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Showing posts from May, 2011

Song of the month (May), saccadic rhythms, and a persistent fly.

The font of all modern wisdom, the semi-readable* Wikipedia, tells me that this song has been recorded 2600 times. That’s not surprising. It was so beautiful that every singer with an ego had to do it. But you never have heard this version , recorded by iconic 1960s British band the Zombies who, powered by psychedelia, mellotron and sheer musical ability, later made a concept album arguably superior to the vastly overrated Sergeant Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles and the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds . All that and a spelling error in its title . Of course, I’m making a huge presumption that you have never heard it. The Zombies' take on Summertime might be your favourite recording of all time. Listen and, as Christopher Lawrence sued to say, swoon. It’s summertime, And the livin' is easy
 The fish are jumpin' And the cotton is high
 Your daddy's rich And your mamma’s good lookin’
 Won’t you hush pretty baby Don't you cry

 One of the

Butch Cassidy or the Sundance Kid?

Pasta is a cliché, a bore, a culinary banality on a million restaurant menus. How does it go? Bolognese. Carbonara. Alfredo. Marinara. Pescatora. Napolitana. Puttanesca. Arrabbiata. Arrabbiata? That means angry. Don’t get angry, get even. Tell the kids, or your husband or your wife or your brother or your sister or your mother you are serving them pasta with yogurt tonight and watch their reaction. Pasta with yogurt? Yes. Pasta with yogurt. Plain, tart yogurt with the sting of garlic and the crunch of parsley and the yielding texture of chickpeas and the bite of fresh ground black pepper. You’ll never order spaghetti napolitana again, or buy one of those supermarket jars with a photo of a wizened Italian on the label (or Butch Cassidy or the Sundance Kid for that matter, I can't remember which) containing sauce made in a hundred gallon vat in Dandenong one night two years ago. This recipe is dead easy and you don’t even have to cook the sauce. Pasta with yogurt, garlic and

City of Yarra diners to save the world one blanket at a time.

National Geographic reports that due to the sheer scale of China's growth, its carbon output will continue to soar until at least 2030 before less polluting technology starts to cut in: So for the time being, China's carbon emissions will continue to soar. I talked with dozens of energy experts, and not one of them predicted emissions would peak before 2030. Is there anything that could move that 2030 date significantly forward? I asked one expert in charge of a clean-energy program. "Everyone's looking, and no one is seeing anything," he said. No problem: Yarra Council to the rescue of world pollution. The council wants to tax - or ban - gas heaters at outdoor cafes: (e) the amount collected in the coming year be used to subsidise/provide blankets (preferably Fair Trade blankets) for patron use in outdoor dining areas with no outdoor heaters, with the mechanism for their fair distribution to all interested businesses to be determined by officers. But can I

The shop that wasn't there.

It was early afternoon on a cold Tuesday in May. I was striding purposefully through town as usual after yet another speedy yet satisfying lunch (the bento box comprising fruit, vegetables, teriyaki beef, tofu, rice flecked with seaweed, pickled ginger, wasabi, miso) at Don Don in Swanston Street where the food is always fast and the music is always Tom Jones when two old dears stopped me in my tracks in Little Collins Street. This often happens. I must look like a signpost. Not that I mind. I like helping old ladies. I’m always reaching things down from the higher shelves in the supermarket for people. They looked like they’d just got off the train from Heyington or Camberwell or Mont Albert. ‘Can you direct us to Batman Records?’ they asked, and smiled at me in that vacantly patient way that old dears do when they have asked a question and are trying not to look demanding as they wait politely for an answer. Must be a generational thing. I told them, sadly, that Batman Records cl

Apple pancakes.

Tom eats several a day. William will nibble one if he is very hungry. Their current favourite is the Royal Gala, which sounds like a Melbourne Cup winner from the 1970s, but is a sweet, yellow- and red-skinned cultigen made in the 1970s from a sport of the Gala apple, itself a clonally propagated fruit developed in the 1930s across the ditch in New Zealand. And that's the end of that paragraph. At upwards of $4 a kilo, we retain the merely nibbled ones when a refrigerator is handy. These are chopped and stewed, or grated for bircher muesli, or cut into an apple pie; and I know which I'd prefer, although bircher muesli is not all that bad if you drown it in mango flavoured yogurt. Or cream. The other day I grated a Royal Gala and folded it through a batter (flour - half self-raising and half plain - an egg and three-quarters of a cup of milk), and fried the batter in a non-stick pan, shaking it gently over a small amount of butter, and turned the resulting pancakes out onto
The more you post, the more you wonder about the possibility of Blogger failing. It doesn’t alarm me especially, but it might have a year ago when I was in the final stages of editing a book entirely on blogger. It was a great way to do it. Fifteen chapters, each in its own post and edited at will. Then each emailed off to the publisher, who turned them into 500 pages of text. Blogger stuttered on Friday, offering read-only mode before removing the top post, a kind of brain surgery in which Blogger mechanics had delved into eighty billion pieces of HTML. The top post was replaced later minus any comments that might have been delivered earlier. It’s a funny way to write a diary. I started this blog in 2003 but my hand-written diaries go back to 1970, consisting for years of single-word or -sentence entries documenting a pedestrian life.
I wonder if Sophia ever told Leo Tolstoy to limit something he was writing to 140 characters.

The fish that time forgot.

Smoked cod is still available in the fish section of the deli at the supermarket. You just don’t notice it any more. It’s the only fish that has been stocked continuously since the 1950s. I never see anyone buy it. People take numbers and line up for banana prawns and Tasmanian Atlantic salmon and ling and oysters and scallops and that rendered substance they call crab stick, but never the cod . Further, I’ve never seen smoked cod served outside my own kitchen. It is the world’s only food never to have been served in a restaurant . Nor have I ever encountered smoked cod at a dinner party. Plenty of other smoke; smoked salmon, smoked ricotta, smoked beef, smoked gruyère, smoked eel, and in the old days, smoke itself in a couple of varieties; but smoked cod, no. Most tellingly, my mother, who in 1968, when she had seven children at home aged from brand new to seventeen and used to buy several kilograms of the stuff she called 'Cape Cod' weekly, has not served smoked cod at her

Best in show.

Ten o’clock on a cool Sunday morning. The sun was still behind the clouds and there was dew on the grass, along with seventy French cars. What was I doing at the French Car Festival? I felt like a traitor as I parked the 940 under an oak tree beside the road that runs through the grounds of the park, got out, poked my eye on an oak twig, helped the children out, shut the doors, left the car and walked towards the gate where a lady with a PCCV logo on her coat was selling entry tickets. Then on to the greensward where sat twenty or more Citroens, about a dozen Renaults, perhaps twice the number of Peugeots, a few Simca Vedettes, and a couple of oddities, if you allow that all French cars are not oddities. People were poring over open bonnets and gazing at engines, which in the case of some of the Renaults, was at the other end of the car. The last time I saw this many French cars in one place was in the underground car park outside Baillieu library at Melbourne University in the 197