Thursday, November 22, 2007

Le Thanksgiving

Two years ago today I gave thanks for my friend "Sally's" boss's frequent flier miles because they enabled us to fly to Paris. Sally is my favorite person to travel with - I've been on more trips with her than with family or all boyfriends combined. Our trips began when we both worked for the same European GDS/ Web portal , where for a blissful couple of years we were able to fly as Continental employees, often in first class. This was either our third or fourth trip to Paris. Our intinerary is to wake up, have breakfast, and then spend the usually two or three days we're there just walking around and discovering new neighborhoods. Usually we have a couple destinations for the day, a specific art exhibit, or Dehillerin, the famous cooking supply shop, or some obscure architectural monument, but mostly we wander around and let our intuition lead the way.

We usually allow a full day for the Marche aux Puces St. de St. Ouen - the Flea Market ! Located a subway ride away outside the XVIII quartier on the fringes of the city proper it's the largest flea market in the world. There's an incredible variety of stuff spread out among the 13 individual markets. Some booths looks like someone has upended a chateau scattering piles of King Louis chairs and glittery chandeliers; and some sell schlocky crap. There's a reliable selection of silverware, ephemera, textiles, and jewelry which is nice since it's not exactly practical to take a piece of furniture home. Here's a little photo essay in honor of the Marche aux Puces.

We arrived shortly after the market opened, but apparently the snow and cold kept the crowds away:

Jumbly warren of booths:

Tacky painting:

It was too early for lunch so we got a warm steamy crepe. How French. We both got ours with lemon juice and granulated sugar:

Stony bum clenching his fists because book prices have gone up way too much:

Mr. trenchcoat almost looks like he escaped the painting:

Creepy dolls and doll body parts:

Books (duh):

Rolypoly ephemera. I wish I had bought this and hung it in my bathroom:

We went to the Cafe Louisette, tucked away in the corner of one of the larger markets for lunch. This place is amazing - every inch was decorated with Christmas decorations. We whiled away about 5 hours in this foily smoky haze. We had aperatifs; and then lunch (I had lentils cooked with a ham hock and Sally had a stew of some sort); we listened to mul stiple sets of two bands; we chatted with the singer; we drank coffees; we socialized with some local antique dealers who later escorted us out of the labyrinthine, now completely shuttered, locked, cold and abandoned market :

Keyboard player for Band #1:

The remainder of the photos are from various spots aound Paris proper.

One thing that I was really excited to see was the Viaduc des Arts. In the 90's this ancient viaduct was transformed into a set of shops for artisans. We were there on a Sunday morning when just about everything was closed, but we were able to look in the windows:

Art in progress:

There's a garden lined walking path on the top of the Viaduc, one of the few places where you will see French people jogging:

View from the top of the Viaduc - what are these boys doing?

My apartment, from the Viaduc path - it was nice to be able to run down to that little store when I ran out of Nutella:

Dehillerin, the famous cooking supply store:

Notebook store - Sally knows me well and wouldn't let me go in, so I had to drool through the window:

Green "SMEG" fridge:

I liked the decorative metalwork on the outside of this building:

This is one of the oldest houses in Paris, now it's a Men's club. Our hotel was right around the corner in the Marais:

Pretty bookstore:

Sparkley toes:

Many of the main boulevards were strung with these funny candle lights:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jenny Holzer's Projections

On Saturday I went on a last minute adventure to MassMOCA to attend the gallery opening of Jenny Holzer's Projections. She's well known for projecting various poems, political statements and "truisms" on buildings but this is the first time that her projections have been displayed inside. It's a pretty neat effect, and always fun to become part of an exhibition yourself. As Jenny Holzer says on this Web site, (which also has some nice slideshows), "I show what I can with words in light and motion in a chosen place, and when I envelop the time needed, the space around, the noise, smells, the people looking at one another and everything before them, I have given what I know."

For up to date "truisms", visit her Twitter page

There are two projectors, one on each end, so the entire football sized room is bathed in text. Standing up in the balcony you get the best perspective. The text starts out tight and legible on the hard glossy floor, then undulates over bodies and giant stepping stone beanbags, then expands and wraps around the side walls (competing a bit with the projection from the opposite wall but not too much) and then stretches out over the white ceiling beams before it disappears.

My camera miraculously resurrected itself to work long enough to take some photos and movies and didn't eat a single image.

Here are a couple of the entire room:

A rare fairly empty vista:

Another example of people becoming part of the artwork:

A view across the floor from and of one of the huge comfy beanbags and a great example of what happens when the text hits the beamed ceiling:

The beanbags are covered with thermally sensitive material. We spent an embarrassing amount of time making heat impressions - here's a creepy one of my face:


I am totally in love with my new skirt from Boden. I've been buying things from them since their debut US catalog about 5 years ago and am rarely disappointed. They have especially nice dresses and skirts that are fancy but not too fancy to wear to work. Though it's possible that this skirt would be even cuter if I didn't have so much white cat hair on my black sweater.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Superheroes Project

Some artists in Boston have come up with a creative plan. Read the article on NPR, and then check out their Web site. Tee hee.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lars and the Real Microphone

I went to see Lars and the Real Girl, which was sweet but predictable, though the dopey charm of Ryan Gosling, greasy hair and all made up for that. Dammmit he's cute. He did not make up for the fact that the microphone kept dipping into the picture in about 30 percent of the scenes. At first it was funny (I think I spotted it in the first scene) but by the end of the movie I had a sore arm from my friend hitting me in the arm and laughing. Cute movie folks, but seeing the microphone is just not very professional. Thankfully there were only two other people in the theater because we got very giggley.

When I got home I had two very exciting packages waiting for me. First, I had my free snack from Kashi. A while ago Kashi had a snack drive where you could select your favorite unhealthy snack and Kashi would send you a healthier 7-grain alternative. I didn't really need any encouragement to try Kashi snacks, they're honestly about the most unhealthy thing I buy (except for bacon sometimes), but the prospect of getting something fun in the mail was too good to pass up. Today I received my mini bag of 7-grain crackers in a cheerful yellow cardboard box. WHY DIDN'T I CHOOSE the 7-grain COOKIE??? Well, I already had a cookie today and it was only 1-grain, so I guess it was for the best.

My other package was a tiny envelope of rhinestones and baubles. I bought the rhinestones to replace the stones that fell out of the smokey grey plastic ring that I bought when I was a jewelry & clothing buyer. (We didn't buy these for the store because they were too expensive and didn't really fit our clientele.) It's 10 years old so I guess it's not that scandalous - that's what I get for liking plastic jewelry. But now you can get anything online, including 7ss rhinestones. And I learned about the rhinestone sizing standards in the process. And they fit perfectly. yay me. The baubles aren't really baubles, but I just like the word bauble. They're dark pink metal flowers that I'm going to sew on a black sweater. Or a winter hat. Or something. Crafty.

RIP Canon Powershot SD 400 Digital Elph

You had a short and sweet life. You've been there with me for the canals of Venice, the family homestead outside of Bologna, the Gothic quarter in Barcelona, the fleamarket and one particularly spangley cafe in Paris, rainbow seafoam in Maine, the Acropolis, natural wonders in Utah, the houseboat in Key West where I woke up on my 31st birthday, chatty bridges in Vermont, a few weddings, 24 paarties, three apartments, three gardens, and more pictures of baked goods and the kitty than I care to admit. After all that now you had to end things by corrupting the data of any flashcard I put into you. I hate you I hate you I hate you I loved you. Well shittle my bezittles, now I need a new camera.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Starting Out in the Evening

photo courtesy of

After this summer's Six Feet Under marathon I was delighted to see that Lauren Ambrose and Lily Taylor (along with the inimitable Frank Langella of recent Frost Nixon fame ) were starring in the film Starting out in the Evening. The film premiered in the Boston area at the Museum of Fine Arts as part of the 19th annual Jewish Film Festival, though it will be distrubuted nationally in December. The Sundance Film festival refers to it as "a quietly intense, superbly realized drama about erudite New Yorkers who tug on each other's vulnerabilities as they strive to actualize individual promise at three different stages of life." The audience, comprised largely of elderly couples, seemed to have a mixed reaction but I enjoyed the film. And I am envious of Lauren Ambrose's vintagy/ flashy librarian wardrobe. Andrew Wagner, the film's director, answered questions afterwards which was a pleasant addition.

A stranger influence of the film is the effect it has had on my diet. During the film my craving for toast with creamy peanut butter was reawakened. Just like Frank Langella's character, I let my peanut butter warm up in a pretty little ramekin (because it's supposed to be refrigerated and it doesn't spread nicely when it's cold), and then drizzle it on my buttered wholegrain toast with a little spoon. Thanks Frank (and Andrew Wagner), your bleepin' peanut-buttered Old Man Toast is going to have serious consequences for my ass if I don't watch it.

Thanks to the passes from my local public library I didn't have to spend a billion dollars on entrance fee and had a chance to see some things I'd been wanting to see in the hour and a half or so before the film began. Alas my camera was acting poopy and corrupted my entire flash card card when I tried to take a photo.

This is perhaps the most exciting exhibition title I've seen in a while. It was fun to hunt for Shy Boy, She Devil and Isis. The glass bowl in the press release is a Dale Chihuly - while his name is perhaps the best known among the artists featured I wouldn't say that this was the most impressive piece of artwork. My favorites were ceramic sculptures by Sergei Isupov.

Next we moved on to "Contemporary Outlook: Japan". While there were a number of things I liked, things I wouldn't mind having hung on my wall, I was most smitten with Akino Kondoh's animated film Ladybird's Requiem. Here's a wiggley bootleg copy.

And here's another of Kondoh's films (apparently she's into insects and great haircuts):

I also liked this jewelry exhibit:

Starting out in the evening I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be a pleasantly entertaining multimedia kind of night.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I forgot about this picture from the summer because I downloaded it to a not very intuitive storage spot. Alas, I never match my porch, and my sneakers never look good with my garage.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Alice Medrich's Pure Desserts

Last Thursday I went to listen to cookbook author Alice Medrich talk about her new book, Pure Dessert. She's written five books about chocolate, but this book celebrates more unusual ingredients and is organized by type of ingredient instead of by type of baked good. (There is still a small chapter about chocolate.) She said that "the only reason to write a cookbook is to learn something new and turn around and share it." As a nice surprise she literally shared the results of her creativity and brought samples.

Among the samples were Olive Oil and Sherry Pound Cake:

and Dried Fruit and Nut Cake:

The third sample was chocolate brownies dusted with freshly ground nutmeg. Nice.