Posts Tagged ‘Beethoven’

Adele, the Phenomenon

March 12, 2017
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Lobelia

Hello, but am I missing something?

I asked my neighbour how he was. It’s the usual way to start a conversation. Sometimes, we talk but only if mutuality allows it. No obligation to talk. It should be free choice. It really is a matter of observing the other person and likewise the other way.

He said, ‘I’m fine and we are going to see a concert in Sydney tonight.’ ‘A concert, I replied. Where are you seeing the concert?’ I expected, the Opera House or some other venue, may be a Private school or Art gallery. You have to remember that to me a concert is something that includes Beethoven with an orchestra, possibly a grand piano, violins and a conductor with baton. It was nothing like that.

He said, ‘it is held at the Olympic Park and fully sold out. We are taking all the kids as well.’ Our neighbour’s kids are grown girls. The Olympic Park is at Home-Bush and was specially built for the Sydney Olympic games in 2000. ‘It’s Adele, he added.’ The ‘missing’ part is that I know very little about fame and its people. Never heard of Adele. I have heard of The Gypsy Kings and The Beatles, but Adele is well below my radar. That is not surprising because I don’t watch much TV or read newspapers. With both forms of media I generally don’t read or watch sport or brush up on any fame. The only recent pop star that I remember is Bieber. ‘Can you make me look a bit like Bieber?’ is what I habitually  ask my barber.  And that is starting to fade as well.

I lack the honesty to admit to my neighbour I had never heard of Adele. There is no lie really. Can omission to not know of a well-known thing be a lie?  I went inside somewhat ashamed for not having continued the neighbourly conversation. He was also in the process of washing his car. The noise of the  garden hose hitting his ducoed car wasn’t helping much of me hearing what was being said. I decided to go inside and seek the help of Helvi in clarification of ‘Adele.’ She is much more on the ball than I.

‘Of course, I have heard of Adele,’ she said. ‘She is a singer and writes music as well.’  I however, had never heard of her. It is well-known that snobbish people often state that their superiority has reached such stellar heights and is so far above everyone else’s, they proclaim, to everyone still patient enough to listen , they know nothing about sport or pop stars.

With me it is not so. I am just quickly dulled by sport or famous pop-stars. My dad was the same. I have his gene. I also don’t know about much else as well, it’s not only sport or pop! In any case. I went back to my neighbour and told him the last concert I went to was a concert of The Gypsy Kings, a long time ago. He was nice about it and told me he still has all their music. So, that was nice. I did not come through the total ignoramus.

Just now I put on a song by Adele and it’s called ‘Hello.’ The neighbour said that at the concert thousands were in tears, sobbing. That’s the power of that  song by Adele. I put it on for Helvi’s benefit. After 20 seconds she asked me to put that screaming woman off.

So, there you go. Different strokes for different folks.

 

 

 

 

 

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How was your Pulled Pork?

March 2, 2017

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After our American friend arrived a couple of days ago we had lunch at a local pub. Our friend from California is having extensive additions and renovations done on his house. He needed to live elsewhere for the duration of this. He is renting a house in the never never of Sydney’s sprawled-out Western suburbs. In the past it would have been referred to as beyond the black stump. In the earlier days of colonisation, the black stump was a landmark used as a pointer to unmapped interior of Australia. This sunburnt never never country. The black stump, a burnt-out tree!

After arriving and perusal of menu, Helvi chose the Pizza with anchovies and my friend and I went for the brisket sandwich. My friend explained this is a traditional Jewish dish. A kind of pulled slow cooked beef. What is it about this pulling of meat lately? There is now a race on to have ‘pulled’ meat dishes on menus. Especially pulled pork. Not long ago it was the pink salt or Himalayan salt. Soon after the wooden platters or slate on which food was served. Remember the waiter going around with giant pepper grinders? That’s old hat now. We have ‘pulled’ pork or beef. Are cooks pulling on a piece of meat before cooking it?

It is all so confusing. Are people now socialising, talking about their latest ‘pulled pork platter’ at the Berlin Café? I can’t imagine asking a nice sophisticated lady during the interval at Beethoven’s ninth symphony at Sydney’s Opera house, ‘ How was your pulled pork today?’

Within about ten minutes or so, our dishes were ready. This pub gives you an electronic buzzer which always frightens me a bit when they go off. So much now is done electronically. This pub is very popular. It means those devices are going off almost continuously with people dancing around from table to table.  With my deafness I sometimes mistake this noise with a call on my mobile phone. I now don’t take my phone with me. Even so I react. It is so crazy out there. Life so much nervous reaction which I can do without.

The patrons then walk to the counter and pick up their dishes. With the introduction of wooden plates it is an art  to walk back without spilling pulled meat or anchovies onto other diners. This is especially so during Friday nights when people go around selling raffle tickets. Most pubs do that. The tickets are raised to fund charity for the poor home-less or football clubs. Lions clubs or Father Riley, The Smith family and so forth.

After we picked up our wooden platters of food, we got stuck into it. The juices from this pulled brisket sandwich soon flowed onto the wooden platter. Those wooden platters don’t have a rim like good ceramic plates have. I made a little dike with a paper napkin. This building of dikes comes naturally. Even so, it distracts and the brisket wasn’t all that well pulled. Enfin, we continued on. Our American friend commented that it was nothing like his mother’s brisket cooking.

Is anything ever like our mother’s?

 

I hope your culture is normal.

March 28, 2015
grandsons.

grandsons.

I thought I knew culture, or at least the average ‘normal’ person’s understanding of its meaning. But nothing surprised me more than when I got acquainted with a different, totally new form of culture, never experienced before. I also know that many people take rests on chairs, chaise lounges, settees, fauteuils or even the simple piano stool. There is nothing odd about man’s need for the occasional rest, even on a stool. But.., I am getting ahead of myself; This tale of surprise and  discovery of a new kind of culture needs time to ripen and mature. Ecoutez svp and get a little closer to your screen.

Over the last week or so I have been busy with domestic things, paying bills, emptying the dish-washer, putting bins on the street and even doing a thorough vacuum with the hand held one instead of the robovac. As readers might remember,  some weeks ago I gave in, relented,  bought an  automatic vacuum cleaner that roams the rooms and ferrets around corners and underneath book shelves in between beds and saucepans.  I find it fascinating to watch, seeing how it sends signals out to avoid obstacles and dead corners. The Robovac does a fair job but with rough coated Milo one needs to do a hand-held in between. On top of that I had to prepare myself for working this Saturday handing out ‘how to vote cards’ for the Green party of which I have been a member for just a few months. The state of NSW is having an election with everyone at fever pitch. The dogs are howling and swallows are flying erratically. They know it too. I also fitted in a quick visit to the Moss Vale medical centre  to check on a persistent pesky stomach bug.

Here it comes!

The good doctor from Indian background, whom I had not met before, did a good job, asking me all the relevant questions. History if any, of stomach problems, family background, dodgy genes, fainting spells, giddiness, what job I did, smoke, drink etc.? He finally prodded around my stomach a bit, but nothing painful or abnormal, and suggested I do some kind of what I understood a ‘culture test’. I agreed and thought any culture in Australia will do me, even if it is just the usual blood test. He wrote out the pathology note and as the pathologist outfit is next to the medical centre he suggested I do it straight away. The sooner the better, he smiled and shook my hand.

Helvi and I always go together to doctors as we do to shops or just walking around with Milo. In fact, we are probably noticed on our walks as a couple who are inseparable. Helvi glanced over to the lady behind the pathology counter and smiled. I too smiled and handed over the pathology request form. She read the doctor’s  note and smiled encouragingly. “Have you done a ‘stool culture’ before, she asked”? The penny dropped. I knew this culture were no ordinary culture, let alone a B’s ninth symphony or viewing of the pyramids of Cheops. Of all of life’s foibles, how did it come to this? I used to play in a sandpit and dreamt of castles.

h464B99F8 stool sample

No, I haven’t done ‘that’ before I answered.”I’ll get you the necessary kit”, still smiling by nurse! I wasn’t smiling. The horror of what was to now come became clear. I looked back and Helvi was smiling broadly. For some reason women seem to find this a really amusing procedure for men to undergo. Nurse said: “There are ‘just’ two small containers you need to fill with a small scoop fitted on the back of each lid”, ” you fill the two small ones from the ‘big’ container, she added. I sunk below vision, and meekly said something like ‘far-out’ or ‘can’t wait. Nurse’s eyes met mine and a moment of some embarrassment  was acknowledged and with a smile she winked. It helped.  She had seen all this before and she understood.

By now, nurse was really being encouraged by Helvi having to keep her mouth covered hiding her mirth and smile, and yet nurse had the nous to further explain; “the large bowel is for putting it in the toilet bowl to catch your stool”. This last remark should have reached its zenith of  relevant stool culture information. It did not.  More was yet to come.  “You can use the scoop on the back of the smaller containers’ lids to fill each of them them”, she said. “You must also give details of date and time of each time of your ‘stool production’ on the label, and number them as a 1 or  a 2”. “Don’t forget to wash the big container or use a new one each time. “AN ICE- CREAM container will do”, she said. By this time nurse was openly smiling and I was beyond caring. It would have been far worse if it had all been done in all seriousness. I mean, how could this possibly be a serious issue?

Even so, I hope that the future doesn’t hold anymore  medical cultural events like this one. I would much prefer to see Wagner’s ‘ring cycle’.

Ps. I played along  wanting to be seen as suffering the ultimate crestfallen male with his fragile ego, hitting the very lows of the absurdity of his idea of masculinity. The very idea of a ‘real’ man scooping his own faeces is unlimited material for comedy and laughter.  It was very funny and a bit of a show for the other patients sitting in chairs waiting their turn while listening in.

Life gets complicated but you have to face up to it, even when it includes strange cultures.

Violins and French Polish

January 2, 2015
Cupboard after French Polish.

Cupboard after French Polish.

A good violin player knows his/her instrument better than he does his or her toothbrush. So does the French polisher. It seems a ridiculous statement, but let’s examine it. Of course, the latter does not necessarily play a musical instrument but applies art just the same as the former. There are more details than just intimate knowledge of their toothbrushes that are similar.

The violin produces sound by vibrations caused by the bow made of horsehair striking or moving across strings suspended above a wooden soundbox. We all know that. However, the sound produced by horsehair strung across the bow needs a certain ingredient called ‘rosin’. This gives a certain resistance when striking across the strings of the instrument. You would be hard pushed to get a sound out without first having ‘rosined’ the bow’s hairs. Note the verb ‘to rosin’! Rosin is a solid substance mainly obtained from the resin of pine trees. I am fairly sure that a musician, especially a good one, knows how to direct his wishes onto the instrument just as much as being obedient to the instrument after sound has been produced. As always, a give and take in the kitchen of any creative act.

It seems odd that despite the violin being such a great and popular instrument, most of the great 19th and 20th composers have written just one violin concerto for this instrument. e.g, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Chaikovski, Dvorak, Elgar, Sibelius, Bartok. ( From Wiki)

Personally, I think Sibelius violin concerto the greatest piece of music ever written. I know it is a bit heavy and like most of his work, steeped in all things Finnish. You can indeed see the frozen sixty thousand lakes skirted by birch and spruce laden with snow. The melancholic and endless winter nights, but also the warm springs and loganberry filled summers, the simple and all artful that is Finland.

Here it is:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsbrRAgv1b4

Let’s now go to the French Polisher and his art. I rattled on of resin for the bows of violins and other similar instruments. The French Polisher also uses a kind or resin called shellac. It also comes from trees but is actually produced by a beetle which deposits its excrement onto trees. Typically it is only the female beetle that does this. I don’t know why, perhaps it is supposed to lure the male. I would not be surprised seeing how many females stop at nothing to get a mate, even if it means the poor old male gets stuck on the resin and cark it. Anyway, this resin deposited on trees by the female lac bug in India, Thailand and China produces the major ingredient for shellac. Shellac when mixed with spirits is mainly used for French Polishes and food glazes.

Like a good violin player giving direction and responding to the instrument so does the French polisher direct and respond to his pad soaked in shellac. The shellac gives it the sheen but applying it makes for a certain drag or resistance like the rosin on the violin’s bow. It is an art of getting a ‘feel’ of just enough pressure on the timber surface, enough drag to leave behind the desired honey coloured sheen. Not enough or too much pressure and it fails to glorify. Applied too fast or too slow and it will not happen either, at best giving a mediocre result. It does need a bit more than experience to obtain a feel for this form of art. I suppose it is like that with all things creative.

A feeling and expressing it, giving it form.

I am not sure about the reference to toothbrushes. I am no Violin player, but can do a bit of French Polish.