July 16th, 2005



Last night I went to Santa Maria to see a play: Inventing Van Gogh. The play is about a young artist, Patrick, who is approached to create a fake "lost self-portrait" of Van Gogh. The painter was the student of a Van Gogh-obsessed teacher whose life work was to find the rumored lost portrait, and who later killed himself. In the same field where Van Gogh shot himself. You can see a bit about it on the PCPA website: http://www.pcpa.org

The stage is populated not only by the artist but also by the dead teacher, the teacher's daughter (and artist's gf), Van Gogh himself, his doctor, Van Gogh's would-be model Marguerite, and the entrepeneur who approaches Patrick with this plan. And by Gauguin. There are more ghosts than live persons, a situation Patrick does realize. Against his will he gets to know Van Gogh and starts to create the painting, discovering more about himself than about Van Gogh. As Van Gogh says, "Every portrait is a self-portrait".

So many words! The play is almost two hours long, not including the intermission, and like most of the plays I like, it is heavy with words. Words that I wouild have to hear again to grasp fully, that are an art history in a conversation. I liked the actor who played Patrick and I especially liked a guy named Ed Cortez, who played the double role of Rene, the crook who offers money to Patrick to create the fake, and Gauguin. The actor is short and round and both his looks and his manner reminded me of Danny DeVito. There is one scene in particular where he, as Gauguin, goes on about the women on his islands and it is just hilarious.

The crowd was small, as I expected. Not many people will come out to these "heavy" talky plays. It's really too bad. A lot of people would like it if they just tried it, but they won't. As for me, I felt sated, as after a large and agreeable meal. Much to think about, to savor, to enjoy again in my mind.

steaming again

On my third run at the milk steamer I did a bit better. I got to the "whirlwind" look inside there. But I need to adjust when I get there and how long and so on. It's progress, though. I am almost at the level that most coffee people seem to reach and then stop. I'll be going beyond that, if my machine lets me. There doesn't appear to be anything wrong with the machinery.

The ritual! Wonderful. First there is the priming. Press on button, immediately turn on steam knob, let out 4 oz of water. Turn off steam. Press brew button, let out 4 oz of water from the brew area, then turn that off. Turn on steam button, wait for ready light. Turn steam knob to release any remaining gasps of water, then turn off. Finally, the actual steaming. Get out cold milk in cold stainless pitcher, turn steam knob and try to get it right. I think I might try it again in a little while.

I am using brew pods for the espresso itself. I don't expect to have huge problems once I switch to ground coffee but for now it's just easier to use the pods.