Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Birthday scavenger hunt!

If you know me, you know I love a good scavenger hunt (see, for reference, my first birthday at Wash U on my freshman floor; my 20th birthday with a cross-campus hunt; Justin's 20th birthday with a cross-city hunt; our wedding weekend with a cross-Madison hunt; and many others). And, it turns out, my friends in Madison know me!

Last Thursday, on the night before my birthday, some philosopher friends and a couple of others threw a surprise birthday party for me, full of delicious food...

...and an even more delicious scavenger hunt. The wonderful mind that has brought us Shakespeare reading nights and visits to the American Players Theatre and rollicking games of Psychiatrist or Time's Up and wisdom on the alienability of bodily rights (and so much more!), our friend Hallie, crafted one of the most complicated and intricate scavenger hunts and riddle games I've ever seen. I'm sure my synopsis won't do it justice, but each team of two had to work their way through the following seven clues, each of which refers to a specific holiday:

The number of the month
in which this holiday persists,
Minus that of the month
in which Caesar ceased to exist,
Is a day of the year,
Familiar to your ear.

To figure out which holiday,
You've been assigned, here is your way:

Take the last name of the red-haired gent,
Who is not on this party's roll-call,
But who lives with someone who has spent,
This evening with us all.
Now combine that name with a syllable,
Within the name of the birthday girl.

Should you wonder which friends of Anna's are timely, examine
Old Facebook posts tomorrow night, and then look at those
Acquaintance(s) who have yet to wish her happy B-day,
Be-hold! You'll see who
Forgot. What day (besides Anna's birthday) is riddle here

What Day?
The worst day for those still in school,
In honor of those who are done,
The last day for any of these fools,
To spend any time in the sun.

It's a day that all science teachers love,
And that every hippie fancies,
It even rhymes with the end state of,
Most non-terminated pregnancies

A thin room,
Not for meals or rest.

An exclamation,
sometimes said with zest.
Slowly giving up,
the breast.

What Day am I?
My first syllable is for bravery
Though, for that quality I am not praised,
My third (to engage in a little knavery)
Rhymes with the last word of each phrase:
On Greeks, the Cyclops _______.
On Turkey, Nala the Cat ________.
On the products of Stephen's cooking, you ______.

After correctly guessing each of these clues, we got to take yet another rhyming clue from the corresponding month that led us to a specific trinket in Hallie's apartment, hidden away in hats and under book covers, in jewelry boxes and vitamin bottles, on cat posts and under pillows, and in egg racks. First team to collect all seven trinkets was the winner!  (My team came very, very close, but Justin's team squeaked ahead to take the lead).

Anyone want to play along and guess some of the answers to these clues? Like I said, each clue refers to a specific American, well-known holiday. Genius.

It was an awesome beginning to a purely wonderful birthday, filled with bike rides to Lake Mendota parks and college reunions, phone calls and hugs, St. Louis Thai food and best friends on all sides. Thanks to all who helped make it so sweet!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mix CDs

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite blogs, Accordions and Lace, (which I first discovered as a wedding blog, but which has now become a wonderful mix of food writing, observations on life, and thoughts on relationships and family) proposed a mix CD exchange, in which her readers signed up and she then assigned everyone a buddy for whom they'd create a mix CD, along with cover art. I thought this was a totally awesome idea, that really captured the things I love about the social networking possible on the internet and about creativity and thoughtful mail. So, I signed up and was soon sent the name of another A&L reader in Philadelphia.

At first, I had a hard time coming up with a list of songs to put on this CD--there were just too many that I loved, and I wasn't sure how to narrow them down, or how to find cohesion. But then, I noticed that several of the songs had animals in the titles or in the artists' names. So, I decided to go with the animal theme and to create a mix CD called "Menagerie," where every song or band had an animal in it. The cover art naturally flowed from there, as I depicted the menagerie present within the songs, along with little numbers matching the corresponding track.

Here are the fruits of my labor, along with the track list (click on the image to enlarge), if anyone's interested...  How many of the animals can you name without checking the track list?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wisconsin Film Festival 2010!

This past weekend was the 2010 Wisconsin Film Festival, and although we were only able to see a small portion of all the films (there must have been at least a hundred!), we did catch some real winners. Some trailers and links or small blurbs are below. 

The first night, on Thursday, we saw a series of British short films, and although 4 of the 5 were really great, the first two particularly stood out to us. They were both about the particular difficulties about adolescence, but approached this issue from such dramatically different perspectives and styles that they complemented each other perfectly (one leaving you shocked and with tears, the other with smiles).


Love Does Grow On Trees

Then, on Friday, we saw a Romanian film, "Police, Adjective," that was billed as the anti-Law-and-Order or any other cop drama on television, in that it showed the tedium of police life, in contrast to the fast-paced, action-packed appearance of police work on television. Read a great New York Times review of the film here
and then watch the trailer:

On Saturday, we got to cinematically travel to Justin's home state of Oklahoma, to learn more about the worst environmental disaster in the country, Tar Creek, and all the awful, unfair, disgusting things that are happening in the attempt to address the human and environmental impacts of this relic of the country's mining past. The thing I liked most about this film was how clear it was that "environmental damage" really comes in the form of human damage--developmental and learning disabilities in children from lead poisoning, collapsed homes, financial ruin, corrupt politicians, and disenfranchisement on all levels...

And then on the last day, I got to see two films that were paired together and gave different glimpses into the American prison system. The first, A Life Taken, about the case of Shawn Drumgold, a man who was wrongly convicted of murder and who spent 15 years in prison before finally being released. And then, Girls On the Wall, one of the most moving films I've seen in a long time, about a drama program at a juvenile detention center for girls.  This was a film that made me cry and smile, reaffirmed my convictions about the importance of processing emotion and trauma through creativity, and brought home just how much the cycle of difficult and traumatic lives gets passed down from parent to child and how deeply rooted "criminal" behavior is in psychological turmoil:

Anyone else seen any good films lately?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Among the more exciting food-related episodes in the last month or so are the cooking of Anna-inspired or Anna-fostered dishes all over the place (or at least in two other Midwestern places)!

Two of my very best friends, MC and NB, have been cooking beautiful food that looks like this:

MC's creations, using recipes and spices I sent for her birthday

and this:

NB's rendition of the enchiladas Tom Y. made so deliciously for our Bayless night a few weeks ago

These photos and the knowledge of the experiences that accompanied them have made me unspeakably happy. If only I could be doing this sort of cooking with all of my friends! If anyone else is secretly inspired out there, do pass on the stories...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jonathan's Favorite Game

Turns out all our nephews like this game at the four-month-old stage! This is a tribute video to our sister-in-law Amy and other nephew Jeremy (you can see their version here).

Do You Like the Word.... (Click Here)