Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gaultier in Brooklyn

A fascinating exhibit - there's even one piece on display from his first show as a cash-strapped artist, and all I can say about that is, it's amazing what he was able to do with straw placemats.   

Some works appear to be deliberately provocative (even courting ugliness or repulsion); some left me indifferent; but still others tapped into the lines and shapes of classical beauty in ways that utterly delighted me.

Coolest sweater dress ever.  Beautiful!

Silk with the look of denim.

Love the shape of the skirt

Not entirely practical for everyday wear,
but I love how the lacing tracks the spine

This was a greenish-yellow rope, snake-like

Denim exploding into ostrich feathers

From the mermaid collection - love the draping

I'm not sure if the veins are medically accurate...

OK, I've found my wedding dress!  

Love the chopped/woven look of the silk impersonating denim

Madonna in classical pose

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mercurial, Benevolent, Alien

Happy birthday to Tom Baker, my all-time favorite Doctor.

On playing Doctor Who: "it was the only part that really, I didn’t have to strive for. Everything about the character, the mercurial, benevolent, alien quality, that he had, all of those were factors for which I had tremendous sympathy."

The BBC is releasing a series of interviews to mark the occasion.

And I think it was Tom Baker's incarnation of Doctor Who that prompted Harlan Ellison to write in 1979:
"The one and only, the incomparable, the bemusing and bewildering Doctor Who [...] His adventures are sunk to the hips in humanism, decency, solid adventure and simple good reading.  They are not classics, make no mistake.  They can never touch the illuminative level of Dickens or Mark Twain or Kafka.  But they are solid entertainment based on an understanding of Good and Evil in the world. [...] And they do it in the form of all great literature . . . the cracking good, well-plotted adventure yarn"

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Broken Connections

I just looked at some old emails from my secondary email account... emails from as far back as 1999. At that time, I was still attempting to keep in touch with certain folks from various walks of life, people I've long since given up entirely for lost.  And I'd forgotten what it was like to actually write moderately long emails to people containing upbeat updates about my life.

* * * 

This is somehow contributing to a suddenly pervasive sense of sadness, which I think was initially triggered by learning that my otherwise favorite airline deleted virtually all of my mileage points.  A mere 10 months ago, it seems, after I failed to seek credit for a flight I'd taken with them.

And it has all glommed on to a sense of failure because I still haven't finished the paper that's due in March by my self-imposed deadline of November (pre-Thanksgiving) which had already slipped to January 15... and instead I'm goofing off on the internet.

* * * 

Putting this all in writing, however, is rapidly unwinding the knot of self-pity.

After all, I'd been beating myself up about the first paper, and then I heard back from the editors who didn't see the flaws that I see.  And the self-imposed deadline is to allow some very generous friends to review and comment on the paper - they only need two weeks, so there is plenty of time.  Plus my "goofing off" on the internet involved purchasing tickets I've been meaning to purchase for months.

Good heavens!  It has actually been a tremendously productive day.  I think I'd better relax by reading some books!

Monday, January 13, 2014


I've been going through my closets and taking out things that I've been keeping for years "just in case" -- materials for projects that I will never undertake, items I've replaced with better versions, accessories that almost work, and the like.  If they're in good condition, I leave them on the sidewalk.  Almost all of these items have been taken (with maybe two exceptions) and have thus found better homes.

While I was working on my paper this past weekend, I found myself craving some classical music.  I soon exhausted the pieces I had on my computer, and I thought about buying some new ones on iTunes.  Then it occurred to me that I must have dozens of classical music CDs in my CD tower, and I found myself vaguely surprised that they didn't make their way onto my laptop.  I imported two CDs (Mozart and Haydn) to deal with the immediate crisis, but it got me thinking.

At this point, I only listen to a tiny fragment of the music I purchased over the past decade or so, and I don't listen to music very often (in any medium).  There was a time when I had music playing at home almost all the time in the background; I seem to recall telling Becky when I was at college that it was like a soundtrack to my life.  But now it's been many, many years since I actually played a CD.

Which of course got me thinking... why not free up the space in the CD tower?  By a quick estimate, I have about 150 CDs, plus a bunch of other various discs (computer software and backups, old photos, and DVDs). So at lunch time I splurged on a CD storage binder, and I have just spent the past 2 or 3 hours removing CDs from their jewel cases and sticking them in the binder.

Initially, I was putting some of the nicer-looking cases aside, or saving the booklets that came with the CDs...  Some of them seemed really too beautiful to part with.  But by the end virtually all the jewel cases and papers went into recycling bins.  The jewel cases alone filled a medium/tall recycling bag and were very, very heavy.

But I feel so much lighter!  And if I ever want to find my old JPEGs again, it will be easy now.

I kept a few slim and sleek jewel cases in case I need some in the future.  I kept a few items in jewel cases where the discs themselves were inadequately labeled... but transferred them to slimmer cases.  I kept the jewel cases for all the CDs that my brother has given me (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, BOCA, Kenna, Soul Coughing, and the soundtrack to Vanilla Sky).

And I have not yet transferred any DVDs into the binder...  That will be the next step, after I see the impact of the first stage of this particular experiment.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New York Guitar Festival

Friday night, I went to the opening concert of the New York Guitar Festival, in which Pepe Romero played Bach.  For part of the concert, I chose an obstructed view seat.  This helped me focus on the quality of the sound - how and when does a guitar channel a harpsichord?  Listening without my eyes, the twang of guitar string was more noticeable in the lower ranges, where the string could freely vibrate (as opposed to the higher notes which were more clipped and controlled).  And from time to time I could hear the quick slithering of the fingers on the strings between notes, or the sound of a pluck, rather than a plink.  It was very interesting!   But an all-Bach solo program can grow wearisome over the course of an evening, no matter how well played.  I couldn't help thinking that the encore, in which Mr. Romero played a piece written for guitar, had a joie de vivre far better suited to the instrument.

Meeting the Stranger II

This weekend, I went to a performance of J.S. Bach pieces as part of the NYC Guitar Festival.  I arrived 45 minutes early, and nearly half the seats were already taken.  Initially, I wasn't sure my friend would join me, so I took a seat halfway back, with a space next to me that was right behind a palm tree.  I figured that very undesirable seat would be an easy spot to save, on the off-chance that my friend would show up, due to its obstructed views.  The auditorium continued to fill up, and a woman asked if she could sit there.  I told her, apologetically, that I thought my friend might come.  She moved on.  Then I got a text message from my friend, advising that she would be about 15 minutes late.  Another two people asked to sit there, and I declined with greater confidence, since my friend was on her way.  The concert began late, around the time my friend had said she would arrive, and my anxiety increased as I turned away yet another concertgoer.  Then, about 10 minutes into the concert, yet another person asked to sit there; I explained that my friend had texted that she was on her way.  The woman said sarcastically, "Yeah, right," and left in disgust.  I found myself wondering what she thought my motivation was for lying (as she apparently thought) to keep her from sitting in a spot where she would not be able to see the concert at all.  But my anxiety continued to increase, and I started wondering if I should release the seat -- was my friend going to bail on me?  I was so grateful when my friend finally showed up (about 20 minutes into the concert!) that I took the obstructed seat and let her enjoy the view of the musician.

Meeting the Stranger I

Last weekend, in Manhattan, I stopped briefly to check my messages when I exited the subway.  So I was stationary, focused on my phone, when a woman approached me.  She asked me if I had a room to rent, or a space for a cot, and said "I'll pay two thousand!" It was a moment of cognitive dissonance for me, as if she were asking for money and asserting that she had money, at the same time.  She spoke with urgency and a note of desperation, and kept repeating "I'll pay two thousand!"  I told her I didn't have anything, but the encounter troubled me.  Was she for real, or an investigative journalist, or a scam artist?  Did she really expect a stranger in NYC to put her up?  If she was for real, what predicament led her to this situation, where she has $2,000 to spend on rent, but no leads on a place to live?  I didn't even know where to refer her, and I'm still not sure what I should have done.  I can only hope that she has found whatever accommodations and services she needs.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Afternoon in Queens

Today, U-chan and her husband graciously treated us to an afternoon of Queens culture and cuisine, stringing together several destinations which are not easy to link together by public transportation.

We started with the Noguchi Museum, which I'd never been to before.

Water fountain with a profound sense of stillness

I liked the twisted square pillar

High-contrast lighting brought out the
interplay of light and shadow when needed

We liked the "bite" out of this wooden piece 
The sculptures were cool, but I really liked the exhibit focusing on Noguchi's painting apprenticeship with Qi Baishi in Beijing (1930).  The brush painting of crabs was beautiful in a very traditional way:

I also loved one of the mother and baby drawings, where a dramatic arc in the torso created a sense of strong and nurturing protection of the infant, and the brush strokes descending into the legs gave a sense of the skeleton within:

Next was  SriPraPhai for lunch.  We were seated immediately, but the placed filled up within 10 minutes of our arrival - we were very lucky!  We ate family style, and my favorites were the drunken noodles with pork and the fried rice with salted beef.  Loved the Thai iced tea with bubbles, of course.

I didn't buy anything at Tortilleria Nixtamal, but U-chan and I reminisced about making tortillas there with G-san a few years ago as part of the "Keys to the City" event, while others stocked up on  tamales to cook at home.

We took the tour at the Louis Armstrong House Museum (we'd only been to the gift shop and visitor's center before with "Keys to the City", so it was all new to us).  It was really cool - especially the bathrooms (gold-plated fixtures, anyone?) and the kitchen, which was apparently inspired by the Armstrongs' trip to the World's Fair a few blocks away.  Yes, it was the "kitchen of the future" featuring all the latest built-in appliances and bright blue cabinetry custom-made of lacquered wood, commissioned from piano manufacturers.   Music was understandably important to both Louis and Lucille (who had been a dancer at the Cotton Club), and there were built-in speakers throughout the house.  Lucille was Louis's fourth wife, but apparently she was a keeper - their marriage lasted nearly 30 years (i.e., until Louis's death in 1971).  Lucille's main hobby, it seems, while Louis was on tour, was redecorating their home -- our guide explained that the house had been restored to approximately 1965 in most places so that it would reflect how it looked during his lifetime.  

After we dropped off Patricia, we descended on Canelle Patisserie.  They were out of canel├ęs, but I had a non-sugared apple turnover, which was flaky and delicious and not too sweet.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

South Station

By the time I was ready to purchase my return trip tickets, the express bus was sold out for the entire weekend (including Friday).  So I made a virtue of necessity and arranged to meet up with some Boston-based friends at South Station.  After I checked my luggage, I had the opportunity to look at this very nice model train set, which seems to take the circumnavigating viewer from Boston to rural New England.  

Are the brightly colored cottages a nod to Cape Cod?

I took some pictures of the old model car for a colleague.

Love the dinosaur!!  Fossil fuels for-evah!