30 May 2009

'Pataphysics and Georges Méliès

I've finished reading an incredible children's book called The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick which, strangely enough, has ended up a few connecting ends in my studies of late.

The book (link to the book's website: http://www.theinventionofhugocabret.com/index.htm. Be sure to check out all of the neat links to all sorts of cool, weird stuff, like automatons and optical illusions) was an invented story about the intertwining lives of fictional Hugo Cabret, horologist, and real-life filmmaker, Georges Méliès. I looked up the films he's done (embedded below) and found out that he's considered 'pataphysical in his techniques and philosophy. 'Pataphysics, in turn, is a pseudoscience developed in the turn of the century by writer and philosopher Alfred Jarry (of Ubu Roi fame) which, consequentially, Michael Benjamin happens to be reading about right now and has only recently come into my realm of knowledge and definitions. Strange, very strange, indeed.

Anyhow, here are some Georges Méliès films. Unfortunately, the first one is in French, but I think it is also rather self-explanatory. A group of scientists take the first trip to the moon. Méliès was an innovator in the field of special effects--you can see why!

29 May 2009

Mon Français Est Déjà Rouillé.

I have returned from Quincy having finished two very lovely books: The Bell Jar, written by the infamous Sylvia Plath, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is a by Jonathon Safran Foer. Both of the novels were beautiful and sad (my favourite sort of book since my literary taste was informed by Walk Two Moons) and it was nice to revisit an old favourite like Plath's work. Both recommended, to be sure.

I've tried to practice my French today (much to my mother's dismay, as she cannot understand a word I'm saying) but I'm afraid that I've already lost much of my vocabulary and several verb tenses. Perhaps I should subscribe to a French blog to keep up...

Amina and I have begun our running! We are two days in, and very thankful we've not run into anyone we know along our jogging path. Tomorrow, I'll take pictures of the two of us in our ridiculous athletic ensembles--we're only a few pockets away from wearing fanny packs.

20 May 2009

Up North

I'm heading "up North" this morning to visit Michael Benjamin. Kevyn and I frequently talk about how there's no more romantic place to go than "up North." I don't know all the plans for this week and weekend, other than that Emily's birthday is tomorrow and that there is going to be something involving a dumpster on Friday. We'll see, I suppose.

I'll be back on Monday--I need a good, long weekend away from the heat and drama of the valley.

18 May 2009

TribalFest Number Nine, Number Nine (3x3)

So, I spent the weekend in Sebastopol, CA, for TribalFest 9, only just about the coolest belly dance festival on the West Coast. It was a brilliant (if not without its drawbacks--it was over a hundred degrees in that community center) show full of once-in-a-lifetime performances by big names--Princess Farhana, Ashara, Unmata, Suhaila Salimpour, and Solstice Dance Ensemble were all crowd-pleasers. I particularly enjoyed Zafira Dance Company, Colleena Shakti, and, of course, the always lovely Indigo. They provided the festival's closing performance, along with live bands the Gallus Brothers and the Crow Quill Night Owls, who truly turned the show into a 1920's, ragtime, vaudevillian act. It was truly the most astounding, most amusing, best-spent hour of my year. Here are some pictures of the whole number:

This is the combined bands and their motley--and ultra-cool--assortment of instruments. They participated a ton in the show: the Gallus Brothers with their serious banjo-and-juggling skills, and the Crow Quill Night Owls with their hilarious additions to the girls' dances.

The beautiful, talented, and awesome Rachel Brice. She performed a drop like I've never seen before during this solo.

The clown of the group, Zoe Jakes, during a hilarious Flamenco-inspired dance-skit in which the "expressiveness" of her dancing increased proportionately with the amount of wine she played to consume.

The phenomenally talented Mardi Love, in her delicious Flapper ensemble. And finally--

The three of them, as the Indigo, in the finale dance of the evening.

This show was a truly magical experience. These beautiful, talented women have positively stolen my hearts with their incredible dance skills.

09 May 2009

Sufjan Stevens Is a Seraph

This is a beautiful Sufjan Stevens cover of the song "The Lakes of Canada," originally recorder by the band the innocence mission. Thank you, Meredith, for this lovely discovery!

The Soy Milk Experiment

Yesterday, Meredith came over and we tried something new--we made our own soy milk. I'll post the link to the recipe below, but I'll make my own comments on it, too.


It was a pretty entailed process, and the recipe didn't really warn us of all the chemical surprises, so let me fill you in.

First of all, you want to get two pots and a kettle of water all boiling at the same time, so that you don't waste time waiting for the water to heat up for the two blanchings and the rinsing. Also, when she mentions that you want to hold onto the blender lid, she's not kidding! Hold onto it with a kitchen towel, too, because if you blender leaks even an itsy bit, you will burn your hand. Then, when you strain out the okara, let the cheese cloth lie slack in bowl, and then once all of the milk is poured in, lift it straight up and out--we tried to hold the cheese cloth taut and lost most of the okara into the mix. Finally, in the last step, skip the salt (or at least reduce it) and don't be surprised when all six cups of milk boils down to almost nothing! We sort of panicked, but when we added six cups of water at the end, it tasted great. I guess you just have to concentrate that flavour.

There are some pictures of the project above!

Some Culinary Experiments:

I've done some neat things in the kitchen in the past few days. First of all, I've improved upon a recipe for "Apricot Tea Bread," as published by Sunset Cookbooks in 1993. Here is the new and improved SCONE recipe!

1 large egg
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temp.
1 tbsp. orange zest (about 1 small orange)
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 sour cream (I use low fat)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3 cups (about) dried fruit
1-4 cup slivered almonds

1. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, butter and zest; beat until blended.

2. Stir in orange juice and sour cream.

3. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and baking soda.

4. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and beat to blend.
(Note: don't bother getting out the electric mixer--this is an easy one by hand)

5. Stir in fruit and nuts.
(Note: the original recipe calls for apricots and golden raisins, but I like a medley of fruits--on this batch I used both types of raisins, apricots, peaches, and apples)

6. Arrange 2-inch diameter lumps of batter on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

7. Bake in a 350° oven for about a half an hour, until medium brown. Makes about 20 scones.

8. Pairs great with as hearty tea--try an Irish or Scottish Breakfast or an Orange Spice like Constant Comment by Bigelow.

06 May 2009

My Most Recent Creation

Here are some pictures of my latest crafty endeavor--a stuffed snail for Kevyn for his birthday. I used cotton fabrics--a batik and a calico--as well as poly stuffing, iridescent ribbon, wire, and buttons, for the eyes.

05 May 2009

My Battered Left Hand

In the last two days, my hand has been through the wringer. The Band-Aid is covering a split nail, there is an inexplicable gouge in my thumb knuckle, and that pink streak across my wrist is a tea burn. Oh, woe is my hand! Perhaps I shouldn't be so careless in my movements.

"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

Lewis Carroll's above quote seems to me to be a rather useful piece of advice--there is no better place for me to begin this blog than at the beginning. We'll see what the end is, when it comes.

I'm beginning this blog as a means for my friends and family to keep in contact with all my goings-on whilst I am away at school on the East Coast. I will be posting photos and news updates, etcetera, as well as, perhaps, my writings. I'm still a little wary about that due to the amount of internet thievery, but we shall see.