Euro 2008: Spain V Italy

A few pictures from the run-up to Spain-Italy tonight…

Oddly there were thousands of friendly and rambunctious Spaniards hanging around downtown, but relatively few Italians. A large group of perhaps 300 fans, mostly dressed in red and yellow, had congregated on Kaertnerstrasse where it intersects with Weihburggasse, chanting and singing and even kicking a semi-deflated football high into the air, letting it land where it may. Continue reading

iTunesU, Religion, and Irony

Back at Pickwick’s downloading some more lectures from iTunesU. In my relative intellectual stagnation at the moment, I quite enjoy listening to the wealth of material some of the universities provide. The quality is variable, of course, and a good deal of it is pretty poor; a while ago I found what looked like an interesting history of the early Christian church, given by a certain Dr. Frank A. James III. I downloaded some of the lectures, hoping for an interesting survey of people and places—perhaps like A.N. Wilson’s books on Jesus and Paul—but discovered instead a rather petty, credulous, and self-important presentation of the period. Continue reading

Of Cafes and Bike Rides

At Tirolerhof today. It’s a marvelous cafe, though they regrettably haven’t installed wireless access yet. Walls cream-coloured; large windows arched in a vaguely Arabic manner, outlined in black; similarly shaped mirrors in between the windows; chandeliers suspended from a lofty ceiling; a few old-fashioned glass cabinets with several shelves of freshly made tortes and strudels; a varied clientele, generally lining the tables by the windows and walls (they have comfortable sofa-like booths), reading newspapers, chatting—one genially corpulent gentleman to my left is perusing the theater schedule. Continue reading

Salome

Back from Salome. Very good. The Herod (Wolfgang Schmidt) was a bit on the weak side, with a wide, wobbly vibrato that constantly threatened to swing out of orbit; Herodias (the generally excellent Janina Baechle) was solid, in the relatively small part she has; Camilla Nylund’s Salome was competent and occasionally thrilling, without being revelatory. The best of the evening was no doubt Jokanaan, sung by Alan Titus, who possesses a deep, rich, resonant bass usually restricted to Russians and Finns and other existential pessimists. Continue reading

Strauss On A Rainy Evening

I’m sitting in the old flat now, listening to Salome, and thought I’d kill the hour or so before the performance starts at the opera by jotting some random notes. I went to Rosenkavalier the other day (Sunday, I suppose it was), and enjoyed it a great deal. The singers were quite good, if not uniformly spectacular; Ricarda Merbeth’s Marschallin was perhaps the best, with an indisposed Angelika Kirchschlager replaced by a very good Octavian whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten. Sophie (Jane Archibald) was a tad shrill, and thin (her voice, I mean), but a pleasant eyeful, at least from the back of the Gallerie. Continue reading

Of Daseins and Hard-ons

Hanging around this afternoon without really much to write about, so I thought I’d just improvise. I’m sitting in Pickwick’s once again; it’s mostly empty, aside from a group of 6-7 high-school-aged girls a few tables away from me, prattling along with customary though not unpleasant vapidity. Strangely the women I’ve met recently—with one significant exception, I think—tend to be either good-natured but not particularly interesting, or not very good-natured—morose, in fact—but possessed of more hidden depths, murky though they be. I generally seem to prefer the Continue reading

Obviousness

Strolling around town today I saw a poster for a Max Ernst exhibit at the Albertina, and I stopped to have a look at it. It’s a sepia-toned woodcut of the corner of a bourgeois-looking interior, with a large figure in the middle and another visible through the window to the left. The main figure is dressed in a Victorian robe of sorts, something between a dressing gown and the cloak with shoulder-length cape that Sherlock Holmes is often portrayed as wearing. In place of it’s head is one of those Moai faces, dark, impassive, impersonal. Continue reading