A truly British #firstworldproblem cropped up today. I had a craving for sausage rolls for a couple of days, and forgot to get them yesterday when I went to the market. It’s dead easy to get, if I’m not picky. The chain bakery has branches everywhere, including at most stations.
The problem is, Bake-off season 8 is on just when I wanted to go get the sausage rolls. They’re showing 2 eps back-to-back; today is eps 3 and 4.
Well, okay, moot point. I’m recording the entire season so I can watch it anytime. So I went to the station, got my sausage rolls, stopped off at the small supermarket to get staples like spaghetti and ketchup, and was back home in time to watch the second ep of the day. I can go back and watch the other ep later.
I was all prepared to dislike this season because of the follow the dough thing but I’ve enjoyed watching it so far. Same format, same tent, same music. Prue is a good Mary substitute, and I can get my Mary fix on her own program anyway. Sandi sounds almost like Mel and Sue, and although not as cheeky, she is warm and funny, as we know she is. Noel started off unsteady but ignoring the comparisons with Mel & Sue, he’s quirky and likeable. He seems genuinely pleased to be there and mingling with all the bakers. And it’s the bakers that are, as always, the stars of the show. This group is the same, with casting as diverse as a mainstream program can get. My favourites so far are Liam with his flavours and Yan with her scientific, and sometimes not so scientific (making caramel by sight without a thermometer?), approach. And how about Flo’s watermelon cake? Wow.
I know the elimination order, which is the one disadvantage of watching such a popular program after the fact. But it doesn’t matter. I’m just grateful I can watch it and let’s forget the irony of season 8 on a BBC channel.
Someone put together a 4min supercut of all trailers and commercials we’ve seen so far. There are naturally A LOT of theories and analysis of the trailers, and I’m trying to stay away from them all. I’m focusing on reading about the events that happened between ep6 and ep7, all gathered from canon and EU places like novels, games, comics.
But anyway, mm has promised to watch it with me. She has a few days off after the 15th so we can even try going on a weekday.
A few of the stuff that’s happened over the past 2 weeks during nano, part 1.
1. paradise papers
The Paradise Papers came out. Just like the earlier Panama Papers, this series of leaks showed yet again how the rich got richer and the rest of us got left behind. BBC summary:
The Paradise Papers are a huge leak of financial documents that throw light on the top end of the world of offshore finance…how politicians, multinationals, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures to protect their cash from higher taxes.
The issue is, off-shore accounts aren’t strictly illegal. There’s some sort of competitve sport behind the idea of trying to avoid as much tax as possible. Show me one person who actively wants to pay taxes. But the flipside is, how are governments supposed to operate without taxes? If there are no taxes, there’d be no police, no sewage system, no healthcare. Oh wait, that’s exactly the thinking of the pro-busines conservative right. Privatise it all. Instead of paying the government, we pay corporations to provide security, sewage, healthcare. Sounds idyllic, except once profits come into it, imagine how much these corporations will charge, imagine the lack of oversight, imagine the lack of budget for non-essential functions. I’m no economist, but a completely free market depends on compassion and not just profit. Trickle-down economics is all smoke and mirror, unfortunately.
On the one hand I look at all the people and corporations being named–the Queen, Apple, Bono–and I feel zero sorries for them, because the world has gotten so unequal that any attention to the issue is good. On the other hand, I can’t help but think the real people to blame are the lawyers and accountants and financial advisers who thought of the schemes and the politicians who didn’t close the loopholes.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough attention paid to this. Most people don’t have exposure to the shady world of off-shore accounts, and funnelling money to the likes of Bermuda and the Channel Islands isn’t illegal. But as quartz said, this touches on the question of:
the difference between the “letter of the law” and the “spirit of the law.”
We’ve reached the point when the world’s richest 1% own 50% of all wealth, and yet one US political party wants to further reduce the tax burden on the richest individuals and corporations. NYT:
The Republican tax plan would shift more of the tax burden onto those who can least afford to shoulder it and relieve those who are already starving the government of tax revenue. The Paradise Papers shine yet another spotlight on how the rich and powerful game the system to avoid paying what they would otherwise owe. The rest of us suffer for it. Why hand them even more favors?
2a. trivial tech stuff #1 — twitter now @280 characters
Twitter doubled its character limit to 280 per post. Can’t say I like or dislike it. All it means is a tweetstorm is now 10 posts instead of 20. Talking about tweetstorm, they are testing a new tweetstorm feature that will allow users to draft a series of tweets before posting them together all at once. Instant tweetstorm!
2b. trivial tech stuff #2 — most downvoted comment in reddit history
In reddit, users upvote or downvote posts and comments to improve the visibility of said posts and comments, to show support (upvote) or to indicate their displeasure (downvote). Technically, downvoting should only be for comments that don’t contribute to the thread. The most obvious example is spam comments, with dodgy links and gobbledegook text underneath a perfectly normal post or comment.
EA didn’t help matters by responding to the OP with a condescending comment full of rubbish corporate speak. As a result that comment received over 677k downvotes before it was locked. That’s far and beyond the most downvoted comment in recollection. Interesting that EA was responsible for a lot of downvoted comments too. They may or may not have listened to the feedback, shortly afterwards they reduced the cost to unlock the characters.
2c. trivial tech stuff #3 — new corporate font from IBM
Unlike Apple or Microsoft, IBM has traditionally used Helvetica. But since it’s not their own font, they’ve had to licence it from Monotype. Now they don’t have to anymore, with the creation of its own bespoke font, called unimaginatively IBM Plex.
graceful hybrid of blocky, engineered shapes with natural gestures from handwriting.
What’s more, it’s not like frutiger or other pricey fonts, IBM has made it free to download.
3. john lewis christmas ad
Finally, some cheering up. John Lewis’ 2017 Chrismas ad debuted on the 10th of november. I’m furiously trying not to dwell on the fact that it cost £7 million, and how that could have been used better. Not my favourite John Lewis Christmas ad, but still very charming.
King’s dinner tonight with a group of 10 people who were in my year or thereabouts. There were a couple of people I hadn’t seen since we graduated, like E who had the nickname of “King of Electronics” because he got straight As and graduated at the top of his class in the Dept of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. The talk is about children going off to university and I’m sure soon it’ll be about grandchildren and retirement. Because everyone is older now, we have connections and were able to get this private room at a restaurant with a great menu for a good price.
Joining dinner was Mrs Lue, the widow of Dr Abraham Lue, who was a Fellow teaching Maths when we were undergraduates. He was a respected father figure and mentor to many of us. Dr Lue passed away a couple of years ago and I’m so glad that the group kept in touch with Mrs Lue (actually she’s Dr too). She gave us a copy of a book that Dr Lue wrote called Little Jade and the Celestial Guards. It seems to be a YA novel in the Mulan mode. Back of the book:
The Celestial Guards are the four guardians of the compass. Blue Dragon, Red Bird, White Tiger and Black Warrior control the wind and rain and plant growth. They are each associated with a season, and the elements of wood, fire, metal and water. As agents of the Jade Emperor of Heaven they keep order in the universe.
Little Jade and her young brother Little Hero live in the remote hillsides of Shanxi. They are on a missio to rescue their father who has been abducted into the army of conscripts to rebuild the Great Wall.
The Ming emperor Yong Le also has plans to move his capital to the old Mongol capital of Dadu and he intends to subjugate the remnants of the Mongol tribes that endanger his northern border.
Little Jade and her brother face all kind of dangers in their quest. Fortunately for them, in moments of dire need they are assisted by the Celestial Guards who manifest themselves in human form to help their young friends.
The book is sold privatedly to benefit an elderly care charity and isn’t listed anywhere like on amazon. It has an ISBN number though. I was grateful to receive a copy to remember Dr Lue but I was reminded of why I don’t touch books like The Joy Luck Club or Wild Swans with a ten-foot pole. It’s so…clichéd. From the names of the MCs (Little Jade) to the ubiquitous [Colour][Mystical Beast] combo and how about those mystical Celestial Guards appearing deus ex machina to save the day at the end. Boiler plate.
Sorry, Dr and Mrs Lue. It’s not fair to criticise when I hadn’t even read past the first sentence.
This was on r/books. tl;dr: OP thought getting a book out from the library costs money.
My initial reaction: the OP surely is kidding. He must be completely daft, it’s like thinking the earth is flat. Oh wait–
More detailed reading of the comments showed that OP grew up in a small town that didn’t have much of a library and somehow he didn’t receive any education on what libraries can offer. Librarians chimed in and explained it is a common occurrence. A tweet by someone at mashable:
Bleak indeed. It’s indicative of what is happening in the world. Libraries are being closed or their budgets cut. In the UK, US, Canada. And that’s just a two-minute google search. Libraries, museums, national parks all seem to be easy targets for budget cuts by councils and politicians only concerned with the short term. The problem is, in times of recession, library usage tends to increase. Makes sense, it’s where people can get entertainment for free, where someone who doesn’t have a computer gets access to computers, and community support too.
I don’t go to the library very often but I used to. Papa used to go every week to read magazines; one of the last things I did for him was to return the book he was in the middle of reading when he went to hospital. I also remember the wonderful Barbican Centre library, so conveniently located next to school, with tons of CDs. I just took out my Library of Congress card which I got last year when the conference was in Washington DC and I’m so happy with it. I was happy to read about Overdrive but their claim that they allow access to ebooks and audiobooks worldwide is a lie. It’s not worldwide. I looked at our public library website and there are a total of 13,000 english e-books in the entire system. While encouraging, most are reference and academic books. But still, the books are available to me. Free of charge.
While I initially scoffed at OP on that reddit thread, I’m now grateful to him because of the sheer number of comments it has gathered so far and the overwhelming support for libraries and librarians expressed by commenters. Unfortunately hoping that it’ll be read by one or more of those cold-hearted politicians who want to cut library budgets is in vain.
I finished the last book of the Deverry series, took one month from when I started so average 2 days per book. With books that I love and ones that make me think, I go back and re-read immediately after finishing. I may do that, and the only reason I’m hesitating is that it will overlap with nano. Ah well, I won’t write all the time and the reward will be reading when I hit my wordcount target for the day. There are so many threads and foreshadowing that cries out for a second reading.
What I’m going to do is to bookmark the stories that take place in different time periods so at my third re-read I may read everything in chronological order. This means reading chapter 1 of book 15 first, then chapter 2 of book 1. It should give yet another perspective to the saga.
I was reading about this arts and media festival called microwave. Or are the organisers called microwave? I have no idea. The website is reminiscent of loud flash ad banners and unpleasant to look at. From what I can gather, it’s a bunch of performances and exhibitions that are connected via the loose theme of live art conducted through technology.
As media and technology progress at lightening speed, Microwave explores the idea of “live.” Everything can be live – it is not exclusive to describing performances. Technology has granted us the “right” to broadcast in real-time, i.e. “live”, on social media, and on live streaming platforms. But given the circumstances, how do we define “live”?
This description is either intended to be obscure or badly written.
Forget about words, the performances are interesting. This one is called Unconference. The main exhibition will take place 13-20 October. If I’m in the city hall area and have time, may be worth a short visit.
A cool collaborative project from women who draw: 90 artists looked up into the sky at precisely 12:00 US Eastern Time on 13 August 2017 and drew the sky. The artists come from all over the world so what they saw was as different as night and day; winter and summer; clear and overcast. The resultant artworks combine to form a work called one sky.
Reminds me somehow of the early days of the mirror project. Seemingly random and spontaneous collaboration. Individual elements making a whole tapestry.
I spent the summer reading Amber Benson’s Death’s Daughter series. It started off fun, the idea of Death Inc and it being a corporation like Apple or BT is a cute idea and Calliope as the reluctant heir to the business interesting too. The side characters were realistic and I love younger sister Clio and junior hellhound Runt in particular. The later books tended to drag on a bit and the trope that behind every successful woman is a man was uncharacteristic of CRJ. I didn’t like Daniel, I thought he was a wimp. I skimmed through the last book.
I haven’t been reading much after that. I picked up a few books when favourite bookseller had a sale, but these have been left unread on my ipad. I know there are many new books by my staple group of must-read authors out this year, but I think I’m working too closely with the awards program and I need to take a break from our community for a while.
So I’m going back to my roots. Well, not all the way back to Enid Blyton or Encyclopedia Brown or The Three Investigators. A little more recent, to the days when I was a regular at the local library. Those were the days of mostly fantasy and occasionally science fiction books. My David Eddings and Katharine Kerr’s early Deverry books have travelled with me all over the world. I’m sad that I donated the rest–Anne McCaffrey, Julian May, Asimov, Hitchhiker’s Guide. Anyway, I started reading Daggerspell again and decided I couldn’t read the physical book. Luckily it’s available on itunes and looks like DRM-free too .
I haven’t read the Deverry books in decades. Oh, how I’ve missed them. I’m about 2/3rds through Daggerspell and the familiar terms and people are coming back to me. Dweomer, wyrd, gwerbret, the wildfolk. Beloved characters too. I know why I loved these books so much when I first read them–a rich and wonderfully imagined world based on medieval Wales, strong female lead in Jill, magic that is magical, and an epic story that spans lifetimes that has tragedy, romance and adventure. For those unfamiliar, here’s the back cover from the 1986 original book:
In a void outside reality, the flickering spirit of a young girl hovers between incarnations, knowing neither ner past nor her future. But in the temporal world there is one who knows and waits: Nevyn, the wandering and mysterious sorcerer. On a bloody day long ago he relinquished the maiden’s hand in marriage–and so forced a terrible bond of destiny between three souls that would last through three generations. Now Nevyn is doomed to follow them across the planes of time, never resting until he atones for the tragic wrong of his youth.
And interestingly, the amazon synopsis for the revised edition changed focus from Nevyn to Nevyn and Jill, as it should have been:
Even as a young girl, Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible realm. Little did she know her extraordinary friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past and a fateful future. Four hundred years–and many lifetimes–ago, one selfish young lord caused the death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he vowed never to rest until he’d rightened that wrong–and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill and all those whom she would hold dear: her father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against darkness…and a quest to fulfill the destinies determined centuries ago.
The book takes a non-linear approach to telling the story. We start off in the present, in 1052. Backstory brings us to 643 to the beginning of the saga. Jump ahead to 1058 and then back to 698. The rest of the book takes place in 1062. There is a wikipedia table that can be used to keep track of who reincarnated as whom during which years. These characters are so interwoven and make different decisions in their different lifetimes that affect themselves and others. Debts are repaid; redemption is sought; new mistakes are made.
It was originally published in 1986 and many of the concepts in newer fantasy books–Harry Potter, cough cough–are common themes in the Deverry books. It’s a shame that Katharine Kerr isn’t mentioned as often when people talk about best fantasy authors. One of the common comments I see is that people read her when they were young and stopped reading somewhere in the middle of the series. That’s exactly what happened to me; I have up to book 7, left the UK, got busy and lost track. Now may be a good time to make my way through the entire 15 book series.
I was lucky enough to meet Ms Kerr in 1992 in London for a book signing. I also follow her on fb. She’s had a tough time IRL, her husband’s illness means she needs to care for him and it’s eaten into their savings. A couple of years ago loyal readers helped with a gofundme type campaign. She now has a patreon account and I’ll probably join. I think that’s the least I can do with an old favourite author.
Met mm for drinks and dinner. We spent more time at our newest discovery, the bar at the Novotel near her appointment, sharing 3 glasses of wine between us. For dinner we just had something quick. An added bonus was she bought new shoes. Discounted, and additional 30% off over the discounted price. She wore her new shoes straightaway and the shop assistants kindly threw away her old pair.
Ever since she started studying psychology, new words have entered our vocabulary. Social support, coping mechanism, pavlovian response. We talk about people or incidents being our stressors. I’m now clearer on the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. Even within psychology there are different streams, like within the legal profession there are litigators, conveyancers, mediators.
On a separate (and yet strangely sort of related since it’s about Psychology) topic, I was on Project Gutenberg downloading a couple of classic books for the awards program and saw that the #2 most downloaded book there is The Yellow Wallpaper. I’d never heard of the book before. It was also mentioned on r/books recently so I did a little googling to find out that it’s a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1892 and widely taught in schools in the US. A guardian review classified it under children’s books.
It didn’t take me long to read it. I’m not a teacher so I sometimes wonder at the choice of books we had to study at school. Some of them are downright depressing and creepy–Lord of the Flies, 1984, even one of my favourite books when I was young, I am David. The Yellow Wallpaper falls into this category. Told in first person, it’s about a woman who seems to be confined to her room because of a
temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency
and is widely interpreted as post-partum depression. It’s also widely accepted that it is autobiographical. In those Victorian times, women were still regarded as frail objects prone to hysteria and in those days depression was caused by excessive mental activity. Her doctor’s prescription was ‘rest-cure’ which meant she was forbidden to do anything, including exercise, feeding herself, seeing any other person other than her carers, and activites like drawing and writing. Basically they took away all stimuli and expected her to be like a vegetative patient. Robbed of all external stimuli, she turned inwards and started examining the awful yellow wallpaper in her prison room. Her anger and frustration were clear. Slowly she slipped further and further into psychosis.
Viewed from the 21st century, the actions of the doctor was so, so wrong that it borders on criminal. It was the same era that had terrifying medical treatments such as drinking radium water, starvation diets for aneurysms, or drilling a hole in the skull to cure headaches. Gilman sent a copy of the book to her doctor and it is said that he changed his treatment as a result.
Nowadays we do suffer from overstimulation. Our attention span has shortened and concepts like sensory deprivation tanks are popular. But no one believes that shutting out all stimulation can possibly be a cure for depression. Even a layperson like me know that take away someone’s freedom of movement and expression, not allowing any activity, and treating them like a comatose patient is going to push them further down the path of mental breakdown.
Going back to the book. I must admit I was a bit bored. The writing was good, and the description of the narrator’s view of the wallpaper and her own actions very vivid. I think it’s because it’s from an era that I have no affinity for, that my reaction was mostly, okay #thathappened. I’d still recommend everyone read this book, it’s short and a good representation of mental illness from a sufferer’s point of view.
Dave’s funniest joke at Edinburgh Fringe was awarded to Ken Cheng. The prize, now in its 10th year, is awarded to the best one-liner. Ken’s winning joke:
I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change
Ken studied at Cambridge and was a finalist in the 2015 BBC Radio New Comedy award. Found an excerpt of his Fringe act. I thought it was…okay. I preferred his set at the NCA finals. Perhaps it’s the subject matter. Talking about ‘Chinese Comedian’ is not as funny as dissecting the phrase ‘Two Birds One Stone.’ The bit about laundry and the South African cricket team was funny, although it sounds funnier when delivered by a professional comedian.
Anyway, what’s up with the new pound coin. The specs, according to the Royal Mint:
12-sided so easily recognisable
made from nickel-brass and nickel-plated alloy
has an image-like a hologram that changes from £ to 1 when viewed from different angles
very small lettering at the rims
grooves on alternate sides
a hidden security feature
The design combines the English rose, the Welsh leek, the Scottish thistle, and the Northern Irish shamrock which is pretty representative.
Reaction to the new coin seems to be mixed with most people, as Ken said, hating change. I think it’s quite cool, and if it stops conterfeiting, I’m all for it. I remember when the pound coin first came out and how people didn’t like how heavy it was. We’ve all gotten used to it. I checked my wallet and I have £6 in pound coins. Beyond October 2017 I’ll have to change them at a bank. Since it’s such a small amount, i may keep them as souvenir. I have some old 10p and 50p coins somewhere.
I have a busy tv watching schedule, almost all cookery programs. Masterchef Australia, My Kitchen Rules, Bake-off UK and Australia, Bake-off Crème de la Crème (the professionals), Big Family Cooking Showdown. And now to add to that, Extreme Cake Makers. I don’t usually like programs that focus on cake decoration (can’t stand either Buddy the Cake Boss or Duff Goldman) but this one from Channel 4: a) is short at only 30mins and b) showcases really awesome cake decorating skills.
It’s not just cake making, it’s real artistic flair. Seeing the sketches made by some of the cake makers is wondrous. They are able to sculpt realistic models of animals, flowers, feathers and someone even made a chandelier cake that was upside down and hanging from just a hook.
The one that had mum and I watching with our jaws open was an almost 5 foot long cake called Gary the Gurnard by Phil & Christine Jenson of Penzance-based Peboryon. They made the cake under commission from the Great Cornish Food store. Gary is supported by a curved metal frame made by Phil himself and actually looks like he’s swimming in front of an ocean wave. The colours really pop and it seemed like he had a personality.
I’m looking at other samples of their work and they are so amazing. A Wallace & Grommit cake factory that makes cakes, a wedding cake that seems to float in thin air, a desk-sized desk cake and, oh, Mel and Sue! They have half day beginners classes for £60 and a two day advanced class for £650. Something like Gary would probably cost in the region of £1000-2000, but the amount of expertise involved, it’s no wonder they are expensive.
I have to watch it again, but it looks…okay and very BBC-like. I’m talking about the Big Family Cooking Showdown that may or may not be a Bake-off replacement. It has a similar format–two presenters, two judges, amateur family cooks, a cosy environment. It even has Nadiya Hussein, Bake-off’s season 6 winner.
The trailer has a Saturday Kitchen meets Ellen vibe, with people looking happily cooking and dancing. Who dances while cooking? Weird. And the shoutouts don’t end there. The competition is between 2 families of 3, and takes place over 3 rounds. The first is to cook a meal for 4 people for a tenner, like Ready, Steady, Cook with inflation. [Aaaand, here’s our second James Martin shoutout.]
The next two rounds take place at the contestants’ own kitchen, with the final round called “Impress Your Neighbours” with shades of Come Dine with Me. Honestly, all these shoutouts and programs are favourites, there’s no denying it. So why not emulate them?
It all makes for a program that is safe and underwhelming. The chemistry between the presenters haven’t developed, although the Indy gives them credit:
that took a while before the public noticed [Bake-off chemistey] and it started clocking up more than 10 million viewers an episode
The second BBC prong of attack will be Britain’s Best Cook with Mary Berry and Claudia Winkleman. It may take two to beat Channel 4’s version of Bake-off. Oh, let’s not mention Mel and Sue taking over the Generation Game. Waste of their talents.
My niece once suggested that when I’m back living in the UK I should enter Bake-off. I said I won’t get very far because I’m not good with bread and pastries. The families on the Big Family Cooking Showdown do look like they know what they are doing. Both families competiting in ep 1 have their family recipes and can draw on dishes from their heritage. I can never imagine cooking with my family. We have very different styles and TBH skill levels. I cooked Christmas dinner last year with sis and she’s the only one I can imagine cooking with. Even with mm, we have different ideas and styles.
Ugh. Channel 4’s Bake-Off trailer is here. This is not the Bake-Off we know. Channel 4’s Jay Hunt:
It’s got a new tone to it.
If we get it here, I know I’ll watch it. But it’ll be accompanied by much hand-wringing that I’m somehow not being loyal to the BBC version. However good they are, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding are not Mel and Sue. Prue Leith is okay. I just don’t feel any warmth or cosiness in this group. Quite the opposite, there’s something creepy and off-putting. Sandi Toksvig is the only one who looks normal and approachable.
Saw Wonder Woman at the local cinema today. Lots of screens, large cinema, quite crowded. We bought a combo of large popcorn and 2 large drinks, the total came close to the price of 2 tickets. The drinks was coke freestyle which meant I could play around and get all sorts of coke products. I mixed orange flavoured coke zero, lemonade, sparkling water and a little mixed berry juice. Doesn’t taste as awful as it sounds.
The seats were all reclining so the footrest comes up. Comfortable.
As for the film itself, so much has already been said. US$380 million domestic sales, overtaking Deathly Hallows Part 2. US$760 million worldwide. Top grossing film by a female director. Best DCEU film.
It did well not only in box office numbers, but reviews too. 92% at rotten tomatoes, high scores from major newspapers, good reviews everywhere I read. All my friends are raving about it.
They handled the backstory and the reboot into WW1 timeline very well. It suited the backstory–amazon princess misplaced in ‘modern’ era but one without computers or anything too technical. All too often, superhero films and tv programs fall into the trap of making their heroes too idealistic, too wonderful, too much of everything that it becomes a bad cartoon. Patty Jenkins and her team didn’t do any of that. Gal Gadot had an air of determined innocence which was balanced well with a low key performance by Chris Pine. Love the supporting cast too. No one too OTT, too much of a stereotype, never took away the limelight from the main characters. The Verge:
Wonder Woman represents a number of delicate balancing acts: between humor and gravitas; angst and adventure; full-blown, unvarnished superhero fantasy and the DCEU’s usual unpacking of what those fantasies mean.
There’s a lot of attention on the film’s message of empowering women and certainly it has a wonderfully encouraging message to girls and women everywhere. For me though, ultimately I thoroughly enjoyed the film not because it was a film directly by a woman, or had women in starring roles, or even that they had real athletes playing the amazons. In fact, I’m meh at strong women dressed in amazon costumes–I’m not a fan of Xena or the tv Wonder Woman. I guess what I’m saying is that I liked the film despite of that. Because it was a story well told, with exciting fight scenes and believable characters. I think many people feel the same, male or female. As producer Charles Roven said:
Historically, audiences in this genre are male — 60 to 40 percent — but if you can really tap the market and maintain the males and actually add a significantly greater female audience, it’s a great win-win.
To get up early for the 8.30am session or not, that was the question. We were good students, so we did. The day was full of educational sessions. One that touched on the current political climate, a masterclass on great openings, an update on the legacies project documentary, a discussion on swearing. The membership meeting highlighted the contributions made by volunteers and that the organisation was in good hands.
One of the most important meetings I went to was the one on awards changes. I had some input to this and we were excited with the improvements suggested. Seemed to be well received by the membership too, so the effort wasn’t wasted.
We finished early and met at the lobby for the drive into the city. The destination, Hamilton the musical. Car had gotten tickets as soon as the booking window opened and a group of us piled into her car. There were a number of our friends who were there also. I hadn’t had dinner so I bought some of their “pyes” ie small apple and cherry pies. The theatre was completely full and as soon as the house lights went off the audience cheered loudly. And the cheers didn’t stop. The show was really amazing. I know very little about Alexander Hamilton except he was one of the group that included George Washington, James Madison. I was able to follow the story easily. The music was a departure from usual musical style, I had listened to the soundtrack so I knew it was mostly hip hop. Simply put, very well done and a fantastic show. Up there with Les Miz.
I saw this post at kottke during the Japan trip and saved it to read again later. This is one of the stories from Ethan Hawke’s Rules for a Knight:
One time, on a sweltering August night, Grandfather and I made camp down by the ocean. He said, “While I teach you about the ways of war, I want you to know that the real struggle is between the two wolves that live inside each of us.”
“Two wolves?” I asked, seated on an old log near the fire. My eyes were transfixed by the flames twisting uncomfortably in the night air.
“One wolf is evil,” he continued. “It is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, deceit, false pride.” He paused, poking at the embers of our fire with a long stick he’d been carving.
“The other is good. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, humility, loving-kindness, forgiveness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith.”
I considered that for a minute, then tentatively asked, “Which wolf will win?”
Sparks danced towards the stars as the old man stared into the glare of the flames and replied, “Whichever one you feed.”
I was at the right age to be profoundly affected when Reality Bites was released and have a copy of Hawke’s The Hottest State. He’s always appeared to be a thoughtful actor and his writing seems to be that of a sensitive person underneath a broody exterior. Quite intrigued by the book, will put it on the list.
Kottke’s self-reflection on the story is so on point:
I’ve been feeding the wrong wolf recently. He’s so hungry and there’s been a lot of available food, but I’ve got to get back on track.
The pic is the statue of St Francis and the wolf of Gubbio at Basilica di Santa Maria Degli Angeli in Assisi. That is another thought-provoking story.
TV catchup day. 2 eps of masterchef australia at lunchtime, followed by australian bake-off. Regular 2 eps of masterchef again at night then TAR. In between, I finished packing and did a load of laundry. I’m sad that I’ll be missing an entire week’s worth of masterchef, especially since we’re now in top 9. Ah well. May be I can find old episodes online somewhere. May be I’m getting older and more out of touch, I don’t know how to find stuff as easily as I used to.
We can do with as much good cheer as possible right now. NYT has a page of 12 great stories that have nothing to do with politics. Between US politics, the French and UK elections, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’ve stayed off fb mostly. I understand my American friends’ frustration with the recent healthcare situation, but I only have so much empathy to share. UK elections is no better, I used to lean Conservative, but I can no longer stand them. The problem is there is no alternative.
Anyway, one of the great stories is about symphony for a broken orchestra. It all started when Robert Blackson of Temple Contemporary, a part of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, learned that there are over 1000 musical instruments in the Philadelphia school system that are broken but can’t be repaired due to lack of money. Mr Blackson collected the instruments for an exhibition and is planning a performance of a piece, Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, composed by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. The composition
is written specifically for the sounds these instruments can only make in their broken state
They are still looking for volunteers to play the instruments, help with aspects of the performance and to repair the instruments. People can donate and adopt an insrument: after the performance the instruments will be repaired and given back to the schools so young people can learn and enjoy playing music. Here’s some more information:
Favourite bookseller is having a sale: buy 2 get one free. I got caught up with some book shopping, got 7 books total for US$40. Good motivation to start reading again, haven’t read anything for a few weeks.
Finished one book in a few hours. An easy-to-read romance from an author who is consistent, reliable and I know it’ll be well written. While the premise is formulaic, I was still absorbed in the story. Our MCs meet, fall in love, some obstacle happens, they break up and get back together again. And lived happily ever after.
I always feel very sad when I read traditional romances. It’s so easy for them. Oh, there are always obstacles, but it’s a guaranteed happy ending so the angst never last long. Not real. You don’t look across the room and feel everything fade to the background with only your soulmate lit up like a spotlight. You don’t start finishing each other’s sentences after talking to each other for five minutes. Friends and family and colleagues and society are not that accepting. Life is not that smooth. It’s a fantasy. Sometimes I hate these characters; it’s so unfair that they get to find the one and spend the rest of their lives together.
What about those of us to struggle and know there is no solution, no happily ever after. The angst doesn’t get resolved. Problems build instead of dissipate. Mere living, the act of staying alive, is tough.
May be we put too much emphasis on love. After all, it’s just an emotion and we can’t live on emotions. It’s not like food, shelter, air, water. Argh, I’m too cynical and jaded. Jeanette Winterson was writing in the Guardian about how the concept of marriage has changed from ownership of women a thousand years ago to business and convenience a few hundred years ago to marrying for love, a decidedly Victorian idea. On the topic of love, she says,
love is like gardening, or writing, or working out, or cooking, or eating, or meditation, or reading – it’s an everyday activity that needs to be fresh and alive every day, tended, and with tenderness.
Pretty idealistic but practical too. What of marriage in the future? May be we move away from the boxes society places upon us. Some people want to be married to one person; some people don’t want to be bothered with the grand declaration; some others have no option to be with someone but need to escape loneliness. It comes down to the different types of love. Does romantic love have to be the ultimate goal? What about the love of family, good friends, close community.
I’m getting off-topic. The next book in the newly purchased stack I’m going to read falls firmly in the adventure category. No danger of becoming even more sad reading about perfect couples with perfect relationships.
I was flipping through channels and managed to catch Bones s12e12, the series finale. I hadn’t been diligently watching every single episode; I’d watch what I can when I see it’s on and usually on flights. I do know that it’s the series finale. Episode title “The End in the End.”
The body and villain of the week were dispatched quickly, it’s a continuation from evidently the previous episode(s). It’s hard to cram so much into 45mins, but they did a pretty good job. Everybody was there, including Caroline, my favourite character. All the available squinterns were there, and there were shout-outs to Mr Nigel-Murray and Zack. And Sweets, poor Sweets.
It wasn’t like they were closing down the Jeffersonian permanently. Bones and Booth still walked off into the sunset, the ending in the “and they lived happily ever after” vein. Hodgins got to be King of the Lab. There is the understanding that their lives will go on, it’s just that we the audience won’t be a part of that family anymore. Kinda sad.
Found a 21min retrospective featuring cast and crew. The family vibe was strong.
Went running the other day, did 5k around the reservoir park. Extremely slow and there is no doubt I’ve lost 100% of my fitness, probably more since I need to lose weight too. It’s been a year since my last serious run. I still follow Paris Marathon on social media but I don’t dare think about any of it. I wonder when I’ll be ready to go back to running.
Saw the reddit thread by an artist who produced illustrated marathon maps. He’s done maps for Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, MCM, New York, Pittsburg, San Francisco, and Tokyo. All the drawings are fantastic, my favourites are London and Tokyo mainly because these are two cities I know and love. Definitely worth checking out the full gallery.
The prints are available for sale. $28 isn’t too bad though I wish they sold postcard sized too so I can get the whole set. If they did a Paris map I’ll consider getting the print; it’s the one that got away, innit.
It’s 20 years since Welcome to the Hellmouth. I didn’t watch Buffy when it was on the air but caught up later and followed on twop before watching it all on dvd. Took me a while to get to s7. It’s one of those tv shows that has a special place in pop culture. Here are some top moments, not a bad list. The ultimate recent list is vox’s ranking of every single episode, from #144 Beer Bad to #1:
. Once More with Feeling
Advertising firm McCann New York placed a statue of a girl opposite the Wall Street charging bull on behalf of their client State Street Global Advisors. The statue, called Fearless Girl, was by sculptor Kristen Visbal and will be there for a week. The purpose is to bring attention, on International Women’s Day, to diversity and gender equality issues. She starts down the bull and plaque at her feet says
Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.
State Street is refreshingly unusual in having 3 women on its 11-member board. Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Tisdalle:
She’s not angry at the bull — she’s confident, she knows what she’s capable of, and she’s wanting the bull to take note.
If only the rest of Wall Street is as enlightened as State Street. More than 80% of FAs are men and 25% of Russell 3000 index firms have no women on their board. I mean, has anyone been to the pit that is a trading desk? Sigh.
Come to think of it, I think my friend Larry went to State Street. I think he’s still there, global head of mobility.
And another thing, they must have roped off the statues for photographers or the photographers got there early. When I was there last year, there were so many people taking selfies with the bull I could not get a proper pic at all.
I stopped going to mass. Mum still goes but I told her I’m taking a break. For the longest time we never went, and then when Papa was in hospital we started going again and continued after he was gone. I thought it might help me, get some peace and support for my spiritual and faithful side. I prayed the rosary for weeks.
May be it’s because I never learned how to pray or go to church or open myself to receiving God’s blessing. I don’t feel like it’s helped. I search and I try to feel and all I get is blank.
It’s not like when people declare that they’ve turned their backs on their church because of scandal or politics. It’s nothing like that. I think I still believe in God. There has to be a purpose to our miserable lives. But I decided when I started feeling like going to mass every sunday felt like a chore, I should stop. Again, no earth-shattering reason. It’s like someone suddenly decided to stop eating onions or going to a particular restaurant. There’s no concrete reason.
This was during my trip and I was watching it in the hotel room. A short film called ten meter tower about people participating in an experiment by jumping off a 10m diving platform for the first time. Even with the camera only on the people on the platform, we can feel the trepidation. The makers, Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson
sought to capture people facing a difficult situation, to make a portrait of humans in doubt
Around 70% did jump. No one can be sure of what they will do until they are up there on the platform. I know I’d be petrified even though I know logically there is no harm.
Masterchef Australia marathon is on. The entier season 6 all day from 11am to 1am. Yep, 1am. We hadn’t seen this season, it’s before we got this channel. It’s on all this week until Friday and there’s no break.
Fantastic. Downside is I have to plan cooking and doing other stuff around this. The entire day is gone. I use the time before 11am to prep for lunch and commercial breaks during the afternoon to prep for dinner. It’s good practice. And why we have ovens. Pumpkin soup, chicken curry from the freezer, sausages, beef stew are on the menu for the next few days.
Saw Rogue One. Took mum to the first showing at 11.30am, she even got a senior discount.
I’ve been not very in touch with what’s happening in the world lately, so I was less familiar with R1 than ep 7. I knew it’s coming out, I knew it’s about the rebels getting their hands on the death star plans, I knew it’s a spin-off / side story. And I knew I need to go see it.
It was totally worth it. They chose the timeline and setting for this first spin-off perfectly. Eps 7-9 is on-going so we should get to ep 9 before tackling that universe. Eps 1-3, ugh. Nostalgia for the shappy space chic of ep 4 is more bankable and fan-acceptable. And every fan will have a great time spotting familiar elements. One of the first scenes, with Galen Erso standing next to a piece of equipment on his farm, an echo to a similar shot with Luke on Tatooine. So many nods to what we already know and recognise. And yet enough differences for it to hold its own as a standalone.
I haven’t seen ep 4 in a while, but like everyone who grew up with it, it’s ingrained in my mind. Variety called R1 Episode 3.9 and said,
for the original generation of “Star Wars” fans who weren’t sure what to make of episodes one, two, and three, “Rogue One” is the prequel they’ve always wanted.
It does the impossible, it explained one of the biggest plot holes of the entire series–how can the indestructable death star be destroyed by one single shot. That said, the journey to that single shot by Luke is not easy. The rebels are horribly outnumbered and R1 doesn’t cushion us with touchy-feely, feel-good vibes about their situation. It’s very grim. Vox summed up R1’s theme:
People die in wars.
It’s obvious, the whole franchise is called Star Wars. The Atlantic goes further, describing R1 a war movie, with
a different, and somewhat more impersonal, story to tell. None of its protagonists are discovering hidden blood relatives or training to be Jedi masters.
The majority of the characters are humans or normal of their species, only Chirrut Îmwe has a vague ability with the Force. Even the Imperial characters like the main villian Orson Krennic are simply human. It’s a bit like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. focusing on the humans of S.H.I.E.L.D. rather than the superheroes. That’s why Vader is so deadly and scary when he finally appears. The problematic part is that the rebel team, when we finally get to the action after planet-hopping in the gigantic interplanetary geography lesson that is Act 1, is a bit clichéd. The war movie is now interspaced with a heist movie
and like every good heist movie, it must assemble a motley crew of specialists.
There’s Jyn Erso, our hero with a tragic background who turns from being cynical to giving a rousing rebel speech. There’s Cassian Andor, a supposedly cruel, unfeeling rebel captain whom she has zero chemistry with. Bodhi Root, an Imperial pilot who defected to the rebels. The best characters IMHO are blind warrior monk Chirrut Îmwe and his guard Baze Malbus who has this awesome machine gun blaster. The team goes off, with Cassian’s snarky droid K-2SO to steal and send the Death Star’s blueprints.
We all know they get the plans. I didn’t expect them all to die, but towards the end I realised that’s exactly what will happen. It makes sense. None of the characters are in ep 4 and it solidifies the theme. War is horrible. People die in wars, good people and bad people both. It takes guts, to kill off the entire main cast, and points to director Gareth Edwards for making me not feel gutted about it. The breathtaking the last few minutes of the film helped. The precious data disks gets away by the skin of its teeth. It’s given to none other than Princess Leia who tells us about “hope.” We get the optimism even though we know what will come literally during the next 10 minutes. We know Vader (the only time a lightsabre appears) is about to chase after her and capture her. But we also know the rest of the story. That’s the beauty of this film. We can go from the very last second of R1 and seamlessly transition to the very first second of ep 4.
The special effects are mostly great. There’s one shot of a star destroyer coming out of darkness into the light and it looks like a tiny plastic model. The battles were nicely done but I wasn’t blown away. The CGI renditions of Tarkin and Leia, wow. Some people have commented about the creepiness of using a CGI-Peter Cushing. I thought he’d only be in a scene or two; with such a significant role, they could have used a real actor. The CGI of Leia looks like CGI, sorry I’m not convinced. What I really love is using original footage of Red and Gold leaders, and that sound when the death star’s ignition sequence is fired up.
I won’t go as far. I enjoyed it and want to see it again. After all, what’s not to like about a film that gets boycotted by Trump supporters because it’s too non-white (kudos for diversity!) or because the writers changed their twitter profile to add a safety pin, or, gasp, it’s about people who believe in fairness and freedom fighting against a swampful of autocrats. If ever a film set in a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is a fitting commentary of this crazy 2016 year, it’s Rogue One.
via kottke, a recital of Still I Rise from its author, Maya Angelou. Honestly, I know very little about the poet, other than she is extremely well respected. I was mesmerised by this performance. Hopefully I won’t get C&Ded if I quote the entire poem.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Spent the whole day watching tv. Amazing Race Canada is on, 5 episodes every Sunday. First time I’ve seen TARCAN, we’re up to season 2. The format is the same. In s1 they stayed in Canada and it was a great advertisement for the country, so beautiful. A couple of overseas locations in s2, but still a lot of Canada. The teams are the usual mix, they are competitive like Americans and some are also as arrogant and nasty. Mostly polite though.
Harry Potter 7 and 8 were also on at dinnertime. Seen them many times but can never resist. And this is the best scene.
Target of 40k this weekend reached. More about machine learning, and description of MC1’s home. I didn’t go overboard with the description, one paragraph per room. There’s quite a lot more of the story to write about, especially about the mystery which has gotten neglected.
Non-nano stuff, themes from today’s readings and gospel were apt for these troubling times. We had a father visiting from Italy and he told us: for those who despair and there seems to be no hope, the sun is coming. There will be good shepherds to lead us. The gospel warns us that there will be people who come in Jesus’ name who will deceive and persecute and hate us, but we are not to despair:
by your perseverance you will secure your lives
It’s also Remembrance Sunday. I didn’t see any place that sold poppies this year (some people say m&s but I didn’t see it). Anyway, I guess it’s what is in our hearts. I kept listening to this moving I Vow to Thee My Country, from the festival of remembrance at the Albert Hall a few years ago. It’s a hymn I know very well, we sang it often at school.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
Mum had lunch plans so I had the flat to myself for half a day, yay. Did a couple of loads of laundry then lazed around. I did run out to the nearby pokegym when I saw there was an available slot to get my 10 gold. I can’t believe no one claimed it.
Too hot to do anything else. Turned on the tv and got engrossed in The Two Towers. It came out in 2002, and 14 years later the battle of Helm’s Deep is still as awe-inspiring as ever.
I have to start working on writing again. Task #18 of 101.1001 is to design a book cover. I had in mind to take some pics in NYC for LL. Not as many or as good potential as I wanted.
The background is of stock market quotes in a newspaper from flickr user andreas poike under cc by 2.0. If/when I get a chance to submit a cover myself I’ll get a copy of FT and substitute my own image, I just didn’t have any newspaper at hand.
The Wall Street street sign and SMELLS graffiti are my own, from the most recent trip. I have a couple of pics of the charging bull but there were so many tourists I had to borrow from someone, this from flickr user sam valadi also under cc by 2.0.
The play on the son of man is based on a pic of me taken at Carleen’s friend Tom’s costume shop last year. The apple is also my own image and the frame from a random google image search for free images. Photoshopped to make it blurry and more like a painting. It’s something that will be referenced in LL, which I’ll need to edit in.
Is it a good cover? A passable attempt I guess. Can be so much better in the hands of a professional.
The weather will turn bad next week, so we went to the market and got plenty of veg. We have meat in the freezer and lots of fruit so we’re sorted for at least a week.
The new tv channels are activated, so I was going through them, looking at what’s available. Wow, Masterchef Australia. One of the best Masterchefs in the world, with as much emphasis on learning as competition. Weekend catch up of 5 episodes. It’s now at ep 25, with around 10-12 contestants, so around a third of the way through. Between this and MKR, our evenings will be busy in a good way.
Did a bunch of errands with Mum. Bank, teachers union to look at fridges, renewed her cable subscription. The plan she had before isn’t available anymore and of course they now charge more. Then again, we can pick from 3 bundles and we now have more channels than before. After I’m able to cancel my subscription, the cost isn’t significantly higher. We now get all the National Geographic and Discovery channels as well as both BBC Lifestyle and BBC Earth (which I miss having). Food Network, E!, History channel. We now have almost all the entertainment channels that have series programs, not just one. Plus one that has oldies, I see they are showing X-files season 4 as well as, gasp, Golden Girls, Taxi, A-team, MacGyver.
And speaking of X-files. I need to watch them all again.
One of our favourite recent programs is Around the World in 80 Dishes with Manu Feildel from MKR. Based loosely on Around the World in 80 Days, Manu makes his way around the world in 30 days armed with AUD20,000. Along the way, he can work and trade for food, lodging and travel but can’t accept money or free travel.
He started in London and already he’s endeared himself to me by going to Foxlow for chicken and waffles. Foxlow is a sibling restaurant of my beloved Hawskmoor.
Some of his trades are a bit farfetched. Can’t believe he got luxurious hotel in exchange for cooking at At.mosphere inside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Selling vegetarian burgers on a train from Mumbai to Kolkata couldn’t have been difficult: a white dude with a camera crew? He sold out in 15 mins.
This is a more relaxed and playful side of Manu we’re seeing, and it is always enjoyable to see a chef host a food & travel program who clearly loves what he is doing.
We love watching MKR and food programs as a family. Every time I see this new show, or the latest season of MKR, I can’t help but think how Papa would like it. He would have loved this new program. Sniff.
p.s. not a lot of online information, turns out that it isn’t due to start in Australia till after the Olympics. Wow, we get a headstart for a change.
Completed a couple of 101.1001 tasks during the trip.
Task #8 is to go see an old musical. I saw Matilda, which I’d seen in 2012 in London. Love the production, I can see myself seeing it even more times in London again, in other locations and if it goes on tour. Although based on a children’s book and targetted at children, it has a lot going for adults too. I’m still humming When I Grow Up.
Task #61 is to plan, cook and serve an three-course meal, with wine. I had an idea of what I’d like to cook when at home, which I may still do so another time. This meal was actually a 4-course meal I planned at the last moment when I was in the huge seafood store in Chelsea Market. The sheer variety of seafood there was enough to make anyone want to make a feast.
For starter I had a mixture of topneck and littleneck clams. I preferred the small littlenecks, with their sweeter flavour but the entire dish was fresh and fabulous.
For mains I panfried a skate wing with spot prawns and kale. I haven’t had skate for a while, can’t get it at home. Probably overcooked it a little, but still tasty. The prawns were wonderful.
A small cheese board of cranberry and goat’s cheese I got from the supermarket, a Paymaster goat’s cheese from Brooklyn that was washed in chocolate whiskey and an Alderney hard cheese made from raw organic hard cheese, from a creamery in the Catskills.
Dessert was stuff I had in the fridge: blackberries and raspberry sorbet.
Funny when I posted on fb, people were congratulating me on my cooking. The clams were simply boiled in water until they opened and seasoned with a little fennel tops. The fish, prawns and kale had the most cooking but, er, pan-frying is one of the easiest things to do. Cheese and dessert were putting food on plates. But all in all, I’m very satisfied with the meal. Since it was only me, I couldn’t go crazy with wine and stuck with the one bottle.
Laundry in the morning. About 10mins’ walk towards 14th street ACE stop. Good to take a rest. Visited Myers of Keswick, which sold British goodies like Marmite, brown sauce and pork pies. But no Walkers. Everything three times the price of the UK.
Lunch at the Spotted Pig. There is no excuse for not going, since it’s 5 mins’ walk away. Beautiful building, all red bricks and plants everywhere.
I got there just before 12pm when it opened. No reservation so people were milling around. I asked for a bar seat and ordered the burger and their bitter. Their burger is supposed to be the best in town. USD25, not bad price either, for a Michelin-starred place. And it was a great burger: medium rare as I requested, the roquefort really added to the flavour and the shoestring fries had rosemary and garlic in it. I forgave them for not having mayonnaise.
Back to Broadway for Matilda. Saw it in London and wanted to see it again (um, not only because it’s a challenge item in 101.1001). I should have realised that matinée in July = 50 million kids. There were 3 queues to get into the theatre and they all went around the block. I waited near the entrance to allow everyone to get in first, since I knew I had an aisle seat. I was probably the last person in. Luckily the people next to me were fantastic, not part of a group. The group behind was loud and talked throughout the performance, teenagers who should know better. The group in front of me was younger and instead of talking, there was copious fidgeting and standing up. Still, it didn’t detract from the show. I had sort of forgotten the story, and now after a second viewing it’s much more memorable. Lovely songs and performances by all.
Walked a long, long way to 30th and 12th towards the entrance of the High Line. By the time I got there I was really tired, so I was glad that section had shade from nearby construction. The High Line is a park located on an abandoned elevated railway track and extends all the way to 13th Street. Mostly wildflowers, which added to the charm. Some sections of the track were still visible.
Left the High Line at Chelsea Market, wasn’t sure where to go for dinner. The seafood, wine and cheese shop made the decision for me: get food to cook myself. Made a nice 4 course dinner: topneck & littleneck clams; kale & spot prawns with kale; small cheeseboard; blackberry & sorbet. Opened the bottle of wine Carleen gave me.
Long day planned, including trying to see a musical if possible.
My friend Brayden gave me a couple of websites in addition to tkts, so I bought a wednesday matinée ticket for Matilda. Aside from completing one of the remaining 101.1001 items, I wanted to see it again, enjoyed it when I saw it in London in 2012.
Headed via subway to the tkts booth at south street seaport, apparently fewer people. Got there 25mins before they opened at 11am and there was already a fairly long line. Helpful staff members were there to answer questions. Looking at the list of available shows, my first choice was Fun Home. The couple in front of me was after Fun Home too. USD82 including fees for a ticket in row A, which probably meant first row.
Walked around South Street Seaport, where I used to visit a lot. The A&F was still in its location but there are many other changes. Construction too, blocking some of the view of the river.
Had lunch at Smorgasburg. Unlike the Prospect Park version, it was more like a food court with 6 stalls. Had the lobster roll again. I ordered without fries but they put it there anyway. When I pointed it out they said have it for free. Washed it down with a beer, much needed on a hot day.
By then it was lunch time and I’m glad I’m not in the industry anymore. Millions of people descended on the surrounding areas for lunch. Good thing was there seemed to be an explosion of food trucks. Found a little peace and quiet, and aircon break at the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary near Battery Park. It is also the site of the shrine for Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint. Walked on to Wall Street to see the charging bull (too many people, impossible to take a picture without people).
More walking brought me to Ground Zero. The first sight was the very tall and very impressive Freedom Tower. Quite awestruck. Where the towers were are now two reflection pools, with names of the victims carved into stone surrounding both pools. Time for reflection and a prayer to remember the victims. 69 people at CF, I still remember the remembrance book that was for some reason in my office. The mood of the visitors felt more like tourists taking selfies, although everyone was respectful, no loud kids running around.
I also made a point to visit the survivor tree. A volunteer told us the moving story. A callery pear tree was found in the rubble and someone noticed it still had a few leaves. They took it to a nursery in Brooklyn and nursed the tree back to health. When the memorial site was being built, they moved the tree back to the site where it stands between the two pools. Now it’s totally thriving and is a symbol of hope and survival.
Wanted to find 222 Broadway for a pic, walked the wrong way and endup in near City Hall, Brooklyn Bridge and uptown. Too hot and tired to backtrack. Took the subway back to the apartment for a rest. Had early dinner of steak and fennel, meaning I didn’t need to find food near Times Square, always a bonus.
Times Square was as loud and overwhelming, even more so, that I remembered. Millions of tourists and neon everywhere. It was good to absorb the atmosphere for a bit, then it got too much and I quickly headed to the theatre.
Yes, definitely first row at Fun Home. It was a circular stage so I was smack bang in front of it. If I stretched my feet out I was already touching the stage. The show was wonderful, the stage setting gave an additional intimacy, it was like we were actually in the antique family house, the funeral home (the “fun home” of the title), the dorm room. So close that I could reach out and touch the actors, and even saw the tape holding their mics behind their necks! I’m glad I caught this one before it closes in September.
It’s a different father who conducted mass today, Father James. First time Mum and I have been to his masses. He’s different. The other father, Father Peter (the parish priest) likes singing. We sing kyrie eleison, gloria and at the end of communion bless the lord my soul. He sings a lot of the prayers too but not Father James.
Father James’ homily was also much longer. He recapped the readings and then expanded. The first reading was about the prophet Elijah’s raising of the son of the widow of Zarephath and the gospel was about Jesus’ raising of the son of the widow of Nain. Two miracles that were completely parallel with each other.
Father James pointed out one exception. Elijah performed the miracle after being asked by the widow of Zarephath whereas Jesus performed his miracle when he came across the procession in Nain, without being asked by the mother.
Father James then did an odd segue. He told us that he observed that people don’t give up their seats on public transportation anymore, young people are too absorbed in their mobiles or are too self-absorbed altogether. Usually people have to be asked. So one of the lessons for today was to give up seats without needing to be asked.
It’s an interesting interpretation of the readings. In fact, it’s not the direction I expected him to take. I have now forgotten the rest of the homily, because the idea of resurrection miracle –> giving up seats on the train is a tad too surreal for my liking.