I went with [personal profile] fabrisse, [personal profile] greenygal, and A Person Without A Psuedonym to see Dunkirk today.

I highly recommend it, especially if you can see it in a dedicated 70mm screen. There are deaths -- it's a war movie -- but gore is actually fairly minimal. The tension, otoh, is intense. Hans Zimmer scored the movie with the recurring motif of a ticking watch, and even when you can hear the watch, there's a relentless rhythm under the score. And when there's no score, it's usually because the music is replaced with something awful, like the screaming of a Stuka bomber.

The movie is surprisingly short -- just 106 minutes -- and has three intertwining sections: The Mole, about the soldiers on the beach and the mole which is the only way of loading soldiers onto the big ships, as there is no harbor they have access to and loading from the beach would require ships with a draft of three feet or less; The Sea, about one of the Little Ships of Dunkirk; and The Air, about an RAF pilot.

I do suggest you go with someone whose hand you can grab, because as I said, the movie is intense.
Went out with [personal profile] fabrisse to NuVegan Cafe, a vegan soul food place near Howard University, about 0.6 miles from Petworth Metro. The fried 'chicken' was excellent, some of the best fake-chicken I've had; they even had food-safe dowels as 'drumsticks'. And apparently they have the best collard greens in the city, vegan or not. The only problem I had was that the ceiling fans combined with the recessed lighting made for a dizzying strobe effect in most of the cafe.

We then walked down to T Street, to a place called Ice Cream Jubilee, where I had a single scoop of their Thai Iced Tea ice cream -- a lovely orange color and so tasty! They also make their mint chip with spearmint instead of peppermint, which is what I do when I make mint ice cream at home; it's a much more robust flavor. Apparently they will soon have a cardamon-black pepper, which I do want to try.
Yesterday, I watched Eurovision with [personal profile] ell and [personal profile] temve.

That was an experience...

I personally found the winning song bland and forgettable, but Salvador Sobral had the most hilarious reaction faces every time Portugal got another 12, so I was glad for him.

Afterward, Tem and Ell showed me a selection of past winners, and really, this year's finalists were downright staid in comparison to some past winners...
Went to the 2 nd Thursday contradance at the civic building. Le Vent du Nord was the band -- I stayed the entire three hours and will probably be sore in the morning, but it was totally fun!
I was going to go to the Smithsonian Craft Fair with [personal profile] fabrisse today, but a combination of large crowds for the Climate Protest and a problem that she could only get a 2pm appointment to deal with meant we met up in her neighborhood, waited until her appointment, and then went over to Eastern Market.

But as it turns out, it's Tabletop Game Day -- we found this out when we stopped in Labyrinth Games & Puzzles.

They had a 1000 piece jigsaw out that is all the original trilogy Star Wars posters -- it's ridiculously hard, but I kind of want it. And it turns out Rampage (the game where you are kaiju destroying a city, that I got for my nephew three years ago) has been renamed Terror in Meeple City and is out of print; it says it's available on Amazon, but the price is up considerably. [personal profile] fabrisse was interested in all the Ticket To Ride expansions, and a game called Bruxelles 1893 about being an Art Nouveau architect; unfortunately, they don't have an open box of that, so we'd have to consider reviews before buying.

Math Fluxx is also out, and I seriously want to try Set one of these days.
A friend and I went to Behnke's today for the orchid clinic. My tiny phalaenopsis orchids are just grocery stores plants, but the woman running the clinic said they were in fairly good condition -- one of them had a purple-ish 'blush' which is common to healthy orchids with high anthocyanin genetics. She changed out the sphagnum moss and said that the one that had already lost its flowers might send out a new spike as it is still flowering season and it did have a terminal and axial bud visible.

So now I have more information about keeping them alive (including don't water until the sphagnum is dry and crunchy as dry Cheerios), so I hope to keep these little plants going. They're certainly a bit of bright cheer -- along with my begonia, which is on its second year -- in the end of winter.

I did pick up a few pansies and johnny-jump-ups to put in the flowerbeds. They won't survive when the summer heat comes, but they'll be a bit of color until then as well.

Also, I did actually smell a wallflower in the greenhouse. It smelled amazing, like a fruit candy!
Friday: saw King Charles III at the Shakespeare Theater.

Saturday: went to Millennium Stage for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater workshop based on his signature work Revelations: we did "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel", "Wade in the Water", and "Rocka My Soul iin the Bosom of Abraham", admittedly with somewhat simplified choreography -- nobody was asking a group of amateurs to do hinges, after all. It was a lot of fun, but I did have the usual problem of children who weren't participating but were running around being underfoot. I don't want to trip on or knock over a 7-year-old!

Sunday: a short excursion to Labyrinth Games & Puzzles -- we got sucked into the jigsaw puzzle vortex, as they had a Ravensburger Antique Map puzzle out for fiddling with, and the salesclerk helpfully showed us the roll-mats for puzzles, so there are tentative plans to have an all-day puzzle party sometime soonish. Then dinner at Belga Cafe. We got a couple of waffles to share as starters, and then entrees. Desserts we decided to share among the table -- basically, we'd talked [personal profile] greenygal into ordering the asparagus beignets with candied asparagus and asparagus ice cream, and everyone wanted to try a bit of it. We actually ordered every desert except the endive clafoutis...maybe next time?..but I think the best dessert was the warm cherry almond cake.

Monday: stayed in bed with a head cold... which is a let-down after a very fun weekend.
I met up with [personal profile] ambyr and went to the Textile Museum for their special exhibit on Okinawan bingata -- it's a specific resist-dye technique unique to Okinawa and included not only clothes, but in many cases the matching stencils used to make the clothes.

There were many historic pieces, and a couple of contemporary pieces -- a stage backdrop, a cultural fusion wedding gown, and a very traditional Okinawa robe with motifs of flowers, clouds, paratroopers, and fighter jets called Yu-I, Yu-I by Yuken Teruya.

Walking around I did notice some of the differences between the Okinawan garments and the Japanese garments I'm more familiar with. [personal profile] ambyr knows more about Japanese history than I do, but we both came out of the exhibit wanting to know more about Okinawan history, especially how they managed as comparatively small kingdom balanced between the spheres of influence of China and Japan. I don't suppose anyone has any recommended reading for me?

The museum offered keychains of Okinawan star sand in exchange for filling out a survey, so I now have brightly colored sand for my nephews.

Afterward, I stopped by Beefsteak as it is only a block from the Metro and had the beet-burger special. Very tasty, and quite cheap for downtown DC. Now that I know where it is, I would definitely stop there again when I'm down that way -- a good stop before going to a Millennium Stage concert.

By the way, on Saturday, February 11th, the Millennium Stage performance is a workshop by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater... which would be awesome to attend.
I went to see Singing in the Rain with [personal profile] greenygal and friend today as there was a special showing for the 65th anniversary.

It holds up pretty well, and it's interesting to see how the background extras aren't perfect Hollywood faces and bodies. One does wonder how Lina Lamont was able to get the contract that becomes so important for the end of the movie, as the terms she has are incredible for a 1920s movie star.

Afterward, [personal profile] greenygal and I went to Pi Pizza for dinner. We wound up speculating about how actors would work in a universe with daemons a la Pullman's Dark Materials, and thought maybe there would be stunt daemons with their people off camera, with that being a way to break into acting.

Right as we were leaving, an anti-Trump anti-fascist protest came down the street, and I wound up explain to a 10-year-old that it was a protest and she'd probably see a lot of them in the next week. She was very concerned and astonished, and possibly had never seen anything like it. Hopefully all the coming protests will be as peaceful at that one.
I only lasted about an hour at the contradance, but it was fun. Next time, I'll know to wear lighter clothes (though getting over to the civic building in February in linen trousers and a short-sleeved top will be a challenge...) and bring a water bottle, because I overheated quickly. I might also want to wear lighter shoes.

They are scheduled through June, the second Thursday evening of each month. May is Le Vent Du Nord, one of my favorite Canadian traditional folk bands, so I'm definitely going to go to that one. I guess I'll just have to keep going and get good at contradancing.
Last night, [livejournal.com profile] fabrisse and I had dinner at Plume.

It is an experience I heartily recommend to anyone -- the tasting menu has vegetarian options for all courses, the prix fix menu did not. You'll need your fancier clothes, of course, and reservations. The sommelier came out to help [livejournal.com profile] fabrisse pick two wines for dinner -- she was able to have a half-glass of one, and a full glass of the other, paired for her dinner.

The amuse bouche last night was asparagus cream, a pickled herring macaron, and a tiny slice of brisket topped with tomato. I ate [livejournal.com profile] fabrisse's brisket, though I suspect they would have found a substitute if we'd made a point of it.

The second course for me was soft-shelled crab tempura with sweet potato tempura matchsticks and green tomato chutney; the crab was exquisite after I cut it into four pieces. Her first course was saffron carrot tartare with chive blossoms and pistachio oil.

My third course was red rock mullet filet served over two squash blossoms, cut open and laid flat over blood sausage. Her second course was broccoli with garam masala and double-baked sunchokes over a hazelnut foam.

My fourth course was lovage pasta (bright green!) carbonara, with a coddled duck egg, duck prosciutto, and chanterelles; it came in a lidded glass bowl. Her second course was ricotta basil gnocchi (not quite as bright green), yellow cherry tomatoes, basil oil and sea beans.

My fifth course was duo of lamb -- a merguez sausage, a medallion of lamb loin, a bundle of haricot verte tied with a garlic stalk as a ribbon and a garlic black tuile (a baked ribbon that was absolutely fantastic) and a mint filled garlic bun (basically, a bao stuffed with black garlic and mint) served au jus. Her fifth course was a wild mushroom and porcini tartlette the size of her hand.

The sixth course was a pre-dessert palate cleanser. Mine was a beautiful strawberry confection; hers was a specially made that was peach, possibly, but some other fruit because she's allergic to strawberries.

Desert was a rhubarb blanc mange with two mini-macaron, blueberries slivers, apricot slices, rhubarb coulis, and apricot sorbet.

Then we both had peppermint tea to wind down.
On Tuesday I went with [personal profile] greenygal and L to see Project Itoh: The Empire of Corpses.

It's an alternate-history anime featuring Dr. John Waston (yes, that one) working for the British government trying to find the lost notebook of Victor Frankenstein. In a world where reanimated corpses have become cheap labor.

Yup, a steampunk zombie movie from Japan. I loved it; it was gorgeous and ridiculous and utterly fascinating.

In no particular order there was:

John Waston, who has stolen and reanimated his friend's corpse.
M/Walsingham, the head of a British intelligence agency who blackmails John into working for him
Friday/Noble Savage-007, the aforementioned friend as a reanimated corpse; Watson has programed him to act as scribe
The Nautilus, in a moment of sheer WTF?!
An automaton that just wants a soul
A cameo by Thomas Edison
Babbage analytical engines directing corpse labor
Analytical engines running on punch cards with input/output by manual typewriter
Ulysses S Grant in Japan
Alexei Karamazov as Russian corpse-engineer who has stolen the Frankenstein notebook and run off to Afghanistan
Nikolai Krasotkin as a Russian agent sent to track down Alexei Karamazov
A battle at the Khyber Pass, as enacted by armies of reanimated corpses
Frederick Burnaby, who is assigned as Watson's handler/bodyguard
The British super-computer/analytical engine is named Charles Babbage
The American one, in San Francisco, is named Paul Bunyan
Frankenstein's actual monster
Universal Horror's version of Frankenstein's monster
A Japanese military officer with truly outrageous eyebrows
A woman on top of a stagecoach, wielding a flamethrower
Zombie shinto monks as scribes for a Japanese corporation's analytical engine
Security hacking of reanimated corpses and with reanimated corpses
A villain who wants everyone in the world turned into a reanimated corpse, because that's the way to peace...uhm, no?
Corpse-bomb, because what's creepier than reanimated corpses? Reanimated corpses that explode!
A trip around the world from London, to Afghanistan, to Japan, to San Francisco, and then finally back to London (by submarine? from San Francisco?!)
Frankenstein's brain, in a jar!

It was like someone had put 19th century European literature and history in a blender, and then filtered it through Japanese anime.

I want more of it, possibly in crossover with Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, possibly just a 5000 word essay on how abundant corpse labor would have transformed Victorian culture, with special focus on the effects on the working class of being replaced by undead factory workers, on death and dying when bodies might be reanimated, and on the leisure class when half your servants are dead.
I went to see Rams at the AFI last night. The description is: 'In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven't spoken in 40 years have to come together in order to save what's dearest to them - their sheep'.

My initial reaction was 'my god, it's Norwegian Bachelor Farmers!', except they're Icelanders. But I was with [personal profile] ellen_fremedon; and the Vegan Knitter, and she agreed it was totally Norwegian Bachelor Farmers. Though when we got to the end, she pointed that once you've run away to the mountains, that's the last step to becoming an outlaw and your story is over; so the ending was perfect, at least in the context of Icelandic sagas.

This afternoon I went to see Chandu the Magician with [personal profile] greenygalas part of the William Cameron Menzies retrospective. It had a good bit of painfully dated orientalism, and a good bit of raygun gothic with a 'death ray' as the central macguffin, but it also had some amazing set design consider it was made in 1932, some nifty special effects (and lots of van de graaf generators and tesla coils) and correct use of 'thou' and 'you' between a master yogi and his student Chandu. You could definitely see the seeds of both the Jedi and Indiana Jones in the movie.

Next up, there's short run of Harryhausen films, including King Kong and Jason and the Argonauts at the AFI that I'm going to go to, and a two-day only run of Project Itoh: Empire of Corpses, which is a steampunk anime alternate history -- 'Ever wonder what the world would be like if the British Empire had been built upon a working class of reanimated corpses?' -- so I will go see it even though it's only showing weekday nights.

Today [livejournal.com profile] fabrisse and I went over to the Talbots; I tried on several sets of dress slacks for the new job. Their weekend chinos, when rolled down, are long enough and will be fine for officewear. I also picked up a new suit for the first day -- blue & white bird's-eye twill in cotton -- along with two button-down shirts, two tunic-type shirts, and grey slacks.

With the Talbots birthday discount and the current sale, everything was 40% off, so why I will be paying this off for a while, I think it was a pretty good investment. My jeans worked fine at the old job, but this new job is more office than lab, and thus the jeans won't cut it.

I still hate that fake pockets are a thing. The saleswoman found me a lot of nice slacks, but I had to reject two outright because they had fake pockets instead of real pockets; fake pockets make no sense to me, because if they're going to all the trouble to cut and sew in false welts for pockets, why not just make them really pockets? How much could that possibly add to the cost of the clothes at that point?

neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Default)
( Jan. 25th, 2016 10:20 am)
Calf high boots, knee high snow.
On Monday I went out with [livejournal.com profile] fabrisse to see the National Theater Live filmed production of Tom Stoppard's The Hard Problem, as she had a spare ticket. It was quite an excellent play, which deals scientific ambition, financial trading, unreciprocated sexual attraction, scientific integrity, and adoption from the viewpoint of the birth mother. The hard problem of the title is the question of consciousness, which is currently one of the thorniest problems in science, since we really don't know enough about the brain to know anything other than "we don't how to ask that yet".

Yesterday, I went with [personal profile] greenygal and [personal profile] pleasance to see the filmed version of Julie Taymor's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the AFI. It was amazing. Given that it was Taymor, the costume design was fantastic, including use of fiber-optic lights in Titania's costuming, body paint -- Oberon's was either blue-black or blued steel, with glitter and gold accents -- and a donkey mask with hand-operated mouth movement for Bottom. The fairies entered and left through the ceiling and floor, and the entire cast made fantastic use of all the stage space, including catwalks above the audience. Max Casella as Bottom was hilarious, Mandi Mansen as Helena made me really feel for her when she was accusing Hermia, Demetrius and Lysander of mocking her, Demetrius and Lysander were hilarious when they kept getting in slap-fights and competive stripping over Helena (because it's not Midsummer if all four of the young lovers don't end up in their underwear), Kathryn Hunter as Puck was apparently made of rubber, I would love to see David Harewood (who played the Prince of Morocco in the 2004 film of The Merchant of Venice -- Portia should have run off with him, he was so damned charming) and Tina Benko as Oberon and Titania live, and Zachary Infante was surprisingly touching as Flute playing Thisbe.
neotoma: "Squee!" goes the bunny (SqueeBunny)
( Jun. 21st, 2015 08:36 am)
I went to see Tomorrowland with [livejournal.com profile] fabrisse yesterday.

Why did noone tell me there is a steampunk rocketship with a Babbage engine controller in this movie? That set-peice alone is worth the price of admission! And when Keegan Michael-Key showed up and announced his name was Hugo Gernsback I almost sporfled. Frank getting rambling off on a tangent about how Tesla and Edison hated each other while our heroes are on the run from killer robots was also a delight.

Also, passes the Bechdel test with flying colors, is about hope and science, and was just fun to watch. And Raffey Cassidy is an actor to watch out for -- I hope she continues to get amazing roles, because her Athena was fantastic.
neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Default)
( May. 15th, 2015 06:10 pm)
So, my computer basically ground itself to death on Tuesday. I took it to the local MicroCenter, where I had originally bought it, to see if it could be repaired but the cost of repair estimates were high enough that it was basically the same price to buy a refurbished computer from stock and proceed from there.

I also bought an enclosure and pulled my old computer's hard drive, rather than pay the data transfer fee -- $20 vs $70.

Sadly, the best computer for my money was a Windows 8 machine, which has a terrible interface that is so frustrating that I wanted to smash the screen within 30 minutes of trying to navigate it. Fortunately, you can find freeware skins to emulate the Windows 7 layout, which I did immediately after installing Chrome and Firefox.

So I have a new computer and another couple of hundred dollars in debt, but I'm not trying to search job postings from my Kindle. So that's good.
The Power of Chocolate is a special event at the National Museum of the American Indian this weekend... who wants to meet me tomorrow to attend? With or without a possible side trip to Cherry Blossom Festival. There's definitely going to be a trunk show of vintage Japanese garments at the Sackler, among other things...
I had plans for today! I was going to go to the farmer's market, then to the Noir City film festival for one movie, and then home to plant one section of fall crops in my garden bed.

But I ran out of spoons at 11 after making myself pancakes. bleagh. I'm going to nap and/or read and see if that helps any. Hopefully I can at least make some lunch for tomorrow so that I don't have to eat canned soup...
.

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