Friday, December 10, 2010

Fabric for Sale!

As much as it pains me to do this, I've put up some unused, cut fabric from my stash on Ebay:

Get it while you can.

The listings last one week and these are pretty flipping good prices for the type of fabrics I'm getting rid of. . .for instance, there's two yards of Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks voile for only $7 starting bid.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Play on Page Vs. Play on Stage

The first time I read through Sheila Callaghan's That Pretty, Pretty, or the Rape Play, I didn't get. I liked it, it was exciting and weird and kinda scary. But I had no idea what the hell was going on. The second time I read it, ah. I understood what was happening a bit better. The third time, everything (well, okay, not everything) fell into place. The play was still scary and violent and weird.
Then I saw the play on stage.
Let's pause here. I have some odd unpleasant anxieties about violence. About seeing violence on film or on stage. I freak out not so much about the violence before me but about the violence that I see in my mind, the violent images I make up after seeing or thinking about depicted violence and then have to live with for the rest of time. Sometimes, the anxiety about violence gets so bad that I actually panic and start to pass out. So, I was expecting that to happen when I saw the show, even though I knew from reading it where all the nastiness was. But it didn't. Unpause.
It was worth seeing. I enjoyed the production but somehow it just didn't match the production I had built up in my mind, this bright, frenetic, colorful world. It was a little drab, a little slower than I had expected.

Which isn't to dismiss it. It's more to wonder if I shot myself in the foot by reading the play so many times before seeing it. It's obvious, I suppose. Turning the play into a literary experience damages the play. It's the same when you read a book and then see a film adaptation. The film is never as good as the book, because the book was part of your vision, part of your mind.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why Translation Matters

I'm in the midst of reading Edith Grossman's Why Translation Matters. Grossman has translated Garcia Marquez as well as Don Quixote. Reading her book has got me thinking once again at my own attempt at translating. Well, actually, okay, my own attempt at translating has been the itch at the back of my brain for the past two and a half years. Grossman's just scratched the itch.

In terms of translation theory, the book doesn't add anything too new. It's not a theory book at all, but rather her reflection on the act of translating and the sorry way translation is viewed and translators treated by both publishers and reviewers.

I particularly enjoyed reading about her insecurities and uncertainties when approaching Cervantes. She admits to using a dictionary and Google to find words she didn't know, which eased my mind about occasionally using Perseus to decode obscure words. She had much the same questions with Don Quixote I had and still have when dealing with Suppliants in terms of how to translate not just words but facts and figures a modern audience wouldn't get at first glance.

She simply put a lot of footnotes in. But how do you put footnotes into a play? I guess I could take a wacked out Brechtian trip and have the footnotes projected on a screen. Lame? That's lame, isn't it?

Friday, October 22, 2010

About to Start a Quilt

using the above fabric, from "Wee Wonderland" by Keiki. I was drawn to this particular fabric because of this little guy:
What is he? I have no idea. But he's cute.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gardentime 2010: The End of Everything

Finally. A few weeks ago, the yellow bell peppers started ripening. Just in time too, as it seems there's going to be a frost tomorrow night. I was betting on the first frost coming at the very end of the month, so I had to do a bit of scrambling today to clean some stuff up.

I trimmed the mint down and put a layer of mulch on top of it. I dried all the excess leaves. What seemed like a lot actually turned out to be very little, just one little spice jar full of dried leaves.

I also cut down what was left of the tomato and pulled all the basil. Some of the basil looked a little gross, the leaves were whitish, as if something had come by and sucked all the chlorophyll from them. The ones that were still a vibrant green were turned into a pesto, which went into the freezer.

The cayenne still has several unripe fruits, as does the yummy bell. The yellow bell pepper has about three mostly ripened but not quite fruits. I know I can just pull the fruits as they are now, but I really prefer the taste of ripened peppers. I guess nature is just against me here, and either I pull the peppers now or they'll just be destroyed by the frost.  

As far as the next step, I'm not sure. I guess cut down the remaining plants, wrap the strawberries in a blanket and clean the containers. I'd like to save as much of the container soil as I can, since it is so very expensive. But advice on that seems to go two ways: either yeah, save it or omg, don't do that! I think I'll just pour it all in a big bin, let it sit the winter outdoors and see what comes of it. I have no idea what I'm actually doing and I kind of enjoy that.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crafty Stuff Update

A few pictures of craft projects I've worked on lately:

I made a costume for a solo dance piece, "Chavela," which was performed at the Philly Fringe Festival by keila cordova dances this past September. The above is the vest worn by the dancer. She actually tried it on backwards and ended up wearing it that way since it looked much better. There's a skirt as well, but that didn't photograph so well on its own. You can check out a few action shots here.

 I suppose this is a fabric sculpture. I made it in a a stitch class at the Fleisher over the summer. In the class, we learned how to dye fabric using the Shibori technique. Honestly, I wasn't such a fan. It was such a pain in the ass and the resulting fabric didn't excite me so much, which may be why I did that to it. One piece is stitched to what was once a white button shirt with tapestry yarn. I embroidered the other piece and loosely stitched it to the white fabric, then stuffed it with polyfill so that it sticks up like that.

I'm still working on this sampler. A few more of the open spaces need to be filled in with stitches. I like samplers. They're a great way to try out new stitches or to see what stuff looks like without worrying about messing up too much.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gardentime 2010: Late August Check In

As the end of summer creeps nearer, the garden has really started to put out. The tomato plant, the tall now somewhat scraggly plant in the back, has produced a few decent tomatoes. Sadly, it seems to have been the victim of blight.

The cayenne pepper plant, shown here duking it out the greedy cucumber, has already given me some peppers, and still has between 20 and 30 ripening. A few peppers are starting to ripen on the Yummy Bell plant and the yellow bell, which I had given up on, has finally started fruiting.

The cucumber has been a bit of a disappointment. So far, I've gotten one fruit from it, and while it was possibly the best cucumber I've had, I don't think I'll try growing it again. The cosmos flowers finally gave up the ghost after not blooming. I'm not sure what happened to them. One day they were brown, wilted, and coated in some sort of web.
This is Mr. Chicken. He was an impulse buy at Lowe's. Philly doesn't let people have real chickens, so he's the next best thing. Actually, he may be better than a real chicken, since he doesn't make noise or messes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Creepy Spider

Found this little guy hanging out in the garden this evening

I know spiders are good and all, but he scared the crap out of me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Daring" Don't

I went to see a play last week at one of the many theaters in town. Ok, it's summer, so if you live in Philadelphia, you may be able to guess where the theater was and what play I saw, especially after what I'm about to say.

It was a classic play, so it had that going for it. It was a classic play that doesn't get done much, even better. The description of the production sounded exciting: it had the word daring in it.

Lordy, daring it was not.

First, let's look at what daring means, according to Princeton's Wordnet: "the trait of being willing to undertake things that involve risk or danger."

Staging a classic play, using a newish translation and sticking with period costumes, is not daring. Sticking the audience RIGHT there in front of the actors, not terribly daring, especially if you are doing it to compensate for the bitch of a theater space you have. There was no risk involved in that production. It was not earth shattering. If it failed, it was a small failure, something most people won't remember it a few years.

It didn't fail, the story came through loud and clear, it just didn't entice, which is exactly what its blurb did: entice. Do I feel cheated as a theater-goer? Yes. Was I promised something more exciting than your standard blue-haired subscriber based (ok! It's summer, so no subscriber base!) theaterjawn? Yes. I was promised daring. And what I got was self-congratulatory yipyap for 3 hours.

So maybe, stop using the word "daring" as a way to convince people to come in the door. Because when they walk through that door and get the same old same old, they most likely won't be coming back.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Zucchini Butter

One vegetable I haven't tried to grow is zucchini. I've already got enough trouble with the cucumber plant that wants to take over the backyard, so adding another curcubit to the mix seemed like a bad idea. There's also really no point in growing my own zucchini since everyone else in the entire world  state of Pennsylvania also grows the thing. It's one of the first summer veggies to appear at the farmer's markets and one of the last to leave at the start of fall. Zucchini, it knows how to party.

Eating zucchini week after week gets a bit dull, as we all know. I usually give up purchasing it by the first week in August because the thought of eating more sauteed zucchini makes me want to head out to the pizza place.

Thankfully, the Kitchn has stepped in, offering this recipe for zucchini butter from Jennie Cook.

Zucchini butter, what's that? you may ask. Quite simply, it's grated zucchini (or summer squash, in my case), combined with olive oil and a shallot and cooked until it turns into a jam, or rather, butter. I had some zucchini and summer squash sitting in my fridge that really needed to be used, so I attempted the recipe tonight.

It's really retarcuously easy. I ended up halving the recipe, since I only had about a pound of squash, including some I had grated a few weeks ago and frozen. I used a microplane grater on the squash, grating it directly into a tea towel lined colander.  It didn't look very pretty.

As it sat and drained, I minced a shallot, heated olive oil in a cast iron skillet, then sauteed the shallot a bit. I gave the squash a good squeeze in the towel, over the sink, to get rid of excess water. Then I placed it in the skillet and tossed it about a bit. After a few minutes, I added a bit of salt and some pepper.

I'm not sure how long it took for the squash to cohere and become a spreadable butter, I think I listened to five or six songs, so around 25 minutes, I would guess. After a bit of time on the heat, the squash looked like this:
I'd guess I got about a cup of butter. I put it in a pretty jar, because that way I'll be more likely to eat it and instead of forgetting about it in the refrigerator.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot Pepper Harvest

I left the country for a week a couple of weeks ago, and returned to find my cayenne plant had plenty of peppers ready to pick (the strawberry plant also had a few gifts to offer). I'm not really sure what to do with the peppers. My first thought was hot sauce, but I don't think 6 peppers is quite enough to make any substantial amount of sauce. I tossed one into a tofu scramble I made and put another in rice and beans.

Cayenne peppers are hot, but not super hot. They apparently fall between 30,000 and 50,000 on the Scoville scale, which is hotter than a jalapeno but less hot than a scotch bonnet, if that's any help. The more stress a hot pepper plant endures, the hotter its heat. I've made it a point to be a bit of a gardener bitch to my cayenne. I've let it dry out, made it endure 100 degree temperatures (okay, really that was beyond my control and the entire garden had to endure it). The resulting peppers are pretty spicy. I only used a small one in the tofu scramble and it was enough to add a layer of heat to the entire thing, even a small bite.

Now, if only the rest of the garden could put out like the little cayenne (okay, actually pretty huge cayenne--he's three feet tall).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gardentime 2010 (The Cucumber Explosion)

At the beginning of this week, I was worried about the state of my cucumber plant. I hadn't originally planned on growing cucumbers, since I'm limited to containers and cucumber vines like a lot of room. Then I saw a bush cucumber plant, and it was little and cute, and so I ended up getting it. I eat a lot of cucumbers, so getting a plant made sense, especially if it wouldn't vine everywhere.

I waited awhile before moving the plant outdoors. During the time it was limited to the peat pot, the plant grew a considerable amount. Its roots pushed up to the surface of the pot and out of the bottom. It even grew small blossoms.

I had to move it. Then I ran out of potting mix. So the plant sat outdoors for a day or two, half planted in its container (I know, I know, that sounds really irresponsible). Finally, I got more potting mix, tore off the bottom of the peat pot and planted little cucumber properly.

Then he looked sad. He yellowed a bit, didn't grow, and lost all his blossoms. Whenever I'd go out back, I look at him and think it was all over. No homegrown cucumbers for me.

Then it rained a lot, this week and last. And for some reason, that was the rallying cry for the little cucumber plant. He's doubled in size since Monday. His leaves are big, and a lush green. Tiny blossoms are returning. No sign of an actual cucumber yet, but my hopes are restored.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Jean Luc Godard's Breathless is playing at the local Ritz theater, in a remastered print released in honor of the film's 50th anniversary.

Of all things, this is what stood out to me: Patricia (Jean Seberg) is interviewing a famous novelist. She's young, inexperienced as a reporter. The other journalists are shooting questions at this writer, played by Jean Pierre Melville, and Patricia tries to keep up. She calls out the writer's name several times, finally getting to ask her question: What is your greatest ambition in life? He looks at her, but does not answer her question. Several more shots of Patricia, eating her pen, looking pensive. She calls out another question, he answers in a flirtatious way: "if she is charming and wears a striped dress." She finally gets to ask her original question again: "What is your greatest ambition?" He looks at her, pensive, and answers: "To become immortal/and then to die."

Melville's response stood out to me for this simple simple (superficial) reason: it's a line in an early Divine Comedy song, "When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe."

It's dumb to be writing about this, but I love it when, years and years later, I pick up on an allusion in one of his songs.

Back to the line, though. Is it even worth thinking over? Maybe not: on the surface, here it is, young Godard's first film. What is it he wants? To make films, to be remembered: then he can die. But why have the accomplished writer ignore the question at first only to answer it later? Admittedly, the question is a novice question, asked by a young woman just starting as a reporter. The writer could have continued to ignore it, but he doesn't. He delivers the line, removing his sunglasses as he does, and the film cuts to Patricia, also removing her glasses and turning to face the camera with a terrified expression spreading over her face.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tony Awards

Didn't watch them, never do. But this criticism from Charles McNulty (who was the reason I applied to BC's program, though he left the year before I attended) is totally spot on. Pretty much sums up every thing wrong with the theater world.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

First Peas of the Season!

I didn't think I liked peas, until I ate this:

It tastes like freshness and light!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Etsy Finds

I'm a bit of a sucker for vintage stuff, so I thought I'd start a new feature on this blog, showing off stuff I find on Etsy. First up is this very awesome rotary phone, which I got from seller Objet Petita.  She even threw in a free watercolor of a disgruntled looking Shakespeare, which I thought was great.

I had a rotary phone in my room growing up. It was a slimline princess phone in a drab shade of beige but it was MY phone so I loved it. As I got older, rotary phones quickly became a little useless, since you had to press buttons when calling customer service numbers, and so my love affair with my phone kind of died by the time I was a senior in high school (that's also when I got a translucent purple cordless phone and when most of the rest of the people my age were switching to cell phones).

But then one day a few years ago, I decided I really wanted a rotary phone in a cool color to just sit on a table in my house and look nice. In case you couldn't tell, green is one of my favorite colors.

This phone has the old style cord, with four prongs on it, so it won't work in a modern day jack. I don't have an actual landline in my home anyway, so it doesn't matter. The phone is a broken anyway, the buttons under the receiver are stuck down, but it looks very very happy sitting on my side table. And I kinda like picking up the receiver, turning the dial and listening to the "errrtccccch" sound it makes.

If you want a rotary phone for yourself, there are plenty more of them on Etsy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Annatto Seed--This Year's Culinary Unicorn?

I recently got Terry Hope Romero's new cookbook, Viva Vegan! (she co-wrote Veganomicon and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar). I'm just starting to make some of the recipes in the book. I've hit a slight wall though, in that a primary ingredient in many recipes is "Annatto Infused Oil" The oil is easy enough to make, you just steep annatto seeds in canola oil on the stove for a bit. Finding the seeds or ground annatto or achiote paste is, however, proving quite difficult.

I've found it online, which is great and all, but I want a local source. Any tips for finding annatto in Philly? Whole Foods and Essene were a no, as was Pathmark. Guess I could try the Latin supermarket over on Wolf St.

(Btw, annatto is the stuff that makes orange cheddar cheese look orange.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gardentime 2010 (part 2)

Well, here we are, two weeks (more or less) since the frost-free date and everything is set out. I really wanted to set the plants out before May 15, but then some nights between May 1 and 15 actually did get cold enough for there to be a frost warning, so, phew, glad I listened to myself.

There has definitely been a bit of drama in the garden, mostly from a few pesky alley cats who decided to use one of my containers (that was freshly planted with poppy seeds) as a litter box. I won't go into details, but it was gross. And the itty bitty poppy seedlings were destroyed. I've replanted that container with Cosmos, which don't seem to be coming up. I hope they do, since some flowers among the  veggies would be nice.

I've not had much luck with the little strawberry plant either. It's certainly getting leafy and has even sprouted a runner, but its fruit kinda sucked. Either it went moldy or rotted before I got to it or I got it too soon and it was blah.

The first crop of radishes has been picked and eaten. There's a new round in the container, but it may stay too hot for them to fully develop. I'm worried about the little peas for that same reason.

Oh, and those cats again: trampled the peas one morning, killing about half of them. I stuck a stake in the container and the surviving few are beginning to flower and put out pods. Let's just hope the days don't stay crazy hot (90 degrees. At the end of May), so they don't die before I can harvest.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Whip It

I finally got around to watching Whip It, the Drew Barrymore directed movie about a girl who joins a roller derby team, the other week. Two thoughts about the movie:
  1. It really really made me want to join a roller derby team.
  2. The fact that the girl doesn't end up with the stupid boy at the end made me so happy.
Ok, first thought: I've since changed my mind about joining a roller derby team. I don't have the time to train for it. Second thought, my god, why don't more movies end like that?

Women are supposed to stick up for themselves, ditch the d-bags who cheat or lie, etc. but then we've constantly got these movies where the guy is a complete asshat, does something that would raise super bright red flags to an actual human being and the woman is just like, oh hey, yeah, I guess I love him. Let's get married. (The Accidental Husband, which I had the misfortune of watching a few months ago, comes to mind. Man hacks into computer and weds himself to a woman to get revenge on her, and she eventually comes around and falls in love with him. What?)

So, thanks, Whip It, for not doing that.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dramturg Things to Look Out For

Thought I would make another attempt to let this blog live up to its name. I don't mean that I'm going to start writing about how great goldfish are (as in the crackers, though the living ones are pretty cool too. I had a goldfish that lived for years and may have lived longer had my little brother not dropped a toy bus on it). Instead, I thought I would offer some common sense tips on things to look out for when and if you get offered a gig as a production dramaturg.

My first few dramaturg gigs were quite off-putting. I am not talking about the internships I had at established theaters, where I sat and read scripts and drafted letters to playwrights all day. I mean the times I agreed to be a production dramaturg.

Here is what went wrong and what I learned:
1. Never accept a dramaturg gig on short notice. By short notice, I mean the day before the show starts rehearsing. Here's why: the director, designers and playwright (if s/he is around) have already done the grunt work, the research, the processes. I took a gig like this once and ended up just repeating the research the playwright had done. Sure, I learned a lot about topics I didn't know about, but by the time I was able to compile and present the research, the show was halfway through rehearsals. I felt completely worthless as a dramaturg and couldn't shake this feeling that the director just felt a lot of scorn for me.
Instead, look for a gig that will have you involved from the get-go. Participate in selecting the play if you can. I don't want to encourage nepotism, but really, work with a director you know and trust. Which brings us to:

2. Trust. As a dramaturg, you have to be willing to throw your two cents in at the appropriate times and the director has to be willing to trust your opinion and to accept that you will be stating it from time to time. I've thankfully not had a problem with director/dramaturg trust, but I've had friends who've reported directors freaking out and panicking on them because they thought the dramaturg was about to drop a bomb, note-wise, on them. I'm not saying you need to fall backwards into each other's arms, but establish boundaries and expectations from the start.

3. Working with an uber-experienced director. When I was a student dramaturg, I had the chance to work on a classic play with a director who was an expert on the play's author. It was exciting but in the end I felt like I really didn't have much to offer in terms of comments and information. I'm not saying you should turn down a gig with a super talented, famous-ish director because you'll be somewhat inferior, but rather that you should not let the director's knowledge and talent put you to shame. If they didn't need you, they probably wouldnt' have hired you.

Which brings me to point 4:

Never work for someone who doesn't actually need you. Dramaturgy now is more common and expected than it was when I first started, four years ago. People don't scrunch up their noses so much and sound out the word when I tell them I'm a dramaturg and that I have a master's in it (Ok, people in the theater world. Non-theater people, well, I just skirt around the word.) This presents a few problems: one, that you'll be offered a gig with a company that thinks they *have* to have a dramaturg and two, that there will be confusion and resentment on the part of the cast and crew. While presenting research at a rehearsal one time, I nearly broke down because I looked at the cast member's faces and they seriously all looked like they were going to die of boredom. It was an alienating experience. Of course, this was the same show where one of the actors came up to me at the end of the rehearsal and started asking me about fliers. Because the dramaturg is in charge of the show's posters.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gardentime 2010

I've got my garden under way this year. My boyfriend's moved to a smaller house with a bigger backyard, so I am taking advantage of the extra space by growing extra plants.

Right now, I've got little radishes growing in one container, peas growing in another and strawberries in a third. A cayenne pepper plant and some mint are waiting indoors. The cayenne can't go out until after the frost free date (which may be as late as May 15 for these parts. I've heard at least four dates, ranging from April 21 to May 15). The mint just needs a proper container to spread its mintiness.

The next phase of the garden will include a tomato plant, basil and cilantro, and some flowers. Back in February, when I thought I was going to go batty because of the snow and cold, I picked up some poppy and cosmos seed packets at K-Mart. The packets look promising, but I won't get to see the real thing until the summer.

I keep wanting to plant more things such as chard, bell peppers again, eggplant. But we'll see.

If you want to start gardening but have no idea what to do or live in an area where you don't actually have dirt, I highly recommend Gayla Trail's books. Her You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening got my gardening feet wet. She offers great advice on identifying pests and diseases and offers organic, non-scary ways to combat said pests and diseases. Her newest book, Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces, offers plenty of great tips for folks who want to grow veggies and fruits in containers. She tells you what size container works best for each plant, what plants excel in pots and what plants won't do so hot. It's invaluable advice that opens the gardening to anyone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wall Art

I had a large, bare wall in my studio. I had originally intended to hang a large Amelie poster on this wall, but what that wall is made out of proved too hard to drill a hole into.
So the wall sat bare for almost two years, until a recent purchase at Ikea gave me an idea. The small drawer unit I got came packed with several bricks of Styrofoam. Looking at the bricks, I thought that they would be the perfect thing to stick on the wall, since they were lightweight enough that I'd be able to use sticky tack instead of nails or screws and I could have some fun dressing them up.

My original idea was to cover the Styrofoam with fabric. I have some Marimekko Kioto fabric stretched over two small frames hanging over my bed, so I considered wrapping the bricks with that pattern.

I played around with it and fabric-wrapped Styrofoam looks really really crappy. I mean, ick. It was going to look like I wrapped the Styrofoam up like a birthday present.

I changed gears a bit and decided to paint the bricks. As much as I love stitching and sewing, sometimes I love painting more. It's more visceral and quicker, a bit more satisfying creatively, even if you are only painting solid colors on Styrofoam. I did a test brick, to make sure that nothing crazy would happen when I put acrylic paint on Styrofoam.

It turned out all right. I put a second coat on and started with the other bricks. I laid the bricks out in a pattern that I thought would look nice on the wall. However, once I picked the bricks up to paint them, I promptly forgot what the design was. I applied the paint lazily. I just squirted it out of the tube directly onto the Styrofoam and spread it on. There was no mixing of colors, no concern about brush strokes showing.

The project took longer than I anticipated, but was finished within a few days. The end result is a bit De Stijl ish, I suppose, though I was originally going for some sort of mid century look.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Love Never Dies

I like the The Phantom of the Opera. I used to play songs from the musical on the piano (and sing along) when I was a whippersnapper. I've read the novel several times. It wasn't until 2008 that I got to see the musical on the West End. Even 20 years out, the spectacle of the show was still breathtaking (though the music was a little dated).

When I first heard that there would be a sequel to Phantom of the Opera opening on the West End this year, then on Broadway, I was skeptical. I mean who is Lloyd Webber to just add onto the story?

Then I realized I was being a bit of a hypocrite. Why is okay for people to add on to and modify older stories, you know, those of the Greeks, but I'm getting all up in arms about Sir Lloyd Webber adding a new twist to this one? At the very least I owed this show the benefit of the doubt.

Now it's opened on the West End and it's apparently not too good. Confusing, stiffly acted, slow moving. But I still want to see it. I actually want to see it even more knowing that no one else is enjoying it. Aside from what is perceived as poor acting and weak choices, does the story warrant being extended? Can we find anything of value in transplanting the Phantom, et al to Coney Island ten years after the original ended?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Vegan Broccoli Soup

Last Friday, my tooth broke. This tooth had a long history of damage, starting when it was hit with a wiffle ball bat when I was 13 and ending last week when I rushed to the emergency dentist and he put in an acrylic crown. I get my real crown in a few weeks.

Until then, I have this rather large not real front tooth. It's a bit too big for my mouth and even though the dentist said I could eat, I'm finding chewing to be difficult because I can't bite properly.

So I've been eating soups and smoothies and other soft things for the most part. I'm a particularly big fan of broccoli cheddar soup. I usually use a recipe I got from Emeril on the Food Network's website. While I love that recipe, it does have copious amounts of fat in it, in the form of heavy cream, butter, and of course, the cheese.

I'm also feeling a bit guilty about my cheese habit and want to cut back. So, puttering around the Internet a few weeks ago, I found this recipe for a vegan broccoli cheese soup.

As you may have guessed, the "cheese" in this soup comes from nutritional yeast. It's pretty yummy, with a sharp, tangy taste. It won't fool anyone into thinking it's actually cheese but it's a darn fine soup in its own right.

I modified her recipe a bit. She says to steam your onion, which seems weird to me. I simply fried it in the oil, then added minced garlic (her recipe calls for garlic powder) and cooked the garlic till it was fragrant. I also reduced the size of the recipe by a quarter and used a squirt of liquid mustard instead of dry and a cup of no-chicken broth mixed with a cup of water.

Finally, I pureed the soup in the blender, since the whole point of this project is to have non-chunky yet still filling food.

It made enough for two servings of soup.
Here's a run down of what I did:

Chop 1 very small onion
Mince 2 cloves of garlic
Steam 5 ounces of broccoli (I used frozen)
Melt butter/margarine in saucepot
Add onion, fry until softened and slightly golden brown.
Add garlic, cook until fragrant.
Mix 1/4 cup nutritional yeast with 1/4 cup ap flour and about a teaspoon salt, add to onion/garlic mixture and stir or whisk to combine.
Throw in a pinch or so of dried thyme
Slowly pour in 1 cup of vegetable broth (Imagine's No-Chicken broth is awesome here) and 1 cup of water, stirring as you pour.
Stir/whisk until there are no chunks (obviously, onion bits are okay).
Squirt in a bit of mustard, stir.
Let simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in steamed broccoli, return to a simmer for a minute or two.
Puree in a blender.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My First Quilt

I saw this quilt back around the holidays and wanted to make one for my nana for Christmas. Well, stuff happened, mainly (this is my theory at least) a giant snow storm, and the fabric (Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane) I ordered for the quilt never showed up. After some e-mails back and forth with the company, they reshipped it and it finally got here at the end of January. So that means I started working on my nana's Christmas present a week ago.

I veered away from the other quilt a bit, my has more pieces, as you can see in the sloppy layout of the quilt below:

Figuring out how to array the fabric was a bit tricky, I would have done better to choose one additional fabric design. But for someone just guessing, I think it turned out all right layout-wise.

I ended up cutting two pieces 14.5" X 24.5" for the center panel, six pieces 15.5" X 5.5", six pieces 5.5" X 15.5", and two pieces 15.5" X 17" for the two corner panels. As you can see in the image, the 5.5" X 17" pieces are the long vertical strips and the 5.5" X 15.5" pieces are the horizontal strips.

I then lined the strips up and pinned them together, as shown above.

 Next, I sewed the strips together using what I call a 1/4 inch seam, but is really the edge of my presser foot. 


When the three strips were attached to each other, I pressed the seams and got the above. I repeated this with the remaining strips, making four panels total. I then attached the top 3 section panel to the middle 3 section panel, sewed those together and then attached one of the 15.5 X 17 panels to the bottom.
I sewed the middle two panels together, then lay that panel right side down on top of one of the other panels. I then arranged the panels on the batting and stitched them in place, as shown above. 
The third panel was placed face down on the middle panel and stitched to the batting. The seams were pressed open, then the back was placed right side down on top of what was now the quilt front. I pinned it in place and stitched around the edges with a half inch seam. I left a six or seven inch opening, trimmed the corners, turned the quilt out, and then top stitched around the edges to close the opening and give it a nice look. I got lazy and kinda quilted the back a bit, but since my machine isn't really a quilting machine and things were getting messy, I didn't go too crazy quilting the back.

And here's the finished quilt:
 Hope my nana likes it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow

It is snowing here in Philadelphia and I am not a huge fan of it. At this point, I don't think any one is. It has gone from being beautiful and majestic to quite the pain in the ass. I haven't left the house all day. And I spent all day Saturday indoors as well. This snow isn't really even snow so much as icy cold globules that are blowing every which way.

But, despite the fact that there are about two or three feet of the cold, sticky white stuff on the ground, and the fact that SEPTA buses stopped running at 5PM today, I have to find a way to trudge the 2+ miles up to my job tomorrow morning. I'm not sure how that will go just yet.

However, I find that I quite enjoy the National Weather Service's warnings about all the snow lately. On Tuesday, they described it as an explosively forming storm. And their blizzard warning for this evening is priceless:


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Writing Update

I've decided to give up on writing for Suite101. For those of you not familiar with it, Suite101 is an online magazine a la However, unlike, they do not guarantee their writers a set amount monthly. You make money from ad revenue. And you have to share your earnings with them.

I don't know what percent they give you. What I do know is that I started writing for them in July, I've written 12 articles for the site, and I've made less than $6.00. Total. That's not even enough to make pay-out (which is $10.00). So, I've written these articles and haven't made a dime. And worse yet, I've only made about 50 cents each article.

People criticize sites like Suite for the extremely low rates they pay. Poking around the internet, there are claims from people that they make $100+ monthly. That's what got me to even consider writing them. Apparently, one writer made $5,000 in one month. I don't know if that is true. What I do know is that that is definitely not true for me. So I don't even want to play anymore. It's not worth my time. I wish I could take those articles back and post them here, especially the recipes. I guess this was a learning experience.

Maybe I'm just bad at writing SEO articles. Or at choosing the most lucrative keywords. But really, it shouldn't be that hard. There's AdWords, which is a great little tool. And really, as a writer, shouldn't I be more concerned that people get something useful from an article over and above whether the keywords I've tagged bring in the most money per click?

In other upsetting news, Life123 has shut down it's writer's community. Which is a shame. I really enjoyed writing for that site. In addition to the basic community, I was also writing assigned, flat fee articles for them. Then suddenly, last week, I got a note from my editor letting me know that they won't be taking any more articles. It also seems that the staff of Life123 was let go. I'm bummed, because the flat fee articles were a great source of extra income. I was tempted to quit my temp job and write full time, between demand and life123, I definitely would have been able to make it work. And I'd have time to focus on my other, non-lucrative creative writing and on pitching more articles to other outlets.

Sigh. But here's a bit of good news: I did just start writing a short story that's been swimming around in my head for a few days.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shakespeare - A Woman?

Just finished reading about yet another theory regarding the true author of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. A scholar named John Hudson posits that a woman named Amelia Bassano Lanier actually wrote the plays and sonnets. His ideas are certainly interesting, Bassano was the mistress to a man who into falconing, and guess what shows up in the plays a lot? She ended up marrying a musician, her father was a musician, and the texts have over 2,000 references to music. Most intriguing is Hudson's idea that Bassano, a secret Jew, encoded transliterated Hebrew words and quotes from the Talmud into the canon. However, if there is secret Jewish code in the plays, his theory flies in the face of Clare Asquith's book Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare, which spent a considerable amount of time pointing out all the coded Catholic messages in Shakespeare's work.

Theories about Shakespeare's identity are fun, but I don't think they really serve any larger purpose. So what if Bassano actually wrote the plays and the sonnets? Does that change anything about them? Does that change the import we've placed upon them? 400 years later, and does it really matter who the person Shakespeare was? Authorship studies are rather foolish, since they direct attention away from the work and focus it elsewhere. Are you really reading and studying a text if you are so busy digging for clues? Can detectives be academics?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What Does a Dramaturg Do?

Several people have come to this blog looking for the answer to the above question. Since the word dramaturg is in my blog's title and I do ostensibly identify as one (hello, my dusty little MFA), I figured I should help a googler or two out and answer the question. Or at least attempt to.

Dramaturgs tend to wear many hats at a theater. There's the production dramaturg, who does research on a specific play, helps with casting, and as one of my professors liked to stress, makes sure the play's story comes through loud and clear. A dramaturg situates herself in the world of the play; I guess you could say she acts as a gatekeeper or protector of the play, though that has weird connotations that I'd rather not connote. In addition to researching the play's story and world, the dramaturg also researches the play's performance history (ie what did other productions do with the play?) and response (criticism) to the play. Dramaturgs work directly with directors and help designers with research as well.

Dramaturgs also create ways to help the actors and audience into the play. This includes actor packets, which are full of research tidbits and pictures, and a program note and lobby display. Some dramaturgs do a presentation at the first rehearsal. My experience with this has been both incredibly unpleasant and all right.

Dramaturgs sometimes (most times, okay) fill the role of literary managers too. Literary managers deal with script/play submissions at a theater. Many theaters use some sort of database to track play submissions, LMs are responsible for maintaining that database.They read new plays or at least delegate the reading of new plays to script readers and respond to playwrights with either a yes or a no or a not this play, but do you have others? Literary managers help to choose the theater's season, help to arrange readings of new works, and work with literary agents and playwrights.

Some dramaturgs are also straddled with the role of education director. Dramaturgs who are also responsible for a theater's educational department arrange for school groups to come in to see the plays, create study guides for students, and lead talk backs and discussions.

Dramaturgs are also occasionally given the task of translating and adapting a work, which is my favorite aspect of dramaturgy. 

I hope this description is helpful for all who are looking for an answer. If you want more information on dramaturgy and literary management, <a href="">Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas</a> is a great resource.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

A day late, but still. I'm hoping to make some pretty moderate to big changes in my life this year, stay tuned for more.

As far as the blog goes, keep an eye for more recipe reviews in the '10 as well as few sewing tutorials and I'm going to try to write more about theater, etc.

Best wishes.

New Life123 Article

How Do You Make Homemade Pizza?

Life123 is now suggesting titles, which I think is great. The above article is my newest. Pizza's pretty easy to make at home, I'm kinda surprised more people don't do it.