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Made by Hand

What would I do without my friends? They open up my horizons, over and over again. Just last week a dear one dragged me into the Portland Art Museum to an exhibit that I would have never, ever visited on my own: the show about LAIKA, the PDX-based animated movie producers.

I don’t watch animated movies, never have. And so I never thought about what goes into them, except some kind of trickery of animation, probably computer-based now, via filmed drawings then. What I now learn is that the folks at LAIKA actually build models, in 3D, creating entire worlds, that are the basis for their magic.

https://portlandartmuseum.org/exhibitions/animating-life/

The exhibit at PAM shows some of these models, elucidates the technical processes, gives behind the scene glimpses of the core mechanisms, materials and tools used. All of which was rather interesting, but paled in comparison to some visions inside my head: what would it be like to go to work and everyday create a world in full detail. Sort of like being a minor god, who has the choice to supply or withhold. To let whimsey dictate some of the details, or full understanding of an artificial, agreed upon universe command the ways to fill it.

 

And, importantly, a work that unites thoughts and ideas with working with your hands. Someone builds all these modelscuts and saws, flattens and glues, scrapes and irons, sews and hammers, and puts it all together to create a world. Mind boggling.

Not that I have the talent for handiwork, or, these days, the flexibility of joints and fingers. But it speaks to me, and makes me want to get into the artisan’s minds of how it feels to make something, rather than sit at a computer and write, or take pictures with my camera. Well, for occasional change, anyhow……

This week, then, I’ll focus on things that are made or tools that are used.  And might even watch a Laika movie to see the model worlds come to live.

 

Were Rabbits

Our last installment of timely entertainment celebrates Great Britain. How can we not after last night’s glorious showing by Labour under a radical ‘nobody thought he could pull it off” leader?

For me a quintessential form of British humor has been the Wallace & Gromit film series.  As it turns out, Peter Sallis, giving voice to the main character in the movies, died this week at age 96. He had quite a ride. http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-peter-sallis-20170606-story.html

For your viewing pleasure here is one of my favorites, at full length, so save it for a rainy day when you are in desperate need for cheering up. It comes with my personal guarantee that it will ! And since we’re out of rabbits today, you’ll get some deer….

Wonder Women

The blockbuster movie Wonder Woman apparently is the hit of the moment – it has made more money than you can count since its recent release and is hailed by critics and audiences alike.  Below is a typical review….

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/cannes-and-wonder-woman-show-what-happens-when-women-challenge-archetypes–and-triumph/2017/06/01/fa57e254-46ce-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_hornaday-730am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.d0fa70bc4333

And here is a quote from an article in the Smithsonian magazine about noted psychologist Dr. William Marston, the original creator of the comic strip.

Marston was a man of a thousand lives and a thousand lies. “Olive Richard” was the pen name of Olive Byrne, and she hadn’t gone to visit Marston—she lived with him. She was also the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most important feminists of the 20th century. In 1916, Sanger and her sister, Ethel Byrne, Olive Byrne’s mother, had opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States. They were both arrested for the illegal distribution of contraception. In jail in 1917, Ethel Byrne went on a hunger strike and nearly died.

Olive Byrne met Marston in 1925, when she was a senior at Tufts; he was her psychology professor. Marston was already married, to a lawyer named Elizabeth Holloway. When Marston and Byrne fell in love, he gave Holloway a choice: either Byrne could live with them, or he would leave her. Byrne moved in. Between 1928 and 1933, each woman bore two children; they lived together as a family. Holloway went to work; Byrne stayed home and raised the children. They told census-takers and anyone else who asked that Byrne was Marston’s widowed sister-in-law. “Tolerant people are the happiest,” Marston wrote in a magazine essay in 1939, so “why not get rid of costly prejudices that hold you back?” He listed the “Six Most Common Types of Prejudice.” Eliminating prejudice number six—“Prejudice against unconventional people and non-conformists”—meant the most to him. Byrne’s sons didn’t find out that Marston was their father until 1963—when Holloway finally admitted it—and only after she extracted a promise that no one would raise the subject ever again.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/origin-story-wonder-woman-180952710/

  

Timely entertainment? More like they were way ahead of their times….

 

I figured we need some everyday wonder women in our photographs today…..

 

I will soon go and watch the movie – unless I change my mind and look at wonder ducklings instead…. they are out in full force this week in the woods around Oaks Bottom……

Timely Entertainment

This week will be devoted to timely entertainment – a phrase stretchy enough that I can get a few disparate things in, all of which I find worthy of attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We start with a 1942 movie by Ernst Lubitsch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuRcwikuztE

Here is a superb analysis of why the film is worth seeing and applicable to our own times….

Hollywood’s Other Great Anti-Nazi Movie

I have generally avoided watching movies about war or Nazis across my lifetime (and this from someone who is addicted to mysteries, action thrillers, the occasional horror movie – think Fortitude which I highly recommend as character study and a view os the beauty of Iceland.) I fear seeing something that you know was real, IS real, adds that extra level of stress hormone that my body can do without. But To Be or Not to Be was on for the weekend and had me laugh out loud in ways that felt healing in these dark times.

Photographs are reminders of the fact that some of us believe that the US is not immune to events as they unfold in the movie….. 

Heuer & Co. on the Road

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Last year I flew to LA and rented a car for a road trip back to Portland. Quite the adventure in that little tin box on the back roads from Palm Springs to Joshua Tree National Park to Death Valley and eventually the Steen Mountains. Made a note to be less cheap next time and get something that has reliable air conditioning and fewer intermittently lit, indecipherable warning signals on the dashboard. Great trip, though.

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It will come as no surprise that I am a fan of road movies, old and modern ones, so I will list a few of my favorites.

The only actual video, though, will be at the bottom, showing how roads are (re)made – do yourself a favor and watch it – it’s short and really fun and gets you vicariously to Moscow.

In no particular order: Ida Lupino’s The Hitchhiker (1953) hitch-hiker-the-1953-001-three-men-in-the-car-00m-egs

Riley Scott’s  Thelma & Louise (1991)

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Five Easy Pieces by Rafelson (1970) with a young Jack Nicholson….

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My Own Private Idaho by Gus van Sant (1991)

UnknownScarecrow (1971) with Al Pacino and Gene Hackman

Scarecrow

 

and finally Y tu mama tambien (2001)

Y-Tu-Mamá-También

And here is what allows them all to roll smoothly…..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJQYDvQZEw   Roadwork in Russia.

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Confessions of a Netflix Streamer

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I admit I watch a lot of Netflix. Mostly thrillers and mysteries. I tell myself it is to keep my languages up, so now I can say “Who is there?” or “Don’t move or I’ll shoot!” and numerous expletives fluently in French. I watch everything British that has actors with a Dame in front of their name or Idris Elba. Or midwives. I adore Scandinavian Noir because all the actors look like normal people (weight included) except they are all heroic when it come to saving Norway from Russian occupation. I watch everything directed by Mira Nair or Jane Campion, both masters of visual beauty and psychological complexity. And I watch Australian movies for their landscapes, longing to see it but refusing to sit on a plane to get there.

DSC_0087 DSC_0028 2 Which brings me to today’s subject in this week’s theme of people I’d like to have known.

I stumbled across a movie called Tracks – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi7opVyt15Y which is visually achingly beautiful. The (true) story it tells is even more stunning: a 2.700 km trek through desert and bush crossing Australia on foot from the Northern Territory town Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean by a young woman, her dog and 4 camels, Robyn Davidson. She trained several years to work with wild camels before she set off. National Geographic was willing to finance some part of the journey in exchange for photographs in situ, so Davidson grudgingly accepted occasional company of a photographer who remains a lifelong friend; some parts of the journey happened with the help of an Aborigine guide who saved her life more than once. But mostly she sought solitude, working through a childhood loss by walking by herself for an eternity. Risking her life to be alone.

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She later moved to the Himalayas with a man she met at some camel exchange in India. That was after an affair with Salmon Rushdie, who had sought her out after reading the book about the trek. (I find it irksome, by the way, that they always mention him in the context of women’s lovers – have you ever seen something about Rushdie which in passing mentioned he had a relationship with Davidson? Or for that matter, Marianne Wiggins, who wrote the scariest book of all times, John Dollar, that outdoes anything I ever read by Rushdie?) I’d ask her about courage.

Photographs are American stand-ins from Joshua Tree National Park.DSC_0262