Saturday, November 26, 2005

Morning is the joy of crowing
the joy that crows
the crowing joy

Crowing is the joy of morning
the joy that mourns
the morning joy

Morning is the crow of joying
the crow that joys
the joying crow

Joy is the crow of morning
the crow that mourns
the morning crow

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Marriage of Art and Gaming

Just discovered a strange "game" that is as unsettling as it is addictive and intriguing. AND it's really hard. I have yet to crack it and I'm not sure I'll be able to. Have a go if you're bored and want to kill some time.

[Via The Robservatory]

Friday, November 18, 2005

100 books you should read (if you call yourself a real Canadian)

The Literary Review of Canada today released a list of what it feels are the one hundred most important books in Canada. In many ways, it's a surprising list, but I have to say that most of them are probably pretty good choices (and I've read 'em all, believe you me!).

Strangely enough, when I heard about the list, the first book to pop into my head was Neuromancer by William Gibson. I was doubtful that a science fiction novel would make it, so when I saw it there, at number 77 (the books are listed in chronological order), I was suitably impressed. Other books that should be there and are, are Dennis Lee's Alligator Pie and Leonard Cohen's The Spice-box of Earth (was that really written way back in 1961!). On the other hand, why was Howie Meeker's Hockey Basics there, rather than Ken Dryden's The Game? Do the editors really think that we have Howie Meeker to thank for the NHL's current crop of millionaires? (Actually, I'll admit that I haven't read either, but by all accounts, Dryden's book is a classic; a 20th anniversary edition was published a few years back, and its on my "to read" list.)

I was also a little surprised to see only one book by Pierre Berton. I’ve blogged about Berton before; he was one of Canada’s best and most prolific writers, and a masterful storyteller. More than any other writer I can think of, Berton taught Canadians about their own country. The Last Spike certainly deserves to be on the list, but so do a number of his other works, such as The Arctic Grail. The oversight is even more glaring when one considers that two other contemporary writers, Mordecai Richler and Margret Atwood, got two mentions each. I can see A Handmaiden's Tale and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, but Survival and Solomon Gurskey? Give me a break. If you ask me, Richler's best novel was Barney's Version, but obviously, they didn't (ask me, that is). Maybe Berton only got one spot because he didn't write novels. What a shame.

I'll end by mentioning two fantastic novels that did make the list: The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence, and Two Solitudes, by Hugh MacLennan. The former is one of the great Canadian novels of the 20th century; and if you've ever been to Quebec and wondered why it is the way it is, read the latter.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Big Country Continuum

Horses glide across a November
prairie: in their wake, dead
leaves roil like lost souls
across imaginary lines in books.

No one counts them, relegated
as they are to mere seasonhood,
and though each bears a face—

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Putain que c'est bon!

Now that winter is fast approaching, it's time to make a batch of one of my favourite pasta sauces: puttanesca. I'm told that the name for this sauce comes from the Italian word for "whore": puttana, and I assume this name comes from the fact that the sauce is "quick and easy". (Maybe my Italian friend Paula can tell me If this etymology is correct.)

Allusions to prostitutes aside, it's true that a quicker or easier sauce to prepare would be hard to find. Eight ingredients that you basically throw together, let simmer and voilà, you've got a VERY tasty sauce that's perfect for those cool autumn evenings. A word of warning: a little of this sauce goes a long way. Enjoy it over your favourite pasta with a glass of robust red wine. You can also freeze it and reheat it later, and you'll find that it's even better the second time around. Here's the recipe I use. It's a tripling of a recipe a friend gave me so it makes quite a bit.

Olive oil
2 onions (sautéd)
1 large jar of capres (drained)
3 tins of anchovy fillets (rinced and chopped)
1 can of chopped black olives (drained)
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 1/2 cups of red wine.
basil (to taste)

buon appetito

Monday, November 07, 2005

Glad THAT's over

Well, avid FFTMC readers will be happy to know that the "Tuba Mirum" solo in the Requiem went pretty well. These things are never perfect, but I'm reasonably satisfied, especially given the circumstances. To tell the truth, I'm just happy I didn't crap all over it (to use a brass-player's turn of phrase).

I have to say, however, that life's getting a bit too short for this, or I'm getting too old--or both. This gig didn't pay nearly enough and/or the conductor was entirely too clueless for it to be truly enjoyable.

And next time, I'm taking real beta blockers. The bananas had no discernable effect.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bananas about Mozart

Tomorrow afternoon, I perform in the Mozart Requiem with a local ensemble. It has probably been 8 or 9 years since I last played it; maybe more. It's a challenging piece for trombones: lots of technical playing, lots of delicate playing--lots of playing period. Oh, and it has a major tenor trombone solo, probably one of the hardest in the orchestral repertoire for tromone. The reason it is hard is not that it's high or technical. No, it's hard because it's so unlike what trombones usually play. We, the trombone section, usually play a supporting role and are rarely in the limelight, and that's the way we like it. But the "Tuba Mirum" solo is a melodic, legato obligato part over a bass solo--the kind of part that oboists play in their sleep. But for trombone players, it's really tough.

On top of all this, we're playing at "Classical" pitch of A=430, and we're playing sackbuts (which, incidentally, is rather dubious performance practice, since trombones, though smaller than the modern instrument, had definitely evolved beyond the sackbut by Mozart's time). As my grandfather was wont to say, "everything for your inconvenience."

The first rehearsal was not pretty. I was so nervous for the solo it's a wonder I was able to keep the mouthpiece on my face. It's been a long time since I felt that shaky. It didn't help that the bass soloist was not there. But the second rehearsal went better, and today, at the dress, it went pretty well, so I'm feeling pretty good for tomorrow.

I'm told bananas have natural beta blockers in them, so I'll be making out like a monkey tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Write like Jane AustinAusten (Jeez... how embarassing)

Fellow blogger portuguesa nova (aka, The Anchored Nomad) pointed me to the site of Pia Frauss, who has created a free font resembling Jane Austen's handwriting. (Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a built-in spell checker.) From reading her description, it sounds like she put a fair amount of thought and work into it, and I must say it's kind of cool. On the other hand, if you're going to write like Jane Austen, you should probably use a fountain pen instead of a keyboard (BTW, Aish, we're still waiting for that poem that's a very cool poem). Or perhaps a real quill (I hope they get this site up and running soon).

Anyway, more discussion about the Jane Austen font on that other blog.