The Red Pavilion by Robert Van Gulik

imageI am currently reading the detective novel The Red Pavilion by Robert Van Gulik, set in Poo Yang around the Tang Dynasty, It is based on the real character of Judge Dee (Ti Jen-chieh or Di Renjie), a magistrate and statesman of the Tang court, who lived roughly 630–700. The novel starts as Judge Dee, the magistrate of Poo-yang province and his assistant Lieutenant Ma Joong, are journeying back home through the Amusement Resort of Paradise Island, whose attractive exterior hides a corrupt hotbed of illicit Gambling, prostitution debauchery, Murder and many other illegal vices,

At Paradise Island he meets an assortment of dodgy characters including Magistrate Lo, Curio shop owner Wen Yuen and Autumn Moon, the most powerful and famous courtesan on the island, and then learns of the apparent suicide of a young man who was studying to pass the Imperial exams who died recently in suspicious circumstances on Paradise Island after getting romantically involved with Autumn Moon.

Judge Dee is immediately suspicious, so he and Ma Joong investigate to find out whether it was suicide or whether he was murdered, then a short time later Autumn Moon herself is also found dead. Judge Dee discovers that All the unfortunate events seem to centre round The Red Pavillion where Lucky courtesans carry on their illicit liaisons with their lucky lovers and also learns of a gruesome crime committed thirty years ago and gradually Gets drawn into a web of lies and sad stories in the world of the Beautiful Courtesans of Imperial China.

Gioachino Rossini

Italian Composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini sadly passed away on 13th November at the age of 76 from pneumonia at his country house at Passy on Friday, 13 November 1868. He was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. In 1887, his remains were moved to the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze, in Florence, at the request of the Italian government.Born 29 February 1792 into a family of musicians in Pesaro, a town on the Adriatic coast of Italy, he began his musical training early, and by the age of six he was playing the triangle in his father’s musical group, His father also played the horn in the orchestras of the theatres at which his wife sang and Rossini had three years of instruction in the playing of the harpsichord from Giuseppe Prinetti. He was eventually taken from Prinetti and apprenticed to a blacksmith. In Angelo Tesei, he found a congenial music master, and learned to sight-read, play accompaniments on the piano and sing well enough to take solo parts in the church when he was ten years of age. He was also a capable horn player and Around this time, he composed individual numbers to a libretto by Vincenza Mombelli called Demetrio e Polibio, which was handed to the boy in pieces.Though it was Rossini’s first opera, written when he was thirteen or fourteen, the work was not staged until the composer was twenty years old, premiering as his sixth official opera.

In 1806 Rossini became a cello student and learned to play the cello with ease. his first opera, La cambiale di matrimonio (The Marriage Contract), was produced at Venice when he was 18 years old But two years before this he had already received the prize at the Conservatorio of Bologna for his cantata Il pianto d’Armonia sulla morte d’Orfeo. Between 1810 and 1813 at Bologna, Rome, Venice and Milan, Rossini produced operas of varying success, most notably La pietra del paragone and Il signor Bruschino, with its brilliant and unique overture. In 1813, Tancredi and L’italiana in Algeri were even bigger successes, and catapulted the 20-year-old composer to international fame.Rossini’s most famous opera, ,The Barber of Seville, was produced on 20 February 1816, scholars generally agree that it was written in two or three weeks, although Rossini himself claimed to have written the opera in only twelve days.Perhaps one of the most well known parts of The Barber of Seville is Figaro’s Aria.

Between 1815 and 1823 Rossini produced 20 operas. Of these Othello formed the climax to his reform of serious opera, and offers a suggestive contrast with the treatment of the same subject at a similar point of artistic development by the composer Giuseppe Verdi. In 1823, he came to England, being much fêted on his way through Paris. and was given a generous welcome in England, The next year he became musical director of the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris, between 1824 and 1829, Rossini created the comic opera Le Comte Ory and Guillaume Tell (William Tell). which is a political epic adapted from Schiller’s play about the 13th-century Swiss patriot who rallied his country against the Austrians.By the age of thirty-eight he had composed thirty-eight operas as well as sacred music, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces. He also became famous for the inspired, song-like melodies which are evident throughout his scores, which mark a transitional stage in the history of opera, the overture serving as a model for romantic overtures throughout the 19th century.Rossini sadly passed away on 13th November at the age of 76 from pneumonia at his country house at Passy on Friday, 13 November 1868. But during his lifetime he recieve many Honors & tributes, He was a foreign associate of the institute, grand officer of the Legion of Honour and recipient of innumerable orders. In 1900 Giuseppe Cassioli created a monument to Rossini in the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence. Rossini remains one of the most popular opera composers in history and The William Tell overture also remains one of the most famous and frequently recorded works in the classical repertoire In 1989 the conductor Helmuth Rilling also recorded a Requiem for Rossini.

World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day is 13 November. It was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement a coalition of nations kindness NGOs. It is observed in many countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia, Nigeria and United Arab Emirates. In 2009,Singapore observed the day for the first time. Italy and India also observed the day. In the UK it is fronted by Louise Burfitt-Dons who co-founded Kindness Day UK. In 2010 at the request of Michael Lloyd—White the NSW Federation Parents and Citizens Association wrote to the Minister of The NSW Department of Education to place World Kindness Day on the NSW School Calendar. In 2012 At the request of the Chairman of World Kindness Australia, World Kindness Day was placed on the Federal School Calendar and the then Minister of School Education, Early Childhood, and Youth The Hon Peter Garrett, provided a Declaration of Support forWorld Kindness Australia and placed World Kindness Day on the National School Calendar for over 9000 schools. Schools across the globe are now celebrating World Kindness Day and work with local NGOs such as the Be Kind People Project and Life Vest Inside In the USA.

In 2012 Australia Her Excellency Prof Marie Bashir Governor of NSW hosted an event for the first time at Government House to celebrate World kindness Day and accepted a Cool To Be Kind Award from year 3&4 students. Australian Councils representing over 1.3 million residents have also signed Declarations of Support for World Kindness Australia placing World Kindness Day on the Council Calendar of Events. Events include THE BIG HUG, handing out Kindness Cards, Global Flashmob, which was coordinated by Orly Wahba from USA which was held in 15 countries and 33 cities with its images of the event making the big screens in New York City. Canada celebrates with The Kindness Concert and in Singapore in 2009, 45,000 yellowflowerswere given away. World Kindness Day is to highlight the Good in the community focussing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us. Kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which bridges the divides of race religion, politics, gender and zip codes. Kindness Cards are also an ongoing activity which can either be passed on to recognise an act of kindness and or ask that an act of kindness be done. Approaches are being made to the United Nations by the peak global body, The World Kindness Movement to have World Kindness Day officially recognised and its members unanimously sign a Declaration of Support for World Kindness.

Robert Louis Stephenson

Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, was Born November 13th 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Robert’s grandfather was the famous Scottish civil engineer and builder of lighthouses Robert Stevenson, FRSE, FGS, FRAS, MSA Scot, MWS, MInstCE. As An only child, strange-looking and eccentric, Stevenson found it hard to fit in when he was sent to a nearby school at age six, and when he went on to the Edinburgh Academy at age eleven. His frequent illnesses often kept him away from his first school, and he was taught for long stretches by private tutors. He learnt to read at age seven or eight, but even before this he dictated stories to his mother and nurse. He compulsively wrote stories throughout his childhood. His father was proud of this interest; he had also written stories in his spare time. He paid for the printing of Robert’s first publication at sixteen, an account of the covenanters’ rebellion which was published on its two hundredth anniversary, The Pentland Rising: A Page of History, 1666 (1866).In November 1867 Stevenson entered the University of Edinburgh to study engineering. but showed no enthusiasm for his studies, however he formed many friendships with other students in the Speculative Society (an exclusive debating club), particularly with Charles Baxter, and with a professor, Fleeming Jenkin, whose house staged amateur drama in which Stevenson took part, and whose biography he would later write. He also spent much time with His cousin, Robert Alan Mowbray Stevenson (known as “Bob”), a lively and light-hearted young man who instead of the family profession had chosen to study art.

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TREASURE ISLAND (1950 http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TkBKE07p-oA =============================================================================
During holidays, Stevenson travelled to inspect the family’s engineering work in Anstruther and Wick in 1868, and went with his father on his official tour of Orkney and Shetland islands lighthouses in 1869, and spent three weeks on the island of Erraid in 1870. He enjoyed the travels more for the material they gave for his writing than for any engineering interest. The voyage with his father pleased him because a similar journey of Walter Scott with Robert Stevenson had provided the inspiration for Scott’s 1821 novel The Pirate. In April 1871 Stevenson notified his father of his decision to pursue a life of letters. Though the elder Stevenson was naturally disappointed, the surprise cannot have been great, and Stevenson’s mother reported that he was “wonderfully resigned” to his son’s choice. To provide some security, it was agreed that Stevenson should read Law (again at Edinburgh University) and be called to the Scottish bar.

In late 1873, on a visit to a cousin in England, Stevenson met two people who were to be of great importance to him, Sidney Colvin and Fanny Sitwell. Colvin became Stevenson’s literary adviser and after his death was the first editor of Stevenson’s letters. Soon after their first meeting, he had placed Stevenson’s first paid contribution, an essay entitled “Roads,” in The Portfolio. Stevenson was soon active in London literary life, becoming acquainted with many of the writers of the time, including Andrew Lang, Edmund Gosse, and Leslie Stephen, the editor of the Cornhill Magazine, who while Visiting Edinburgh in 1875, he took Stevenson with him to visit a patient at the Edinburgh Infirmary, named Ernest Henley, who was an energetic and talkative man with a wooden leg who became a close friend and occasional literary collaborator, and is often seen as the model for Long John Silver in Treasure Island. In November 1873 Stevenson’s health failed, and he was sent to Menton on the French Riviera to recuperate. He returned in better health in April 1874 and settled down to his studies, but he returned to France several times after that and made long and frequent trips to the neighbourhood of the Forest of Fontainebleau, staying at Barbizon, Grez-sur-Loing, and Nemours and becoming a member of the artists’ colonies there, as well as to Paris to visit galleries and the theatres. He did qualify for the Scottish bar in July 1875. But although his law studies would influence his books, he never practised law as All his energies were now spent in travel and writing. One of his journeys, a canoe voyage in Belgium and France with a friend from the Speculative Society and frequent travel companion, was the basis of his first real book, An Inland Voyage (1878).

Between 1880 and 1887, Stevenson spent his summers at various places in Scotland and England, including Westbourne, Dorset, and It was during his time he wrote the story Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, naming one of the characters Mr.Poole after the town of Poole. He also named his house Skerryvore after the tallest lighthouse in Scotland, which his uncle Alan had built. Despite his ill health, he produced the bulk of his best-known work during these years, including Treasure Island, Kidnapped; Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Black Arrow and two volumes of verse, A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods. When his father died in 1887, Stevenson felt free to follow the advice of his physician to try a complete change of climate, and started with his mother and family for Colorado. But after landing in New York, they decided to spend the winter at Saranac Lake, New York, in the Adirondacks & it was here that he wrote some of his best essays, including The Master of Ballantrae

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JEKYLL & HYDE (1920) http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ho8-vK0L1_8

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in June 1888 Stevenson chartered the yacht Casco and set sail with his family from San Francisco. The sea air and thrill of adventure restored his health, and for nearly three years he wandered the eastern and central Pacific, stopping for extended stays at the Hawaiian Islands, where he became a good friend of King Kalākaua and his niece, Princess Victoria Kaiulani, who also had a link to Scottish heritage. He spent time at the Gilbert Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand and the Samoan Islands. During this period he completed The Master of Ballantrae, composed two ballads based on the legends of the islanders, and wrote The Bottle Imp. He also intended to write another book of travel writing to follow his earlier book In the South Seas, but it was his wife who eventually published her journal of their third voyage in her account of the 1890 voyage The Cruise of the Janet Nichol.Towrds the end of his life In 1890 Stevenson purchased a tract of about 400 acres (1.6 km²) in Upolu, an island in Samoa. Here, he established himself in the village of Vailima. He took the native name Tusitala (Samoan for “Teller of Tales”. His influence spread to the Samoans, who consulted him for advice, and he soon became involved in local politics.In addition to building his house and helping the Samoans in many ways, he found time to work at his writing & wrote The Beach of Falesa, Catriona (titled David Balfour in the USA), The Ebb-Tide, and the Vailima Letters during this period and also began work on Weir of Hermiston, which He felt was the best work he had done.On 3 December 1894, Stevenson was talking to his wife and straining to open a bottle of wine when he suddenly exclaimed, “What’s that!” asking his wife “Does my face look strange?” and collapsed. He died within a few hours, probably of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was forty-four years old. The Samoans insisted on surrounding his body with a watch-guard during the night and on bearing their Tusitala upon their shoulders to nearby Mount Vaea, where they buried him on a spot overlooking the sea.