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I found some compelling discussions of synthetic vs sable. Foremost in the argument for synthetic is that the nature of the compounds in acrylic paint are very hard on sable brushes (oil paints are much kinder and even water colors are easier on sable than acrylic). The synthetic is able to withstand the acrylic much longer. I hadn’t found the sable to be particularly sturdy and my experience with the few synthetic brushes I’d purchased hadn’t been worse than the sable. Below is a comparison of brushes from a couple of manufacturers, albeit from an advanced-beginner hobbyist. If you are curious about mid-price brushes, largely synthetic, read on fellow-painter.

Brushes in the Lineup

These brushes are all available on Amazon. The brushes range between $6.00 - $10.50 per brush with the exception of the MyArtScape brushes which were part of a set of 12 for $50; I’m not sure of their price when sold as stand-alone brushes. Given that most of the brands’ Kolinsky sable* brushes were in the $20+ mark, I reviewed only one that was of a similar price point to the synthetics, the daVinci series 30 Maestro.  I was not able to find the same sizes of each brand**, thus there are more size 1 than size 0 in this comparison.


  • daVinci Series 363 Forte round size 1 (synthetic) $10.19

  • daVinci Series 30 Maestro round size 1 (Kolinsky red sable) $10.39

  • MyArtScape round 0 (synthetic) $4.00

  • MyArtScape round 1 (synthetic) $4.00

  • Princeton Series 6850 Summit round size 0 (synthetic) $7.10

  • Princeton Series 6850 Summit round size 1 (synthetic) $6.86

  • Winsor & Newton Galeria round size 0 (synthetic) $8.07

  • Winsor & Newton Galeria round size 1 (synthetic) $8.87

  • Winsor & Newton Series 233 University round size 1 (synthetic) $8.87

SIZE 0 Round

Fig 1. Left to right: Winsor & Newton Galeria, MyArtScape, and Princeton 6850 Summit

SIZE 0 Round close up of the bristles

Fig 2. Comparison of bristle length and shape. This photo is taken before the brushes have had any use.

SIZE 1 round

Fig 3. Left to Right: daVinci 363 Forte, MyArtScape, Winsor & Newton 233 University, Winsor & Newton Galeria, Princeton 6850 Summit, and daVinci 30 Maestro

SIZE 1 round close up of bristles

Fig 4. Comparison of bristle length and shape. This photo is taken before the brushes have had any use.

Brush Comparison

Out of the packaging I compared each brush’s tip, where and how much flex it had in the belly, how much tension the bristles had under pressure. After that, I dipped each in clean water to remove any stiffener and compared them again. Then I painted an undulating surface (a plastic bell pepper, if you’re curious) primed with Armory white primer using Vallejo Model Color number 119 ochre green. With each brush I did a few of the same strokes and pressure (as best I could). A few thin & thick lines, small detail strokes, and curves gave me a sense of a brush’s tension & feedback, paint load (how much paint the bristles held), and overall control.

Flex = bending along the length of the bristle

Twist =  with the tip and belly of the bristles near parallel against a surface with light to moderate pressure and rolling the brush handle between your fingers, how much the bristles roll or cross over one another

Twirl = with only the tip of the brush against a surface with light to moderate pressure, how much

                                      










Fig 5. Brush Anatomy image from: https://www.craftsy.com/art/article/paint-brush-primer/




daVinci Series 363 Forte round size 1 (synthetic)

Out of the packaging:

The Forte tip was a bit malformed from being knocked around during shipping and the protective tube having slipped off. The point was imprecise and the bristle width thick through the belly and tip. The bristles are soft but didn’t have as much flexibility to twist or twirl as the other brushes.

Post first water dip:

Even after a water dunking, the Forte had a fairly sloppy shaped point of the 9 brushes I reviewed. It took moderate pressure to s

pread the tip to double. It flexed through the belly about ½ the length back toward the ferrule.

Painting:

Because of the low tension & feedback, low control, high paint load, and imprecise point the Forte made low-moderate controlled strokes even on a fairly smooth surface.

daVinci Series 30 Maestro round size 1 (Kolinsky red sable)

Out of the packaging:

The Maestro had a moderately crisp point out of the packaging, but by no means a sharp or slender one. It had medium stiffness and a medium amount of flex. It took moderate pressure to spread the point to double.

Post first water dip:

The water dip, to my surprise, didn’t pull together the Maestro’s tip fibers, but it did increase the softness. It was almost as loose as the Forte. When wet it took very little pressure -- almost immediately -- to spread the tip to double. The belly flexed to about ½ way back to the ferrule with a lot of twist and twirl.

Painting:

The Maestro was low tension & feedback and high paint load. It’s control was better than the Forte, but is not very good either. I’d describe it as moderate-low control but high paint load. It held a moderate point that spread very easily. Paint spread on the surface so smoothly that it almost felt smeary.

MyArtScape round 0 (synthetic)

Out of the packaging:

The MyArtScape brush had a bit of stiffener to keep the long bristles in a very tight point inside the protective tubing. The stiffener broke up easily on pressure to reveal that the bristles are very soft with a good amount of flexibility. There was a medium amount of spread, but it returned to shape very quickly when pressure was released. The MyArtScape brand had the longest bristles of the comparison set. They are also tinted to look as though they have a gradient like some natural hairs would. This didn’t affect their performance in any way but it was the only synthetic with this affectation.

Post first water dip:

The water dip cleared out the stiffener easily. The point held well, though the spread to double was still easily done with moderate pressure. Flex in the rather long bristle length was to about ½ way back toward the ferrule. Not much twist and twirl.

Painting:

I had expected the softer, longer bristle to lose some control due to the weight of the paint compared to water alone. To my surprise, the MyArtScape had reasonable tension & feedback and control. It held its point well with paint, though it has a moderate-low paint load.

MyArtScape round 1 (synthetic)

Out of the packaging:

As with the size 0, the size 1 MyArtScape brush had a bit of stiffener to keep the long bristles in a very tight point inside the protective tubing. There was minimal spread, much less than half, especially considering the MyArtScape had the longest bristles.

Post first water dip:

The MyArtScape keeps a good point, though the spread to double was done with moderate pressure once the stiffener was rinsed out. Flex in the bristles to about ½ way back toward the ferrule. Not much twist and twirl, but more than in the size 0 of the same brand.

Painting:

The tension & feedback in the size 1 is less than in the size 0 and the paint load is moderate, giving this brush moderate control. It held its point well.

Princeton Series 6850 Summit round size 0 (synthetic)

Out of the packaging:

The Princeton Summit also suffered in transit, losing it’s protective tubing. This caused it to have a half dozen or so hairs crimped outwards right at the ferrule. Even ac counting for this damage it was obvious that this brush had the loosest point of all the brushes reviewed. The bristle lengths varied obviously and even varied at the outer edges of the belly and tip (all brush es have some variances in bristle lengths, but strive to have that variation produce a smooth belly and tip). Under light or firm pressure it did not hold its shape well; it did more than average twist and twirl

Post first water dip:
The Summit didn’t improve with the water dip. The tip and belly didn’t pull together, it had a wide spread, and it dried out the quickest of all the brushes. It flexed to slightly more than ½ back toward the ferrule.

Painting:
While having only a moderate paint load, the Summit was the most sloppy, least controlled brush in the comparison, only in part due to the shipping damage. Its bristle tension was soft thus feedback was poor and the spread was wide and uneven. The adhesion qualities of the paint improved the point somewhat, but not enough to recoup from the basic issues and it did tend to dry faster than the others.

Princeton Series 6850 Summit round size 1 (synthetic)

Out of the packaging:

The Princeton Summit size 1, unlike the size 0, was not damaged in transit. It had soft bristles with good flexibility and some twist and twirl. As with the size 0, the bristle lengths are obviously uneven. It had moderate spread -- about double -- with moderate pressure.

Post first water dip:

This Summit held a good point with not much spread when wet; just under double, which was interesting given it’s dry performance. It flexed to about ⅔ of the way back toward the ferrule; further back than most other brushes.

Painting:

With paint, this brush was fairly soft, with low tension. It kept its point and had a moderate paint load. Because of the low tension it had moderate control.

Winsor & Newton Galeria round size 0 (synthetic)
Out of the packaging:
Winsor & Newton sable brushes have a vocal and loyal following, though I’ve not yet used them. It was interesting to put this synthetic offering from a well regarded manufacturer to the test. Of the 4 brands in this comparison, the Galeria was the stiffest, with the least spread under moderate and even firm pressure. It also had the shortest bristles and second straightest (least bowed out) belly. Twist and twirl were minimal.

Post first water dip:

The Galeria held it’s point nicely, with very little spread. It didn’t spring back to as tight a point as the MyArtScape did. It had low-moderate flex that was just shy of ½ way back toward the ferrule.

Painting:

Tension & feedback with the Galeria were higher than with the other brushes. The paint load was low-moderate due to the tightness and stiffness of the bristles. Even with a paint load the tip held shape and spread was under half.

Winsor & Newton Galeria round size 1 (synthetic)

Out of the packaging:

The Galeria size 1 was moderately stiff; not quite as stiff as the 0, but still stiffer than the other brushes in

the comparison. It spread to double with moderate pressure, but did not have much twist, or twirl.


Post first water dip:

As with the size 0 Galeria, this size 1 brush had the least flexibility of the brushes in the comparison. It flexes only to about ⅓ of the way back toward the ferrule. The spread, when wet, was the same as dry.

Painting:

With high tension & feedback, moderate-low paint load, and holding its point well, this Galeria had moderate-high control when used with paint.

Winsor & Newton Series 233 University round size 1 (synthetic)

Out of the packaging:

The University brush has long bristles, a tube-like belly, and lots of soft flexibility. Fresh out of the packaging the tip was comparatively blunt, though narrower than the Maestro or Forte. The flexibility lent itself to twist but not twirl

Post first water dip:

Any pressure easily doubles or more the width of the tip and belly. It springs back into shape readily. Very easy to flex, but as with most other brushes, only to about ½ way back toward the ferrule.

Painting:

Given the softness of the University’s bristles, they held the point well with the paint load. The paint load was moderate. The tension & feedback were also moderate and spread maintained at around double. This gave the brush a moderate level of control.

Cut to the Chase: Which Brush?!

While I acknowledge that anyone’s preferences in brush handling is valid for them; I offer up these thoughts about the brushes I’d choose.

I liked the somewhat stiffer and higher control of the Winsor & Newton Galeria brushes. The amount of tension and feedback were, for me, a good trade off for the lower paint load.

To my surprise I liked the MyArtScape brushes; I had doubts about the bristle length and did not anticipate good quality based on their price. Their flexibility and ability to hold their shape without the spread getting out of control gave them a good feel. These brushes are a good bang for your buck, too, since they were running about $4 per brush when purchased in the set.

I intend to order a size 0 and a 10/0, if I can find them, in the Winsor & Newton series 233 University brush. I don’t think the softness will lend itself to being a good detail brush, but it made beautifully even long strokes in further painting trials.

The Princeton series 6850 Summit brushes was the brush I liked the least because of its poor point, easy spread, and low tension. I would not recommend it unless your preference is for soft feedback and high paint load. As for the daVinci series 363 Forte and series 30 Maestro brushes, I felt they lacked feedback and precision and their points were less crisp than I liked; I thought better handling was to be had with several other brushes. That said, in the actual paint strokes the Maestro & Forte don’t look bad; the light pressure lines are a bit thicker than those of the synthetic counterparts. Most of it is a preference in feel and fine-grained control.

Which synthetic was most like the sable?

Many painters are very familiar with and prefer the feel and feedback of a sable brush. If not, sable wouldn’t have the widespread recommendation on the forums that it does. If you are interested in the feel of sable, but the lower cost and longer durability of synthetic, the two models from this comparison that handled the most the one sable in the test (daVinci series 30 Maestro) were: daVinci series 363 Forte followed by the Princeton series 6850 Summit. The daVinci was convincingly close to the sable, with only the slightest bit more tension and stiffness. The Summit had the softness but less precision.

Beer: Defiant Lambic

Defiant Brewery has a "members" club that allows purchase of this brewery's limited edition beers. Defiant Lambic has been on this limited edition list lately so we picked up two bottles about a month ago. As I enjoy lambic (fruit and otherwise) I bought two bottles. One we drank immediately the other we let cellar for 3 weeks. Both were bad and in the same way.

This lambic, I strongly suspect, was not brewed as a lambic but instead is a blending of Defiant Porter and a some other ale (perhaps asour ale) gone badly wrong.

The beer poured a nut brown with an aggressive foamy-ness that causes it to overflow the glass no matter how carefully one poured. At about 1/3 of a pint glass of beer it overflowed the remainder glass with foam. The head retention is short to moderate. The smell is sweet, sour, and woody all that the same time. There was a bit of phenolic character, but not strongly. One imagines a bit of barrel aging but it isn't consistently the same as other barrel aged beers I have tried. I think it is more likely the sherry note from oxidation than barrel aging. The mouth feel was thin and grain flavors were completely subsumed by yeast characteristics. The top note has an acidic fruit (read lemon or lime) flavor that fights with a floral and green hop bitterness. The hop is so floral that I suspect a dry hopping, but not tied to the porter flavors. If one sips carefully, one can taste the signature boil hop and malt character of Defiant's regular porter offering. There is a bit of sweet and sour in the middle. The ending is sour in a way that may be brettanomyces and may just be contamination. Regardless, the beer is downright unpleasant.


Verdict: Undrinkable


Brewery: Defiant Brewery
Location: Pearl River, NY USA
Style: Lambic
Brew: Lambic (Limited Edition)
Container: brown glass 40 oz
Bottle conditioned: Yes

Beer: SixPoint Grand Crue

We acquired this grand crue about two months ago, leaving it cellar-ed (literally in the basement) in the interim. I have in the past enjoyed other beers labeled in the style of a crue. Recently I've learned that "grand crue" doesn't really refer to a style as much as it means "premium beer" or "more complex or stronger version". Hmmm

This grand crue is, in all facets, a barley wine. Which is too bad as I was not the least bit interested in a barley wine. It poured heavy and cloudy with a moderate amount of carbonation. It foamed nicely in the glass but had no head retention to speak of. The smell is very much that of a barley wine: somewhat sweet, vaguely of cellar fruits (sort of a bruised apple), and a character that can only be described as "wine-like" without either evoking a red or white wine specifically. The top note carries the wine and a very minimized grain flavor. The middle resolves very sweet. Though I notice no hop in the aroma it ends with a rather bitter hop that doesn't mitigate the over-sweetness.

Perhaps this grand crue would dry out a bit if left to condition for a couple more months. The amount of yeast at the bottom of the pour does lead me to believe it was near or at the end of its fermentation, so perhaps further cellaring would not change it. Experience with a couple different barley wines leads me to believe that I would not resolve it into a brew that I care to drink even if it did further ferment.


Verdict: Good enough example of the barley wine style, but not to my liking


Brewery: SixPoint Craft Ales
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Style: grand crue
Brew: Grand Crue (Limited Edition)
Container: brown glass 40 oz
Bottle conditioned: Yes


SixPoints site does say on their site that this grand crue is based on a Belgian barley wine.

Beer: Pipeline Porter

This coffee porter was, to my taste, one of the best coffee porters I have yet tasted. For many, I think it would be characterized as under carbonated, but as I have a preference for low carbonated beers, I found it to be perfect. It poured very smooth, with a small dark tan head of medium sized bubbles. The coffee aroma was not particularly pungent but neither was it absent. The top notes were rich malts with just enough grain bitter and a light hop note from the boil hop. The hop character in this brew was subdued; as very stronl hopped beer is in fashion right now I think others would say this is under hopped. I do think that the minimized hop allowed the blend of the coffee and dark malted grains to showcase perfectly. The coffee came through pleasantly and subtly throughout without an acid taste that coffee can sometimes impart. Much to my surprise, there was little oxidation (but later I see on the bottle that it was brewed and bottled in New Hampshire rather than Hawaii which explains the freshness).

Verdict: Terrific


Brewery: Kona Brewing Co
Location: Portsmouth NH (also Kona, HI) USA
Style: Porter
Brew: Pipeline Porter with 100% Hawaiian Kona Coffee (Limited Edition)
Container: brown glass 12 oz
Bottle conditioned: No

Beer: Storm King Imperial Stout

First sip through 1/3 of a pint (latter 2/3 remained unfinished) I proclaim his a horrible rendition of an Imperial Stout. I characterized it as being heavily dry hopped with a very aromatic hop; this hop dominated the top note. It had a strong, malty middle that to me had far too much of the grain sugars left unfermented. This made it excessively sweet and cloying in the mouth in spite of what seems to have been a generous amount of boil hop. There is a hint of the sour/bitter that comes from darkly roasted grain that is typical of stouts, unfortuately it was completely destroyed by the alcohol bite and sweet ending.

As most Imperial Stouts are sweeter than standard stouts, this is not one of my preferred styles. In addition, the style is often higher AbV. This version was 9.1%

Verdict: yuck


Brewery: Victory Brewing Co
Location: Downington, PA USA
Style: Imperial Stout
Brew: Storm King Imperial Stout
Container: brown glass 12 oz
Bottle conditioned: No

Gear: Givi tank bag

For more than a decade I had a bag by Eclipse which was terrific. I kept it (almost 12 years!) until the manufacturer no longer made the replaceable neoprene pad that went between the tank the the bag. Two years ago I picked up a Chase Harper tank bag at a dealership because I needed one and that was about as good as the choices got. I hadn't been happy with it. At the Motorcycle show at Javits Convention Center last January I picked up a new tank bag, one that I hope will be a good replacement. The bag is a Givi model T475, part of their xStream line of bags. Today I tried it on my bikes but haven't yet given it a road test.

Construction quality seems good. Particularly nice is that a number of the zippers have a waterproofed flap covering the teeth and it doesn't seem to inhibit zipper use. It has a nice sized map pouch on top and a couple of small exterior pockets on the side. No interior pockets, other than access to the map pouch. The main cargo area does expand about three inches in height, which is always a nice feature.

The bag came with a few extras: a waterproof cover, a waterproof inner bag, 4 tension mounting straps for bikes with plastic tanks, and a shoulder carrying strap. The latter has come with every tank bag I've owned and I have used it perhaps twice in 18 years. I was hoping that this bag would have some good waterproofing on it, but the inclusion of a waterproof inner bag gives me doubts. I'll find out this summer.


Givi tank bag top

Givi tank bag side


Givi tank bag open
Givi tank bag front
Givi tank bag extras


There are a few things I am not so thrilled with.

First being the mounting straps. Granted, this bag's main mounting mechanism is a series of 4 magnets, but the secondary should be well though out none the less. The secondary mounting is a strap that goes around the steering post or otherwise through sturdy body work of your bike. This is pretty common -- both of my other tank bags and goldings695's have had this. Where it's a bit off is in arrangement of the straps.

When on the FZ6, there is sufficient strap, but the length and position put the side release buckle in an award to reach position between the cowling, tank and clamp ons. It took me a few tries to find the right spot for the strap so that it didn't interfere with the steering post, and it requires maneuvering the buckle through some tight spaces. Again, true of this kind of mount with other bags, but in this bag you don't just release the buckles and leave the straps behind on the bike when you take the bag off.

On the Hawk there wasn't enough strap to reach around the frame components and buckle the strap. I needed to add an extension of several inches. This wasn't a difficult or time consuming fix, just a bit of a peeve for such an expensive bag. But here again, I needed to weave the buckle between lines and hoses to make certain that pressure was against the frame, not something fragile. Not a quick on and off, if I have to do that each time.


Givi tank bag base zipper
Givi tank bag base & backpack straps

Another element of the bag I am not pleased with is Givi's rather over engineered and under thought answer to the ease of getting the mounting straps on and off. The whole bottom of the bag zips off as a wholly separate section that is the base against the tank, the flaps with the magnets, and the attachments of the straps. Sounds easy, but it is not a good solution. You need to align the two ends of the zipper into the pull's retainer box, just as you would a jacket. The two parts of the zipper align just fine if 1) the bag is empty and 2) if you can tip the bag on end so you can fiddle with lining up the the zipper into the pull. When the bag is on the bike it's not easy and it will be less easy with gloves or cold hands.

To add to picture of "can we build it" not "should we build it" are two more features. Once the top of the Enterprise has separated from the core, you'll find that there are built in back pack and hip straps but no where to tuck them in,thus if you just carry the bag by it's handle the straps drag on the ground. I may just cut these off with a scissor. A previous Chase Harper bag had these and I never once used them and goldings695 has a bag with them as well and he doesn't use them. At least on both those other bags, they gave the backpack straps a hideaway pocket.

There is an additional clear vinyl map pouch on the base, that's revealed when you take the main bag off. While not a terrible feature, its just extraneous. I'd have preferred a slightly less expensive bag than have the extra map and back-pack bits.

Say NO to AT&T buying T*Mobile!

Many others have already voiced their concerns over this in a way that is much more articulate than I can do. Check the blogs and chatter. There you'll find the real concerns. The Bloomberg article is financially oriented and really doesn't give a sense of how terrible for the consumer this will be.

Here's the petition to sign against the merger.


Contact the following to voice your concerns:

US Department of Justice
FCC,/a>
T-Mobile USA
Deustche Telekom
AT&T
USDOJ: Contact the Department

E-mails to the Department of Justice, including the Attorney General, may be sent to AskDOJ@usdoj.gov. E-mails will be forwarded to the responsible Department of Justice component for appropriate handling.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

If you're in New York City, have an afternoon to spare, and have a penchant for history you should put the East Side Tenement Museum and neighborhood walking tour high on your list.

We went on Dec. 26, 2010 (they are open the day after Christmas) which happened to be one of the heaviest snowfalls in NYC and surrounding area in many, many years. It actually counted as a blizzard (by Minnesota standards) by early evening.

For our part, the snowfall was light and the temps in the 20s when we embarked on the 90 minute guided walking tour at lunch time. Our guide was an enthusiastic woman in her middle 20s, bearing the cold slush in rubber galoshes ("wellies") rather than winter boots and bundled into a coat and scarf. She enjoyed giving the tour, did a great job, and was very good at answering questions. We did not enter any buildings during this part of the experience, but stopped outside several as she told us about their origin and significance between the 1880s - 19-teens. We would have heard a lot more about the Socialist movement speakers that would gather in Straus Square if she hadn't been so cold. The Ridley & Sons building and the Allen St. elevated train (torn down) were interesting a new for me. Thinking of turning to a life of prostitution in 1900? A woman working in a factory could earn $30 a month...being a street-walker under the Allen St. train a woman earned $25-30 a week.

The museum itself has a small storefront, book store, and theater at 108 Orchard Street. The theater area plays a narrated looped tape that shows and documents pertaining to the immigrant residents of the lower east side. The book store, if you like common-man history and photo-history books is a treasure trove. The "movie" was interesting, but not the best done that I've seen as far as the narration, sub-titles, and imagery staying in sync...they had a tendency to keep the narration about 1 person or family but change the photos to other people. It was an informative thing to watch none-the-less. I confess to having a small moment of feeling affronted by the closing words of the tape, where a board member for the LETM is praising the institution as "the only place in America where you can learn what happened after an immigrant go off the boat [and through customs/immigration]." That's a healthy dose of NYC egotism and myopia. Having worked for nearly a decade in a large and well regarded historical society (far from NYC) and been hands on with excellent collections of primary materials from immigrant and 2nd generation Americans, I found it rather annoying and stupid that they could make such a claim.

The tenement building itself is at 68 Orchard Street and is 1 complete tenement building. It was built in 1863 and boarded up in 1935...it stood empty until 1989 when the building was make a historic landmark and the LESTM group began fundraising to pay for stabilization of the building and creation of the museum. They have semi-restored several apartments to different decades and you can take a guided tour. Many tours talk about specific former tenants. The apartments were each 3 rooms: front room "living room", bedroom, and kitchen totaling 325 sq ft. Until the late teens, the building did not have running water or in-door toilets. You'd have had to go down to the well or privy behind the building. These were often shared by the building behind and sometimes with businesses. When toilets were added, it was 1 toilet per floor...1 for 4 apartments. The running water was added directly to the kitchen of each apartment.

The tour guide told us that an average family size for these apartment was 5 (in 325 sq ft !!!!) and the largest *documented* number of people living in 1 apartment was 14. We toured an apartment that belonged to a garment industry worker in the era that saw a boom in ready-made clothing but pre-dated a lot of the single-site factories for assembly. The workers would have the sewing machine in the apartment and would get the necessary pieces from the "jobber" (middle man that coordinated all the assembly steps) and worked right in the home. So, in that instance, not only was the apartment tiny, a significant portion of the space was dedicated to a pedal sewing machine, a dress form, and bundles of pieces.

The Divine Sister

In the fall I went to see a play with my friend and former co-worker, William. He had chosen "The Divine Sister" by Charles Busch. It was directed by Carl Andress and held at the Soho Playhouse. Several of us made an evening of it, having dinner at a small (and sadly, a not that impressive Italian place in Soho) and ice-cream from a bodega before the show.

In our party, I think I was the only heterosexual. One other woman was along; a former co-worker of William's I'd not met before and who sent out very odd vibes. Either she was straight, but with a penchant for teddy bears or she was lesbian with a large circle of gay men friends but no current girlfriend. Either way, she had a lot of issues; and a penchant for gutter talk about unnamed people she'd been with or who wanted her that seemed pretty desperate. I was thankful that she didn't join us for dinner, only for the dessert.

As Charles Busch is a very well known NYC female impersonator/drag queen/gay community star almost the entire audience was comprised of gay men who very enthusiastic to see Busch on stage again. In fact, a man in line for the men's room at the theater joked with me, asking if I'd ever been anywhere where the line for the men's room was longer than the line for the women's (it was, by about 15 guys).

The show was a spoof-melange of various and sundry movies and plays that feature Catholic nuns and it was truly hilarious. Busch's stage presence is terrific and was much more the actor than the drag queen in this show. As I've not ever seen him before I don't know if this is a constant with him. The dialog was witty and pounced on well known films such as "Agnes of God" and "The Sound of Music" as well as a few other well known ones. They must have hit upon some that are more obscure as well, as the audience responded to some of the lines that I didn't get. Especially hilarious are the constant mis-interpretation of lines from the ghost of Jesus' older sister (yep, catch that implication) and the German dominatrix nun that leads the sect devoted to bringing the true scion to the forefront of the church.

b. T. Whitelhill's set was totally budget and had a hint of off beat humor, including "stained glass" windows that featured food that iconic to American secular holidays and a Halloween-ish misshapenness to the "iron" gates.

Hougoumont Farm & Battle of Waterloo

It's 4 years until the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. As a US citizen, I'd previously never given much thought to whether or when there would be an anniversary commemoration of this signal battle. A bit myopic of me, I know. But now that it has percolated to my attention, I'm reading about it with some mild interest. I have friends who love history in general and one who loves the Napoleonic era a great deal, who will have enthusiasm for this. This farmstead and house, Hougoumont, were a part of that famous battle and are being restored as a historical site. Some 26,000 British and French men fought over this farmstead during Waterloo.

An artist has done several impressive canvas glicee as part of the commemoration. One must appreciate realism and battle scenes to be interested in these paintings..

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