Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Month of Blogging-We Nailed It

Well, I met the challenge of blogging along with some fellow Slowtravellers daily for the month of February,
I don't intend to disappear.
See you tomorrow and have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Outstanding In The Field

What follows are some descriptions and photographs of meals hosted by "Outstanding in the Field". Here is a short explanation of what this is:
"Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure - literally a restaurant without walls. Since 1999 we have set the long table at farms or gardens, on mountain tops or in sea caves, on islands or at ranches. Occasionally the table is set indoors: a beautiful refurbished barn, a cool greenhouse or a stately museum. Wherever the location, the consistent theme of each dinner is to honor the people whose good work brings nourishment to the table.Ingredients for the meal are almost all local (sometimes sourced within inches of your seat at the table!) and generally prepared by a celebrated chef of the region. After a tour of the site, we all settle in: farmers, producers, culinary artisans, and diners sharing the long table."

I believe this idea coincides with taking it "slow", enjoying the bounties of life, good food, good times and communion with your neighbors. This is my dream dinner (someday). I wanted to share this kind of event with you. (reservations for upcoming events on website listed below)
Nantucket island
It was approaching 6 o’clock by the time the hay wagon was loaded up and the guests trucked over to the - now extended - table between the corn rows. Seth Raynor and his kitchen crew had little daylight to prepare this wonderful menu and ended up grilling the swordfish – still to perfection – by candle- and lantern-light. The wine, provided by Lolonis Vineyard in Medocino, flowed along with the meal, which included Erin’s antipasti assortment, a delicious lobster & corn chowder, savory ratatouille a perfect finale of pound cake with peach compote and ice cream.

City Farm ingredients included throughout: turnips, greens, tomatoes, beans, herbs and other goodies.

Out in the field event even in big cities like "Chicago" . Food supplied by City Farm ( is a tremendous effort by farmer Tim Wilson to reclaim and rehabilitate abandoned spaces in the city of Chicago. Productive green fields of vegetables are surrounded on all sides by the bustle of the city.)

Friday dawned with a deep blue sky as we made our way to Cedar Summit(Minnesota). Cedar Summit is Jim’s dream come true for a dinner site: a big green grassy field. We’ve seen every kind of site over the past nine years, but never a field of green grass. Truly we would be “Out Standing in the Field”.

" the shore of the west side of the Okanagan Lake Dale and Donna’s farm. The views were spectacular on the 135 km (84 mile) long lake. Dale Ziech farms the lakefront property, growing lettuces, carrots, tomatoes and herbs. Dale’s wife Donna Denison produces her famous Little Creek Garden salad dressings right on the farm. Guest chefs Dana Ewart and Cameron Smith have come to the Okanagan from eastern Canada, where they worked with some of Canada’s most honored chefs."

Plating meals for family style eating

Allandale Farm in Boston, MA.
Athens, Georgia Full Moon Farms

A vegetarian feast set in the Napa mountainside farm/garden that supplies Ubuntu Restaurant.

" What to expect at an Outstanding in the Field dinner... As guests arrive, they're welcomed by our team and enjoy a cool glass of wine. When everyone has congregated, we begin with a guided tour of the host farm. Tours generally run 30 to 45 minutes. Guests then sit down at our long table for a meal composed by the guest chef in our nomadic al fresco kitchen. Dinner is served family style (or farm style) with wines paired to each course. During the meal, the local producers who provided ingredients for the menu talk a bit about their respective crafts and diners are encouraged to ask questions."

Some History:
"Chef Jim Denevan began staging Outstanding in the Field dinners at organic farms around his hometown of Santa Cruz, California back in 1999.* The idea: To dine at the source on the very soil that nourished the bounty on the plate, in the company of the farmers who cultivated it.
Word of Denevan's dinners spread among the food community. Eager to support the small farmers who provide just-picked produce for their menus, many of the San Francisco Bay area's top chefs joined us in our al fresco kitchens, including Traci Des Jardins of Jardinière, Craig Stoll of Delfina, Charles Phan of the Slanted Door, and David Kinch of Manresa. " *Note the popularity of this theme has grown over the years. They are now hosting events around the world.

All photos and information was taken from the "Outstanding In The Field" Website and Blogsite listed below. Visit these places for a more in depth look at a wonderful phenomenon.

Everything's amazing, nobody's happy

Thursday, February 26, 2009

This One's for Jerry and Rose

My slowtrav friend Jerry shared on his blog
a list called, "25 Ways to Beat the recession." There were some very good tips to help us all cut corners in tough times. He and his sister both said at the end they needed a glass of wine. That prompted me to give them #26 for his list of ways to beat the recession. It's pictured above and sells for about $6.99 a bottle.(Prices vary, can be cheaper, WOW!) So here's a toast to one and all, "Stay positive and look for ways to stay healthy and happy through tough times, Cheers!"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Visit to the Aran Islands

Here, on the very edge of Europe, is an Island rich in the language, culture and heritage of Ireland, unique in its geology and archaeology and in its long tradition of gentle hospitality. Here is a place to sense the spirit of Gaelic Ireland, to touch the past. Aran will take you back to an Ireland of Celts and Early Christians. This is an island of great peace and tranquility, but it is also an island of great fun and activity.
A timeless land in an endless sea, weathered monuments on awesome cliffs, great labyrinths of limestone, meandering walls, patchwork fields, quiet beaches and a welcoming island people, this is Aran in Galway bay on the west coast of Ireland

The Aran Islands are richly unique. Landscapes of Limestone rock, a stretch of cliffs facing the moods of the Atlantic, Large bolders, rock formations, and unusally clean beaches. It is also a place steeped in emmense cultural heritage and history. Gaelic language is the first language of its residents. It is considered the foothold of Irish culture. The Islands themselves are an outdoor museum of artifacts of religous and cultural importance. The three Aran Islands, Inis Mór (Big Island), Inis Meáin (Middle island) and Inis Oírr (East island) are situated in a north westerly south easterly direction at the mouth of Galway Bay, Ireland.

Athena on the Cliffs of Inis Meai`n , Aran Island September 2008
She had the good fortune of celebrating her twentieth birthday in Ireland while she studied at the
University of Cork
Fall semester '08.

"There is never an end to the Journey road.

Tolkien had Bilbo say:

The road goes ever on and on

out from the door where it began

now far ahead the road has gone

and I must follow if I can.

Pursuing it with weary feet

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet

And whither then I cannot say?"


My Friends and I Have Been Working on the Problem of Posting Comments

Thinking about the problem alot of you are having when you want to leave a comment. I am trying all sorts of things and have lifted the "word verification". I'm hoping I'll still get to screen comments but that you won't have the long "loading" problem that you have told me about. I'm still working on it but we've added some red hats and scarves to our wardrobe as these winter nights still get chilly. I appreciate your comments and I'm sorry for the trouble you've been having. I hope the changes work for you.

The Butterfly Effect Related to the Chaos Theory

Butterflies by LushBella

There was a question posted recently on SlowTravel by my friend Jane. She asked the following:

"Can someone help me with this? I was telling Casey this morning about the butterfly effect (related to the chaos theory.) I have tried to find the little blurb that explains the effect of the flap of wings clear through to the final result but just can't find it. I have googled and googled and can't think of any other combination of words to use. Does anyone have it or will this be a challenge to some of you?"

Our friend Kim from New Jersey responded with this, "Jane are you referring to the butterfly effect as in the time travel principle or that a butterfly batting his wings off the coast of Africa can cause a hurricane in Florida? They're both similar in application.If it's the former, you may want to read Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder which tells the story of some time travelers who screw things up. "

Jane said, "Kim, I'm talking about the batting wings in Africa one. Do you know where I can find it?"

Doru from Toronto entered into the conversation with, "Wikipedia has a pretty good and concise explanation."

Jane replied, "Thanks Friend Doru but that isn't what I'm looking for. Wikipedia gives an explanation of the scientific phenomenon. In the past I have heard an interesting continuum of events beginning with the wing movement through a series of events that ultimately end in a cataclysmic event."

Now this caught my eye. I don't know anything about "The Butterfly Effect" but when I heard Chaos Theory it sounded like Physics so I left Siberia (that's the name of my computer room where I hide myself away quite alot -more on Siberia in another post) and went into the living room to talk to Mike. I asked him if he knew anything about what Jane had asked. He explained it to me. I said,"can you just email that to me". He did and this is what he wrote:

"In an attempt to predict weather, scientists used computers to simulate the hydrodynamics that governs the atmosphere. Basically you start with the initial state of the atmosphere, and use the computer to predict the future state, step by step. The models work good for short term predictions, but not for long term. That is why weather forecasts never go more than a couple of weeks. Furthermore, small changes in the inital state were found to cause huge differences in the long term. These small changes may have been caused by the flap of a Seagull's wings ( as it was originally put ). For more poetic impact, it was changed to the flutter of a butterflies wings. So the flutter of a butterflies wings may in the distant future cause a devastating hurricane, or a perfect summer day, depending on the details of the flutter."

Now I don't think this is quite the answer Jane was seeking as she states she is looking for "a continuum of events beginning with the wing movement through a series of events that ultimately end in a cataclysmic event" , however, for me through this small exchange I learned something new today and thought I'd share it with anyone out there who, like me, may not have heard of this effect. And if, by chance one of you knows the answers which would more adequately answer Janes query, would you tell me so I can tell Jane?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pacific Coast Hwy 1 Side Trips

On Saturday mid-afternoon of the Paso Robles SlowBowl weekend we took a break from wine tasting and drove back to the Coast hwy to do some sight-seeing with fellow slowtravellers Jane and Ken. Here are some of the things we saw.

You can see on this map how close Paso Robles is to the coast. We drove first to a little town called Harmony, then to Cambria and Moonstone beach and then up the coast past San Simeon to Piedras Blancas beach.

Harmony is a small group of buildings just a few miles south of the intersection of Hwy 46 and Hwy 1 near Cambria. Most of the official 18 residents come from surrounding farms and ranches. The Town of Harmony grew up around a dairy, founding in 1869.Until 1907 the creamery changed hands several times. In these early days rivalries and feuding among dairy farmers caused chaos in the valley. After one shooting death, a truce was called. All agreed to live henceforth in harmony, and from this the name of the towne was derived.
In its heyday, the village boasted a large residence for management, bunkhouses for employees, a general store, a livery and stable, blacksmith, feed store, post office and a school house.
The Harmony Dairy produced besides milk and cream some of the finest butter and cheese in the state. In those days, Highway 1 ran right through the town and motorists were treated to ladles of buttermilk from the dairy.
William Randolf Hearst was a familiar face as he stopped off for fresh dairy products on his way to his ranch. Rudolf Valentino and Pola Negra stopped in Harmony on their way to visit Hearst.
Eventually, the dairy business shifted to San Luis Obispo, and in the late 1950s Harmony Dairy was closed. For many years the town was abandoned with the exception of the post office which remained open.

What you will find in Harmony now are two small shops which include a glass blowing facility and and pottery shop. Also there is the winery on the hill.
The town of Harmony seems to have seen its hey day, which is disappointing for a town with the history and charm that this town once must have had. The little post office which had remained open in recent years appeared now closed. We have fun wandering here before heading up the coast to Cambria, Moonstone Beach

and the Elephant Seal breeding grounds at Piedras Blancas beach.

We were told that the town has been bought and there is hope of a revitalization.

There is a nice ceramics shop.

The Harmony Chapel still performs wedding ceremonies.

Jane, Ken, Mike and Barb walked in "Harmony" this day.

Moonstone Drive and Moonstone Beach form the third section of Cambria. Moonstone Drive follows the coast on a scenic loop that parallels Highway 1. Rather than the more common white sand beaches of southern California, Moonstone Beach is made up of small pebbles, polished smooth by the sea. Spend some time combing the sand for driftwood and gemstones; you're sure to find hidden treasures including jasper, jade, and the moonstone agates for which the beach is named

The Northern Elephant Seal, is an extraordinary marine mammal. It spends eight to ten months a year in the open ocean, diving 1000 to 5000 feet deep for periods of fifteen minutes to two hours, and migrating thousands of miles, twice a year, to its land based rookery for birthing, breeding, molting and rest. The Piedras Blancas rookery, on Highway 1 seven miles north of San Simeon on the California Central Coast, is home to about 15,000 animals. The area is open for viewing every day of the year and there is no admission fee or reservation required.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Movies

photo-Trevor Hoeghn

"All my life I've had a choice between Hate and Love,
I chose Love!"

--Academy award acceptance speech by A R Rahman upon winning an Oscar for music from "SlumDog Millionaire"

I have always loved movies. As a kid on saturday afternoons we would walk with alot of our friends to the neighborhood theater. I can't remember how much it cost but it was cheap. Now I don't go to the movie theaters too often. Mostly because we never seem to have the time. We watch most movies in the comfort of our own home and use Netflix. That works out well for us. Nice to be able to stop the film, get snacks, go to the bathroom, answer the phone. But every now and then when I get a chance I love to see a movie in a movie theater. There is something special and wonderful about being seated in a huge place with a big wide screen. I love it, the excitement when the room starts to dim and the movie is about to begin. Suddenly you can become so lost in the whole experience. It's grand and magical for me. As a young teen I made movie star scrapbooks. I'd cut out pictures of my favorite movie stars from magazines like "Photoplay" and paste them on the pages with rhinestone stars. I loved Sandra Dee and Paul Newman. My mom loved Oscar night. We would always watch the Academy awards ceremony together. I'd drool over the gowns and the jewels and the hairstyles. I loved "Movie Stars". Once she took me to Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd. for a "Movie Premier". The limosines pulled up and we stood behind some roped off area with tons of people all crowded together. I was pretty young but they had those big moving lights that revolved and lit up the sky. I saw Lauren Bacall get out of a car. Her hair was parted to the side and slightly covered one eye. She wore a white fur stole. I thought, "Wow, I'm seeing a real live movie star." In those days it seemed that stars were "beyond human...bigger than life". I was in awe.

Tonight as I watched the Academy awards. I drank Champagne and thought of all the years before. All the times I dressed up and sat with my mom. Then years later how I watched the Oscars with friends at parties. Still later how I watched the awards show year after year with my own daughters. It always was a big deal, dressingup, putting on rhinestones, eating special food, sparkling cider for them in champagne glasses. We always made a night of it even if it fell on a school night. Tonight Aria (in Wisconsin) and I talked by phone at every commercial, laughing, sharing thoughts on dresses, films, and we laughed just like the times we did in the past.
I really liked tonight's program. It felt personal to me. I especially appreciated how past actor/actresses who had won the awards gave a short statement of appreciation to a nominee. It felt much better than just having someone read off a list of nominees and then say "the oscar goes to.." Each person was able to be singled out and have their moment of validation. To me this was as good as a win. They had their moment of recoginition for a job well done. I loved that. I think it is very very important to validate someone's worth. So nice to have them be in the spotlight for one brief moment, win or lose not being the point. Anyway, just had to express that it was a nice night for me. The stars do not appear so God-like any longer but I still like the hoopla and I appreciate all the people that make movies so that we can enjoy, forget ourselves for brief moments, and lose ourselves to fantasy and imagination in the darkness of a theater.


Here's a first hand account from a guy who was on the US Airways 1549 out of NY that went down in the Hudson River। It's riveting and should bring a tear to your eyes. This is from a lucky survivor, Gerard (Gerry) P. McNamara, a Partner at Heidrick & Struggles , New York City.

Thursday was a difficult day for all of us at the firm and I left the Park Avenue office early afternoon to catch a cab bound for LaGuardia Airport । I was scheduled for a 5pm departure, because I was unable to secure a seat on the earlier flight scheduled to leave at 3pm। As many of us who fly frequently often do, I recall wondering if I'd just placed myself on a flight I shouldn't be on! Just prior to boarding I finished up a conference call with my associate,Jenn Sparks ( New York ), and our placement, the CIO of United Airlines। When I told him that I was about to board a US Airways flight, we all had a little fun with it। I remember walking unto the plane and seeing a fellow with gray hair in the cockpit and thinking, "that's a good thing, I like to see gray hair in the cockpit!" I was seated in 8F, on the starboard side window seat and next to a young businessman. The New York to Charlotte flight is one I've taken what seems like hundreds of times over the years. We take off north over the Bronx and as we climb, turn west over the Hudson River to New Jersey and tack south. I love to fly, always have, and this flight plan gives a great view of several NY landmarks including Yankee Stadium and the George Washington Bridge . I had started to point out items of interest to the gentleman next to me when we heard a terrible crash, a sound no one ever wants to hear while flying, and then the engines wound down to a screeching halt. Ten seconds later, there was a strong smell of jet fuel. I knew we would be landing and thought the pilot would take us down no doubt to Newark Airport . As we began to turn south I noticed the pilot lining up on the river, but still thought en route for Newark . The next thing we heard was "Brace for impact!" - a phrase I had heard many years before as an active duty Marine Officer but never before on a commercial airline flight. Everyone looked at each other in shock. It all happened so fast we were astonished! We began to descend rapidly and it started to sink in. This is my last flight. I'm going to die today. This is it. I recited my favorite bible verse, the Lord's Prayer, and asked God to take care of my wife, children, family and friends. When I raised my head I noticed people texting their friends and family, getting off a last message. My blackberry was turned off and in my trouser pocket, no time to get at it. Our descent continued and I prayed for courage to control my fear and help if able. I quickly realized that one of two things was going to happen, neither of them good. We could hit by the nose, flip and break up, leaving few if any survivors, bodies, cold water, and fuel. Or we could hit one of the wings and roll and flip with the same result. I tightened my seat belt as tight as I could possibly get it so I would remain intact. As we came in for the landing, I looked out the windows and remember seeing the buildings in New Jersey , the cliffs in Weehawken , and then all the piers. The water was dark green and sure to be freezing cold. The stewardesses were yelling in unison "Brace! Brace! Brace!" It was a violent hit - the water flew up over my window - but we bobbed up and were all amazed that we remained intact. There was some panic, people jumping over seats and running towards the doors, but we soon got everyone straightened out and calmed down. There were a lot of people that took leadership roles in little ways. Those sitting at the doors over the wing did a fantastic job…they were opened in a New York second! Everyone worked together - teamed up and in groups to figure out how to help each other. I exited on the starboard side of the plane, 3 or 4 rows behind my seat through a door over the wing and was, I believe, the 10th or 12th person out. I took my seat cushion as a flotation device and once outside saw I was the only one who did. None of us remembered to take the yellow inflatable life vests from under the seat. We were standing in 6-8 inches of water and it was freezing. There were two women on the wing, one of whom slipped off into the water. Another passenger and I pulled her back on and had her kneel down to keep from falling off again. By that point we were totally soaked and absolutely frozen from the icy wind. The ferries were the first to arrive, and although they're not made for rescue, they did an incredible job. I know this river, having swum in it as a boy. The Hudson is an estuary - part salt and part freshwater - and moves with the tide. I could tell the tide was moving out because we were tacking slowly south towards Ellis Island , The Statue of Liberty, and The Battery. The first ferryboat pulled its bow up to the tip of the wing, and the first mate lowered the Jacobs ladder down to us. We got a couple people up the ladder to safety, but the current was strong - pushing the stern of the boat into the inflatable slide and we were afraid it would puncture it. There must have been 25 passengers in it by now. Only two or three were able to board the first ferry before it moved away. Another ferry came up, and we were able to get the woman that had fallen into the water on the ladder, but she just couldn't move her legs and fell off. Back onto the ladder she went; however, the ferry had to back away because of the swift current. A helicopter arrived on station (nearly blowing us all off the wing) and followed the ferry with the woman on the ladder. We lost view of it, but I believe the helicopter lowered its basket to rescue her. As more ferries arrived, we were able to get people up on the boats a few at a time. The fellow in front of me fell off the ladder and into the water. When we got him back on the ladder he could not move his legs to climb. I couldn't help him from my position, so I climbed up the ladder onto the ferry deck where the first mate and I hoisted the Jacobs ladder with him on it. When he got close enough, we grabbed his trouser belt and hauled him onto deck. We were all now safely off the wing. We could not stop shaking. Uncontrollable shaking. The only thing I had with me was my blackberry, which had gotten wet and was not working. (It started working again a few hours later). The ferry took us to the Weehawken Terminal in NJ where I borrowed a phone and called my wife to let her know I was okay. The second call I made was to Jenn, I knew she would be worried about me and could communicate to the rest of the firm that I was fine. At the terminal, first responders assessed everyone's condition and sent people to the hospital as needed. As we pulled out of Weehawken my history kicked in and I recalled it was the site of the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804. Thankfully I left town in better condition than Mr. Hamilton who died of a mortal wound the next day! I stayed with my sister on Long Island that evening, and then flew home the next day. I am struck by what was truly a miracle. Had this happened a few hours later, it would have been pitch dark and much harder to land. Ferries would no longer have been running after rush hour and it would not have been the same uplifting story. Surely there would have been fatalities, hypothermia, an absolute disaster! I witnessed the best of humanity that day. Everyone on that plane survived and has been given a second chance. It struck me that in our work we continuously seek excellence to solve our client's leadership problems. We talk to clients all the time about the importance of experience and the ability to execute. Experience showed up big time on Flight 1549 as our pilot was a dedicated, trained, experienced professional who executed flawlessly when he had to. I have received scores of emails from across the firm and I am so grateful for the outpouring of interest and concern. We all fly a great deal or work with someone who does and so I wanted to share this story - the story of a miracle. I am thankful to be here to tell the tale. There is a great deal to be learned including: Why has this happened to me? Why have I survived and… what am I supposed to do with this gift? For me, the answers to these questions and more will come over time, but already I find myself being more patient and forgiving, less critical and judgmental. For now, I have 4 lessons I would like to share: 1. Cherish your families as never before and go to great lengths to keep your promises. 2. Be thankful and grateful for everything you have and don't worry about the things you don't have. 3. Keep in shape. You never know when you'll be called upon to save your own life, or help someone else save his or hers. 4. When you fly, wear practical clothing. You never know when you'll end up in an emergency or on an icy wing. Flip flops and pajamas are absolutely no use to yourself or anyone else.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

THANK YOU For My Prizes

A sweet little "bumblebird"

"Offering" by macrifotografia

One World One Heart Contest
I Was Lucky TWICE
A few weeks ago I entered a contest called "One World One Heart". It was started 3 years ago by a woman named Lisa Swifka. It’s become an annual event with bloggers all over the world participating. The idea is that the bloggers have a give-away and all you have to do is enter a comment on their blog. If you go to this site you will see all the details of the contest and the participants on the right side bar.
I loved the theme and decided to enter . I received news last week that I had won from two sights. Today when I arrived home from the "Author’s Festival" I had two packages. My prizes had arrived. I love them both. Please go to the websites of these two talented artists who so kindly participated in One World One Heart. (Such beautiful words for a dream for this Universe).

BARB! You WON my OWOH giveaway! Yaaaaaay! Please visit the post again at

And the Nominees are...

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)* “Milk” (Focus Features)* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight)
* Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor” (Overture Films)* Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)* Sean Penn in “Milk” (Focus Features)* Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)* Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)
* Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Classics)* Angelina Jolie in “Changeling” (Universal)* Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics)* Meryl Streep in “Doubt” (Miramax)* Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)
* Josh Brolin in “Milk” (Focus Features)* Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)* Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” (Miramax)* Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.)* Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)
* Amy Adams in “Doubt” (Miramax)* Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (The Weinstein Company)* Viola Davis in “Doubt” (Miramax)* Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)* Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Fincher* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Ron Howard* “Milk” (Focus Features), Gus Van Sant* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Stephen Daldry* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle
* “Bolt” (Walt Disney), Chris Williams and Byron Howard* “Kung Fu Panda” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Andrew Stanton
* “Changeling” (Universal), Art Direction: James J. Murakami, Set Decoration: Gary Fettis* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Nathan Crowley, Set Decoration: Peter Lando* “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Art Direction: Michael Carlin, Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway* “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Art Direction: Kristi Zea, Set Decoration: Debra Schutt
* “Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle
* “Australia” (20th Century Fox), Catherine Martin* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Jacqueline West* “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor* “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Glicker* “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Albert Wolsky
* “The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath* “Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser* “The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy* “Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn* “Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal
* “The Conscience of Nhem En” A Farallon Films Production, Steven Okazaki* “The Final Inch” A Vermilion Films Production, Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant* “Smile Pinki” A Principe Production, Megan Mylan* “The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306” A Rock Paper Scissors Production, Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley* “Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens
* “The Baader Meinhof Complex” A Constantin Film Production, Germany* “The Class” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Haut et Court Production, France* “Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan* “Revanche” (Janus Films), A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production, Austria* “Waltz with Bashir” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan* “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Universal), Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.),Alexandre Desplat* “Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard* “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman
* “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel* “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar* “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman andMaya Arulpragasam
* “La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato* “Lavatory - Lovestory” A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit* “Oktapodi” (Talantis Films) A Gobelins, L’école de l’image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand* “Presto” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland* “This Way Up”, A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes
* “Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi* “Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont* “New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie* “The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh* “Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King* “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Tom Sayers* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood* “Wanted” (Universal),Wylie Stateman
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt* “Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin* “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord* “Doubt” (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy
* “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt* “Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh* “In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh* “Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

Friday, February 20, 2009

Literary Women, Festival of Authors 2009

"The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society" author Annie Barrows

"Olive Kitteridge" author Elizabeth Strout

"Because A Fire Was In My Head" author Lynn Stegner

"The Bishop's Daughter" author Honor Moore

"The House On Fortune Street" author Margot Livesey

"Mudbound" author Hillary Jordan

"Loving Frank" author: Nancy Horan

Literary Women: The Long Beach Festival of Authors, February 21, Long Beach

“The purpose of Literary Women: The Long Beach Festival of Authors is to celebrate women authors, to encourage new writers and to expose the works of contemporary women authors to an audience of readers with a wide range of literary interests.”
The Festival of Authors is an all day event held in one of the main ballrooms of the Long Beach Convention Center. In the wee hours of the morning you will find approximately 700 lucky ticket holders (made up of mostly women-I'll be one of them!) waiting for the ballroom doors to open. Beautifully appointed tables of eight are set up throughout the room with two major podiums for speakers on opposing sides of the room. Coffee and pastries are served in the Foyer waiting area. The first two hours are filled with two authors who will speak for about one hour each. Then there is a break -out session in three adjoining smaller conference rooms. Guests have preselected which author they would like to listen to for the more intimate settings. There is time for purchasing books and booksigning before lunch is served in the main ballroom. The afternoon session resumes with two more authors speaking. This is a wonderful, annual, event which provides a platform for contemporary women authors.
February 21, 2009
2009 Festival of Authors
Click here to learn more about 2009's authors

Some history on this event:
In 1982, four out of one hundred ninety-six authors on the reading list at Wilson High School in Long Beach were women. Appalled by this ratio, two community-spirited women—Harriet Williams and Virginia Laddey—decided to alter the imbalance. Together, with a committee of women from fifteen other community organizations, they created Literary Women and designed a Festival of Authors as an all-day event where readers would be introduced to women authors in an informal setting conducive to the free exchange of literary ideas.
Today, twenty-seven years later, the Founders’ vision to make the works of women authors more readily accessible to the public continues. To date, more than 10,000 women have had opportunities to meet and hear more than one hundred seventy highly successful women authors.
The Committee of Literary Women which annually organizes the Festival is all unpaid volunteers. They believe implicitly in the continuing need to provide the Long Beach community with a cultural forum which reflects its diversity of literary interests and viewpoints. The success of their efforts is seen in the ongoing popularity of each event; seven hundred avid readers attend yearly. Their enthusiastic responses to the authors attest to the fact that the intentions of the original committee were well-founded and have been brought to fruition by succeeding generations of women.
Literary Women: The Festival of Women Authors has become a showcase in the cultural calendar of the City of Long Beach. So successful is it that other cities in the State of California have used it as a model to create festivals of their own.
Another community service offered by the Committee of Literary Women is its presentation of scholarships to new and aspiring writers. The recipients of such scholarships are invited to attend the Festival expressly to meet the presenting authors who offer invaluable support as role models for them.
As an added incentive for students to read more works by women authors, the Literary Women’s Committee donates both books and funds to the Long Beach Public Library and to libraries in local schools.
Since its inception, Literary Women has been honored by numerous public organizations for its continuing dedication to the original proposition of its founding members that literature by women greatly enhances a community’s quality of life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A City's Secret Identity

photo-Rodney Smith

Photo- Clay Davidson
"Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography... Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman."
-John Berger, English painter b. 1926

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened on the Pilgrimage in Venosa

I subscribe to a daily email called "Italian Notebook" from The description for this site says, "the daily email from Italy for Italian lovers everywhere". This photo and the next accompanied the article from Italian Notebook. It reminded me of something funny that happened in Venosa.

" Here in Italy the local version of penny candy can found at fairs and markets all over the country. At the recent Sant'Antonio fair held each year in Vetralla on January 17th , among the hundreds of bancarelle (stalls) selling every conceivable merchandise, several belonged to vendors of dried fruit and sweets from Vallerano and Canepina... The colorful but nameless candies are displayed next to dried figs, chestnuts, and pepperoncino too! You might as well pick some up for the pasta while buying candies for junior. You'll also find imported spices and fruits; banana, pineapple, and even cranberries, an exclusively North American plant."

The above article on the italian version of penny candy reminded me of a funny thing that happened on a trip we took to the southern region of Basilicata in the late spring of 2007. The purpose of this trip was to visit Palazzo San Gervasio, a small hilltop town in the Basilicata region of southern Italy. This is the town where Daniele, Aria's boyfriend is from and where most of his family still reside. I will post a future story about our visit but getting back to the "candy" story...If you look at the map you will see Venosa. This is an interesting little hilltop town and like most of the towns of this area it is not frequented by many outsiders/tourists. It is very close to the town where Daniele lives. It is well described in an article I read in . The writer describes Venosa in this way: "Basilicata still lies outside the usual tourist orbit, which means that you should visit, you will have the towns pretty much to yourself. It also means that in the little town of Venosa, that you will draw an audience of curious onlookers, wondering why on earth anyone would have chosen to negotiate the steep roads leading to their hilltop town."

If you can imagine that few outsiders find themselves in these somewhat remote hilltop villages, then you can also imagine how my asian face may have caught more than a few glances.

In Venosa you find the candy stands just as described in the Italian Notebook article.

Lots of "dolce" (sweets) to choose from

Aria and Athena buys lots of candy for the children and for us

Here Daniele's brother, Luciano and his wife Rosa join in the festivities in Venosa by buying a colorful balloon for the children to enjoy.

This is a special day in town. It is a big Pilgrimage the townspeople make to the famous church in Venosa. People come from miles to pay homage. We joined in and walked to the church along the crowded, busy sidewalks with street vendors selling all kinds of goodies. As we were standing in line to enter the church my daughter started to laugh. I asked her why she was laughing. She said that some people that had just passed us remarked,

"You see how important this Pilgrimage is...even the "Chinese" have come!"

Here's an added little bit of history info. regarding this interesting town from the travel intelligence website:
"There are, as it happens, good reasons to travel to Venosa, especially if you have an interest in history. The town is famed for being the birthplace of the Roman poet Horace, who left it in about 50 B.C. (*one of the key well remembered quotes of Horace is "Carpe Diem"). He scarcely looked back at the rustic place then called Venusia, city of Venus, joined to Rome by the ancient via Appia, the traces of which can be seen in the fields north and west of town. After Horace’s time, wealthy Roman absentee landowners erected a sprawling bath and resort complex, complete with a large amphitheater, on a finger of plateau below the southern approach to the modern town. The ruins of this structure are among the best-preserved in the region, and they are now protected as an archaeological park. Adjoining them are the ruins of the Abbey of the Holy Trinity, built by Benedictine monks in A.D. 1046 on the site of a Roman temple. Within the restored nave lies the tomb of the Norman crusader Robert Giscard, in which his remains were brought back to Venosa after his death on Cephalonia, as well as the tomb of his unfortunate half-brother Drogo, whose death, it is said, Robert arranged. Among the ruins are also bas-relief stones depicting menorahs and stars of David, in quiet acknowledgment of the long Jewish presence in the town. (Many Venosini, though their ancestors converted to Christianity generations ago, continue to observe Jewish customs and holidays.) Jewish and early Christian catacombs, which local legend holds stretch all the way to Rome, lie in limestone caves about two hundred feet south of the church."

*More on the visit to Palazzo San Gervasio in another post.

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