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.