Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tanya Tomkins Salon at the Rex

Tanya Tomkins at Salon at the Rex photo bcd49c4b-c4b4-45a8-974a-0f065ce49760_zps11fbf2bf.jpgWednesday evening I heard Tanya Tomkins play Bach Cello Suites 2 & 3 on a Baroque instrument in the intimate Salon at the Rex. The Baroque cello sounds slacker & less weighty than a modern instrument, & Ms. Tomkins fitted her performance well to the small setting. The Suite in D minor was mournful & introspective, & Ms. Tomkins leaned into the gritty double-stops of the Sarabande. She nicely differentiated the moods of the 2 Menuetts. The final Gigue was a continuous stream of notes. The Suite in C Major was contrastingly lighter in mood, even bouncy. Ms. Tomkins played the program with a feeling of great familiarity & ease. She was sparing in her use of vibrato & ornamentation. Her cello did not have an endpin but was propped up on 2 pillows.

In the pause between suites, Ms. Tomkins talked about the Baroque cello & answered questions. When a gentleman in the front row began to engage her in a discussion about the expense of violins vs. cellos, a voice from the back of the room reminded her that we were here to listen to music. The performance was well-attended, & the atmosphere was informal. The salon audience was quiet & very engaged. A woman in the front of the room boldly told us to be quiet at the start of the Q&A afterward. The audience laughed when Ms. Tomkins mentioned that she tuned her cello to Baroque pitch with an iPhone app.

§ Tanya Tomkins, Baroque cello
San Francisco Performances
Salon at the Rex

J.S. Bach: Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008
J.S. Bach: Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009

Wednesday, February 27, 6:30pm
Hotel Rex

SF Symphony Oboist William Bennett Passes Away

Deeply saddened by announcement of the passing of San Francisco Symphony Principal Oboist William Bennett. I often came away from Symphony performances feeling that he was the best thing about the orchestra.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

China's Terracotta Warriors

Wednesday morning the Asian Art Museum held a press preview of their block-buster exhibit featuring the First Emperor's famous Terracotta Warriors opening this week.

The event began with the appearance of the Lost Warrior, the subject of the museum's social media campaign. He was led in by Moses Carver, the subject of a documentary about his life as a homeless man. I have no idea what this pairing means.

Museum Director Jay Xu led a tour through the show with manifest expertise, excitement & pride. The exhibit contains 8 life-size warriors plus 2 life-size horses. This represents the maximum of 10 life-size figures allowed by the Chinese government for any single exhibition outside China.

Museum visitors can get close up to the figures, with no barrier other than a low plinth, & it is easy to view them from all sides. The figures are both mass produced & individualized, & they have a forthright, courtly dignity.

Mr. Xu drew our attention particularly to this kneeling archer. Like ancient Greek statues, the terracotta figures were originally brightly painted, & traces of pigment are still visible on him. Mr. Xu also pointed out how his kneeling posture exposes the detail of the grip on the bottom of his shoe.

2 additional galleries contain more objects from burial excavations that show off the refined craftsmanship of the period.

The Lost Warrior hung around for the entire event, posing for pictures with equanimity. People addressed him in both Chinese & English, but he did not say much. There is special pricing for this exhibit, & advance tickets are recommended.

§ China's Terracotta Warriors
The First Emperor's Legacy
Asian Art Museum
Feb 22, 2013 - May 27, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Green Sneakers

Tuesday night I heard the West Coast premiere of Green Sneakers, an intimate chamber opera for baritone & string quartet by Ricky Ian Gordon. It's a collection of about 20 songs in which the composer reflects on his grief at losing his partner to AIDS in 1996. Mr. Gordon's music is pretty but with just enough dissonance to make it poignant as well. The overall tone is consoling.

The stage was set with a grand piano at the back & a floor lamp, desk & chair at the front. Members of the Del Sol String Quartet, in street clothes, sat at the center. The piece was written for baritone Jesse Blumberg, & his voice is soothing & easy to listen to. He made a wonderfully intense, warm sound in the more emotional moments in "Sportswear" & the Epilogue. He was very comfortable moving on stage, playing the piano, & doing a kind of interpretive dance near the end. He projected the text clearly. I don't think I'd ever heard the words "Mobius Strip" sung before.

The quartet is an independent entity, often playing in counterpoint to the singer. The musicians played their parts with ease & were occasionally part of the staging. At one point the cellist had the awkward task of playing while standing. For the final number, the quartet moved the piano downstage, & 1st violinist Kate Stenberg gently encouraged Mr. Blumberg to play it.

Green Sneakers photo b3504dee-3b52-4935-b4dc-438680ce47c5_zpsd70665ba.jpgThe show ran an intermissionless 70 minutes. The audience was respectfully quiet & attentive. When members of the quartet entered at the beginning, a lady in front of me remarked out loud, "She did something wonderful with her hair." Mr. Gordon was in the audience & took a curtain call with the performers. Composer Jake Heggie was spotted greeting him afterward. Green Sneakers goes to Lincoln Center in April for its New York premiere.

Barihunks has some rehearsal photos.

§ Green Sneakers
by Ricky Ian Gordon

Jesse Blumberg, baritone
Del Sol String Quartet
    Kate Stenberg, violin
    Rick Shinozaki, violin
    Charlton Lee,  violin
    Kathryn Bates Williams, cello
John de los Santos, director & choreographer

February 19, 2013, 7:30p

Fort Mason, Southside Theater

Monday, February 18, 2013

Leonidas Kavakos at Cal Performances

Sunday afternoon violinist Leonidas Kavakos played in an all-Beethoven recital in Hertz Hall for Cal Performances. Mr. Kavakos makes a distinctive, laser-like sound that is vibrant & high-energy. It sometimes sounds like every note is an open string. The D Major sonata was brisk & kinetic. There was a lot of variety in the phrases, some sounding clipped & others sustained. Mr. Kavakos likes to give syncopated notes a bit of a punch. He can play very fast, & the final movements of the Spring Sonata clicked by at a rapid pace. The slow movement felt hushed & suspended. The Kreutzer Sonata was vivid & popping. Mr. Kavakos sometimes released so much coiled energy that he jumped back at the end of a phrase. Even during extremely high passages in the variations movement, his sound was free & expansive.

Accompanist Enrico Pace played evenly & with a lot of control in the 1st two sonatas & was more pronounced & at times ferocious in the Kreutzer. The piano's opening chord of the 3rd movement was like a cannon boom. The audience was quiet & attentive & maintained a conscientious silence between movements. They gave the performers a standing ovation, & Mr. Kavakos & Mr. Pace came back for 2 brilliant Stravinsky encores. I wish the ovation hadn't dried up immediately after the 2nd encore. Mr. Kavakos wears glasses & has shoulder-length hair that threatens to cover this face. He did not look like his photo in the program. He wore a black Chinese tunic that had a band of red at the cuffs.

§ Leonidas Kavakos, violin
Enrico Pace, piano

Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12, No. 1
Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 5 in F major, Op. 24, "Spring"
Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, "Kreutzer"

Stravinsky: Danse Russe from Petrushka Suite for violin & Piano
Stravinsky: Dithyrambe from Duo Concertant

Cal Performances
Sun, Feb 17, 3 pm
Hertz Hall

Silent Winter

Silent Winter 2013 photo IMG_20130216_092824_zpsf8a15827.jpgSan Francisco Silent Film Festival audiences are great. They are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, & behave as if the movies are interactive. People were in line by 9:30 Saturday morning, waiting for the Castro Theatre doors to open for this one day event. The SFSFF does a great job educating as well. Printed programs contain informative essays on all the films, & title cards display relevant film trivia during the breaks. I happily sat through 4 of the day's shows.

Snow White
USA, 1916 • Director J. Searle Dawley

This live-action version of Snow White, running about an hour, has more historical than entertainment value. The 15-year-old Walt Disney saw it, & it may be the only surviving film of Marguerite Clark, a major star of the period. She is very short & has a girlish appeal. The plot greatly elaborates the Grimm fairy tale, making it oddly unfamiliar. In one sequence, the huntsman & his 3 children make a daring escape from a tower prison. The use of real animals is charming. A fleeting animated scene depicts the witch on her broom. The print has damage and abrupt gaps.

The screening was introduced by Executive Director Stacey Wisnia & author J. B. Kaufman, who has the enviable job of film historian for the Walt Disney Family Foundation. Donald Sosin provided a lively piano accompaniment. There were some young children in attendance. It was cute to hear a father whispering the intertitles to his small daughter.

Think Slow, Act Fast: Buster Keaton Shorts
One Week (1920)
The Scarecrow (1920)
The Playhouse (1921)

The best silent era comedies still work just as they were intended, & there was laughter throughout this program of Keaton shorts. The audience applauded many of the gags, such as the satirically efficient kitchen at the beginning of The Scarecrow. I was astonished when the film's dog co-star exhibited an ability to climb a ladder. Someone wolf-whistled when Keaton appeared in drag in The Playhouse. The Playhouse also had the best intertitle of the day when Keaton was ordered to "Dress the monkey!"

The program was introduced by Artistic Director Anita Monga & the 83-year-old Frank Buxton, who once worked with Buster Keaton onstage. Mr. Sosin played a jaunty & often jazzy piano accompaniment.

The Thief of Bagdad
USA, 1924 • Director Raoul Walsh

I'd never seen this famous Douglas Fairbanks movie before, & it is indeed epic. The gigantic sets make the actors look like toys. Fairbanks doesn't do his usual cocksure buckaroo, & he does not play humility convincingly, but the movie is fun. It is also embarassingly racist, though the audience still got into the spirit by hissing the villianous Mongol prince & applauding the famous magic carpet ride. There was also applause for Anna May Wong as a treacherous slave girl.

Board member Tracey Goessel & film historian Jeffrey Vance introduced the program. Mr. Vance observed that in the movie Fairbanks "not so much acts as dances the part." Mr. Vance also revealed that the pudgy Persian prince was played by actress Mathilde Comont, wearing a mustache. We saw a 2K digital restoration, which was the only digitally projected film in the festival.

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, consisting of piano, violin, clarinet, trumpet & percussion, accompanied with salon-style classical music. They were impressively consistent, playing continuously for 90 minutes & then, after a short break, for another hour. I was surprised that it was quite a long time before Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade made its way into their score. Their inclusion of a gong was particularly effective. They received cheers & a standing ovation at the end.

My Best Girl
USA, 1927 • Director Sam Taylor

This romantic comedy from the end of the silent era stars Mary Pickford in her last silent role. I was totally taken in by the plucky sweetness of a scene in which Pickford flirts with co-star Buddy Rogers from the back of an open truck weaving through real traffic. I laughed really hard at a gag in which Pickford treats a consommé like a cup of tea. Though the scenario is farcical, I always felt like something real was at stake, & I found the whole thing very satisfying.

The movie was introduced by Festival President Robert Byrne & film historian Jeffrey Vance, who thinks you can see Pickford & Rogers, who married about 10 years later, actually falling in love during the film. Mr. Vance also told us to where to look for a cameo by Carole Lombard. Mr. Sosin provided an appropriately jazz-infused accompaniment that matched the scenes closely. During the emotional climax of the movie, Pickford puts on a record of Red Hot Mama. The piano suddenly cut out & we heard the sound of the record coming from the screen.

I didn't quite make it to the end of Silent Winter. When I left, the line for Murnau's Faust went around the corner. The film was accompanied on the Mighty Wurlitzer, so I'm sure it was a grand ending to the day.

§ Silent Winter
San Francisco Silent Film Festival
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Castro Theatre

Snow White
USA, 1916 • Director J. Searle Dawley
Musical Accompaniment Donald Sosin on grand piano
10:00 am

Think Slow, Act Fast: Buster Keaton Shorts
USA • Directors Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline
One Week (1920)
The Scarecrow (1920)
The Playhouse (1921)
Musical Accompaniment by Donald Sosin on grand piano

The Thief of Bagdad
USA, 1924 • Director Raoul Walsh
Musical Accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
2:30 pm

My Best Girl
USA, 1927 • Director Sam Taylor
Musical Accompaniment by Donald Sosin on grand piano
7:00 pm

Germany, 1926 • Director F.W. Murnau
Musical Accompaniment by Christian Elliott on the Mighty Wurlitzer
9:00 pm

Saturday, February 16, 2013


This trampoline was sitting in the parklet at Market & Castro this morning for no apparent reason. I was taking pictures of it with my cell phone when this passerby hopped on, jumped a few times, did an aerial somersault, then hopped off.


Photo: Steve DiBartolomeo
Last night I attended the 1st of 3 Opera Parallèle performances of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar. The opera is a meditation on the execution of the poet Lorca by the Falange, but the characters are emblematic rather than suggestive of specific personalities. The music has a distinctive flavor, with mostly female voices, a lamenting female chorus, prominent parts for bass clarinet & contrabassoon, lots of percussion, & elements that evoke Moorish Spain. Recorded sounds of water, horses, gun shots & voices are incorporated into the score. The singers & orchestra were amplified, certainly a necessity for the guitars.

Soprano Marnie Breckenridge is strong-voiced & powerfully played the actress Margarita, whose compulsive mourning is the center of the opera. Soprano Maya Kherani as Nuria has a high, easy & youthful voice, though she seemed to be Margarita's maid rather than her student. Mezzo Lisa Chavez as Lorca sang with a consistent, solid voice that conveyed masculinity. Flamenco singer Jesus Montoya makes an arresting sound, his voice both raw & beautiful. Even though he plays the bad guy Ruiz Alonso, the urgency of his voice made him appealingly human. John Bischoff, with his deep, wide & sonorous bass, stood out in a small part as a self-appointed father confessor. Members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus were poised singers. They have many exits & entrances.

Ainadamar photo IMG_20130215_194126_zpsf739cfbe.jpgThe minimal set has 2 levels. Video projections establish the scenes. The staging is largely static, reflecting the oratorio-like structure of the piece. Most of the movement comes from 5 flamenco dancers, who play various roles throughout the show. My opera companion liked a section when they gestured only with their hands, but she generally thought they were used inauthentically. The chorus, made up in white & toting suitcases, seem to be ghosts. Pre-show, they mingled silently with the audience. I found one of them in my row, her large suitcase parked in my seat. The performance lasts an intermissionless 90 minutes. The audience was respectfully quiet, attentive & patient. They applauded the cast warmly, especially the dancers.

§ AINADAMAR by Osvaldo Golijov
Libretto by David Henry Hwang

Opera Parallèle
Nicole Paiement, conductor
Brian Staufenbiel, director
Austin Forbord, video artist
La Tania, choreographer/dancer

Marnie Breckenridge, Margarita Xirgu
Maya Kherani, Nuria
Lisa Chavez, Lorca
Jesus Montoya, Ruiz Alonso
John Bischoff, Tripaldi
Andres Ramirez, Bullfighter
Ryan Bradford, Teacher

Women's Chorus
Members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus

Fri 2/15/13 8:00PM
Lam Research Theater @ YBCA

Monday, February 11, 2013


Ainadamar (Photographer: Steve Di Bartolomeo)
A ridiculous amount of classical music goodness this week. I might even get to hear some of it. Young hot-shot Pablo Heras-Casado conducts the SF Symphony in a splashy program including Lizst Piano Concerto No. 2 & Prokofiev 5. Opera Parallèle presents 3 performances of Golijov's Ainadamar at YBCA this weekend. I've heard mixed reactions to Golijov's music, but this will be my 1st major exposure to him. If you like the violin, Christian Tetzlaff gives a solo recital in Berkeley on Tuesday, then on Sunday Leonidas Kavakos gives an all-Beethoven recital in Hertz Hall in the afternoon & Itzhak Perlman performs a recital in Davies Hall in the evening. Baritone Jesse Blumberg & the Del Sol Quartet will give one performance of Ricky Ian Gordon's chamber opera Green Sneakers at Fort Mason next Tuesday. I was lucky enough to hear a bit of it at a house concert last year. SF Silent Film Festival puts on some of my favorite film events in the City. They present a one-day event at the Castro on Saturday, including films of Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford & Murnau, all with live musical accompaniment. I'll definitely be at this one.

§ Heras-Casado Conducts Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony
San Francisco Symphony
Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor
Stephen Hough, piano

Magnus Lindberg: EXPO (West Coast Premiere)
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 2:00pm
Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 8:00pm
Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 2:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall

§ AINADAMAR by Osvaldo Golijov
Opera Parallèle
Conducted by Nicole Paiement
Directed by Brian Staufenbiel

Fri 2/15/13 8:00PM
Sat 2/16/13 8:00PM
Sun 2/17/13 2:00PM
Lam Research Theater @ YBCA

§ Christian Tetzlaff, solo violin
YSAŸE, E.Sonata for Violin in G minor
BACH, J.S.Sonata for Violin in C major
KURTÁG, G."a choice" out of Signs, Games and Messages
BARTÓK, B.Sonata for Violin

Tue, Feb 12, 8 pm
First Congregational Church

§ Leonidas Kavakos, violin
Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12, No.1 • Sonata No. 5 in F major, Op. 24, "Spring" • Sonata No. 9 in A major, "Kreutzer"

Sun, Feb 17, 3 pm
Hertz Hall

§ Itzhak Perlman in Recital
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Rohan de Silva, piano

Works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 7:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall

§ Green Sneakers
by Ricky Ian Gordon
West Coast Premiere

Jesse Blumberg, baritone
Del Sol Quartet

Southside Theater, Fort Mason, Bldg D
Tuesday, February 19, 7:00 p.m. (pre-concert talk); 7:30 p.m. (performance)

§ Silent Winter Program
San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Snow White (1916)
10:00 am
Musical Accompaniment Donald Sosin on grand piano

Think Slow, Act Fast: Buster Keaton Shorts (1920 - 1921)
12 noon
Musical Accompaniment Donald Sosin on grand piano

The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
2:30 pm
Musical Accompaniment Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

My Best Girl (1927)
7:00 pm
Musical Accompaniment Donald Sosin on grand piano

Faust (1926)
9:00 pm
Musical Accompaniment by Christian Elliott on the Mighty Wurlitzer

February 16, 2013 • Castro Theatre

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Cupid's Undie Run

I was at home around 2:30 this afternoon minding my own business when I heard a commotion beneath my window. I went downstairs & watched with a neighbor as a bevy of scantily clad runners went right past our building. "This is why I live in the Marina," he said.

It was Cupid's Undie Run, a Valentine's Day run benefiting the Children's Tumor Foundation. The running portion of the event was simply a couple of laps round the block.

The participants then congregated at a popular sports bar in the Marina.

It was a photogenic event, & everyone wanted in on the photo ops.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Mmm... Donuts

I recently noticed that the small round hut at the Little Marina Green, near the St. Francis Yacht Club, is occupied.

It is currently a remote outpost of the Mission's Dynamo Donuts. Their maple bacon donut always sounded like something concocted specifically for Homer Simpson.

It turns out to be not so gluttonous, though $3 is certainly the most I've ever paid for a single donut.

Dutoit Leads Berlioz's Te Deum

Davies Hall, 02.07.2013 Davies Hall prior to performance of Poulenc's Stabat Mater by San Francisco Symphony led by Charles Dutoit.Thursday night I heard Charles Dutoit lead the San Francisco Symphony & Chorus in Poulenc's Stabat Mater & Berlioz's tectonic Te Deum, both pieces I had never heard before. The Stabat Mater is in a dozen short movements, many of them surprisingly breezy, even though the text is about grieving. The performance felt patchy, or perhaps it is the piece itself. The orchestra seemed independent of the chorus, & each section of the chorus sounded disparate, with the low male voices predominating. The cushy orchestration requires 2 harps. The trumpets & flutes often popped out, but I enjoyed the smooth clarinet sound. Maestro Dutoit led with unhurried tempos. Soprano Erin Wall was soloist for 3 of the movements. She had a steady, open sound & was very engaged in the music, though her voice did not always penetrate well. The audience was especially quiet when the chorus sang unaccompanied. A gentleman seated behind me repeatedly yelled "Bravo" for them during the bows.

SF Symphony Patrons, 02.07.2013 Patrons of the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Hall during intermission.Berlioz's Te Deum, requiring an organ, 3 choruses & a beefed-up wind section including 2 tubas, must have frightened its first audiences. I thoroughly enjoyed its theatricality, its massive, layered climaxes & its over-the-top Beethoven-like coda that has at least 5 endings. I don't know why I haven't heard this more often. The Pacific Boychoir, around 60 strong, were split into 2 groups on either side of the terrace. They have a prominent role which they performed confidently from memory. I liked their bold entrances. Tenor Paul Groves sang his one solo with a baritonal heft while still sounding flexible. The woodwind opening of Te ergo quaesumus that includes a bass clarinet was striking, & I liked Timothy Day's distinctive flute sound. Maestro Dutoit was an unruffled & modest presence. The audience applauded the 2 choruses especially, & some gave them a standing ovation. Organist Jonathan Dimmock took a bow alongside the soloists.

§ Dutoit Leads Berlioz's Te Deum
San Francisco Symphony
Charles Dutoit, conductor

San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Ragnar Bohlin, director

Poulenc: Stabat Mater
Erin Wall, soprano

Berlioz: Te Deum
Paul Groves, tenor
Pacific Boychoir, Kevin Fox, director

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 8:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall

Monday, February 04, 2013

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts 2013

This week I saw the theatrical release of a compilation of the 2013 Oscar nominated animated shorts. All the nominated films are dialogue-free, & the program is suitable for children

Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare"
David Silverman; USA, 2012, 5 minutes

Maggie battles the unibrow baby in the world's worst daycare center. I enjoyed the characteristically irreverent throw-away gags, like the TSA-style security checkpoint at the Ayn Rand School for Tots.
Adam and Dog
Minkyu Lee; USA, 201, 15 minutes

The story of the Garden of Eden, told from the point of view of a loyal dog. The film has the hand-drawn look of classic Disney cel animation. I liked the many shots in which the characters are only small figures in the landscape.
Fresh Guacamole
PES; USA, 2012, 2 minutes

Ingenious stop-motion animation in which incongruous non-food objects stand in for the ingredients of a guacamole.
Head over Heels
Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly; 2012, 15 minutes

Stop-motion animation depicting an aging couple who live in the same house but are separated by opposing gravitational forces. Despite the absurdity of the set-up, the tone is serious.
John Kahrs; USA, 2012, 7 minutes

Stylish Disney short in black & white, combining CG with fluid hand-drawn characters. A spontaneous romantic connection is made amidst the skyscrapers & elevated trains of New York City.

The program is filled out with additional "highly commended" films.

Richard Mans; New Zealand, 2011, 4 minutes

CG animation depicting a robotic creature's efficient colonization of an alien planet. It's an evil version of the NASA missions to Mars.
Leo Verrier; France, 2011, 9 minutes

A feverish cartoon homage to Jackson Pollock. An art thief not only steals but also ingests his acquisitions.
The Gruffalo's Child
Johannes Weiland and Uwe Heidschötter; UK, Germany, 2011, 27 minutes

CG animated version of a children's book about a little girl monster who goes into the forest alone to learn fear. I found the story charmless, but I also did not quite follow it. This was the only film with dialogue, & it was rhyming at that. The animators did not come up with good solution for depicting fur.

The compilation is hosted by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, who won in this category last year with The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. They speak to the viewer between films, but their commentary has nothing to do with any of the shorts

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Closed on Superbowl Sunday

This sign, misspelling & all, advises customers of the early closing of Luca's Deli in the Marina on Sunday.

Macworld 2013

Friday afternoon I walked around the busy Macworld Expo at Moscone Center. It was part consumer trade show & part circus. I saw roller derby booth babes, vendors dressed as NASA astronauts, & 2 magicians. Apple does not appear at these shows anymore, but there is this diverse ecosystem built on top of the iPod, iPhone & iPad.

To use the Bowblade, you attach an iPhone to a bow-like device to play a virtual archery game.

Double Robotics put an iPad on top of a Segway to create a telepresence robot, controlled by another iPad, of course.

I was impressed by a demo of The Orchestra app by London-based TouchPress. Videos of Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra are synchronized with a running view of the full score. There's also a view that shows a map of the orchestra. Dots representing each instrument light up when the corresponding instrument plays a note.

I was unclear on the concept of the iPole, but perhaps the name & the hunky company reps are enough to sell it.

§ Macworld/iWorld 2013
January 31 – February 2, 2013
Moscone Center West

Friday, February 01, 2013

Art Car

This art car was parked on Chestnut Street in the Marina late Thursday afternoon.

Wonderfully mutant action figures cavort on its roof & hood.

The toys look like they escaped from the evil neighbor boy in the 1st Toy Story movie.

On the dashboard was a postcard of Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, which I believe is currently on display at the de Young Museum.

Experiment in Terror

When I arrived at the Castro Theatre to see Experiment in Terror at the Noir City Film Festival on Wednesday night, the movie was sold out. I joined the rush line, & after about 20 minutes we all got in. We were told to look for seats in the balcony, since the downstairs was completely packed. The program was introduced by Eddie Muller & Miss Noir City, Audra Wolfmann, who drew prizes for 4 members of the audience.

This was the world premiere of the 4K digital restoration of Experiment in Terror, a 1962 movie by Blake Edwards, set in San Francisco & starring Lee Remick as a bank teller being terrorized by a killer into committing a robbery for him. Blake Edwards was scrupulous in his use of actual San Francisco locations. An establishing shot of a hospital shows the 38-Geary stopping in front of Kaiser. The bank teller's teenager sister is instructed to meet the killer at 25th & Clement, & the encounter clearly happens on that block. The restoration looks pristine, & the stylish soundtrack by Henry Mancini sounds especially crisp. The film's Chinese characters are surprisingly free of racial stereotyping.

The festival audience was lively. Many came dressed for the 1940s. There was laughter & applause for the movie's weirdest scene, in which the killer, played by Ross Martin, stalks Lee Remick in a ladies room, disguised as a woman. The audience also applauded the climax in which the killer is gunned down on the pitchers mound of Candlestick Park following a SF vs LA game. Rather eerily, he looks just like the Unabomber. Immediately following the feature, we saw a neat video identifying the movie's location shots & showing what they look like today.

§ Experiment in Terror
(1962, Columbia Pictures, 123 min.)
Brand New 4K Digital Restoration!

Noir City 11: The Sniper / Experiment In Terror
Wednesday, January 30: San Francisco Noir
Castro Theatre