28 June 2007

Over and over and over again

I just finished watching the lovely film Gosford Park for probably the 37th time and I can't quite put my finger on why it is I never get tired of it. "It's a Robert Altman masterpiece," you tell me in a knowing tone, "of course you don't get sick of it. The layered dialogue, the brilliant acting, the elegant staging, hot hot hot Clive Owen (holy crap, I can't even talk about it)--there's so much to digest!" True, to be sure. The problem with all that is it doesn't quite explain away my ability to watch the following list of films over and over and over again:

Breathtaking, right? I absolutely could watch any one of these movies any time of any day and be completely content--try me sometime. You may have heard me refer to these four in particular as "Forester Family Favorites". Granted, I do have some more worthy selections in this over and over and over again category, like:

...but still, I can't come up with a common theme. I wouldn't call any of these "all time" favorites (actually, that was a lie--two of them are definitely on that list), yet there's something sweet and comforting and constantly renewable about them. Do other people have these? I think I can guess what Renee's is:

27 June 2007

Miss Noel's House of Dreams

I'm not one for pomp and circumstance, but I do enjoy a good festivity now and again. Graduation at the Paramount Theater was all well and good, but what was really getting me through as I sweated over page 106 of my thesis was the after party I had planned with my family and friends at this pink anomaly:

T.J.s Ginger Bread House

I've been driving past this place on my way to the Webster tube for almost two years now and until three weeks ago it lived only in my dreams, shrouded in myth. What was a baby pink, heart-covered Victorian claiming to be a cajun restaurant doing wedged underneath the BART tracks and 880 south a mere stone's throw from blighted West Oakland? After a year of timid drive-bys I was tempted to drop in, but then a little birdie told me that besides needing a reservation waaaaaay in advance, you need to order your food ahead of time...what was this place?!

I knew wondrous things must be waiting for me inside, so I decided I'd wait and book an inaugural visit in honor of my graduation. A couple weeks before the date I called the number and spoke with a lovely woman who turned out to be Miss Noel (emphasis on the "Miss"): our hostess, server, quizmaster, entertainer and confidante for the evening. She asked me to come in as soon as possible to pick up menus (no place could be less online) so I could get everyone's order in ahead of time. I would have asked why this was necessary (out of curiosity--not contrariness) but she had just mentioned that she'd give me a cookie and a lemonade when I picked them up, so I hardly had time to hang up the phone before the screen door hit my bum on the way out to the car. I didn't get a cookie--but I did get a hug from Miss Noel and something that looked like this:

That's my sister holding a plate of "sassy" cornbread smothered in what can only be described as movie-theatre popcorn butter. Sensational.

Miss Noel and I quickly bonded and set our date for the 16th of June. It was one of the great events of my life--we were treated to fruit salad and fruit punch, games of chance and skill, and tips on life and love from Miss Noel herself. At one point she pulled a knife out of her apron--no joke!-- to show us how she protects a pretty little bit of a thing like herself. Here she is pulling out another recommendation:

Germs are nothing to kid about.

Miss Noel was one of those sweet people that talk like they've known you forever, which is very touching and sweet until you start to feel really awkward about nodding your head so much while they go on and on. Eventually you realize that you have nothing to say in return because you're not one of those people, so you just blather on with "thank you so much!" and "so true!" and my favorite: thhe upward sliding "ahhhh." The whole evening was this on-your-toes mix of being put at your ease without ever feeling easy. The highlights (sponsored by Ted on the Web, the West Coast's expert on "awkward") included a rope puzzle that kept Gnu and Alisa literally tied up for much longer than was entertaining for anyone (I won't post the pictures because I'm pretty sure Alisa and/or Whitney would kill me), and a 15 minute lecture Erica received extolling personal safety for the single woman. Also, there's this gem:

My pop ended up willingly posing for a picture with a flower in his hair (I told you wondrous things were waiting inside). We also snapped what is maybe the greatest ever photo of the grandmas:

A glorious time was had by all.

21 June 2007


I graduated with my masters in museum studies last Saturday. Joy. May I never know the misery of a thesis project ever again.

I've not been myself since I started writing this thing last fall...and to prove it, here is a list of things I've lost in the last 10 months:

1. 12 lbs.

2. the screw that used to hold on the rear fender of my car (and paint in three places)

3. $40K

4. a Some Crust Bakery travel mug

5. my patience

Of course, I've gained some things as well. I tried to list them, but it wasn't funny--so let me just say this: I feel very blessed. Very loved. Very supported, encouraged and believed in. Thanks to anyone who has listened to me talk about learning theory or community collaboration or exhibition design. Thanks to everyone who came to the Europa show. Thanks to anyone who touched a cockroach at the Science Center last summer. Thanks to anyone who admitted they'd never heard of the Oakland Museum even though they've lived in the East Bay all their life. Thanks to the La Brea tarpits and the Hall of Health and the subway car they displayed at LACMA when I was a kid. Thanks to farmers' markets. Thanks to whoever organized the public pillow fight on Valentine's Day.

And more personally...thanks to my parents and their social liberalism (which is surprisingly not at odds with their moral conservativism). Thanks to my blind grandmas and my work-weary grandpas. Thanks to my stylish sister, and thanks to my ADD brothers. Everything I've learned has its source in all of you.

I love my job.

07 June 2007

Have a cookie

And here's a post about cookies--never let it be said that I don't keep a promise...

I made them special, just for you. And because I love you so much, I've posted the recipe below (show a blog reader a cookie, and they wish they were at your place; show them a recipe, and they'll still wish they were at your place because most people are too lazy to make their own G D cookies). It comes from one of the several super-old crusty cookbooks my mom keeps for just the one recipe inside that we actually use. Snickerdoodles 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup shortening 1 1/2 cup sugar 2 eggs 2 1/4 cups flour 2 tsp cream of tartar 1 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt plus... 2 Tbsp sugar 2 tsp cinnamon Cream butter, shortening, sugar and eggs together. Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, mix together cinnamon sugar. Roll dough into balls in the palm of your hand, then roll each one through the cinnamon sugar to completely coat. Bake cookies at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. In 8th grade I had to get all my teachers to sign a slip so I could be in the annual bike-a-thon because my midterm grades were prohibitively low (which was not uncommon for me, but was, as usual, a complete surprise to most of my teachers). US History teacher Mr. Bunte said he would sign the slip if I did some extra credit. This extra credit consisted of making snickerdoodles, which he told me were George Washington's favorite cookies, and he wanted me to try to make them on a barbeque so they'd be more authentic. When I came home and told my mom, she said, "Washington's favorite my ass--sounds like snickerdoodles are Mr. Bunte's favorite. Use the oven--your teacher's an idiot."

06 June 2007

Welcome Welcome

I thought I'd begin this blog with a little trip to an art opening in the hopes of coming off as much more cultured than I deserve to have a reputation for. In reality, I watch far too much television to be considered truly cultured--and I hate ballet. This is an installation shot of my friend Casey's solo show "There Is No End To Matter" showing at Swarm in Jack London Square until June 17th.
Casey calls himself a Mormon artist (not "LDS") and I like this so much about him. The pieces have all these spiritual and cultural elements woven together that speak about how we don't compartmentalize this stuff (or at least I don't). Spirit and matter, art and life, religion and culture, purity and filth...it's all in this pot of mortality where every bit is touching every other bit. His artist's statement is rad:

1. The artist is tired of "Mormon Art" that is illustrative, didactic, manipulative, saccharine, and poorly executed; and 2. The artist is tired of "Contemporary Art", that is didactic, elitist, text-heavy, political, far-left-leaning, spiritually void, unattractive, pornographic, anti-religion, soul-less, and poorly executed.

Ya feeling that? I feel like he's created this aesthetic that I can relate to on a very contemporary and personal level. I was thrilled by what I saw--occassionally moved, and entirely stimulated. I like when audiences are encouraged to reject constructed dichotomy.
Aw crap. I blew it, didn't I? I said "dichotomy" in my first blog entry--now you'll never come back, right?! I'm sorry! I'll make it up to you, I swear! My next entry will be about puppies or kites or cookies, I promise. Anyway, this is me looking very happy to be so close to a collage of Book of Mormon illustrations (a la the primary felt storyboard).

I also want to mention the sad departure of Ali, who has gone off to teach art to the unschooled barbarian tribes of the mountain west. Bon voyage, and good luck. FYI--Ali actually touched one of the artworks--I saw it with my own eyes! It was appalling! Here she is keeping a respectful distance for appearance sake:

She is standing in front of a collection of Casey's church drawings, which I highly recommend you take a look at--they represent years of drawing in sacrament meeting and various assorted auxiliary meetings. They are fabulous: http://www.caseyjexsmith.com/drawings/drawings.htm

And here is Mackenzie, who also seemed to have it out for the art:

Being proud of ourselves for spending a very urban-chic evening out, we ended the evening at mine and Alisa's favorite ever Indian restaurant, Breads of India. I ordered chicken tikki masala. It's the only thing I ever order there; it's the only thing I will ever order there. It was a big table because, though urban-chic, we are still very mormon.