Sunday, December 2, 2012

2012.12.01 — Anna Russell and Kris Boyd and Lamb Stew: Three Tiny Fushigis*

I have no idea how to begin this fushigi blog, except with a half-hearted apology on behalf of capital 'L' Life that slaps our faces with the strangest juxtapositions. So, I'll begin with the third of the three fushigis first.

Third of Three
I walked into my favourite local shop this morning to buy bread, meat and vegetables. I moved to the meat counter at the back of the store. Talking to Oxford, the butcher, was a woman I recognized from the memorial service for Kris Boyd that the three of us went to last year.

"Hello," I said to her. She looked at me. "Hello," she said. "I remember you."

"And I remember you. We sat together with Oxford at Kris's memorial."

"That's right!" she said.

Oxford piped in to re-introduce us. "Troy, this is Bill. Bill this is Troy." And then he added, "Did you know that it is one year ago on Monday that Kris was murdered?"

And I had forgotten. When I got home I confirmed that it is noted on the flip side of my weekly day planner. I would have looked at it on Monday, when I pre-view the upcoming week's events.

What makes this meeting of the three of us again so remarkable is that I remember that Troy lives across the lane from the store and visits it kind of like it is her extended pantry. I am in that store at least once a week, but frequently two or three times in a week. And today was the first day that I saw her in the store, within a few days of the anniversary of our first meeting as strangers because of the premature death of a mutual friend who worked with Oxford. And in the store, we re-met with Oxford. Weird.

Second of Three
This fushigi began with a newspaper item that ML brought to my attention to read on 2012.11.29. Pirates stays shipshape in 21st century: Gilbert and Sullivan operetta is as fresh and funny now as it was to Victorian audiences.

Within the piece is a reference to Anna Russell.
(A recommendation for those feeling the need for a quick course in G&S, Anna Russell, the Canadian comedienne of a bygone era, has a sly turn known as A Formula for Writing a Gilbert and Sullivan Opera, which you can listen to on YouTube [@ How to Write a Gibert & Sullivan Opera]; it's just as insightful as her notorious introduction to Wagner's Ring Cycle.)
I had to pause and really stretch my memory as to why that name rang a bell. Aha! I remembered that a long time ago — more than five years anyway — one of the CBCR2 radio hosts would broadcast her operatic satires occasionally. It was long enough ago that I've forgotten who would broadcast them.

Today, 2012.12.01, while driving during chores in the morning, I started up the car to head back home, and I heard today's host of This is My Music, already well into the show, introduce Anna Russell's satire of the French art song: Schlumph" & "Je N'Ai Pas la Plume de Ma Tante. And here's the link to the
impressive bio of today's host, which I learned later, long after I got home and made time to create this blog, was Janina Fialkowska.

To be honest, the name Janina Fialkowska meant nothing to me before today. But her hosting this show has changed that because unlike many of the hosts of this series, she seemed completely grounded and down to earth.
Her hosting was easy and lacked pretension. I was impressed when she played KD Lang's Olympic Games cover of Leonard Cohen's amazing song Halleleujah.

And when I came back into the car, I'd thought my radio had lost its mind because, when I turned it on, Rush was filling the air waves. But no, Janina had included them on her playlist because she has become friends with them after they met when they were given the Governor General's Award in March of 2012. Unfortunately I'm not a big
enough fan of Rush to know which song she played — I only caught the last minute or two — but for those who don't know them, they are a hugely successful lyrical pure rock band that are ranked third in total album sales behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Here's one of their biggest hits, Tom Sawyer from 1993, with over 9 million views since being uploaded to YouTube Aug 2007.

And, since I have now become aware of Janina, here's her playing Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 21, chamber version.

First of Three
For a variety of reasons including but limited to mild food poisoning and a dysfunctional work re-organization, this was a rough week for me. And so, on Tuesday
(2012.11.27) I decided to read something lighter than Chomsky's World Orders Old and New, which has gotten particularly grim. And so I decided to resume Stanley Park by Timothy Taylor. It was given to me by my friend NR and is set in my town. On Thursday I read an innocuous food description. (The book is about a Vancouver chef.)
… But when she cooked dinner that night, it had been a stew of lamb marinated in yoghurt and lemon juice. An old recipe, an open tribute (38).
Well, for the first time in 33 years of being together, my wife had decided on Wednesday (2012.11.28) that we would cook a lamb stew. So, on Thursday we did. After reading a half dozen recipes, the recipe she made included yoghurt and lime leaves.

It was delicious, although very rich.

Addendum 2012.12.03
At 10:02 pm I posted a Haiku chain within the Haiku Game, a thread in the Weekly Short Stories group in Goodreads. it was post # 2806. The poem is a play off the previous few poems, so it is a bit out of context here:
The dead pan mourner
Lightened her lips with the taste
Of pressed apple skins.

grappa she sipped
Burned with the pain the grapes felt
at their being pressed.

The ice rink that was
Sank into the thawed mud pond
With what was once hard;

The skates that once swung
In the hands of the tall girl
became with her ghosts

Walking the knife's edge,
edging towards a wakeful
leap off the cliff's face

Hunting sunlight's ghosts,
the fragments of memory
danced like fruit flies.
Before going to bed, I did my usual fifteen to twenty minutes of pre-bed reading, and was amused to read, from, once again, Stanley Park:
… but now Jules looked over at him in a way she intended to communicate dissatisfaction, confirm she didn't find canned peaches minor.

"I have them [guinea hens] soaking in peach juice and some
grappa," he said, sounding guilty already (although he continued to lay out his phyllo). "I'm going to grill them with fennel seeds. I stole it from Umberto" (95).
Yes, this is a small one, but an amusing one.

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