Monday, February 28, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, a Toast!


The night before returning to Texas, Mary Anne and David cooked a fabulous dinner at their house.  PLUS, we were joined by their daughter, Julia, a.k.a Miss Sexy Singing Seargant herself:

You betta WORK that full length skirt! (Suck on it, Catherine-Zeta)


Best of all, Mary Anne finally fulfilled her promise from 2 years ago to make me batch after batch of pear martinis.

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Webster himself doesn’t have the words to express how grateful I am for their hospitality, and as you can tell from the frighteningly large number of posts I put up in the last three days (17 including this one!!!), I had an ex.tra.ordinary time!


Artist: Stephen Sondheim/ Album: Assassins 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Easy Target


After our perfectly Parisian lunch at Le Pain Quotidien  we headed to The Torpedo Factory art center, a former well… torpedo factory located on the waterfront that is now home to three stories of art studios and galleries.  Translation: HEAVEN!!!!

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I mean, with over three stories of studios it would be impossible to not find at least one thing you like here.  Lucky for me I found many many pieces and didn’t even get to explore about a third of it!

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Hugh Jones’ “The Tree of Life” photo on aluminum.  I. LOVE. THIS!!! (that would be dna code in the leaves, btw)


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Peggy Wood's “Moon and Stars Pumpkin”  You could make a kick-ass batch of watermelon salsa from this!


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When I saw this I couldn’t help but remember one of our family trips down to Galveston.  If you don’t know, the waters there unbelievably murky and, due to the stingray population, one has to do the “Texas shuffle,” which involves not stepping but shuffling (obvs.)  So… I was shuffilin’ along and all of a sudden I felt something hit up against my leg.  My first reaction was a certain sharp-toothed, finned animal was about to pounce! Once I stopped moving, however, the banging stopped.  That is, until I headed back to shore and it became even more prevalent. Naturally the first thing I proceeded to do was yell “SHAAAAAAARRRRRRKKKK!!!!!!!” at the top of my lungs, leading to a complete evacuation of the beach.  Turns out the insole of my water shoe had become dislodged and was the true culprit.  Needless to say I had a shoreline full of people who were livid with me, none more so than my brother.  Well… at least that’s how I remember it. (I’m still sorry, Matt!)


One of the coolest parts was that because these are actual studios, the artist could often be seen working in plain view.

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I also felt this would be as appropriate a time as any to debut my new (and first!) t-shirt from woot.  I extolled my love for them once before and it’s probably not the last time you’ll here about it.


Andy Pitt’s “Colors of a Feather”


Plus, I’m all for ANY excuse for a fashion show:

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It’s the return of the Arkansas stank face!!!!!


Artist: Heart/ Album: Bad Animals

The Ladies Who Lunch


Deciding that a change of pace from the museums and monuments of the Mall was in order, Mary Anne and David took me out to Old Town Alexandria for lunch at one of their favorite restaurants.  On the way we passed the Masonic Temple where George Washington was once a member!

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Reminiscent of an old-school European cafĂ©, Le Pain Quotidien was the PERFECT choice for a lazy Saturday afternoon brunch.  I live for eateries such as these!!! (Yes, I used the word “eatery”… get over it).

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The upstairs dining area had a gigantic “family style” table set up where we sat and dined on fabulous French-inspired food.

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“Damnit, we’re out of Pledge AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!! Why in God’s name did they made this table so long!”

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My tuna tartine with hummus, white beans, tomatoes and basil pesto. 


(While we’re on the subject of hummus… Washington D.C. was actually the first place I ever had what has now come to be one of my favorite foods.  We were staying at Jim and Ginny’s brownstone during our first [I think] visit to the city and Ginny told me something you are never supposed to tell a fat kid: “anything in the fridge is yours if you want it!”  I found a container of it and my taste buds have never been the same since.)


Rockin’ my Starter jacket


Mary Anne had already warned taunted me about their hot chocolate, so naturally I ordered me a buh-big mug full of cacao and soy milk goodness.

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Normally I’d say that the “J” was an intentional initial shout-out for Joseph, but this time it was purely coincidental

Worry not, Mary Anne and David weren’t about to miss out on any of the action.

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Don’t even THINK about touching my cappuccino!!!

Artist: Stephen Sondheim/ Album: Company

Think No More Lad; Laugh, Be Jolly


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So what does one see when spending a Friday evening at the Kennedy Center.  Does one see Washington National Opera’s performance of Madama Butterfly with Ana Maria Martinez.  Nope… been there, done that in Houston. 

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Does one see performers from the Manhattan School of Music as a part of the Conservatory Project (where, funnily enough, students from the University of Michigan performed just two nights prior).  Meh… one does not.

What one does does is attend probably the least Kennedy Center act that has been there since, I don’t know, when it opened 40 years ago in 1971.  That’s right baby, ginger-tongued comedienne Kathy Griffin was doing a two night stunt and you’d better believe my ass was in one of those plushy, velvety seats.

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“That’s right, everybody… TAKE MY PICTURE!!!”

Practically the first thing she did when coming out was announce something like the following…

I feel it necessary to start off this evening by making an apology to the National Symphony Orchestra for dragging this beautiful concert hall into the mud. I mean, I’m not going to change my material or anything… 

My mother sent me an email today: “Now Kathleen, you MUST behave yourself. This isn’t some gritty comedy dive in Los Angeles—it’s the Kennedy Center for Christ’s sake!!!”

And, if you know anything about Miz Griffin, then you realize that’s about the last thing that I can quote here that is blog appropriate.  She spent over two hours riffing on her normal subjects (up to date coverage of the Charlie Sheen crazy), her newest Whitney run in at Clive Davis’ Grammy party, what those crazy Housewives across the country have been up to (“Why you all up in my Kool-Aid!?!”) and even infusing more political humor into the mix than normal.

I love that you guys here know who that pin-wheel eyed crazy Michele Bachmann is. Were I to talk about her in L.A. they’d just say… “Oh, is she that new chick on Gossip Girl?” To which many people in the audience probably went… what’s Gossip Girl?

She also spoke of being in Reno, Nevada the same time that La Palin was speaking at the Weatherby Awards (a big deal in the hunting world, apparently)  Why is that relevant, you might ask. Because our own, dear blog follower and frequent shout-out receiver, Jan, was in attendance!!

I did have to laugh when visiting the gift shop before the performance started.

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Much like an appearance by me at the hunter’s ball, one of these is not like the other


Artist: Bryn Terfel/ Album: Silent Noon

It’s Only a Paper Moon


One of the special exhibits at the American History Museum was on making art with paper.  My sister-in-law, Joanie, is a huge fan of the pop-up book medium and it was fun to stroll through to see how people over time have used paper as art.

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I’ve mentioned it once before in passing, but the documentary Between the Folds is one of my absolute favorite documentaries.  It was a part of PBS’s Independent Lense series and is a fascinating look at the science and art of oragami.  CHECK IT OUT!!!!

No, seriously though… WAAAATCH IIIIIT!!!!


Artist: Sylvia McNair/ Album: Come Rain or Come Shine

Stonecutters Cut It on Stone


Emerging from the American History museum, I was fortunate enough to be greeted by a sweepingly beautiful sunset-in-progress. Not to shabby a backdrop for some of our nations monuments.

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Washington monument two ways. Georgia O’Keefe is NOT amused!



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Franklin Delano and Fala!!!!



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If you don’t know this you don’t deserve to be American

Artist: Richard Rogers/ Album: Carousel

A Real Gourmet Kitchen


One of my must sees for this trip was an exhibit at the American History Museum:

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I immediately texted a picture to my mother:

Me: Julia Childs had nothin’ on Joyce!!!

Mom: Isn’t the turquoise something! That exhibit is so fun to see.

Me: Well… it’s certainly no avocado or harvest gold.

Now, I couldn’t help but think while watching some of the clips from her cooking show that someone should make a movie about her life.  I mean… honestly, why hasn’t that happened yet.  OMG, you know who would be PERFECT to play that role, right?

That was for you, Jan.  (Well, mostly for me… but I knew you’d love it)


And, while we’re on a Jan kick.  I realize that I’m not exactly singing with them like you have requested in the past, but this is the best and the closest I could manage.

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Get it little Muppets!!!


The museum is also home to a fabulous collection of presidential and first lady ephemera, including inaugural gowns.

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Michelle Obama  And… for those of you foaming at the mouth, I’ve also included Nancy Reagan


Yeah, those are okay I guess.  However, the BEST gown they had on display was a couple of floors up.

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This is for you, Jeremy!!!!


The other exhibit I would have been remiss to miss is Stephen Colbert’s portrait, once on display in the National Portrait Gallery (next to the restrooms) and now a part of the permanent collection of the American History Museum.  But seriously… I wasn’t going to get out of this town without seeing it. 

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And, finally, a picture of something many of you who read my blog with any consistency will feel I have lost:

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“In 1884, the marble industry was born in Ohio when the first mass-produced marbles were made—creating a toy that many children could afford.”

Artist: Michael Giacchino/ Album: Ratatouille

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Gallery


Now, many of you know I love a good art museum; it’s generally top on the list of sites to see in a foreign city and I have been fortunate enough to visit many of the greats both here and abroad.  So what better way to spend the afternoon than by visiting America’s flagship, the National Gallery of Art.  (Once again, I’ll do my very best to truncate the number of pictures I post… otherwise I’d just end up submitting the entire collection!)

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“The Old Violin” by William Michael Harnett.  This has been one of my favorite paintings ever since I was very very young and saw it for the first time with my mom when we visited D.C. years ago.  There’s even a large print of it in my apartment and I love being able to see it every day


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Leonardo da Vinci’s “Sheet of Studies.” One fantastic artist and one kick ass mutant superhero


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Modigliani’s “Portrait of a Young Yentyl”  “Chaim Soutine.”  Yup… you heard me right


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Jacques-Louis David’s “Portrait of a Young Woman in White” Subtitled: the face that about 1/4 of the readers of this blog made after seeing the previous picture.  Also, this is how Lena used to glare at Mason and me after making fun of the German language. AUS FAHRT, baby!!!!


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Water fountain in the connecting corridors between the east and west buildings


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Stairway in the west building.


And now for the family shout out portion of this post!!

Mom (ever the southern belle):

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Martin Johnson Heade’s “Giant Magnolias on a Blue Velvet Cloth”



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Thomas Cole’s “The Voyage of Life: Childhood,” the first in a series of four allegorical paintings representing the different stages of life as well as one of my dad’s favorite art works



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KILL IT!!! Winslow Homer’s “Right and Left.”  For the life of me I have never understood why that boatman went hunting in such rough weather.  Maybe The Real Housewives of Atlanta was on re-run that week.


Artist: Joni Mitchell/ Album: Clouds

When the Suns Come Out


At one point we had to endure a brief, yet quite torrential, downpour.  If it were June I would have called it a summer shower but, you know, it’s still February.  Lucky for us it only lasted about ten minutes and the sky remained stunning for the remainder of the day.

When I was a senior in High School our church choir took a tour to Washington D.C. to perform with other choirs from around the country.  As Congressman Turner is a member of our church were were able to get a group picture taken on the steps on the Capitol building with him and Ginny!



With such a short span of time in the area I had to pick and choose which buildings/museums to delve into and which to just take at what essentially amounts to “face value.”  This go around the Capitol happens to fall into the latter of the two.

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And, for a further insight into how my mind works, I took this picture from here because the view reminded me of one of Renate Aller’s photographs now on display at the John Cleary Gallery in Houston. You see the resemblance, right? RIGHT!?!?!


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I dunno… some statue of some guy on some horse.  It’s probably historically important?


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“There it is,” as David said, “your tax dollars at… something.”


Artist: Judy Garland/ Album: The Capitol Years