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Chau and B.J.'s notes from Space City

Archive for August, 2009

mushrooms2collaged watercolor paper & markers

Oi, Mondays are hard. We have Open House tomorrow until 9pm, so I think overall i’ts going to be a very busy week. BUT on Saturday, BJ and I will head to Louisville, Kentucky for a wedding — one of many to come this year. I’m also excited to see Jenni. Maybe next time we can make it a RISD MAT reunion!

I showed this today for my kiddos. Enjoy! “Strawberry Swing” by Coldplay.

I survived another first week of school year! On Saturday, I took a technology certification test. Ugh. I’ll try not to sound so negative, but they really need to break down the test into smaller areas of concentration. Networking is my enemy!

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Ibgy is a flirt.

Tonight, my siblings and our cousin Long went to Houston Restaurant Week at Quattro in the Four Season Hotel. It’s basically going to be our only fine dining meal of the year and a portion goes to charity. They even gave us a separate dining room. Fancy, eh?

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BJ’s Duo of Duck with cannelloni, apple & fennel slaw, and bitter sardinian honey.

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My oven-roasted sea bass with little neck clams, fregula, grape tomatoes, and basil-saffron broth.

bj_me_quattros2 Our dessert: limoncello panna cotta!

We have several nice cookbooks, bought tons of magazines that boast about the 50 best recipes or 101 grilling tips, and love watching the Food Network and Top Chef. But by the end of the day, we’re too exhausted to prepare dinner. I think once things settle down a bit, we’ll give it another go. Stay tuned…

 

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(last two pictures taken from BJ’s iphone)

After dinner, we headed down to the warehouse to see Oscar’s artwork and projects from LACAP. I am so happy we were able to snag one of his woodcut prints. 

There were so many pieces we had our eye on, but this is what we bought—for now :) 

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Oscar told us this woodcut’s title was “El Playón.” He said the word had many meanings, but declined to elaborate, beyond the fact that it named a place in El Salvador. It turns out that El Playón is a volcanic lava bed that, a quarter-century ago, was a notorious dumping ground for the disappeared—the mutilated victims of a brutal regime’s death squads. A later, lesser-known Cold War proxy clash, the El Salvador mess was more or less Reagan’s replay of Vietnam. Both Third World countries were wrecked by civil war, carved in two with one side backed by the capitalists, the other backed by the communists.

Oscar’s work — by intricately crafting scenes where people are, literally and figuratively, overshadowed and haunted by dark symbols: rifles, helicopters, barbed wire — moves you without batting you over the head with political messages. Maybe that’s because the human presence is so prominent in the compositions, and so carefully, creatively rendered. Thus people, not ideas, stay front and center during these trips into history. Far more than clever visual slogans, his work makes us feel the human cost, the suffering of real individuals, families, friends, under these disordered governments, even when Oscar envelops their features in shadow and negative space. Somewhere in between remembering and imagining, each woodcut is an act of sympathy and of memory.

Despite the limits of his medium, the pieces vault above black-and-white simplicity. Pressing sumi ink onto torinoko paper, the tone and texture of the finished work attains a Japanese subtlety of expression that softens the blow of the fiery subject matter. You could say that an idealism, or an optimism, is hiding in these exotic materials. You could imagine that the beauty and promise of nature, through the soot of the ink and the ganpi fibers of the paper, slips through, hinting at a brighter future beyond Oscar’s stark scenes of nature and mankind destroying itself — a future made possible, perhaps, by art itself.

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Saturday I cleaned 7 screens and was so relieved that all the screen filler came off despite being on there for at least 4 months. It only took 5-10 minutes for each one, which is much better than 45 minutes! Using a larger brush and high water pressure made all the difference. Afterwards, we headed down to Rice to work. I love the view outside his office window. Beats my windowless room and florescent lights!

BJ took my sister, Tam, and I on a tour of the campus via the golf cart. He was going so fast we couldn’t help but grin wildly like fools as we whizzed by all the students. You know when that happens? It’s kind of like a little kid on swings, only we rarely ever experience that kind of thrill now. I was thinking “Stop smiling so widely. People are walking around in the heat and you don’t want them to think you’re rubbing it in their face.” Anyways, most of the ride also consist of me begging BJ to obey the stop signs, not run over people on the side walks, not ride through a cricket game, or run the the stadium ramp.

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Since Tam is leaving for school soon. We took her out to Oporto Cafe for some tapas.

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Camarões Piri-Piri 

pizzette al pesto

Espitada do Carne

The beef skewers were so tender and flavorful.

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Super refreshing caipirinhas- I think we’ll have to serve these at the reception.

For dinner, we met up at Aka and had some sushi with Trang, Ky, Andrew, and Tu-Anh. So all in all, a delicious Saturday.

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As awesome as it would be if these were pictures of black confetti, they’re actually birds outside of the grocery store. The last few times we’ve been here the birds were squawking and flying like they’re on drugs. They come really fast in waves. It’s puzzling and kind of creepy.

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Speaking of all nighters… lots of memories made in this building. I can’t believe two years have passed since we were on the steps.

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Our good friend Ben and my sister will be starting here soon. I think BJ and I will have to fly up one weekend and revisit all our favorite spots. We haven’t found a shrimp tempura roll as good as Mikado & Beth swears by their fried rice. Kind of unusual that our favorite sushi place is in a landlocked state.

I felt like I was going crazy today because I couldn’t figure out my projector. I need both my projector and monitor to work when they’re plugged into the computer. Sounds simply right? I had it figured out last year, but I’ve spent at least 3 hours reconnecting wires. If I want one to work, I have to unplug and restart the computer. Grrrrr. Help!

I’m going to have to go to school tomorrow morning to finish up on some cleaning and preparation for Monday. I’m looking forward to seeing Post Grad with BJ and my sisters. I can’t believe summer is almost gone…

workshop_sketch2Quick sketch during today’s workshop.

With 3 more days until the start of school, I set a goal to be in bed by 11pm. If I had it my way, I’d probably push it back to 3am. I guess I associate the wee hours with a lot of good memories: ones where relationships were built, adventures were taken, and better work was produced. Especially in college. But since I have to be at work at 6:45am, this is something I’m going have to commit to. Wish me luck…

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This is how I feel about cleaning. (Probably what my back looks like too. Gotta be vigilant about my posture!)

It’s been a long day and my feet are starting to remember what a school day feels like. The classroom is getting closer to being in order, but sometimes it feels like a mountain load of unfinished tasks.