Monday, June 27, 2011

On the Lighter Side...with Beethoven

I cannot not enter a contest, especially CBC's and especially when the first prize is an all expense paid trip to my favourite Canadian city, La Grande Dame, Montreal! The network's excellent well-balanced classical request show, Tempo is the perpetrator of the latest way for me to waste my time. They have called on listeners to pen limericks about Ludwig Van Beethoven's whose 9th Symphony, comprising the ubiquitous "Ode to Joy" highlights opening night for the new home of the L'Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. That's more or less concurrent to my own immortal beloved and me marking 18 years of marriage. So who can resist? Not me for sure.

Here then 10 entries for your possible amusement

Ludwig B___, a musician from Bonn
Would practice piano ‘til dawn
“To get the tune right
I insist on moon light!”
He declared as he stifled a yawn.

Young Ludwig composed very well
Yet when flattered by his clientele
He would often exclaim
“I deserve no great fame --
For this piece is a mere bagatelle.”

Napoleon to Ludwig once said
“Though most of great Europe I’ve led
When I sit down to play
Josephine will not stay
Sometimes even my valet has fled.”

While at work on his latest great opus
Bee-tho-ven shouted out “This is hopeless”
My “beautiful” waltz
is nothing but schmaltz
Proving I’m just a musical mopus*

*(Note: “Mopus” is an archaic expression for simpleton or ineffectual perso – see Oxford English Dictionary and usage by Johnathan Swift)

Van Beethoven’s brand new serenade
the young orchestra so badly played
But a more seasoned trio
covered it with such brio
That he said: “t’is for you gents, it’s made.”

Beethoven once said to his chef
“Great torte ! - but your viola clef
Sounds so misbegotten
Like a pate turned rotten
Looks like you, pal, not me, who’s gone deaf!”

Ludwig for his girl named Therese
Wrote a beautiful score, her to please
But she turned down his hand
For a far richer man
So he lied and said “T’was Fur Elise!”

While at work on his famous sonata
Ludwig B. polished off the dolmathas
Then that piggish ‘composa “*
Ate all the samosas
to become a persona non grata.

* to be read with an English or New England dropping of the r from composer.

Immortal beloved – how romantic!
Ludwig B. wrote some woman, so frantic.
But just who “beloved” was
Still has scholars a-buzz
as they argue their viewpoints pedantic.

Old Ludwig woke up in a sweat
‘Bout a project he’d not started yet.
Had he been far too rash
to accept advance cash?
This would truly be a Late Quartet!*

[There being a set of such quartets that the man composed in his old age and which are collectively known as the “Late Quartets”]

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm Sorry - Nobody Truly Rioted

I'll keep this short because it's just an extrapolation on the immediately previous screed. I need to express bemusement bordering on amusement at the massive and ubiquitous denial about the ugly activity last week when Vancouver went down to the Bruins. I've already mentioned that the next day Lotusland bystanders, politicians, the media etc. reacted to the rioting with comments to the effect that this is not really Vancouver. That has been dealt with (see the final words of my column, "Victorious Boston...")

Many radio talk-shows later, I continued to hear similar clap-trap but then learned from no less authority than the vanquished Canuck team itself that the hooligans were not "true Canuck fans". They may have worn the blue and green and been seen doing rather fan-like things -- booing Boston's surprising finesse and unsurprising roughness, cheering the Canucks at least until the 3rd Boston goal, and then turning sullen en masse -- but, no, they weren't really fans, not "true" ones whatever that means in the luminary lingo of Luongo, manager Mike Gillis etc.

To ice the cake, now one of the do-badders, a well-heeled young fellow from Maple Ridge, has fessed up to having attempted to incinerate a cop car. Nathan Kotylak bravely came forward -- well, after photos of his deed went viral on the internet. He turns out to have been a high-achiever academically and in water polo, though, one must surmise, not actually a "true fan." But, after his very public tearful admission of his very public crime, along comes his dad, Greg, a general surgeon, and - echoes of all this massively accreting denial - asserts: "that night does not reflect his true character."

In conclusion the whole schmozzle has taken us into the far reaches of postmodernism where what is true is no longer what is true. We seem to be sliding down into a muck of Orwellian public discourse where slogans proclaim the exact opposite of reality.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Victorious Boston, Riotous Vancouver

The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup! I think I need to say this because, thanks to the "exuberance" of innumerable poor losers in downtown Vancouver, That hard-earned triumph had to play second fiddle to riot trash talk. In fact, the hooligans accomplished, albeit incidentally to their purposes, the feat of distracting Canadians from the real and durable story Wednesday night - towering Chara hoisting the cup and, giving credit where due, the BC fans inside, staying on and showing genuine appreciation for the guys that had just tromped their idols. But in the media hype the next day this stunning win just didn't compete with burning cop cars in the heart of the world's most self-admiring city.

So I will make a modest correction of this and devote my opening paragraphs to that Bruins' win, commenting as I did to an embittered friend who called this a victory for "thuggery", that, no, it was heart beating ego. It wasn't quite the miracle on ice as when the U.S. Olympics squad upset Russia. But, especially if you lived and listened in British Columbia these past two months of playoff hockey, you would end up almost as dumbfounded as that fabled story way back in 1980. The Cup finals were supposed to be a coronation, a royal ceremony acknowledging that the Canucks like the city they play home games in, are best in every way. Indeed, the faithful frothing fans could not have been more surprised if - say - back in April, Kate Middleton had suddenly dumped Willy at the altar and leapt into the waiting arms of Tim "The Tank" Thomas.

In fact the Bruins earned the victory the old fashioned way. They were not thugs and though they are rough-and-tumble, nothing they did in the whole series to the purportedly faster, more sophisticated Canucks, compares to the vicious high hit, away from the play, that ended both perp Canuck Aaron Rome and victim Bruin Nathan Horton's 2011 finals.It had been a homey's series 'til then - indeed the Canucks' flop at the hostile Boston Garden was one of the battery of excuses that their supporters yanked out to explain the non-sweep. Ah, but back in GM Place, the Crown Princes of Lotusland would have their day. But, by mid way through the second period, badly outplayed and out-coached, Vancouver was a wind-bag with the air leaking out fast.

And, truth be told, how could that surprise very many partisan or not? Even going into the last game, the Bruins had outscored Vancouver 19-8; had the Canucks won, they would have set, by a country kilometre, the record for the worst goals' deficit by any Stanley Cup chumpion (did I misspell that?) ever. Boston, however, kidnly spared them that ignominy.

That's when the real civic ignominy took over by the milling mob outside. Already before the glass and debris was even cleaned up Thursday, Vancouver's spin doctors were predictably spewing out the "bad apple" theory story with many an indignant local adding to this over and over ad nauseum, to the effect that these aren't real Canucks fans, they were just a few bad and heavily marinaded twits; hell, they were probably mostly from Surrey!

Well, yes, in most any show of public violence whether by sports fans or pro-democracy demonstrators from Bangkok to Tunis, it is always a minority who go the furthest and start burning or throwing stuff. But let's not kid ourselves: there a lot of hoodlums on the loose.Of course, they had been stirred up to a fever pitch and milling about for days loudly insisting "it's our turn." The media had been trumpeting this for weeks; being a CBC listener I got a daily overdose locally, provincially and even nationally, as citizens were enjoined to support "Canada's team!" Rather presciently, the owner of the Canucks, Francesco Aquilini, even issued "a call to arms" in cajoling nationwide support for his team before Wednesday's match.

Like spoiled children who really thought it was "their turn", but who got queue-jumped, a rage of denied entitlement swept through that mob, a gigantic throng that had been encouraged to come on down for the party, while fore-notice was also trumpeted that the liquor stores would be closing early - like saying "Hey, stock up ahead!". Many injuries, arrests and millions of property damage resulted as did the predictable indignant proclamations "This is not the real Vancouver!",

And, sure, it was laudable that many locals turned out to help clean up and give with assistance to the police and business owners who got caught in whirlwinds of drink-stupefied disbelief and sore loser-ship.

But please: let's not pretend that this ugliness was just a few drunken idiots some of whom even came prepared to do damage. This, folks, was just as much the real Vancouver as all those mountains and early blossoms its inhabitants are so fond of condescendingly pointing out to the rest of us.