Thursday, June 30, 2011

Smithsonian Folklife Festival: The Peace Corps

Today was the opening of the 2011 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival down on The Mall. The three topics of interest are: 1) The Peace Corps, 2) Rhythm & Blues, and 3) Colombia.

Looking up to the festival from the Capitol end of The Mall. The first area you encounter is the are dedicated to the Peace Corps. Not sure what to expect here, it was both a national reunion for RPC -- retired Peace Corps volunteers, and a celebration of a smattering of global cultures and the economic interests/projects supported by the Peace Corps.

Fabric Arts from the Niger in Africa.

A pavilion dedicated to cooking arts with a demonstration of Filipino cooking.

From Guatemala, a demonstration of the use of bottles to create walls for schools in rural areas.

In the performance venue a concert by Garifuna Collective featuring Umalali from South Africa. Beautiful!

Other tents were designed for RPC to come together to share their stories and remember the experience of their service.

2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Rhythm & Blues

The festival is divided into three contiguous areas with Rhythm & Blues sandwiched in the middle. Smaller that the other two, R & B features two large performance tents and a smaller "Session" tent for demonstrations and presentations about cultural aspects of the music.

A lecture on the role of "Social Dance" in the inception of the music genre opened the session tent.

The festival always offers visitors food, and Barbecue was the most popular feed tent on The Mall.

After enjoying a lively performance by Shirley Jones of The Jones Girls at the Soulsville tent, I enjoyed some old school Motown classics by The Funk Brothers at the Motor City tent. Great music in both venues.

2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Colombia

This year's nation focus is Colombia. The nation displays offer a myriad of crafts, music, food and culture of the nation.

You can wander through the many booths which are arranged by national regions.

A woman spinning yarn from llama wool.

A native potter explaining her craft with the help of an interpreter.

A man demonstrating the custom of trimming the hair on a mule--who the hell knew?

Music performed in an impromptu concert by the crafts people who were just creating the instruments. This aspect of Colombian culture is from the Pacific coastal region.

Under the big tent Grupo Cabrestero performs traditional folk music of the plains region. They were so cute and talented. I sat there and just basked in their talents as a gentle breeze passed threw the tent.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Star Gazing

The Pleiades: a summer stalwart of the night sky. I want to go somewhere where I can see the night sky.....

Earth Postage Stamps: Amazing Species Series #2

The second in my Amazing Animal Species series of Earth Stamps. I give you the utterly amazing giraffe.

Random Quote 128

"A house without books is like a room without windows."

~ Horace Mann, 1796 - 1859

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What I'm Watching #271

It was something of a movie afternoon around here, guilty! I also watched "Violet Tendencies" which among other things answers the question whatever happened to Mindy Cohn?--you, know, Trudy from The Facts Of Life. She's apparently alive and well and playing Violet in this latest Casper Andreas production.

Now, before I go on, I did like this movie. If you're at all intrigued by the creative journey of Casper Andreas (Slutty Summer 2004, A Four Letter Word 2007, Between Love & Goodbye 2008, and The Big Gay Musical 2009) the slight, vulnerable, Swedish actor/director/producer as I am, then you will see Violet Tendencies just to stay on board. And it won't disappoint you, but like me, you might find aspects of it open for up-grades.

So let's play Baldrige and Plus/Delta it?

On the PLUS side: 1) The characters are likable, 2) It's great to see Mindy Cohn again, 3) There is a degree of realistic unpredictability in the story line that is otherwise rather simple, 4) There is a lot of eye candy, 5) Characters evolve, 6) Kim Allen and Sam Whitten give endearing performances,
7) Marcus Patrick has an incredible cock! (It ought to have been credited as a separate member of the cast, it was used in a couple scenes just as effectively as the actors, and God knows it could have filled it's own dressing room!)

This image is from a Playgirl photo shoot.

The DELTAs? 1) Enough with Jesse Archer, all he ever plays (and writes for himself to play) is the neurotic, sex starved nympho-gay sibilant "s" slobbering queen. His sex appeal is fading, and it's time he gave himself a more substantial character or quit trying. Because all he appears to be now is a creative gay man playing himself yet again, and that ain't acting. That's a documentary. I'm not saying his presence on the screen isn't adequate, it's just no longer engaging. Grow dude! 2) Well...I don't really have anymore Deltas. The Deltas were a Jesse Archer intervention moment... I intervene because I care.

That said, Violet Tendencies is a fun film to take up 99 minutes on a muggy summer afternoon in June.

What I'm Watching #270

Just watched "You Should Meet My Son." In an era when anybody can make a movie, anybody does! This is a real dog. Somebody in Kansas City is quoted on the DVD cover as calling it "a zany, screwball comedy...." and all I can say, they desperately need to get off the farm and see someplace more modern like Little Rock or Omaha.

To give you a sense of how bad it is, more than once the actors look literally surprised when it's there turn to deliver a line! I do sincerely hope that they enjoyed making it. I watched this one, so you don't have to--consider it a pride month gift!

Monday, June 27, 2011

What I'm Reading #36

It's not really "reading" so much as it is listening! I got this book at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh during my recent visit. It has wonderful information about 75 of the most common North American birds. All but sixteen are Passerine (songbirds). AND there is a built in speaker system with songs of each, sometimes more than one type per species for a total of 132 distinctive vocalizations.

And here's the BEST part. I play the song of the Grey Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis, on my backyard deck and she comes and sings back! The more I play it, the closer she gets to me in an effort to discover how the hell I can sing to her!

We've long been friends in my garden, and when she otherwise has shown up and shown interest in me, I've attempted to respond to her with my own whistles that mimic her song, but she must be thinking, "Damn, he's gotten good!"

Earth Postage Stamps--Peacemaker Series #'s 4 through 9

Six more images to add to my Earth Peacemakers stamp series. They join Bob Marley, Steve Biko, and Helen Keller. Another of my "projects" wherein the research is as fun as the creative product.

Phipps Conservatory

The Phipps Conservator is an interconnected series of greenhouses, some quite large located in Schenley Park nearby the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History.

At the time of my visit among other exhibits, the conservatory was hosting a collection of glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.

The first greenhouse that you enter is the Palm Court, where among the many variety of palms you will fins more glass sculptures.

One way to exit is through the Serpentine Room, set up like a contemporary suburban garden with a water feature.

The Fern Room is a pass through between the Orchid Gardens and the Stove Room which was set up to house a myriad of butterflies.

The Orchid Gardens

The Stove Room with the Butterfly Forest exhibit.

The number and variety of butterflies was truly enchanting. At it not been to hot, I could have stayed longer and gotten more pictures.

The newest and largest and most complex portion of the conservatory is the Tropical Forest Conservatory presently set up with items to share under the title Headwaters of the Amazon. Complete with a waterfall that flowed into a stream and eventually a "river" with a glass partition over the distance of 3 stories, as the meandering pathway moved from one point of interest to another.

The Desert Room (with another Chihuly)

In what I assume is an effort to bring in visitors the Phipps Conservatory creates (I'm searching for an appropriate word to no avail) "things" for people to look at. I honestly didn't "get" them, and if I had one complaint this would be it. A waste of energy and I assume money.

The South Conservatory had this staging of a picnic with manikins garbed in leaves and other plant matter. Here's the Phipps' own description of the exhibit: "Fashionably Fresh: Designers Take On the Summer Flower Show. Designed by Bill Kolano, Jon Withrow and Lauren Gratchick with a collaboration of the Interiors Group at Kolano Design: Directly from the garden to the table, these edibles are prepared for a feast. The guests of this modern garden party are dressed in their fines "hort couture" eveningwear made of organic materials. The formal design of the edible garden lends an air of elegance to the scene while showcasing how beautiful vegetable beds and fruiting plants can be."

Another display of this sort was in the East Room. It featured faux flowers made from recycled stuff.

I guess I go more for the plants. Still an awesome place to visit!