Previous 10

Apr. 18th, 2014

reading tiger

(no subject)

And now Victor Hugo takes a page to lecture his critics about their dismissal of his (and other authors') use of slang in literature.

This is me making little heart eyes.

Apr. 17th, 2014

reading tiger

Reading Wednesday Had A Rough Week, and Now it's Thursday

Les Mis progress:

503 / 755 (66.62%)


Apr. 14th, 2014

reading tiger

A Grump About Pizza and Art

Call it good pizza or bad pizza, but not "not pizza."

Call it good art or bad art, but not "not art."

And then support your argument.

People who have known me for a long time know that I have a story about the "art/not art" version of this discussion. It involved meeting my future and soon to be former father-in-law for the very first time. We spent the day walking through the Art Institute of Chicago, including the student exhibitions, and then retiring to dinner at a fancy teppanyaki restaurant, where Father Figure, once a fairly serious artist himself who gave it all up to be a big biomedical executive instead, asked the dinner conversation question, "what is art?" as a backdoor way of defining the stuff he saw and didn't like at the student exhibition out of existence.

No fool I, I dropped out of the conversation almost immediately and chatted with his wife instead. I was Judged for this later, but whatever.

Certain kinds of people *love* the "x/not x" argument. It's an argument about classification and definition. It feels pleasingly abstract and objective. Intellectual. Smart. I saw these all the time in smart-kid circles. I kinda have permanent eyeroll as a result.

"Good/bad" is harder because it involves judgment. People try to avoid this argument with the "it's all taste" dodge. Not true. "I like/I don't like" is about taste. "Good/bad" is about quality. Alas, many people are very bad at distinguishing these concepts, so they fall back on the easier "x/not x" paradigm instead.

"x/not x" is also a really handy cover for rank snobbery. Come up with an arbitrary definition that fits your favorite thing to a T, and everything else is second-rate automatically! It's lazy, but satisfying. Like a good slice of cheap pizza.

Yes, we're back to pizza. Yes, we're heading exactly where you think we're heading, but we're not covering the usual territory. Plus we'll take a fun historical swerve at the end if you're willing to hang in there that long.

Because my family is from Chicago and I went to school there and also lived there for, eh, half a decade, I often find myself recruited for the "Chicago pizza is/is not Real Pizza" discussion, Hometown Pride Edition.

The small problem with this is that I didn't even know there was a deep-dish style of pizza that the rest of the world called "Chicago style pizza" until I went to college in Chicago. This is despite the fact that every time we visited Chicago when I was a child -- and we visited a lot, living only four hours away -- on our first day we ate White Castles for lunch and pizza for dinner. It was a ritual.

Only, see, we ate the square-cut thin-crust pizza with no rim that is apparently known as "St. Louis Pizza" to taxonomists. To me, though, that was "Chicago pizza," because it was the pizza we ate in Chicago and, at the time, could be found nowhere else I had ever been. (Still haven't been to St. Louis.)

So I am not the best partisan for the Chicago Pizza Wars. I like deep-dish pizza, but you don't have to. I like lots of other kinds of pizza, too. You can even argue that many renditions of Chicago pizza are soggy, overly heavy with cheese, and generally nasty. I won't even tease you about orange grease-stained napkins in response. I will, however, get my guff up if you say it's "not pizza." Especially if you're from New York. Yeah, Chicagoans have a chip on their shoulder about their pizza the size of the stockyards. Yeah, it's related to how they got the nickname "Second City" and the inferiority complex that accompanies it. It's not particularly sporting to keep knocking it off, though. (It took me forever to figure out that "New York style pizza" is called "pizza" where I come from, which is not Chicago. You guys won the culture wars on this one. Go rest on your laurels already.) But worse, much worse, at least in my eyes, is that it's lazy. Yeah, the iconic pizza (see above re: "New York style") has a rim, a thin crust, cheese on the top and tomato sauce underneath. Yeah, Chicago pizza has the sauce on top and looks weird. Yeah, I have friends and loved ones who think that pizza without sauce isn't pizza either, and so I call it "savory flatbread" when I cook it at home and they eat it up, yum. So whatever.

One last note: the pizza/not pizza debate also brings to mind a moment from high school, where my high school newspaper published reviews of all the major pizza joints in town. Including Bell's Greek Pizza. Can you guess what they said? "This is not really pizza" and went on to say it didn't have the iconic pizza look and that's why. I was best friends with Pete Bell, the elder son of the owner, at the time of publication. I can still see the metaphorical steam coming out of his ears. "It's *Greek* pizza," he insisted, red-faced. You could tell that this was a discussion he'd had to endure too often already, probably every other weekend from behind the counter with drunken college students, at a guess. Well, it sold well enough, and Bell's Greek Pizza is still in business, so I guess he and his family got the last laugh.
reading tiger

Victor Hugo Shows His Work

"The reader must permit us to interrupt ourselves here and to remind him that we are dealing with simple reality, and that twenty years ago, the tribunals were called upon to judge, under the charge of vagabondage, and mutilation of a public monument, a child who had been caught asleep in this very [plaster] elephant of the Bastile. This fact noted, we proceed."

Apr. 9th, 2014

reading tiger

Reading Rainbow, I Mean Wednesday

Les Mis progress:

490 / 755 (64.90%)

It's nice to know that Cosette and Marius' infatuation is mutual. Onto the Book of Gavroche!

Apr. 5th, 2014

reading tiger

Half a Weekend Update

I am peopled out today. Not in a bad way.

First, there was dim sum with anarqueso and a huge gaggle of friends. We took up two big tables and at least three small satellite tables. April and Simone both tried duck the first time, but they didn't like it. More for me.

Afterwards, we retired to South Park for about an hour. I don't think I've ever been, and black_pearl_10 noted that the park probably had more dogs than children, but that just meant it was pleasantly uncrowded.

Then G. dropped me off in Berkeley to attend a focus group on genderqueer parents for someone's thesis project. Three hours later he came to pick me up and we decided to save grocery shopping for tomorrow and head home.

In the back yard, our upstairs neighbors were having a party. The kids opened our kitchen windows, danced to the music and waved at the guests, and eventually were invited to come down and hang out and eat fruit and pizza and candy. I had a lovely extended chat with the nice neighbor who also gave me a ride home the other day from the garden store with a bag of "finely aged" chicken manure in tow.

In other words, it was nonstop social interaction from about 10 to 7 or so, until I left to fry up some fish and chips for dinner. This is a lot for introverted work-at-home me. I am v. out of practice. But it was kinda nice, even if I am also thankful for the several hours of quiet after-bedtime-time I've had since the kids went down.

I am also also thankful I don't have to do this every day.

Apr. 2nd, 2014

reading tiger

Odd Job Listing Coincidence

NORC is hiring in San Francisco.

When I was in Chicago, I used to work for NORC. It was my first full-time position out of college, working on a higher education coding project. (Also my third; they hired me again for a different study that used the same coding system. I got the re-hire by standing behind my old supervisor in the Hyde Park Food Co-op checkout line.) I also lived across the street from their secondary office (i.e. the survey center) on 55th Street. Shortest commute ever.

When I first saw the listing I thought it must be another NORC. But no. Apparently they have an SF office now. Also one in Bethesda.

Alas, I am not qualified this time around.
reading tiger

Wednesday Reading Thing

Les Mis progress:

473 / 755 (62.65%)

It's nice to know that the Cosette/Marius thing is very mutual. Reading Hugo's depiction of Cosette's maturation was a little wince-inducing, though. Reminded me a bit of Joanna Russ' line about Dickens, which of course I cannot locate to quote properly right now.

I am also enjoying reading "Original Local," a cookbook showcasing indigenous foods and foodways of the Upper Midwest.

And also many, many repetitions of "Mr. Tiger Goes Wild."

Mar. 26th, 2014

reading tiger

And Now A Short Note About the Weather

Today's walk to cooking camp was not as charming as Monday's, seeing as it was pouring rain at the time. Nonetheless, we took a shortcut through the Rose Garden and got to see a) streams of water pouring down the sidewalks toward the bottom of this former quarry; b) the chickens that live next door to the garden, huddling together to keep out of the rain; c) lots of worms and roly-polys, all of which required rescue; d) mushrooms.

Thanks to the shortcut, we were 15 minutes early. I do not quite understand how our path saves us so much time, but there it is.

Then I got home in time to lose power briefly this morning. Because it's a work day, of course. It came back on before I had to figure out where to find free wi-fi. Shouldn't there be an app for that?
reading tiger

Reading Wednesday

Les Mis Progress:

462 / 755 (61.19%)

We're learning about Jean Valjean and Cosette's life post-convent. In a lot of detail. Some details about who used to live in their house before they did, too. It's totally relevant! And also an excuse for one of Hugo's more charming lines about how in a certain recently-passed era the aristos flaunted their mistresses and the bourgeoisie hid them away; this was the former dwelling-place of the latter sort of mistress, you see.

Previous 10