Saturday 25 March 2017


“The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.” - Soren Kierkegaard 

Antonio Bertali (probably March 1605 – 17 April 1669) was an Italian composer and violinist of the Baroque era. He was born in Verona and received early music education there from Stefano Bernardi. Probably from 1624, he was employed as court musician in Vienna by Emperor Ferdinand II. In 1649, Bertali succeeded Giovanni Valentini as court Kapellmeister. He died in Vienna in 1669 and was succeeded in his post by Giovanni Felice Sances.

Bertali's compositions are in the manner of other northern Italian composers of the time and include operas, oratorios, a large number of liturgical works, and chamber music. Particularly his operas are notable for establishing the tradition of Italian opera seria in Vienna. Approximately half of his output is now lost; copies survive made by Bertali’s contemporary, Pavel Josef Vejvanovský, some of the pieces are currently in possession of Vienna’s Hofbibliothek, the library of the Kremsmünster Abbey and the Kroměříž archive.

The most important source for Bertali’s work is, however, the Viennese Distinta Specificatione catalogue, which lists several composers of the Habsburg court and provides titles and scoring for more than 2000 compositions. The Ciaccona (chaconne) is perhaps Bertali’s best-known work.

Here is his Oratorio “La Strage degl’ Innocenti” (The Massacre of the Innocents), relating to the biblical account of infanticide by Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. This is performed by the ensemble, Melopoëia & Apollo & Pan.

Friday 24 March 2017


“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering’. So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” ― Milan Kundera 

We were given some home-grown tomatoes by some friends who have quite a large vegetable patch in their garden. The tomatoes were ripe and red, full of flavour and begging to be eaten. A traditional Greek dish characteristic of late Summer is stuffed vegetables, or if one is spoilt by having such wonderful tomatoes as an ingredient on hand, stuffed tomatoes:

Stuffed Tomatoes

10 ripe, fleshy and flavoursome tomatoes (home-grown are best!)
12 tbsp calrose rice
1 large onion, grated
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
The tomato flesh, blended
1 tbsp currants (seedless)
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted with a little olive oil in a pan
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, mixed with,
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt, pepper to taste
1 glassful of vegetable stock

Prepare the tomatoes first: Cut the top of the washed and dried tomatoes, so that lid is formed, still attached to the tomato about 2 cm length. With a teaspoon, carefully scoop out the tomato flesh and reserve. Be careful not to puncture the wall of the tomato. At the end you should have 10 hollowed out tomatoes with lids. Add salt and pepper to the cavity of each tomato and rub the inside with a teaspoon of olive oil. Arrange the tomatoes in a baking tray so that they are fairly tightly packed, touching each other all around.
Take the flesh of the tomatoes and blend into a pulp. Add salt. If the tomatoes are ripe and red there is no need to add sugar (in fact don’t add sugar to tomatoes, ever!). Reserve.
In a pan, pour the remaining olive oil (about 1/2 cup and sauté the grated onion until golden. Add the rice, stirring to mix thoroughly with the onion and oil. Add the currants and pine nuts, stirring well to mix through. Add the tomato pulp, parsley and mint. Cook for a few minutes until the herbs are wilted. Taste for salt/pepper and add accordingly.
Fill the tomato cases with the rice mixture until they are 3/4 full. Cover with the lids and drizzle some extra olive oil over each tomato (about 1 tsp over each one). Pour the vegetable stock into the baking tray in between the tomatoes.
Sprinkle the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture over the tomatoes and bake in a fan-forced oven at 180˚C for about an hour, an hour and a quarter until the tomatoes are cooked, the topping is golden brown and the rice is tender. You may serve them hot or cold.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday 22 March 2017


“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.” ― George R.R. Martin

I am still away on a work trip and will not get back home until the end of the week. Still, while in a hotel room, after a hard day, one does get a little window of opportunity to catch up with one’s  emails and participate in the Poets United Mid-Week Motif, which is tittled : “Mirror”.

Smoke and Mirrors

I drink, alone,
And smoke endless cigarettes;
A chain of smoke binding me
To your image,
On the mirror of my memory.

I smoke, solitary,
And drink hard liquor,
Swimming to you
As you recede, fast sinking
To the bottom of my glass.

And as the butts accumulate,
In the ashtray of your remembrance,
I resolve to leave you be;
Forget your face,
Burn your impression…

And the bottle empties,
As I try to drown your recollection
In my glass; but as quickly as I fill it
I empty it, encountering you
Ever present, at its bottom.

I formed you out of smoke,
A virtual image of perfection
In the depths of a magic mirror,
Manufactured by my need to love;
And all I’ve ever had was an illusion
Made of smoke and tricks of light, reflected…

Tuesday 21 March 2017


“Unless we place our religion and our treasure in the same thing, religion will always be sacrificed.” - Epictetus 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.
There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us.
Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only. Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
The Maison Carrée (French for “square house”) is an ancient building in Nîmes, southern France; it is one of the best preserved Roman temple façades to be found in the territory of the former Roman Empire.

In about 4-7 AD, the Maison Carrée was dedicated or rededicated to Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, grandsons and adopted heirs of Augustus who both died young. The inscription dedicating the temple to Gaius and Lucius was removed in medieval times. However, a local scholar, Jean-François Séguier, was able to reconstruct the inscription in 1758 from the order and number of the holes on the front frieze and architrave, to which the bronze letters had been affixed by projecting tines. According to Séguier's reconstruction, the text of the dedication read (in translation): “To Gaius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul; to Lucius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul designate; to the princes of youth.” During the 19th century the temple slowly began to recover its original splendour, due to the efforts of Victor Grangent.

The Maison Carrée is an example of Vitruvian architecture. Raised on a 2.85 m high podium, the temple dominated the forum of the Roman city, forming a rectangle almost twice as long as it is wide, measuring 26.42 m by 13.54 m. The façade is dominated by a deep portico or pronaos almost a third of the building’s length. It is a hexastyle design with six Corinthian columns under the pediment at either end, and pseudoperipteral in that twenty engaged columns are embedded along the walls of the cella.

Above the columns, the architrave is divided by two recessed rows of petrified water drips into three levels with ratios of 1:2:3. Egg-and-dart decoration divides the architrave from the frieze. On three sides the frieze is decorated with fine ornamental relief carvings of rosettes and acanthus leaves beneath a row of very fine dentils. A large door (6.87 m high by 3.27 m wide) leads to the surprisingly small and windowless interior, where the shrine was originally housed. This is now used to house a tourist oriented film on the Roman history of Nîmes. No ancient decoration remains inside the cella.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme. 

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday 20 March 2017


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

Apep or Apophis (Ancient Greek: Ἄποφις; also spelled Apepi or Aapep) was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth). He appears in art as a giant serpent. Apep was first mentioned in the Eighth Dynasty, and he was honoured in the names of the Fourteenth Dynasty king ‘Apepi and of the Greater Hyksos king Apophis.

Ra was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma’at. Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra, and also “the Lord of Chaos”. As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake or serpent leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Lizard. Some elaborations said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint. Comparable hostile snakes as enemies of the sun god existed under other names (in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts) already before the name Apep occurred. Apophis was a large golden snake known to be miles long. He was so large that he attempted to swallow the sun every day.[citation needed]

Tales of Apep’s battles against Ra were elaborated during the New Kingdom. Storytellers said that every day Apep must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of the underworld. In some stories Apep waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apep lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night. The wide range of Apep’s possible location gained him the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apep was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god overthrown by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned. The Coffin Texts imply that Apep used a magical gaze to overwhelm Ra and his entourage. Ra was assisted by a number of defenders who travelled with him, including Set and possibly the Eye of Ra. Apep’s movements were thought to cause earthquakes, and his battles with Set may have been meant to explain the origin of thunderstorms. In some accounts, Ra himself defeats Apep in the form of a cat.

Ra was worshipped, while apotropaic practices against Apep was widespread. Ra’s victory each night was thought to be ensured by the prayers of the Egyptian priests and worshippers at temples. The Egyptians practiced a number of rituals and superstitions that were thought to ward off Apep, and aid Ra to continue his journey across the sky. In an annual rite, called the Banishing of Chaos, priests would build an effigy of Apep that was thought to contain all of the evil and darkness in Egypt, and burn it to protect everyone from Apep’s evil for another year, in a similar manner to modern rituals such as Zozobra (burning of effigies of evil deities).

Sunday 19 March 2017


“I think that the memory of Armenia’s genocide opened my eyes at an early age to the existence of political cynicism.” - Serj Tankian 

Minas Avetisyan (July 20, 1928 — February 24, 1975) was an Armenian painter, graphic artist and theatrical artist. Avetisyan was born in the village of Jajur, Soviet Armenia. His mother, Sofo, was a daughter of the priest from Kars. His father, Karapet, was a smith from Mush. His wife was Gayane Mamajanyan.

Avetisyan studied at Terlemezyan College of Fine Arts in Yerevan (1947–1952), Yerevan Fine Arts and Theatre Institute (1952–1954), and the Painting, Sculpture and Architecture Institution ‘Ilya Repin’ in Leningrad (1955–1959), where his main teacher was Boris Ioganson. From 1960 on Avetisyan lived in Yerevan.

The main theme of his works was Armenian nature, the nature of Jajur, religious subjects, the life of the poor people, mountains, fields and the changes of landscape in the various seasons. Avetisyan emerged as an artist at the “Exhibition of Five” in Yerevan (1962). Numerous specialists and visitors to the exhibition appreciated his work greatly.

Avetisian’s technique differed from the method of plein-air painting which was once widespread in Armenian art. For him working from nature was no more than a preliminary stage, and the main portion of the work on the canvas being done in his studio. In 1967, he first appeared on film in the censored and suppressed documentary “The Colour of Armenian Land” by his friend Mikhail Vartanov.

In 1975, Avetisyan died under the wheels of the car, which stopped off at the sidewalk. Although the official versionof his death was quoted as an unfortunate accident, some sources maintain that he was murdered by the KGB.

Avetisyan’s work is characterised by seemingly wild brush work and strident colours, inspired by the work of the fauves. Some South Caucasian Medieval traditional art can also be seen to influence his work. In his canvases, one sees intense colour saturation juxtaposed with dramatic and bold shapes.  Even when painting landscapes, Avetisyan broke through to q freedom of aesthetical self-expression, approaching the contemporary Russian “rough style”, even though in general he was more sympathetic to to the French modern and early avant-garde style of the early 20th century. Minas was also a success as a theatrical artist (theatre set design of Khachaturian’s “Gayane” ballet at the Opera and Ballet Theatre, 1974) and as a monumental painter (factory interior wall-paintings in Leninakan- Gyumri, 1970-1974).

The painting above from 1961 is titled “Toujours vie” (Still Life) and shows the fauve/expressionistic style of Avetisyan’s work. Unfortunately, many of the artist’s paintings were destroyed in a fire in 1972. On January 1 during the night, while Avetisyan was in Jajur with his family, his studio in Yerevan burned down, along with many of his best canvases. Three years later, in 1975 part of his wall-paintings were destroyed during the earthquake in Leninakan (Gyumri) and also destroyed the Minas Avetisian museum in his native Jajur village.