Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Autumn Reading (and watching) List

As promised, here are the books I was able to make it through on my wonderful vacation. I've also added in a couple of movies I saw. Ps. I know you're supposed to underline book titles but I don't know how to format that so you'll have to settle for quotes.

"The Street of A Thousand Blossoms" by Gail Tsukiyama

This was a really lovely fiction work that followed the life of one Tokyo family from the middle-end of the Second World War to around the sixties, with well incorporated side-stories scattered within relating to the supporting characters. Historically this was a nice piece of fiction, if not a little tame for my tastes (sometimes I worried the author was writing in a style anticipating a young child would accidentally pick it up.) There were times when I felt the story was consciously PG'd, if only because at others, like the passage concerning the night of the Tokyo firebombs was scathingly bleak and graphic. Overall, a quick and enjoyable read, and at times quite a page-turner.

"The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Shaped America" by Jeffrey Rosen

I ordered this from Barnes and Nobles after reading a great interview of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens
The ordering was pretty painless; it cost me $2.50 but the book was discounted since I was ordering it so it worked out and also arrived pretty quickly. Basically in this book the author sets up three or four comparisons of two justices of the same era and makes examples of how their personalities played major roles in policy making, with the exception of Marshall vs. Jefferson, as Jefferson never sat on the court. I found this to also be a good read, accessible but still smart, with notes on the cases in the back in case you needed them. I always felt a little mystified by the Supreme Court and wanted to learn more about it as I never felt is was adequately covered in any of my classes. I think this was a good start on the subject for me, and I'll probably look for another title on the same subject as soon as I have some free time again.

"Life of A Poet: Rainer Maria Wilke" by Ralph Freedman

I bought this on impulse at the Hammer bookstore (they have a pretty great store with a great selection, albeit not so well organized or user friendly) as Wilke has always been among my most very favorite poets (coming to his works as a result of being a Rainer Maria fan- how lame and high school hipster is that!)
The work is definitely an academic, and not pop/mass market endeavor. The best part about it is that it makes a unique turn to combine critical investigation and interpretation of Wilke's prose with the influence of his life's events. The not so good part is the excruciating detail the account often veers into. Seriously though, I don't think Wilke's English muffin on Wednesday and his croissant on Friday made that big of a difference to his creative trajectory. Okay, so that's an exaggeration, but I promise you a not-too-far-off one. This was a much slower read than everything else I had my nose in last month, and to be perfectly honest I'm still a little shy of polishing it off. But that's probably because I got in the habit of always saving it for last (to help me fall asleep.)

I also picked up the latest installment of the art theory and criticism journal "October," looking forward to Rosalind Krauss' Sol leWitt tribute/investigation. The rest of the issue is related to Vertov, and I'd be a lame-o poser if I tried to pretend I was some kind of know-it-all Vertov enthusiast so that bit while intersting was a little wasted on me. The Krauss was good, dense, and interesting, as is, if you really want to get your nerd on, the Jeff Wall article in the most recent issue of "Afterall."

And a few oldies, newies, and in-betweenies that I liked/disliked that you might want to see/avoid:

Blame it on Fidel Thumbs-up
Transformers Thumbs-down, unfortunately :(
Mighty Heart Thumbs-in-between
The Chorus (French) Thumbs-up
Elizabeth (the newest) Thumbs-in-between
The Lives of Others Thumbs-way-up!

And I saw this ages ago, but if you haven't sent Kolya you should see it. You should rent it for Thanksgiving, and make your relatives suffer through it. That or Goodbye Lenin

Gobble gobble
xo r

Monday, September 24, 2007

The scarf that never existed

I've been on the search for the world's most perfect Autumn scarf pattern since July, and I'm approaching my threshold for patience- the sadness, I'm afraid is waiting to be unleashed. Suss Designs had a great sale before they skipped over to their new location next door and I scored a ball of some of the most lovely hand spun wool ever in this super sexy deep red. I was only able to find one ball though, so I will only be able to get a scarf out of it. I imagined it as my ultimate, super chic Fall mega-accessory, turning heads every step I take. Kind of like those Diesel sunglasses I tried on with Dave, and subsequently had a Mentos-ish dream about being on the beach; my smile flashing under my flattering shades, friends laughing and enjoying beach recreation, Karate Kid One style all around me complete with boom box, sun-kissed skin and volleyballs.

A very nice member of a knitting message board I frequent gave me this pattern, which is the closest I've come to what I'm picturing;

CO 13
1: k2tog k4 yo k1 yo k4 k2tog
2: knit

I started out by slimming the whole thing down to CO 9, because I want something way skinny and long to really feel like it reflects this Season's vibe. I also want something really holey and loopy, that isn't quite a lace but just really baggy yet delicate looking. So then I tried alternating the YO to different spots in the pattern and it still felt really bulky and patterny. Then I tried ditching the knit row all together and alternating once again and I just feel like the holes are too small and too close together and it still looks too bulky. I am kind of thinking about going out and getting needles that are way too big a gauge for the yarn and trying the pattern, to see if it loopies the whole deal up, but being quite the novice I fear breaking some sort of unspoken knitting law by doing so. Like I'm cutting corners or making some unforgivable cheat. Then again, it's my fucking scarf, so who gives a rat's patoot how I got there, right?

To top it off, I googled "holey scarf" and got a bunch of links to people who posted "non-holey" patterns. WTF?! Anyway, it's late and I worked today on my day off, so I don't have any more patience left to go for this tonight. Maybe in my often lucid dreams I'll have some kind of knitting epiphany.

Or maybe some knitting guru out there will comment me with the exact pattern I've been searching both the real and the cyber world for, as if they had a direct line into the depths of my textile loving heart.

Brought in a dresser. Getting a new roommate. Surprise love attack.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Red bean chili with butternut squash and okra

So I really wish I would have had my camera for this one because in the end it's really a beautiful stew- very colorful. I made a couple of substitutes and it seemed to work out just fine. For one, I used Anasazi beans instead of kidney beans. They are my favorite beans and have a really wonderful, nutty flavor that is a little more nuanced than kidney beans, but still pretty meaty. I also subbed spaghetti squash for butternut squash because I had a ton that Julia gave me for free from her garden. The nice thing about it is you don't have to peel it like the butternut. I will warn you though, this recipe makes a fucking shit ton, so either maybe make half or be prepared to eat chili for the rest of your natural life. Thank god Nick's favorite food is chili. (he says that I took chili to the next level, and he is a chili connoisseur)

******ps. it looks like a big production with this long list of ingredients, but don't be put off, it's really super easy!******

3 cups dried kidney beans (or anasazi beans)
1 2-3 inch piece of kombu (you can usually buy it dried in a health or asian food store)
1 bay leaf (I usually get a batch of super big ones at the Indian market for hella cheap)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 large carrots, 1/2" chopped pieces
2 pounds butternut or spaghetti squash, in 1/2" cubes (you will need to peel the butternut)
4 stalks celery, 1/2" pieces
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno chile, minced
1/4 cup minced garlic
8 ounces 1/2" chopped okra
14 1/2 ounces whole canned tomatoes with own juices, pureed
6 ounces tomato paste
3 tablespoons blended chili powder
2 tablespoons rubbed dried sage (I used fresh because I like it better, minced)
2 tablespoons sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup tamari

Soak beans overnight with kombu. Rinse, add bay leaf and simmer for 30 minutes in five cups of new, clean water until cooked but still very firm. Try to skim off the weird bean film that boils up as you go. The kombu really aids in digestion and preserves the flavor of the beans so if you can track it down it's worth it!
Heat the olive oil in a separate LARGE skillet and add the onions and carrots. Cook through for a couple of minutes and then add the ingredients in about this order, letting them cook through a little as you go along; squash, celery, peppers, chile and garlic. Then add okra, tomato puree and paste, spices (except cilantro) and cook through about five minutes. Add entire mixture to beans with their cooking water (be sure to remove kombu and bay leaf right before!)
Cover and simmer for about fifteen minutes. The chili should thicken up and the flavors will really come together. Right when you take it off the heat, add the tamari and the cilantro.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I guess when Lindsay Lohan was about seventeen, she said on television that we carry all the baggage of our past relationships into all of our new ones. Not bad, Lindsay; makes me forgive you a tiny bit for your incident in the Denali last week.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007

I just had a dream about Michel, and leapt from bed to write it before I forgot

Michel and I were moving together to some giant city, only we were in some sort of alternate present or creepy future; a post-industrial, post-digital, industrial city on a raging ocean shore. Everything- the buildings, the roads, the streets, and all the machines were colossal reformations of our machines of today. Only the machines were stacked and connected to become fifty times larger than the scale of today, almost like Transformers. At the same time, the wild animals were far greater in number, which I found to be an unexpected detail of such a gnarly, dirty and mechanic landscape, and everyone was careful not to disturb the giant elephant seals lounging on the coast among the mechanical detritus, or the serene plains animals criss-crossing the busy boulevards.
Michel found a job in a grocery shipping factory, which stretched 600 delapitated stories into the clouds, and only had exterior walls on three sides of the building. They made new people work on the uncovered side and sometimes during our shift we would see a silent body slip into the clouds and disappear.
She worked the giant machines like a pro, especially one in which she climbed into and operated with a small joystick that extended her arms to become enormous yellow iron ones that scooped up handfuls of melons and corn and dumped them into pallets. I remember towards the end of the dream watching her work swiftly, seeing her fragile skin brush past rusty rotating gears so dangerously, and feeling sick, looking up at her smiling down at me.
At the end of the dream, Michel and I made a trip to the ocean side. You had to climb these long rickety ladders to reach the sand, and the waves themselves were crazy and crashed in every direction instead of just toward the land. Some of the waves rose stories high and then just collapsed on themselves in an explosion of mist. Perhaps the huge sea wall we climbed down was built to protect the strange city from the schizophrenic ocean, but the fall of the waves never hit further than the wet sand at their edge.
The elephant seals lifted their heads and watched us half-interested as we approached the water. Giant albatross the size of airplanes glided above, blocking the sun, and in whose shadow ice boulders would grow in just a second. Just before I woke, Michel turned to me and smiled, squeezing my hand, and the giant albatross dipped low to pick us up, and carried us into the grey clouds.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

goodness gracious

I haven't written here in almost exactly two years. Welcome back, terribleshy; older and wiser, albeit a fraction of a second less optimistic, with a touch of broken heart.