Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spam of the Day

"Don't be ashamed of your wrist anymore."

--What a relief.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Meditation on Tiny Things

During dinner last night at the Great Wall Restaurant in Florence (review forthcoming), I had an epiphany: I don't like baby corn because of the flavor, texture, or stir-fry sauce holding properties of baby corn. I like it solely because it is tiny. This is not an unusual thing for me. Of course, like most other people I like puppies, and kittens, cute little lambs, and most other baby animals, as well as, you know, babies. But I also have an enduring love for tiny Dr. Peppers (you know, the six ounce size), painstakingly hand-painted miniatures, and those tiny little dictionaries that someone gave me when I was a kid. Basically, if you make it smaller than the real thing, but also almost exactly like the real thing, I will make a squeaky noise and be attracted to it. At least I'm not the only one.

However, I feel that I am simply going with the tide of popular culture on this one. Consider this: isn't an ipod nano cuter than a regular-size ipod? Aren't all electronics getting smaller and smaller, until one can foresee that at some point they will be so minute that they will be implanted in our forearms, or something? I also think that the word "tiny" itself is kind of small and adorable. Adding "tiny" to any conversation, or its less popular (to me) variant, "teeny," is sure to win the hearts & minds of most Americans or, more importantly, me and my sister. And aren't we always hearing that we should appreciate the little things in life? Well, I appreciate the little things in life because they are little. And that makes me happy.

Spam of the Day

"This night your bedroom will be jungles and you wild tiger!"

--Your lover will be poacher. Go!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spam of the Day

"Women will be your resigned slaves."

Well, that sounds really appealing.

Runner up:

"Your bulge will be so noticeable you will have to wear a kilt."

Museum Review: MASS MoCA

MASS MoCA, or the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, is located in the erstwhile mill town of North Adams. My most recent trip was my second to the museum, so now of course I consider myself an expert and will therefore grace the world with my opinions. Most of the installations were different from those of a year ago, which brings us to one of the key truths about modern art: it is kind of temporary. During my visit to the area, I also spent time at other museums with more traditional collections (Impressionists, Renaissance, etc.), and would never expect them to deinstall/decommission/destroy the art because its time in the museum was finished. If it disappeared at all, it would probably be because some other museum somewhere was doing a retrospective on Monet's cathedral paintings, and they were trying to collect all the examples they could find.

Self Portrait In Modern Art (click to enlarge)

I saw a variety of installations, including some high-powered "conceptual" art and a few individual pieces that induced hearty eye-rolls. I did enjoy the crucified narwhal, though. I mourned the absence of the Spencer Finch exhibit which had made such a positive impression on my first visit. I took the opportunity on this second visit to consider the question of art itself, and modern art in particular--the jury is still out on that one. Anyway, the collection at MASS MoCA is definitely worth seeing with the aid of a handy Museum Pass, which can be checked out from the North Adams library with the assistance of a C/W MARS library card in good standing. I must confess, however, that my favorite part of the museum is actually the building(s), converted from industrial use to what almost seems an ideal new purpose. The vast space couldn't be utilized more perfectly than to house giant silver blobs and folded concrete monstrosities. My second favorite part of the museum is its (hopefully) unique approach to sponsorship. Most of us are accustomed, during this age of corporate sponsorship, to hearing of the Ford Keys to the Game, or the Pepsi Home Run Challenge. And this trend is also visible in cultural institutions--park benches, bricks, rooms, and conference centers have all been known to bear the names of worthy donors. However, nowhere else have I ever seen an endowed Emergency Exit.

The Rachel and Jay Tarses Emergency Exit

I have not even touched on the subject of the Leslie Gould Lightwell. The burning question remains: How large a donation is required to procure the naming rights to your own emergency exit?


Art: B-
Buildings: A+
Price: A
Parking: A
Elevators: B+ (some of them are large enough for giant sculptures, and that makes it easier for me to ride them)
Cafe: B
Gift Store: B-

Overall Grade: A-

Random Thoughts:

Another feature of modern art that doesn't really resonate with me: the preponderance of video screens and noise. Why must everything be displayed on a screen? Do artists really think we have a spare 45 minutes to watch their video journey? We have other museums to see, people!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hotel Review: Porches

Having just spent a fabulous two days and nights at Porches Inn, located in North Adams, Massachusetts, I thought I would write a rave review. Because why the heck not? Someone might someday want to know my opinion, and this will save time.

If you are planing an overnight visit to MASS MoCA, or the North Adams/Williamstown area in general, save yourself the trouble of looking and just stay at Porches.

Beds: Soft and snuggly
Room: Spacious and cozily decorated
Room service: They folded my pajamas and left them on my pillow
Bathroom: Large, extremely large, at least in our room, including a separate tub and shower
Breakfast: Good selection of food, including Pain au Chocolat, granola, fresh fruit, bread & cheese
Proximity to MASS MoCA: Extreme
Parking: No-hassle

Grade: A

Book Review: Evermore [2009]

In the post-Twilight letdown that has been my reading life for the last month or two, I've been meaning to try a lot of other kinds of books, like maybe some serious nonfiction, or more hard science fiction like Regenesis, in order to create some separation from the Dread Series, and perhaps remind myself that there is life outside of Forks, WA. But when I read a review of Alyson Noël's Evermore which described the book as of potential interest to Twilight fans, of course I put it on hold. I finished it last night after dragging my heels for several weeks, which should be the first indication of my true feelings for the book: it's no Twilight. At best, it has a cover design that capitalizes on the popularity of the other series. Yes, there's a girl, and there's a boy, and they're in high school, and he is mysterious and seems to have supernatural powers, and she falls in love with him almost instantly . . . but I swear, it's a different book! Look, she's psychic! She has a gay friend! Totally different! The main problem is (and I can hardly believe I am saying this--somebody please smack me) it's not as believable as Twilight. The relationship between Ever Bloom (ugh) and Damen Auguste (sigh) develops much too quickly for one acclimated to the agonizingly slow pace of Edward and Bella's courtship. The plot moves in fits and starts, minor characters are only sketchily developed, and Ever's firm belief that she is the cause of her family's death is transparently false. The most believable relationship in the book is actually between Ever and her younger sister--who didn't cross over with the rest of the family and the dog after the car accident--a twelve year old ghost who is alternately irritating and deeply sympathetic. However, I never really bought into the relationship between Ever and Damen, despite an appeal to past-life romance and descriptions of our hero, including: "Damen is undeniably beautiful, with his shiny dark hair that hits just shy of his shoulders and curves around his high-sculpted cheekbones . . . his almond shaped eyes are deep, dark, and strangely familiar, framed by lashes so lush they almost seem fake. And his lips! His lips are ripe and inviting with a perfect Cupid's bow."Evermore is the first of a series, The Immortals, the next of which promises to follow Ever as she seeks to save a declining Damen from a mysterious malady. On the one hand, I am happy that the female character actually seems to have the opportunity to rescue and not be rescued, but on the other hand . . . the names Ever and Damen really irritate me, and I'm not sure I can make it through another book (or two or three more books) being irritated every time I see one or the other on the page.

Grade: B-

Random thoughts:

Number of times Vitamin Water was name-checked in 301 pages: Four. More than twice, and I start to wonder about corporate sponsorship.

Why would you name your series The Immortals if you want to keep any hint of mystery about the "secret" identity of your characters? Spoiler: they aren't vampires, but they drink this weird red liquid all the time, and apparently they can decide to die if they want to? Not to sound like a broken record, but the mythology is not so well developed as in Twilight, either.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More evidence of the recession

Even the spam is poor quality these days, and not worth repeating. Hopefully we will have a resurgence in spam creativity soon...