Monday, 29 February 2016


Faith or anything more than the most general interest in the Oscars was lost long ago (Gwyneth Paltrow for a RomCom? Really guys).

Having said that I realise they pit people and films on to the world stage in a grand way and this is one of the reasons I am oh so happy to see Spotlight won. Because if ever there was a film of merit. And not just for the story it tells but for how it tells it. For showing all the complexity and mistakes and in-capacities of man-kind, even in the face of something so obviously deplorable.

This is an excellent film, which spares nobody, and it is brilliantly written, directed and acted.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

More from the High - Basquiat and Muniz

The Unknown Notebooks by Basquiat. Complete with a scribbled Italian phone number for which G and I found the address.

And a Vik Muniz collection which was full of fun and fantasy. He mixes the skills of draftsmanship, creativity and photography. Good stuff.
(both images below, Vik Muniz pieces)

Friday, 26 February 2016

Lustrum (Cicero)

He came to the battle well-armed
With words, which has previously charmed
But against such brute force
Of Caesar's unbending course
No man walks away unharmed

(not my best work but give me a break, it's 7:00 AM)

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Diario di Bordo - Steamboat Springs

How amazing is Colorado? Beautiful outdoors, friendliest people, tons to see and do. All of the best America has to offer.

In my humble and all that jazz.

After a wonderful if brief family reunion with aunt and uncle, complete with a tour of their old homestead, Giuseppe and I made our way west and north to the stunning Steamboat Springs.

A car-less holiday: the hotel offered a free shuttle to the slopes and back, and the town has a free transit system to get around. We rented our skis at the base (shout-out to Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare for excellent service), and the shop would also store our skis over night. That is nice enough, but they also keep your ski boots on a heated rack to dry, so in the morning: warm boots. It's the little things.

Another shout-out is due to the Ambassadors Ski Tours, run by volunteers and completely free of charge.

A word of caution: if you are in the witness protection relocation programme, do not try to move to Colorado. It is impossible to be anonymous in this state.

Sunday, 14 February 2016


I worry a little bit with highly topical content, but I needn't have done so with this play. It neither lectures nor teaches, it simply lays it all out, sparing none of those present (hurting them either through their dialogue or their representation). You will talk about this play for days.

Note: major spoiler alerts beneath the image

Is it bigotry that keeps Amir from his promotion? After all, it is given instead to an African American woman. Hardly the photo image of the older Jewish men who run the firm. So it is not as simple as bigotry, it's a specific occurrence that causes his downfall, an occurrence he did everything in his power to avoid. His wife is the one who pushed him to it.

"We never talk about this," she laments. Yet when he wants to challenge her views on Islam, it is she who refuses to engage. She is trying so hard to be ... open-minded? ... she creates this image of the world based solely she wants to see. She can accept no challenge, no dissenting voice. She has to insult the Renaissance for having caused "individualism" as opposed to Islam which remains subdued to a "whole", yet agrees with her friends the Bible should not be law. And is completely blind to her own husband's situation, she is entirely uncomprehending of how her decisions affect him. Her self-involvement is total.

Each character is def to others in his or her own way. Isaac praises the beauty of the Quran, without ever having read it. Amir himself chooses those linguistic interpretations of the Quran that make it sound the worst it possibly can.

Jory stands out as an interesting mix of hypocrisy and honesty. With everybody on stage fighting their angle, Jory lies about liking the salad. That appears to be her worst crime. The worst thing she says. She feels guilt over her promotion, coming as it does at Amir's expense. Though, of course, she will still take it. Order over Justice. That's how the world can function. It's a harsh view but she is credible when she explains it.

Ali/Hussein is the character that most broke my heart. He is young and is still trying to understand who he is. He is jostled by the examples in his life, everything that he is told will work, fails. Everything he admires, fails. Despite his smaller appearances on stage we are taken through various transformations and he leaves us feeling desperate at the end, not knowing what the correct answer is.

A word on the Atlanta production: it is a fairly intimate theatre, as these things go, and that helps the intimate stage setting. Tinashe Kajese in the role of Jory was a stand-out for me. The production was followed by a Q&A with the actors, and she spoke at length about the Jory we don't see on stage, it is clear she has created a whole character who lives beyond the lines of the script. This was apparent, in my view, in her interpretation. 

Saturday, 13 February 2016

A Head Full of Ghosts

Preparing a book to be read
of a story both televised and lived
Three versions are shown
Doubts securely sown
Are the ghosts in my house or my head?

Yes: read and lived is not an effective rhyme. Work with me. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Boxed Wine

Here is a brief but good comment on boxed wine. The format has its benefits, it just needs proper attention

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Atlanta life, again

A wonderful morning chat over coffee discussing the renewal of our opera season tickets for 2016/17 and seat selection for our Atlanta United FC season tickets in 2017.

Then out in to the sunshine to start our day.

Life is good.

The Astors

Meeting the Oracle I'd ask her
Could anyone accumulate faster
the incredible wealth
longevity and health
Of the fortune of John Jacob Astor

Friday, 5 February 2016

Jetlag Jems

I just told a colleague how happy I am to be "in a time zone"

I should get more sleep now.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


The two trouble makers from whom I learnt all my worst tricks:

Ciao Becky. Thank you for being a friend, a mentor and also a safe place.