Saturday, December 31, 2011

There's One Way To Ring In The New Year!

The Songhua River, which runs through the far northern Chinese city of Harbin, is frozen solid all winter long. Three years ago on New Year's Eve, we had the chance to walk across this major river, all dressed up for what was quite a memorable evening jaunt. Having experienced first-hand all of that ridiculous wind and cold, there is no way I would ever even consider joining in with this crazy crew!

~Steve

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Tom Joad Project

This winter, Julie, Z, and I have taken on what we are calling "The Tom Joad Project." The three of us are all reading The Grapes of Wrath. In this current environment of economic austerity, it will be interesting to take a little trip back to that bleakest time of all. What are some of the key similarities and differences across the decades?

Once we are done with Steinbeck's classic, we are planning to delve into some of the art that has been inspired by the book. At the top of the list, of course, will be the film, starring Henry Fonda, that was based on the novel itself. Having never seen the film, I don't have any sense of how closely it hews to the original story.

Given my Springsteen fanaticism, we will be listening, and checking out the lyrics, to some of the most relevant tracks from the Boss's catalog. These songs will include "The Ghost of Tom Joad," which is an obvious choice, to say the least (along with Woody Guthrie's "The Ballad of Tom Joad"). And I plan on bringing out "Seeds," a little known, but powerful number that just rocks in concert.

What else should we be looking at? Are there any classic paintings? Other types of artwork altogether?

~Steve

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ping Pong Has Arrived!

The big addition at Casa Balla this Christmas was an outdoor ping pong table, the logical extension of all that time in China, not to mention Z's daily routine at Georgetown Prep.

We are now taking all comers!

~Steve

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Melting Pot Of Matey Road

On Christmas Eve, we were blessed with the company of friends and family from around the world. From left to right, the respective hometowns are represented (rounded, in some cases, to states or nearby large cities)...Belfast, Northern Ireland...Qufu, China...Xi'an, China...Durham, North Carolina...Nanjing, China...New Jersey...New Jersey...New Jersey.

Plus, there were a number of natives of Silver Spring, MD in attendance, as well as representation from Budapest, Hungary and Germany (by way of Bavaria). And maybe a native Bostonian?

~Steve

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Spooky DC

The intersection of I and 19th, Washington, DC, 8am, the day after Christmas.

Is there anybody out there?

~Steve

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ching Ching Cha

Our favorite tea house, this side of Shanghai, is undoubtedly Ching Ching Cha. Located in Georgetown, right up from the C&O Canal, Ching Ching Cha is a great place for all things Chinese tea.

For our money, there is no beating the gongfu cha, which is a certain way of preparing, enjoying the fragrance of, and, finally, drinking some of the best tea China has to offer. We especially recommend the Orchid Oolong for your gongfu cha pouring pleasure...so soothing and warming on a cold, busy day!

On top of all of that good news, I don't even have to light up a cigarette when I walk in the door!

~Steve

PS: I know we have posted about Ching Ching Cha before, but it has been a while, and the place really is a gem...