Thursday, May 27, 2010
Going to a Neil Young concert is similar to buying a new Neil Young album. Unpredictable! You may or may not get what you expect. After attending one of his concerts this week I can say I mostly got what I thought I would get. It rocked OK!
Most people love music, but a small percentage will travel far and wide and, these days, pay large sums to see specific artists in concert.
My love for live performances developed when I lived for a while in a commune on a small farm in the northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, when places like Honeydew and Randpark Ridge were still sparsely populated and a place like the White Horse Inn was an out-of-the-way but very cool joint to spend Saturday afternoons listening to one-man bands in the bar.
Palace Theatre entrance. Check on the right who's coming in September.
Louisville Palace Theatre foyer
Louisville Palace Theatre lobby with its sculptured ceiling of historical figures
Inside the theatre with painted nighttime ceiling and many ornate features
Neil Young started off the evening on the acoustic guitar with the oldies My My Hey Hey, Tell Me Why and Helpless. Thereafter it was electric all the way and he changed instruments as regular as Lady Gaga changed outfits. One of the t-shirts for the Twisted Road Tour summed it up perfectly:
I said solo…They said acoustic
He launched into a trio of new and unreleased tunes I never heard but very much enjoyed with heavy bass pedal effects, especially Peaceful Valley, before he picked up Ol’ Black, his trusted Gibson Les Paul guitar for Hitch Hiker, Ohio and a few other tunes. Then he switched to the upright piano for Leia, to the pump organ for After The Gold Rush and to the grand piano for I Believe In You. Then it was back to electric for some more oldies like Cinnamon Girl and Cortez The Killer. For the encore he performed another new song Walk With Me. All-in-all a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable evening. Now Mr. Young, keep on rocking and don't you dare retire next year to draw social security.
Neil Young on stage with wooden Indian decoration as solitary company
(Picture by Tracy Woodward)If I can level some criticism then it is about the length of the show, or rather how short it was. Only 90 minutes and less than 20 songs. I see on blogs some people are complaining about the ticket cost and at $175 a ticket it was an expensive night out on the town, but both M and I really wanted to see Neil Young live. Cost was never really a consideration. And hey, the place was packed to the rafters, or rather to the blue painted ceiling.
Another check on the Bucket list!
Although several videos about his current tour are already available on Youtube, including some of the new material, I'll leave you with a 1971 classic, one of my favorites and some brilliant acoustic guitar playing.
Monday, May 24, 2010
The Conservative newspaper, The Sun, never known for its high ethics in diplomacy and never shy for publicity, showed how ruthless the British press can be by running an article with a headline like this.
But what happens to ex-British Prime Ministers? In the USA, recent Republican Presidents wrote their memoirs and fade away. Ronald Reagan retired to California, George H Bush, #41, retired to spend his time between Houston, TX and his beach house in Maine and jump out of airplanes of course, and George W Bush, #43, retired to Dallas and is seldom heard off…so far...let’s hope it continue. Democrat Presidents went on to have active roles after office. Jimmy Carter became more active, and more loved, after office than when in office. He was extremely active as election observer all over the world, and charity work in many part of Africa. Bill Clinton is still going strong and has hardly left the spotlight since leaving office, being active in his foundation and being the UN ambassador for Haiti.
Gordon Brown left 10 Downing Street for his North Queensferry Home in Fife. Not too shabby.
It is not much different for British Prime Ministers. A true mixed bag. Recent Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair finds it hard to retire. He had aspirations to become the first European President, but in the end pulled out when the job description was watered down to a barely-something job. He is still very active as a Middle East peace envoy, does lectures and gives advice to investment bankers, and organizes faith-based organizations.
[Basically a nice high-paid jet-set life.]
And although David Cameron's London home looks like a normal, average English row house, he, and his wife comes from very wealthy families.
So what’s up for Gordon Brown? At 59, he will stay on as a Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath in Scotland, but I hardly think he will want to listen to local complaints the whole day.
[Probably call them bigots.]
The Cameron's country home in Oxforshire. During the recent expense claims scandal in Britian it was announced that Dave Cameron claimed $21,000 per year from the government for mortgage payments, while he is worth an estimated $20-30 million.
Will Brown become a sulking backbencher like Edward Heath? (Heath became the “longest sulk” after he lost his party’s leadership to Margaret Thatcher.) Brown was a former university rector at Edinburgh so he can return to education and he did play a major role in world economics for 10 years as Chancellor of the Exchequer and 5 years before that as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. A top position in world economics or finance is not ruled out, although he did say he does not want to work in the business world. But it will not be the first time he said he will not do something and turn around and do exactly what he said he won’t. (He said before becoming Prime Minister that he will not use Chequers, the country estate for British PMs, for weekend retreats, and then shortly after becoming PM he started to use it extensively for the very purpose.)
[Once a politician always a politician.]
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Mother...you left me/but I never left you - John Lennon, Mother.
Picture by: Reuters
They say in the East they will move anything on two wheels.
Two guys, a cell phone and a live & kicking water buffalo going to the "market"
Picture by: Mark Armstrong from Wales
If you follow me obediently I won't have to use this noose
Event: Emperor penguins following a researcher on sea ice
Location: McMurdo Sound, Antarctica
Picture: James Pinchin of Barnstaple, Devon, England
Oh Really! An interesting concept for men.
Location: Interstate 95 in Florida, USA
Picture by: Peter Hoyles
Just a minute boys! Hang on! I really don't like water and prefer trees.
Event: An orangutan near the village of Bukit Lawang in Sumatra being moved back to the forest from a rehabilitation centre. Sometimes orangutans who have been set free are caught sneaking back to the centre in search of human food.
Picture by: Pete Andrew from Wirral, Merseyside, UK.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I don't want to be cynical or break the country down (there are enough blogs doing that on a daily basis), but it is stories like these from Australia's Channel 7 that makes you wonder how successful the FIFA World Cup in South Africa will be from a gaining-in-foreign-currency point of view. I can imagine that many who watch stories like these will not be traveling to South Africa.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
SuperSport.com’s weekly’s Super Wrap is probably one of the most read rugby blog posts, especially among South African expatriates. The reason is simple: It is from a South African point of view. One can read the same stuff on rugbyrugby.com or rugbyheaven.com.au or .nz, but The Wrap has always been good and, in my mind, always fair and balanced. This week’s comments though totally rubbed me up the wrong way and it seems a few others too:
Apologies to our overseas readers - the video rights only extend through Africa.
To the ex-pats - you should have stayed here...
I completely understand the issue about copyrights and that SuperSport can only show the videos in Africa and the unavailability of the videos has never been an issue to me. But to make a statement like that about the ex-pats???? Come on, you have always been better than that...
For emigrants like me, I rather live without your videos than to live in a constant state of criminal and racial war. Thank you but no thank you. But for the thousands of South Africans living and working temporary abroad, who are also ex-pats, that sentence was a smack in the face.
To the Gavin Rich’s and Brendan Nel’s of this world (it seems they are the main writers these days at SuperSport): Get out of your “laer” mentality and embrace the fact that we are all living in a big global village these days. People are living and working all over the world without denouncing their culture. And secondly, based on the comments below, make sure with your technical team that your website actually functions as advertised. To say you have videos and then it doesn’t actually works inside South Africa or your copyright area is pathetic. It seems that both the Super Wrap writers and the website personnel are getting sloppy and down right derogatory and disdainful.
Here are a few comments copied from Super Wrap about that dreaded statement.
• by Freddy May 5, 2010 07:47 GMT
Anybody else have the error message when viewing videos on SuperSports site: Cannot access the resource file?
And it''s not like I''m accessing from overseas, I''m in JHB? What should I do?
• by Neef Mytros May 5, 2010 08:08 GMT
Ag nee wraggies. Hey Supersport! Get off your arses and get the video rights. I bet 60% of your readership are based overseas. And we can''t follow the games on TV like the locals. And your sanctimonious tone is not appreciated either. It''s not as if we ever had a choice.
• by VIC May 5, 2010 09:12 GMT
Hey supersport the only people living in SA that look at this web site either have nothing to do or dont have M-Net. Its us ex pats that use this the most wake up and have a shot if the coffee doesnt work.
Now look after your ex pat support base
• by Michael May 5, 2010 09:56 GMT
Supersport stop jerking around and let us ex-pats working in Afghanistan on contract work also see the video''s!
• by @Supersport May 5, 2010 11:35 GMT
@ Supersport - Why are you guys scratching where it does not itch? Sitting in P.E. and cannot view the videos.
You guys seriously need new Web administrators. Obviously your new idea was not tested!
Govt incompetence now filtering down to the private sector! Sigh!!!
Notes: SuperSport logo is used courtesy of www.supersport.com.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
One the better presents I got lately was an Amazon Kindle 2. What I like about the idea of the Kindle is the fact that I don’t have a stack of books on my bedside table anymore. (Well, fewer books.) Nor do I have to travel with one or two bulky paperbacks anymore. Just a thin electronic pad.
I am one of those that use any opportunity I get to read and I can’t go to sleep without reading. Since I can remember I have always been a reader. Anything! I guess if I get bored enough I will even read the yellow pages and a dictionary. And if I was reading only one book at a time it would have been still good, but I don’t.
I mostly read fictions, biographical and subject-specific books, and periodicals (National Geographic, Time, etc.). I am currently reading the second of the trilogy of books from Stieg Larsson about Lisbeth Salander, an anorectic, tattooed girl, a computer hacker with a kick-ass attitude and a photographic memory. (The 3rd, “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest” will be available on the Kindle in May.) But I am also reading The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli and the biography of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman (in book form.)
Which make me wonder; why are so many of us fascinated by fiction. Why do we want to read what others write, even if we know their stories aren’t true? Or even if they are biographical in nature, why do we want to know other people’s thoughts and what they experienced? It is one the mysteries of the humanities and simultaneously the beauty of literature.
Apart from fewer books around, I also like the near instant, wireless download aspect of the Kindle. Using the cell phone network to enable ordering and downloads was an excellent idea. And so quick! Even an IT guy like me is baffled by Amazon’s ability to download a complete book in less than 5 seconds.
With e-book sales up 176% from 2008 to 2009*, I am not saying paper-based books are dead. Even with this month’s release of Apple’s iPad I don’t think books are dead. They may be dying…slowly, but it won’t be soon.
I will certainly play around and study the iPad when I get the opportunity, and even think of buying when the 2nd or 3rd release become available (first releases are always rushed to market and never that good all round), but for now, between my Kindle and my Blackberry I have nearly all of my mobile needs satisfied. I have my books, my phone, my calendar, email, SMS, a browser, even an English-Spanish translator, a calculator, a note book, an alarm clock, and many more apps that I don’t even use.
Kindle me! I love it!
* Source: Time Magazine, May 3, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
It is nearing the end of April and at last I got the chance to get out to the garden to do the usual spring cleanup. I started off a bit late this year because we were completing a kitchen renovation and a face lift for the family room (more about that and its associated frustrations in a future post) and because of business travels. Although I was stiff and sore and a little sunburned as well, it felt good to be out in the sun again after the long, cold winter months.
But after a hard day’s work there are few things as nice as a relaxing barbeque on the porch, watching the sun set and a few sips…glass or two, from a bottle of good wine.
In recent months I have increasingly focus on finding and buying French wines. The reasons are twofold: I am reading up more about France, its tourist attractions, wine regions, etc., because we are dreaming about a vacation there in the near future, and secondly, with a favorable Dollar/Euro exchange rate lately, more affordable French wines are appearing on wine shelves. Buying French and Italian wines are not always easy because of the foreign language label, the fact that they do not sell their wine by cultivar and the fact that I do not know the French terroirs that well. So I can’t always tell what exactly I am buying. But that is part of the fun, isn’t, not knowing what you will drink until you open it. And, how else will I learn about their wines without buying blind and tasting it. After all, I am not buying in the $50+ a bottle range. Well, sometimes, but when I buy to try I am a strict $20 and below guy.
(Right: The clay and limestone soil of the Lirac appellation.)
[Personally I think South African winemakers during the 1960 have made a slight miscalculation on the long term to so faithfully copy, on a large scale, and to persist until today, with Bordeaux style blends. This prohibited the development of a unique South African blend that could have served them well with their re-entry into the world wine market after 1994. The Australians saw such an opportunity with their Syrah (or Shiraz) and South Africa could have promoted their unique Pinotage to the same level. I know it is being done now more often but it will take years if not decades for wine writers and drinkers to establish a Pinotage-based blend as a wine with the same reputation as a Bordeaux or a Chianti. Well…I doubt it will ever get to that standard but at least to the Syrah-based blends.]
I will readily admit that I am not very familiar with wines from the Rhône appellation. That is apart from the South African version Goats do Roam in Villages. It is my understanding that many of the Rhône reds are not always barreled and that most are associated with Syrah or Grenache or a blend thereof.
So with a few lamtjoppies on the grill and a semi-homemade Mediterranean focaccia warming up in aluminum foil I opened a Chateau de Ségriès Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge 2008 and was pleasantly impressed with this $10 wine.
The vineyard at Chateau De Segries
The wine is dark red in the glass with lots of fruit and vanilla on the nose. In the mouth it is full and surprisingly round and smooth for a young wine. Tannins are light, and it ends off mildly peppery and spicy on the tongue. Here is the surprise for me: It doesn’t taste like a French wine, more American or Australian, certainly New World style, medium-bodied, easy to drink and it will compliments most meals, not just meat dishes. Hence, the wine was a good companion for the lamb chops but an even better companion for the rich and vibrant Mediterranean tastes of the toppings on the bread.
Now, the focaccia I used, bought at a local grocery store, is not the sometimes crispy-on-the-outside and chewy-on-the-inside kind you get in Italian restaurants and then dip in olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar, but an already baked, one inch thick flatbread topped with a little parmesan cheese and mildly flavored with either garlic, olives or jalapeno chilies. The one I use was garlic flavored, but too bland for my taste and I then topped it with the following layers:
- ½ cup of Cucina Toscana Kalamata olives bruschetta (excellent stuff), but any tomato-based bruschetta with do
- Thin slices of tomato
- Garlic and onion powder
- ¼ cup of Paesana’s exotic marinated mushrooms in oil (drained on kitchen paper and chopped) or any other marinated mushrooms
- A hand full of sliced black olives
- More shredded parmesan cheese
- And finally, lots of fresh basil strips and some dried rosemary and oregano
The bread comes in an aluminum foil pan and I just cover it with more aluminum foil made into a tent, and then put it in a lukewarm area on the grill, away from the chops, where it slowly warms and melt the cheese while I grill the chops.
Sometimes, a simple meal of meat, bread and wine is the best meal you can have.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Hulle sê, ek is tans in Mexico, hy lyk glo nes die pa en oupa (net meer hare), maar dit moet seker maar die familie gelaatstrekke wees wat deur slaan. Ek self kon nog nooit die kuns aanleer om babas met grootmense se gelaatstrekke te vergelyk nie. Babas is babas. Almal lyk min of meer dieselfde.
Nietemin, Welkom Ian.
[Oupa sal hom moet leer om 'n liefde te ontwikkel vir rugby...maar net kyk...die gespeel daarvan laat te veel arthritis gebeendere as 'n legacy.]
Het sekerlik meer hare as ek.
Ousus Marley kyk verwonderend na die nuwe boetie.
Haar middagete in die agtergrond is totaal en al vergete.
(Sy het glo vroeer die week vir Ouma gesê sy het twee nuwe “blothers”...Baby Ian and baby blother)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Fusion, not the nuclear or computer type, but music, is when two or more genres are combined to create a new genre, often in a free-form musical improvisation style.
There are many different fusion genres. Think of the Blues-rock of Stevie Ray Vaughen and Double Trouble, or the Jazz-flavored R&B of Steely Dan, but mostly, one thinks of the many jazz-fusion music projects that was produced during the 70’s. Bands like Weather Report, Chick Corea’s Return to Forever (I was so fortunate to see them in the 80’s in the formerly known Nico Malan theater in Cape Town), John McLaughlin’s The Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Pat Metheny Group, Miles Davis' Bitches Brew and the many projects that Billy Cobham was involved with, most notably and the excellent, Alivemutherforya, with Steve Khan and Alphonso Johnson.
The pianist, Eumir Deodato was one of those fusion artists of the 70’s, although I only discovered him in the early 80’s, that had a great impact on me and my love for the fusion genre. Although his first album in 1973, Prelude, was a big success, his 1978 album, Love Island, is my favorite Deodato album. The way he mashes Latin, Caribbean and Jazz sounds always transfer me any island in the sun.
Here is the very well known Super Strut from Deodato’s second album, Deodato 2.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
[Hoe groter die taalgroup hoe groter die kans op sukses?]
Om ’n bestaan te kan maak in Suid Afrika as ’n kustenaar in Afrikaans was nog altyd meer van ’n liefdessaak as ’n hoogs kommersieele nastrewing. Afrikaans is ‘n klein taaltjie in vergelyking met Engels of Spaans. Dis waarom veelsydigheid amper ’n vereiste is om brood op die tafel te sit. Nie dat almal arm is nie, maar geen kan kan met Cher vergelyk word, wat kommersieel hoogs suksesvol is en met ‘n Academy Award (Oscar), ‘n Grammy, ‘n Emmy en drie Golden Globe Awards en vele ander toekennings kan spog. Daardie tipe wereld wye ster status van veelsydigheid te same met kommersieele sukses is raar.
Ek weet nie wat se kommersieele sukses Richard van der Westhuizen behaal het nie, maar ek glo dat veelsydigheid bygedra het tot sy vermoë om ’n bestaan te kon maak as ’n hoogs suksesvolle en baie invloedryke Afrikaanse kunstenaar oor dertig jaar. Richard speel toneel: In teater, televisie, films en radio het hy saam met Afrikaans se grootste akteurs en aktrieses opgetree. Hy is groot in oorklanking na Afrikaans. Hy maak musiek, alleen of saam met Lochner De Kock en Andrew Roos of saam met Anton Goosen, Piet Botha en Andre Swiegers as 4. En hy is betrokke by musiekteater saam met Karen Wessels en Anneke Visagie.
Op al die gebiede het Richard van der Westhuizen tot dusver diep spore gelaat in Afrikaans en Suid Afrika.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Danville voted YES to become wet!!!
Prohibition in America ended in 1933 on a federal level, but the Twenty-first Amendment still allow states the right to restrict or ban the sale of alcohol and many states or towns still do. Others like Kentucky, over years of gradual repeals and loosen restrictions by area created an ugly quilt of laws that led to the creation of wet or dry or moist counties and towns across Kentucky. And in several other states across America for that matter.
In 2003 Danville voters selected to end the town’s dry status and to become “moist”, thus allowing the sale and purchase of liquor in restaurants under certain conditions.
Today the voters were back at the ballot box and voted to become wet, thus allowing liquor stores to be open and freely sell beer, wine and liquor and no restrictions on restaurants that alcohol sales must be less than 30% of their total sales.
Good ole democracy at work. Allowing responsible people their civil right of trade and not having a government law defining morality.
So being a Yes-man today I say thank you to all the other Yes voters for normalizing a perfectly accepted practice of allowing those that want to buy a perfectly legal product in their own town and not having to drive to another county or town.
Next is for the state of Kentucky to enter the 21st Century proper and repeal the restriction of alcohol sales and purchases over the Internet.
Election results: Yes vote: 57% No vote: 43%.
Related Article: Kentucky’s Archaic Alcohol Laws
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
"Coming Back To Life"
Where were you when I was burned and broken
While the days slipped by from my window watching
Where were you when I was hurt and I was helpless
Because the things you say and the things you do surround me
While you were hanging yourself on someone else's words
Dying to believe in what you heard
I was staring straight into the shining sun
Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the waiting had begun
And headed straight..into the shining sun
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The Old and The New
At the entrance to the park with the Business Center in the background.
A series of murals made with byzantine stone and marble.
Designed by Gerardo Cantu
Made by Migual Angel Cantu and David Gerstein
Top: Spring Stolen Kiss
Bottom: The Little Horse