You’ve got to listen to this!

I’d never heard of The Idan Raichel Project before, but Kerry, a friend on LibraryThing has been quietly posting some links to great music on my LT thread lately (including The Hobbit’s Song of the Lonely Mountain).

The following directly from the The Idan Raichel Project site:

The Idan Raichel Project burst onto the global music scene in 2003, changing the face of Israeli popular music and offering “a fascinating window into the young, tolerant, multi-ethnic Israel taking shape away from the headlines” (Boston Globe).

Idan Raichel, the creator and leader of the Project, began his musical journey by inviting collaborations from artists of different generations, multiple ethnicities and singing in languages as diverse as Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic, Amharic and Swahili. The resulting albums shattered sales records in Israel, made Raichel his country’s biggest musical breakthroughs, and sold over half a million records worldwide. The Project was honored as the “Musical group of the Decade” in Israel in 2010, and the song “Mima’amakim” was selected the “Best Song of the Decade”. As described by The New York Times, “His arrangements bind the voices together in somber minor-mode anthems paced by electronic beats, earnestly seeking to uplift.”

The Project’s blend of African, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds, coupled with a spectacular live show, has enchanted audiences worldwide. They have headlined in some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including New York’s Central Park Summer Stage, Los Angeles’ Kodak Theater, The Apollo Theater, the Sydney Opera House and Radio City Music Hall. They have also performed across Europe, South & Central America, Hong Kong, India, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Singapore to enraptured audiences of all backgrounds.

Freaky Friday

Freaky Friday

The cover design of this Mary Rodgers book is by Edward Gorey. Copies of the original hardcover published in 1972 can be found via online used book merchants. The blurb says: ‘Freaky Friday’ is an imaginative story about family life, and waking up one morning to find out that you’ve turned into your mother!

I’m tempted to get it myself!

Image found on my vintage book collection (in blog form)) via l’entonnoire du lièvre (tumblr)

Tanti Auguri, Birthday Girl!


Today is Monica Vitti’s 81st birthday, so I thought I’d send her best wishes and show her beautiful face in her prime to embellish my blog (besides which, current photos of her proved nearly impossible to find). I’ve heard of her since I was very young, but I don’t believe I ever saw a movie she was in, so I decided to have a little Vitti festival by borrowing L’Avventura (1960), La Notte (1961, with Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau), and Eclipse (1962, with Alain Delon) from the library, all in Italian with English subtitles, and all directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and forming his famous “trilogy on modernity and its discontents”. According to wikipedia, Antonioni “redefined the concept of narrative cinema” and challenged traditional approaches to storytelling, realism, drama, and the world at large. He produced “enigmatic and intricate mood pieces” and rejected action in favor of contemplation, focusing on image and design over character and story. His films defined a “cinema of possibilities”. Should be interesting. And nice to look at!


Steinbeckathon Parts 1 & 2

Some time last year, after I finished re-reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (a five-star read for me which I reviewed right here), I decided it might be time to focus on this author’s work, re-read some favourites and discover many new-to-me titles. I mentioned this idea over on LibraryThing and quite a few people said they’d like to jump in too, and so the Steinbeckathon was born. A few buddies and I came up with a schedule for the year, thirteen novels in twelve months, highly feasible considering some of his works run no more than 100 pages. I’m a little bit late reporting this, since we started in January of course. Our first work was the short novel Cannery Row in January, which we’ve followed up this month with The Wayward Bus (links lead to the discussion threads). Here are my reviews for those first two novels:

Continue reading

A Change of Plans

I spent a good part of the day with my friend Liselotte today, whom I officially adopted as my surrogate grandmother, since she literally could be at 93 years of age. We were supposed to go to the museum of fine arts to see the latest exhibit and attend some conferences about Lyonel Feininger, who was a very famous artist in Germany at the turn of the 20th century. I’m a little bit shocked that I’d never heard of him before, considering he was a famous cartoonist, then was part of Der Blaue Reiter and taught at Bauhaus among other things, but then, I keep learning something new-to-me every day. Continue reading


My mum sent me the above image link today, which I of course hurriedly followed up on. They have a beautiful selection of children’s and young adult illustrated books; their French byline translates to “Illustrated literature for children, or all those who have been children”. This publishing house based in France has a mandate to promote multiculturalism and as such, pairs Chinese texts and stories with French illustrators in the creation of their titles. I was pleased to discover that I had already picked up one of their books, a sublime affair illustrated by Agata Kawa, called Tigre le dévoué (The Devoted Tiger). You’ll find my short review and some image samples below. I’ve now reserved another one of their titles which I found at the library called Yin la jalouse (Jealous Yin), which will be an introduction for me to the work of illustrator Bobi + Bobi; click on the links to have a look at their sites, which are brimming with wonderful examples of their work. Continue reading

“Mostly Nearly Authentic”

The real thing; NOT taken from tonight's performance.

Well, this evening L and I went to see the Balinese performance and were both immensely disappointed. For starters, it turns out the listing for the show was quite misleading as it was not at all an authentic affair, which came as a huge disappointment and is very strange, considering the event was held at the museum of fine arts, from which one would expect a certain level of excellence. Out of 20 musician, only one was a confirmed Balinese, and maybe one other was (presumably) Indonesian, while all the others were very much local white-as-chalk French Canadian. There were 4 dancers, three of which were from some Asian descent and reasonably good (one had the most amazing hand gestures), while the other a very very tall, very blue-eyed, blonde French woman. The acoustics were not at all right for that kind of music, which sounded like a bunch of loud noise made by countless out of synch percussion instruments, with plenty of cymbals and clanging. When the French dancer came out and did a solo dance in the full Balinese attire, the whole thing just seemed completely incongruous. She was much too tall and all the facial and eye expressions she made just seemed totally ridiculous. The worst part was that she seemed to do a pretty good job of the actual dancing, but it just didn’t come off right at all. Then, to top it all off, one of the troupe’s very nervous members gave not one, but TWO very long, very boring, very inept speeches, mostly in French, which added nothing whatsoever to the performance. He asked the audience to stay after the last dance as the group had apparently prepared “a surprise” for us, and already at that point, I could tell most of the audience wanted to leave, and we were only half an hour into the hour-long affair! And a very long hour it was too. At least the costumes looked good. A couple next to me did leave right before the “surprise” was sprung on us. In one of the two speeches, the so-called presenter actually said that “this show is mostly nearly an authentic Balinese experience”, which made me groan with discouragement. In other words, a major dud. L was especially upset because she felt responsible, since she was the one who had picked out this show for us, but as I said to her, how were we to know we would have this mockery foisted upon us? At least I got to spend some time with my new friend. That was the best part really, along with a simple dinner we had afterward at the Holt Renfrew café. I still hear the clanging noises in my head and just might have nightmares about it. *Big Shudder*