2013年5月26日 星期日

Mélo ( 淡淡哀傷)

Another film at the French Film Festival I saw was a quaint old film by a very stylish French cinéaste, Alain Resnais. It's a film based on a 1929 stage play by Henri Bernstein but made in 1986. It retains much of the atmosphere of the epoque and the flavor of the French stage: everything took place against two fixed sets with characters moving into and out of them: a patio garden of a violinist and the sitting room and then the bedroom of another violinist.

As the film opens, we see two friends having a good time reminiscing their former days together when they were at the music academy: Pierre Belcroix,(Pierre Arditi) and Marcel Blanc (André Dussollier) a well-traveled violinist and  Romaine Belcroix (Sabine Azéma ) a whimsical and fashionable young lady whom Pierre could never praise enough. After an intimate and beautiful evening at the garden, Marcel offered Romaine a chance to visit him despite his busy concert schedule, She took it up and suggested the following day but when he reluctantly accepted, she said she had an appointment with her coiffeur. But then she changed her mind again and they met. She played the piano, and he  the violin. It was a piece by Brahms (an echo of the romance between Clara Schumann and Brahms?) and an affair developed. Marcel could not resist her charm and she his and she visits him whenever he returns and before long, the two go on a trip together. Eventually, Romaine poisons her husband but he recovers. However, she could not bear to continue living between two good friends and committed suicide. Three years later, Pierre visits Marcel and presses him whether there was anything between him and his wife. Marcel denied. Perhaps he did not want to hurt his friend. Perhaps he did not want to admit to being a salaud. Perhaps he did so because he did not wish to tarnish the faith his friend had in his wife. What is the truth? Does it matter?

The filmography was very studied, the acting by all three actors excellent and the music good. The film won the César Award for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor.

2013年5月25日 星期六

La Vie on Rose (粉紅色的一生)

I have heard I don't know how many wonderful songs from an excellent French lady singer Edith Piaf but I knew absolutely nothing about the tortuous path which eventually made her into the premiere diva of Paris, ringing out in her slightly trembling voice in song after song the very soul of Paris until I saw the film La Vie en Rose (2007) at the French film festival. Days after I saw the film, her songs still ring in my ears. It was unforgettable film. She was an unforgettable character

In this film we see how as a child she was abandoned by her mother, a street singer, how she was taken away from her by her father and deposited at her father's sister house of pleasure in Normandy, how she was cared for by one of the prostitutes with a heart of gold there, how she got blind for several months from an eye disease from which she miraculously recovered after her fervent prayers to St. Teresa and some more terrestrial nursing from a woman who took pity on her, how she was later forcibly taken away by her father, a returned soldier from WWII and a contortionist, first to help him at a circus and then in the streets after he lost his job because of a violent quarrel with his boss,and how she began her career there when forced by her father urging her to do something to keep the crowd's attention after he finished his bag of contortonist tricks and how in her confusion, she started to sing just any song she could remember and how she sang the La Marseillaise which to her own and to every one's surprise was much better than expected and how later when her father forced her to be a prostitute just to earn more money she refused and how to make a living she in her turn became a street singer until she attracted the attention of one Louis Gaisson (Gerard Depardieu), who picked her up from the streets, put her into his bar-nightclub where she became an instant hit, how she met there the head of the French national radio and how after Louis  died, she returned to her former life as a street singer or sang at little known bars until again, her talent was discovered by another impressario who took her to New York and had her professionally trained and how she bloomed, how she met the love of her life, a champion boxer from Morroco and eventually how she collapsed on the stage and retired to Grasse to finish off her life in all alone and in poor health.

The acting by Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf was simply unbelievable: she completely captured her spontaneous nature, her indomitable spirit, her love of singing, how she spoke appallingly bad street French with her Pigallesque gutter manners and how later she articulated every one of her words with perfect accent, how she hid herself in her room and wouldn't come out just before her first big show, how she fell in love, and became completely besotted over her lover until he died in a tragic plane accident from which she never really recovered, having thereafter to take drugs to tide her over her sleepless nights and how despite her tremendous success, she never really changed, still retaining the the kind of quick tempered and spontaneous little girl mentality that she had and in fact how she truly was at heart. And how she sang her heart out, how she poured her soul into her song and how she never really felt alive until she is on stage and how she tottered and pottered about in her old age as a shriveled yet tough old lady. ! 

The cinematography was excellent, with sensitive use of light and shade as the film flits between her present state at her retirement home at Grasse and various important episodes of her colorful life but tragic life. So was the make-up  which won the film several awards. The music was simply impeccable. But what left the most indelible impression on my mind was Cottilard's acting. What an actress!  She fully deserves the best actress award she got at many of Europe's film festivals. I really don't mind seeing the film a second and a third time.

2013年5月24日 星期五

Weekend Fun

Just saw a wonderful film on a famous French singer. Her songs were moving. So was the film. But singers can be moving parts of the human torso they never intended. They may cause certain rather involuntary contraction on our belly. What do I mean?


A soprano died and went to Heaven. At the pearly gates, she was stopped by St. Peter who asked, "Well, how many false notes did you sing in your life?"

She answers, "Three."

"Three times, fellows!" says Pete, and along comes an angel and sticks the soprano three times with a needle.

"Ow! What was that for?" asks the soprano.

Pete explains, "The rule in heaven is that we stick you once for each false note you've sung down on Earth."

says the soprano. She is just about to step through the gates when she
suddenly hears a horrible screaming from behind a door.

"Oh my goodness,
what is that?" asks the soprano, horrified.

"Oh," says Pete, "that's a tenor we got some time back. He's just about to start his third week on our sewing machine." .


Miranda likes to sing, and whenever she begins, her husband heads outside.

Hurt and a little dejected, she asked him, "Don't you like my singing?"

"Of course, Dear," he replied. "I just want to make sure the neighbors know I'm not beating you."

3.  And here are some questions and answers about them:

Q: How do you tell when your lead singer is at the door?
A: He can't find the key and doesn't know when to come in.

Q: What is the difference between a soprano and a Porsche?
A: Most musicians have never been inside a Porsche.

Q: Did you hear about the female opera singer who had quite a range at the lower end of the scale.
A: She was known as the deep C diva.

Q: What is the difference between a Wagnerian soprano and a Wagnerian Tenor?
A: About 20 pounds.

Q: How can you tell when a tenor is really stupid?
A: When the other tenors notice.

Q: How many tenors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Six. One to do it, and five to say, "It's too high for him."

version 2
Q: How many altos does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They can't get up that high.

Overhead at a concert:
A: It must be terrible for an opera singer to realize that he can never sing again.
B  Yes, but it's worse if he doesn't realize it.

Q: Dad, why do the singers rock left and right while performing on stage?
A: It's professional caution.  Son, don't you find it more difficult to hit a moving target?

Q: What's an opera
A: Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings.

Have a fun weekend.

2013年5月20日 星期一

Jazz at 9 p.m.

Jazz has always been one of my favorite genres of music. There is in jazz a certain freedom, at least a desire for freedom, a certain spirit which answers to an obscure need in everyone to chill out ( cool West coast jazz), sometimes to cry out and dance in joy (Latin jazz), sometimes to hide away somewhere to nurse one's wounds (blues)  sometimes to work out one's emotions of sadness, melancholy, regrets, nostalgia etc in a small cosy bar or nightclub to the clink of wine or beer glasses, sometimes to experiment with sound (Eruopean jazz) and sometimes just simply to relax (lounge jazz). In a certain sense, jazz is the "classical" music for the ordinary blackmen and workers. Perhaps there is a bit of the black man and the worker in all of us. Hence its almost universal appeal.Last Saturday, we had a sample of that, but not in all categories of course. It was Jazz @9 p.m.

Instead of the players of the HKPO in their usual bow ties, winged collars black suit, bow ties, and black nightgowns or pant suits, they were out in jeans and T-shirts in blue, red, white or black. We had a total of 13 numbers and save for a few brief improvisations by individual guitar, double bass, trumpet, sax, piano and drum players, all in big band style:.

We had not in order: Lalo Schifrin's Enter the Dragon and Mission Impossible, Jerry Herman's Hello Dolly, Duke Ellington's It Don't Mean a Thing If it Aint' Got that Swing, Don't Get Around Much Anymore,Mood Indigo, C Jam Blues,Herb Alpert's Tijuna Taxi and Spanish Flea, Hoagy Carmichael & Sidney Arodin's Up a Lazy River, Billy Strayhorn's Take the "A" Train, Cat Anderson's El Gato, Ellington, Strayhorn & John Mercer's Satin Doll 

It was a wonderful concert. The songs were all classics in jazz. We had a good selection from Duke Ellington that legendary pianist and band leader and the famous Tijuana Brass Band the sound of whose golden trumpet mesmerized genertions of afficionados. The HKPO under Benjamin Northey was simply superb: they sure got the swing! . One of the best is that we got two excellent locals on the podium Eugene Pao on the electric guitar and Anthony Fernandes on the drums. The concert started and ended with works by Lalo Schifrin. The mood was easy and for those who were not familiar with this genre of music, the multi-wind instrument player James Morrison was a godsend. Before each piece he would give the audience a brief background introduction generously laced with good humor jokes one of which is this: if you got to ask what jazz is, it ain't no use telling you. Jazz is for enjoying, not understanding. It's meant for our ears and our heart, not our mind!  If you ain't got it in you, you ain't got it in you. So enjoy.

2013年5月19日 星期日

Le Sang d'un Poet (The Blood of a Poet) (詩人之逝)

Le Sang d'un Poet (The Blood of a Poet) (1930) is another film I saw as part of the Le French Mai this year. In many ways, it's a very unusual film:  it's old, in black and white, has some bizarre drawings and jerky photographic images and treats of some very uncommercial themes, done in some formalistic and certainly very innovative ways. It's directed by the famous French poet and novelist, painter, stage designer, actor and director Jean Cocteau. it forms part of an Orphic trilogy including Orphée (1950) and Testament of Orpheus (1960).

This film unrolls in four parts. In the first, a bare chested male artist wearing an 18th century wig, enclosed within the four walls of an empty room, sketches a face of a woman, then her mouth, studies it, absorbed but before long, it starts moving. He tries to rub it off with his hands when another man also in a powdered wig, arrives to deliver him something but after the man leaves,the artist discovers that the mouth has become embedded in the palm of his hands. He tries to wash it off in a basin of water, like Macbeth, but cannot. The artist hands and then feet appear through first one and then another hole in a painting .After a while, he falls asleep. When he wakes up, he goes to a marble statue of a woman and places his hands over her mouth and learns to his great delight that the mouth on his palm has finally agreed to leave it and to reattach itself to another of his own artistic creation, a marble statue of a woman and after that the mouth begins talking.

In part two of the film, the statue begins to talk. He's urged to walk through a mirror and to try look at what he'd find through that mirror. He does and finds himself in a hotel corridor with a number of closed doors. He tries to open the door but cannot but when he leaves, he is unable to, as if his hands and feet were drawn towards the walls of the room like magnet in contact with iron walls. He peeps through several keyholes of the hotel room doors and sees an opium smoker and a hermaphrodite. He's given a gun and a voice directs him to shoot himself. He does so but does not die. He feels he's had enough, returns through the mirror and smashes the statue with a hammer. .

In part 3 of the film, we see some teenage students having a snowball fight. Thinking that he's throwing a snowball when it is in fact a chunk of marble, an older boy kills a younger one. Is the marble a piece broken off from the smashed statue of the female statue?

In the final section of the film, the artist was playing a card game on a table in a court yard over the body of the dead teenager, He was being watched over by a masked man in 18th century costume behind the midpoint of a table with apparent interest amidst the bitter cold of the snow in that courtyard and higher up by certain wealthy ladies or even perhaps a royalty on what looks like two box seats in an opera house. The woman, which looks like the smashed statue, tells him he would lose unless he got an ace of heart. The man steals an ace from the breast pocket of blazer of the dead teenager. Then the teenager's black guardian angel appears and takes back that card from the man's hands also the dead body of the boy and then leaves through the flight of steps by which he came and disappears behind the door from which he originally emerged. Realizing he has lost, the man takes out a revolver and shoots himself. The spectators on the balcony then applaud and the woman walks through the snow, leaving no footprints and turns back into the smashed statue and then into a female figure with a lyre, the traditional symbol of lyrical poetry and later, of poets in general, to her right in a drawing, The film ends.

It's a most peculiar film. Is Cocteau telling a moral tale with surrealistic and expressionist techniques, deliberately blurring the boundaries of reality and fiction, life and art, death and  life, Thanatos and Eros, appearance and "truth", surface and depth, the conflict between survival and conscience, creation and destruction, chance and destiny? Is he trying to deal with the adventures of the human psyche? Is he trying to tell us something of the functioning of certain unconscious forces pushing us in certain directions, following its own dream logic? Is he making some oblique reference to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland? Is he trying to explore the difference between sense and nonsense? Is he suggesting that that everything is a spectacle? Is the cloth folding over the couch the fold of art over the psychoanalyst's couch to illuminate it a little, like the little stars surrounding the human figure in the ? Are the hands and feet of the artist which emerge from behind the couch the symbolic "action" of art upon the psychic reality of the artists "true" situation?   Do we shape our life by certain images or is it the other way round? The film starts with a drawing and ends with a drawing, passing through images of a statue which starts talking and moving and ends with the same statue and/or drawing sealed in silence. Is he exploring the process of artistic creation itself? In the same way that his hand is the instrument of his artistic expression, is the mouth of the woman he sketches not an instrument of the expression or the "articulation" of art itself? Is he dealing with the paradoxes of art and/or life itself? Is he exploring the relations between interior content and external form, of reference and expression? Is form the materialisation of expression itself, with nothing deeper than the surface of that form of artistic expression itself? There is an image of a vortex at the start of the film upon what looks like the cloth of stage magicians with stars etc, spiralling outwards from an invisible point at its centre, which evolves into a line which makes itself progressively visible in ever bigger spirals in white against a background of blackness until the last one merges from the foreground into the surrounding blackness of the background again:emerging from one kind of  invisible darkness, the obscurity of nothingness at its centre morphing and merging into to another kind of obscurity of mystery of nothingness, the totality of that image, as part of a drawing being folded onto the image of the artificial cinema screen? From silence to voice, back to silence through action? From two dimensions to three and then back to two? From the hand, to the eye, to psyche, through certain masks, cloaks or clothes over the naked body of the artist, through a mirror and a door,to certain visible products of art, to life and back? Is he suggesting that after its creation, the art work will take on an independent life of its own, no longer subject to the control of the artist and on the contrary, becoming something which turns back to mesmerize the mind and the heart of the artist himself and perhaps to torture him until he dies?

2013年5月18日 星期六

Weekend Fun

Can you imagine a day without a mobile? You must be joking. Yes I must be. But there are other jokes about phones too. Here's some.


A young man joined a big multlinational company as a trainee.

On his first day, he dialed the kitchen and shouted into the phone: "Could I have a cup of coffee?"

The voice from the other side responded: "You fool; you've dialled the wrong extension! Do you know who you're talking to?"

"No" replied the trainee.

"It's the Managing Director speaking, you idiot"

The trainee shouted back: "And do you know who you are talking to, you idiot?"

"No!" replied the Managing Director angrily.

"Thank God!" replied the trainee and hung up.


A young businessman had just started his own firm, rented a beautiful office and had it furnished with antiques.

Before long, he saw a man coming into the outer office. Wishing to appear a hot shot, he picked up the phone and started to pretend he was working on a big deal, throwing huge figures around and making giant commitments. Finally he hung up and asked the visitor, "Can I help you?"

The man said, "Yeah, I've come to activate your phone lines."


Frank wants to get Betty his beautiful wife, something nice for their first wedding anniversary.  He gives her a mobile telephone and shows and explains to her all the different and varied features on the phone.

The following day, Betty goes shopping in the local supermarket. Her phone rings. It's her husband.

'Hi ya, Betty,' he says, 'how do you like your new phone ?'

Betty replies, 'I just love it, it's so small and light and your voice is clear as a bell, but there's one feature that I really don't understand though.'

'What's that, Betty?' asks the husband.

'How did you know that I was at Tesco?'

Have a fun weekend

2013年5月14日 星期二

Colors of Macau

The recent trip to Macau is a "voyage of discovery" . I discovered the colors of crystals. Chihuly was a focus. But all photographers know that at times, the surrounding background may be just as interesting. So I allowed my camera to capture whatever took its fancy in that regard..

One which changes colors

How rich its colors

I like the blue, not too sharp, nor too dull

A fish in green

Ah, another fish diving down in the air!

shades of green!

The tiny mouth from which everything all started?

leaves with light reflected from the surrounding crystals

World within a world?

Two doors!

crystal jellyfish?

Jack and the bean stalk: crystal version!

swarming fishes over parapets, pillars and arches

Fishes roaming in waterless water and kelps?

fishes across giant kelps

Corals of crystals

The palace of Poseidon?

Fishes in a sea of crystals?

Fishes at the mouth of a shark?

crystals amidst fish or fish amidst crystals?

rystals or bubbles in the water?

fish amidst trees?

Fish swimming through windows?

This is where they all came from

Hall of Peacock in blue and purple

now in red blue and purple

snakes of blue in blue and purple

snakes of blue in green

snakes of blue in purple

snakes of blue in green

2013年5月12日 星期日

Jean de Florette & Manon de Source (戀戀山城、恩怨情天)

There was no concert for me this weekend. Instead, I went to see two films based on a 1953 4-hour long film by Marcel Pagnol, drastically cut at the time by the distributors for commercial reasons and remade by Claude Berri in 1986 from the novel which Pagnol later published. It's a story of the epic battles between love and revenge among two generations of certain peasant families in the French Provence shortly after the first world war. The double-bill is featured as part of film offerings of Le French Mai this year.

The first, entitled Jean de Florette, stars Yves Montand as César  Soubeyran, nicknamed  'Le Papet', Gérard Depardieu  as Jean de Florette, Daniel Auteuil as Ugolin, Elisabeth Depardieu as Aimée Cadoret, Margarita Lozano as Baptistine and Ernestine Mazurowna as Mannon Cadoret and the second film, called Manon des Sources, additionally features the beautiful Emmanuelle Béart as the grown up Manon.

As the film opens, we see a simple minded Ugolin, one of the two surviving Soubeyrans in the region returning from war to his uncle César Soubeyran, an old bachelor and owner of a stone house and farm. He returned with a secret project: growing carnations instead of the traditional potatoes, maize, pumpkins etc. But they got a problem: carnations soak up water like a sponge. They know that their neighbor Pique-Bouffigue, had a partially blocked up spring in his land which they wanted so much to buy for growing his carnations. They decided to pay the old man there a visit but the man wouldn't sell the land to him at any price and said ironically, they could have the land only over his dead body. During the negotiations, they got into a quarrel and the man fell from a tree, hit his head against a rock and died! As they were determined to have the land, the Soubreyrans secretly went to block up the spring completely so that the land would be worth much less in case  whoever would inherit the land could be persuaded to sell it to them. T​hey then made inquiries and found out that the man had decided to give the land to his sister Florette de Berengere, Papet's old flame, who married Crespin, a blacksmith in another village years ago whilst Papet was
recovering in a military Hospital in Africa during the war. So Pepet wrote to an old friend who knew both him and Florette well, Grafignette. But the reply he got said that the day she got César's letter, Florette died and gave everything to his son Jean de Florette. Jean, a hunchback with a heart of gold, a Parisian tax collector and a city intellectual with romantic dreams of the bliss of rural life, who soon arrived with his singer wife Aimée Cadoret and their 5 year-old daughter Manon. Jean plunged himself enthusiastically into his plans of raising rabbits, and crepins, tomatoes, carrots, onions and some other crops according to books and agricultural studies about soil type, plant characteristics, statistics about rainfall etc. But he had some problems: he did not have enough water and had to store water in a cistern. But he threw his heart and soul into his project and worked day and night and spent all his savings on improving the farm but fate had it that he had to die during an accident whilst trying to dig a well: he got hit by a flying rock blown into the air from the force of the dynamite he was using to blast the well,. He had wanted to see and hear the sound of water gushing out from the proposed well but he got too near to the mouth of the proposed well for his own good. After his death, Aimée decided to sell the farm and leave. The moment they got the land cheap, the Soubeyrans danced and unplugged the hole blocking the spring. Manon sees them and understands what happened. She shrieks, runs towards the hills and decides to stay. She did so as a shepherdess because she liked the Italian gypsy couple who lived about 2 km from her house who treated her as if she were their own daughter as a little earlier, his father did not evict them from his land.

In part two of the film, Manon had grown up into a beautiful girl. During one of his hunting trips, Ugolin saw Manon bathing and dancing by the side of a pond and could never since get her off his mind. He secretly placed birds in the traps set by Manon in the hills so that she could sell them in the market and get some money and then clumsily but sincerely declared his love for her but she would have nothing to do with him because she overheard from some poachers that Ugolin and César had deliberately blocked the spring in his father's farm. Whilst looking for a lost goat, she discovered by accident the source of the water supplying water to what used to be his father's farm and also to the whole town and decided to do exactly what the Soubreyrans did to her father. She plugged it up. In no time, the whole town was in uproar because of water shortage. An emergency meeting was called during which an expert from the water resource department explained various theories about why the water dried up but could ofter no solution except for water to be brought in from elsewhere in a water truck. Manon realized the serious consequences of what she had done and confessed to a new teacher whom she met by accident but whom she fancied. He encouraged her to undo what she did. When Ungolin saw how she looked at the teacher, he realized that he had no hope of ever winning her and hanged himself on a tree. At her wedding, old César met Grafignette who told him to his surprise that Florette had in fact written a letter to him when he was in Africa to tell him that she was pregnant with his child and that she would wait for him to marry her but that not having received any reply from him, she married the blacksmith to give their child a father. Césa then realized that in fact, Jean de Florette was his own son ! He was crushed and decided that there was no reason for him to continue living. After having made a will in which he gave everything to Manon, his granddaughter, he lay in bed to die.The last hope of any Soubreyran having any male heir had died with the death of Ugolin and his death spelled the end of the Soubreyran line.

The films were excellently made, with beautiful music specially written for it by Jean-Claude Petit its theme music adapted from Verdi's opera "La forza del destino: Ouverture" (the power of destiny) hauntingly played on the harmonica by Jean and later by Manon.The acting by Daniel Auteil, Emmanuelle Béart, Gerard Depardieu and Eves Montand were uniformly good. I like the irony in the film: those who knew the truth could not speak like  Baptistine, the mute domestic maid of César and those could speak, like Ugolin and the the townsfolk, the poacher etc. would not speak: it was  through the hard-heartedness born of his greed and need to preserve his family name,that Papet destroyed his own and only hope of achieving his dream. He repented. Too late. The film portrays very well the kind of rural attitude prevailing in Provence at the epoque: its conservatism, it hostility towards strangers, the value it placed upon family honor and its land, its superstitions, its petty jealousies and small mindedness and its unwillingness to lift a finger to help someone regarded as an outsider etc. I also like the symbolic images used in the film: the central images of the film are water and land. Neither is fruitful without the other. Cesar left the pregnant Florette (motherhood) for war (masculine aggression) and the needed communication between the male and female part of humanity was lost (the letter which went astray in the war) as a result of which a physically deformed child was born: Jean, a hunchback city folk who would rely upon knowledge and science instead of rural tradition and superstition to till the land (the human unconscious and mother of all growth) to make it fruitful and raise rabbit. He died from the explosive force of modern technology. Their daughter Manon, a beautiful lively, freedom loving shepherdess tending goats (male sexuality) is also associated with the source of the spring (the water nymph of folklore) and for that reason has power over the entire town because of her control over the supply/interruption of the life giving water. What led Manon to the source of water is a "lost goat", deep inside the crevices amidst the hard rocks of the craggy mountains, and the image of the town people sucking from the tap (a phallic symbol) in the town square. Thus the film reveals the complex networks of cause and effect, the conflict and resolution of human dilemmas involving its principal elements: tradition and science, the city and the countryside, male and female, love and revenge, human initiative and the twist of fate operating through chance to produce an ironical result: the one who harms others for the sake of his own family ends up harming most himself and what he most desires; the one who relies on sheer intellectual power without assistance from tradition shall also die by the same and the water nymph of pure innocent love who reneges from her desire for revenge finally inherited both the land and its life-giving water. Only love combined with knowledge and tradition will thrive.  

Weekend Fun (週末笑話)

Just saw an excellent film on French farmers. Farmers are peculiar people. They are really serious about their land and about people but only if they help directly to keep their farm going but little else except for the women, who want to poke their nose into everything remotely connected to the concept of domestic life.  But they can also have a wry sense of humor. Here's one.

A newlywed farmer and his wife got a "visit" by her mother, who
immediately demanded an inspection of the place. The farmer genuinely tried to be friendly to her, hoping that it
could be a friendly, non-antagonistic relationship.
But it didn't work. She kept nagging them at every opportunity, demanding
changes, offering unwanted advice, and generally making life unbearable
to the him and his new bride.
While they were walking through the barn, during the forced inspection,
the farmer's mule suddenly reared up and kicked the mother-in-law in the
head, killing her instantly.
It was a shock  and a blow.

At the funeral service a few days later, the farmer stood near the
casket and greeted folks as they walked by.The pastor noticed that
whenever a woman would whisper something to the farmer, he would nod his
head yes and say something. Whenever a man walked by and whispered to
the farmer, however, he would shake his head and mumble a no reply.

Curious as to this bizarre behavior, the pastor later asked the farmer what that was all about.The farmer replied, "The women would say, 'What a terrible tragedy' and I would nod my head and say, 'Yes, it was.' The men would then ask, 'Can I borrow that mule?' and I would shake my head and say, 'Can't. It's all booked up for a year.'"

Have a nice weekend.

2013年5月10日 星期五

Colorful Crystals in Macau (梳打埠之幻彩水晶)

Have been working fairly hard recently. So I took some time off to visit Macau. I enjoy the more leisiurely pace there, especially on week days. The annual national long holidays in the PRC over, Macau has reverted to its more civilized rhythm. I had lots of surprises though, from this sleepy neighbor of ours at the mouth of the Pearl River Estuary. Although I had been there a number of times, I never really took a good look at MGM. This time, I did. I was dazzled.

I discovered these ceiling lights in the reception hall of MGM, done by or under the direction of the famous blown glass artist from America,Dale Chihuly originally from Tacoma, Washington who studied glass making in Venice in 1968, got a MA in Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of
Design. In 1971, with the support of John Hauberg and Anne Gould
Hauberg, Chihuly cofounded the Pilchuck Glass School near Stanwood,
Washington. Since having a traffic accident in 1976 in England and lost his left eye and then dislocated his
right shoulder in a 1979 bodysurfing accident, he started hiring others to do the relevant work and describes himself as more a choreographer and director than a dancer or actor. He is now an extremely rich guy with sales of his works to be counted in tens of millions US each year and has enormously successful permanent collections of his work in various states of America, England, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and now Macau.  Having seen it, I think I know why.

Corridor where the crystals are displayed

Work in yellow, orange and green

Simple bowls and plates in yellow

Work in yellow with simple flowing lines

bowls within bowls

Work in green

Part of another work in green

Another shell like bowl

Another view of the bowl

Detail of the the bowl

More detail of the bowl

Some blue cabbages?

A blue and green blow with gold linings

Details of the bowl

Simpler blue bowls within bowls

details of such bowl collection

Bowls in orange

From blue to orange

Details of the orange bowls

A striped transparent flower with spherical bowl and ivory spirals

detail of the bowl with spiral

Close up of the tip of the spiral

Details of another bowl in yellow, green and orange

Art appears commercialized now. Has art become a commodity? Does art require more concepts than skills? If so, have they become detachable components in the world of capitalist production and marketing?Is the blurring of boundaries not typical of the world of post-modernity, post-Freudianism, post-structuralist and phenomenological flatness and époché of late capitalism? Have we now entered into the era where image is king, where the media is the message, where past and present, where different cultures and different aspects of the same culture, where the vertical and the horizontal, where production and consumption, where the interior and the exterior have become merged or are merely juxtaposed in the equalization and standardization of all values, where everything is finally reduced to mere images, images of images, where representation of the so-called "real" has completely disappeared, where the simulacra have replaced the signs and the symbols, and all that we have is the infinite jouissance of the play of surfaces and where all we've got left is the endless and ever accelerating narcissistic repetition and infinite self-replication or ritornello or refrain of the same themes, motifs of the virtual, where the surfaces have become folded, refolded or are folding, refolding or unfolding into each other until we can no longer tell where the interior and where the exterior is, where speed and momentum has replaced weight and direction, where the only meaning is the meaninglessness of meaning, where space has conquered time and everything and everyone is caught in the vortices created by waves upon waves of mass consumption. What is commodity?  What is art? Does it matter?