Monday, August 31, 2009

tummy trouble

Not sure if it's something I ate or just being on the road too long...200 more miles to go until I sleep...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

a very chowdah summer

I've been sampling New England clam chowder all the way from D.C. to Massachusetts.

The Jersey Shore version was a little heavy on the potatoes, but also had big chunks of clams (hey, it's da shore), so got a big thumbs up. Other samplings were less memorable until we reached Salem, which had a distinctly un-thick version - not bad, but not at all like any other N.E.C.C. I had ever had. Another bowl at another restaurant was the typical creamy sort.

At a snazzy Boston hotel I poured the soup, served in a small pitcher, over some buttery croutons in a bowl. Nice presentation, but very potato-y.

Tonight's bowl in Wethersfield, CT may be the best since N.J. Vacation ain't over yet, so the quest continues...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

very fine arts

We spent a very museum day in this rainy town of mourning. Ted's funeral procession passed by our hotel on Tremont Street.

We cabbed our way through the wet streets, first to
the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which was a little like the Frick or the Barnes Foundation—an incredible house, with the proviso that the collection always be displayed exactly as Mrs. Gardner originally laid it out. This made some works difficult to see, and included oddities like the empty frames where canvases that had been stolen were left hanging ion their original spots on the walls.

No photography was allowed unfortunately, so you will just have to take my word for it that the collection included the best Veronese ceiling painting that can be seen outside of Italy. What a treat.

We pushed onward to the Museum of Fine Arts, where we raced through treasures including Italian renaissance, Spanish masters Velasquez and Zurbarán, Impressionist gems by Degas, Monet and Manet, Greek, Roman and Egyptian art—and these are just the highlights. I had as much fun checking out these masterworks as I did playing with my iPhone camera special effects. A damp but good day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

enemy territory?

For a die-hard from birth Yankee fan, taking a trip to Boston is no small thing. I am trying to not let my baseball and Joisey/New Yawk roots color my experience, but...

What the heck is with the driving in this town? The way in to the city made no sense. The roads—to tunnels—to roads was beyond confusing. Stop signs seem to be a rarity, or at least ignored, and traffic lights are non-existent. And this from someone who has mastered and even revels in driving in DC, New York, New Jersey and Brooklyn—not exactly an amateur.

I'm still befuddled by the preponderance of all things Dunkin' Donuts. It's actually hard to spot a Starbucks. And Starbucks and D.D. closed at 7 PM. On a Friday. In a major city.


On the up side, the streets, although their layout is a bit challenging, are extremely charming and very reminiscent of a European city. The aquarium was a blast. The Boston Common was also lovely and the Swan Boats were a huge hit for both young and old. My mom had last been on them when she was my daughter's age, so a family fun fact comes full circle.

And this was our first day here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

bewitched, bothered, and bewildered

Why are there so many Dunkin' Donuts in New England? It seems every corner has one—Starbucks syndrome!

We have been passing them by—not exactly avoiding them—and tonight decided that we would finally indulge—but after some Salem sightseeing—horrors! The D.D. was closed at 9 p.m.

Oh well, there's always tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

hotels, highways, and rest stops

We're packing a lot in...lunch break at Old Sturbridge Village...walking tour of the Salem waterfront...tomorrow, who knows?

Monday, August 24, 2009

history detectives

Our first serious genealogy stop on our summer vacation was Danbury, CT, where we are looking into our Nichols/Averill/Starr/etc. roots. My daughter can't read yet, but she knows her letters, so was a more than able advance scout as we looked for names in the vastness of Wooster Cemetery...
...detail of Smith/Nichols monument
...relief sculpture on Starr Hoyt Nichols's monument
...meditation moment at Martha Nichols Kellogg's monument

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Images from a road trip...gummi worms, road signs, and local landmarks...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

smart birds

Starlings, actually - drinking from a natural water fountain - rainwater in a curling tree root - outside the Museum of Natural History - on a very hot day.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

cool jets

The National Gallery Sculpture Garden fountain is still a favorite spot, especially in the hot D.C. summertime.

p.s. I really like the camera zoom iPhone app.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

it really is magic

For iPhone lovers...

...that X-ray app is pretty cool, huh?
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

what's this?

Apparently an East Coast Greenway sign.

This one happens to be stuck (very high up) on a traffic light pole at the corner of Madison and Seventh Ave, NW.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"the last 25 songs that played on my iPod"

My friend Chris shared a Facebook meme that's going around. Here's mine...

1. The Magnificent Seven - Clash
2. Whatever Gets You Through the Night - John Lennon
3-5. Chariot - Gavin DeGraw (I like this one right now)
6. Know Your Rights - Clash
7. Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode
8. I Just Don't know What to do with Myself - White Stripes
9. Devil's Haircut - Beck
10. Silver Lining - Rilo Kiley
11. Smooth - Santana
12. The Bottom Line - Big Audio Dynamite
13. Elevation - U2
14. Fashion - David Bowie
15. Ain't Nothing Wrong with that - Robert Randolph & the Family Band
16. Re-Humanise Yourself - Police
17. The Ballad of Lucy Jordan - Marianne Faithfull
18. Bankrobber - Clash
19. Raspberry Beret - Prince
20. Don't Let me be Misunderstood - Elvis Costello
21. Heart of Glass - Blondie
22. Just A Girl - No Doubt
23. Landslide - Fleetwood Mac
24. Higher Ground - Stevie Wonder
25. I'm Looking Through You - Wallflowers

Now your turn...

Monday, August 17, 2009

this is a public service announcement...with guitar!

I'm no coffee drinker, but there are other ways to wake up on a Monday...

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

50 Essential Films: Part One

The Spectator has compiled another list/meme. This is part one. Don't let the idiotic set-up of the web article phase you (click through 25 individual pages???) If you'd like to look through the descriptions/justifications, just click on "print this article."

So far I'm in accord with many of the choices, and have seen more of them than I thought I had. And some of my all-time faves make an appearance (29, 32, 40, 43.)

50. Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947) Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas - quite a combo.

49. Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979) Not my favorite Woodman (Hannah and her Sisters), but still "cherce."

48. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) Geez I guess a Spielberg has to make it on the list, but I wouldn't have chosen it.

47. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933) Groucho Marx. Nuff said.

46. Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945) Need to see this one.

45. Great Expectations (David Lean, 1946) Spooky and wonderful.

44. Pinocchio (Hamilton Luske + Ben Sharpsteen, 1940) Just saw it with the kid - great.

43. 8½ (Federico Fellini, 1963) Marcello!

42. Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941) I like it, but prefer Sturges's The Lady Eve and especially, The Palm Beach Story.

41. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000) now on my to-see list

40. Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949) One of the all-time funniest damn movies. Ever.

39. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) haven't seen it in ages, would be interested to see how it holds up.

38. The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959) Simply wonderful.

37. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976) "Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."

36. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966) I've been meaning to see this forever - now's the time.

35. Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1950) I think I've seen it, but don't remember much of it. I think it's on this list because it's Brit-noir.

34. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977) No knowledge of this one.

33. The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies, 1992)don't know this one, either.

32. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen + Gene Kelly, 1952) Gotta dance!

31. The Roaring Twenties (Raoul Walsh, 1939) I was never a huge Cagney fan, but he rocks in this one

30. M (Fritz Lang, 1931) Terrifying, tragic, horrible - great film.

29. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)One of my fave Hitchcock's. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Claude Rains. Nazis. it's got it all. The scene in the wine cellar...

28. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950) "I was always big. It's the movies that got small." (But Some Like it Hot is still my favorite by Wilder.)

27. Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) I can't believe my Godard-loving friend Mary let me miss this one...

26. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931) Beautiful.

Agree or disagree? What's missing?

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Saturday, August 15, 2009


Lately, shopping at CVS, I have noticed that if I happen to be purchasing a "feminine" product, I will receive my purchases in a paper bag. Or if it is one of many purchases, the tampons or whatever will be put in a paper bag inside of a larger plastic one.

Is this a D.C. or southern thing? Or a new CVS policy? I've only been noticing this the last few months, so don't think it was happening before. Or maybe I was previously making these purchases at Target, where their logo-bag is king...

Friday, August 14, 2009

can't believe I ate the whole thing...

Great company. Great food. Great meatballs of fire! (That's meatballs in plum sauce - yum!) José Andrés's menu will be available through September 17. Maybe one more time...

Thursday, August 13, 2009


An interesting meme appears in this post from the L.A. Times blog, "61 essential postmodern reads." I've never really considered myself a post-modernist, at least not by intent, as I tend to really enjoy the classics, but was surprised as much by how many of these books I had read as how many that I haven't.

I've already read:
Jorge Luis Borges "Labyrinths"
William S. Burroughs "Naked Lunch"(got so disgusted with it that I actually tossed it in the trash getting off the subway at 14th Street and never looked back. Only book I've ever thrown out, and I LOVE books. Sorry, Burroughs fans. Although I'll admit he can use language wonderfully at times, at other times it was just self-indulgent crap.)
Italo Calvino "If on a Winter's Night a Traveler"
Nathaniel Hawthorne "The Scarlet Letter"
Franz Kafka "Metamorphosis"
William Shakespeare "Hamlet"
Kurt Vonnegut "Slaughterhouse Five"
What would your list be like?

Some more to add to my "to-read" list:
Paul Auster "New York Trilogy" (I've been meaning to read this forever)
Umberto Eco "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana" (not sure how I missed this one)
Art Spiegelman "Maus I & II" (I've only scanned parts of it)
David Foster Wallace "Infinite Jest"
What do you think is missing? My nominations:
Angela Carter "The Bloody Chamber" (read)
John Berger "Ways of Seeing" (?)
Virginia Woolf "Orlando" (read)
Gunter Grass "Tin Drum" (read)
Who says nobody reads anymore...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Anselm Kiefer opening.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

nature sounds

I am frequently near the World Bank headquarters on I street and when strolling by have heard what I thought was some pretty impressive birdsong.

The other day the birds sounded louder than ever and I stopped to try and catch a glimpse of...what wasn't birds at all...but a speaker, blaring exotic chirps and cheeps, over the daycare playground.

Virtual birds. Hmmm...

Monday, August 10, 2009

a drink by any other name...

...would taste as sweet. In my quest to reduce sugar intake (and the expense of a Starbucks ice grande soy chai) my official drink of summer has been the Arnold Palmer. Of course, that's my daytime beverage indulgence. After hours a margarootie is all any girl needs, in summer or any season.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

who needs Gray's anatomy?

No, not the silly show, the textbook.

The Daily Mail has a feature outlining all of the various sinewy details of the artist formerly known as Madonna, now known as Figure 52.

What the? What could she be? Wha?

The mind boggles.

No woman, as they age is thrilled to wave at someone and watch the lower part of their arm wave the other way, but this is freakin' ree-deek-u-lous.

It's not attractive, It's not feminine. or masculine. It's almost inhuman.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

climb every mountain

thanks to kellygo

This is all you need to know. About everything. Ever.

Friday, August 07, 2009

seeing stars

For Brian, by request

A friend recently told me a fun story about a celebrity sighting when he was living in New York, and it got me reminiscing about the many famous folks I ran across in my years there. Now in D.C., the biggest famous face I have seen so far is our president, and believe me, that was extremely cool.

But as Austin Powers would say, for sh*ts and g*ggles, I thought I would try to list some of the other cool folks I stumbled upon over the years. Part of the allure of living in New York is the illusion that it is the center of the entire universe. And as the rest of the planet at one time or another shares this view, practically everyone will want to blow through town at least once (if not actually live there), so your opportunities for seeing famous folks are pretty high. Add to that the fact that I worked at a museum in midtown (fancy shops, touristy things) and played downtown (cool restaurants, clubs, funky shops) my potential to see someone famous was extremely high. So here goes.

At MoMA I saw:
While visiting, as an art student - David Bowie, Liza Minnelli (who is miniscule, and was as interested in all the folks watching her as the Art of Vienna show she was supposedly there to see)
While working there, I got the opportunity to attend art openings - I saw Steve Martin & Paul Simon & Julian Schnabel together (many celebrities like to travel in packs - it's safer). The thrill about this encounter at the Warhol opening was that while we were all waiting on the drinks line I actually stepped on Steve Martin, who was right in front of me, and he turned around and said "Excuuuse me." God, I love him. There were tons of the famous at that opening (Bianca Jagger, Sylvia Miles, etc., etc.), but Steve was the coolest.

Random visitors to the MoMA bookstore, where I worked (these were all folks with whom I had some real interaction) - Sharon Stone (fully aware of her allure after Basic Instinct and not afraid to use it, but actually came across as a pretty fun gal), Richard Gere (very sweet and wanted to talk about art writing and films by Jean Renoir), Vincent Price (!) with wife Coral Browne, who, when I asked him some question replied very theatrically, "No, no, no!!!" a la his campy Theater of Blood movie. Coral walked around the store, looking for him, calling "Vinnniiieee..."

Sightings in the museum - Cher (coming for a premiere party for Moonstruck), Michael Palin (walking around and looking adorably confused - he's very tall, so John Cleese must be a giant) .
Random sightings on the street:
Arthur Ashe (the very first celebrity I saw in New York - probably my first week there.

In the "can't believe they're so tall" category - Michael Caine, Pedro Almodovar, and while hanging outside the Guggenheim on my birthday waiting for my dad to drive in from N.J. so we could go out to Fiorello's for my birthday dinner I saw Bill Murray walking with his brother, Brian Doyle-Murray.

Andy Warhol - I used to see him all the time, flanked by two very blonde, handsome, young men. His studio was a few doors down from the Parsons dormitory and he used to go to movie matinées - he would be coming out of the theater as I was going in, probably after one of my last classes. I would usually see him on University Place or near the Waverly. He was always very friendly, in a calm, detached sort of way, nodding hello.

Matt Dillon (I used to see him around downtown, especially 8th Street, A LOT)

Willem Dafoe (running around SoHo, and then one time on the F train, sat next to him and his little boy while some fan boys across the way tried to get him to talk about To Live and Die in L.A., "DUDE! You were so cool!" He commiserated with me till he and his son could escape at Broadway/Lafayette.)
Trolling around Soho - Iggy Pop, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller
At play (in a club or bar, etc.):
Mick Jones and Don Letts right before they formed Big Audio Dynamite. For a month or so I saw them everywhere, it seemed - Danceteria, bars, etc. Mick seemed very friendly and approachable and I thought about flirting with him, or even just talking to him, but Joe Strummer was always my favorite in The Clash and they had just disbanded...

Billy Idol with his guitarist at Danceteria being extremely boisterous at the bar, Rod Stewart (apparently I stepped on him at Studio 54, but I don't recall much of the evening in question...) Here's some advice - stepping on a celebrity may be a good intro...

A very drunk Matt Dillon at The Cat Club who kept asking me to dance...

Robert DeNiro (very surreal - we actually had drinks with him in a place across the street from The Public Theater where we had just seen him in a play. It was like watching him do a "greatest hits medley" of his past characters - all the vocal tics and mannerisms. I couldn't watch his movies for a few years after that).

Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling of General Public. Roger had his hair dyed in stripes and we followed him around at a roof part at Danceteria for a while.
At art openings:
Francesco Clemente (I used to see him a lot, especially in the small East Village galleries - always a thrill, and he was very friendly and urbane)

Jean-Michel Basquiat (sigh) - I watched him graffiti the gallery walls of the Whitney at the Julian Schnabel opening(!), Keith Haring went to all the openings...

My friend Steven Parrino introduced me to Robert Longo at Metro Pictures when we were checking out Longo's show. Longo was so high-wired he made me even more nervous to talk to him. He was very short, but his hair was so high he was almost as tall as me!
While living in Park Slope, Brooklyn I would see my neighbors Steve Buscemi, outside my local D'Agostino's and Jon Turturro in my nearby market, the Yiyo, buying staples. Both friendly.

Does any of this really matter? Not really, but it's fun. Are celebrities just like us? Not really. And they have way more money. But these are still fond memories. My mom lived in Hollywood for a while and told me about the time she met...but that's another era, another city, another story.

Note: This list doesn't include all the people I may have seen in a concert or a play, etc. Didn't seem fair to count those.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

a real golden compass

As much as I am a fan of the Philip Pullman books, I can't help but be more excited by this actual and amazing discovery, which has been all over the news lately. Finally, an invention that rivals my iPhone...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

blue toenails

As I was standing on line waiting to get a pseudo-Arnold Palmer, I looked down and discovered that my "unconventional" nail polish color is actually right in sync with this summer's styles.

Two gals in front of me each sported some pretty fancy toenails - one with a royal purple color and the other with a dark emerald green.

Vive la difference!

Elegantly Dressed Wednesday button

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"that's what grown-ups do...

...they sleep and sing and eat. And work for their babies and have babies. That's all they do."

All this said while perfecting the dance-along choreography to Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia. I'm finding it hard to argue the point.
Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?

Monday, August 03, 2009

half-blood prince

I just caught Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (finally) and really loved it. I actually want to see it again. Soon. Maybe 3-D?

I know there are those who bemoan the absence of certain scenes and characters from the book - but this was not a concern for me. It's a movie, an artistic interpretation of someone else's work. I love The Wizard of Oz and don't feel the ruby slippers should have been silver, as they were in L. Frank Baum's original book. Rowling's books may be untouchable to some, but not to me. I have enjoyed reading (and re-reading) them, but I am not blind to their flaws. I love the HP universe and the characters that inhabit it, but apart from the first and possibly the second book, they could have all used a brave(r) editor. In fact, a lot of red ink was called for. Do they still do abridged versions? Her plotting, although ingenious, is over-done at times, characters and situations over-explained. The repetition of some motifs (the prerequisite Quidditch match, the opening scene at the Dursleys, the endless battle-scenes) became too repetitive.

I actually appreciated the opening scene of HBP which had 16-year old Harry flirting and trying to pick up a pretty waitress. It effectively made Harry real, and young, and hormonal - all aspects that were treated very clunkily by Rowling in her books, I'm afraid. The movie portrays the young wizards' coming-of-age through their early romatic experiments, as their more serious coming-of -age, the shadow of adulthood, responsibility, and the threats of an unsafe and insecure world, Rowling's major plot elements, hover ever closer.
[Romilda Vane and Harry are staring at each other across the library]
Hermione Granger: [snaps her fingers] Hey, she's only interested in you because she thinks you're the Chosen One.
Harry Potter: But I am the Chosen One.
Hermione Granger: [smacks him on the head with the newspaper]
Harry Potter: Sorry... kidding!
The film is simply wonderful to look at. The Death Eaters chase through the field is brilliant. Hogwarts hasn't felt as visually real to me since the first movie. I have enjoyed the "stunt casting" of some of my favorite British actors Kenneth Branagh, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Oldman, etc. in previous films, but this movie's newbie Jim Broadbent brings something extra-special to his role as Professor Slughorn. He fits in seamlessly with the cast, as much as a comfortable armchair...

The younger actors really shine too, especially Daniel Radcliffe, who has made Harry a strong, even obstinate at times character. The scene where he comes across a sobbing Draco, also played wonderfully by Tom Felton, was true to the characters while also making the audience (or at least me) cringe a bit. Harry has no compassion for Draco. He is always angry, suspicious and on the attack. Not that his suspicions aren't valid, but where is his empathy? It brought back the earlier scene of Harry caught spying by Draco on the train. Both boys behave badly, as teenagers are wont to do.
Draco Malfoy: [looking at Harry's broken nose] Nice face, Potter! [Harry nods disdainfully; Luna pulls out her wand]
Luna Lovegood: Would you like me to fix it for you?
Harry Potter: Um... have you ever fixed a nose before?
Luna Lovegood: No. But I've done several toes, and how different are they, really?
Harry Potter: ...Okay, sure, give it a go.
Luna Lovegood: Episkey! [a loud crack]
Harry Potter: Augh!... [rubs his nose gingerly; looks at Luna]
Harry Potter: Well? How do I look?
Luna Lovegood: Exceptionally ordinary.
For teens the world can be black and white, with no gray. For Harry Potter, the world and the film, gets progressively darker. And thanks to cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, beautifully so.