yrmencyn: (armadillo)
A year ago [livejournal.com profile] rosepurr and [livejournal.com profile] thndrstd went to the Southern Festival of Books, and they told me it was awesome.  And then I bailed on going down on New Year's, because the roads sucked and I was tired whaa :)  So a few months ago I said "Sure, I think I might go down next time the Festival rolls around."  And then, despite the fact that I was dead tired from my first, crazy week of work, I made good on this commitment ('cause it's rude to bail on two travel plans in a row).

Totally good choice.

Good despite the fact that we ended up stopping on Friday night in Elizabethtown, KY so that I wouldn't drive off the road.  Or that there was a sort of 2001-like dipstick thing thanks to a broken dipstick tube (it's not worth explaining, really, it was just a little bit of a masculine blow).

The Festival was, as any such event is, a mixed bag, but it was TOTALLY worth it, just for the panel where Kevin Wilson and John Pritchard read from their work.  There were other good things, too, like the discovery of poet Karen Head, or YA author Justine Larbalestier (in spite of a completely incomprehensible talk she gave that we walked out on).

And NY-style pizza in Nashville of all places.  And boiling hot fried catfish.  And an espresso macchiato that took well in excess of 10 minutes because apparently some coffee shops spend all their time on developing superb coffee drinks, and none of developing a good workflow.

After the festival we went to see a free concert by the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra, which included (among other things), Sibelius' Op. 26, "Finlandia," which I know I am not alone in loving.  As a bonus, we caught the tail end of Nashville in Harmony's performance in the lobby.  [Amusing side note: their conductor's concert rhetoric is quite circumspect -- I didn't realize until I looked up their website just now that they're a GLBT chorus.]  We skipped out on the Nashville Symphony's performance in order to celebrate the birthday of a friend of our hosts, at a bar called Past Perfect.  They specialize in classic cocktails -- I don't think I've ever even had the opportunity elsewhere to have both a Pegu Club Cocktail and a Sazerac in one sitting (and a Key Largo, but that doesn't have quite the cachet, thought it's surprisingly pleasant, especially for a tropically flavored drink :)

After a pancake breakfast and my traditional swing by Bojangles' for a country ham biscuit (be still my heart), we headed on back to Columbus, only an hour late to rehearsal thanks to an hour in which we moved about 15 miles on I-71.  No wreck.  Just... slowdown.

All in all a very satisfying weekend.  Next stop on Mike's Regional Visiting Tour?  I believe that'd be St. Louis.  Or [livejournal.com profile] talyr will eat my soul :)  Stay tuned.
yrmencyn: (Default)
The BBC allegedly believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here [of course, there's no attribution and this list doesn't match the one hosted at the BBC's website, whence it seems to spring, but hey -- who needs references and papertrails, right?]:

How do your reading habits stack up?

Another book list meme )
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
I really felt quite good today, and I have a suspicion as to why: Breathe Right strips.  I wore one last night, and it was amazing.  I haven't breathed like that in... ever, I think.  My nose is always a little stopped up, and I don't think I've ever really been able to breathe deeply without obstruction, at least not in living memory.  This is hard to describe, sorry.  Think of it as... it's like going into the mountains and breathing that clear, fresh air.  Only in Ohio.  You really can't understand unless you've been in the same situation.  Anyway, I might have to invest in these... permanently.  It's like a drug :)  And I felt amazingly refreshed despite not getting all that much sleep last night.  Woot!

Anyway.  So there was this huge bookfair today.  A professor emeritus died recently, and he requested that all his books be donated to needy grad students.  He remembered his days in graduate school, unable to afford books, and wanted to give others a leg up.  I... I couldn't stop.  Like Breathe Right strips, it was kind of like drugs.  I brought home a whole box of books.  This is a problem... it's sort of like a relapse, following my great Half Price Books purge over the summer.  And now my to-read pile is completely unmanageable.

Long list follows )
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
I say this because I think I've finally found an angle that I can enter this from.

In today's Something Positive,  PeeJee asks Davan, "Why are you always cooking?  It seems like you're always trying to feed me," to which he replies, "It's a Southern thing.  Food is a form of affection."  Truer words have never been said.  Food is certainly one of the most basic non-verbal forms of affection.  But it's also a form of nesting, and domesticity (note I'm no longer really making reference to the S*P strip; I'm just riffing, now).  I've been thinking a lot about domesticity recently.

I don't know what it is; if it's a function of people around me 'settling down' (notably my sister -- 5 weeks and counting -- but also others close to me), or some abstract 'biological clock', or just something arbitrary and mundane like my quarter-century birthday coming up.  I've been thinking about where I want to end up, what I want to do, how I want to live... it's a little odd-feeling, and a little bit of a poor choice on my part, since I know as well as anyone that if I'm really serious about wanting a job in academia, I'll be lucky to take whatever I can find, no matter where it is.  (Of course one could question whether I want that academic position at all, but that's my current thought-stance.)

And I've been coming up with some answers to these questions, that's the scary thing.  First of all, I want a house.  This has become abundantly clear to me.  I mean, my upstairs neighbors are great -- very friendly and generally rather quiet -- but I still find myself displeased with just the little bits of neighbor presence that I sense.  I want a backyard (I'll even happily mow the lawn, if it means getting my damn backyard).  A back porch would be my delight and joy.  I want to paint the walls with impunity.  I want to fix the damn problems in the house without having to pester my landlord, even if it means footing the bill.  I want to fix problems!

And I think I want kids.  No, scratch that, I know I want kids.  Or at least kid.  I went through this really sad phase, mentally, a while back, when I pretty much thought that my sexuality precluded me from being able to have that kind of parent(s)+kid(s) family structure.  But over the past year, I've been realizing that this just isn't the case.  I think I first started to really become cognizant of it with a really fantastic NYT article this past November, "Gay Donor or Gay Dad?", and then it floated around a bit, really getting stirred up recently by Neal Pollack's great memoir Alternadad.  And I've got some books en route about the particular gay-father aspect (more memoirs; I like to be entertained, thank you).  Obviously I don't have any immediate plans or anything, but I'm definitely trying to (re-)adopt a stance in which I can say "My life is my life, and I'll be damned if I let some segment of society tell me how I can and cannot live."

And I miss Texas.  This is also, to a certain extent, Mr. Pollack's fault, since he lived with his wife and newborn in Austin for a few years, but it's also thanks to the movie Waitress, and Karen Stolz's World of Pies (thanks, Terri!), and just to a certain... I don't know, nostalgia.  I mean, I grew up in Texas.  So thinking about kids makes me think of Texas, I guess?  And of course, I'm realistic.  Like I mentioned above, the ball is often taken out of your court in academia, and that's without even considering the needs and desires of the other people in your life.  And without considering the fact that, in a ranked list of gay-friendly states, Texas wouldn't exactly be tops.  But all that being said, in a perfect world, I think I might live in Texas.  I love Ohio, and I love Louisiana, and I really have enjoyed many of the other places that I've visited, but there will always be a part of me that belongs to the Lone Star State.

God, I'm such a homebody :)
yrmencyn: (Default)
Oh, food.  Sometimes you are delightful, sometimes I use the wrong horchata recipe and end up with a vaguely rice-flavored beverage with a texture reminiscent of... hmm.  Ok, you know how, if you put a dairy product in an acidic liquid, it ends up with a bunch of little curds?  Like that, but the curds are made of cooked rice and almond.  That shit is lo-fi, man.

Not to say I can't cook recently.  I've got a custard for Maritime Mist ice cream in the fridge, which I'll freeze tomorrow; it looks to be lovely.  Maritime Mist is a tea blend from the Great Lakes Tea and Spice Company, with an Earl Grey base combined with creme and vanilla flavors, and mallow blossoms.  I know, right?  Full of nummies.  I only fear it might be TOO sweet -- tomorrow will tell.  Also recently made, a lovely vegetarian shepherd's pie for a veggie potluck that people in Kevin's program do.  The 'meat' was mushrooms and lentils, a wine reduction, and the requisite carrots and celery.  In hindsight, some balsamic would have gone well, and I forgot to add any bloody garlic (which borders on the unthinkable), but it was still an unconditional success.  Oh, and just to prove I still have meat cred, I made some savory oatmeal with a bacon base for dinner this evening (I used the recommended 'heart-healthy' serving size of oatmeal for extra irony).

More words. Many more. On varied subjects. )
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
Today was a really interesting day for me, artistically.  Wednesday nights I have my Word & Image seminar, and tonight we met out at the Ackerman Library, specifically at the Book Arts lab in that building.  It was really fascinating to see some examples of artists' books, to see what people have done creatively.  We have to do a final project for that class, and though I might do something totally different, I have all these book-thoughts in my head; the possibilities are so numerous!  I've got Liz checking out this kind of canvas that you can run through an inkjet printer (having, myself, no hand-drafting skills to speak of, I must use the computer).  I'm also wondering if I could get fabric to go through if I starched the ever-loving hell out of it?  The main problem is stiffness, and to a lesser extent strength: the material has to be sufficiently paper-like to work with the automatic mechanisms of the printer.  I know there are so many more things to do with book-arts, but this is just the current bug that's biting my brain, printed fabric.

[And then when I came out I found I had gotten a $50 parking ticket.  I knew that space was too good to be true!  Although I can say in all honesty that I saw no forbidding signage.  Oh well.]

My interest continues to be piqued by a mini-project for my Literary Editing and Publishing class.  Working in pairs, we have to present an introduction to a literary press or journal, and my partner brought to my attention Tarpaulin Sky, which appears to be mostly an online lit mag, but is also a press.  They make some really lovely stuff.  Their online mag is well laid out, but I think they really shine on their print work, which is just outta sight.  It's beautiful stuff.  Although certainly for visibility's sake one would like to be published by Sarabande or Copper Canyon (which, I realize, only poets have heard of, but trust me: they're bigguns), the product they're putting out over at Tarpaulin Sky seems like it must be a joy to hold and look at, on a totally extra-textual level (which is sort of where my head's at right now).

So rarely do I feel so full of ideas!
yrmencyn: (Default)
Greetings.  I just wanted to note two things.  First, we had a lovely party here for New Year's, saw lots of old friends (including some I hadn't seen in, literally, years).  I made some tasty food, a number of people brought snackums and drinks, and all in all a good time was had by all.  The group singing of Auld Lang Syne (led by my copy of Barenaked Ladies' Barenaked for the Holidays) was a special treat, as was having someone to kiss at midnight for, I think, the first time ever.

Second thing is to say that I've just now finished reading Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game for the first time ever in my 24 years.  Yes, I know, I waited more than a decade too long, but you know how these things go: sometimes important books slip through the cracks.  It was really stunning.  It can be read as an insightful treatise on the problems of interaction with an extraterrestrial species, of course, and in the unlikely event that that becomes more relevant I certainly hope the book is required reading at all levels.  That said, I think it's hugely applicable right here, right now as a story about the dangers and consequences of dehumanizing the Other.  It's a sad habit we have as a species, our willingness to paint those with whom we disagree as obvious fools or fanatics, when an interior examination would almost certainly reveal an internal coherency -- and thus an empathizable connection -- to rival our own.

In other news, OSU starts Winter Quarter tomorrow, and I can't access the registrar's site.  Which means I can't view my schedule.  Kevin helped me recreate most of it from other sources (he's a smartie, and I was having a mental block), but I still don't know where my Art seminar is.  Or when.  Or, for that matter, what the damn course number is.  Good times.  Guess I'll be calling the Department of Art tomorrow.  I'd use their website, but it is, unfortunately, pretty much worthless, a monument to form over function.  All pretty, no content. *rolls eyes contemptuously*

I bought a leather coat last night; it is sexy.  I bought Marcus Samuelsson's The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa today; I've been VERY excited about this one since I saw it about a month ago.  Yay Christmas money!  Also had my glasses repaired today, since one of the lens-frames decided to break at the bridge while I was cleaning them a couple days ago.  All-American Eyeglass Repair, 999 Bethel Rd. (just east of Kenny), was wonderful: fast, cheap, and the repair looks to be both neat (you have to know it's there to see it) and sturdy.

Finally managed to get over to the departmental office to check my mailbox, where I knew my portfolio was waiting.  Also there was my commented final paper from Phelan.  For once, I was very happy to receive comments on a paper; he noted a lot of places where my argument was weak or, more frequently, underexplored, and the comments were actually truly constructive, in a way that I don't often feel like I've gotten.  This felt more like I was being approached as a peer by a more experienced colleague, rather than as a peon by a professor just going through the required motions.  Not to say I've had all disaffected, disinterested professors -- far from it -- but it's been a while since a prof and I have both been on board; I've written a lot of papers I could care less about.
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
Oh god.  Most depressing thing ever.  I'm sitting here reading blogs and chatting to Kevin, and I'm fading fast.  So finally it's time to go to bed, and I turn around to see... crap strewn everywhere, leftovers from me sorting through mass amounts of old stuff.  I have nowhere to sleep.  Guess it's time to put on an ep of Sports Night (season 2!) and clean this shit up, ugh.

Brief notes: 

-- I have 15.5 boxes of books, notebooks, class notes, and class handouts.  Actually the latter three categories are only 1.25 boxes.  The rest is just books, plain and simple.

-- Farewell dinner with Lafayette (read: CBC) folk tonight at Café Habana City.  Mm, vaca frita.  Mm, tostones.  Mm, rice and Cuban red beans.  Double mm, mojitos.  Nice to see the world there.

-- Gas price in Lafayette?  $2.69!  So exciting.  So depressing that it's so exciting.

-- So THAT'S what happened to my pretty wooden cat statue!  I've missed you!

-- I can't figure out whether to throw out some old pairs (yes, plural) of eyeglasses.  They're pretty beat up and I have no idea of the prescriptions, but... shouldn't I donate them?  But to whom?

-- I have put about a ream's worth of paper in the recycling bin today.

-- I think I'm getting better at this strange skill of "actually getting rid of things instead of hoarding every random scrap of paper for years and years."

EDIT: It should be noted that "clean[ing] this shit up" consisted almost entirely of me picking things up, looking at them sorrowfully, and then setting them down in places that weren't my bed. I say almost entirely because I did put some papers in a large manila envelope. Go me.
yrmencyn: (food)
This weekend is one of the first in a long time that I've been home, instead of gallivanting around the country or recovering from camp (or preparing for camp) or whatever.  As such, I've really been having a good time just relaxing.  Today, I went to Highland Coffees for the first time in a long time, the better to sit around, read, and drink coffee and tea.  I was most excited, since I'd received Middlesex  on Friday (and thus it begins!), and I was looking forward to a nice long session of caffeinated reading, sitting in the warm Louisiana summer air under Highland's bower.  Mmmm.  Anyway, getting to the subject, today I was wearing a shirt that was given to me by Dr. Ancelet.  It has text on it in French.  While I was getting a refill of dark-roast coffee (mmmm), the barista asked me what my shirt said.  I responded "Speak French on purpose!"  It was only as I was walking away that I realized I had answered the pragmatic question, not the actual one (that is to say, I had responded as above, telling her what the shirt meant in our lingua franca, rather than saying "Parle français par exprès!", which is what the shirt literally says).  The amusing fact is that I was, in a way, actually acting directly counter to the instructions of my shirt.  No real point, just recounting.

Middlesex, by the way, is wonderful so far (about a third of the way through).  I should expect no less, of course, since it's been recommended to me not only by national reviewers (and the awarders of the Pulitzer Prize) but also by [livejournal.com profile] rnbowpixy; personal recommendations carry a lot of weight.  It is absolutely nothing like I expected, but in a very good way.  Rather than being a stridently political book about an intersexed person (which I foolishly expected), it's a broad-reaching symphonic study of sexuality, love, immigration, and a myriad other topics that all combine to make up human nature.  Beautiful.

Last night Shane, Rebecca, and I went out to eat at J. Alexander with two of Rebecca's fellow TFAers.  I'd noticed the restaurant over by the Mall of Louisiana earlier, but hadn't really given it a second thought.  225 Magazine, however, recently ranked it as having the second-best salads in the city, and thus was Rebecca's curiosity piqued: as an Orthodox Jew, she eats a lot of salads when she dines out, since they're one of the few safe things.  J. Alexander's turns out to be a somewhat upscale steakhouse/Americana place that I found to be very pleasant.  It's got a very fancy feel without being overly stuffy or pricey, which I appreciate.  The cheeseburger I had was one of the best I've had in a long, long time, juicy and savory and full of beef flavor.  The wine also made me happy; I got a quite reasonably priced Côtes du Rhone, which was quite tasty.  Course, the tastiness was only enhanced by the fact that they serve all their wines in -- wait for it -- Reidel!  I mean, Christ, what restaurant in the 15$ non-steak-entree price-range uses that level of glassware?!  Very fun.  Even if the waiter was a little flaky, but I'm over it :)

My parents had been in earlier in the day to steal away my bed.  See, I had no plans of taking it to Ohio, and my brother's moving to a house off-campus in Austin this year, so he's getting it.  Mom and Dad drove from Nac, took me to lunch, helped me transport a dresser I bought home, packed up the bed, and drove back, because my whole family is crazy; we don't think that much of driving 10 hours in a day.  Did I mention lunch?  Yes.  I hadn't been to Parrain's in a while, and I was very happy to go there.  I hope they enjoyed it like I did -- I had the barbecued drum like last time I went there, because it's so. damn. good.  Our waiter... this is weird.  I got friended by this guy on Facebook a couple weeks ago, but I declined it (because I don't know him) and thought nothing more of it.  So yesterday, our server is greeting us and I'm thinking "he looks really familiar!  why?"  The bill comes with his name and... ah, it's him.  There we go.  So odd.

Also, did I mention a dresser?  Why yes I did.  The parents also took my dresser, which is a primary colored wooden thing that's been in my room since my childhood.  In its place, I now have a faux-pine chest of drawers, straight from your friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart.  About ninety bucks and three hours of assembly later (it took forever because my Phillips head screwdrivers seem to have run away, leaving me with only a multi-tool to work with), I now have a nice looking dresser that doesn't make me feel like a juvenile.  There was also a lot of cleaning involved, as you can see from the pictures below.

Pictures )

Friday night was also a night of fun and food (that seems to have gone on a lot this weekend, wow).  Erin, Katie, Mandi, and I started out by going to Waka House, a new sushi place out at Sherwood Forest & Coursey (give or take).  The sushi was quite good, and the value was wonderful: we ate until we were nearing stomach rupture, but we only spent 15$ plus tip apiece.  That's... shocking.  I mean, really.  Yay!  We continued by going to Hole Experience, where Katie and Mandi intended to get piercings.  Unfortunately, there were some issues, and it didn't end up happening, but still it was good times.  We had planned on going to see Clerks II, but it appears that it's no longer showing in Baton Rouge :(  I do note that it's still showing in New Orleans, but apparently only until Thursday?  So I guess I'll have to wait for it to come out on DVD.  Instead, we wet to see Pulse.  It was't a bad little flick, as dystopian cyber-horror goes.  I do have to say it was the most bizarre depiction of Columbus, OH I've ever seen.  I realize they were probably trying for a representative city of average Middle America, but... well, Columbus just isn't that urban of an urban space.  Sure, it's definitely a city, but that whole tenement-y buildings everywhere, full of urban angst and disquiet shtick?  Not so much.  Very amusing to those of us that know the city.

And now, finally, I think I've come to my conclusion.  Huzzah!
yrmencyn: (Default)
Ye gods.  I am so out-of-date in the updating.  It's unforgivable, it really is.  So I guess you'll be getting random bullet points, because I know if I tried to do a full-fleshed narrative I'd be here 'til next week.  So in the order they first crop up in my brain:
List! )

And that about does it.
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
Work today pretty much blew, to put it simply.  There were an inordinate number of charts to file, and I did nothing else from the time I got there until the time I left, discounting lunch.  I made a dent, but not a big enough one; I'm going to have to work like crazy to get somewhere close to caught up tomorrow.  There should really be more than one person filing, for this volume, ugh.

So by the time I left, after my usual quittin' time, I was beat.  There was, of course, but one thing to do: go home to change, and immediately adjourn to Chelsea's to read a book, drink a beer, and consume an entire plate of cheese fries (and those of you who've been to Chelsea's know how big those plates are!).  I felt completely gross when I was done, but in a very satisfying way.  Sometimes it's completely appropriate to abuse your bodily systems in retaliation against ill-defined blandishments.

I read the first half of Tobias Wolff's Old School this evening, and I'm quite enjoying it.  The reason I'm reading it is because it's the common book for OSU freshmen, and I volunteered to lead a session in one of the survey classes discussing the book; Michelle Herman of the CW faculty has been harassing faculty and staff to lead them :)  In addition, and here's where this gets interesting, I've also volunteered to be on a related question panel on Coming Out.  Old School deals with the narrator coming out as a Jew to his New England prep school classmates, and Michelle and Janice Miller of the Statistics faculty thought it'd be an interesting idea to do a separate session, outside of class, to further explore the concept of coming out -- as a Jew, as gay, as an addict, as bulimic, what have you --, and I volunteered to do that as well: in for a dime, in for a dollar.

In a sterling burst of meta, it functions as a furthering of my own coming out process, which is interesting.  It's only in the past year that I've really started acting on my sexuality, so I feel almost like this panel is a bizarre form of non-film cinéma vérité/reality tv: see it as it happens!  Like CNN, but live-action and at Hillel!  So odd.

Um... I'm bad at conclusions.  It's a failing.  I'll leave with a couple of entertainment-related items.

1.  There is a channel out there that I recently found through [livejournal.com profile] queenmargot, called The Tube.  It's wonderful.  It's what MTV should be: they show videos, and that's pretty much it.  I've seen a couple of PSAs on there, but I don't really have a problem with PSAs, and a couple of promos for WAFB, the local network affiliate, but those aren't too annoying.  AND: they play videos from all over the timeline.  I've seen a few current ones, but also a whole lot of stuff from the 80s, 90s, even the 70s (concert footage, mostly), including a lot of stuff that isn't really MTV fare anyway, which is nifty (though don't worry, mainstream vids have a strong presence, too).  It's wonderful.  Baton Rouge, you can see it on Cox Digital channel 120.  Columbus, you can see it on WOW 140 or Insight 834.  Other markets, you can check the site.  Highly recommended.  Seriously, they're playing David Gray's "Babylon" right now, and it's (a) one of my favorite songs ever (b) never, ever, ever on the radio or the tv.  Score.

2.  Thanks to the inestimable [livejournal.com profile] puppetoflove, I can now share with you a link to the video of the Dixie Chick's "Top of the World" (originally by the fabulous Patty Griffin).  I strongly suggest you all watch it, even if you think "Ew, country music."  Reasons?  Well, first off, it's a great song.  Patty Griffin is by far one of the most talented songwriters of our time, and the Dixie Chicks are very talented performers, and this is a standout track from Home, their best album to date IMO.  If you've ever wondered what it is I see in the Dixie Chicks, this should answer.  Second, the video itself is beautifully done.  It's artful and technically skilled, and it actually adds a layer to my understanding of the song, which is something that I can say for only a tiny minority of music videos out there.
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
Whee!  I'm excited.  I was futzing around the internet just now, and it occurred to me to check to see if the English translation of Sergei Lukyanenko's Nightwatch has been released yet.  Well, it hasn't, but I've now placed a pre-order.  And here's the great part: by the time it's released and shipped in late July, I will have TOTALLY forgotten about it, so it'll be like magical book manna from heaven!  Squee!

Tomorrow I shall get scrubs and check out 1.5 mountains of books to read.  Thus let it be written, thus let it be done. On the list at the moment are:
Western Wind (Nims) - a poetry intro text, recommended by my advisor for next year, who perceptively noted that I don't know thing one about the practice and mainstream of poetry, except to write it (which is certainly handy, but it's nice to have some perspective, ne?).
The Milagro Beanfield War (Nichols) - Owen's fault.
The Namesake (Lahiri) - It's one of those everybody's-read-this-why-haven't-you books.
Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules (ed. Sedaris) - Been meaning to catch this since I saw him read last... what?  May, June?
On Beauty (Smith) - Oh, Zadie Smith.  All the cool kids are reading you.  Plus your novel is an update of Forster's Howard's End, and how crazy is that?
How to Be Good (Hornby) - Uh, it's Nick Hornby.  Hello?
Independent People (Laxness) - This one is the New York Times' fault.  I was just browsing around, and suddenly there was Jonathan Franzen saying that this book set in the back country of Iceland had inspired wanderlust in him.  How can I not?  I'll listen to a lot of Björk while I read it (maybe).

Also, I recently downloaded eps 1-8 of the first season of Sports Night. Why, oh why, oh why was this show cancelled?! (other than Sorkin kinda wanted to do West Wing instead, but let's gloss that). I've watched 6 eps now, and I can safely say that I am deeply invested in the characters. It's a fabulous show.
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
Hey there.  Well, Easter was had.  Religiously speaking, it was actually quite a good weekend; I feel like I got a lot out of it.  Reminded me that even though I may have major disagreements with the Catholic Church and its hierarchy, the central tenets of the religion -- its true, base-level beliefs -- are things that I still believe.  Every year at the Easter Vigil mass when we reaffirm our baptismal vows, I also think very carefully about them, and I always worry that someday I won't agree with them.  Up until now, though, I've always come back to them without conditions.

Singing was also very good.  I've really and truly missed singing; it's been a good year and a half since I sang on any sort of regular basis.  I honestly don't know what I'll do next year... I know I want to sing, but I'm really less than enthusiastic about rejoining Glee Club.  It was a great time, but first of all it's of the past, and second of all I just don't think I want to dive back into the random juvenile crap that seems to go with it.  My options... still uncertain.  Singing at the Newman Center, or with another church choir?  Would involve me going back to church regularly, but at least when I was last there it was a surprisingly liberal congregation that I felt comfortable in.  Or I could go into one of the other university choirs... U Chorus is distinctly unattractive.  Mastersingers equally so.  Chorale's very attractive, but it's also the top vocal group, and my sight-reading skills are so rusty that I'd be very worried about the audition.  Eh.  We'll see.

This was a weekend of much baking.  I baked another pear tart, Mom helped me out on a couple loaves of challah (I need to post my preferred recipe online somewhere though, since I was without it and had to use a passable, but inferior, random recipe from the interwebs), and Dad made a real pumpkin pie (i.e. not with pumpkin pie filling) and one of the best apple pies I have ever eaten, ever.  All that some buttery mashed potatoes, Jody's Pineapple Salad (lemon and lime jellos with crushed pineapple, cream cheese, and 7-Up), and a Greenberg smoked turkey, mmm.  Food is tasty.

This has also been the conclusion of an already very book-filled week.  Finished up Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History, read the better part of John Berendt's City of Falling Angels (a study of Venetian society in the vein of his earlier Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil).  Listened to Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues and a strange philosophical treatise by Harry G. Frankfurt called On Bullshit.  I also downloaded the audiobook of the Pimsleur Company's German: The Short Course, as I've finally decided that my lack of German proficiency is just stupid.  I can now officially ask you if you speak German or English (or French, cause I sneakily have prior knowledge), and I can exchange salutary pleasantries.

When I arrived home (the Benadryl for the cat helped, by the way, thank you Mary and Amanda!), my camera was waiting for me on the porch.  It works beautifully again, and I am very very very pleased with Sony's warranty repair service, which was lightning-fast and utterly hassle-free.  Now I'm washing clothes, basically beating time until Wednesday morning, when I leave BR nice and early to drive to Kentucky.  I'll be in Lexington from Wednesday evening to Sunday morning; I actually do the presenting Saturday morning.  I have to admit, I am entirely unenthusiastic about the conference; I wish there was another student from my school attending, instead of me just being there all alone giving a paper that, while I think it's quite good, I just don't give a damn about.  Oh well, it'll look good on a resume, and it'll give me something concrete to show for my work down here (other than my degree, which is of course the biggest marker).  I'm looking forward to seeing Michele at least, so there's that.
yrmencyn: (Default)
The main problem with having class only one day a week is that I always think "eh, I've got a while yet to do <whatever>," I put things off, and then I spend Thursdays, especially between classes, in a maelstrom of frantically completing readings/translations/presentations/whatever.  It's a little exhausting.  Today's assignment du jour was a presentation for Occitan class, which I had, of course, put off.  I will give myself minor props for having responsibly done Actual Library Research on Tuesday to choose my poem to present, but then I sort of didn't do anything on Wednesday.  Wise move, Bierschenk, very wise.  So, I didn't really get much of the reading for today done, being too busy finishing up a translation/minor analysis/blah sheet (you know, the sketchy notes you write to yourself to help prod your brain into regurgitating the crap it's been tossing up like a Yellowstone mudpot while you work on the piece to be presented).  And then Carla, oh Carla, she went first and gave a dazzling presentation that pulled in bloody Julia Kristeva and made casual reference to Lacan and Marx (to be fair we've dabbled in some Lacanian and Marxist theory in class, so that's not too out of wack).  Great.  I wing this shit, dammit.

Nevertheless, the presentation went off pretty well.  I did have a moment of panic when Stone asked me if reading the poem (which enlightens class tensions between noble and non-noble trobadors) had clarified my understanding of "The Kohler"... I blinked while my brain scurried rapidly around inside my skull, trying desperately to figure out what the bloody hell he was talking about.  Eventually some perceptive synapse mentioned to the others that this was probably the Marxist article that I had unaccountably failed to read despite my best intentions.  Some rapid hemming and hawing eventually led me to the code of courtly love compiled by <insert name of monk that's in my notes here>, which made, if not an apt surrogate, at least a reasonable diversion that I could expound upon.  (Dr. Stone, if you ever happen to read this, er... oops?).  Also I again mixed up the verbs jazer and jauzer, which is just getting stupid, and I think I'll get them tattooed with proper translation, one on each inner forearm.  Since one means 'to sleep with' and the other, basically, 'to cum' (honestly couldn't tell you which is which), that will be quite the conversation starter.  As a sidenote to the ja(u)zer thing, I started blushing furiously when he pointed out the resultant translation error.  This had absolutely nothing to do with the content -- I can talk about pretty much anything in an academic context without anything more than an amused smirk on my face, just ask my Pynchon class of Spring Qtr 2004 -- but rather with being wrong.  I can't help it, and it drives me absolutely nuts!  If I'm wrong, I'm not even usually too upset about being wrong, cause hey, it happens and life's too short to care too deeply about it, but nevertheless my face erupts in an upswelling of blood that I can feel.  It's beyond ridiculous.  Feh.

Carla said to me after class that I should stop "putting [my]self down" after presentations (I said something to the effect of "and, as usual, my presentation just sort of trails off into the dust" to finish tonight).  She said "I used to do the same thing, to make myself look better, but I'll tell you the same thing a friend told me: you don't need to, your presentations are great."  She's got a point, I'm sure, except that I'm not being self-deprecating in a reverse-self-aggrandizement manouver, at least not consciously (there's no accounting for the subconscious), I'm just... that way.  And in this particular case, I just honestly hadn't planned out an ending, and I figured humor was better than saying "Uh, that's it."  Hard to make people understand, really.

The upside to the once-a-week thing is that I usually feel relieved on Thursday night.  Not relaxed as such, mind you, but generally relieved.  I actually do feel relaxed tonight, having eaten my chicken w/ black bean sauce and curled up in bed with Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour: In search of the perfect meal.  I adore Bourdain's writing.  He's the same one who did Kitchen Confidential (now adapted into another in a long line of good shows canned by the braintrust at FOX).  He is quite possibly the funniest food writer I know of, and certainly the most vulgar.  He curses, heaps aspersions on other cooks, rhapsodizes on loving oysters, generally fails to give a fuck.  I love it.  None of that pretension garbage.  Anyway, read his books.  A+++ WOULD READ AGAIN.

Also in the recommended reading category, a book I finished a couple of days ago, Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated.  It's the story of the narrator, Jonathan Safran Foer's, trip to the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis.  The interleaving storylines, the interplay among metanarratives, the use of language as a far more malleable and expressive medium than it's usually understood as... it's beautiful.  It's brilliant.  It's deeply moving.  I nearly cried in Highland Coffees when I finished it, because there was such a delicate bittersweetness in its conclusion that I was honestly surprised.  The characters unfold slowly, almost imperceptibly, throughout the novel, such that although they're utterly familiar at the end we can hardly recognize them as the same strangers we met in the opening scenes.  And despite my talk of interleaving and metanarrative, it's beautifully clear and lucid, with none of the emotionless, highfalutin formal experimentation that mars so many "brilliant" recent novels.  Everyone can love this book.  You need to read it, now.  If you live in BR, I'll lend it to you on the condition that I will require its return.  I cannot stress enough how serious I am in this recommendation: I avoided the book for, literally, years because I didn't believe it could possibly live up to the hype, but I was totally and completely wrong.

In terms of other fine literary stuff, we were discussing Cajun poetry in Ancelet's class today, and I started to read a chunk of one of ZR's most powerful poems, "La vérité va peut-être te faire du mal" ("The truth might hurt you"), and I accidentally got dragged into it, not only reading but reciting, performing a whole page of text.  I had so much fun, it was so wonderful.  God I love poetry.

To close this long and disjointed entry, I'll leave you with Dr. Stone's translation of a Medieval Occitan poem that he gave us last week.  It's an alternating discussion between two speakers on a moral question, a genre called partimen.  It is untitled (most medieval poems are), but I'll title it "The Ass-wind" )

ETA: I just had to add this. This is a part of my life that most none of y'all know about, since I've only gotten really obsessive since I moved down here, and usually the computer's already powered down when it happens. In fact I just booted back up to add this. I have gotten, in the past couple of years, quite persnickety about the state of my oro-nasal cavity at bedtime. In the bathroom, after peeing, I brush extensively. I scrub the back of my tongue until I set off my gag reflex twice (and I have a quite atrophied gag reflex). I snort and hock like nobody's business. I'm sure Kregg, whose bedroom is across the hall, must think that I have to extract, nightly, some sort of primordial creature with suckers and tentacles from my sinuses. It verges on both the ridiculous and the vile. But when I go to bed, at least for long enough to go to sleep, I can usually breathe halfway clearly through my nose. That's worth it. Plus the nose-octopi are a pernicious infestation which must be rooted out vigilantly.
yrmencyn: (Default)
It is an absolutely gorgeous day today.  The sky is completely clear and blue, the sun shines strong and bright, and the temperature is coming slightly down now from its mid-afternoon high of around 75.  I decided to take my lunch outside (leftover green onion soup, French bread, and fresh-brewed Assam iced tea), and on the basis of that experience decided to completely disregard my plans to get some hard-core work done on the thesis in the early afternoon.  It's a Friday, it's beautiful out, the jasmine is starting to bloom on the trellis, and I checked out Jeffrey Steingarten's It Must Have Been Something I Ate from the library yesterday.

Instead on working on translations, I sat in the sun and read the Steingarten.  Since it was so pleasantly hot, I changed into my lounging shorts (light nylon ones) and took off my shirt to bask.  Yes, like a lizard.  It's really quite strange, I don't think of myself as a sunbather, yet I do it more and more.  As I was doing an extensive clean of the kitchen earlier, I got to thinking about that.  I always thought of sunbathing as a rather vain activity, but I don't think of myself as a vain person; how to draw the distinction and form a rationale that prevents my brain from hemorrhaging?

I came up with a two-pronged attack.  First, I enjoy the sensation of the sun on my bare skin.  I was lucky enough to be born with pretty dark skin for a white guy, so sunburns are only an issue for me in extreme situations (river rafting for multiple days, high altitudes, etc).  Therefore I feel quite free to indulge in a hearty bath of radiation.  Furthermore, it's a question of self-image.  I see myself as a deeply tanned person.  I've actually been relatively pale for the last few years (about 2000 on, intrinsically linked to no longer directly supervising children in swimming pools every day for six to eight weeks in the summer), but when I was growing up I was dark in the summer.  DARK.  People occasionally thought I was Mexican, which is strange, since my facial features don't really reflect that, but I can't account for other people's inability to discern ethnic heritage.  So now, with my current paleness (relatively speaking), I've got a bit of a disjunct between my internal and external appearances, and it gets to me.  It's one of the reasons I cut off my long hair: my mental self-image has short hair.  I feel more comfortable in my skin when I get darker, hence closer to what I think I should look like.

Of course, I'm not going to be so obtuse as to completely deny the social conditioning factors inherent here.  As a culture, we like tanned people.  We constantly celebrate the hue of sundrenched bodies.  We think it gives people a healthy glow (although skin cancer specialists rightly hold a differing opinion).  And frankly, I'm willing to buy into the hype.  Cause you know what?  Even after just today, I feel hot.
yrmencyn: (pasta)
Oh, honestly!  I just finished reading Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything.  The last chapter is about his quest for the perfect pie crust.  As it turns out, he sucked at making pie crust, too, and resorted to all the myriad little superstitions and old wives' tales, in addition to reading scientific articles on crust composition (yes, these sorts of thing do exist) -- all to no avail.  So, he called up the formidable Marion Cunningham, which I guess you can do on a whim if you're the food editor for Vogue.  Under her heterodox tutelage, and with minor changes to adapt to his personal style, he got around to a point where he can effortlessly make pie crust in 12 minutes flat, and he graciously provided his recipe.

I was excited.  The chapter had made me food-lustful, and I had this absolutely wonderful idea for empanadas using the venison pan sausage I got from the Kulhavys over Christmas.  So I started on the filling, since I needed to let it have time to cool so I wouldn't melt the crust.  The sausage browned up nicely, with an ambrosial scent (sage, red pepper flakes, and the delectable odor of Bambi).  Eventually I ended up adding crumbled hard-boiled egg and some queso fresco.  The filling, I'm proud to note, is an unmitigated success both hot and cold.

Which brings us to the pastry.  I had these great visions of being able to say to Mom and Dad, who can both turn out a pie crust without difficulty, "See?  It wasn't me, I can make a pie crust no problem!  It's just that your method sucks."  This, of course, required me to conveniently forget that they both use their "Perfect Pie Crust Every Time" recipe with no difficulty all the bloody time, and have passed it on to others who have raved.  Well, it turns out that I'm the problem.  My first batch got thrown in the garbage can (thank god I made a half batch).  My second batch... was questionable.  It wasn't as supple as I would have liked, and it tore when I tried to fold over the empanadas (some of this may be a problem with my filling technique, I'll admit, but that's still a me problem in that case).  I managed to make four empanadas before I got rather annoyed and made a giant roughly circular empanada-pie-thing, like a giant baked ravioli.  Face it, my pastry-fu continues to lack.  I was supposed to have helped Dad make some pies over Christmas to try to learn, but somehow schedules intervened and it didn't happen.  So I labor on in stupidity, and I can now, officially, not make 4 different pie crusts (my parents', Cunningham/Steingarten's, AB's, Emeril's).  What the hell?

Now, that having been said, it wasn't a complete wash.  The empanadas that I did make came out with a pretty nice crust, nice and flaky if a trifle crumblier than ideal.  The cinnamon-brown sugar scraps I made were similarly nice.  So the Cunningham/Steingarten recipe isn't bad, I just haven't a deft touch.  Or even just a neutral, no-modifier touch.  Bah.

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yrmencyn

December 2009

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