Friday, April 04, 2008

A longing for the old country
Occasionally Husband feels these pangs for the old country. And by that I mean the East Coast. Typically these bouts manifest themselves as food cravings. A trip to his favorite cheesesteak haunt pays homage to his native Philadelphia. But when he misses New York, only matzoh ball soup will do. Apparently the streets of New York are paved with matzoh balls.

I attribute this recent trend to The Lurker, who very kindly brought me some very yummy MBS (I'm tired of typing "matzoh ball soup") when I was sick. Of course I shared this with Husband, who practically wept with sense memory. The next time we went grocery shopping we conveniently passed the huge "Kosher for Passover" display by the dairy case and he picked up a box of matzoh mix. MBS ensued. (By the way, I was amused that on the box of matzoh mix it says "Not for Passover!" in big letters -- complete with exclamation point. It is kosher, though.)

I must admit, it was damned fine soup. The MBs were of a delicious consistency and the soup scrumpy in a way that would appall my mother (whose cooking is lacking only two things: flavor and taste). Even though we had MBS on Sunday night, last night as we were serving up dinner Husband said what he really wanted for dinner was....yup, MBS. So tonight, that's on the menu.

For me as a native of the Bay Area, I think the only taste food that screams "home" to me is San Francisco sourdough, for which I would commit crimes if I were ever forceably transported away from here. Good soourdough bread is one of my favorite foods (carbs be damned, bring on the crust!) and one that played a huge role in my childhood. Unfortunately all attempts to make my own have resulted in tragedies involving pale lumps, flour on the ceiling, something fermenting in my fridge, and the smoke alarm. And I have to admit that truly good, truly crusty French bread is getting harder to find, but I persevere. (Damn, now I really want some.)

So tonight it's MBS for Husband. And when I go to the store for ingredients, perhaps a loaf of bread for me. And for Cipher, the World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree (tm), it's chicken and rice. (She has no old country.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hey, your logo looks like a...
Yes, it's the Phallic Logo Awards. Makes you wonder if some people have absolutely no imagination. I mean I look at these and, even without being on the phallic logo page, I see a penis. Do I just have a dirty mind? Some of them are subtle. Some I actually don't really see. But most are pretty danged obvious. And the winner is hilarious.

In other news, today I had my second appointment with the physical therapist my acupuncturist recommended. I am cautiously optimistic. I really like this guy and so much of what he says sounds like such a common sense approach to my pains. His hands-on treatment is definitely finding all the tight spots and working them tell they soften a bit. Plus today he taught me how to sit. I'm pretty sore, but do feel like I'm not in as much pain as usual. I really hope this works. No appointment next week because he's on vacation, but I'll do the at-home exercises he taught me and try to be diligent about my regular walks. I just long for a time in my life when I'm not in constant pain.

Husband is all atwitter about the season debut of Battlestar Gallactica. I just never got into it. He's been watching DVDs of previous seasons to catch up and I've tried, but I'm just not much of a Sci-Fi person. For some reason I got into Doctor Who and Torchwood, but I'm not a fan of spaceships blowing up other spaceships. And every time I look up at the screen when he's watching Battlestar it's dark and (one of my least favorite words that gets applied to so much of popular culture) "gritty." I don't do gritty. I do cozy. But I thought "OK, maybe I'm missing something here" and found an article on which is a primer of the show. It's five (5!) pages long and I read all of it. And I can now state, quite honestly, I have no fucking clue what this show is about.

Talk about complicated! This show makes the Ring Cycle look like an Archie comic. Religious overtones. Bad guys who are good guys and good guys who are bad guys. Characters who are both good and bad and then good again and then kinda bad and then oh look, I have a new name. "People" who are humanoid robots, but don't know it. "People" who are humanoid robots, but do know it. Good lord, people, TV is supposed to be entertaining, not require Cliffs Notes.

I'm sure it's very enjoyable. And anything that makes Husband happy gets a thumb's up from me. And bravo for any show with an intelligent script and good acting. But I just can't get into something that complicated. Perhaps if I'd watched it from the start it would make sense. But from the vantage point of my already-too-full Sci-Fi agnostic brain, it's just too much plot for something that doesn't involve a Greek chorus. Oh wait, it does have a character named Apollo...
Wanna live forever?
Just live in a really ugly house.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Caruso on the night shift
Sometimes when I'm awake in the middle of the night, I do odd things. No, I don't dance naked in my living room or order exercise equipment from late-night infomercials. But I do pass the time in unexpected ways. Usually I'll watch a cosy mystery on DVD. Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, I'm a sucker for them all. I'll curl up in my nest, frequently with a cat as my hot water bottle, and relax in the arms of retired Majors, arsenic in the tea, and blunt objects.

But sometimes I do something different. Like listening to Caruso.

Now right from the start I must admit that I don't particularly like opera. I don't hate it, I just don't love it. I do have a few CDs of arias by those few singers whose voices appeal to me for some reason. Jose Cura is my favorite. But after an NPR special, Husband acquired a CD of that most iconic of male opera singers, Enrico Caruso.

I must say it was rather like listening to a ghost. A very talented ghost with nice pitch, but a ghost nonetheless. The ancient recording was probably to blame for the spirt voice, but the emotion behind it was entirely Caruso's. And it was perfect at 3:14 am.

The cat was spending the night curled around the feet of Husband so I had the nest to myself. I also had Jane Austen at hand. (Watching the wonderful new PBS adaptations has me returning to old friends, like the sisters Dashwood.) The wind was rising and making its presence known in our chimney and I had a fire dying in the fireplace. There were some lovely soft blankets, and then there was Caruso. I couldn't for the life of me tell you what he was singing. Puccini? Mozart? Who knows? But I can tell you that it fit with being the only person in the Bay Area awake at that hour.

Not being a music critic (I leave that to Husband) I am at a loss as to put into words what there was in his voice that struck me. Perhaps it was that distant, ghostly sadness that came through the decades. But it was, in many ways, the audio definition of "evocative." There were men in evening dress and women in long white gloves peering through lorngettes at the man standing in the yellow glow of gaslights. A hushed silence. Red velvet curtains and golden cherubs floating overhead. And that voice appearing out of the darkness, out of time, and into my night. I lay there with my imagination in overtime, watching the firelight paint shadowy frescos on the ceiling, listening to that Italian ghost and loving every melodramatic note. He wasn't subtle, Mr. Caruso, but he was definitely memorably. Which is why, I suppose, sleepy women are still turning to him one hundred years later.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

And what have you forgotten?
Sometimes I can't believe what I've forgotten. Not phone numbers or birthdays, but the things I spent years studying in college. With our Grand Tour planned I'm going back in my mind and reviewing dates, stories, the history of what we will be seeing, and I'm dismayed at how little I remember.

Granted, what we learned in college isn't often in daily use. I mean how often do I need to pull the dates when the Parthenon was constructed out of my brain? But I will need/like to know these things when we're actually standing in front of the Parthenon. So it looks like I'm going to have to spend some time refreshing my education.

On the one hand, I'm looking forward to it. It'll be a goal of mine to be up to speed as a Classicist/Art Historian when we're on our trip. But getting there is a bit intimidating, I must admit. I have plenty of time and I certainly have all the reference books I need. It just seems like such a job. And so sad, when I knew this stuff cold so many years ago. I can't believe that I once read The Iliad the the original Greek. The other day I picked up my old "baby Greek" textbook and it looked, well, Greek to me. Did I once really know how to read this language?

It's odd, because there are a few random facts that I still retain. God knows why. I can, off the top of my head, tell you the names of the architects of the Parthenon (Iktinos & Kallicritis) (misspelled) (badly). Why do I remember that? And if I can remember that, why can't I recall the dates when Brunelleschi was working? The mind is a very odd thing.

And I know it's not just me. I'm sure all of you have facts, skills, knowledge that you could once quote with ease and that now live in the dark recesses of your brain, behind your high school locker combination and the name of that third-grade teacher who always smelled of Dentine. But don't you wish you still had that knowledge at your fingertips?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Book autopsies
Holy cats! Check out Brian Dettmer: Book Autopsies for the coolest visuals I've seen in ages. I love it and completely want to learn how to do this! Amazing!
How to play the fool
With April Fool's Day upon us, I draw inspiration from the nation that leads the world in eccentrics, Britain. Check out this article from the London Times. It lists the top 10 historical jokers of English history, and it's quite an eye-opener and includes such "famous" frauds as Princess Caraboo and Grey Owl.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Yummy at Yoshi's
Today was Husband's birthday. We had a relaxing, lazy day and then went to the beautiful new Yoshi's in San Francisco for dinner and a concert by the amazing Dr. Lonnie Smith.

The food was, to coin a phrase, to die for. Yes, a bit pricey but oh my god! First off, adorable waiter (where's Russell when you need him?) then wildly tasty treats. To start, Husband had a fire roasted salad...sounds odd, tasted great. I had shrimp tempura that was soooo good. Then we split a plate of shashimi. The poor things were swimming off the coast of Japan just 24 hours ago. They fly it in and let me say that these fish died for a good cause. The literal definition of "melt in your mouth." Exceptional. For the main course I had rosemary chicken, Husband had Japanese beef that he called "meat candy." I tried a bite and had to agree; it was glorious. We washed it all down with a crisp and fresh Pinot Grigio. Husband even had room for dessert. It was cocoanut mango soup with home-made poprocks. No, I'm not kidding. And trust me, it was great.

The music was equally so. Dr. Lonnie Smith is the hippest, coolest guy. He plays the organ like nobody's business. OK, it's actually his business and he seems to be doing what he's meant to do. His band was young and wonderful. A disappointingly small crowd for a Sunday night, but the music was hot and fun.

All in all, a wonderful date with my wonderful Husband.