Sunday, November 28, 2010

Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood - The Film

Haruki Murakami 


one of my favorite authors. 

I've read 

and loved 

most of his works. 

And I enjoyed the film

Tony Takitani

which is based on 

one of his stories.

I was thrilled 

to see that 

Norwegian Wood 

has been made into a film. 

Here's how Publisher's Weekly describes the story:

In a complete stylistic departure from his mysterious and surreal novels (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; A Wild Sheep Chase) that show the influences of Salinger, Fitzgerald and Tom Robbins, Murakami tells a bittersweet coming-of-age story, reminiscent of J.R. Salamanca's classic 1964 novel, LilithAthe tale of a young man's involvement with a schizophrenic girl. A successful, 37-year-old businessman, Toru Watanabe, hears a version of the Beatles' Norwegian Wood, and the music transports him back 18 years to his college days. His best friend, Kizuki, inexplicably commits suicide, after which Toru becomes first enamored, then involved with Kizuki's girlfriend, Naoko. But Naoko is a very troubled young woman; her brilliant older sister has also committed suicide, and though sweet and desperate for happiness, she often becomes untethered. She eventually enters a convalescent home for disturbed people, and when Toru visits her, he meets her roommate, an older musician named Reiko, who's had a long history of mental instability. The three become fast friends. Toru makes a commitment to Naoko, but back at college he encounters Midori, a vibrant, outgoing young woman. As he falls in love with her, Toru realizes he cannot continue his relationship with Naoko, whose sanity is fast deteriorating. Though the solution to his problem comes too easily, Murakami tells a subtle, charming, profound and very sexy story of young love bound for tragedy. Published in Japan in 1987, this novel proved a wild success there, selling four million copies. 

I think 

you will love his books


enjoy these movies.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Old Friends, New Friends - The Killer of Little Shepherds

Welcome Back

Dear Readers,

Dear Friends!

I've just finished reading 

Douglas  Starr's

The Killer of Little Shepherds
A True Crime Story
And The Birth
of Forensic Science.

I enjoyed it immensely 

and believe that 

you will too!

It tells the tale of two men.

Joseph Vacher,

who terrorized the French countryside,

killing and violating many

 near Lyon,

during the Belle Epoch.

And of criminologist 

Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne

who was instrumental in 

prosecuting Vacher 

and in the birth of 

Forensic Science. 

Anyone wondering what to read 

after The Millennium Trilogy

would be wise to pick this up!

  From Publishers Weekly

Starr (Blood) eloquently juxtaposes the crimes of French serial killer Joseph Vacher and the achievements of famed criminologist Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne during France's belle époque. From 1894 to 1897, Vacher is thought to have raped, killed, and mutilated at least 25 people, though he would confess to only 11 murders. Lacassagne, who headed the department of legal medicine at the university in Lyon, was a pioneer in crime scene analysis, body decomposition, and early profiling, and investigated suspicious deaths, all in an era when rural autopsies were often performed on the victim's dinner table. Lacassagne's contributions to the burgeoning field of forensic science, as well as the persistence of investigating magistrate Émile Fourquet, who connected crimes while crisscrossing the French countryside, eventually brought Vacher to justice. Vacher claimed insanity, which then (as now) was a vexed legal issue. Lacassagne proved the "systematic nature" of the crimes. Starr, codirector of Boston University's Center for Science and Medical Journalism, creates tension worthy of a thriller; in Lacassagne, he portrays a man determined to understand the "how" behind some of humanity's most depraved and perhaps take us one step closer to the "why."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Old Friends, New Friends - The Don Preston Trio - Transformation


        Imagine Pablo Picasso being widely known only for his "Blue Period", with Galleries, Collectors, Art historians, Writers and the Public, showing only an interest in those paintings, utterly dismissing the rest of his career and life's work. This could be a parallel to the position Pianist, Composer Don Preston finds himself every time he clips on the lapel microphone for an interview, as the three years (1966-69) he spent as a member of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, seem to be the only part of his musical contribution he is asked about.
        It is under the radar, of the Zappaphiles, that Preston's depth as an improvising artist lies. Growing up in a musical family, (Preston's father was composer in residence and director of the Detroit Symphony) by his 20's he had developed a technique at the Piano and Upright Bass so prodigious, that he was working with Yusef Lateef, Herbie Mann, Tommy Flannigan ,  and Elvin Jones, and held down the Piano chair for a European Tour by Nat King Cole's Big Band, when Nat, himself a fine pianist, began to focus on the show-biz side of music.
        Mr. Preston blames his penchant for atonal or "outside" music on teachers who would smack the backs of his hands every time he would make a mistake at the keyboard, but one would suspect that working with Zappa and Carla Bley,  likely made an impression too. Compositions by both appear on "Transformation" the 2000 release by the working trio with Bassist Joel Hamilton and Drummer Aaron Cline. Those who have a passion for the piano trio as an art form, won't be disappointed with this disc, as the tradition of interplay between the voices that began with Bill Evan's first trio, continues here,  with perhaps more emphasis on a conversational approach as the Bass, and then the Drums step toward center.
         The Cole Porter standard "I Love You" is presented with it's melody dissected, the harmony removed,  and discussed at length,  with drummer Cline toying with the implications of the phrases while mindful of the silences that separate them, a rare quality for a percussionist given full rein.
         The sparkling quality of the piano as recorded in the studio, the depth of field of the soundstage, will contrast with the Bley texts first put to vinyl in the mid 1960's, and surely Don Preston's  ruminations four decades on,  offer fresh facets of what was already there:  the desire, and determination to do what true artists must do, go where none have gone before.

Many thanks here to

 Global Around Town Senior Music Correspondent


Dear Friend

Don Yaffe

for this contribution. 

His sensitive insights and observations

are always a pleasure to behold.