Sunday morning music

With Christmas drawing nearer, I’d like to cut through the horrible holiday muzak that’s inflicted upon us at every turn, and bring you a few selections that are far more musical, meditative and in the true spirit of the season. To begin with, here’s one of my favorite carols, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel“, the origins of which are lost in the mists of time.  Elements date back to the first millennium and the great so-called “O Antiphons“. Our first sample is an instrumental recording by The Piano Guys from their 2013 album, “A Family Christmas“. Here’s a magnificent solo performance by

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Teaser

Here’s an excerpt from my current project – one of five books I’m working on (at various stages of research, investigation, writing and editing) at the moment. Please let me know in Comments if you like it. The noonday sun hung directly overhead, its heat seeming to sear through the cotton ghutra over his helmet, turning the metal into an instrument of torture that threatened to boil his brain. Taghri cursed softly to himself. The traders’ caravan had plodded its way through the heat for the past week. It would reach the city tonight. It couldn’t be soon enough for him.He rose

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Old-school etiquette

Via Gab comes this very useful illustration of a full table setting.  Click the image for a larger view. I don’t know anyone who uses full place settings any longer – they’re really a relic of pre-World War II fine dining – but the diagram is still useful with less extensive settings.  Simply leave out the items one lacks, and arrange what one has in the order show. So, if you’re ever in doubt about how to lay the table, or in which order to use the cutlery at one’s place, now you know. Peter

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A treat for Peter Sellers fans, if you’re quick

I note that the 1974 Peter Sellers comedy film “Soft Beds, Hard Battles” is currently on YouTube.  I’ve no idea how long it’ll stay there, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s good for a giggle.  Wikipedia describes it as follows: Set in Nazi-occupied France, the story follows Major Robinson of the British Army. Installing himself at a Parisian brothel, he assists the French resistance and works with Madame Grenier and her girls who find themselves eliminating high ranking German officers (using ingenious rigged beds and killer flatulence pills) right under the noses of the Gestapo. The girls find themselves enlisted in the

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Not Freddie Mercury

Reader J. M. sent me a link – well, two of them, actually – that had me laughing out loud. The late Freddie Mercury led the crowds at the 1985 Live Aid concert in a sort of wordless chant, getting the audience to follow his musical lead. It seems someone with a sense of humor “married” that Freddie Mercury chant to images of a rodent.  The results are hilarious. Musical mice?  What next – rapping rats? Peter

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Sunday morning music

I’m sure many of my readers have heard of clogging, a type of tap-dancing that began early in the Industrial Revolution and has spread to many countries.  An American variation on clogging is buck dancing.  Wikipedia describes it thus: The term “buck,” as in buck dancing, is traceable to the West Indies and is derived from a Tupi Indian word denoting a frame for drying and smoking meat; the original ‘po bockarau’ or buccaneers were sailors who smoked meat and fish after the manner of the Indians. Another source states that the word “bockorau” can be traced to the “Angolan” word “buckra’, and

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Headline of the day

I did a double-take when I read this headline: Eastern Michigan University Cancels‘Vagina Monologues’ Because It Isn’t Inclusive Er . . . ah . . . WTF??? I thought the whole purpose of the Vagina Monologues was that it largely excluded men because they don’t have that organ.  So much for its inclusivity, right from the start! Verily, the mind doth boggle . . . Peter

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Sunday morning music

Doctor, chemist and notable composer Alexander Borodin was a pretty amazing person.  He made major contributions in the field of organic chemistry, as well as some outstanding classical music that’s an integral part of the modern repertoire.  Among the latter is his opera Prince Igor, which wasn’t finished when he died, and was completed by Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov and others.  It’s frequently performed in Russia and less frequently in the West. The Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor have become a standard part of the classical concert repertoire.  However, their full flavor can’t be captured in a mere orchestral performance.  They’re wild, Slavic, barbarian, filled with color

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Sunday morning music, for the centenary of Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, fighting ended in the First World War with the implementation of an armistice.  Since then, 11th November has been celebrated all over the world, particularly in Britain and her former colonies, as Armistice Day.  The full peace treaty took many months more to negotiate, but at least the killing was over. It was one of the very worst, most destructive, and most pointless wars in the history of the world.  Untold millions died, or were maimed, or were hurt, yet their sacrifice

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Sunday morning music

Here’s a blast from my family’s musical past. Conductor, arranger and orchestra leader Annunzio Mantovani was born in Italy in 1905, but spent most of his life in Britain.  During World War II his light orchestra was a favorite in that country, and both of my parents (who were born and raised there) enjoyed his music.  (His Italian origin doesn’t seem to have affected his popularity, even though his adopted country was then at war with the land of his birth.)  He didn’t rest on his laurels, but released many post-war albums, in the USA as well as England (in 1959 he

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