Saturday 22 September 2012


“You know, I love the sunset when I am very sad…” – Antoine de St Exupéry
Even though the day in Perth today started out with rain and wind, the afternoon was simply beautiful. I walked along the banks of the Swan River and enjoyed the serenity of it. As the afternoon wore on into the evening, the sun set and the air became cool again. I then felt quite far away and a little lonely…
Here is the perfect piece for that wistful feeling as the orange fire of the sunset gives way to the blues and mauves of twilight: The second movement of Marcello’s concerto for oboe and strings.

Friday 21 September 2012


“Behave so the aroma of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere.” - Henry David Thoreau

I am in Perth for work again and the weather here has been terrible. Wind, rain and cold. So much for the sunny West and the Spring Equinox! To be fair, the weather here is usually warmer and milder, but chance would have it that the weather is terrible when I visit.

I had a wonderful dessert at the hotel tonight and the reason I wanted to try it is because we make it at home and it is delicious and quite light. I was not disappointed with my dessert at the restaurant, however, it was nothing compared to the home-made variety.

Mango Pudding

4 small bowls
1 large, ripe, sweet mango
1 packet of instant mango jelly (orange will do if you can’t find mango)
A few drops of vanilla essence
Juice of half a lime
250ml of hot water
4 tablespoons of a quality full cream vanilla ice-cream

Peel mango and cut one slice, reserving it for decoration.
Remove flesh from the mango and place into a blender, blending on low speed for 30 seconds.
In a 500 ml glass measuring jug, add the packet of mango jelly and 250ml of hot water and stir well until the mixture dissolves completely.
Add 4 tablespoons of full cream vanilla ice-cream to the jelly mixture and stir the mixture until the ice cream melts.
Add the mango pulp and stir through, adding the lime juice and vanilla essence.
Pour the mixture into four bowls, gently tapping on the bench to remove bubbles.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours to set. The mango pudding is set when it is no longer runny and a bit springy.
Serve the mango pudding decorated with slices of mango, a dollop of cream and mint leaves.

This post is part od the Food Friday meme,
and also part of the Food Trip Friday meme.

Thursday 20 September 2012


“Valour is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.” - Michel de Montaigne

Saint Eustace, also known as St Eustathius, was a Christian martyr who lived in the 2nd century AD. The saint is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church and is also commemorated in the Orthodox Church, on September 20.
According to legend, prior to his conversion to Christianity, Eustace was a Roman general named Placidus, who served the emperor Trajan. While hunting a stag in Tivoli near Rome, Placidus saw a vision of Jesus crucified, between the stag’s antlers. He was immediately converted, had himself and his family baptised, and changed his name to Eustace (Greek: Ευστάθιος - Eustathios, “most stable”, or Ευστάχιος, Eustachios, “rich crop”).

A series of calamities followed to test his faith: His wealth was stolen; his servants died of a plague; when the family took a sea voyage, the ship’s captain kidnapped Eustace’s wife Theopista; and as Eustace crossed a river with his two sons Agapius and Theopistus, the children were taken away by a wolf and a lion. Like Job, Eustace lamented but did not lose his faith. He was then quickly restored to his former prestige and reunited with his family; but when he demonstrated his new faith by refusing to make a pagan sacrifice, the emperor, Hadrian, condemned Eustace, his wife, and his sons to be roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull or an ox, in the year AD 118. The d’Afflitto dynasty, one of the oldest princely families in Italy, claims to be the direct descendant of Saint Eustace.

He is one of the patron saints of Madrid, Spain. Scenes from the story, especially Eustace kneeling before the stag, became a popular subject of medieval religious art. Early artistic depictions of the legend include a wall painting at Canterbury Cathedral and stained glass windows at the Cathedral of Chartres. He is considered to be the patron saint of hunters.

St Eustache in Paris is a church in the 1st arrondissement. The present building was built between 1532 and 1632. Situated at the entrance to Paris’s ancient markets (Les Halles) and the beginning of rue Montorgueil, St Eustache is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The church’s reputation was strong enough of the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive communion. Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here in the 17th century. The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls. Marie de Gournay is buried there. The island of Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean Netherlands is named after him.

The Catholic church also celebrates a second St Eustace. While his date of birth unknown, it is recorded he died 29 March, 625 AD. He was second abbot of the Irish monastery of Luxeuil in France, and his feast is commemorated in the Celtic martyrologies on the 29th of March. He was one of the first companions of St. Columbanus, a monk of Bangor (Ireland), who with his disciples did much to spread the Gospel over Central and Southern Europe. When Columbanus, the founder of Luxeuil, was banished from the Kingdom of Burgundy, on account of his reproving the morals of King Thierry, the exiled abbot recommended his community to choose Eustace as his successor.

Wednesday 19 September 2012


“I like to think that the moon is there even if I am not looking at it” - Albert Einstein

Magpie Tales this week has chosen Salvador Dalí’s “Venus and The Sailor” of 1925 as the stimulus for sparking the imagination of participants in her creative writing meme. Although Dalí is predominantly known for his surrealistic paintings, this particular work shows clear evidence of Picasso’s cubist influences.

Salvador Dali (Born: 11 May 1904; Figueres, Spain, Died: 23 January 1989; Figueres, Spain) had an artistic repertoire that included sculpture, painting, photography, multimedia work, and collaborations with other artists, most notably independent surrealist film-makers. Dali was born into a quasi-surreal existence. His brother, also named Salvador, died as a toddler, nine months before Dali’s birth. His parents told him he was the reincarnation of his older brother, which he also came to believe.

As a child, Dali attended drawing school, and by the age of thirteen, Dali’s father was arranging exhibitions of his charcoal drawings. In 1922, Dali went to study at the School of Fine Arts in San Fernando, where he was known as a bit of a dandy, wearing long hair and sideburns, and stockings with knee breeches in the style of 19th century aesthetes. 
During his stay at the academy, Dali tried his hand in cubism and dada. But his stay was short lived, after he was expelled a few weeks before final exams, for stating that no one in the school was qualified enough to examine him.

After his expulsion, he travelled to Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, who heavily influenced his painting styles. Dali continually borrowed from many painting styles. From impressionism to renaissance works, he combined all elements into single compositions, raising interesting critiques from art critics, who were unsure as how to received his works.

Always a dandy, Dali grew a large moustache, which was a trademark of his appearance for the rest of his life. 

In 1929, Dali began a relationship with the woman who would later become his wife, Gala. His father disapproved, and saw his connection with surrealism as a demoralising influence on his son. Upon hearing reports that Dali had created a work with an inscription insulting his mother, who had died eight years earlier of breast cancer, the elder Dali disowned and disinherited his son, telling him never to return home. Dali then married Gala and moved into a house at Port Lligat.

Dali spent the middle and late years of his life between the United States and his beloved Catalonia, Spain, collaborating with other artists, canoodling with social elites, and creating many stories for the newspapers. After his wife’s death in 1982, Dali lost much of his will to live, and purposely dehydrated himself almost to the point of death. There was also a mysterious fire in his apartment in 1984, from which he was saved, but many thought was a suicide attempt. He died of heart failure five years later at the age of 84 years.

I have “tampered” a little with Dalí’s painting, cropping it and changing the colour scheme and adding the moon, which was there even though Dalí was not looking at it. I am sure he wouldn’t mind…

A Flower in the Moonlight

We started playing with words again tonight,
The singer articulating softly our innermost desires,
Our hearts vocalising dumbly our sweetest bitter dreams.
The room so small, the light so dim,
The night so deep, the short space between us,
So immense it could in light years be measured...
We’ve played this scene so many times before,
Two actors on the stage fumbling with props
Struggling with our lines, trying inarticulately to improvise
Forgotten speeches that we would not dare to speak
Even if we had remembered them.
Your eyes avoid mine while a flower blooms in your hand.
Above us the air a prism, and a hundred light-bulb stars shine on a celluloid sky
A room with walls of music, the pasteboard moon for ceiling.
If we could only bridge the gap, dissolve the ice
If you could touch me now, think of what would be gained!

You stretch your hand, as years of silence crumble

A thousand nights, dead, are resurrected
And at last, this time on cue, you offer me
A flower in the moonlight.

Tuesday 18 September 2012


“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” - Edith Lovejoy Pierce

The Jewish New Year or Rosh Hashanah is a high Holy Day as it is regarded as the birthday of creation. In 2012 Rosh Hashanah began in the evening of Sunday, 16 September 2012, and ended in the evening of Tuesday, 18 September 2012. Rosh Hashanah is also a day of memorial, recalling to mind personal acts and reviewing events occurring since the beginning of time. Synagogue services express hope for the future and feature the story of Abraham’s intended sacrifice of Isaac. God’s providence is commemorated by the blowing of the ceremonial ram’s horn, the shofar.

At home, special prayers are recited for a good year ahead and wishes are pronounced over an apple dipped in honey, with the intention being for the year to be as sweet.  Special round, smooth loaves of bread are baked symbolising the smooth and prosperous New Year to be.  Orthodox Jews observe the festival for two days. The holiday also marks the start of the Ten Days of Repentance.  Sabbath-like restrictions on work for both days (today and tomorrow) in both Israel and the Diaspora.

Rosh Hashanah meals usually include apples and honey, to symbolise a sweet new year. Other foods with a symbolic meaning may be served, depending on local minhag (“custom”), such as the head of a fish (to symbolize the “head” of the year). The Sephardi and Mizrahi communities hold a “Rosh Hashanah seder” during which blessings are recited over a variety of symbolic dishes. The blessings start with the phrase “Yehi ratzon”, meaning “May it be thy will”. In many cases, the name of the food in Hebrew or Aramaic represents a play on words or pun. The Yehi Ratson platter may include apples (dipped in honey, baked or cooked as a compote called mansanada); dates; pomegranates; black-eyed peas; pumpkin-filled pastries called rodanchas; leek fritters called keftedes de prasa; beets; and a whole fish with the head intact. It is also common to eat stuffed vegetables called legumbres yaprakes.

Some of the symbolic foods eaten are dates, black-eyed peas, leek, spinach and gourd, all of which are mentioned in the Talmud. Pomegranates are used in many traditions, to symbolise being fruitful like the pomegranate with its many seeds. The use of apples and honey, symbolising a sweet year, is a late medieval Ashkenazi addition, though it is now almost universally accepted. Typically, round challah bread is served, to symbolize the cycle of the year. Gefilte fish and Lekach are commonly served by Ashkenazic Jews on this holiday. On the second night, new fruits are served to warrant inclusion of the shehecheyanu blessing.

Happy New Jewish Year to all readers of this blog who celebrate this holiday!

Monday 17 September 2012


“Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential” - Winston Churchill

We watched an interesting film last weekend, which combined action with science fiction, social criticism with popular culture and Hollywood capitalism with aspirations to art – a tough job to combine all of these attributes, perhaps… It was the 2011 Neil Burger film, “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel, Robert de Niro and Abbie Cornish. It had a screenplay by Leslie Dixon based on the novel “The Dark Fields” by Alan Glynn.

The plot centres on Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) a down-and-out writer with writer’s block. As his life spirals downwards, his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) dumps him (nicely). Eddie sees his existence implode into his filthy apartment and he struggles to make ends meet. He encounters by chance his ex-wife’s brother Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) who gives Eddie a pill called NZT, a drug that is able to make the brain use 100% of its capacity. Eddie takes the pill and suddenly he becomes a genius each of his memories, anything seen and read or heard all become immediately available to him. He is able to learn languages in hours, his mathematical skills increase a hundredfold and he not only starts, but finishes writing a brilliant novel.

When the pill’s effects wear off, Eddie seeks out Vernon to get more of the drug. However, Vernon is murdered and Eddie manages to escape, taking a cache of pills with him. His new abilities allow him to make big profits on the stock market where he attracts the attention of big businessman Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro). Unfortunately, some unsavoury characters are also looking for him: Gennady (Andrew Howard), a gangster and his thugs and a strange man in a brown coat (Tomas Arana). Eddie wins Lindy back but struggles to maintain his sanity by regulating the intake of the drug, or getting it back when it is stolen from him…

The movie was quite engaging and its basic premise was interesting and developed well, at least initially. As the film progressed, the plot weakened and the ending was a bit of a cop out with such an overt reference to a sequel that it was almost insulting to the viewer. Nevertheless we were kept interested and entertained while we watched it. The acting was fine but the film was carried by the tight direction and a host of impressive visual effect sequences by Joe Willems (cinematographer) and Connie Brink (Special Effects Coordinator). This was a concession to Hollywood’s demands for an action, dick-flick genre denomination. The film is worth seeing, even if only for the slickness of its look, although keep in mind the weak ending.

Now in terms of the drug, NZT, it is interesting to think of the possibility of its future existence! However, I think that it may make the people who take it completely and utterly mad!

Sunday 16 September 2012


“Everything popular is wrong.” - Oscar Wilde

Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was born in Pittsburg (né Andrej Varchola, Jr). His parents were working-class Rusyn emigrants from Mikó (now called Miková), located in today’s northeastern Slovakia, part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Warhol’s father immigrated to the United States in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921, after the death of Warhol’s grandparents. Their family name was anglicised to “Warhola”. Warhol’s father worked in a coal mine. Andy Warhol had two older brothers — Pavol (Paul), the oldest, was born in Slovakia; Ján was born in Pittsburgh. Pavol’s son, James Warhola, became a successful children’s book illustrator.

Andy Warhol showed his talent for art at a young age, so it was not difficult for him to choose a career in commercial art, studying pictorial design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, which is presently Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating Warhol moved to New York City and worked as an illustrator for various popular magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The New Yorker. In 1949, the pop icon shortened his name to Warhol after a credit in Glamour magazine mistakenly read “Drawings by Warhol.”

In 1952, Warhol had his first individual show with the exhibit “Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote”. His first group show was at The Museum of Modern Art in 1956. During the 1960s, Warhol truly made a name for himself, with iconic works such as “Campbell's Soup Cans”, “Disasters” and “Marilyns”. He also shot several 16mm films, including Chelsea Girls, Empire and Blow Job.

Warhol started publishing Interview magazine in the early 1970s and once again, returned to painting. These later works included “Maos”, “Skulls”, “Hammer and Sickles” and “Torsos and Shadows”. In the latter part of his career, Warhol devoted much of his time to rounding up new, rich patrons for portrait commissions. By the 1980s, Warhol was being criticised for becoming merely a “business artist”.

Warhol's publication, “POPism: The Warhol 60s”, and his exhibitions “Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century” and “Retrospectives and Reversal Series” kicked off his 1980s work. He appeared on TV screen with his self-created cable shows, “Andy Warhol’s TV” and “Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes”, for MTV. In the years leading to his death, Warhol's paintings included “The Last Suppers”, “Rorschachs” and “Ads”, which is considered to be his return to Pop.

Nearly 20 years before Warhol died, he was shot in his studio, which was known as the Factory. In 1968, Valerie Solanis, the founder and sole member of SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) shot and nearly killed the artist. Warhol died February 22, 1987 after a routine gall bladder surgery. 

In 1994, the Andy Warhol Museum opened in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Warhol combined his early experiences and influences into an art form that would be called American Pop Art. His canvases have become icons of twentieth century modern art and have been much imitated, to the extent of bathos (presuming they started higher than that – if you are not admirer of Warhol’s art). The painting illustrated above is in the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart (Museum for Contemporary Art) in Berlin. Andy Warhol’s large “Mao” (1973) is one of the iconic trademarks of the museum.