Parsifal Swans in to Sydney

August 15, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, RELIGION, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

"Give me an hour, and you'll forget all about that silly mug..." (Temptation of Percival by Arthur Hacker, 1894)

(Concert version, Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, 14 August 2017) We landed in Sydney secure in the knowledge that Jonas Kaufmann was already here and in fine form.  Out initial impressions of Sydney town c. 2017 were as favourable as always, except for the subsequent days when “strategic, environmental burn-offs” doused all in plumes of thick blue smoke, smoke much less tasty than that found second-hand in a cigar bar. In any case: Parsifal. This, Wagner’s “work of farewell to the world” has managed to become P’s favourite Wagner Opera, despite Tristan, despite Meistersinger, yes, even despite the Ring. Its music is so…

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Fetch a Rope!

July 5, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian Politics, LIFE, RELIGION, Ulalume |

Historical sex charges are problematic.  These types of antique sexual allegations are awfully easy to make, awfully serious, and awfully hard to refute. There always are metaphorical torches carried in the streets (in the middle of the day) for those charged. People write with relish at the thought of a show trial; they say they have always known the truth about the accused, whom, while ladled with qualifications that “X denies the charges, which are yet to be proven,” nevertheless are pinned with labels such as “paedophile” and “monster.” These witch hunts (“Gee, a high-placed religioso is charged, so let’s throw him in a pond to see…

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Monkeying About

water-colour of Charles Darwin by George Richmond

May 5, 1925: Teacher John Scopes is charged with having taught evolution in a Tennessee school. Originally designed as a means of putting the town of Dayton on the map, the case became a circus when Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan rolled into town as defence and prosecuting counsel.  The whole affair became a hoary old film of which The Varnished Culture has previously spoken. Scopes was convicted and fined $100 (which was overturned on appeal because, unusually, the penalty had to be stipulated by the jury rather than the trial judge). But Dayton did great business that summer….

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A Hung Jury on Global Warming?

February 20, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, POLITICS, RELIGION, Ulalume |

"What did South Australians use before Tom gave them candles? Electricity."

16 February 2017. Twelve years to the day since ‘implementation’ of the Kyoto Protocol.* You and I sit in a jury box. We have only just met. We bring to our mutual task our life experience and understanding of the ways of the world, our endogenous prejudices, and our gut feelings. The Judge sends us into our room charged to answer whether we are amid an interglacial, or, rather, is the globe warming – are anthropogenic CO2 emissions causing or contributing to this warming – and does this pose a clear and imminent danger, on the balance of probabilities? So we…

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A Mighty Heart

February 1, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, POLITICS, RELIGION, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Michael Winterbottom) (2007) Daniel Pearl was an American Bureau Chief for The Wall Street Journal, based in India, who had gone to Karachi in January 2002 for what he thought was an interview, but was probably a set-up.  He was abducted and held hostage by Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, ostensibly for ransom, probably for terror.  Nine days later, on 1 February 2002, Pearl was beheaded, and the atrocity was captured on film. A Mighty Heart is a film that concentrates on the frantic efforts of his wife, Marianne, to find him during those nine days.           Adapted from the…

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