Sunday, January 30, 2011

Resolutions: January Update

2011's resolutions are actually going ok so far. Here's an update (other than this update):
  1. Shooting, Shooting, Shooting: Take the camera off auto-settings. Well, I'm definitely trying this stuff. It's proving a little tricky - I thought it was just the shutter/aperture but apparently I've got to mess with the ISO settings as well, it not being a film-based camera. I'm still not sure how to change the ISO settings - I seem to change them but end up doing weird things to the menu, too. I've also been using the wide-angled lens and messing around with it. I'm not getting classic shots but, hopefully, I'm getting a little better. Most things are, thus far, overexposed. I'm trying to use the histogram feature to teach myself what the problem is and, thus, how to fix it. But it's usually overexposure.
  2. Cooking, cooking, and more cooking. Doing well on this one. On Thursday (SNOW DAY!) I made a "peppery beef stew" from our Italian slow cooking book that was absolutely brilliant, with fresh bread and acorn squash lightly braised in chicken stock. Very easy and very tasty.
  3. Reading, reading and more reading. This is the biggest failure so far. I got out The French Lieutenant's Woman and had to promptly return it unread to the library. Oops.
  4. Looking, looking and more looking - at exhibitions. This has been the best kept resolution thus far. On Saturday I went to the Balenciaga retrospective with someone who actually knows about fashion and art. The structure of the exhibition was to show the influence of Spanish culture - religion, art, flamenco, bullfighting - on Balenciaga's designs. It worked extremely well, I thought. One of the most remarkable things was how he took traditional male outfits - cassocks for monks/priests, doublets for knights - and made them into a feminine design. And he was doing this well before trousers became truly acceptable, everyday clothing for women. I really wanted to steal half the clothing - gloriously structured suits with remarkable detailing, and one extraordinary dress with a train that actually had pockets so you could switch it up into a cape. Plus one that looked like a giant black truffle that you could just picture being worn by a mistress at a funeral of a famous Casanova or conductor or raconteur - that would make a serious statement.

    Additionally, we rejoined the Brooklyn Museum and had a look around the Norman Rockwell exhibition currently showing. It was extraordinary. Rockwell took tens to hundreds of photos for each of his paintings, and then selected odd little bits here and there to compose his actual painting. How he chose them is beyond me - that shows the real creativity but also mastery and control he exerted over the final version. Yet it seems strange that paintings that were supposed to be naturalistic snaps of everyday American life were so carefully controlled and thought out, so contrived. A strange juxtaposition. Seeing the covers of the Post, too, provided amusement at some of the stories - one featured Klaus Fuchs, the traitor at the Manhattan Project who was selling secrets about the bomb to the Russians; another advertised an article querying whether husbands should be used as baby-sitters to your own children. Also remarkable - the only people of colour were several black people used in servile roles - apparently that was editorial policy and ended up contributing to Rockwell's severing of the relationship. We also saw The Dinner Party and an amazing Kara Walker - I find her work constantly interesting and beautiful - so it was grand.
  5. Solving, solving, solving. I've been getting back into these and while not completing them, I am - with some, at least - getting back into the swing of them and increasingly able to do them. But I need be a more devoted student with concentrated blocks of time rather than small snippets here and there.
Right, that's January. Midnight on Monday and I start the now annual No Drinking in February. I'm actually looking forward to it quite a great deal.

ps I also managed to go to the movies on Friday! I know! Have now seen THREE of the ten movies nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars - what an achievement. It was True Grit and comes highly recommended by me - surprisingly funny, tender and tense - I really enjoyed it.

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