I've had a six-week break, and it'd still be nice to have a little while longer. It's true, I'm down to the dregs of things-to-do, but there are a lot of friends I didn't get to see, corners I didn't get to clean, and personal projects I didn't get completed. I guess we call that life.
Most of my break has been centered around board gaming. We've been going to dinner parties and holiday parties at various peoples' houses at least once a week.
I've also done some insane cooking over the break, and even a little bit of baking with friends who are more skilled at that than I am.
For Sam's birthday, the 25th, we stayed home most of the day while I tried my hand at Gordon Ramsay's beef wellington. The butcher cut my tenderloin a little small, and I thought I'd accounted for that in the cooking time, but apparently not because it was medium-well out of the oven. Blargh. (Still, show me a chef who cooks a wellington perfectly the first time.) Everything else about it was pretty damned tasty, and it held together relatively well.
After the meal, we went to see the Cohen brothers' remake of "True Grit." I have quite a lot to say about that remake, and about the direction of Cohen films in general, most of it not too good. I'm not a fan of westerns, but I did see the original, and this remake really took away a lot of its charm by poor story balance and too much time given to the wrong characters and mood setting. Cohen brothers films do well when they're just a little silly and theatrical, and their last few films have given us either too much or too little of this. Coincidentally, theatrics and silliness is precisely what I *dislike* about classic Westerns, so I have to bite my tongue a little bit when I say I wish "True Grit" had *more* of that classic Western cinema character.
We also had a date night to see "Black Swan" ... and we both loved it. I could write a separate essay on the gender issues raised by that movie, but mercifully left that out of my review. The link is at the end of this post.
For our anniversary, Sam wrote me a beautiful poem and bought me a copy of the Oxford Companion to Music, which, in case of emergencies, could be used as a deadly weapon. I got him a custom-made hat to replace the blue velvet beret, his "signature hat," which was lost many years ago. For his birthday, I got him a swanky vest
To celebrate the 12th anniversary of our meeting online, 11th anniversary of meeting face-to-face and 9th anniversary of engagement (which all happened on the same day), we had a flight of five hours d'oeuvres at the best French restaurant in town. We sat at the bar, where all the appetizers were half off (insane!), and one of the servers had a margarita contest with our bartender, with me acting as judge. We've eaten at this restaurant a number of times, but never at the bar. The service is usually somewhat stiff and fussy, so we really enjoyed the change of mood.
Afterwards, we made our way to the nation's favorite zoo to see their annual "Wildlights" display, which features over TWO MILLION LED lights, covering about half the trees in the park. Each section of the zoo had a different color scheme. While most of the animals were indoors and/or sleeping, we did get to see the polar bears get fed and the pretty, huge aquarium tank. Most of the stuff in the park was closed due to the freeze-piss cold, and most of what they did have was Christmas stuff for kids (reindeer, sleigh pictures, etc.), but we enjoyed all the lights and brisk exercise anyway. Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOzght0Hl5g
Next Monday, it's back to school. Not looking forward to getting up at 6 a.m. and driving in the dark and snow for my first class, which starts at 9 a.m. On the bright side, it's an awesome class. I will also have time in between courses for lunch this term, which means a return of my Hello Kitty Bento Box Adventures in Japanese Cooking Blog Series Dream Wish Show!More reading for you:"Black Swan" review
Still trying to get my "Blues Fury" piece published somewhere. Wish I could let you read it!