July 19th, 2009

prattling

Of Samurai and Footprints on the Moon

Daniel and I had a nice day in San Francisco yesterday. We started out at the Asian Art Museum for their Lords of the Samurai exhibit. I hadn't quite realized until we saw the exhibit that it consists mostly of the artifacts of a single family, the Hosokawa. This had the slightly disappointing effect that if you were hoping for a real geographical and historical cross-section of samurai stuff, you don't get it from this exhibit. On the other hand, you get some compensation from the personal connections between objects - you might look at a portrait of a Hosokawa lord, and then go and see the suit of armor that he wore, and then see his favorite sword. (I kind of wish that the exhibit had made more of those personal connections - a suit of armor might have a note next to it saying, "The man who wore this suit of armor is depicted in the portrait in catalog item 3", but it wasn't always obvious where to find catalog item 3. Also, the museum was awfully crowded, and I suspect I would have enjoyed the exhibit more if I'd been there during a less crowded time when I could have more freely wandered back and fourth between objects, pondering the connections between them.)

Still, if you like samurai armor, this is the place to go. Impressive stuff, although most of the suits they had were late-period ceremonial armor. The nascent chain-mail nerd in me was particularly amused to see that a suit that had mail linked in the typical 1-into-4 pattern of European chain mail was identified as using the "Southern Barbarian" style of mail.

After that, we wandered down to the Mission and had lovely Americanos at Ritual Roasters. I won't say it's the best espresso drink I've ever had, but it was definitely one of the best balanced. No milk and sugar required.

Thence, to Borderlands Books for readings from the new Footprints anthology by Erin Cashier, Jay Lake, Heather McDougal, and Cliff Winnig. The anthology is based around the idea that the artifacts and impressions that humans have left on the moon will probably survive long after humans are gone. I'm often a bit suspicious of theme anthologies, because many themes don't really seem rich enough to generate an interesting variety of stories, but based on the sampling we heard last night, this is not a problem. I picked up a copy of the anthology, and am looking forward to reading it.

We finished off our evening by wandering off and picking a place for dinner at random. We ended up at Medjool and had an unexpectedly fabulous meal of small plates. (The fava bean and tomato salad and the pork tenderloin were particular standouts. The salad particularly convinced me that it might be worth trying to cook fresh fava beans again sometime - they were disappointing, considering the effort involved, when I made them before.)

On the whole a very nice day. I really ought to spend today tidying up around the house and sorting laundry, but I think I might settle for paying the bills and curling up in an armchair with a good book.