2013年9月28日 星期六

Another Surprising Find: Al di Miola's" All my Life " 2013 (意外拾遺:愛迪米奧拿的「一生一世」)

It's been a while since I visited Pro Sound in Central. I had a luncheon appointment close by, so I thought I might just pop in to see my old concert buddy Mr. Chu and asked him whether there's anything he could recommend to me. He asked me if there was anything I had in mind. "Nothing in particular but whatever it would be, it had better be good," I replied.

He rubbed his fat little finger against his chin and gave me one of his characteristic shy smiles. Without any further words, he fumbled with his I-phone, flicked through a great number of icons on its small navy blue screen for about a minute or so, lifted his head from it and pressed on one.

Nothing could describe how stunned I was when some crystal clear sound emerged from the Rogers 5 speakers above him. After half a minute, I knew that I had to have it. I told him so. I said that he's good. But Mr Chu said,"But he doesn't sound like the Beatles!"
"Of course, he doesn't . If he were, what's the point of buying his disc. He gives his personal twist to it. And he does it in a way that adds to and not destroy the music! That's what's so lacking in so many run of the mill artists today"
"Sorry, it's sold out! Every time I played it, it'd be sold! ", he said with a satisfied but a slightly rueful smile. " but if you want it, I can order one for you.  You want to do that?"
 "Go ahead." 

He got out a piece of note paper and wrote something or other on it. I didn't see what he was writing. Then whilst he was doing it, my eyes wandered on to a poster of Esther Ofarim posted on a promotion board right next to his electronic anti-theft monitor frame at the entrance. Ofarim is one of my favourite female singers. I asked Mr. Chu if she had any new releases.
 "No, it's been some time since she got one out."
"Never mind, no matter how long it's been out, if I don't have it, it's new to me."
"OK.", he said and started moving his overweight frame from his seat behind the counter with obvious difficulty.
"You OK?" I asked.
"Oh, nothing much except that I've got 4 medical appointments scheduled for next two months"  and squeezed a bitter smile. 
"What, you're not joking. You serious? "
He told me what they were. 

In the middle of flicking through one of the little compartments of his CD racks, he yelled "Oh, I was wrong. Here's the CD you were asking for! "
He showed me a CD with about 20 small photos on its cover showing the British flag, a car, some colorful promotion poster, the profile of a guy in dark glasses and a scarf around his neck over an overcoat against the shadowy outlines of what looked like a red London double decker  bus, various London street scenes, huge black letters "Abbey Road" over part of a map of London,(the name of one of the finest studios in the recording industry),  part of a studio electronic equalizer panel with various stops and Al di Miola with a guitar upon his lap and a headphone over his head of thick black hair.... It was an album called "Al di Miola: All Your Life: A Tribute to the Beatles Recorded at the Abbey Road Studios, London". So, that's what it was that I was listening just now.

I dutifully approached the sales counter. I was a happy man. And not just at that moment when I got that disc and the other one which Mr Chu was originally looking for called the "Radio-Genève Recordings of Esther Ofarim". They were not cheap. But there's always a premium on quality! I have no complaints when the sound came out of my CD player at home.

Al di Miola is one of the best guitarists around, playing all kinds of guitar music, pop, jazz,  flamenco, latin and fusion, electric and acoustic. He delivers magic with whatever it was that he was playing. He played various beatle favourites with his own unique brand of jazzy and sometimes latin rhythms. He's on a class all his own. With his tribute to Beatles, he put in additonal chords,  his jerky jazz rhythms and his probably half improvised or half written flourishes and quick finger runs on the guitar strings, always played with a kind of virtuosity difficult to match by any guitarist with less talent.  Even as I'm writing, the sound of his guitar is streaming into my ears strings of tiny sparkles of sheer pleasure.

This is what the talented guitarist said about the album, " I finished my job with this tribute to The Beatles. It was love at first sight and I have never stopped loving them. In fact, all my life. And although I have tried fusion, jazz and other styles in my career, I always knew who I owe my profession to. When I come back to The Beatles music, it means never ending party for me,” There's a total of 14 marvelous tracks in "All My Lif"e: some romantic, some burning with quiet fire and some really hot. Al di Miola is born  Al Laurence Dimeola in July 22, 1954 in Jersey City, New Jersey and is now approaching 60 but still going strong. Perhaps his music is his way of staying young. Could it be that true elixir of life is the passion one takes in one's love?

For those who wish to explore further on his music, here's his discography:
    Land of the Midnight Sun (1976)
    Elegant Gypsy (1977)
    Casino (1978)
    Splendido Hotel (1980)
    Electric Rendezvous (1982)
    Scenario (1983)
    Cielo e Terra (1985)
    Soaring Through a Dream (1985)
    Tirami Su (1987)
    World Sinfonia (1990) with Dino Saluzzi
    Kiss My Axe (1991)
    World Sinfonia II – Heart of the Immigrants (1993) with Dino Saluzzi
    Orange and Blue (1994)
    Di Meola Plays Piazzolla (1996) with Dino Saluzzi
    The Infinite Desire (1998)
    Winter Nights (1999)
    World Sinfonía III - The Grande Passion (2000) with Toronto Symphony Orchestra
    Flesh on Flesh (2002)
    Consequence of Chaos (2006)
    Vocal Rendezvous (2006)
    Diabolic Inventions And Seduction For Solo Guitar (2007)
    Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody (2011)[6]
    All Your Life: Tribute to The Beatles recorded at the Abbey Road Studios, London (2013)
 Guitar Trios
    Friday Night in San Francisco (1980) with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía
    Passion, Grace and Fire (1983) with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía
    The Guitar Trio (1996) with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía

This is Al di Meola performing a solo

  This is the famous Guitar Trio (Paco de Lucia, Al di Meola and John McLaughlin) performing Chick Corea's Spain with their own improvisations in Brussels in 1996. You can't possibly get another guitar trio like that anywhere, ever!

Saturday Fun (星期六的歡樂)

September is always a special month. School starts. And for some parents, it'll probably mean lots of extra work making sure that their kids are studying, revising, going to the "proper" kind of extra-curricula activities and a temporal but blissful cessation of loud music in the house during the day though with I-pods, it'll be less of a problem today than formerly. Remember how earnestly you yearned for children and how hard you worked trying to to have them? But once you have them, your perspective may mysteriously change. Here's what I've found about the "Truths of Parenting".


A baby usually wakes up in the wee-wee hours of the morning and those who say they "sleep like a baby" most probably haven't had one yet.
A child will not spill on a dirty floor.
A young child is a noise with dirt on it.
A youth becomes a man when the marks he wants to leave on the world have nothing to do with tyres.


An unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys.


If you want to avenge yourself; live long enough to be a problem to your children. But first be nice to your kids, for it is they who will choose your nursing home.


 Celibacy is not hereditary and familiarity breeds children.


For adult education, nothing beats children. You can learn many things from children... like how much patience you have.


God invented mothers because he couldn't be everywhere at once and He invented guilt so mothers could be everywhere at once.


Having children is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain and it'll also turn you into your parents.


If a child looks like his father, that's heredity; if he looks like a neighbor, that's environment.


If you have trouble getting your children's attention, just sit down and look comfortable.


Insanity is inherited; you get it from your kids.


It now costs more to amuse a child than it once did to educate his father.


It rarely occurs to teenagers that the day will come when they'll know as little as their parents.


Money isn't everything, but it sure keeps the kids in touch.


Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.


Summer vacation is a time when parents realize that teachers are grossly underpaid.


The first sign of maturity of your kids is their discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left.


There are three ways to get things done:
1) do it yourself
2) hire someone to do it
3) forbid your kids to do it


There would probably be fewer problems with children if they had to chop wood to keep the television set going.


The best thing to spend on your children is time.

Those of you who have got kids will probably know what I mean. Whether or not you do, have a nice weekend, with or without your children.

2013年9月25日 星期三

Balkans 5 The Postojna Caves 巴爾幹半島之行-5 布斯當娜鐘乳石洞)

After our walk-about, we were asked to reassemble at the Preseren Square

So I took a picture of other side of the square: it was full of stalls selling quick food, drinks etc.because it's the town centre with plenty of tourists just by the side of the most beautiful part of that town.

There was some kind of celebration, so you find a tall banner in front of the bank

We had to go back to where we came to wait for the coach: another view of the Congress Square

The Congress Building

We were driven to the Postojna Cave called Postojnska jama in Slovene, the second longest ( after the  Migovec Cave System)in Slovenia with more than 20 KM of karst cave system, a cave created by the Pivka River. The cave has 3 levels and the deepest reaching to some 600 metres below ground and was first discovered in the 17th century by a German geologoist Johann Weikhard von Valvasor but in 1818, when the cave was being prepared for a visit by Emperor Francis I, the first Emperor of the Austria-Hungary, a new area of the cave was accidentally discovered by a local guide Luka Čeč, who served as guide for the Emperor. The following year, the Postojna Cave was open to the public. First they had to use torches to see the cave but in 1884, it was electrified. Since the middle of 19th century, it has been served by a cave train, originally hand-pushed, then driven by steam engine:  the first ever sight-seeing cave train in Europe. During the 2nd world war, the Germans used part of the caves to store aircraft fuel but this project was sobotaged by Slovene guerillas who caused the oil barrels to be exploded but in the process, the explosion destroyed a part of the cave and led to a fire which burned for a whole week and blackened the cave entrance.Now more than 5.3 KM of the cave is open to the public. But first, we had to have lunch

Our restaurant next to the entrance to the cave

Lunch was a simple affair: just some salad

2 kinds of bread

 A beer and some fish and chips

A Corner of our restaurant

 After lunch we had to line up in front of the entrance to the cave

Waiting for our English guide to start the tour at a gathering spot after a 2 KM cave train journey during which we had our first "taste" of the interior of the cave.

What I like about this cave is that,unlike some of the caves in the PRC, it was not lit with lurid colors like green, red, purple, blue etc, just some simple yellow light. It gives the tour a much more "natural" feel. In one of the underground "halls", called the "hall of the organs", the acoustics is so good and even a loud whisper from any spot can be clearly heard at every part of that "hall" and perhaps for that reason, concerts are held there from time to time.

Each of the viewing points was fitted with a PA system in which we can listen to what the guide was introducing without using a headphone.

 Here we find the stalactites forming at the cracks of the rocks

The cave was quite deep

 There were all kinds of formations each with slightly different colorings depending on the minerals present: green if there's copper, red if there's iron and black if there's manganese.


Some cheese cloth curtains with moss growing on the under surface of the rocks

 One can see some "spaghetti" forming 

Full of "spaghetti"

Some of them seem to have been attacked by moulds or is it just manganese?

 Some human faces

An altar?

A hall of pillars

 You can see the water dripping

Chinese ginseng!

 Inter-connected caves

Suspended rocks?

I was wondering when it will break, its bottom so much heavier than its "waist"!

Dripping with milk or cream?

 The departure hall. But before we left, we got the chance to see a very unique creature: one that hasn't changed in the last million years because it lives in complete darkness, isolated from the outside world, completely undisturbed by other animals or fishes: it's an amphibian with legs and a primitive lung which moves extremely slowly: the Proteus.

The souvenir shop

One of the cave exits

There were flowers everywhere

These red flowers can't be seen in Hong Kong

 The first time I saw these morning glories with white bands upon yellow

These are more regular. In Hong Kong, they would be either red, purple or blue, never yellow!

toy people on strings

These 3 friends want to stick together

This one is sitting alone

Never saw these  in Hong Kong

White and red?

Really lovely

And these purple flowers

And these long red flowers

The country is full of these sun flower

Ready to fly?

(To be cont'd)

2013年9月24日 星期二

Balkans 4: Unexpected Delight at Ljubljana (巴爾幹半島之行-4 盧比安娜之驚喜)

When I was in Ljubljana, I was in for lots of surprises. I found that its people simply love images and decorations.

What an idea for a window display at a watch selling shop

Some graffiti I found on the cover of some kind of cabinet for cables

Another graffiti

This shop hidden inside a courtyard also got painting on its walls

I found this poster of an art exhibition in a square

I got in a small museum and found this painting upon its wall, presumably the artist's mental picture of what's going on inside the concert hall of the Slovenia Philharmonic which I saw earlier in that morning?  The building on the right of the painting looks like the Ljubljnana University.

The country being invaded by the Ottoman Turks?

The Slovenes being ordered to do work for the invading Romans soldiers?

A well in the forecourt

This is the courtyard of the Museum. One sees a maps, presumably of the city of Ljubljana. There's a river curving around the old town. There are beautiful patterns upon the external faces of the walls separated by Arabian/Turkish arches.

In the courtyard, there's a ceramic exhibition by various artists

Another corner of the courtyard

One of the exhibits at the ceramic exhibition by local artists which was then in full swing: beautiful tail feathers and some upon the head too!.

A working class lady resting from work?

a weasel or rodent in a robe?

A mock ancient pot with traditional patterns.

A swan/peilcan with which is trying to find its balance upon the ground by Biserka Filipan-Kraljic 2013?

Ceramc "reproduction" of the splash of a drop of water falling upon the surface of a  pond. by Irena Yvertep 2013?

old fashioned pitchers?

A shell with many eyes? Vaza by Marjeta Basa 2013

Sonceve pege 2013 by Polona ZajcValovi

Valovi 2013 by Ani Erjavec

Kliton 2013 by Hanibal Salvaro

Monolit 2013 by Simona Breskvar

Solinarska storklja  2013 by Snezica Krajnc

Bonsai 2013 by Bozislava Hebar

Vetrnica 2013 by Ana Hanzel

Posodica za zalost 2013 by Natasa Sedej

Ljubezen 2013 by Majda Jager Scholsser

Sovica 2013 by Majda Kraker 2013

Frogs upon a tile by an unknown artist

Brez pogleda 2013 by Lucka Sicarov

Skusnjava 2012 by Irena Kramer

Palcek 2013 by Mea Zvan

Sopek marjetic 2009 by Stanka Janzic

HPV 2013 by Vesna Tausanovic

 Polno! 2013 by Tatjana Gomboc-Jerman

v gnezdu...2011 by Sanda Kurbus-Zore

Krasevka 2011 by Katjusa Trampuz

A book filled with foam?

On 2013 by Ljubica Zgonec Zorko: ceramic posing as tree barks?

an original sculpture at a corner of the courtyard

There is another exhibition at another room of the museum about marbles with painting and real stones

One of the paintings with a polished stone-like feel

You can see the lines and the textures of this one

This one is unusual, it got strings attached to its sides

Another one with strings below

This one is in red, black and brown

This one is in orange black and brown with strings at its side?

This one is in brown and black with tiny dots in other colors

This one is in light blue, pink, black and brown

This one is different again, as if a cross section but with covers. It seems that there is no end to man's imagination upon what he may find interesting. 

This is the poster about the exhbition of "glass and large format graphics" entitled "Fly or Stuck" by Meta Kastelic.

The visitor's book at the entrance to the exhibition

the images seem all about man's condition: solitary men and women caught  by the constraints of life. This woman has to cover her body dress and a veil. Has she just got married? The images all appear to be deliberately slightly off focus

This one appears to be the image of man and a woman both stuck on the cross in a bed


A woman is shown on a bed of sand

She looks like she had been nailed on a cross too on that bed of sand

This one shows her to be moving her hands on the sand as if trying to describe a pair of wings

 She has finally succeeded in describing a full circle above her head

This one shows that she has finally managed to achieve a standing position, away from the bed. 

Some of the old buildings have got some stone pillar carved with simple figures just under the corridor of the buildings lining the sidewalks  of the street paved with cobble stones

This one seems to be a laughing man

This one looks like a nun

This one has a tighter expression

The cartoon found on the window of a clinic probably about diabetes in the early stages

The diabetes has stood up for itself

The diabetes is attacking its owner

I don't know what this is all about. Probably advising people to do some cycling? Note: Thanks to Chiugor, it's a notice advising cyclists to park their bikes elsewhere and not in front of the showcases.

Everywhere I went, I saw flowers and plants

At the corner of every shop

On shopfronts

On restaurant tables

on tables displaying wines

And even around shaded restaurant stands on the street. 

(To be cont'd)