Monday, December 31, 2012

Les Misérables

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 
-Victor Hugo, Author of Les Misérables

Click to view full size image

Move over Lawrence of Arabia. For 50 years you've been the benchmark by which all other movies are measured in my mind. You have now have company: "Les Mis".

This is a take a full box- of- tissue- with- you  movie.  Besides being gorgeously filmed, exquisitely scored, greatly cast and filled with little moments that grab the viewer away from the Epic film, this is a movie of great moral clarity. Who isn't hungry for that these days?


This photo of  Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman is from Yahoo movie review. If you are a fan of little factoids, click here and be happy.


Samantha Marks (as Eponine) and Eddie Redmayne (as Marius) are nothing short of astounding.  Their vocalizations alone are reason to buy the soundtrack.

 The only thing which the movie could have used- an intermission. It's not like you can hit the rewind button when nature calls. Which in a theater with the thermostat felt like it was stuck at 27 degrees- putting off that moment until after the film was over was -well- distracting towards the end.

Which is a good reason to purchase the DVD the day it comes out. I will.
*the bottom photo is from the  movie website.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hallelujah- Free Hugs from Sondrio, Italy

Two of God's Great Gifts are music and hugs. Through happiness and hardship, they are best shared.

Lara Fabian. I never heard of her before Judy Duvall forwarded the You Tube Video above.  Miss Fabian's voice... what a wonderful discovery to end the year. 

Ashley Fetters wrote in The Atlantic on the history of how a little known piece simmered in obscurity -only to mature as a bridge between pop and traditional culture. Leonard Cohen said of his lyrics. "There are moments when we can ... reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that's what I mean by 'Hallelujah.'"   Just in case you want to sing along...

"Hallelujah" lyrics by Leonard Cohen. 

I've heard there was a secret chord

That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Wisdom- Beauty as Necessity

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent of praiseworthy- think about such things."
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Merry Christmas. How everything sparkles. 

 Every piece of china and crystal hand-washed and polished. The Christmas decorations rotated in for this brief season.  Usually every room here is decked as the living and dining room, but as with many American families, this is no ordinary year.

This year's holiday is as reverent as it is celebratory.  As much as it is wanted, this time with friends and family is needed.

Newsflash. It is important to note- the world didn't end when the news channels were turned off  in favor of holiday music.  A wise man, Dr. Dan Buffington, advised me during the first Operation Desert Storm; when the world gets scary, turn off the news. Compulsive obsesssion over what we can't control is not healthy.

Humans need beauty. 1800 lights on a single tree almost makes the decorations superfluous. Unless they are personal.  

The angel playing a violin symbolizes the heavenly gift of music. Even Mozart after he was deaf created patterns with music to stir souls hundreds of years after his pasing. If you've lost faith in miracles- think of how unlikely that is.

One of our son's once mentioned that we have the only tree he knew of "decorated in hunting and fishing." These ornaments are reminders of how important wildlife has been to our lives. Long after our last family trip together, these inanimate ornaments hold time still. They are reminders of how important our interaction with the natural world is to who we are today.

The caroler ornament. The year Bob Huff (now our Senator) played piano at my cookie swap, it was the party favor. That was also the year the postman delivered a lovely Christmas Card from some family named Huffington. First names- Arianna and Michael. Never heard of them.

Now these ladies, I not only know-we keep in touch. Every day. ( L-R) Me, Judy Duvall, Edda Gahm and Trisha Bowler. Sue Maxwell lives in Oregon, so she has a valid excuse for not making our Daily Drivel Dames annual luncheon at the Spaghetti Factory in Fullerton):- .
Beauty doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. The photo above is simply a halved out orange filled with vegetable oil, the center gizmo left intact and lit with the same little blow torch used to caramelize the sugar on top of creme brulee. Woudn't it make a lovely night light on a party night?

Stories and Pictures copyright protected by Lydia Plunk

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tragedy ~ The Last Dinner on the Titanic through Sandy Hook

 The Last Dinner on the Titanic is more than a review of the great tragedy of the Edwardian Age. More than the collection of recipes and menus of the different classes aboard the doomed ship, Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley created a beautifully illustrated morality tale. A sample-

"When all the lifeboats had departed, more than half of the Titanic's passengers and crew remained on the ship. One of those was the chief baker. Charles Joughin, who had passed a most eventful night. When first awakened by the impact, he had immediately organized a party of bakers to provision of the lifeboats with any bread they could find. Then he had helped load the boats and even bullied reluctant passengers into leaving the sinking ship... When all the boats were away, Joughin began throwing wooden chairs overboard for use as life rafts...

Passengers crowded to the stern as the bow sank... as the stern lurched and twisted and stood up almost on end. Calmly, almost nonchalantly, he stepped over the starboard rail and began climbing the side of the ship until he stood on the upended stern. He cinched in his lifebelt  as the ship began its plunge, steeped calmly into the water and swam gently away."

He survived several hour in the icy water. Presumably because copious whiskey- drinking acted as anti-freeze. Using the illustration of God as the Potter, we should be comforted in knowing even the most flawed vessel among us has the potential to rise to the occasion.

It was fortunate to have this book on the top of the reading list as our nation is united in mourning for the little children slain at  Sandy Hook Elementary School. We understand the pain  the old testament heroine recorded in Jeremiah 31:15 where

"Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

 We are not alone in this madness. In the 2004 Beslan Massacre in Russia, 334 people perished:186 of them children.  In 2011,  in Norway 77 people were slain, mostly youth at a summer camp.

In the days to follow, once we are clear of the unreliability of breaking news, we will begin to tackle the many elements to break the trend in the US, where Fox News reported 13 mass killings were perpetrated in the United States this year alone. That statistic is alarming and "why" needs to be addressed in order to move on to "what" should be done.

The temptation will be to use the incident to move already existing and competing agendas.  To my way of thinking- in an age of expanding technology- all laws should be periodically reviewed for both effectiveness and current application. 

Gun laws-  There are painful statistics to deal with. There are those adamant that stricter controls are needed. Why should it be easier in some states to buy a gun than it is to adopt a pet?  Others will point out that every household in a very safe country- Switzerland- gun ownership in the home is compulsory.

Mental Health- There are some things of the human condition that pass all understanding. To deal with this, we are going to have to revisit legitimate privacy concerns.

Cultural Desensitisation. The effect of incessant and violent realism in games, music, literature and all media on psyche of young children deserves serious inspection and revelation.  The value of how free speech should be will be a contentious subject.

Journalism. Criminals and perpetrators of evil are encouraged by reinforcing the desire to be famous over the desire to be good. The free press may not be anxious to expand beyond self-regulation.

Not everything that should be done can be done by the government. Only we, as  individuals, can give a hug. Only people can choose to make what might unknowingly be our last words to a loved one be positive.

Christmas is a US Federal holiday. But only people of faith can make the season holy. I pray that anyone who happens here do just that in remembrance  of all the children who ever died younger than whatever you are.