Saturday, 29 April 2017

Mr. FeedBack live at the Paper Club

As I’ve mentioned before, I hardly ever see tribute bands in action. To miss this tribute to Led Zeppelin, however, would be unforgivable. Timur and I went to see them last night to The Paper Club. This was also a part of “St.George’s Week”, and I thought the €12 ticket for the movie (Quadrophenia) and the concert (including a drink!) was a good value. But wait. I was hoping for it to be good but the show exceeded my expectations.
Hailing from Bergamo, Italy, the band is very tight and playful at the same time. Not only are they passionate about the music they play, but also they made LedZep Immigrant Song Ramble On "Apart of, I guess, obligatory Black Dog, Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love and Stairway to Heaven (all brilliant), Babe I’m Gonna Leave You No Quarter
Mr. FeedBack are:
  • Francesco Bertini: drums
  • Andy Brevi: vocals
  • Nicola Mazzucconi: bass
  • Simone Trevisàn: guitar

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Érase una vez la Volátil

by Agustina Guerrero

In the latest (tragi)comic book by the Argentina-born, Spain-based artist Agustina Guerrero, her alter ego Volátil quits a “toxic relationship” and moves to Barcelona where she shares an apartment with a gay friend. This, I understand, is a prequel to the other books about Volátil (none of which I’ve read so far). There is a lot of humour but also sadness and even despair. And nudity — whether it is a symbol of freedom or her favourite state of being, or, hopefully, both.

Monday, 24 April 2017


a film by Franc Roddam

There was a screening of Quadrophenia in Monopol as a part of, would you believe it, “St.George’s Week” (22—28 April), so Timur and I went to watch it.

The film turned out to be not quite what I expected, even though I didn’t exactly knew what to expect. I love the album which I bought back in my English life. Surprisingly little of it is heard in the film. But then, the album is the rock opera while the movie most categorically is not. The Who’s music is no more (albeit no less) than part of the soundtrack. Now if we forget for a moment about soundtrack, there is simply not enough story, or message, or lovable characters for a two-hour feature. In the same time, as movies go, this one feels very authentic, almost painfully so. For that reason alone, it is worth watching. Also, if anyone needs a cure from misplaced nostalgia for the “good old sixties”, Quadrophenia will supply it.

I mean, London we see is not exactly swinging — not yet, at least; “shithole” would be a more apt description. The idea of a well-spent weekend for Jimmy and his friends is to get high, ride to the seaside and to have a bit of a punch-up with Rockers. Fair enough, yet it all seems to be rather tame. The protagonists, being English, are perpetually embarrassed, on drugs or not, even when chanting “We are mods” (supposedly they have to be euphoric), even when they get lucky (sorry love, love does not enter here). Why, football hooligans must be more passionate. The only guy who has any class is “Ace Face” (played by Sting). Thankfully, there are sparks of humour which make the whole thing watchable.

A masterful film, but in the end I was grateful when it was over.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Más peligroso es no amar

by Lucía Etxebarria

According to the blurb, this is

el primer libro español que expone una investigación seria y profundamente documentada sobre el fenómeno del poliamor, una palabra que está de moda pero cuyo significado pocos conocen en profundidad.
(The first Spanish book that exposes a serious and profoundly documented research on the phenomenon of polyamory, a fashionable word whose meaning few know in depth.)
Wow. It really must be very deep when you find both profundidad and profundamente in one sentence! Wary as I am of the word “research”, I got intrigued.

In the first part of the book, El hundimiento de las estructuras tradicionales (“The collapse of traditional structures”), the author analyses “functional” and “fusional” models of relationships, debunks ten modern myths about romantic love, and embarks on her research on online dating. However flawed her approach may be (like, when she attempts to compare Tinder, Grindr and Wapa), it is fascinating.

The second part, Amar de otra manera (“Other ways to love”), which mostly consists of stories narrated by people who live or lived various alternatives to monogamy (including, believe it or not, celibacy), is even more exciting. Etxebarria insists that she did not invent anything, however the names and locations, understandably, were changed. (I really liked the story of a member of lesbian polyamorous commune who fell in love with a chap whom the rest of the commune at first believed to be gay; he tried, unsuccessfully, to teach these girls how to knit, but then gave up and made hats and scarves for all of them himself. You just can’t make this up.) The chapter dedicated to triads (triejas) is probably the best.

Some of these “non-standard” relationships work well, some don’t. There’s no warranty that any of them will last forever. Just like is the case with monogamy. And, while the author does her best to remain judgement-free (why, she even says that she knows some perfectly happy monogamous couples!), she does not make a secret that her ideal cup of tea is relationship anarchy.

The book is written in lively, colloquial Spanish and won’t present much of a problem for an intermediate-level reader. Sure enough, there are words that you are unlikely to find in your pocket dictionary — gafapasta, mariliendre, pajareo, putón, raruno, zorrón... — but that’s all part of the fun.

No me obsesiono con encontrar a una media naranja porque ya me siento naranja entera.
♥ ♡ ♥
El triángulo amoroso que forman la monogamia, la fidelidad y el amor romántico usa términos del propiedad y posesión para definirse. «Eres mío», «yo soy tuya», «te lo he dado todo», «te debo la vida», «me robaste el corazón», «voy a conquistarla», «te pertenezco», «me las pagarás». Y las palabras, lo sabemos, no son inocentes.
♥ ♡ ♥
Cuando perdemos el impulso de ser diferentes, perdemos el privilegio de ser libres.
♥ ♡ ♥

Friday, 14 April 2017


a film by Makoto Shinkai

What, body swap and time travel in one film? What a treat! We all went to watch it in El Muelle last Sunday. Curiously, it was Spanish-dubbed but titled Your Name. (Naturally, I would rather watch it in Japanese but, after seeing the English-language trailer, I’d say I prefer the Spanish dub.)

For me, Your Name is an expanded and improved 5 Centimeters Per Second. Beautiful landscapes, snow, floating leaves, trains, loneliness... Gentle humour. The sequence of Taki’s friends accompanying him in search of Mitsuha’s hometown is priceless, and Mitsuha’s little sister, Yotsuha, provides consistent comic relief throughout.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Las 101 cagadas del español

by María Irazusta

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

When I saw this oft-quoted saying by Edmund Burke employed as an epigraph to this book, I thought I made a horrible mistake. In a typical grammar Nazi fashion, the author embarks on a crusade to protect the the language of Cervantes from numerous crimes committed by not only those pesky young internauts, but also “afiladas plumas”, no matter how erudite they are. Otherwise, you understand, the evil will triumph. These are Anglicisms, those are Frenchisms. Here she writes you can’t say that because RAE doesn’t permit it; there she criticises the very RAE for being too lenient to let the offending word slip into the dictionary. And so on and so forth.

Why then, you might ask, did I bother to read the whole thing, let alone to write a post about it? Because, if you can ignore for a while that crusader attitude, this book is bloody brilliant. Because when one is passionate about language and writes well, this passion is infectious. Because it is funny. Because the author admits that a vulgarism could be more elegant and evocative than an accepted form (as is the case with vagamundo vs “correct” vagabundo). Because she goes to great lengths to rescue some beautiful words from oblivion. Because, maybe for the first time, I understood what’s the difference between la/s and le/s. Last but not least, or maybe indeed first, because of its untranslatable title.

So... where exactly is el quinto pino? Why anyone would want to find gato encerrado? Is it appropriate at all to hacer el amor in public? Read the book.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Three music documentaries

Last week, Timur and I went to watch these movies at the Monopol Music Festival. In English, with Spanish subtitles.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years

a film by Ron Howard

I’ve been listening to The Beatles for as long as I remember myself. I can’t honestly say that I learned a lot of new stuff about the Fab Four from this film. But I enjoyed it all the same. As for Timur, I hope his curiosity about The Beatles is not satisfied. The version we watched in Monopol (as we were warned beforehand) lacked half an hour or so of 1965 Shea Stadium concert. Thank goodness for that, it must have been terrible. Most of The Beatles footage was. On the other hand, the interviews are brilliant.

The film covers, so to speak, The Red Album years. (It also includes, for reasons unknown, a fragment of the famous rooftop concert which was the last public performance of the band but has nothing to do with “touring”.) John, Paul, George and Ringo were getting tired of the gigs but not of each other (yet). Brian Epstein was still alive. The future looked bright.

Score: A Film Music Documentary

a film by Matt Schrader

We went to see this film on Timur’s suggestion and it proved to be much more interesting than its description or trailer would suggest. Not only because, or even not so much because of giants like John Williams or Hans Zimmer who appear there. I was much more impressed by other composers — too many to list here and frankly I forgot most of the names — who also happen to be great musicians, arrangers and/or conductors. Perhaps inevitably, being an American movie, it mainly focuses on American film scores. (By and large, I find American movie music too intrusive for my liking. I wish there were separate volume controls for music, dialogue and ambient noises on the remote.) Even the scenes in London’s AIR and Abbey Road studios show “making of” Hollywood music. It would be interesting to see the idea of Score applied to contemporary European cinema.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

a film by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

This 2004 documentary portrays Metallica in the middle of their creative, existential, or midlife (delete as appropriate) crisis. I didn’t know much about the band before and watching the film didn’t make me a fan.

First, Lars Ulrich emerges as a biggest asshole in rock history (to his credit, Lars admits that himself) thanks to Metallica vs. Napster lawsuit. Then James Hetfield goes to Russia to hunt bears and drink vodka. Then Lars decides to sell his godawful paintings at Christie’s to raise some cash (quite a lot of it). All the while, they don’t stop bickering. The whole thing looks like they are unwittingly remaking This is Spın̈al Tap without being nearly as likeable as Spın̈al Tap. And they don’t show too much wit either.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Carmen Souza Trio live

Sometimes, life in Las Palmas presents impossible choices for a jazz lover. For example, yesterday. Should I go to see Xerach Peñate with her new project Tizziri in CICCA or Carmen Souza in the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus? (Incidentally, the tickets cost exactly the same, so that did not help.) I was pondering this dilemma for a couple of weeks till it resolved itself on Tuesday when Xerach wrote that her event was sold out. This finally prompted me to rush to the box office. Luckily, there still were five or six tickets left for Carmen Souza. So Timur and I headed to the Auditorio.

And it was good. The Trio (Carmen Souza: guitar, piano and vocal; Theo Pascal, double bass and electric bass; Elias Kacomanolis, drums) were presenting CS’s latest album, Creology (as in “creole”), but also some of oldies-goldies such as Parker’s Donna Lee, an up-tempo drum-less, vocal+guitar+bass version of Moonlight Serenade, and Calú Princezito’s Lua (which, until now, I only heard performed by Mayra Andrade). Carmen was charm incarnate, chatting away in fluent Spanish, making the audience laugh, clap, sing (in, I presume, Cape Verdean Creole) and dance. For an encore, the band played probably the most beautiful song of the set, Xinxiroti.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Un monstruo viene a verme

a film by Juan Antonio Bayona

There’s a big difference between Un monstruo viene a verme and A Monster Calls, as if they were two different films. The former was the best première of 2016 in Spain and proceeded to win eight Gaudí Awards and nine Goya Awards and other Spanish goodies. The latter was a box office disaster in the United States and wasn’t even nominated for any American award of note. Could it be that over there they just have difficulty to place this movie into a category? It’s not that child-friendly and it’s not violent enough. And the end is not exactly happy. Wait, it’s a European film. Or two.

Anyway, last week Timur and I went to see the former one. (There was a screening in the library.) I liked the story and the beautiful watercoloury animation segments. On the other hand, I found the Spanish dub as irritating as ever (in live action films). I guess I still have to watch the English-language version to appreciate it fully.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Forgetting Room

by Nick Bantock

Last autumn, while visiting almost impossibly pretty Vejer de la Frontera, I was told that Ronda is even prettier. Since then, Ronda has been on my list — next time I am in Andalusia, I just have to go there. Especially after reading The Forgetting Room.

In contrast to the Griffin and Sabine books and The Venetian’s Wife, there’s not much mail exchange and very little travel. Spatial travel, I mean. (So more reasons to see with my own eyes why Ronda.) At just over one hundred pages, not counting hidden dimensions, the book has enough mystery for a few full-length novels (whatever is that “full length”) and is crafted with such skill that you may even believe that you are holding in your hands “a limited edition of one”. First edition.

In my peripheral vision I noticed the profile of a very beautiful young woman sitting at a nearby table. Her hair was quite short, coal-black, and her neck was long and naked. For a few seconds I couldn’t help staring, her movements were painfully graceful. When I broke free and looked about, I realized I was far from the only one focused on her. It seemed that half the eyes in the room were pulled in her direction. I kept my gaze on the watchers, men and women compulsively drawn to her. However, something was amiss. There was a strange split in the audience, those on the left side of the room seemed to be responding differently from those on the right. When the young woman turned my way, I understood.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Mamá, quiero ser feminista

by Carmen G. de la Cueva
illustrated by Malota (Mar Hernández)
Hasta los diez años pensaba que en el mundo había muy pocos libros <...> Yo los leía como se lee a esa edad si no te has criado en una casa de padres lectores: de manera desordenada, siguendo el instinto más primario, es decir, la atracción por el título y la portada.

Well. I grew up surrounded by books, both my parents were teachers, but even now, when I chose a book in the library, I still follow that very instinct. For example: the only reason I picked up this book was the title and the cover picture. (Don’t worry, there are more illustrations inside.) So, another happy discovery.

Although I am not a woman, not Spanish, and not thirty anymore, Carmen’s experiences rang all sorts of bells for me, and rather loudly. Her desire to be like Pippi Longstocking (and ensuing conflict with her internal Annika). Encounters with of all sorts of taboos and euphemisms concerning structure and function of female body. (Are we still talking about Western Europe, the late 20th century? Yes we are.) Her love of books, her connection with their authors. Her outsidership: too bossy (for a girl), too independent, not too slim, not too interested in getting married... Her realisation, already in the university, of being a feminist, after being called one. Her foreign stints — Braunschweig, Prague, London, anywhere really just to escape her backwater pueblo, only to find herself back there again. Her dreams, doubts, despair.

Fair enough, but all this on its own is hardly enough to make a worthwhile book. The language, however, does the job, splendidly. Carmen writes about serious stuff, but she’s a fun to read, from Preface to Acknowledgements. And did I mention the illustrations? The nice final touch: the book is printed on a beautiful top-quality paper made from sustainable timber, certified as “Friend of the Forest” by Greenpeace.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Paris, Encore!

by Zaz

A French chanteuse, cheerfully singing covers of famous songs about Paris. Sounds dreadful, you’d think. Like I did. Now when Ms Geffroy sings not one or two but a whole album of such covers and, on top of that, names it Paris, it feels — and sounds — like the most natural thing in the world. I’ll tell you more: Paris by Zaz (not to be confused with Parises by Paris, Supertramp, The Cure, Paris Hilton, etc.) is a definitive one. It should have been named The Paris. I say, one has to wait another fifty years before undertaking anything as Parisian again.

The audio CD of Paris, Encore! is the same as Paris plus a bonus track, yet another beautiful version of Sous le ciel de Paris featuring Pablo Alborán. The DVD is a live recording of Zaz performing at Stuttgart Jazz Open 2015, with her own band and, on the last six tracks, with SWR Big Band, playing mostly Paris material but also a few hits from the singer’s debut album. The musicians and music are excellent; the production and sound quality, considering that it is 2015... well, will do. A duet of Zaz and Rhiannon Giddens (of Carolina Chocolate Drops) is the absolute highlight, I’d love to hear more of this pair.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Simon Johnson in Las Palmas

I’ve never been to St Paul’s Cathedral. Next time I’m in London I should drop in, knowing that Simon Johnson plays organ there. In the meantime, Timur and I went to see him in the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus. I was quite impressed by Johnson’s understated virtuosity and by the sheer diversity of the program. For me, A fancie by William Byrd, Bach’s Liebster Jesu, and Elegy by George Thalben-Ball were the highlights.

The acoustics and the organ here must be not as great as in St Paul’s, I’ll give you that. On the other hand, I can see the Atlantic ocean directly from the auditorium. I prefer that to whatever cathedral. With tickets as cheap (a bargain at €7), you’d expect the place to be packed, but no. In Canarias, there are other priorities, especially during the Carnival.

Simon Johnson, organ
Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Sunday, 26 February 2017, 12:30

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

You Took the Last Bus Home

by Brian Bilston

Why, could you ask, should anyone want to buy a book by the “Poet Laurie Ate of Twitter” when one can easily get his poetry on, well, Twitter?

Because, you know, not everybody is on Twitter. For example, I. Not a fan. Especially of those who tweet. Bulltweet first, think later, if ever. There are notable exceptions. Brian Bilston is one. Maybe the only. Doesn’t he deserve a reward? Yes he does. Buy his book then, you won’t regret it. I assure you, it works beautifully even in a WiFi-free zone.

Bilston creates poetry everywhere and out of everything: Scrabble boards, flowcharts, Excel spreadsheets, Venn diagrams, curricula vitae, ex-partner’s post-it-notes... He draws inspiration from the Periodic Table and Fibonacci sequence, autocorrect and every song on the radio, unknown twats and celebrity twats, Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan, “inspirational” quotes, commas, and Oxford commas; also, semicolons. Look out for acrostic and anagrams, palindromes and puns, missing letters and Schrödinger’s cat. My favourites are the lists, such as Haiky Horoscopes (Aquarius is a holy truth), Why I Have Never Read War and Peace: Ten Excuses (all legitimate), Thirty Rules for Midlife Rebellion and, of course, The Day That Twitter Went Down. So, shut up and buy the book already.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

El piano oriental

by Zeina Abirached
Un piano oriental... Esa extraña yuxtaposición de dos visiones del mundo que nada parece poder unir, su música doble, el sonido ligero del contoneo imperceptible de una nota en medio de una frase, los llevo dentro de mí. Ser un piano oriental es abrir una ventana en París y esperar ver el mar tras los edificios haussmanianos más allá, incluso.

It called to me from the very same comic book stand in the library that is responsible for all of my graphic novel reading. Drawn in bold black and white, it reminded me of Persepolis although even a quick leaf through was enough to reveal the stylistic differences.

There are two intertwined storylines in El piano oriental. One is the story of Abdallah Kamanja, inspired by the real-life Abdallah Chahine, a Lebanese musician and inventor of the titular “oriental piano”. Another is the autobiographical one, of a girl growing between Beirut and Paris. The leitmotif, underpinned by the author’s ingenious use of text as a graphical device, is that of bilinguality: East meets West, quarter-tones meet semitones, Arabic meets French... A beautiful book.

As far as I know, Le piano oriental was also published in Spanish, German and Italian but not English (yet).
Here you can see some pages of the book in English translation by Edward Gauvin.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Batman: La Lego Película

a film by Chris McKay

Here in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, we have our own Lego Batman ad, designed to promote the local public transport. It shows Batman saying “Solo cojo la guagua cuando Alfred está lavando el batmóvil”.

Yesterday, Timur and I went to see the movie. (Naturally, we took the bus.) It is fast-paced and roaringly funny. Also, quite inventive. I mean, Godzilla accidentally destroying Barad-dûr — why didn’t Peter Jackson think of anything as brilliant?

I prefer watching films in their original language whenever possible, but I have to admit that I loved this particular Spanish dub. (Spanish Spanish, that is. As far as I can see from the trailers, it is very different from the Latin American version.) But now I am curious. For instance, Batman addresses Robin as “my son”, then explains that it means “‘mi hijoen inglés”. How did that go in English, I wonder.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Racine carrée

by Stromae

I first heard (about) Stromae just a few weeks ago, thanks to this web article. I bought Racine carrée on the strength of three videos: quite literally formidable Formidable; Papaoutai, with its fantastic (break)dance routine; and Carmen, an animation directed by Sylvain Chomet (Les Triplettes de Belleville, L’Illusionniste). I have to warn you that, after watching this latter clip, you’ll never listen to Habanera with the same ears again and most probably will delete your Twitter account. The rest of the album is not bad either. I discovered to my surprise that the kora player on Bâtard is none other than Noumoucounda Cissoko. C’est formidable.

Monday, 6 February 2017


a film by Paul Verhoeven

Raving reviews notwithstanding, I didn’t watch Black Book when it was first screened in England. All these (ten) years, it remained on my “to watch” list — in other words, every time I saw it in the library, I’d always find some excuse not to borrow it. A few days ago, they were showing it on Spanish TV, and I sat down and watched it from start to finish, without ever falling asleep.

Not exactly my first choice to watch after The Big Bang Theory, but man, what a film. Not only has it got everything the good war movie should have (and I don’t even like war movies that much), it’s got it all perfect: tight plot, attention to detail, life, death, sex, love, betrayal, a sympathetic Hauptsturmführer, a traitorous Resistance member, subdued colours, rather overdramatic 1950s-style music, plus some very 21st-century acting, and not only by Carice van Houten. By the end of the movie, I thought my Dutch and German have improved to the level I didn’t need Spanish subtitles any longer, until I realised they switched to English for a while.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


by King Crimson

Yes, musicians are also people. They die every year. 2016 though seemed to be especially brutal in this respect. Among many others, it claimed the lives of both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, leaving Carl Palmer the only surviving member of ELP. Another prog-rock hero, John Wetton, passed away yesterday.

I was lucky to see both Wetton and Palmer performing with Asia in Moscow, in what still was called Soviet Union. It was a fantastic show throughout but the most beautiful part had nothing to do with Asia. Half-way through the concert, the fellow musicians left Wetton alone on stage to sing Book of Saturday and Starless.

Red was the first KC album I ever heard. It happened at the relatively late stage of my development, in the mid-1980s. Although I love all KC albums of the 1970s, I still regard Red as their finest. Frankly, after Starless, there was — there is — nothing left to say. So to disband after releasing Red probably was the only option at the time.

While Fripp & Co. continue to remix, remaster and repackage their material, I am quite happy with my 30th Anniversary Edition, which is a huge improvement on that noisy cassette tape I first heard it.

(Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James)
Sundown dazzling day
Gold through my eyes
But my eyes turned within only see
Starless and bible black

Old friend charity
Cruel twisted smile
And the smile signals emptiness for me
Starless and bible black

Ice blue silver sky
Fades into grey
To a grey hope that all yearns to be
Starless and bible black

Sunday, 29 January 2017

La Tortue Rouge

a film by Michaël Dudok de Wit

Every ten years or so, Mr de Wit creates a masterpiece. Needless to say, we were looking forward to his first feature film. The problem is to find where to see it.

This morning, Timur discovered that the one and only screening of La tortuga roja on this island takes place today in Monopol at 16:30. Naturally, we had to go there. There were 5 (five) spectators altogether, imagine that. What a crying shame. On the plus side, there were no trailers and nobody was eating popcorn.

Although not as heartbreaking as Father and Daughter, this film still can make you cry. Also, it is impossibly beautiful.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Честная бедность

by Robert Burns and Samuil Marshak
a song by Alexander Gradsky

Burns wrote Is There for Honest Poverty in 1795 and it must have been a revolutionary song at the time. It still is. Nowadays it is used by the Scots in various patriotic contexts but the song says nothing about Scotland and that, dare I say, adds to its universal appeal.

As I mentioned before, Marshak made Burns’ poetry a phenomenon of Russian literature, and Честная бедность is one of the best examples. His translation of “an’ a’ that” as “и всё такое прочее” was a stroke of genius. In the 1970s, the verse “Король лакея своего назначит генералом...” inspired another gem of Russian poetry, Песенка короля by Leonid Filatov. But what about “Бревно останется бревном” (literally, “a log will stay a log”, meaning “the stupid will stay stupid”), one of the most quoted lines of Russian Burns? Actually, Burns did not say anything of the sort. This is pure Marshak.

Alexander Gradsky recorded a song utilising a fragment of Честная бедность on his 1987 album Утопия АГ.

Robert Burns
Is There for Honest Poverty
Роберт Бёрнс, перевод С.Я. Маршака
Честная бедность
Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that?
The coward-slave, we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that.
Кто честной бедности своей
Стыдится и всё прочее,
Тот самый жалкий из людей,
Трусливый раб и прочее.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Our toils obscure, an’ a’ that;
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The man’s the gowd for a’ that!
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Пускай бедны мы с вами,
Богатство — штамп на золотом,
А золотой — мы сами!
What tho’ on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey an’ a’ that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,
A man’s a man for a’ that!
Мы хлеб едим и воду пьём,
Мы укрываемся тряпьём
И всё такое прочее,
А между тем дурак и плут
Одеты в шёлк и вина пьют
И всё такое прочее.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that!
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Судите не по платью.
Кто честным кормится трудом, —
Таких зову я знатью!
Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
Вот этот шут — придворный лорд,
Ему должны мы кланяться,
Но пусть он чопорен и горд,
Бревно бревном останется!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that:
His riband, star, an’ a’ that,
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that!
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Хоть весь он в позументах, —
Бревно останется бревном
И в орденах, и в лентах!
A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that,
But an honest man’s aboon his might,
Guid faith he mauna fa’ that!
Король лакея своего
Назначит генералом,
Но он не может никого
Назначить честным малым.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities, an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher ranks than a’ that.
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Награды, лесть и прочее
Не заменяют ум и честь
И все такое прочее!
Then let us pray that come it may —
As come it will for a’ that —
That sense and worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that;
Настанет день и час пробьёт,
Когда уму и чести
На всей земле придет черёд
Стоять на первом месте.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s comin’ yet for a’ that,
That man to man, the world o’er,
Shall brithers be for a’ that!
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Могу вам предсказать я,
Что будет день,
Когда кругом
Все люди станут братья!

Monday, 23 January 2017

La La Land

a film by Damien Chazelle

If you can forget or ignore its mildly right-wing narrative, what with Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) being a white savior (of dying art of jazz?), an alternate ending which isn’t any different to the “real” ending except for a man Mia (Emma Stone) is happily married to, and that impossibly embarrassing scene in planetarium, you can actually enjoy it. I did. The thing is, the whole point of La La Land is to be steeped in nostalgia for the Golden Age of Hollywood, so implicit racism, sexism and heteronormativity are, as it were, just a part of the package. Otherwise, it’s a pleasant, feel-good musical, with the lead couple who actually can sing and dance (and, in case of Gosling, play piano). Another Day of Sun and The Fools Who Dream are probably the best songs there.

Friday, 20 January 2017

IV Festival Flamenco Romí

At last! The fourth edition of the Festival Flamenco Romí, previously limited to Tenerife, arrived to Gran Canaria. This year, both islands hosted the festival, in Auditorio Teobaldo Power (La Orotava) and Teatro Municipal Juan Ramón Jiménez (Telde). I kind of knew about it, because last December I saw a poster advertising the festival and I can’t just walk past a poster that has the name of Jorge Pardo on it. I was not so sure about Telde though. And then I forgot all about it, until last Saturday morning, when Tamara asked me if I were interested in it at all, since our friend Anna Villacampa apparently was going there too. And so, as a last-minute decision, I took a bus to Telde.

Indeed, Anna was there, even though I couldn’t find her name in the online program. It turned out that she and our very own Ballet Español de Javier del Real were hidden under the moniker “artistas invitados”, as if the rest of the artistes came all way down here uninvited. By the way, this is the first time ever I bought the ticket to see Anna in action, and I must add that her Saturday performance was even more scintillating than “usual”.

The last time I saw Jorge Pardo was in 1996, when he was playing with the Paco de Lucía sextet. I still remember his flute solo (and when I say solo, I mean everybody else just walked off the scene) as a high point of the show, which is really difficult to imagine now considering that the whole concert was quite a high point, but there you are. So this time, when everybody else just walked off the scene, I knew what to expect... and I’m glad that Señor Pardo has proved me wrong, for it was still unexpected. Not sure how to describe it but for a moment I thought that Paco himself was on stage (playing flute? and why not). Later, when the band came back, they performed Sólo quiero caminar. Thank you, maestro, for the time travel!

IV Festival Flamenco Romí
Teatro Municipal Juan Ramón Jiménez, 14.02.2016

    Jorge Pardo: flute, sax
    Josemi Carmona: guitar
    José Manuel Ruiz “Bandolero”: percussion
    Pedro Jiménez: piano
    Jonathan Muñoz: bass
    Saray Muñoz: cantaora
    Saray Fernández “La Pitita”: bailaora
    Vivi Cadiz: cantaora
    Enrique Piculabe: cantaor
    El Ballet Español de Javier del Real
    Anna Villacampa Gómez: bailaora

Sunday, 15 January 2017

El beso del canguro: Vida de Lázaro y de sus fortunas y adversidades

by Eugenia Rico

I chose this book for my Christmas holiday reading (dark, cold nights in Brussels suburbs) by employing my favourite strategy, viz. opening it at a random page and reading one paragraph. This one:

La isla de Fuerteventura es hermosa pero reseca como el coño de las viejas. Allí me mandaron a hacer el servicio militar y allí aprendí lo que es la sed.
Now that made me curious. Is there anything else he’s got to say about Fuerte?

Not much, it turned out. Inspired by Lazarillo de Tormes, the 16th century classic which I never read, this is a modern-day take on the picaresque novel. Lázaro dreams of travelling to Australia but instead goes wherever life takes him, to Barcelona, Madrid, Córdoba, Fuerteventura... I guess the story could have taken place elsewhere in Spain or beyond. Except Australia, that is. (Eventually the author grants Lázaro his wish, but, in a clever move, his adventures down under won’t commence until after we close the book.) Anyway, we don’t get to see much of Spain through the eyes of our hero — nicknamed Ojos de Lluvia, Eyes of Rain, by one of his lovers — for he is far too busy to indulge in sightseeing. Lázaro appears to be a loving and lovable boy, to the extent that prostitutes in Fuerteventura entertain him free of charge. I wonder if the author ever met her protagonist, for some of his adventures are so unbelievable they only could have occurred in real life.

I loved the language of this book. With intermediate-level Spanish, you won’t have too many problems reading it. I needed to consult the dictionary now and then though — I had no idea there were so many synonyms for prison and recreational drugs!

Sé que todas las heridas cierran pero a menudo cierran mal, y que todo el mundo se enamora al menos una vez. Y sé que a ti también te llegará. Creo que no merece la pena querer a quien no te quiere, que debes luchar por quien amas, que es mejor llamar por teléfono que esperar a que te llamen y que si no luchas a muerte por la persona que te importa luego no tienes derecho a quejarte. Me gustaría que besases con los ojos abiertos y decidieses con los ojos cerrados. Creo que las cosas son mucho más fáciles de lo que creemos. Creo que es posible un mundo mejor y me gustaría que tú fueras una de esas personas que luchan por ello. Creo que no puedes llorar toda la noche ni reír todo el día. Sé que cuando te canses de llorar te darás cuenta de que tienes enfrente a alguien capaz de hacerte sonreír. Creo que sólo existe el ahora y que es nuestra obligación y nuestro derecho disfrutarlo.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017


by Angela Carter

On the first attempt, its strange, viscous language stopped me one-third-way through. A year and a half later, when the nights became longest, I unearthed this book and resumed reading. It gave me nightmares. The stories feature solitude, mirrors, incest, rape, murder and execution, in a variety of combinations — at times delicious, at times revolting. My three favourites are Penetrating to the Heart of the Forest and Master, both taking place in some Márquez-esque selva, and a delightfully gothic horror of The Loves of Lady Purple. Next time I need some verschrobene texts to keep my English students suitably bamboozled, I know where to look.