• 2015

Year: 2015

Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection

  Calling all cat-lovers! Recently we had the delightful experience of seeing the “Life of Cats” exhibit at the New York branch of the Japan Society. It’s a beautiful show, greeting us with a custom-made wooden gateway as a portal into the world of cats and the almost irrational, inordinate affection some of us bestow on these sentient beings. The “beckoning cat for good luck” (maneki neko) with its raised right paw is suggested by this amazing gate. The legend is that Japanese merchants carrying Buddhist sutras across the seas from China also brought a few cats who purred their way into...

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Los Angeles Book Festival—Not for Book Lovers Only

The Los Angeles Book Festival attracts approximately 150,000 people each year and is the largest book festival in the country. Not only booksellers, authors, and publishers attend but also musicians, and local artisans who sell food and clothing. Movie stars present their recent memoirs and children’s books they have written. Cooking demonstrations on some stages promote cookbooks. There is even a tent where you can have your name written in Arabic calligraphy. This annual event, sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, is now held on the University of Southern California’s campus. Authors and publishers...

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Step into Nature—Patrice Vecchione

  Recently I attended Patrice Vecchione’s Monterey book launch for Step into Nature, a personal journal of solitary walks in and their influence on her art (as a collage artist and painter) and on her poetry. Step into Nature invites the reader to join her on a quiet and unassuming spiritual journey, a discovery of the symbiosis we share with plants and animals as thinking, feeling creatures. Her book soothes the imagination and brings a Zen-like equilibrium to the reader. The book launch was jointly sponsored by the Carmel Art Association and Pilgrim’s Way Bookstore and Secret Garden....

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“Home on the Range…with Frances”

  We had the good fortune recently to celebrate the culinary fare at two popular San Francisco restaurants, Frances (3870 17th Street) and Range (842 Valencia Street). Both had imaginative menus and we felt so lucky being able to reserve a table on a weekend night. Friday night we dined at Frances, a very small elegant restaurant, not too formal and not pretentious. The key for us is to test the chef’s skills with their small plates. So, we started with bouchées, as distinguished from appetizers. Our party shared the caramelized cipollini onion tart with dates and whipped blue cheese,...

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“Seduction” and “The Printer’s Eye”

Katsukawa Shunshoi More than 200 artworks are now on exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (February 20-May 10, 2015), an exploration of Japanese art and the world of desire (“ukiyo-e”—floating world). Elaborate scrolls, woodblock prints, sculptures, and kimonos are vivid examples of the transient and evanescent world of the senses, particularly the highly rarified courtesan culture for the extremely wealthy samurai and aristocratic classes. As the Buddha famously observed, a lifespan is like writing in water, a moment of illusion and sensory experience soon disappearing. The Yoshiwara...

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“Citizenfour”—Big Brother’s Doppelganger

  Citizenfour This Academy-Award-winning documentary for 2015 opens with a request by Edward Snowden for an encrypted line to ensure his e-mail will not be intercepted and be a target of government surveillance. Calling himself “citizenfour”, only the director Laura Poitras (who also received a Pulitzer) understands the importance of this request and can implement the encryption code easily. Then begins the spellbinding story of Snowden, our decade’s most famous whistleblower, in a Hong Kong hotel room in June 2013.  Citizenfour. “Just walk me through it,” Glenn Greenwald , journalist for...

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