Monday, March 31, 2014

In Solidarity with the Boring Old Ladies

A young gentleman of the Peace Corps once told me that before meeting me, he thought only boring old ladies did needlework.  This comment was prompted by my then work on a cross stitch dragon.  It's one of those remarks I find annoying, but not enough to fight about.  Cross stitch is done by old ladies, young ladies, boring ladies, not-so-boring ladies, and at times even by men.  I happen to like cross stitch, and cross stitch in the company of other craftsy women is even better, thank you very much.  The back of my hand to gentlemen who are judgmental about my stitchery.

In solidarity with any boring old ladies (though I've never met any boring ladies who cross stitch), I have recently finished a cocktail sampler, which will eventually be framed and in my kitchen.  

At the suggestion of a different gentleman of the Peace Corps, I altered one of
the panels to demonstrate the classic PCV drink.  

Onward to the next project, my indefatigable boozers!  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

In Which I Aspire to Rainbows and Settle for Mangos

 A dear friend sent me a link to this, a rainbow roll cake that I should absolutely make, but I have neither the skills or the equipment as yet.  So I made a roll cake with mango sorbet inside and attempted to make the cake a matching orange, but it's more of a salmon pink.  I have much to learn of the ways of food coloring.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meeting Quotas

Today we had a division meeting because someone told our division chair that he didn't hold enough meetings.  Great Gauss, I'm living in a Dilbert comic. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Caturday Post: The Hunting of the Unicorn

A few weeks ago, we observed a large (~3ft high) semi-rigid plush unicorn being discarded in the dumpster across the street.  Being me, I retrieved the unicorn, named him Sevastopol Snuffles, and then spent several weeks trying to destinkify him, since he clearly came from a smoker's home.  Fortunately the gods of housekeeping bestowed upon me both vodka and baking soda, and between those two substances, he is now fit to be a family unicorn rather than a downstairs unicorn.  Tamerlane the world-conquering sword and scourge of God is uncertain what he thinks of the vodka-soaked unicorn I pulled from a dumpster.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Creepy Wind Turbines

About 100 miles away from us, there is a farm of wind turbines.  These things are exceptionally creepy (particularly at night) in ways which are explained well, as all things are, by Randall Munroe. Everytime we drive by these things, I want to go into battle with a horse and a stick.  Or just run and hide.  One of those.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Orange Blossom Cheesecake of Frustration

San Francisco was green and warm and the citrus trees were in fruit.  Wyoming is cold and snowing.  Also right full of provincial yokels who are frightened of new things. I made orange blossom cheesecake, topped with candied orange slices and awash with the sugar water the oranges were candied in, so at least there's that.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Delightful and Drunken Dancing: SF Ballet's Cinderella

While in San Francisco, we went to see the ballet present Cinderella.  I was under the impression that the SF ballet is really really good, an impression helped by the number of well-dressed people outside the theatre begging for tickets.  Also, I had seen one of their principals, Yuan Yuan Tan, in a film version of The Little Mermaid and found her performance incredibly beautiful and moving.

Yuan Yuan Tan in The Little Mermaid

I was a little disappointed that Yuan Yuan Tan was not dancing the night we went to Cinderella, particularly since her photos were used in all the promotional materials, but we were going on a Thursday night, which meant that many of the principal roles were being filled by dancers from the corps.  It should be noted that the technical skill displayed was still absolutely incredible.  Several of these corps dancers would, I think, be soloists if not principals in smaller companies.  The audience was great as well.  There was a minimum of people getting up and leaving during the final scene and through the curtain calls, and people did not give a standing ovation.  Those are so easily given at most theatres they mean nothing.  Also, the audience was overall well-dressed with a good sense of when to clap.  I like this city.  I like this ballet.  Prokofiev is not the most structured of balletic composers, but Christopher Wheeldon choreographed everything perfectly and beautifully with the music.  There is nothing ugly in this Cinderella.  Even when Cinderella's mother dies, the blood-stained handkerchief (the mother coughs blood and dies, as proper tragic ladies do.) doesn't detract from the grace and beauty on the stage as the four fates (why four?  Why are they male?  Why are they present throughout the ballet?  I was confused by that) shelter the crying prima as she grows a magic tree with her tears.  The sets and costumes only get prettier and more elaborate as we go along, though the high point is indubitably Cinderella's departure for the ball.  The ball itself is a close second.

Cinderella preparing to change.  

Cinderella in her magic coach and dress. 
Showing off at the ball.  

Beyond the ball, the part I thought would be boring--the fitting of various women to see if the shoe fits*---was great.  A line of women sitting and doing pretty foot things in their pretty toe shoes, and perfectly timed to the music, was just delightful.  The chairs were then hoisted above the stage to float in an odd but pretty arch above Cinderella's home, where they remained for the great denoument.

All the characters in the ballet are extremely likable in themselves, not just for their dancing ability.  Even the evil ones are great.  The stepsisters are comic, and one is even rather kind and sweet.
The step sisters, in feathered hats,
 work on tightening a corset to timpani beats.  As they should. 

The stepmother is simply the best.  She gets really drunk at the ball and performs a passionate dance to and with wineglasses.  I am so inspired.

The evil stepmother may be my hero. 
The prince deserves an extra mention for being a great prince.  Most of the princes of ballet range somewhere between the boring (Siegfried) and the foppish twit (Solor) with a possibly a side trip into smug evil (Albrecht).  This prince, however, is an fun-loving soul who tries to avoid his own party, shows up badly dressed for it, and is then humorously horrified by the country-coded princessess who are having a dance-off for his hand in marriage.

Princesses of Spain, Russia, and Bali disregard the prince's personal space. 

Also, the prince is accompanied by his good friend Benjamin, who deserves a mention for his ability to perform satirical dances to mock princesses.

 Cinderella, of course, is the perfect magic ballet princess, if a little on the shy side.  Kind to beggars (who just happen to be princes in disguise), and ready to laugh and pretend magic ball dance with them.  And, of course, she is attended by four fates throughout, who appear to have no other purpose other than to give her a lift whenever she needs one. Oh the perks of being a magic ballet princess!

In sum, I loved it.  As a bonus, on the way back to the subway, we were regaled by a busker belting out a beautiful and accapella Waltz of the Toreadors. San Francisco is a delightful city.

*This is actually a terrible authentication method.  Out of the population of an entire kingdom, the odds of one person, and only one person,  fitting into a particular shoe are slim to none.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sailing About the City of Godless Decadence

Because spring break trips become significantly more possible when one is not a student, we went to San Francisco for a few days.  They have lots of civilization there, not to mention trees.  It is possible to use public transportation that goes everywhere and see one of the best ballet companies in the U.S. Conveniently enough, I could also exercise my Lifetime Peace Corps Couchsurfing privileges and get us a place to stay with a friend from Tanzania and his wonderful parents, who will cheerfully tell me about the bubonic plague and I love them for it.

I had never been to San Francisco before and knew nothing about it other than that it has a reputation as a hub of godless decadence, so I was very excited.  In addition to the godless decadence, one can take sail boat rides past Alacatraz and out to the Golden Gate bridge!

The mainsail of our good ship. 


Alcatraz with tourists. 

The bay was full of boats and birds. 

The Golden Gate bridge, with a bird. 

The city behind the bridge.  

Monument in the shape of a fire hose, erected to a lady firefighter
whose name I forget. 

Tourists taking pictures of me as I took pictures of them.  For infinite recursion. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ms. Frizzle: An Inanna for Our Time

Because I am an adult, I can spend my Friday nights eating pizza and watching The Magic Schoolbus on Netflix if I so desire.  I can also, while doing this, develop a great desire to begin cosplaying Ms. Frizzle.  She has sandwich earrings!  Sandwich earrings!

This sudden need to dress in a way this fabulously bizarre has me kicking myself even more for failing, while in Tanzania, to buy the bright red fabric covered with clocks, hourglasses, and scythes.  I could have used that to cosplay Ms. Frizzle when the Magic School bus goes to Hell, an episode which should absolutely exist and that it does not is a void in my life of which I was hitherto unaware.

I said all that to say that I have been contemplating Ms. Frizzle recently, and I have concluded that she is really a goddess, specifically Inanna. Inana is absolutely into understanding and controlling  the world around her, as evidenced by her theft of the Mes.

Now to fit into the current zeitgest, Ms. Frizzle has had to make some adjustments, like replacing her lion with a lizard, replacing her chariot with a bus, and adding prints to her wacky dresses.

Also, she's not much of a sex goddess anymore, at least not at school (though who knows about her non-school life) but with plenty of celebrity singer types trying to be sex goddesses, there's really no need for her to fill that role.

But of course she is now in Hell, as suggested by the above-linked trailer for a movie that totally should exist.  I mean, the actual show episodes already include an undead foreshadow-y being.

Keisha looks at Ms Frizzle's scienc-y things while the self-animate classroom
skeleton looks on foreshadowingly. 

Inanna does make a trip to the afterlife, and Ms. Frizzle goes absolutely everywhere in her magic bus.  Inanna's removal of her clothes and jewelry in her descent is kind of a big deal, and we all know that the Friz's wacky jewelry is a big deal.  One can only hope that her worshippers/students rescue her from her crucifixion.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Caturday Post: He CAN Kill a Mouse. Really.

If it's the right sort of mouse.  Stuffed and catnipped mice, Mushi is strong against.

What, not dead yet?  

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Brace of Lovely Things from Ukraine

Sergei Prokofiev:

(We must forgive our prima her complete ignorance about the lute, including how to hold it.)

Anna Bessonova

Sunday, March 2, 2014


I have been angry or sad most of the time since I moved to Wyoming.  But today, I felt a little fabulous.
This routine is still a work in progress, but I think wearing a tutu is not only going to work, it's going to be gorgeous.  Just wait until I'm wearing the sparkly white performance costume and tiara. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Caturday Post: Basket Case Kitty!

Pictures of my mama, who tirelessly obeys the tyrannical orders of this deceptively sweet-looking little kitty.