18 October 2006

they've come.
the beautiful santa ana winds that fill the world with magic and wonder and make me want to be outside. they are just so beautiful.

15 October 2006

i made my first visit to las vegas last week. i'd driven through so many times i couldn't count how many. but i'd never gotten off the road in vegas. my only stopping place in vegas is craig road. in north vegas, far away from the strip. for gas. but my sister and brother-in-law were there on business and it's only four hours away and i needed to see my sister. so i made the drive on monday.

as i pulled into town, i had no idea where i was going--only that i needed to end up at the venetian. so i followed the lights to the strip and hazarded a guess at which direction to turn. and began the stop and go gawk parade down the strip. talk about sensory overload. more lights than one could imagine. fountains shooting 80 feet into the air. people everywhere. ads for strip shows and dancing girls. it was just so completely bizarre. and garish.

and then i got to the hotel. even the parking structure was extreme. and the building was overwhelmingly confusing. i think they built it to maximize confusion in their customers--confusion concealed under a veneer of services and amenities--in order to induce more spending. but i eventually made my way to the ballroom where my sister's company was holding their event that night. and found an amazing dessert spread, which i promptly visited. it was tasty. as was the room service egg fritata i consumed at 1 in the morning.

tuesday i spent the day at the tradeshow, so i didn't see much. until that evening, when tasha, mark and i went out walking to find some dinner. we ended up at caesar's palace. the shops, to be exact. where we ate. and then walked around so i could get an eyeful of the attractions. a huge replica of a trojan horse. an animatrix statuary show. it was so ridiculous that i couldn't help spontaneously laughing on occasion. which is kind of a fun feeling. walking down the street or through a mall, randomly laughing because of how utterly ridiculous the things you discover are. i probably sounded like a laughing fool.

we walked down to the bellagio. because i wanted to see the chihuly glass installation on the ceiling of the lobby. it was gorgeous. absolutely beautiful. and back behind the lobby there was a very pretty garden. in which there was a tree that the bellagio had had cut down in the south, shipped to vegas, and reassembled. did i say excessive? we also found this fabulous chocolate fountain in a shop back behind the garden. a three story chocolate fountain. yeah. you read that right.

on the walk back to the venetian, we were pleased to note that many of the casinos use fluorescent coil lightbulbs. very conservation-minded of them. now, if only we could convince them to use fewer than ten thousand of them...

it is a wild place. an absolute circus of humanity. one i wouldn't mind visiting on occasion just to people watch. but i think it would sap my soul if i spent too much time there.

[note: there were two primary discoveries last week. and each deserves its own post. so this one tonight. look for another in the next few days.]

about eight years ago, i spent a semester studying in london. upon my first trip to the national gallery, i decided i would work my way through the national gallery and the tate chronologically, beginning with the earliest works and moving on until i reached the contemporary work displayed at the tate. after about four weeks of madonnas and crucifixes and other medieval and early renaissance pieces that generally failed to speak to me, i gave up on my plan and found my way to the tate. where i experienced 20th century art for the first time. and experienced is the correct word. i found myself especially drawn to the abstract expressionists. david smith's sculpture, which relied as much upon surface variations and the way they played with light as it did upon form. mark rothko's beautiful, intense color fields. and pollock's wildly erratic, vibrant, massive works. as i encountered them, i realized that where all of the early art i'd consumed at the national gallery tried to communicate a specific story--often one laden with specific subsurface messages to go along with the story--, these works of abstraction were all about surface. about line and texture and motion. about hue and contrast. but the lovely discovery was that because they are all about surface, they have so much more depth. there is no pat explanation, no set understanding to be gained looking into a pollock. there's no moral of the story to be taken home from a rothko. there is only the color and the form and the texture and your own soul.

08 October 2006

i was listening to NPR tonight (surprise, surprise) and they reported that vice-president dick cheney has asked (too passive) or demanded (too aggressive) or ordered (too militant; you take your pick of verbs) that his televisions be pre-programmed to fox news when he checks into a hotel room while traveling. i was horrified. not because i find fox news repugnant in every possible way. but because of the presumptuousness of demanding that a television be pre-programmed. we couldn't ask our esteemd vice-president to take five minutes and find the damn station for himself, now could we. it smacks of the kind of snobbery that leaves me disillusioned with the world. and it makes me feel better about disliking cheney (not that i needed more reasons...).
more treasures.

  • chocolate. there are many reasons randi is my best friend. this week, she confirmed several of them by sending me a box of assorted chocolates from l'artisan du chocolate, a london-based chocolatier. a small box full of twenty assorted chocolates. some pure chocolate ganaches made from cocao beans grown in different areas of the world. some ganaches infused with spices, herbs, flowers, or fruites. all delicious. if you like chocolate, really like chocolate, you should indulge sometime.
  • chicken. i'm not a big one for chicken salad. never have been. but about four years ago, my two sisters, my mom and i went on our first girl trip--a driving tour of new england. we spent a night in portsmouth, new hampshire, before driving up the coast into main. in portsmouth, we discovered a little deli called bell pepper at which we found a chicken gorgonzola salad. it was so good that as we drove back south to boston, we pulled off the road in portsmouth to stop and buy it again. chicken, penne pasta, gorgonzola, celery, walnuts, red grapes, onion (red or green), and a blue cheesy dressing. it's delicious. my mama made it this week (we improvise based on the list of ingredients the guy gave us when we bought it the second time) and i rediscovered exactly how lovely it is.
  • haley bonar. i downloaded her album "...the size of planets" and have fallen in love with it. a bit folksy, a bit alternative. gorgeous voice. if you want women singer-songwriters, some others i've recently discovered (although not this week) include nina nastasia, regina spektor, deb talan, ida, hem, and jenny lewis. some of them use male vocals, too, but they're all driven by women. and check out the innocence mission. good stuff that.
  • faith. on the radio. NPR to be exact. i've been listening to speaking of faith for a long time. today's program was interesting--an interview with paraplegic matthew sanford who has become an expert yoga instructor and author. all about the mind-body connection. the show takes widely varied approaches to faith and features an impressive group of religious and philosophical personalities. it's worth a listen. on kpcc 89.3 at 4:00 on sunday afternoons.

07 October 2006

i love fall. it's almost a contradiction--plants dying, preparing for the hibernation and lifelessness of winter. but the air is practically sparkling with anticipation and expectation. promises of pure blue skies with fire-orange and gold leaves. or a stormy gray day perfect for curling up with a cup of cocoa and a good book. the happiness of family gatherings replete with mama's pumpkin pie and other yummy goodness. i think i like autumn more than any other season. and this illustration captured some of the magic i find in it.

04 October 2006

i went to fhe. actually, before going, i talked to a friend about what we were doing. she explained how one of the bishopric wives had a child who had discovered mini pigs around their block and we were going to go on a mini pig hunt for fhe. i went, showed up a bit late, and was assigned to a team. they'd already found one mini pig but the girl who had found it got all squeamish and grabbed it too hard so it was injured. plus it was kinda black and looked a bit more like a mouse. so we kept looking, circling the block, checking every crack and crevice and hidden spot. eventually i discovered one--a perfect pink specimen rooting about in a conical bucket on its side. i picked up the bucket and tipped it up so that the pig slid to the point. i reached in and very gently picked up the pig with a napkin. i didn't want to touch it, so i wrapped it in the napkin, being careful to keep its nose and mouth free so it could still breathe, and we headed back to the house. by the time i got there i was worried that the pig's skin was drying out. when we walked in we discovered another team had already arrived with a pink pig. it was submerged in a bowl of water and apparently it had suffered an untimely death, cause they weren't taking it back out of the water. i dunked my mini porker in the water to refresh it and then took it out, spread out the napkin and set the pig on it on top of the table. the conversation turned to a recent date i had gone on with a man who was divorced. the bishopric wives were asking me if i thought there was potential; i indicated there was a little but not strong potential (all the while my wee pig was exploring the limits of the table top). meanwhile a sacrament meeting is happening in which a woman in my ward was standing up to speak after two speakers who only took about five minutes each (thus she had a lot of time to fill). as i flashed back and forth between the pig-accompanied discussion of the possibility of dating this man and the sacrament meeting, the pig started shedding a layer of its skin. meanwhile the woman giving the sacrament talk started explaining that her talk wasn't that long so she wasn't sure how she'd fill all of the time and then said that before she started her talk she wanted to say something. she proceeded to talk about being six feet tall (she wasn't me; i swear; she was blonde and much more beautiful than i am)--except she wasn't six feet tall--and how that kept men from dating her. and then she started berating the men from the pulpit. until the bishopric interrupted her in order to address the situation. all the while this mini pig was grunting and rooting around on the table. i didn't get to hear what the bishop said.

now. i've had some weird dreams in the past. being chased by storm troopers. watching the crucifixion while being concerned that the argonauts were coming for me. receiving a proposal of polygamous marriage from a good friend, being encouraged by his current wife to accept, and being presented with the primary incentive--a huge diamond ring. but all of those i could kind of understand. i mean, it's not all that strange to incorporate fictional characters into dreams. the crucifixion/argonauts combo directly addressed an emotionally stressful situation in my life at the time. the polygamy was wacko, but i had been learning about the history of polygamy in the church that week at institute. this one--this one i just don't know what to do with. thoughts?

01 October 2006

this week's discoveries and recommendations.

  • philippe's. the home of the original french dip sandwich, which was, according to legend, discovered accidentally one day when a sandwich was dropped in the drippings from the roast but the customer was in such a hurry that he ate it anyway. and then returned and ordered it the same way. it was good. but not outstanding in terms of food. i prefer dipping my own sandwich rather than having them dip it for me, which resulted in a sogginess that messed with my textures sensitivity. however, the experience was worth it since i was alread in the neighborhood (union station, olivera street, disney hall, etc., etc.). next time i'm in the neighborhood, i think i'll go with the lamb incarnation (which i was advised to do and didn't; i had to try the beef first). get the potato salad on the side.
  • mahler. i told you last week you should go to this concernt. i did. last night with my mama. and it was every bit as incredible as i thought it would be. and then some. the third is a gorgeous, lush, formally unconventional symphony that celebrates love and joy's capacity to defeat suffering. everyone should see it performed. mahler is a genius. his third counts for this week's re-discovery.
  • gehry. specifically the walt disney concert hall. i'd been to the building twice--once to a film festival and once to explore the roof garden. i've always loved the exterior of the building and all of gehry's work. his buildings feel alive to me, an exquisite melding of movement and stasis in a building that demands to be called scuplture as well as a building. but i'd never seen the concert hall. it's as vibrant as the building, with curvaceous, warm wooden ceiling and walls, and a perfect twilight blue light. not to mention the exploding facade of the pipe organ. don't miss it.
  • love. a scripture chain for you. because following it gave me peace this week. start in romans 8. a lovely chapter. specifically verses 28 and 37-39. some cross references about what it means to love god, as mentioned in verse 28. Ezra 8:22, in which seek takes the place of love; Alma 36:3 in which trust takes the place of love; D&C 90:24 in which search, pray, believe, walk uprightly, and remember the covenant take the place of love. after thinking through this, verse 39 of Romans 8 got me thinking about what could separate us from god, which took me to D&C 124:33 in which i discovered that we are separated from god when we "hinder the almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven." i loved that idea--that god's love takes the shape of knowledge. thoughts?
  • classical. because you really should take advantage of the LA phil and disney hall. this week they're doing mozart's requiem and stravinsky's symphony of psalms (which uses the text from psalms 39, 40, and 150). i'm sure it will be brilliant.