Friday, 30 September 2011

Joneeba!

by A. Djoniba Mouflet

I already mentioned this book on my other blog. It is a curious mix of African dance history, actual work-out techniques (frankly I’d prefer a DVD), shameless self-promotion (with some bits repeated more than once) and ethical principles (e.g. those of student/teacher relationship, to which I subscribe wholeheartedly).

In Africa, you are taught that no matter how much you pay your teacher, you can never repay him or her for the lifelong knowledge and secrets passed to you.
Your first teacher — the one who taught you the basics — becomes your mother-master or father-master. It is imperative to give credit openly, remain loyal, protect and give gratitude and support to all of your teachers, and especially to your first teacher, regardless of whom you may study with later.
Even after you’re no longer studying with your first master teacher, you should pay him or her a visit and take a class there once in a while.
Joneeba is taught by its creator, Djoniba Mouflet (and probably nobody else) at the Djoniba Dance Centre in New York. In theory, one can become a certified Joneeba™ instructor; now do a Google search and try to find any. It simply could be that no one can sit through the three-day exam, let alone afford a live African drummer band in their fitness class.

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Vicar of Dibley

by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer

I can’t believe I spent all these years in England without actually watching The Vicar of Dibley. (Wait... I remember seeing a part of one episode in some hotel during school holidays. But that was it!) I had to move to Fuerteventura to correct this oversight. This is the first sitcom we watched with kids from the beginning to the end, and they loved it.

As a whole, the series is not as brilliant as, for example, Father Ted. Some episodes are all over the place. But with fellow chocoholic Rev. Geraldine Granger (Dawn French) that close to unattainable ideal — at least, shape-wise — I really shouldn’t complain.

Curiously, the first five (out of six) DVDs in The Ultimate Collection do not have any subtitles.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

by Dai Sijie
‘What you are about to hear, comrade, is a Mozart sonata,’ Luo announced, as coolly as before.
I was dumbfounded. Had he gone mad? All music by Mozart or indeed by any other Western composer had been banned years ago. In my sodden shoes my feet turned to ice. I shivered as the cold tightened its grip on me.
‘What’s a sonata?’ the headman asked warily.
‘I don’t know,’ I faltered. ‘It’s Western.’
‘Is it a song?’
‘More or less,’ I replied evasively.
At that instant the glint of the vigilant Communist reappeared in the headman’s eyes, and his voice turned hostile.
‘What’s the name of this song of yours?’
‘Well, it’s like a song, but actually it’s a sonata.’
‘I’m asking you what it’s called!’ he snapped, fixing me with his gaze. Again I was alarmed by the three spots of blood in his left eye.
Mozart...’ I muttered.
Mozart what?’
Mozart is Thinking of Chairman Mao,’ Luo broke in.
The audacity! But it worked: as if he had heard something miraculous, the headman’s menacing look softened. He crinkled up his eyes in a wide, beatific smile.
‘Mozart thinks of Mao all the time,’ he said.
‘Indeed, all the time,’ agreed Luo.
Of course this was hardly a laughing matter during the author’s own “re-education” stint in 1970s, but Dai Sijie can make you laugh all the same. I really enjoyed Mr. Muo’s Travelling Couch; I liked Sijie’s debut novel even better.

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Travelling Hornplayer

by Barbara Trapido
I am a sitting duck here, being a homebound worker, and they see no reason at all why I should not take control of the ‘Telephone Cascade’ until I tell them I consider Neighbourhood Watch to be a bourgeois vigilante organization; a smuggies’ club for people with too much stuff.
‘You were shouting at him,’ Katherine says. ‘You looked as though you were going to hit him.’
She says she had to ‘drag’ me away and that when the twerp had thrust his right hand at me on parting and had said, ‘No hard feelings, old man. Will you shake me by the hand?’ I had behaved really badly.
‘Well, I shook him by the hand, didn’t I?’ I say.
‘Plus,’ Katherine says, spitting the words, ‘plus, you said, “Sure I’ll shake you by the hand. I’ve shaken hands with all sorts of arseholes in my time.” ’
I confess I am rather pleased with this reminder.

The Travelling Hornplayer continues the Goldman family saga started in Brother of the More Famous Jack and is as brilliantly written. But. But. Too many buts.

The oft-mentioned “Shakespearean” qualities of Trapido’s novels are abound here: the heroes bump into each other a tad more often than is necessary and/or believable. Of course, all of them are congregating for the grand finale at the snooty college feast in Oxford. The whole Schubert connection (including the German chapter subtitles) is annoyingly artificial. Worse still, the likeable characters from the first book got much less likeable here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

ION Block Rocker

by ION Audio

First published 7 September 2011 @ zumbafuerteventura

Hooray, my new sound system has arrived! I went to collect it from the Correos today. I thought I managed to buy it for reasonably good price from Amazon UK — VAT-free and free delivery, because it was qualified for a free delivery in the UK... wait, that couldn’t be true? Maybe it ain’t. At the post office, they charged me €20 (twenty euro) before handing it over.

Still, I am a happy bunny now. Block Rocker comes with a microphone “to make announcements or sing” (nice try) but the 3.5 mm headphone jack to RCA adapter was not included. That is the only essential thing I really need, to connect it to my MP3 player. (Not iPod. I don’t have iPod. Block Rocker is advertised as a “Battery Powered Speaker System for iPod” but in truth you can plug in anything, provided that you have the right cable.) So I did cycle to the town in the afternoon to get the adapter. Check! Apparently, the batteries allow the system to blast at the full volume for 12 hours. We’ll see about that. I did not listen to “the full volume” properly yet. It’s getting too loud for our kitchen but maybe won’t be that loud for my, er, Zumba class when the time comes.

No more excuses: let’s rock!

Monday, 5 September 2011

El Duque De La Bachata

by Joan Soriano

I learned about El Duque and his music earlier this year, once again thanks to Songlines and we7. However, it was not until last week that I got the real thing. It is a beauty.

The bonus DVD features the documentary by Adam Taub. Or at least it is called “the documentary”. The Duke with his (very large) family; the Duke going to America; the Duke getting lonely in New York. And so on. All very nice, although about forty minutes too long. Never mind that: I was really after the CD, which is just getting better and better with every listening! This is “simply” bachata and merengue, as fresh and authentic as they get. The liner notes in both English and Spanish give a short history of each song. How else would I learn what the word mamandela stands for?

El Duque De La Bachata