Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This, That and the Other Thing

Google Doodles

We've all seen them - actually over a hundred million people see them every day - and they've reminded us of events, commemorations and celebrations. But what's or rather who's behind those zippy GOOGLE logos that are often enchanting, frequently amusing and on the odd occasion a bit puzzling? The BBC Magazine has an informative item on the team that creates these "doodles" that make browsing fun.

A right click on the everyday - some would say dull - Google Doodle will take you to the BBC posting.

Bon Appetit

And today's Google Doodle reminded us that Julia Child, that icon of the kitchen, was born 100 years ago today.  Back in the 1980s Saturday morning in our house meant A Small City Garden with Thalassa Cruso and The French Chief with Julia Child.  It was a dialect comedians dream - Cruso's stiff-jawed English-accented delivery as she flung plants and dirt around"making things grow" and Child's wheezy plummy tones as she flung food and pots around the kitchen.  But in both cases behind those slightly eccentric personas lurked a love and knowledge of their chosen fields that has yet to be equalled.

One of my favorite Cruso moments was when she discovered a slug in a pot.  'Ha! There's the little brute,'' she  exclaimed as she flicked the invading slug onto her worktable. Cautioning squeamish viewers to avert their eyes, she raised a flowerpot on high. The pot came crashing down, and the slug was no more. WGBH, which produced the program, was inundated with delighted mail from the "unsqeamish".

Child was equally known for her highly unconventional approach to cookery.  I still recall an episode where a hunk of roast beef - I believe it was - and Julia picked it up, wiped it off and looking at the camera, without a flicker of amusement, said: There are certain things your guests need never know about!  And the famous SNL skit with Dan Ackroyd was actually based on an episode in 1978 when Julia and Jacques Pepin were taping an appearance of Tomorrow with Tom Snyder.  About 10 minutes before taping began Julia sliced a chunk out of her finger.  Jacques wrapped the wound with a kitchen towel and Julia asked that nothing be mentioned about the incident on air.  But Snyder couldn't resist and it was brought up including a close up of her bound finger.

The first episode of The French Chef remains a classic - in a brief 28 minutes Julia Child shows us how to make Boeuf Bourguignon along with how to properly brown meat, braise onions and wash mushroom.   And as with anything she does it has a certain improvisational air that belies the artistry behind the facade.

I think I'm going to try this time tried recipe - there was a time when we all, at Julia's urging, served it for a "company" dinner.   Bon Appetit!

"Care Bear" of the Arts

And another 100th birthday was celebrated yesterday in Toronto and the celebrant was very much present.  I don't recall when I first saw Walter Carsen's name on the programme as the donor of a production or facility at the Shaw Festival or the National Ballet of Canada but I recall wondering where this generous sponsor had suddenly appeared from.  Apparently Mr Carsen, a self-made millionaire, had been giving anonymously for many years to various arts organizations but when the recession hit and funding began to dry up he decided to make his name public to encourage other wealthy people to “get off their rear ends” and give.  That sort of statement is characteristic of a man who's philanthropy has extended beyond the arts to include social programmes in his adopted country.

 Walter Carsen, who turned 100 on Tuesday, with Karen Kain, former Prima Ballerina
and now artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada.

Both the Toronto Star and the National Post tell the story of the man behind the philanthropy.  And last evening his friends in the Arts celebrate his birthday along with his son, the renowned opera and theatre director Robert Carsen, and daughter at the Centre he so generous gave to the National Ballet as its home base.  In a lovely touch those same friends set up an e-mail link so that people like myself could send birthday wishes to the man who has, through his gifts, given us so much pleasure.

To Walter Carsen, many thanks for what you have given to the arts and to this country that you love so much.  In Poland for birthdays we use to sing "Sto Lat" which translates as "May you live a hundred years".   You have done that sir, and have made us richer for your being with us this past hundred years.

15 august - 1040: King Duncan I is killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth. The latter succeeds him as King of Scotland.
1057: King Macbeth is killed at the Battle of Lumphanan by the forces of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada.

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1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Wonderful tributes to wonderful people!