November 6, 2010

For the love of three oranges …

It turns out you can have a whiter shade of pale, and grass that is greener on the other side.  You can have redder blood than I; tell bluer jokes, and have a blacker heart.  Your face can be pinker, browner, yellower, or even greyer.
But... there's no such word as ‘oranger’.  What crazy system is this?  How can I compare two things, both of which largely reflect light at a wavelength between 585 to 620 nm, but one noticeably more so than the other?  How am I supposed to differentiate between half-hearted and fervent supporters of the Dutch royal family?  What sort of an impoverished tongue is it, in which we cannot point out that both these oranges are orange, but this orange is the oranger orange?  It's an outrage.  I accept, to appreciate the enormity of this situation you may need to be an insomniac. 
You try  to defeat your insomnia by playing word games in your head, such as the one where you build up a word by adding a letter at a time, each time creating a valid word; and to have believed last night that you had smashed your previous record with the sequence 'a, an, ran, rang, range, orange, oranger, orangery'.  Until you checked the dictionary this morning and discovered this OUTRAGEOUS GAP IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.

October 3, 2010

Der Blog der Niebelungen (Erster Akt, Das Rheingold)

Ahh, opening night.  It was a fine evening, the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera.  I was delighted and grateful for the experience.  Something to remember.

As for the performance, no review is objective.  Every review must at best be a deeply personal set of impressions, no matter how carefully measured.  

To be honest, I am not a fan of opera.  And full versions of the Ring cycle are among my least favorite listening delights no matter how  "posh" and "mod" the production is (sorry Inspector Morse).
Instead, I prefer the late, great Anna Russell and her incomparable explanation of the Ring.  Here in word, and sound.


September 17, 2010

Cultural Shivers.

A melting-pot culture in a melting-pot town.  That is artistic New York, the most diverse and dazzling cultural metropolis on earth and odds on, the richest in history.  When it comes to art, in quantity or quality, old or modern, the Big Apple puts the fabled troves of all other cities to shame, whether those of ancient Egypt, Babylon, Crete, or Rome (either imperial or baroque).  Neither Vienna under the Hapsburgs nor Paris under Napoleon collected more art, showed off more, or got a greater kick out of having it all.

Why did New York become so rich?  It is probably because of an inferiority complex.  Having started with little more than a few Indian beads and some Dutch silver and crockery, New York was driven to possess a slice of every culture on earth.  And how well they succeeded!  The New York public “owns” some five million works of art, artifacts, and cultural implements spanning fifty centuries, housed in thirty-five institutions.  Not a single decade of any civilization on earth is not represented by some worthy piece, be it a tiny, delicate gold necklace mode for a Neolithic baby princess or a salon from a 1912-15 summerhouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that once embellished the shored of Wayzata, in Minnesota.
Here is everything!  Achaemenian daggers, baroque arquebuses, wampum by the yard, dozens of real and not so real American weathervanes, art deco settees, a silver finger reliquary (fake, alas), staples of old masters, platoons of Rembrandts, stone carvings from the Maya, Inca, and Aztecs, seventeen tons of Paul Manships, hundreds of Limoges tureens, and a lone fur-lined coffee cup (with saucer).
Any attempt to see this incomparable welter of art would consume more than one lifetime and lead to cultural neurasthenia.  Who would want to see it all, anyway?  Only about 15 percent of the hoard is worth looking at for any more than a few seconds, and only around a very small amount is of the highest-possible level of quality-world-class in every respect-the type of thing that makes you shiver with pleasure.
Where does one go in New York to get the cultural shivers?  Which museums and cultural entities should one see, and which should one shun?  After much research and many interviews, I have compiled “Anja’s Odyssey”.  I can do it in a year, a month or in six days.  Know that an “Odyssey” was completed in two days (our friend Larissa), followed by hospitalization.
Outing 1:         
Metropolitan Museum.
Outing 2:         
Brooklyn Museum, Cooper-Hewitt Museum.
Outing 3:         
Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum, Morgan Library, Jewish Museum,                                                 National Academy of Design.
Outing 4:         
New York Botanical Garden, Bronx Zoo, New York Historical Society, American Museum of Natural History.
Outing 5:         
Hispanic Society of America, The Cloisters (a personally anticipated visit).
Outing 6:        
Museum of Modern Art, Frick Collection.
Here than are 50 centuries of art, in six outings(or whatever time it will take). 

But first an excursion, with friends, to the Hudson Valley.  Great week-end y’all.

September 13, 2010

Remember, remember...

"Remember remember ...
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot"...

September 9, 2010

I “live” in New York/Nuok. Now what?

Ten points of advice from my new family:

Thank you for the wonderful referral Ms. Edna.
My host family is delightful.

1) Walk around your neighborhood until you get tired. Figure out where everything is. Stop in shops. Buy fruit from a sidewalk vendor. Smile at the locals. Do all this without listening to your iPod.

I have found my favorite places already.

2) Treat yourself to a good local dinner that’s not delivery. There’s no shame in eating alone at a restaurant and staring out a window.

Working on that one.

3) Take pictures. You’ll be surprised how fast neighborhoods change, plus you’ll want to remember these days.

Forget this?

4) Do some research and figure out a cool spot you’d like to visit, somewhere you haven’t been before. Make it your homework (more?) to get there, enjoy it, and get back home. This can be scary if you’re not super comfortable on the subway yet, but you can do it. is a huge help.

Getting lost, never-
NY’s FINEST has already adopted me !

5) When you’re in for the night, relax with old favorites. Re-read a book you love. Watch a favorite movie. Make NYC feel as much like home as possible.

Have you seen my school curriculum?

6) Learn the North, East, West, South orientation on the street you’re standing and then from there recognize the most visible landmark you can remember. You can walk all over with more confidence and when you get out of the subway, you’ll find it easier. And in the subway learn which car to ride that let’s you off the nearest exit that leads closest to your destination - home, school, bar, etc.

So far, so good.

7) Remember: Avenues go north-south, streets go east-west.  Twenty streets = one mile. Five avenues = one mile.

BEST advice, ever.

8) Explore the boroughs; start with Brooklyn and Queens.

Yonkers and Bronx do?

9) Brace yourself for a lot of new experiences and challenges. They’re worth it for all the amazing opportunities you can’t have anywhere else.

Apropos Starbucks, Clive.

10) Keep an open mind. The rest is easy.

Very posh, my life. Nothing difficult I just have to remember to be home before “curfew”.
Otherwise Alexander will call NY’s finest. Hmm.

…signing-off - Anja, drowning in earthly delights.