Monday, October 20, 2014

An Alice Survey

Instead of recapping my whole weekend in this survey, I'm going to focus on yesterday afternoon. Jesus and I went to an interactive adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, called just Alice. It was set not only in the Neo-Futurarium theater space, but also throughout the Andersonville neighborhood and in several local businesses.

Waiting: for our lobotomized White Rabbit to take us on our journey.
Playing: the part of Alice along with about ten other audience members.
Noticing: all the little details throughout our experience: chalk drawings, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, masked actors, unmasked but strangely dressed actors, treats, and tea were everywhere we turned.
Growing: far too big for some spaces.
Following: the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and through quite an adventure.
Shrinking: down to sub-normal height.
Agreeing: with the Dodos.
Disagreeing: with the Dodos.
Trusting: the White Rabbit despite warnings to do the contrary.
Smiling: at the antics of characters on the streets.
Listening: to the story of a very strange dream in an even stranger store.
Walking: down the sidewalk and
Keeping: an eye out for curious things.
Eating: a lollipop.
Dancing: in a tavern because why not?
Watching: chapter six as it played in the back of a van and I sat in a child's chair in an alleyway.
Drinking: tea under the table.
Playing: rock/paper/scissors with the Queen.
Wondering: how we came up on an extra Alice and what she carried in her suitcase.
Realizing: it was tons and tons of bouncy balls as her suitcase fell open and they went rolling and bouncing down the sidewalk.
Helping: her pick them up and watching her disappear again.
Trying: to learn a math lesson from the Mock Turtle.
Being: interrupted by songs and dances and silly lessons.
Singing: along with made up songs.
Standing: on trial for crimes we didn't remember committing.
Learning: arbitrary rules.
Hoping: it wasn't off with our heads.
Hearing: a spoken poem.
Closing: our eyes for the finale.
Opening: our eyes to see scattered playing cards in place of the people who we were sure stood in front of us.
Making: it back to the theater alive, awake, and Alice no longer.

Sometimes you're Alice, sometimes you're the Cheshire Cat.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

We the Animals

We the AnimalsWe the Animals by Justin Torres
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Just as I was putting the finishing touches on a post explaining why I seem to like every book I read, this nugget of a story came into my life. While it wasn't awful, I only finished it because it was so short and I was sure the ending would validate the rest of the story. (It didn't.) Regardless, here's proof that I don't like everything I read, an exception that proves my rules, which I plan on posting later this week.

First & last thoughts: This book was happy sad. A fast, concentrated read of related vignettes ending in a longer (stranger) vignette.

Read: in bed on a Saturday morning.

Recommended for: I really don't know. Definitely not me.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Night Links 6

This week was like a weird time warp for me. My boss was on a business trip, so I stayed at work a few nights, playing the live-in nanny. The live-in nanny is always on call, even when she has most of the day to herself, so weeks like these leave me feeling out of sorts until I can come home and use my own shower and sleep in my own bed. Today I was back to my comfortable reality: sleeping in, making myself breakfast, riding my bike to and from work, and hanging out in Target for far longer than I planned. I'm feeling much better, and ready for the weekend--a belated birthday dinner tonight and volunteering at Ringside for Mercy's Sake (for my third time!).

Since Boss's Day was yesterday and Sweetest Day is tomorrow, here are some sweet bossy links. (Unrelated: sweet and bossy is how I would describe my childhood self.)


Boss Lessons from a musician.

Chicago's sweet history shows why it was the Candy Capital of the World.

How to feel like a boss.

Sweetest Day used to be October's candy-centric holiday.

10 things this blogger has learned on her way to becoming her own boss.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

X-Men: First Class

The latest movie in the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past comes out on DVD today, so I'll be reviewing that soon. First, here's what I thought of it's prequel, X-Men: First Class, which I first saw in theaters back in the summer of 2011 and re-watched earlier this year. The fact that I watched it twice says a lot about this origin story.

First Class is not only a prequel to Days of Future Past, but is also set before any of the original X-Men movies, in 1962/during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Well, first it takes us back to 1944 and both Nazi-occupied Poland and the kitchen of a Westchester County mansion, where we meet Erik Lensherr, Charles Xavier, and Raven Darkholme as their pre-X-Men/Brotherhood of Mutants selves. (That's Magneto, Professor X, and Mystique for those of you, like me, who are unfamiliar with this world.)

These three eventually join up (back in 1962) and learn that there are kind of a lot of people--mutants--like them, with powers ranging from control of the elements to flight to strength to telepathy. A non-mutant (muggle?) and supportive CIA agent gets them government sponsorship with the idea that they will recruit like-minded mutants to help diffuse the missile crisis, which (surprise surprise) was started by another (evil) mutant with his own gang of genetically-advanced pals.

As far as origin stories go, this one has it all: peppy montages filled with familiar X-Men franchise characters and Rocky-style training, the USSR, clever foreshadowing, thinly veiled commentary on intolerance and prejudice, and Kevin Bacon.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Acorn squash will always be my first squash. Spaghetti squash might turn out to be my favorite, and butternut is super easy/versatile, but acorn is where I'm learning the culinary ropes of winter gourds. Last year I sliced up the acorn squash I picked up randomly at aldi, topped each slice with butter and brown sugar, and roasted it to creamy perfection. This year, I'm starting off with something more savory than sweet: stuffed squash. I leaned on Martha Stewart for the basics, but played around a bit with textures and flavors.

Here's her take (with my substitutions/additions in parenthesis):

    • 2 acorn squash, halved crosswise and seeded (I only used one, but still used about 1 c rice)
    • Salt and pepper
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1/2 pound cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and diced small (I used white)
    • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
    • (1 carrot, peeled and diced)
    • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 cup long-grain white rice (I used a rice pilaf mix)
    • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

    • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, season cut sides of squash with salt and pepper, drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, and turn cut sides down. Cover sheet tightly with foil and roast until tender, about 35 minutes.

    • Meanwhile, in a medium straight-sided skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add mushrooms, onion, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Saute until mushrooms are golden, 8 minutes. Add rice and broth and bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 20 minutes. (I used a regular pot and just added in my veggies--carrots, mushrooms, onion--to cook along with the pilaf.)

    • Remove squash from oven and heat broiler. Carefully scoop out 2 to 3 tablespoons flesh from each squash half and stir into rice; season with salt and pepper. Divide rice mixture among squash halves, sprinkle with Parmesan, and broil until melted, 2 minutes. (I had plenty of rice pilaf to spare, so these were not only stuffed, but overflowing acorn squash. Still super tasty.)

  • Can be scooped out and served in one dish, or enjoyed straight from the squash bowls!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Night Survey: The Marathon Edition

While I was not one of the 45,000 who ran 26.2 miles today, I was among those who watched. I'll never understand why running a marathon is so exciting to so many people, but if they're happy, I'm happy. And a lot of people were super happy. Like they had SMILES on their faces as they rounded the corner and headed into mile 15, where I stood. SMILES. (Along with a few tears and a lot of grimaces and sweat-wiping and snot-blowing.) Baffling.

No running for me, but I still kept busy this weekend:

Making: the most of a sunny weekend.
Smelling: crepes at the Wicker Park Farmers Market.
Cooking: stuffed acorn squash with help from Martha Stewart.
Eating: at home to save money for upcoming birthday dinners.
Drinking: a Bloody Shandy at Dunlay's on the Square.
Watching: a marathoner jog over to his two granddaughters and kiss each one on the head before continuing his race.

Crying: after witnessing such a sweet moment.
Cheering: on thousands of runners, especially my friend Megan and the many Mercy Home Heroes.
Walking: home from my marathon spot. (I guess I was inspired?)
Witnessing: the aftermath of one car accident and one bike accident on my way. Be careful, people on roads!
Putting: things into perspective.
Getting: a hair cut for the first time since January.
Buying: Aldi's Halloween Wine.
Spending: quality time with others and myself.
Wondering: where I can find a nice pair of Scully glasses.
Missing: my boyfriend and my brother, who had a bro weekend together in Madison.

Shopping: for furniture I neither need nor have room for.
Ordering: prints of my summer pictures for albums.
Reading: Xenocide by Orson Scott Card.
Writing: a to blog list, a to do list, and a wish list.
Playing: more Duolingo vocab games to retain my Spanish.
Listening to: my neighbors's 2 am off key sing-a-long and drum circle.
Wanting: time to s l o w down.
Needing: discipline.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Ten-Year Nap

The Ten-Year NapThe Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First thoughts: The pacing takes some getting used to. Having long chapters punctuated by shorter vignettes confused me until I got the rhythm of it. Finishing felt like waking up from a long nap.

Where I read: in bed and on my couch.

Recommended for: readers who enjoy a slow burn, parents, women, people who feel like they've put their lives on hold after having children.

I resonated with most all of the 40-something women/mothers:
Amy-in her head a lot and some of her jokes fail because of that...other people don't always follow her inner monologue/trail of thought.
Jill-really good at school, likes constant feedback, finds it hard to translate that into the real world.
Roberta-has great connections to her world, but isn't sure that she's found her passion yet.

Favorite quote (because it describes this book so well): "Like most people, he'd somehow recently lost his patience for the slow unraveling that took place in novels, the need for the reader to wait in order to find out what happened in the end." (Amy, p 232)

Final thoughts: reaffirmed my appreciation for Meg Wolitzer and the in-depth character study.

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