Not so Hazy and Not so Lazy
Maybe it’s because we have our first bona-fide day where you could go out without a jacket. Maybe it’s because the sun truly doesn’t set until nearly around 8:30. Maybe it’s because Granville Market is brimming over with sweet local strawberries, most of the spot prawns and asparagus are past, and the heirloom tomatoes are starting to appear. All of the above is contributing to a feeling that we have finally passed into the summer season.
For me, being between contracts/jobs and with some time on my hands, it means that I can enjoy some of this, although I’m certainly not spending my days at the beach. Next week, being the Canada Day and Fourth of July holiday week, both Pam and I are going to get a little summer break, with a trip to Whistler with my brother and his family. We’ve been looking forward to that for a long time.
Planning for the Autumn Demise of Classical Radio in Vancouver
Summer is also the time when a few things end. This morning was the last time that Tom Allen would do his ‘cage match’, a whimsical feature of ‘Music and Company’ where he would pit one piece of music against another and call for a vote. This week’s final cage match theme was: ‘With a bang or a whimper’, since it will be the last one of these bits of fun…forever. Representing an ending with a bang was Chabrier’s ‘Ah Hurrah’ from the Opera, Le Roi Malgre Lui. The opponent (representing a ‘whimper’ or soft ending) was the last movement from Haydn’s clever Symphony No. 45, ‘The Farewell Symphony’ (where one by one, the musicians leave the stage until there are only 2 first violins left to end the piece, a cleverly choreographed hint to Haydn’s patron, the Prince Nikolaus EsterhÃ¡zy that his court musicians as well as his composer were all homesick and wanted him to close up the summer palace so everyone could return home to Eisenstadt).
It was a typical cage match; one part joke, one part serious, one part drama. Like just about everything Tom Allen does on the program, it makes one think a little, and sets up the day. I will sorely miss this along with some of his other regular features. Probably my favourite comes at about 6:30 AM: This Day in… which observes some event in history that shares today’s date. Today’s was the first solo circumnavigation of the globe in a boat by Joshua Slocum, a Nova Scotian seaman who finished the trip that he had begun in Boston three years earlier in 1895 on today’s date. Like so many other ‘This Day In…‘s, I didn’t know about this event, and felt the joy I often do from gaining a bit of knowledge just as I’m starting the day.
Without going off on another rant about the stupidity and wrongness of the CBC getting rid of the best classical music morning program in the world, I’ve finally accepted the inevitable and made plans. A couple of weeks ago I picked up (on sale) a curious new device at London Drugs: a BLIK Internet Clock Radio. It’s a standard-looking radio (unfortunately with inferior speakers to the Bose Wave Radio that we’ve been using for the last 10 years or so) that ‘tunes’ to a streaming radio station on the Internet rather than local FM (although you can do that, if the Internet is down). I’ve tested it, and while there is about a 20-second delay while the station ‘resolves’ to the URL you’ve chosen, it will indeed allow you to awaken to over 9,000 different stations all over the world (although in practice the number one would want to tune to is a small fraction of that number). I was able to set the presets to the BBC’s Radio 3 (which I knew well from my days as a Grad Student), the local CBC Radio 1, NPR in Boston, as well as the national NPR station. I’ll look for some other stations, as there are 8 preset slots. As you can imagine, retrieving and sifting through 9,000 stations in a tree-like menu using a terrible LED screen is a bit of a challenge (oh, if only Apple would make one of these- I guess they do, it’s called a Mac Mini with mouse, keyboard, speakers and a small flat-screen monitor running a browser with some preset streaming radio station bookmarks, but even something like that is too large for a night-table). Most of these stations have us waking up at 9:00 AM Eastern on North America, or
68(!) hours ahead in the UK. I fear that at noon 2:00 in the afternoon in London we may not get a completely morning-friendly classical music feed, so I’ll have to search further until I find a new place to tune to. Both Pam and I hope that we don’t have to resort to NPR, which always put me in a bad mood in the morning, particularly now that it has moved so much farther to the Right politically than it used to be (hearing the appalling Cokie Roberts sneer at the Democrats every Monday morning got my blood boiling early in the week — funny, but that was my word, but apparently it’s still what she is doing, defending Dick Cheney on the TV Program ‘This Week’).
While they are getting rid of Classical Music on Radio 2, I do remember the somewhat encouraging news that the CBC said that they were going to add a streaming classical music channel on the Internet. I doubt if it will have the incomparable Tom Allen on it, but at least there will be a Canadian alternative for our move from FM Radio to almost exclusively Internet radio from Labour Day on.