Saturday, October 25, 2014

Museum of the Moving Image

I've had the pleasure of introducing three people to one of my all-time favorite museums in the last two months.  

In late September, my friend Amanda and I went to see a movie commemorating the life of Jim Henson.  We got there early and were sitting in perhaps the third row from the front, on the aisle.  Gradually, the auditorium filled up, and it was at or near capacity when we looked up front and saw that an introductory speaker had taken a position behind the lectern.  Just before the speaker was about to begin, the usher came up to the woman in front of us and asked her discreetly whether the aisle seat was taken.  The woman said Yes, my husband is sitting there, and to avoid any argument about whether or not he would arrive, she pointed up at the lectern.  The guy saw what was happening, and good naturedly confirmed that he would very much like to regain his seat as soon as he was done introducing the film.  The introduction itself was down-to-earth and just the right length; the guy had been working for Jim Henson Productions at the time the movie tribute was made, and gave us a sense of what it was like following Jim Henson's death (great sadness, lots of uncertainty about the future).  He also briefly described the talk show interview clips that preceded the film, none of which I'd seen before.

A very attractive Triunuial Magic Lantern, dating from 1877, graces the museum lobby at this time:

A rare three-lens lantern
The museum notes that "Such multi-lens lanterns allowed the lanternist to manipulate multiple slides at once, creating the illusion of moving images."

My parents took me back to the museum for my birthday in October, which meant I got to see things in more detail that I'd breezed through before in the previous month.

We spent a lot of time on the interactive exhibits (my dad recorded the Marilyn Monroe lines in Some Like It Hot, just as I had done when I was there with Amanda, and emailed himself a copy of his hand-made hand animation).

We also watched a whole series of Looney Toons shorts, including "Duck Amuck" (a wonderfully playful animation which I'd never seen before), before going through the Chuck Jones retrospective.  That was a great way to prepare for the exhibit.  

The selections in the "Duck Amuck and other cartoons" screening were all from the 1950s.  I'd only seen one of them before in its entirety ("What's Opera, Doc?"), and short clips of two of the others:
Rabbit Seasoning (1952) Feed the Kitty (1952) Bully For Bugs (1953) Duck Amuck (1953) Hare-Way to the Stars (1958) Zoom and Bored (1957) One Froggy Evening (1955) What’s Opera, Doc? (1957) 
We also attended one of the serial cliffhanger episodes of Zorro, which was plenty to get a sense of the thing.  My parents were really taken with the theater's elaborate, tongue-in-cheek Epyptian-themed decorations.

Also very cool is the kinetic sculpture by Gregory Barsamian (I think it is called "Feral Fount").  An elaborate series of sculptures are set on a spiral around a cylinder that rotates.  Under strobe light, it appears that a ring of faucets at the top is releasing drops of water that undergo a series of transformations as they fall, turning into bombs that become clay as they pass through a ring of outstretched hands, only to become envelopes and then paper airplanes, before they finally fall into dish racks at the base.

Afterward, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at El Parador (conveniently near the ferry).

Sunday, October 19, 2014

World's Fair Scavenger Hunt

G-san, U-chan and I made another trek to Flushing Meadows Corona Park to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 World's Fair.  For the closing day festivities, they had organized a scavenger hunt.  I could scarcely believe that we were expected to sink a good solid 4 hours of our lives into the hunt, but I was game to try a few clues and bail when it got too tedious.  It turned out to be a lot of fun - a combination of running around to collect tokens, solving tricky questions, and doing a few photo ops.  Needless to say, we needed every minute of the time allotted, and actually ran out of time to collect all the tokens.

Smartphones were allowed, so we spent a lot of time upfront sitting at a table in the Queens Museum trying to figure out exactly where we needed to go and to track down as many answers as we possibly could before we started wandering about.  This investment of time allowed us to outperform many of our competitors; we got 33 points out of a possible 39+ (as compared with many folks who got only 8-10 points).

One of the coolest parts of participating in the scavenger hunt was being able to go into the places where you ordinarily have to pay admission... or where you ordinarily cannot go at all, such as the New York State Pavilion's Tent of Tomorrow:

A view of the Observation Towers from the Tent of Tomorrow
(More after the jump)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Celebratory Autumn Hike

A toad gave itself away by moving ever-so-slightly as I passed;
I glimpsed the movement out of the corner of my eye and had to look very carefully to find it.

The day was overcast, but in this view, a few spotlights illuminate parts of the valley

The Dark Toad

Ceci n'est pas une grenouille

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Minor Mooreeffoc Moment on the Metro

This logo makes the word "handy" look almost like a palindrome;
it also invites re-interpretation of the letters as "h and y"

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Columbus Day Weekend

It was a wonderful weekend full of hiking, games, celebrations, community, and art.  

The first night, R&B went to dinner with friends, while the girls and I went for sushi at Lee's favorite place and then settled in for a cozy night of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  

The next day, we started on an Art Tour, where we went to (among other places) a glass-blowing studio, the home of a jewelry maker and a painter, and the home of a children's book author and illustrator who is one of the relatively few women ever to win the Caldecott.

We took a break part-way through to go traipsing through the woods with Oreo (the newest addition to the family) on a short jaunt to Cranberry Pond.  

Oreo gets a treat on the blue diamond trail

Cranberry Pond

Busy as a beaver, indeed!
It seemed to be mating season for a gaggle of red dragonflies; anyone who stood still long enough by the water could be sure of being pressed into service as a landing strip for one or more of the creatures.
Paired dragonflies

Afterward, we continued on the Art Tour, visiting the hobbit hole studios (with beautiful teal pottery) and a furniture studio where the artist works intricate designs by embedding nails in the wood:
Table by Peter Sandback

I loved the way the designs continued over the table edge

I think this took a lot of work!

This very blurry picture on the left was intended to help illustrate the process.  The artist plans out the design on computer (I think) and prints it out on paper.  The paper is placed over the wood, and he drills holes for the nails.  If I understand correctly, he then hammers in the nails partway, and puts glue around the base (on top of the paper), before sawing off the top of the nails and then sanding to beautiful smoothness.
Community Bonfire 
It takes a village to work a hand-cranked cider press, as they say, and the entire community came out for the occasion.  Kids were chopping up bushels upon bushels of apples, feeding the bits into the press, turning the crank, and pushing the slop into the press itself.  The actual pressing required the strength of an adult, but we all got to enjoy fresh cider.  Yum!

Ruth made cider donuts, which she fried up in an electric frying pan (plugged in at a nearby house, with a loooooong extension cord).  Clara was in charge of powdering the donuts in a paper bag.

The donuts were delicious!
Cider donuts, about to meet their fryer.
Meanwhile, a coalition of children and men worked incessantly to feed the bonfire with branches of non-native species that had been cut or pulled over the season.  The fire got to be very, very, impressive:

We all relaxed with our pizza and cider and donuts.

Monday morning, the girls surprised me with birthday banners and decorations everywhere, as well as a riddling scavenger hunt.  One of the earliest clues was the trickiest: "Put me in a corner and I'll go far."  Ruth made a wonderfully rich birthday cake.  I felt so spoiled!!  We played Ticket to Ride and then went apple-picking.
Apple picking

Queen of the Mountain, with Oreo
One of our favorite places on the Art Tour was the Terrapin Glassblowing Studio, where we watched them show how they make their glass pumpkins.  We had so much fun there, we went back again after apple-picking.
Violet pumpkin with blue stem

I think they're switching over to snowmen for Christmas.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Currier Museum of Art

We went to the Escher exhibit, which was a lot of fun.  They had magnifying glasses in many of the rooms, and it was transformative; a shape that seemed familiar (and thus unexciting) might reveal hidden nuances that way.  

For example, on close examination, the Double Planetoid on display featured a man-made world (architecture) with human figures intersecting with a natural world populated with plants and dinosaur type creatures; there are no overlaps.  

They didn't encourage photography in the exhibition rooms, so I contented myself with a picture of their life-size reproduction of one of the more famous works:


She's garbed in lion skin!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Circus, Schmircus!

Celebrations of my mom's birthday featured a trip to the circus and to an M.C. Escher exhibit (not to be confused with M.C. Hammer). 

We got to the circus a bit early for the pre-game show... or is that the pre-show show? It's all pretty confusing. Anyway, they led a little participatory dance program for the kids, had one of those "see how strong you are" sideshow type things, and gave out a few goodies - most significantly, a clown nose!

Nah, we don't need two clown noses for two girls - we'll just use the bag it came in for the second nose!

Soon, they shooed everyone out of the main stage, and the program began.

An elephant

I loved the expressiveness of the stilt-walker in the background.  He was really into it,
kind of goose-stepping around and generally showing off.  It was so much fun!
Just as with the Big Apple Circus last year, the theme was "Construction".
This stilt-walker wasn't as tall, but quite a cool costume of construction cones!
At the core moment, the woman on top was standing on a chair, which was balanced on a pole resting on the shoulders of the cyclists on the tightrope:
This was the act that the performers seemed most nervous about.  
This was a fun one, though very hard to capture on my phone.  Several guys were jumping on a trampoline, and sitting or standing on top of the clear plexiglass structure, or in one of its cubbyholes.  And they were doing this from both sides at the same time.