Saturday, 15 March 2008

A Tasty Challenge

Last weekend the unexpected but very welcome gift from our neighbours of a large bag of home-grown carrots, added to the bag we had bought a few days earlier, posed us a problem: what does a family of three do to reclaim a refrigerator replete with reddish roots?

Solution One

Solution Two

In the end we opted for solution two - a cake which has several advantages:

One, it's super-easy to make; just stir up all the ingredients in a bowl and cook - even a simple table-top oven like ours will do the job; two, it tastes great; and three, it contains carrots.

Here's the recipe. We didn't bother with the topping - in Taiwan cream cheese is scarcer than hen's teeth. Thanks Delia!

Posting Feedback

Many apologies to anyone who has tried to post feedback; I have now opened the filter to allow comments from any reader.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Cowboy Honey (Tate and Lyle)


I’m a travelling man, don’t tie me down
What storms, what battles did he sing?
I love my women, sometimes they love me
A tale so strong might melt the rocks as well
but I was got someday I still don’t know how

I said oh my God what’s your name
my name’s Lyle
The hero loves as well as you
I looked at her and she looked at me
ever gentle ever smiling and I looked back and she looked back
Cupid strew your path with flowers out together for a walk
her eyes were bright just like the stars
Godlike is the form he bears.

This fellow said stranger, why don’t you just go on home
forsake this land
and I said man that’s where I’m headed to tonight

I walked on through the door and she just smiled, resolved
Faithless man thy course pursue
I’ll stay
No, no away. Thy darkness, guest, is no trouble in my breast take
your boots and walk out of my life

She just smiled man. Ooh I was got I can’t figure out where it went
why don’t I just sing Cupid melt her give me back my paradise.

I ‘wrote’ this just for fun after several weeks of being unable to get the sweet phrase ‘Tate and Lyle’ out of my head. It’s a kind of ‘test crash’ between a pickup loaded with ‘Country’ and a horse-drawn wagon piled with ‘English Opera’.
It's possible that I’m subconsciously nostalgic for the Cowboy Honey’ of my childhood. Perhaps it reveals my opinion of opera/country music. In any case, I was keen to see the outcome of the collision on the women involved. And it seems they have been able to overcome a certain amount of the classical and Nashville expectation they had previously been facing. On the other hand, our hero's fate seems to have become embedded in italics.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Addio Pippo

March 3 saw the passing of Giuseppe di Stefano at the age of 86; he died in Milan after lying in a coma for three months. The celebrated tenor, known to his friends and fans as Pippo, and whose voice has been described as sounding 'like every great Italian voice rolled into one', had returned to Italy after being savagely attacked by unknown assailants at his home in Kenya.

By the time I discovered opera in the early 1980s, Di Stefano's art was already well into its decline - I never saw him perform, I got to know his work through his recordings, especially those he made with the soprano Maria Callas during the 1950s. His was the first Italian tenor voice I really fell in love with, and it has remained my favourite since.

Born in Sicily in 1921, Pippo's southern roots are said by many to have been the source of his spontaneity and passion. Some afficionados claim that he, like Mario del Monaco, was not the most subtle of tenors. However, he possessed a truly lovely voice: his tone has been described as 'velvety' and his pianissimos, especially in the higher register, were superb. He sang every note with commitment, and though for some this was a fault, I can tolerate occasional lapses in taste as a tradeoff for sheer Italianate authenticity and beauty of sound.

Di Stefano began his career during the 1940s in the Italian and French lyric repertoire, moving on to more dramatic roles in Verdi and the verismo of Puccini as his voice matured in the fifties. His 1953 recording of Tosca with Callas and Gobbi has always been at the top of any checklist of recordings of that opera, and his 1956 La Boheme, conducted by Votto is also justly famous. Nevertheless, he was also powerful in the bel canto repertoire of Donizetti and Bellini. His duets with Callas in Bellini's I Puritani, are for me, unforgettable.

Pippo finally retired from the stage in 1992, almost twenty years later than he probably should have done, but his influence has been great. Pavarotti cited him as his idol both as a singer and as a man, and perhaps there can be no finer compliment.

I have linked to recordings of Di Stefano in Verdi, Donizetti and Puccini

Monday, 3 March 2008

black line redline

You might like to read and listen to Ruth Padel's response to Bridget Riley and her work here . You can listen to extracts from interviews with Riley herself here.

14 March - A friend has just sent me this slinky eye/slinkyise poem - a fun sound link.