Lisboa X

Did I show you my vacation snaps?

Just in case you thought I had finished boring you with my vacation pictures I should warn you that I just downloaded them from the iPhone. There are still hundreds to delight you with – it will be like your Uncle Fred and Aunt Millie’s snaps of their trip to Florida that you and the family so looked forward to every year.Rolling-eyes-emoticon-gif1

Now I know from sampling my friend Maria’s mother’s cooking a few times back in the 1980s that cod was a mainstay of everyday Portuguese cuisine but I had no idea that sardines play as important a role. They are a staple on the menu of most Portuguese restaurants.  Laurent had delicious grilled sardines at Adega de Bélem, a wonderful local eatery near the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (I opted for the best lamb stew I have ever tasted). They of course were not what we think of as sardines in North America – each was about eight inches long, plumpish and grilled to perfection.

However fear not, if your preference is for the canned variety there is a group of stores that specialize in canned fish from the coasts of Portugal.  And one of them is devoted exclusively to the sardine:  O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa (The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines).


Situated in Praça Rossio the shop is obviously aimed at tourists – but guess what we were??? well duh! – and in more than one comment it has been referred to as the Disneyland of canned sardines.  And when I saw the windows Disney was the first thing that popped into mind.  What’s so special about can of sardines from OMFSP? Well to be honest it’s  just that: a tin of sardines in oil.  But… BUT the tin is specially designed and year specific. The year appears on the top of the tin with information about something important that happened and the names of two or three people who were born in that year. When you buy several tins they give you little paper bags in the form of envelopes so, if you were so moved, you can send a tin to a loved one.

Yes it’s a big marketing scheme but we fell for it – hook, Ferris Wheel, Merry-go-round, line, fairground calliope, friendly costumed staff, and sinker.  As I said – hey we’re tourists!  And we’re helping some poor Portuguese sardine fisherman, okay? said he perhaps a touch to defensively!

Yes we fell for the slick marketing that is the Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines!


Further alone in the high-end shopping district of Chiado a very trendy shop featured these ceramic sardines in their main window.


A little research revealed that they are by the Bordallo Pinheiro ceramic studio.  Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro was a famous caricaturist, watercolourist, humourist, and ceramic artist in the 1800s.  The panels, pots, table centerpieces, fountain basins, pitchers, plates et al created in his faience factory in Caldas da Rainha became highly prized.  The company still produces high end ceramics for home decorating and entertaining – and these sardines!


These, to say the least, unusual souvenirs of Lisbon have been created in the satirical spirit of Bordallo Pinheiro’s caricatures of yore.  The original design from the 19th century has been adapted to highlight the June festival when Lisbon celebrates it’s Patron Saints – and sardines – with a wide range of carryings-on.

We didn’t buy one but if this one had been around I would have been sorely tempted.  Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately for our Visa card – Mouraria’s Door was sold out however a left click on the photo will take you to all the other Sardinha de Lisboa that are available.


On this day in 1837: The Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern, the only battle of the Upper Canada Rebellion, takes place in Toronto, where the rebels are quickly defeated.

The Season is for Sharing

And I just had to share this from She Who Seeks in Alberta.  Unfortunately she doesn’t have a reblog feature so I’ll just do it as a photo link.   A left click on Santa will take you to a little gem from Air New Zealand.


And you will notice that there are no delegates from Canada – just saying.

Thanks Debra – needed a bit of a gentle laugh today and you provided it.

On this day in 1912: the Nefertiti Bust is discovered.

Mercoledi Musicale


Also: brainworm, sticky music, stuck song syndrome, Involuntary Musical Imagery (IMI)
A piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing.  Possibly a calque from the German Ohrwurm. The earliest known usage is in Desmond Bagley’s 1978 novel Flyaway.

die-tote-stadtAs I was having my coffee this morning the first piece that they played on CBC, during the brief few hours they now devote to classical music, was one of my favourite  ear worms* and it sent me into a rage.  Italian violinist Nicola Benedetti played an arrangement of Marietta’s Lied from Erich Wolfgang Korngold‘s Die tote Stadt and frankly murdered the piece!  In what was obviously an attempt to make it sound melancholy and soulful she took it so slow that it almost ground to a halt.  What is meant to be a lyric outpouring for lost love came out as a disjointed funeral dirge.  I immediately ran to listen to several other versions, though I was not desperate enough to listen to Renee Fleming’s maudlin distortion, including one of my favourite modern versions (modern? well 1983 but still modern enough).  I have posted it before but as it then became stuck in my head for the rest of the day I decided to post it once again.

At this stage of her career Karen Armstrong may not have had the most lyric voice in the world but she was  Marie/Marietta for an entire generation in Europe and here she is partnered by the remarkable Siegfried Jerusalem.  Their chemistry matches the almost raw longing in Korngold’s music.

Glück, das mir verblieb,

Marietta (taking the lute from the table begins to play):
Joy, that near to me remains,
Come to me, my true love.
Night sinks into the grove
You are my light and day.
Anxiously beats heart on heart
Hope itself soars heavenward.

How true, a sad song.

The song of true love,
that must die.
I know the song.

I heard it often in younger,
in better days.
It has yet another verse—
Do I know it still?

Though sorrow becomes dark,
Come to me, my true love.

Marietta (joins him):
Lean (to me) your pale face
Death will not separate us.
If you must leave me one day,
Believe, there is an afterlife.

And now that I’ve passed my ear worm on perhaps I can stop humming and whistling it and driving poor Laurent and the HFH crazy.

*I once listened to a podcast of 15 versions of it on a four hours train ride from Bologna to Rome.  Talk about your bugger for punishment.

On this day in 1766: in London, auctioneer James Christie holds his first sale.

Lisboa IX

From the Mid-Atlantic – who knew?

I originally started this post on the flight from Lisbon to Toronto and for some reason – probably a stupid mid-air mistake with my fingers and the on-screen keyboard it appeared and then disappeared.  Some people saw it, and at least one person commented so to them I apologize for the reposting but here goes again with one additional photo.

So here we are in the middle of the air and the Atlantic and miracle of miracles I’m posting pictures. I can’t use the Bluetooth keyboard so mistakes are many and the reactions from WordPress are wonderous to behold.

This group of hand puppets at the Museu da Marioneta are from a German submarine that was captured during the Second World War.  Laurent felt they had a Threepenny Opera look to them.  I love the little bull dog but don’t think I would be tempted to pet him.

A bit of liturgical bling for those special Sunday’s when only cloth of gold will do.  A vestment set from the treasury at Sao Roque.

As glorious as it’s buildings and their garden setting the Gulbenkian Museum is like any private collection – it has many works of great artistic value and some that are in questionable taste.  Not sure this little settee would fit ino the living room but I’d definitely have the fabric changed.

This statue of Saint Deacon (?) reminded me of oh so many salacious limericks!  Is it me or is the good Saint just too fey for words?


This jungle gym in Estrela Park looks like fun but you have to wonder how safe it is:  they’ve posted the emergency number right beside it!!!!


There are several shops where you can buy cans of sardines with your birth year on them. Now I’m not sure why you’d do that but….??? I did wonder if it was also the year they were canned?


I’m not sure if this is Saint Catherine of Sienna but whoever she is Justine, The Story of O, and 50 Shades of Grey appear to have been amongst her reading material.


Though the post shows December 4th I’ve left the “On this day” at it’s original 30th of November historical fact.

On this day in 1803: In New Orleans, Spanish representatives officially transfer the Louisiana Territory to a French representative. Just 20 days later, France transfers the same land to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase.

Lunedi Lunacy

Things my brother taught me!

Spike Jones

DMN ARCHIVESThey say (I know who is this “they”?) that to be able to spoof something successfully you have to know the subject pretty damned well.  Spike Jones and His City Slickers were living proof of that.   Their musical send ups of everything from the classics to rock were masterpieces of parody, slapstick comedy, theatre of the absurd, and great music making.  And they did it all on live television in the 1950s.  Amongst the performers who played with the City Slickers were Mickey Katz, Doodles Weaver, Jim Bacchus, trumpet great George Rock, Jerry Colonna, Billy Barty and a who’s who of jazz and big band musicians.  And they knew their stuff pretty damned well!

Keep in mind as you watch these excerpts that this is live not edited film.

The intro with Jim Bacchus (Mr Magoo, Thurston Howell III) is a bit long but worth it when you get to the musical numbers.  And George Rock forsakes the trumpet to sing a Christmas song.

It wasn’t enough to be able to play an instrument with Jones, you had to be able to move, sing, dance and do shtick.  And I love the raised eyebrows between the vocalist and Jones during the intro to “I’m forever blowing bubbles!”

One of the numbers that brought Jones and his band into the spotlight was this little piece of war time propaganda!

I’m dedicating this little post to my brother Albert, who was the one who introduced me to Spike Jones.  He and a group of his friends put together a neighbourhood knock off band that emulated Jones and his boys.  My brother played the banjo with a vengeance and beat a mean rhythm on a tin wash tub and scrub board.

On this day in 1910: Modern neon lighting is first demonstrated by Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show.