Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cold comforts

At this point I am straggling under the weight of too many weeks of travel...

On the Megabus to Philadelphia yesterday, it dawned on me that my painful sinuses and sore throat were an AILMENT, not just general malaise - ugh!

Holed up in my office right now, having made a massive raid on the Butler stacks for books about gesture, online gaming, etc. Have a social engagement this evening uptown, realized when I got off the bus this afternoon near Penn Station that it was going to be fatal if I went downtown - how would I ever get myself out of the house again?...

Really the whole week has been a whirl of activity, for better and for worse. Lots of meetings with students, a dissertation defense and various other school stuff.

On Tuesday I went to the lovely Cintra W.'s very fashionable birthday party at La Pasita and hung out with various folks I usually only 'see' online (basically I imagine that I could live about 80% of my life online, with the major exceptions being teaching and training, both of which need to happen live).

On Wednesday the play I was supposed to see with G. was canceled due to an ongoing tenant-landlord dispute; this was a blessing in disguise, as we instead had dinner with my brother M. at Mezzogiorno (I had vitello tonnato and an entree of grilled shrimp, scallops, squid and salmon that was possibly one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten; we shared a tiramisu that was also very good).

On Thursday I saw the absolutely fantastic A House in Bali, which was so lovely that I am only sorry I am blogging about it so late that nobody who reads this will be able to get organized to see the last performance this evening at BAM unless they already have tickets! It was directed by my friend Tanya's husband Jay, and the whole thing is a great production: it's visually gorgeous, the performances are without exception superb, the opera itself is attractively ambiguous (and the libretto is written with a sense of humor, I think, though it is not always possible to tell - in a few early scenes, I was pondering the fact that the idiom of contemporary opera singing is more or less completely incompatible with the display of humorous self-awareness, as it is a manner that verges on the ludicrous until one is quite accustomed to it!), the Balinese musicians and dancers are beyond belief - most fundamentally, though, it's just great music, really beautifully performed and conducted. I was ravished!

Dinner afterwards with G. at a newly opened restaurant just round the corner from 'home,' Burger & Barrel: we shared the shrimp and proscuitto appetizer, then I had the ricotta and meatballs appetizer instead of an entree and a very good brownie sundae for dessert.

(It will sound perverse, but in fact I am fairly desperate to get back to Cayman and stop eating out like this all the time; for this next week or so, though, I will still have to pray - like Augustine - to be granted a regimen of nutritional stringency, but not yet!)

On the topic of profligacy, I have also been devouring books on my Kindle. I still wish Amazon had gone with a PDF-type page-based format instead of the undifferentiated text thing, but it is certainly a convenient thing (a dangerous thing!) for such a voracious reader as myself, and will probably save me much back- and shoulder-ache especially during travels. I read and loved Richard Kadrey's new Sandman Slim novel, Kill the Dead, which is very good in itself but also exactly the sort of book that is suited to this format (nothing complex in the way of layout or notes or anything like that, at least so far as I know!); then Jo Nesbo's The Redbreast, which is a very good instantiation of one of the categories of book I most like in the whole world.

I finished that one just as the bus pulled into Philadelphia; an hour or so later I was sitting with my sister-in-law and niece (13 months!) in a coffee shop, after what had been a slightly harrowingly long (and for me cold-infested) day of travel that culminated in us realizing that we were locked out of the house and would have to wait almost an hour before we could ditch the cumbersome stroller, bags, etc. that we had lugged up and down a gazillion subway staircases in New York and Philadelphia. Cake and coffee did much to remedy the situation, but even better was the fact that I could use the wireless network in the coffee shop to download Nesbo's follow-up Nemesis with just one click.

(I have to figure out whether and how I can get NYPL books for Kindle for free - I am also very impatiently waiting for Google Books to sort out its arrangements with various university libraries so that I can really get anything I want more or less instantaneously and for free and preferably in the original page format - that day has not yet come...)


  1. Google Books is going to be on hold for a while, I suspect.

  2. I am a wee bit exhausted just reading all this! My big achievement was surviving the boy's 9th birthday which truly was fraught with drama (what if he hated my beads and confetti animal wonderlandy decorations????).

    Reading a ton of books for Booklist so no kindle help there, but enjoying them nonetheless.