Time and Place: 10:30 Sunday morning, at my main computer in the living room. I’m obviously getting my day off to a relaxed, or one might say slow, start.
Reading: It has been a good couple of months since I checked in with a Sunday Salon, so I’ll try to be selective about describing what I’ve been up to during that time. Much reading has occurred, fortunately. Among the books I’ve completed in recent weeks are Hiromi Kawakami’s The Nakano Thrift Shop, Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell, Yu Miri’s Tokyo Ueno Station, Belinda Thomson’s Impressionism, and, because I spend more time trying to motivate myself than I do actually motivated, James Clear’s Atomic Habits and the recently-released Keep Going by Austin Kleon.
Viewing: My enthusiasm about the recent launch of the Criterion Channel has been significantly tempered by the fact that its copy-protection methods are incompatible with my seven-year-old television. Therefore, I have to watch its films on my computer. Even so, I may continue the subscription simply because the offerings are so interesting. Film watching hasn’t been a huge focus for me lately, to be honest. But among the fine films I’ve watched are the classic William Wyler version of Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Cannes Palme d’Or-winning Shoplifters (as great as advertised), and, a very pleasant surprise of a film I hadn’t heard of previously, Microhabitat, the first full-length feature by South Korean writer-director Jeon Go-woon (thanks to MUBI for making this gem available).
Listening: There are two significant reasons why I haven’t been active on the blog recently. One is that I’ve started a new job as Content Coordinator and Producer at KNCJ Radio, where my task is to bring music, interviews, and such from our area’s excellent classical music community to the airwaves. My other reason for being away is that I agreed to do a series of three ninety-minute presentations on the connections between visual art and classical music for our local OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute). As usual, I vastly over-prepared for all three classes, and much of what I put together went unused. Even so, I learned a lot in the process. The topics were the Renaissance, Impressionism, and music inspired by specific works of art. This allowed me to listen to quite a range of music, from Renaissance choral music (Josquin des Prez and Monteverdi were my faves this time around) to Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead, Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel, and music by the Impressionists Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel (see one example below).
Blogging: As explained above, there hasn’t been much blogging lately, other than posting some paintings that I’ve been dealing with in the OLLI talks mentioned above. I hope my blogging habits will improve … but I’m not making any promises!
Pondering: An unfortunate thing I’ve had to deal with lately is the need to say “no.” In the last few weeks, I’ve been nearly inundated by requests for unpaid work, mostly writing projects but also donations of time and other services for non-profits. While there hasn’t been a project brought to me that wasn’t totally worthwhile, and while I appreciate that so many people like my work and want me to share it with them, I’ve had to put my foot down about how much I can, or want, to take on. I hope to get better at this “no” stuff one day.
And finally: Since I’ve been spending so much time with the Impressionist painters and composers recently, I though I’d end today’s Salon with an example. Water was, obviously, a major theme for the Impressionists. Musically, both Debussy and Ravel turned to the idea often. Maurice Ravel wrote his Jeux d’eau – which can be translated as “Fountains,” “Playing Water” or literally “Water Games” – in 1901, “inspired,” as he put it, “by the noise of water and by the musical sounds which make one hear the sprays of water, the cascades, and the brooks.” Here, Martha Argerich plays it with profound musicianship and appropriately dexterous fingers. This video was made back in the 1970s, but I’m willing to bet she could still tear through this piece in the same way today.
I’m sorry you haven’t been blogging much lately. We need your voice in our reading community. I hope you will find time to post a little more often (and I also hope you don’t see this as simply another appeal for your time….I know what it is like to be busy and be constantly approached for unpaid work.)
I love seeing what you are reading, and I hope you will share more about the titles you have completed. I, like you, am always more interested in reading about things than actually doing them, so I was happy to be able to request both Atomic Habits and Keep Going from my public library.
Thank you! I do hope to post more often, as I get my life and priorities straightened out!
Slow starts are good. I’m working on that here too most days. Glad to hear you’ve done lots of reading since your last Sunday Salon. How do you find the books you read, especially the Japanese books? I was wondering where you had been, but I am glad to see you stop in from time to time. Like Deb, I believe we need your voice in The Sunday Salon, but whenever you can is fine.
Thank you for the comment! I really do hope to post more often. As to where I find my books, I follow a whole lot of book blogs, like yours! I have a specific interest in Japanese books and culture, and have done a fair amount of research on the country’s artistic history. As I’m sure you’ve found, there are lots of resources available online! My TBR stack is about to topple over, it’s so huge…
Wow!!! You read really interesting books so we definitely need your voice in the Sunday Salon / book blogging communities! I added the two from Japan to my Goodreads TBR. But hearing what all you’ve got going on it’s perfectly understandable that you don’t have much time to blog.
Just for fun I looked up Hirokazu Kore-eda on Kanopy. They have two of his films and both sound good, but they do not have the one you watched, Shoplifters.
Thank you for the nice comment! Now that I’m getting my life organized, after an unsettled few months, I hope to write and blog much more often, and participate more in the blogging communities. Honestly, any film by Kore-eda is worth watching, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve seen that After the Storm is on Kanopy, and I’d recommend it!
Oh excellent! We will be glad to hear from you more often with your great movie and book recommendations!