Death of a DJ

awwww… that’s sad. Alan Freeman died.

4 p.m. Sundays from 1961 through 1963 I was a faithful listener to him doing “Pick of the Pops.” I even used to record his show from the radio to our reel-to-reel Grundig tape recorder so I could learn the words to all the records.

Never knew he was Australian.

I’ll bet a lot of people my age are feeling sad today.

Turkey time

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in America. It will be a little noisier than last year as John‘s son, mother’s boyfriend, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephew have landed in Houston (from San Diego, Copenhagen, Albuquerque and Los Gatos respectively). Thirteen of us altogether. We’ll be spending most of the day at his mum’s house.

I’ll try to get a group picture.

Saturday: Here’s the group picture. Log in to view. We nabbed a neighbour from over the road to take it so all 13 of us would be in it. Note the house numbers, David — carried on trains, buses and planes all the way from Ravello!

The Emsworth Pub Crawl

Got some pictures for you, Habs. Not sure if I should be encouraging such behaviour by writing about it on a family website, but Jim organized a pub crawl earlier in the month. According to Nick, Jim designated it an ‘Emsworth’ pub crawl as he had mapped out a route visiting London pubs with the same name as pubs in Emsworth.

Let’s just say that the pictures go from daylight with a few fairly serious people to dark with twice as many very happy people.

And if you’re wondering why they didn’t like the Lord Raglan . . . it was closed.

Did I fall asleep?

Have you ever seen anyone roll backwards on the floor in the last part of Pada-Hastanasana? It happened to me this morning. I think I must have fallen asleep. I’m nowhere near getting my knees locked in that pose, and on the first run-through generally squat down first to get my hands under my heels. It’s always a major effort to begin trying to straighten my legs, and I tend to crouch down there too long sometimes trying to psyche myself up to do it. Today my mind was wandering as well. I really do think I dozed off, because I think a normal person would roll forward if they fell out of that pose.

Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

We went to see Borat last night. I was so hoping to get out of having to see that movie and managed to resist pressure from John for two weeks. I’d read that it was full of “f” words and bathroom “humour.” However, I caved in after hearing someone on the radio say that if you have a hand ready to cover your eyes for certain scenes, it is really a very funny movie.

And it was very funny. Unfortunately, though, I missed the whole point. I remarked on the way home how it seemed as if the weather forecaster was completely taken by surprise and perhaps wasn’t even an actor. I was then informed that hardly anyone in the movie was an actor. It was a series of Candid Camera-like scenes.

I giggled all night going back over the scenes. Now I want to see it again.

An afternoon at the Symphony

The Houston Symphony is playing some good stuff these days. It’s so nice to look at their progam and find music I recognize. This afternoon, five of us sat in the Upper Mezzanine and listened to Tchaikovsky’s “The Voyevoda,” (okay okay, I wasn’t familiar with that piece), followed by Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto (soloist Yefim Bronfman), and Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony. I love the Pathétique, especially the fourth movement. I had, however, never heard it live, and have two comments to make:

1. The audience clapped at the end of the third movement. (tut tut)
2. There was a strange buzzing noise during the fourth movement.

When we were leaving, I spotted one of the musicians. He was wearing a cowboy hat. I summoned my courage and approached him to ask him what the buzzing noise was. He told me that it was “muted French horns.”

Well I never!

I told him that my CD of the Pathétique didn’t have that sound on it. He told me that that’s why it’s a good idea to attend live concerts!

So, Ricky and/or Helen. Is it normal for the muted French horns to buzz in the fourth movement of the Pathétique? Set my mind at rest.

As for the clapping at the end of the third movement, as soon as I got home I checked the internet to see if it always happened, and came up with this story on a weblog:

Henry Sopkin, the original conductor of the ASO, got very annoyed at audiences during performances of Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony, because they (like many other audiences) would spontaneously burst into applause after the rousing third movement, but applause would be much more tepid at the end of the entire piece. When he took the orchestra on tour to the smaller cities of Georgia he actually REVERSED the playing order of the third and fourth movements, so that the performance would end with the rousing third movement, and the orchestra would get the accolades he felt it deserved.

At the end of a tour, when he and the ASO performed the piece in Atlanta in front of what he felt was a more sophisticated audience, he realized that such rearranging would not be acceptable, and the orchestra played the piece in the correct order. As always, after the third movement, the audience burst into applause. At that point, forgetting where he was and thinking the piece was over, Sopkin turned around, took a major bow, and left the stage.

A few changes in the routine

I’ve only missed two classes in the last 20 days. Everything has been going great . . . until yesterday evening. The heat got to me, my tummy felt icky, my arms felt like lead, and I had to take a knee in the second half of triangle to catch my breath.

For once, it is difficult to pinpoint the reason. Could it be that:

1. I was in the back row instead of the third row? It’s much hotter at the back of the room.
2. It was a 4:30 p.m. class? Usually it’s a 6 a.m. class.
3. I left my water jug at home so had to buy some at the studio — Smart Water? Usually I drink City of Houston tap water.
4. I had to park in the street as the car park was full?
5. I was wearing my brand new Danskin stretchy crop pants? They felt constricting after my three-year-old nice-and-loose lost-their-elastic Danskin crop pants?
6. I’d eaten three hours earlier? Usually it’s twelve hours earlier.

Or could it be all of the above?

I feel great today — so no loss. Not too sure about that Smart Water, though. It looks like water, but the ingredient list reads: vapor distilled water + electrolytes (calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and potassium bicrabonate).

Armistice Day poem

Here is the poem that thirteen-year-old Rebecca Sullivan wrote and recited at today’s commemoration service in London.

There Lie Forgotten Men

They lie there in their thousands
The last rays of sunlight
Catching the white of the gravestones
Lending a poignancy to the moment
Numbering in their thousands they lay
Deserving remembrance
And yet the scarred green fields are empty
Nothing remains here
The processions of people vanished with the years
Their sacrifice all but forgotten

She stands there alone
At the edge of the silent place
And she is shocked
New wars brew and these forgotten men
Will play no part in them
The dead silence warns no ears but hers
In great halls in moments of great decision
What they fought for is forsaken
And by days end new gravestones
Appear on the blood red ground

She finds what she seeks
‘Sgt John Malley Age 27’
His life brutally ended
And she stands by his grave
But he can give no answers
And she weeps for him
For the empty hole he left behind
And for the new emptiness
Soon to join the black chasm
And her tears join the flood

Rebecca Sullivan

John and I will shortly be heading downtown for Houston’s Veterans Day Parade.

A myth

This article from today’s Times Property Section refers to “chanting” at Bikram yoga classes. To set the record straight — there is no chanting at Bikram yoga classes. The only time we open our mouths is during the first and final breathing exercises. And the only thing we pray about is for the class to end.