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Showing posts from September, 2014

RIFA I PASSI: CONCERT IN THE ABBAYE DE QUARANTE

This Friday night, 19 September, 2014, as a part of cultural programming that takes place throughout the year in several small towns like our Quarante that cooperate regionally, the tourist office presented a free concert in the Abbaye de Quarante performed by the sevenfemale singers comprising the group Rifa i passi. The above Youtube video was not taken Friday night but both the setting and the sound quality approximate our local abbey, built 1,100 years or so ago, just a few steps from our front door. Pictures of the abbey available on the web appear below. This was plainsong singing at its best in the proper setting and the ladies received two well-deserved standing ovations, one at the end of their main set and one after their encore, during which they brought out their first instrument, an accordion used just for chords, then sang a final chant as they moved down the main aisle of the abbey from the altar to the exit. The pews were full and folks stood along the walls and in th…

VENDANGE IN THE LANGUEDOC: A MORE COMPREHENSIVE VIEW

For more pictures of the vendange and a bit of history and statistical info, click over to my FRANCE PAGE.

LA VENDANGE: GRAPE HARVEST TIME

The very air is electric. Every morning, you awake expecting to hear the sounds, smell the smells, feel the stickiness, get bitten by the yellow jackets, get stacked up in traffic, and in general curse up one side and down the other of that best/worst of times, the vendange.  As summer ends and fall approaches, the vintners begin to go to their vineyards earlier and earlier in the morning. The first grapes that are ready to be harvested are the whites, the chardonnay. If you know your local viticulture, you may even be able to predict which vineyards will be ready first. But in short order, everyone will know. 
The vintner decides. The big, honking mechanical harvesters hit the road. Cars and trucks jam the verges of the vineyards that are to be hand picked. Tractors with trailers that are numbered to identify to which section of which vineyard their contents belong make their stately way to the co-ops, leaving trails of grape juice at every curve along the two-lane blacktops that th…

Le New Port Snack Bar, Port Plaisance, Colombiers, France: Restaurant Review

Not far past the town of Colombiers, a couple of dozen kilometers away from us in Quarante, stands Brico Marche, the local equivalent of Home Depot. We travel there often to purchase shelving and hardware and such while we've been setting up housekeeping here in France. Going through Colombiers, you can't help but notice that the town has used its positioning on the Canal du Midi to great advantage. Relatively new and refined port facilities greet the recreational boater with restaurants and shopping, camp grounds, and other amenities. An amphitheater faces the Canal and, on a recent weekend night, saxophonist Pierre Schirrer et l'Orchestre Louisiana performed a free New Orleans jazz concert, playing the music of Sidney Bichet and Louis Armstrong from an old post boat anchored in the Canal. Our friends Simon and Julia invited us to join them for dinner and the show. So follows my review of Le New Port Snack Bar.

Le New Port benefits from its overview of the port, both from…

JACKIE ROBINSON, MICHAEL SAM & DANICA PATRICK: BEING FIRST

Sportswriters have a more difficult job than most journalists.

As is the case with news reporters, the object of the exercise for sportswriters is to get the facts straight while displaying a modicum of facility with the English language. In order to be considered elite, particularly in the case of investigative journalists, kudos specifically derive from getting the tough story and getting it first. Simple enough.

But in order to be considered elite in their field, sportswriters have to do more. For instance, the elite sportswriter has to have more than a facility with the language. The legends of the genre include the likes of Ring Lardner, Damon Runyon, Shirley Povich, Grantland Rice, and Red Smith, masters of story telling. They saw the same contests at the same time as their contemporaries. But few could compete with the scintillating rhythms of their prose.

One way for a  less than poetic sportswriter to compete with the greats of the genre is to demonstrate an encyclopedic knowl…