Saturday 16 March 2013


“A single rose can be my garden... A single friend, my world.” Leo Buscaglia
I’m in a strange mood all day today: Sunshine and rain, laughter and tears, success and failure, major and minor, pleasure and pain… Here is the perfect song that encapsulates my day. Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose”.

Friday 15 March 2013


“The wish for healing has always been half of health." - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Gado-Gado is an Indonesian vegetable dish, which means “mixtures”. The exact composition of the vegetable mixture varies, but usually comprises seasonal vegetable that are locally available. Typically, authentic gado-gado does not have carrot and tomatoes. Depending on your greengrocer’s stocks and how well Asian vegetable are represented you may use the following (vegetarians may omit the objectionable ingredients):

Gado-Gado (Jakarta Style)


Blanched: Shredded, chopped, or sliced green vegetables such as cabbage, kang-kung, young boiled jack fruit, string beans, bitter melon, and corn
Uncooked: Sliced cucumber, bean sprouts and lettuce
Fried: Tofu and/or tempeh
Sliced boiled potatoes
Boiled eggs, sliced

Peanut sauce dressing is the characteristic feature of the dish, and this is poured on top of the vegetable salad before serving. The composition of this peanut sauce varies also, but it is warmed before mixing and serving.
Ground fried peanuts (kidney beans may be substituted for a richer taste)
Coconut sugar/palm sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
Chillies (according to taste)
Lime juice
Terasi (dried shrimp paste)
Tamarind water to dilute

Assemble the cold vegetables and eggs in a pleasing arrangement on lettuce leaves. Pour on the warm peanut sauce and serve immediately. This is a complete meal in itself. Gado-gado is always served with krupuk (kind of crackers, usually tapioca crackers), or also with emping (Indonesian style fried crackers, which are made from melinjo). In Indonesia, Gado-gado is usually served with rice or lontong (rice cake wrapped in banana leaf).

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

Wednesday 13 March 2013


“Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow.” - Proverb
Today is the National Day of Grenada, an island country and Commonwealth realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. Grenada is located northwest of Trinidad and Tobago, northeast of Venezuela, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Grenada is also known as the “Island of Spice” because of the production of nutmeg and mace crops of which Grenada is one of the world's largest exporters. Its size is 344 square kilometres, with an estimated population of 110,000. Its capital is St. George’s. The national bird of Grenada is the critically endangered Grenada Dove.
Today is also the anniversary of the birthday of:
Innocent XII (Antonio Pignatelli), Pope of Rome (1615);
Charles Bonnett, naturalist of parthenogenesis fame (1720);
Joseph Priestley, chemist (1733);
Josef II, Holy Roman Emperor (1741);
Percival Lowell, astronomer (1855);
Hugo Wolf, Austrian composer (1860);
Hugh (Seymour) Walpole, novelist (1884);
Janet Flanner, writer (1892);
Henry Hathaway, director (1898);
George Seferis (Yorgos Seferiadis), Nobel laureate (1963) Greek poet (1900);
Walter H. Annenberg, publisher/philanthropist (1908);
Ron(ald Lafayette) Hubbard, US scientology cult founder/author (1911);
Tessie O’Shea, actress (1918);
Neil Sedaka, singer/songwriter (1939);
Deborah Raffin, actress (1953).
Today’s birthday plant is the ivy flowerheads, Hedera helix.  It is symbolic of a need of support, tenacity, wedded love, fidelity and immortality.  It is a plant of Saturn and in some circles considered an evil omen as it kills whatever it embraces.
The planet Uranus was discovered on this day in 1781 by the astronomer William Herschel. The planet was originally called Georgius Sidus to honour king George III, patron of Herschel.
Hugo Wolf (1860–1903), an Austrian composer is one of the great masters of the German art song. He wrote over 300 lieder, in which he adapted Wagner’s musical conceptions. He also wrote an opera, Der Corregidor (1895), choral works, and chamber music. He is best known for his musical settings of the poetry of Goethe and Italian and Spanish writers. His Italian Songbook, a setting of mainly anonymous Italian folk lyrics, is lovely.
Dying on this day: In 1619, Richard Burbage, English actor who built Shakespeare’s Globe theatre; in 1881, Czar Alexander II of Russia was assassinated by anti-monarchist bombers; 1901, Benjamin Harrison, 23rd US president; in 1943, Stephen Vincent Benet, US poet best known for John Brown’s Body; in 1947, Angela Brazil, English author.

Tuesday 12 March 2013


“Though lovers be lost, love shall not; And death shall have no dominion.” - Dylan Thomas

Another week, another image from Magpie Tales for our delectation and inspiration. Pardon me, Robin Gosnall, for turning the lights out on your vista, but the moon was waiting too impatiently in the wings…

So Far from Me

You are so far,
So far away from me,
O’er land and sea;
As far as star above
In evening sky, my love,
Still bright to see…

You are so far
Away from me, as moon,
Or sun above, at noon;

So far and yet so near
Like music in my ear,
So good to hear…

You are so far,
An island so alone,
In midst of sea unknown;
So far away you flee,
And yet a part of me
Forever here…

You are so far,
Untouchable, you seem
A silver moon’s beam;
As far as distant shore
Where love you swore

You are so far,
Forever gone from me,
A lock without a key;
As far as heaven high,
And yet forever nigh,
Deep in my heart.

Monday 11 March 2013


“Gambling is a disease of barbarians superficially civilized.” – Dean William Inge

Last weekend we watched the 2010 Géla Babluani thriller “13”, starring Sam Riley, Alice Barrett, Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, Jason Statham and Gaby Hoffmann. This was a good little thriller that was based on the Russian roulette idea and highlighted the perils of gambling, especially when the stakes are so high that they involve human lives. It paints a horrible picture of the lowest forms of human and the evil aspects of human nature.

The story begins in Talbot, Ohio, where an honest family of limited means finds themselves in dire economic straits when the father requires expensive, life-saving surgery. The son Vince (Riley), an electrician, overhears a man talking about making an obscene amount of money in just one day. Vince is fixing the electrical wiring in the man’s house and when the man overdoses on drugs, Vince finds a letter with instructions and a mobile phone that the man has received, both of which are connected with the money-making operation. Vince takes the man’s place and travels to New York to await contact and further instructions. He ends up at a remote house where wealthy men bet on who will survive a complicated gambling game of Russian roulette. Vince is Number 13 and even though his false identity is discovered very early in the piece, it’s too late for the gamblers not to use him. The psychological stress on Vince is immense as he attempts to cheat injury and death and make enough money to save his family.

The film is seems slightly overlong (even at 91 minutes) and could do with some editing down or alternatively a more substantial subplot. The flashbacks showing the lives of a selected few other players are a digression and an annoyance rather than a genuine subplot that highlights the main plot. Apparently this is a remake of a 2005 French film “13 Tzameti” by the same director, which has received more positive criticism and a higher rating in IMDB. I have not seen this earlier film, but I suspect that as is the case with many Hollywood remakes of foreign films, the second version is inferior.

The film is nevertheless a good study of gambling and how far gambling men will go to get their thrills. Cock-fights and dog-fights seem very tame compared to the “game” portrayed in this film. That such a gruesome gambling scheme could exist is a horrifying thought, but the way that it is depicted on film is quite chilling and the violence – both explicit and implicit is alarming. This film is not for the lily-livered and could cause many people to flinch and turn the DVD player off. It lays bare the dregs of humanity that resort to such activities and exemplifies very well the saying that “Humans are the basest of beasts”.

Sunday 10 March 2013


“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” - Saint Augustine of Hippo

Francisco Bayeu y Subías (1734-1795) was a Spanish painter famous for his paintings in the Romantic, Neoclassical and Baroque styles. Bayeu y Subías was also a part of a famous family of artists, which included his two brothers, Ramón and Manuel. Little is known of Francisco Bayeu y Subías’s early childhood except that he was born in Zaragoza and it is therefore most likely that he began his education here either with the Jesuits or the Escolapios. At the age of fourteen, Francisco began training with the Baroque Spanish painter José Luzán Martínez until the year of 1753. When the painter Antonio González Velázquez arrived in Zaragoza, he hired Francisco Bayeu y Subías as an apprentice. The relationship between the two must have been good as for many years, Antonio González Velázquez financially supported the young Francisco with his studies in Madrid at the “Academia Real de Bellas Artes de San Fernando”.

From 1753, Francisco Bayeu y Subías worked as an artist in Madrid. In 1758 he returned to Zaragoza where he acquired a large clientele. Here he married Sebastiana Merclein y Salillas, the daughter of another local painter who was familiar with the Aragonese art market, which was in fact one of the reasons for the marriage. From this point on, Bayeu y Subías’s commissions increased and his works became popular. The most famous work of this period was the piece he painted for the “Monasterio Jerónimo de Santa Engracia de Zaragoza”

In 1763, Francisco Bayeu y Subías was invited to Madrid by Anton Raphael Mengs in order to work collaboratively on the decoration of the Royal Palace. With the help of Mengs, Francisco became one of the most popular artists in Madrid. From then on, the majority of Bayeu y Subías’s paintings would be for the Royal Court, and were often portraits of Royal Family. Francisco Bayeu y Subías was named an official Court painter in 1767 by the Spanish King, Charles III of Spain. While at Court in Madrid, Francisco Bayeu y Subías met the young Francisco Goya whom he protected and helped out. Goya even married Bayeu y Subías’s sister, Josefa Bayeu in 1773.

Bayeu y Subías was considered to be an excellent fresco painter and was often commissioned with the interior decoration of buildings. Together with Anton Raphael Mengs, Francisco painted many of the rooms in the various Royal palaces including the Palacio Real in Madrid, the Palacio de Aranjuez and the Palacio de El Pardo. During this time he also painted in many churches too such as the Convento de la Encarnación in Madrid, the Basílica del Pilar in Zaragoza, and the cloisters in the Cathedral of Toledo.

While painting the Basilica of Pilar in Zaragoza, Francisco Bayeu y Subías also employed Francisco Goya to help out as well as employing some members of his own family. It was during this project that the two artists fell out and became rivals, as both were considered to be important artists of the Royal Court.

In recognition of Bayeu y Subías’s work, he received many titles and awards. He became the Head Director of Painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid in 1765, among other high positions in other Spanish art schools. He eventually became the director of the Academy in 1795. Francisco Bayeu y Subías also received much compensation from the Royal Court in reward for his achievements. Francisco Bayeu y Subías continued working and painting frescoes, content with his large salary from the Spanish Royal Family. However in 1795, he fell ill and did not recover, dying in the early morning of the 5th of August of the same year in Madrid.

His subjects at the Toledo cathedral are scenes from the life of St. Eugenio. There are fifteen works by the painter in the Museum of the Prado at Madrid. Among them are “The Coronation of the Virgin”, “The Ascension”, “The Evangelist St. Matthew”, “The Evangelist St. Mark”, “The Evangelist St. Luke”, “The Evangelist St. John”, “Olympus” — all studies for more important works. Don Francisco was also an etcher, and executed a small number of plates.

The work above is “Saint James being visited by the Virgin” (1760). Legend credited Saint James with bringing Christianity to Spain. When passing through Zaragoza he was visited by the Virgin, who gave him with a statuette of herself on a jasper columnar pillar. This gave the name of “El Pilar” to enormous basilica has grown on the site, one of the most venerated shrines in Spain. The subject is therefore popular in Zaragoza. Sketches made by Antonio Gonzales Velázquez in 1753 for frescoes in the dome seem to have influenced Bayeu’s design. This was a perhaps a private version of these works. It also shows the influence of Giaquinto on Bayeu.