Sunday, October 19, 2014

Apples and lemons, and events of the day

This will be very unpolished; but you will forgive me I think. Although, spending part of the day driving around doing errands and listening in the car to an audiobook biography of J.S. Bach, makes one tremble at the idea of producing any writing or photos, or doing any activity whatever that is not the most refined and perfect possible. Such a travesty of a waste of the time God gives us. Did Bach ever dash anything off in a hurry, and say, "well, I've just finished a big cantata (or what have you), let this be a tad unpolished"? 

I don't know. I do suspect that the good people at Naxos, who made this Life and Works 4 CD set some years ago, have made a mistake in their attributions however. The narrator, surely, is the amber-voiced John Shrapnel, and it is someone else voicing "Bach" in letters and so on. I was so convinced of this that I felt I had to comment about it on the chat boards at the Naxos site, and only then did I do a bit of perfunctory sleuthing on the movie site IMDB. I learned that I am a little confused as to which amber-voiced English actor named John played a small role in I, Claudius, -- and which did not. Anyway I still think they've made a typo on their CD case and enclosed booklet. [Full disclosure -- they didn't make a typo, this mistake is all on me. You can make yourself look entirely ditzy, sometimes, even though you're really not. Nevertheless -- ] Somewhere in the depths of Angela Thirkell's oeuvre a character says, "My dear mother thought the most extraordinary things and she never dreamed of supporting them with a shred of proof," or something like that, and so I take her as my witness that it's all right to do that. I also like the way she sprinkles her narratives with confident and completely non-sequitir-ish, omniscient-narrator "we's." "We think that was the right thing for Tom to do," and so on. Angela Thirkell in The Duke's Daughter also gives the most perfect description of a baby's skin in all English literature: she compares it to "gossamer jelly."  

Anyway I did better research later this afternoon when it came to the matter of finding out who is the soprano who sings "Bist du bei mir" (Art thou with me) on the second CD of the Life and Works. All sopranos are wonderful as we know. But this voice had such an effortless, eerie, yet strangely metallic quality that, singing as she did after the narrator had just told us of Anna Magdalena Bach's fine soprano, I felt almost as though I were listening to a voice from the remote past. As if to Anna herself, at her harpsichord in a little room in a house in Leipzig. I felt I must know who this soprano is.

If I have researched aright, she is Ingrid Kertesi, born in Hungary. I know nothing else of her that you might not also learn in a few minutes on Wikipedia -- except I suppose that she would not be flattered to know that a musical Neanderthal like me finds her voice eerily metallic.

I've also been exploring the world of e-publishing today. You do find extraordinary things. I am not impressed with Smashword, sorry. Years ago James Michener said that when he was starting out he had no fear of getting lost in any slush pile, because he had worked in publishing and he knew exactly what kind of competition was in the slush pile with him. I don't see Smashword in any fairer light. (I once started a sort of epublishing firm of my own, and it's still there.) HarperCollins' Authonomy seems better, so I chose to upload, ahem, the Whole Thing there. Do you think the people who actually, incredibly asked me to send them "a few chapters" will withdraw the invitation if they learn I've done that? I reason that Authonomy's soup is very thick, and that the chances of simultaneous acceptances are astronomically more remote now than they were twenty or thirty years ago.

Now, re: fashion. I watched Funny Face last night, since my new computer takes in Netflix and everything. If there is a more gorgeous piece of clothing than Audrey Hepburn's first Paris gown in that movie -- the stark floor length white sheath with utterly stark, straight pink velvet cloak -- then I shall be glad to know what it is. It's curious to look at photos of Edith Head's designs, and photos of Givenchy's, and to realize that knowledgeable people consider the one to be much more sophisticated than the other; but which is which? That is a matter for more of your own research.

Finally, apples and lemons. You may call it an "Arc de Triomphe," or you may call it an Apple Brandy (or Calvados) sour. Either way, here it is. "Why does everything have to be sour?" my gentleman friend asks. "Because I like sours," I say.

Arc de Triomphe or Apple Brandy sour

In a mixing glass, stir, with four ice cubes:
the juice of half a lemon
sugar or simple syrup to taste (about half a teaspoon to start, or equal parts to the lemon juice if you like things less sour)
one jigger (1 and 1/2 ounces) apple brandy or Calvados
Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy with your next Audrey Hepburn movie. Or Bach.


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