One-Liner Wednesday: videopoem link

As promised, here is the reactivated link to our Boiler House videopoem:  https://vimeo.com/187387583.

This (somewhat atypical) post is part of Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday series. Join us!  Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/02/22/one-liner-wednesday-rock-is-dead-yippie

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Hidden Figures

Yesterday, B, E, T, and I went to see the film Hidden Figures. We all loved it.

Hidden Figures is based on the story of a group of African-American women who were “computers” in the early days of the US  space program. That is computers, as in those who carry out mathematical computations.

As sometimes happens, there are some connections between aspects of the film and our area and family. B, early in his career, worked for Link Flight Simulation, which made simulators for NASA. He then went to work for IBM, which, like Link, was founded in our area. IBM plays a role in the film, with a 1961 computer filling a large room. IBM used to have a museum in Endicott which had components from that era, as well as equipment, such as time clocks from IBM’s early years.

The film shows the rampant sexism and racism that the women faced in segregated Virginia. It was sobering for B and me, being reminded that this was happening in our lifetime, although we were only toddlers at the time and living in rural New England, which was neither segregated nor diverse at the time.

It was also sobering for all of us to realize that, as far as our country has come on matters of race and sex, there is still quite a distance to go to reach real equality and equity.

The long and fruitful careers of the main characters in the film are encouraging to all the younger women who follow, despite the obstacles that they still face. Thank you to everyone involved in making the film for bringing this important story to all of us.
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Rogue One

Today, the four of us took the time to go to the movies, as it is the last day of vacation for B and E.

We went to see the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise, Rogue One.

I admit that I was tired by the violence, especially after sitting through twenty minutes of violent previews before the movie started, but at least it took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

My favorite character was Baze Malbus, played by Wen Jiang. I appreciated his relationship with The Force.

What appealed to me most was the music, based on the original Start Wars themes by John Williams. I felt that, if I closed my eyes, I could have followed much of the action on screen by hearing the soundtrack.

The most poignant moment was hearing the single word spoken by Carrie Fisher, who passed away last week, followed the next day by her mother, Debbie Reynolds.

Tomorrow, our time will be somewhat more structured, with B off to work, probably before it even gets light in these short, winter days, and E working from home for her employer in Hawai’i.

I’m not sure what I will be doing, but I hope to make time for a JusJoJan post.
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This post is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January! Come join us! It is easy and fun! Find out more here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/02/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-2nd17/

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Fantastic Beasts

One of the characters in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them says that he knows he is not dreaming because he doesn’t have that good an imagination.

We are all fortunate that Joanne Rowling does have that good an imagination, which she shares with millions of people around the world.

We finally got to see this film, which is based in the travels of British wizard Newt Scamander, this morning and enjoyed it very much.

The visual effects are stunning, especially of the various “fantastic beasts.” Eddie Redmayne embodies Newt and I look forward to seeing him in the follow-on films.

Like most of Rowling’s work, the film deals with universal themes, among them, environmental and endangered species protection, the use and misuse of law and government, social inclusion/exclusion, abuse of power, abuse and neglect of children, and the greater power of love and friendship.

It’s not just a tale of magic.

Moana

Today, I went to see the newest Disney film, Moana. I have been looking forward to it and was not disappointed.

Moana is a Polynesian girl who is the daughter of a chief. Although the island where Moana lives is fictional, her story draws on the cultural heritage of various Polynesian islands.

I don’t want to give away the story, but it resonated with me. Both of my daughters have lived in Hawai’i and respect the native cultural traditions. Daughter T, with whom I saw the film, is especially close to the plants of the islands and was happy to see many she recognized. I could relate to the epic voyage of the heroic wayfarer and the special relationship between a wise grandmother and her questioning granddaughter. I appreciated the feminine energy and the ethic of care of and for the community.

The animation was beautiful. I especially enjoyed the ocean, which is its own character in a way. There were also a lot of great moments involving hair, which is particularly difficult to render well in animation.

As often happens, there is a bonus scene at the very end of the credits, so try to stay.

 

Florence Foster Jenkins

A family friend when I was a child often said, “Well, bless her heart,” whenever someone did something well-meaning or wholeheartedly.

Meryl Streep discussing Florence Foster Jenkins, whom she portrays in the new film of the same name, says that people at the time had one of two reactions to hearing Florence sing, either “bless her” or laughter.

Both of these are shown in the film.

Florence was a piano prodigy as a child, who lost her ability to play due to a physical condition. She continued to love music and, in adulthood. became an important musical philanthropist in New York City.

Florence liked to sing with heart and emotion. What she didn’t realize was that her physical malady had adversely affected both her ability to sing on pitch and her recognition that she was not singing on pitch. In order not to hurt her, her husband and her friends protected her from finding out the truth.

I love Meryl Streep’s work. She always brings depth into her portrayals as she does here. As a singer myself, although a choral soprano rather than a coloratura who can toss off the “Queen of the Night” aria at the drop of a hat, I was amazed at Streep’s ability to sing as Florence did – almost, but not quite up to the pitch.

On Fandango, the movie is listed as both a comedy and a drama. While there are moments of laughter, I can’t think of the film as a comedy. I think it is better characterized as a reflection on the power of music, service, friendship, and love in the face of adversity.

Florence, bless your heart. Meryl, thank you for bringing this powerful story to us.

Happy Birthday, Harry!

Today is Harry Potter’s 36th birthday. Happy birthday to his creator, Joanne Rowling, whose birthday is also today!

Today is also the release date for the script of a new play about the grown-up Harry and his family, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The premiere performance was last night. There were midnight launch parties in bookstores and other trappings of Harry Potter book launches, not seen since the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows ten years ago.

And it is happening without me.

I do still love Harry Potter and will probably read the script at some point, but the urgency is absent now.

When our daughters E and T were younger and both still living at home, Harry Potter book releases were major events, which began marathon family read-alouds. The books and the connections they engendered were woven into the fabric of our lives. You can read more about why and how in this post.

I have been enjoying the continued unfolding of the world of Harry Potter. Through Pottermore, I know that I am in Ravenclaw at Hogwarts and in Pukwudgie at Ilvermorny, located atop Mount Greylock in Massachusetts, not far from where I grew up. I am looking forward to seeing the new film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, when it comes out in November. Someday, I hope to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida or go on a studio tour in London.

Meanwhile, today will unfold like a normal summer Sunday…

 

“Who you gonna call?”

On Saturday, B, T, and I went to see Ghostbusters. It was a lot of fun!

B and I are very familiar with the 1984 film and appreciated all the cameos of actors from that version, as well as the dedication to the late Harold Ramis.  There are also a bunch of clever lines and visuals that hark back to the earlier version.

I really appreciated the new script, which gives the characters more scientific and technical cred, as well as backstories of why they are interested in the paranormal. I also appreciate the lack of smarminess; I was always bothered by Bill Murray’s skirtchasing. While Chris Hemsworth’s character as the office receptionist/model is there to be eye candy, he is treated in a light-hearted, rather than exploitative, way. The fun extends into the credits, so make sure you stay. Bonus: there is a sequel set-up in a short scene at the very end.

The special effects are impressive. We saw a showing in 2D. I’m not sure that I want to imagine what 3D would be like…

Two of my favorite performances were Kate McKinnon as engineering whiz Jillian and Leslie Jones as NYC native and expert Patty. So much fun to watch!

Some people feel that they have to choose between liking the 1984 version or the 2016 version. Why choose? It is perfectly acceptable to like them both.

 

Finding Dory, family, and memory

I love Pixar.

I love that they have a short before the feature film. Before Finding Dory, there is Piper, the wordless story of a young sandpiper learning to find food on its own. The animation is so stunning that in the first moments I thought it was photographed rather than animated. The story is also incredibly endearing, which is another Pixar trademark.

I love that there are bonuses, like references to other Pixar films and little final scenes after the credits. It was a shame we were the only ones left in the theater to see the special Finding Nemo flashback scene at the end of Finding Dory.

What I love most, though, is the richness of the storytelling. All Pixar movies work on multiple levels. They certainly appeal to children and impart life lessons as all worthy tales do, but they also appeal to adults across the age spectrum with further layers of meaning.

Finding Dory is about finding family, both in the sense of family of origin and the family that we can make for ourselves through deep friendship. The resilience of family bonds in the face of great challenge is on full display.

For me, there was an additional family connection. One of the key elements of Dory’s character is that she suffers from short term memory loss.  In this film, there is an added element of vivid distant memories that re-surface.  It reminded me of the stage of Alzheimer’s disease where the person can’t remember what happened a minute ago but can remember what happened many years before.

It was especially poignant because my 91-year-old dad just lost his last sibling, who like their father and two other siblings, had suffered with Alzheimer’s disease. We have also known other people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and are familiar with the frustrations, fears, and dangers it causes, both to the persons with memory loss and the people around them.

There isn’t a cure, just ways of compensating and adjusting as best one can, moment to moment, trusting that , somehow, the bonds of family will be strong enough to draw us together and back to ourselves.

 

How to Let Go and Love

Last week, I had the opportunity to see Josh Fox’s new documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.

The film takes up where his prior films, Gasland and Gasland 2, left us. Josh’s home in Pennsylvania is saved from fracking when it is banned in the Delaware River watershed. There is rejoicing and dancing – until Josh realizes that a beloved hemlock tree is dying due to a climate-change-related pest, leading to further investigation and travel to see what can be done about it.

The first part of the film reviews a lot of the science of climate change. Well, it is review for me because I have been dealing with issues of fracking, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change for years now, but may be new information for some viewers. It’s pretty grim, but, just when you are thinking that there isn’t much hope, Josh and his trusty banjo begin travelling the world to show us what people in diverse locations are doing to fight or cope with climate change.

In locations as diverse as Ecuador, China, Zambia, and the islands of the Pacific, Josh visits with communities who band together to care for each other and the planet, standing up to governments and corporations that are doing harm. They use lots of tools – storytelling, investigation, photography, dancing, and canoes among them – to share their love for each other and their home/land, showing us what is really important and lasting.

I will warn anyone who is motion sensitive that Josh uses a handheld camera, which can make some of the video a bit shaky. There are also some drone shots that might affect you. I did have to close my eyes a few times…

How to Let Go and Love has been making the rounds of theater festivals and is on a 100 city tour with Josh conducting Q&A after the film. Schedule information is available from the link above.

It will make its television debut on HBO on Monday, June 27, at 9 PM EDT/PDT. It will also be released later in the year on DVD.

I hope that many people will see this important film.