Archive | February, 2013

Lord of the Rings and other Epic Films

28 Feb

On the subject of films, there is a certain quality that comes with having to take someone’s life’s work and translate for all the world to see and hear. The language of the movie is most often universal, because it is visual.

I was about 13 when Lord of the Rings had been made into a trilogy. I watched the first movie with my parents and being 13 I fell in love with one of the co-stars, Orlando Bloom (English heart throb) who was playing the role of mirkwood elf, Legolas Greenleaf. Not to be out nerded my sister 7 years later can quote the movie by heart. I was always a fan, but not for the same reasons.

Lord of the Rings was written by Oxford professor J.R.R Tolkien who not only created the book’s history, but it’s people, it’s langauge’s, and alphabet.  Peter Jackson a new zealand film director turned the series into three epic movies. I bring this up because Tolkien had very detailed pictures and descriptions of what each place looked and felt. Not more impressive then the White City or Minas Tirith.

For the fashion of Minas Tirith was such that it was built on seven levels, each delved into the hill, and about each was set a wall, and in each was a gate. But the gates were not set in a line: the Great Gate in the City wall was at the east point of the circuit, but the next faced half south, and the third half north, and so to and fro upwards; so the paved way that climbed toward the citadel turned this way and that and then that across the face of the hill.
The Return of the King
by the Brothers Hildebrandt.Movie Scene

Sketch By J.R.R Tolkien and Above scene from the movie.

The movie managed to translate every part of what the city should look like and how the characters would interact.Of course no the series has murdered the book “the hobbit” a children’s bed time tale also by J.R.R Tolkien and stretched a series of encounters with elves, trolls, and dragons into another two movies. And despite fantastic talent it might be wasted on another nine hours of film.

On to more important matters be it beast or human.

Moonrise Kingdom was the movie i watched with my cousin and my aunt last semester on my way back down to school.

It was fantastic for to many words.

So I’ll just demonstrate why.

moonrise_kingdom_23 wesandersonmoonrisekingdom bill-murray-as-mr-bishop-in-moonrise-kingdom

Does this make no sense? Good. The movie was about two 12 years old who meet each other on a small island in the middle of summer, and who meet again the following summer deciding they will run away together. The movie charts the course of a huge storm that will strike on the third day and which all the characters will be thrown together in ways no one could have seen coming.

It was directed by Wes Anderson.

I liked it enough I could watch it a second time.

I told you words cannot do it justice.

Do we speak more with our actions or our words?

In the mood for a way to increase my directing skills after my interview project, er, experiment it takes skill to really tell someone’s story. 

We watched “The Times of Harvey Milk” from 1984 that chronicled the rise of Harvey Milk, San Francisco elected first openly gay supervisor, in my feminism class. There was a collection of close friends to people who were aware of his movement, with a variety of live footage from his early days working in his neighborhood up to the days before he was assassinated by Dan White.

I felt it was important because the movie made me cry right at the end where everyone had gathered with light candles to hold a peaceful memorial for Harvey Milk at City Hall.

MILK+candle

“The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us’es, the us’es will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.

So if there is a message I have to give, it is that if I’ve found one overriding thing about my personal election, it’s the fact that if a gay person can be elected, it’s a green light. And you and you and you, you have to give people hope….”
Harvey Milk

Exotic Chickens

25 Feb

Did you know? 

People breed homing pigeons for sport (racing), for looks (exotic) and for game (hunting)?

These aren’t the most common wild breeds you find hobbling around on knob toes in NYC and Chicago. By the way there are exactly 547, 821,691 pigeons in NYC. Below are pictures from National Society of Pigeons, yes it exists, it’s like the bird answer to the Westminster Dog Show.

pigeons-champion[3]

Aren’t they so pretty?

Did you know?

The most expensive pigeon ever sold was for $328,000 brought by a Chinese shipping company. It was a Dutch racing pigeon called “Blue Prince.” The races invole the birds being released and then have to fly home, the distances vary but the bird who gets home the fastest wins. The sheer number of people intersted in the sport itself and its steep per bird price,$ 300,000. I seriously want to see a Bond movie built around this theme, 007 a good day to peck. One agent must race against the time and a whole lot of feathers to save the world. A pigeon with the nuclear war secrets also carrying a bomb homing right to the parliement  and then the white house.

It’s going to the birds.

But this is nothing of course compared to my second favorite birds, Exotic Chickens.

There are 25 million different chicken breeds in the world. However there are only three chickens in the world who lay blue eggs. 3 hens will lay two eggs which requires 18 hens to get 12 eggs in a day.

Silkie

Silkie

images60054450_1 60054450_2 f_ExoticChickm_dcce28c

Lots of people raise domestic chickens. We’d be raising our own chickens in the back yard but we have a dog. There have even been disputes over were people can raise chickens even if its healthier then eating actual grocery eggs. There’s also the URBAN farm project going on in New York City and other urban cities that grow small farms on rooftops and allow people to grow or gather their own produce.

Why so peckish?

First experience with farm animals was an old babysitter who had a big farm, horses, killed their own chickens. We walked in one day to see the mom skinning a rooster blood on her hands and smiling. I was still more scared to sit on a horse then I was of her.

Rooster’s though run in the family. My dad grew up on a farm with ducks and chickens. My mom has a rooster motif going on in the house, I’ve counted four roosters and wall paper last time i was home. We have a fake one over our fireplace, they wouldn’t let me bring him to decorate the dorm freshmen year. Please don’t start picturing as the crazy family with stuffed birds, their still tastefully spaced.

My grandparents had a farm that grew produce then taken over by my aunt and uncle, but my summers were spent outside in the fresh air because they didn’t have cable or internet. I grew up when we still had dial up on the home computer. We were getting minnow therapy (the rage where people dunk their feet in fish tanks to get the dead skin off) when we were two and up by splashing out in the stream. I also have a big family so we had six cousins running out there in the stream when the times were the best. Of course memories aren’t always what they seem, and I guess I still look back on my summer childhood with the screen of happiness despite any family drama that might be happening at the same time.

Still I want a rooster. It’s been on my list for awhile. I dunno when I get one, but they might be eaiser to handle then dogs and more loyal then a cat.

Pearl’s Before Swine

23 Feb

“Do not cast your pearls before swine”

I was not the brightest child when I was growing up, so I did not understand that phrase for a long time. It’s from some part of the bible, but it basically means don’t give something with value to people who won’t appreciate it for what it is.

Then it also happens to be the name of a strip by one of  my favorite cartoonists, Stephan Pastis.

pbs

His weekly strip features four main animal characters, the optomistic pig, the cynical rat (pictured above), a wise goat, and a neurotic zebra (whose hunted by alligators who live next door) along with a set of human characters.

writers-critique-group

Why do I consider him a visual inspiration? Because he blends story telling with art direction with the speed of the human attention span. Cartoonist have always had the problem of how to tell their stories in few panels or one panel. Stephen ponders the hilarity of society without trying to be to offensive by being frank. His simplistic style is like that of the Far Side Gallery.

cartoon_more_than_sheep_c

Stephen Pastis was a lawyer before he started into cartoons, ironically Gary Larson (FAR SIDE ) worked in a music shop trying to be guitarist. They both eventually quit when they submitted their cartoons and they were picked up by a newspaper and a magazine respectively.  They inspire me that while we will have to do things to feed ourselves and our families, there is always time to rediscover something we didn’t know about ourselves. Deep inside we may have some hidden talent to make the world smile or think.

”   A long time ago, I became aware that many of us have a tendency to lump nature into simplistic categories, such as what we consider beautiful or ugly, important or unimportant. As human a thing as that is to do, I think it often leads us to misunderstand the respective roles of life forms and their interconnectedness.
Gary Larson

 That of course expressed from a man who once did a comic like this:
ChickenOfDepression
He’s so popular people have also done real life version of his comics”
 3165721000_8d892c4918
I grew up on Far Side comics which might explain a few things about me and my up bringing and my current mind set, peculiar as I am. Stephen Pastis I discovered much later, but I enjoyed his comics just as much if not more for the wide variety. How long can we look upon ourselves and our man and not wonder if they were a giant talking cow?
It would certainly make life more interesting, if not more peculiar.
We might all become vegans in the future.
The terrible truth is I love to draw as a I mentioned in the first post, and I wish I  could draw characters like theirs. But to be a cartoonist you need to have the ability to draw the same thing over and over again with the same lines and shapes. You probably should also have something to say and say it well.
Or be able to draw something adorable and fluffy and put little speech bubbles filled with nonsense.
 I love reading comics because they don’t strain my mind like the rest, allowing me to reach that one part of the day where I’m wasting time between classes slowly melting into a pile of oatmeal to be stirred until, I’ve gotten off track. I really like comics. It was part of the daily household ritual to hide the comic section when i was home with the family, so every time I had to use the bathroom they were no where to be found. And on Sunday mornings my parents got the first swig since they had lives and got up, so it was an hour wait to read them then too. Now at school I have no paper, but a rather lovely internet database at my fingertips, waiting not included.
If I had patience which is often a rather terrible vice of mine then i will devote to some ideas about experiences in college and the USC campus. “The names and likeness have been altered to protect the guilty” would be included somewhere in every byline of comic so I couldn’t be sued by some unsuspecting victim of my daily musings.

In Honor of Dutch Master’s

17 Feb

In the celebration of  those who have come before I would like to dedicate this blog to the time in history where visual arts was one painting worked on by six masters, ten students, and a handful of work horses to be done in five years. The dutch masters came from the country Holland and the art became famous techniques in the year 1660 and before.

The period was also known for portraits, everyday dutch life and landscapes, bible scenes, history, etc. There were 100’s of artist with their own techniques, there were 1000’s of paintings spanning from the painting period beginnings up to the golden age and beyond. Some have been lost, but many others still hang in museums or private collections.

Bartholomeus van der Helst  who focused on creating stylized portraits began his life as a son of an innkeeper. he worked on his  skills eventually becoming a more celebrated and popular artist than the period’s greatest master, Rembrandt. Below is his famous work, Portrait of a Girl , 1645

tumblr_mh33gwnG0j1riatdoo1_500 Bartholomeus van der Helst-837332

The name and artist Rembrandt(featured below)  is famous for this period and  often called the Rembrandt Age. He painted bible scenes, portraits which were known for the expressiveness of  each person  faces. And his lack of color in his work, he prefered to work with either light or dark.

rembrandt-anatomyz

But more people know the following painting, Girl in With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer. In fact in the modern age of romanticizing the past, the subject has been made into a fictional book and a direct release movie in 2003. The painting had to be restored years ago when it was unearthed.

Vermeer-Girl-with-a-Pearl-Earring-887x1024

The subjects and paintings have been taking on new ways to recreate the classic subjects. Below is a singe spiral drawing by Chan Hwee Chong

Or in these live Flemish portraits by photographer Sacha Goldberger.

tumblr_m4bhfoI3GY1qzamioo9_500 tumblr_m4bhfoI3GY1qzamioo7_250 tumblr_m4bhfoI3GY1qzamioo5_1280

.

Urban Decay

13 Feb

bansky3 bansky1 bansky

I had a really favorite graffiti artist named Bansky. He works mainly in London, England. I became a fan back in freshmen year. He was famous by never showing who he was. He’s had books written on him. I saw where one of his wall art should have been, but they’ve gotten rid of it. Above is a few of them, not sure if their pictures of the originals.

I watched videos on how people create stencils. It’s rather tedious process of  coming up with the image, tracing it, cutting out cardboard, and then doing a process of layering depending if you’re going to use color or not.

But this brings me to my second favorite photography subject. Urban decay. The concrete slowly being turned back to a period of stone.

Urban Decay: Archesby VSprink

Urban Decay: Arches
by VSprink

Old coal tower in Shime, Japan

Old coal tower in Shime, Japan

Sea Forts made for Anti-Aircraft in WWII

Sea Forts made for Anti-Aircraft in WWII

http://www.cracked.com/article_19678_6-abandoned-places-that-will-make-awesome-supervillain-lairs_p2.html

These places are creepy, and say something to the nerve of the photographers. I’ve always wanted to try, but with legal terms getting thrown around I’ll have to find someone who has done it before. I’m not sure what I like most on the subject.

The object lost to wear of nature.

The framing of  the building against the expensive sky.

Or the fact that there is enough chemicals floating in the air to kill a human.

Did I mention that these kinds of places are part of a new trend called extreme tourism? You can visit a famous abandoned site called, Chernobyl. If you don’t know the name it’s in Russia. And it was the site of one of the worst nuclear meltdowns. A reactor exploded killing a handful and giving everyone else in the contained factory town and 50 miles surrounding  radiation poisoning. Factory workers lived with their families, but all at once they had to leave over night.

And that if you visit you can’t stay more than an hour because the radiation levels are still considered dangerous.

Here are some pictures of a nursery, a control room, the amusement park, and a school room.

nuclear 4 nuclear 3 nuclear 2 nuclear1

My Favorite Things

11 Feb

If there is anything i have learned about the world it is the fact that you cannot predict it, you cannot control it, and you sure as hell cannot try and stop it when it wants to throw you a curve ball.

I’m almost like saying better the main thing about life I’ve learned from Douglas Adams epic series “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe.”

In short words it a series of about five or six books that chronicle the adventures of a human from the UK, his would be girl friend  and his friends from a distant galaxies as they trot around in a space ship doing nothing in particular and somehow end up crossing their own times lines, facing down evil and slightly red taped govermeant officials.

There’s also a super human robot with a personality that make it’s chronically depressed about everything.

And a guide called Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that written by one of the inter stellar travelers and maintained by an agency that is perpetually at lunch.

A few references to it are:

“The answer to life is 42.” (We currently are unaware of the question)

“Don’t Panic.”

And possibly very important, “I may have not gone where I intended to be, but I ended up where I needed to be”

The last qoute was from The long dark tea time of the soul.

As I attempt to juggle the ending of my senior year, trying to make sure I’m going to not only graduate on time, but with good grades while figure out the rest of my life. I look to that book to know life has way of surprising you.

I’d to shut off my brain and be inspired.

Or to make myself feel better for the moment I surf the internet.

In which case I look at pictures of kittens and puppies to make me happy. I never know how to make a cat of all animals sit still for a camera lens. Especially the way people of the internet

images-1

images-2

tumblr_mcmc5ivEG11qi4ucgo1_500tumblr_mcmbpks6Jv1qi4ucgo1_500images

Or hedgehogs.

In Respect of Nature

6 Feb

What is with men and nature?

I have an uncle who does something other than actual photography for a living, but I wish he would make it his living. This same uncle was so gifted in the arts that he was accepted to an undergraduate program for stage design that only took two students a year. He’s an adventurer when he’s not sitting behind a desk in Maine, doing crazy mountain trails with cliff edges, wild animals, and the weather with just himself and a topography map. He’s my inspiration if I can ever get him to give me some of his old sketch books.

The pictures he takes of nature are breath-taking.

My cousins are the same way.

And so is my own dad.

I can’t post any of my uncle’s work, i don’t think he’s ever had it published for the world. So I found something like it.

water water

This image provided via google/ http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://nightphotographyclass.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/water7.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.nightphotographyclass.com/2009/10/moving-water/&h=387&w=580&sz=81&tbnid=mVdW-KMPxuirSM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=139&zoom=1&usg=__2ZRThElPEU9YZbXFxuO7qk3MV9c=&docid=VHQ3-2bBrkOqDM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=sHoSUeeMBYq-9QTLzYGIDQ&ved=0CE8Q9QEwCg&dur=413

Then my cousins who hiked out in Yosemite for three months straight.  Not the best photo, but the only one I could find via faced book that was a real nice shot of the landscape.

starry night

And then my dad, who’s got a website (shameless promotion) , but I love his stuff. I’ve got one of his picture hanging in my room of a sepia flower.

And of course, I can’t actually  drag any pictures off his website, but you can see why i love here: http://www.petitenature.net/#

 

What’s the point of nature really?

Well according to my mother it’s in the way and according to my father its to be documented, to my cousins it’s facing ourselves, and my uncle its testing the limits of a human body.Photography of nature takes some kind of vision, what you see is what you have to translate to the rest of the people looking at it.

But it isn’t just photo’s that inspire me about nature. I like to draw a lot. I’m told that I’m good with landscapes and flowers. I dunno if I’m actually interested in flowers. I used to be a fan of Georgia O’ Keefe, who spent her lifetime painting flowers up close.

redcanna-1 (red Canna 1923) June-flowers-yellow-and-red-canna1-829x1024 (Actual Red Canna)

She described her work as, ‘I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.”

Words of wisdom there.

But she also says that by painting, “I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality, I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say in paint.”

Georgia O’Keefe I believe was inspired by an incident in her early life. I read in a biography about her. She went to a strict catholic school as a little girl.  One day in her art class they drew a pair of baby feet. She drew them small and detailed proudly she went to the nun teaching the class. The nun scolded her and said it was too small. I think O’keefe was so scarred by that moment, that the rest of her life she drew large-scale paintings of the desert, of her flowers.

I  think most of us have that moment where something shifts us and we change perspective on the world.

I suppose then when I look pictures of nature I am attempting like many others to unravel the puzzle that is human nature, what drives us forward at all costs despite the world being indifferent to our actions, our thoughts, our emotions. What is it that allows us to connect with our world and grasp it for just a second even if the moment we blink it is nothing but the wispy end of fog tailing on the edge of our waking seconds.

Is it then because we are practical creatures forced by our own nature to feed ourselves, define ourselves around our environment, and the peers that we keep pace with?

Or is it indeed because of the sacrifice of our own nature for the sake of belonging in an indifferent society, we have so deeply re pressed our own ability to connect with the outside that we must try to capture in pictures and paintings so it will be preserved in the moment forever, cheated out of its magnitude because we really do lack the openness to embrace it for it truly is?