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19th-Aug-2019 09:53 pm - baskets of intention
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Today's subject line is prompted by a statement by Pomo Indian artist Susan Billy, whose baskets will appear at the Frist Art Museum this fall: “As the baskets got smaller, people asked me what I put in them, and I realized what I put in them is intention.”

I am raising money for the Cumberland River Compact as a member of the TSRA dragon boat team. No contribution too small! https://crc.kindful.com/dragon-boat-2019/peg-duthie.

Tonight the sky was dark when I got home from the gym. It is still very much summer -- at the Y, the instructors were pulling down shades to ameliorate some of the heat and glare -- and yet, staring at the stars and the silhouettes of treetops tonight, and now sipping on cider -- fall is but a handful of weeks away.

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/155822.html.
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Today's subject line comes from Kevin Young's "Lime Light Blues."

Current mood: if someone were to go after certain members of my state legislature with a horsewhip, I'd happily hold their coat. What a disgusting display of bad faith and blatant good ol' outright discrimination both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.

Anyhow. I shall write thank-you notes to Sens. Sara Kyle and Katrina Robinson, and also Rev. Jay Hartley. Today I sat in the back row in church-lady mode (complete with hat and pearls). I had my Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice sign pinned to the brim of my hat, and when the sergeant told me it had to be no higher than chest level, I pinned it to my crochet bag and parked that bag on my knees. During one break, I had a lovely chat with a Methodist minister about the bedspreads we each are working on.

I thought about Mama Nancy a lot - she was a former president of Planned Parenthood - and, both days, deliberately wore a pair of earrings I'd bought in NC while on a road trip with her. I admit to being amused when a senior senator ordered the men in the room to take off their hats.

Also: postcards to voters and Americans of Conscience actions

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/155443.html.
11th-Aug-2019 08:24 pm - cooking/food notes
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pancakes - Joy of Cooking

bourbon-maple syrup (Private Selection)

eggs - scrambled (for the BYM)

eggs - over-easyish, on leftover white beans and cherry tomatoes with red onion dressing (adapted from Lidey Heuck's recipe [NYT] - I didn't have red wine vinegar or parsley, so I used balsamic vinegar and skipped the herb)

Gracenote Sumatra Tano Batak - I'd bought this coffee in Boston as a thank-you gift to a colleague. They were so blown away by it ("smoothest EVER") that they gave me some of the beans for my own household to try


broccoli stir-fried with San-J gluten-free hoisin sauce (leftover from this year's Chinese New Year dinner, where my guests included a gluten-sensitive gent)

leftover roast chicken with leftover brown rice (in my case, mixed with leftover onion soup)


Red lentil dal with aromatics - modified from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone based on what I had on hand

Flounder - roasted in oven with yellow tomatoes from yesterday's haul

Spinach - frozen, microwaved, mixed with sour cream and nutmeg and a dash of lime juice (because I didn't have lemon; epicurious recipe consulted for guidance)

Chocolate-covered frozen banana bites
(unsweetened Baker's bar with some sugar and allspice mixed in)

chocolate covered bananas

chocolate covered bananas

I should stress that I half-assed my way through this whole lineup -- especially the bananas -- with these factors in the mix:
(1) my sweetie arriving home a day earlier than I'd expected (this list would have been simpler and weirder had I been by myself)
(2) yay, my sweetie's home! I don't have to go anywhere today! (hence pancakes)
(3) using up things on hand, especially things past their best-by dates (chocolate) or beyond ripe (bananas, onion...)
(4) miles to go before I sleep (*glares at proofs and receipts*)

[These notes are both to talk back at the why-didn't-you monsters and to help Future Me out when she's trying to remember what worked today.]

chocolate covered bananas

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/155376.html.
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Today's subject line is from Sandra Beasley's Vocation.

Tomato Art Fest 2019

Sampled at this year's Tomato Art Fest:

* Picker's vodka soda (grapefruit and tangerine)
* A chunk of orange-fleshed watermelon
* Walker's Bloody Mary mix
* Frozen hazelnut coffee beads
* Chocolate balsamic vinegar (at Galena Garlic on Fatherland, which I had driven past many times...)

Freebies accepted:
* A nylon fan-frisbee
* A trio of temp tattoos
* Some bottles of Sweet Baby Ray's sauces

* Three pints of cherry tomatoes

Some of the sights and wares seen:
* A toddler being pulled out of the doggie ice bath she had charged into.
* Paddle fans with a lawyer's face
* "Believe Women" merch with 50% of profits going to the ACLU
* A RBG paint-by-numbers kit. (I was amused by the concept, but found the actual design was unappealing.)
* Lots of doggies. Bulky Crossfit guy with tiny toy dog might have been my favorite sighting.

Today's cooking plans:
* cherry tomato + bean salad
* roast chicken
* chocolate-dipped banana slices

Most rewarding plant in my currently pitiful yard:

balloon flower

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/155029.html.
20th-Jun-2019 08:27 am - horses of light with green manes
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Today's subject line comes from Sarah Arvio's translation of Federico García Lorca's "Love Sleeps in the Poet's Chest."

Lorca is mentioned several times in the materials for Monsters & Myths, the Surrealism show that opens to museum members and the media in 90 minutes. (I'm dressing for it between checking off a few more items on the Workflowy...) Many of the artists in the show fought and/or fled Fascists and Nazis.

detail from Miro's A NIGHT SCENE detail from Joan Miró's NIGHT SCENE

Earlier this morning, I dipped into the anthology Staying Alive and lingered with Stephen Dunn's "Sadness":

... I had sad stories of my own,
but they made me quiet
the way my parents' failures once did,
nobody's business
but our own, and, besides, what was left to say
these days
when the unspeakable was out there being spoken,
exhausting all sympathy?

[Standard "Hound of Heaven" caveat here: quotes do not represent the whole, and I adore poems I don't agree with.]

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/154796.html.
18th-Jun-2019 08:32 pm - quotes from BEYOND THE PADDLE
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I need to return Garrett Conover's BEYOND THE PADDLE: A CANOEISTS' GUIDE TO EXPEDITION SKILLS (1991) to the library, so I'm noting here a few paragraphs I enjoyed:

[page x]
Everyone must join me in thanking copyeditor Liz Pierson who with patience and exasperated humor slogged through my original draft, converting the ramblings of someone who writes by ear and invents punctuation and syntax into something sensible and familiar to those with a grasp of grammar and proper usage. Were it not for her consummate skill, I would be destined to perpetual embarrassment and you to eternal befuddlement.

[page 46]
It is nice to have things go as planned. Lining, or any other aspect of canoeing, seems easy then. You begin to believe you are getting pretty good. Fortunately, whenever anyone allows that thought to cross their mind, the river seems to know about it and concocts a little event to reintroduce some humility and caution. I much prefer to make a lot of little mistakes than to save up for a big one. Mistakes teach me far more than a program of always doing things correctly does, and smaller, comprehensible mistakes yield much to be analyzed. If you save up for a major disaster, you might just lose your gear in a manner so complex and complete that you can't really learn too much from it. Push your limits a little bit a lot of the time, and resist the temptation to taking a flying leap at a higher level of accomplishment.

[pages 47 - 48]
When a recovery situation is performed well, we are all tempted to take full credit for success. In truth we can only claim a percentage; the rest belongs to luck. When something is done well, you never know how close you may have been to that fleeting and obscure interface between control and varying degrees of loss of control. At times we cross that line, recognize it, and jump back to the safe side. Other times the leap is too long and we feel that adrenergic surge of impending helplessness. At that point you simply do the best you can; stabilization will come in its own time. For canoeists, this often means that something gets wet.

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/154563.html.
11th-Jun-2019 11:57 pm - the roses really want to grow
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What greeted me when I got home today:


I have a Voice France fangirl post brewing, but I need to go to bed, because I have a breakfast meeting tomorrow. But to sketch out / remind myself of what I'm thinking in case I lose steam:

* The camaraderie and banter among the coaches this season was so lovely.
--> Soprano checking on Jenifer after she was overcome by emotion on hearing a Roma singer and her mother, which reminded her of her grandmother
--> All the coaches teasing Mika about his "Bonjour" and "Alors" and "Les Blues," and Julien's appreciation of "delicious melancholy"-->
--> The other coaches also commenting on Mika's last-minute buzzes and his mannerisms, especially the look of apprehension he tended to have whenever buzzing (though, as a member of the Mika Fan Club forum observed, it totally made sense after he ended up with Coco)
--> Mika exclaiming "J'adore! J'adore! J'adore!" after trading "Yeah, he's got it" looks with Julien Clerc during Pierre Danae's rendition of "To Build a Home"
--> The camera cutting to Soprano appreciating the Mika-Whitney duet during the finale, and Mika likewise appreciating the high harmonies of Clement/Soprano during the same finale
--> Soprano's impromptu rap with Scam Talk
--> Mika's "Julien!?" when Clerc turned around for Mano, to everyone's astonishment
--> Soprano wanting to join Mika's team, Mika wanting to join Julien's...
--> The opening number of the finale, with perfect voicing (Julien with Soprano, and Mika with Jenifer) and timing -- watching how the experienced performers cue attention to the other singers
--> The appreciation/hilarity of blocks
--> Mika/Julien on the kiss-cam (which I normally hate, but I'm with Voici: priceless

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/154196.html.
10th-Jun-2019 12:35 am - remakes, covers, retellings...
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During last night's Tony Awards, a friend mutter-tweeted about the genre of movies-turned-into-musicals, where some results are brilliant and others "rely on spectacle & giant showy numbers & maybe nostalgia." It came to mind as I was mulling over a comment someone had made about the Mika-Whitney duet I linked to in my previous entry -- that of the coach-finalist duets Mika had participated in over the years, this was the one with which he seemed most engaged.

It certainly is the finest acting-storytelling I recall seeing him do. It helps that the song works really well as a duet -- and that it hasn't been done to death on the show. I am as guilty of loving the familiar as much as most fans, and there was an article making the rounds after the Voice US finals that suggested (IIRC) that Voice judges and fans respond more instinctively to good covers than good originals since the show is largely cover-based. The French edition doesn't incorporate originals at all, other than riffs the contestants might work in during their blind auditions -- Drea Drury's Spanish rap in the middle of "Rude Boy" was a standout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Rhw9OSYZUQ

Here's the thing: there are thousands of good songs in French and English. The BYM and I have discussed before how, with covers, he wants them to be different enough from the original to be worth the listener's while, as opposed to making the listener simply wish they were listening to the original instead.
The Voice France cover of "L'Aigle Noir" has felt most right to me is Frederic Longbois's take in Season 7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPQa88KK140

The song is a bit like "Send in the Clowns" -- the singer needs to be old enough for the yearning of the words to make sense. In Frédéric's case it was also an inspired choice because it fit his voice well, Mika coached some pacing and restraint into the delivery, and it provided an excellent contrast to the screwball presentation of "Bécassine": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4ikkqhOLwA

In comparison, Mika and Kendji's duet fails to move me (even though Kendji too went on to win the whole thing) -- their voices and faces don't convince me that they inhabit the world of regret that Barbara and Frédéric are familiar with. And this season, when Théophile Renier attempted it, I ended up recoiling from his smile. Dude, it's so not a happy song.

(Being a performer myself, I do get that some smiling happens involuntarily -- nervousness, ingrained habits of trying to connect with the audience, etc. [I have not managed to forget one scene from Madame Bovary that I not once managed to get through without giggling, even though its over-the-top desperate declaration of love pulled at the same heartstrings that vibrate today in reaction to the Mika-Whitney duet] -- and sometimes it can't be helped, because of diction or other technical demands. That said, I was totally in agreement with Théophile getting axed that round.)

I was on edge when I read that Leona Winter was going to cover "Kid" during the KO round, because Yoann Casanova's take (with young Leo) last year knocked off my socks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2opBne9hCGA

But, because Leona is a drag queen, she and the scene designer were able to tell a different story than either Eddy or Casanova: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTnZ3jrgWoY

It's a hell of a song. Voice France is my gateway to many songs in both English and French [I tend to become acquainted very late to most Top 40 tunes, with dancercise classes (Pound, Zumba, Dance Blast, Balletone, and the like) being my other main channel], and part of the fun is checking out the originals. In part because, good as the contestants are, it is at times very audibly clear how the coaches have more stage presence/awareness and more experience with interpretation. Sometimes the new voices/arrangements are more pleasing than the source (I can't say that I care for either Bon Iver or Birdy's versions), and sometimes they send me screaming back to the start. (Mano's audition with "Enter Sandman" was hilarious. His follow-up with "Beds Are Burning" was one of the worst second-round clips I've tried to listen to. It doesn't help, of course, that it was the favorite song of a college classmate and thus embedded deep enough in my emotional history that probably even a better singer would have little chance with me.)

All that said, the music that made me happiest yesterday afternoon? The tracks being played at Charming Charlie's at the mall, including Dagny's "Backbeat." (Praise the Lord for Shazam.)

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/153897.html.
8th-Jun-2019 05:51 pm - inventory
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An obsession with Mika and Whitney's performance of "Skinny Love" in the Voice France final (especially between 2:03 and 2:30): https://www.tf1.fr/tf1/the-voice/videos/mika-whitney-skinny-love-birdy-duo-finale-2019-1.html

1 new poem

1 rejection

A humidity-damp strapless dress

2 walks

Countless Muppet-fuzzy pink flowers on the sidewalk

2+ pounds of cashew halves

A bottle of fizzy purple Australian wine labeled Heavy Petting

Half a bottle of iced tea left over from last Sunday's ride on the back of a Honda bike

More iced tea (brewed from an old sakura blend from Japan I decided to stop being sentimental about) ahead, probably with cardamom syrup

14 postcards

Soprano's Cosmo earworming

2 1/3 sets of Roland Garros watched

A pair of cargo pants to mend

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/153715.html.
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Today's subject line is from a Keith Hill essay on clavichords:


On a related note, Beth Daley on learning harpsichord:

I shall write more later.

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/153452.html.
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