Sunday, January 27, 2008

Surprise Snowfall

Okay, I thought they predicted a small chance of snow for this weekend. I wasn't expecting this. I am too trusting of the weather report.

I didn't take any photos, because the snow wasn't sticking to the trees this time, nor was there that beautiful purple glow in the air which appeared the last time it snowed. But I wished I had my camera with me later, when I was walking along the river and a flock of geese sailed past, with snow piled up on their backs. Didn't they notice? Were they cold? (Of course, I was getting covered with snow too.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Forgotten Film Magic: Lotte Reiniger

I recently watched an absolutely enchanting movie called The Adventures of Prince Achmed. It was made in 1926, and is believed to be the first full-length animated film (predating Walt Disney.) It was created by a German woman named Lotte Reiniger. Her animations were made out of silhouette figures, paper cut-outs, rather than being drawn as is usually the case.

These days movies are full of special effects and computer animation, but I enjoyed this silent film more than anything I've seen in a while. It was beautiful, exciting, and witty. (To digress -- I haven't seen all that many silent films, but it's interesting to contemplate just how few words a film needs in order to succeed.)

It's not technology that makes a good movie, but artistry. That is what Reiniger had. She was fortunate enough to be able to spend her whole life working as an artist and animator, doing what she loved (in partnership with her husband) and just barely making enough money to live on.

Let's see . . . this page has a short biography of her, and teases us with links to some of her short films which we're not allowed to watch. And here is a review of Prince Achmed with some nice stills.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Books: Still Around

I was just reading a news article about the woes of the music business.
In 2006 EMI, the world's fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. “That was the moment we realised the game was completely up,” says a person who was there.
They can't even give CDs away. How about that?

As I sit here, listening to music on my computer, I think about the fact that print media has not yet been replaced. They keep trying to come up with a viable e-book, but so far none of them have taken off. Reading a computer screen continues to be less comfortable than reading a piece of paper. Or to put it another way, music can be adequately reproduced on a computer. Words, ironically, cannot, even though (as far as I know) computers have been displaying words for longer than they have been playing music. That's so strange.

I suppose that reading is actually hard work -- harder than listening to music (or watching movies, another popular activity that has become computerized.) Even babies can enjoy music. I never thought before about how strenuous reading is.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Winter Trees

I went out on the back porch to take this picture. It's still snowing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Surprises in Tea

Today's surprise: Lipton. Who knew?

I just tried Lipton's herbal "Ginger Twist" tea and I like it a lot. The first three ingredients* are orange peel, ginger root and coriander, which is quite unusual but tasty. The remaining ingredients are nice too.

Good herbal tea blends are hard to find. It seems like lots of companies put in too much of the wrong ingredient -- cinnamon, for example, which overwhelms all other flavors. Or hibiscus, which I have come to dislike. It's all right in small doses, but some teas overdo it. I stopped drinking most Celestial Seasonings tea for that reason.

The London Fruit and Herb Company makes the best herbal teas I've ever had, but they don't seem to be available in stores around here. This Lipton was a very pleasant surprise.

*In case you didn't know, ingredients are listed in order by amount -- ie, if the first ingredient is "salt" that means your snack food contains more salt than anything else. A friend of mine persistently declines to believe me about this, but it's true.