Saturday, February 10, 2007

Masterpieces of French Art, from the Met

This afternoon, Christina and I ventured downtown to see this beautiful art exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art in Houston:

The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800-1920

It's an extraordinary sampling of many famous favorites! Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Seurat, Matisse, and on and on! The exhibit will be here until May 6, 2007. Check it out! Beware that this is a popular exhibit!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Absinthe: La Fée Verte

Here's an interesting YouTube clip from Modern Marvels (10 minutes) on the current distillation of Absinthe at the Combier distillery in France and the modern revival of the drink. While it is still illegal to sell in the United States (though it is not considered a controlled substance), traditional Absinthe is no longer banned in Europe.

The ban in the United States has increased the popularity of some faux-Absinthe drinks, such as Herbsaint (from New Orleans) and Absente. Absente follows the traditional Absinthe recipe -- however, instead of using grande wormwood as an ingredient (resulting in a large concentration of the controversial chemical thujone, the primary reason for the ban), it uses southern wormwood, which has a slightly different composition.

If there's coffee talk, how about Absinthe talk?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Handy Household Tips

How many of these do you know?
Harpsichord Mania!

Our parish church recently acquired a harpsichord for use in our daily mass chapel (chapel pictured above). A perfect way to compliment the large pipe organ that will soon be installed in the sanctuary of the main church.

Before now, I had never even seen a harpsichord in person. Last sunday morning after mass, my wife and I made our way over to the chapel. There it was, covered-up, sitting innocently in the corner. We lifted off the cover, and behold! I pecked a few keys, filling the room with that classic sound... and we thought, "that's a harpsichord all right!" I suppose the cover was meant to keep away prying eyes and fingers such as ours... but we will treat it with the utmost respect it deserves!
Blog Awards?!

I appreciate those of you who read my thoughts on this blog. But please don't nominate this blog for the "Catholic Blog Awards". As I said last year, I'm not in competition with anyone. I don't blog for ratings or awards, and I don't need an award to know that some readers enjoy reading me and other readers don't.

I know the creators and participants are sincere and don't mean harm, but I believe the blog awards are meaningless. Blogs reflect the personalities of those who write for them, and they're all pretty different; folks have different reasons for reading them. Why must one be better (or "best") than another blog?

I can't let this go without a little social analysis. In my mind, this is only a reflection of the American "award culture" craze, where we feel we have to compete to earn recognition to give some extra value to our work. Is there no value in doing something just for the sake of doing it? And so these awards end up being little more than mere popularity contests. Perhaps it won't be long before there are awards for whomever has the most awards (or like the Awardies). I guess I'm in the minority, but I'll continue to read plenty awardless blogs. In fact, I get rather tired of all of the campaigning some blogs due to win favor.


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