Details 2: Spring and Summer 2016

Discover the intimate details of something unexpected.

— Jen H., The Daily Post

Self’s go-to summer sandal: low heel, super-comfy, and bright orange. Summer’s all about comfort and freedom: her feet are happy.

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This is New York City, May 2016, during an unexpected lull in a frantic week:

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Park Avenue Nocturne: Self only just noticed the little squares of lighted windows from the buildings across the street. The view is from her brother-in-law’s apartment in Manhattan.

Finally, self was able to visit Bletchley Park, just outside London, in early June. It was an overcast day, self got to the park early, before the crowds arrived. In fact, self was the only person walking from the train station that morning.

She hasn’t seen The Imitation Game, the movie about the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, but there’s an exhibit of costumes used during the filming, and Benedict Cumberbatch is on the audio guide.

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Whatever self expected when she visited Bletchley Park in June, she never expected the grounds to be so lovely. There was a lake full of ducks and very approachable swans.

Highly recommend a visit to Bletchley Park. The exhibits include an actual Enigma machine. The history is just palpable.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Pure 2: New York and London

  • “I love finding beauty in the mundane, and purity in the midst of our chaotic, over-connected world.”

— Jen H., Daily Post Photo Challenge (Theme: PURE)

Examples: a city-scape; a museum

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New York skyline, June 2016: The “purity” of early morning, the day not yet begun

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Classical Elegance: The British Museum, early June 2016

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Classical Elegance, The British Museum, June 2016

New York looks peaceful in the early morning light.

The venerable British Museum opened up its interior with classically simple lines.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Numbers 4: Exhibits, Museum of the History of Science (Oxford) and the British Museum

Self-explanatory!

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Oxford, England: May 2016

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Assyrian Gallery, British Museum, London: May 2016

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Another Caption from the Assyrian Gallery in the British Museum: May 2016

Numbers 3: More From Bletchley Park

Each building in Bletchley Park has specific displays and documentary films. In the codebreaking huts (a total of 11, self thinks there were), the lighting is purposefully dim, as if to give the impression of how much secrecy was involved.

Yet the grounds themselves are beautiful.

Self never got to see the Benedict Cumberbatch movie, The Imitation Game. The film has a special exhibit in the Mansion House — there’s very interesting information from the costume designer, about the thinking behind the way the actors — who played a constellation of codebreakers that included Alan Turing and Stuart Menzies — were dressed.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Numbers 2: Bletchley Park

Since this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is NUMBERS, that’s all self could think of when she was in Bletchley Park, today.

The grounds are very beautiful. Self was so glad she decided to go.

Since she comes from Silicon Valley, she was most interested in checking out the claim that the world’s first electronic computer (Ahem!) was built on-site by Alan Turing’s team (And to think, all these years, self thought the first computer was made by IBM!)

Approximately 9,000 people worked here toward the end of World War II. All of them left the premises, the day after Germany made its official announcement of unconditional surrender. The documents were shredded, the machines dismantled, and the huts torn down. But the Bletchley Park Foundation has done a superb job at recreating the offices.

It’s only an hour away from London by train.

Self saw two Enigma machines and a fragment of a Colossus.

As well as tons of World War II memorabilia. One small cabinet in the Main House contains a series of memos, one dated December 1941 saying that Bletchley’s request for more material to build code-breaking machines had been denied. Right next to it is a message that came straight from the “Prime Minister’s Office” and was signed by Winston Churchill, May 1942. It’s only two sentences, the gist being: “Whatever they need, give it to them.”

Self imagined it would be inundated by people on a Saturday. But it wasn’t.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Spare 4: Tate Modern, Banksea

On the fourth floor of the Tate is a huge neon sign:

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Tate Modern, 4th Floor

What self loves about the Tate Modern is that it captures the essence of the old Battersea Power Station, keeping the cavernous spaces and giving them a very industrial feel.

Here’s an installation by Magdalena Abakanowicz. It consists of cocoon-like objects wrapped in burlap. Self neglected to write down the name of the work, alas! The caption says the artist’s work reflects “her interest in biological systems.”

To self’s way of thinking, SPARE is not the same thing as “sparse.”

Not even a little bit.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

British Museum, Lines

Today at the British Museum: for the first time, serious security check. Everyone had to line up outside and pass through a white tent (Why a white tent? Self has no idea) and have their bags inspected. First time ever (and self has been to the Museum many times). There was a police van parked right outside the main entrance to the Museum (Also a first; last summer, security was very discreet. Now, the British are flaunting it.)

Met an American pathologist from Seattle who, having wrapped up her conference, was sightseeing. This was her third visit to the museum in a week. Self told her about the “Sunken Cities” special exhibit, and the woman asked if self had seen the Rosetta Stone. Do you know, in how many visits to the British Museum, self has never actually laid eyes on the Rosetta Stone? Go figure. As soon as we got inside the museum, the woman led self straight to it. (There’s a 20-minute Rosetta Stone tour, free, every Friday)

Self was in London last July. All those weeks, and she never set foot inside the British Museum. Not once. Instead, she remembers just holing up in her room and writing. And writing. And writing. London was full of pigeons and tourists and ice cream trucks. It was incredibly hot and muggy. She went on a Jack the Ripper tour of Whitechapel.

Part of the reason she bought her ticket so far in advance this year is because she realizes she needs that push. The British Museum is overwhelming. In the last gallery of the “Sunken Cities” exhibit, a woman about self’s age seated herself on a bench and lowered her face in her hands. Self knew just how she felt.

The gallery of Greek antiquities has these colossal statues. They are completely stunning. A rider at full gallop on a gigantic horse. A running leopard. A mastiff. She hasn’t seen such massive things since the Olmec exhibit at the de Young, several years ago. You talk about Greek sculpture and you think: classical. You think: refinement. But these were from only one period (Hellenistic? 350 AD?) After that, Greek sculptural representations no longer have that gigantic, absolutely in-your-face, larger-than-life ethos (Why?)

There is a piece showing Aphrodite being surprised during a bath. Seeing the statue from the front, self walked right by. As she was leaving the gallery, she saw that same Aphrodite statue from the back. And, gosh, from the back, it is beautiful. Look at the dimples of her lower back! And the hips! OMG the hips!

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Aphrodite, Surprised at Her Bath: British Museum, Friday, 20 May

Self thinks she’ll walk around a bit more. Stay tuned.

Face 2: CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery, Cork, Ireland

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is FACE, and self feels like the luckiest person in the world because, this morning, in one of her periodic rambles around Cork, she stumbled into a gallery on Wandesford Quay. In a smaller gallery off the main exhibit space (looked like a crypt) were a set of prints:

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Lithographs, Connoll Cary, at CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery, Cork, Ireland

When she went closer, she saw the subjects were actually portraits of a human subject:

The exhibit You Make Mine, I Make Yours is a very interesting project. Four printmakers from Cork were paired with another four from Rafamo, Finland.

The pairs sent each other visual prompts, and it was up to the individual artists to come up with original interpretations.

One of the artists, Johnny Bugler, explained how the collaborations worked. He has his own artwork in the show: Dream of a White Dog, and Paradise Lost (which features a screen print of tropical palm trees on found leather)

Actually, self participated in a similar collaboration when The Asian American Literary Review invited writers like herself to react/respond to a visual artist. In April 2012 we were brought to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC to share the fruit of our collaboration. The event was Asian American Portraits of Encounter Between Image and Word. The other participating writers were: Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Garrett Hongo, David Henry Hwang, Kazim Ali, and Anna Kazumi-Stahl.

You Make Mine, I Make Yours runs through May 29.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Admiration 4: A List (Far From Complete)

OH NO! SELF ACCIDENTALLY DELETED HER OWN POST.

It happened while she was trying to expand on her reasons for assembling this particular mosaic of images to represent the week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: ADMIRATION.

And she couldn’t find a previous saved version. Gaaaah! And in re-selecting images, she decided to stop at six instead of the eight she originally had. And she also substituted some images. Sorry for the confusion!

  1. Lady in Red: Ger, chef of Cork’s pre-eminent restaurant, Café Paradiso. Such a great chef, and also very direct and witty! Self loves Ger.
  2. Katniss Everdeen: Self-explanatory, really.
  3. Allison Joseph, co-editor with Jon Tribble of Crab Orchard Review. Fabulousness.
  4. The mother-daughter team who cook and manage Chez Mamie, 22 Hanway Street, London. They make London feel like home.
  5. SeaCity Museum, Southampton, England: Thank you to Joan McGavin, who took her here last year. What a great exhibit on the Titanic. While other cities lay claim to having the best exhibits on the tragedy, Southampton’s is so poignant because it focuses on the crew, most of whom were from this city. And therefore, the focus of the displays is on working-class people. Which makes this a much more layered story. In one gallery, there’s a map on the floor with red dots representing the houses of each of the victims. The dots are clustered around the poorer sections of the city.
  6. Last but not least: Nutschell Ann Windsor, Program Administrator for UCLA Extension’s on-line Writers Program. She is the best. She not only handles all requests with Zen calmness, she is a writer herself. And an editor. She’s holding an anthology she edited.

And now self will post before she accidentally deletes something again.

Stay tuned.

Landscapes 3: Two Actual, One Metaphorical

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is LANDSCAPE.

Self loves landscapes in general. So here are pictures of three:

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Evening, Mendocino, March 2016

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Evan Hobart’s Landscape of Clay: Mendocino Art Center, March 2016

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Presbyterian Church, Mendocino, February 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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