Sunday, March 28, 2010

Harp rocks

I usually enjoy weird, atypical music, but Joanna Newsom definitely stretched my limits, in a very good way. Her second album, Ys, is pretty much her and the harp, singing 10 minute songs about meteorites, bear and monkey stories, and many things that appear to have no connection whatsoever. And changing tune, mixing in a full orchestral outburst for a few moments, ignoring all standards of usual songwriting is not a problem either here.. but the result is really mesmerizing, and difficult to shake off. With her new album, Have one on me, the only big change is the appearance of many instruments, contrasting with the former sparsity of the harp and voice only. And yet, the album spans 3 cds, talks about spiders and other apparently random things, changes at every turn of every 10 minute song. Oh, and there is also a few harp and voice songs, to comfort the Ys fans. And the magic happens again: even though there is not a single song you can move your head to, it's hard to stop listening... so have a try, courtesy of NPR as usual (you can hear the album or a recent concert), see how atypical you can handle and actually enjoy!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The mystical arts of Callus Shaving

Here's one of the weird things Parkour brought to my life: a callus shaver. At first, I was all proud of the thick calluses building up on my hands from all the QMs and climbing, thinking that the thicker they were, the better my hands would cope with various surfaces.

Until one of them broke off.

After cleaning up the embarrassing amounts of blood and waiting for the hole in my hand to heal, I started shaving my calluses religiously. A callus shaver is basically a bent razor blade on a stick, and you gently scrape the hardened skin off with it. The most usual spot for calluses is the place you grip things with at the base of the digits. With time, they also appear at the base of the palm (heel of the hand), on a straight line around the middle (lower part of the ball of the hand), and along the first phalanges. So far. I end up shaving the larger ones 2-3 times a month, the smaller ones on occasion, whenever I start feeling them while exercising. It's kind of a weird habit, but it beats having bloody gashes in your hand anytime!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monkey family

I had the chance to check out the new exhibit on Human Evolution at the Smithsonian in the company of anthropologists, and I can say I was very impressed with the result. A lot of information, from the high level brush strokes to details coming from freshly published research, a complete wall of casts to make you appreciate the variety and homogeneity of human ancestors and relatives, and some striking artist reconstructions of our family tree, full of life. Oh, and some of the actual remains from Cro-Magnon and other famous places, displayed publicly for the first time. Definitely worth a look!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Strawberry-Pecan pancakes

What is better than fresh, homemade pancakes, mm? fresh, homemade Strawberry-Pecan pancakes, that's what! And, wait for it... with heavy cream and maple syrup sauce, it's even better!! Proof is, that all that was left when I managed to put down the fork long enough to take a picture. The recipe is basically your good-old pancakes, with bits of strawberry and pecans thrown in before cooking them. Eaaasy. And for the cream and syrup sauce, guess what? yeah, just pour some heavy cream, some syrup, and eat until you can't!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ia Ia Parkour Fhtagn!!

I got this idea from Eugene wanting a shirt with Happy Elder Gods on the front and 'not amused' Elder Gods on the back. But Elder Gods are always having fun (because they can), so it made more sense for them to be jamming and showing their best Parkour moves to drive us insane. Or something like that.

And yes, I made a T-shirt out of it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pi Day

Happy Pi Day everyone!! For the occasion, I highly recommend checking out this Belgian comic book about a cow sleuth called Pi (it only makes sense in French) going around the world and solving incredible mysteries, half-way between Indiana Jones and James Bond.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The joy of webcomics

I spent much of my teenage life immersed in comic books (yes I'm the genuine geek; although to my defense French and European comic books have diverged quite heavily from the American hyper-rigid world of super-heroes stories, more on that later), and one of my new joys is to find good webcomics. Often mixing genres and references, my favorites blend in a lot of humor and healthy self awareness. Plus, many of those guys just started for fun and got caught in the process of their own success quite unexpectedly.

So here's one of those I just rediscovered a few days ago, and it's all good:
so far the main story line (Hob) is a weird mix of anime, sci-fi, and randomness, and the "singles" are awfully clever.. check it out!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Parkour vids

While making a small video to ward off cabin fever during the Snowpocalypse, I took the opportunity to dust off and put a couple of older vids on youtube for your entertainment. Here they all are:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Do I need to say more? one of the most insane recipes from the Barefoot Comtessa, like a pecan pie except the pie crust is replaced by shortbread and the pecan/syrup top by a pecan caramel. Main ingredient: butter. Most important trick: use a really big tray or your oven will end up looking like a caramelized battlefield. Doh! my tray was too small..