Monday, 26 March 2012

How to Avoid Kissing Your Parents in Public

by Lindsay Macrae

Before moving to Fuerte, we left most of children’s books to the charity shops. I’m glad that Yuri decided to keep this one. (If I’m not mistaken, it came from Oxfam in the first place.) I think all kids and all parents should read this book.

Time-saving Tips for Parents

Dads spend time shaving their faces
Mums spend time shaving their legs
They should save the time spent shaving
Spending time in bed instead.

Friday, 23 March 2012


by Arkady Shilkloper, Vladimir Volkov and Sergei Starostin

I’ve got prezzies: my brother just sent me a stack of jazz CDs, including quite a few released by the (now defunct) Russian label Boheme Music. So if you excuse me, I am going to wallow in nostalgia and all that jazz for a while.

Or maybe not. In fact, I never heard this album (recorded, you guessed that, in XIX98) until now.

If I were writing this back then, I would say that “Avant-garde jazz never mixed with Russian folk songs more organically” or something along these lines. In truth, I really didn’t know then, and still don’t know now. How do you measure organic-ness? Shilkloper, Volkov and Starostin perform in such a way that you don’t even think how brilliantly improbable their music is.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


a film by Hiromasa Yonebayashi

A long-awaited film from Studio Ghibli does not disappoint.

The resemblance between Haru the maid from Arrietty (you can see her at 1:43 in the above trailer) and Jigo the wandering monk from Princess Mononoke is uncanny.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Open Music

a project by LinuxTag

In my search for copyright-free music I came across this curious collection. OK it is ten years old and most of songs must have sounded dated already back then. Just listen to Open Source by Magic Mushrooms or The Coming Through by Matthew Lien and you’ll see hear what I mean. But listen first.

My favourite song is Mr. Schwinn by Darryl Purpose.
Mr Schwinn was as thin as a pelican’s grin
And I took him my bike when the wheel wouldn’t spin
When the wheel wouldn’t spin and the gear wouldn’t shift
For fixing a bike, the man had a gift

They were stashed in the back of his waterfront shack
His and her bikes, perfectly matched
Perfectly matched like a groom and a bride
Waiting to take their honeymoon ride
It’s been a while since I enjoyed the lyrics so much.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


a film by Miloš Forman

I first saw Hair the movie in early 1990s. A colleague gave me the VHS tape, most probably recorded from the telly somewhere in Scandinavia (English soundtrack, Swedish subtitles). I didn’t understand half of it but I liked it a lot.

Last weekend, I watched it on DVD in a hope to get an inspiration for my carnival attire. The theme of this year’s carnival in Corralejo is “musicals” and I can’t think of anything suitable for me. Except maybe someone from Hair.

Of course, the film is significantly different from the Broadway musical. (Thank goodness! I don’t believe one could or, indeed, should fit ten more songs in the movie.) But it is still a musical.

The DVD, mastered back in 2001, is not much better than the VHS tape. Judging from the user’s reviews of Blu-ray edition, the definitive digital reissue of Hair remains in the future.

The Black Boys / White Boys sequence is one of the funniest musical numbers in Hair.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Bike Book: Complete Bicycle Maintenance

by Fred Milson

Within a week of my moving to Fuerte, I bought a bicycle.

‘One day,’ I thought, ‘I will write a concise cycling guide to the island. But first I have to learn how the bike works.’

You can see the absurdity of my thinking then. You don’t have to know how the telly works to write a good guide to, say, the BBC comedy. But that was the reason why I ordered The Bike Book, mostly on the strength of Amazon reviews entitled “A must for any cyclist” and suchlike.

Of course it is not a “must for any cyclist”. Not in Corralejo anyway. Take the chain fixing (page 78): the job difficulty is rated “four spanners” (four is a maximum in this book), takes about 20 minutes, and you still have to go to a bike shop first to get a replacement rivet or pin. In the bike shop where I go the whole operation takes about 10 minutes and costs €3.

Still, I learned a lot, even though this knowledge isn’t particularly useful.

With a new chain, you get around 114 links.
I did not know that before and I still don’t understand why do I need to. Or:
It sounds easy enough to undo the wheels and pull them out, but you really need three hands.
Well I ain’t doing any of that then.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Voz d’Amor

by Cesária Évora

Cesária Évora died on 17 December 2011 aged 70. I only learned about this yesterday from our local free magazine Mi Pueblo. I am sure there were obituaries on the web, they just did not make headlines. (What a contrast to the mass hysteria surrounding the death of Whitney Houston last month, may I add.)

Voz d’Amor was the first CD of Évora I’ve heard. It is one of albums I never tire to listen to. Like all of Évora’s works, it is soaked in nostalgia. But my favourite track — if I had to choose, that is — would be Pomba, which, if not quite sodade-less, is a joy of a song all the same.