Joseph Conrad

December 3, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Born 3 December, 1857; died 3 August 1924 Mistah Kurtz might be dead, but Joseph Conrad lives on in his great novels: Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Under Western Eyes, The Secret Agent, and, of course, Nostromo. Walter Allen, in The English Novel, thought that a good case could be made out for considering it the greatest novel in English in the 20th Century, a claim made even more remarkable by the fact that English was Conrad’s third language.  A great moraliser (a favourite saying of his was that ‘nobody can escape his fate‘), Conrad could be wise and sharp…

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George H. W. Bush

December 1, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, HISTORY, POLITICS, USA History |

(12 June 1924 to 30 November 2018) Born in Massachusetts, educated at Yale, after flying for the navy in World War II, he became part of the Texas Oil industry, and a lifelong Republican. With experience in Congress, the Diplomatic Corp. and Intel, he was a steady second-in-command to the more flamboyant Reagan, and an obvious choice as his successor to the presidency. He oversaw the end of the Cold War, clipped Saddam Hussein’s wings (but crucially, drew back to allow that dictator to stay in place, ensuring an uneasy balance of power in the Middle East), and was generally…

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So Long, Sisto

November 30, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, CRIME, Ulalume |

Melbourne, November 2018 It might be the first time a restaurateur got a State Funeral, but we won’t fuss because Sisto Malaspina, barista and bartender of Pellegrinis Bar, was a Bourke Street institution, who died needlessly after trying to render assistance to man who appeared to have been injured in a car wreck. The man, 30-year-old Somali-born Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, was an Islamo-nut who had deliberately wrecked the car and ignited gas bottles loaded in the back, after which he set about the street on foot with a knife.  He stabbed Sisto to death, knifed two others, and then danced about…

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Meistersingers of Melbourne

November 27, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

L-R: Daniel Sumegi as Pogner, Warwick Fyfe as Beckmesser, Andrew Jones as Nachtigall, Natalie Aroyan as Eva, Kanen Breen as Moser and Michael Kupfer-Radecky as Hans Sachs

Monday 19 November 2018 (Arts Centre, Melbourne) Royal Opera’s then house director, the notorious Kasper Holten, originally designed this production.  The Spectator’s Michael Tanner declared of the London version, “Nothing could prepare me for so deep an abyss of idiocy.”  We know what he means, but speaking personally, apart from some (very large) grumbles, we were not overly bothered by the sets or the “reinterpretation,” no doubt due to a combination of our own jaundiced lethargy and contempt. Also, Meistersinger is perhaps the only Wagnerian piece which is impervious to Regieoper, even when the Guild Hall in Act I is reconstructed…

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Tutankhamun’s Tomb Desecrated

November 26, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, Non-Fiction, WRITING & LITERATURE |

26 November, 1922 at Luxor: the antechamber to Tutankhamun’s tomb is found, and the tomb is “officially” inspected the following day. Carter wrote: “Slowly, desperately slowly it seemed to us as we watched, the remains of the passage debris that encumbered the lower part of the doorway were removed until at last we had the whole door clear before us. The decisive moment had arrived. With trembling hands I made a tiny breach in the upper left hand corner. Darkness and blank space, as far as an iron testing-rod could reach, showed that whatever lay beyond was empty, and not…

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