Wednesday, December 29, 2010

By Poss's Request

These are scenes from Monday.  Boston didn't get hit as bad as the 'burbs.  On Tuesday the streets and sidewalks were clear.  I haven't been to Harvard Square again yet.  But I'm sure it's been cleaned up.  The FlickR group New England Sky Scenes is a good source for snow photos from snowier parts of New England.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dinner at 10 Tables

This year me and several buddies had our holiday dinner at 10 Tables, which is in the space formerly occupied by the Craigie St. Bistro.  (The one time I ate at the C.S.B., I was underwhelmed.)  Sue brought us all some Christmas crackers.  These had valuable prizes inside, such as crowns!

I didn't get the salad, but I tasted Dave's and was impressed.  Lots of flavors, textures, and a subtle dressing.

I had Pork (crunchy on the outside; tender on the inside) while others had cod, pasta, or beef stew.  We were all thrilled with our food.  We ordered 2 desserts to share: TRADITIONAL BISTRO CREME CARAMEL and SAFFRON & HONEY POACHED PEAR WITH TAHITIAN VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM & CRUSHED CANDIED PISTACHIOS.

Outside, we stand in front of the restaurant, too stuffed to move.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dante's Paradiso

For the past few years I've had my Thanksgiving meal at Legal Seafood.  After all, those Plimoth Plantation people probably ate a lot more fish than turkey.  But this year Rosemary and I decided to try Dante, a restaurant in the Sonesta Hotel.

PRIMI: Rosemary had the wild mushroom tart with goat cheese, frisee, mizuna, and aged balsamic.  We expected a tiny pie, but it was  a layer of puff pastry with the ground mushrooms and goat cheese on top.  Since I am frightened of wild mushrooms, I had a salad of seasonal greens, cucumber yogurt, and red wine vinaigrette.  They put all the dressing on the plate and made a dome of greens on top.

SECONDI:  We both opted for the turkey dinner with stuffing, potato puree, sweet potato fries, maple Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, and gravy.  Even though the turkey was free-range, it was fat enough to be tender.  They twisted pieces of turkey skin and (I think) fried it to make tasty turkey sticks.  Everything was tasty, in fact.  The Brussels sprouts were good, but I prefer them plainer, since I like the BS flavor.  I've loved Brussels sprouts since childhood, when I pretended they were miniature cabbages.

DOLCI:  Four thin slices of pie: apple, pumpkin, chocolate pecan, and ricotta.  A small dish of salted caramel and chocolate ice cream.  The pumpkin was different from what I'm used to.  It had a thin layer of frosting on top and some kind of confection layer underneath the pumpkin layer.  The ice cream had a caramel taste, but I couldn't taste any chocolate.  Maybe they changed their mind.

The whole tab including wine, coffee, and tip was $220.  Ouch!  Pricey, but very good.

UPDATE:  This is what Chuck and Jerry had for breakfast.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Chris pointed out this shot: an aging jack-o-lantern on a Thayer Hall lintel.

And variations.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We've Gone Over to the Dark Side (of the Year)

Now that Daylight Savings Time is in effect, it's dark when I finish work.  I feel like I should just go to bed.

This is what it looks like from my office window shortly before five.  By the time I leave, the creatures of the night have begun to emerge.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Menopausal Misnomer

I see from my PubMed searches that the medical community is now calling hot flashes hot flushes.  I approve the change.  I didn't recognize my first hot flashes for what they were, because of that word flashFlash, streak, lightning, glare, dazzle, instant, split second.  This is what hot flash implies.

Sela Allen

But what actually happens is a gradual heating-up and cooling-down of the head and chest lasting a few minutes.  When I first noticed the change, I thought I was getting a fever, since my face got flushed, "But, no, it's better now.  Uh oh, it's back."  Finally I had the hot-flash-ah-ha moment. 

The above graphic makes the process clear:  hormonal flux trips the on switch of the Heating Element, which slowly heats to its maximum, then turns off.

You can buy all sorts of items claiming "They're not hot flashes, they're power surges."  I don't know why a power surge is better.  Perhaps the word power is felt to be so good, that it hardly matters that power surges blow out your electronics, and that you buy surge protectors against them. The promoters of that slogan probably are thinking of something like Sela Allen pictured above; but real menopause is not like that.
Menopause tchotchkes are fine; I have several myself.  But they shouldn't  be too silly.  We are old enough to know better!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

One Venus; Two Moons

Last Saturday I saw 20 Million Miles to Earth, one of those classics I hadn't seen, in a colorized version.  (There are many sci-fi and camp classics I haven't seen and some I'll never see.  I'm not a camp-expert manqué who needs to speak authoritatively on every flick in the genre.)  William Hopper, aka Paul Drake, crashes his rocket in the sea near a Sicilian village.

He and his plucky crew had been exploring Venus, but he and a Venusian creature are the sole survivors of the crash.  The creature is still in its egg, but it quickly hatches and grows to enormous size.  The action shifts to Rome.  The big green Venutian and the Italian army battle in the streets and do significant damage to the Forum and the Colosseum. Naturally, they had to kill the creature at the Colosseum.
I liked the colorization.  The olive green army cars were especially attractive.  William Hopper's hair was the color of ripe wheat.

Next I had dinner with Mary at the Café Luna, an appropriate choice since we were going to see Moon for the Misbegotten afterwards.  So we did see Moon for the Misbegotten afterwards, as per our plan, at the Central Square Theater.  We both enjoyed the performance and thought the acting was great.

Then it was about 11pm, and I was surprised to see the number of people standing in line for various restaurants.  But I am usually not on the street that late.  We saw some excellent costumes including a guy wearing a horse's head.  He was smoking, and the cigarette would light up the head.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Ghost of Halloweens Past

The costume I remember best from my little-kid days was not one of my own but that of a classmate.  He dressed up as a hippie and carried a sign that said "Send Batman to Vietnam!"  It was the sign that made the outfit.  Perhaps he got the idea from this comic.

Of course, in my little-kid days, Halloween was about the candy.  My brother and I were instructed to eat our Halloween hauls slowly over a couple of weeks.  But our parents shouldn't have allowed us to store the bags under our beds.  It was too easy to sneak sweets.
In junior high and high school Halloween was more about fashion and horror creation.  One year I helped scare kids who came to the door of my friend Louise's house.  Another year I played a corpse in a cardboard coffin.  Some of my friends and I had been granted the use of a classroom at the local grade school to make a scary house.  We constructed a giant papier-machete spider with glow-in-the-dark-eyes and a portrait painting that spurted blood.   Vampires Karen and Don guided groups of kid through the various exhibits.  After they had described my terrible death, I would suddenly sit up and yowl.  This worked well until my movements nudged the coffin off the radiator and onto the floor.  Wow, that hurt.  But I stayed still, and Don said, "Well, she's dead now."
Then there was the year I went to a Halloween party dressed as a Star Trek style alien.  I put green eyeshadow all over my face.  I won best costume at that party.
Nowadays all sorts of elaborate Halloween paraphernalia is available, and Halloween parties can be lavishly staged events.  Steve described one such party he attended where horror-themed stuff covered every inch of house and grounds.  There was a corpse floating in the pool.  Inside, a selection of meats had been laid out in the shape of a corpse. I suppose this Halloween intensification could mean something or other about our society, and if I think of any relevant sweeping statements, I'll post them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Clover Passes Muster

Today Julie, Laureen and I tried out the new vegetarian fast food place Clover.  The same people have been selling food at MIT.  They must have made a lot of money to afford the Holyoke Center space, the space formerly occupied by Harvard Real Estate. They did a great job renovating.  They also did a great job making our lunch.  I had the eggplant & Egg sandwhich;  Julie and Laureen had the chickpea patty sandwhich, which they raved about.  The sandwhiches come in whole-wheat pita pockets and are full of interesting stuff; picles, carmelized onions. etc.  The coffee was good too.
I look forward to trying the pear & parsnip soup and the cranberry lemonade.  I do wonder why if they are called Clover, their tee shirts picture an apple core.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


JB urged me to watch Targets, a movie starring Boris Karloff.  It wasn't the usual Karloff fare.  Karloff plays an elderly horror-film actor who fears he is obsolete.  His story runs parallel to that of a young man who goes on a shooting spree.  Both characters feel an urge to completely throw off their former lives.  Of course Fate makes these parallel stories meet.  (You may think that parallel things should never meet; but Fate can do anything.)  As I suspected, the Texas Tower shooting inspired the story.
It was a pretty darn good movie, and it's available to watch instantly from Netflix.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Not Just Basic Black!

Last Friday the Archives had a special display for visiting parents, and one of the items was this antique student gown. circa 1834.  (The student was David Greene Haskins.)

Shockingly, it was not black.  The accompanying rules for student dress (1822) specifically said "mixed blacks."  But the student who owned it was supposed to have worn it during the summer of 1835.  (The school year ended in August.)  If you click on the picture, you'll see it was a charming green gingham check.  I felt inspired to look into student dress in the old days.  Here's an excerpt from Harvard A to Z, available on Google Books 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lunch in Harvard Square

Eating out on a work day requires choosing a place that is both close and quick. Sometimes I or my lunchmate is on the ref desk right before or right after our precious lunch hour.

Naturally we get tired of the same old places.  But now we have a new option: Viva Cafe!

They don't have a web site, but they do have cheap food quickly prepared.  It's a Moroccan place at 1105 Mass. Ave. between Zoe's and New Asia (which appears to have closed).  I had a beef & lamb shawarma wrap ($5.95) which was tasty and large (though heavy on the lettice).  My buddy Diane had the chicken shawarma wrap ($5.50).  There are plenty of vegetarian options, for instance a falafel wrap ($4.50), roast vegetables & feta cheese wrap ($5.50), and hummus & babaghanoush wrap ($4.95).
Of course, rents in Harvard Square are high, so these prices may not last.

Update:  Later I had the Fez Chicken Wrap, which was quite good.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving\ Thanksgiving Canadien

Yes, Canadian Thanksgiving comes over a month before United Stateian Thanksgiving.  So what does that mean?  Are they jumping the gun, or are we dragging our feet.  Enjoy the music why you figure out that one.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Highly Recommended

Sunday I went with my neighbor to the Peabody Essex Museum and saw Treasures From the Forbidden City.  We saw stuff that this 18th century emperor, the richest man in the world at that time, had in his private compound that he had built for his retirement.  The buildings had great names like Paviolon for viewing lush scenery or Pavilion of exhaustion after diligent labor.

They had a computer touchscreen set up so you could pretend you were making Chinese characters.  I didn't see a catalogue for the exhibit in the gift shop.  Maybe one will come out later.
The PEM is one of my favorite museums.  Their special exibitions are always worth a look.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sources of Retro Style

People are nuts about Mad Men, and the search "Mad Men party" in Flickr gets almost 6000 results.  Obviously the fashion is a big draw, since people are partying dressed up like early 60s sophisticates.
I wonder if these maddicts are aware of Peter Gunn on RetroTV (check your local listings).  This is an excellent primary source of retro style and suavity.
Peter Gunn and Lt. Jacoby (Gunn's friend and foil) hunt trouble in a world of noir chiaroscuro.  Harsh neon light flashes on rain-slicked streets and through the windows of cheap hotels, where people are usually hiding from the Mob.  Gunn is impeccable in his charcoal-gray suit; Jacoby, much less so. (He's the foil, remember?)  And both of them stay poker-faced all the time.
Maddicts, don't blow your wad on one TV show!  There's a whole world of historical TV out there to explore and live vacariously through.

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Ed Wood Clone?

Invisible Invaders and Plan 9 From Outer Space both came out in 1959.  If I hadn't known better, I would've guessed that II was some lost Ed Wood creation.  Perhaps Ed Wood had some influence on II director Edward L. Cahn or vice versa.  Certain similarities, such as continuity problems, generous use of stock footage, and recycling of shots can more easily be explained by low budgets.
However, a small purse cannot be blamed for both films using an omniscient narrator or the common theme of aliens who respond to earthlings's nuclear development by resurrecting dead humans, who then attack live humans.  No sir!
I do not believe that 1950s alien invasion films are really about Communism.  I believe that subconscious eruptions fuel our fear of both aliens and Communism (and a lot of other stuff).  The walking dead could be the return of the repressed!  I think of these films as modern folklore, that reveals our collective uncoscious.
In any case I videoed the opening scene of II, which I think is awesomely bad!  You can watch trailers on youtube.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Mechanix Monday

Finally, the back cover of the August, 1933 Modern Mechanix and Inventions.  We close Mechanix Mondays with some clever devices for enhancing our health.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Finally ! Color-Coded Rhyme

As my regular readers may recall, rhyme has been a carrier of Truth to me since childhood.  So I love poetry that uses lots of rhyme and slant rhyme.  Currently I am reading Kay Ryan's latest: The Best of It.  Here are a couple of rhyme-bunctious poems from the book with the rhymes and slant rhymes, same sounds and similar sounds linked using my own color-coding system (patent pending).

Sometimes the
green pasture
of the mind
tilts abruptly.
The grazing horses
struggle crazily
for purchase
on the frictionless
nearly verticle
surface.  Their
legs buckle
on the incline,
unhorsed by slant
they weren't
designed to climb
and can't.

CHART (page 254)
There is a big
figure, your age,
crawling, then
standing, now
beginning to bend
as he crosses
the stage.  Or
she.  A blurred
and generalized
projection of you
and me.  For a
long time it seems
as remote
from the self
as the ape chart
where they rise up
and walk into man.
And then it seems
the realer part.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Aliens R Us

Inspired by Chuck's recent post, I was checking out what Google searches were leading people to my blog.  One searcher from Norway who retrieved my post Who Are These Aliens Anyway? had used the search terms Colleen and aliens.  Could it be that my thoughts on 50s science fiction had risen to fame-level?!

Perhaps.  Or maybe The Norwegian was looking for this Colleen.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mechanix Monday

Here's another craft idea, this one actually sounds good to me.  The word handikinks is not in the dictionary.  However, one figuative use of the word kink is " An odd but clever method of doing something; a ‘dodge’, ‘wrinkle," as in "1889 Anthony's Photogr. Bull. II. 110 The hundred and one recent valuable wrinkles, dodges and kinks that float through the photographic press."*

*OED Online

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mechanix Monday

Modern Mechanix and Inventions wasn't just for scientists;  hobbyists liked it too.  I can see Martha Stewart doing these projects.
Just a reminder; this is the August 1933 issue.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Risks of Prediction

I know there have been many grumpy books and articles about the wonderful future that never happened. ( For instance, Where’s my jetpack? : a guide to the amazing science fiction future that never arrived / Daniel H. Wilson ; illustrated by Richard Horne. New York : Bloomsbury USA : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, c2007)  But I like to think I was in the vanguard, since I mounted a display back in 2000 about the many unrealized predictions for that year.  I limited my material to respectable academics and think tanks, though I did use a few pictures from old science fiction pulps.  Here's a future chronology I used from The Book of predictions / [compiled] by David Wallechinsky, Amy Wallace, Irving Wallace.  New York : Morrow, 1980, c1981

A Chronology of the Future

 People work a 4-day, 32-hour week.

 The U.S. legalizes marijuana.

 The first human being is cloned.

 Weather forecasting achieves accuracy for 30-day periods.

 Daily body checkups by computer provide ample warning of any impending illness

 The first human is brought back to life after being frozen and thawed.

 After a stock market crash and major depression, the U.S. ceases to be a great power.  The Soviet Union dominates most of the world.

 First tourist service to outer space.

 Cocaine is legalized in the U.S.
 A shortage of oil starts a large-scale migration of people from cold to warmer parts of the world.
 50,000people are living and working in space.
 The first children are born off the Earth.