Monday, December 27, 2010

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

The weather looked like this outside today. (We definitely got over a foot here in Allston.)
Boston 2010 snowstorm

Due to the storm, work was canceled. So my day looked liked this.
Snow day activities

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"So bring us some figgy pudding, and bring it right here!!"*

Fortnum and Mason's Twelve Days of Christmas

Two Sundays ago, the tv program "CBS Sunday Morning" (a mainstay in my house on Sunday morning) ran a segment about the British tradition of Christmas pudding. It explained the history of the Christmas pudding and the traditions around it. Then they went and talked to some of the companies that make Christmas puddings for retail outfits (I am partial to Fortnum and Mason's Christmas pudding myself), and Nigella Lawson gave a demo of making one at home.

Definitely "Must See TV" for American anglophiles:

*Contrary to the song, Christmas pudding doesn't actually have dried figs in it. Things you learn from television.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Seven Things Making Me Smile

Foyle's WarIt has been ages since I lasted posted a "seven things" entry. This doesn't mean that there haven't been things out there that I am loving, so without further ado:

  • Because "TV is my other boyfriend", I have to first praise Foyle's War, which I am watching all the way from the beginning, thanks to Netflix. For some silly reason, I missed the first four series of this show when they were shown on "Mystery!", but I am now making up for that. The acting and writing are superb, and I am very much drawn to the overarching theme of how Britain policed itself while under constant threat of invasion. Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle manages to find himself in various situations which, in a time of war, have become morally ambiguous, but he manages to hold on to his values. Sometimes he gets his man, and sometimes he doesn't, but it isn't for lack of trying.

  • The new styles at Talbots, which has been a favorite of mine for clothes since... well, let's just put it this way, I am a Connecticut prep from a long line of Connecticut preps. They have really gotten a handle on combining classic style with a modern fit. I got a great new blazer for work on sale there last week, and I love it. It is conservative without being dowdy, and it fits well.

  • I am loving the fact that the Queen (Elizabeth II) is on Facebook. I really enjoy looking at her hats and jewels and such. (Yes, I friended her that very first week.)

  • A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols by King's College Choir, Cambridge. When I was in college, the choir, of which I was a member, always put on a "Lesson and Carols" concert of our own. Our choral director worked very hard to get our diction to be as crisp as the King's College Choir. Listening to this recording, you can tell that they certainly set the bar VERY high.

  • More TV happiness: the new schedule of Masterpiece Classic has been announced, and I haven't been this excited about Sunday night television since the year of Jane Austen!! The season starts with "Downton Abbey", starring the great Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Brendan Coyle, Penelope Wilton ("we know who you are!!"), Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan (Lady Jane from Lovejoy!!!) and so many other great actors; followed by "Any Human Heart", reuniting "Pillars of the Earth" co-stars Matthew Macfadyen and Hayley Atwell; and THEN the new "Upstairs, Downstairs" with Jean Marsh, Keeley Hawes, Art Malik (!!!) and Eileen Atkins!!!! I am seriously WAY too excited about this winter's PBS lineup. Be still my Brit TV loving heart!! (In the meantime, BBC America continues to have an identity crisis, thinking it is either ScyFy or the Food Network.) Thank goodness for WGBH and Masterpiece!

  • There is nothing like curling up on the sofa on a sleepy weekend afternoon with a Brookstone n*a*p blanket. Mine is a dark blue and is sooo soft and sooo cosy. I am thinking of getting a queen size one for my bed!

  • Speaking of my Brit loving heart, I am SOO excited about the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. I marked the day down on the office calendar as a day that I will NOT be in, and I told some friends that if they wanted to get up at 4am to watch the coverage at my house and drink champagne, they were welcome to. (I wonder if anyone is really going to take me up on the offer. I will be wearing my pajamas and a hat.) I remember watching Charles and Diana's wedding back in the day and being enchanted by the pomp of it all. It will be especially fun to watch this one since I have BEEN to London.

  • Which leads me to a random aside: I have had the experience recently that people are surprised that I know as much about London as I do. Occasionally I am asked if I lived there or spent my junior year abroad there (no and no). Someone asked me the question recently, and, being caught off guard, I answered: "I read a lot" (DOH!), which I then had to elaborate on, further embarrassing myself in the process. I would love to have a better answer to this question other than "I am an Anglophile", which, while being the truth, makes me feel like I am stalking a nation. Any ideas out there, fellow Anglo lovers?

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Songs of the Season

    Sometimes I just love sitting quietly on the couch listening to soft Christmas music, preferably something by Loreena McKennitt, and looking at the Christmas tree. It is such a peaceful thing to do.

    Last Christmas, Loreena McKennitt put out a Christmas album called A Midwinter Night's Dream, which I just love. It incorporates music from two earlier Christmas albums (welllll, an album and an EP) along with a bunch of new material. I particularly like her version of "Emmanuel", which reminds me of the way we used to sing the at Mass during Advent when I was in college. (We would sit in the darkened church, and the choir would start up very quietly and solemnly. As the music became louder, the lights in the church would brighten. The effect was incredibly moving. There might have also been candles involved, but my memory is a little hazy on that.)

    A Christmas song that I have rediscovered this year is "Riu, Riu, Chiu", which is a Spanish carol from the Renaissance. Weirdly enough, I first heard it at the end of an episode of "The Monkees", back when I was religiously watching the show in reruns on MTV in the 1980s. I was reminded of the song recently (not because of the Monkees), and now I can't stop listening to it. I particularly like the version by The Boston Camerata, which can be found on their Renaissance Christmas album. I bought it on iTunes, but I am sure can be found other places on line too.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    "We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It's run by a big eastern syndicate, you know. "*

    No matter what anyone tells you, you are never too old for "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

    I have watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" every holiday season for as long as I can remember, and it has never lost its ability to entertain and move me. And also, one time, it totally saved my skin.

    The Latin 3 final at the end of fall semester my junior year of college had a HUGE translation section in it. At first glance, I thought I was screwed, but upon closer observation, I realized that this was not just a random Latin passage from some archaic text, but it was actually something I knew. And not just a passing familiarity; it was the beginning of the Gospel of St. Luke, which included the section that Linus quotes when Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what Christmas is all about!!!!!!!!!

    So I took what I knew from Linus van Pelt (Charles Schultz and Bill Melendez notwithstanding) and used it as a basis to come up with my own translation of the Gospel. (My own version might have borne a similarity to the King James translation, but I worked hard to make sure that I showed I understood the tenses and such and wasn't just writing down something I had memorized.) Thanks to the Peanuts, I did really well on the Latin final.

    And people think you can't learn anything from cartoons...

    *Lucy has the best lines, don't you think?

    Everybody has a baby

    I was having a conversation recently with fellow Singleton who had been approached by a Married friend. The friend, who I will call "Married Mary", wondered if they would still be friends and hang out and do fun stuff if she had a baby (as she and her hubby were thinking about starting a family.) "Sally Singleton" was both surprised and hurt by the question, but reassured Married Mary that of course they would still be friends and still do fun things together; she just hoped that Mary wasn't going to talk about her baby 100% of the time. Sally asked me if I thought this question was strange and if perhaps there was something about her that said "KIDS NOT WANTED" (because she does like kids actually quite a lot.)

    I thought about it for a moment and told her that I thought it was more about Mary's concerns about motherhood than Sally's actual behavior because "everybody has a baby." By that, I mean that everybody has something in their lives that takes up a lot of time and mental energy, and therefore a lot of their conversation becomes focused around that particular subject. For some people, it is their children; for others, it is their pet; for some, it is their job; while another person could love a club they are in or a craft they do (looking at you, knitters!) And for some of us, it could be a whole country/culture...

    I speculated that maybe Mary wasn't really asking about Sally's reaction to the hypothetical baby, but was voicing some of her own fears about how she was going to handle parenthood. Maybe what Mary was really feeling was, "Oh dear god, I don't want to become one of those mothers who talks about her baby all the time. No one will ever invite me out to dinner again or want to come over to watch movies. I will lose all of my friends and will forget how to talk to people over the age of 3!!!" and she was looking to Sally to say, "Of course, we will still hang out and talk about fun things and drink wine and say hilariously inappropriate things (after your child has gone to bed.) You will be a great friend and a great mom!"

    Fortunately for both Mary and Sally, I have plenty of friends who are examples that you can still be the fun and lovely person that you were before you became a mom: look at PunkRockMom and RECK. Not only are they mothers who have lots of interests outside of their children, they have interesting children.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Mmm, delicious, turkey, thank you!

    Turkey... Kate's cooking show: promo shot
    Eat your heart out, Ina. Mashed potatoes, beans, stuffing
    Ta Da!!  Turkey! Best.turkey. EVER!

    I really couldn't let Thanksgiving go by without a shout out to Sister K, who hosted our family for the second year in a row. After the first year, with probably as much drama as a family holiday could handle, I couldn't believe that Sister K was up to hosting again. (I would have been running for the hills.) But she agreed, on the proviso that she would be doing Thanksgiving her way, rather than trying to do everything the way we had traditionally had it. Although it took a little bit of time to embrace the idea that things like the onions in chili sauce and mashed turnips would not be on the menu this year, in the end, it was probably one of the most delicious Thanksgivings on record.

    Sister K started the meal with a roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette from the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook. It was amazingly delicious. (I made it at home this weekend for myself and a couple friends.) Then she served the turkey, which she covered in turkey rub from Williams Sonoma, seared in the oven and then slow cooked. I don't think that we have ever had such a moist turkey. The sides included Martha Stewart's cornbread, bacon, leek, and pecan stuffing (amazing!), Ina Garten's sour cream mashed potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts (I could have eaten the whole dish), and fresh cranberry sauce.

    I got to Sister K's house early to help her out. She made everything look so easy that I kept teasing her that she should have her own cooking show. Maybe she won't have her own show just yet, but she has inspired me to set a goal for myself for next year: more cooking of my own. Last night I purchased two of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. One of them is called Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?; I felt like it was meant just for me.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Rrrribbitt! Rrrribbitt!

    The Boston Common Frog Pond opens for the season on Sunday November 21 at 5:30pm. I can't believe it is time to lace up the skates again!

    People were working today to get the ice ready for tomorrow's opening ceremony.

    Frog Pond, Boston Common

    Momento Mori

    Most of my day today was spent downtown, which is something I don't do often enough. I live in Boston; I should take more advantage of going downtown (especially when you can park in the Common Garage all day for $11 on the weekend, as I learned today.) This morning I met my friend "Miss Post" at the movie theater at the Boston Common; we saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. It was no surprise after having a complete meltdown on several occasions while reading the book that this was a four hankie (well, Kleenex, in my case) film for me. After the film, we had some lunch and rehashed the film (and possibly cried some more, but I am not telling.) Then we split up as Miss Post went off to run errands, and I went to the Granary Burial Ground on Tremont Street.

    Granary Burying Ground, Boston Granary Burying Ground, Boston

    The Granary Burying Ground is the third oldest cemetery in Boston, and it is the burial place of a lot of notable Revolutionary War figures. The men killed in the Boston Massacre are buried there, as are Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams. A lot of prominent colonial Bostonians are there too: the first mayor and the first governor as well as Peter Faneuil (of Faneuil Hall fame) and Benjamin Franklin's family (although that great man is buried in Philadelphia.) To walk through the graveyard is to walk through history.

    Granary Burying Ground Granary Burying Ground, Boston

    I have been by this old cemetery many times, but this was the first time that I actually walked into it, poking around to look at the 17th and 18th century gravestones. Some of them are in marvelously good condition while others showed the wear and tear of exposure to centuries of New England weather. Sometimes I feel really self-conscious taking photos in Boston, but today I felt quite at home among the tourists as I took out my little camera and tried to capture the quiet beauty of the place on this sunny (but chilly) day at the end of autumn.

    Granary Burying Ground, Boston Granary Burying Ground, Boston

    I know a lot of people don't like graveyards, but I find them beautiful. They are such restful places, as well as interesting. I find myself looking at the stones wondering who these people were and imagining what their lives were like. I wonder what people will think when they, years from now, look at mine.

    Granary Burying Ground, Boston Granary Burying Ground, Boston

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Because I love the Interwebs

    My friend JR sent me this the other day. She isn't sure where it came from, but it really does sum the internet quite nicely.

    (If you know who designed this, please let me know so that I can credit them. Thanks!)

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Sing Sing Sing

    The summer before my senior year of high school I got my bottom wisdom teeth out. Now, it could have been a lot worse (when I got my upper wisdom teeth out six years ago, I had both dry socket and bone fragments), but I was still in a lot of pain. So, in a parallel of what happened when I had the chicken pox in elementary school, I spent a lot of time in the wee small hours of the morning, not asleep in my bed, but watching television in the family room.

    On the second night of being unable to sleep, I ended up catching The Benny Goodman Story on American Movie Classics. I loved it. I had been so tired and uncomfortable, and the movie, in particular the music in the movie, completely distracted me, and I completely fell in love with 1940s big band music. When I was finally feeling better, I took myself to the mall to buy some Benny Goodman tapes.

    After that it was a downward spiral into the works of Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Harry James, and Django Reinhardt. I watched films like Swing Kids for the music and the dancing. Then of course, there was the whole big band revival in the mid 1990s, where bands like the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Revue, and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies embraced that whole big band vibe, and swing dancing became the thing to do.

    I recently got XM Radio, and by far one of my favorite channels is "40s on 4". (Although this channel is temporarily on hiatus due to holiday music; I was NOT happy to discover that yesterday.) I still love current popular music, but there is something about the music of the 1940s that just makes you feel happy to be alive (not surprisingly, as there was a war on when it was being written.) It sets your toe tapping and makes you want to get to your feet, and who couldn't benefit from a bit of that?

    (If you click on the links in this entry, it will take you to song clips by the artists so that you can enjoy a little swing too!)

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Where is the cast of "Absolute Beginners"?

    How much am I loving the Seventies "action set" that I was playing with the other day? So much!!! Doesn't it almost make these photos look like London back in the day? Possibly even straight out of Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy?!? (Hmmm, maybe I will watch that this weekend. I haven't seen that film in a while.)



    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Proudly Embracing the Nineteenth Amendment

    First a "shout out" to all of the people working at my polling location: Jackson-Mann School in Allston. Your efforts at making the process easy were greatly appreciated!!

    Next, on my way driving back to work after voting on my lunch break, I heard a DJ say "Happy Election Day, if you are into that sort of thing...", and that made me go "huh?". Really? "If you are into that sort of thing"? The bigger question is "why wouldn't you be into that sort of thing?"

    Of course people get disillusioned with the government, especially in hard times, and the negative campaign ads haven't helped either. (I think that they are the worst things around.) However, it is important to remember that, for the last 235 years, Americans have made sacrifices, sometimes with their very lives, to allow American citizens to have the freedom to vote for our leaders. Less than 100 years ago, women didn't have that right; even 50 years ago, people of color didn't have that right (not across the country).

    So, yes, I think that everyone in America should be "into that sort of thing". Even if you don't like any of the candidates, that shouldn't stop you from voting; you can write in someone. This is our one opportunity every year to actively participate in the running of our national, our state and our local governments. I urge people to take advantage of the opportunity and remember that this is both a responsibility and privilege of being a citizen of the U.S.A.

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Happy Halloween

    So yesterday I actually got dressed up for Halloween. It is my friend "Miss Post"'s birthday today, and she invited me to be a part of a group going out to dinner last night. The catch was, you had to wear a costume. No excuses.

    Now I love Halloween, but I don't like wearing a costume. It was too late to go out and buy something so I had to come up with an outfit that I could wear made from things I already had. I didn't want to be anything scary, and I had remembered seeing something on line earlier in the week about pulling together Halloween costumes from stuff you already had. So I decided to go as Rosie the Riveter. I cut up a red tee shirt I had and sewed on white polka dots to make the hair kerchief and rolled up the sleeves on one of my blue button downs, cuffed a pair of black trousers, and finished off with my Doc Marten boots.

    Then I made a name tag out of card stock and calligraphy pens, and I curled my hair with hot rollers to make it look more 1940s. (My hair has never been so curly, and I loaded it up with hairspray to keep it that way.) Finished off the look with some true red lipstick (Smashbox in Legendary blended with MAC Russian Red, blotted and powdered so that it wouldn't rub off), which I think of as such a WWII-era thing. As I don't own a rivet gun, I used an adjustable wrench (spanner) as my prop.

    Considering the last minute nature of the costume, I think that it turned out pretty well!!
    Rosie the Riveter, costume   Rosie the Riveter, original

    Rosie the Riveter, costume      Rosie the Riveter, original

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    "Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away"*

    Having fun with the Photoshop "Action Sets" that I picked up from The Pioneer Woman. Action sets are like action figures for photographers!!! I cropped down these photos I took over Columbus Day and then hit them with a dose of "the Seventies"! I love the result!! (They really do look the photos my mom took back when I was a the Seventies.)

    Farm Sale Today Farm Sale

    * lyrics from "Kodachrome" by Simon & Garfunkel. True fact: my mom cannot stand this song.
    Another true fact: Kodachrome looks nothing like this Seventies effect.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Weekend in New England

    These photos were taken over Columbus Day weekend out in Litchfield County, Connecticut. I love autumn in New England.

    The Old Barn Litchfield County, CT By the lake
    Autumn in Connecticut New England church Litchfield, CT
    The Wandering Moose Housatonic River, West Cornwall, CT

    "Living in Allston, Mass; Broken Dreams Strewn Among the Broken Glass"*

    As an Allstonian for the last ten+ years, I like to read the blog, Allston City Limits, to keep up to speed on what is going on in the 'hood. (It is MUCH better than reading the police blotter.) ANYHOW, a recent post joked that Ben Affleck's next movie set in Boston would be called Allston. I passed the story on to a few of my fellow Allstonians for a bit of a laugh, and my friend AD (who recently decamped to the 'burbs) wrote back asking if the plot of the "film" would be people driving around for two hours looking for a parking space. I am still laughing at that one.

    In all seriousness, this actually wouldn't be a half bad idea. There could be three sets of people in three cars: preppy college students going "out on the town" (ie. Brighton Ave.), some hipsters with their band gear on their way to a gig, and some young yuppy types carpooling home from a networking event. As they drive around, they could be having conversations about life, work, music, etc. (As you do, when you have to drive around for an hour looking for a parking spot.) We would naturally need to get a rockin' soundtrack to tie the whole thing together. I am thinking a cross between Garden State and Reality Bites.

    While driving around and around Allston, the characters can encounter people riding bikes the wrong way down a one way street (dressed in black with no light), people jaywalking in the road, delivery trucks illegally double parked, and, of course, the Green Line trains. The climax of the movie would be all three cars having a stand-off for one empty parking space. Who will get the spot?!? Oh, the humanity!!

    So Ben Affleck, what do you think? Have we got a story here? I am thinking that this would be perfect on the independent film circuit.

    * lyrics from "Allston, MA" by the Allstonians; graphic from Allston Village Main Streets

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Halloween

    My favorite holiday!! What is not to love about a holiday that combines the wonderful fall weather, horror movies, and candy!?!? Mmm, apple cider and candy corns! And of course, the pumpkins.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Dorm Room Karma

    One of the few things in college that I seriously dreaded was the annual Housing Lottery. Held at the end of the academic year, you and your roommate were subjected to the anxious anticipation of having your housing for the following year be determined at the whim of fate. I never knew where the number came from. Was it pulled out of a hat, the roll of the dice, or one of those ping pong balls being suctioned out of those air machines? It was a mystery. And, unfortunately, for two years running, my friends and I had the bad luck of having bad (high) housing lottery numbers, which meant living on the far end of campus. We desperately wanted to get a 6 person suite for our senior year, but there weren't a lot of them to go around, and a lot of our fellow juniors also had entered the lottery for those rooms.

    I was taking an introduction to Buddhism class that semester. I was extremely interested in the religion, and I had become fascinated by karma and its different properties; in particular, the fact that good actions can draw good karma towards you for future goals or intentions. So, with that in mind, I came up with this plan that I would go around making good karma (by holding open doors for people, letting people go ahead of me in line, and just being a generally positive person) and would focus the intention of this good karma I was "accumulating" on getting a good (low) number in the housing lottery. My friend RECK went along with this plan, quite possibly to humor me, but it really couldn't hurt our changes. We didn't broadcast that we were doing this; we just went along our way, trying to incorporate this behavior into our routines.

    The morning that the results of the housing lottery were posted, I was in the student center doing my Latin homework while having my usual late breakfast of coffee and a bagel. I anxiously ran through the translation exercise halfheartedly, checking my watch at regular intervals. I wanted desperately to see the results, but at the same time, if we drew a high number, I really didn't want to face the disappointment of not getting a suite. The time of the posting came and went, and I reluctantly picked up my backpack and headed down to the floor where the list would be.

    There weren't many people there at the time, so I was able to look at the list without an audience. The list was split into men's and women's, and starting from the bottom of the list, I scrolled my eyes up. Well, we weren't at the very bottom; that was a good thing. That meant we had a strong chance at actually getting a suite; maybe not the best suite, but a suite all the same.

    But where were we? We weren't in the middle either. Huh. Well, maybe we would get one of the better suites. When my eyes finally hit the first entry, number one on the list, with the first choice for a six person suite (because girls go before boys), I finally came across the names of the people in our group. Not only were we actually going to get a suite, WE HAD WON THE HOUSING LOTTERY!!

    There may have been a shriek and some jumping up and down, but my memory is a little cloudy on the details after that. I know that I ran to one of the campus phones (in the pre-cell phone era) and started calling all of my future suitemates to tell them of our good fortune. Most of them were in class so I left voice mail messages for them, and when we got together at lunch, we celebrated the success. JeGilde went to the housing office and got floor plans for us to make our selection, and we did end up checking out a couple rooms in person before making our pick.

    In the end, we picked a corner suite on the first floor of Alumni Hall, which became our senior year home, not just for ourselves but for a lot of our friends as well. I have so many memories of fun in that room: watching "Days of Our Lives" or the OJ Simpson trial at lunchtime, dancing on the industrial/indestructible furniture, playing cards, Jesuit "roasts", Sauce & Frank's ongoing B.F. Skinner debate, post-party debriefs, the contraband Christmas tree, the "Egg & Sugar" boys, the freezing cold study room/the blasting of the heat, B.Ricca's top ten voice mail lists, mac and cheese in the hot pot, 100 "screaming lemons", listening to music, talking about life and always having the door open to anyone who wanted to pop their head in. In the end, was it karma, or was it just luck? I prefer to think that it was karma, good karma that we built on and carried through that year in that room with our friends.

    Friday, October 15, 2010


    While I do not have any tattoos, I am a great admirer of them. (I just can't commit to something that permanent. The fact that my ears are pierced is a bit of an anomoly.) My friend Stacie sent me a link to this cool story in New York Magazine about an anthology of tattoos inspired by literature that came out this week. The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide is a full-color photo-and-text anthology edited by Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor, from Harper Perennial.

    I think that if I were to ever get a tattoo, it would have to be a literary tattoo. It wouldn't be something from Jane Austen though. I consider tattoos such a cool and rebellious thing that it would have to be something from a book that inspired me when I was young, like The Catcher in the Rye. Maybe something like: I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible. Or my favorite line from Auntie Mame: Live, Live, Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!

    Do you a literary tattoo already? If not, what would you pick?

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Bel Canto

    The only problem with three day weekends is that I tend not to pay as close attention to the news. So I missed that one of the great Bel Canto singers of this era, Joan Sutherland, passed away this weekend at the age of 83. What a voice this woman had!

    I hope that she and her close friend and colleague, Luciano Pavarotti, are holding a reunion concert in heaven.

    Her recording of Delibes' "Flower Duet" with Marilyn Horne is, in my opinion, the definitive interpretation of the piece.

    Rest in peace, La Stupenda. Thank you for your art.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    "Ring out with your Hoiah and a Chu! Chu! Rah! Rah! "*

    This past weekend, I did something I haven't done in a really long time - went to a football game and tailgating at my alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was great to catch up with many of my dear friends from school, and it was really nice to be back on campus. I have so many wonderful memories of that special place.

    The sun came out and the weather warmed up just in time for this Homecoming Weekend. We had a great time tailgating; I don't ever remember going to such a fancy tailgate when we were in school. It was like Martha Stewart's version of tailgating!! And I got to meet my friends M&A's three kiddos, who are simply adorable, friendly, imaginative, and delightful. The game was a lot of fun too, especially since we beat Sister B's alma mater, Fordham University, 36-31!

    I wasn't particularly looking forward to our 15 year reunion this spring (how can it be 15 years since we got out of school??), but, if this was just a taste of what is to come, I can't wait!!!

    Holy Cross tailgating Holy Cross Football

    * from the Holy Cross fight song

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    "Missus, Will ya Make me tea? Make love to me? Put on the telly? To the BBC!"*

    One of the interesting and ironic things about me is that I use an internet "handle" of BBCAmericanGirl on both Flickr and Twitter, but, in all actuality, I am highly disappointed with the programming on BBC America.

    First thing, despite the fact it costs extra to get BBC America, they run commercials, and they run a LOT of them. An English friend of mine who was visiting my house and watched some BBC America couldn't get over the volume of commercials the channel runs. They also edit down their own television shows so that they can accommodate the volume of commercials that we show in America. They cut a lot of "Doctor Who", so much so that my friend MEM had no idea how the episode of "Forest of the Dead" really ended until it came out on dvd. We were reduced to watching the second series of "Ashes to Ashes" on YouTube because PLOT POINTS were edited out. Also, the channel is supposed to be available in HD - well, not on Comcast in Boston!

    Next, the programming is not what it used to be. They run a lot of repeats, and for some unknown reason, they are showing "Star Trek: the Next Generation" like it is a first run series. I am tired of seeing the same episodes of Gordon Ramsey and Top Gear. They used to show some wonderful "Sunday night" television like "Monarch of the Glen" and "Wild at Heart" and had fantastic mysteries on Monday nights, but that's all gone now. There are some really great shows on the BBC that we NEVER get to see here. I feel like the best of BBC (and ITV) programming gets picked up by PBS; BBC America doesn't even try to get them. There are costume dramas that we only get on dvd over here ("Desperate Romantics"), and there are comedies that American audiences would appreciate that they don't air either. However, they sell them on DVD and BluRay in the BBCAmerica Shop.

    The sad thing is that I am not alone on this. It is disappointing to read the BBCAmerica Facebook page where fans routinely make this same point about the programming, yet nothing is changed. With the technology of this day and age, there are other ways of getting BBC programming without watching BBCAmerica. I really think that the channel would do better to notice these criticisms and see where there is room for improvement. I certainly don't watch it the way I used to, and my mom canceled it a while back.

    The good thing is that when I was in Ireland, I was reminded of how great the programming is on the REAL BBC . I just wish that BBCAmerica could be even 75% as good.

    * from "BBC" by Ming Tea (Austin Powers soundtrack)

    PS. In a recent commercial, BBC America implies that the MIT TARDIS hack was somehow related to them, and the TARDIS was going to show up in other localities. NICE TRY. (not!)

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Out and about with my Trusty Camera

    This weekend, I was down on the Cape visiting my aunt and was able to add not one, not two, but FOUR lighthouses to my New England Lighthouses photo collection. The first is Nauset Light in Eastham, and the three others are collectively known as the "Three Sisters". (They used to be the lights at Nauset Light Beach before they were replaced with the current lighthouse, which came up from Chatham in the 1920s.) So now I have grand total of seven lighthouses (counting the three as one because that really should only count as one) New England lighthouses photographed; there's something like 40 left for me still to do!

    Nauset Beach Light Nauset Light
    Nauset Beach Light Three Sisters Lighthouses
    Three Sisters Lighthouses Nauset Beach Light Three Sisters Lighthouses


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