Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Zoo, Raw Foods, and Life

So that you don't think I've been a hermit, or only reading, or gorging myself silly, or driven past frustration by my parents' piano, I'll tell you a little bit about what I've been up to:

I went to the zoo:

Brookfield Zoo, unfortunately, has become one of the most gimicky places I've been to visit since my adulthood (which I'd say came about in June). It is the perfect place for a field trip. However, since it is so close to where my parents live, I decided to visit for old time's sake (and to see the giant gorilla that throws poop). It turned out (once I found the animals) to be quite the adventure! Here are some pictures as proof of my recent trip, and testimony to the adventure that it was:

an okapi

I ate raw food:

There is a restaurant in town called Karyn's. I've blogged about it before. However, since I attended a raw foods class and consider myself a bit of food snob, I have to include it here (plus, it was one of the healthiest meals I've had in a while). Pictured below is a zucchini pasta

with a macadamia nut cream, tomatoes, basil, and pine nuts. Mmmmmmm. There was also a pretty good stuffed pizza, a ginger rejuvelac beverage, and a fabulous tiramisu dessert:

Oh. And I got a new laptop. A MacBook. And I'm really awful at using it. This is why my tiramisu is on its side. Help?

In other news: Though he previously stated that England and the U.S. would be no longer joined at the hip, England's new PM Gordon Brown has reaffirmed strong relations between the two countries; Liberia has lifted the diamond mining ban that was imposed during their civil war; Britney Spears causes all sorts of trouble; I am disturbed, yet still laughing at Scary movie 3.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

When the Messenger is Hot

I very recently finished reading the book When the Messenger is Hot by Elizabeth Crane. This book is a collection of short stories, and as I have claimed recently, I am NOT a fan of short stories. When I told this to my friend Michelle, who was trying to get me to read the book, she sat me down and read one to me aloud. (she is persistent) That was enough for me! Based on only that reading, I wanted to read them ALL!

Less of a collection of short stories and more of a collection of creative wishes/dreams/fantasies/alternate realities possible for this woman's life, When the Messenger is Hot is about identity and isolation – as far as I can tell. Though I don't claim to be able to classify the threads and overall meaning of this book, I found it to be charming, quite insightful at times, and thoroughly enjoyable. The author explored, through her quirky story-telling, ideas of self-worth, position in society, how relationships reflect our ideas of ourselves, and how we see how others see us at times. Really, getting into town, the last thing I wanted to read was a bunch of short stories written by some woman in the Chicago area. Thank you to Michelle, because this was JUST the book for me. If any of you end up reading it, let me know what you think!

In other news: Authorities in India's north-eastern Manipur state have begun killing poultry after an outbreak of bird flu; A European heatwave is killing the elderly in Greece where temperatures yesterday reached 113 degrees; Paris Hilton has bought another Chihuahua; and a Tsunami warning has been issued in Indonesia.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A serious day off

I am currently trying to get back under my fingers Beethoven's Bagatelles Op. 124, the last set of pieces he wrote for piano. I need to demonstrate my artistry for a school downtown I am hoping to get a job with. However, the piano I have here at my disposal is inadequate. It is going to be a challenge to practice artistry when currently the notes aren't even sounding right! And to boot, my dog is now living in Colorado. To cheer myself up, I went to the Art Institute of Chicago today and browsed around watching people as much as looking at the artwork.

The painting below is one by Paul Klee, a Swiss-born painter and musician of the early 20th century. Though I have seen his paintings several times hanging at the art institute, I never really took much notice of them until today. Klee's colorful, and sometimes childlike art is supposed to have political dimensions (which I don't understand) for which he was labeled "degenerate" by the Germans post World War I (go figure).

I don't know the name of the above painting, and couldn't find it online. But his art reminds me of the stories of Brian Andreas.

I was also able to find one of my favorite paintings, done by John Singer Sargent, an American Impressionist and contemporary of Whistler. I love how brilliant the whites are in the portrait, especially as how it usually hangs by such stiff-looking American art.

The Fountain, by John Singer Sargent.

Not having to walk my dog, I'm not sure what to do with myself in the evenings! Maybe I'll go on a bicycle ride. Sigh. Maybe I'll go back to practicing the "piano."

In other news: Somalia, who hasn't had a functioning government in the past sixteen years has scheduled a peace conference - Islamist opposition members refuse to attend because the venue isn't neutral - the president says the talks will occur regardless of violence in the area - and they are postponed. Mary-Kate Olsen needs new shoes. And former Prime Minister Shimon Peres is formally inaugurated as the ninth president of Israel - he is eighty-three years old.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Pre-pre summer reading

I am now living in the Chicago area (it has been pointed out to me that while I tend to blog inanely about food and books, I tend to leave out important things such as big changes, my daily existence and where that might be). I've been busy. Too busy to eat. Or read. Really. I have been attending the Suzuki Institute in Deerfield, Illinois, and learning how to teach the Suzuki method to piano students ages three and up. For more information on how this works and how amazing it can really be, I recommend you read Nurtured By Love by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. He was a very generous and inspiring man and he has quite a following today!

I did finish the book Deep Economy by Bill McKibben. I did this while sitting in my car and eating my lunch (I'm a bit of a hobo now, so this is quite a typical activity for me). This book was a simple and quick read that really took a look at how we live our lives today - the American way - the values that set us apart from the rest of the world in many good ways, and many destructive ways. It was a nice compliment to The Omnivore's Dilemma, which I read last November. Bill McKibben, in this book, studies the effects of many of our lifestyles on the world around us in terms of food consumption, energy consumption, and the values we have adapted ourselves to which have completely changed the structure of our communitites.

I also read The Unknown Masterpiece by Honore de Balzac. This is a really great short story that was translated by Richard Howard. Four characters are drawn together by their passion for art. One of them - the inspired genius - or the humiliated failure is the center of the work and who has served as an inspiration to artists as varied as Cezanne, Henry James, and Picasso. This short story is a bit of a study of the philosophy behind modern art and is supposed to be read with a rather tragic short story titled Gambara, also by Balzac. I have yet to read this story, but it is on my list of stuff to do.

In other news: President George Bush refuses to rule out pardoning ex-White House aide Lewis Libby, convicted of perjury; eight people arrested in connection with failed car bombings in Glasgow and London all have links with the National Health Service; Jessica Simpson has monster calves; and Slate has a Summer Reading list that I think we should all check out.