For Schubert

When I was in high school orchestra, we played and performed the first movement of Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. Like other orchestral pieces I played in high school, I remember it (or at least, I remember the 2nd violin part) decently well, many years and two long breaks from the violin later.

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Thursday Doors: Advent

Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation and waiting. Contrary to popular belief and advertising, the Twelve Days of Christmas take place after Christmas, not before: from December 25 through Twelfth Night on January 5th, ending with Epiphany on January 6th.

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Mundane Monday: Backstage

On Saturday night, I played the viola in a concert called Holiday Magic with the Nova Vista Symphony and the Vivace Youth Chorus of San Jose.  The performance, of holiday music both religious and secular was in a large domed church sanctuary.

The orchestra and choir assembled in the center, and behind us was a large cross and semi-transparent curtain blocking the view of the backstage area from the audience. Just before we went onstage, I took this picture, which looks a little like the snow we don’t get in the SF Bay area, and captured the mystery and wonder of the music we were about to experience.

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For the Mundane Monday challenge #87: find beauty in everyday mundane things and frame it beautifully and upload the photographs.

Film Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

As the newest film set in the Harry Potter universe and J.K. Rowling’s screenplay debut, Fantastic Beasts has gotten a lot of hype, and quite a bit of criticism too for too much detail, plot holes, unclear motivations, and uneven pacing. My own kids and I were a bit confused when we went the first time, but that didn’t stop both of the kids from seeing it again with friends.

It is a visually arresting film, and I enjoyed the experience of watching it.  With the twisted cities of Doctor Strange still in my mind’s eye from the week before, the scenes of mayhem in old New York in Fantastic Beasts made an impressive counterpoint. I know the Harry Potter timeline and universe pretty well and so I also appreciated the world-building and the background to the more well known events from the HP books and movies.

Thematically, much of this debate about “craft” may be interesting, but beside the point. In this film Rowling returns to a theme that may ultimately define her body of work: the plight of wronged, abused children, the incompetent and/or evil adults who fail them, and the others who try to make it right. In the modern HP timeline, Voldemort/Tom Riddle came out of such a situation. In this film, and in other more recent work (notably, A Casual Vacancy) adults explicitly manipulate and use children to their own ends, and end up not only destroying the children’s innocence but unleashing a chaotic evil upon the world that can no longer be controlled.

This theme is rich, but sometimes, in Rowling’s hands, too simple–especially when the adults become caricatures. Newt Scamander is a worthy and well-meaning hero but IMO he needs more to do and to learn before this series can do justice to its ambition. The children are watching.

Thursday Doors: Pitzer College

This week’s Thursday Doors post shows more photos from our Thanksgiving trip to Southern California. We were on the beach and at a buffet dinner, but we were also checking out some college campuses for our 17-year-old daughter next year. (This trip is also why I missed Thursday Doors entirely last week).

One of these campuses was Pitzer College, a small liberal arts school in Claremont. It is part of the Claremont consortium, which also includes Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd. As a former East Coast girl, I had not heard of Pitzer until recently, when several college counselors recommended it to my daughter. My daughter is interested in small liberal arts schools, and this group of colleges seems to have the best of both worlds: a small liberal arts environment coupled with the ability to take courses and utilize resources at any of the five colleges in the consortium.

Pitzer has a strong emphasis on ecology, the environment, and sustainability. Here is a wall garden, right next to a door (yes, those plants are growing horizontally):

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They also have an organic garden on campus, with a chicken coop:

chicken coop

And a bike repair and recycle shop:Green bike program

And their students seem to have a healthy sense of self-expression, which you can see in the murals on campus:

Mural over Mead Hall Door

I have to say, the most interesting thing about these doors at Pitzer is not the doors themselves, but what is above, below, next to, or behind them!