Sunday Salon 1-8-17

Sunday Salon badge squareTime and Place: 10:30 Sunday morning, a little later than is my norm – that’s what I get for sleeping in and feeling well-rested – at my main computer at home.

Reading: After having read Haruki Murakami’s first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, as my last book of 2016, I made his second novel, Pinball, 1973, my first of 2017. Like Hear the Wind Sing, it was relatively short, and I finished it in a couple of days. I’ve now moved on to Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. It is quite wonderful, and suits my current frame-of-mind well. I plan on writing about it here at the blog fairly soon.

Viewing: My movie viewing for the week has included The Scarlet Pimpernel, the 1930s version with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon, and the last film by the great Alain Resnais, the very stylish and stylized Life of Riley (this makes me want to catch up on the many more recent Resnais films that I’ve never seen). Inspired by a reference in Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City, I also finally saw the fascinating documentary Finding Vivian Maier, on the photographer whose work was only discovered and appreciated, almost by accident, after her death.

Listening: My music listening has largely been tied to the program notes I am currently writing for the Reno Chamber Orchestra and Reno Philharmonic Orchestra. Their upcoming concerts feature works like Mozart’s Symphony No. 31, the “Paris,” and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, and I’ve enjoyed spending time with this great music. Next on the writing schedule is Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6, a piece I haven’t heard for a very long time but which I remember liking quite a lot.

Blogging: I managed two pretty substantial blog posts this week, one on Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composition Anthracite Fields (which is going to be performed in San Francisco on February 26 – possible road trip!), and another on the exhibition The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of 17th-Century France, currently to be seen at the Legion of Honor. This latter article, I personally feel, is one of the best blog posts I’ve done in some time. Even if you don’t read the 2,000 or so words I wrote, the art works are very attractive indeed.

Anticipating: After a stretch of reasonably high-quality writing this past week, I’m hoping for something like the same this week.

And finally: Still celebrating the arrival of 2017…


Sunday Salon 10-30-16

Sunday Salon badge squareTime and Place: 8:20 Sunday morning, at my main computer at home.

Viewing: It has been only five days since the last Sunday Salon, as the last one was a special Tuesday edition due to the intrusion of my birthday (basically, I wanted to celebrate by being utterly lazy for two or three days). Therefore, there isn’t much new to report. However, I did watch one fairly adventuresome film, philosophically and visually interesting, You Are Here (2010) by Canadian visual artist Daniel Cockburn.

Listening: For the next couple of weeks, my music listening is going to be largely limited to works to be played at the 2016 Nevada Chamber Music Festival, coming up at the end of December, for which I am in the process of writing program notes. That isn’t such a bad thing, however, as it has already led me to Bach’s Violin and Oboe Concerto and Schubert’s Octet, among other very fine pieces.

Reading: I have finished Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, and will be writing about it here in the coming week. Thupten Jinpa’s A Fearless Heart and Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write are still in progress.

Blogging: With the birthday laziness, I wasn’t very productive this week, having posted only…

* A couple of pictures of Danish bookstores taken in 1899.
* A program note I wrote for Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony, which is going to be performed today and Tuesday by the Reno Philharmonic, one of the other organizations for which I write.

Pondering: Tomorrow I will be attending a Halloween party dressed as a monk. I wore the same costume last year, and at that point the costume was meant to be vaguely humorous, while also pointing toward the kind of life I was aspiring to lead. This year, especially the last few months, I have given up the frantic pace of 2015 and have been leading something like that monk’s existence. As I might as well be wearing the monk’s robe at home how, perhaps this year’s Halloween costume should be ordinary clothes?

Anticipating: Cranking out program notes for eleven Nevada Chamber Music Festival concerts in the next two weeks is going to be a challenge, especially if I want to continue blogging on a regular basis during that time. However, I’m kind of excited to take this on as a personal challenge.

Gratuitous Moby Video: I am really taken with Moby’s new song, “Are You Lost In The World Like Me?” from These Systems Are Failing, his new album with the Void Pacific Choir. I’m equally taken with the video for the song by Steve Cutts, which seems to pay homage to animators from the 1920s and 1930s.

Sunday Salon 10-9-16

Sunday Salon badge squareTime and Place: 8:30 a.m., at my desktop computer at home.

Reading and Viewing: After acquiring an old volume of Dashiell Hammett’s novels not too long ago, I recently read both The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon with great enjoyment. This, of course, led me to yet another viewing (I’ve seen each, what, ten, fifteen times?) of the iconic film versions of both novels. In the case of The Thin Man, the film almost by necessity had to remove some of the book’s complexity of plot, character, and detail. Enough of the novel remained, though, to seem very familiar. Moving to The Maltese Falcon, I couldn’t help but notice that the film’s screenwriter, John Huston (who also, of course, directed), didn’t do too much more than prune a few incidental characters and scenes from the novel, leaving a large percentage of the plot and dialogue intact. I guess he found that what Hammett had already provided was pretty much perfect, so why mess with it?

Listening: Not very much in the last week or two, but I have a pile of CDs ready for when the mood strikes. Prominent in the stack is Longing for the Past: The 78 rpm Era in Southeast Asia. I haven’t actually made my way through all four CDs yet, even though I’ve been enjoying this beautiful set for months. Once I finish listening, I’ll be sure to write about it. Also, now that Julia Wolfe has won both the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant and the Pulitzer Prize, it’s time to listen to my copy (personally autographed by Wolfe!) of the Pulitzer-winning Anthracite Fields.

Blogging: The moderately successful last week for the blog included…

* my “Favorite Symphonies by the Numbers”
* a review of Charles Allen’s book Ashoka: The Search for India’s Lost Emperor
* a few words about Hakuin’s painting Ant on a Stone Mill
* a quote from the Chinese Doctrine of the Mean

Pondering: Whether or not I will look back on 2016 as The Year of Dreadful Mistakes. I’ve made several of those already in the last few months, but still have some time to redeem the year.

Anticipating: Seeing the new exhibition The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe at the Asian Art Museum. As the trip won’t happen for a few weeks, I have the opportunity to read up in preparation, including the modern retelling of the Ramayana story by Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy that I purchased yesterday!

Gratuitous Church Shaped Like A Chicken: The Gereja Ayam, or “Chicken Church,” is located in the forests of central Java, Indonesia. It was built in the 1990s, inspired by a man’s vision in which God told him to build a church in the shape of a dove. Read more and see more photos at My Modern Met.

Sunday Salon 9-18-16

Sunday Salon badge squareI am deviating from the usual format for these Sunday Salons today, in order to point out the obvious – after a long period of of dormancy, my blog is active once again. My goal here simply is to write about things that interest me, with the hope that they might be of interest to you, too. Music, books, film, history, travel, visual art, worthwhile quotes, and more will all find their way here. I haven’t quite reached my goal of writing a blog post every day. But my recent record of 11 posts in 13 days is pretty reasonable. The diversity level hasn’t been too bad, either:

* Yesterday’s short look at Nalanda, the ancient university in India
* A discussion of Ma Yuan’s lovely thirteenth century painting Walking on a path in spring
* A look at David Helvarg’s book The Golden Shore, on the relationship between California and the Pacific Ocean
* Pictures from my recent visit to Point Lobos, California
* Some history on the Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, a visit to which was also part of that California trip
* Words from Karen Armstrong, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Mencius on the subject of compassion
* My appreciation of Star Trek: The Animated Series
* A note on Han Kang’s Man Booker International Prize-winning novel The Vegetarian
* The collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dalí in the animated short Destino
* Video of 1,000 komuz players performing recently at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

This has already been my busiest blogging month since May of 2014, and there’s plenty of time yet. Among the posts I have in the works are some thoughts about two art exhibitions I saw recently in the Bay Area, Emperors’ Treasures: Chinese Art from the National Palace Museum, Taipei at the Asian Art Museum, and the de Young Museum’s exhibition Ed Ruscha and the Great American West. I would also like to write about Cemetery of Splendor, the most recent film written and directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, along with some general words about this great Thai director and his wonderful, puzzling, mysterious films. An unusual list of some of my favorite symphonies is coming, as is as a detailed look at Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks.

One other important point I’d like to make will be the subject of another short blog post soon. But I’ll anticipate myself by saying that one thing you won’t find much of in this blog is negativity. My point in writing is to share my enthusiasms! The freedom with which people criticize, complain, troll, and otherwise share their bile online has become tiresome. And I don’t want to add to that. Moreover, in talking about books and films and such, I don’t consider myself a critic, and it’s the last role I want to take on. I want to share my excitement about these things, not sit in judgment on them.

To conclude, a cartoon, very relevant to the current state of my life, from the series Nancy.