Here are my top twenty interesting, off-the-beaten-path movies of the decade, in no particular order. Of course, I’m glad this isn’t a job requirement, since a list is too limiting. This  list includes movies that I thought were different and interesting. Not all were critically acclaimed, either. Still, something about each one just stands out. Some of these are action pics, but they are not your standard shoot ’em up style. None on the list are major movies. 1. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) A strange man with an amazing sense of smell learns how to make perfume and then murders women inRead More →

Over Thanksgiving I had a conversation with my mother-in-law about women doctors. She explained that she had to see a woman eye doctor because her regular doctor was unavailable and that this made her uncomfortable. Some people are uncomfortable with women doctors even today. Comfort with a doctor is an emotional thing, not something you can necessarily address rationally. With each generation this discomfort will lessen. Still, when I play the very old doctor riddle with students in class, most can’t solve it. Here’s the riddle: A man and his son were in a car and had an accident on the highway. The boy wasRead More →

Mix tapes are dead. Among the many dead technologies, I miss the mix tape. The death of a technology and its associated objects and habits can bring regret or relief. Think of letter writing. Often, the only clues to women’s history or the only insights into a previous generation’s thoughts and emotions are found in letters. Writing letters was a habitus, a way of being and doing. Today, our digital documentation is excessive, often thin, and shallow. A constant stream of 140 characters fails to capture the nuances of a traditional letter. Perhaps 19th century upper-class women writing about their tea service (see Veblen on spoons;Read More →

No one knows the right way to peel a hard-boild egg. Ages ago I had a dispute with a friend over this issue. She swore by her mother’s wisdom that the freshest eggs were the easiest to peel. I swore by my grandmother’s wisdom that cold water does the trick. The debate was heated and emotional, probably due to our investment in our maternal relatives’ kitchen knowledge. Food and family, as we know, is a potent combination. So, this morning my hard boiled eggs came out sort of eh, reminding me of the disagreement with my friend. Time to turn to the eggsperts (lame pun).Read More →

Travel books, travel guides, and audio tours make all the difference on your first trip somewhere. The DK Eyewitness travel guides are consistently useful, and the Rome book served me well during my visit.Most especially, I love the books’ pictures.. They have great maps and guides to art, architecture, and sights. The pictures help you identify where you are and what you are seeing. It’s a very visually appealing book. Compared to other books where there’s lots of text and little in the way of images, the DK book is an outstanding value. Here’s a scanned a page so that you can see what theRead More →

Unforgettable, signature moments in Rome: 1. On the train coming back from Venice, my niece, my husband, and I sat in one of those two seats facing two seats things. The odd man out was an iconic Italian — round belly, handlebar mustache. I fell asleep. When I woke up, he was in the seats across the aisle with a guy in his late twenties. The two of them were tickling each other, wrestling, hitting each other with their scarves, gloves and umbrellas. No lie. 2. In a restaurant, a Roma was trying to sell roses to an unaccompanied male customer. He gave the RomaRead More →

It’s Friday morning in Rome. I am a bad traveler. We have two full days left (today and tomorrow), and then a full day of travel. I am homesick and tired. It is cold and rainy and I can’t seem to get warm. The artwork is starting to run together. This is a very sad state to be in when I should be appreciating the glories of Rome and Florence. Indeed, it is glorious. Overwhelmingly so. If you could list the top ten pieces of art of Western civilization, we’ve hit at least five of them. The David, The Birth of Venus, The Birth ofRead More →

I am in Rome on vacation. Here are some utterly awesome things: 1. Romans have a different sense of personal space than Americans do. They squish into you, run you over, press into you, and flatten you as they walk on the narrow cobblestone streets. 2. Romans drive like maniacs. There are no lanes, no rules, barely any lights. They whip around corners and plow through crowds in their teeny tiny cars. I will never complain about NY taxi drivers again. Roman drivers and pedestrians play chicken all the time. 3. Your average guy on the street does not speak English. This makes things veryRead More →

The first time I bought a DK travel guide was our trip to Amsterdam a few years ago. I looked at several books, and bought only two: DK’s Amsterdam and Holland books. I felt quite fortunate for my selection. Unlike many of the guides, the DK travel guides are very pictorial. They have breakout images of key sights so that you know exactly where to look. This works for visually oriented travelers. The Amsterdam and Holland books included a delightful canal walk. A long, glossy page unfolds from the book, and it depicts detailed images of the buildings along the canal. The page provides tidbitsRead More →