Posted in Uncategorized on April 22nd, 2014 by byronkho

Ridiculous pairing: some amazing urban dance to Disclosure’s future garage number, Latch… then some slow burn romance in motion to Sam Smith’s solo acoustic version. Watching the last half makes me feel like a voyeur – this dance conversation they’re having on camera… it’s totally for them, not for us. Snaps for the choreo.

And then Sia. Song is powerful and the dance, just great.

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Supposed to be a post about classical music done to twerking.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22nd, 2014 by byronkho

Two versions.
Dudamel & the Stuttgart SO: 1.5 million views in 3 years.
von Karajan & Vienna Phil: 1.5 million views in SIX DAYS!

Their marketing secret? Butts. Diplo does Dvorak!

Twerking video WAS HERE. But UMG shut it down.

(Whoever did makeup for them just RUINED Waveya. They do look like cheap streetwalkers when they normally, really, don’t.)

Matambre a la Pizza.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16th, 2014 by byronkho

Matambre a la Pizza: Made in Argentina, this dish involves tenderizing a flank steak in milk overnight, grilling it to a perfect medium, and then topping it with San Marzano sauce, mozzarella cheese, Italian tomatoes, roasted red peppers, fresh basil and flecks of soppressata. Then bake. ITS STEAK PIZZA.


Opera salaries.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 8th, 2014 by byronkho

So the NY Times says that Met Opera CHORUS members earned an average of $200k last season. And here I am, thinking that they were earning $100k annually, and that number was already well above most other big city opera companies. Is Anna Netrebko standing in for all these people, or are they actually earning that much more than at any other opera company, like, anywhere? Is their union that ridiculously effective? What’s going on over there?? Also, while we are talking about ridiculous salaries, can I get $100,000 for a non-singing role onstage? Perhaps the flagbearer guy in that pic from La Boheme.

(Really, correct me if I’m being an ignorant opera-buffa-type buffoon.)

Operatic Drama Swells in Labor Talks at the Met

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Russian folk dirges in the street.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28th, 2014 by byronkho

Wish I’d been there for this last night at the Arden! There’s a fire scene towards the end of the Chekhov play Three Sisters and lo! the fire alarm coincidentally goes off in the middle of it, TWO times. (Phantom of the Arden, no need to be so heavyhanded with the dramatic underlining.) So tromp tromp tromp to the street and might as well finish the rest of the show right there on the sidewalk. So here they are singing an actual Russian folk tune that appears in the show. Of course for Russians, a song basically saying “heyyyyy girl” STILL sounds like a funeral dirge.

“A snow whirl is rushing along the street
and through the snow whirl there goes a beautiful girl.
You, stand still, please stand still, my beautiful girl,
my joy, please allow me to take a look at you!”

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Best version of Let It Go.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 13th, 2014 by byronkho

Everyone loves Idina, but this is my vote for best version of Let It Go. Really. Alex Boye and the One Voice Children’s Choir, featuring Lexi Walker. (Sorry, Jimmy Fallon!) For some reason, I can’t stand Idina in this role! Everything else she does is magic, but Frozen… bah.

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Aleister Crowley, Ian Fleming and Rudolf Hess?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 8th, 2014 by byronkho

Aleister Crowley, the father of modern occultism, is a fascinating creature. Born into an evangelical family, he broke off to become a follower of Hinduism, Buddhism and several esoteric religions and cults. He was a mountain climber, a bisexual, a magician, a novelist; he was also an avid experimenter with recreational drugs. Apparently, his spicy curries were something of a party favorite – they were not only tasty, but usually laced with a whole slew of psychoactive drugs. Much of his fame came from his connection with mysticism. He joined the Order of the Golden Dawn early on, but moved on when his lifestyle became too repellent for its other followers, including poet William Butler Yeats. While in Cairo in 1904, he and his wife Rose practiced their own brand of mysticism which ended up with Crowley writing “The Book of the Law” – the “Bible” for his new religion, Thelema. He would practice rituals, lecture and evangelize various forms of his religion for the rest of his life. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, was a follower of Thelema for a time, and it is arguable that many of the rituals in Scientology were heavily influenced by Crowley’s work. His influence was heavy: contemporary press called him “the wickedest man in the world”, and to this day, Crowley and his work are lauded by followers of the occult.

Crowley may also have been an agent for British intelligence, and possibly other nations as well. It was not unlikely: many of the powerful politicians of that era were sympathetic to occultism – Winston Churchill himself was a Freemason and was initiated into the Albion Lodge of the Ancient Order of Druids at Blenheim Palace, and Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin, the Duke of Kent, is still the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England – and the intelligence agencies of Britain, Russia and Germany had considered using occult experts to infiltrate occult communities that had people of importance. In any case, Crowley seems to have likely been recruited during his time at Cambridge. Directly after graduation, he was able to make fortuitous trips through Russia, China and India, where he would have been well able to report on Bolshevik progress and opium smuggling throughout Asia. While in the United States in 1915, he was heavily involved in pro-German propaganda, having been hired by Nazi agent George Sylvester Viereck to help encourage US neutrality. For his pains, he was derided as a traitor to Britain. However, he actually was a British double agent the whole time. His paymasters had ordered him to infiltrate German propaganda machines in the United States and subvert their efforts. This he did, by writing overblown and cartoony editorials that succeeded in making the pro-German lobby appear a ridiculous farce. It has been argued that his attempt to persuade the Germany Navy to bomb the Lusitania was part of this plan; the outrage, they hoped, would force the United States into the war as a British ally. His employment by the German security services did not help him when he moved to France in the late 1920s. Many high-level politicians and military officers moved in occult circles in France, and the French authorities feared Crowley’s influence. They deported him.

His next posting was Berlin in 1930. Through his occult connections, he became great friends with the Berlin far left; many biographers suggest that he was spying on the Communist movement in Germany, as he was extraordinarily well placed to do so. This speculation goes further: Crowley may have met high-level Nazi politician Rudolf Hess and/or helped arrange Hess’s escape/defection to Scotland in 1941. Rudolf Hess, during his time in the German government, had been a rigorous supporter of mysticism, as were Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. They had all spent an inordinate amount of resources into establishing a new German mystic tradition. One of their efforts was the SS-sponsored expedition to Tibet in 1938. Our own Academy of Natural Sciences here in Philadelphia even contributed $1,000! Supposedly for scientific knowledge, it actually had completely different goals. Goebbels, in a secret warning to German newspapers in 1940, said that “the chief task of the Tibet expedition [was] of a political and military nature [and] had not so much to with the solution of scientific questions.” They were not to publish anything about that, of course, and no details were provided. The first reason was important enough: they were to ascertain Tibet’s fitness for a staging ground for assaults against the British in India. Their second goal, however, was to verify that pure-blooded Aryans had settled in Tibet, to “prove” Himmler’s Nazi racial theory. In any case, Hess, Hitler and Himmler regularly consulted with mystics and clairvoyants, and there was an extremely high possibility that Crowley had come into contact with Hess during his time there. In 1941, a few days after Hess’s defection and during a time when Hitler was too involved in war to be enthusiastic about mysticism, Joseph Goebbels issued “an order against occultism, clairvoyancy, etc.” and privately mused that “this obscure rubbish will now be eliminated once and for all. The miracle men, Hess’s darlings, will now be put under lock and key.”

Crowley’s expertise was duly noted by James Bond creator Ian Fleming, then a lieutenant commander in Naval Intelligence and one of Hess’s interrogators. In a letter to Fleming, Crowley writes: “If it is true that Herr Hess is much influenced by astrology and Magick, my services might be of use to the Department in case he should not be willing to do what you wish.” In a note to his superior, Rear Admiral John Godfrey, Fleming asked “that Crowley should be allowed to interview Hess about the role of the occult in Nazism.” Higher-ups eventually put the kibosh on this plan, fearing that Crowley wasn’t completely loyal and may learn things he shouldn’t from Hess. That didn’t mean they didn’t consult other mystics. Rudolf Hess spoke at length on occult topics while being interrogated, and deciphering his ruminations required the work of experts familiar with those areas.

Crowley eventually died in 1947 of chronic bronchitis aggravated by pleurisy and myocardial degeneration. He was cremated in Brighton and his ashes were sent to his long-time disciple Karl Germer, who buried them in his garden in Hampton, NJ.

[Hess's end was curious. Just prior to his supposed suicide in 1987, there was public speculation that Mikhail Gorbachev might reverse the Soviet Union's veto on any possiblity of Hess's release from Spandau Prison, where he was the only prisoner. The veto had also dictated an unusual regime for Hess: apparently, he was forced to wash his hands in a toilet bowl. A document released by Scotland Yard under the UK Freedom of Information Act in September of 2013 confirmed that a detective chief superintendent at Scotland Yard had received reports from a former Special Air Service operative that Rudolf Hess had been murdered in prison by two British agents, and that they should not pursue any investigations into the death. Medical reports had claimed that he was too infirm and crippled with arthritis to commit suicide (he was 93, after all). It would have been interesting to see exactly why governments feared what he might say.]

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Hot Horses.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 6th, 2014 by byronkho

In 2011, [President] Berdimuhamedow [of Turkmenistan] decreed that the nation would host an annual beauty contest for horses. [Oh, the jokes! Oh, the humanity!]

Guy Fawkes.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 5th, 2013 by byronkho

He was born Guy Fawkes in 1570. In 1603, while fighting the Protestant Dutch on behalf of Catholic Spain in the Eighty Years War, he decided to change his name to Guido.

Imaginary dinner tonite, unfortunately.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28th, 2013 by byronkho

Not getting paid to rep the new restaurant in what was formerly Tweed. My fault for looking at their menu while hungry (now that I come to think of it, it’s actually Kelly’s fault). So if I were eating dinner there right now, it’d be this. I’m SO hungry.

Palate opener: spicy Maple-Bacon peanuts and crispy pig ears; paired with Grapes Of Wrath (Woodford Reserve, muddled grapefruit and house brandied grapes, pamplemousse liqueur, aromatic bitters). Whet the appetite: roasted bone marrow with red onion jam, and a dry aged beef carpaccio with violet mustard; paired with Red River Maple (knob creek rye, sweet & dry vermouth, maple simple syrup, black walnut bitters, orange peel). Primi: half chilled lobster and fried Ipswich clams with lemon aioli, served with a crudo of fluke prepared with pine nuts, sea bean, breakfast radish and curry oil; paired with Hitachino White beer. Secondi: Bucatini pasta with peekytoe crab, sweet & hot peppers, garlic, parsley, pecorino romano; paired with a 2009 Columbia Riesling. Dessert: Mason jar vanilla cheesecake with balsamic-rhubarb jam; paired with a Salinas Valley (reposado, aperol, grapefruit, cinnamon syrup,lime, cinnamon-sugar rim).