Saturday, February 27, 2021

Voice and Weight


Pavarotti had a unique voice. I've listened to  many of the other famous opera male singers, and I have no doubt about that. His face was also rather special: expressive and  full of charm. He was a ...huge person with a corresponding huge personality.


Pavarotti in Nessum Dorma (Turandot)

In an interview with Mike Wallace  for the '60 minutes' program, he was asked about his...obesity. Why was he fat?

People were furious, and rightly so. It was rude, very rude of the journalist to focus on Luciano's physical appearance, rather than on his talent and career.  What is it with people that they get so low!

Anyway, there's this belief about opera singers, that the fatter you are, the better the voice. According to experts, there's no medical, physical, or musical reason for singers to be fat.

The thing is, these  singers know they are loved and popular mainly for their voices , so, they allow themselves to worry less about their bodies.  Most of them, both males and females are overweight. After all, opera singing is a tough,  high-stress , lonely  profession, and so, eating becomes a form of compensation.

Diets might ruin the voice. Doctors don't quite agree to this. If done carefully , diet might help with both, losing weight and preserving the voice. And yet, Maria Callas, the famous greek opera singer, lost weight , lost her voice, and died prematurely (at 53). Such a  tragic loss to opera lovers!

                          spanish opera singer Monserrat Caballe

Nowadays, the world worships 'thin' even on the opera stage. Opera singers are politely requested to deal with their weight if they want a job and good roles. I remember reading about the soprano Deborah Voigt of the London Opera. She was sacked because she couldn't fit in the dress. She then underwent bypass surgery, and things changed for her. 

Opera singers, especially the women among them, get quite a lot of 'fat shaming' from critics. Expressions such as " chubby bundle of puppy fat", "unsightful, unappealing" are an example of such shaming.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Now You're Talking...


According to the Media, scientists will be working on getting One vaccine covering all the corona  viruses (flu, sars, mers, covid-19 ).  Sounds good!

Perhaps,  they'll also try to reach the goal of One dose instead of two; One bottle for one dose (not 6 doses out of one little bottle); Vaccination - Once in five years , not once a year or twice a year (the present vaccine for covid-19, is valid for half a year only, and then what? There's talk about a third dose in summer...) 

Now the storage issue, Pfeizer has just announced  -15 degreeC freezing temperature will be enough, no need for -70 degree. Wow! What happened, that's a huge gap! Difficulty with logistics, I presume, fear of losing customers to Moderna, Astra Zeneca, and others...

"Something is rotten in the land of  Science" (  to paraphrase Hamlet's saying on Denmark).

Scientists are only secondary players; they are in the hands of those who fund the research - usually the pharmacy companies -  and play by their rules.  In fact,  they are called  'pharmaceutical scientists'. They spend most of the time in a laboratory, performing tasks related to the research, development, and testing of pharmaceutical drugs.

The pharma companies are good at manipulating and making us dependent on them. The flu vaccine, for example, does not prevent one from getting the flu; it just makes the flu milder, if, and  when one gets it. That's what they promise.  So, we live on promises, and we obediently go for the yearly jab.

Worth mentioning - the mask that we are supposed to wear now for covid-19 is quite effective against the flu virus; almost no cases of flu this year!  Unbelievable!   I probably won't give up the mask ( at least during winter) even if we'll be allowed to do so.

As for covid-19, they tell us the same story : the vaccine causes the illness to be  lighter, and easier to handle.  However, this time - urgency times - in order to encourage people to come and get the vaccine (vaccination open here to all ages), they've  added something of which they are not entirely sure about, namely, that it also prevents spreading of the virus , helps achieving herd immunity, and puts an end to the pandemic.

We're having general elections next month, and , sadly, corona's part of the campaign of all politicians. It looks rather ugly with lots of fake news and disinformation.  Doctors and top Health Ministry officials, are also IN;  after they get the budgets they want for their hospitals, they'll say whatever one wishes them to say. 

Restrictions are being lifted , and there's worry about the outcome. A rise in the number of corona cases is expected by the end of the month.  May God help us!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Regards from Nessie


Sometimes, I  remember a place not because of its beauty,  history,  importance, but because of some triviality which at that particular time  of visit, wasn't much of a triviality to me.   
Austria's now in the news with a covid-19  serious outbreak in Tirol (region of many ski resorts), and a strict lockdown. It has reminded me of such a triviality.

Who hasn't heard of Lock Ness, the lake and the monster  of Scotland ? The story is been going on for decades. In April 2009 (some 20 years after my visit there), I  wrote a post  on it including the theories about  the monster (fondly referred to as Nessie) and my humble opinion about the whole thing. (Yes, would you believe it, I had an opinion on something explored by some great minds. Cheeky me!).


                                                               lake  Lock Ness

After spending some time at the lake, visiting the old Urquhart castle  on its bank, and watching a Scotsman playing bagpipe, I headed  to the bus station for Inverness (the town capital of the area, located at about 8 miles from the lake). 

At the station, I met an  Austrian couple that told me  they had  missed the last bus and were about to try and get a lift. We exchanged a few pleasantries (me trying to use on them my  german 'for beginners'), and then I said I would join them in the effort to stop a car.  I positioned myself a few steps away from them and raised my hand. 


Urquhart castle

After a minute or two, I thought there was  something behind me. I turned  to see what it was (nothing, apparently); when I  turned my head back, I couldn't believe my eyes. No austrian couple. Vanished. A car had probably stopped, they got in quickly without thinking of me or calling me. I was left alone, and felt rather humiliated.

                                Scotsman playing bagpipe

When I got back to my hotel room in Inverness, I said to myself,  "Oh,well, Austria, the birthplace of Hitler. What can you expect of these people. Bad, antisemitic stuff,  no manners, no kindness ." I knew deep inside me that it was an unfair, untrue generalization, but at that time I needed a bit of consolation, and I got it.

Anyway, since then, whenever Lock Ness or Inverness are mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is my 'desertion' by the  Austrians, not the beauty and mystery of the area.

 Nessie - humoristic card bought at Inverness

Saturday, February 6, 2021

South Africa


The daily mention in the media of the south-African variant of covid-19, sent me back to my one and only visit to South-Africa in the eighties.

It was not  a planned trip. It so happened that I took upon myself to accompany an old lady acquaintance to her daughter and family, temporarily stationed there in a small town. I stayed with them  about a week , and then decided to see a few places on my own.

At that time,  Apartheid was in its  last stages, but still present. It's one thing to read and hear about it, and another thing to see it with your eyes and feel it on your body. The climax was one day, in Johannesburg, when   I turned to a black passerby to ask her how to get to a certain place. Suddenly, we were surrounded by several young white men shouting at us, and spitting....on me. I was  shocked. The black lady suggested that we part and go separate ways as I was in danger because of my talking to her. 

The above incident has shattered me, and ruined my visit.  I believe in God and in His Creation . God gave the african continent to the black people. That's a fact. All  the others may visit ,even settle there if they so wish, but not behave like they own the place, certainly not practicing apartheid.

Anyway, I managed to visit  a few places and experience some specific events: Capetown with its two main landmarks:  Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope, Port Elizabeth with  its Dolphinarium and Horse Memorial,  Durban's indian market, the Golden mine museum with a mining underground tour near Johannesburg, a 'safari' bus  tour which enabled us to watch wild animals through the bus window only, tribal dances.

Here are some of the photos: 

                                  horse memorial (Port Elizabeth) -  my favorite photo
                                                  dolphinarium (Port Elizabeth)

                                                    dolphin show (Port Elizabeth)

                                 with participants  at a bowling tournament (Port El.)

                                  Cape Town - near the terminal

                                   Table Mountain Nature Reserve

                                 Table Mountain - view of the ocean

                                  the ocean (my better side - I look taller lol)

Cape of Good Hope ; it was windy up there.

                                                       baby lion

                                  wild animals seen through the bus window

                                                              tribal dance

                                                                Zulu beauty