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just a quick post about a new music concert i went to on friday. kalistos is a relatively new new music ensemble in boston (that incidentally just achieved non-profit status). this string orchestra’s concert on friday at longy was uniquely programmed: one short solo work for bansri (indian flute) followed by four works by four different boston composers featuring soloists on koto (japanese plucked stringed instrument), violin, piano, and viola.

as one might expect of a contemporary concert the majority of the music was rather shorter on ideas and longer on textures, but hands down the real find was joanna kurkowicz, the solo violinist who i can’t believe i haven’t come across before. it is no exaggeration to say that it has been a very, very long time since i have heard as thrilling or magnetic a performer as kurkowicz, so much so that i practically rushed home to look her up online. her website has some great sound clips, although as with many other performers the recordings fail to do justice to her live virtuosity and presence. her performance of indian composer korde’s “cranes dancing” made sense of the sprawling, episodic, and (thanks in no small part to her) ultimately engaging work, and she led the orchestra in a deeply musical interpretation. her performance, although informed by a more romantically slavic style, had a glenn gouldian level of clarity of line and expression. and i don’t think i’ve ever heard such sheerly beautiful harmonics and glissandi (haha). anyway, you can be sure that i’ll be attending her next performance in boston, which i believe is the chameleon arts ensemble’s may concert at the goethe-institut. ok, enough gushing.
posted by fwc | 3/25/2007

i thought some of you of the asian persuasion might find this interesting. american born chinese by gene yang is a graphic novel that was released in 2006 that has three storylines relating to growing up asian in america, one about a boy who “just wants to fit in”, another about the monkey king who apparently is a figure in chinese mythology, and the third a mock-sitcom that exploits every possible asian stereotype. i’m usu. not that into asian-american literature, but i def. enjoyed this, more than some more famous graphic novels (e.g. persepolis). the artwork is distinctive, and i can recommend this book w/out reservation. and it turns out this girl from my hometown who was a friend of a friend did the design. check it out, yo.

posted by fwc | 3/18/2007
yes, i’m still behind on everything. this is just a quick post to say: 1) i went to salts (in cambridge) a couple of months ago and was quite disappointed. very ordinary and, perhaps surprisingly, undersalted. i know winnie used to speak very highly of salts, but i believe the management has changed since her time in boston. i remember carl was likewise quite disappointed in his trip there. 2) one of the guys from my fraternity has this cool website called where people post nice, pictorial how-to’s on loads of topics, including recipes (and a whole slew of ipod projects). haven’t really looked at the recipes much, but i thought people might be interested in this guide to better lighting for your food porn photography.
posted by fwc | 2/25/2007
i meant to post this a while back before winnie visited my homeland (i.e. kentucky) in case she needed something to do when she wasn’t stuffing her face. last time i was there i made two worthwhile excursions. first off: henry’s ark:

this is lesser known than it should be. it’s a completely open farm where you can see a load of farm animals (pigs, roosters, chickens, cows, goats, ducks) side by side with more exotic animals (camels, emu, zebra, monkeys). most are behind fences, but quite a few (including the emu) are just wandering around. people can drop in with vegetables (we brought carrots and celery) and crackers, and wander around feeding whatever they want. you’d think the setup would be chaotic, but it’s very laid back and everyone i saw visiting when i was there was responsible and self-policing. it’s located at: 7801 Rose Island Road, Prospect, KY 40059 (open every day til sunset except mondays), and here’s an interesting newsletter from 1999. fyi: prospect is right next to one of the edges of suburban louisville (and only a few minutes away from where my family lives).

second, the newport aquarium in newport, KY:

i haven’t been to boston’s aquarium in a while, but i remember when i went the second time i was fairly unimpressed. not so w/ the newport aquarium, located directly across from cincinnati (about 1.5 hours from louisville). they’ve clearly spent a lot of money on this, and some of the areas are quite amazing. in particular, they have some glass walkways underneath tanks where you’re completely surrounded by water above you and on both your sides, a small “rain forest” room where you can feed birds nectar, and a place where kids can pet starfish and another where they can pet sharks.

so now you know what to do for the next time you’re going through kentucky.
posted by fwc | 11/5/2006

i’m ridiculously far behind on everything. but to cross off at least one thing from my list, here’s the recap of what andy and i sampled last time we were in new york (in august!):

- bread (nolita): recommended by the ‘foo, but it was fairly disappointing. started w/ the bruschetta which was mediocre tomatoes on this ridiculously unserviceable thick white bread, and my pesto pasta was similarly bland. andy’s aged salami sandwich was a bit better though, and his cucumber yogurt dill soup was nice.

- los dos molinos (119 east 18th, union sq): recommended by the village voice’s sietsema via winnie. we were hoping for some good mexican food for once, but this was completely ordinary save for the spiciness which was promised and delivered. i had a deep-fried burro and andy had a chicken chile plate, but both were completely unremarkable.

- all was not disappointment, however. blaue gans (139 duane st, tribeca) was a nice reco from winnie. for saturday (i think) brunch it was almost completely empty, with nice low-key waitstaff. andy had some fantastic sausage and i had the apple pancakes which were good, although rather more melt-in-your-mouth than i would prefer. my potatoes were simply fantastic though, although i’m not sure if they’re on the regular menu. we both had some memorable pastries as well.

- thor (the hotel on rivington, 107 rivington st (between essex and ludlow st), LES): we count ourselves lucky that we got to thor before chef kurt gutenbrunner called it quits. i haven’t found the full text of the ny times article about it (the article that also mentions tom colicchio’s decision to leave gramercy tavern), but it happened soon after we were there and i believe it was motivated by his desire to bring more of his austrian background into the dishes and the owners’ resistance. from our experience, we heartily side with the chef. the meal we had was clearly of high standard and we definitely enjoyed it, but the menu was incredibly conservative and didn’t at all stand apart from your average high end american restaurant. andy had been hoping for some excellent meat a la blaue gans and both of us had been expecting a more unique experience. andy’s highlight was sardines w/ a lime relish over caramelized cauliflower and mine was a pretty nice chinese mushroom dish (both were appetizers).

and a quick link to end: winnie’s prob. already seen this, but i randomly came across a whole page with patterns for food to knit. knock yourself out!
posted by fwc | 10/9/2006

another movie roundup:

the apartment (1960): one of shirley maclaine's big hits. a classic, but didn't really do anything for me. very weird to see fred macmurray (of flubber (the original) fame) as the baddie.

babes in toyland (1961): blast from the past. fun disney flick, apparently based on a victor herbert operetta. not one of the best, esp. if you don't have the added nostalgia factor, but there are some good moments/scenes inc. annette funicello as mary quite contrary.

chung hing sam lam (1994) (chungking express): wong kar wai. nice cinematography. in two distinct sections, one dramatic and one more comedic, with nothing really connecting the two. enjoyable, though, and i'd watch it again.

the devil wears prada (2006): fun summer movie. as most critics have pointed out: meryl streep lifts this up from the dreck it could've been. i couldn't decide how much anne hathaway was annoying me, though.

heisei tanuki gassen pompoko (1994) (the raccoon war): somewhat trippy studio ghibli flick (miyazaki was one of the producers). typically japanese quirkiness with some raunchy humor and a fairly downer ending.

howards end (1992): entertaining enough and has emma thompson in an academy award-winning role. not quite a keeper though.

i can hear the sea (umi ga kikoeru) (1993) (tv): another studio ghibli flick. this one's about a girl from tokyo forced to live in a small town because of her parent's divorce. has some nice insights into adolescence, particularly at the end, but didn't really resonate with me.

kind hearts and coronets (1949): alec guiness flick in which he plays multiple roles. fairly slow with little tension.

the muppet movie (1979): the first muppet movie. fairly slow and a slew of celebrity cameos that if you weren't around at the time are fairly unrecognizable, but some great scenes esp. with ms. piggy, kermit, and fozzy.

notorious (1946): hitchcock suspense classic. nice performances by ingrid bergman, cary grant, and claude rains, although the ending is a bit abrupt.

the palm beach story (1942): another highly entertaining preston sturges flick. not quite as memorable as some of his others, but still worth watching.

passport to pimlico (1949): odd little british flick about a village that finds an ancient charter that declares them to be an independent country separate from britain and the chaos that ensues. entertaining, but doesn't really move beyond the premise.

thelma & louise (1991): a classic, and still fairly novel today as a female "buddy movie". not always the most convincing, but a good direction (ridley scott) and a good pair of leads.

top hat (1935): fun astaire and rogers movie. wasn't much more memorable than the others to me, although apparently people single it out as the best.

whisper of the heart (mimi wo sumaseba) (1995) : once again miyazaki completely captures childhood in all its confusion, enthusiasm, and innocence. a truly beautiful film. this is on the level of classics like citizen's kane or all about eve but all the more amazing because it's a "kids" movie (although i imagine it's prob. too slow for a lot of kids, american at least). no fantasy elements, but completely enchanting.

posted by fwc | 9/10/2006 11:14 PM
today was the first i heard about nautical antiques, pinback's "selection of b-sides and outtakes", apparently coming out tomorrow. has a small article about it. hmm. i guess i'll have to get it ...
posted by fwc | 9/4/2006 10:23 PM
w/ my resurgence of nintendo obsession i've been thinking about starting a video game blog ... and it looks like it's finally happened. check out: video games rock where you can read all about how cool pokemon on game boy is. (in case you were wondering, geodude is the name of the coolest pokemon.) of more particular interest is the fact that i chose wordpress over blogger. although as far as i can tell you can't really edit the templates they provide, this is far outweighed by the benefit of having categories and sub-categories for your posts so readers can filter your blog by their interest. and the tags are used by blog search engines (some at least). also, wordpress has RSS feeds for posts as well as comments. i haven't looked too much into their features for group blogs, but they look good. so how about it, winnie and foo -- should we move our little house to greener pastures?
posted by fwc | 8/1/2006 1:10 PM
two miscellany: carl posted an interesting survey of health care in massachusetts the new york times ran an article on the other big topic everyone seems to be talking about (the first being local vs. organic), and enlightened us on what you can currently expect if you want to use vegetable oil to run your car.
posted by fwc | 7/24/2006 6:12 PM
some boston/cambridge-related links worth noting: looking for something to do? check this site out.

list of MA farmers' markets: andy has told me about the cambridgeport one which is just down the street. will def. be going soon and reporting back. one of the better boston blogs i've come across. arts, food, shows, etc.

bradleysalmanac: another local. some fantastic live mp3s (inc. pinback's latest boston show), constantly updated.

certainly, sir: a MA-based electronic duo that mike turned me onto. their site has a nice interface (a very media lab feel) w/ a lot of audio (inc. a track w/ ben gibbard on vox). will be checking them out this thurs. at 10 p.m. at the enormous room.

posted by fwc | 6/27/2006 12:15 PM
somehow even though winnie's been out of boston for the past four years i still haven't managed to catch up to all of her eating escapades while she was here. her article for the tech of favorites provides a handy checklist: you too can take advantage of her extensive legwork and skip the bad stuff. her list led me directly to wang’s fast food in somerville (went a few weeks ago. will post pics soon.) and:

punjabi dhaba (hampshire street, inman square): more out of the way than the hundreds of other indian places in cambridge, but well worth it. homey fare but some of the most savory indian food i've had in boston. i had the "vegetable special" which included biryani and a curry, and andy had the aloo gobhi. both were just about the perfect level of spiciness, and the chutney was nice and chunky and flavorful. definitely has jumped near the top of my list of indian eateries.

in other food news: hit via matta (back bay) for the third time. andy scored with his "Poached Shrimp with white beans, arugula, and bottarga" and rabbit tortelli. i had the roasted cauliflower which was one of the best things i've had this year: breaded and cheesed to perfection. my buffalo mozzarella with grilled peppers was forgettable. i was hoping the crispy eggplant would be as perfect as when i first had it, but it was disappointing for the 2nd time; this time around it was overdone. service was decidedly subpar, with the waiter neglecting to even bother lighting the candle on the table.

border cafe (harvard sq): i'd been before, but somehow i'd gotten it stuck in my mind that this place was about on par with a friday's or the cactus club on boylston (maybe b/c it's always so crowded), but when andy and i dropped in for a laid-back meal this past monday afternoon we were both pleasantly surprised. hot chips, fresh veggies, and a nicely done black bean and corn empanada with a sauce that, while not particularly deep, didn't at all wear out its welcome. not to mention attentive service. one of the few times a place was distinctly better than i remembered. will def. put it back on my list of restaurants worth going to.

also, the wrap was apparently bought out by a company called boloco. the menu is pretty much the same, but when bess and i hit the one on mass ave by berklee this past weekend it was tangibly improved. fresher, less greasy ingredients meant a fresher wrap that didn't leave you with the sickly/gross feeling that the old place often did.

and worth mentioning (or if i've mentioned it before, worth mentioning again) is shalimar food and spaces (central sq), not to be confused with the restaurant which is only a few stores away on the other side of the street. what's notable about this store is the lunch counter they have in the back. for something like $7.50 you can get a veg. special which includes rice, two vegetable dishes (e.g. curry, saag, mutter paneer, eggplant), a samosa, and a mango lassi. they also have meat specials for you carnivores. not the most memorable indian food in boston, but when you're jonesin' for some indian and you don't want to wait to stuff your face, this is perfect. they also have a whole case of sweets: several kinds of gulab jamun and a host of pink, white, yellow, diamond-shaped, and similarly unidentifiable confections. every once in a while andy and i get a random selection of these, and although a lot are sickeningly sweet, some are worth getting again.

posted by fwc | 6/1/2006 12:59 AM
first off, this has got to be one of the weirdest food-related sites i've ever seen. this project will give you an idea of what it's all about. tasty ...

somewhat recently seen ...

The Lady Eve (1941)
preston sturges continues to impress. a popular auteur in his day (often writing the films he directed), he isn't as generally known nowadays as he should be. in this film, like his others, characters do things just a bit differently then you would expect them to in a film, but their actions are emotionally believable and oftentimes thought-provoking. his "romantic comedies" are what every romantic comedy should aspire to be: literate, witty, thoughtful, and memorable. definitely recommended.

Sons of the Desert (1933)
laurel and hardy flick. andy found a good L&H collection. this was the longest of the bunch (a bit more than an hour) but still packed with gags (including a scene where laurel sneaks bites out of fruit from a bowl at ollie's house only to find out that they were made of wax). hadn't seen any L&H before, and they're classics that are still funny today and def. worth watching. particular favorite moment was in "another fine mess" in which laurel and hardy somehow find themselves pretending to own a mansion, with ollie pretending to be the millionaire owner and laurel forced to pretend to be both the butler and the maid.

Kurenai no buta (1992) (Porco Rosso)
working my way through the miyazaki canon. as usual, miyazaki's obsession with flying and his anti-war preachiness feels overly familiar, but his animation is still thrilling and his characters are still completely endearing. this one, with a wonderfully improbable story about a pig pilot and his adventures, has jumped near the top of my list of favorites and makes me want to go back and re-watch the others. and although i know winnie isn't a fan of american dubbed voices, michael keaton does a great job as porco. i've ordered the 6-disc chinese set that winnie has (legit release i think, w/ 2 movies on each disc), which, having come out several years ago, lacks the american voices and extras of the more recent disney 2-disc releases, but will still be great. oh, and david ogden stiers continues to amaze me. he's done cogsworth and the narrator in beauty and the beast and the governor in pocahontas, but here he plays a wacky grandfather.

The King of Comedy (1983)
de niro impresses as a geeky, irritating wannabe stand-up comedian who, along with sandra bernhard, worships late night impresario jerry lewis to the point of stalking him. not a comedy, and not as visceral as it could've/should've been, but has its moments mostly thanks to the acting and the direction by scorsese.

Young Frankenstein (1974)
mel brooks movie that should've been way funnier than it was. cloris leachman was amazing though as the housekeeper, and the other two female leads were also pretty funny. skip this.

Shimotsuma monogatari (2004) (Kamikaze Girls)
if you like amelie i think you'll like this. this has the same sort of quirky humor, although the morals are a bit looser. the protagonist is an aloof daydreaming girl who's obsessed with wearing rococo clothes, while the girl that intrudes on her life is in a biker gang. has the larger-than-life characters and stylized action and reactions that i've been loving from reading manga lately. def. recommended.

To the Manor Born (1979)
another classic british TV comedy. this one has a widowed aristocrat forced to leave her beloved manor, only to see it bought by a supermarket mogul. a riot of class humor ensues. brisk pace, some good one-liners, and engaging leads make this worth watching (although andy has to explain things to me every other minute, like how to spell "fforbes-hamilton" which is supposed to be with two small "f"'s. yes, those brits are strange).

posted by fwc | 5/21/2006 11:57 PM

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