THE CURIOSITY NEWSLETTER – April 24
Oppdatert: 25. apr. 2020
Photo: Rodney Smith
Floating bewildered around on the Internet ?
Yes? So am I.
Thankfully, I often find things worth sharing.
Here's another round of the noteworthy I've discovered, watched, read, heard, loved or just found interesting this last week.
I'm starting with the curious case of old(er) folks.
Isn't it fascinating that so many from the younger generations all around the world seem to be experiencing this same thing: That their older relatives and friends don't seem to take corona as serious as they do. The oldest generations seem kind of... chill about it.
What's going on here? What's with the calmness?
I've seen articles about this subject pop up from all over since the start of the lockdown. Now The New York Times recently added this essay to the collection, where they provide one possible answer:
“A massive body of scientific work has documented age-related shifts in the service of making negative emotions smaller and positive emotions bigger,” Dr. Haase says. “Older adults are often masters in turning their attention away from information that is threatening, upsetting and negative.”
I also noticed how the writer Fran Lebowitz in a recent interview with The New Yorker spoke of how she is dealing with the corona threat, specifically concerning her status as a 69 year old smoker:
One thing I’ve absolutely noticed about myself, and which should be true as you get older: it’s not that you want to die, but you are less attached to life. You’re less panicked.
That's a good thing.
Panic is the last thing we need.
There are obviously as many ways of personally handling a pandemic as there are people on earth. One thing to remember is this: To some elderly people, the isolation of the corona lockdown is more frightening than the virus itself. Maintaining a social life is life itself.
I'm glad there are companies like the Norwegian tech folks at No Isolation, who make communication devices for the elderly (among other things). Smart phones and ipads may seem alien and complicated when you pass a certain age, and it is perhaps no wonder that the KOMP screen now is being sold so quickly around Europe that the company can't keep up with demand.
And yes: Let's all remember to call the people in our lives that may be taking the isolation hard – both old and young.
I enjoyed the recent podcast episode of BBC's "Great Lives" series, which was about Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomins. She wrote the first book in the children's book series during the end of World War II. Quite interesting to hear how Jansson used the process of writing as a way of creating a "safe space" in her imagination while surrounded by the horrors of war.
I went on to listen to the Great Lives episode about Charlie Chaplin – the political rebel. I'm a huge Chaplin fan. It always surprises me how many people only know of his slapstick shorts. I really urge you to dive into his feature films.
You may have seen The Great Dictator, which is one of my all-time favorite movies. Incidentally, the famous globe dancing scene, where "Hitler" bounces the earth off his tushy is a perfectly relevant analogy for a Trump news conference – on any given day.
I also love The Kid, The Gold Rush and Modern Times, but my other big Chaplin favorite is City Lights, which manages the astonishing accomplishment of being beautiful, touching and lough-out-loud hilarious – all at the same time.
FOR THE BINGERS
This week I finally saw the last two episodes of The Crown, which had a brilliant third season. The series just keeps getting better, darker and more captivating. So I decided to stay in the landscape of Bristish royal history a little longer, and also saw the film The Young Victoria, which I really enjoyed. An un-typical and funny period drama with a vibrant Emily Blunt.
I'm surely not the only one feeling a pressing need for escapism, and I had a moment of unbridled enthusiasm as I discovered that HBO Nordic now has made all three films in The Trip series available for streaming. I've seen them all numerous times, but if you're like me, and relish the company of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, these smart, silly and delicious comedies are made to be watched again and again. I pick up on new jokes every time.
Finally, I've gotten started on the HBO series The Plot against America. I read Phillip Roth's novel shortly after it came out in 2004 – and what a timing for the TV series. It imagines how history could have unfolded if a right-wing Charles Lindbergh would have become US president during World War II. Its relevance makes it somewhat hard to watch right now, seeing the parallel of Roth's fiction and the current un-real reality of Donald's bizarro beyond fiction universe.
I'm just getting started on listening to the new album by Thundercat It Is What It Is.
The jazz meister and producer came to my attention after his work with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp A Butterfly, and has since become one of the artists where I anticipate and look forward to what he does next. I'm not getting the feeling that I'll be disappointed this time.
If experimental R&B is where you live, I would also like to recommend following the "Boostafar" playlists by producer Erlend Mokkelbost – or "The Boost". Always fresh and tastefully curated by a luminous dude who puts both the fein and the schmecker in the feinschmecker.
For most freelance musicians around the planet, it's currently a lonely gig.
Sure, the current situation is leading to more quality web content as professionals are pouring their creative output online.
For example, treat yourself to one minute of beauty from the renowned Tesla Quartet, who were touring all over before corona hit – and now suddenly find themselves completely without work:
However, just listening/watching doesn't quite make up for the losses artists in all fields are experiencing now. So if you can, remember to support artists who are important to you. Buy art, merchandise, books, vinyl, CD's – or at least share/spread their work.
Most of all: Just enjoy all the amazing new stuff now surfacing on the web.
Speaking of which, the good folks at the Oslo Philharmonic are starting their journey back to Oslo Concert Hall. I regularly attend their concerts, and have performed at the concert hall myself, so I'm glad to see them again as they are now starting to stream live performances. For now it's only with a few musicians. The performance series will slowly build up to include the whole orchestra – once that is possible. You can follow the project here. One definite highlight will be a performance by Norway's new classical star, the "one-in-a-million voice" of Lise Davidsen.
Photo: Lise Davidsen on Instagram
As digital stages keep popping up, another interesting one from Oslo is Karan TV. The latest episode features a conversation on a hopefully positive future for restaurants and local food, as well as an intimate concert in good old "NPR Tiny Desk" style by two of my closest collaborators – and just in general, favorite people – Anders Tjore and Nosizwe. Their acoustic collaboration is absolutely gorgeous, so allow yourself a moment with this live performance. I would definitely recommend checking out their album as well. I mean, just listen here...
AND NOW... A CHRISTOPH WALTZ FUN FACT
Did you know that actor Christoph Waltz directs opera?
Yes, THE Christoph Waltz.
Photo: Christoph Waltz and Jamie Fox in Django Unchained
The actor who has given us chilling performances in films like Inglourious Bastards and Django Unchained, has another somewhat surprising talent up his sleeve. His director take on Beethoven's only opera Fidelio has been awaited with much anticipation in the town where Ludwig van resided for many years. However, as Corona put a stop to the premiere at Theater an der Wien, the whole performance was instead filmed – and can now be seen for free here.
If you'd like a different kind of trip to Vienna, join me on a dive into the grand old city in my travel episode of Børsbyene for Dagens Næringsliv and Matkanalen here. (Interviews in English)
Photo: I walk-and-talk through Vienna with Stephan Ferenczy, co-founder of BEHF Architects.
Books are in trouble.
In Norway, book sales are down a catastrophic 59% since the corona lockdown started.
Book sales were actually on a rise in this country. According to bok365 the year started off well, with a 4.5% rise, but now a dramatic drop.
Sure, it isn't as if we lack reading material. Scandinavian families have the biggest home libraries in the world: "14% of Norwegians and 13% of Swedes had 500+ books in their homes home".
However, as publishing houses are struggling – and some may feel that TV series binging is reaching the point of exhaustion – consider ordering some new books. I regularly drop by Bill Gates' book blog, to see what he's been reading. I always pick up some valuable tips there. Hereby recommended.
STORIES THAT MAY SLIP BY IN THE NEWS
– BUT ARE WORTH KNOWING
Did you know that South Africa has implemented an alcohol ban during corona, and that the police minister in charge of handling the matter seems to have "gone rogue"?
It is also worth knowing that a locust plague is ravaging East-Africa – as far as Pakistan – "20 times worse than the last one". This comes at the worst possible time, as "food supplies across the world will be massively disrupted" due to corona.
FINALLY, SOME PURE FUTURE ESCAPISM
Let's grab swimwear, some good food and drink,
and just go lie down on a floating island.
Concept by Marshall Blecher & Studio Fokstrot for the city of Copenhagen.
Feel free to implement something like this anytime, City of Oslo!
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About Andreas Ihlebæk I'm a Norwegian composer, pianist, writer, editor, director and TV host living in Oslo. I work with classical label Naxos Records, where my new piano album Northern Lullabies is set for physical release in US & Germany in May. I compose music for TV/Film/Theatre and write songs for/with numerous artists. As a writer I have written on popular culture, classical music and politics for the top Norwegian magazines and newspapers, and also contribute as non-fiction editor for Pilar / Strawberry Publishing. Having lived for long periods in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Hamburg (Germany), as well as traveling extensively as a writer, musician and television director, I stumbled into hosting two TV series on travel & food for Matkanalen (the "Norwegian Food Network"). Oh, and I'm a certified Santa Claus from the Howard Santa School in Michigan.