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Fine Culture vs. Mighty Fine Culture

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This past week has been chock-full of city-excursions.

Rene Magritte at the MOMA

"Magritte: Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938" was located all the way up on the sixth floor of the MOMA, and was extensive. I have always liked Rene Magritte and the crispness and accessibility of his more well known images, such as "The Son of Man" (man/apple/bowler hat) or "Time Transfixed(train floating out of a fireplace.)

This exhibit was phenomenal. It was fascinating to examine the integration of Magritte's obsessions with both each other and contemporary philosophy. One example was his use of captions of labels. However, sometimes his label would seem completely unrelated to the image he paired it with. Other times the word would exist in place of an image. Without a doubt, it frequently reminded me of Saussure's concepts of sign/signifier/signified.

[caption id="attachment_113" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Rene Magritte: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe".[/caption]

The placard next to this piece said that even though this obviously appears to be a pipe, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (this is not a pipe) because it is only a rendering; one cannot actually use this to perform the action of smoking.

Betrayal on Broadway

[caption id="attachment_143" align="aligncenter" width="537"]Photo by Brigitte Lacombe/ via betrayalbroadway.com Spall, Weisz, and Craig. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe/ via betrayalbroadway.com[/caption]

After the MOMA, I was lucky enough to get to see Betrayal on Broadway. Even though it is still in previews, Betrayal has been a "hot ticket" due, in part, to the cast which consists of Daniel Craig, Rachael Weisz, and Rafe Spall. However, the real selling point for me was the fact that this is a Pinter play, and I am a HUGE Harold Pinter fan. Ever since I saw a production of The Homecoming, (which featured an incredible Raul Esparza), I have been in complete awe of Pinter.

It was fantastic. Craig and Spall were consistently strong. Rachael Weisz I was really torn about. Some scenes she moved effortlessly between subtle and chilling, while other times I found her stilted and using a sort of "theater-y" voice (maybe it was an attempt at a specific accent?). Either way. My other criticism, which was really best articulated in another review I read, was the lack of Pinter Pauses. One of the my favorite parts of Pinter's work is really sweating it out and when the pauses are properly set between dialogue, you get the full effect of the nerve-racking scenes he composes. Overall, the production was so strong that things I perceived as occasional missteps did not spoil it in anyway for me.

Richard III on Broadway

This week, my uncle, the Mister, and I went to a matinee of Richard III from Shakespeare's Globe Theater.

[caption id="attachment_145" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Mark Rylance and Samuel Barnett. Photo by Alastair Muir via http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/9427021/Mark-Rylance-in-Richard-III-Globe-Theatre-review.html Mark Rylance and Samuel Barnett. Photo by Alastair Muir via The Telegraph[/caption]

As you may, or may not have noticed, this featured an all male cast (hearkening back to original Shakespearean productions). Interestingly enough, this production took great pains to be as hyper accurate as possible, going so far, for example, as to have costumes and shoes handmade using only materials that would have been available over 400 years ago.

I loved this production. Mark Rylance, who played Richard the III, was incredible. I would even say that I liked him better than Kevin Spacey's Richard III that I saw a year or two ago at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

Did I mention that we sat on the stage? We did and it was cra-zy. As per the company's hyper-authenticity, they had constructed two tiered seating boxes that were squared on the right and left sides of the stage. Dozens of candles contributing for "lighting?" Check. End a classic tragedy with some dancing? Check.

All in all, Richard III was tons of fun.

Franz Ferdinand at the Hammerstein Ballroom

Maybe not "fine culture" in the traditional sense, but mighty fine culture? Absolutely!

[caption id="attachment_139" align="aligncenter" width="528"]Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand, Tuesday Night at the Hammerstein Ballroom[/caption]

Franz Ferdinand was, for me, one of the first bands that I found outside of the limited top 40 I was exposed to on the radio. The year was 2004, it was 3:30 in the morning, I was listening to Vh1's Insomniac Music Theater, the song was "Take Me Out," and the rest was history. I am, and have always been, a huge Franz Ferdinand fan.

It featured:

  • a great venue. (we had seats! that we could see from while sitting!)
  • mellow crowd
  • enthusiastic, yet awesomely bad crowd dancing (the best combination possible)
  • great performance by Franz Ferdinand; technically, musically, and otherwise

In other words, spot. on. And tons of fun, for which, all of the credit goes to The Mister who surprised me with our tickets.

Pecan Pie

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Thanksgiving is a comin' and as it my favorite holiday I think, I am at the very least, required to learn a new recipe in order to celebrate properly. Amiright?

[caption id="attachment_118" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Pecan Pie, oh my! Pecan Pie, oh my![/caption]

I knew I wanted to make a pecan pie, but other than that, I really didn't know where to begin. I quickly learned that the most "traditional" form of pecan pie uses Karo corn syrup. And about a cup of it. Don't get me wrong, I love baking and with that comes some territory that will never be "healthy". And I'm fine with that; indulge and enjoy, now worries here. But certain things still freak me out gross me out a little: shortening? Corn Syrup? The jury is still out.

As a result, I found a variety of recipes that were quite diverse. Each recipe seemed to have a completely different combination and ratio of sugars, molasses, corn syrup, and pecans. One popular recipe even omitted the corn syrup completely. However, as this was my first attempt, I decided to go very traditional, and finally settled on this version, from Simply Recipes.

 Recipe

1 9-inch pie shell, frozen or chilled for an hour if freshly made.
2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Optional: Whole pecans for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Laid pie crust in the bottom of pie plate and crimp edges.

2. Spread pecans along the bottom of the pie shell. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over pecans. (No need for an electric mixer, you can mix by hand.) The pecans will rise to the surface of the pie. Use whole pecans and laid gently on top of the pie mixture to decorate.

3.Bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes until the filling has set. About 20 minutes into the cooking you may want to use a pie crust protector, or tent the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent the pie crust edges from burning.

4. Remove from oven and let cool.