Euro 2008: The Final

A few pictures from the build-up to the final last night here in Vienna.

Another wild afternoon in Vienna dominated by the Spanish. Although it seems as though Spain have had more matches here in Vienna than other teams, I did get the impression that their fans were the most lively, the most gregarious, and generally the most fun. They took over Kaertnerstrasse, Stephansplatz, and the Graben the whole afternoon with their chanting, singing, and humourously drunken shenanigans, creating a pleasant festival atmosphere. And, perhaps strangely, virtually all the attractive women were either Spanish or Spain fans…

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Don Carlo

Cond.: Marco Armiliato

Philip II: Rene Pape

Don Carlo: Franco Farina

Rodrigo: Thomas Hampson

Elisabeth: Norma Fantini

Eboli: Janina Baechle

Production: Pier Luigi Pizzi

Went to the last performance of Don Carlo this season last night, which was outstanding. The orchestra under Marco Armiliato was in top form, the singing was consistently excellent, and the sets were effective. Continue reading

Spain V Russia Euro 2008 Semi-Final, Vienna

A few pics from last night’s semi-final build-up in Vienna. The Spaniards were out in force again yesterday, with a sprinkling of Russians here and there. Like last Sunday the largest group of people congregated on the Kaertnerstrasse, chanting, dancing, and kicking a football high into the air, sending it bouncing off the buildings. The usual friendly antagonism between rival fans; the Spaniards cheerfully out-singing the Russians, chanting taunts and taking pictures with one another. Or, as here on the left, earnestly wishing one another luck with a Continue reading

Shiratamako, Sunsets, and Storms

Last week I went to a friend’s flat (the one I met at the opera a couple months ago), and made shiratamako—little green mochi balls with macha ice cream and anko. Quite fantastic, and surprisingly easy to make—there’s a crusty sort of white powder, to which one adds some macha tea and a small quantity of water, all of which is then mashed into a thick paste—the density of an ear-lobe is the suggested rule of thumb. Then small quantities, roughly the size of a large marble, are rolled into spheres and boiled for two or three minutes. Run them under the cold water, and there they are!

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Italy May ’08

A few pictures from my trip to Italy a few weeks ago. It was my cousin’s wedding, so we all congregated down there for the weekend, and I stayed a little longer to do some cycling. To the left is the town where my grandmother lives, taken from a terrace up on one side of her house. Apparently the old Roman road led up through the village on this side of the valley; near the church there’s a small, semi-excavated set of rather unimpressive ruins of some old Roman edifice. There was a good deal of excitement (I’m told) when they discovered it, and energy was put into unearthing the remains. Either because they turned out not to be that Continue reading

Pinarello Paris

Rather reprehensibly, I’ve started lusting after a new bike.  At the moment I’m still riding my old Colnago Master Olympic with Shimano 600 parts and Mavic wheels (which I bought second hand around 7 years ago), and I get along very well.  But the occasional “steel is real” comment from self-styled aficionados is sounding less and less convincing.  To tell the truth I suppose I don’t really need it; as I say, I get along fairly well with my old work-horse, and god knows I don’t have the funds for such an investment.  But it is a thing of beauty…I feel my legs twitching just looking at it, and the reviews online (“It flies up hills by itself!”) excite me rather unhealthily.  Continue reading

Moods & Modernisms

I’m in a bad mood today. I’m sitting in cafe Korb, having my morning coffee, and parasitically using someone’s wireless that reaches here inside the cafe. As I was walking here I recalled for some reason a line from Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury (which is odd, since the last time I read it I was in high school): one of the central characters is driven to distraction because of his sister’s quite youthful sexual activity, and in his perturbation he discloses this to his father, a southern gentleman scholar sort of fellow. The father, as my impression recalls him—associated in my mind with the background of heat, sun, dust and booze of southern gentlemanly life—languidly replies with something to the effect that virginity is a negative condition, so one shouldn’t worry about it… Continue reading

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