Sunday, September 30, 2007


Stephen Fry on Dan Doodah (gosh the title on that website!) is well worth a read - but you've probably already done that!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Current piano work

Currently looking at the Schubert Ländler D790 - easy to think of Ländler as rum-ti-tum two lots of 8 bars that Schubert might have churned out on a boozy evening - but these have buckets full of subtlety (sorry!). Beautiful harmonic touches in no 1, I think no 2 prefigures Wagner with its horrendously difficult piano (that's the volume indication) octaves, no 3 is pure Schumann - if Schumann hadn't seen this before writing Papillons one would want to know why! Then the extraordinary no 5 with its long held slowly resolving dissonances - reminds me of Sibelius with brass chords and a slow changing melody.
So much musical wonder hiding away there - I have a ancient vinyl recording of Brendel performing these but must find a cd while I continue to polish my own performance.

Mrs Senzatalento goes to a concert

Well to hear Gaydar (err Gardar) Cortez (is he really called that?), at the Barbican. Read the review!

Upgrading Mandriva

This month I decided to upgrade my work laptop from 2007 to 2007.1 of Mandriva before the 2008 gets released in November! Attempted to upgrade but for some reason the upgraded system still thought it was 2007.0 and when applying updates it attempted to get the updates for that version. So swiftly cutting my losses - needing to get work done! - I went for a fresh install.
Overall I'm pretty happy -
  • the version of the kernel that came with 2007 had a bug that meant the machine (an HP nx6325) tended to overheat - so I fixed the BIOS that that the fan was running when a mains supply was attached, this bug has now been eliminated and the temperature stays around 55 rather than zooming up to 75 when running a hefty compile!
  • The fresh version displayed a bug with the graphics with a large corrupt cursor on my second monitor installing the ati drivers.
  • Our application which gets the machine id sometimes was getting 0 in 2007 for licensing, so far hasn't misbehaved - previously I was having to relicence the application every few days.
My only bugbear is the wireless networking - I eventually got this working a few days ago - I use it at home but not at work - however it keeps locking the machine up! As I wrote on alt.os.linux.mandriva:
I was using 2007 with which ndiswrapper worked well for my home wireless connection on a HP nx6325 however with 2007.1

I initially tried using the builtin driver, couldn't get that to work - getting messages something like 'unable to find bcm43xx driver' so I went back to using ndiswrapper, the instance with 2007.1 didn't seem to work so - after a bit of googling and seeing comments on the
ndiswrapper with 2007.1 - I've installed 1.47 from the tar download (getting rid of the rpm first).
If I'm very careful this - the wireless connection - works for me (having blacklisted bcm43xx) however it appears that if anything is attempting to use a network connection when the wireless is in - I think - an unconnected or initialising state the machine locks up and
the only way out is the power button :-(

Typically I'll see this by doing
modprobe ndiswrapper
... for the moment I've commented out the reference to ndiswrapper in
modprobe.conf ... and the system immediately locks.

I'm using 2.6.17-15mdv and have installed bcmwl5 for ndiswrapper to use.

Anyone seen these symptoms and have a solution?

Henze and Nono

Hat tip to Geoff Coupe who points me to an article on Henze's new opera Phaedra, very thought provoking:
Nowadays it's enough for Henze when he sits there like that to direct his gaze to the five telegraph wires behind the old wall in order to imagine twelve-tone series in these airy staves. "More and more I would see an E-flat, an F, a C-sharp…" And certain complex polyphonic passages, he says, "I didn't need to check on the piano, they were simply right.
I spent some of yesterday listening to Henze's oratio 'The Raft of the Medusa...
And in today's Guardian is an article on another Italian composer (Henze was German but has lived in Italy for 50 years) Luigi Nono:
Hans Werner Henze, whose second symphony was first performed in the same concert, recalls that Nono's Variations hit their first audience "hard, so hard that they whistled as if in pain". The evocation of Schoenberg may have been part of the problem. Schoenberg's Op 41 is a setting of Byron's "Ode to Napoleon", and when Schoenberg wrote the piece in 1944, he conceived it as a protest against totalitarian tyranny. Nono wanted to align his own work with both the atonal modernism pioneered by Schoenberg and the political sentiments of the ode, but his music has none of Schoenberg's romantic rhetoric. To an audience for whom Schoenberg's music - banned in Germany throughout the second world war - was difficult enough, the generation gap between old and new modernists must have appeared painfully wide.
I don't know that work and am not sure whether the BBC is broadcasting any of the current Nono festival - I hope it's going to be recorded for a future broadcast but I won't hold my breath!
Both Henze and Nono distinctly composers of the left!

Against the tide

From Peter Selby's Face to Faith in today's Guardian:
The context of that early-1970s article is of ordinands in the US, many of whom had to work out their vocation when the choice was between ordination and going to Vietnam. If you have never been faced with such a choice, you do well to reflect on what kind of understanding of truth and of the justice of God such a context will engender. I do not notice many in my church understanding this aspect of the American inheritance, let alone giving credit to those who have resisted a culture dominated by religiously motivated and justified war-making. We may discuss whether calling an openly gay person as a bishop was right or wrong; but we should not do so without noticing that history and that context, and certainly not without thinking twice before the language of exclusion and ultimatum becomes our chosen vocabulary; right or wrong, the most controversial decisions of the Episcopal Church are part of a resistance to a culture that has taken us over too.

but go and read the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Imaginary Landscapes

Giornale Nuovo has pictures from a recent Érik Desmazières exhibition -in Vevey - go and have a look!. Unfortunately the exhibition is over - and I need to be in work tomorrow!

That's how to do it!

Fabio Armiliato singing Nessun Dorma:

bit of early applause but you can understand why..via Opera Chic.
Eat your heart out Mr Potts! - I've nothing against amateurs as long as you realise they are amateurs.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

From the spam bin

Personal Message No. 2474186176 - well that's a lot closer to being uncountable!. Spamassassin scored it at 15.1


The SIlk Screen was showing Tsotsi on Wednesday, nearly didn't go - too much on - but glad I did, beautifully photographed and a gripping narrative. Manipulative? maybe but sometimes plots have to grab you by the throat. Official site - I wasn't aware that it was adapted from a novel. Strongly recommended!
Then on Thursday to the Bridgewater hall for a Halle concert (50 years to the day from Sibelius' death) so they have the rather atypical Valse Triste and Violin Concerto, I wasn't at all keen on the first half, everything seemed to drag, but then came the second half - Rachmaninov 2nd symphony - was rather dreading this after the laboured performances in the first half but it was taken at a thrilling pace, don't think I'd ever heard it live, Still conductors who stop beating and conduct by twitching their shoulders drive me up the wall! Guardian gave it 5 stars but their review doesn't appear to be on the web site yet. Concert is repeated on Sunday...

I've now spotted it (the Guardian review)

Where countless == more than one

(probably). From the Bridgewater hall publicity:

The iconic performer Engelbert Humperdinck has defined romance for countless generations and this year he celebrates a milestone with the 40th anniversary of his first international hit, Release Me.

Online here

Monday, September 17, 2007


This was sent to someone at work. (couldn't get the embed copy to work..). .. Later .. no doubt OCICBW would point out that the hooded garment looks slightly papal but I would never do such a thing...

Unintentional humour dept

From the Macclesfield Community news after the news that the MP for Macclesfield may be facing a challenge from a gay Labour candidate (there doesn't appear to be a Community News web site), Sir Nicholas says:
I have a very progressive young outlook on life

then goto
Sorry! Something's gone wrong.
Nicholas Winterton MP has told us not to deliver any messages from the constituents of Macclesfield. Instead you can try contacting them via the Parliament website. There you will get a phone number, a postal address, and for some MPs a way to contact them by email.

so off to the Parliament website and this page tells you that he has no email address. I won't mention his 'progressive' political views!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

ahhhh and grrrrrr

Via Alex Foster comes a kitten eating melon (get it the right way around)
And The Gay Bar reports that boing-boing (need to restart reading this!)says
The latest iPods have a cryptographic "checksum" in their song databases that prevents third-party applications from synching with the portable music players. This means that iPods can no longer be used with operating systems where iTunes doesn't exist -- like Linux, where gtkpod and Amarok are common free tools used by iPod owners to load their players.

Me being a Linux (and an amarok user) but not yet an iPod owner (I think that's now 'not ever')

Book cafe

From tonight's talk came this quote from Harare's Book Cafe
music [and poetry] gives a voice that maybe can push the boundaries a little bit
I think the sermon tonight was on poetry and dissent!
And (much later) you can hear it here, the notes - in Word format (offstage hissing!) - are here


And from the same local historical site go here, for a delightfully silly cartoon. Do stay to the end!


with prayers/good thoughts/wishes (as appropriate) our neighbour, Sue, in intensive care after a lorry ploughed into her car on the motorway...likely to be in hospital for some considerable time


From here:
Can nothing be done in the present stupid deadlock with regard to the tram service between Ashton and Stalybridge? Twice to-day have I been unfortunate enough to be turned out of the “ha’penny” trams at the park gates in the pouring rain and compelled to tramp to my destination, with the chagrin of seeing the Stalybridge tramlines outside my house in full working order and no trams running.

Stalybridge people are compelled to go to Ashton for business purposes, and whilst recognising the clever move of the Ashton committee in inconveniencing the public in the hope of bringing the joint committee to their knees, I must emphatically protest against the stupid policy of “grab” which is being shown in this unreasonable dispute. If the two bodies cannot agree, why on earth cannot they go to arbitration?

We all know that railway passengers exist for the convenience of the railway officials and railway shareholders, but it is a pity to find the notion creeping into tramway management also, and that such a splendid service of trams should be disorganised and so much money wasted (Ashton cannot work its ha’penny trams at a profit) on account of the fads of our “men of light and leading” on the Town Councils is disgusting indeed.

Let some of these clever gentlemen wait until next November, and they will hear a few things.
Yours, &c, THOMPSON CROSS, 13th June, 1904

Ah yes, the delights of separate bus companies...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chester and Jacob

Off to Chester on Thursday for the Changing Attitude Chester's (yes the blog looks a mess, needs tidy up!) meeting with Trevor Dennis (Chester Cathedral's vice dean) talking on 'The God Who Cannot Reject. Trevor was typically deeply thought out, sparky and provocative.
Started with Cain/Abel, Isaac/Ishmael, Esau/Jacob which rather showed the converse but then moved to the New Testament and the Prodigal Son (quoted Kenneth Bailey's Jacob the Prodigal) his thesis being that the parable leans heavily on this story and ends up by subverting it as far as the Jewish audience would have been concerned.
Suggested that Jesus ended it at 'every I have is yours' so in this case the elder son was accepted and not rejected in preference to the youngest (as with the Genesis stories)
The New Testament contains even more violent language about God than the Old

... should have taken notes...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Early morning cat

a cat very close to the station this morning

But who's paying the bill?

Music Zone went under at the start of the Summer but from our local branch it looks as if the last one out wasn't too bothered about who was in charge of the electricity bill!
(need to look at that shaky hand...)

Monday, September 10, 2007

She only wants to play valses..

I spent some of my holiday (re-)reading Firbank - I acquired the complete novels when the local library sold them off - camp? ever so slightly! Another graduate of Trinity Hall - also as Anthony Powell has it - 'he was interred in the doctrinally inappropriate, but romantically incomparable Protestant cemetery' (in Rome). And I was taken by this piece:
She only wants to play valses!
"She hardly sounds to be ambitious"
"It depends; measured by Scriabin's Quasi-Valse, or the Valse in A flat major, she may have quite intricate idylls..."
Mrs. Thoroughfare simmered. "I do so love his Étrangeté"

having recently worked on some Scriabin - who was only very recently dead when Valmouth was written (1919).
In the latest bout I read 'Caprice', 'Valmouth', 'The Flower beneath the Foot' and 'Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli' - a samey after four but wonderfully frivolous and interesting biographical sketch is here..
Some years later, when Siegfried Sassoon pressed him for his views on literature and art, the only thing Firbank could find to say was, “I adore italics, don’t you?”.

Way, way back in a frivolous mood I used a Firbank quote as a .sig
The blessed St Bathilde who by dint of skipping changed sex and became a man

.. Valmouth

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Two links

Dave Walker gets another direct hit.
And the latest xkcd appealed a lot!

But if I don't have a well?

phone number blurred...


Sometimes the evening light is better...

Brunswick hill again

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


BATS is the name of our reading group...and here's Chris our leader (is there a word for a chief BAT?) trying some reading glasses at the start of this month's meeting - she'd forgotten hers - note how her dress beautifully matches the furnishings!

We discussed Paul Coelho's the Alchemist - I was one of the few who wasn't keen, a little of such books goes a long way (IMHO)!

Wires in the morning

At last a clear morning when walking down...