sábado, 3 de agosto de 2013


Time was when percussionists were confined to the orchestra’s nether regions, like servants. Then came Evelyn Glennie, to free them with her blazing charisma. Skip a generation and Glennie has an equally charismatic successor: in the next two months Colin Currie (above) will be ubiquitous, with a string of premieres on disc and in concert halls on both sides of the Atlantic. This 35-year-old Scot may be able to raise the roof, but he can also mightily intrigue, as in his 2010 Proms premiere of Simon Holt’s idiosyncratic “a table of noises”, in which he created a series of enchanting musical worlds with the aid of taut, terse, high-pitched pings and pocks from wood, skin and metal.

The articulate Currie, who is also a professor at the Royal Academy, has spent the last decade giving the lie to the commonly held assumption that percussionists are just a bunch of noisy extroverts. He has opened up the discipline to incorporate sounds from Cuba, central Africa and Japan, and, using his ensemble the Colin Currie Group, he has encouraged composers to regard percussion as a routine part of the chamber-music armoury. Steve Reich’s “Drumming” is one of the classics he often plays, and Reich is now composing a new piece expressly for him.


One of the best things about staying in a hotel is the sight of your clothes swinging freely on hangers on a near-empty rail. I imagine mine stretching their limbs and taking deep breaths, glad to have a well-earned holiday from the crowded and claustrophobic conditions they live in at home. If Narnia was through the back of my wardrobe, no one would ever find it.

Mondrian.jpgUnfortunately, wardrobes obey the basic laws of physics, so until someone invents one with the bigger-inside-than-out properties of the Tardis, anyone who loves clothes will eventually reach a point where theirs is well and truly full. Exactly when you reach that point depends on a number of variables – volume of wardrobe, rate of shopping, garment-folding skills – but what is certain is that it will come, as inevitably as bibliophiles will one day run out of bookshelves. You can go to ikea and buy as many clever storage solutions as you like, but in the end you will have to face up to it: the time has come to chuck out some clothes.

It makes sense to tackle the big clear-out when spring is in the air because, even if central heating has made the traditional spring-clean largely redundant, there is still a vestigial urge to get the nest in order. So you might as well harness it. Some people – those who are not hoarders and are good at letting go – find the whole process easy. I have a friend who is such a zealous clearer-outer that Monday mornings have seen her trotting down to the Oxfam shop to buy back an item of clothing she has just realised she does, after all, require......


Red Light Winter_edit.jpgAdam Rapp is unnervingly prolific. Having written some 30 plays (many of them acclaimed, some dormant in a drawer), several novels, a handful of screenplays and other odds and ends, Rapp seems less like a 43-year-old American author and more like an agitated geyser, spewing work that feels raw and real, smart and dark. “When I start something I don’t stop until I am finished,” he has explained. “But I don’t start until it’s grabbing me by the throat.” This throat-grabbing urgency is evident in his best work, such as the mesmerising, Pulitzer-nominated “Red Light Winter”, which has its British premiere in Bath this March.

The story of a love triangle of sorts between two friends and a prostitute in Amsterdam, “Red Light Winter” crackles with electric dialogue and a grim momentum; like nearly all of Rapp’s characters, these three are doomed. But Rapp’s gift is for balancing heavy themes (loneliness, unrequited love, manipulative friendship) with a well-observed compassion. He loves his creations, and lets them say things that are funny and clever as well as conversational (“You were like kind. And it helped me…in ways that I’d need like the 12,000 semitones of dolphin language to articulate”), so their misery feels more profound. At a performance of the play in New York in 2006, I remember feeling an odd rupture when the actors exited and the lights went up. Six years on, the play was delicious to re-read, its vitality palpable even on the page. Lucky Bath.


White Stripes.jpgChuck Berry
Roll Over Beethoven
Few songs carry the zip and effervescence of this number from the year rock’n’roll took off, 1956—now 56 years ago. Frustrated by his sister hogging the piano to play classical music, Berry penned this ode to the more urgent delights of rhythm and blues. A crisp two minutes, it’s a song to shake out the sheets and prove there’s life in the old dog yet.

Blossom Dearie
 Put On A Happy Face
However big your record collection, the chances are you will end up finding a handful of songs more cheering than the rest. This is one of mine. It speaks of a toasty, spread-eagled happiness. Blossom Dearie offers some practical wisdom on cheering up: take off that gloomy mask of tragedy, stick out that noble chin, and slap on a happy grin.

The White Stripes
Little Acorns
As Jack White’s solo debut looms, check out this curiosity from “Elephant” (2007). It samples a Detroit news anchor, Mort Crim, telling the story of a woman named Janet, divorced, bereaved, and newly unemployed, who found courage in watching a squirrel storing up acorns for the winter. Crim’s tale is followed by a burst of defiant, scrawling rock’n’roll, and Jack White advising us to rip up our problems and “be like the squirrel”. It’s pretty convincing.

Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Swimming Song
When you’re in the dregs of winter, this little gem from the McGarrigle sisters hints at the glee of the summer ahead. A simple banjo riff carries their tribute to swan-dives, backstroke, butterfly and the “old Australian crawl”, not to mention the deliciously illicit “cannon-ball”. 

'' Do you like anime? Let's talk about Konan''

Adult Konan Manga
When she was young, Konan's family was killed during the Second Shinobi World War, and she was left to fend for herself. Some time later, Yahiko found her, and the two worked together to survive. Not long after that, Konan went for a walk and found a young, dying Nagato and his dog, Chibi. She rescued him and brought him back to their hideout. Gradually the three became best friends. They eventually encountered the Sannin, who gave them some food. Konan impressed them by making an elaborate flower out of the paper wrappers left behind as a sign of gratitude. When Orochimaru suggested to kill them so they would not have to suffer the horrors of war, Jiraiya instead opted to stay and teach the three how to look after themselves.
After Jiraiya taught them ninjutsu and was confident they could take care of themselves, he left them on their own. Before leaving, Jiraiya tells Konan that she will be very beautiful when she grows up and to come and see him when she turns eighteen. During their time with Jiraiya, he made a defence system (seeing as that the hideout they all shared at the time was vulnerable to being targeted for enemy attacks) composed of four planks, each with one red side and one white (the white side also had a frog picture on it), attached to a part of a wall of the hideout they shared at the time with a string and a nail, each one above one of their names, which he called "Hop-In" planks. Nagato's, Yahiko's and Konan's were one wall and Jiraiya's was on a wall opposite. The purpose of the planks were that when they were in the hideout, they turn their planks to the red side and they leave, they flip their plank to the white side, so when a plank's on the red side and the person's not in the hideout, it means they could have been captured by the enemy and when a plank's on the white side and it appears that the person's in the hideout, it could mean that an enemy has transformed into said person and has infiltrated the hideout, along with a trapdoor hidden among the floorboards leading to an hidden room and emergency escape route he left just in case.
Over time, the three formed the Akatsuki and became renowned for their strength and effectiveness, with news of their actions even reaching Jiraiya. When their group became too big, they were forced to find another hideout, and leave their current one where they once lived with Jiraiya. When they were about to leave and flip over their "Hop-In" planks, a ninja squad attacked the hideout creating an explosion which resulted in a hole in the roof which they used to infiltrate the hideout. Yahiko (after Konan flipped her plank and just before he was about to flip his), noticed the attack in time and used the escape route just before ninja entered the hideout. It is also implied that over time Konan began to develop romantic feelings for Yahiko.
File:Yahiko's Group.PNGAt some point in time, the orphans encountered Obito Uchiha who proclaimed that he was Madara Uchiha and Zetsu. She listened on in the background as Tobi told them his motives for approaching them and later walked away from the pair as Yahiko was wary of them.
Hanzō, the then leader of Ame, feared that Akatsuki would overthrow him. As such, he and Konohagakure's Danzō Shimura deceived the group into meeting with them about an allegiance for peace. When Nagato and Yahiko went to meet with them, they kidnapped Konan and ordered Nagato to kill Yahiko in exchange for her life. Konan cried out for them to flee without her, but they refused to leave her behind. Although Nagato was paralysed in shock by the order, Yahiko stabbed himself with the kunai in Nagato's hand. Nagato saved Konan afterwards, who would thereafter accompany him wherever he went.
Konan was smart, stoic, calm, and level-headed (much like her partner, Nagato, was). As a child, she was bright, compassionate, and relatively cheerful, in comparison to Yahiko's tough attitude and Nagato's sensitivity. However, the traumatic events since then have led her to become a very serious person, and she never spoke during Akatsuki meetings. Nevertheless, she has always placed the safety of her team-mates above her own. When she was younger Konan showed romantic feelings towards Yahiko, caring for him and wanting to be as close to him as possible,  though it is unknown if these feelings carried on during adulthood or remained after Yahiko's death.
Konan's first shown origami She did seem to be more empathic than most other Akatsuki members, as she appeared sad whenever she was reminded of her past. She also expressed a great deal of loyalty and courtesy to Pain, doing his bidding without question, looking out for his well-being and always having complete faith in his abilities. She seemed to act as an intermediary between Pain and Ame, the villagers having given her the title "God's Angel", because with her paper wings activated, she resembles one.
She had the ability to read Pain's emotions without him facially expressing them, presumably as a result of having known him for so long. As soon as Tobi ordered Pain to capture the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox, she could tell right away that there was something about the order that very much upset her emotionally deadened partner.
After Nagato's sacrifice, Konan becomes fiercely adamant to protect Naruto Uzumaki, the person Nagato entrusted his mission of world peace to, even going as far as to proclaim all of Ame's loyalty to him. She was equally fierce in defending Nagato's remains from Tobi going as far as to prepare herself for suicidal attacks against him if it meant protecting Nagato and Naruto from him.
Ame Orphans young adultsKonan had blue hair, grey eyes (amber in the anime), lavender eye shadow, and a labret piercing. Konan's eyelashes are shown to be a diagonal line at the bottom corner of her eyes, but in the anime, they are shown to be distinctive lines. She has worn a large light blue paper flower in her hair since she was a child. Her facial expression was usually neutral, though usually protested or looked worried when Nagato performed a technique that would debilitate him. She wore the Akatsuki cloak and her Akatsuki ring on her right middle finger, the kanji on it meaning "white" (白, bya). She also wore orange nail polish. Although she never removed her Akatsuki mantle, it was revealed that underneath it, she wore a revealing navy blue robe, with a large hemline on the front, and exposed her arms, her back, the lateral part of her breast, and her belly, with her navel being surrounded by four more piercings; instead of the standard sandals and leg-warmers, she wore a pair of blue pants that also functioned as her shoes, with white high heels, inverting the organisation's standard colour scheme.
As a child, Konan was seen wearing an array of simple clothing. When living with Jiraiya, she was seen wearing a karate top and skirt bottom, with a pouch she wore at the front of her outfit to carry her paper. When Konan, Yahiko, and Nagato began to make Akatsuki, Konan wore a black cloak with purple stockings and high heels, as well as a mid section guard similar to that of Samui and an Ame headband, that being the only time period Konan's been seen wearing one.
Konan was an S-rank kunoichi and her skills were held in high regard by her partner, Pain. She also had an amazing natural talent for origami and after training with Jiraiya, was able to form paper weapons infused with her chakra. As an adult, she was highly praised by her former teacher Jiraiya for her prowess. During their battle, Tobi highly underestimated Konan's abilities, leading him to lose his right arm and half of his mask in the process.
 Paper Ninjutsu
Even as a child, Konan has shown a natural talent for origami and had even developed it into her main ninjutsu. She has created a unique transformation technique called Dance of the Shikigami, which can turn her entire body and clothing into thousands of sheets of paper, which she can control at will and form into any shape or colour. To travel long distances, she can fold them into butterflies or planes for powered flight, and to attack, she hardens the sheets to the point when it is as hard as steel and folds them into arrows, spears, and shuriken. She can also restrain opponents by blanketing them in sheets, thus restricting their movement and asphyxiating them. Befitting (and likely inspiring) her title as Angel (天使, Tenshi), the papers can also form large wings for further weaponry, though she is capable of hovering without them. She could also make chakram-like weapons to attack foes and in the anime is skilled enough to make two and control them with great ease using them to corner her targets from opposing ends.
Konan had a very keen intellect as she was able to quickly understand the process and reason behind the hop in, hop out system Jiraiya had created for them and years later would study Tobi's space-time techniques, accurately deciphering how they worked and then did countless simulations in order to find the perfect way to kill him. Even Tobi expressed surprise that he was forced to rely on the forbidden Izanagi to survive her final assault at the cost of his left eye.


Blanchett 1.jpgSydney, mid-November. A slice of harbour shows through the window of the converted wharf, but no one is admiring the view. Within this office, the pressing question is whether to banish two yapping puppies, a black Labrador and a mix-breed blonde.

“Maybe it’s punishment,” says Cate Blanchett. Her tone is dry, her garb unassuming, and she is wearing horn-rimmed glasses. There’s no trace of celebrity gloss, but Blanchett is striking without it—five foot eight, and slender. Turning to her husband, the playwright Andrew Upton, she speaks above the din the dogs are making. “You got Dorothy when I went into ‘Uncle Vanya’ rehearsal last year, and then Fletcher arrived as soon as we started ‘Gross und Klein’.”

“That’s it,” Upton says. To those who know him—not the public at large, but people in theatre circles—his defining feature is his impish grin. Today, however, he has a more sober air. “It’s a way of stopping you doing plays,” he says, deadpan.

We’re in the office the two of them share as joint artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company. If you’ve seen Blanchett on fewer screens of late, this is the reason why. Alongside raising a young family—three sons, aged between ten and three—the job has been Blanchett’s and Upton’s life since late 2007, when they moved from Britain to take it on........

sexta-feira, 2 de agosto de 2013


Sargent, At Torre Galli.jpgAs with all long-term relationships, Florence and the Americans have history. They have been through the good times and the bad, the break-ups and the make-ups. Now they are back holding hands and exchanging flirty glances with an exhibition that digs up the past and shows us who’s who.

At the end of the American civil war in 1865, there was a surge in the number of American artists travelling to Europe, and the places that meant most to them were Venice, Rome and Florence. And so a gaggle of fresh-faced, boisterous Americans took up residence in the Tuscan capital, wooed by its irresistible good looks and ribollita. John Singer Sargent was one of them. A Florentine by birth, a fully fledged expatriate by choice, he is the most celebrated artist here (above: “At Torre Galli: Ladies in a Garden”, 1910). His watercolours are masterpieces, and his portrait of a pensive Henry James is a double whammy with a simple message—an important American in Florence, painted by an important American in Florence. But it is the lesser-known Duveneck Boys, a group of friends-cum-students-cum-artists, who chime the loudest.

Their front man, Frank Duveneck, was a charmer. He lived, worked and taught in Florence in the 1880s with Joseph DeCamp and John White Alexander, two fellow Americans who had followed him from the Academy in Munich. Promising to paint assiduously, the boys soon reverted to type and spent more time hosting parties at the Villa Castellani, home to one Elizabeth Boott. The views were spectacular and there are paintings to prove it—open, expressive, almost brilliant—but boys will be boys and Duveneck had something else in mind. After a long-winded engagement, he and Boott married in 1886. Mission accomplished, history lesson over.


Imagine that the Spanish-speaking world was a single country, called Hispanidad. It covers a territory perhaps one-and-a-half times the size of China. Its population is nearly 500m, making it the world’s third most populous country, behind China and India. Among these people, the number of native Spanish-speakers is rising towards 400m; as a mother tongue, only Mandarin Chinese is bigger. Hispanidad also has a rich literature, from Cervantes to Gabriel García Márquez, that is best enjoyed in the original. And you really should see an Almodóvar film without subtitles. Only English and Chinese are more widely used on the internet than Spanish.
So if you are in business, into the arts or just want to join la conversación, the sheer size of Hispanidad is a powerful reason to learn Spanish. But Hispanidad is not a single country. The fact that it spreads across the Americas, Spain and even parts of Africa and Asia makes the case for Spanish stronger still.
After English, it is the most used international language. For tourists it eases and enriches travel in the 20-plus countries where Spanish is a main language (though some may prefer to skip Equatorial Guinea). Students have an enviable choice of stimulating places to hone their Spanish skills, from Venezuela to Argentina to Spain itself.

Not forgetting the United States, the country with the second-largest number of Spanish-speakers (about 50m and rising) after Mexico. Latinos are growing in influence culturally, commercially and politically. Nowadays, would-be presidents make sure to advertise in Spanish: Soy Mitt Romney y apruebo este mensaje.

Even for those with no political ambitions, there is another compelling reason to pick Spanish as your second language: it’s easy (certainly compared with, say, Mandarin). And once you’ve got Spanish, you’re half-way to Italian, French and Portuguese too.

Learn Spanish? ¡Cómo no!, as they say in Hispanidad.


Since we’re talking about a great actress, she would surely have been considered for the best female part of the last few years – Carrie Mathison in the TV series “Homeland”. She’s a bipolar CIA fanatic who thinks an American soldier just returned from imprisonment in Iraq may have been turned by al-Qaeda. So she gets so close to him she has an affair with him. But we know this part is so good now because Claire Danes (above) is phenomenal in it. Who has done a smarter, more emotional, or more disturbed woman in a cockpit of suspense? Cate Blanchett would have been ecstatic and nerve-jangling, but Danes went beyond that by being such a surprise.

Tilda Swinton played the mother of a teenage serial killer in Lynne Ramsay’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin”, and she was remarkable. No one relishes a contest with Tilda. But if you’d seen the novel or the script in advance and been asked who you thought was right for it, Cate Blanchett would have been an obvious answer. And she has something in common with Swinton: they can go from posh to trash, and smart to dumb, with ease.

If I were Lars von Trier (and it’s a relief that I’m not), my only indecision over “Melancholia” would have been which part to offer to Blanchett – the stunned victim of depression (played by Kirsten Dunst, who won the acting prize at Cannes) or the other sister who is worrying herself sick over the end of the world (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg). Cate could have done either part – she could have done them both. Suppose the sisters are twins. Now, for the first time, I wonder if I wouldn’t mind being Lars von Trier, finding ways to make Blanchett manic as well as depressive....

'' Calvin ''

Calvin and Hobbes


French.jpgFor language lovers, the facts are grim: Anglophones simply aren’t learning them any more. In Britain, despite four decades in the European Union, the number of A-levels taken in French and German has fallen by half in the past 20 years, while what was a growing trend of Spanish-learning has stalled. In America, the numbers are equally sorry. One factor behind the 9/11 attacks was the fact that the CIA lacked the Arabic-speakers who might have translated available intelligence. But ten years on, “English only” campaigns appeal more successfully to American patriotism than campaigns that try to promote language-learning, as if the most successful language in history were threatened.

Why learn a foreign language? After all, the one you already speak if you read this magazine is the world’s most useful and important language. English is not only the first language of the obvious countries, it is now the rest of the world’s second language: a Japanese tourist in Sweden or a Turk landing a plane in Spain will almost always speak English.

Nonetheless, compelling reasons remain for learning other languages. They range from the intellectual to the economical to the practical. First of all, learning any foreign language helps you understand all language better—many
Anglophones first encounter the words “past participle” not in an English class, but in French. Second, there is the cultural broadening. Literature is always best read in the original.

Poetry and lyrics suffer particularly badly in translation. And learning another tongue helps the student grasp another way of thinking. Though the notion that speakers of different languages think differently has been vastly exaggerated and misunderstood, there is a great deal to be learned from discovering what the different cultures call this, that or das oder.......