Sunday, May 19, 2013

It has been a year since I last posted about community choir (popular post Lights, Action, Camera -- Paris Texas Style ) and here we are again.  This year's concert, this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. is going to be a delight to music lovers, and it has had some surprises for me, too.

You'll have to come to find out the fun surprise, (just remember, the Paris Community Choir is production of the Paris Community Theatre, so yes we do know how to be a little dramatic) but another surprise for me is the parallel that some of the music is having in my life.  I love all of the music in its very varied forms, but one song that has been a surprise for me is:




 Erev Shel Shoshanim -- "Evening of Roses."  It is a Hebrew love song, and if you hear it you will want to know what it means.  Here is a picture of the translation on our music:




You need to know this, because when you hear the  music you will think it is a lament, and I guess, being Hebrew, it is a lament, but a lovely, loving lament.  I have been reading a couple of books about World War II and when I read them, I can't get this song out of my mind.

First, I am reading "Number the Stars" for my adopted 2nd grade class through the Lamar County Coalition of Education, Industry and Business "Reading to the Future."  Here is a picture of us when we were reading "Because of Winne Dixie."



Number the StarsNow, you might think that a class that LOVED Winne Dixie would have a hard time with "Number the Stars."  And they did, at first.  But that book is loved for a reason and is one of my daughter's favorite books, so we hung in there and on Tuesday when I was reading to them you could have heard a pin drop.

Here is the publisher's premise:

"Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are "relocated," Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen's life."


This book is a love story about family, friendship, and the ultimate bravery in the face of evil that I still can't understand.

I also picked up another book about World War II, Jodi Picoult's new book:  The Storyteller.  


The Storyteller  The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book about a girl who is atheist with a Jewish heritage, including a grandmother who survived the Holocaust; she is scarred physically and emotionally by the car wreck that killed her mother.  At grief group and through her job as a baker -- three years later -- she meets and befriends an older man, a grandfather figure. After they become friends, he drops a bomb shell:  He was an SS Officer (a Nazi) and he wants her to help him die because he doesn't deserve to live, but first he wants her to forgive him of his sins.  What would you do?   





I could not put this book down late Friday night and that hasn't happened in a long time.  But I got to a part in it that I had to finish, so I just kept reading.  At first, I was afraid I was going to be disappointed in the writing (following The Great Gatsby), but then the literary twists began to pile up, and there were a good number of parables built into each twist.  Also, Picoult is not afraid to go for the reality of life in her books, which makes the book more meaningful in the end.  I definitely suggest this book for a summer read.  (Yes, working on a summer reads article, if you know of one you want to suggest let me know!)

WWII books have always been a love of mine.  I always think:  If I just read one more book, maybe I will understand.  Of course, I know that isn't true but it never hurts to try. Here are a couple of quotes from the book:



"History isn't about dates and places and wars. It's about the people who fill the spaces between them."

* * * 


“What is the point of trying to put down on paper emotions that are too complex, too huge, too overwhelming to be confined by an alphabet?

Love isn't the only word that fails.

Hate does, too.”  


* * * 

While reading this book, I also had Erev Shel Shoshanim running through my mind, over and over.   I was glad that there was a temple scene replete with the music, validating my mental accompaniment.  Here is part of the chorus, pictured above:

Night falls slowly

And the wind of roses is blowing

Let me whisper you a song, secretly

A song of love

* * * 

Lovely, isn't it!  Hope you'll come to the concert and experience some culture, some fun, some music, some love.  











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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

On Gatsby, Tweets, and Hammocks, Etc.


I've been quiet on the blog lately, just catching up with life and books after the play, dealing with some real life situations with my friends, not feeling real chatty.  

The Great GatsbyOne book that I just re-enjoyed was the new audio version of "The Great Gatsby," in prep for the movie, of course.  According to the book blurb on Goodreads, this new audio edition was authorized by the Fitzgerald estate.  It is narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain).  It's incredible.  If you have a desire to go see the movie, consider listening to this first so you get it all.  It is just a 4 hour investment, well worth your time.  And you might just get to have a conversation with your teen that goes something like this:

My teen recently tweeted:

THE GREAT GATSBY IS LITERALLY A BOOK ABOUT NOTHING AND IT SUCKS.

Me:  Perhaps that is the point.

(Note that I usually stay far away from engaging my teen through a tweet.  Far, far away.  But I couldn't resist).

My teen:

 no...there is no point in it having no point. 

(Wow.  He actually responded.  Shocked into stupor.  Note that I honestly felt just like him as a teen when I encountered it in high school, but no need to tell him that).

 Me:  Bingo. Isn't that a life statement of those times? What the author was saying? Why it ends the way it does? 

My Teen:

mom I don't need an English lesson right now..

(Yeah, I freely admit, I got carried away). 
 Me:   Sorry dear! Enjoy your day  . . . 

“Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope.”


I have to confess that Gatsby rather reminds me of Hammocks, Etc.  -- pictures friends have posted on my Timeline.  

Because ever since I wrote about finding time to read, in my blog post On Reading and Hammocks my friends like to post Hammock and other pics on my Timeline. 

This one reminds me of the way Gatsby went ALL OUT for Daisy.  I mean, if the Gatsby Estate was a hammock, with all its lights and pleasing setting, this would be THE HAMMOCK that Gatsby chose.  


“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”

 And this totally fits with that whole Gatsby mentality:


"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Which I completely agree with (buy the shoes!), being a child of the '80s and all.

Somehow, this pic found its way on my timeline, not a hammock but close, and it TOTALLY represents how Gatsby sat in his little boat and pined away for that one special girl.  It sums up Daisy, with her rich voice.  It sums up the dream of Daisy, which can't possibly live up to the reality.



“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Sometimes the jury is out on Daisy. 
 
“She’s got an indiscreet voice,” I remarked. “It’s full of-“
I hesitated.
“Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.

  Is she really as shallow as she ends?  Or is she just stuck -- like this picture of a hammock posted by a friend on my page.  Up a tree, stuck in a beautiful cage.  

“I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others--young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life."


 This hammock reminds one of the nice neat little house of narrator Nick Carraway, just all  simple but substantive, like Nick himself:

“Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.”

I mean, it is definitely the "there when you need" it kind of hammock.

I'm afraid that this picture does not express the American attitude of the time.


“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”


(And that is why they got in trouble, right!) This picture sums it up much better.  

“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”


 Or maybe it is because, unlike my husband,  Tom didn't post this on Daisy's Facebook page and pretend like she posted it (or Tom wouldn't have, given the chance):

"They’re a rotten crowd’, I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together."
  
Well, that is, maybe Tom would have in the end, because they seem to have been made for each other after all.  
“All I kept thinking about, over and over, was 'You can't live forever; you can't live forever.”


And that, -- OLD SPORT -- is the True Story of how "The Great Gatsby" reminds me of Hammocks, Etc.  (Can't Wait for the Movie!!  It is in Paris starting at 10pm on Thursday night, anyone going???)

*All quotes by F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby."