UVic Congress 2013 Main Stage with Buffy Sainte-Marie · 6.06.13 by colin newell
It has been a busy week at the University of Victoria with the Annual Congress of the Humanities – with some 7000 delegates and their families, the campus and the city as a whole has been hopping with big thinkers, the learned, the curious and the rest of us.
The reality for me, at UVic, is that every day of the year is an adventure in advanced education. Congress 2013 has been more of an amalgam of thought pressed into a tight 7 day event.
Humanities at UVic encompasses the study of English, French, Germanic and Slavonic studies, Hispanic and Italian studies, History, Latin studies, Greek and Roman studies, Linguistics, Medieval studies, Philosophy, and Women’s studies (hope I did not miss anyone!) –
Within the Faculty of Social Sciences is Economics, Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Geography, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology.
Congress is kind of a conference within a conference… plenary sessions, discussions, summits, society meetings, AGM’s etc – and even executive events for the government group known as SSHRC (Social Sciences Humanities Research Council) – they hand out money and often lots of it.
During the event (and because it is a fairly inclusive event) there were lots of family friendly events, food kiosks, entertainment and attractions on campus and in the Capital regional district.
We actually had a main stage on campus on one of the green spaces that featured afternoon and evening entertainment – many of them local and regional musical groups.
The evening headliner on Wednesday was 60’s legend and Canadian-American singer/artist/activist/educator Dr. Buffy Sainte-Marie. She wrote hits like “The Universal Soldier”, “Up where we belong” from the movie Officer and a Gentlemen, “Until it’s time for you to go”, “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee” and many others. Her significance and place in the history and evolution of the sixties is well documented – but that only barely scratches the surface of what she accomplished in the 70’s, the 80’s, the 90’s and so on. Her 60’s hits are merely an introduction to a life well lived – with clearly many more chapters to be written.
According to her bio, she has recorded over a dozen and 1/2 albums (with clearly more on the way) has charted 1/2 dozen singles and has sold in excess of 26 million albums. She lives a quiet live on the Hawaiian Islands when she is not on tour – and she is currently on year 3 of a 2 year tour!
At 72 years of age, Buffy looks more like a mid-fifties athlete. I had around 2 minutes of her time the day before the concert while assisting her team on her spoken word lecture at one of UVic’s recital halls. Her demeanor is one of peace, harmony openness and inclusion. She was, after all, an educator before she became a musician. She created the Cradleboard Teaching Project – a curriculum that aims to raise self-identity and self-esteem in present and future generations of Indian children by introducing them to enriching, accurate information about Native American people and cultures. (Wikipedia)
Seeing her in concert with her backing band of rocking all-stars was a far cry from my reminiscences of the late 60’s – however dim and youthful they may have been.
If this lady was a Woodstock era folk musician, there was little evidence of it in the 21st Century. Buffy has clearly been keeping with the times and the technology – apparently using Apple computers to compose new music since the 90’s. So, she is on top of things. And her stage shows reveals the energy of a rock star a fraction of her chronological age – kind of a lady version of Mick Jagger.
She launched right into the classics to an appreciative audience of around 3000 folks – many of them clearly a fan of the folk-World-Native genres. It was a spectacular mix of softer songs contrasted with harder edges pieces – all of them with a message. She did write “Universal Soldier” after all – the treatise on the root causes of conflict and who, ultimately, is responsible. (Us, by the way…)
Her 2 hour set included the body of her best work and (she is prolific!) an unveiling of one of her latest songs – so new that all of her band members had the musical chart in front of them!
I can admit this now, that even though I am not from the 60’s (I was a teen in the 70’s) there was something so resonant about her concert, her stage presence, her voice and message that moved me to tear up several times. And I am pretty sure I was not alone.
She has been a messenger for peace (a pacifist if you would…) since the 60’s and has railed against the culture of war and aggression since the early 60’s – it is even generally accepted that she was “black-listed” by the Nixon and Johnson administration – it’s written that Johnson wrote letters to several radio networks thanking them for suppressing her message of peace. Peace (in the 60’s) was considered a threat to the establishment much as it is now. In reality, her messages are as important now as they were then – if not more so.
She sings about love, the environment, a plea for equity, fairness, justice and a livable World community for future generations – the stuff that is often labeled “terrorism” or “Eco-terrorism” by “The Man” here in the 21st Century. Yup, not like that much has changed.
Anyway – seeing and hearing Buffy Sainte-Marie at the University of Victoria was one of the best outdoor shows I have seen in a long time and easily the most meaningful!
Long life and more music to Buffy! She has an incredible schedule – interested in seeing the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie live? Head on over here to her Tour Schedule
Puccini's Tosca - by the Pacific Opera Company - reviewed · 4.04.13 by colin newell
In my life I have seen around a dozen opera’s – many of them classical – some of them I fit into the category of Pop Opera (Like Phantom of the Opera – a modern piece with its feet firmly grounded in the 21st Century…) Puccini’s Tosca fits into that classic tragic opera niche – standard elements, straightforward story line – 2 and 1/2 hours and a body count.
Puccini’s tale of tyranny and love has thrilled audiences since its first appearance in 1900. With all the ingredients for classic opera; – lust, jealousy, murder, suicide, love triangles, plot twists, and a memorable and somewhat by the book score.
Many hard nosed purists would rate Tosca as the “beginners opera” – a simple story line, all the basic elements that make up a classic tragedy – something that most people could follow – even if it is in Italian.
I had the good fortune (Saturday afternoon) in sitting in on a casual rehearsal as well as the Tuesday dress rehearsal – there is nothing more entertaining (for me anyway) of seeing (and hearing) the contextual displacement of a story set in 1900 being performed full voice in 501 Levi jeans and T-shirts (on the tenor and the soprano!) and getting to stand stage left a few feet away from one of the principal singers as they belt it out.
But what of the story?
Political repression, revolution, art and deception unfold, as Tosca – played by the very talented Joni Henson – racked with jealousy over an imagined lover from a canvas, she struggles for comfort and reassurance that is fleeting. Painter Mario Cavaradossi (played by tenor Luc Robert) goes head to head with the sadistic and lascivious police chief Scarpia (played with wicked aplomb by Luxembourg resident and singer David John Pike), who only has eyes of conquest for Tosca – who betrays her knowledge in exchange for Cavaradossi’s life… which turns out to be an additional twist and deception. And so on.
There are opportunities for a more complex narrative and story arc in Puccini’s Tosca – but that would defeat the purpose of keeping it simple. It is, after all, true to the formula of tragic opera with no additional decoration or even the bare smidgen of humor.
The cast is well matched and believable – no one voice rises much above another. If anything, Joni (as the soprano) had fire power to spare but held back just enough.
Impressions: Andrea and I did the dress rehearsal. Consequently, it is a lively evening with a large contingent of opera clubs (middle school students, aspiring musicians, University students) making upwards of 75% of the enthusiastic audience. Sold out in fact.
For ticket holders for the main event this week and weekend, I say – strap yourself in for some good old fashioned classic tragic opera that will please newcomers to this old entertainment genre and those veterans of this music form returning for some twists and surprises.
Hot Wheels · 31.03.13 by colin newell
Hot Wheels. Got my first one in 1968. Played with them for a long time. Loved them. So long ago. Eventually, one has to move from one set of toys to a newer, brighter and faster set of toys…
Which brings up to this blog – hosted on a server that I run myself… to serve you better.
Welcome to the Coffeecrew.com Blog on my own server cluster — administered by… me.
AND (whoops!) sorry for the brief black-out. Look who forgot to do some pointing and clicking and setting this and that!
And now that I am getting into some more stable hosting, please expect some more regular blogging! And to those that have been with me through the years… Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!
Moving, moving, moving... · 30.03.13 by colin newell
If you have noticed an absence of activity around these parts for the last month, it is because I have been prepping numerous websites for an “experimental” move off of Islandnet.com (after almost 18 years with them…) after many technical hiccups, slow downs, the occasional Ddos attacks etc – it was simply time for a change.
Do not get me wrong – Islandnet has been great – it has been puzzling to me why (for me) that are the slowest loading pages on the internet. My customers and readers simply cannot wait 10 to 20 seconds – sometimes minutes for the pages of my sites to load. Additionally, I will be keeping my Islandnet accounts very much alive as instant back up for my own new ISP that I have created – I do still believe in product loyalty and keeping “largely good” relationships intact.
So, I have moved over to Linode.com where I am my own ISP maintaining my own virtual cloud servers – 10 times the firepower and arguably 5 times the speed – for around the same coin – with tons of space to spare.
My bottom line folks is keeping my websites fast and accessible to my readers – no excuses, no technical foul ups, no mysteries…
I do not “do the web” merely as a pass time. I have a message and lots of media to share – and if there are black-outs, I want to be the one responsible for it.
Enjoy the new experience on DXer.ca and Coffeecrew.com for starters. More to come.
And now I can concentrate on getting some new content out there. Thank you for your patience!
Baked Oysters au Gratin · 11.02.13 by colin newell
Who does not like a good Oyster bake-up from time to time. Our local fish vendor had local Oysters on sale so we thought, what to heck – here is the recipe we used.
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 (8 oz.) tubs oysters, drained
3 Tbsp. white wine or vermouth
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Brush a 9” x 13” baking dish with 2 Tbsp. of the butter.
Set the oysters in the baking dish.
Combine the wine, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Spoon this mixture over the oysters. Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt and pepper in a second small bowl.
Sprinkle this mixture over the oysters and then drizzle them with the remaining butter. Bake for 12 to14 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.
Serve with Foccacia bread, oil and vinegar.
Papardelle Pasta with Scallops and lemon brown butter sauce · 28.01.13 by colin newell
Try this simple dish – whips up as fast as you can cook pasta…
Put Pasta (fresh or dried) on to boil – enough for 2 people
In a heated saute pan – medium high, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.
Cook butter for 3 minutes until browned.
Meanwhile toast 1/4 cup of fine bread crumbs.
Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the brown butter over the toasted bread crumbs – toss to coat.
Take 4 large sea scallops – cut into quarters – add to brown butter – and cook until
“cooked through” about 1 minute.
Remove pan from heat – stir in 2 tablespoons mince garlic and 3 tablespoons squeezed lemon.
Pour scallops and brown butter sauce over drained pasta.
Add the bread crumbed + chopped parsley and toss to combine.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with wine and garlic bread.