Tuesday, March 23, 2010

elephant mag.

via curated

, a new contemporary art and visual culture magazine just launched over the winter, and i managed to snag a copy of the first issue at b&n while i was there earlier today... i was meaning to find a copy of modern painters magazine, and for some reason they don't carry that one anymore. sad, sad day.

but then i found this. the second issue has been released so i wanted to make sure to nab this while i could.

so far i'm really impressed. i'll be the first to admit that i only scrape the surface when it comes to my knowledge of contemporary art. hence the interest in periodicals, because i learn a lot that way about what's going on super-currently. (i had to grab the current issue of artforum, too, because it rules for one, and for two it had a film still of a burning turntable on the front. how perfect.)

anyway, i'm totally in love with it. its layout is interesting, its organized reasonably well, and though it's printed in england and costs me a walloping $20, it's worth it to not have to deal with advertisements. you really do get what you pay for. and i'm totally loving this... especially the article on gianpaolo pagni called "graphic painting." one learns a lot, and learns about more to like.

like like love. :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

the ghost writer.

yesterday i decided that i wanted to go to the cinema, and because nothing else really interested me enough to spend $8 on it, the ghost writer basically won the toss. i knew next to nothing about it, so i skimmed the new york times review and figured it seemed like a ewan mcgregor sort of evening.

i'm no film buff, but i know what i like. and i liked this.

turned out that i am absolutely smitten with the whole thing. i thought the film was perfectly cast. i'll be the first to admit that pierce brosnan, to me, doesn't mean much. but as adam lang, former prime minister, he was at the top of his game. and ewan mcgregor, cast as the ghost writer for mr. lang's memoirs, was just the right kind of unattached, seemingly benign presence. and i'll also say that when i saw kim cattrall was in this movie, i was a little skeptical. simply because i've never bought into the sex in the city franchise and that's the only thing i associate her with. but as amelia bly, adam lang's assistant in the movie, she wasn't half bad. i also loved olivia williams as ruth lang. but the clincher was tom wilkinson, who seems to appear in every political-intrigue movie that i like.

my first thought after leaving the cinema was that the ghost writer is like tony gilroy's michael clayton meets any number of alfred hitchcock films. the atmospheric, dank, oppressive cloudiness and darkness of the ghost writer, paired with alexandre desplat's musical score made for a winning combination of "whoa, creepy," and "wait, what?"

unquestionably, the plot was predictable. that said, it was the subtle nuances that made the film. the creeping shots of the gray, ultra-modern martha's vineyard home, the winter sea that rolls like mercury, or the mysterious curving, wooded roads really emphasized darkness and foreboding. creepalicious! it was filmed mostly in germany, so i read, and there is something rather ethereal and foreign about the u.s. setting. while meant to be in martha's vineyard, it seems to be elsewhere. there is a neither-here-nor-there feeling to the whole thing that keeps you wondering who will end up here and who will end up there.

anyway, like i knew it would, it has grown on me even since last night. i left feeling bungled-up, a little unsure, but fascinated and impressed. today i'm just more fascinated and impressed, and i'll see it again.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

it's just a saturday full of cool.

i've bought not one, not two, but THREE new pairs of jeans within the last week. and can you believe that i've never actually owned a pair of levi's? not real levi's. i think i had a made-for-target pair several years ago (that were crap, by the way). it was time for some new pairs because all of my trusty old ones are either too old, or covered in paint that isn't suitable for days outside the house.

even better than buying jeans is buying jeans on sale. all three pairs were on sale. gotta love a bargain. and since shedding 15 pounds (and keeping them off, yay) since last september, i did need at least one new pair. and not that i had even really dropped much in the size department (maybe one size, but that depends), the jeans i had just weren't fitting properly anymore. there's something so refreshing about trying on a new pair of denim jeans and finding that they fit you like they were made for you. because i'm sure we all know that for every twenty pairs of jeans were try on, we might find one that fits us like it should. i know i've caved and bought pairs that sort of fit just because they were better than most.

anyway. the point is, new jeans are cool. hell, new clothes are always cool. and what girl would disagree? so on that point, i also bought a skirt (on sale, hello.) and a pair of shoes. it's tax return time, baby! and it's spring! suit up!

moving on...

i just finished david small's stitches, a memoir written in the format of a graphic novel. i'm new the the world of graphic novels, and even then my interest in them is extremely limited. i just read
asterios polyp by david mazzucchelli (amazing), and happened to find stitches on the new release/short loan rack at the local library. i'd never heard of him, but now that i work in the childrens section at the bookstore, maybe i will. he's illustrated several childrens books. but this memoir is something altogether different and astounding and really amazing. it takes place in detroit, starting when david was 6. his family is horrifyingly dysfunctional, and the way he illustrates these very abrupt, sometimes disturbing moments in his life is simply masterful. i recommend this to anyone, graphic novel lover or not.

p.s. it's also cool that when i'm feeling tired/bored/sad, this blog helps me think of things that are happy and cool. and then i feel better. simple, yes. good.

Friday, March 19, 2010

the local library.

photo via wisconsin historical society, kaukauna public library, 1905.

this is an ode to local public libraries! i love the library. of course, this is what my library looked like 105 years ago. and this main part of the building still exists... there is now a highway that runs in front of it, and where the main entrance is, there has long been an addition with a different entrance. this part of the building is now mostly the childrens section and offices below. but how cool is that building? love it.

the library in kaukauna is very small. but of course it's hooked up to the network of libraries in the state so i can get virtually any book i want. so it hardly matters that their selection is minimal. the point is, it's a hop skip and a jump from my house, and even more important than selection, in my opinion, is how nice it is to visit there. sometimes i just want to check out books for the sake of checking them out... because i just like to go there.

i just checked out david small's stitches, and i will be writing up about that shortly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

an irish farmhouse cookbook by mary kinsella.

i ran across mary kinsella's an irish farmhouse cookbook at work one day while shelving in the cooking section. at the time, i'd been trying to find a simple, yet authentic way to make irish stew. i have one other irish cookbook, although it is a book that a restaurant in dublin released, and it's a little too gourmet for things like irish stew. :) there are no photographs in mary kinsella's book, and it is also out of print. you can find it on amazon used for pretty cheap here.

last night, i baked up a frenzy with the traditional scone recipe. i substituted maple syrup for golden syrup and by the third batch had kind of gotten on a roll and was adding all sorts of things... cinnamon, bran, sugar... they're none-too-sweet, except for the light sugar dusting on one batch, and the craisins in another batch add a real tangy sweetness that's amazing. this morning i made myself some irish tea (with milk, of course) and had one of the maple-cinnamon scones. super yum.



1/2 cups flour (-- heaping, probably.)
pinch of salt
1/3 cup wholemeal flour (-- i used bob's red mill unprocessed whole wheat pastry flour)
1 1/2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp golden syrup (-- i used maple)
1 pint or 5/8 cup milk
3/4 cup bran (optional)

prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 20-25 minutes
oven position: top
oven temp: gas 6, 200C, 400F


1. sieve flour and salt into a bowl, add wholemeal flour and bran if used.

2. put in the margarine or butter, add the baking powder, mix ingredients well together.

3. add the syrup and enough milk to mix to a loose dough. add extra milk if bran is used.

4. turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. roll out, cut the dough in half, then into quaters and then into eighths.

5. place on the lightly floured baking sheet and place in the oven.

6. when baked, set out on a wire rack to cool.

using this basic recipe, there are so many different things one can add. and what was great was that each batch only made eight scones, so they were perfect for sitting down and sharing right away. i made three batches altogether: maple-cinnamon, maple bran, and craisin. but i'm taking them to work this afternoon to give away to hungry booksellers! below are the maple-cinnamon scones which were the last, and sweetest of the bunch. i brushed them with maple syrup and sprinkled sugar on top of that while they were still warm. and they're super yummy warmed back up. like semi-sweet baked doughnuts. mm.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

bike comes out of the shed.

springtime = outside time! wisconsin winters make for seriously frantic excuses to get outside when the temperature hits merely 40 degrees.

last summer i purchased a basic trek road bike for basically leisurely riding. i have no real interest in racing, but i took advantage of early morning rides before work quite often -- one of the longer morning rides i did was actually out to work, which is a solid 15 miles. it was awesome.

but then...

i hurt my back quite badly in the latter part of the year. not sure still what happened exactly, but a couple of times i threw my back out terribly. it may have been because of the bike, it may have been because i wailed on the deteriorating clutch pedal in my saab a little too hard (haha), it may have been because i lifted boxes the wrong way at work, or i was walking funny when i fractured (both of) my feet while trekking through europe, or the bad shoes i tend to wear on concrete floors all day at work... or a combination of all these things. regardless, it hurt and hurt and continued to hurt. all the way through the beginning of this year i was having really annoying issues with sciatica down my left side. terrible. annoying. and i still get weird pangs every once in a while, or when i twist the wrong way it will go stiff.

thing is, winter has turned me into a total sedentary being. my exercise involved walking up and down the stairs to my apartment and meandering around mostly slowly at work, shelving books. and of course, to keep my back healthy, exercise is the one best thing i can do. so this afternoon, regardless of the chilly rain and 41 degree temp, i decided to take my bike out for its first -- what turned out to be a very short -- spin.

i'd meant to go to the grocery store, only to realize halfway there that i didn't have a lock with which to fasten my bike in place while i shopped. alas, i turned around, not without that tell-tale wet-and-sand streak up my rear, and very cold hands. i probably biked all of five blocks altogether, though, granted, up a couple of hills -- and i was totally winded. it just goes to show how out of shape i've become over the last few months. however short, however ridiculously out of breath i was when i returned home, it was a perfect teaser run. all i want now is for the sun to come out and to be able to ride just a little bit further... and then a little bit further.

and it's only march. yay bike.

on the docket tonight: vigorous walk around town with mom and sister in the p.m.

Friday, March 5, 2010

andy warhol polaroids.

this is how i feel about andy warhol:

i adore him. and i adore what he's done. but that's covering a very broad, wide, generalized range of things -- from screen prints and lithrographs to paintings, sculptures, photography, film -- you name it. a lot of it i love love love love (love!) -- his rorschach paintings, or his architectonic advertisements, repeating elvises, virgin marys, and so on (see september 26, 2009). but andy warhol produced SO MUCH (this is definitely just part of his ouevre), that there is, within it all -- good andy, and so-so andy. i wouldn't go as far as to say there's bad andy. there's uneventful andy. there's 'well, that's andy, so i guess i like it' andy. and then there's 'this is a really badly-hung show; why is andy here?' andy.

the latter is the problem i had today.

the lawton gallery on the university of green bay campus had a show entitled 'hidden treasures' which is a conglomerate of artwork from collections around the green bay area. these included local and not-so-local artists, contemporary and not-so-contemporary. it ranged from indian art to woodcuts from the osaka school, to gilbert & george (a total let-down because the one gilbert & george piece was one that could have been downloaded for free from the guardian.co.uk website in 2007)...

i can't reasonably complain about this show because it is green bay, and it is uwgb, and what is a person to expect? this isn't new york or chicago, or even milwaukee. i thought the show was laid-out poorly, though, but that's all i'm going to say about it.

the warhol polaroids were the reason i went. and worth looking at for any warhol fanzoid. the ones they had on display were part of a larger gift from the andy warhol foundation to the university of green bay. the basquiat polaroid pictured above is very similar to one they have at the lawton gallery, except without the hand and a little more of a smile. there were also photos of dolly parton, jean-michele basquiat's parents, bruno bischofberger's kids, and others. they weren't the best ones in the bunch, but of thousands of polaroids, seeing a few in a group like that is always a treat and i don't care where they are or who has them or how weird the rest of the show looks.

there are a few other green bay collection pieces at the neville public museum in green bay, although i did not visit there today. the show at the lawton is on display through april 1.