Ok, I know this is old news to you devourers of media, but this song just keeps getting better – the video too – so I felt it deserved to be posted to le blog, for posterity.

Last weekend I went to the MFA with a couple of friends to view Jacques Rivette’s film Celine and Julie Go Boating (Celine and Julie). It’s a whimsical French comedy set in the 70s with a runtime of 193 minutes. I supposed the “whimsical French comedy” tag doesn’t typically set the stage for a three-hour movie, but this really was a three-hour whimsical French comedy.

The movie opens like this: Julie is sitting on a park bench contemplating a spell in a large red magic book. Suddenly, she sees a woman run past in a whirlwind. Said second woman is Celine. She is adorned in colorful, long scarves (and a giant carpetbag full of, presumably, more scarves) one of which she unknowingly drops, along with a pair of sunglasses. A playful chase through the streets of Paris ensues as Julie takes it upon herself to return the belongings to their owner.  Celine soon becomes aware of her assailant and begins to deliberately jettison more items from her giant bag in a breadcrumb-trail fashion. Celine impishly shirks all of Julie’s efforts to return the loot. I won’t reveal the outcome of this charade, but it ends with a pan down a gritty Parisian street, just as the sky is turning golden. A motorcyclist bisects the frame as we watch Julie traverse the crosswalk in the distance. This wonderful shot of the city took me back to the first time I walked down Union Street in Gowanus last summer.

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Julie adorned in Celine’s dropped accessories

There are lots of other images from Celine and Julie that keep resurfacing days later, though unlike this shot of the street, others are pseudo-Lynchian or just feel familiar in that surrealist kind of way. Though upon viewing the film, it didn’t feel overtly surreal or dreamy. The strange imagery created more of a quirky tone than anything eerie.

The plot was a bit diluted, but still palpable and enjoyable. Basically, Celine and Julie become friends/confidants. They stumble upon this mansion whose inhabitants are arrested in time, reliving the same day, which is assumed to be from a few decades earlier, over and over – word for word, scene for scene. Celine and Julie can enter this recurring day in two ways; they can either physically visit the house or they can flashback to their earlier visit by eating a piece of candy acquired at the house. When we flashback with them, we see fragments of unsettling interactions with the five inhabitants: a widower, his young daughter, two jealous women, and the nurse whom Celine and Julie become when they physically enter the house. Everyone in the house is suffering from some kind of sickness (grief, medical illness, jealousy, boredom). Their mysterious interactions come together more and more for us with each revisit by Celine and Julie. Then present-day Celine and Julie (and we) realize the young girl has been murdered by one of the two women, of course in the name of love for the father, and Celine and Julie must solve the crime. Now, I’m a big fan of the unassuming detective** – think Philip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye or Veronica Mars – however, Celine and Julie surpass unassuming to conspicuously unsuitable.

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Celine being ousted from the magic house while Julie waits

In an effort to change the course of events, Celine and Julie enter the house together and cease being passive observers. They are no longer the dutiful nurse, complicit (via their passivity) to the sequence of events that end in murder. The house becomes the backdrop to a meta-stage comedy. Celine and Julie take turns looking for clues, all the while missing the nurse’s cues and lines, which by this iteration are completely trite. The story is theirs for the taking. The life of the young girl is in the hands of the least-likely, most flippant protagonists.

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the girls wearing their detective (and nursing) hats

I can see the girls come to life. Celine creates a diversion while Julie grabs the screenplay right from Jacques Rivette’s hands. The girls take off running down the street in their platform shoes, carelessly leaving a trail of pages for Rivette to chase down.

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Juliet Berto (Celine), Jacques Rivette and Dominique Labourier (Julie)

xo,

m

[** Detectives get to rely on their instincts and intuition (which they are generally right about) in such a great way, and they are seekers of truth and justice!! And when the detective is unassuming, it just reinforces my suspicion that I could be a damn good detective!]

Photo cred: 1 – http://pequenoscinerastas.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/jacques-rivette-va-en-bote-por-el-surrealismo/ ; 2 – http://www.mask9.com/node/109291 ; 3 – http://throwherinthewater.tumblr.com/ ; 4 – http://drytoasts.com/2011/01/

R.I.P. Jason Molina.

I have a mostly hostile relationship with social media. If you know me, you know this. I would say I’m a pretty placid, non-fickle person, except when it comes to my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. The least irritating of these is Twitter, in part because of the way in which I use Twitter. I use it to get information. I find interesting articles and fiction pieces via Twitter and follow some of the most informed, relevant people of our time (i.e. Paul Krugman, John Darnielle, Joshua Cohen, Mark Bittman, Isa Chandra, Lena Dunham)! I also follow a few close friends, a couple of pity accounts and then a bunch of random bands, amateur writers, and other publications (big and small). Because Twitter allows your feed to be so specialized, seeing a bite of what you might like to see, in real time, I have much more patience with it. Back to the point: I deleted my first** Instagram account, but I would like to pay homage to it here by posting some of my favorite “‘grams.”

xo,

m

[**...and have since started a new account because hearing about Lena Dunham's latest "'grams" second-person is just not satisfying. Follow @willamonster.]

I’ve gotten pretty comfortable improvising meals. Subsequently most of my cooking is done sans a recipe. Also, these days most of my internet browsing is done in a pretty cursory manner, so I don’t usually have a bunch of recipes lined up dying to be made. However, I wanted to share a few recipes that I’ve tried over the last few months and really enjoyed.

Both meals I’m going to share included a carrot soup. This is not as redundant as you might think. The soups were vastly different. See below a list of the only things said soups had in common:

  • Contained s&p, onions, evoo and H2O
  • Made by me
  • Eaten by me

Soup A, served with a vegan butternut squash and almond gratin, was a puréed soup. It was a Bittman recipe, and despite only having two major ingredients (carrots and cumin) and two steps (roasting and puréeing), Soup A  had great depth. I think this speaks volumes about a) roasting and b) cumin. Roasting is so easy, and it brings out the best flavors in vegetables, especially roots and tubers. Also, I’m a big cumin fan. It can overwhelm a dish if not used right, but the temptation to overuse cumin is forgivable given how good it is. This recipe was particularly “minimal” and — I’ll avoid using the word “balanced” lest I come off sounding like my goal in life is to be “centered”**  — even.”

Anyway, I go to Bittman for recipes because he knows how to maximize and match the flavors of the few ingredients he chooses, and his recipes aren’t fussy. [End of solicitation.]

The gratin was absolutely delicious. I made a few changes, all of which I fully endorse. I doubled the paprika, ground mustard seed and turmeric. This is a pretty standard thing for me to do. I intermingled slices of onion (raw) with the slices of boiled squash pre-smothering-with-sauce. And I used more almond meal to top the gratin off. [Note: You might think that the gratin is not an appropriate dish for spring or summer, but it's not heavy because it's vegan, and the spices don't play into the squash's role as an autumn-y vegetable -- think all spice, cloves, nutmeg.]

“the Spread”

Soup B was a light, lively Spring soup. The turmeric made the broth a little bit buttery and golden. The hot soup was poured over raw baby spinach. As the spinach wilted I added chopped dill and juice from a large lemon wedge. Be generous with the dill.

Soup B

Soup B was served with pasta topped with homemade vegetable marinara and seitan sausages. To make the sausages you form dough from vital wheat gluten. If you’ve made seitan before, you know the dough doesn’t require kneading. Then you split the dough into four equal parts, stretch each one out over a square of aluminum foil and twist it up like a Tootsie Roll. Finally you plop the rolls into a hot steamer, and 40 minutes later they’re done.

Damn good seitan.

-m

[**because that would be disingenuous]

“The South”

May 9, 2012

I’ve always lived in the South. Ok, that’s a lie. I lived in Denver for the first few years of my life, but I have no memory of this. I’m a Texan. Many, denizens and outsiders alike, wouldn’t classify Texas as part of “the South,” and reasons for this include things like zealous Texas Pride and a pedantic Old South exclusion rationale. Texas is no doubt culturally, historically, geographically and demographically distinct from most other states — I love the breakfast tacos — but, so that today’s blog post is not completely fragmented, please suspend your geographical allegiances (and general disbelief), and accept that Texas is a part of the South. Also, I won a World Geography award in high school, so I’m really an authority on all things geographical. Going forward, I encourage you to remember this.

A couple of weeks ago I cooked up a (Old South-style) Southern feast for some friends of cornbread, fried okra, Annie’s mac&cheese, collard greens and roasted sweet potatoes. This little gem, which I’ve made a few times, was the best part of the meal. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of it. I substituted blackberries for the raspberries called for in the recipe and served it alongside homemade orange whipped cream and fresh blackberries.

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My plate

As of my post-college life, I’ve quite liked living in Texas. I know this has a lot to do with the people who have come into my life post-college and the memories I’ve made over the last few years, but maturity also has something to do with my recent appreciation of my home state. There are still other places I’d like to live, but I’m no longer constantly wishing I was anywhere but here.

People are always “dissing” Texas and Houston, my hometown, and I know I should be used to people spouting out all sorts of egregious crap by now, but I can’t hold my tongue: y’all are wrong. (Here’s to me alienating 50% of my readers.)

Now I am going to attempt to convince you of how just how wrong you are with a series of photos.

Below is a picture I took with my phone on a recent trip to Texas’ sub-culturally rich state capital, Austin. It reminds me of one of the greatest TV shows ever made. It is filmed and set in Texas. I’m referring to Friday Night Lights, people. If you’ve never watched this show, do society a favor and go watch all five edifying and entertaining seasons instantly on Netflix. [Note: The weird blurriness on the right side of the picture is the result of, I'm pretty sure, dropping my phone in the sink. We're talking permanent water damage to the phone.]

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Texas, y’all

I took this picture on my lunch break. Location: Cullen Sculpture Garden in Houston’s Museum District. Sculpture: “The Crab” by Alexander Calder

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“The Crab”

Here’s a view from inside the Texas Asia Society Center designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. This just opened in a neighborhood in Houston’s Museum District. Taniguchi is the architect who renovated the MOMA. Noteworthy features of this building include a neat geothermal heating and cooling system, and interior and exterior walls made of limestone rock that dates back to the Jurassic geological period!

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Yes, those are windows we are looking through.

Also, I doubt a talent like country music darling, Jessica Lea Mayfield, would come all the way from Ohio to play in a city that has nothing to offer. This picture is from her current solo tour at a show at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, a pub in Houston. She was great.

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JLM

These next few just keep with the Southern theme and apart from that are totally random:

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caTexas

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Derby Day – not my hat

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All Dolled Up

From Texas,

m

DIY – Done!

March 15, 2012

About 8 months ago I bought these hairpin legs with the ambition of making myself a coffee table. The idea originated from a DIY project on a blog I follow, For Me, For You. Though I lacked the appropriate workspace and most of the hardware to accomplish this project, I picked it back up about a month ago with the encouragement of a few friends. Here’s the finished product in all of its mid-Century modern glory. To the disappointment of my wild dog, the table is doing a nice job of anchoring the rug down.

I used a solid pine panel for the table top, and Minwax conditioner, English Chestnut Minwax stain and a Minwax low-gloss polyurethane finish.

DIY discoveries: a (really, two) short over-turned stool(s) work almost as well as sawhorses to support table tops during the sanding, conditioning, staining, polyurethaning and drying processes.

Overcoming August Angst

September 2, 2011

I haven’t posted in like, a month. I’m so ashamed.

Since the beginning of August I’ve:

  • Acquired a new roommate (2 counting her cat)
  • Transported a brand new IKEA chest, jettisoned to the curbside a block away from my home, into my home
  • Hosted an impromptu New Wave dance party fueled by pancakes
  • Celebrated the birth of my dog
  • Joined a philosophy reading group; started a fiction reading group (however, I’ve only read the first 16 pages of said work of fiction)
  • Started* 6 books
  • Realized that in order for me to be satisfied with life I have to be doing something difficult
  • Decided to take a trip to New England for Thanksgiving (YES!)

And now here we are in September, and I feel like I haven’t accomplished enough. I suffer from the pervasive problem of lacking adequate time in a day. I also frequently lack energy, likely because of the way I feel about how I spend 8 hours of my day, 5 days a week. The heat may also be contributing to my listlessness. Triple digits? For real?

However, the following things help get me through the week:

Willa's faces

Hangouts

Particularly track 2

Kimchi fries (with wonderful coworkers) - Don't be incredulous. They (both) do exist.

Here are a few more links you might find interesting or enjoyable or inspiring**:

Yours,

m

*note: started, not finished, but September is a new month!

** or any combination of these 3 describers. I can’t tell you how many combinations there are without making one of those statistical lists. I certainly can’t tell you how many permutations there are without making one. If it weren’t so late, I would try. Goodnight!!

So on the recommendation of one of my friends, I downloaded this picture app, Vignette. Here are some pictures I took this weekend while using said app.

GTX

So this week for work I went to Galveston, TX. Is it strange to say I don’t think I’d mind living there for a couple of years? It’s so close to Houston. Everything is ugly in a charming way. I like all of the big, old houses–even the ones garishly colored–and I think I could get used to the seagulls. It’s one of those places I like visiting because I likely will never see anyone I meet there again, since I so seldom visit, and it’s a town of transient tourists. I like feeling like I’m anonymous on this tiny strange island.

Shakespeare in the Park - Othello

It’s Shakespeare in the Park season at Miller Outdoor Theatre! This production of Othello was a pretty cool thing to come across on an evening walk with Willa. Too bad she was under-exercised and acting up, or I would have stayed past the first 20 minutes.

Nose

Bookshelf

My dog poses for me in the most peculiar ways–unassuming and innocent one moment; dignified and alert another. And she does this almost entirely on her own. Seriously. There’s very little prompting and encouraging involved.

`

birthday gifts from some of the nicest people i know

So it was my birthday this past weekend and some of my super lovely friends surprised me with some really great literature (and the cutest card). I’m so stoked. I’ve just started My Antonia after finishing another Larry McMurtry novel (not pictured), Horseman, Pass By.

gift from one of the most talented guys I know

Also, as a gift my friend Eric painted me a picture of my most prized possession (not the rug). He said it was a “collaborative effort,” since the painting was based off of a picture I had taken of the Monster a month or so back. You may recognize the image from a certain previous post involving pictures taken from the aerial perspective. Anyway, I adore this. Thanks, buddy.

-m

Note: Speaking of “collaborative effort,” Eric brought to my attention that Mike Mills and Miranda July are married. Pretty rad. Beginners, Mike Mill’s latest film, is beautiful. It’s different from your typical indie romance in that both main characters in the film are troubled and sad (and not just because they haven’t found ‘the right one’), but they find solace and a piece of happiness in one another. Both are loners, usually leaving people and pushing people away, but they establish a kind of trust that comes only after one realizes the other can truly empathize with him or her. And they fall deeply in love. I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. Also, the whole thing with the gay dad coming out of the closet in his late 70s is really touching and well done. Not to mention it’s visually beautiful.

So, something I’ve yet to reveal to you, the reader, about myself is this: I’ve got a penchant for melancholy songs. SVE is satisfying in this way. She also happens to be a fantastic writer of said melancholy songs. I would say one of the best of our time! Like if Jesus had been less into proselytism and more into music, he would have listened to SVE. Yes, I realize that the event of Christ actually listening to SVE is incongruous with both reason and the principles of one of the physical sciences (although I’m not sure which one), but I’m trying to convey a point here. SVE is wonderful.

Other notable features: cool visible tattoos, understated style of dress, vocal vibrato that will make you melt, general feminine coolness you don’t see in many female artists today

Don’t take my word for it.

More love,

m

Note: I’m not sure if I can define “feminine coolness.” I think this is a term I picked up back in the day of following Garance Dore, although I would guess our conceptions of ‘feminine’ and ‘cool’ are vastly different. Because this term is so recondite, you’ll just have to keep track of all of the instances of ‘cool’ and ‘feminine’ on this blog and weave them into some kind of  comprehensive SVE-worthy tapestry. A little exercise in inductive reasoning!…I think.

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