2016年8月25日 星期四

Honesty --Billy Joel (真誠--比利·喬)

There are many songs by Billy Joel I like. One of those I like best is "Honesty". There he sings what's secretly in every man's and perhaps every woman's heart. So much is involved in love, so many different kinds of things are at stake that it must be one of the rarest blessings on this crowded planet so full of tricks and so sparsely filled with treats if one can find a soul mate who is truly honest with one, in everything. Or do we really want him or her to be so heart searingly and soul tearingly "honest" ? Are there dark secrets hidden inside every heart which it would be better or wiser to never seek to be brought out into the open? How much conventional marital bliss hangs upon that Pandora's box otherwise known as the human heart? Perhaps, is that why love is so fatally attractive?

Whatever the truth may be, "Honesty" is a beautiful song which gives expression to our heart's aching search for that quasi-impossible ideal.

2016年8月24日 星期三

Billy Joel (比利·喬)

Billy Joel (b. 1949) is a legend. He may not be every man's favourite, he's certainly one of mine. I could never forget how I was immediately won over once I heard his Downeaster Alexa. He's got the right voice, rough, a little hoarse and so full of passion.  And the pounding rhythm of the song was mimics so closely that the sound of a fishing boat plouhging and plunging through the waves as he recounts the story of a hardworking fisherman from a small fishing town on the Atlantic coast who's got to brave its treacherous storms and dangerous waters farther and farther out into deep ocean and risk his life just so that he may pay for those monthly bills of his wife and children. He's got little or no choice in the matter because: it's just the way life goes, the way it had been for his father and perhaps his father's father. But it's getting tougher and tougher by the day. He had to sell his house to buy his boat. The times, they are a- changing! 

He never finished high school because he had to play in piano bars from a young age to support his divorced mother, sister and brother. But he's got music in his blood. His father was a classical pianist and his brother a classical conductor. He composed and sang many songs about the problems and the life of ordinary folks which became hits, like "Honesty", "Just the Way you are", "Moving Out", "Only the Good Die Young." "Big Shot", "She's Always a Woman to Me" and many many others too numerous to mention and he collected 23 Grammies and got his name emblazoned in many halls of fame. According to Wikipedia, he sold more than 150 million records! I think I know why from the moment I first heard his  song.

2016年8月23日 星期二

Chariots of Fire (烈火戰車)

"Chariots of Fire" is the name of the theme song of a British film of the same name written by one of my favourite composers in the genre of what I call "electronic music" aka "fusion":  Vangelis Papathanassioum.  The 1981 film was nominated for 7 Oscars and won 4, including the "Best Film", (director: David Puttnam)  "Best Screen play writing" (Colin Welland) and the "Best original score". (Vangelis)

2016年8月22日 星期一

Vincent Van Gogh (文森特 - 梵高)

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) is a Dutch artist whose French-influenced works I like. van Gogh did not always paint in bright colors. In fact, he did not start out as an artist at all, having begun his career at age 16 as an art dealer's assistant working in London and Paris, an unpaid supply school teacher, then as a salesman in a bookshop when he got intensely interested in religion and thought of becoming a pastor, like his father. Having failed the entrance exam at the U of Amsterdam theology school in 1878, he spent 3 months at another Protestant missionary school near Brussels and failed again but took up a job as a missionary for about a year in a mining district before following the advice of his brother Theo, himself an art dealer, with whom he was closest, to seriously learn painting from the Dutch painter Wilhem Roelofs in Brussels. The latter recommended him to join the Academy of Fine Arts there in November 1880. He did so and took some free lessons on perspective and modelling antiquity. But being a free soul, he did not stay there long. That's all the artistic training he got.

Vincent van Gogh started out in charcoal drawings and then water color and did not take up oil until 1881, upon the encouragement and support of Theo, but once he did, he loved it and applied it on his canvas most liberally. For a while, he shacked up with a pregnant prostitute with her 5 year-old daughter but couldn't afford to marry her as he was never able to sell any of his paintings. In fact, legend has it that it that  during his entire life, he had sold exactly just one painting, "La Vigne Rouge" (The Red Vineyard). He remained single for the rest of his life and spent his last years in a mental institution until he committed suicide at age 37. 

2016年8月20日 星期六

The lure of light (光之誘惑)

Without light, we'll see little or nothing

Even a little light is better than nothing.

2016年8月19日 星期五

Designed Humanity? (預先設計的人類?)

Ever since medical science first started tinkering with various human parts like organs, scientists have dreamed of providing "cures" or replacement of human parts for known pathological defects by active intervention. They started off with the heart, then extended transplants to include kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, intestine and thymus. Having mastered various ways of combatting the difficulties of immunological rejection, they extend similar notions to tissues transplant. Nowadays, surgeons regularly perform grafting of bones, tendons" (musculo-skeletal grafts), cornea, skin, heart valves, nerves and veins etc.With the completion of the Human Genome Project "HGP" which started in 1990, scientists have been hard at work to synthesize some new and hopefully better human genome and in June 2016, they announced plans to do so under a project called "HGP-Write".

2016年8月15日 星期一

Killing Me Softly with His Song & Empty Chairs (Lori Lieberman & Don McLean)他凴歌使我死在溫柔鄉 與 空椅子 ( 洛瑞·李伯曼--唐·麥克林)

Music is a mystery. Often, we listen to a song, perhaps by a stranger, perhaps by a friend or even some one long dead and gone. A little something stirs inside. We don't know where exactly, nor why nor how. But it feels as real as if we were right in front of the songwriter, the composer, the performer, confiding to us his most intimate secrets, his longings, his disappointments, his darkest pains and sometimes, his joys, his contentments. And we're touched.

Sometimes, we'll be moved to write something or other there and then. We just feel we had to do so. There seems to be a demon inside us about which we feel we've somehow got to do something, something which we must exorcise, something which cries out for expression, something which would give us no peace until we've done so. That's probably how Lori Lieberman felt after she heard Don McLean's song "Empty Chairs" in a small club in Los Angeles back in 1973. The result is a classic: Killing me Softly with his Song, made famous by another singer Roberta Flack.

Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude" No, 15, Opus 28. (蕭邦之雨點序曲)

Fellow blogger and concert goer Eric Tang recommended that I click into Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude" No.15, Opus 28 in Db major by the contemporary French pianist Hélène Grimaud. So here it is.

The piece is given the name "raindrop" by Van Bülow. It is believed that the piece was written by Chopin in 1838 whilst he was staying at a monastery in Majorca with his then lover, the woman romantic novelist, who was then forced by the customs of the age to write under a male pen name "George Sand". It's one of 24 preludes written by that poet of the piano.

2016年8月14日 星期日

Listen to the Falling Rain. (聆聽雨點)

Rain, sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain, sunshine...

 But for flowers, it's the kind of weather to die for.

2016年8月10日 星期三

True Colors--Eva Cassidy (原色--伊娃·凱希蒂)

I don't know how many CD's I've bought in my life. I love music. But sometimes, I can be greedy, like those women who window shopped, couldn't resist the temptation because that dress looked "just so beautiful" that she simply "must have it", tried it out, looking at herself in the mirror this way and that and then without a second thought, rummaged through her handbag, removed her credit card from one of the flaps of her small purse inside, signed, picked up her new conquest, tried it out again at home in front of the mirror, imagined how proud she'd look before her beloved and then carefully hung it inside her closet.

The next time when she thought about it, lying so inconspicuously amidst all her own past conquests, that initial passion that prompted her to take it home in the first place had somehow dissipated, vanished into a realm she really didn't know where.

Something rather similar may happen to some of my CD's too. But not Eva Cassidy's CDs though I haven't touched them for a while now. Quite by accident today, one of them caught my eyes whilst I was looking for something else. I put it on. It was as good as when I first decided to take it home.  

2016年8月8日 星期一

Reflections of Central (中環反影)

Central District always has a special meaning to me


A busy valley filled with memories

Crimes of the Heart --Amanda McBroom (心之罪--愛曼蒂.麥布本)

I love the songs of Amanda McBroom.
 There's a certain street-smartness, 
a certain worldly wisdom, 
a certain studied casualness,
a certain abandon,
 She has got a voice wonderfully suited to express the feelings experienced by those during the ups and downs of life of those her songs are about.
 Above all, she sings not just with her voice,
She sings with her heart.

"Crimes of the heart" tells the story of a middle aged woman falling madly in love with a man young enough to be her son.

I read in the news recently that a 50 year-old lady clerk in a legal firm whose proprietor I know had been sentenced for embezzzling more than $2 million to support her lover, a young barrister.

"Crimes Of The Heart"

We were drinking whiskey, we were talking men
She'd never see the sunny side of forty-two again
She was in love with a boy of twenty-nine
This was something new, what could she do
What should she do?

She made her burn like fire, made her drunk like wine
No one else had loved her oh, for such a long, long time
She was afraid it was moving way too fast, the die was cast
How could this last?

It was a crime of the heart
We all know that love's insane from the start
Where there's passion, there is pain
What do we gain, committing crimes of the heart

He was crazy jealous of everyone she met
Suspicious of the little things that hadn't happened yet
He devoured every minute of her time, she didn't mind
After all, young love's always blind

It was a crime of the heart
We all know that love's insane form the start
Where there's passion, there is pain
What do we gain, committing crimes of the heart

Funny how tomorrows turn into yesterdays
Funny how a mirror never lies
Somehow the hands of time turn back the other way
Every time I look into his eyes

The night was half-past over, time for going home
She said she'd rather walk, she needed time to be alone
When you're living your love from day to day
Somtimes tomorrow
Is the price you have to pay

For these crimes of the heart
We all know that love's insane from the start
Where there's passion, there is pain
And love is what we gain, committing crimes of the heart

Doublespeak (巧言/謊言)

Our world is in deep trouble. The terrorists are striking everywhere: in Europe, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Turkey, in China. When people are not busy killing others, they are busy killing themselves, like in Hong Kong. And mad men are on a rampage of mass killings in Japan, in France and in America. 

Of course, there are lots of reason why people do what they do. But I'm sure that one of the reasons may be that people are now systematically trained, for the purposes of easier control and manipulation by those in power NOT to look at reality in the face and to call a spade a spade. We are now flooded and swamped daily by words that don't really "mean" what they say, by what some have called "doublespeak". An even simpler word for that kind of talk is "lies".

2016年8月7日 星期日

A Delightful Combination (一愉快的組合)

Claude Debussy is a very French composer. He's influenced very much by the idea that music can sometimes imitate visual images and through the flow of the notes on the piano key board vivid images of the play of light upon the ever changing surfaces of a lake or a sea or the subtle rhythmic changes in the patterns in the intricate.arabesques of the Muslim religious architecture.

Simon Trpceski, a young pianist from Macedonia who learned to play the piano from a Russian master who plays with thought, imagination and sensitivity, seems a perfect partner for the music of the French impressionist composer. We get a taste of such a delightful combination in Debussy's piece, "Arabesque No. 1. 

Scientists discover New Property of Photon (科學家發現新的光子特性)

Religious truths are said to be eternal. Throughout the ages, theologians and priests have repeatedly told their faithfuls what they claim to be "truths" about what this world of ours is like and when they have the needed political power, would show little restraint in using it to enforce the correctness of their views. The story of the fate of Copernicus and Galileo is now history.

What should be the proper relation between religion and science? Is the finding of science always in conflict with the dogmatic "truths" of religion? Or just sometimes eg. as when theologians eagerly adopted the "Big Bang" theory of the creation of the universe?

2016年8月4日 星期四

Mostly Clouds (多雲)

Typhoon Nida is gone but not the rain clouds.

But at least the rains have stopped. So it's time to get moving.