Monday, December 28, 2009

The Watchers, Ngorongoro

Lion and Lioness Remember the photograph my mother took of the lion and lioness in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area?
Well, she's been re-decorating her bedroom with things from her travels. She's repainted it sand and a deep azure blue. She used a table cloth she bought in Tanzania and had a duvet cover made. So I made her a pillow. First, I carved a lino block, based on the photograph:
lions in grass

Then I printed it onto fabric. I combined it with the spotted leopard fabric and some faux-bois (because I thought the 'natural' element would go with what she is trying to do with her room). On the reverse, I printed my elephant block on turquoise and added some fabrics which reminded me of African textiles.

lion pillow
elephant side

The Watchers, Ngorongoro I made an edition of eight prints on Japanese kozo paper with my lion and lioness block.

p.s. Mom and I went to see The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus today. Though I did enjoy it, we agreed it isn't Gilliam's best or anything. Of the actors who took over for Heath Ledger, only Johny Depp appeared to be playing Heath Ledger playing a role - and thus was the most seamless. It is, of course, beautiful to watch, and imaginative... but Gilliam's best movies also have stronger story lines.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lady Giggleswick Thinks of Love

Since, I've now given my xmas gift to Blythechild, I can share my latest print with you. It's a portrait of her JRT, Orbit, aka Lady Giggleswick. Shout out to Synap who secretly provided photographs, so I could get this portrait just right. Orbit is the sort of young lady who doesn't care that I tell her I'm a cat person. She simply, and amiably, curls up in my lap in a sunbeam, and I swear she purrs. I think she often thinks of love.

Orbit in her sunbeam

The print is in dark, dark brown ink and red ink on white, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper, 9.5 inches by 12.5 inches (24.1 cm by 31.8 cm). It is one of a first edition of 8.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Festival of Lights

Big Things Gwan
Solstice WolvesSolstice BirdsSolstice Happy SunSolstice Puppets
Solstice Women and Beaver PuppetsGiraffe heads and Shadow PuppetsSolstice Sun FacesSolstice puppetSolstice singers
Solstice fire dancersSolstice puppets
Solstice Dancer on Stilts

Solstice Puppet Procession
Here's the fire sculpture going up in flames! Goodbye to 2009!
Solstice setting sculpture ablazeSolstice  fire
Solsticefire sculpture Solstice falling fire sculptureSolstice bonfire
Then the fire dancers really got started.
Solstice fire with dancersSolstice dance troupe
Solstice fire dancer
Solstice fire dancerSolstice fire jugglersSolstice fire hulaSolstice blowing fireSolstice fire dancers
It was fabulous!

Happy Solstice!

Well, we've made it to the far edge of this (ridiculously scaled) diagram! That means that here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days, after today, will start to get longer again. That, is something worth celebrating.

Those of you in town tonight should all come out to see the Kensington Market Festival of Lights! It's their 20th festival. It never seems like the year is really over unless you've lit something aflame.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reading is sexy XXVII

(Image: Young Girl Reading by a Window by Delphin Enjolras) 34. Little Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt. Little Black Book indeed. A.S. Byatt writes fairytales for adults wherein sometimes the monster wins, and it may not be the one expected. The Thing in the Forest is a war-time story within a contemporary frame which revisits the British-style dragon, the worm, which appeared in The Djinn in the Nightengale's Eye. It is about alienation and guilt. Body Art is an amazingly visual story, combining some of my favorite things (art, art history, history of science and cabinets of curiosity) with rounded characters and ethical dilemma. The Stone Woman is a wonderful story of geology and the modern-day, accidental, Nordic troll. Raw Material is a very dark story about writer's block - the violence is just beneath the surface. I am certain that no author before or since has ever made the Teletubbies quite so creepy, or combined them with Greek mythology, as in The Pink Ribbon. These stories appeal to our primordial pleasure in being scared just enough. Byatt has a lot of control and the confidence and insight to take the reader to the edge. Read this book.

35. The Man Game by Lee Henderson. The violence below the surface in the Black Book is let loose in the astonishing Man Game. This book won the BC Book Prize. Despite a contemporary narrator, it is mostly set in 1886 - 1887 in Vancouver, but this is no reverential historical fiction. It is more like Fight Club meets the wild west, but it is a true novel of the Canadian west, with more lumberjacks, Chinese immigrants, drug abuse, labour unrest and fewer cowboys. Beautiful newly-wed Molly Erwagen arrives in town with her recently paralyzed husband Samuel and native ward Toronto (honestly), just in time to witness a great fire which destroys most of the city. Two lumberjacks Litz and Pisk are blamed for the fire. It doesn't take Molly long to invent a profit-making diversion in the male-dominated Vancouver, combining dance, acrobatics, vaudeville and martial arts - the Man Game is a game of skill, fought in the nude (to avoid dirty tricks), illustrated in the book by a series of line drawing for the various moves. The cast of characters includes entrepreneurial opium-adicts, bookies, Chinese bakers, lumberjacks, the po-lice, snakeheads from San Francisco, a Mexican barman with a portable bar, a Bermudan barman, a cowboy "shit-disturber" (pro-labour xenophobe), the madam and the Whore Without a Face. The language is rough and tumble and full of Chinook, a dialect which allowed the major ethnic groups (miscellaneous Europeans, Chinese, Chinookan, Nootka, Salish, Haida, Siwash, Snauq, Sto:lo, Tlingit and other Native peoples) to communicate. A women is a mink or ee-na, and it takes little imagination to follow a discussion about her totooshes. Money is chickamin or blankets. The louts are bohunks, and they don't reckon, they kumtuks. I've spent enough time in BC to know what skookum means. Henderson obviously harbours a great love for Vancouver, but he keeps his eyes wide open. An overhead snipet of dialogue in the modern-day Vancouver man game left me howling with laughter ("So I teach yoga to get laid, but like, I also want to stay in shape"). He isn't scared to skewer sacred cows. Characters say "oot" and "aboot" throughout. The novel is a story of love, hatred, violence, art, men, women, cultural identity, family, labour and race relations. It is action packed. The societal issues facing 1887 Vancouver society may appear to have changed but at the core many of the issues simply appear in new guises. It calls out for a film adaptation (with built-in-product placement, what with all the Hudson's Bay blankets), except our society is afraid of male nudity. But, I love seeing this story set in Canada. I cannot believe it is Henderson's first novel. I've never read anything quite like it. I really think you'd enjoy it too, unless perhaps if you are from New Westminster.

36. Cake or Death by Heather Mallick. The problem with Heather Mallick is, in her own words, that she is "an appalling combination of socialist and snob". She shops at Holt Renfrew and wears pearls and has what I deem a perhaps overblown preoccupation with hygiene and cleanliness. However, she is often delightfully eccentric and self-deprecating. She cites Eddie Izzard for her title. She can be counted on to stand up for her convictions, and for that I admire her. She thanks Dr. Henry Morgentaler in the Acknowledgements. She calls out hypocracy when she sees it, isn't afraid of a fight and has a healthy, sarcastic and sometimes dark, ascerbic sense of humour. I recognize her descriptions of a stoic upbringing. I used to enjoy her column in the Globe and Mail before I gave up on seeing any decent newspaper published in this country. Mallick is never dull, but I wish this book were wittier. I think she is capable of it.

The essay about "why Doris Lessing will never win a Nobel" was redundant before this book even had a chance to come out in soft cover.
{Series so far: books read, more books read, books read, books read continues, more books read, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII,XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII}

Saturday, December 19, 2009

last wander

Union Square from cablecar
I will never get used to Christmas trees amongst palm trees, but I admit the scale of Californian Christmas trees is pretty impressive.

We did end up in a touristy crab joint, but the food was good and the company better, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
the crabs are watching

Friday morning I wanted to return the pants from Anthropologie, which already had ripped (grumble, grumble) but they didn't open until 10 am, so I wandered some more. This time I started with the swankier areas, as it remained somewhere I hadn't wandered on previous trips (as graduate students or post-docs do not necessarily want to be reminded of what they cannot afford).
building colours
window shopping
Union Square optimistic ice rink
Here is the overly-optimistic outdoor rink in Union Square. Despite pitiful ice-quality, it was generally packed, but not at 8 am.

I ended up in Chinatown.
King Tut with Pagoda
slope, Chinatown
No dumping crab
San Francisco view
Beautitful things store dragon
This place was called "The Store with Beautiful Things".

San Francisco Chinatown
San Francisco Chinatown
mural in Chinatown

Then I checked out and walked to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), past the Hyatt fountain:
San Francisco Fountain
to Powell Station. Managed to get on the least efficient route on the Air Train, so I arrived just at the right time. I don't think I've ever seen so much chaos as there was at the United counter, so I was glad I persuaded a machine to give me a not-quite-boarding pass which got me through security to the gate, where they sat me at the front of the plane, behind 1st class. Coincidentally, I was seated next to a U of T prof and we talked the whole way home.

Looking forward to seeing friends this evening!