Friday, February 22, 2013

Big Week, part two (the Food Episodes)

More on last week's happenings:

Tuesday was an epic dinner at a fancy restaurant.  The kind of meal I don't get very often.  And by 'very often,' I mean 'ever.'  Friends took us out as a Big Thank You to Cory for a Big Favor, and it was incredible: course after course of the most amazing food.  Even the dishes made from ingredients I don't usually like were great - cranberry 'snow' with beet puree? Bring it.  And the stuff I do like?  My brain and body almost exploded.  Oysters unlike any I've ever had, poached lobster that made me question my place on earth, an egg cream that made me pine for days that never really existed. (An egg cream can do that?  Apparently it can.)

Wednesday night I had off.  Sort of.  I took advantage of the freedom to do prep for the dinner I made for Valentine's the next night.  I knew I wouldn't be able to get home until later than ideal on Thursday, so I needed to cover some ground ahead of time.

Here's the thing about that: we don't usually do much for V-day.  We acknowledge that it exists, we mention it, we wish each other the happiness of the day, but we don't historically make much of it.  And by 'historically,' I mean 'ever.'  Or, more precisely, 'so far.'  But this year was a little different.  For whatever reason, we decided to have an extra-special-nice dinner in.  So I did a bunch of prep on Wednesday and when I did get home on Thursday, I did my magic in the kitchen.  

And for kicks in the wake of our other-worldly meal on Tuesday, I put on my best 'fancy waiter' as I'd bring out the courses.  You know: weight slightly forward, hands gracefully floating the dish to the table, describing it in a hushed throaty half-whisper.

This is a Perfect Valentine Manhattan, adapted from the classic recipe with Hudson Manhattan Rye, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Carpana Antica Sweet Vermouth, peychaud and orange bitters, and Morello cherries.
Watercress soup, with a whiskey cream. (This was actually an exciting discovery, and is a strong contender to be T-Day worthy...)
Haricots verts (ok, they were green beans - hey, I'm in 'fancy waiter' mode.) in a Kürbiskernöl and lemon glaze.
Roasted fingerling potatoes with tarragon and thyme.
Filet mignon with mushrooms, adapted from a recipe by James Beard.
Vermont ice cream, made with milk from happy cows and rich organic chocolate.
Ok, I punted on dessert and went with Ben & Jerry's.  Still, it was a pretty good meal.  A Happy Valentine's Day.

No visual stimulation for you today - I haven't been feeling the 'take pictures of food' thing lately. I'm sure I will revert.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Big Week

It was a big week.

A big project at the dayjob took a lot of my time and energy in January (along with one or the other of us being sick for what felt like the whole month).  When that project/event ended, I was able with a short transition period to get back into my normal rhythm.  Last week sort of took that to another level.

Mike Daisey at Joe's Pub on Monday night.  Mike's taken some stupid amounts of heat over the last year or so.  I've written about him here before and probably will again, but I haven't devoted any real space to the NPR/This American Life controversy.  You probably know all about that, and if you don't there is plenty to read and listen to out there about it.  What I'll say on the subject is that Mike did a hell of a job drawing attention to what's going on in tech manufacturing (and tech reporting) and created a brilliant show in the process.  Or vice versa.  And while I'm not going to get behind the whole "it's all true" thing, I do maintain that a playwright is not the same thing as a journalist, even a playwright whose stock in trade is distant travel, immersive research, and real world goings-on with real world stakes.

I've already gone on more about this than I wanted to, but I'll wrap up today's discussion of this subject by asking straight out something Daisey touched on obliquely last Monday: how closely have you looked at the workings of the tech industry, and what have you done to affect labor conditions in China?  [Oh, and take a few minutes to imagine turning off all your 'connected' devices one day a week.  What would that take?  How much prep would you need to do?  Just asking.]

More to come...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Les Miserahahahahahaaaaaa!!!

Spoiler Alert(?) You may not want to watch this if you haven't seen the Les Miserable movie yet.  But if you have seen it (or don't care about it), For Your Consideration...

Put the "?" there because - even if you haven't seen the film, you've probably seen at least part of the scene the (holy crapballs amazing!!) Emma Fitzpatrick is satirizing, because it's been clipped on every awards show and every talk show and late-night comedy appearance Anne Hathaway has made.

Now let me be Obama clear here: I love Anne Hathatway.  I LO-UH-UH-UH-LOVE Anne Hathaway and want to see everything she does.  She should probably win some sort of award just for how she handled Matt Lauer, and is a brilliant actress on stage and on screen.  And I will shed no tear if she wins an award on Oscar night.

But I also have no beef with those who claim Les Miz iz lame.  And this viddy is effin funny.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Birthday in Hotlanta

For those keeping score at home, last week was Jules' 7th Birthday.  Cory gets down to Atlanta for the kids' birthdays pretty much every year, and I join in when I can.

Saturday was the Big Day - not her actual birthday day, but the day of her big party (which involved karaoke, a scavenger hunt, a piñata, and a dancing video game I don't remember the name of.)

She's a lot happier here than she looks.  A fierce dancer for sure.

As if that weren't enough, in the morning was also a basketball game for Joe.

Here he is, rockin' the D.

He claims he had an off-day, but he was pretty amazing for an 8-year old.  And you ain't seen nothing till you've seen this kid play pop-a-shot.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Last from London

Well, for now anyway...

One last photo montage video from London.  It's a little longer than the others, but it's split into two parts, so that may help.  Think of it as an A Side and a B Side.

I had to resort to YouTube for this, but I was able improve the resolution a bit.  Enjoy.

A lot of this is pretty self explanatory - don't think you need me to say much about Big Ben, Westminster, the Houses of Parliament, or Richard the Lionheart.  I do want to mention, especially for the Rodin fans out there, the juxtaposition of the Burghers of Calais in the shadow of Parliament (as opposed to casts I've seen at the Rodin Museums in Paris and Philadelphia, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, all of which I have since found were cast after this one in London).  The placement in Victoria Tower Gardens is poignant in that these French business leaders and legal authorities are shadowed by one of the most important legislative structures in the Western World; and it calls to mind their story - offered as a sacrifice to save the citizens of Calais from Edward III's siege of their city.  (Remember Edward III's hunting palace from an earlier post, and the last video?)

It's worth mentioning are a couple of light art pieces from the Tate Modern that were as photogenic as they were engaging:

  • Lis RhodesLight Music was the setting for the shots that come near the end of the first song.  It was part of the Tanks portion of the Tate Modern - which is amazeballs and you should definitely go there.  I think that Light Music has closed up and moved out of the space, but we were lucky to catch it while we were there.  The projectors practically dared you not to walk in and interact with the light.  Luminous and irresistible. 
  • The sequence about halfway through featuring two light tables in the room with white walls is made up of shots of an Alfredo Jaar piece called Lament of the Images.  He's looking at the way people can be so saturated with media images (and words) that they can be blinded by the excess: so many images flood ones view that one stops seeing the content of what is actually being shown.  That blindness is revealed in that installation (as I interpret it) by the light that floods the room as the light tables spread apart (the tables become a light source, illuminating the people, objects, and walls themselves, but the light itself ceases to be an object of attention), and conversely by the darkness that pervades when the tables close in together (the beams of light become focal, but the darkness literally prevents one from seeing around it).  Beautiful, simple, this piece had a powerful, magnetic draw, and I also enjoyed the lucky arrival of a school group when I went back into the room to grab these shots.

Also part of the Tanks was Suzanne Lacy's The Crystal Quilt.  My photographs don't remotely do justice to the complex power of that brilliantly feminist activist piece [which had the added interest, to me, of having originated in Minneapolis, a city (and a landscape) dear to my heart, woven into this contemporary art exhibit in London].  The video embedded in that link does a better job, but if you come across an exhibition of The Crystal Quilt anywhere, you really owe it to yourself to check it out.

And I can't sign off without mentioning the shots from the Churchill War Rooms - including the color-coded phones, his cabinet meeting room, and the map room complete with a caricature of Hitler penciled into the middle of the Atlantic.  Fascinating. 

And then undercutting any sort of heightened thoughts or reflections on the living memory of War in London, and how vastly it differs from a sense of war in New York, we have shots of the Sherlock Holmes pub which I took for my Sherlock-fan nephew, Mols getting ready for her kayak final test in her wet suit, and shots of our time in Shoreditch/High Street.  All of which was fantastic!

As for the music: why can't Rudie fail?  Just because.

Mumford Barclay

Actually, Mumford & Sons at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

'Twas a cry from the heart. 'Twas good.

Now I'm just taking a moment to decompress.  It'll be fine.