Bill Murray and Classical Music?

I attended a unique concert that paired Bill Murray orating and singing American classics with three musicians performing classical and musical theater hits. I was intrigued and slightly skeptical going in and satisfied and elated going out.

The crew is touring for an album they released called New Worlds. Bill Murray reads and sometimes acts out excerpts of the writing of Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and Billy Collins. In between his orations, Jan Vogler, Mira Wang, and Vanessa Perez perform excerpts of works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Schubert, and Maurice Ravel. I was impressed by the power of Bill’s singing voice. The man has pipes.

Bill was himself…comedic and goofy one minute, deadpan and apathetic the next. The musicians were superb and treated their instruments like living, breathing things. They got the audience involved by inviting us to sing along to such disparate songs as “It Ain’t Necessarily So” from Porgy and Bess and “Loch Lomond,” a traditional Scottish song.

On paper, it’s weird, but in reality, it works. If it comes to your town, go!

 

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Gloria and Dan

I saw two 20th-century icons speak recently: Gloria Steinem and Dan Rather.

Gloria was a keynote speaker at the opening night of the Massachusetts Conference for Women. I hadn’t  attended the conference before, so the opening night was a good overview of the event. The exhibit hall was impressive: areas for career resources, nonprofits, female business owners selling their products, and multiple authors available for book signings. There were other keynote speakers that evening as well, but my friend and I only tuned in for Gloria.

I wish I could pass on some nuggets of her wisdom, but since my dad’s sudden death, most of my day-to-day thoughts and memories are crowded out by my thoughts and memories of him. I do recall that she was fierce, real, and optimistic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan is touring with his recently published book with Elliot Kirschner, What Unites Us. Again, I don’t remember a word he said, but he was also fierce, real, and optimistic. I saw him speak on the one-month anniversary of my dad’s passing, and I fell asleep that night wishing that I could tell my dad all about it, since he was a fan of 60 Minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m trying to get back in the saddle regarding the birthday list, but I’m taking it slow and will give myself an extra month or two to complete it. Bear with me, dear readers.

 

A Dolphin Layered in Gold

I read #89 of the Modern Library’s list of top 100 novels: Loving by Henry Green.

Courtesy of wikipedia.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an upstairs-downstairs story set in an Irish country house during World War II. The story is almost completely composed of dialogue. I had trouble getting into it at first, especially because the downstairs characters have quite the British accents.

Like all good upstairs-downstairs stories, there’s infidelity, troublemaking, camaraderie, and theft (of both hearts and money). What I really enjoyed about Green’s writing is the exquisite details he would slip in now and then—making me pause and marvel.

Here are a few favorite lines:

“She pushed the ashtray with one long lacquered oyster nail across the black slab of polished marble supported by a dolphin layered in gold.”

” He seemed to appraise the dark eyes she sported which were warm and yet caught the light like plums dipped in cold water.”

“Raunce went on looking sideways past her at the red eye of a deer’s stuffed head.”

If you still miss Downton Abbey as I do, this book will bring temporary reprieve…

Still Golden 75 Years Later

I was a reading machine when I was young, thanks to my mother, who instilled in me a love of reading at an early age. I read many Little Golden Books, and to this day, when I see certain Little Golden Books (LGB), my heart just about explodes from joy overload. Here’s one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So when I found out about a bookstore tour in celebration of the Books’ 75th anniversary this year, I had to attend. LGB editorial director Diane Muldrow and children’s book historian Leonard Marcus gave a great overview of the Books’ history, answered questions, and passed around a number of the books.

Leonard signed copies of his book about LGB history, Golden Legacy, after the talk. I enjoyed chatting with him and Diane as he signed my copy. I told them that my mom has kept some of her LGBs and I have a number of mine as well.

As someone who loves books and used to work in publishing, I marvel at what a success story these books have become. They were created to make books more accessible to families during World War II (starting out at 25 cents each), and the content and illustrations continue to be thoughtful, engaging, and stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just hope and pray that people are still buying children these books and reading them together. LGB, may you survive another 75 years!

Make Trouble

John Waters is one of those artists whom I love without even having seen most of his work. I just know that I love him. Now that I’ve seen him in person, I feel a stronger urge to study his oeuvre beyond my viewing of Hairspray in 1988.

A couple of months ago, he was visiting my local bookstore to promote the publication of his new book Make Trouble, which is essentially the speech that he gave at the 2015 Rhode Island School of Design commencement. I had read the speech online and did it make me chuckle!

During the interview, he was witty, charming, blunt, and seemingly down to earth. I didn’t have time to have a book signed that night, but I truly hope I get to meet “the prince of puke” someday.

John Waters

John Waters (right) being interviewed by Chris Castellani.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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