Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best Conversation of the Week

(In the fourth floor cubicles at Mars Hill Graduate School)

Me: Yeah, I'm really excited about moving down into the basement and setting up a whole studio living room/bedroom thing.
Cathy: You don't need a TV do you?
Me: Uh yeah I totally do. I was gonna buy one.
Cathy: I have a TV literally sitting in my hall waiting to be taken away by someone. I've been begging peolpe to take it off my hands.
Me: That's amazing. I don't have a car to pick it up though.
Cathy: I can drop it off. This Sunday okay?
Me: Yeah, noon?
Cathy: Perfect, see you then.

And voila! I have a TV now.
I love Cathy Loerzel.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Music to Fall By

Last Friday night I felt it for the first time this year: Fall. The first familiar gust of wind beckoned me to my ITunes to get busy making a new Autumn-themed study Playlist. (True, this Wednesday October 1st I will probably move right into my Christmas playlist, but I first had to answer the call of Fall).

Autumn needs warm music: music that evokes browns, reds, trees, fireside, scarves, corduroy, cinnamon-flavored baked goods, pumpkins- you know the list. Well, from my ITunes library, that pretty much means some upbeat Baroque music, George Winston's "Autumn" album (duh), the soundtrack to "Everything is Illuminated" and just a touch of Counting Crows here and there. (I like to toss in a few pop songs to my study lists- provides little four minute mental breaks when they come up in randomization).

And of course, I wanted to add Vivaldi's Four Seasons to the Mix. It may be the "Four" Seasons, but everyone knows it just makes you feel like taking a road trip to an apple orchard.

But to my shock and disbelief, I found that I did not own a recording of the Four Seasons. How did this happen? Doesn't EVERYONE own the Four Seasons? Well, thank you ITunes store, where I could just click over and peruse some thirty different recordings and price ranges. I settled on celebrity: Joshua Bell with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (which unbeknownst to me had just been released a week earlier). This was also my first ITunes purchase that came not only with a digital booklet, but a video of Bell playing/conducting the Summer "Presto" movement.

It's an outstanding recording: crisp and energized but full of surprising nuances. It's a great new interpretation of the classic Baroque musicalization of what it feels like to dive into a pile of leaves!

Oh, and if you didn't already know: Joshua Bell = hot

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sewing a-la Frankenstein

I cannot sew. The only needle I have is a tapestry needle for knitting projects. Therefore, a rip in any of my clothing is a near tragedy, especially since no matter how many shirts, pants, sweaters etc I have, I tend to rotate around only 5 options at a time. I guess that's as much decision making as my brain can handle compared to everything else in my life. So to lose one of the 5 in the rotation is pretty crippeling.

I was super-peeved this spring when my almost cashmere Mossimo sweater from Target formed a huge rip along a back seam only about 6 weeks after purchase. Waking up the other day to discover Fall had officially arrived, I yearned for that ripped sweater which I hadn't been able to bring to myself to throw away. What to do? I figured, if I can't mend it with a perfectly blended seam, I'll just make my clunky sewing effort super obvious. So here's my first attempt at both sweater mending and embroidery. I almost went lime green...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Things That Make Me Smile

On June 5, my housemate Johny and I borrowed our other housemate's car to drop off the rent check at the landlord's (we have till the 5th of the month at midnight). We used the car time as an opportunity to pick up some house supplies, ie: toilet paper. Now, we all know there are two kinds of people in the world: those who like teeny tiny rolls of super fluffy toilet paper, and those who prefer endless, budget-friendly rolls of simple 2-ply. Johny and I are both big fans of the latter, Scott Brand to be specific. Well, since we had the car, we thought, why just buy 1 pack of 12 rolls when we could buy two packs? So we purchased 24 rolls of Scott basic 2-ply and decided to track how long it lasted (and thus prove our point that even when using copious amounts of 2-ply, it lasts so much longer than stupid quilted brands.

Well, as of yesterday's roll replacement, we found ourselves about a week shy of going 4 months without having to purchase toilet paper. For anyone living in NYC or any car-less apartment dweller anywhere, you know what amazing news this is. We're thinking of throwing a party for the fact that as long as we buy 24 rolls at a time, we will only be purchasing toilet paper 3 times a year. That is truly reason to celebrate.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Woody Allen Goes to Spain

4 Stars (out of 5)
Outstanding performances by Hall, Bardem and Cruz (and actually this is the first movie that truly won me over to Javier Bardem). Woody Allen's dialogue transfers unbelievably well into Spanish and as a result, this is a surprisingly warm and colorful (though as conflicted as one would expect) offering from our beloved neurotic New Yorker. There's wonderful ambiguity in whether this is a satire of the typical "2 american girls are transformed by European vacation" or using the form to say something quite different. Either way, it was a wonderful hour and a half of my life.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Postings Elsewhere

I loved my friend Joshua's blog mini-interview format "100 Words" so much that I wanted to steal it with his permission. Rightly so, he's keeping it to himself, but I got to be one of the interviewees. Good trade.

Check out 100 words on thelongbrake.com

Also, here's 100 Words on Food by another friend, David Rice. For more inspiring words from D.Rice, here's an old post of mine.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fast Food with Reusable Container

When you work weird schedules (2.5 jobs and a full time student), mealtime often gets a back seat to "where can i sit and do homework for fifteen minutes before i go to job number 2?"

But I got a surprising new option the other day. With 45 minutes before I needed to be at Intiman, I didn't feel like marching over to Taco Del Mar for fish taco trip number 4 of the week, and though I'm pretty tired of the gourmet sandwiches at the bourgeois bohemian grocery store Metropolitan Market, I thought I'd stop in and see if anything inspired me.

And there it was: a personal size shepherd's pie served in a ramekin you get to keep. $6, pop it in the Green Room microwave, and boom- a delicious hearty treat. yummy yum.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"This novel is being interrupted by a message from your local serial editor..."

Wives and Daughters (Penguin Classics) Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I knew I was undertaking a possibly futile adventure when I began reading Elizabeth Gaskell's unfinished novel. Writing it in serialized form from 1864-1866, Gaskell died almost literally before the last 20 pages were completed. So you have the entire story except the resolution (kind of important). But that in itself felt like a fun experiment, and in fact, it was. Instead of finding a neatly wrapped up ending, you suddenly encounter a 150 fifty year old editor's note explain the sad loss of Elizabeth Gaskell. This lovely little article succeeds both in laying out the remaining story elements based on Gaskell's notes, while also serving as a tender eulogy to a beloved woman and author (a not too common combo in 1860). This uniqueness of this story interrupted over a century ago, makes the ending almost more enjoyable. It feels quite a bit like time travel, sort of a "this just in!" breaking news announcement that reaches out right from 1866 to you on your sofa.

The unique nature of the book's ending turned out to be worth the read. In many ways, its hard to imagine the book's original ending being much more interesting anyway. The story is simple and charming and in no way builds towards anything climactic, so not much is lost in the missing pages, except to read Gaskell's own words of course.

But the book is charming, and I don't mean that as an insult. There's not much in the way of passion, intrigue or even really plot, but I think "Wives and Daughters" has an amazing portrait of a mother/daughter duo bound by one's narcissism and the other's sarcastic refusal to be consumed by the other. I've never really encountered true sarcasm in Victorian novels, and certainly not in simple village stories. The character of Cynthia is a remarkable capturing of truth- a girl who seems both caustically oblivious and insensitive to deep emotions, while also being acutely critical of facade and shallowness in others. I loved how she ignored her mother and the mother never understood Cynthia's insults. A character like Cynthia (if she exists at all) would typically be a "bad" character, but Gaskell gives her almost equal footing with the heroine Molly, and clearly tends to be on Cynthia's side more than her mother's. For all I've heard of Gaskell being a conservative female author of the period (she was a friend and biographer of Charlotte Bronte who was often shocked by Bronte's "wild" beliefs and manners) I was delighted to see some real language and psychological battles going on between characters.

All in all, "Wives and Daughters" is kind of like a sunny day that you spend inside watching movies. You enjoy your time, but also have part of you always aware you're missing something out there. Read, but expect to be quietly amused, not blown away.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


It's now been over a year since I started my "Intertextual Reading Project" which, well, is just having a non-school book to read in the bathroom. Seems simple enough, but the whole point was to have some input from and connection to the world beyond what I was reading for school. Whereas I need to use my bus rides and work breaks for class reading, and frankly, I'm too brain-fried to come home and just read, somehow having something to read in the bathroom suspends the idea that I'm using time I could be doing something else- and ta-da! I've finished 17 books that way.

And though I've always thought of it as an inter-textual project (hoping outside voices and stories would add new dimension to my MHGS roster of study) sometimes the intertextuality is more than striking- it can be disruptive. Most recently- yesterday morning on the bus to work.

*spoiler alert*
So, currently in my "office" I'm reading "The Princess and the Goblin" by George MacDonald. I'd heard the book title off and on growing up, but honestly, I think I conflated it with "The Black Cauldron" or "The Swan Princess" or something, so never thought twice about it. Then recently, I heard three different trusted, respected women raving about the beauty, imagination, and yes, theology of George MacDonald's writing. CS Lewis credits him with having baptized his imagination. So that's why I find myself reading a children's story from 1872. In my "real life" I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's novel "The Poisonwood Bible" for a research paper I'm working on.

The previous night in "Princess and the Goblin" little 8 yr. Princess Irene stays the night with her beautiful mystical grandmother in the attic, and there's an image-rich scene where the Grandmother washes Irene's feet by moonlight then swaddles her into soft bed covers to rest peacefully for the night. The next morning (my morning) in "Poisonwood" I'm reading about another little girl being washed and cradled. For a moment, I got confused about who was the princess and who was a missionary child in Africa. A second later sorted it out, and I continued to read the scene of a mother delicately washing the body of her 5 yr old daughter who was just killed, and weaving together mosquito nets to make a shroud. The rhythm of both the scenes felt so similar: meditative, almost in slow motion, except in one, a beloved little girl was being laid down to sweet dreams and in the other, was being mourned and buried. It definitely augmented the tragedy of Ruth May's sudden death, the idea that she perhaps should have been spending time with mystical grandmothers, not being held captive and put in danger by a father's arrogance and stupidity half way around the world. It felt like Princess Irene had been murdered in the Congo in 1960. It was a powerful inter-textual moment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

If Junian is short for Junianus, then Amy is a guy's nickname too: The Romans 16:7 debacle

Junia: The First Woman Apostle Junia: The First Woman Apostle by Eldon Jay Epp

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
As far as I know, this is the first book devoted to the entire academic, exegetical, historical and theological issues surrounding the controversy of Romans 16:7, wherein for 100 years, Junia, the first female apostle was literally erased from scripture translations, including some versions of the Greek text.

This book might be a rough read for non New Testament scholars (a lot hinges on understanding Koine Greek grammar) but its a short book and a highly recommended skim for anyone interested in how far cultural biases can sway not only Biblical interpretation, but translations as well. The issues discussed in Epp's finely organized study, are still being felt today. By the end of the book you may find yourself thinking the same thing I did- "Why wasn't this issue on CNN? It's mind blowing!"

and it is. check it out. Or read my 15 page paper on the Junia debate :)

View all my reviews.

Monday, September 8, 2008

March March by Geraldine Brooks

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read this as a class assignment.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel, largely because its been a long time since I've read anything Civil War related, and it takes me back. It's a quick read and brings the reader in close contact with areas rarely traversed in contemporary fiction (and certainly of 19th century fiction).

However, I just can't come around to appreciating it as a parallel novel to Little Women. It feels too much like revisionist fiction: re-framing the events in a 150 year old novel in order to prove a contemporary point. I'd rather read a well written novel about a Civil War chaplain as an independent story instead of having new contexts inserted into Lousia May Alcott's story. I enjoyed the interpolation even less due to the autobiographical nature of Alcott's novel. The reality-stretching involving the Alcott families' relationship with Emerson, Thoreau and the rest of the Concord Transcendental gang feels beyond mushy. The blending of reality, 19th century novel and contemporary historical fiction just kind of feels like cheating.

But if you ignore the whole "Little Women" aspect, its a decent read.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sometimes it pays to read blogs

Waking up bleary eyed and exhausted this morning, I gave a cursory look to my email inbox and saw the subject heading "You Have Won A Prize" from the fabulous Ben Harms of MHGS alum fame. Turns out, just for being obsessed with he and his wife Whitney's photography blog, I won some Otter Pops. Any endeavor that ends in popsicles is worthwhile. Check it Out and check them out. Brighten Photogrpahy is one of my top 10 favorite places on the internet. Heck, Id get married just so I could have them shoot the wedding.

Thanks Ben and Whitney!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

From Script to Cocktail

Every five weeks or so, my 3 fellow Intiman Theatre bartenders and our beloved supervisor set about concocting cocktails to tie-in thematically with whatever play is happening next. It's both a time to cull dramatic themes and important sound bites from scripts, and to think about what liquors we want to get rid of because no one ever buys them (Drambuie anyone?)

So in honor of tonight's Act One efforts at creating a red/white/blue layered drink and the unfotunately awful tasting "Dirty Politician" martini for the upcoming "All the Kings Men," here's the Show Specialty Drinks from the last two seasons. We were proud of many of these, and just plain stumped for some of them. **-indicate where I either came up with the name, the recipe, or both.
In backwards chronological order:

The Little Dog Laughed
"The Golden Boy"**
Coconut Rum
Triple Sec
Orange Juice
Shaken and served on the rocks with a sugared lemon wedge

"The Little Pink Lie"
Rasberry Vodka
Triple Sec
Shaken and served up with a splash of Sprite and a maraschino cherry
--tag line we wanted to use since the drink is clear but tastes very fruity- "Looks clear, tastes Queer" I think Doug Carter Beane could appreciate that.

A Streetcar Named Desire
"the Stella!"**
served on the rocks with a lemon

"the Kindness of Strangers"
Southern Comfort
Sour mix
served up with a lime
(Ian, correct me if I'm wrong on this one)

Namaste Man
"The Kathmandu"**
Peach Schnapps
Orange Juice
shaken and served on the rocks with a lemon

"The Big Apple"
Cranberry Juice
served up with a lime

The Diary of Anne Frank
For obvious reasons, we opted to do "spring" themed drinks instead of "the Daiquiri of Anne Frank" as some suggested...
"Sky King"
Blue Curacao
Grapefruit Juice
served up with a twist

"Emerald City"
Pineapple Juice
Shaken and served on the rocks with a cherry

To Kill a Mockingbird
"Lemon Blossom"
Triple Sec
Muddled Lemon
confectioner's sugar
Served up with a lemon

"Tequila Mockingbird"
Cranberry Juice
Muddled Lime
served on the rocks with a lime

A Prayer For My Enemy
"The Truth"
served on the rocks with a lime

"The Consequences"
Cranberry Juice
Muddled Lemon
served up with a lemon

Uncle Vanya
"The Forrest"**
Creme de Menthe
Creme de Cacao
shaken and served on the rocks

"The Vanya"
Russian Vodka
Black rasberry liqueur
muddled lime
served up with a lime

The Skin of Our Teeth

"The Muse"
Grand Marnier
Sour Mix
muddled lemon
shaken over ice, topped with Ginger Ale, served with a lemon

"The Flood"
Blue Curacao
Peach Schnapps
muddled lemon
served up with a twist

And every year for Black Nativity at Christmas, we do the same three things. Egg Nog with brandy, Hot Chocolate with Baileys, and "The Poinsettia" which is some awful combo of cranberry juice, grenadine, and some liquor I can't remember, served up with a sugared rim.

If you want to find out what we choose for All the King's Men, you'll have to stop by. We're just dying to get rid of some Campari!
The Story of Christianity: Volume 2: Volume Two: The Reformation to the Present Day The Story of Christianity: Volume 2: Volume Two: The Reformation to the Present Day by Justo L. Gonzalez

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love any book where Louis XIV and Billy Graham share equal page time.

Gonzalez' second volume is again, an excellent survey of the history of (mostly) the Western church, which works hard to attend to not only the big names and movements, but heeds marginalized voices, cultures and many under-told legacies.

Because its now 20 years old, the book only takes you to the beginning of the cultural shifts taking place in the 1980's, but this is still an outstanding resource for bridging the gap to our current ecclesial structures, patterns and methods, not to mention theological biases and paradigms.

I love Justo!

View all my reviews.