s visit to southeast Asia continues. Two installments appeared this week (Days 4/5 and Day 6), and two more should be coming in the next few days. As I have observed before, I don’t feel that I have anything particularly unique to say about the sites and experiences of that trip. It is the sites and experiences themselves that may be of interest.

Pondering: As I wrote above, the question of how I want my future life to unfold is much in my mind. Big changes are in store for some people that I know, and possibly even for myself. It would be a nice change of pace, however, to have a clear understanding of what’s happening around me and why, and what impact I might have, or even should have, in shaping the course of those events myself.

Anticipating: A pleasant Easter brunch is in the offing. Unfortunately, so is thirteen straight work days starting tomorrow, including the final concerts of the Reno Chamber Orchestra’s 2013-14 season (which should be good, with music by Janáček, Nielsen and Haydn) and the Orchestra’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Derby Day. In two weeks, could someone please have a nice, tall, cool alcoholic beverage ready for me – I’m going to need it!

Gratuitous Video of the Week: A trailer for Longing for the Past: The 78 rpm Era in Southeast Asia, that give some idea of the fabulous riches contained therein.

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