Tuesday, November 30, 2010

now here's an idea for a summer top

avoiding work (essays, essays, more essays, and some studying for neuro and bio!) - saw this lovely outfit on lookbook.nu.


It seems that I could get my hands on two coordinating silk scarves, sew them together, and come out with something pretty cool!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

tableaux vivants

just finished my essay rewrite on The House of Mirth - in particular, the scene in which Lily takes part in   the tableaux vivants, and causes a sensation.

"She had shown her artistic intelligence in selecting a type so like her own that she could embody the person represented without ceasing to be herself.  It was as though she had stepped, not out of, but into, Reynold's canvas, banishing the phantom of his dead beauty by the beams of her living grace."

so, a short post dedicated to one of the art forms that fascinates me most (if you dare to call it an art form).

came across this interesting project from a while ago - the Friends of Riverfront in Beloit, Wisconsin recreated Seurat's painting "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte - 1884."


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

story of my life...

another playlist post...

I've been a non-architecture major for almost a year now...and I still have my "archi time" playlist...and listen to it often.  oh yeah.  completely random. (and this is only part of it...)

Monday, November 22, 2010

top 25 most played

after a year and a half -

i think it would have been interesting to have taken a look at this a year ago, and intervals after that, to see the evolution of my music tastes....or would it have been so very different, even?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

artists abroad

favorites -

Alvin Langdon Coburn - St. Paul's Cathedral, 1905 (photogravure)

Joseph Pennell - Charing Cross Bridge at Night, 1909 (mezzotint)

Edward Darley Boit - St. Peter's, Rome, 1912 (watercolor)
huge - 59.4 x 104.1 cm
also much better in real life, when you can actually see the watercolor brush strokes (dancing light, it seems)

and these two, just because they are so tiny!
James Wells Champney - Two Women in a Restaurant, 1866-67 (graphite and wash on paper)
6.6 x 11.7 cm!

James Wells Champney - Man In Restaurant, 1866-67 (graphite and wash on paper)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

art of the americas grand opening @ the mfa

AND now I can say I've attended a community day at the MFA.  Plus a grand opening.  Not like I particularly took part in the opening festivities, but I still witnessed it.  That counts...right?

Community day - free admission to all!  Not like it matters, because I already get free admission with my MIT student ID.  Oh well.  I got there ten minutes after opening (I walked; it was so nice! - and according to google maps, it's only 1.6 miles from campus....and tell me again WHY I have been taking the T to the MFA all this time?).  By then, the line was halfway around the block - not like it really mattered.  It moved quickly, and in the meantime I got to amuse myself watching the BU marching band play in the [relative] cold and sip warm apple cider for free (comment from guy in front of me - "If apple cider was caffeinated I bet nobody would drink coffee anymore").  Um, NOT giving up my coffee, but apple cider IS pretty amazing anyway.

I wore a red sweater just because I felt like it - and ha, I forgot that the MFA logo is basically red, and, consequently, all of the employees and volunteers were wearing red.  Yup.  Lost in a sea of red. haha.

stairs in the new wing.....

so - also saw a few new exhibitions that opened today -
Artists Abroad: London, Paris, Venice, and Rome 1825-1925
Fresh Ink: Ten Takes on Chinese Tradition

If Fresh Ink was a huge, theatrical installment, Artists Abroad was anything but.  Both were excellent all the same, in their own way.  More to come later...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

william henry fox talbot

inventor of the calotype (patented 1841) - this involved a new concept of negative, from which multiple positive images could be made (unlike the daguerreotype, which was a one-off deal).

Fox Talbot was born/lived/died at Lacock Abbey (now a National Trust property).  A lovely place (including Lacock Village) - I hope I can go back and spend more time there soon!

latticed window at Lacock Abbey, 1835


Lacock Abbey - the cloisters - now (er, a year and a half ago...).  The parts that were in Harry Potter.

Speaking of Harry Potter...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

facebook note; why not...

Have you read more than 6 of these books?  The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte 
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling 
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee 
6 The Bible
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott  
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien  
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck 
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis 
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis 
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving 
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen 
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas 
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville  
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens 
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens 
 82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell 8
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton 
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad 
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl 
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

gossip girls

So I got hooked on Gossip Girls a few weeks ago...bad idea.

Anyway, I'm still on episode 4 but just saw pictures from the latest episode, 8 - Juliet Doesn't Live Here Anymore.  The dresses are stunning!  My fave would be Serena's, by Zuhair Murad.


Monday, November 15, 2010

wheel of emotions

created by Robert Plutchik in 1980 - composed of 8 basic emotions and 8 advanced emotions.

yup, I think that would put me in the purple/blue range right now.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


"No man can ever make a beautiful image out of his private imagination unless he has replenished his mind by much painting from life.  That can no longer be called private study but has become Kunst acquired and gained by study, which germinates, grows and becomes fruitful of its kind."
      - Albrecht Durer

Kunst, a sort of marriage between knowledge and art....I think I've found myself a new favorite word!

And may I please apply Durer's ideas about art and observation from nature to my last post on Bach's Inventions?  (Oh discipline...)

Praying Hands, 1508

(I love hands...)

I posted a few of Durer's self-portraits here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

on bach and the simple pleasures in life

Got back to dorm from lecture for my two hour lunch break - to hear somebody practicing (rather badly) Bach's Invention No. 1.  Which reminded me of those lovely times in grade school when I actually had time to practice piano an hour a day (or rather, my mom told me to get up an hour early to practice before school, because it "warmed up" my brain).

Of all the Bach pieces that I've played, his Inventions are probably my favorites - more than the Preludes and Fugues - because they are so simple, yet somehow complex!  In two pages of music and a single theme expressed in only two voices but so many different colors, one can understand true music.  Don't get me wrong, I love the Romantics, and I deeply respect the improvisational skills of jazz and popular pianists, but I believe that a person cannot truly become a full pianist until they have played all of the Bach Inventions.  (Including that beast of a piece, Invention No. 8 in F Major - I'm not sure I've ever heard a person play it at a recital or a competition without messing it up!  I have no idea why, it's not that difficult of a piece, but I, too, have fallen into The Trap).

Whoops - I guess I'm not a full pianist yet either; I think I've only learned about half of the Inventions!  (My new project for Christmas break?).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

First of all, happy Veterans/Remembrance Day and may I say that this is an excellent song!

Second - no morning MFA trip for me :(  Turns out, the Americans Abroad exhibition that I was so excited to see is not open yet.  Earlier the website had said it was opening on 11 Nov; now it says it's opening on the 20th.  So that's when I will be going!  Still annoyed about that bit....but at least when I go, I will be seeing the NEW MFA, in its entirety!  Their Art of the Americas Wing opens to members tomorrow, but not to the public until...also, 20 Nov. (Oh my goodness, it's going to be absolutely MANIC there!!!).  Until then, I shall be in anticipation!  53 new galleries, and over 5,000 works of art displayed.

So, instead of a museum trip, I had a little shopping outing this morning.  Grocery shopping, that is.  A 35 minute walk to Chinatown, where they have the freshest and cheapest produce that I know.  Oh, and I was going to take the T on the way back, but it was such a lovely day, I needed the exercise, and....well, you see so much more walking than you do taking trains underground.

Speaking of seeing things - not one, not two, but FOUR Vespas on the way back (totally made my morning) - two yellow ones (both within a block of each other), a red one, and a very luxe cream one.  I couldn't resist stopping to take a picture (groceries and all) of the first yellow one.....a bad picture, but a picture all the same.

oh, and how the autumn-y morning walk looked down Boyleston St -

Well, the brownies in the oven are calling me - off to get my chocolate fix of the day!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

are my eyes playing tricks on me?

Seeing as I've been studying neuro ALL WEEKEND for an exam on Monday, the very thought of which ABSOLUTELY gives me a bad feeling in the stomach, and I am frankly sick of it right now, I may as  well make a pseudo-helpful review post.

The topic being VISION! and optical illusions!  Well, here's just one optical illusion as an example.

Chevreul's Illusion:

Chevreul's illusion consists of vertical stripes of varying luminance.  The luminance is actually constant within each stripe, however - so why does it seem like the borders of each stripe is slightly different in luminance from its interior?

Let's see if it is possible to explain this using as few technical terms as possible.

So starting at the (relative) beginning, there are several different layers of cells in our retinas.  Because our eyes are just that cool.

One type of cell is the photoreceptor (you know - rods and cones, for seeing in black and white, and color).  The photoreceptors convert light energy into changes into membrane potential.  Changes in membrane potential mean voltages change across neuronal cell membranes and neurons fire, and...after all this communication business, signals get to our brains and stuff happens.  In this case, we see.

Well, photoreceptors communicate with the other layers of cells in the retina.  The cells at the end of the line, so to speak, are the ganglion cells.  Ganglion cells are the only cells that bring information from the retina to the brain (via the optic nerve).

Each ganglion cell has a receptive field - receptive field is an area of the retina that, when stimulated with light, changes the cell's membrane potential.  Most ganglion cells have a concentric center-surround receptive field organization.  Meaning, there is this bulls-eye type thing that makes the cell respond differently based on if the light goes in the center, or in the surrounding area.  Diagrammed something like this (image taken from wikipedia):

Furthermore, in retinal ganglion cells, the center-surround organization of the receptive fields leads to a neural response that emphasizes the contrast of light-dark edges:

(picture taken from Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain, 3rd edition by Bear, Connors, Paradiso); preview from google books here.

So looking back to Chevreul's illusion, you can see how a ganglion cell could get confused - and respond more if it's receptive field is at the border of two stripes rather in the middle of one stripe.

(Okay, sorry for all the buildup and then a really lame partial conclusion).

There's a good explanation with a diagram and everything for a different optical illusion, the Hermann grid, here.  I was just too lazy to draw out a diagram for the Chevreul illusion with ganglion cells superimposed all over different parts of it.

And so ends my ridiculously confusing account of one type of optical illusion.  I think never again should I attempt something like this.  Okay, back to real studying...

it's been a while...

but this week has been crazy!  and this coming week is going to be pretty bad as well!!! :(

anyway, a quick post - Harper Bazaar's Best Dressed 2010 list is out.  Carey Mulligan got Best Dressed Woman of the Year - I feel like she can be a bit hit-and-miss sometimes - but I guess that's more of a personal preference thing.  Mostly I love her style.

Oh, and the short hair - reminds me of how I recently saw a picture of Emma Watson - sporting a new hair cut!  (apparently she wasn't allowed to cut her hair while she was filming the Harry Potter movies).  Not used to the short hair, but they both look fab!  I envy those who have the facial bone structure to be able to pull off those kind of cuts.  I would certainly look like a man if I tried that!

Some of my fave looks:

 Nina Ricci

source: Telegraph

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

guess who!

today's subject of scrutiny is skinny scarf man.

Quite a contemporary looking figure, yes?

Well, here's the full image.

date: 1764
artist: Angelica Kauffmann
subject: Johann Joachim Winckelmann, German art historian and archaeologist

not so young (or particularly alive) anymore then, eh?

Monday, November 1, 2010

my favorites from the project runway finalists

still sore from the way season 8 of project runway turned out.  but anyway, my highlights from the final collections.

mondo guerra:

andy south:

gretchen jones:

yes, that's right; i didn't like most of gretchen's stuff.  and it all looked the same! mondo was my fave...

eggshell fascination...

Well, I've rediscovered my liking for hard boiled eggs (something definitely related to the minimal amount of clean-up that making hard boiled eggs entails).

I also developed a sort of fascination for eggshells along the way.  Not only because they have a lovely shape (which they do), but also because when you break them, the jagged edges are so awesome!  (Plus, I had fun peeling off the eggshell membrane stuff...which, surprisingly, dries kind of leathery like).  Oh, and I love all the different tonal values in a 'white' eggshell.