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fauxklore
09 December 2016 @ 10:47 am
1) Thing the First is the ever popular celebrity death watch.

Sammy Lee was the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal (in platform diving in 1948). Pamela Robins wrote a lot of romance novels and smaller numbers of other novels. Greg Lake was the Lake of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer.

You don't need me to explain who John Glenn was. The first news story I remember being aware of (when I was about three and a half years old) was his orbiting the earth. He went on to serve in the Senate and got to fly on the Space Shuttle, too. By all accounts, he was a genuinely nice guy. Farewell to a true American hero.

2) Thing the second is an interesting idea from the conference I was at Tuesday and Wednesday.

They had 3 or 4 people each day appointed as "keynote listeners" who were charged with paying particular attention to a couple of themes and soliciting feedback from other attendees. They then summarized their observations towards the end of the day. I thought this worked well and did enhance the value of the conference, though it doesn't spare me from having to write up an after-action report.

3) Thing the third is a bit of whining about aging.

I really should have gotten an extended warranty on various body parts. A few years ago, I had issues with my left eye and my left foot. Now it appears to be the turn of my right side. Sigh.
 
 
fauxklore
08 December 2016 @ 03:41 pm
1) I am (obviously) not doing Holidailies this year. I feel vaguely guilty about that, but I am just too swamped with things to attempt it. I haven't even come close to meeting other goals and I just can't take on anything else. But I'm going to experiment a bit with seeing if I can do slightly more frequent entries based on just a few things at a time.

2) It's rare that I tell stories that other people tell, but it happened at Saturday night's swap. I wanted to run through The Most Precious Thing, which is the story of the clever innkeeper's daughter who marries a wealthy landowner. When she questions his judgment, he tells her to leave but take with her whatever from his home is most precious to her. She, of course, takes him.

One of our young tellers told a different version of the same story. The differences were fairly superficial, e.g. the exact riddles she has to solve to win him and some of the details of the setting. (And, in her version, the husband was a king, not just a rich landowner.)

Had she told before me, I probably would have told something else, so I thought it was interesting she went ahead with what she had planned.

3) I had a dream the other night which involved some event at MIT with set-up involving a truck creating a circle of portapotties. It is probably a good thing that I believe dreams are often random electrical discharges and not of deep psychological significance.
 
 
fauxklore
01 December 2016 @ 05:05 pm
Oy, am I behind. But I won’t get caught up by kvetching alone, so here is an attempt at catching up.

Celebrity Death Watch: Yaffa Eliach was a Holocaust historian. Robert Vaughan was an actor, best known for playing Napoleon Solo on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Little known fact is that I had a Napoleon Solo doll when I was a kid and he had a wonderful relationship with Barbie, often helping her escape from Russian spies and wild animals and so on. Leon Russell was a musician and songwriter. Gwen Ifill was a journalist, primarily on PBS. Mose Allison was a jazz pianist. Whitney Smith designed the flag of Guyana, which I mention only because he is claimed to have coined the word "vexillology," thus enabling Sheldon Cooper’s "Fun With Flags" shtick on The Big Bang Theory. Ruth Gruber was a journalist and humanitarian. Sharon Jones was a soul singer. Ben Zion Shenker was a rabbi and composer of over 500 Hasidic niggunim. Florence Henderson was an actress, best known for portraying Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch. Ron Glass was also an actor and associated in my mind with his role on Barney Miller. Grant Tinker was a television executive, including heading NBC in the 1980’s. And, of course, he was the husband of Mary Tyler Moore before that. Michael "Jim" Deiligatti invented the Big Mac. Brigid O’Brien followed in the tradition of her father, Pat, and acted.

Leonard Cohen was a singer-songwriter, who I’ve always thought of as the Poet Laureate of Depression. That isn’t intended as a negative statement. It just means that there are times when you need to wallow in despair and his music suited that mood perfectly.

Melvin Laird was the Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1973 (under Richard Nixon). While serving in Congress, he supposedly convinced Spiro Agnew to resign the Vice Presidency. He had a lot of influence on how Pentagon budgeting is done. Most importantly, he ended the Vietnam era conscription and initiated the All Volunteer Force.

Jay Forrester was, essentially, the founder of system dynamics. I will admit to qualms about the application of systems models for economic analysis, but his work did enable the growth of systems thinking in the world at large. Hence, he made a difference in the opportunities I’ve had in my career.

And then there was Fidel Castro. He was a dictator and it’s clear that he oppressed the Cuban people. On the other hand, his commitment to education and health care was real. That doesn’t balance out the evils of his government, of course. I will note, however, that the U.S. has had a lot less animosity against lots of dictators who are at least equally bad. How much do you hear about Teodoro Obiang Nguerna Mbasogo, for example? Admittedly, Equatorial Guinea )see, I saved you from having to look him up) isn’t 90 miles from Florida, but the point remains that the treatment of Cuba has not been entirely rational. I am hoping that Fidel’s death may work towards normalizing things. I do still hope to go to Cuba at some point, since my grandfather lived there in the 1920’s and my grandparents met and married there.

Non-celebrity Death Watch: Milt Eisner was a member of my chavurah. He was a retired statistician and a puzzle person, who competed at least a few times in the ACPT.

Condo Association Meeting: Our annual meeting was right after election day. It wasn’t too painful. And they had good brownies.

WBRS Reception: Then came the William Barton Rogers Society reception. This is an MIT related thing and a reward for a certain level of donation. It was at the Mayflower, which is less impressive than one might think. They served heavy hors d’oeuvres. The speaker was John Lienhard, who is the director of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab. He was reasonably entertaining. But, really, the value of these events is the opportunity to have intelligent conversations before the main speaker.

Housecleaning and Swap Hosting: Hosting a story swap forced me to do a certain amount of house cleaning. It is fairly appalling to turn up coupons that expired two years ago and such.

Anyway, there was a small group at the swap but it was still enjoyable. I was particularly pleased that Margaret told a First Nations story that is, apparently, in the novel Mrs. Mike, a book I remember entirely for some gruesome medical details involving: 1) diphtheria and 2) amputation.

JGS 36th Anniversary Luncheon: The meal was just okay, but the talk, by Arthur Kurzweil, was excellent. He was entertaining and inspiring. I have commented in the past about genealogy in terms of connectedness to my family’s history and I’ve also thought about that connectivity when I go to shul, admittedly all too rarely. (That is, by the way, why I prefer a more traditional service.) Anyway, as always, it is all about stories and he told good ones.

Book Club: We had a good discussion of How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway, which involves a Japanese war bride. But I am getting increasingly annoyed at the racism (and other general narrowmindedness) of one person in the group. Sigh.

Work: Work has been particularly hectic lately. I was at a full day class one day and have been in endless meetings other days. The telephone is also both my chief tool and the bane of my existence. I’ve also been suffering a lot of IT hell, with issues on three of the four systems I use. However, I suppose it is worth it as I did get a very positive performance review.

The Secret Garden: I went with a friend to see The Secret Garden at Shakespeare Theatre Company. This is one of my favorite Broadway scores of all time. Really, almost the whole score is earworm worthy. I do still think that the book, even as somewhat rewritten here, is probably incomprehensible to anyone who have never read the original novel. But who cares when there is such luscious music with songs like "Lily’s Eyes" and "Where in the World" and
"How Could I Ever Know?" (They did, alas, cut out "Race You to the Top of the Morning.") I should also mention the excellent performances, including Anya Rothman’s as Mary Lennox,, Josh Young as Neville, and, especially, Michael Xavier as Archibald and Lizzie Klepmperar as Lily. (Note, too, that Daisy Egan, who played Mary Lennox on Broadway in 1991 and won a Tony at it, plays Martha, but that’s not an especially showy role.) Anyway, if you live here, go to see this show. If you don’t, you could do worse than to listen to the original cast recording a few thousand times.

Martinique: Finally, I went to Martinique this past weekend. It sounds unlikely, but Norwegian flies from BWI to Martinique and Guadeloupe at very low fares, so why not? I stayed at the Hotel Bambou in the Trois Islet area, which was decent enough for the price. They were very friendly, but the wifi in the room didn’t work well and, while the price included both breakfast and dinner, the dinner buffet was not very good. One expects better of a French colony.

Anyway, it was an easy ferry ride to Fort de France, the capital, where I was eager to see the Bibliotheque Schoelcher, which is very impressive indeed. It was built in France in 1889, then disassembled and shipped piece by piece to Martinique. Schoelcher, by the way, was the major abolitionist writer of the French West Indies. I spent a couple of more hours meandering around the city, which has some interesting architecture (somewhat akin in New Orleans). The Grand Marche was another highlight, especially as there was a lively band playing in front. Overall, it was worth a few hours meandering around.

My rule of thumb for travel is that I need to do something every day, so my Sunday venture was to Musee de la Pagerie, which was the birthplace of Empress Josephine. There was a special exhibit about the history of jazz, but it was dense words, entirely in French, so I didn’t read much of it. The actual museum has pictures of Josephine, along with a few of Napoleon, as well as a few artifacts, many of which I gathered are reproductions. There is also a sugar house (the family was in the sugar cane business) and attractive grounds.

Other than that, I spent time swimming, both in the pool and in the sea. And lazing on the beach. I walked up to the casino, which is remarkably unimpressive, and to the Creole Village shops, which are likewise.

All in all, it was a pleasant enough but not especially exciting trip.
 
 
fauxklore
23 November 2016 @ 01:35 pm
I am even behinder on other things, but let's at least try to keep up on the snack reviews. I'm noticing that Graze reformulates snacks more than I had expected, so even repeats aren't always quite the same.


Snack #1 – Chinese Shiitake (repeat): Mushroom broth with corn, shiitake mushrooms, and rice noodles made a reasonable light supper for a day when I had been to a fairly extravagant luncheon. It’s only 90 calories and is tasty. There’s a good mix of textures, too.

Snack #2 – Creamy Ranch Kern Pops (repeat): This consists of half-popped corn kernels with seasoning that mostly tastes of sour cream and onion. It has 140 calories. Both the flavor and the crunchy texture are quite good. It’s not the most nutritious snack Graze offers, but it’s not particularly bad for you either.

Snack #3 – Herby Bread Basket (repeat): This consists of miniature basil breadsticks, garlic crostini (i.e. croutons), and oregano rice crackers. It has 90 calories. It’s got a lot of crunch and a lot of flavor. In particular, the oregano rice crackers are strongly flavorful, which is good – assuming, of course, that one likes oregano. Overall, a good savory snack.

Snack #4 – Garden of England (repeat): This consists of miniature strawberries, soft apple slides, and black currants. It has 80 calories. I find this mixture particularly delicious and, at least of snacks I have gotten so far, it is my favorite of the pure fruit ones.

Snack #5 - Caramel Apple (repeat): This consists of soft apple slices with caramel sauce. It’s 80 calories. I feel like I get this fairly often, but I’m not complaining, because it is thoroughly delicious. It’s one of the best sweet snacks Graze offers.

Snack #6 – Peaches and Cream (new): This is a mix of Belgian white chocolate, peach drops, coconut flakes, and vanilla cookie drops. It has 150 calories. I found it very tasty, with the peach drops and the white chocolate being especially good. There’s somewhat more coconut than I’d prefer, but that is mostly because the peach drops are so very tasty that I'd like more of those.

Snack #7 – Pumpkin Spice Flapjack (repeat): This is a soft granola bar with dates and pumpkin spice. Well, actually three small bars, with a total calorie count of 230. While I like it well enough, I do have to wonder about Graze’s algorithm, since I have this rated as "try" but have gotten it far more often than other flapjack varieties which I have rated as "like" or "love." Maybe that will change as we move out of pumpkin spice season. Or maybe they are trying to manipulate me into stocking up from the Graze store, instead of just getting the random snack boxes.

Snack #8 - New York Everything Bagel (repeat): While this was technically a repeat, it’s been reformulated. In addition to the poppy seed and onion sesame sticks, it now has cheese cashews and pumpkin seeds, too. It’s 200 calories. I still like it, though I preferred the original version, with just the sticks. On the plus side, this does have more protein.
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fauxklore
18 November 2016 @ 01:28 pm
No time to write a real entry. In short, this has been a pretty horrible week, with too much to do in too little time and no spare time at all. I am putting things in order as much as I can, so hopefully can catch up next week. Things I did were:

- hosted a story swap
- JGS luncheon and talk
- endless meetings at work
- a full day class
- lots of IT issues at work
- book club
 
 
 
fauxklore
11 November 2016 @ 02:45 pm
First, I am not surprised at the results for the simple reason that I have long believed that the first woman to become President of the U.S. will be a Republican. My logic is that a high enough percentage of the right wing would not submit to having a woman in power, so would only vote for a woman if doing so could be perceived as a sort of ideological purity. There are a handful of Republican woman who I would find acceptable (say, Susan Collins), but they are also the ones least likely to be nominated.

Second, I think there's a big neglected psychological factor in how the candidates presented themselves. I believe Hillary is a classic introvert and that made her suspicious in her dealings with the media and led to the perception of secretiveness. For what it's worth, extroverts tend to be perceived as warmer and are trusted more.

Third, I can't help but notice that two of the states that flipped and gave the election to Trump are North Carolina and Wisconsin, which are among the states with the greatest efforts at voter suppression. That is entirely speculative on my part, of course.

Finally, for the people who claim Sanders could have beat Trump, I sincerely doubt it. The same people who wouldn't vote for a woman wouldn't vote for a Jew or a socialist and certainly not someone who is both. I think Joe Biden might conceivably have done better, though he certainly hasn't been immune to attacks of hoof-in-mouth syndrome. But it's a moot point as circumstances prevented him from entering the fray.

As for what to do now, we've had repugnant politicians before, though I am not sure there have been any in my lifetime who are quite as vulgar. But trying to go around the system just plays into his hands. Work the system for all it's worth to protect the vulnerable and to keep Trump from destroying the country.

For those who want there to be a new party, I'm with you, but it has to start at the lower levels. I will offer up my Congressional district as one that is ripe for a third party, as our one-time liberal Republican congresscritter was forced out of office by the extremism of the party (he has said this himself, so it isn't speculation on my part) and the Democrat who replaced him a few elections ago is unlikeable and unliked, but has run unopposed twice now. My vision of what a new party should look like is probably not the same as yours, since I am a Radical Centrist of the Dead Armadillo stripe (i.e. firmly middle of the road) but we can talk.
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fauxklore
10 November 2016 @ 03:51 pm
I'm not quite ready to write about the election. So here are snack reviews.

Snack #1 – Twist of Black Pepper Popcorn (repeat): This is 130 calories worth of microwave popcorn, with some black pepper added. It pops up quickly, with few orphans. The black pepper is a nice touch. Very good.

Snack #2 – Spicy Sriracha Crunch (repeat, but changed): This has sriracha-flavored peas, roasted cashews, baked salted peanuts, and garlic sesame sticks. It’s 200 calories. It also has 6 grams of protein, which is quite good for a savory snack. Interestingly, they’ve reformulated this since the previous time I got it, when the sriracha peas were accompanied by corn kernels (both large, unflavored ones and half-popped sriracha ones). I suspect this was intended to tone down the spiciness some, but it didn’t really work for me. It’s just a bit too much sriracha and, while I have a fairly high heat tolerance, the flavor doesn’t feel very balanced. I decided to trash this one.

Snack #3 – Thai Tom Yum (repeat): I’ve gotten this soup a couple of times before. It’s got a nicely spicy broth, with a reasonably strong lemongrass flavor, along with rice noodles and zucchini. A big plus is that it is only 50 calories. This is definitely one of the better soup options Graze offers, but it probably helps that tend to like soups, in general.

Snack #4 – Honeycomb Almond Protein Granola Topper (new): This consists of the usual oat and barley granola and soy protein crispies, with almond slivers and chocolate-coated honeycomb. It has 150 calories. The chocolate-coated honeycomb is particularly good and I’d have liked more of it. Overall, this was a good way to add some crunch and sweetness to a bowl of yogurt for breakfast. I was using plain yogurt from the farmer’s market, but I think this would actually taste pretty good on a berry yogurt, too.

Snack #5 – Peachy Orchard (repeat): This consists of dried pear, dried rhubarb slices, and peach fruit drops and has 110 calories. The peach drops are especially delicious.

Snack #6 – Chia Coconut Cookie with Special Blend Black Tea (repeat, but changed): This is only sort of a repeat, as the previous time I got this, it came with turmeric and ginger tea. The tea it has now is a blend of Kenyan and Assam tea leaves with bergamot, so is like a very mild Earl Grey. The cookies are buttery with a definite coconut flavor and well worth the 120 calories. Overall, a very nice afternoon pick-me-up.

Snack #7 – Sweet Memphis Barbecue (repeat) This consists of salsa flavored peanuts, wild rice sticks, and BBQ flavored peas. It has 190 calories. It’s a nice savory mix. Tasty and high in protein is always a good thing.

Snack #8 – Summer Berry Compote (new): This consists of whole grain shortbread cookies, with a compote (i.e. jam) of raspberries, blackcurrants, and strawberries. The raspberries dominate the flavor. The compote is sweet, of course, but the whole thing has only 120 calories, so it’s not too bad. The shortbread itself is rather bland, but that works since the point is the berry compote. It was also a bit on the crumbly side, which is typical of shortbread. At any rate, this is thoroughly delicious.
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fauxklore
07 November 2016 @ 03:58 pm
Celebrity Death Watch: Ralph Cicerone headed the National Academy of Sciences from 2005 until this past June. Rick Steiner was a Broadway producer, notably of The Producers. Janet Reno was the first woman to serve as Attorney General of the U.S.

Klezmer Brass All Stars: I only made it to one concert of this year’s Washington Jewish Music Festival, largely due to the inevitable schedule conflicts. Fortunately, I was able to make it to see Eleanor Reissa, Frank London, and the Klezmer Brass All-Stars. Frank London is, of course, the Klezmer trumpeter of our age and has collaborated with a large range of musicians from many cultures. Performing with Eleanor Reissa is pretty mainstream for him, but that was fine. Eleanor Reissa is well-known as a Yiddish singer and, while her running joke of pretending she was translating for those in the audience who spoke only some relatively unlikely language (e.g. "this is for our Swahili friends") grated on me a bit, the woman can sing. I particularly liked her sultry rendition of Fargess Mir Nit. I also need to point out that Michael Winograd was there on clarinet, because he’s a pretty big name on his own. The concert had the title Vilde Mekhaye (which translates to Wild Ecstasy) and that was pretty accurate.

Freaky Friday: I went to see the new Disney musical, Freaky Friday at Signature Theatre this weekend. I don’t remember the original movie well enough to say how true to it the musical was, but it did follow the same basic story of mother and daughter switching bodies and learning about each other in the process. The music and lyrics are by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, who were also responsible for Next to Normal (and If / Then, which I didn’t see).

This was fairly frothy, but it was fun. The music was often lively, though some of the rhymes in the lyrics were a bit strained. The real key to this was the performances by Emma Hunton (daughter Ellie) and Heidi Blickenstaff (mother Katherine), who were both perfectly on the mark. And, as the song "Busted" reveals, not quite as different from one another as it might seem. Remembering back to my teenage years and my relationship with my mother then, I thought the dynamics seemed very realistic. Overall, while there was nothing revolutionary here, it was an entertaining few hours, which is about what I want out of a musical.
 
 
fauxklore
03 November 2016 @ 03:09 pm
Celebrity Death Watch: Tammy Grimes was a Broadway actress, most notable for playing the title role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She was also the mother of actress Amanda Plummer. Natalie Babbitt wrote the children’s book Tuck Everlasting.


Genealogy Update: I finally tracked down confirmation of a family story. My uncle had told me a relative had been killed in a train crash in Washington, but he was inconsistent about whether it was Celia Lubofsky (my cousin once removed) or Mary Lehrman (my great-aunt). Since Mary’s headstone says she "died in accident," I figured I would start by googling train wrecks for that day. And, indeed, there was a major one. The Congressional Limited from Washington to New York crashed just outside Philadelphia on 6 September 1943, killing approximately 80 people. And I did, indeed, find Mary’s name on the lists of the dead. In fact, the Chicago Tribune even printed her address (2272 Barker Avenue in the Bronx). Since the wreck was on Labor Day, my guess is that she had gone to Washington to visit her daughter, Sima Slansky (the one whose husband later committed bigamy according to the laws of Maryland, which didn’t recognize his residency for a Reno divorce as valid).

Mary had a difficult life, what with being held for inquiry when she immigrated to the U.S., though it looks like she only had to wait a day or so for Nathan to show up and claim her. She was widowed in her 30’s, with her daughters only 9 and 12 years old. And then her beauty salon got used as a test case when the state of New York decided to pursue an electrolysis school. (Mary got a 6 month suspended sentence for practicing medicine without a license, but was later vindicated.) So it seems her life was a bit of a train wreck before she died in a literal one.

Note, by the way, that the May 2015 Amtrak crash was in just about the same place.

Baseball: Okay, Cubs fans. You can shut up now. And thank us Red Sox fans for letting you have Theo Epstein.


Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 1: Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory character) was in a bathtub with a large, grey wolfy sort of dog. He got scared of the dog, which then started growling at him. So he stood up and dangled a badge holder to distract the dog, while he got out of the bathtub.


Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 2: I was searching for Dily Niwab Street, which turned out to be a block from Audubon Boulevard, where my elementary school was.


Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 3: I was trying to find my copy of Alice in Wonderland to lend to someone, but kept pulling out other books, notably Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. Finally, I found a boxed set of 8 Alice stories and lent the other person the first two volumes. (Which are, of course, the only ones that actually exist.) But I kept on about how wonderful it would be to ride a unicycle like Alice did in the rest of the series.
 
 
fauxklore
01 November 2016 @ 04:51 pm
The Trump Card I went to see Mike Daisey’s latest monologue at Woolly Mammoth on Thursday night. If you are at all familiar with Daisey’s work, you know that he has no qualms about being provocative. The thing that makes this piece more than just a rant is that Daisey tries to understand both how Trump became what he is (e.g. his father’s racism and dishonest business dealings, combined with Roy Cohn’s mentoring) and his supporters’ frustration with feeling left out of the American conversation. A lot of the emphasis is on Trump as a performer and his success at being what he is. Interestingly, there is nothing about his wives and children, though there is plenty of material about his sexual assaults. The left does not get off lightly here, either, with accusations of smugness (mea culpa) and a bit of an attack on NPR. It’s an interesting piece and was worth seeing, though I don’t think Daisey is likely to change anybody’s mind.

Trip to Chicago: A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that: 1) I had never been to the Art Institute of Chicago and 2) it would be easy to remedy that. A quick bit of research also found an Elvis Costello concert to go to at the historic Chicago Theatre. Plane tickets are easily acquired, as are hotel reservations. In this case, I stayed at the Hilton at O’Hare, which is located conveniently on the airport grounds. I had some qualms about the travel when the American Airlines plane caught fire at ORD Friday afternoon, but my United flight was actually fine and, in fact, arrived about 20 minutes early. By the way, before leaving IAD, I checked out the new Turkish Airlines lounge and had an excellent supper of lentil soup and baba ghannoush.

I had intended to have breakfast at Wildberry Pancakes and Café, but the wait for a table was an hour and a half, so I went elsewhere. Then I drifted over to the Art Institute. I am a great believer in docent tours, so took the tour of the Modern Wing that was on offer when I was there. They define Modern as, essentially, early the first half of the 20th century. The tour started with Picasso and Braque and cubism (with a few touches of other things Picasso did, including a bit of insight into his various mistresses). After passing through the Russians (e.g. Kandinsky), we continued down to the Contemporary collection, which included Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollack. I will have to admit that the latter is pretty much my least favorite artist of all time, but so it goes. The most memorable piece was a sort of sculpture by Felix Gonzales-Torres named "Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.). This consists of a stack of wrapped candy and viewers are encouraged to take a piece. Talk about absorbing the artwork!

After the tour, I stayed in the Modern Wing for a bit, going back to look at some things we had skipped, e.g. a couple of works by Chagall, notably White Crucifixion. Of course, the most significant Chagall work at the museum is the America Windows, six stained glass windows, which are beautiful and vibrant and the definite highlight of my visit.

There are lots of other famous works at the museum, of course, though American Gothic is off on tour right now. I did see such things as Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette. I also made a point of visiting the Thorne Miniature Rooms, which depict both European and American rooms from various periods. They are quite exquisitely detailed, but the crowds make them harder to enjoy than they should be.

Anyway, the whole museum is quite overwhelming and I didn’t attempt to see everything. As it was, I spent about 5 hours there and was pretty exhausted at the end of that. Had I been staying downtown, I could have gone to my hotel and taken a nap, but I didn’t think I had time to schlep back to the airport and back to the city. So I was rather tired for the Elvis Costello concert.

First of all, I should note that the Chicago Theatre is pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, the sound system doesn’t measure up to the ornate décor. There was a good mix of material, including pretty much everything off the Imperial Bedroom album. The most notable video images on the screen above the band were for "Watching the Detectives," which used a wide range of noir / pulp covers. That nourish theme was nicely followed by "Shot With His Own Gun," by the way. But I think the performance highlight of the evening was "This House is Empty Now." Overall, it was a reasonably good evening, but the sound system really did put a damper on things.

For what it’s worth, travel home was also straightforward and hassle-free, though I didn’t get upgraded.