Monday, August 29, 2011

summer movies

LAST WEEK was the week of catching up on random movies (in between doing touristy stuff in LA).  We ended up not going to the Natural History Museum/La Brea Tar Pits, or to LACMA, but some other time, I guess.  It was simply too hot to leave the house!!

Did You Hear About the Morgans - cute, but I probably wouldn't choose to see it again.  Sarah Jessica Parker does not play the most likeable character, and Hugh Grant, while funny, is better in movies like Notting Hill and Music & Lyrics.

Last Chance Harvey - very well done.  Dustin Hoffman was kind of annoying in the film (or rather, his character had quite a few wince-worthy moments and characteristics), but I love Emma Thompson.  Quite simply, she is such a fantastic actress who can make anything worth watching.

The Last Legion - yet another King Arthur-themed alternative prequel, featuring an Indian master warrior from Constantinople (seriously. that in itself was just awesome)...There's also Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, and the ever-adorable Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

The Visitor - easily one of the best films I've seen this summer.  I hadn't seen any of the actors before, but they were all incredible. It's one of those films that's sad and happy at the same time, and it opened up my eyes to a world that I know little about...

Breakfast at Tiffany's - a classic, of course, and the first time I've seen it!  Shame on me, I know.  Admittedly it did not quite live up to my expectations.  Besides the really awkward parts with the Caucasian guy depicting (in quite an uncomplimentary way) the angry Asian neighbor (though I suppose that's just how it was in the movies those days), I feel like the movie just dragged.  There were just too many ridiculous scenes showing how ridiculous Audrey Hepburn's character was.  The first group of scenes that I really liked was when Holly and Paul go out in the city and take turns doing things they've never done before.  The scene with the sales clerk at Tiffany's was pretty funny :)

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story - one of those feel-good, kid-overcomes-odds-to-become-rich-and-famous stories, except better, because he becomes a neurosurgeon!  Outstanding performances, especially by Kimberly Elise as Ben Carson (Cuba Gooding Jr)'s mother.

Annie Hall - admittedly, another classic I only just saw for the first time....I loved it, although it was funniest in the first half hour.  After that, Alvy's pure neuroticism started to become a little less funny and and little more frustrating.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Hammer Museum

We went to the Hammer Museum (at UCLA) on a Thursday because there's free admission every. single. Thursday.  All day.

The one reason why I wanted to go?  John Singer Sargent's portrait of Dr. Pozzi at home.  I had read about in Strapless, and become fascinated.  For sure, the painting did not disappoint.

Other favorites were Van Gogh's Hospital at Saint-Remy (of course), Gustave Moreau's Salome Dancing before Herod, and Honore Daumier's series of bronze caricature busts of famous Frenchmen (the clay originals are in the Musee d'Orsay).

The museum itself was a lovely surprise, too.  They have so many changing exhibits, and there's also this beautiful open-air atrium in the middle of the museum, too.  Only in Southern California, right?  Seriously though, Westwood is a really nice area.  Even for my standards.  We even stopped by a Yogurtland before we went back.  I personally think Yogurtland is better than the Yozen Frogurt place we go to at home.  They had the cutest Hello Kitty spoons, too!

pacific design center and miranda july

Tuesday's trip to the Pacific Design Center in LA, and MOCA, was a first for me.  Highly recommended!! (Of course, it seems like I'm highly recommending everything now....but still).  It's an interesting mix of cool architecture, bright colors, and...upscale furniture places.  I saw this really awesome chair with cutouts made to look like tree branches...didn't see who the designer was though.  Maybe I'll find out eventually.  Because if I'm going to splurge on a really expensive piece of furniture, I'd be tempted to buy that chair.

Unfortunately I really don't have very great pictures....and not many pictures...went with my parents...felt I regret not taking the time to take good pictures...oh well.

The George Herms exhibit at MOCA was pretty cool - collages.

Of course, the whole reason why I went was the Miranda July exhibit - which was set on the rolling lawns (literally - a cross section of the lawn would show a series of semicircles laid next to one another). Eleven Heavy Things (on view until Oct 23) was first installed in Union Square Park, NYC, in 2010.  It seemed right at home (though lonely - not very many people there when we went) at the Pacific Design Center, and we had a lot of fun taking pictures with the sculptures.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

shadows on the wall

This week has been a hot one in southern California (finally? haha).

Friday, August 26, 2011

hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet

I just finished reading this book - a New York Times bestseller - by Jamie Ford (  Despite having read a lot of very excellent books this summer, I can safely say that this is one of the best books I have read - all year.  It tells the story of a Chinese boy an a Japanese girl in Seattle during World War II, and switches back and forth, from that wartime era to forty years later, when the new owner of the Panama Hotel (which had been boarded up for decades) finds the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps.  Phew, that was a long sentence!

The book itself is a fast read (I started it and finished it in less than a day), not confusing at all - the relationships depicted by Ford are complex, but so sensitively rendered and so real.  The narration focuses around Henry, the Chinese boy, and consequently gives an interesting view of the events surrounding the Japanese internment - the view of a person tormented because of his race, and during World War II, often mistaken for "the enemy."  The conflict between the generations (young Henry's father, a Chinese nationalist who knew of the treatment of the Chinese people under the Japanese, harbored a deep hatred for the Japanese.  Later on, Henry and his own son must deal with problems of communication and general understanding of one another).

Most important are the friends in unlikely places, in troubled times.  Yes, I know that sounds cliche.  But it's true.

The Seattle Times called it "a wartime-era Chinese-Japanese variation on Romeo and Juliet."  Having read the entire book, I can see an amalgamation of the best parts of my favorite stories - even a bit of the story line of Claire and Lorenzo in Letters to Juliet (under graver circumstances, of course).

It's hard for me to say any more about it, but Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a worthwhile read for everybody.  May I say I might recommend this reading even more than I would recommend The Elegance of the Hedgehog?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

summer begins!

Finished work on it's time to relax for a few weeks before school starts again!

Things on the "to-do-in-LA" list:
Natural History Museum/La Brea Tar Pits
LACMA. and possibly see the Tim Burton exhibit, which closes Oct 31.
MOCA. we have a family membership that we need to activate.  I want to go to as many MOCA locations as possible.  The MOCA at the Pacific Design Center, for example, has a Miranda July exhibit/installation that should be interesting.

I've not been to any of these museums, so it should be fun :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

the elegance of the hedgehog

Upon learning that a movie based on The Elegance of the Hedgehog (entitled The Hedgehog) is coming out soon, I've been reminded that this book has been on my to-read list for quite some time now.  It also started me on a whole train of thought about the Hedgehog and the Fox ("The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing"), but that's a whole other story.

Anyways, I finished reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery yesterday, and, despite my absolute love for Terry Pratchett humor, this was one of the best books I've read in a while.  I mean, I can see how it was a NY Times bestseller.  

One of my kinds of books exactly - completely relatable narrators and lots of philosophising: about Art, beauty, life.....yup, the kinds of things I like to think about, plus the kinds of things that I don't know enough about to philosophize about.  And all in gorgeous prose.  Admittedly I cried at the end of the book, but it wasn't one of those completely despairing endings.  Bittersweet.  But not completely depressing.  (For example, I didn't feel as depressed as I did when I read Girl in Translation, which isn't even supposed to be that depressing, I don't think).  The ending was sad, yes, but it held so much hope.  So. Much. Hope.  And redemption.

I mean, who can't love a book that waxes poetic on the joy of drinking tea for a page and a half?

"Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us.  Then let us drink a cup of tea.  Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light.  And, with each swallow, time is sublimed."

and a bit on architecture:

"An open door introduces a break in the room, a sort of provincial interference, destroying the unity of space.  In the adjoining room it creates a depression, an absolutely pointless gaping hole adrift in a section of wall that would have preferred to remain whole.  In either case a door disrupts continuity, without offering anything in exchange other than freedom of movement, which could easily be ensured by another means.  Sliding doors avoid such pitfalls and enhance space.  Without affecting the balance of the room, they allow it to be transformed.  When a sliding door is open, two areas communicate without offending each other.  When it is closed, each regains its integrity.  Sharing and reunion can occur without intrusion."

and about the food critic who lives in the building (who, by the way, is the focus in Barbery's novel Gourmet Rhapsody - which I'm reading next):

"To write entire pages of dazzling prose about a tomato - for Pierre Arthens reviews foods as if he were telling a story, and that alone is enough to make him a genius - without ever seeing or holding the tomato is a troubling display of virtuosity.  I have often wondered, as I watch him go by with his huge arrogant nose: Can one be so gifted and yet so impervious to the presence of things?"

Friday, August 5, 2011

broken records

found this post in my 'drafts' section from quite a while ago. hmmm.


just discovered this scottish band - i love the sound!

the drama of guitar, drums, keyboard, violin, cello....and an accordion?

not to mention that the lead singer somehow reminds me of a male version of florence welch of florence + the machine.  if that's possible.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

i'm back! (sort of)

These past few weekends I've been sewing and sewing and sewing...and finding new ways to make summer dresses without zippers or complicated stuff, preferably in under two hours.

Inspired by this dress-with-a-belt-never-mind-cinching-it-exactly-where-the-bodice-meets-the-gathered-skirt look by frida gustavsson (stockholm street style) -

Ok, so the dress I made looks nothing like this.  But take my word, I got some sort of an inspiration from frida's dress :P

I altered one of the McCalls knits-only patterns that doesn't actually need to be sewed up in a knit material (M6347) by basically just chopping the pattern in the waist.  The top I kept the same; the skirt section I added 3 more inches to the fold, so that I could gather it and attach to the bodice.

With a belt, voila!  (not finished yet....just a general idea).

Super comfy, super soft, and just my kind of summer dress :)