Mexicali / Mini

Saturday night we met up with the Crispinus clan for a little Mexican feast downtown. Our recent attempts to enjoy Mexican food in the area had proved to be less than successful, ranging from the bland to the down right awful. We were very pleased to find El Mariachi neither. It was nice to sit down to some good chips and salsa (complimentary — take note, Jose Malone’s; they were also fresh). The staff were quick to refresh both when the Saratoga crew ran a little late due to soccer and sickness (hope you’re feeling better Kaitlin!), but we got our orders in and a good bottle of wine and before we knew it, the guacamole arrived. I could have done without the nest of iceberg under it, but the guac was tasty. Our entrees arrived shortly after we finished the appetizer (good timing) and wow — hefty! Gene got the mole chicken and I think he got the pick of the litter. I tried a little of his sauce and it was good. I had steak enchiladas with red sauce. The marinade for the meat was a touch salty, but the flavor was terrific. We all enjoyed our food and, of course, gabbing endlessly (where we all discovered the myriad reasons why Dan has not won father of the year yet [AKA why you should not dunk your daughter head first in the snow], some hints about Gene’s 18th birthday party, the girl with a squirrel’s arm, and why it’s good to have grad school behind us). We loitered long at our table without any signs of impatience from the staff — indeed, we got a complimentary round of digestifs, which proved a nice surprise. We’ll definitely be back.

Today we enjoyed not having to get up and go anywhere early (other than Gene running out for the papers), but we did muster the energy to head over to SUNY Albany for The eXtensible Toy Piano Festival. Despite the stronger bite in the wind, it was quite a pleasant day and our first time at the Performing Arts Center. It was a lot of fun, with a broad variety of compositions, played on the lovely toy pianos as well as sampled on a lovely PowerBook (I say as one who has both toy pianos and a PowerBook). They ended the concert with John Cage’s Music for Amplified Toy Pianos (can’t find that online, but you can listen to his Suite for Toy Piano). Cage was the first person to give serious thought to composition for toy piano; this piece offers a bit of randomness with the original score being written on transparent sheets which were combined to give a unique score. The ensemble updated the process by turning the sheets into a Quicktime movie file which they projected on a screen both they and the audience could see. Great fun!

Buy this cd! It is amazing!

I’ve been trying to be productive this spring break (whoo hoo, spring break!) which I suppose really begins tomorrow when I don’t have my normal repsonsibilities; so far I have managed to complete a story that I have been working on for ages (actually began it back at the writer’s colony!), but I hope to get more done (including a revision of an essay due Tuesday, eek). We stopped to watch the Simpsons, which had one of their more bizarre episodes that careened from a sudden and vaguely Gorey-esque style, to a pastiche/parody of The Sound of Music, to Marge’s dream of James Patterson (voiced by James Patterson), to name-checking Dario Fo(!), with a nod to Un Chien Andalou and — what?!

Stephen Sondheim? Stephen Sondheim?!

Singing a jingle for Buzz Cola, no less! Just when you think the Simpsons have gone beyond the beyond, they snap back with something truly insane. Hurrah!