Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Friday, December 30, 2011

A couple of great cartoons from the Economist's KAL

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Germany Calling

Back at the start of December I paid a visit to the former East Germany. I had a week's holiday to use up, and my nephew and his wife in Leipzig had just made me a great-uncle by having a daughter Clara. So I spent a few nights in a hostel in Berlin (Generator Hostel, highly recommended BTW), and a couple in a B&B in Leipzig which enabled me to combine touristy things there (and in Dresden on the way back) with some great-uncleish doting. Or maybe dotage...

So here is Clara:

and here she is with her parents, my nephew Gideon and his wife Gabi:

Here are Gideon and Gabi (Clara asleep out of shot) after a delightful lunch in the Auerbachskeller, a restaurant and wine bar which features in a scene in Goethe's Faust.

I had a great time, both by myself and with G&G, and I look forward to going back some time.

Oh, and still in Leipzig, here is the world's biggest outdoor Advent calendar.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Can I visit as a tourist if pretend not to be a Christian and promise to disinfect anything I touch?

It must be wonderful to live in a democracy where being of the wrong religion doesn't make you an impurity who defiles the ground you stand on.

Where Christians aren't spat on in the street.

(Well, you can hardly expect a backward theocracy to have the same standards of hygiene as, say, Jordan or Syria.)

Where women's rights organisations are closed by the military authorities (because obviously women have no rights.)

Where "tourists" belonging to the state religion are permitted to carry automatic weapons and vandalise property as part of state-organised "religious tours"? Anywhere else it would be called terrorism: in Israel it's encouraged by the government.

We can only dream of the day when Israelis are freed from the theocratic yoke under which they labour.

Here are two pictures of walls built to keep freedom out and dissidents in:

Israeli troops find an imaginative way to murder unarmed demonstrators

Not content with chemically torturing its own unarmed protestors, the USA exports the tear gas used against them in Egypt. It also exports tear gas to Israel, where the IDF have found clever ways to use it not just as a harassing agent but as a way to kill of maim, by firing the canisters directly at protestors.

Here is another example.

The Daily Mail deliberately misleads its readers so as to fan racism. And oh, how it does.....

A fascinating piece from Islamophobia Watch on the Daily Mail's irresponsible manipulation of facts to serve its racist and Islamophobic agenda.

The article links to a post at BareNakedIslam, this blog's favourite neo-Nazi survivalists, which is just chock-full of delightful comments from all those defenders of democracy and Christian values.

Sarastro says: December 6, 2011 at 2:45 PM

What does it take to get this poor excuse of a judge defrocked or debenched or deported? Where are the vigilantes to bring such ill-begotten, Muzzie-loving, brain-manipulated, incompetent traitors to justice — I mean a kangaroo court, yes, with real masked lawyers sentencing him for dereliction of duty to 100 strokes of flogging and then castration?

(Wow, aren't we lucky that the free world has folk like "Sarastro" protecting it from the excesses of Sharia law?)

NativeGladius says: December 6, 2011 at 2:59 PM

How can four sub humans who are in Britain as asylum seekers be allowed to cause such grievous violence to a person without being punished whilst a white woman, obviously pushed to the edge by the destruction of her culture be arrested and put through our criminal justice system for stating the obvious that there were all foreigners on a tram with her?

("Asylum seekers"? And your evidence for that would be? Oh, of course, they're black.)

pinkcadlac says: December 6, 2011 at 3:44 PM

The alcohol excuse? That is laughable. They should have just used the excuse that they are dirty, filthy, somali, skanky, mohamedan, bitches. That is much more believable.

(Thank heavens we have folk like "pinkcadlac" protecting women from being degraded by Muslims by doing the job themselves.)

A contribution from one of the rare commenters who can actually read:

Careful now says: December 6, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Shocking attack. It annoys me that the headline implies that the verdict was reached because of the fact they were Muslim and not drinkers. Which was part of the defence but it wasn’t mentioned by the judge. Strange that the article doesn’t elaborate on injuries caused/sustained by the boyfriend like it might provide some context to the verdict or something. Probably still too lenient but not PC gone mad or any of that.

Well spotted. And what does BNI have to say to that?

barenakedislam says: December 6, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Careful, it WAS reached because they were muslims who always get off easy in the UK.

(LOL.... )

The ever-reliable fascist "randy63ism" has this to say:

randy63ism says: December 6, 2011 at 7:13 PM

CAREFUL NOW: WTF? YOU are living proof that leftists have no moral compass, not to mention objective judgement. Who the hell cares about the extent of the Somali bitches’ injuries. They were the ones who got themselves into that fix to begin with. They deserved far worse than they got. Frankly I’m surprised you haven’t as of yet, called us racists, but I suppose you’ll get around to it since that is the liberal’s standard default setting (never mind that islam is not a race). You are correct about one thing though, this isn’t P/C gone mad, this is P/C gone viral, pandemic proportions here, and YOU and your MARXIST ASS along with it!

Well golly gosh, why on Earth would anyone think the following exchange was racist, for heaven's sake?

Sarah says: December 6, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Europeans have absolutely no human rights what so ever and do nothing to defend their own people it’s time to wake up!

barenakedislam says: December 6, 2011 at 8:06 PM

Sarah, the US is getting flooded with Somali garbage now too thanks to Obama.

Elsewhere, I love "ADHD" wittering on about how intention to commit a crime should be treated the same way as a crime, and telling us all the enhanced sentencing options he'd favour, and then rounds off by announcing that he intends to invest in some "Mace or tear gas". So if he's caught carrying that, by his own logic he should be charged with going equipped to commit GBH and attempted murder, and banged up for twenty years or so. Heh! As for "Mr BNI" and all the other fantasy "have-a-go heroes", no doubt if a real Somali woman went "Boo!" to any of them they'd wet themselves.....

Sexist comment of the year from this painfully misogynistic site must be this one (sad to say it's from an Australian):

ALLAN P. IVARSSON / NSW AUSTRALIA says: December 6, 2011 at 8:39 PM

You are right that is a problem, I taught my sons not to ever hit women- to always walk away. But now that Governments are demanding that women be allowed to join the military and fight in wars; an additional amendment must be added to that teaching.
Any woman that bears arms against men, or participates in pack rage street violence, ceases to be recognised as a woman and is masculine thinking by their behaviour, and thus loses all rights to be treated like a lady. In such cases men have the right to use whatever degree of force is necessary against such violent behaving females.

("...Governments are demanding that women be allowed to join the military..." ???"
...loses all rights to be treated like a lady...."???)

BNI is fine with that, of course: "Bonni" doesn't think women should be allowed to vote. And obviously an openly sexist military must be good, because Israel has one.

pinkcadlac says: December 6, 2011 at 9:17 PM

We have been accustomed to living in a civil society. Who would ever have thought that we would have the raw, untreated, sewage of the earth, defiling our beautiful countries?

And re Emma West (the woman convicted of using foul racist language on public transport and locked up for her own protection), we have:

enough already says: December 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Doesn’t Emma West have any rights at all? I mean she was recorded without her consent and possibly without her knowledge, and the video was uploaded to youtube without her consent or knowledge. Also, the HATEFUL BITCH who put it up on youtube seems to be delighting over this whole thing and seems to enjoy all the attention that she herself has received from this – almost as if she’s some kind of hero for exposing this white woman as a racist or something. This horrible woman who put the video up SHOULD have used more discretion. If she had any heart at all regardless of her race, she would have known the consequences of doing so. She should have known she was putting West and her child in danger. Can West sue her over this? I don’t think that’s far fetched to even ask. Seems like West should have some recourse. And the bitch won’t take the video down, either, I guess. To me, she’s really the one at fault. She should have know these were just words and that West was obviously very troubled.

Awww...poor ickle racist crudbucket, filmed without her consent.

But for turning Nazis into poor innocent victims one can't better:

Mr friendly cares!!! says: December 9, 2011 at 6:19 PM

No wonder the far right in Europe and Russia have become nazi type people who go around killing. When you have worthless judges and a system that throws white people in jail for burning a paper book or saying something that hurts some inbreeding freaks feelings. What do they expect, the system failed this white girl now it’s up to the people to make it right. The people always come through one way or another…
See this video on youtube for an example of what can happen when the government fails it’s people…

“Russian Neo-Nazi Murder Squads Kill 71 In 2009″

Yes, that's right, these poor folk have no choice but to turn to terrorism and Nazism because their wicked governments refuse to shoulder the burden of persecuting blacks, Muslims, gays, Jews and leftists.

Of course BNI blames leftists for provoking the Oslo massacre, and knows that the Holocaust was the fault of "liberal" Jews.

See, Daily Mail hacks, you start out with a few teeny-weeny lies about an altercation in the street, and you wind up encouraging apologists for Anders Breivik. You must be so proud of your journalistic courage.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sudden Klan Syndrome?

I can't shake the suspicion that the terrorist wannabes who frequent the comment threads of BareNakedIslam and other US-based hate sites are all clones of this guy: just badly-integrated losers desperately searching for someone to hurt.

But hey, if Christmas means anything it means that God became man to save people like that.

Happy Christmas to all EKN readers

Last night I watched Miracle on 34th Street for the first time.

On 26th the Saunders family plans to visit Edinburgh Zoo to see the newly-arrived Giant Pandas.

And in between, as Noddy Holder said, "IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!"

Peace and goodwill to all, even the racist loons at BarenakedIslam. Even Uncle Jimmy. Even the Israeli Government.

Even the crazies who are the subject of this hilarious and seasonal piece.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A little Christmas cheer from Snopes.com

When the legend contradicts the facts...print the legend.

Because Jesus, after all, was Jewish

I should have included this in my seasonal musical selection for my Jewish friends and readers:

Happy Hannukah!

xkcd goes country at Christmas....

A couple of gems (aren't they all?) from xkcd.

The really funny thing about this one is the hover text.

And I love the mnemonic for the sequence of the planets in this one: it's even appropriate for Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sing, choirs of angels

Lisa (Our Lady of the Stripes) was very complementary about my recent musical post, and it wasn't even Christmassy. So here are a few rather more seasonal offerings from the weird classical music cupboard:

Weihnachtsmusik isn't just an arrangement of Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen (for 2 violins, cello, piano and harmonium!) The arrangement also works in Stille Nacht, though I suppose you do have to listen out for it. Mostly the piano has it, first at 3:44. A lovely piece anyway.

Now, I have a CD by Anne Sofie von Otter entitled Home For Christmas, on which she sings a wonderful song called Koppången. She sings two versions, one on Swedish and one in English, and I prefer the Swedish one, probably because the English lyrics are quite sentimental (like a lot of Christmas songs, I suppose). No doubt so are the Swedish ones, but I wouldn't know as my Swedish is, er, patchy. The lyrics are by Py Bäckman who was the lyricist for Nordman in their original incarnation. Music and lyrics (in both languages) can be found here (thanks to a fellow fan for the link).

Anyway, I had trouble finding a link for the von Otter recording: I found one of her singing the English version in a different arrangement, but was dissatisfied. and then I found this even more magical version by Helen Sjöholm. Helen works a lot with Benny Andersson (ex-Abba), including taking the lead in the Andersson/Ulvaeus musical Kristina från Duvemåla, and the Swedish-language version of Chess. Here she is:

(And if you follow the lyrics, yes, she sings two verses and repeats the second half of the first. If it bothers you, download the von Otter version from Amazon.)

OK, we've had Austrian and Swedish Christmas music. Here (no embedding) is the quintessentially English King's College Choir singing the equally English Peter Warlock's Bethlehem Down, one of my favourite carols for choirs.

Last weekend I played for a carol concert in which the choir sang this arrangement (no embedding) of Adolphe Adam's O Holy Night (another wonderful carol). We weren't as good (nor as many). What the choirmaster described as the full "Hollywood Bowl" treatment.

And we surely have to finish with the most joyful Christmas music ever written: Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen, the finale from J S Bach's Christmas Oratorio. Who else could use the same chorale tune for one of the saddest pieces of music ever (O Haupt von Blut und Wunden, or Oh Sacred Head Sore Wounded, in the St Matthew Passion) and one of the most cheerful? Not only good theology, great art.


Sometimes it must be great to play the trumpet.

And that performance is from the Frauenkirche in Dresden, which I recently visited. It's the one that was largely destroyed between 13-15 February 1945. It was rebuilt only recently, and they Germans did a good job as you will observe from the video. the picture below shows the largest remaining fragment from 1945 incorporated into the new structure.

What better place to celebrate the new beginning that is Christmas?

Oh what fun

Wonderful Wondermark at Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Please hold: here is some music

Apologies for my sporadic blogging lately. Busy with music, busy with Christmas, bla bla. No excuse really. Tonight I've been making a start on the heap of commercial spam appended as comments to some of my old posts. I have a list of stuff to post but I'll come back to it. Not least, I still have reviews from the Festival to post (if I don't do them soon they'll be omitted, which would be tedious).

Meanwhile, here is a piece of music that's been earworming itself into my head this week.

Never mind turkeys and Christmas, penguins don't vote for pandas either

This penguin seems to be displaying very human behaviour: like a petulant "celebrity" whose ratings have begun to slip.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Zappa plays Zappa - HMV Picturehouse, Edinburgh, 19 November 2011

ZPZ were - once again - great. Their setlist wasn't as full of crowd-pleasers as last time but none the worse for that. They did the whole of the Apostrophe(') album to start with. It goes without saying that Dweezil and all the rest of the band played their socks off. A new innovation was the use of live video footage of FZ himself on three numbers so that he could provide guitar solos (and in the case of Cosmik Debris, vocals). The idea sounds a little tacky, but its first use in Cosmik Debris was the best: not only because nobody could sing that lyric like Frank, but because in the video footage they used there was a big space left while someone off camera did a solo. In the live performance of course Dweezil took that. There was about 20 seconds of overlap while DZ and FZ duetted, then FZ cut loose with his own solo. Beautiful for all kinds of reasons: Dweezil's evident pride in his Dad, and joy at being able to play with his electronic ghost every night; DZ's own brilliant solo; and Frank's extraordinary one, not so much on a higher plane as on a different planet.

All that, and I got a T-shirt with a ferocious-looking bar of Frank's music on it.

Here's the setlist:

1 Heavy Duty Judy
2 Don't Eat The Yellow Snow
3 Nanook Rubs It
4 St Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast
5 Father O'blivion
6 Cosmik Debris - FZ Video
7 Excentrifugal Forz
8 Apostrophe
9 Uncle Remus
10 Stink-foot
11 What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body?
12 Chunga's Revenge
13 Cheepnis
14 Inca Roads - FZ Video
15 Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?
16 Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me?
17 Pojama People
18 City Of Tiny Lites
19 Rollo
20 Dancin'Fool
21 Baby Snakes
22 Muffin Man - FZ Video

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Unkind cuts

I couldn't help smiling at this. Not simply at the mind-boggling thought of inter-Amish hate crime; nor at the idea of someone carrying out such a crime with scissors and clippers. No, it's the fact that four of those arrested are named Mullet, which to English readers suggests not only a kind of fish but a bouuffant hairstyle much in vogue at one time with footballers.