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It was on April 3 and it was a great day, well worth taking the time off. There were several fascinating talks, but the two pieces which gripped me by the throat and held me were The DC Youth Poetry Slam Team and singer-songwriter Be Steadwell. Steadwell's song had me in tears, and I do not cry easily at theater.

I wish these had been up sooner. More will be added, probably in separate posts.
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I've been thinking some more about the fictional characters on whom I've had crushes. Phileas Fogg and Sherlock Holmes vied with D'Artagnan and Donny Osmond in my pre-teen fantasy life.

There's one very interesting one to me, though, partially because it's an adult "crush" and partially because the character was neither a real person nor particularly literary and that's Daniel Jackson of Stargate and its later iteration, Stargate SG-1. He even, eventually, made it to the Pegasus Galaxy.

I saw the original movie on its opening weekend with my sister down in Orlando, FL. Sis didn't enjoy the film as much as I did. For her, it was more a "two hours off the tour" movie than a cool mix of old serial sci-fi and archaeology by way of Caesar's Palace. (Seriously, some of those costumes would make Liberace go "It's a little much, don't you think?")

Not only did I come out of the theater with a smile on my face, I'd fallen for Daniel Jackson. He exchanged gifts with the natives, in his case a 5th Avenue candy bar that he'd had in his pack. Unlike the TV series (most of the time), there was a real effort to make the linguistic side of his knowledge important, and, as someone who's been known to translate languages I don't know, I found that thrilling. He taught the natives how to read the inscriptions around them. He died. He resurrected and figured out another way to destroy Ra without destroying the people. And he opened the Stargate because he was able to make a connection no one else had. It's one of the very rare portrayals of a particular type of genius -- non-mathematical, non-hard science, deeply intuitive -- that, other than the instance on his allergies, didn't make the "geek" selfish, a coward, or completely out of touch with the rest of humanity.

But the real cherry on top of this lovely banana split is that I really, really cannot stand James Spader as an actor. There is not a single other role I like him in. I usually find him wooden and detached. And yet, I fell in love with Daniel Jackson.

SG-1 had been on for over four years when I saw my first episode (a season 4 episode in repeats prepatory to season 6 being shown). The first one I saw (Window of Opportunity) wasn't that great, but SciFi (before it became SyFy) was showing the series in four hour blocks, and the next one (Watergate) wasn't much better. The evening ended with The First Ones, an episode highlighting Daniel Jackson's linguistic ability ("Now, don't say 'ka' till you've tried it."), his anthropological background, and even a bit of archaeology at the very beginning. And I remembered sitting in a theater near Disney in Orlando that was packed to the gills with a smile on my face.
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An artist by the name of Jake Chapman was quoted in The Independent as saying children shouldn't be taken to art galleries because they can't appreciate the point the artist is trying to make.

Yes, I'm screaming. I loved going to art museums when I was a kid. One of my most visceral memories is of seeing Winged Victory (Nike of Samothrace) for the first time when I was seven. I would beg to be allowed to go to the National Gallery or the Portrait Gallery after church when we moved back to DC, and, from the time I was ten, my parents would let me go on my own.

Field trips to The Phillips Collection or the Corcoran were high points of my school year.

And then there was the tutoring when I grew up. One of the things I had the hardest time with, both in DC and Boston, was encouraging the students to develop their own tastes. Especially in DC, the students were hesitant to voice an opinion because they were afraid either of being "wrong" (in quotes because, while bad taste exists, it's still a personal taste and therefore can't be wrong) or of disagreeing with an adult.

And yet, some of the best times I've ever had have been with preteens at a museum. There was the girl next door who had a hard time keeping her hands off the Babylonian art and tried to touch the Van Gogh's. She didn't care for Egyptian art at all and thought Monet was a little dull (for the record, I like Monet better than Van Gogh and prefer Egyptian to Babylonian, but her enthusiasm was infectious.). The group I took to the National Gallery was fascinated by the Venetian paintings and had some very pointed comments about a nude that we passed. Some loved still lifes, others thought the carved table was the bomb (their word, not mine), and all of them adored Villareal's Multiverse installation.

How can anyone say that kids can't enjoy art? Worse, how can anyone say that a child isn't human yet?

Villareal's Multiverse (it's a little sped up)


Jul. 17th, 2014 04:18 pm
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I got off early tonight and was able to stop at the Farmer's Market. Kale Kimchi, DC dill pickles, two different cheeses, and a half gallon of the best chocolate milk (Yes, it even tops the milk found at Pennsic) are among my haul. I stopped for a half dozen oysters and a glass of white wine, too.

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This is the link to make a donation to the rebuilding fund.

The fire started in the iconic library. This is what it looks like now.

And this is what it looked like before:
Historic Glasgow library
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The fire began in the The Library (link goes to a panoramic interactive view) and that part of the building has almost totally been destroyed. The rest is still viable, but will need lots of work. Many have declared that the Library should be rebuilt, just the same as it was. Rennie Mackintosh and Mary MacDonald left detailed notes and drawings on all their projects. It should be possible to make a full restoration, if there's money for it, if there's the skill for it.
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I've just found out that the Glasgow School of Art has had a fire. The Guardian is reporting that the building is 90% viable, but Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret MacDonald, were all about the details, and I worry that some of those may be lost.

I've loved Rennie Mackintosh's work for such a long time. It's one of my defining charatceristics, as strange as that may sound. Mom and I had a delightful weekend in Glasgow together (I know me, Mom and "delightful" in the same sentence!) going to Willow Tearooms and finding everything of his that we could that was open.

One thing I always notice is that if you want the future in a chair, go to Rennie Mackintosh.
Star Trek, in several iterations used his chairs, so did Babylon 5 and I even caught one in an episode of Fringe.

I hope the School is all right. Its legacy is priceless.
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Many, many of the people on my friends list, and several of you who've become friends face-to-face, are people I originally met through the forums at TWoP.

I have been a member there since May 22, 2000. I didn't hit Stalker status at the website until well into the first season of Smallville. My first forays into the pseudo-html code the forums use prepared me to use real html. With Queenofalostart and Miss Windy, I helped put together a tiny Smallville Con at the end of the first season, and we got a grant from [livejournal.com profile] arisia to help us. It was also the very first of the TWoP cons and helped provide a model for the much bigger Amazing Race meet-ups and other forum conventions.

When I first started with them, the site was called Dawson's Wrap. It became MightyBigTV when they decided to expand and start recapping other shows with other forums. When a business wanted to be able to use MBTV as an internet shortcut, they paid the original founders of the site (Glark, Wing Chun, and Sars) to change the url. I was online the night the changeover happened and all sorts of weird glitches kept cropping up which drove me crazy until they finally posted the announcement about the name change.

The story I want to tell, though, is the story of 9/11. Sars was on Wall Street that day, and her account at her blog, Tomato Nation was posted on September 14. It was the first account I read from someone who was so close to the devastation and it's still a good read.

But what was important was what Glark and Wing Chun did as they were waiting for the news of their friend. They closed the forums, but opened two threads. The first thread they asked everyone to log-in just once. It let us know who was or might be missing (and I still remember the fanfiction yahoo groups that I was on, especially the one from Man from UNCLE, asking all of the American fans to check in. We lost two people off that list to the collapse of the towers.). Anyone could check that thread for news of their friends.

The other thread was a discussion and news thread. Sites for The New York Times, Washington Post, and other papers of record were collapsing under the weight of hits from people trying to find out the newest and most accurate information. People who made it through, especially to NYTimes and Washington Post would copy and paste the articles in the threads. We were able to keep up with the news, find our friends, and mourn together. We were all relieved when an announcement went up on the front page saying that Sars had been in touch.

TWoP introduced me to so many good people and wonderful things. My biggest worry is that the archives will not be publicly accessible. I don't know what The Wayback Machine has captured or not, but this has made me worry about future documentation for scholars. (I've participated in at least four master's papers with people researching the site. Scholars were always welcome to post links to surveys or request first person stories about our participation with TWoP.)

The internet is ephemeral, of course, but there are certain sites that we expect to have always with us. TWoP was one of them for me.

ETA: One of my favorite recappers, Miss Alli, posted a reminiscence at the NPR website.


Jul. 17th, 2013 05:09 pm
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I never watched Transformers. It was after my time.

However, I fell in love with the Citroen DS (aka Goddess, if you like puns in Franglais) the first time I saw one. It is a pure and true adoration, and my various winning the lottery fantasies always include owning at least one in mint condition.

Today, at the New York Times there was an article on a Citroen Transformer created by artist Chico MacMurtrie. Go have a look, and don't forget to click on the video showing the transformation. She goes from the sleekest, sexiest car on the road to a Mecha as elegant as the Chrysler building (though I think the inflatable is cheating a little).

Go, go. It's gorgeous!
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On Sunday, I spent the day in New York. Mostly, I just walked around mid-town, but I had a good vegan brunch at Blossom and dinner after the movie at Patsy's Pizza, although I actually ate pasta.

In the meantime, I met several great people as I was waiting in line (*waves at Sharon, Danielle, Joan, and Susan*). I also figured out a New York apartment for Rachel, Finn, Kurt, and Blaine in the neighborhood for a story.

As for the movie, I thought it was funny, touching, and well-written and acted. There will be spoilers under the cut -- and it's not really a review, more a reflection on my family from events in the movie.
Read more... )
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I have a type 1 Kindle. I got it for my 47th birthday and called it my magic book.

While I don't find it as easy to read on the computer as I do on the Kindle, when Kindle for PC came out, I downloaded it and I've found it useful as the Kindle I have does not have the memory space of later models. I downloaded a couple of samples to my PC on Sunday. There were two options: Send to Kindle, Send to PC.

Today, I checked out a book on city planning I had been recommended. It was available on Kindle, and, as I often do, I opted to "Read Sample Now" -- which, by the way, is one of my favorite things about Kindles. I appreciate it more for the books it weeds out than the ones I ultimately buy. There was a third choice: Send to Cloud Reader.

I LOVE IT. I uploaded my music, etc. to Amazon's Cloud Player before they made the official announcement of its existence. Since I have to stuff envelopes (hey, don't judge me, I'm employed), being able to bop along to my music -- I do have headphones -- or being able to play a little Haydn when my cubicle mates are being distracting has been wonderful. And now there's a whole fluffy cloud of my books.

It's great to live in the future!
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Both [livejournal.com profile] malnpudl and [livejournal.com profile] innerslytherin were doing this. I just had to jump in.

(I hadn't realized it was based on book sales, but I still stand by my list at the end of the books I wish were on this list.)
Read more... )

Here are some books that I'd love to see on the list rather than all the duplicate authors.

Either In War Times or The Bones of Time by Kathleen Ann Goonan
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
Spirits in the Wire by Charles de Lint
A Wrinkle in Time (or better yet, A Swiftly Tilting Planet) by Madeleine L'Engle
Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh (thank you, [livejournal.com profile] innerslytherin for reminding me of Cherryh.)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Doctor Jeckyll and Mister Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Any of the Dorsai! novels by Gordon R. Dickson, though I lean heavily toward The Tactics of Mistake
The Harry Potter books should be on here too, in my opinion.

If we throw in short stories, I'd like to see M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, and Edgar Allen Poe added.
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I know my childhood was unusual, thanks to the military.

We were living in London when I turned 8. There was a pop song by Sandie Shaw that talked about going to Paris for the day, AND we'd been studying the Mona Lisa in second grade. So when my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said that I wanted to go to Paris for the day and see the Mona Lisa.

Bless my parents, they looked into it and found that the USO had a day tour of Paris that wasn't too expensive to take a 5 year old, a not-quite-eight year old, and their parents.

It was great. Yes, the Mona Lisa's eyes follow you around the room, but she was smaller than I'd thought she'd be. In some ways, I appreciated the experience of having seen her when I was eight more when I went back to Paris at fourteen. By then, there was bullet proof glass and an enforced distance from the painting. I had seen her up close, and the adults in the group let me have a few minutes to see if she was always looking at me. The experience six years later was completely different.

The Eiffel Tower was orange. I remember being surprised by that. It was probably a primer coat before the next phase of painting, but it was wondrous to an eight year old.

My other two very strong memories from that trip -- other than my sister crawling on Dad's lap to nap on the bus -- were of the Venus de Milo and the Nike of Samothrace (or as I called it then, Winged Victory).

I was slightly shocked at Venus not wearing a bra, but other than that it was the fact that the adults were familiar with her that sticks with me.

The Nike, though...

The old entrance to the Louvre can be seen in the Audrey Hepburn movie Funny Face. Right after we passed the ticketing area with our tour guide, there was a huge stair case with red carpeting and Winged Victory at the top. I know I must have seen sculpture before, but I genuinely remember this as the first sculpture I saw. Walking up those steps, getting closer to her, seeing a couple of fragments of her (nose and a hand), all of those things were just subsumed in the power of that piece of art. It's truly glorious, and I'm very happy to know that it is still possible to enter the Louvre there instead of going through the I.M. Pei pyramids because her being the first piece of art a patron sees is part of the overall glory of the experience.

I knew better than to touch, but, even now, I long to. I love her. I don't know if she'd have the same power whole. I think she'd still be beautiful, but the way she struck me might have been different.

I've had some magnificent gifts, but this was definitely the best ever.

Cool Book!

Nov. 11th, 2010 10:46 am
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While I'm waiting for Yuletide -- *looks pointedly at clock and calendar* -- I am reading. The book I picked up a couple of weeks ago at the used book store in Eastern Market is called Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer.

I haven't even gotten to the chapter on Proust yet. The first chapter deals with Walt Whitman's intuitive descriptions of the body, rather than the brain, as the seat of emotion. Chapter two covers George Eliot and free will from both her opposition to the pure determinism, which she referred to as "necessitarianism," of her time and in light of more recent scientific data on neurogenesis. And then we get to Escoffier.

Now I disagree with Lehrer's conclusion that Escoffier invented French cookery. He walked it away from Careme and the upper class, that I totally agree with, but he did it by codifying and elevating bonne femme cookery and serving it at the Ritz. Restaurants and the landscape of fine dining would not have been the same without him, do not get me wrong, but Escoffier stood at least partially on the shoulders of French grandmothers everywhere.

I find the chapter absolutely fascinating with its exploration of taste, Ideka's work distilling the concept of umami, the discovery of the receptors for umami, and how much of the human genome describes scent reception. One thing that really stuck out for me is how much food and flavor are learned and refined responses. As Lehrer puts it, "You are never too old to learn to be a gourmet."

This got me thinking about the other end of the spectrum: Baby Food.

American baby food is terrible. No, I haven't gone on that popular diet, but I lived in Belgium. They had a much wider variety of baby foods available, and the ingredient lists included herbs and even the occasional spice. You can serve a child who is not yet on solids a dinner of lamb with flageolet beans -- a traditional Sunday dinner in French speaking Europe. I defy anyone to try this with American baby food. What really frosts my cookies about this is the French/Belgian baby foods are the same brand names as US baby food: Gerber and Nestle predominate.

We're worried about the children's obesity epidemic, but how much of it comes from kids not getting flavorful foods unless it's loaded with fat and salt?

Training adult palates is also important. Cooking for [livejournal.com profile] eanja was a huge part of my starting to lose weight and appreciate both my skills as a cook and the food itself again as I was beginning to see the light at the end of my depression.

But how much easier is it to start training them young?
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One of my pre-New Year's purchases was the Kindle Edition of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Her reason for undertaking it was that she had a good life, but felt she wasn't appreciating it enough. She quite frankly says that she was afraid she'd get to be old, look back at this time in her life, and wonder why she didn't recognize the happiness she had.

I like that she's very clear about depression and unhappiness being separate things. One of the greatest pieces of information that ever came to me from my singing teacher was that feeling sad didn't mean I was depressed. Learning to tell things apart is huge.

Since tomorrow's a new month, I'm starting my own little happiness project without having finished the book. I know the aims for any given month need to be measurable. Like Ms Rubin, my first month is dedicated to feeling more energetic. My four goals for this month are:

Go to bed by 11:00 p.m. Sunday-Thursday nights.

Swim (at least) one evening a week. There's a pool that's free to DC residents and doesn't take me out of my way on my daily walk. I love to swim, so why aren't I? If after this month, I find I'm not enjoying it, fine.

Write my three things that made me happy journal again. I enjoyed it while I was doing it, and then I just faded away from it.

Do one frivolous thing a week. I haven't been to a museum in over a month. Meeting [livejournal.com profile] contradictacat at one doesn't count. I love doing it, but I'm not. If I get in the habit again, I'll bet when the summer concerts come, I'll go to some.
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Wine: Meursault, and yes, I have paid over $100 a bottle for a Premier Cru. It was more than worth every penny that I saved up to do it. Even the ordinary years are worth the prices the stores charge. Other wines I like: Frascati and Orvieto are the perfect summer time whites. Gewurztraminer is for winter. Sauternes with cheeses. And Neuer Wein in the late autumn with a perfectly made onion tart is ambrosia.

Beer: I don't drink it. I won't cook with US beers because they bring no flavor. (All right, Ommegang is technically an American beer, but it's a Belgian recipe.)

Cider: The Normans do a Cidre mousseaux which has all the lightness of champagne and, back in the day, cost less than three dollars (BF 100). Unlike true champagne, it doesn't give me a headache. For a beer-style cider, I love Woodchuck's Granny Smith cider.

Hard Liquors:

Oh, dear. I don't think of myself as a hard drinker and yet I have more in this category than I do in wine. *blushes*

Eaux de vie: This includes grappa.

My favorite is Eau de Vie Mirabelle made with the rich and lovely mirabelle plums. I was introduced to the plums, the eau de vie, meursault, and black truffles all at the same meal, and I've never forgotten any of them.

As for grappa, the variety of grape is at play there. When Lucy and I were in Bergamo, we found a charcuterie with sit down service and requested their meat plate and their cheese plate. We both tried everything on both plates. At the end of the meal we looked at the grappa menu -- they had over twenty different types -- and asked the owner to bring us the two he thought were the most typical and the most different from each other. I can say with authority that Cabernet Sauvignon grappa tastes like paint thinner. Muscat Grappa smells like perfume and has a delicate taste. I love it. Having said that, opening the bottle has caused people to claim their contacts were melting. *G*

Scotch: I can't stand blended scotch, but my first boyfriend introduced me to Glenfiddich which I adored. My current favorite is Lagavulin and I'm particularly fond of the twenty-one year old. Let the dirty jokes begin.

I like gin and prefer the dutch ones when I can get them. Can't stand vodka.

My favorite cocktail is a gimlet.

In honor of the Kentucky Derby today, my recipe for a mint julep.

Chill the stirrup cup, Jefferson cup, or glass. Muddle two or three sprigs of mint and a teaspoon of caster sugar (superfine sugar NOT confectioners) in each glass. Add a jigger of bourbon, mix and then fill to brim with crushed ice.

I've seen recipes that call for simple syrup. For me they're too sweet, and they water down the cocktail. Ice melt will take care of that. You can always add more sugar to taste, but you can't take it out once it's in.

Bourbon: I've tried several, but I really like Maker's Mark.
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This is difficult beyond belief. I love food; it's truly impossible to come up with just one.


Fungus: Black truffles taste like sex. They're expensive and I don't get to eat them (or cook with them) often but when I do, it's a little moment of a very decadent heaven. There are few edible fungi I won't eat, but I have to give special mention to [livejournal.com profile] eanja for introducing me to hen-of-the-wood mushrooms. They really do taste like chicken.

Meat: Lamb has been my favorite since childhood. The first recipe I messed around with was mom's lamb shank recipe. I've given up pork.

Poultry: Duck. Except I'm getting really attached to the mallard couple that are hanging out by the Department of Transportation, so I'm not eating it at the moment. Quail is a good second choice.

Fish: Monkfish, hands down.

Starch: Pasta in all its myriad forms. Yes, I've made my own. No, I've never used a machine.

Grain: Quinoa. Seriously, I just discovered this one recently, but I love the taste and the ease of preparation.

Spice: Cardamom. (Nutmeg is the spice I use the most and I adore it, but cardamom actually turns me on.)

Herb: Thyme. The only one I've tried that I hate is marjoram. When I read in an aromatherapy book that it's the only known ANaphrodisiac (guaranteed turn off), I had an "aha!" moment.

Vegetable: I don't know. Except for bell pepper, I love them all. Artichoke was my first solid food, and my cousin Nettie calls me "her asparagus girl," and okra is a sensuous treat, and...
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Happy Mayday everyone. Today isn't a holiday in the US, but I had a doctor's appointment this morning and a tenant's meeting this afternoon, so I'm enjoying the (rainy) day off.

In my call for questions, [livejournal.com profile] snopes_faith was first with "What's your favourite food? Is there any foods you couldn't eat when served at someone's house even if you sensed refusing it would hurt their feelings?"

Taking the second question first, the short answer is no. I don't refuse well intentioned food. As a matter of fact, there's a post here about getting sick off something because I wouldn't turn down food.

My only major exception to this is strawberries because in the last ten years I've become more and more allergic to them. I can't even touch the plant.

The longer answer is "I hate bell peppers." If someone asks in advance, I will tell her this so nothing with bell peppers will be served to me. If I'm served bell peppers, I will eat around them where possible. Raw bell pepper bothers me less than cooked because cooked bell pepper seems to get bigger in my mouth and are just slimy. Orange and yellow and "chocolate" bell peppers work better for me than red or green. Green is the worst for flavor and texture. *shudders*

But the only food, I've ever refused was natto. My former housemate Lucy's description is "soy beans that have gone so bad they are now safe to eat again." They are sticky and stringy and smell indescribable.

Lucy's significant other, the Professor, is American-born Japanese and every once in awhile, he'll eat natto. Outdoors and downwind.

I'm willing to try almost anything once, though. So when he offered me some, I took one on my chopsticks and tried to eat it. My lips went numb and my tongue reacted before my brain could. It was such a weird experience because my mind was willing to try it and my body was rejecting it.

Favorite food can wait 'til tomorrow.

Questions on food are always welcome. And I think you'll find food is a huge category for me.


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