Friday, September 28, 2012

Lover's Concerto

Lover's Concerto Kelly Chen version on YouTube

3:33 a.m.
Vaguely I remember having heard Lover's Concerto for the first time way back in third grade. It was 1965 and a classmate seemed to know the lyrics to the catchy tune, which had been dominating air time then. I  encountered the tune recently in a splendid HBO presentation of the film Mr. Holland's Opus. Music teacher Glenn Holland, played by Richard Dreyfuss, played the tune in 3/4 beat on piano and asked his class for the title of the song; most answered Lover's Concerto. "Wrong," he said, "it's Bach's Minuet in G." The minuet is faster than the modern Concerto's 4/4 beat.

How gentle is the rain
That falls softly on the meadows
Birds high up on the trees
Serenade the trees with their melodies...

The playful lilt and cadence of the "hook-laden" lyrics, as intended, latched onto my schoolboy memory, to be held to finer scrutiny by Google, YouTube, and Wikipedia decades later, after I saw Mr. Holland's Opus, which replaced Close Encounter of the Third Kind as my favorite Richard Dreyfuss film.

Here's a scene from that film:

Mr. Holland was talking about music, but he might as well expounding on all the arts -- painting, sculpture, dance, architecture, dance, anything that makes life worthwhile, beautiful, and, as the song says, just as wonderful.

When I go through the Lover's Concerto lyrics, I remember the laughter induced by the zany poems of Lewis Caroll and William Lear, who appear in my mind  is transmuted into simple delight by the song, particularly the Kelly Chen version in YouTube. Images from old memories made vivid by technology. Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Twitter of birdsongs. Treasures everywhere.

Monday, September 17, 2012

One perfect day

It seems that when we come of age and shed the naïveté of youth, we lose the ability to go through a single day without encountering a minor hitch or Stresstab-reaching crisis.

For example, you are with your fiancee in your car, driving in the rain when a tire blows: that's a hitch. You're changing the #%¥* tire by the side of the road when three men appear and offer to help you by, relieving you of that new but troublesome car (as soon as you replace that flat with the spare), and those extraneous cash, ATM and credit cards -- hey, nice shoes! Is that the new iPhone? -- and the Rolex, that nice gold tiepin, and that Cartier lighter. They leave the pack of Marlboro in your pocket -- they are "menthol" guys. That, I think, qualifies as a big-time crisis.

Oho! you have just passed a stress management seminar, and this present crisis can be hurdled. Yes, you may call the banks to invalidate those ATM and credit cards. The insurance company can easily handle the case of the new but stolen car immediately, if only those #&%*s haven't taken your brand-new, top-of-the-line, expensive mobile phone. Oh, the shoes can be replaced, and you can walk in the invigorating rain. What a guy! That's the attitude, dude!

"Hey! Where's my girl?" You see, the fiancee, the girl in the car, has recognized one of the #&%s who relieved the stress manager of his car, cash, cards and blings. She had a crush on that particular goon all those years in high school. In fact she realized that her ardor has not waned for that kind of guy -- tall, y'know, muscular, with that fuzz on the chin, and that bad-boy sneer that melts her soul. What else could she have done but ride away with the gang. But not before she asked one of the goons to return her newly ex's shoes. She hates those two-toned Italian wingtips.

Definitely not a perfect day. Our stress manager at least has his shoes back. He says he will take a stroll to his condo unit (located on the seventh floor of those posh locales), take a bottle of Stresstab, another bottle of Rivotril, a pad of Valium caps, and then jump into the pool down below. Hope he does not leave a messy splatter if his aim is off. That may ruin the groundskeeper's day.

It's not going hunkydory for the three #&%s, either. They got their loot, all right, but they did not expect to add their victim's ex-fiancee as moll to their peaceful gang. A dame always spells TROUBLE, all caps. That gang is doomed. And this runaway fiancee, what will her socialite friends and relatives think? Her escapade will surely distract them from enjoying the topless photos of Princess Kate, who lately has been having a series of imperfect days of her own.

If I can have one perfect day, I will give it to God, who day in and day out has to face millions of prayers and petitions from troubled souls, including that jilted carless, iPhoneless, loveless victim, even those goons and their socialite moll, and the naked princess, and Mark Zuckerberg and the billion Facebookers, not one who will enjoy a perfect day.

I believe even God must have a break, one perfect day.

I took a nap in the afternoon, and in my dream I heard a voice say: "Thank you for the offering, my son, but I cannot take that away from you. You see, one perfect day for me is Eternity."

Friday, September 7, 2012


Young Tintin

3:46 a.m.
What do kittens, alone in the dark, think about? A few minutes ago, Tintin climbed on the bed, then walked over my tummy. I gave her a few sleepy strokes on the chin, she gave me some playful bites which I thought were preludes to friendly wrestling and tumbles: I tickle her tummy while her legs kick in the air, sometimes wrapping around my fingers.

My eyes open and I notice it's getting light outside. Where's Tintin? First place I look for is above the headboard, there on the window sill where the bottom slat of jalousie was removed to give more space to generation of Ragdolls and Persians raised in our room.

Tintin just sits there on her hindlegs, quietly thinking kitten thoughts, just sitting, thinking. With a distant look, she surveys the small realm of her existence. How she has grown in 90 days! Sometimes I see her stride across the room with graceful maturity, as her ancestors did thousands of years ago, in now-forgotten African jungles or in the shades of Egyptian palaces. I imagine thousands of her forebears still lie with pharaohs in undisturbed pyramids under shifting desert sands.

My hand reaches out to Tintin, outlined by the false dawn against the jalousie. She acknowledges my greeting with gentle bites, then with some proprietary licks which seem to convey: "When was your last bath? You smell ripe, you know. Let me groom you up a bit. When mommy Mau wakes up ask her to teach you how to be presentable. Meanwhile, my love will see you through."

Tintin is asleep now, a lovely bundle in the window. So solitary, her mind so at peace. I follow her lead. Even kittens have more sense than me.

Mention of shifting desert sand made me think of  Ozymandias, my favorite Shelley Poem:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Tintin on Leena's bag
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.