Thursday, 27 August 2015

900B Golden Superior Classical Guitar Strings

by La Bella

RIP the old strings (CL4 Black n’Silver)

Almost five years later, I can report: these strings survived the journey from the UK to Fuerteventura, two years there, a long winter in Finland and one more year in Gran Canaria. At last, the D string broke. No, wait. It did when we were in Finland, but as it snapped close to the bridge, I was able to re-tie it. On Sunday it broke again. So on Monday Timur and I journeyed to the nearest music shop to look for a new set. For such a small shop, it has quite a good choice of classical guitar strings, but there was only one make of black nylon, viz. La Bella 900-B. And, as Timur wanted the black trebles, we’ve got black.

This time, Timur was helping to replace the strings. We also used this opportunity to clean the fretboard thoroughly.

The new set (La Bella 900-B) before being fitted

I have to say that I had these strings on my Clarissa some years ago and really liked them. Compared to (new) Black n’Silver, both bass and trebles have slightly softer sound. The bass strings are wound with American wire polished golden alloy and are considerably less squeaky (thanks to “polished”, I doubt that gold makes that much difference).

Next day, the G string on Timur’s violin broke...

More photos of nylon guitar strings @ Shutterstock.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Diccionario de Literatura para Esnobs y (sobre todo) para los que no lo son

by Fabrice Gaignault
translated by Wenceslao-Carlos Lozano
introduction by José Carlos Llop
illustrated by Sara Morante

From (in)famous through relatively obscure to utterly forgotten, this lovely book does not pretend to be in any way comprehensive, objective, or useful. All these things would be thoroughly unsnobbish. Kathy Acker, Dominique Aury, Aubrey Beardsley, William Burroughs (who seems to be mentioned on every single page of the book), Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming, Christopher Isherwood, “una estajanovista del sexo a mogollón” Catherine Millet, Andy Warhol, and that little-known brother of his annoyingly famous sisters all make an appearance; Albert Camus, Jack Kerouac and Jean-Paul Sartre (who are among the authors of “ten books hated by the literary snobs”) do not. I would probably leave it where I saw it — that is, in the library — if, leafing through it, I did not come across the entries on Oblomov (see below) and Trieste. I just had to borrow it.

I enjoyed Gaignault’s (sometimes black) humour a lot. I presume this book is as funny in French. But if you read it in Spanish, don’t miss the preface by José Carlos Llop, who has this bright idea to replace the faces that appear on the cover of Sgt. Pepper with those from this Dictionary. I hope somebody does exactly that for the English edition.


Gentleman británico de compulsiva lubricidad que, al amparo del anonimato, contó en el siglo XIX su Vida secreta en un caudaloso texto por el que corren cataratas de semen. No menos misteriosa que la de Jack el Destripador, la identidad de ese estajanovista del coito, para quien «la jodienda es la gran humanizadora del mundo», sigue planteando un sinnúmero de interrogantes. ¿Quién se oculta tras ese Fornicator de partícula, ese insaciable Walter Fucker? Misterio. En cambio, los exegetas admiten que Anonymous, abuelo priápico de Catherine Millet, supo darle brío a su elegante pluma como entomólogo de coños y culos. Razón más que suficiente, a ojos de determinados esnobs, para poner esta «Busca del tiempo perdido con las mujeres (y los hombres)» al mismo nivel que la obra, menos obsesivamente carnal, del tío Marcel.

Cuello vuelto

Instrumento de identificación muy en boga entre los existencialistas y los Angry Young Men — esos jovenes airados británicos — que nunca llego a convencer a los Brummell de las letras. Volvió a ser un hype entre determinados pensadores y escritores franceses, en una calamitosa variante acrilica, lo cual lo convierte en objeto definitivamente repulsivo para sus más encarnizados enemigos. «Nunca leí a Marguerite Duras ni a Michel Foucault por llevar ambos jerséis de cuello vuelto negro» (Frédéric Schiffer en Tratado de la añoranza).


Obra maestra de Iván Goncharov (1812—1891) e inapelable coartada para todos los esnobs adeptos del aquabonismo radical y de la procrastinación elevada al rango de las bellas artes. Iliá Ilich Oblómov (de oblom, ‘fractura’, o de oblomok, ‘cascajo’) es un entusiasta de la posición horizontal, de las lecturas inacabadas, de la fuerza de la inercia como motor de la existencia, del sueño como única razón para vivir. Primo linfático de Xavier de Maistre, este viajero alrededor de su cama puso todo su empeño en demonstrar que de de nada sirve servir para algo, ya que tarde o temprano la condición humana impone la irrisoria inanidad de toda acción. Y demuestre convincentemente que la pereza no es tanto un vicio como una forma de sabiduría.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

El increíble viaje del faquir que se quedó atrapado en un armario de Ikea

by Romain Puértolas

I thought Amor en tiempos de Ikea had exhausted all possible IKEA-related jokes in 30 minutes. Then I saw this book in the library and realised that I ain’t heard nothing yet.

L’Extraordinaire Voyage du fakir qui était resté coincé dans une armoire Ikea hit the bookshelves in 2013 and, apparently, became an international “soon to be a major motion picture” bestseller I never heard before. It was also published in English as The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, but I happened to come across the Spanish version. The author shares translation credit with his wife Patricia Sierra Gutiérrez, and I think it’s a good translation.

The protagonist, Dhjamal Mekhan Dooyeghas (pronounced “Llámame cuando llegues” — the book is full of these pronunciation tips), aka Ajatashatru Lavash Patel in original French, reminded me of The Great Combinator Ostap-Suleyman-Berta-Maria-Bender-bey, albeit lacking the latter’s organisational talents. At some point, rather predictably, he comes to realise that being a (rich) writer in Paris is better than to be a (poor) fakir in India. With this moral transformation of a professional swindler to a honest and generous person Dhjamal started to lose his charm for me. Luckily, he still needs his fakir skills to survive, and in the (happy, happy) end it does not look like he’s going to abandon them altogether. This restores my faith in humanity.

Y así es como he acabado en su baúl, señora — concluyó Dhjamal con media sonrisa.

Desaparecer en el fondo de una maleta en Barcelona para reaparecer en Roma era, de lejos, el mejor truco de magia que había hecho en su vida. Houdini no lo hubiera hecho mejor.

La bella joven de ojos verdes y pelo color avellana lo miraba fijamente, entre sorprendida, escéptica y asustada, lo cual era preferible a la crisis de histeria que la había asaltado cuando lo había descubierto al abrir el baúl. Dejó en su sitio la lámpara de la mesilla de noche que había cogido como arma. La historia no parecía tener mucho sentido, cierto, pero había algo, algo verdadero, algo sincero, en el tono de voz del hombre. Además, ¿cómo podría haberse inventado una mentira tan grande?

Friday, 7 August 2015

Javier Infante, Jose Alberto Medina & Amit Mishra live

I saw the duo of Javier Infante and Jose Alberto Medina performing last month in Vegueta as a part of Canarian International Jazz Festival. There was a great atmosphere but I would rather see (and hear) them playing in a more chamber setting. Fabrica La Isleta (c/Princesa Guayarmina, 54) provided exactly this. I counted less than 30 people and there was not enough chairs for everybody. That’s what I call a small venue.

I have to say that, once being “invited” (Facebook-wise) to the event, I duly ignored the follow-up messages which looked exactly the same to me. Which was a mistake since, apart from the concert at 20:30, there was a tabla masterclass with Amit Mishra at 18:30, which I think I’d have enjoyed. Not that I often get a chance to practice any kind of drumming.

The performance started (almost on-time) with two themes played by Jose and Javier. Then Amit joined on tabla. His tabla playing brings a whole new dimension to flamenco-tinged chamber jazz music of the duo. I don’t think they had too much time to rehearse, and the result was beautiful in its spontaneity. For an encore, we were treated with Alfonsina y el Mar, with Jose on melodica and Amit providing an unusual vocal line.

We came to the concert unarmed with a camera, which was a shame — I’d love to have a video of a song or two. There were CDs on sale but none of them features this particular line-up. Oh well. There’ve been many great concerts that I’ve missed; I’m happy this one isn’t among them.