surfing the stardust

Archive for the category “favorite art”

Greeve’s Favorite Books

I started off as trying to get some inputs from classmates on their favorite books but soon realized that favorite “authors” were more appropriate.  These are all really good authors.  You can tell I love suspense novels.  Graham Greene used to differentiate between literature and “entertainments” – that makes no sense to me. I will not read if the book does not hold my interest – if it holds my interest I am entertained.
I also like a historical background and pure history too, especially wars. But, except for spy novels, I can’t recall many WW I or II novels I think are really good. I have read scores of books about the 20th Century wars – the 8 or 9 authors here give a fine start to the “questions without answers” of “why”.  I have read many Vietnam War novels but none compare to the movie “Platoon”.  I have not read Churchill’s “History of the English Speaking People”
On the Civil War, I think I’ve read about 8-10 Lincoln biographies but non really stood out – I guess with such an amazing character and life many are good. Sandburg’s Lincoln is the place to start for the whole view.  Grant’s wonderful biography by Jean Smith makes sense of all the shenanigans of the other generals.
Science fiction is almost always suspense.  Far away places and exploration also entertain me.  I went through a period when mountaineering was a big thing in my life and boating has always been fun.  I have re-read almost all of these books.  I continue to be perplexed why there are no great German writers – I guess with Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven who needs to read?
                                                                          The best book I ever read:

Top ~85 Authors to Read:
I have sometimes picked one or two titles which I recall were especially good.  All of these authors’s complete work are worth a try – as usual there will be a lemon or three. If I marked it ++ I highly recommend you give all the author’s works a try.

Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurty (this is really my favorite)
My Early Life – Winston Churchill++
The Search for Karla Triolgy – John LaCarre++ (no this one is)
The Indian Creek Chronicles – Pete Fromm
The Robot Novels – Isaac Asimov++
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson (Jenny and My favorite)
The Guns of August – Barbara Tuchman++ (Dan’s and my Favorite)
The Collected Stories (1950) – Willam Faulkner
Anna Karenina/War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (yes this is it)
The Winds of War/Caine Mutiny – Herman Wouk 
Hawaii – James Michener
Contact – Carl Sagan
The Rise and The Fall of the Third Reich – William Shirer
Hell in a Very Small Place – Bernard Fall 
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
Rain and other South Sea Stories -Collected Somerset Maugham++
Undaunted Courage – Steven Ambrose++
All The Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy++
My Antonia – Willa Cather
Inside the Third Reich – Albert Speer
The Snow Leopard – Henry Matthiessen++
Two Years Before the Mast – Richard Dana
Straight Man – Richard Russo
That Willder Image –  James Flexner 
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Chichikov’s Journey – Nikolai Gogol
Out Of Africa – Isak Dinesen
The Heart of the MAtter – Graham Greene++
Crime and Punishment – Dostoyevsky++
The White Spider – Reinhold Meissner
Nanda Devi: The Tragic Expedition – John Roskelley 
The Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Theroux
Napolean – Vincent Kronin
Dreadnought – Robert Massie (and all his Russian biographies)++
The Blue NIle – Alan Moorehead
Sportsman’s Sketches – Turgenev
The River at the Center of the World – Simon Winchester
P&P, S&S – Jane Austin
Everything by – Elmore Leonard++
Little Men/Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

Neuromancer – William Gibson

Grant – Jean Edward Smith
The Story of Crime (10 novel Martin Beck series) – Sjowall & Wahloo
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

City of Djinns – W. Dalrymple
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
L’Assommoir/Germinal – Emile zola
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Trilogy) – S. Larsson 
Ten Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Zafon

“Electric Mist etc” – James Lee Burke
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
Kim – Rudyard Kipling
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
Stranger in a Strange Land –  R. Heinlein
The Castle – F. Kafka 
Ringworld – Larry Niven
Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance – George Mallory
A Gentleman in Moscow – A. Towles
The Outsiders  – S.E. Hinton
Richard Wetherill: Anasazi – F. McNitt 
The Hobbit & LOTR –  JRR Tolkien
Out Stealing Horses – Per Petterson
 The Catcher in the Rye/Franny and Zooey- JD Salinger
Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse
Lincoln Biographies – Carl Sandburg
Cannery Row – John Steinbeck
Boys in the Boat – DJ Brown
Three Men in a Boat – Jerome Jerome
The Six Mountain Travel Books – Eric Shipton
Aubrey-Maturin Series – Patrick O’Brian
All Novels – Evelyn Waugh
All Jeeves and Bertie Books – P.G. Wodehouse
Collected Sherlock Holmes – AC Doyle
All “Thriller & Crime”  by E. Leonard, H Mankill, D Hammit, R Chandler, J Kanon, M Connelly, J Ellroy, Alan Furst, Lee Childs

Nominee’s from non 1966 grads
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Laura Ingalls Wilder books (my favorite is Farmer Boy)
The Emerald Mile – K. Fedarco

Kids books

Winnie the Poo
Hat in the Cat
The Polar Express
Charlotte’s Web
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Wind in the Willows
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

others considered
F. Scott FitzGerald, Dos Passos, Stegner
Thomas Mann, the Latin American authors
Numerous French authors
HG Wells
The 50’s american east coast writers Updike, Roth,  Bellow, Singer Malamud, Styron etc
Crane, Cooper, Melville (do like lots of Moby Dick, especially the beginning – “wow”), Walter Scott, Dickens
other thriller and police: Philip Kerr, Christopher Buckley, other US police procedurals,  etc etc etc etc etc…thanks for reading down this far! Ciao

Favorite Paintings # 5 – Kindred Spirits

It was in my first trek into the Himalayan mountains in 1981 that I realized exactly what the “Hudson River School” means to us.  As I hiked for weeks back into the depths of the valley of Kashmir and Ladakh, each and every one, regardless of how remote, with huts and hamlets, I slowly came to an understanding that just 100 years before 1829, the year this scene took place, there was no wilderness outside of the “New World”.  No matter how remote we can get in the massive mountains of Asia or the bush of Africa the fact remains that man has colonized and occupied all of the regions of the Eastern Hemisphere going way way back for several Hundreds of Thousands of years – eons really.  The famous book “That Wilder Image” by James T. Flexner shows how the artists from the Western European tradition were stunned by the raw vistas of untouched, prehistoric, and, in a sense, (given the sparsity of the Native America populations and their hunter-gatherer lifestyle), “uncivilized” forests and waters.

There are many fine painters from this “school” –  Bierstadt, Church, Cole, Durand, Moran, Kensett, Heade. And their works can be seen in virtually any city museum.  They depict our unique, as Americans, natural heritage. Asher_Durand_Kindred_Spirits I think it is really is the great period of American art, but regardless, these works capture the timelessness of our world before man.

This one is generally accepted as the “first” great painting from them.
Per Wiki: It is painting by Asher Brown Durand, who was part of the Hudson River School. It depicts the painter Thomas Cole, who had died in 1848, and his friend, poet William Cullen Bryant, in the Catskill Mountains. The landscape painting, which combines geographical features in Kaaterskill Clove and a minuscule depiction of Kaaterskill Falls, is not a literal depiction of American geography. Rather, it is an idealized memory of Cole’s discovery of the region more than twenty years prior, his friendship with Bryant, and his ideas towards American Nature.

The title comes from a poem by Keats’ Sonnets of Solitude, excerpted thus:

Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thought refin’d,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.

The painting is owned by the Wal-mart family “Walton Family Foundation” and is in display at their fabulous new museum in Bentonville Arkansas.  Admission to the whole museum is free… 

A couple of shots of well known, popular, and out in space Rock-it! the cat

as we get ready to go shopping for a new companion we want his friends to be able to know where to go for a quick peak at the young feller

Favorite Paintings # 4 – Triumph of Bacchus

Amazing that this is a painting by Velasquez and not Caravaggio.  Bacchus looks like one of the young men in Caravaggio and the compostion reminds me of the The Calling or The ToothPuller.  The subject is so “not Velasquez”..but it sure looks like a hell of a party!!  Wish I had been there.  In the Prado.




Favorite Paintings – Hiroshi Yoshida, The Shrines at Nikko

Hiroshi Yoshida was a Japanese wood block artist and print maker; born 1876 and died in 1950.  He was one of the first of the old school who traveled outside of Japan to see and record the world in that famous technique.

These are 2 prints my mom purchased when we lived in Yokohama as my dad was part of the occupying army.  They hung in our dining room the whole time we were growing up and so I looked at them every day.

They are 2 different views of the famous shrines in Nikko – about a 3 hour train ride north of Tokyo.  You can go up there on a day trip.  Jenny and I did this during our joint trip to Japan towards the end of her college years.

Once when my mother was still alive and I was visiting her in Menlo Park I asked her if I could have them.  She said of course.  and then she said..”you know, I think there may be some more out in a footlocker in the garage”.  astounded I went out and dug through their old WW2 lockers and way down in the bottom of one were 3 other prints.  I also later got one (of Udaipur India)from my Uncle Ad & Aunt Helen Roth- mom had brought one back for them.  And our Davaney cousins in Chicago have another one also.  Margo and I have bought other woodblock prints in Japan – they are a reasonably priced way to acquire fantastic pieces.

His sons are now famous artists in their own right.

Favorite paintings: # 3

If you have a magnifying glass, and a few hours to spend in front of a roaring fire out of the rain, incessant rain, Breugel can provide hours of pleasure.  Only 45 of his paintings have survived but the Vienna Art Museum has more of his paintings than any other place.  This scene is one of 6 from the series “Seasons” – only 5 are known and the missing 6th was the subject of the excellent mystery novel “Headlong” by Michael Frayne.  The original “Where’s Waldo” painter, his 2 paitnings “Netherland Proverbs”, and “Childrens Games” can keep the 12 year olds busy for hours..

Pieter Breugel the Elder: Hunters in the Snow, 1565, Vienna

Favorite Paintings part 1

One of the wonderful things about my marriage to Margo Ann is that her passion for art has meshed with my passion for travel.  It did not take me long to slip into her ceaseless  explorations of galleries and museums where ever we travel.  In one frozen November day in Paris, on the way for Thanksgiving dinner with Jenny at L’Auberge de l’iLL, we spent a whole day in just the French Painting section of the Louvre; never got into the Dutch, Italian or Spanish, let alone the statuary.

“The Wreck of the Medusa” by Gericault captured my imagination and  became probably my second most favorite painting.

My favorite painting, and one that introduced me to 19th Century American Landscape painting as well as the “Luminism” school was Frederick E Church’s “The Heart of the Andes”, painted in 1859.  Waynette and I bought an “original” hand colored engraving of it in a Saratoga antique store in 1975 – our first art purchase as a couple.

These were sold as souvenirs as the original was traipsed around the country in a tent showing.  So the print is probably at least 150 years old.  It occupies a place of honor in the NY Metropolitan and our guest room.


so the bad news

since I like poetry I will, from time to time, post some.
this one was written looking out over Monkey Mountain at Da Nang


In the dusk the mountains lie out to the west,
Backlit by an evening light – dark and richly
purple in the deepening haze.
Low clouds lie in the low valleys.
The mountains, some jagged, some massive;
Steep canyons hold passes leading up to
mystery and the Central Highlands.
We would head out that waysome evenings, unsure, (how could we know anything anyway),
of how the night would go,
But welcoming the adventure and the arms of fate.


poems .. and somehow the wine

I’m not a poet but it’s fun to try.  Billy Collins is a poet.  Below is his poem called “Litany”.  He was the Poet Laureate of the US for 3 years. Went to Holy Cross. Lives in NY. born in 1941.

on this past Sunday we had the wonderful privilege to hear Dawn Upshaw, one of the world’s great soprano’s, read this, with of course perfect diction and lovely tones, at the memorial service for her sister, Dana Upshaw Preston, wife of a good friend. PS: a search on this will bring you the Youtube of him reading this. worth a listen


You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine. 

here is him reading it

Friday night

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