You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2012.

Tess Kincaid writes a blog called Life at Willow Manor.


Gone the way
of the phone booth

and station wagon,
the morning tradition

is dunked or otherwise
reduced to an essence

added to the grind,
a kind of tribute.

Time-travel across
the politically correct,

wrap one in wax paper,
dribble jelly for old times’ sake,

the icing so sweet
it makes your teeth hurt.

(Source: Daily Mail)

For women anxious about their weight, horizontal stripes are usually a serious fashion no-no.

But Nigella Lawson Queen of Gastroporn and Caramel Bukkake clearly has nothing to worry about on that score, having lost three stone in the last few months.

So the TV cook was happy to show off her newly slender frame at the weekend in a navy and orange striped jumper, teamed with skin-tight black trousers and a pair of elegant black suede boots.

The 52-year-old was photographed on Saturday, after lunch at the exclusive Scott’s fish restaurant in central London.

I’m in love … I need a stiff drink …

Isaac Newton, it is said,
Was sitting after lunch
Under an apple tree.

You know what happened next.

An apple, ripe, ready
To be picked, left the branch
Where it had grown, ripened,
Swelled to its juiciest.

Falling on Newton’s head.

That’s why we have gravity.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

(Dylan Thomas, The force that through the green fuse)

Well there was a man who lived in a shed
Spent most of his days out of his head
For his shed was rotten let in the rain
Said it was enough to drive any man insane
When it rained
He felt so bad
When it snowed he felt just simply sad

Well there was a girl who lived nearby
Whenever he saw her he could only simply sigh
But she lived in a house so very big and grand
For him it seemed like some very distant land
So when he called her
His shed to mend
She said I’m sorry you’ll just have to find a friend

Well this story is not so very new
But the man is me yes and the girl is you
So leave your house come into my shed
Please stop my world from raining through my head
Please don’t think I’m not your sort
You’ll find that sheds are nicer than you thought

A stale and slow-moving mind is of no use in a first-class orchestra, and an unfit body cannot cope with the physical strain involved. Those players really worth their salt are frequently expert at other accomplishments.

(Bernard Shore, The Orchestra Speaks)

Every single one of the musicians in any professional orchestra has won an audition over sometimes dozens and dozens of competitors, made it through one or two years of his/her trial period, and is required to play difficult pieces, well, day in and day out. If they can’t play the right notes, they can’t work. If a conductor can’t hear wrong notes, he has no business being a conductor. That is just as much a basic requirement of his job as the musicians being able to play the right notes (at least) on their instruments. There are many, many hollow posers and impostors on the podium. It is much easier to fake being a conductor than being a musician.

I saw Claudio Abbado given a very hard time by the brass players of the London Symphony Orchestra. The off-stage guys went to the pub part way through a rehearsal, there was quite a fuss about that one. Abbado was very angry at how some of the musicians behaved, and he walked off to cool down. The performance however was as exciting and electric as could be imagined. This was the same orchestra that decided to get back at Carreras when he said his fluffs were caused by dropped pencils. Abbado and the singer were then subjected to a barrage of pencil-dropping whenever he opened his mouth. In a way Carreras asked for it, but the players did not have to give it.

What is musically good and bad or emotionally communicative is really a different thing. A technically outstanding conductor who hears everything and knows how to rehearse and direct the orchestra is not a different kind of poser. If he knows his stuff, has good ears, knows the score and has a conception of it that he can bring across in rehearsal, then he is not a poser at all. You or I may not like the interpretation that results from that, but one has to separate that from technical qualities.

But if someone does not have these technical qualities and knowledge, then he also cannot develop a valuable interpretation of a complex orchestral piece and direct 80-100 musicians performing it. Whipping up a little excitement and relying on the orchestra to carry the conductor through the piece so that he looks good is not good conducting – although some good performances sometimes happen despite a bad conductor. But only when the orchestra comes through in spite of him. Which can be really dificult.

Although real messing with the conductor incidents do occur and they make for better stories, that rarely happens in good professional orchestras in the way of “let’s test this guy and give him a hard time”. It does happen sometimes, but not often, I would say. And that’s not even necessary. It is hard to describe, but when a conductor does not know his stuff, it becomes apparent very quickly, and after only a short while longer, it is pretty much clear if he knows what he is doing or not. If yes, it can make a huge difference in the ensemble playing experience. If not, then it can be a very big pain in the arse and immensely frustrating. Musicians most of the time don’t even need to test conductors – it often becomes apparent very quickly if they are any good or not.

One should always try to co-operate with the conductor, but sometimes, it’s just not possible and the problems aren’t a matter of different views about the music or anything like that – that doesn’t really matter anyway, because an important part of the craft of the orchestral musician is to be able to grasp and realize many different concepts, after all, if everybody did what they wanted, there would be no ensemble – it is simply that the man with the stick does not belong in front of an orchestra.

I’d sure hate to see the genre disappear.

(Clint Eastwood, Cannes 1985)

Kevin Costner tried to bring the Western back but he failed. I don’t know if it’s him, his inability to hire a good editor for his movies or if we’ve all grown out of Westerns, but it seems the genre is pretty much dead now.

I recently watched Wyatt Earp, since I had seen it when it came out and it bored the crap out of me … I enjoy it more now. Anyway, I think that Open Range should be his best Western, but I have a soft spot for the icky Dances with Wolves … the ickiest moment is seeing Kevin Costner wagging his bare arse at the camera … he directed it too … just to make sure it wasn’t called Two Dogs Fucking

My point is, Kevin Costner just isn’t convincing in Westerns. That’s the problem. Give me Unforgiven for a straightforward western, or The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford for a stylized one.

If a film has Kevin Costner in it, chances are its going to be bad. That’s a given.

Speaking of modern Westerns, I was positively surprised by Unforgiven. I was expecting something completely lame, but it was actually pretty good, and Clint Eastwood’s acting is still as intense as ever, which is amazing, considering he looks like he’s about to crumble into dust at any moment.

Plus, in contrast to Costner, any film with Gene Hackman and Richard Harris in it is going to be good.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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