Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dynamic Duo!

What I'm Watching #302

Working through a backlog of movies here. Today it was "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". Turned out not to be what I expected, but full of things expectable in a movie with this premise. Delightful, wonderful cast. I felt Bill Nighy's performance was just a wee bit too dirivative of one Hugo Horton from the village of Dibley, and the best performance was actually that of Penelope Wilton who didn't even rate a picture on the cover of the DVD.

"Everything will be all right in the end, if it's not all right, then it's not the end!"

Shepard's Pie

I am beginning to think that as a concept, Shepherd's Pie, is one of the most versatile and complete meals on the planet. After my previous success with a taco seasoned version featuring corn and whipped potatoes mixed with red and green peppers, and black beans and onions in the meat layer, I returned today to a more traditional version.

Bottom Layer: 3 ground meats (veal, pork & beef) cooked until slightly browned. Add onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms (all diced) cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Then add a mushroom gravy mix to thicken with salt, pepper, and oregano.

Middle Layer: just the most beautiful, tender, new green beans blanched for 4.5 minutes. Just until you can "smell" them done.

Top Layer: Tatter Tots! Gotta love Tatter Tots.

Once assembled: bake at 325 for 40 minutes. It's just divine!

Detroit Map

In light of its impending cluster fuck, I have assembled with the help of google map, this map of Detroit and am presently pondering it's future by exploring in street level detail the neighborhoods of the Motor City.

We're Off To See The Wizard!

Romeo Police Dog #2

Summer time and the livin' around the neighbor is sometimes not very easy! Out for our walk this afternoon and the first thing we see is a bunch of police cars (marked and unmarked) at a house at the bottom of the hill. A Salvadorean family lives there. I can tell because sometimes when we go for a walk, I can smell the most delicious papusas revueltas cooking in their kitchen!

So we stopped to just look for a minute, and then I saw my friend James! So my guy asked James if he knew what was going on? James just said he didn't, but he sure didn't expect excitement like this in a quiet neighborhood! James is very smart about the things he says.

Then we walked down to the park right past all of the police who just ignored us and were mostly just standing around talking. Some were up on the house's porch, but the door to the house was closed, and it didn't look like anyone was at home.


Now this community Advisory:

On July 30, 2013, at approximately 5:15 pm, Takoma Park Police responded to the 7200 block of 13th Avenue for the report of a citizen armed robbery that had occurred.  The victim was walking on 13th Avenue when he was approached by two black male suspects, one brandishing a silver revolver with a wooden grip.  The suspect with the revolver demanded property and the victim complied.  The suspects then fled the area in a black vehicle (possibly an SUV) with a silver emblem on the front.  There was also a third suspect in the vehicle.

The suspects are described as:

1)  black male with short hair, last seen wearing a black shirt, green pants and tan Timberland boots .  He was the suspect holding the revolver.

2)  black male, last seen wearing a black shirt and blue jeans.

3)  black male, no further identification (this suspect remained in the vehicle).

All surrounding jurisdictions were notified.  The victim was not physically injured.

Burma Boys

My friend who lives in Burma takes the most amazing photographs!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What I'm Watching #301

Jitters is a 2010 film from Iceland.  It's the tale of a group of friends on the verge of becoming adults who drink a lot, flirt a lot, fight a little and other stuff.

Before the film is over, one remains a jerk, one meets her father for the first time, one comes out as gay, and another one commits suicide.  And try though you might, it's really hard to actually care about any of this.  And that's the film's killer flaw.

What I'm Watching #300

Wow, #300!--and it's Lincoln, too.

As you know, I am never worried about arriving late to the party.  I was a little worried (needlessly) about this film having the curse of "Gandhi" on it.  That film was so long that before it was over I was ready to kill him!  But not so with Lincoln.  It's hard to find something I do not like about this film.

So here I go with my accolades.  First, Tony Kushner is an amazing writer.  The film was one poem after another delivered by an amazing ensemble of actors.  Of course, Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Fields, but also Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, Peter McRobbie, Gloria Reuben and Gulliver McGrath.  And just so many other fine actors whom I also love to see like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Stephen Spinella.

Some complained about the darkness of the settings, but I liked it.  Gave the whole a cohesive foreboding.  The score was no great shakes.

Favorite dialogue.  When Lincoln entered in upon the "lobbyists" card game and W. N. Bilbo exclaimed, "Well, I'll be fucked!" and Lincoln replied, "I don't doubt that."

Great movie, well worth the time.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Week ~ July 28th to August 3rd

Happy Bumble Bee!


 You know it's the middle of the summer when the my Phlox, Phlox paniculata var.,  looks like a fireworks display!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hal Lasko, 97

Selected works:

Romeo: Police Dog!

Yesterday we had a bit of an adventure in our own neighborhood.   I'll let Romeo tell you all about it!

Today my guy and me were SUPER HERO's!!! Well, not like Superman, but maybe, a little bit, like Batman and Robin! OR Timmy and Lassie!

We started our walk and a little way down the hill, we saw James. I like James. James helps people all over the neighborhood with work in their yards. Then I noticed something wasn't right on the other side of the street.  I started to bark to tell my guy that something was not right. My guy thought I was barking at a squirrel, but I pulled him over to the edge of the street to look down the side and he saw it, too!

It was this very nice, high speed, motorcycle! The license plate was missing, and it was caught between two large fallen trees out of sight and down the steep embankment. My guy couldn't see beyond the trees were it was resting--everything there is covered in vines. 

My guy called James over and asked him if he had seen anything and James came over and said that he hadn't. Then James started to climb down the embankment to get the bike, and my guy said to James, "Don't do that, James. I think we should call the police and you don't want your finger prints on it if they need to use them to find the owner." And James said, "That's a good idea. But if they don't want it, I would like it." James is very nice. I like him very much.

So the police came and said that the motorcycle was stolen. Then James said that he didn't want it at all! 

I don't know how people know much about anything without being able to smell the world around them? I knew that motorcycle was down their before anyone else. I smell that place every day, and it never smelled like that before!

Today, we returned to the scene of the crime.  The police didn't find any body, so it looks like it was just a convenient dump of a stolen motorcycle.  

Romeo: Scenes From Today's Walk

They Do Grow Up

Stewart Little's sidekick no more...

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Week ~ July 21st to July 27th

Oh MY -- Lazy Summertime!  I just realized that I missed posting this week's Pride Birthdays...

Broccoli Mix For Summer

Something light for summer.

Saute 8 oz for PANCETTA in a large skillet.  Once brown add 1 well chopped ONION, stir and saute until translucent.  Add frozen mix CORN (yellow and white) and chopped head of BROCCOLI along with 2 Tbsp of CHICKEN BROTH.  Mix and cover let simmer for 5 minutes or until broccoli is bright green.  Finally, drain liquid from 1 can of Ro-Tel mild diced TOMATOES and CHILIS into a small bowl, adding the drained contents to the mix.  Whisk 1 tsp of CORN STARCH into the conserved liquid and add to mix.  Stir all contents and bring to a slow boil.  Turn off heat, stir one more time, cover and let sit for 3 minutes to thicken.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Romeo My Beloved

Summer is a lazy time.  It's a time for taking naps!  Today, Romeo and I took a nap, but I was more tired than he, so he left the bed and I slept on.  Then I woke up to an odd sound--and it turned out that Romeo was chewing on a favorite old book of mine.

Honestly?  My book!?  I got up and shouted "WHAT!"  Romeo ran off down the stairs and I proceeded to scream a lot.  Then I went down stairs and slammed the book on the floor in the foyer and cried out "AAARRRGH!"  I turn to where he was standing, holding the damaged book in my hands and shaking it in his direction and said loudly, "What?!" again.

Romeo responded by running to me and falling over on his back.  He's such a good boy.  It completed deflated my anger.  I then just looked at him and said for the umpteenth time, "What...."  He jumped up and ran to the stairs and crouched on a step.  I don't know who between us is the greater drama queen.  I placed the book on a little table next to the door, turned, grabbed my wallet and keys and left.

I drove to our local boutique Dog store, the Big Bad Woof, and talked to the young lady managing the store.  She showed me several options and talked about how her dog responded to them.  In the end I chose a frozen marrow filled beef bone.

When I got home, my precious Romeo was still sitting on the stairs (no longer crouching, but clearly still waiting for me.)  I called to him and he ran up to greet me and then smelled the bag and got all excited.  The beef bone proved a far better option than a book.

Here he is making a far better choice with my help.  The bone is frozen and he did manage to clear it's exterior of all of the moist elements before they thawed and became messy--just as the sales clerk described her dog's reaction to them.  Once he clears out the marrow, I can re-stuff them like I do his kong, freeze that and give it back to him to work on.  I really like this option better than the rubber kong.

Pizza Movers: Takoma Park

My favorite guilty little pleasure: a large pizza with Bacon, Onion, Green Pepper, and Pineapple.  Just $14.00 a pizza pie.

Things To See In Sligo Creek

Things I saw with my dog on this hot summer day along Sligo Creek.

 Here is some Spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis, still blooming amidst the wild grape vines.

Can you see the butterfly?  It's a Silver-spotted Skipper, Epargyreus clarus.

Sharknado Lego!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Barnes Foundation Museum

1. The Back-story and the Building

For some time now there has been a great controversy in Philadelphia's art world over the Barnes Foundation Collection.  Dr. Albert C. Barnes, 1872 - 1951, was a wealthy entrepreneur who parleyed his wealth into one the finest, deepest, secretly iconic art collections in the world. 

A reflecting pool on the grounds with
the free library and city hall in the background.
 In 1922, Barnes purchase a tract of land in Merion, Pennsylvania and commissioned architect, Paul Philippe Cret to design the original museum with galleries and administration space.  Over the years, the administration of the collection and the space had fallen on hard times, and so in order to save the collection of obscurity and provide an enhanced venue the move of the collection to this new local was conceived and brought to fruition through an onslaught of public debate--passionate debate--and law suits.

I had the great privilege of seeing the collection in it's former digs which was wonderful, and a bit of an ordeal that made such a visit to such a treasured collection more of an ordeal than it ought to be.  My vote in this controversy was to move it.

Today's visit confirmed the wisdom of that decision to me.

The new facility is a magnificent work of architecture.  It recreates the original space with tremendous fidelity and an ungraded infrastructure that the original build could have never attained.

The location in the heart of the city is also much preferred to the Merion Campus.  It's now an easy walk to the Rodin Sculpture Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

2. The Collection Conceptually

One of the keys to the collection is the way that's displayed in carefully contrived groupings.  Assemblies that include paintings, metal craft items, and furniture among other items.  Barnes was committed to stimulating understanding as well as fostering new ideas through connectivity.  The collection is now rehung in the exact way that Dr. Barnes had it at the original sight in 1951 at the time of his death.

Barnes also love symmetry.

3. Specific Works

The museum is replete with Renoirs, Cezannes, Picassos in particular, so I have chosen 4 works that I enjoyed from none of these artists.  Call me onery!

 The Studio Boat (Le bateau-atelier) 1876, Claude Monet, 1840 - 1926

 Reclining Nude (Femme nue étendue sur unlit) 1887, Vincent Van Gogh, 1853 -1890

 "A Montrouge"--Rosa La Rouge, 1886-1887, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1864 - 1901

Young Woman Writing (Jeune Femme Écrivant), 1908, Pierre Bonnard, 1867 - 1947