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February 1st, 2006

12:28 am - magic
OK, this is a sad couple of points to be making, but...

Listening to the Today programme, and a piece on Gabriel García Márquez suggested that the Colombian is "often known as the father of magica realism."

Um, no, not really.

And for what it's worth, even google suggests that the most common wearer of that crown is Miguel Angel Asturias.

(Me, if I had to choose I'd plump for one of either Giorgio di Chirico or Alejo Carpentier.)

And then a brief interview with Will Self, who tried to sound sophisticated, but just sounded stupid when he couldn't pronounce Maria Vargas Llosa's name. Hell, either say "Llosa" as if it were an English word, or say it in one of the various ways it is pronounced in Spanish, but don't invent your very own pronunciation!

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January 29th, 2006

01:59 pm - rain
It rains here. It has been raining for most of January. The other night it was raining hard, the sound of the water splashing and coursing off the eaves ever-present. Today is just drizzle.

Last year I don't think I noticed or cared much about the rain. This year there's either more of it or the city is less of a novelty, so with fewer obvious distractions.

And it is true that when the sky clears, the views of the surrounding mountains and the snow are marvellous. It was like that for one day last week. It almost made up for the other days of rain. Almost.

And it's also true that it's much less rainy in the summer. But just now, that seems a long way away.

UPDATE: Ha! I notice I posted an entry with the same title before. I think that's the first time I've reused the same title word. I knew the day would come when I would accidentally repeat. It's just fitting that now that day's arrived, the word should be "rain."

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November 7th, 2005

07:39 pm - Magic Numbers
I haven't updatd this for a while, but I wanted to report on the fact that we went to see the Magic Numbers last night. And that they were good. They were also rather overwhelmed by their reception in Vancouver. And showed their appreciation with rather sweet, not very rock'n'roll, delight.

Their second encore was an acoustic version of Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love."

That is all.

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August 15th, 2005

10:02 am - 340 for 8
Listening on the internet is just not the same. That sounds like an amazing catch on the rebound from Jones.

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August 14th, 2005

12:23 am - boss
We just saw Springsteen. It turned out that it was the last night of the tour, in fact. A stripped down show, only him, playing mostly acoustic: guitar, piano, once perhaps twice electric guitar, keyboards, and memorably a blues version of "Reason to Believe" that was just him, a harmonica, and his stamping his foot on the floor. A big venue, but remarkably intimate.

His son, Evan, acted roadie at one point and brought a new guitar to him on the stage.

Unlike Bob, Bruce cares about us. A lot. He wants to tell us about his life. He wants us to be happy, to keep dreaming and smiling. But if we're not happy, he feels our pain.

He played "Because the Night," which was cool. But I think the best two numbers were "The Rising" and "4th July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," which he sang as his (penultimate) encore.

Very fine.

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August 11th, 2005

12:38 pm - icons
I've been watching Andrei Rublev over the past day or two. Just in dribs and drabs, because it is very long, and in any case divided up into chapters. (This is part of a little Tarkovsky season I've arranged for myself, via the good people at Videomatica.)

It would seem that there are people who argue that this is the greatest film ever made. I haven't yet joined that camp. But I must say I liked, in a strange way, the past two episodes.

Assorted stonemasons and icon painters in early fifteenth-century Russia are working on a cathedral for a local prince. He's not particularly happy with the results, but has in any case short-changed them by not ponying up for the best materials. When they're done, the masons and carvers say they're off to do a church for his brother, who's a prince over the way, and who has promised to spare no effort in ensuring that everything is up to scratch. The first prince is less than happy with this, fearing his brother will get one up on him. So he arranges for the craftsmen to be ambushed in the woods as they're heading out of the estate, where the prince's men gouge their eyes out.

As payback, the brother comes back sometime later with a horde of Tartars, who sack the village, kill most of the men and rape most of the women, raze the cathedral, and inflict vile and unspeakable tortures on the prince, not least having him branded with a red hot cross before tying him to a horse set to gallop away out of the cathedral, dragging him along the ground. It is the painting of the "Last Judgment," meawhile, which goes up in flames.

Much Ecclesiastes is quoted. "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity." And so on.

But Medieval Russia was obviously not a happy place.

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August 8th, 2005

10:06 pm - hotels
For my birthday a couple of days ago we went across to Victoria, which is on Vancouver Island. And a nice enough place it is, too. We looked around the waterfront, had a hotdog, wandered around the BC museum, had a drink or two, went to a lake, and then back on the ferry. Much summer warmth and activity: street artists offering to draw caricatures, Native Americans selling (and carving) artefacts, stalls of one kind or another, people, whale watchers, balloons, face painting...

Victoria's harbour front is dominated by a huge, colonial era hotel, The Empress. Very imposing and impressive, and pretty fancy inside, too, where they were offering "high tea" in the Tea Lounge, drinks in the "Bengal Lounge" and so on.

It reminded us of Raffles, in Singapore. Both are like souped-up versions of the various "terminal hotels" that the railway companies used to build next to stations (the Adelphi, Liverpool; the Midland Grand by St Pancras), which were meant to impress and accommodate passengers whose mode of travel was rather more leisurely and luxurious than is ours today.

We wondered why Auckland didn't seem to have one of these hotels. What other stop-offs for colonial tourists and bureaucrats still have their luxurious watering places? I'd have thought there would be a website out there about this (there is about most things, after all), but the best I can find after a brief searches is a site called Famous Hotels.

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August 3rd, 2005

10:54 am - back
The rellies who have been staying here over the weekend have just headed off, I've read the last book I have to review, so now there's little excuse not to do some proper writing once I've finished the review itself.

Time to get back into the saddle.

In other news, the weather continues to be glorious. And we have zillions of dandelions on the front lawn. That's probably a bad thing, but they look nice just at the moment.

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July 31st, 2005

09:22 pm - celebrate!
Happy British Columbia Day!

OK, so strictly speaking for British Columbians our day has yet to start, but why shouldn't our friends in the Motherland get a little celebration in now before it's too late?

I'm looking forward to our Lieutenant Governor's speech, having read what she had to say last year. I feel I should locate and ride on the West Coast Railway Association’s Mini Rail, as my bit to express civic pride in my adopted multicultural, historic, and lively land. And look, here's a picture of the train. And here's our Lieutenant Governor on the train. (She's the one with the hat.) And feast your eyes on some colourful if not very unruly multiculture.

Even though there are still two and a half hours to go before I can start my celebration, I already feel proud. Truly proud.

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July 29th, 2005

02:04 pm - Russian
I think it was besskeloid who put me on to real_funny_lady, who posts cool photos and pictures on a regular basis.

Do you think that by reading comments such as the ones in response to this entry, I'll be able to learn Russian?

I take it for instance that "Класс!!!" is a signal of approbation. And what's the betting that "великолепно" means "beautiful"?

I remember Fred Jameson reporting TS Eliot's opinion that the best way to learn a foreign language was to read its poetry (without a dictionary, natch).


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