Thursday, January 29, 2009

Would you like some Awesome with your Salzburger?

Let me start by saying that I don't think I've ever been so irritated by such a small thing as a foreign keyboard before.

So I touched down in Salzburg after sleeping through most of the plane trip and playing Metal Slug when I wasn't. I saw snow and was like WOW. It was great to have such an amazing initial view from above of this incredible city.

Once again, I did the traditional walk around without looking at the map, and then i tried to find 
my way back to the hostel. Oh, before that, I 
bought a ticket to the 'Mozart Dinner Concert' and had some time to kill beforehand- This mainly involved taking pictures of the brilliant snow and beautiful architecture. Well worth the cold. Maybe it's me gradually aclimatising to this cold weather, but -8, -9 degrees doesnt seem that cold anymore. Perhaps it's also my Drizabone.

Anyway, better write something quickly about the concert I went to. When I booked the ticket and looked at the program, my heart sank a little, because i saw that they were going to be playing 'Mozart favourites' I was expecting to hear 12 different variations of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Symphony No. 40 played upside down. BUT - it was totally not that kind of concert. It was reeeeally good, and the food was amazing. The string ensemble and the two
 vocalists performed excerpts from 3 of Mozart's operas - Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and the Magic Flute. They were very good and I found the singers extremely enjoyable to watch. I realised that I still can't sit through Madamina, Il Catalogo without giggling at the 'Spain' bit. I'm sure anyone who was in the Classical Studies class at the Con may share some fond memories...

The food, as I said, was delicious... The entree was lemon cream soup with cinnamon...

Then the main course was Capon with an unreal sauce and potatoes cooked incredibly 
well with
 other tasty vegies. The dessert was a semi-frozen honey parfait which was scrumptious, but not so much my kind of meal.

I headed back to my hostel afterwards and caught up with a couple of Aussies who were watching the '24/7' screening of The Sound of Music at the hostel. That's right, the TV only plays the one movie. I didn't watch it with them, I viewed it in full another night.

Full photos can be found on my Flickr page and in the next post I'll talk a bit about my snowboarding adventures.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Direction of the Asterix revival

Any Asterix fans?
I just found out here that Albert Udzero has sold a 60% share of the book's orginal company to the publishing giants Hachette Livre. I guess we'll wait and see what happens, but it would be such a shame to see the timeless brand of Asterix, mauled by modern popular design and merchandising.

The thing I always loved about Asterix is that you didn't have change any aspect of the novel to make it enjoyable for people of all ages, despite the first book having been written in the 60's. One of the great qualities of Asterix is the jokes they made about 'modern' events or topics. In the recent books though, they branched out into REALLY modern stuff, like extra terrestrials and all that, which was rubbish, to be honest. I actually stopped enjoying/reading the series after Asterix and Obelix: All At Sea. I also played some of the Asterix videogames, most recently 'Asterix at the Olympic Games'...which was horrendous.

As I said, I'll give Hachette Livre a chance to see what they come up with...but once I see Asterix Happy Meals at Dirty Donalds, then I know they've stuffed it. I don't like the idea of it becoming popularised (in the sense of marketing and products).

I love my Obelix Pez dispenser, but who eats Pez anyway?

Let me know what you think...(about Asterix, not Pez)

Photo from

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A London Evening...

The other night, I went to see London Philharmonic perform a pretty amazing lineup of repertoire and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

However, allow me to briefly paint a picture of my short time out on the town beforehand. I went to the concert by myself, so my wandering allowed me to be somewhat more observational than usual. Saying that, it would have been particularly difficult for me to miss the things I saw.

In a true overview of London I noticed the following three things:

1. A giant crowd of tourists standing outside of a Subway restaurant arguing about whether they should eat at Subway, or Ha Ha Bar and Grill (big difference).

2. A street preacher, and

3. A man relieving himself against a railing.

Big props to the bloke for trying to do it inconspicuously, but unfortunately he clearly was not aware that the fence/railing was on the edge of the road and he was facing the traffic. Luckily for me, I was on the same side as his back. The people over the other side of street were not so lucky...

Anyway, on to the concert.

The performance was of excellent quality, overall. The LPO played Richard Strauss' Til Eulenspiegel, Piano Concerto no. 22 by Mozart, K. 482, Suite from 'Daphnis and Chloe' by Maurice Ravel and Firebird Suite - Igor Stravinsky.

Great Grizzly Pandas, what a line up (especially for flutes).

The conductor was a very talented lady by the name of Marin Alsop.

She seemed to inspire the orchestra with a lot of energy and intensity. The shining qualities of each of the pieces were captured extremely well. Til Eulenspiegel was quirky and crazy, Daphnis was just pure magic - floating, soaring, swelling magic and Firebird was just bloody fantastic, mate. Yep, that's the best I can come up with today.

The only thing that didn't work as much, in my opinion, was the Mozart piano concerto. Jonathon Bliss is an exceptional pianist, I can tell that - but he just didn't have the flow and elegance that was presented in the concert with Mitsuko Uchida. I much prefer that in performances of Mozart. He certainly has vibrance, which is also essential. The other thing that didn't work as well (which I couldn't put my finger on at first) was Alsop's conducting of the piece. I much prefer to have the ensemble directed by the soloist, when playing works by a composer like Mozart. Alsop's direction of the orchestra in the concerto was a little clunky, and I believe this transfered into the soloist's playing.

On the whole, as I said - the concert was fantastic. Special mention needs to be given to Adam Walker - the flautist who played principal for the evening. Absolutely top flute player and a good bloke as well - I caught up with him after the concert and went out for a drink with his crew of musos.

Well, that's a good time out in London, and I really do recommend going to see the LPO. If you're keen to catch them, let me know and we'll catch up at or after the concert.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Potayto or Potarto?

Erik Sheppard has raised an issue that I've thought about on and off - here

Is it 'voiceover', 'voice over' or voice-over?

Personally, I have always gone with 'voiceover'. I never really looked at which made the most sense grammatically, just which looked better.

It's interesting, because as a flute player, there is a similar debate with the name of that profession. There is flautist - pronounced either 'flawt-ist' or 'flout-ist', or flutist. James Galway raised a valid point that he does not play the flawt or the flout, but the flute. I like to avoid any conflict whatsoever, by just saying I'm a flute player.

What do you think? If you don't care about voiceovers or flutes, do you have a similar situation with your vocation?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tryin' to Get Rid of the Hurdles

A new blog that I've been reading recently is 'Inspired Startup' by this guy Andy. It's a great read, and he has just done up this article about removing 'blockades' in your life that might stop you from achieving your goals. It's a really good one for the New Year, and I know it made me think about which hurdles I need to pull out from the track, ASAP.

For me, personally, I tend to work hard at improving something, but end up putting the ole' blinkers on and don't see the elements that really need to be removed to make everything change. It's so much easier to press forwards once you do realise what's in the way.

Enjoy, and I hope it helps you in some way.

Check out Andy's original post