May 2004 Archives
This picture, taken in December 2003 in Stockholm, was part of the Swedish Postal System's holiday campaign. The slogan Posta julen translates to "Send Christmas." The lettering on the Rastafarian hat the man is knitting says "Merry Christmas Grandma."
The red bulb on the envelope at the bottom, God Jul, is cognate with English "Good Yule." Interestingly, the envelope is marked as Inrikes, or within the country, implying that the man's grandmother lives in Sweden as well.
I've added two pictures to my gallery from Golden Gate Park in December of last year. In contrast to the pleasant butterflies that make up the bulk of the older collection, these two pictures are of a wall full of skulls and a crocodile.
The first shot, a macabre assemblage indeed, is from a museum that until recently had its collections in the Park. (It's currently building a new facility.) The California Academy of Sciences has amassed one of the world's largest collections of sea lion skulls. They're kind of vague about how and why they did so, but it's clear somebody's hoarding instinct went horribly wrong.
The fellow below is denizen of the Academy's neighbor, the Steinhart Aquarium.
After presenting my paper at the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study last month, I took an extra day in LA to visit with a friend. We drove downtown to the new Frank Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall, and took the following pictures.
The Concert Hall is the latest in a series of building programs (Chandler Hall, etc) designed to butress Downtown's reputation as a cultural center. By far the best book I've read on LA is Mike Davis' City of Quartz.
This is kind of an odd idea for an entry. Tonight was the final evening of lectures in the Finland's Pasts and Presents series, for which I've been the photographer as well as the audio-digitizer. Here's a picture of each speaker we've had over the last two quarters -- all taken by me with the exception of Pirjo Lyytikäinen, who was photographed by Lola while I was in class.
Finnish studies is a relatively small field; this is probably the most comprehensive photo gallery of its leading lights in 2004.
Suomi-kuva 1802: Constructing the Finn and Finland in Giuseppe Acerbi’s Travels
University of Wisconsin, Madison
A Not-So-Distant Mirror: Finland between the World Wars (1918-1939)
Oklahoma State University
Kullervo's Curse: The Transgression Tradition in Finnish Literature
University of Helsinki
Having dined at Aqua last year in Las Vegas, my friend and I decided to try out a new restaurant from the same chef, Michael Mina. While Aqua was a Nevada clone of the San Francisco original, nobhill, his newest venture, has no matching branch in the Golden State, despite proffering "San Francisco Cuisine." Would the cuisine meet the demanding standards of someone who grew up in California, and another who is a native of um, Brazil?
The meal started off on the right foot with a marble warming tray of freshly-baked bread (visible at far right) and three small dishes of spreads: plain butter, olive and pimento concoctions. After a brief moment of confusion where the spreads were suspected of being ice cream, the appetizers were sucessfully identified as such.
Gulf Prawn Tempura, New England Clam Fritter, Beef and Fois Gras Empanada
Never ones to let free bread preclude us from ordering something else, we decided on two appetizer plates: a seafood fest as well as another plate, below. The Surf & Surf was regarded as good, but we wondered whether any restaurant in San Francisco could get away with deep-frying three items on one plate without facing angry mobs of health food nuts.
Hobb's Select Sliced Meats, Marinated Olives, North Beach Focaccia
The plate above got two thumbs up, if only for its strong selection of different deli mustards. We both regard the rest of the food on the plate as only the delivery mechanism for said condiments.
Classic Cheese Fondue
San Francisco Sourdough
I'd like to say that we got a good shot of the fondue, but the truth is that a viscous yellow semi-fluid slowly bubbling away tends to look exactly how it sounds. The fondue was delicious, but we realized about three inches into the 8-inch-deep-pot that a grevious miscalculation had occured: there's only so much cheese and bread you can eat during one sitting. The rest of the meal would be marked in grim comparisons to how many cubic inches of cheese were precluding us from enjoying desert.
Gilroy Garlic Soup
Steamed Clams, Parsley Pureé
The Garlic Soup -- named in honor of a Northern California town with famous annual Garlic Fest -- was unanimously declared "Best Garlic Soup with Clam" of the trip.
Spicy Tuna Parfait
Hawiian Hamachi, Ahi Tuna, Crispy Rice Cake, Shitake Vinaigrette
This was actually the highlight of the evening -- so much so that I embarassed myself, my dining companion, and several waiters who nearly tripped over me to get this profile glamour shot when overhead angles failed to capture the fish's personality. We think the crispy rice cake was a perfect textual balance to the raw tuna -- and that we'd never eaten green roe before.
Roast Filet of Beef Rossini
Mushroom-Potato Cake, Seared Foie Gras, Pinot Noir Sauce
In an attempt to sample as much variety as possible of a restaurant's offerings, my friend and I often discretely split entree's, dividing them between ourselves. The waiter must have caught on, because he actually brought this dish out pre-cut on two different dishes. Not that we're complaining, but of course one of the side effects of this thoughtfulness was to make the already-small porportions sort of laughable -- it looked like the Supermodel portion. Quite good, actually.
Finally, there was some kind of apple tart for desert, but since the exact title isn't listed online, and since both of us could were nealy comatose from the Fondue, we'll have to make do with just the picture above.
Luckily, the bill woke us both up.