October 18, 2017 Adventures

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

By Peter Y. Chou

Preface: I've been going to Stanford's Book Discussion Club, Another Look, that meets quarterly to discuss a book that has been overlooked. On October 18, 2017, they meet at Stanford's Bechtel Conference Center, Encina Hall, to discuss Sándor Márai's Embers (1942), translated from Hungarian to English by Carol Brown Janeway, published by Knopf (2001). Santa Clara Libraries (Gilroy & Saratoga), had two copies, both checked out, with four holds from the "eager beaver" readers of Another Look. Fortunately, Foothill College Libraary had a copy which I checked out. I gave it to a friend to read, but she didn't finish it, and will bring it back on Tuesday at 11 am. She was six hours late, and I rushed for the 6:02 pm Bus #40 at Rengstorff Ave. She picked me up just before the bus arrived and drove me to to Foothill College. October 18 is my Cornell Professor Harold A. Scheraga's 96th birthday. I designed a web page birthday card for him each year, and also compile web pages with links on "Numbers" as part of my "Numbers Dictionary". Although I've compiled 175 items on "Number 96" for my Mom's 96th birthday (11-17-2004), many links from 13 years ago are outdated, and needed revisions. I also added 27 additonal items increasing it to 202 items. Since Krause Center closes at 7:30 pm, and Bus #40 leaves at 7:22 pm., I just had an half-hour (6:34-7:17 pm) to complete my web page for Scheraga's 96th birthday. I didn't read the 213 pages Márai's Embers book, going to bed at 11 pm. Woke up at 6 am, after a quick breakfast, caught the 7:37 am Bus #40 to Foothill College, arriving to a foggy mist at 8:04 am on Wednesday, October 18, 2017. At Krause Center I scanned Mangelsen's "Misty Morning Eagle" (2006) for Professor Scheraga's 96th Birthday card (8:32 am). I finished "On Number 96" adding 96¢ stamps from Ceylon, Hong Kong, and Strait Settlements showing Queen Victoria. Caught the 4:12 pm Bus #40 to Los Altos Library, and printed Happy 96th Birthday in color (4:40 pm). Rushed to mail it at Los Altos Post Office, 221 Main Street (4:50 pm). I waited half-hour as Post Office clerk Vincente was busy with another customer with two bags of Priority Mail & packages. Since I also included two recent poems "Turning Negative Noise to Something Positve" and "Nothing Is Impossible", the envelope weighed an ounce and half. I brought my Songbirds in Snow stamps (Golden-crowned Kinglet & Cedar Waxwing), which Vincente stamped "October 18, 2017, Los Altos, CA" for Scheraga's 96th birthday. Shop windows on Main Street had Halloween displays which were photographed below. Met friend at Los Altos Library (5:40 pm), and she drove on Foothill Expressway to Stanford Ave, to Serra Street, where we found parking. As we were about to cross the street to Encina Hall, my friend says a rabbit just jumped behind the lamp-post. I got out my camera, tiptoed slowly nearby, and took photos. When it leaped out, it was not a small bush bunny, but a giant jackrabbit with long ears. My photos of the jackrabbit standing up and running didn't register, and the one shown below is from pinterest.com flipped horizontally. We were early and got good seats second row on the right side. Cynthia Haven, Another Look organizer had a recording of Chopin's "Polonaise-Fantasie" Op. 61 playing (Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Martha Argerich). On pages 50-51 of Embers— "They were performing Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasie and Henrik's mother was playing with such passion that the whole room seemed to shimmer and vibrate. As they waited patiently and politely in their corner for the piece finally to end, both father and son had the sensation that some metamorphosis was taking place in Henrik's mother and in Konrad. It was as if the music were levitating the furniture, as if some mighty force were blowing against the heavy silk curtains, as if every ossified, decayed particle buried deep in the human heart were quickening into life, as if in everyone on earth a fatal rhythm lay dormant, waiting for the predestined moment to begin its fateful beat. The courteous listeners realized that music is dangerous. But the duo at the piano had lost all thought of danger. The Polonaise-Fantasie was no more than a pretext to loose upon the world those forces that shake and explode the structure of order which man has devised to conceal what lies beneath. They sat straight-back at the piano, leaning away from the keys a little and yet bound to them, as if music itself were driving an invisible team of fiery mythical horses riding the storm that circled the world, and they were bracing their bodies to maintain a firm grip on the reins in this explosive headlong gallop of unshackled energies. And then, with a single chord, they ended. The evening sun was slanting through the large windows, and motes of gold were spinning in its rays, as if the unearthly racing chariot had stirred up a whirlwind of dust on its way to ruin and the void." At 7:30 pm, the discussants arrived at the podium— Host, Professor Robert Pogue Harrison, Professor Tobias Wolff, and Dean Jane Shaw. I took five pages of notes on their lively discussions and snapped a photo during the Q&A session. One audience member read the book in Hungarian and said the Hungarian title is Candles Burning.
Professor Harrison tells the audience that our next discussion on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 will be Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Another Look Flyer
October 18, 2017

Sándor Márai's Embers
for book discussions

Professor Harold A. Scheraga
Ph.D. Advisor (1963-1970)

Made Birthday Card for
Scheraga's 96th birthday

"Misty Morning Eagle" (2006)
card by Thomas D. Mangelsen

Morning Mist (10-18-2017)
Foothill College, Los Altos Hills

Los Altos Post Office
221 Main Street, Los Altos

Cobweb on Princess & Knight
Adventure Toys, 173 Main Street

Pumpkin & Halloween Themes
Paperwhirl, 151 Main Street

Happy Halloween Pumpkins
Davino Florist, 149 Main Street

Rabbit Behind Lamp-post
616 Serra Street, Stanford

Jack Rabbit Leaping Out
Behind the Lamp-post

Another Look Discussants
Professors Harrison, Wolff, Shaw

— Photographs by Peter Y. Chou, October 18, 2017

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