Wonder Wednesday

I always loved the back of the Canadian 5 dollar bill from the “Birds of Canada” series of bills.  Something about the light blue colour and the stillness of the scene really did it for me.  A restaurant I used to visit in Ottawa even had a giant version reproduced on the wall.

But… somehow… I never knew of the practice of Spocking the bills!  A few choice scribbles turns Sir Wilfred Laurier into the famous Vulcan:

Which continued in the next version of the bill:

I knew even less that some slightly different scribbles could turn him into Snape:

Who knew that Laurier was so versatile in his acting roles?

(Apparently, alas, his rendition on the latest series of bills is such that he isn’t so easily disguised anymore…)

Check out more on the Canadian bank notes at this link here.

Philosophy Tuesday

“Aside from the animals, there are nearly a thousand abstract signs and shapes we cannot interpret and also several negative hand stencils, as they are known by art historians. These are the paintings that most interest me. They were created by pressing one hand with fingers splayed against the wall of the cave and then blowing pigment, leaving the area around the hand painted. Similar hand stencils have been found in caves around the world from Indonesia to Spain to Australia to the Americas to Africa. We have found these memories of hands from 15,000 or 30,000, or even 40,000 years ago.

These hand stencils remind us of how different life was in the distant past. Amputations, likely from frostbite, are common in Europe and so you often see negative hand stencils with three or four fingers. And life was short and difficult. As many as a quarter of women died in childbirth. Around 50% of children died before the age of five.

But they also remind us that the humans of the past were as human as we are, their hands indistinguishable from ours. These communities hunted and gathered and there were no large caloric surpluses so every healthy person would’ve had to contribute to the acquisition of food and water.

And yet somehow, they still made time to create art, almost as if art isn’t optional for humans.”

John Green

(from this episode of his great podcast The Anthropocene Reviewed)

(which was animated into this amazing video by Kurzgesagt)

Architecture Monday

This little folly deliciously straddles the line between sculpture and architecture.  Situated atop a hill, it’s a meditative spot from which to gaze out over the picturesque valley while also being a fun little object to observe from everywhere else.

And that’s pretty much it (in a good way)!  A simple splaying concrete base into which is integrated a wood lounging bench, capped by two bent sheets of weathering metal that rise from the open embrace of the bench to form a kind of open tent.  Though the metal panels are quite thick and rigid, their scale and the random deformations make them look delicate.  It’s not a design that dominates, accentuating the hillside in both directions.

I dig it.  Nice little piece of work.

Sonnenklang Installation by Christoph Hesse Architects.

Let’s get down to business…

In an amusing way, I feel “compelled” to review the new live-action Mulan, if only because my review of the original animated version has been archived for decades at IMDB for the whole world to see.*  But this was also one of the only Disney remakes I was actually keen on seeing.  When they announced that they would not be doing a near shot-for-shot remake and would instead be shaking things up (not making it a musical, the removal of Mushu, etc) my interest was piqued.  As long as they had good writing, I figured, this could be a good thing: a chance to tell the story in a new way, opening up new avenues to explore and to play in.  And even though I have very much disliked most of the remakes thus far, as long as they nailed that one, crucial, thing of good writing, it could turn out well!   Continue reading

Wonder Saturday

Wow, it turns out that the Kurt Vonnegut quote I posted on last Tuesday’s philosophy post was, indeed, an actual quote by Kurt Vonnegut!  (There’s so many miss-attributed or just plain fabricated quotes out there, one never can quite be sure…)  Even better, here’s a reading of the whole letter in which it was contained by none other than Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen!

 

Philosophy Tuesday

“When I was 15 I spent a month working on an archeological dig.  I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports?  What’s your favorite subject?   And I told him, no I don’t play any sports.  I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.  

And he went, “WOW.  That’s amazing! “

And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.” 

And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them.  I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”

And that honestly changed my life.  Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them.  I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them. “

 — Three Rings

(I love this.  Pair it with some previous thoughts I shared on on art and self-expression, which also references the myth of Talent (or as I put it, the Tyranny of Talent).

The blog post by Three Rings also quoted a letter purportedly written by Kurt Vonnegut, which contained this lovely gem in it:

“Here’s an assignment for tonight… Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed.  Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.”

— Kurt Vonnegut

Now that’s an assignment!)

Wonder Wednesday

I love the movie Ratatouille.  It’s delicious (pun intended) on so many levels… lovely animation, great and quiet storytelling, risk-taking, it’s all about Paris and food and wine, and it has some wonderfully powerful philosophical moments.

So it was with delight I heard a story on NPR this past weekend that one of the hot things on TikTok of late is a bunch of fans coming forth to craft a Ratatouille musical.  (Or Rattatouisical, if you prefer!)  One even went so far as to create a fake Playbill for the thing, complete with a brilliant illustration of the signature dish on a fork, subtly shaped to look like Remy!

Very fun to muse over and great to see so much excitement and creativity.  Check out the NPR story, and a quick ‘net search will find you all the various TikTok submissions as well.

La fête va enfin commencer
Sortez les bouteilles; finis les ennuis
Je dresse la table, de ma nouvell(e) vie
Je suis heureux à l’idée de ce nouveau destin
Une vie à me cacher et puis libre enfin
Le festin est sur mon chemin

Une vie à me cacher et puis libre enfin
Le festin est sur mon chemin