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Old 11-07-2018, 04:53 PM   #101
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Re: Trip blog and perhaps more

The Fantasie Impromptu isn't as hard as it sounds. The hardest part is the syncopation between the left and right hand where the right hand plays 7 notes and the left plays 6 in the same amount of time.

I haven't played the black key etude but the revolutionary etude is just slightly harder than the fantasie impromptu though not by much.

The winter wind etude is noticeably more difficult.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:02 PM   #102
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I don't know whether to thank you or curse you, but I've been in a YouTube hole of solo piano music for a couple of days now and I'm not sure how I'll ever make it out. Somehow I just ended up back here


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Old 11-07-2018, 08:52 PM   #103
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I bet thats the same recording that I heard as a youth on the "Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff" CD from DECCA.
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:19 PM   #104
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I love this thread, fine food and now fine music. My bf and I have started listening to a classical station on the radio in the car. I never realised car travel and classical music was such a great combination.
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Old 12-03-2018, 02:34 PM   #105
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I step outside my 400 sq foot rental in to the former French Concession cold. Shanghai is one of the few places in the world in which million dollar apartments can be rented for 60 to 70 dollars a night.

It is 230 in the morning. There is a haze that partially obscured a far off street sweeper, anchored on both sides by rows of London Plane trees. A view that could have came straight from a Jean Pierre Melville movie.

I walk past the wrought iron fences that kept out the rabble from the colonial tudor mansions and normandy cottages.

I see my target. Traces of red neon arc through the smog, Chuan Chuan Xiang MalaTang. The sight of the noodle shop puts a note of relief in me and I take a deep breadth of the air. It is strangely comforting despite its possibly carcinogenic properties.
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Old 12-03-2018, 02:46 PM   #106
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I enter the all night establishment and order a cong you ban mian (scallion oil noodles) with a side of red cooked pork chop. The boss lady is listening to a dirge of a Southern Chinese Opera, the singer lamenting of wanting to accompany her general husband in his losing war effort. A couple in the corner brought their own liters of beer and plastic cups and hopefully plan for the expansion of their small knickknack shop.

My food arrives. If Italy has Aglio Olio, Shanghai has Cong You Ban Mian. The fragrance had already hit me minutes before. There is nothing more comforting than carbs coated in flavored grease. The first taste is a bomb of flavors : caramelized scallions, sweet dark soy, salinity from light soy, and the pleasant supple chew of properly cooked noodles. Like the hazy night air, I throw caution to the wind and inhale.

Last edited by amoeba; 12-03-2018 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 12-03-2018, 03:04 PM   #107
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The exterior of the croissant crackle and shatter. Shards of pastry fall on my lap but I am too ravenous to care. The interior is a honeycomb of airy, barely there wisps that are somehow still strong enough to hold the shape of the croissant without flattening like so many of its inferior bretheren.

Based on taste alone, this croissant could have been just as at home in the 2nd arrondisment or Ginza. Instead, it is here in Shanghai, steps away from the man sitting with a sewing machine on the sidewalk willing to do ala minute $2 patchups, underneath the 2 million dollar 500 sq foot apartment with a multitude of underwear and long johns drying outside the window.
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Old 12-05-2018, 02:01 PM   #108
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I walk by my former elementary school. I had only attended for 2 grades before immigrating to the US.

My grandparent's apartment where the 5 of us lived together is about 2 blocks from the school. I remember one morning setting off to go to school but forgetting my green scarf. Green scarfs were worn by all 1st and 2nd graders before graduating up to the red scarf worn by all upper classmen.

"Grandma, I forgot my bandanna!" i would shout up loud enough for 15 families to hear. Not wanting me to be late, grandma would drop the scarf over the balcony and it would flutter down 30 feet in to my hands.
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Old 12-05-2018, 02:05 PM   #109
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Re: Trip blog and perhaps more

Amoeba,

How are your language skills? Are you identified as a foreigner when you talk?
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Old 12-05-2018, 02:48 PM   #110
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Speaking in the Shanghainese dialect, people think I am local. For example taxi drivers will start to shoot the **** with me from the getgo but people get confused when I either don't know the direction or try to pay with cash.

Speaking Mandarin, maybe 20% of the people will think something is off as my cadence is a bit slower than normal.

Also, I am not up to speed with a lot of idiom/meme developed in the last 20 years so that sometimes gives it away too.

Reading wise, I can watch a foreign movie with Chinese subtitles only and understand most of what is going on though its not an enjoyable experience.
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Old 12-11-2018, 12:30 AM   #111
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My flashback is interrupted by the horn of a motorscooter that is trying to pass me on the sidewalk.

The bell rings for the school, the iron gate opens, and kids orderly files out. There are a few adults waiting outside the gates, mostly grandparents or nannies.

I see 3 kids with their red scarves loosely tied around their neck respectively step in to the passenger seat of an Audi Q7, a Porsche Panamera, and a Bentley Bentayga.
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Old 12-11-2018, 12:47 AM   #112
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My grandmother lived alone in the apartment once shared by the 5 of us. Grandpa passed in the late 1990s.

Even in her 80s, she kept up with the most current of movie stars and pop sensations. She always liked to slip a few words of English when talking to me to show that she was still hip with it and that her memory was still sharp as a tack. Now in her 90s, while her health is robust for a 90 year old, the long term effects of macular degeneration made her almost effectively blind. The large screen tv sits as just a decorative item now, out of place from most of the 70 year old furniture.

Ever the cosmopolitan woman, she enjoyed going out to restaurants and going to plays. The last time I visited, I took her to a Kaiseki restaurant and she seemed to enjoy that.

This time though, her mobility got worse and so going anywhere became a bigger chore than it was worth.

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Old 12-11-2018, 01:22 AM   #113
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This time I decided to cook a meal for her from the airplane bathroom sized kitchen from which she cooked so many meals for me.

Grandma was always accepting of new foods. Last time she had me bring 3 pounds of parmigiano reggiano from the States as she had difficulty finding the real deal.

These days, almost any ingredient can be found in Shanghai.

I set off towards City Super in the IAPM mall on Huaihai road. Huaihai road is arguably Shanghai's glitziest commercial street. The British initially named it Avenue Joffre. The coincidential association with GOT royalty is not lost upon me.

I walk past the giant mural of Medusa, signifying the house of Versace. That lyric in that Migos song finally makes sense.

I walk past the Chopards, Rolex, Jaeger Lecoultre stores and take the escalator down to City Super, the specialty food store.

While the luxury boutiques enroute gave me no pause, I did feel a stirring in my loins in this purveyor/temple to gastronomy. There were 8 different types of Jamon Iberico de Bellota. Center amongst these, the Creme de la Creme, stood a few packages from the house of Joselito. While all Jamon Iberico de Bellota used black pigs that were fed on acorns, Joselito uses only the back leg. Perenially rated the highest in Spanish ham competitions, these packages were emblazoned with the royal seal of Spain. I quickly grab a pack like a dwarf grabs gold.

Knowing grandma's fondness for hard cheeses, I pick up some 1 year manchego, a small wedge of mimolette, and some aged Parmegiano. Grab a grapefruit sized Sembikiya Fuji Apple.

I then pick up 2 baby arm sized Kuruma Ebi and 2 pieces of Australian Wagyu filet. Japanese wagyu was somehow not available.
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Old 12-11-2018, 02:08 AM   #114
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I remember my first year of elementary school. Mostly I remember how terrible the cafeteria food was. You had a bowl of white rice and a bowl of some dish, the most common of which was a wet pseudo stew of grey pork strips and malshapen grey tofu cubes in a grey thin gravy that tasted of slightly salted dish water.

For the first few weeks, I vomited whenever we were served this, which was about half the time. The teachers and cafeteria ladies got fairly angry with me after about the third time.

The cafeteria lady would lecture me about how I was lucky to have this, how farmers in the countryside labored hard for my lunch that their own kids might not even have the luxury to enjoy.

Wanting to avoid getting scolded, on later times, I would be careful to avoid vomiting on the table and rather aim towards my empty bowl. Then after taking a deep breath and preparing myself, in an attempt at evidence destruction, I would commence with the eating of my own upchuck, all the while convincing myself with the logic that everything I am eating, acid, etc.. came from my stomache anyways.

Last edited by amoeba; 12-11-2018 at 02:14 AM.
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Old 12-11-2018, 02:32 AM   #115
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On the third time that I ate my own vomit, my teacher saw me and stopped me. She contacted my parents and from that day onwards I was allowed to go home for lunch.

My parents also started giving me a small allowance for snacks. Maybe a yuan or 2 a week. Snacks were cheap those days. Then again wages were low, maybe a few hundred yuan a month.

One time after school, I wanted to treat a neighborhood girl to You Dun Zi, a fritter made by dipping a ladel filled with shredded daikon and flavored batter in to hot peanut oil.

I wanted to share as some of the other kids didnt get an allowance. I remember her eating the fritter ravenously and that pleased me.

On this particular day though, my mother saw this transpire. I saw her and for some reason my first instinct was that my act of sharing was wrong. Thus I ran with the neighborhood girl through the labrinthyn alleyways.

When my mom finally caught up with us, she was furious. Mostly due to having to run after us though she wasnt too pleased at my sharing either.

"You cant be so generous or trustful" she would tell me. "People are going to take advantage of you."

I dont begrudge her advice. After all, she is a product of the cultural revolution. A time of absolute unimaginable scarcity where one had to fear close friends and relatives. Her mindset enabled survival and without survival there is nothing.
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Old 12-12-2018, 10:58 PM   #116
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What was the You Dun Zi batter flavoured with?

Thanks for sharing some snippets of your life. It's really fascinating getting such an interesting insight.
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Old 12-13-2018, 01:30 AM   #117
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Rexx, mostly just salt and chopped scallions.
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Old 12-15-2018, 01:06 AM   #118
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Re: Trip blog and perhaps more

More Grandma
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Old 12-16-2018, 04:06 AM   #119
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When China first started opening up in the mid 80s, foods that had been formerly just available to party elites and foreign dignitaries started becoming available for purchase to the general public.

Western style bakeries that formerly just accepted foreign currency started accepting RMBs.

One day my mother bicycled back from her job at the chemical plant with a bag from the newly opened up bakery.

Inside were 2 croissants, a baguette, and a wide but thin pat of sweet, unsalted butter. The whole package cost her 3 or 4 days of wages.

The baguette was divvied up equally. Dad then cut the butter in to small triangles and would place a small triangle on to each piece of baguette. My first taste of butter was glorious. It was so good that I would take chopsticks and sneak little extra triangles of butter while the adults were deciding how to serve the croissants. I am sure they saw me but didnt say anything.

It was decided then decided that grandpa, grandma, and I would each have 1/2 a croissant while my mom and dad would split a half and get 1/4 each.

If the baguette was good, the crisp exterior, airy yet buttery interior of the croissant was transcendent. Bringing the morsel up to my mouth, I can smell the sweet dairy aroma of the buttery crust, the ever so slight warm comforting smell of toasty yeast.

The flaking crust yielded to airy interior which soon melted away. And then it was gone, leaving a thin film of slick butteryness on one's lips and wanting in one's heart.
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Old 12-17-2018, 10:23 PM   #120
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Re: Trip blog and perhaps more

Thank you for sharing your memories so beautifully.

Please keep writing and Iíll keep reading.
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Old 12-18-2018, 03:17 AM   #121
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Thanks for the support, Josie.
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Old 12-18-2018, 03:36 AM   #122
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My father had already been in the US for 6 months before my mother and I were to join him. The day we left, we were sent off by grandpa, grandma, my aunt on my mom's side, my uncle (her husband), and my cousin (their son). Explaining family relations is so much more difficult in English. In Chinese, in 2 syllables, the cousin's gender, whether he/she is older than the speaker, and which side of the family he/she is from can be completely expressed. In English, its an entire paragraph which completely ruins the pacing of a story.

On that particular day in 1990, while all 7 of us rode in a rented van to the airport, my cousin suddenly became upset. "Why does amoeba get to go to America but I don't?" he asked indignantly. The adults couldnt quite answer this question. I was thinking "what, you think I am going on a vacation? I gotta learn a whole new language, leave behind my friends and leave behind all my toys, most of which I gave to you."

Farewells were said and tears were dropped as mom and I and our four suitcases packed with everything for our new life went into the big metal bird. There had to be lots of last minute readjustments and item removals to get below the weight limit.
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Old 01-04-2019, 12:59 AM   #123
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On the leg from Shanghai to Tokyo, I was kind of excited to get to pick my drink of choice. Over the phone a few weeks prior, my dad told me to go for the OJ as that was the value pick. Not me though, give me Coca Cola, America, **** yeah!!

Years back, when soda first became available in China in the mid 80s, they were rarely available in stores. Sometimes they were buyable but at unaffordable prices. During these years, work departments would hand out bottles as Chinese New Years bonuses. You would often see people bring 1 liter of Coke and 1 liter of Sprite as gifts when invited to dinner.

The other American product that was popular for gift giving was Cheerios. There was regular Cheerios and a frosted version. Unfortunately, there were no instructions on the box with regards to combining with milk so the first time we ate it dry and felt that it was terribly dry.

Thinking to myself that this is dry and coke is wet, and they are,both American, I poured some coke in to my bowl of Cheerios. The resultant pop rock like fizzing gave away my deed to the adults and I had to consume my first terrible culinary concoction.
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Old 01-23-2019, 01:13 AM   #124
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Domenico Scarlatti is a composer often overlooked by casual classical music listeners. Although having composed a number of operas, Scarlatti is mostly known for his keyboard compositions, many of which transcribes perfectly to guitar.

Here's some of his most famous Sonatas performed by the great Horowitz



Here is the K380 Sonata in E on guitar performed by the great Australian guitarist John Williams

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