13 June 2017

Bookishness / Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner

Read _ While planning my next adventurous escape for the summer

A daring escape through desert and mountain,
where nothing is what it seems

Two years ago, the Tall Man and I embarked on a cross-country road trip. With a new car and adventure in mind, we plotted a zigzagging route from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, connecting the dots between friend's houses, meeting relatives, and nature's wonders -- plus the odd man-made creation like the Jolly Green Giant (Blue Earth, Minnesota). Although I had visited various national parks in the past with my family, the sheer diversity in the landscape still wowed me. There was an immensity to our trek, a pilgrimage of sorts through all of America's textures and faces.

Reading Thick as Thieves, the fifth installment of The Queen's Thief series, was a little like this trip. The book focuses primarily on a journey -- a physical one across varied landscapes, but also an emotional one, charting the trajectory of a friendship, of identities, of belonging.

16 March 2017

Late night tracks / Jean Chaumont

From a September 2016 concert with pianist Michael Bond in Hopewell, New Jersey

Recently I've been on a bit of a jazzy kick, thanks to the movie musical La La Land. My feet have been tapping ever since I left the theater. That opening scene alone is worth the watch, but the rest of the soundtrack is a great repeated listen for its splendid fusion of jazz, pop, latin, and bits in between. For better or worse, I find that Ryan Gosling's character and I have a similar taste for big band jazz. I like my horns brassy, my rhythms quick, my saxes sassy. (Fun fact: No body doubles for that pianist!)

And yet, I'm drawn to tonight's listen: a more melodic and contemplative form of the genre, courtesy of French guitarist and composer. Jean Chaumont. It's not exactly music to fall asleep to. It's no Kenny G (thank goodness -- no offense, KG). Clearly it's kept me awake. It's thoughtful, sometimes challenging, hitting me in a way I can't quite place.

17 February 2017

Miscellanea, etc. / 17 Feb 2017

I've had a string of flare ups in the last couple weeks and have been spending more time at home than I would have hoped. Thanks to technology, though, here is a smattering of miscellanea that has kept me occupied in my couch-bound days:

/ / /


Rachel Sussman, “Study for Sidewalk Kintsukuroi #01 (New Haven, Connecticut)” (via Hyperallergic)
“Cracks represent something in need of attention, and the surfaces we walk, bike, and drive over are usually overlooked until they’re in truly critical condition,” Sussman said. “By gilding them, it’s a way to see what’s around us with fresh eyes and to celebrate perseverance.”
Artist Rachel Sussman takes the Japanese tradition of kintsukuroi, repairing ceramics with gold, to the more macro scale of the floor, the sidewalk. I can't help but be drawn to her careful attention to the scars in our cities. Her work is currently part of an exhibition on gold at the Des Moines Art Center. (via Hyperallergic; emphasis my own)

03 February 2017

Perusing Princeton / Cafe Vienna

Linzer torte and iced green tea, with a view of the sunny street

It's been a year since the Tall Man and I moved to Princeton, so it's about time I reviewed one of my go-to places in town: Cafe Vienna. I seek it out when I want a quality hot drink and a sunny space to work. They also have brunch on the weekends and breakfast throughout the week, so it's destination for many types of bites.

This is the kind of place that brings a bit of austere European charm and calm to a town satiated with tourists and "too quaint"-ness. It's on a less busy stretch of Nassau Street, between the main downtown and Hoagie Haven. The cafe has a variety of seating inside and out (high tops, regular tables, and an outdoor patio space), with a large glass front that lets in plenty of natural lighting.

12 January 2017

Bookishness / The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Read _ in bed, with hopes that I would awaken in a clearing of fir trees and snow

A beautiful and haunting world in which
the veil between the real and spirit realms has disappeared …

I was born in the middle of a snowstorm, so in some ways, the protagonist of The Bear and the Nightingale, Vasilisa, is a kindred spirit. She is also a youngest child with a healthy streak of contrariness – something I can relate to, for better or worse.

But that’s where the similarities end. Vasilisa – or Vasya for short – is a child of the wilderness, the fourth child of a lord in the frigid Russian hinterland. She’s impish, crafty, and gets herself into all kinds of scrapes like a typical kid. But she can also see and communicate with the spirits of the home and natural world, an ability that is both a blessing and a curse. When her stepmother and an attractive young priest campaign to cleanse the village of its demons, Vasya is thrust into the critical role of protecting and restoring the balance.