Movie: “Tar”

February 1, 2023

As I have mentioned many times, I love classical music. So, I was more than happy to watch Cate Blanchett (age 53) star in “Tar,” which was written and directed by Todd Field (age 59), who wrote the movie exclusively for Blanchett.

“Tar” tells the story about Lydia Tar, who is a fictional world famous composer and conductor. She has an impressive resume, which lists conductor positions with the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and finally the Berlin Philharmonic. While in Berlin, she rehearses Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, which is to be recorded. To accompany this work, she decides to also include Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Meanwhile, her marriage to Sharon, the Berlin Philharmonic concertmaster, unravels as Tar is romantically linked to Krista, an aspiring conductor, who commits suicide, and to Olga, who is the soloist for the Elgar Cello Concerto. Her scandalous lesbian relationships result in her being dismissed as conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic and ostracized from Europe and America. Devastated, she ends up conducting an orchestra in the Philippines.

Outstanding story and performance! I can see why “Tar” has received so many Oscar nominations. For this movie, Cate Blanchett had to learn how to play the piano, conduct, and speak German. She emotes as she conducts the orchestra during rehearsal, striving to wring every nuance from the music.

These are photos I took of scenes from my TV.

Lydia Tar conducts the Berlin Philharmonic during rehearsal of the Mahler Fifth Symphony:

See how she emotes while conducting:

This is Tar’s wife, Sharon, who is also the concertmaster of the orchestra:

This is Olga, who is the soloist for the Elgar Cello Concerto. Tar is attracted to her sexually:

Tar ends up conducting an orchestra in the Philippines, having been ostracized from Europe and America because of her scandalous lesbian relationships:

***

I have always felt that music expresses what words cannot possibly express. Music touches the soul. It brings joy. It brings sorrow. Music is never boring. It’s there to touch the listener in such a deep, poignant way.

We loved “Tar” so much that we ordered French cellist Jacqueline du Pre’s recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. We look forward to hearing it. We already have Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

Further, I ordered a set of violin strings from Amazon. My E string broke and has to be replaced. I shall soon be playing my violin again. Yes, my right rotator cuff has healed sufficiently to play.

As you can see, “Tar” has inspired me as a violinist and as a music lover. It’s definitely worth watching.

We saw it on Peacock, but it is also in theaters.

Promoting culture and the arts

January 30, 2023

There are 2 topics that interest most men: POLITICS AND SPORTS. I’ll discuss politics and sports sometimes, but not on a daily basis.

Politicians are known for being sleazy and immoral. I am pro-life and anti-guns. Try finding a politician, who feels the same way I do.

As for sports, there is so much violence on the field. I know a lot of people will be watching the Super Bowl. I probably will watch highlights. But I am just not into football.

***

What do I like to discuss? I like to talk about CULTURE AND THE ARTS.

I like to visit art galleries and converse about art with other art lovers. I like to buy art, too, and find a spot for it on my wall.

I like to discuss culinary arts. How awesome it is to prepare and plate the food so beautifully, set the table so nicely, and do everything possible to enhance one’s dining experience.

I like to discuss classical music, the opera, and Broadway musicals. To experience top notch talent on stage is simply breathtaking.

I like to discuss travels to foreign destinations and foreign cultures. I have been to 13 foreign countries and enjoyed every single one.

I wish I could socialize with people just like me.

***

Anybody want to discuss politics and sports? Go sit with David.

I’ll shut the door and quietly tiptoe away.

I hate guns

January 27, 2023

There are no guns in my home. I have never owned a gun and have no intention of doing so.

I feel squeamish about killing another human being even in self-defense. If I were to kill someone, then I would be arrested for murder and face the prospect of life in prison. Murder is a hard rap to beat. If that doesn’t stop you from killing someone, then what will?

I am appalled by the senseless massacres occurring in this country. Absolutely senseless. What do people hope to gain by killing other people? What joy do they experience at pulling the trigger, not only once, but multiple times?

And that 6-year-old boy, who shot his teacher in the abdomen with his mother’s gun? How crazy!

I believe guns of all kinds should be banned. No one, except for the police and the military, should be allowed to own a gun.

Further, we should refrain from watching movies that glorify killing. Movies such as “FBI,” “NCIS,” “James Bond,” crime movies, murder mysteries, war movies, etc. These types of movies warp your mind. You become immune to killing. You shrug your shoulders and grin with total enjoyment at the sight of the hapless victim with blood oozing out of a gunshot wound.

Thank God I am not married to a cop or a soldier or a criminal. The sight of guns makes me sick.

Say “No” to private gun ownership. Make it illegal to own one.

Plants please the eye

January 25, 2023

What would life be like without plants? Yes, we need them for nutrition, but we also need them to please the eye.

This orchid display was given to me by an artist, named Frances Wong. She brought it to my home on October 30, 2022. Almost 3 months have gone by, and 1 flower finally fell just yesterday. There are actually 3 separate plants, each with 1 spray of orchids. Each plant gets 1 large ice cube once a week. I prefer this system of watering, because it doesn’t disturb the arrangement in the bowl:

This is artist Frances Wong on October 30, 2022:

This is how the orchids look almost 3 months later:

I bought these colorful crotons from Home Depot recently. I water them 1-2 times per week. They are doing well on this bench in the patio:

I also bought 4 Boston ferns from Home Depot recently. I water them 3 times per week. These are green and lush, hanging from the eaves in my patio:

Finally, I bought this fern from Lowe’s in March 2022. It’s the oldest potted plant in my house! I water it 1-2 times per week. It thrives in low light on my shoe cabinet:

So far so good, all are doing well. Hope my good luck continues, as I am not known for my green thumb.

A nasty fall and comfort food

January 23, 2023

David has balance issues, resulting in multiple falls since 2019. On January 11, he was carrying something in his hand when he lost his balance and fell, cutting his right knee on the wooden step separating 2 rooms. I called for assistance, and 3 firemen arrived. They saw the gash on David’s knee and rendered first aid. Then, they lifted him up and walked him to his car, after advising him to to seek treatment at the emergency room. Since I don’t drive anymore, David drove himself to Straub ER, where he was given a tetanus shot and X-rayed. The X-rays showed no broken bones or prosthesis. (Remember, he had his knee replaced in 2016.) The physician’s assistant stapled his wound together. (David counted 15 staples.) He also was prescribed an antibiotic to take for 7 days.

We think he is out of the woods, and his wound is healing very well. The staples will be removed at Straub this Wednesday.

Anyway, there was blood on the carpet. I tried to remove it with Resolve, but there still is an ugly stain. We have hired Abby Carpet to replace that section and also give us extra carpet in case of future stains.

After this disaster, what could we do? We wanted comfort food. The best comfort food, in my opinion, is Italian.

So, last Friday, we headed to our favorite Italian restaurant, Palazzo Ristorante Italiano, in Aiea. This restaurant is owned and managed by 2 Vietnamese brothers. Though the chef is Vietnamese, the food seems authentic.

This is Palazzo Ristorante Italiano. (The building was being painted, which explains the cones):

Here we are:

Warm bread and butter:

Caesar’s salad:

Chicken and Eggplant Provencale with Linguine:

Dessert was Tiramisu. (A delicate cake with coffee and mascarpone cheese):

It was all so delicious. This was the ultimate comfort food. After our horrible ordeal, we felt so much better.

Mother Teresa, a great role model

January 20, 2023

I think being a big shot has so many negative consequences. It’s really not fun being rich and famous. If you are like most big shots, you have to constantly watch your back, even hiring bodyguards to shield you from danger. Not to mention the constant sniping and insults being hurled at you by people looking for dirt.

However, there was one famous person, who never had to watch her back. She was universally loved, admired, and respected.

Who was that person? None other than Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997).

She was a nun from Albania, living in a convent in Calcutta, India. She devoted her life to helping the poorest of the poor, taking in people dying in the streets, bathing them, clothing them, and feeding them. She made sure their last moments on Earth were spent in peace and with dignity.

She used the funds she received from her Nobel Peace Prize to establish Missions of Charity all over the world. In fact, I watched a TV segment that described how she established a Mission of Charity in San Francisco, California. Amazing!

Her guiding principle was LOVE.

No wonder she is a saint.

Ikebana

January 18, 2023

Ikebana is a type of floral arrangement popular in Japan since the 8th century. It was imported from China along with Buddhism. It usually consists of one main stem with 2 shorter stems.

I like Ikebana. It evokes a sense of peace and serenity.

Here are examples.

Prince Harry’s “Spare”

January 16, 2023

I read Prince Harry’s “Spare” in 17 hours.

Harry reminds me of Indiana Jones, going from one adventure to the next.

While at the North Pole, he suffered frostbite on his penis. How he sought treatment for his frostbitten penis is hilarious! He protected his penis better on his trip to the South Pole.

Harry has the killer instinct and is not squeamish about killing birds, bulls, and people. This contrasts with his humanitarian work with the wounded veterans of the military and the AIDS patients in Africa. The Invictus Games, which he established for wounded veterans, is his greatest achievement.

Harry is definitely not my type. He drinks alcohol, smokes marijuana, and ingests hallucinogens. He never graduated from university.

I much prefer his father, King Charles III, a university graduate, who appreciates Shakespeare, art, and architecture. He is definitely my type.

Charles had a delightful conversation with Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, one day during lunch. While dining on salmon sandwiches and pancakes, Charles said something quite extraordinary. He said that mermaids are seals, and when you sing to them, they will sing back to you. Charles wasn’t kidding. Meghan later found herself at sea and began singing to the seals. Lo and behold, the seals sang back to her. Incredible!

This is an outstanding book. It’s not solely about family trauma. I got my copy on Amazon.

Maria wants to read it next.

Phases come and go

January 13, 2023

I have been through so many phases:

1. I used to be deeply involved in church life, serving as Eucharistic Minister, Religious Education Instructor, Outreach to the Homeless, etc. I invited priests and Catholics to my home for dinner many times:

2. Then, David and I got involved with Marriage Encounter and attended 2 weekend retreats at St. Stephen’s Diocesan Center. We also attended Love Circle meetings and participated in dialoguing with other married couples as well as each other. This was to improve and enhance our marriage:

3. We also were involved with the University of Hawaii Football Program, attending meetings, parties, and tailgates involving coaches and other fans:

4. I was a newsletter editor for American Pen Women, Honolulu Chapter. I attended monthly meetings and enjoyed the Christmas parties at members’ homes:

5. I used to play my violin with gusto and energy:

Sorry, these phases have all come to an end due to loss of interest. It just got stale.

However, there is one phase that I have not ended, and that’s “Gigi-Hawaii.” I started my blog on November 20, 2006 — 16 years ago. I post 3 days per week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I still enjoy blogging.

Shingrix Vaccine screw up?

January 11, 2023

I had my Shingrix vaccine on December 27 at Long’s Drugs in my neighborhood. I was charged $47 for it, just a fraction of what David had to pay for his first dose years ago.

I hope the pharmacist gave me the right vaccine. When he called me in for my shot, he said, “You’re here for the Pfizer.” I said, “No, I’m here for the Shingles vaccine.” He replied, “Oh, right, long day.” Then, he injected me.

Man, what an idiot this pharmacist is! I wish I had asked to see the label. Too late now. I am due for a second shot in March.

If I do get the Shingles in the future, then I’ll know that this pharmacist screwed up and gave me the wrong vaccine.

I dread the sharp, tingling pain and rash associated with Shingles. It can last for years or a lifetime.