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Monday, December 31, 2012

Jean-Frédéric Bazille (1841-70)

View of the Village, Castelneau, 1868

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kakawa... The Most Insanely Delicious Chocolate Ever!

This stuff is MAGIC.  Kakawa Chocolates!

I had the Marie Antoinette "elixir" today with almond milk and died of bliss for 15 minutes.  I want to try the Spanish and French Lavender ones next.

You're welcome!

... And the shop is just so charming.  It's the perfect wintertime treat.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

William-Adolphe Bouguereau

The Little Knitter, 1882

Nymphs and Satyr, 1873

The Motherland, 1878.

A Little Coaxing, 1890

Mother and Children, 1883.

Temptation, 1880.

The Nut Gatherers, 1882

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Censoring Destroys Free Will

"When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man." - Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

Remembering Rockabilly Rome

Our temporary home's retro furniture, the pizza, and the long, dark walks and talks came back to me upon finding this business card while cleaning up a vintage wallet I bought in Rome.  We fled a terrible couchsurfing arrangement and ended up in the San Lorenzo area.  Driving up Largo Degli Osci we thought to ourselves this could either be a perfect solution or a seriously life- threatening one.  Everyone looked stoned, there was trash everywhere as well as tons of graffiti, but in our minds this meant it might be the Williamsburg of Rome and so we confidently and happily walked into the 80s'd out Hotel Laurentia.   Motek had a cigarette on the windowsill, and I laid on the bed, happy to be away from the guy we later dubbed Shrimpoe who tried to kiss me in his kitchen after making us an extremely fantastic fennel torte.  His cooking was worth the mild sexual harrassment.

Like throughout the rest of our trip, we were eager to eat and drink.  One restaurant nearby, with waiters too busy attending to overflowing customers to wanna try and make out, was a pizzeria called Formula One and it yielded unforgettable fried artichokes and pizza.  The other restaurant was nameless and next to a flower shop wherefrom a man gave us long stemmed red roses.  They served us a salad that was just arugula, fennel and olive oil.  I don't think we even ordered it, but I fantasize about it to this day.  The waiter there also tried to make out with me in the restaurant basement below when we came back the next day with our new friend.  I might have done it had I drank more wine and he didn't look like a slightly taller Joe Pesci.  He told me a ridiculous story about how kissing under arches in Rome is supposed to be good luck.  I later googled this myth and obviously found nothing on it.

Let me rewind though.  After Formula One, I heard Johnny & Santo's Sleepwalk playing somewhere nearby and told Motek we had to find the source.  After all, this was one of the first songs I learned how to play guitar, and La Bamba is to my family's cinematic tradition what It's A Wonderful Life is to an American Christmas.  We eventually found where the music was coming from, a cozy lounge down the street showcasing three Italian Weezer lookalikes.  After the song ended, we decided to stick around for more.  The group was called the Yakety Yaks and they were not bad, covering English hits like The Guess Who's Shakin' All Over, and a fantastic version of The Ramones' Do You Wanna Dance? in which they'd insert their band name wherever possible i.e. Do you wanna dance with the Yakety Yaks/hold me baby all through the night/Oh baby, do you wanna dance.  So we did that for a while and shut the place down.  It was like 1 or 2 at this point, but we restlessly wandered further down to another bar.  Motek made eye contact with a guy because she liked his leather jacket.  He was cute and ended up liking her leather jacket, so thanks, Acne leather jackets, for introducing us to a new friend and guide.

Francesco showed us around the neighborhood, spotting out places we would have never noticed.  We wanted to go somewhere else and he told us about a rockabilly club that was open until dawn.  We hopped into his tiny blue car (that we later found out was his friend's) and let this guy take us to Club Rockabilly.  This was hands down the best car ride of my life.  I've had some nice car rides, too, mostly on California's Pacific Coast Highway.  There's the time Bun and I drove back from a party in Malibu scream-singing every single lyric to the Chicago Soundtrack... There's the time I drove down PCH with a boyfriend rapping Mobb Deep in a cheeseball rental convertible at sunset.  Then there's the time I drove with my foot out the window on at least four Los Angeles highways for two hours listening to KEarth 101 deciding whether to move to New York or not.  No car ride beats Francesco's hoopty.  I think now is a good time to mention this guy barely spoke English and we didn't speak Italian.  Everytime we asked what did you do today, or what are your interests and things you do for fun, or what do you have planned for tomorrow he'd basically respond with the same thing:  I eat....  I drink... I talk and enjoy with friends.

Francesco said he was a singer, and he wasn't kidding.  He proceeded to serenade us with U2's With or Without You and Oasis' Wonderwall.  He didn't really know the words, but it was okay...  I told him it was "and you give yourself away" and not "and you live yourself the way".  He liked the feedback and we liked the free transportation.  There is a reason why you need a special permit to drive in central Rome, one reserved exclusively for locals.  He looped around the Coliseum about three times without even looking at the road and we nearly crashed a handful of times since he was fond of disregarding street signs, although according to him all was fine and the car was just sensitive to brakes.  He remained very concentrated on his crooning, interrupting it every so often with "Relax, I drive all my life here."  The club ended up being a great, kitschy time.  Of course the Yakety Yaks ended up being there, and I danced with Motek to a lot of Ronnettes and Shirelles.

The next day we ended up at a protest since it was Nazi liberation remembrance day. Not so much because we wanted to be there, so much as it was Easter and everything was closed.   We made friends with an insanely good-looking posh couple and more rockabilly dudes.  I couldn't figure out why or how this craze managed to sweep young Rome, but it's better than Good Humor man mustaches and Blossom dresses so I wasn't mad at it.  Neta left three days later after we got back from Sperlonga and I stayed roaming alone...  Roming alone.  Another man tried to make out with me two days later, and gave me a frog detective I still have on my desk because he thought I looked like a detective with my trenchcoat cape and boar hair hat. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Routine, Fleurs & Amour

I can chill a bit again now that I've secured some part-time gigs to keep me afloat, to frame my time, and thus enable me to proceed with actually using my "free time". When you have too much time, it is very hard to put it to good use. At least for me it is. Now that I have this sort of skeleton of commitments, the free time is more purposeful. Too much of anything is dangerous, and time is no exception. I've noticed that without the balance of obligation, idle time is ... too idle, and idleness is not a very pretty color on me. I've tried to be more disciplined about structuring it, but it's sort of my nature to loll and meander, and take my time. Schedules are essential for people like me. It's nice to reintroduce some sort of routine into my life.  Less time worrying means more time constructing, creating and exploring... For putting flowers in vases and piroulines in the cookie jar on my desk. I spent the day cleaning my apartment to Daniel Barenboim playing Chopin preludes, and am excited to go see Holy Motors now.

I am treating myself to catching up with cinema this week. Last night I saw Amour, which had been on the top of my list for a while. It was such a beautiful film, and a perfect ending to such a transformative week. I managed to see life through the eyes of an octogenarian for about two hours, a perspective I'm not accustomed to having or being very sensitive to. Michael Haneke is a master at exposing some of the most uncomfortable aspects of life, and by extension, at expertly reflecting reality. For me, Amour was like the culmination of such ugliness and beauty clashed, a most perfect type of explosion.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Andddddd Cue the Tribal Paint Dude!

That tribal paint look was big in the 80s.... Just noticed this parallel in two of my favorite music videos, Gloria Estefan / Miami Sound Machine's "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" and Miguel Bose's  "Amante Bandido".  Both creepily at 1:16, ha!

Monday, December 17, 2012


My friend Melina made these beautiful Gorditas and I feel the urge to replicate them immediately. Gorditas are masa (cornmeal) stuffed with cheese, meat or vegetables. The ones that Melina enjoyed this morning have salsa verde, alfalfa sprouts and queso fresco.  She says the salsa verde was made with both chile verde and chile de arbol, along with slow roasted tomatillos!  That sounds perfect, except I would've added a drizzle of crema fresca, too (Ha! So much for the pro-health soapbox stand)!  I'm sure a healthier version with the masa can be made, and if you know what it is already, please share; although, they would cease to be gorditas at that point and we'd have to change the name to flaquitas and what's the point of that?!  As with most great Mexican food, the holidays are a great excuse for indulgence.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Breakfast At Helen's

One of my favorite weekend pasttimes is hopping on the downtown 1 train and parking my bum at a seat around Helen's kitchen table for hours and talking, talking, talking.  Most of you who know me already know that I am quite the talker... Well, if anyone can talk it's a smart, Irishwoman with lots to say.  It's so much fun to hear Helen rant on; she's very lyrical and knows how to sprinkle in the right amount of idioms and old expressions, just as expertly as she knows how to spice her stewed tomatoes. We've made a nice tradition of this kind of weekly wisdom exchange, and it's grown into a cherished habit.  It reminds me of my family in Mexico, my aunts that sit around the kitchen table for hours gossiping, analyzing, reviewing, commenting and always, always sharing the latest chapter of the saga that is their life.

Helen usually prepares Irish breakfast, some sausages and ham that her cousin brings from a special butcher in Brooklyn, soda bread with her multi-colored assortment of jams (at one breakfast she made it from scratch for us), eggs, stewed tomatoes and Dubliner cheese. Sometimes there will be a surprise, like the perfectly baked seeded bread that her German guest brought over, or a particularly fresh grapefruit juice I happened to spot. I usually storm in through her door ten minutes late, and we immediately spill whatever is the juiciest, latest news in our personal dramas, from the agonizing to the exciting.  I will then calm down, offer to make myself helpful, but by then Chef Helen has everything almost exactly ready- that's how she is- and we will get to talking about every aspect of life over breakfast and we sit chatting while finishing up every last drop of tea or coffee.  There's usually a book swap or at least several recommendations, or the sharing of a special article in the paper.  We'll review any shows we saw that week, or announce upcoming ones with anticipation.  The best part though is the general catharsis. The feeling I leave her house with each time is what I imagine someone feels like after a breakthrough therapy session.

During yesterday's chat, we were talking about the most important things in life.  What do you value the most?  Family?  Friends?  Security?  We decided none of it really matters if you don't have your health.  Both Helen and I run... In fact, in a way she may have been the one to plant the seed, the idea to run, in my head.  She's way more advanced than I am, but we both have an important regard for it.  It got me thinking... Physical maintenance is key and important, but what about emotional, mental health?  We forget how easily the intangible can quickly turn physical.  It's just as important and it's something friends can easily help each other balance and control.  Our weekend meet ups do just that.  What started out as pleasant company and wonderfully hosted, delicious breakfasts has evolved into spiritual detoxification, the wringing out of any toxic worries, insecurities or stresses, and an ongoing effort to understand, support, refresh and move forward with the day, week and life.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dance Crew Flashmobs Airport Terminal

Did I just watch this YouTube video of Justin Bieber's dance crew flashmobbing an Atlanta airport terminal after a flight cancellation twice?
Maybe.  (looks around)  It's for musical choreography research.... Honest!
Also, it was shot pretty well for an impromptu video.

Y Otra

    Provenance uncertain.  Found on cousin's Facebook page.  The autumnal version of a casa de flores.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

*hip swaying*

Yea, this post's title is rhythmic pelvic movement....

Sister Gordis has returned from Puerto Rico, and I am re-reading House of Flowers to reacquaint myself with my old friend Ottilie.  No other soundtrack for such a day than my Tropical Island Getaway playlist below.  This is truly a special collection, comprised of the majority of music that moves me the most.  New York may be starting to chill my bones, but this will keep me moving and grooving with sunshine in my heart.

How 'Bout Them Apples?

I've been into apple drinks lately. Here are two apple inspired cocktail recipes below.


Jack Rose (pictured not once, not thrice, but four times above) 

Commonly used ingredients: 2 parts applejack, 1 part lemon or lime juice, 1/2 part grenadine
Primary alcohol by volume: Brandy
Best served: Wikipedia says serve it straight up with no ice, but I like it with chips of ice that sneak in after being shaken
Standard garnish: cherry, apple slice... I like lemon zest in it, too
Standard drink ware: Cocktail glass... Although I always think those are a bad idea
Preparation: Traditionally shaken into a chilled glass, garnished, and served straight up... Although like I said before, I highly recommend the zest and the ice chips. Apple slice is obviously good, too.

Background:  Jack Rose is the name of a classic cocktail, popular in the 1920s and 1930s, containing applejackgrenadine, and lemon or lime juice. It notably appeared in a scene in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 classic, The Sun Also Rises, in which Jake Barnes, the narrator, drinks a Jack Rose in the Crillon Paris hotel bar while awaiting the arrival of Lady Brett Ashley.

There are various theories as to the origin of the drink. One theory has the drink being named after, or even invented by, the infamous gambler Bald Jack Rose[1] Albert Stevens Crockett (Old Waldorf Bar Days, 1931) states that it is named after the pink "Jacquemot" (also known as Jacqueminot or Jacque) rose. It has also been posited that the Jack Rose was invented by Joseph P. Rose, a Newark, New Jersey restaurateur, and named by him "in honor" of a defendant in a trial then being held at the courthouse in that city. (Joseph P. Rose once held the title of "World's Champion Mixologist.") However, the most likely explanation of the name is the fact that it is made with applejack and is rose colored from the grenadine.

The Jack Rose is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury's classic The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks(background info clearly from Wikipedia)

Annabelle's Accidental Apple Rum

Commonly used ingredients:  An apple, cloves, cinnamon, rum 
Primary alcohol by volume: Rum of your choice I guess, I used Bacardi Gold... I advise against Captain Morgan's, blegh 
Best served:  Warm to mildly hot
Standard garnish:  Red apples, the cloves can be cute, but I find myself having to spit them out so I recommend filtering them out
Standard drink ware:  Whatever you got
Preparation:  Slice up an entire red apple and stew it for a good 30-45 minutes with some water, cinnamon and cloves.  You don't need extra sugar for this, don't even reach for it.  Stir and mush them a bit if you feel like adding some texture, although you may want to peel the apple if that's the route you're going.  Use your taste beds and common sense (it is very hot after all) to taste to your liking.  When they look wilty and apple juicey, pour straight into rum.  The ratio I like is one part rum to one part apple mixture.

Background:  After a bottle of wine and some experimental beer test-tasting, Lemmy and I found ourselves two merry and insatiably thirsty boozy babes.  With only an apple and some bananas in my fruit bowl, I went to work with the help of my spice rack and the rest you already know.  While at that point we just wanted to prolong the decadence, it was a pleasant treat... Like a hot sangria.  The rum soaked apples were an added bonus.  It's worth noting that if I had had lemon I would have added a squeeze of it.

I can't wait to try this with plump raisins in the stewed apple part.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ignorance Is Bliss?

Two ideas from today I wish to log on the blog:

While chatting with a colleague, we stumbled upon this quote from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets in conversation: "Humankind cannot bear very much reality."

Later on, about five minutes ago, I come across this one from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray:
"He frowned, and, tearing the paper in two went across the room and flung the pieces away. How ugly it all was! And how horribly real ugliness made things!"

I like to think that I like reality to slap me in the face. Maybe this is why I find myself in uncomfortable situations all the time. I like beautiful things, but don't find myself in pursuit of them as much as I wish I did. I appreciate fantasy, but tend to immerse myself in the relevant and the practical, although I do reserve more room for superstition than I think is healthy. I don't think I can be considered an escapist, though I wish could, because the truth is, come to think of it, even my escapism is methodical...

Eliot writes:

Neither plentitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
(from Burnt Norton)

Not too dissimilar from Gary Jules' "Mad World" lyrics in the video below, eh?

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for the daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere

A convenient YouTube leads to an important overlap, and all of it converges at this question: How many ways though, do I distract myself from reality? Counting the ways, I'm already at on hand number two... Maybe I am the escapist I want to be. "When people run in circles its a very, very mad world."

Overstayed Cloud

I'm having a bad day week month. Artist Berndnaut Smilde's short-lived cloud creations look like my state of mind:
A glimmer of hope piercing through an otherwise gloomy cloud over me.
I hope this malaise is short-lived as well.

Oscar Niemeyer (December 15, 1907- December 5, 2012)

Museu Oscar Niemeyer

Cupula da Espada de Caxias

Sao Paolo Ibirapuera Park Auditorium

Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Niterói

Catedral de Brasília

Museu Nacional De Brasília

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dialogue 4.0 Outreach

My Dave Brubeck Playlist

In memoriam, a brilliant mind, talent and inspiration. Here are my favorites, perfect for New York winters...  Of course they work wherever you may be in the world.

Vin Chaud via Francofly

My beloved Francofly has reposted a recipe for a punch I need to try immediately over here.
Is it crass that I want to make the vin froid version of this?
Wordpress wouldn't let me comment my praise, but thanks for sharing, Jessie. Big fat bisous your way!

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I'm an LA transplant now living in Brooklyn. I develop film projects by day, write at night, and have a dangerous predilection for vintage Robinson Golluber scarves- this blog serves as a tiny window to everything else I do when I'm not satisfying those first three passions. I'm trying to blog more and tweet less @annabelleqv. What about you?


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