kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Today, after some frustration trying to buy rail tickets to go to Bath and Bristol tomorrow (which as I start this post may not be over, as we discover further convolutions of the British rail system), we made a quick pass through the Tate Modern, mostly because it's very close to the Globe Theater.

Modern art is mostly not our thing, but it was free and I found some things I liked. I put pictures on G+, along with links to the museum's information in the comments, which in some cases include better pictures. G+ won't let me create new albums at the moment, so I'll link the posts individually.

"Seated Nude" by Pablo Picasso (cubist mother of future robot armies)

"Before the Storm," by Zao Wou-ki (photo doesn't do it justice but maybe hints at the quality of the small amount of light that's in it)

"The Invisibles" by Yves Tanguy (visually-appealing surrealism)

"Ships in the Dark," Paul Klee (the tiny bright dots are, unfortunately, the ceiling lights)

"Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams 1," by Ibrahim El-Salahi (large striking modernist figures)

Chad has more pictures in his album for the day, including one toward the end of "Eluhim" by Leonora Carrington which I also quite liked (oh, and me on a very large couch that was a public art installation on the way to the Tate, I think).

Then we went over to the Globe, picked up our tickets, and met up with [personal profile] thette ([personal profile] filkerdave, I didn't get any email from you and we figured that Chad would be spottable even among the crowd; if we miscalculated, sorry). Chad and I hadn't had lunch, so we tried the pork pies. I didn't like them, I thought they needed more spice or flavor, and gave my uneaten portion to Chad and had one of the anachronistic energy bars I'd brought for emergencies.

The play was great. There had been some tomfoolery with actors in costume in the ticket area and outside the seats, such as someone telling us not to go in because it was all lies and *shudder* actors in there [*] , and people in costume had been finishing setting up the stage when we got in, so when the play actually started, it was very subtle and natural: Act I, Scene 1 opens with Flavius asking commoners why they weren't at work and why they were out in the streets, so the commoners were down in the yard with us, and it took me, at least, a little while before I realized that no, this is the Chorus-equivalent, the play's started, this isn't more crowd warmup.

[*] And, to my great delight, an actor making a puppet deliver Aragorn's "a day may come" speech from the movie Return of the King, while another actor commented sarcastically. It was amazing.

It was tons of fun to be in the Yard and to have the actors move through you and be among you. (And though standing for 2:45 is not ideal, the seats did not look comfortable, though I don't know if the reconstruction kept the dimensions of the benches or maybe quietly added a few inches to allow for modern heights somewhat more. Happily it only rained a smidge at the very end, and I'd brought a raincoat.)

The acting was excellent, though I wonder how well the highest and furthest seats heard Caesar's lines, as they were notably more quiet than the other actors; it worked for me, because I could hear them and they gained power from that contrast, but I did wonder. I don't know if casting two of the main Citizens in Act III as women is ahistoric, but I appreciated it, because it gave the excellent women playing Portia and Calpurnia more to do. (Sometimes the doubling of actors was confusing to me; I didn't always catch names, so late in the play I would find myself thinking, "Is this one of the conspirators / Brutus' servant taken up arms / etc. or a different person?") And I never fail to be impressed by actors who can deliver incredibly famous lines as natural speech.

Spoilers, insofar as one can spoil Shakespeare. )

The close of the performance was also not what I expected: after the last lines, everyone came out and lined up . . . and then did a big stompy group dance around the stage. I think I saw some Charlie's Angels poses in there. It was very lively! But a bit jarring. I don't know if that tradition is historically-based either.

Then we met up with [livejournal.com profile] kjn and child and went to Tas Pide, where we had excellent Turkish food. It's not great if you don't like bell peppers or eggplant/aubergine, as I do not, but I had one of the variants on the dough-based dish that gives the restaurant its name with potatoes, goat cheese, parsley, and red pepper flakes, and it was delicious. Chad had a similar one, and Thette and KJ had an assortment of small dishes, and then we had wonderfully sticky desserts and I had a very small glass of dessert wine that was smooth and sweetly honeyed and potent, whoosh, if I held it in my mouth too long my tongue started going numb. Anyway, good stuff, recommended if that's the kind of thing you like.

Then we walked across the Millennium Bridge so we could say we'd done it, and I got a shot of St. Paul's that emphasized just how many stairs we'd climbed yesterday. And that was Tuesday.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Just for the sake of completeness:

I have no luck with the iHome alarm/iPod docks that are becoming standard in hotels, and thus slept through my alarm Wednesday morning and got, again, a late start. But I spent a couple of hours at the American Museum of Natural History, taking a nice leisurely look at the evolution of vertebrates through dinosaurs and into mammals (dodging school groups all the while) and then at shiny gems. (I usually play a game, at art museums, of what I'd take home, assuming I had somewhere to properly display it and so forth. At the Met this time it probably would've been this triptych of Japanese landscape hanging scrolls: one, two, three. From AMNH I think it would've been some of the opals they just acquired.)

Then the train in the rain back to Albany, only slightly delayed, and home. SteelyKid was having a snack when I came in so I was able to get my suitcase up the stairs without her noticing, but then we had a lovely reunion and I got to marvel at how much more verbal she'd gotten in just a week.

It was a great vacation, just long enough to really feel like I did things and to be ready to come back home. I woke up Thursday happy and refreshed and full of resolve to keep better habits, which mood still lingers. What more could one ask for in a vacation?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

I've pulled out 32 pictures from our visit to the Freer and Sackler Galleries in DC, almost all Asian art, and posted them in this gallery or behind the cut, whichever method of browsing you prefer.

For almost all of these, I took pictures of the labels and so have more information; if you're curious, just ask.

32 pictures )

Zoo pictures next.

kate_nepveu: stained-glass depiction of autumn foliage (Tiffany)

I don't really know how long it's been since I've done a life update, and so I will probably forget a boatload of stuff. On the other hand, if I've forgotten it, it probably wasn't that important.

Probably the most consequential news is my jaw. medical stuff, cut for length )

In other news, a friend from high school is getting married, so I've been back to Massachusetts for the shower & a bachelorette day (lunch and a spa visit. A facial is nice and all, but a massage—on a heated table—that's just bliss). If only I'd waited another week to write this, I could add the wedding to the list . . .

A while ago (err, end of April, which does put a lower limit on how long it's been since I did one of these), I was in NYC for work on a Friday, so we stayed over an extra night on our dime. We had a very lovely dinner with the Nielsen Haydens, and visited the Met on the way out. The new Greek and Roman galleries were more interesting than I expected, mostly thanks to the neat Roman wall paintings. The exhibit on Louis Comfort Tiffany's country estate has concluded, but I recommend seeing Venice and the Islamic World before it closes on July 8, because it was really excellent, full of informative and gorgeous stuff.

And I was absurdly happy to see that there was another offering of pennies at the same Ganesha statute as the last time I was there.

Anyway, the visit made me realize that I wanted a camera of my own. We have a quite good one, but it's too big for me to just toss in my purse when I go to museums, and there were a lot of things I'd have taken pictures of if I could. I have one picked out, but I'm not going to say what it is to discourage Chad from just buying it for my birthday. => (I think it's too expensive for a single-person gift and am somewhat uncouthly wanting money as gifts instead, which I can then aggregate into said camera.)

As for more recent stuff, I'm kind of behind on a lot of stuff I need to do this summer. There's reading all the Hugo [*] and Campbell nominees before it's time to vote, and re-reading the Harry Potter series before the seventh book comes out, and learning at least a little Japanese ("But I don't wanna, that's work," my subconscious whines), and getting all the logistics squared away (like what we're doing about the dog . . . ).

[*] Does anyone else use Palm's eReader and want the short fiction as nice marked-up files, complete with italics etc.? Minus the two stories only released as PDFs, that is.

And (not that it will help with getting stuff done) there will be Readercon. Woo!

Finally because I am getting tired, we saw Ocean's Thirteen today. Much better than the second, not as good as the first because oblique spoiler )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Earlier in March, we went to New York City on the occasion of relatives' birthdays and saw a musical called The Drowsy Chaperone about which I intend to write more, really, I promise. Getting half-price same day tickets makes for a really long day, but if we got tickets ahead of time, going down for a matinee would be quite workable, so we'll have to keep that in mind. Any particular recommendations? I should note that Chad's not much on musicals unless they're metafictional or have some other reason for people bursting into song.

We've also booked our Japan flights and hotels. All we need is the rail pass (90 days ahead) and our flight seat assignments (ditto; not that I have any great hopes of getting an exit row, but we'll try). Now I need to start thinking about learning the language . . .

And as discussed previously here, I started taking a yoga class. It's certainly exercise, but I haven't decided if I'll take another one; the instructor hasn't been very useful in telling me which exercises I should avoid or modify because of the bursitis in my hips, and I'm not suited to the less-concrete parts of the class. On the other hand, having a scheduled class is a good thing for a procrastinatory Kate. We'll see when it's over.

Last weekend we went to Boston. We spend all day Saturday at the Museum of Science, as it was hosting the Darwin exhibit that originated at the American Museum of Natural History. It had all the stuff you would expect, documents of Darwin's and fossils and specimens, all of which were informative and interesting—plus two Galapagos tortoises that I found terribly comic in how very slow and deliberate they were. As a complement, we went to the IMAX movie on the Galapagos, which includes some great underwater footage. After a break at Papa Razzi, a local chain Italian place, we just wandered around the Museum. Lots of the hands-on stuff still needs fixing, alas, but we still found plenty to entertain ourselves before having dinner with [livejournal.com profile] prince_eric and spouse. Sunday morning we put in an intense two hours at the Museum of Fine Arts: Japanese Bamboo Art, Tsutsugaki Textiles, really cool marbled paper made by Sufis, and a fascinating exhibition called "Women of Renown: Female Heroes and Villains in the Prints of Utagawa Kuniyoshi." According to information in the exhibit, the MFA has thousands of Japanese prints and is starting to digitize them; you can see some online.

Finally and very belatedly, [livejournal.com profile] papersky tells me that I am Bapchild. I have what is "thought by many to be one of the finest Village Halls in Kent"; a cricket club (with fantasy cricket!); and a spring named after St. Thomas a Becket. I was the site of the Synod of Baccanceld in 694, and am currently involved in a controversy over the construction of a Kent Science Park.

(And now to post this while the borrowed wireless connection has faded in rather than out, since our DSL went out last night and Verizon doesn't know why . . . )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Previously in Kate's life: Guster concert [*]; traumatic cooking experience (adding liquid to a cup of freshly-melted and caramelized sugar is even scarier than I expected); traumatic DSL experience (hooked up a new phone wrong and, all unknowing, toasted our connection for the best part of a weekend); traumatic dental experience ("Having heartburn lately? You have a cavity that needs a crown. Go tell your doctor that your dentist ordered to you have an upper GI."); miscellaneous work, insufficient reading, and not going to bed early enough.

[*] Chad's blog post lacks only a more detailed description of the dorky stage patter of the frontman, who first pointed out that the Saratoga Performing Arts Center looks like a UFO from the lawn, and that "SPAC is just one letter away from . . . space"; later said, "Okay, this next song is the end of our regular set, and we can just play right through to the encore or we can try something with you holding up your phones"; and after that song, had people hold up their phones as he pointed to their sections . . . in sync with the keyboardist doing the Close Encounters tones. He said "this is the most stoner-y thing I've ever done," and while I can't confirm that statement, it would not surprise me.

On to this past weekend in New York City:

An acquaintance had invited a mutual friend to his wedding, and I attended as the friend's guest. We decided to make a long weekend of it, as we hadn't seen each other for some time.

Friday, after travel hassles of varying degrees [**], we arrived in Central Park for the New York Classical Theater's production of The Comedy of Errors. This is the one with the two sets of identical twins with identical names, and is deeply, deeply silly. The comic relief twins were played by a single actor, who had a real gift for physical comedy. At one point he fought himself, passing behind a tree to signal his change from one twin to the other, and had the crowd about falling over with laughter. Chad and I had previously enjoyed their production of Winter's Tale, and I was glad that this one was also well-played.

(I am Not Thinking about the play's portrayal of the female characters.)

[**] Of principal note, my jay-walking abilities are intact, but my subway-riding abilities are gone. For instance, I forgot to check the endpoints of the lines and, when I had to make a split-second decision about which way we needed to be going, picked the wrong one—and then didn't notice until the second stop. Later in the weekend I got us on an express rather than a local, leading us about forty blocks total out of our way. I insist, however, that not all of it was my fault: one station had connections between two lines, but nothing warned me ahead of time that to go in the direction we wanted, we had to leave the station and cross the street. And of course there's no such thing as a transfer, so we had to pay twice. Grr.

Saturday we went to the the American Museum of Natural History and saw dinosaurs, a Fabergé menagerie in the Gems section (I want the lapis lazuli elephants), and an IMAX movie, Journey Into Amazing Caves, which was all very good. Then we headed to the New York Botanical Garden for the wedding, which was held on a gorgeous terrace under cloudy but rainless skies. Lovely wedding, great food, met some nice people, but the interspersing of courses with dancing does make for a very long night, especially for elderly relatives and those having to travel a good distance to get to their beds.

My friend decided on a leisurely morning Sunday, but I woke up around 9 and decided to go to the Met, even just for a couple of hours. I focused on the special exhibitions:

  • Girodet: Romantic Rebel: Apparently he was rebelling against his teacher, Jacques-Louis David. I was passing through pretty quickly, but I don't remember seeing any examples of what he was rebelling against, which would've been nice.

    A couple of striking portraits: Jean-Baptiste Belley, who was born a slave and made a passionate speech at the convention that banned slavery in the French colonies; the label said that it wasn't known why Girodet painted the picture, as he didn't seem to have any connection with Belley; and Jacques Cathelineau, who is absolutely fey—the whites of his eyes really pop in person—and whose Royalist self is posed in much the same way as Napoleon was in an earlier portrait. Girodet seems to have weathered political change fairly well.

  • Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece: This exhibition reunites the three components of a very nice altarpiece by Raphael: the people look like actual people, and the colors are beautiful. It is a real pity that they couldn't put the exhibit in a larger space and have the three pieces arranged as they were intended, on top of each other, inside of side by side.

    Colorful people who owned parts of the altarpiece included Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-1689) and Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts (1814-1906); I was glad to be given a reason to look them up.

  • Treasures of the Sacred Maya Kings: This was interesting but the art was not really to my taste. I note that Mayan mythology is another with a world tree.
  • A Taste for Opulence: Sèvres Porcelain from the Collection: Too opulent for me. I was interested to learn that though true porcelain was produced in China since the Tang Dynasty, it wasn't known in Europe until 1708, and not in France until the 1770s. Thus, most of the pieces were made of soft paste porcelain, which is not as white or translucent.
  • A Sensitivity to the Seasons: Autumn and Winter: This occupies all of the Japanese galleries and makes me want to pick Genji back up, with its talk of layered symbolism: quails and their shrill cry conveying autumnal isolation; the remote plain of Musashino, that hardly anyone saw before the Edo period, but that everyone from the tenth century on associated with autumn; the celebratory mood of snow; the linguistic connection between "long rain" (naga'ame) and "to lose oneself in reverie" (nagameru), which led to numerous types of rain and their associated poetic responses—the rain of DOOM as in Saiyuki was not listed, but there were many, many prints of people in rain, some of whom were probably angsting.

    Maybe I will do one chapter of Genji and one chapter of LotR a week. (But probably not. Alas.)

  • But the best, the absolute best thing I saw, was not in a special exhibit. The Asian galleries had a particularly nice standing Ganesha, somewhat like this one, at the back of a corner room. From a distance, I could see that there was a lot more shiny than there ought to be; and as I approached, I realized that someone had made an offering to this Hindu controller of obstacles, just as the explanatory text said is done before undertaking a task: one penny on two of the four hands, the ones that offered flat surfaces; one penny between his feet; and 40-odd scattered on the pedestal where the statue rested.

    I admired this quietly for a while, wishing for a camera, and then notified a nearby security guard. He seemed befuddled by it, as did the couple other staff members he called over. I'm not sure why, as I could have removed all of the pennies without touching the statue (and I am a klutz), but half an hour later, the pennies were all still there.

    I wish I knew what the person made an offering for, and if they felt it was successful. But I really wish I'd had a camera.

After a quick lunch and the purchase of some cool Christmas ornaments, I left, as we were going to a show that afternoon, the Broadway musical adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I will talk about that separately because I want to post spoilers. We had a leisurely dinner after, and though we were balked in our attempt to try a particular wine bar, it was still a good night.

Monday I went to the Strand, which is indeed now air-conditioned, yay, but is still a frustrating experience: it's so big that I expect it to be full of stuff I want, but, well, it isn't. And the paperbacks are just a jumble, while the meticulously-organized review copies no longer interest me (if I wanted it in hardcover, I'd have bought it already; and if I haven't, then I want to pay paperback prices that go to the author, not more-than-paperback prices that don't. Also, this is what libraries are for.). I did pick up a Year's Best Datlow-Link-Grant anthology and a couple of sequels to books I haven't read yet, but it wasn't really satisfying.

Fortunately, I had an appointment for a late lunch with [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink, which was most satisfying. I am very nearly persuaded to read the new Swordspoint-verse book, which apparently has a sensible person who spends a lot of time wanting to kick Alec. Also, new Minekura soon, woo.

On another note, having flailed at [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink at length about the failure of the second half of Angels in America, I am filled with fresh determination to actually write that post. Of course, I felt that way over a year ago, when I wrote up the HBO adapation. But this time I mean it, really!

But first, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with side musings on capers and morality. Tomorrow, that is. *falls over*

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Friday we flew to Chicago for the wedding of a college friend of Chad's. We treated it as our vacation for the summer, and I, at least, was probably more successful at having a relaxingly good time than if it had been our usual just-us vacation.

Saturday we spent the afternoon at the Field Museum. In the three years since we were last there, the "Life Over Time" exhibit was revamped into "Evolving Planet", which was really quite good. I think the highlight of the additions was the Cambrian/Ordovician "aquarium"—three big adjacent screens showing an animated recreation of what it might've looked like underwater at the time. You can see some images on the exhibit's website; be sure to check out the "Curious Creatures." We also really liked the charming explanatory cartoons that replaced the newscast-style videos of the old exhibit.

Also, though this sounds silly: the Corner Bakery within the Museum is exceptionally well-run and a pleasure to eat at.

Saturday night we ate at a place on Orrington (we were staying in Evanston) called Vive la Crepe, which was delicious, and then had drinks with various people in town for the wedding. (Chocolate martini: yum. And I was not carded, to my surprise.) The goal for the day was low-key relaxation and enjoyment, and we achieved it.

The wedding was late afternoon Sunday, after a brunch hosted by two local friends. Very nice, characteristic ceremony, and the reception after was the same. They'd hired the same band that played two prior weddings of these friends; I danced like an idiot and moved gingerly all the next day. (I wore the dress without the sash and with a single pearl on a chain. We didn't bring our camera, but if pictures surface, I'll post them here so y'all can see the results of your fashion advice.)

Yesterday I spent the afternoon recharging by myself; one of the benefits of the wedding weekend was that I didn't feel too guilty about hibernating alone, because Chad could go hang out with the friends who were still in town. It worked a treat; I was quite cheerful by the evening cookout and fireworks at the groom's family's lakefront house. Apparently they were the Willamette fireworks, not the Chicago ones, but they were very nice all the same (and my first live fireworks since, I think, 1999).

Travel today went very smoothly, despite my fears about crews calling in sick and East Coast thunderstorms and so on. The dog was beside herself with joy to see us, which just about makes up for her being a nudge now. Well, it is nice to be missed.

I have a good deal of work to do in the remainder of the week, and at present we don't expect to get into Readercon until 9 or 10 pm on Friday. I'll probably do a quick schedule post tomorrow when the rest of the descriptions are posted, though.

kate_nepveu: painting of woman in yellow dress against blue and yellow background (art)

Yesterday we drove to Williamstown to visit the Clark, or more specifically the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Sterling had a brother, Stephen; they fell out in 1923, and after that time apparently interacted with each other by beating each other to art purchases and making snarky comments about each other's taste (for instance, they both collected Impressionists, but one liked Modern art and the other couldn't stand it). This summer's exhibit brought together selections of the brothers' collections; one strongly gets the impression that they're both rolling over in their graves. The exhibit was thoughtfully displayed, with interesting compare-and-contrast pairings and amusingly snarky quotes from the brothers. I played the "if I could take home one thing" game, and I think it would be a John Singer Sargent painting ("A Street in Venice", linked outside because the Clark's version isn't linkable) admired by both brothers.

Other interesting items were another John Singer Sargent, "Fumée d'Ambre Gris", which wants to be cover art; a very striking painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner called "Rockets and Blue Lights"; and a work by Antoine-Louis Barye called "Tiger" (that I can't find online), in which the tiger, lying on the ground, just pops off the wall.

It happened to be Alumni Weekend at Williams, so as a bonus Chad got to say hi to a couple of people. Fortunately, despite the hordes of cultists alumni that descend on Williamstown for reunions, parking wasn't a problem, though the Clark was a bit crowded. Crowded college towns were a theme of yesterday; it was graduation today for Union College, so last night we found ourselves eating in the bar area of one of the local restaurants as graduation celebrations went on around us. Then we watched some of the first episodes of The Tick, which is very silly indeed, and perfect for brain-dead relaxation.

Today the sun was out! I even sat outside for about an hour, before needing to run errands. The forecast claims that it's not going to rain for a couple of days, even. What a concept.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Last Saturday, we went to an open house of a local maker of pipe organs, Schreiner Pipe Organs, Ltd. (which appears to have no web presence), displaying part of an organ that will be installed in a North Carolina church. It's being co-made with C.B. Fisk out of Gloucester, and you can see a photo of a model on their web site. That was pretty neat; in the unlikely event that you have an open house for a pipe organ in your own neighborhood, I recommend you go.

This week was Thanksgiving, of course. We went to my parents' for Turkey Day itself. My brother and his girlfriend, and my grandmother, were there for dinner (Mom said it had been ten years since both kids had been home for Thanksgiving); my (adoptive) brother's biological half-brother S. (recently come into our lives), his mom, and his three kids came for dessert. It was the first time I'd met any of them; S.'s daughter called me Auntie when saying good-bye, which was faintly boggling.

(Oddly, this was the second abnormally warm Thanksgiving in a row. Last year we were walking the dike without coats after dinner at Chad's parents; this year we had all the windows open during the day, though we shut them at night when heavy winds came through.)

We drove to Chad's parents on Friday, making better time than I expected, for leftover turkey and apple pie. Saturday we went out to the Corning Museum of Glass )

We came back today, and found that the dog seemed to have done very well with being dog-sat for the first time. This was a huge relief, because I was very worried about it (and very tedious with my worry). We are most pleased to know it works well for her.

Link: Washington Post article (may need bugmetnot) about The Book Thing in Baltimore, a very cool-sounding store where books come in for free, and leave for free (except the occasional rare one sold to finance the place). It's facing big rent increases, and is looking for help. I know the holidays are a strapped time for everyone, but you might want to take a look, because, you know, giving away books to people who want them!

And now to bed, to be up too early for court in the morning.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

I was halfway through a chatty, fairly detailed trip report, but I am really tired today and work has come crashing down on me. So you're getting a minimalist version, though I'll keep a few paragraphs.

San Francisco, Friday August 13 to Tuesday August 17:

  • Travel:
    • Getting tagged for the random additional security screening makes my skin crawl. It didn't used to, and the people were very nice (if puzzled by the ice scraper I'd forgotten I had in my bag, because it was San Francisco), but my awareness that they could be arbitrary tyrants if they wanted and there's very little I could do, well.
    • Also, you can't check in online if you've been tagged for screening, which is stupid and annoying, because you can check in at a kiosk.
    • San Francisco Airport's United section has pathetic food options.
    • I do not recommend the Hotel Shattuck in Berkeley.
    • Yay, iPod.
  • Tourism:
    • The Asian Art Museum is huge, really excellent, and highly recommended )
    • Boalt Hall (the law school at Berekeley) is an excellent school. It's really too bad its facilities aren't the same. (We were visiting Chad's sister who's a student there.)
    • The walk from the Civic Center BART up Market isn't very nice. The cable cars are appallingly crowded. Taking a cab up to Fisherman's Wharf is the equivalent of taking your life in your hands.
    • Yes, I know Fisherman's Wharf is a tourist trap. Horrible, crowded, tacky, yes, yes. However: the sea lions at Pier 39 are the Best Thing Ever. I'm serious, you have to go see them. Words cannot express how cool and fun they are. SF Gate article with lots of information; webcam.
    • There are several cool ships that you can inexpensively tour at the Wharf: S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, a WWII cargo ship; Eureka, a big passenger ferry discontinued when the Golden Gate Bridge opened; and the Balclutha, a full-rigged ship with a steel hull.
  • Food:
    • XOX Truffles are the best thing ever that isn't sea lions. We happened across them on Columbus purely by chance, bought a couple for the walk, and after I put the first one in my mouth I said, "I have to go back and buy a whole box." (They're much cheaper if bought in person, too: $7 for 20 in a little paper take-out box.)
    • Skates on the Bay has excellent food and an excellent view.
  • Socializing: lots. Saw/met Chad's sister, A. who lives with her, Chad's godmother and family, Chad's great-uncle and great-aunt (one of), one of Chad's college friends and his girlfriend, and Tom Whitmore at the Other Change of Hobbit.

Since then:

I've either been sluggish, or distracted by the Olympics (which I'm quite enjoying; the cable coverage is good, and NBC is much less annoying this year), or wasting time re-doing the book log, or (today) very tired and stressed. I'll be better once I can get my brain in gear and start thwacking work into submission.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Yeah, it's been a while. In a nutshell:

Three weeks ago Wednesday, I got very unwelcome, not-entirely-unexpected news at work—the flip side of the very welcome, very unexpected news of the last Week in Review post. So I spent the next week and a half working like a madwoman. This last week has been merely quite busy at work, rather than insanely so. The coming week should be interesting; I'm moving offices Friday as part of our office renovations, and will have to pack and label everything. I will not complain about the move, because I'm fortunate enough to be moving directly into one of the renovated offices. But it will be interesting.

Two weekends ago, I went to Massachusetts for two baby showers, one for a friend and one for my cousin's wife. Got to tell the "Is there something you aren't telling me?" story several times (it's what Chad asked me, the night he came home to find two diaper disposal systems on the porch—presents for the showers, of course, but he hadn't made the connection), see my grandmother's new apartment, and catch up with friends and family, so that was good, though it was a long weekend. It was an oddly acquisitive—for lack of a better word—weekend: besides two new suits on sale from Macy's and belated extended-family Christmas presents, I was also gifted with china from one side of the family and silver from the other. Unexpected and a teeny bit disconcerting thereby, but lovely all the same. Guess we need to bump a china hutch up on the list after all.

Last weekend there was, of course, the Super Bowl. Other than that, we headed for a Saratoga-area used bookstore on Saturday, because it was sunny and we wanted to get out. We stopped over in Saratoga for lunch and ended up spending quite a bit of time there—a Christmas store having its post-season clearance, a kitchen gadgets store, a mystery bookstore, and various tchotchke stores that kept prompting me to say, "no, no, we don't need more stuff and we can't afford these anyway, get me out of here before I break down and buy anyway." Found one of Dunnett's mystery novels at the bookstore we'd set out for. Note to self: that's the store with the really friendly gray-and-white cat, the one that climbed up your back when you crouched down to look at the bottom shelves the first time you stopped in.

This weekend was quiet. Yesterday, I went museum-ing to recharge; the Albany Institute of History and Art has a Tiffany exhibit that ends next weekend, and though it was mostly lamps—nice, but not my primary interest—I thought it worth the trip. As a bonus, there was also an exhibit on Frederick Carder's art glass, which was beautiful, and some really cool engraved glass as part of an exhibit called "Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Royal House of Stuart, 1688-1788: Works of Art from the Drambuie Collection" (yes, Drambuie the liqueur). I really, really need to make it out to the Corning Museum of Glass, for all that it would take an overnight trip, because much of the Carder exhibit was drawn from its collection. Then I did some shopping, getting new casual boots for $17, some shirts to go under one of the Massachusetts suits, and a really cool brocade-tunic-thing with pants (discounted to within my usual price range for suits, but the cause of some agonizing nonetheless because it's not exactly a suit—I think I can wear it to work, though, and it's just cool). Rushed home for a paella night hosted by one of Chad's colleagues, which was very nice. Today I did a lot of laundry and played a lot of NetHack, and that was about it. Oh, and cooked a simple dinner. Yay, recharging.

(Oh, and I was cranky about Tolkien over on the booklog this weekend too.)

Link things:

  • In football news: a chatter on the Washington Post's website aptly notes, "Was it just me, or was this the 'Manic-Depressive' Super Bowl?"
  • In judicial news: I don't think I'd go quite as far as Jack Balkin on the recent Massachusetts gay marriage ruling (PDF link), but it was certainly a very odd path for the Supreme Judical Court to take.
  • I had no idea that the Wimsey Papers were online. I haven't read them before, and will save them for the end of the Sayers re-read (vaguely in progress).
  • On the second page of a fairly unremarkable story about movie-themed travel is this line about a UK tour (emphasis added):

    Participants also follow Harry [Potter]'s route on the North York Moors Railway from Pickering to Goathland and take a class in dragon-slaying with Britain's last licensed slayer of dragons.

     . . . you can't just leave it at that! Who is the last licensed slayer of dragons, who licensed him or her, what are their qualifications, have they slain any dragons? Geez. Journalistic standards really are slipping.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

We left for Chicago last Wednesday morning, and returned this Tuesday afternoon. We needed a vacation and were really looking forward to the trip, but I was not in the best shape for a trip, being badly sleep deprived. Sunday night, I was basically up since 3 a.m. because the dog was sick from the stress of meeting, and vehemently disliking, Chad's parents' dog, as well as all the new and varied treats she was given by Chad's parents. I didn't catch up on that sleep Monday or Tuesday nights, between work, laundry, packing, and playing with the dog so she'd go to the boarder's on a good note. (We dropped her at the boarder's Wednesday morning, and they took her right back with no fuss (she likes people)—it was traumatic for us, but doubtless it was for the best because if we had said goodbye, we probably would have just frightened her. I still felt incredibly guilty and sniffled most of the way to the airport. She's such a good dog.)

Public service announcement: I am probably the last person to discover this, but checking in over the Internet and printing out boarding passes: The Best Thing Ever. Especially if you do not trust your airline, as I do not trust United (it was the only direct flight we could get).

I dozed through an easy flight, and we took a van into town that was stuffed with chatty people. I spent about half the trip trying to work out their relationships to each other; turns out they were in town for a yearly convention of former Secret Service agents and their families, and so sort-of knew each other from prior conventions. Billboard that caught my eye: "Resurrection Health Care".

We stayed at the Lenox Suites Hotel on North Rush, between Ontario and Ohio, a block from the Mile, which was very nearly perfect for us )

After we ooh'ed and aah'ed over the room, we had a tasty Cajun lunch at Heaven on Seven (the Rush location of a local mini-chain), a place across the street that I'd spotted on the way in. This was notable for the veritable forest of hot sauces on each table; about twenty-five, by my estimation. Then we strolled up the Mile, looked at the old Water Tower, and got various supplies at a drugstore. When we got back to the hotel, Chad crashed while I spent approximately six years on hold with Verizon, trying to get our dialup Internet access to work. I had been in a good mood, but that pretty well killed it.

We headed out to the Navy Pier afterwards for reasons that frankly escape me now, as it is obviously a tourist trap (probably because it was in walking distance and we were curious). My rotten mood took a small dent when we discovered the cool fountains in the Crystal Gardens: four arching sprays of water arranged in a square, so that one came down near where the next started. If you put your hand through the end of one, interrupting its flow, the next spray would have a visible gap in it. I have no idea how they did that, but it looked pretty cool.

And then we went into the Smith Museum of Stained Glass, which I will rant about at length, because EVERYONE MUST SEE IT. )

After I'd finished exclaiming over the stained glass, we wandered the rest of Navy Pier (which, as I said, is basically just a tourist trap), admired the skyline, and then sat with drinks until the sun went behind a skyscraper and the wind picked up. Wandering around for someplace to eat, we landed in Rosebud, another place with several locations in the city, and had a bottle of wine and excellent Italian food: Chad had one of the house specials, chicken vesuvio, and I had a very simple but flavorful penne with vodka sauce (I think it was the mascarpone in the sauce that did it). Took my leftovers back to the hotel and called it a night.

It became brutally hot in our east-facing hotel room in the morning, as it slowly became clear that the fan on the air conditioner wasn't working. As this realization dawned, I was back on hold with Verizon; after another six ages, they told me that they knew what the problem was, they didn't need me to fix it, and they'd call me back. So we decamped and they called as we were on our way to the Field Museum, saying it was fixed. Oh goodie.

The Field was very enjoyable. )

It was late afternoon when we left and still brutally hot. We walked up Grant Park and found where they were setting up the Jazz Fest, which started the next day. It looked like it could be a very crowded space, so we mentally bumped it down the priority list a bit and eventually headed back to the hotel. Where the AC was not, as I was told on the phone, fixed. (Someone did come right up and fix it when I called again.) And, continuing a trend, the Verizon dialup was not, as I was told on the phone, fixed either. I gave up and called the next morning to cancel the service. We ate leftovers and then headed out to see The Second City.

We saw the Mainstage production of "No, Seriously, We're All Gonna Die." With a title like that, you know it's going to be topical, though there was a mix of non-topical humor too. Little of the scripted portion rose to the level of hysterically funny, but that's hard to do. There was an improv set after (free, so a few people came in) which had more moments that were incredibly funny in a very oh-that's-so-wrong way. It was generally quite good, and the tickets were only $17, so I'd definitely recommend it.

The next morning we stopped in at an Internet "cafe" (it had a cooler of drinks for sale, hence the scare quotes) to check e-mail. Since the weather was still very soupy, we headed back down to Museum Campus to the Shedd Aquarium. Again, quite good. The reef downstairs gets hyped for its sharks, which I don't understand, because there weren't that many sharks and they weren't the focus. The reef exhibit itself is excellent, though, as is the Amazon Rising exhibit. The dolphin show is far too preachy for adults; we should have skipped it and spent more time watching the sea otters play—they're much bigger than I expected and really absurdly cute. ([livejournal.com profile] ajhalluk, I'm definitely jealous that you have an otter now. We actually stooped to buying a small plush otter because they were just so flippin' cute.)

We took our time with the Aquarium because of the weather, and of course when we left it had broken and was nice and cool. We heard one song at the Jazz Fest (someone and the Well-Oiled Jazz Machine) and then headed to Pizzeria Due's to meet [livejournal.com profile] prince_corwin and [livejournal.com profile] publius1. The second location of the original Uno's, the pizza was quite good, obviously hand-made and not stamped out in a factory. We stopped in at Borders, where I forced books upon people per my usual procedure, and then adjourned to [livejournal.com profile] publius1's apartment, which is literally a storefront, for talk and petting of the roommate's neurotic Lab/Border Collie. We had an early morning coming up and were very tired, so we didn't stay too long. On the way back I saw my first Segways in use; two, actually, on the Mile.

In the morning we were off to a friends' lake house in Michigan, which turns out to be enormous: you could fit at least three of our house in it, without exaggeration. The guys went to play golf and I had a deliberately, gloriously antisocial afternoon: I took a long nap, read a trashy novel, and reveled in being alone for the first time in days. We had a quiet dinner in, then lunch, ice cream, and arty purchases the next day in the town of Saugatuck. Headed back in late afternoon through much rain. I have to say, I'm sure that Gary, Indiana is a wonderful place, but from the highway, it looks and smells like industrial Mordor. When we got back, we had dinner at a Big Bowl location (another local chain), which was extremely slow but had competent Asian food.

Monday, it was pouring rain so we spent all day at the Art Institute, and I took lots of notes. )

On the way back to the hotel, my bad computer karma continued, as we had an absolutely dreadful fucking experience at the Internet cafe. You'd think that a place like that would have printing already set up on all the machines, wouldn't you? Well, I did, and was I ever wrong. It took over half an hour to get our boarding passes to print, and I was convinced all the time that it wouldn't work and we'd have to try to check in again at the airport. I was not impressed. Fortunately, it did eventually work, and we stumbled upon Le Colonial, a very nice Vietnamese restaurant that a friend had recommended. We were entirely underdressed, but they didn't turn us away because of my jeans, and we had a lovely and relaxing meal.

Tuesday morning we got up too early, packed, checked out, and had breakfast at a Corner Bakery; alas, my bagel had the dinner-roll nature, but Chad liked his baked French toast. We killed a little time at Borders (we were up way too early) and then went to the Terra Museum of American Art when it opened at 10, because it was free and small and we'd walked past it a dozen times. This was a good way to kill 45 minutes. The folk art and Modernism exhibits weren't my kind of thing, though I did like a series of photographs by Stieglitz called "Equivalent" (one example on this page) and a lively sketch of the Woolworth building by John Marin. More interesting was the exhibit on Edward S. Curtis's print portraits of Native America; there was also a Whistler exhibit with really neat etchings of Venice. Apparently the Terra is closing in late 2004, though it will be rotating works through the Art Institute.

The flight home was uneventful, and we got in early, though not quite early enough to pick up the dog. It was good to be home—there's really nothing like sleeping in your own bed.

Overall, a really good trip. I wish we'd been able to see more of the city outside museums, do the Jazz Fest, that kind of thing, but the weather just didn't cooperate. I'm sure we'll go back at some point.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

The first part of last week was spent running around trying to get stuff together for a case, the papers for which needed to go in the mail on Wednesday. The catch was that I wasn't going to be there on Wednesday; I was going to be in New York City for a conference. And I am a control semi-freak when it comes to work and really prefer to oversee things myself, even when I know I've left everything in capable hands. My state of mind was not helped by the discovery that things would have been ready on Tuesday, had I not been an idiot and overlooked something important. Fortunately it was all fixable and went in the mail properly—on Wednesday.

I spent Wednesday through Friday in New York City, at the National Association of Attorneys General's annual conference on corrections law (prisons and prisoners). I think it was probably pretty standard as such things go: a reasonable variation in the levels things were pitched at; one person who went on about "me, me, me, me, me" for far too long; and a widespread inability to speak into microphones. Unfortunately, the more advanced topics were ones that I'd happened to work on already, so there wasn't anything incredibly new to me. We did get a CD-ROM with our printed materials that looks to have a lot of very nice research on it, though.

I also took advantage of being in NYC by having a nice dinner with [livejournal.com profile] redbird on Thursday night, at La Bonne Soupe (mmm, cheese fondue), and then went to see Perfect Crime, a play that I'd gotten a half-price same-day ticket for. Thoughts on the play, no spoilers )

My plans for Friday afternoon fell through when I never heard from the person I was going to meet, so I went to the Met before catching a train home. Museum-ing )

It was good to be home.

Saturday, I actually did some yard work, raking and trimming hedges (fun with cordless hedge trimmers!) while Chad dug up bushes (breaking a shovel in the process) and improved our patio. Went to see X2 that night, which I quite enjoyed. It didn't rock my world—I got more of an adrenaline rush from the Matrix trailer—and I don't drool over the prospect of a sequel, but it was good clean mostly-non-stupid fun and I recommend it. Ian McKellen just oozes panache, and Hugh Jackman really ought to be a star—no, I don't find him attractive, but he just has terrific screen presence, dreadful hair and all.

As far as trailers: ooooh, Matrix Reloaded. I'm not sure which trailer this was—not the final theatrical, which is all that seems to be on the website now—but it had a beautiful sequence, towards the end, of intercut parallel shots of jumps/flips/pikes/general arcing motion. Ooooh, pretty. (It's like watching diving, only with better clothes.) The eponymous Hulk looks disturbingly like Shrek; I don't think we'll be seeing that. I could probably see The Italian Job, being a sucker for caper films, even though I suspect that we saw most of the movie in the trailer. Everything else looked dire.

On Sunday, we bought a swing (as in porch, though this one is freestanding with its own cover, not as in playground) and Chad spent most of the afternoon putting it together. I made a risotto with shrimp that, to my philistine tastebubs, is just as good when you boil the rice as when you simmer. (Is there really a difference?) I'd meant to update both this and the book log after dinner, but I was still so tired from the week (the hotel bed was dire) that I just stared the screen blankly for a while, mindlessly playing Bejeweled, and then went to bed in a stupor.

This promises to be an interesting week. I have the Mental Hygiene calendar this month, which basically means appearing every Thursday at hearings that determine whether people who've been committed to a mental health facility, stay committed; and on Friday, I have at least one oral argument. Also, though I told [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel that we wouldn't make Montreal this weekend because we needed the time at home, I have discovered that thanks to miscommunication here, we actually have a prior commitment for Saturday, and maybe a new one for Sunday too. Whee. Which means I should go to bed instead of writing enormous LJ posts . . .

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Fairly quiet week at work. I did lose my first decision, which was disappointing; yes, it had to come sometime, and I don't think there was much else I could have done with what I had—but I do wish it hadn't been that case or that decision.

At home, our new bookshelves were delivered on Tuesday, which was the cause of much oooh'ing and aaah'ing. We've only had time to unpack the hardcovers so far, and those will all need to be shifted around when we retrieve the rest of my books from my parents' house: but it's so nice to have books on shelves again. Also, our couch was delivered on Friday; Chad is currently stretched out full-length on it as he swears at the TV (Maryland is in a very ugly overtime game with Virginia), so that gives you an idea of the size of the thing. It's very comfy.

It was also a week for museums. I went over to the New York State Museum to see the exhibit "Once Upon a Time: Fiction and Fantasy in Contemporary Art," drawn from the Whitney's collection. It was a small showing, but there were two pieces I really liked. One was Frank Moore's Lullaby II, which really needs to be seen full-size to be appreciated. The second was Alexis Smith's Beauty and the Beast, which was three long horizontal rectangles, divided into panels, arranged on top of each other. Typewritten excerpts from the story were on top of most of the panels; an object that referred to the story was in the center. For instance, when the father picked the rose, there was a paint chip for a shade called "Scarlet." I'm not describing it very well, and I can't find any pictures online, but it was well done.

This weekend, we went down to Long Island to visit Chad's grandmother, whose birthday is soon. I also went to visit one of his great-aunts, who is not well; it was sad, but I was glad to have done it. We had a nice dinner Saturday night, and today went to the American Museum of Natural History. We went first to the Einstein exhibit, which was enjoyable but not, in my opinion, spectacular. Then we went to see butterflies, which is always fun. Out for lunch, and then back for the Rose Center for Earth and Space. The Hall of Planet Earth is very well done, lots of beautiful geological exhibits, but the coolest thing is the "Scales of the Universe". The idea, as explained on the museum's web page, is that the Hayden Sphere is used as a scale reference in relation to models. My favorite was, if the Hayden was the size of an atom, then a point smaller than the dot on top of an "i" was a proton. It's really effective at conveying how big (and small) things are, and just a brilliant idea. On the way out, we stopped in at the First Europeans exhibit and the gift shop—buying a plushie squid and a stuffed T. Rex, just because they were so absurd.

Finally, in web news: I updated my LJ bio in a fit of strange procrastination. I found a cool story about the 1933 Double Eagle coin, and was tickled when BoingBoing picked it up on my suggestion. And I finally finished my Boskone 40 Convention Report.

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