Monday, January 31, 2011

black swan - the good

I saw Black Swan a few weeks ago, and there's no doubt that it's a very well done (and trippy!) film.  I am not exactly a scary movie person, though, and it totally freaked me out (OMG, like, do I sound like a total valley girl right now?).  I probably won't ever want to see the movie again, but there are some great (visual) aspects to it that make me want to go back to it!

1. Costume design by Rodarte.  To clear some things up, this was a collaboration with costume designer Amy Westcott - Rodarte was only really involved with 7 pieces.  I write "costume design by Rodarte" only because the few pieces that I really liked happened to be by Rodarte.  An interesting interview with Amy Westcott here.

My favorite piece was the dress that Natalie Portman wears to the toasting/party; the back was exquisite! Unfortunately I can't find an actual picture of it, at the moment.

I also loved the ballet costumes...although I feel like a lot of ballet costumes look very similar!  Love this shot, though - 

and this sketch of the black swan costume -

2. Gorgeous promo posters by Empire, the handmade likes of which I have not seen in a very long time, if ever!  The first and last ones are my favorite.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

funny similarities

not only in tune/opening notes, but also vaguely in subject...

i had listened to these songs before, but it was only recently, when i listened to 'say goodbye' that i realized this! (i listened to 'safe' multiple times this past month).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

one year

wow - hard to believe that I've been on this blog for a year now!

I started out this blog just for me.  I wanted a way to record the things that inspired me.  As the year went on, what was supposed to be art and fashion that appealed to me expanded to become a record of exciting (and not so exciting) things that happened in my life.  Music.  Walks on the beach.  Sewing projects, successful or otherwise.  And yes, even a scientific post about the eye and visual fields.  So what a surprise that some people (if even a few) actually read this blog!

vivo per lei may be all over the place, but it is most definitely me.  And now that it's all over the place, I'm keeping it that way.

To those who continue following, thank you.  I like sharing a little bit of my life with whoever is curious enough :)

(And followers beware of multiple attempts of mine to impress my musical tastes upon you).

Oh, it comes!

not the original version, of course, but I really like it!  Andrea Bocelli, Hayley Westenra, AND ice skating!  What more can a girl ask?

Friday, January 28, 2011

fresh candied ginger

So I broke down and bought a pound of ginger in Chinatown today...couldn't resist (what with the price, and the thought of yummy ginger flavored food in weeks to come).  Of course, after I got back, I soon realized just how much ginger this was.  Like, 2 very large chunks, and 2 smaller ones.

Solution - candied ginger.  Why not?  It's my favorite, it's expensive to buy (not to mention, difficult to find really good, strong candied ginger in the States), and school doesn't start until Tuesday.

I used the recipe from the Food Network, because all the other recipes seemed to think that the sugar couldn't recrystallize, and you would have to coat the ginger pieces with EXTRA sugar later on.

Here it is (with annotations from me, in red).

nonstick spray (although admittedly, I never actually used this).
1 pound fresh ginger root
5 cups water
approximately 1 pound granulated sugar


Spray a cooling rack with nonstick spray and set it in a half sheet pan lined with parchment.  (I didn't have any of this, so I just used a clean plate and hoped that nothing would stick.  It didn't).

Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8-inch thick slices. Place into a 4-quart saucepan with the water and set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the ginger is tender.  
(You need just need enough water to cover the ginger).

Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  (I also didn't have a I just poured out all the gingery cooking liquid into another dish, and saved all of it - you'll see why later).

Weigh the ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar.  (surprise, surprise, no scale, so I just estimated.  Probably used less sugar that it called for, but no problem at all).

Return the ginger and 1/4 cup water to the pan and add the sugar. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize, approximately 20 minutes. 

About that recrystallization time of 20 minutes...well, mine took more like an hour, but that could have been because my heat wasn't on very high.  Lesson: DON'T BE AFRAID OF SUPER-BUBBLY SUGAR WATER!  Mine came to a boil, then I turned down the heat, and tried to keep it down low enough so the whole thing wouldn't bubble like crazy.  After about 50 minutes I got impatient and turned the heat up - voila! The whole thing foamed up, the ginger/sugar thing became more like a giant foamy mass, and it was done!

Transfer the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and spread to separate the individual pieces. (Once again, I just dumped the ginger pieces onto a plate, and made sure the pieces were spread out.  Since everything was all recrystallized, the pieces were dry and not so sticky.  Of course, if I hadn't waited for the sugar to recrystallize, then the parchment paper would have come in handy).

Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Save the sugar that drops beneath the cooling rack and use to top ginger snaps, sprinkled over ice cream or to sweeten coffee.

And here is my lovely ginger!  (I didn't make a full pound - more like half a pound, in case this was a total disaster).

Oh, and something the recipe didn't mention - there was a whole lot of sugar left over, not only large chunks stuck to the ginger, but large chunks stuck to the bottom and sides of my saucepan.

Yup, there it all is.

After scraping around and removing the loose sugar to save for later, I dumped that cooked ginger water into my saucepan.  And added the same amount of plain water as I had that ginger liquid, to dilute (that stuff is strong!).  I soaked the solution (if it's too hard to unstick, gentle heating should do the trick), and the result?  Something resembling non-fizzy ginger beer!  Actually, I bet if I diluted with club soda instead of water, that would work.

Anyway, this is supposed to take an hour, but since this was my first time, and I made ginger drink at the end, it probably took twice as long.

Still, completely worth it.  I will definitely do this again!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

silver screen 2010/six films you may or may not remember

The King’s Speech, True Grit, Inception, and The Social Network garnered the most Oscar nominations.  But what about the films that didn’t get an Oscar nod?  Here are six of the good and the mediocre.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Based off a graphic novel series, the boy-meets-girl story gets a gamer makeover.  Michael Cera is Scott Pilgrim, the same awkward teen character that he always plays; it’s just a relief that this time, gravity-defeating action sequences and actresses like Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong can save the movie from Year One disaster.

Robin Hood
This movie may be Gladiator with bows and arrows, but I’m not complaining.   Russell Crowe is in top corruption-crushing shape, and a 140-minute epic about Robin Hood before he became famous is at least an original idea.  Plus, none of the men wear tights.  Instead, a spunky Cate Blanchett takes gender role mix-ups into her own hands by donning armor (sound familiar, Elizabeth?).

Nowhere Boy
Beautiful and bittersweet in the style of An Education, this British import tells the story of John Lennon before he became famous.  Nowhere Boy may seem like the usual famous-person-struggles-with-inner-demons type film, but the performance by each actor is superb.  Most notable is the relationship between tough boy Lennon (Aaron Johnson) and sensitive/gentle McCartney (played by Thomas Sangster – remember him as brooding lovesick kid in Love Actually?).

Date Night
Two of the funniest people in the American film industry get together and come up with…Date Night?  Thankfully, Steve Carrell and Tina Fey have just enough spontaneous moments to make up for the cliché married couple humor and not-so-active action sequences.  I certainly won’t forget the awkwardly hilarious pole-dancing episode.

A horse that thinks he’s a dog, tough guys singing about their appreciation for the finer things in life, and an awesome chameleon.  And who ever knew you could do that much with a frying pan?  Even if you don’t want to admit that Rapunzel and her bandit boyfriend are cool, you have to admit that Disney’s continued attempts to churn out musical movies are rather welcome.

*edit - Tangled technically shouldn't be in this list, as it got one nomination for Best Original Song.  Still, that's only one nomination...

Letters to Juliet
Never mind the sloppy American attempt at Love ActuallyLetters to Juliet was the chick flick of the year.  With Amanda Seyfried playing another Sophie and Christopher Egan as annoying but charming pretty boy, who cares if the plot is predictable and cliché?  My main objection involved Taylor Swift’s obligatory but ill timed “Love Story” playing at the end of the movie.  Not to mention that three-quarters of the movie takes place in Italy, and not one scene contains a Vespa.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

p&p 2005, a sort of retrospective review

Last night I watched the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice.  You can never have too much romance and costume drama, right?

I soon realized that the only reason why I watch this movie is because of the costumes and the music.  Let's be honest, once a person has watched the 1995 BBC version enough times, the new version becomes unbearable.  And no, it is not merely the absence of a "lake scene" that makes me feel this way about the 2005 version.

At first, I didn't like the 2005 version as much because it was so much shorter.  One really does need an entire mini-series to fully develop the story line.  However, it really hit me this time how much the general acting just bothers me.  No, I am not referring to those completely improbable situations like rain-drenched marriage proposal scenes, midnight visits from angry members of the gentry, or random rendezvous in the meadow in the wee hours of the morning, or even the extremely awkward "Mrs. Darcy" scene in the alternate US ending.  Rather, I am referring to the rushed nature of the dialogue: Matthew Macfayden's fastest proposal ever ("IhavestruggledinvainandIcanbearitnolonger."), and Keira Knightley's declaration of her love for Mr. Darcy to Mr. Bennet, in particular.

To be fair, I much prefer some of the actors in this film to the ones in the BBC production.  A clear winner is Mary Bennet, portrayed as just a lost and awkward girl, too shy to be a part of her older sisters' special club and too intellectual to join in with her feather-brained younger sisters and mother.  (I could see myself as a Mary here - not the pompous fool depicted in the 1995 version).  Less important is Caroline Bingley, whose statuesque features and aristocratically glacial manners make her seem more competitive in the marriage pool than the unibrowed, openly mocking (and pathetic) Miss Bingley seen before.  On the subject of pure looks, Rosamund Pike makes a much prettier, less horse-like Jane.  I'm still determining which Mrs. Bennet I prefer.  While the newer Mrs. Bennet is certainly less irritating, there is something painful and fascinating about the completely ridiculous older Mrs. Bennet.  After all, she is supposed to be a comic figure.

And the film itself does have some real gems.  The screenplay and cinematography is appropriately romantic.  I especially like the scene after Darcy hands Elizabeth into the carriage, and then the camera zooms in on his hand (obviously tingling from having touched the hand of his love).  And Dario Marianelli's seemingly simple score is definitely the highlight of the movie.  One of my favorite scenes is the very first one, with Keira Knightley walking through the meadow and "Dawn" playing.

The Pemberley scene follows close behind, with just the right combination of regret and awe as Elizabeth wanders through the sculpture room; the haunting melody adds so much depth to the marble figures (and even, dare I say, the rather flat acting of Miss Knightley).


The scene in which Darcy helps Bingley practice his proposal to Jane redeemed Matthew Macfayden in my eyes.  Poor Bingley is so nervous, and Darcy is so encouraging and supportive!

Finally, I love the costumes.  (Of course, the costumes would weigh in as a heavy factor for me).  The 2005 version is set in 1797, when Jane Austen wrote her first draft of what was then First Impressions.  This means lower waistlines and a generally more comfortable look than the later period of 1813 (for the 1995 version), when the book was actually published.  No more unnatural push-up bra look from Jennifer Ehle (1995), and extremely short spencers.  On an unrelated look, the trousers for the gentlemen also fit a lot better. ahem.  And the white ball gowns are a particular favorite of mine.  The only thing that really got me was what Caroline Bingley wore.  It has practically no sleeves!  Was that allowed?

Overall, the film scores all very well for non- Pride and Prejudice fans, but the more I watch it, the more I think that I would rather watch the BBC miniseries.

Oh, and the film began in a meadow.  Why couldn't they have ended it in a meadow, as well?  That would have saved us from the extra unnecessary and badly acted bits at the end, and given more time for character development in the middle.

"Well then, your hands are cold."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

arts 2010

Trying to brainstorm all the important things in arts that have happened in the past year.  highlights on movies, music, fashion.....and i need a coherent article on this by thursday. yay.

anyway, found this cool montage of scenes from movies this past year.  i certainly haven't seen all of them, but this was fun to watch.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

funny album cover

a blast from the past - yay '90s!

nobody else, by take that.

i was looking through my cds and noticed the curious round convex mirror at the back centre, with what i'm assuming to be their actual reflections.  (it's hardly visible here - but right above the middle guy's head).  remind you of anything? ahem. arnolfini portrait.

Friday, January 21, 2011

girl in translation

just finished reading this book.  and just wanted to say, it was AMAZING.

The book tells the tale of Kimberly Chang, a young girl who moves to Brooklyn from Hong Kong with her mother.  Kimberly is very intelligent, but she barely speaks English, lives in a terrible apartment (no heat, broken windows, cockroaches and mice) and must help her mother out working at the factory (a sweatshop, managed by her aunt and uncle who....don't act like very nice family at all!).  The plot ostensibly revolves around - can Kimberly succeed in school enough to get out of this place?  However, there are the other topics of loyal and understanding friends. and love.

Love is what really got me at the end of the book.  I seriously started bawling.

But I better not give away the book!  All I will say is that it is beautifully written (and Cantonese speakers will feel a special connection to it), and infused with just enough happiness and hope to counterbalance the heartbreak.  Perfect.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


today i feel like a good little 50's housewife.  well, except for the part about vacuuming with a bottle of wine...or whatever they did back then.

sewing project of the day - an apron! (from butterick, B4945).  i altered the pattern a little, just because i didn't have enough yellow material.  i'm pleased with the results, and it's a very 'me' apron.  violently bright and very happy.  (i wouldn't have bought this material on my own; it's one of those things from the fabric closet to which my aunt has given me access).

now all i need to do is go make biscuits...

Monday, January 17, 2011

hendrik kerstens

came across this cool photographer - he has a series of portraits of his daughter, at different ages.  i don't think she has a particularly beautiful face, but it's striking, for sure.  and kerstens has certainly succeeded in making her look as if she was painted by a dutch master.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

sketchbooky/an account/part 8

and probably the last sketchbook post for now - a modern interpretation of one of sargent's daughters of edward darley boit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

sketchbooky/an account/part 7

and something at least a little more original?  well, at least, something halfway original.

a dressmaker dummy interpretation of vermeer's milkmaid painting.  i like the colours...

Friday, January 14, 2011

sketchbooky/an account/part 6

a ballerina (from vanity fair's sept 2006 issue).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

sketchbooky/an account/part 5

and, some kt tunstall lyrics to mix it up some more (and take up space).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

sketchbooky/an account/part 4

oh and i kind of half-heartedly borrowed from the ideas of frida kahlo's 2 fridas painting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

sketchbooky/an account/part 3

the three maries.

not gonna lie - i cheated a little bit and kind of drew off some pictures from vogue (the september issue, 2006).

Monday, January 10, 2011

sketchbooky/an account/part 2

another collage/word thing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

sketchbooky/an account/part 1

well - this is going to be a busy week, i think, and one with limited ability to regularly blog.  so the plan - i'll cheat a little and make a line up of entries to post for this whole week.

the theme - my sketchbook of course!  the parts that i'm not too ashamed of (for there are some rather badly executed entries).

for example, pictures of the cover are not going up.

so starting in no particular order -

Saturday, January 8, 2011

it's not a dream

finally finished my sketchbook and sent it off today!  one of those frightening but relieving moments.  i'm not too pleased with some of the stuff in there (very rushed), but other pages i like.

and changing the subject -

this song goes on my let's-try-to-create-a-piano-version-because-it-will-be-beautiful list.

funny that although i loved andrea's vocals when the corrs were together, i prefer sharon's solo work.  perhaps it's because of her mad violin skills.

Friday, January 7, 2011

guilt free music part 2

Hot Club de Paris - Liverpool-based band (Moshi Moshi Records).

I hadn't heard of them before, but I like what I'm hearing!

Their new album, Free the Pterodactyl 3 is out on 18 Jan.

sorry for all the lame posts - been busy cleaning my room, madly trying to finish the sketchbook, getting ready for next week...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

free music (guilt free!)

the good things that come out of your inbox being spammed by arts/press mailings.

Tristen is a singer/songwriter that I hadn't heard of before - but I really like what I've heard so far (and she has good taste in album cover art)! She is a native of Chicago who moved to Nashville to start her music career.  I don't really know how to describe her music...possibly she&him + a fine frenzy + ....

anyway, here are a few songs from her new album Charlatans at the Garden Gate:

Eager For Your Love
Baby Drugs

free downloads here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

maybe for halloween.

cheryl cole tights/stockings things from 'promise this' are cool, even if i would never wear them.  s'matterafact, she has cool clothes in general (that i would most likely still never wear).

Monday, January 3, 2011

sketchbooky/the flood

I got lazy and filled an entire sketchbook page with words.  Real drawings to follow (I was thinking - along with the whole idea of evolution.  Hopefully it will turn out okay).

now that I think about it, I'm not exactly sure how evolution has to do with my theme of "below the surface."  oh well.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

laziness, stressfulness, and happiness. what a way to start the new year.

Playing guitar.  (To my collection of playable songs I've added Caledonia, Like A Bird Without Wings, Steal Away, and Come By the Hills (Buachaill on Eirne).  Yup, after Edelweiss, Love Me Tender, and Taylor Swift, I've moved over to the Celtic Thunder side.  Unfortunately, my inability to play an F major chord well is interfering with my ability to happily strum away for long periods of time.  I blame my skinny fingers, which are good enough for art projects but rather inconvenient for stringed instruments.

And working on The Sketchbookywooky.

I have a lot of pages left on that thing.

(my somewhat pathetic take on Leonardo's fetus in womb study).

Saturday, January 1, 2011



I'll do a new post soon, I promise.  It's just so busy being at home, oddly enough (not working...still relaxing...but just busy...)

I finally saw Inception today.  It was amazing.  Must watch again so I can catch all the details that I missed.

New Years resolutions for me? nope.  At the moment the goals are to successfully be a good Arts editor this month, finish the sketchbookywooky in nine days, learn more chords on the guitar, and try to not be a socially awkward person.  That is all.  I think.