mojosmom: (Default)
Everyone was there! Hecht, of course, and Margaret Anderson of The Little Review, Eunice Tietjens, Sherwood Anderson, Max Bodenheim, Vachel Lindsay. Okay, so it was actors playing the parts. But still, it was the house where Ben Hecht lived for a while (it was a rooming house):

5210-S-Kenwood

We were entertained with music, poetry and a magic lantern show, and there was food and drink. There was even a costume contest, which I didn't know about, but I got Honorable Mention, basically for being mouthy to a lecturer. (He said something about having too much money to spend on books, and I said, "Lucky you!" He liked my "20s attitude"!) I live in a fun neighborhood.

I've been down to the Art Institute a couple of times over the last week for special events. Last week there was a lecture to preview an upcoming exhibit of Byzantine art, mostly borrowed from the British Museum, which coincidentally is closing their Byzantine galleries for renovation just as we are re-opening ours. So the show will be up for nine months, and it sounds like it's going to be fabulous. At pretty much the other end of the spectrum, there was a lecture about the current Roy Lichtenstein retrospective, followed by a reception and viewing of the exhibit. I'm completely in love with Landscape in Fog. There's actually a sign at the entrance to the exhibit encouraging photography (for personal use), a rarity for special exhibitions.

Last Thursday was "Make Music Chicago Day", with all kinds of music being played at venues all over the city - all day. Tremendous fun! I went down to the Fine Arts Building and heard Miss Chicago 2012 sing opera, and then to the main library for a dance tribute to Katharine Dunham. That was so good. They showed video clips from the Dance collection, and then a local dance troupe did some of her work, but then there were also hip-hop and South Asian dancers, influenced by her. Very cool. In the late afternoon, I went over to International House at the University of Chicago for jazz, more opera, and the Chicken Fat Klezmer Orchestra. There was also food and drink there, which I was not expecting, so I noshed a little but still stopped on the way home, as previously planned, for Thai carry-out.

And I saw the cutest movie! It's called "The Cat Returns" and is an animated Japanese film about a schoolgirl who saves a cat from being hit by a car. It turns out that this wasn't just any cat, but the son of the King of Cats! The King's attempts to show his gratitude lead to all sorts of complications.

And in "small world" stuff: I had lunch yesterday with the daughter of my high school biology teacher, whom I had met a couple of times years ago. This teacher was instrumental in my choice of college. Now, one of the women in my graduating class happened to mention that she sometimes comes to Chicago, and has a good friend here. You guessed it - my teacher's daughter. They know each other because their husbands went to school together. On top of which, L is a friend of D, someone else I knew way back when, and we are now hoping that the three of us can get together when D visits here in late July.

My friend Hilary was in town over the last weekend, visiting her two kids and her mom, so she stopped by on Sunday and we gabbed and ate pastries.

I have been swilling sparkling water all day. It's currently 96º and it's supposed to be in the 90s at least for the next week. At least so far, it hasn't broken 100º. We're also supposed to get isolated thunderstorms over the next couple of days.

Sorry about the length, but it's been so long since I last posted that I can't help it! I'll try to do better.

Busy week!

Jun. 5th, 2011 08:08 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
It's been a crazy, busy week, but in a good way. I've been to the Symphony, unexpectedly, twice. Tuesday night was my regular subscription night, and on Thursday, I got a call from a friend, who had another friend who couldn't use her tickets. So I benefited. Bernard Haitink conducted both nights; Tuesday was Schumann, Mozart and Brahms, while Thursday was Mahler's 9th Symphony. I usually sit on the main floor, but on Thursday I sat on the Terrace level, which is above and behind the orchestra. I'd never sat there before, and it's great, obviously, for watching the conductor, but it's very weird to be looking at the rest of the audience!

On Wednesday, I went to Glessner House,
Glessner House, courtyard
for an event celebrating the 125th anniversary of its building. It was designed by H.H. Richardson, and is on what was once Chicago's "Millionaire's Row", where folks like Marshall Field lived. The neighbors did not entirely approve of Richardson's aesthetic. Many of the beautiful mansions have been razed, and Glessner House was in danger, but was saved and restored, was the original home of what was then the Chicago School of Architecture Foundation (it has since dropped the "School"), and is now open to visitors. The Glessner's great-grandson re-created the groundbreaking, there was an enjoyable talk about the world, and Chicago, in 1886, and food and drink.

On Friday, I took the afternoon off from work to go to the Art Institute for a donor event introducing the new Japanese galleries (they've actually been open several months, though). There was a nice tea service (western, not Japanese) and the associate curator of Japanese art spoke. Then those who wanted (which, of course, included me) went to the galleries and the curator was available to answer questions.

The new African and American Indian galleries had just opened that day, so I had a browse. They aren't completely installed - the objects are all there, but the descriptive cards aren't, so I will need to go back to find out what everything is! (And, not incidentally, have my camera with me.)

This weekend, the first in June, is always a favorite, because it's the Printers Row Lit Fest, and the 57th Street Art Fair and the Hyde Park Community Art Fair (which are right next to each other). I did the Lit Fest yesterday, first going to hear Colm Tóibín and Belinda McKeon, and then wandering the stalls to buy books. It was horribly hot, so I didn't stay as long as I might have otherwise, but I did manage to pick up several books. Not as many as these folks, though:
Seriously buying books

Today was cooler, a really perfect day for breakfast and the Sunday paper on the back porch, and then wandering around a couple of art fairs.
mojosmom: (art)
There were an insane number of events in or near my neighborhood on Friday night, but as I am only one person, I went to only two of them. I'd heard Fretwork the night before, so skipped their Mandel Hall concert, and the South Shore Opera Company had to do without me, as did the art opening at Experimental Station.

Instead, I went to hear Buzz Spector talk about his altered books and book-related installations, with slides (well, Power Point, but you know what I mean). I got to the venue, went to look at some stuff on the wall, and realized I had left my glasses at home! However, it was only a five-minute walk home, and I'd gotten there early, so I dashed home, got the glasses, and came back in plenty of time for the lecture.

Then I walked a couple of blocks over to the Hyde Park Art Center for their Back Alley Party benefit. Food and drink, music and art, and a blind auction, the last of which resulted in my acquisition of a new piece of art, Goya, by Josue Pellot:

"Goya", by Josue Pellot

Yesterday, I ran a bunch of errands, and then came home and hung the picture, which entailed moving another one. I also decided it was about time that I brought in the bay laurel plant, and cut the remaining herbs to dry them.

The Art Center was having an all-day event called "Mischief Night", with a lot of stuff for kids, and general mash-ups of art and Hallowe'en, including someone recording herself dropping pumpkins off the roof of the Center. After dinner (spinach fettucine with roasted fennel and onions, excellent, if I do say so myself!), I wandered over for some of the evening events. They had a "no-budget scary movie shorts" party, though I must say that the one I watched was more risible that actually scary. Watched a bit of a dance performance, and then went to the wedding. Here's the happy couple:
The happy couple
(Yeah, it was performance art.)

Today, I am moving summer clothes to the hall closet and winter clothes to the bedroom closet. I also went to Sears to look at dishwashers. Shortly, I am going to pay bills and do my Italian homework. Exciting, huh?
mojosmom: (Default)
The Chicago Public Library hosted an author reading with Audrey Niffenegger on Thursday to promote her new book, The Night Bookmobile, a graphic novel about a woman who encounters a mysterious bookmobile containing everything she's ever read in life. Audrey had used photographs to create the images, but technical glitches prevented her from showing them. Instead, she read the short story on which the Guardian serial, which became the book, was based. This is actually the first installment of a larger work to be called The Library.

I stopped on the way home from work on Friday to pick up a pizza, and ran into a woman I know from the Friends of the Library. She was posting signs for a multi-family yard sale, so I went over there Saturday morning and picked up a couple of things. One person was selling two of the exact same Lenox silverplate/crystal cake slicers, obviously multiple wedding gifts, and both obviously unused. I expect one could fill several warehouses with things people thought they wanted, received and then never used.

I went over to the farmers' market then, and dashed around buying what I needed before the skies opened. It kept getting darker and darker, and just as I hopped in the car to head home, the rains came. While I was there, I stopped at the Blackstone Bicycle Works to drop off a donation. They had a fire and lost a lot of the bikes they were working on. A real shame, but they are working hard to come back from it.

In the afternoon, I went to Navy Pier for the Italian Expo. It was quite a bit smaller than the last time I attended, which was a couple of years ago, with far fewer merchants from Italy. A lot of good food, though, and distributors/retailers of Italian food. I picked up a lot of tourist literature, and watched a fashion show with several local designers, some good, some not so good (just as on Project Runway, a couple of designers were overly enamored with visible zippers and man panties). I very much liked the work of one designer who was influenced by Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons, and another who did painted and dyed silk:
Beauty!

Yesterday was the annual 57th Street Children's Book Fair, and I went over for a couple of hours to help staff the Friends of the Library table. We were right near the stage where the Hyde Park School of Dance was performing. There was also a woman doing amazing things with hula hoops:
Hula hoops!
I couldn't manage one for more than a minute or so when I was a kid!

I had wanted to go to Millennium Park for the Chicago Symphony concert, but I was feeling headachey, and figured I would not enjoy it. So I bagged it. Naturally, the headache went away when it was too late to head down there. Too bad, but I still have my subscription!
mojosmom: (Default)
Friday night, there was a going away party for one of our investigators, not that she's going far, just over to the Sheriff's Office, but still, we had to have a party! So I missed the Second Friday Open Studio at the Fine Arts building, but that's okay.

I was up fairly early on Saturday, because there was an estate sale I wanted to go to, primarily because I wanted to see the house! It's the gatehouse at East View Park, the only freestanding residence, a 1925 bungalow, and I've always been curious about what it's like inside. It's adorable, and if I had a spare half-million, I'd buy it. I did end up buying a few things, some throw pillows and a print. I had my eye on a couple of other items (an art nouveau-style lamp and a Japanese chest), but I have no place to put either, so I refrained. I also went to a rummage sale to benefit the Avon Cancer Walk, and bought a gorgeous black evening coat. I'm not sure what the material is but it has a really interesting texture. It's at the dry cleaners right now.

It was raining most of the morning, which was worrisome because I wanted to go to the Lyric Opera's annual concert at Millennium Park in the evening. Around 3:00, though, it cleared up, the sun actually peeped out and it began to get warmer. So I fixed a picnic dinner (poached salmon, potato salad, leftover edamame, tomatoes, with strawberries for dessert) and took that, along with a half-bottle of Riesling, and got down about an hour and a quarter before the concert began. The place was already packed, but I did find a spot to spread my blanket. By the time the music started, it was wall-to-wall people, quite literally, and the sidewalks on either side of the lawn were also full with standees. Very nice to see! And the concert was lovely, as always.

On Sunday, I went to the annual "We Hate Macy's, Bring Back Marshall Field's" demo:
Thank you, Field's!

This year, it was followed by an author reading/book signing at the Borders down the street, for Gayle Soucek's new book, Marshall Field's: The Store that Helped Build Chicago. There were several former Field's employees in attendance, and there was much reminiscing and nostalgia. Afterwards, several of us went to have a bite to eat and say more rude things about Macy's.

Yesterday, I went to another author event, also at Borders (though a different store). Tim Gunn! The awesome, sexy, charming and erudite Project Runway Tim Gunn. He was great, though the event was a bit chaotic and disorganized. There were at least 400 people there (based on 8 different colors of wristbands at 50 per color!). There was a Q&A for about half-an-hour, and then he started signing books at about 7:30 p.m. I left at about 10:15 and he was still signing books, and still being incredibly gracious to everyone. We have this in common: we both collect architectural pop-up books. Between the wait for the event to start, and the wait in line for signing, I actually finished the book!
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
Yesterday, I went to a BookCrossing Meet-up. I hadn't been to one in a long time, as the closest is in Evanston, a suburb just north of Chicago, and it's not an easy trek from where I work. However, a BookCrosser from India had posted in the forums that she was visiting Chicago and, among other things, wanted to go to a Meet-up. I told her about this one, and she said she was going, at which point I rather felt that if she could come all the way from Delhi (via Clarendon Hills), I could come from Wheaton! I'm glad I did, because it was fun, I picked up a couple of books, and I found Prathi to be a very interesting young woman. She's in her second year of law school, and wants eventually to come to the States for an LL.M. in Human Rights Law.

This evening, there was a book event at my local library. Rebecca Janowitz was discussing her book, Culture of opportunity : Obama's Chicago : the people, politics, and ideas of Hyde Park. It was an excellent talk. She's obviously very knowledgeable on the subject, and is an articulate and amusing speaker. Of course, she was speaking to an audience that was also familiar with the subject. She began by saying that when she spoke to Hyde Park audiences, she talked more about the process of writing the book than the content, because she knew they'd all be thinking, "well, we've read that, you don't have to tell us again." Naturally, I bought the book.
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
I went to hear Tony Kushner last night at the University of Chicago's Artspeaks program. He was interviewed by Charlie Newell, the artistic director at Court Theatre, which is currently mounting a production of Kushner's adaptation of Corneille's The Illusion. I could listen to him talk forever. "The only obligation an artist has is to tell the truth." And he certainly does his best to live up to that. He talked about playwriting and directing, why colleges should not have undergraduate theatre programs, family, psychoanalysis, and a variety of other things.

Tonight, I went to the local library for a panel discussion on Octavia Butler and Afro-Futurism. It was one of several programs going on to lead up to the premiere of jazz flutist Nicole Mitchell's Xenogenesis II: Intergalactic Beings , inspired by Butler's trilogy. In addition to Mitchell were John Corbett, music writer and co-founder of Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery, who is an expert on Sun Ra, who was connected with Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and also Madhu Dubey, a professor of feminist theory and African-American literature at the University of Illinois-Chicago. It was a wide-ranging discussion of literature and music. When I got home, the president of the Friends of the Library called and asked if I would do a post on their blog about it. I said yes, but I wish she'd asked me before the program so I would have known to take notes!

I've been going through my books looking for thin paperbacks to take to Amsterdam to release at the BC convention. If I were going straight there, it wouldn't be as difficult, but whatever I take, I'll have to haul to Florence and then to Amsterdam, so I'm trying to be circumspect. I'm taking a couple to read on the plane and then release. And I have to factor in the guidebooks and such. I'm also debating about which edition of The Inferno to take with me. I'm leaning toward my Dorothy L. Sayers translation, because it's a small Penguin paperback. The Pinsky is a dual-language edition, which I like, but it's significantly bigger, not as easily carried about. I suppose I'll make up my mind at the last minute, as usual!
mojosmom: (chf)
I had a crazy busy weekend, the last weekend of the Chicago Humanities Festival, plus a couple of other events. But so worth it! I figured I'd relax this week, so what happens? Today I get an email from the Harris Theatre, informing me that all, repeat all, tickets to the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra's concert tomorrow night, in honor of the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, are $5, AND ticket fees are waived. I just paid $5 for what would have been a $120 ticket (which may explain the dearth of sales!).

So if there are any Chicagoans reading this, go here. Promotional code is 3381.

Friday night, I went to the annual dinner of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, honoring a local attorney who does a lot of federal white collar criminal defense. Place was packed, food was good. What more can you ask?

IACDL Board meeting the next morning, but I had to leave early to get to the Newberry Library to hear Laurence Bergreen talk about Marco Polo. Then down to the Art Institute, where I browsed a bit in the gift shop before going to a concert by Ars Antigua, entitled "The Birth of Opera", with much Monteverdi, et al, introduced by Brian Dickie of the Chicago Opera Theatre. After that, I caught a bus up to Northwestern University Law School, to hear Hon. Frank Easterbrook (7th Circuit Court of Appeals), Lawrence Tribe (Harvard Law School) and Geoffrey Stone (University of Chicago Law School) talk about the Constitution. Stone and Tribe are both advising the new president, so they declined, when ask, to speculate on future Supreme Court appointments, although Stone, not, I think, jokingly, told Easterbrook that he wouldn't suggest his name. (Easterbrook is generally considered a conservative jurist.)

Went home and did laundry because I was rapidly running out of clean clothes!

Yesterday was even crazier. I went to the Newberry in the morning to hear Ronald Mallett, physics professor at the University of Connecticut, talk about time travel. If anyone has millions and would like to back his construction of a time machine, he'd like to hear from you.

Now, I had a ticket to hear Rebecca Goldstein at the Spertus Institute at 2:00. But a couple of days ago, I'd gotten an announcement for half-price tickets to Richard Danielpour's opera, Margaret Garner (libretto by Toni Morrison). I had wanted to go, but it was a tad expensive, so this was a real temptation. And I succumbed. Fortunately, the theatre is literally a block-and-a-half from Spertus, so I heard Goldstein on "Modern Philosophy and the Rise of Secularism", and left 15 minutes early to get to the Auditorium Theatre with time to read the program. Since this run was the first time in 65 years that there's been grand opera at the Auditorium, that was added incentive! As far as the opera itself is concerned, the voices, particularly Patrick Blackwell as Robert Garner and Karen Slack as Cilla, were excellent. The music was a bit trite at times, but Danielpour uses a lot of influences, and overall it's quite a powerful piece of work. Following the performance, there was a post-show discussion, which I stayed for part of. But then I had to leave to go a couple of blocks down to the Merle Reskin Theatre for the closing performance of the Humanities Festival, Klea Blackhurst's tribute to Ethel Merman, "Everything the Traffic Will Allow". Fantastic!

Then I went home and was tired. ;-))
mojosmom: (chf)
So, it begins. Two weekends of (practically) non-stop lectures, concerts, readings, panel discussions, and all variety of interesting things. Saturday was a bit crazy as I took in four events. First up, a lecture by archaeology professor and superintendent of antiquities of Rome, Adriano La Regina, who talked about (natch) Roman monuments. Next, a bunch of lawyers on the subject of habeas corpus. Both of those were at the Northwestern University School of Law. Then I dashed to the First United Methodist Church to hear Richard Sennett talk about craftsmanship, and then back up north to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a staged reading of poet Yusuf Komunyakaa's version of Gilgamesh.

Sunday was fairly quiet as I went to just one event, a discussion called "Queer Lyrics", with writers Achy Obejas and Mark Doty (got books signed!), moderated by poet C.C. Carter.

The latest

Jun. 14th, 2008 11:04 am
mojosmom: (Steinlen cats)
My plan for Wednesday was to come home, dump my stuff, and then go to a "style" event at the home décor shop across the street. I would then return home, have dinner and watch the Top Chef finale. I did some of that, but when I came home from work, my downstairs neighbor and friends were sitting around outside, and Marva said, "Do you want a hamburger?" Naturally, I said "sure!", and she fixed me a plate with not just a burger, but a wheat roll, potato salad and baked beans. Yummy.

Then I did go to the event, which was all about finding what colors suit you in terms of your home. I normally find these sorts of analyses fairly uncompelling, but some of the the tools she used did actually make some sense in terms of making one think not only about the use of the room, but the feeling you want to convey, and I think it helped me focus on, and maybe even make a decision about, the color I want in my dining room.

I was so pleased with the outcome of Top Chef! I'm don't make a habit of checking out the latest "in" restaurants, so I wasn't familiar with Stephanie Izard's Scylla, but I am always happy when a Chicagoan gets recognition, and she surely deserved to win. Her cooking has been so consistent throughout the show, and she is so focused and (for the most part) incredibly calm in the kitchen, and works well with others. (I must say that I'm constantly amazed at how many of these contestants don't work well with others.) She is, apparently, looking for space for a new restaurant in or near downtown, and I'm sure she'll do well.

I mentioned a while back that some folks are trying to reconstitute the Chicago Barnard Alumnae Club, and so on Thursday a small group of us went to an author reading by Lily Koppel, who wrote The Red Leather Diary, and is also a Barnard alum. For those who haven't heard about this - Lily was a writer for the New York Times and was living in a prewar apartment building on the Upper West Side. One day, as she was on her way to work (late), she saw a dumpster outside her building, filled with old steamer trunks. The building was clearing out storage space in the basement. She climbed into the dumpster! And rescued a bunch of stuff, including a red leather diary written in the late twenties and early thirties by a young woman named Florence Wolfson. A while later, she met a private detective and decided to try to find Florence -- and she did. That meeting led to her decision to write a book about the Florence who wrote the diary.

After the reading, we Barnard women sat around and chatted. Lily is a charming young woman, and I can see a lot of similarities between her and Florence. I can see why they are so simpatici, even with nearly 70 years difference in their ages, both so curious about life.

Poor Marissa got her claw stuck in my computer this morning! Right on the underside, there are little holes (vents, I imagine), and she was lying on the desk in front of the computer and started rolling about and stretching. Suddenly, there was a howl and I realized she'd gotten a claw in one of the holes and couldn't get it out. Of course, when I tried to help, she just squirmed a lot, which made it worse, but eventually I got her free and she went dashing off to sulk. However, no harm was done and she is back lying on the desk. I have tried to explain to her that if she would just let me cut her claws instead of fighting me when I do so, these things wouldn't happen, but she doesn't listen.
mojosmom: (Music)
Yesterday afternoon, I went to hear Chicago Opera Theatre's performance of John Adams' A Flowering Tree, which is based on an Indian folk tale involving a poor girl who has the ability to transform into a flowering tree. The Storyteller, who narrates, is actually the largest role, and much of the "opera" is really dance with a sung narration. After having seen Nixon in China (also at COT) and Dr. Atomic at Lyric, I've become quite a fan of Adams' work, and I would definitely recommend this one.

The Harris Theatre, where COT performs, is at Millennium Park, so, as the weather was really gorgeous, I went to the Park Grille for an early dinner - any excuse to eat outside! Then I walked over to the Pritzker Pavilion and listened to various ensembles from the Northwestern School of Music for about 45 minutes. (It occurred to me that I did the very same thing last year!)

The reason I didn't stay for the whole concert is that I wanted to get home, feed the cats and then go to a jazz club. The Checkerboard Lounge does jazz on Sunday nights, sponsored by the Hyde Park Jazz Society, and I like going there as it's only a few blocks away. I don't go as often as I'd like, though, primarily because I work on Mondays! Not today, however, so I enjoyed Margaret Murphy (Note: you'll get music when you click the link) singing standards. A lot of jazz musicians come to listen to their colleagues, so she brought a couple up on stage to join her and the ensemble. She's very good!

Music on another day:

On Wednesday, I went to a free concert at the Cultural Center, a jazz artist named Manata Roberts. She and the ensemble played parts of her work in progress, Coin coin, based on the life of her ancestress, Marie Therese "Coin Coin." Powerful stuff.

In Non-musical events:

Saturday was pretty quiet. I went to a new farmers' market that began last week on 61st Street. As I can never get to the one a couple of blocks away (it's on Thursdays, and of course that means I'm at work), and parking at Green City is getting prohibitive, it was nice that there's a neighborhood one on Saturday. It's not huge, but I was able to get lettuces and scallions and asparagus, with plenty of other things available that I didn't need. The lamb purveyor I like was there, and I bought some kebobs which are presently marinating in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and bay leaves, and the cheese guy had this awesome tart of St. André triple-crème layered with apricots, almonds and honey.

After that, I wandered by a rummage sale given by Meadville-Lombard Theological Seminary. It had been advertised in the local paper as a benefit for "Doctors without Boarders"!! They had books:
Pile of books
but I didn't see any I wanted. I did see a great pair of boots, but the back zipper on one was busted and it would cost more than I want to pay to get them fixed, so I let them lay.

The rest of Saturday was just doing stuff around the house.

On Thursday, I went to an author event at our local library. Former journalist, and current author and bookstore owner, Kenan Heise, wrote a book called Chicago Afternoons with Leon: 99 1/2 years old and looking forward, conversations with former alderman Leon Despres, lawyer, thorn in the side of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, social activist and gadfly. Here's why I like Leon: he was asked about the plan to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016, specifically, the plan to build a stadium in a local park. Said Leon, who is now 100: "If they build a stadium in Washington Park, I'm boycotting the Olympics!"
Leon Despres (l.) and Kenan Heise (r.)
Naturally, I bought the book.

Oh, and more Croc_Sandwich photos.
mojosmom: (Default)
I drove down to Springfield on Friday in nasty weather. It rained, then stopped, then poured, then stopped, then poured again, all the way down. At a couple of points, traffic was crawling because the visibility was so bad. But I did make it in time to check into my room before the conference started. The conference was good, the dinner speaker was good and (reasonably) short, and there was an open bar. The board's breakfast meeting was in the Vista I meeting room at the hotel. This is why it's called the Vista Room:
Springfield - Capitol
Nice view, no?

After the last meeting on Saturday, I met up with my friend Sue for lunch and catching up, and then headed home.

Yesterday afternoon, I had plans to go see The Thief Lord, followed by a reading by Cornelia Funke, at the Harold Washington Library Center. Since the Art Institute is just a couple of blocks away, I decided to go downtown early and see the Edward Hopper/Winslow Homer exhibits, which are due to close next weekend. I was able to get there shortly after the museum opened, which meant immediate, ticketless entry during Members' Hours. (AIOC has a "members only" entry during the first hour of special exhibitions.) The exhibits were wonderful, but, I think, too much for one visit. I did the Winslow Homer exhibit first, and by the time I was about halfway through the Hopper show, I think I was suffering from visual and information overload. Although the show closes officially next Saturday, it will still be open to members on Sunday, so as I have to be downtown for another event, I think I'll go again. While there, I had my very own Edward Hopper moment:
Men waiting

Then I went to the library for the movie and author reading. I had seen The Thief Lord before, but I really enjoyed seeing it on the big screen - all those glorious views of Venice! And it's a cracking good story, too. Funke and her translator, Anthea Bell, alternated in reading from her newest book (both read in English). Funke is a marvelous reader! I don't know why she doesn't do the audiobooks of her work; I suppose the publishers don't want the German accent.

On the way home, I stopped for a gelato. I can see that having the Istria Café a couple of blocks away is going to be a great temptation, though one can always argue that the walk there and back makes up for whatever one indulges in.

I started to watch "Cranford" on Masterpiece Theatre last night, but it was deadly dull and boring, so I turned it off after an hour.
mojosmom: (Black cat)
As I was driving to work this morning, I heard an announcement on WFMT that Geraldine Brooks was speaking this evening at the Newberry Library. Now, I had heard this a while back, but had completely forgotten about it, as I had assumed that I wouldn't be able to go due to the trial I was supposed to have. So, I decided to go. Of course, it started to snow this afternoon, so I left work about a half-hour earlier than usual. Even so, it took me two hours to get there. However, in a minor miracle, I found a parking spot right on Clark Street, just across from the Newberry, with just enough time to dash into the ladies' room before the talk commenced.

It was quite an interesting, and very sad, talk. She began by showing pictures of the library in Sarajevo in flames. 90% of the collection was destroyed, and the rest was saved by librarians rescuing it under mortar attack. One librarian lost her life in the process. The book is based on the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated manuscript probably dating to mid-14th-century Spain. Little is know of its wanderings. From a marking in the book, we know it was in Venice in 1609. It then appears in Bosnia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in 1894, in the hands of a poor Jewish family who send it with their son to school, hoping his teacher will know someone who will buy it from them so that they can buy food. It is sent to Vienna for assessment, where vandals rebind it (we don't know what the original binding was, but it was likely valuable) and trim the parchment. It ends up in the Bosnian National Museum. When, during World War II, the Nazis occupy Sarajevo, it is saved from their hands by an Islamic scholar, and spends the war hidden among the Qurans in a village mosque.

Astonishing.

But for the even more astonishing story of the rescuer's family, and what came later, you must read Brooks' recent New Yorker article, which can be found here. (This is a .pdf.)

This was an author event well worth putting up with traffic!

It's hot!

Oct. 7th, 2007 09:30 pm
mojosmom: (Chicago)
I wouldn't mind running around in that fountain. It's October 7, and I went out today in shorts and sandals. For a while there, I seriously considered turning on the air conditioning. I did turn it on in the car when I went out. But at least I'm not crazy. Like those marathon runners. The Chicago Marathon was today, and they ended it early. One man died, and over 300 were sent to hospital, some in critical condition. I understand that these folks have trained and planned for months for this run, but you'd think common sense would prevail.

As usual, the Marathon meant road closures and bus re-routes. So I nixed the thought of going up to the Museum of Contemporary Art. It's their 40th anniversary this year, and they are having "Forty Free Days" with all kinds of events. There was an outdoor concert today in conjunction with the exhibit, "Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967". It would have been fun, but not so much fun that I wanted to deal with the traffic mess. And I can see the exhibit any time.

I also passed on going to the Checkerboard tonight. I was a bit headachey, and while it's not bad, it's such that I didn't think a bar, even a non-smoky one, was the best place to spend the evening.

Yesterday, I was a bit of a busy bee. I went to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference's book sale in the morning (went again today, and will go tomorrow - they drop the prices each day!), and in the afternoon I went to hear Alice Waters speak (she's promoting a new book, which I didn't buy). I don't know. She seems awfully self-righteous and unaware. I completely agree with her that fast food sucks, and that we need to eat good food, locally-grown. For many people, however, that is easier said than done. Her visit was sponsored by the Green City Market, which I love, but it struck me that GCM is in an area of the city where people can get good produce, and a good variety of it, in their local supermarkets. (And it's not inexpensive either.) There are other, poorer parts of the city where the supermarkets have lousy produce. And the people who shop there do not have the time, money or transportation to go to Yuppie-ville and buy at GCM. Nor is it easy for a single parent working two minimum-wage jobs, living from paycheck to paycheck, to avoid feeding the kids MacDonald's or packaged meals a good part of the time. The problem Waters wants to address is very much intertwined with other problems, but she doesn't seem to recognize that. Edible schoolyards are a lovely thought, but, as I said to my sister, schools will devote time to students growing and cooking their own food when it shows up on standardized testing! She can talk Daley into trying this program at six schools, sure. That's easier for him to do than paying teachers a decent salary, cutting class size, and getting politics out of the schools.

Okay, end of that rant.

So then I went to a reception at the South Side Community Art Center, where my neighbor, a clay artist, is having a show. It's a marvelous show, too. After that, I went to the season's first Newberry Consort concert, The Shakespeare Songbook, all music from, or mentioned in, Shakespeare's plays. The pre-concert lecture by Ross Duffin was really interesting, because he talked about how just a word or phrase in a play referring to a popular ballad would conjure up to the audience a whole world of meaning that we, of course, can't begin to imagine. Made me realize that, however "timeless" we consider his plays, we miss a lot of Shakespeare's meaning because we aren't of his time.

One of the kids on the first floor has acquired a pogo stick! I hear this rhythmic, light pounding sound, and looked outside, and there she was, jumping up and down. Well, there are worse things she could be doing.
mojosmom: (japanese icon)
A few days ago, I saw a flyer posted in the neighborhood, advertising a performance of Bunraku, Japanese puppetry, at International House. "Oh, cool!", I thought, so I went over there last night. It was absolutely fascinating. There were two troupes, a 300-year old troupe from Japan, and an upstart American-based troupe. They did three pieces, and in between they explained the stories, and how the puppets worked, and some of the history of bunraku. These are not little hand puppets. They're about 3' tall, and have complex moving parts (eyes, eyebrows, hands, etc.). Three people, all dressed and hooded in black, operate them: the main operator moves the head and right hand, then there is a left-hand-operator and a foot-operator.
Bunraku puppets, close-up

Two nights in a row at I-House for me, as Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, The Selfish Gene, etc.) was doing a reading a Q&A. Good thing I got there when I did. I was one of the last people in the main room (they piped the talk into an overflow room), and if someone hadn't gotten up so I was able to get a seat, I'd have had to go to the overflow room as standees weren't allowed (fire department rules). Dawkins was excellent. He doesn't mince words, which of course gets people's backs up, but then critical analysis often does. This crowd was totally with him, though. He's also quite funny.

And speaking of funny:

Fish at work

Explanation: one of the attorneys in the office and one of the office managers are constantly finding silly items with which to amuse each other. Well, the manager came in this morning with that big stuffed fish. She was going to just plop it on Tom's desk, but I said, "Oh, we can do better than that!". At first, I was just going to put it on his chair, but then I realized it would be much funnier if the fish were working away at the computer. Tom now wants to hang it from his ceiling.
mojosmom: (busy bee)
It really was a busy week. I've told you about the plays, and Miss Manners. Here's the rest.

Thursday night, I went to a going-away party for a co-worker who is leaving the office to join a local law firm, but left early to go to a reading at 57th Street Books. Kurt Elling (jazz musician and former neighbor) has published a book of his lyrics, so I thought I should pop in for that. Bought the book, of course!

Friday night, there was a lecture at Columbia College by Julie Chen, of Flying Fish Press. I love her work! After the lecture, I went down to the gallery at the Center for Book and Paper Arts to see the current show, "Reading, Writing & 'rithmetic", all sorts of old writing manuals, alphabet books, etc.

Saturday, my friends and I had what will likely be the last picnic of the season. I went that morning to the Green City Market to buy some veggies for the picnic, and while I was there I found some yummy Concord grapes and some Japanese sweet potatoes. I love the latter. I cut them into bite-size pieces, deep-fry them, toss them in a simple syrup flavored with soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Delish!

Sunday afternoon, I went over to the Hyde Park Art Center. They were having artists' receptions for a couple of exhibits. One was student work, and I didn't much care for most of it, though there were a couple of sketches that I liked. But I really liked the "Plate Convergence" exhibit. It consists of plates done by a local ceramicist, as well as historic plates from the Yamaguchi family. And there's a story! In 1592, the Ri brothers were captured during the pottery wars, and brought their art to Japan. The Yamaguchi family learned the art and have been practicing it ever since. Shoji Yamaguchi heard of the "Black Clay of Itawamba County" in Mississippi, and moved there in mid-50's, later marrying an African-American woman (They were tragically killed in a car crash in Japan in 1986, but their son carries on the tradition). Many of his pieces are specifically designed as containers for traditonal African-American foods, like this collards pot:
Collards pot

Then there was an exhibit that included some very cool altered books and book-like pieces. I liked these whimsical "Fungus Beast Books":
Fungus Beast Books 1,2,3

I walked back home via Harold Washington Park, and checked out the boat pond. They've just recently re-opened it with a nice new fountain, but there were only a couple of kids using it. I think it hasn't been re-discovered yet.

other stuff

I talked to my kid sister, who is doing well. She's just started her hormone treatment, and is busily planning a trip to Osaka in October. (Well, she's reading up on Japan, and leaving the planning to the trip organizers!)

Tickets for the Chicago Humanities Festival went on sale to the general public today! YAY! I was surprised, and very pleased, to find that members hadn't glommed onto all the Philip Pullman tickets. I'm going to hear him twice! AND Garry Wills. As well as a performance of Noye's Fludde (unfortunately, not the one at Rockefeller Chapel, because I have a conflict that day), a one-woman show about Hattie McDaniel, a performance of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with a reading of the sonnets which he wrote, and the closing cabaret concert, featuring songs about the weather! (The theme this year is "The Climate of Concern".) Now you may think that's a lot of stuff, but the fact is that I usually find a lot more events that I want to go to. Oh, well, it saves me juggling and rushing around.
mojosmom: (cat)
As of midnight tonight, there will be no more Times Select. For those unfamiliar with this, for the last couple of years the New York Times has required payment for access to parts of its website and archives (unless you were a home subscriber as well). No Maureen Dowd, no Bob Herbert, no access to a lot of stuff without forking over $50 a year. No more!

~joyously tosses newsprint in the air~

I had a call from the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education. I co-authored an article on U.S. Supreme Court cases for one of their books, and now they want me to present on the subject at one of their programs. It'll be in January, given twice, once in Chicago and once in Springfield. The timing is right: it doesn't interfere with my usual January gig at the Trial Advocacy Program. I'm excited.

Last night there was a conjunction of two, no three, of my favorite things: books, Venice and Miss Manners. Judith Martin and Eric Denker (the art historian, though billed on the cover as cicerone) have written a book, No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice, and they were at a local bookstore last night promoting it. Lucky people - they (along with Miss Manners' molecular biologist husband, who also cooks, and a variety of friends) go to Venice three or four times a year. The bookstore has a small café with a liquor license, so I had a glass of prosecco to honor the occasion. Here's a lovely little article from The New Yorker. The book is delightful, and Martin and Denker were both charming, but I would expect no less from Miss Manners and friend.
mojosmom: (Italian)
Friday night there was an talk at Casa Italiana about the Lazio region of Italy. Alessandra Visconti, who is from there, talked about it, showed slides, played music, read poetry, and fed us bruschetta and regional wines. A good time was had by all.

Yesterday, I dashed off to the Art Institute for a forum on "Venice: Looking toward the east", about Venice's connections with the Islamic world, primarily, of course, the Ottoman Empire. (One of the speakers, Stefano Carboni, is the guy from the Met who put together the Venice and the Islamic World exhibit; the others were Patricia Fortini Brown from Princeton University and Julian Raby from St. Hugh's College). This was one of the last events in the year-long Silk Road Project. Rather on the academic side, but fascinating, and gorgeous slides!

Then I grabbed a bus and headed to Northwestern University Law School, for a talk by Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement. He spoke in Italian, with an interpreter, but I found I understood nearly everything he said, and laughed at some of his jokes before they were translated. I'm so proud of myself! (Of course, it helped that he spoke relatively slowly.) It was a good talk. Petrini is an enthusiastic advocate for local produce, biodiversity, etc., but he's also very sensible about having the occasional out-of-season mango. And, unlike us impatient Americans who want to solve the problem now (as evidenced by a couple of the questions asked), he understands that change is a process that comes incrementally. A whole raft of people from Casa Italiana classes were there, as well as some of Daniela's DePaul students.

Came home, made a quiche, and finished reading Julia Child's My Life in France (so I guess it was a "foodie" day, too)!

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