Love and Chaos. Part 9(H) Jake 1

27th September 2021

Photograph by Martin O’Shea 2020

Part Nine. Berlin. Christmas Day 1995

“I couldn’t believe it, fucking hell, man, you know what this crazy bitch woman say ?”

Richard arrived at the Czar Bar just as Johan was delivering these festive felicitations. Jake gave him a nod and Daniel beckoned him over to a free bar stool. It was mid afternoon, there was a mild, happy vibe, no drunken madness, just the buzz of an easy beer or two, or so. And then there was Johan. He was holding court, gesticulating, slamming his bottle down before drinking from it. Daniel turned to Richard;

“’ere’s what you’ve missed. Johan and his girlfriend have split up.”

“No ! When ?”

“Last night.”

Richard asked why and wasn’t prepared for the answer, which Johan himself supplied;

“The whores of Amsterdam !”

The five or six men around the bar laughed. Peter, the one time possible Poseidon, was leaning quietly on the end of the bar and there were a couple of Germans Richard recognised, who smiled at him, raising their bottles. When the laughter died, Daniel was able to elucidate.

“’im and ‘is bird were watching TV last night, and they saw some old clip of Jacques Brel singing ‘Amsterdam’.”

Johan took over;

“Yeah, and he . . .“ here Johan acted out the performance, sans need to exaggerate gestures and expressions. “And this girl, this fucking crazy bitch woman, she say, ‘why he all excited, he only sing about prostitutes ?’ So . . . that it, you know, I tell her, man, she have to go !”

Jake was busy with the tapes and CD’s, looking for some Brel, or at least a Bowie version of ‘Amsterdam’, but the closest he found was Tom Waits, so he played that. He got a fresh beer, made sure everyone was OK for drinks, then called out;

“Hey, Peter, watch the bar, I’ll be right back.” Jake went out the back door and immediately the cry went up for free vodkas, but Peter desisted, taking his new job very seriously. Except when he changed the CD and, selecting a new one, turned it over in his hands, asking;

“Which side do I play ?” then he opened his mouth, missing teeth and all, and laughed.

When Jake returned, Johan and one of the Germans lifted their arms and cried out in happy surprise. Richard turned to see Jake with a guitar.

“I couldn’t find a version on tape, and it’s Christmas, so what the fuck ?”

He turned off the music, tuned up a bit, then began slowly strumming the chords to Amsterdam. His voice was dusky and strained, a little affected but was in tune, and got stronger as the song went on.

When he finished, the bar applauded and demanded more, but instead, Jake turned the music back on, put the guitar in a corner and opened the vodka. Richard stuck with beer, which he drank very slowly.

More people came in, more drinks were poured and the bar split into small groups as Johan joined some French friends, and the Germans left to play Flipper.

Richard called Jake over and congratulated him on his playing. Jake dismissed it with a wave, and launched into an explanation of what the song was really about;

“Yeah, there’s this sailor, and he’s surrounded by the filth of the world, where love is nothing more than a cheap, sordid fuck and people spend all their time just trying to obliterate their minds . . .”

“Sounds like this place,” added Daniel with a laugh, but Jake ignored him, focusing on Richard,

“But this sailor has beauty in his heart, he wants a pure woman, a pure love, he has dreams and ideals and despite everyone trying to drag him down to the gutter, he remains true to himself. And must therefore be alone. Always. Vodka !”

As they clinked Richard, still abstaining from the Stoli, noticed a sadness in Jake’s eyes and understood that Jake was referring more to himself than to any Brel song. Just as Jake often wore a heavy beard to cover up his spots, rashes and eczema, so he adopted a gruff persona to cover up a scarred heart.

At this time, Jake was on at least a bottle of vodka per day, often more. Yet he was legendary in Rigaerstrasse. No one could ever recall seeing Jake sober; alternately, no one had ever seen him hopelessly drunk. He always managed to work to the end. Boris may complain of the mess he left, but the bar was always cleared of sleeping drunks, doors always locked. Chris had lost count of how many times he had been helped up the stairs of his squat by Jake. But also, in all that time, no one had ever seen Jake in a relationship. There had been some usual drunken kisses with drunken squatters, but even these had dried up over the last years. Not that Jake didn’t appreciate women, he always had a comment to make about any woman he saw, never lewd, always respectful judgements.

He had been on his own so long, that he had almost accepted that he always would be despite this being painful and anathema to his romantic spirit, a spirit that longed to take a woman to his bed just to hold her, to love her and feel her love back. He still had faint hopes that he would find someone. Then he remembered his flat. His appearance. Any optimism was crushed. And as it was crushed, a new bottle was opened.

Richard, still refusing vodka, began to leave. He took a look around, thinking that he wouldn’t be back for a long time. He said his goodbyes, responded to Jake’s, “Don’t be a stranger,” with a nod and a commitment to return. Then Daniel stopped him.

“Wait a tic, I’ll walk with ya a bit. Could use some air.”

They walked to Danziger Str, Daniel asking about Johanna.

Richard turned and made the universal sign for ‘no idea’. Daniel put his arm around him then turned the conversation back to himself.

“Me piece comes out in the new year. She wants me to ‘ave a go at poetry, now,” he explained, referring to Jeanette, the editor of Savage Revolt. “Says there’s lots of poetry nights, open mic things around town. Be good to get exposure.”

“Yeah, sounds good.”

“Ya reckon ? Poetry ? Fuck me, I don’t read that faggot shit.”

“It doesn’t have to be all flowers and clouds, you know. Hey, what’s this ?” Richard had seen a small poster for a production of Rimbaud. “And look, it’s in English.”

“Oh, I dunno, it’s some theatre thing. Vincent, yeah ? Jake kinda knows ‘im.”

“Any good ?”

“Only met ‘im once. Right arrogant prick. Total wanker.”

“No, the theatre ?”

“Doubt it.”

“’Season in Hell’. Sounds cheerful. Fancy going ? Mid January.”

“Might as well. ‘ho are these other fucks ? Julie . . . Re . . . torree ? Alan Francis ? Never ‘eard of ’em.”

“I’ll tell Chris. He’ll be up for it. Maybe Jake.” Daniel just snorted. “Yeah. Maybe not.”

“Right, you coming back to the bar, then ?”

“No, think I’ll have an easy evening.” Instead, they found an open Imbiss, had some dreadful fatty food and returned to the bar.

Richard woke up, hungover, headache, hungry, sick and sickened. The fridge was almost empty, the coffee almost gone. This couldn’t continue. The New Year was coming and it had to be different. For Richard’s physical and mental health, it had to be different.

Love and Chaos. Part 9(G) A Christmas Miscellany

24th September 2021

Berlin in winter. Photo by Martin O’Shea

Part Nine. Berlin. December 1995

Sunday morning and the room reeked of hangover.

Richard had to use the bathroom, had to vomit, had to open a window, had to drink litres of designer French water, had to take several aspirins, had to have a blood transfusion, had to be joking to think that this was any sort of life.

Richard could not get out of bed, could not turn or move; who had used his head as a punch bag ? He checked his face. Teeth intact. Stubble, even the stubble stank of old cigarettes, but no discernable cuts, bruises, bleeding.

The room had an unbearage fug of everything that was unholy and unhealthy. He had to open the window but it was minus God-knows what outside. It would purify the stench … or was that sunlight ? There would be no sunlight for at least five months, meanwhile … water.

But every movement resulted in an internal knockout blow to the head. Some inner-cranial entity was hell-bent on kicking the crap out of the back of Richard’s eyes. And he had to vomit. The thought made him want to vomit. He had to use the bathroom. The thought of that made him want to vomit. The infamous, cruel and unusual, you are being held to account, porcelain punishment.

Dreading how much repulsive fluid was able to emerge, projectile or explosive, from this paragon of animals, and what a Styxian stench would engulf the flat, our pilgrim makes the journey, more or less on his knees, to the bathroom, and we shall close the door on that chapter and return when sufficient ablutions have been made.

London, the clocks one hour behind. Chris woke up in Battersea, in Melanie’s flat. She sat on his bed as he drank his tea. There was toast with jam and marmalade waiting. Later they could go into the West End, take in a museum, see a film, have a beer and talk over old times. The room had central heating, the flat had a newly-painted feel, everything seemed so clean, ordered and organised.

London, several miles north in Chalk Farm, Alan was nursing a cold in his sister Jo’s flat. How could he have been such an idiot as to go walking, in the Berlin winter, knowing he had a late flight that evening. Freezing streets, overheated U-Bahns, chilly airport lounges, a stifling cramped sweaty plane, draining immigration, bedlam at baggage and then … and then the long journey on the London Tube. After several teas, lots of sympathy noises, and a potential overdose of Lemsip, Alan screened the Super 8 film.

“She’s gorgeous, that Julie. You little tinker, you ! I told you Berlin would do you the world of good.”

Back on Berlin time, Daniel Roth was reflecting on his night out. Instead of hitting the Czar Bar, or meeting workmates in some lifeless stuffy time-frozen 70s style pub, he went solo, trying some bars around Yorckstrasse. New year, new start. He restricted himself to wine, and experimented holding his cigarette in different styles. He didn’t want to look too affected or effeminate, yet he succeeded in being both. However, he did end up chatting with two German girls and could feel them about to succumb to his charms, giving him a double Weihnachten (Christmas) gift, until they linked arms and departed. Daniel spent the rest of the evening drinking with the old Turkish barkeeper, whose face seems inscribed with wisdom, gentleness and experience. He thought back over his conversation with Jeanette, and his killer put down.

His feet were fast freezing, coins devoured by the phone box, Jeanette’s voice exuding warmth, comfort, opulence.

“We absolutely adored it, there’s no question, no question at all that it meets our criteria, only, well, how shall I put it delicately ? Daniel, it is a little near the bone for some of our board. I’m sure you know the section to which I allude.”

Daniel paused for effect.

“The magazine’s called ‘Savage Revolt’.”

A few seconds of silence.

“Do you know, you are absol…, no, quite right, we have an obligation to the artist, and … and, if certain people don’t wish to read it, they don’t have to, yes, yes. Let’s do it. I’m going to go to bat for you.”

“Unedited ?”

“Unedited, you have my word. Now, my young Hemingway, what are you doing on Silvester ? I’m having a little soiree and you simply must come. There’s a lot of people that want to meet you.”

Sunday afternoon, Daniel found one of the few Lebensmittel open and bought more wine, Sekt, chocolate, tins of goulash, giant tins of soup, cigarettes, cigarette papers, factory-produced bread and cake-type items, then returned home. He was going to read some books Chris had loaned him, maybe write a follow-up story. It seemed official. He was going to be published, and people wanted to meet him. Controversial already. But, it was Berlin. Maybe it was all just so much bullshit. He opened the wine, opened Dickens, took a swig straight from the bottle and thought, “Fuck me !”

“Fucking hell, never, never, never again,” announced Richard to no one in particular, as there was no one with him, save the Tasmanian devil running amok inside his brain. He had finished the water, and was now settling down for a day of mint tea and self-recrimination.

Serves him right for expecting anything good to happen in this shit city, in this shit life. He had hoped that he would be waking up, snuggling up, to Johanna.

At least this time he couldn’t blame himself for being drunk or too forward or not forward enough. He had been at the bar early, and waited. And waited … and waited. Johanna had stood him up.

Merry fucking Christmas

Education is everything

23rd September 2021

Post image
The fictional Sam Seaborn, played by Rob Lowe

Written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of ‘The West Wing’.

Teaching is exhausting; it requires Herculean feats of strength, mental and physical, and the compassion of the Buddha.

Teaching can be soul-destroying; it requires the wisdom of Solomon and the tolerance of Job.

Teachers can be disrespected, ignored and insulted.

Teacher reviews may be gauged on how popular they are, how many games they play, not on how much they teach or how many students actually pass.

But teachers can also change lives.

That is what makes it worthwhile.

We need to change more lives.

“We need gigantic monumental changes.”

IELTS Oral Test: A refresher

17th September 2021

IELTS reading, paraphrasing, skimming, scanning in IELTS reading. IELTS  academic and general exam.

Tomorrow I have a class taking their IELTS speaking test. Thus, I present a reminder about what you need to say in order to:

ace the test

pass with flying colours

hit that baby right out of the ballpark

I will be listening for the following:

  1. Fluency – use of discourse markers. WITHOUT A WIDE RANGE OF DISCOURSE MARKERS YOU WILL NOT GET HIGHER THAN A ‘5’.
  2. Lexical resources – Low-frequency words (big words). Know synonyms and multi-syllable words to impress the examiner. Not to mention, a sprinkling of idioms, phrases, phrasal verbs. Paraphrasing is very important
  3. Grammar – it’s OK to make a few mistakes, grammatically, but what we want to hear are complex structures – basically, altering the structure of a sentence or including several pieces of information in one sentence by using relative pronouns.
  4. Stress and intonation – listen to native speakers and COPY how we speak, when we stress words, when we ‘swallow’ letters, our body language.

To elucidate:

Fluency – Ability to speak at length without noticeable effort. A good range of discourse markers and connectives. Answer is coherent and pertinent. Self-correction is totally acceptable.

Lexical Resources – A wide vocabulary to cover a variety of topics. Low-frequency words. Ability to form collocations. Use of everyday as well as less common idioms and expressions. Paraphrasing, by which I mean rephrase the question you have been asked – don’t just repeat the exact wording.

Grammatical Range – A combination of simple and complex sentences. Generally error-free. Verb tenses must be correct, and subject must agree with verb form.

Pronunciation – Must be clear and easily understood. Effective use of stress, intonation and rhythm. If you are telling a happy story, sound happy.

I have a whole range of blogs to assist, and you can find the index for IELTS here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/04/subject-index-ielts-themes-language-exercises-2/

Some specific blogs that may be of some help:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/07/26/ielts-how-to-pass-with-flying-colours/

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/10/12/ielts-8-1-2-chasing-8-1-2/

For specific help with Part III of the Oral Test: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/15/ielts-speaking-test-part-3-how-to-nail-it/

To help with L-FWs & expressions: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/01/27/ielts-vocabulary-boosting-fixed-expression-theres-nothing-i-like-more/

Sterling Ielts School Student Png Images - Ielts Students Images Png  Transparent PNG - 378x456 - Free Download on NicePNG
Good luck – Best of British !

Greek Myths: The hubris of Oedipus

16th September 2021

Oedipus | Story, Summary, & Facts | Britannica
Oedipus and the Sphinx. Representation on a cup circa 470 BCE, now in the Vatican Museum, Rome.

Oedipus, along with Sisyphus, Achilles and Odysseus, is a figure from Greek myth who is part of our modern psyche. His story, whose key points are widely known, belongs to our collective cultural history; he lends his name to a psychological complex. In philosophy, Oedipus can be discussed as a case of free will versus determinism.

Oedipus was certainly no hero in the Theseus or Perseus mold. An argument could be made that he was no hero at all, but a tragic figure. However, he was strong enough to overcome four royal guards single-handedly, and intelligent enough to solve the riddle of the Sphinx, thereby freeing the people of Thebes.

A warrior (like Achilles), an strategist (like Odysseus), a character doomed for unimaginable punishment (like Sisyphus) ? We see what a complex character Oedipus is, and why he still holds our interest and awe.

The Complex Case of Romanian Folklore in Pasolini's Oedipus Rex | The Attic
Oedipus Rex by Pier Paolo Pasolini 1967

So, the key points, what the ‘average person’ knows about Oedipus:

He killed his father and slept with his mother

He solved the Riddle of the Sphinx

Some background is necessary. Some clarification is absolutely necessary.

Firstly, he unwittingly killed his father (King Laius; I shall elucidate later). Secondly, as a reward for freeing Thebes from the curse of the Sphinx, Oedipus was given Queen Jocasta, Laius’ widow, to wed. The patricide and insest were commited freely. Or were they ? Oedipus had been told that he would kill his father and marry his mother, which is exactly what happened, despite his determination to prove the prophecy false.

Therefore, it is my contention that Oedipus was punished for having the hubris to believe that he could defy fate. Yet, the question remains: why was Oedipus fated for such a punishment ? For that, we have to go back a generation and learn about his father, King Laius of Thebes.

Oedipus: Map of Thebes and Corinth

Laius was from the House of Thebes and, as a young man, left his home town and stayed in Elis with King Pelops, a grandson of Zeus and son of Tantalus (but that is another story). Laius was a guest, and became tutor to Pelops’ son Chrysippus. Laius committed the unpardonable sins of abducting and raping the boy. For this he was cursed. Should he ever have a son, that child would murder him, then marry the widow. Despite Laius forcing himself to decline the pleasure of his wife, nature, to employ a phrase, took its course. A son was born, a son that Laius demanded be left alone on a mountain, his feet pinned together.

Salvator Rosa Beach Towel featuring the painting The Abandoned Oedipus by Salvator Rosa
Oedipus abandoned, a print on a beach towel. A perfect illustration of how the myth permeates our culture.

The shepherd charged with this duty gave the baby to a friend from Corinth, where the baby was adopted by the childless King Polybus and Queen Meriope. The child was named Oedipus, meaning swollen foot (and from which we get the medical term oedema, swelling in the feet and ankles) [1]. Oedipus loved and was loved by his parents, and all was well in Corinth. Until, that is, a drunken man told Oedipus the truth, that he was not the natural child. Polybus and Meriope denied this, but Oedipus (in perhaps his first mistake, not believing his parents) travelled to the Oracle at Delphi to learn the truth. His origin was confirmed, and his fate, to kill his father and marry his mother, was proclaimed.

Delphi, home of the famous oracle

In an attempt to avoid this prophecy, Oedipus travelled instead to Thebes. On this journey, he met a carriage coming towards him. Either the driver grazed him, struck him, or demanded that he yield and give way. This infuriated Oedipus, and a fight ensued. In the carriage was an old man; King Laius. The King and all his guards, all but one of the retinue, were slain by Oedipus for their disrespectful treatment of a king’s son.

The Murder of Laius by Oedipus by Joseph Blanc 1867

Whether he was brave to refuse this slight, or flawed by an uncontrollable albeit understandable anger, Oedipus had unwittingly fulfilled the first part of the prophecy.

Continuing on to Thebes, Oedipus encountered the Sphinx and solved the riddle (which I’m sure you are all familiar with). Defeated, the Sphinx killed herself and, as mentioned earlier, Oedipus was given the widowed Queen Jocasta. The had four children and all was well. For a time. A plague decimated Thebes, and it would not abate until the murderer of Laius was found and punished. Eventually, it was revealed that Oedipus was the killer. Jocasta hanged herself, Oedipus blinded himself and went into self-imposed exile, wandering the countryside and dying just outside Athens.

Oedipus Rex Fimonoi Athens
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Performed by the Fimonoi Theatre Group in Athens, Greece

The Greek myths, unlike theological texts such as the Talmud, Bible and Koran, are incredibly flexible and varied, altering from city to city, as well as over time. Just how much people believed or accepted them will never be known, but many people would have been aware of the more famous myths.

Many myths that involve retribution, such as are found in Ovid’s ‘Metamorphosis’ are read as cautionary tales. Someone, a mortal, displayed a weakness that was so offensive they were punished. Some punishments were extremely harsh, but the reason could be clearly discerned. But how to understand Oedipus ? What, in fact was his digression ?

His fate was stated before he had done anything wrong. Maybe he didn’t accept his parent’s explanation, but that seems more contrary to Confucianism and filial piety. Greek myths are full of family in-fighting. He refused to yield to the carriage of King Laius and that pride led to fighting and murder, yet that could be attributed to self defense. Oedipus’ only fault seems to have been simply existing. Laius angered the gods. Why punish the son ?

I have read that some contemporary Greeks apparently thought the same, and began questioning the veracity of gods, myths and society. Such a harsh punishment for a young man who had rid a city of a curse made little if any sense. The psychological trauma would be unimaginable, which may explain the need to self mutilate, physical pain to numb the mental anguish.

To conclude, I am left to assert that Oedipus’ only crime was to try to defeat fate, to have the hubris to feel that a mere mortal, a king’s son notwithstanding, had the power to change the will of the gods. He honoured his father and mother but at the expense of the Immortals. Oedipus refused to accept his fate, for that he was doomed.

What else could Oedipus have done ? Should he have ignored the prophecy, or resign himself to the outcome ? The debate continues.

Stravinsky rehearsing his Oedipus Rex opera, first performed in 1927
Product - Wheelers for Schools

[1] Some scholars question this etymolgy.

Sources

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Oedipus-Greek-mythology

https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/862997/pages/the-story-of-oedipus?module_item_id=4891933

https://www2.classics.upenn.edu/myth/php/tragedy/index.php?page=thebes

https://www.softschools.com/examples/literary_terms/hamartia_examples/257/

Zoom Rules Revisited

11th September 2021

A polite note for your consideration

The employer is responsible for providing a safe working environment for staff.

In the physical workspace, the teacher should not be physically or verbally harmed in any way.

Kicking, hitting, being jumped on etc are unacceptable, and the offender needs to be punished.

In the online workspace, the teacher should not be expected to work with an unreasonable amount of background noise.

TAs and senior staff need to be more proactive in both recognising and addressing these problems.

The situation is clearly very stressful for all involved.

Let’s work together and make classes a fun, happy and, most importantly, appropriate place for learning.

Suggestions:

Any student in a noisy environment should have their mic muted.

Any student who interrupts the class on a regular basis will be placed in the Waiting Room. Repetition of the offense will result in the student being barred from the class.

Postscript

I have happy to report that my centre has taken action, and changes were implemented within a few hours of this posting. My Manager is pretty amazing that way – your help and input can not be overstated. Thank you.

Jean-Paul Belmondo R.I.P.

8th September 2021

On Monday 6th September Jean-Paul Belmondo, icon of French Cinema, passed away. Jean-Paul, who was 88, worked with many of the top names in French Cinema: Jean-Pierre Melville, with Francois Truffaut, Alain Resnais, Claude Chabrol, Claude Lelouche, with Agnes Varda and Louis Malle. With Jean-Luc Godard, the director with whom he will always be associated.

Noir City International
Le Doulos 1962

Belmondo was much more than an actor; he was a star. His charisma and screen presence was inimitable. In the three films he made with Godard, he portrayed a petty criminal being hunted by the police (‘A Bout de Souffle’), a lovable rogue with a flair for comedy and dance (‘Une Femme est une Femme’) and an existential adventurer on the road to freedom (‘Pierrot le Feu’). With these three film alone, Belmondo became a part of Cinema history.

Une femme est une femme: the places documented - The Cine-Tourist
Une Femme est une Femme 1961

What are their plans for the evening ? Belmondo wants to watch a film on TV “With my friend Burt Lancaster.” He turns to the camera and smiles.

Such a scene is typical of the Nouvelle Vague, the French New Wave of Cinema that wanted to move away from studio sets and unrealistic dialogue. It was youth, energy, charm in abundance, and it was referential and respectful to Cinema and filmmaking. We hear projectors whirl, clapperboards clapping, calls for “Lights, cameras, action.” Characters were named after directors (in the above scene, Belmondo is named after the German director Ernst Lubitsch), they would turn to the camera and address the audience. Cinema was fun, it was life, “In a word ’emotion’,” and we were all invited. Fifty years later, the films retain this exuberance, this spirit, this joie de vivre.

Stavisky - Film d'Alain Resnais - Critique
Stavisky 1974

Belomondo’s performances contribute to this magic because, for me, that is exactly what Cinema is, what it should be – pure magic.

Jean-Paul died aged 88, so at that age, death is not a tragedy. The tragedy is that he is irreplaceable. His persona was unique. So unique. For many cineastes, he is part of our cultural DNA, his work is ineffably part of our lives, which he enriched.

If you’re not familiar with Jean-Paul’s work, here’s a good place to start, some clips from fifteen of his films:

Just in July, I posted a blog about a reunion Belmondo had with fellow French icon Alain Delon, a post that may be accessed here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/07/12/quest-ce-que-le-cinema-belmondo-delon/

Suggested Viewing:

À bout de souffle 1960 Une femme est une femme 1961 Pierrot le Fou 1965 all directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Le Doulos 1962 directed by Jean-Pierre Melville

La Sirène du Mississippi 1969 directed by Francois Truffaut

Les Misérables 1995 directed by Claude Lelouche

Goodbye Jean-Paul. Merci pour tout

Jean-Paul Belmondo at worst? Close friend discusses rumors of alarming  health

Jean-Paul Belmondo 9th April 1933 – 6th September 2021

Lee Eun-ju: A Korean Star

3rd September 2021

As a prelude to some blogs about my favourite Korean films, I would like to post a little tribute to one of my favourite actors, Lee Eun-ju (also known as Lee Eun-joo). The actress, who was also a talented pianist, appeared in some of my favourite Korean films of the early 2000s.

Lee Eun Joo - mỹ nhân tự sát sau cảnh nóng, gây thương xót suốt 14 năm

Lee Eun-ju was born in Gunsan, south-west Korea, on December 22nd 1980, and studied piano when she was at school. At sixteen, she won a modelling contest. From there, she moved into TV dramas and then movies.

One of her earliest roles was in Hong Sang-soo’s ‘Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors” (2000). This art film, shot in black & white, tells the story of how two people meet, and is told in flashbacks showing different perspectives and while some events are similar, others are very different.

The film is one of my top Korean movies. Anthony Leong writes that Lee Eun-ju “delivers the standout performance,” and her charisma is “one of the highlights,” of the film.

S. Korean Star Lee Eun Joo has Commited Suicide - Ent_Pic - Pictures -  Newsgd

The following year, Lee Eun-ju appeared in the reincarnation love-story, ‘Bungee Jumping of their Own’ (2001). She plays a shy girl who falls in love, eventually, with a young man with whom she shares an umbrella during a storm. However, after planning to meet one day, she fails to appear and is never seen again. I will not spoil the film (too much) but many years later, the young man, now a teacher, meets a boy student who shares many of his old lover’s mannerisms.

Lee Eun Joo - Tin tức mới nhất 24h qua - VnExpress

The theme of boy meets girl – falls in love – one of them dies is stepped up a notch in another one of my personal favourite Korean films, ‘Lovers’ Concerto’ (2002). I even watched it (again) last night, to prepare for this blog. Lee Eun-ju shows her acting skills, as she portrays a young lady who is by turns spoilt, unreasonable, tender, loving and so fragile. With her charm and charisma, she really lights up the screen.

Unfortunately, Lee Eun-ju found her last film, The Scarlet Letter’ (2004) a very traumatic experience, along with the subsequent poor reception and backlash. The film, her family assert, caused her to fall into a deep depression, exacerbated by insomnia. On February 22 2004, Lee Eun-ju took her own life. She was only twenty-four.

Lee Eun-joo - Photo Gallery (故 이은주) @ HanCinema

How heartbreaking that someone with so much to offer should be so unhappy. How heartbreaking to think of all the films she could have made. How amazing that an actress with just thirteen film credits should be in two of my absolute favourites.

Thank you so much … miss you so much

매우 감사합니다 ... 당신이 너무 그리워

Lee Eun-ju 1980 – 2004

Grasshopper Educational: 121 Minutes to 180 Minutes
Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000)
Bungee Jumping of Their Own (Region-All)
Bungee Jumping of Their Own (2001)
Lover's Concerto - AsianWiki
Lovers’ Concerto (2002)

Sources

Leong, Anthony C.Y. ‘Korean Cinema: The New Hong Kong’ (2002) Trafford

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Eun-ju#Life_and_career

https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=vi&u=https://zingnews.vn/lee-eun-joo-my-nhan-tu-sat-sau-canh-nong-gay-thuong-xot-suot-14-nam-post919445.html&prev=sear

Charlie Watts R.I.P

30th August 2021

Charlie Watts, the Unlikely Soul of the Rolling Stones - The New York Times

Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to another beloved musician. Last Tuesday Charlie Watts drummer with the Rolling Stones passed away in London.

I was lucky enough to see the Stones twice, in football grounds (Wembley in London, and in Copenhagen), but I also saw Charlie in a much smaller London theatre where he performed a tribute to Jazz legend Charlie Parker. Apart from being a Rock ‘n’ Roll legend, Charlie was a Jazz lover, and played with small groups and big bands.

Charlie Watts: a rock'n'roll legend whose true love was jazz | Charlie Watts  | The Guardian

Stones guitarist Keith Richards posted this image:

Image

Goodbye Charlie xoxo

Charlie Watts (2nd June 1941 – 24th August 2021)

My ‘to read’ list:

29th August 2021

The Library of Alexandria

The tip of the tip of the iceberg; a handful of books that I would like to read over the next year or so. All depends on time, energy and availability. Be that as it may, here’s a short selection:

Guy Debord (1931 – 1994, France)

First up, the French artist and philosopher Debord who was part of the Situationist International (a group of intellectuals and artists) from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. His most famous work is from 1967, ‘Society of the Spectacle’ which analyses aspects of post-war society from a Marxist viewpoint (of course, the book is much more complex than that, but I want to keep this blog short and concise).

Ryszard Kapuściński (1932 – 2007, Poland)

A poet and journalist, Kapuściński was considered for a Noble Prize. ‘Another day of Life’ from 1976 is an account of the civil war in Angola.

Madeline Miller (Born 1978, USA)

I read the Classics at University, and still love the myths of Ancient Greece and Rome. ‘Circe’ from 2018, is regarded in some circles as one of the best books of the 2010 – 2020 decade, and has been described as a feminist retelling of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’.

Ruth Ozeki (Born 1956, USA)

I read about this book while searching for Post-Post-Modern fiction (i.e. who are the present-day equivalents of David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers et al). This novel sounds extremely interesting, telling the story of a teenage girl in Japan who keeps a diary which is eventually found by a Japanese-American writer in the USA, washed ashore in the aftermath of a tsunami.

Oswald Spengler (1880 – 1936, Germany)

Oswald Spengler, Democracy and Equality" - Thomas F. Bertonneau - YouTube

I did start this massive two-volume history of the world (published in 1918 & 1922) many years ago back in London, a short loan from the local library but wasn’t able to finish it in time. Maybe this is one for retirement; a comfy chair, some tea and no screaming students. Sounds like Paradise.

Oswald Spengler and 'Faustian culture' | Faustian Europe

Ronald Sukenick (1932 – 2004, USA)

An author of whom I’ve only recently become aware, Sukenick began writing in the late 1960s, mixing cultural theory, fiction and metafiction. One review states that his writing was Post-Modernist before the term had been invented. ‘Up’, published in 1968 challenges or even rejects conventional fiction writing. If you like Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller & Vladimir Nabokov, this could be for you.

20 Quotes About Reading By Some Of The Greatest Minds Of All Time | BOOKGLOW