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Jims of Wyzdom, June 1, 2018

Friday, June 1, 2018

Reading: I just finished The Noise of Time, by Julian Barnes, an awfully good British writer. In this short novel, he takes on the outline of the life of Dmitri Shostakovich, the Russian composer that managed, against all reason, to live through and survive the Stalin era. It’s written in a kind of brief snapshot style that is very effective in getting the feel of the era, the danger of the times and how artists managed to survive brutal dictators. This reading caused me to go into my study and retrieve all of the CDs I might have of Shostakovich music. I came out with about nine discs. My absolute favorites are the 3-disc set of the 24 preludes and fugues for piano, played by either Keith Jarrett or Tatiana Nikolayeva, one of the Russians that stayed friendly with DS for his whole career. If you don’t know these, either set is gorgeous. On this past Memorial Day week, I realized how grateful we must be as artists and thinkers, to live in a free country that can certainly be challenging—like now—but that always survives because the elements of freedom of speech, religion and enlightenment are bone-deep in all of us. I thank God for our system that was designed to protect our rights no matter who is in power.

My experience has been in a short seventy-seven years…that in the end when you fight for a desperate cause and have good reasons to fight, you usually win. [Physicist Edward Teller]

The Movies: Well, here we are, the week that unofficially begins summer. I hope this tropical humidity is not a harbinger of real summer to come on June 20…ugh. That said, we’re about to enter the “popcorn flick time,” when a movie’s fame rests on noise, explosions, deadly robots and/or aliens! Reviews for “Solo: a Star Wars Story” are OK, but not stellar, as are reviews of “The Book Club,” that features four seasoned actresses that we would watch if they were being filmed reading the phone book! But, soon to come is one of the National Theater productions of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time a mystery by Mark Haddon, published in 2003 and brought to the London stage in 2012 and the Broadway stage in 2014. The play is the story of a 15-year-old named Christopher who investigates the stabbing death of his neighbor's dog. Christopher has high-functioning autism (or Asperger's syndrome) which affects his daily life and how he documents his investigation. The London production will be shown at the Regal cinema on June 12.

Film Forum: And many thanks to all of you that have come to the films, light or dark. Your reward will be eight musicals for the summer series. Also, since it has been talked up a lot recently because of its 50th anniversary, I am going to suggest that we do a double feature for a special winter event with lunch: 2001: a Space Odyssey, and Forbidden Planet, both classics that stand up well in their old age! The latter is a unique re-telling of “The Tempest” and the former, said to be Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece (I agree), based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke. Bonnie sold tickets to in in LA the year we were dating—1968; it played at the Warner Cinerama theater on Hollywood Blvd for 5 straight, sold-out years. So…what do we have to do to convert our lovely big screen to cinerama???

WVPT: The local theater scene features a musical, Peter and the Starcatcher, a play based on the 2004 novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The play provides a backstory for the characters of Peter Pan, Mrs. Darling, Tinker Bell and Hook, and serves as a prequel to J. M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy. It opens tonight for the weekend and will play next week as well in the Gladys Davis Theater at CAC.

One can savor sights and sounds more deeply when one gets really old. It may be the last time you see a sunset, a tree, the snow, or know winter. The sea, a lake, all become as in childhood, magical and a great wonder: then seen for the first time, now perhaps for the last. Music, bird songs, the wind, the waves” One listens to tones with deeper delight and appreciation—“loving well,” to borrow from Shakespeare’s 73d sonnet, “that which I must leave ere long.” Writer Helen Nearing]

Enuf, already!