Author Archive

Decomposing Bodies and the Ego that Tends Them

book jacketAccording to the book jacket, Dr. Bill Bass is a “pioneer in forensic anthropology, [he] created the world’s first laboratory dedicated to the study of human decomposition—three acres of land on a hillside in Tennessee where human bodies are left to the elements.” The wide array of data collected on the Body Farm, as this hillside was dubbed, has opened up hundreds of paths in the dense forest of cause-of-death investigations. New forensic specializations formed and grew at the Body Farm, from forensic entomology, forensic art, and forensic chemistry, to molecular anthropology.

Each chapter of Beyond the Body Farm, written by Dr. Bill Bass and journalist Jon Jefferson, addresses a different case, or aspect of a case, that Bass has personally worked on and solved. They are overwhelmingly murder cases, but accidental deaths are also examined. Bass begins each chapter with a brief discussion of the difficulties such an investigation would have faced without forensic anthropology’s research forays into just such a possibility, and several times, goes off onto a rather unrelated tangential anecdote, including topics so outside the scope of the book (such as his marriage) that the reader must stop, confused, and wonder why their time is being wasted. Typically his investigations require special experimentation and innovative approaches, which are invariably the most interesting parts. In this respect the book is very enlightening. Continue reading

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Restaurant Week Reviews Part 3: Dinner at Adä

The atmosphere at Adä is muted and elegant, with buff colored marble floors, brass accessories, and tasteful Indian-inspired artwork. Apparently an Indian-French fusion, Adä’s fare is organic and includes ingredients not usual to Indian traditional cuisine, (creme brulee, mesclun greens and goat cheese appear on the menu). The restaurant was just beginning its dinner hour, and, among the first to arrive, we were seated in the windowed foyer area. The wait staff was attentive and brought menus and drinks quickly.

The prix fixe selection was fairly wide, with four or five options for each course. I selected the Aloo-Tikki, which is a pan-seared potato pancake which came with carmelized bananas, a small mound of peas, and some chutney. It was crispy and mildly spiced, and the sweet bananas with the fresh-flavored coriander chutney were an excellent combination.

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Restaurant Week Reviews Part 2: Dinner at the Giorgio’s of Gramercy

Giorgio’s of Gramercy, on 21st street near Broadway, is a long, narrow and dimly lit affair, appointed in earth tones and decorated with somewhat disturbing abstract watercolors. The tables feature small tea light candles and white tablecloths, and curtains and beads hanging from the ceiling make the space cozy and warm.

The staff is pleasant, professional and removed; they do not hover too much, nor do they neglect. Kitchen sounds emanate from the back of the restaurant, and early in the evening (while I waited for my companion), the chef brought out a plate of the night’s special (fish in a spicy remoulade of some kind) for the staff to sample so they would know how to describe it later. When we were seated, we were treated to a plate of crispy bruchetta and offered beverages, the menus, and the wine list.
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Get Your Culture On: A review of “Romeo and Juliet” in Central Park

Line-sitting

On Saturday the 23rd of June, ETL & I adventured. It began as our adventures so often do, with me freeloading on her couch to get an early start, in this case, an early start of 5:14am for me, slightly earlier for ETL.

We prepared for the day, gathered our provisions and gear, and drove into Manhattan, arriving slightly past 6am. Amazing, free, legal parking was found and secured on East 79th street, and we headed into Central Park for our chilly 7-hour picnic. We laid out our camp happily near to the head of the line, (ETL estimated about 40 people ahead of us), and settled in to wait. And waaait… And waaaait.

sleeping bag

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