Friday, March 26, 2010

Lost at Sea

The ocean. So beautiful. So mysterious. Imagine lying on the beach, playing in the waves, feeling the wind whip your hair while skimming the water in a sailboat.

(Technically not the ocean, but Lake Michigan).

(Technically the ocean).

Have you ever thought about the unpleasant aspect of the sun going down. . .

And you're stuck at sea with no land in sight?

"Lifeboat." A brilliant Hitchcock film set entirely on a small lifeboat stranded in the ocean. A ship is sunk by a German U-boat, which sinks as well. Some of the ship's survivors find themselves on a lifeboat, along with one of the German survivors. The sun beats down, the waves never end, and there is little food and water. . . .

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Most people know these famous first words of "A Tale of Two Cities," but many do not know anything about the enthralling, moving story that follows them. It is a wonderful tale of the goodness of humanity even in the midst of the terrible atrocities of the French Revolution. It speaks of redemption, sacrifice, and charity (the pure love of Christ).

Besides being a masterpiece of literature, it is also one of Dickens' shorter works, and thus a good place to start for those who have never read Dickens before. And if you haven't read any Dickens, I highly recommend one of the greats of English literature.

So pick up this inspiring tale, one which you will never forget. You might even be moved to tears.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our Mutual Friend

I do love a good British miniseries. And "Our Mutual Friend" is one of the classics. It's an adaptation of a Dickens novel, with the corresponding delightful and diverse cast of characters.

There's the mysterious Mr. John Rokesmith.

The spoiled, shallow, beautiful Bella Wilfer.

The humble, good Boffins.

Poor, gentle, good Lizzie Hexam.

Two men who are interested in Lizzie: The crazy schoolmaster, Mr. Headstone, and the dissipated Mr. Eugene Wrayburn.

The couple who mutually deceived each other into wedlock and the articulator, Mr. Venus.

In case you don't know what an articulator is:
Mr. Venus: "Mr. Wegg, if you was brought here loose in a bag to be articulated, I could name your smallest bones blindfold, and sort them all in a manner that would surprise, and charm you."
Silas Wegg: "Now that ain't a state to be brought low about."

Plus many others, like the lawyer Mortimer Lightwood. Lady Tippins: "Oh really, Mortimer! When you know the man needs counsel." Mortimer Lightwood: "I hardly see how I am to blame. When two people are inclined to run off together, a lawyer is the last person to prevent it."

There's Jenny Wren and Sloppy. There's Silas Wegg, who sold his leg to Mr. Venus and wants to buy it back, and of whom Mr. Boffin says: "I already have in my employ a literary man with a wooden leg."

There's Rogue Riderhood, who tells Mortimer that his name Rogue is a friendly name by those who don't know him and that his occupation is being a waterside character.

The list could go on. The plot will keep you interested and guessing. You'll want to watch it again and again. As I saw someone describe it, it is "an immense, rich feast."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

This is my kind of Halloween decoration (it's not my house). Clever, subtle, understated – you have to be observant to catch it. Not gruesome, over-the-top or tacky. Besides, it pays tribute to a classic film and the master of suspense himself, Hitchcock.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Emperor Concerto

"My angel, my all,
my very self. . .
my thoughts go out to you
my Immortal Beloved,
now and then joyfully,
then sadly, waiting to learn
whether or not fate will hear us -
I can live only
wholly with you or not at all. . .
. . . Oh continue to love --
never misjudge the most
faithful heart of your beloved.
Ever thine.
Ever mine. Ever ours.

It should come as no surprise that these beautiful words, penned to a mysterious "Immortal Beloved," came from the pen of a man who has written some of the most exquisite music in history.

One of Beethoven's breathtakingly beautiful and serene compositions is the Second Movement of Piano Concerto No. 5, the Emperor Concerto.

The opening strains of the solo piano:

Savor the delight and warmth as this piece touches and lifts your soul.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Of Mills and D'Urbervilles

During the summer of 2001 I lived in New York City. I had an internship outside of the city, but wanted to live in Manhattan to experience New York. I took the train every day to and from work, leaving from Grand Central Station. This is the view from the bridge in Tudor City, the neighborhood in Manhattan where I lived. It's looking down 42nd Street.

A view of the city. Yes, I lived there right before 9/11.

Since my commute was about an hour each way, I had lots of time to read (or nap). Two of the books that I read during this period were Tess of the D'Urbervilles and The Mill on the Floss. I recommend them, but I don't recommend reading them one right after the other. It's just a bit too much tragedy if you read them so close together. Tess of the D'Urbervilles was written by Thomas Hardy, and The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (a pen name for a female author).