Monday, January 31, 2011
The first song in the cycle is "Gute nacht," here performed by Ian Bostridge (tenor) and Julian Drake (piano) in an ambitious film project.
While the songs were originally written for a tenor voice, some of the most memorable performances are by baritones, bass-baritones, and mezzo-sopranos.
Gerald Moore on the piano and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau Erstarrung (Numbness)
In "Die Lindenbaum" we can appreciate the lovely voice of Peter Schreirer (Tenor) and Christoph Eschenbach (piano); his interpretation of Schubert is so full of nuance.
Hans Hotter (bass-baritone) is one of my favorite Schubert voices. Of course, I love the song about the Crow.
DIE KRÄHE (The Crow)
lyrics: Wilhelm Müller
Eine Krähe war mit mir
Aus der Stadt gezogen,
Ist bis heute für und für
Um mein Haupt geflogen.
Krähe, wunderliches Tier,
Willst mich nicht verlassen?
Meinst wohl, bald als Beute hier
Meinen Leib zu fassen?
Nun, es wird nicht weit mehr geh'n
An dem Wanderstabe.
Krähe, laß mich endlich seh'n
Treue bis zum Grabe!
And the last song in the cycle "Der Leiermann," with pianist Alfred Brendel and DFD again.
The two of them rehearse "Rückblick" together:
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Here's a clip with narration and some of the animals:
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Last night we went to Elliot Park near downtown Minneapolis to see the crow roost. It was bitterly cold, and my own photos and my video did not come out, but this clip gives an idea of what it was like.
This clip from the Nature documentary has the director's commentary, and some amazing infrared footage1
Friday, January 21, 2011
But ever since I heard it in 1970, I've been singing "spill the wine, dig that girl!" and it turns out that it is "spill the wine, take that pearl"? Talk about mondegreens!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
This winter the potholes are BAD, almost as bad as last year's, and it's only January. I got a flat on Cedar and had to get a tow and new tires.
But at least our potholes don't have names, the way they do in San Francisco!
UPDATED: OMG! (thanks, Rick!)
Monday, January 17, 2011
I've fallen before, but usually forward or onto an arm. This time I did one of those falls where your feet fly out from under you and you go over backwards: butt, back, and then head. My head hit the ice and bounced, then hit the ice again. I could feel things shake around in there: buzzing, stars, then pain. I wasn't able to get up right away, but I never lost consciousness.
When I did try to get up though, I felt the back of my head and found blood on my hands. I had a scrape but not a cut. R. got an ice pack and we called Health Partners to talk to a nurse. She said I needed to be seen at an ER right away for a CT scan, asked me questions (was there any fluid coming out of my ears? (ew! no!) did I feel nausea? (no). It didn't seem to me as if it were too serious, but at the same time I felt woozy and not myself.
I was trying to keep it together so my child did not get too upset because of or our our experience with her father's surgery for a subdural hematoma a few years ago. I didn't want her to be too frightened, but I was not feeling well.
R. drove us to the Riverside ER and I was seen right away. Apparently I was the second person that day with the same injury. We were there for 2 hours total: time for me to be examined, bandaged, get a CT Scan, and be reassured that there was no fracture or internal bleeding, and no other signs of major injury. I was told what symptoms to look out for, but because of the scan I didn't have to be awakened every few hours, thank goodness. That is my idea of hell!
R. and R. spoiled me all evening. I was grateful because the aftermath of the shock left me shaky and tired.
Now, two days later, I'm no longer stiff and I just a tender bump and scabby scrape on the back of my head.
Next time I ice-skate, I'm wearing my helmet!
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
"To the families of those we've lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.
There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.
As Scripture tells us:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff, and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders - representatives of the people answering to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns to our nation's capital. Gabby called it "Congress on Your Corner" - just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.
That is the quintessentially American scene that was shattered by a gunman's bullets. And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday - they too represented what is best in America.
Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. A graduate of this university and its law school, Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain twenty years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and rose to become Arizona's chief federal judge. His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit. He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his Representative. John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons, and his five grandchildren.
George and Dorothy Morris - "Dot" to her friends - were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. They did everything together, traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their Congresswoman had to say. When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife. Both were shot. Dot passed away.
A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 2 year-old great-granddaughter. A gifted quilter, she'd often work under her favorite tree, or sometimes sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered. A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.
Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together - about seventy years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families, but after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy's daughters put it, "be boyfriend and girlfriend again." When they weren't out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with their dog, Tux. His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.
Everything Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion - but his true passion was people. As Gabby's outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits they had earned, that veterans got the medals and care they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks. He died doing what he loved - talking with people and seeing how he could help. Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancée, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.
And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was an A student, a dancer, a gymnast, and a swimmer. She often proclaimed that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her. She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age, and would remind her mother, "We are so blessed. We have the best life." And she'd pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.
Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. Our hearts are broken - and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.
Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday. I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I can tell you this - she knows we're here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey.
And our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. We are grateful for Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby's office who ran through the chaos to minister to his boss, tending to her wounds to keep her alive. We are grateful for the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. We are grateful for a petite 61 year-old, Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer's ammunition, undoubtedly saving some lives. And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and emergency medics who worked wonders to heal those who'd been hurt.
These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned - as it was on Saturday morning.
Their actions, their selflessness, also pose a challenge to each of us. It raises the question of what, beyond the prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward. How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?
You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations - to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we've seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.
But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized - at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do - it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "when I looked for light, then came darkness." Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.
So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.
But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.
After all, that's what most of us do when we lose someone in our family - especially if the loss is unexpected. We're shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward. We reflect on the past. Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?
So sudden loss causes us to look backward - but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame - but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.
That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions - that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed - they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis - she's our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America's fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.
And in Christina...in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.
So deserving of our love.
And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives - to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.
I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here - they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.
That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.
I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.
Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope." On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life. "I hope you help those in need," read one. "I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles."
If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.
May God bless and keep those we've lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America."
Jeff Bridges has done so much more than the The Big Lebowski, One of his best roles was in Peter Weir's movie Fearless, with the amazing Rosie Perez.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Flank steak was on sale at Lund's, so this is the first dish I have prepared with it. I marinated the meat in juice of an orange (didn't have lime), soy, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper. I left out the sugar because the orange is sweeter anyway. Instead of broiling it, I cut the piece of meat in half, and layered it with thinly sliced sweet onion in the slow cooker. I let it braise with the marinade until it was falling apart. I love it when onions are braised and soak up all the flavors. I ate it with moong dal.
Bittman also was part of the series "On The Road Again" with Mario Batalli, Claudia Bassols, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Food tourism in Spain sounds great after another snowy, slushy, gray January day.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Errol Morris has a web page chock-a-block full of links to fascinating stories. I must explore it when I get the chance. We watched his film Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control on Netflix on Friday night. I'm going to watch it again soon because there was so much that was fascinating (naked mole-rats! robots with funny walks!), funny and also sad (the lions and tigers). The film makes you think animal life and instinct, mechanical self-perpetuating systems, and the human drives that connect, re-order and create in and around them. There are four stories: a man who devotes his life to creating and maintaining topiary animals in Green Animals Gardens for a wealthy woman in Newport, RI; another who documents and organizes exhibitions of naked mole-rats, an MIT scientist who takes extraordinary pleasure in building artificial creatures that can move like organic creatures, and a man whose ambition is was to be a "lion-tamer." Watching his interactions with the big cats was distressing. What is it that drives us to make a spectacle of the violent confrontation of humans and powerful animals? Can we leave it behind?
On Saturday, we made a visit to the Minnesota Institute of Arts, one of my very favorite Minneapolis places, not least because it is free. We attended a lecture by my U of MN colleague Michael Gaudio on European representations of the Americas and the idea of "natural history," from the Utopian writings of Francis Bacon and the watercolors of John White in the 1580s (including the butterfly above) to "Mister Peale's Mastodon" and art as part of American nationalism. One of the most beautiful images he showed was by an artist named Catesby, a "forerunner of Audobon" who is less well known, but no less accomplished.
I want to learn more about his life and work, having visited botanical gardens in Amsterdam and London. I have discovered that a film has been made about him:
Underlying this tradition of representation was both the joy of "illuminating" the world, and the process of conquest, appropriation and colonization. So it was fitting that we should also be able to see the gorgeous, beautifully curated collection of Native American art for a second time. It was crowded because the show was closing this weekend, and we ran into people we knew: one of R.'s English teachers, a former grad student who is now a professor and a sculptor, a colleague from the U of MN. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see a show that brought together so many beautiful examples of the art, yet painfully aware of how this legacy also speaks to the ongoing reality of colonial rule here where I live.
Finally, we watched the first chapter of a British series "Downton Abbey" on PBS, which is fitting because it dramatizes the slow implosion of the British ruling class. Best line of the first episode: Maggie Smith, "What on earth is a week-end?"
Saturday, January 08, 2011
Best homage to "Night of the Hunter": The snake-poisoned night ride on Little Blackie: "True Grit."
Here's that magical sequence from The Night of the Hunter that he has in mind:
Friday, January 07, 2011
Thursday, January 06, 2011
I ADORE the colors and the costumes! Of his production design, David Gropman says:
"The set sixteen hues that filled the palette of Hairspray were juxtaposed colors fashionable in the early 1960s. “I decided on a very close and specific color palette from the onset. The idea was to take iconic colors from the ‘60s and dull them down enough (dead yellow, muddy salmon, soft aqua, and a heavy dose of my favorite greens) to keep them at arm’s length from musical comedy territory. We ‘published’ the palette so that all departments had the same rule book. Everyone’s close attention to the same sixteen colors helped to give the film a strong, unified look.”
But this is one of those cases where the original still has the most flavor.
One of Jean Renoir's most famous paintings is this scene of a Sunday afternoon open-air dance, "Bal du Moulin de la Galette" (1876).
A scene like this was recreated in the 1952 film "Casque d'Or." In one of her signature roles, Simone Signoret instructs us in the "le coup de foudre" (the thunderbolt), or how two people are magnetically drawn to each other in the space of two waltzes at le bal. Marie, knows as "Casque' d'Or" because of her blonde hair, is the girlfriend of an "Apache" (the name given to Parisian gangsters who frequented Belleville during the Belle Epoque). He doesn't have to treat her well; she's his possession. But watch how Simone "spots her turns" during the first waltz so she can check out the new arrival. Then see how holds her with one arm as they move perfectly together, looking in each other's eyes.
That's it. The rest of the film will play out the rivalry between the men, but the greatness of this scene is how the dance communicates without words.
Casque d'Or - La guinguette
Uploaded by RioBravo. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.
Here is the description of the clip:
"Film de Jacques Becker (1951). Musique : Georges van Parys (et Antoine Renard pour « Le Temps des Cerises »).
"L’histoire d’un amour impossible et tragique à la Belle Epoque, dans le quartier parisien de Belleville. Ce film culte est inspiré d’un fait divers réel. Le plus beau rôle de Simone Signoret, dans tout l’éclat de sa beauté.
Jo Manda (Serge Reggiani), voyou repenti devenu charpentier, retrouve, dans une guinguette de la Marne, son ami Raymond (Raymond Bussières), membre d’une bande de mauvais garçons accompagnés de ces dames. Entre Manda et Marie, dite Casque d’Or (Simone Signoret), c’est le coup de foudre. Mais ce n’est pas du goût du protecteur de Marie, Roland (William Sabatier). La rivalité se termine par un duel au couteau, à l’issue duquel Roland est tué. L’idylle champêtre qui suit, entre Marie et Manda, est de courte durée. Le chef de la bande, Maxime Leca (Claude Dauphin), qui a des vues sur Casque d’Or, s’arrange pour faire arrêter Manda. Mais celui-ci parvient à s’évader et se venge à coups de revolver. Il finit guillotiné.
L’une des premières scènes, celle de la rencontre entre Marie et Manda. Parmi les mauvais garçons : Paul Azaïs, Roland Lesaffre, Jean Clarieux. Parmi leurs amies : Dominique Davray."
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Thanks to Netflix streaming, we watched the first film: Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974. It's grim fare about corruption in Yorkshire society from 1974-1983, the period when the infamous Yorkshire Ripper attacked dozens of women, killing many of them although some survived. Although the murders in the first film are fictional, the real events are intertwined with them. As much as a story, like so much crime fiction, what's at stake is getting to the feel of the place and time, the grim social and political conflicts, the paranoia, the helplessness, the moral choices made by people on the edge. When one of the characters says "every city has its death squads," the protagonist scoffs. But this was precisely the time when death squads were at work all over the world.
The IFC has a page on the films that gives details about the project:
"The three films are directed by three notable filmmakers--Julian Jarrold (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED), Academy-Award(R)-winner James Marsh (MAN ON WIRE) and Anand Tucker (SHOPGIRL). Each boasts a stellar British cast that includes Andrew Garfield (THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS), Sean Bean (LORD OF THE RINGS), Paddy Considine (DEAD MAN'S SHOES), Rebecca Hall (VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA), and Peter Mullan (TRAINSPOTTING)."
As David Fincher did in Zodiac (another film about a journalist feverishly hunting a serial killer that is a portrait of a time and place) the director and designers have recreated the period in vivid detail: the clothes, the smoke-filled pubs, the tacky wallpaper, the grim urban settings and desolate rural landscapes always under a cloud that is just about to rain, the quality of the images made with the 16mm film stock of the time.
The actor Andrew Garfield speaks with the same almost unintelligible Yorkshire accent as the rest of the cast. He is now on to glossier stardom after his turn in The Social Network and the upcoming Spiderman reboot.
Sunday, January 02, 2011
The Coen brothers remake of True Grit purports to be more true to the novel, and stars Hailee Steinfield, who holds her own with Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and assorted varmints. This version shows the ugliness and brutality of the Western frontier: the casual racism, the grime, the tenuousness of law vs. will on the edge of "Indian Territory" in Fort Smith, Arkansas: who was a soldier, who was one of Quantrill's raider during the Civil War? who was a thief, who was a deputy marshall? what's the difference between hanging? murder? revenge? how many people are killed in the movie? (If you don't want any spoilers, don't watch this trailer)
I think that if I had seen this version when I was young I would have been both fascinated by the girl's spirit, and repelled by her self-righteousness, the two sides of the strength that helps her survive. And I would have cried at the sacrifice in the end.
Kelli Marshall initiated a spirited discussion of how this film fits in the Hollywood tradition of punishing strong female characters. Her post led me to Lance Mannion's post comparing the novel (also a favorite of George Pelecanos) with both films.
Unlike them, I was neither attached to an earlier versions, nor do I think a Western can leave a strong female character unpunished. There is no simply no conceivable place for an independent woman the frontier, because she is an affront to the underlying colonial structures that organize it.
If I were writing more about this than I want to here, I'd want to analyze the many displacements of rape that occur in the film: in addition to all the guns and knives, the firings and misfirings: Mattie wakes up to find LaBouef in her bedroom smoking a pipe; LaBoeuf spanks and then whips Mattie with a switch to try to undo her contract with Cogburn, only to be stopped by Cogburn's gun; after she finally kills her quarry and joins the men as one of them (another killer), she is bitten by a rattlesnake just as she tries to pull a skeleton wearing a knife closer to her; Cogburn stabs the horse Little Blackie with a knife to keep him running to death, Little Blackie, the horse that forded the river for her, that bore her throughout the perils of this journey, that makes it possible to be one of the men, dies against the backdrop of the starry night, shot by Cogburn as Mattie finally cries. In the end, Mattie has one arm and is a bitter unmarried spinster because she has been castrated. She can't be allowed to have "sand" in a Western. This isn't an anti-romance, although it turns the romance inside out.
*The film is also the source of a well-loved insult, when Ned Pepper says to Rooster Cogburn: "I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man."
Technically, I saw The King's Speech on the last day of 2010, so I'll start with #1 Black Swan. Warning: this film has a high ick factor if you have any skin issues (and I do), but I do love overheated melodrama.
I was fortunate enough to see Cynthia Gregory dance in Swan Lake in San Francisco before she retired. She was so exciting!
Roberto Bolle and Svetlana Zakharova showcase the character of Odile:
Does anyone have a favorite ballet movie? Billy Elliot? The Red Shoes?