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

Archive for December, 2009

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thuytam_menil

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Monday, BJ, my sisters, and I went downtown to work. At the end of the day, we stopped by the Menil, but they were closed until Wednesday. (Why does this always happen to me?!) All was not lost: it was a beautiful day, so we walked around and Thuy and I couldn’t resist jumping in the huge pile of leaves in front of the Twombly gallery. As a special treat, we ate at Oporto Cafe and ordered the usual: baked brie and portobello mushroom. Mmmm MMM.

I’m going to miss having everyone under one roof. I think it’s starting to sink in . . . tomorrow, BJ and I head to D.C. for the wedding. We can’t wait to see our friends before going back to work again.

Bon voyage!

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i couldn’t resist.

We hope everyone has a great Christmas! To all our friends and family far away, we love and miss you!

peace and love,

c+b

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Yes! Winter break! I finally have some time to make stuff besides lesson plans. This papercut will be part of  my parents’ Christmas gift. Although I really enjoyed making it, my back and neck are hating me so much right now. BJ and I decided we’re going to make it a tradition to give each other homemade cards. I finished his yesterday, but I’ll have to post it later. I’m not so great with surprises, but I’m working on it …

fabric_flowers_Web

I’m slowly making flowers from recycled and remnant fabric. I’m not sure how they’ll be used this summer…

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… but maybe I’ll pair them with some of these guys from the Rhode Island Recycling center? (Another thing I miss about Providence. You can buy scraps of silk and quality fabric for 15 cents a pound!)

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Playing around with some ideas for the groomsmen.

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Certain mediums of art seem annoyingly democratic. Everyone with a camera thinks he’s magically become a photographer; with Final Cut, a director; with Serato, a DJ. Similar thinking goes with collage. With Photoshop and Google Image Search—or for the stubbornly analog, glue and old magazines—one has all the needed tools to rip new meanings out of old contexts. How does one break any new ground as a combiner of things, while also presenting a distinct voice and vision? The designer Mark Weaver relies on rules. Confining his canvases to a few well-chosen elements—confident typefaces, unpeopled landscapes, period portraits, severe architecture, geometric shapes, arcane charts—he builds a sense of mood and mystery that floats quietly toward the surreal.

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Sleigh Bells

Sleigh Bells have drawn heaps of critical attention in no time flat. What could be the appeal? That, as they told an old colleague of mine, everything is glossy but something is off? I think you can trace it to the collision of sensibilities between Derek Miller, a guitarist from a Florida post-hardcore band, and Alexis Krauss, who’s worked as a schoolteacher, wedding singer, session vocalist, and teen member of a girl group. Miller offers varieties of primitivism: homemade beats plus squeals and squalls of roughly guitarlike noises. Krauss, on the other hand, boasts a diversity of talents that reflects her diversity of experience. This goes for both her voice—an instrument that can switch gears on a dime—and her body—an instrument that, in the fiery tradition of Joan Jett and Karen O, fastens into an ecstatic state that feels at once confronting and inviting. Stirring together ferocity and feminine innocence, this 24-year-old whirlwind of sound and motion launches out bratty roars and lusty moans, graceful hand gestures and dizzying hair whips, keeping stillness and silence at bay, the not-so-calm core within Miller’s maelstrom of brute riffs and booms.

Sleigh Bells

Some are bothered by Sleigh Bells’ use of an iPod in their live show. I wonder if these people are troubled by Beach House’s prerecorded drum tracks. Frankly, I don’t see the issue. A live act need not conform to some eternal template of rock-band roles. Here we can zero in on the two true sources of action. Or in the case of “Ring Ring,” above,  one live center plus one warmly looped center.

Photo credits: Will Deitz, Pitchfork; James Ryang, NYT.

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My first homemade Christmas card in a while! I printed out a few and, once I work on my folding technique, I can send them out. Can you guess who is who?

We’ve been having a few busy but fun weekends. This last one, we celebrated two engagements. Sunday, Kevin drove down from Austin to spend the day with us. We had an AMAZING meal at Oporto and we usually order the same dishes, but, since he doesn’t eat meat, we tried the baked brie (whole brie cheese wrapped in pastry with walnuts and herbs, served with fig preserves, honey, crackers, and fresh fruit) for the first time. It is so delicious.

And I saw Up in the Air and loved it. The End.

Weekend_12_6_09_web

I had a nice weekend. I only wish there were more hours in the day! On Saturday, I bought several rolls of film and fell in love with a Mamiya 645, picked out fabric and ribbon, went to the bookstore, ate a delicious dinner at Empire café, and got beignets for dessert. Oh and I added a shirt to my collection of all things striped. Thanks BJ and Thuy for spending the day with me!

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snowday

Even though it barely stuck to the ground, it was nice to see some snow. But that also meant a crazy school day with lots of requests to conduct class outside!