Trammin’ Along with Hans

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When a tram was first introduced in town of Avonlea, Karl Hans, a retired school teacher, was thrilled to apply for a position of conductor/operator because he had always wanted to become one since his childhood in Frankfurt, Germany, where riding a tram was part of his family life: His father used to take trams to commute  to  and from work; his mother would take a tram to go grocery shopping, and so did Karl for going to and from school. A tram was their paid means of livelihood that spun many a memory with laughters and adventures in the Old Country. So the image of a tram in Avonlea was enough to induce Karl to think of his childhood in Germany and his eyes to be welled up in tears soaked up with a nostalgia of those lovely moments of the past that are now bygone and bygone.

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Naturally, the  news that the city council had finally approved the city’s real estate tycoon John Elephant’s proposal of establishing a tram line in order to accomodate to the increasing number of the residents imbued Karl with a certain feeling of hope that had been buried under layers of time and forgetfulness as Reality Check had called upon through the years. Karl decided that he wanted to become a conductor of a tram in a heartbeat against his wife Hannah’s disagreement. “Why don’t you enjoy the rest of life in the comfort of armchair with books you admire and music you love? We can manage to live quite comfortably with our Social Security Benefits and your 401 K Plan.” Hannah’s remonstration with Karl was, however, weaker than his determination rekindled by his deep nostalgic infatuation with another ew hope in life. “Hannah, surely our income will be sufficient to maintain comforts of life, but it’s what I really want to do, and I want to make it happen. Besides, we will have extra income to double our monthly budget. So it’s a win-win situation! We are not losing anything at this stage of life.” Karl’s reasoning with his dear wife Hannah won her support of the cause, and the rest of it was history.

photo (2)Intelligent, civil, and good-heated Karl is now Avonlea’s beloved conductor of a lovely tram that almost everyone uses  on a daily basis, even if some of them owns a car. Karl operates a tram 5 days a week except Fridays and Sundays from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. But he does not feel exhausted or overworked. He loves the way his passengers smile back to him and greet him when boarding and getting off his tram. Sometimes, he has not-so-good days for being only a human, especially when Hannah nags for no apparent reason or fault-finds with just about anything with him in the morning or the night before. Nevertheless, the facts that he is living his dreams in memory of his childhood memories that are dear to him and that his age does not mean anything to him to achieve his dream are the mainstay of fulfilling demands placed on his daily tasks at work, at home, and with himself. Hooray for our magnificent Karl and his continuous endeavors in life!

 

thanks-for-reading-Rok-Hardware

 

From PBS Masterpiece Theater – Mr. Selfridge

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This Masterpiece Theater Mini-Series of “Mr. Selfridge” produced by ITV is a tour de force of excellent performances of the actors, the finesse of drama scripts, gorgeous costumes, and classically elegant settings coordinated as truthfully as possible. It chronicles Harry Gordon Selfridge’s business adventures from the onset of establishing Selfridges & Co in 1908 until his farewell to his labor of love twenty years afterwards.

 From Episode I of Series 1 to Episode 10 of Series 4 (Final Season), we get to see a man named Harry Gordon Selfridge (1958-1947) who was something of a Napoleon Bonaparte knowing no word in his dictionary for “Impossible.” We see the man build a one-of-a-kind department store in London’s Oxford Street as an adventurous American tradesman against the British aristocratic chauvinism. Selfridge was a man who set a standard of modern department store; by placing the cosmetic/perfume counters on the lobby, Selfridge intended to sweeten the atmosphere of the floor in attempt to use it as a magnet for passers-by, especially women. In effect, Selfridge broke down the class-stratified fashion wall guarded by the rich/privileged by democratizing the luxurious items and making them accessible to common people as well.

Moreover, the ace portrayal of Selfridge would/could not be possible were it not for the fine acting of Jeremy Piven whose quintessential American accent doubled with inescapable American can-do attitudes triumphs over the transatlantic cultural differences in working with the British peers. The viewer will be left with a feeling of heartfulness of the characters upon finishing all of the episodes in this series and cannot help but applaud to Mr. Selfridge for his entrepreneurial effervescence and Mr. Piven for portraying the man in a stellar performance that evokes both pathos and respect.

Impressionism & Vincent Van Gogh

Musée d'Orsay in Paris - a travel guide and tour as with the best local guide (Paris Travel Stories Book 4)Musée d’Orsay in Paris – a travel guide and tour as with the best local guide by Wander Stories

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Of all the world famous museums, my favorite is Musee d’Orsay in Paris because it possesses most of the paintings of Impressionism, to which I am partial because of its prevalent portrayal of ordinary life of people with simple but innovative techniques of using color and light like never before. In fact, I enjoyed a virtual tour of this lovely museum with a guide of Musée d’Orsay in Paris by Wander Stories, a wonderful reference book on this lovely museum with rich information on the history of the museum, biographies of artists, let alone the backgrounds of their paintings they created, all of which beautifully presented in a wealth of rich color photos and illustrations to conjure up the vivacity of life right before your eyes in the comfort of wherever you may be.

The birth of Musee d’Orsay starts with the zeitgeist of our modern era when the spirit of liberty and expressionism was born out of a pyrrhic victory over the antediluvian customs and dogmas upheld by a few select. Originally, the land surrounding the museum was part of a private garden belonging to Queen Margaret, the wife of King Henry VI. In the 19th century, the Palais d’Orsay was used for the Court of Accounts, most of which were burned down to the ground during the uprising of the Paris Commune in 1871. Then in 1897 the government decided to build a new railway station to facilitate transportation of passengers to the center of Paris directly, preparatory to the upcoming 100 World Fair. During WWII, the station was used as a mailing center to send packages and letters to prisoners of the war and to receive them after the war. Finally, the station was re-born as Musee d’Orsay exhibiting all the arts from the second half of the 19th century with a presidential blessing of Francois Mitterrand in December 1986.

Musee d’Orsay embodies individualism freed from the rigid status quo of the old academics in the French arts scenes. It houses famous impressionist and post impressionist paintings of the 19th by Gustave Courbet, Eduard Manet, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and so forth. All of these painters were revolutionary vanguards of Impressionism, a new genre depicting everyday life of the ordinary not of mythological or even loyal figures and the simple beauty of nature in the most artistically innovative methods of painting that had not been seen in the paintings of previous eras.

Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Siesta” in the museum deserves a special recognition both by its artistic merit and personal background of the painting. It was painted when Gogh was a patient in a mental asylum. Initially beginning his career as a preacher, Gogh was soon disillusioned with arid rigidity of Christianism, and turned himself to the word of painting in attempt to find a solace for his restless soul. He often copied the works of Jean Francois Millet and thought more highly of him than of Manet. Gogh’s use of vibrantly contrasting colors, such as blue and yellow, violet and organic, Gogh portrayed rural France at its most vividness dynamically.

As with many creative artists, Gogh lived a difficult life of being let down by his low self-worth. To illustrate, Gogh had a drunken brawl with Paul Gaughin, in which Gogh threatened Gauguin with a razor then fled a local brothel, where he ended up cutting off the lower part of his let ear lobe. Moving from one asylum to another, Gogh’s creative ingeniousness was recognized and encouraged by Dr. Gachet, an Impressionist enthusiast who drove this extraordinary patient of his to creative indulgence, leading Gogh to create 70 more paintings in 70 days, although he sold only two paintings in his lifetime. The last day of Gogh was just like another working day, for he shot himself in the chest while painting in a wheat field. Notwithstanding the tragic end and life wrinkled in anguishes and distresses, Gogh’s resilient spirit driven by his creative madness is enshrined in his paintings that have stood the test of times all around the world, canonizing him as a key figure in transformation from Impressionism to modern art in art history.

Musée d’Orsay in Paris by Wander Stones is a lively reference book about the museum and the oeuvres of the aforesaid and other famous painters with beautifully displayed photos and detailed information on the paintings and the painters in easy language. This is also a lovely book to be viewed on a Kindle Fire with easy references to pages and stunningly colorful photos effortlessly downloaded on the device to enjoy the tour of the museum anywhere, magically transporting you in front of each of the paintings in the museum. Or if you plan to visit the museum, then reading this book will prepare you with arms of information. All in all, the knowledge from the book will help you appreciate the beauty of the arts at their best because as defined by Sir Edmund Burke the standard of reason and beauty is all the more appreciated by the faculty of the mind affected with the works of imagination and the elegant arts, which is universal in all humans and of sentiment common to all mankind.

Optical Illusion

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Claude Monet, The Cliff at Fecamp 1881

The Optical Reflection of Matters – as my eyes have seen,
The Mechanical building of Reality – as my mind has done,
The Physical Existence of the World – as my body has lived;
That it’s not real but virtual by a concoction of Optical Illusion
Thwarts every thread of truth against Truth, the Reality of Things
Spelling a concatenation of Physical Existence in their Pristine Essences
Because what I have seen and see is not what it has been and it is
As the trickery of eyes knows not its shenanigans that becomes
Bold and bolder ever till Light of Intellect dawns on me with rains
Of benevolence on the parched earth of my Ignorance with Truth.