Monday, August 31, 2009

More about sea moss

Maybe you thought one posting about this very arcane, odd substance was enough, but I received the following message from my friend, Amy M., and I had to share it.

"When we were up at Prince Edward Island, Irish Moss is harvested in this incredibly beautiful, 'old time' way-- during storms, on horses! There is a museum in Miminigash about Irish Moss, and a project called Women In Support of Fishing, which runs a little place called Seaweed Pie Cafe, where one can eat Seaweed Pie and buy dried Irish Moss. I got a little burlap bundle of it, which came with a recipe called Irish Moss Pie Filling or Blanc Mange.

Seaweed Pie itself was more like a strawberry pie as I recall, with the moss used more as the thing that held it all together.

My little burlap bundle might have just enough dried seaweed for one round of pie. Here's a recipe I found online:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I read the news today

It was not quite 7 am and I was the only one awake, here in my house. I put on the coffee and went out to pick up the newspapers from the front walk.

The Boston Globe had the story. Senator Ted Kennedy died last night.

Not unexpected, of course. His absence at his sister, Eunice's, funeral was a clear indication of how sick he was. The blow lands hard, nonetheless.

I moved to Massachusetts in 1975 and Teddy was my senator from the start. I heard him speak in person once, at an unscripted event in support of a local hospital, I think it was. He rambled and rambled. I was reminded of the Doonesbury comic strip where a reporter called out, "A verb, Senator, a verb."

He was a flawed lion. He got away with manslauaghter, probably, and I don't know if that is forgivable. He also suffered terrible losses -- the war-time death of one brother, the murder of two others, the death of his sisters, his own son's cancer, the travails of nephews and nieces.

In the end, though, I think he will be remembered for tireless efforts, unto his deathbed, to make the world a better place, to challenge America to live up to her highest calling. And to provide health care for all of us. (May his colleagues in the Senate see to it that his dream comes to be, and in his name.)

The noisy and noisome chatter of television and blogosphere has already begun. His memory will be flogged for ratings. His life story will be parsed and pilloried and beatified. There will eventually be complaints about how too much attention is being paid to the loss of this one flawed, gifted, generous man.

At the moment, I am grateful to have gotten the news of his death the way I did. In print and in silence. I could hear my own sigh and feel the loss.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Movie Update

Not even The New Yorker reviewer could resist.

Critic David Denby writes, "Julie & Julia” is one of the gentlest, most charming American movies of the past decade. Its subject is less food as something to cook than food as the binding and unifying element of dinner parties, friendship, and marriage."

Go see it. Bon appetit.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer Movies

Not so much the bloody, exploding blockbusters, but I do tend to go to the movies more during the summer months. Just the way I tend to read more in the summer. So here's what I've seen so far:

The best. Inventive, heart-felt, funny and beautiful. Best movie for grown-ups since WALL-E.

The Girl from Monaco:
a really silly, totally French comedy. Absurd, offensive, delightful.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:
For my money not the best of the franchise, of which I am a big fan (both books and movies) but it's great to see the kids growing up. And I can't get enough of Alan Rickman.

Away We Go
: Delightful small movie with a great cast. Thanks to my friend Aliza who insisted I see it.

The Proposal:
One of the worst movies I've ever seen. I'm okay with stupid romantic comedies and I wasn't expecting much but this one was really stinky: bad script, flat performances and no chemistry between the stars. I only went because some of the externals were shot in Rockport, MA, but there weren't enough of those to compensate for the rest.

Summer Hours: Another French film, which was a bit oversold to me as the best thing since sliced baguettes (Dontcha hate when people do that?) Still, a lot of fun in that wistful, global Gallic way. And the last song on the soundtrack took me straight back to high school: The Incredible String Band!

500 Days of Summer: Who new LA could be so pretty? Loved the way this one cut forward and back, and there is one scene where our hero, Ted, finally realizes that it's over with summer and the world turns into a drawing that is then erased. Haven't seen a more articulate and poetic sequence since Amalie splashed to the floor, undone by disappointment.

Next up: Julie and Julia -- Meryl Streep, a script by Nora Ephron, and all that food? Who can resist?

Any other must-see suggestions?

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Mass MOCA is not a big cup of chocolate-flavored coffee but an acronym for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a huge and wonderful playground for the senses located in North Adams. Once a thriving manufacturing center that long ago fell on hard times, the town is set in the stunning green hills of western Massachusetts. Some years back,several of the handsome brick mill buildings (square footage up the wazoo) were turned into a center for far-out art.

I had meant to visit for years and this summer, thanks to a lovely invitation from friends who summer in the Berkshires, I finally got there and saw a huge show of the works of Sol Lewitt. When I say huge, I mean it fills a whole mill building where walls were constructed to accommodate.

This is high-concept art to the max; if you wanted to purchase a Lewitt, you don't buy the drawing or painting but the directions for making it. Exactly like a musical score. Someone else must "play" it -- or post it. Not on paper or canvas but directly onto a wall.

If you erase or tear down the wall, you still own the work of art, in that you maintain the right to have it redrafted/painted on another wall.

Sounds very abstract and indeed, there is a "machine-like" quality to some the scores for many of these pieces, which are variations on themes of colors and lines.

But they are also, many of them, full of color and humor and good cheer. They are also enormous, which makes them feel exuberant and positive.

This was one of my favorites.

The show will be up for the next twenty-five years (at least) so you have time to visit, too.