Saturday, March 4, 2017

The two most remarkable sushi dinners I've ever had

were about a year ago and then earlier tonight at the same London restaurant, The Araki.  Chef Mitsuhiro Araki (top left in the photo below)

and his team created an astonishing meal that combined European seafood and other ingredients, including albino sturgeon caviar and amazing truffles, in ways I've never tasted anywhere else.  Multiple courses involved varieties of the tuna belly you can see in this picture.

Every single bite was superb.

The restaurant holds only ten people, and the meal is quite expensive, but it's worth it.  The Araki serves absolutely world-class meals, and I feel privileged to have eaten there twice.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Seriously, I was trying to look happy

about having my photo taken at a very wonderful dinner the other night in Barcelona (about which I will tell you more later), but I clearly didn't manage it.

Click the image to see a larger version.

So, what do you think:  serial killer, occasional killer, first-time killer, or new author bookjacket photo?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Moving on in the morning

I really do owe you a lot, including some thoughts on Mobile World Congress, all the wonderful Gaudi installations I had the privilege to tour, and my world-class meal at...that would be telling too early.

Instead, because I'm moving on to London in the morning and will be spending much of tomorrow traveling, I'm shutting down all electronics, packing, and trying to grab some shut-eye.

More from London.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Common sense scores a rare victory over obligation

It's well after three in the morning here.  Two significant work tasks await me, and I owe this blog reports on two remarkable aspects of today.

I also have to get up reasonably early for work.

So, I'm bowing for a change to common sense and heading to bed.  Sorry about that.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I miss common courtesy

I miss it most days, but I particularly long for it when spending hours walking the floor of a massive trade show, such as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where I am now.  My mom brought me up to believe that when you're in a crowd, you have certain responsibilities, including to be aware of your surroundings, to be considerate of others in the crowd, to watch where you're going, to apologize when you bump into someone, and so on.

Either my mom was unusual in teaching these lessons, or the people at this trade show have decided the rules simply do not apply here.  People stop in the middle of busy walkways to stare at their phones.  They smash into you while staring at their phones or in conversation, and then they glare at you or curse at you.  Each person acts as if they are alone in the world, with their decisions having no effect on others.

As you might imagine, I hate this behavior.  At times, I get so frustrated that I have to find a wall to lean against for a short break in a tiny zone of personal space.

It strikes me that if we all were more considerate of others in every way, including these small ways, we might all be better off.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Gaudi's last house commission

After Gaudi's success with Casa Batllo, which I hope to see tomorrow, the Mila family commissioned him to build from scratch a home and building that was to be more ornate, bigger, and just more in every way than Casa Batllo.  The result was Casa Mila, which was so far out that people started ridiculing it with the name "La Pedrera," the stone quarry.

Click an image to see a larger version.

Gaudi was right, and the critics of his day were wrong.  Since that time, La Pedrera, which I visited today, has become a widely acknowledged masterpiece, with UNESCO declaring it a World Heritage Site in 1984.

I absolutely loved what the tour allowed us to see of the building.  (Much of it is off-limits, because people still live there, and some businesses operate out of it.)  From the stairways in one of the two inner courtyards,

to the view upward in that same courtyard,

to the arches of the attic,

the building embodies Gaudi's obsessions with nature, mathematics, and God.

The roof, with its eerie collection of figures, each both striking and serving a useful function,

and its undulating surface, a waveform that evokes the ocean, struck me particularly powerfully.

I chose to wedge this visit to La Pedrera between my first work partial day (at Mobile World Congress) and my second (email), and though that choice cost me sleep, I am very glad I made it.

When the Mila family disliked his creation, Gaudi swore off home commissions and focused all of his creative energies on La Sagrada Familia.  I understand and appreciate that choice, but I am very glad that he first created the wonderful La Pedrera.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

La Sagrada Familia continues to humble and inspire me

I spent hours there today, walking the available spaces and frequently sitting to ponder both the feelings the magnificent cathedral inspires in me and the astonishing genius of Antoni Gaudi.  From this soaring section

Click an image to see a larger version.

to the breathtaking main chamber

Sagrada Familia makes me feel as if I am in the body of something at once both part of the Earth and entwined with the divine.

I sit in the sections reserved for prayer and look around me and sometimes close my eyes, and I cannot escape the power of the biology, mathematics, and devotion that Gaudi blended to create the plans for this amazing structure.  The contemplation both energizes and exhausts me; though that combination should be impossible, it is not.

I owe a huge debt to Scott, who turned me on to Gaudi and who led us to Barcelona for a magical week together seven years ago.  With him, I first saw Sagrada Familia, and without him, I may never have learned how much I love it and Barcelona.  Thanks, Scott, and I love you.


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