Category Archives: France

Artistic Genius

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My young friend, Margaret, at a fun blog recommended I see this

movie, “Camille Claudel” which is a French movie about Rodin and

one of his many female apprentices, who became enraptured with

him, became an artist by her ‘own right,’ and ultimately finished her

life in a mental

institution for 30 years. This was another example of how being a

woman during a different time period created challenges for her

own ability to present her artwork, mainly sculptures, to the world.

 

Poor dear Camille Claudel.

While getting this movie, you may have to go through a rather

complicated ‘search,’ since mine took me on a nearly ‘wild goose

chase.’

 

This was not available in the state of Ohio, in DVD form?

How is this possible?

 

Anyway, Central Campus of Southern State Community College

sent Delaware County District Library the movie, “Camille Claudel”

in VHS form. Thank goodness, I have one of those tiny televisions

with a VHS ‘drawer’ installed in it. It is one that has accompanied

more than one of my own three children off to college in the late

90’s and early 2000’s.

 

The director is Bruno Nuytten and has the sense of darkness in

his scenes and perspective thrown into his filming close shots.

The main actor, portraying Rodin, is Gerard Depardieu who was

in the American movie, “Green Card” and is well know for his

Academy Award nominated role in, “Jean de Florette.” The

female character is played beautifully by Isabelle Adjani. She

may be recognized for several roles but more famous, at least to

me while playing in, “Ishtar.” She was nominated for her portrayal

of  a character she played in, “Story of Adelett.”

 

This fine French film, “Camille Claudel, fascinated me. It was truly a

disturbing masterpiece. It  was nominated for “Best Foreign Language

Film” in 1989. (Gerard Depardieu was thin and muscular in this film.)

The story begins with a young, lithe woman in an alley in Paris, where

she is digging into a cliff of what looks like mud.  This must have some

amount of ‘clay’ in it.  She is gathering clumps of this, being muddy

from head to foot, and flinging it into her large container; like a bucket.

 

The brutal cold scene depicts snow on the ground.

It is February, 1885.

 

Camille’s story is full of  harrowing and intensely dramatic moments.

I hope you may look up her fantastic sculptures.  One which has the

name of “The Chatterboxes.” In the film, the piece looks like it is

carved from black coal, in its raw material state.

The beautiful sculptures may be viewed at the Musee D’Orsay in

Paris, France. Or much closer, you may look Camille Claudel on

the Internet.

 

Another, called, “Age of Maturity,” a neighbor child named Robert

asks such a sweet and insightful question of Camille of a gorgeous

sculpture:

“How did you know there were people inside the big rock?”

As if she had chiseled them Micah said,

“Out of their hiding place, like in a cave.”

 

My grandson, age 5 1/2 mentioned when I had him come across the

room where I sat at the dining table watching this film.

Micah was over by the living room section of my apartment watching

Saturday morning “Sponge Bob Square Pants” episodes and eating

pancakes he had helped make.

 

Later, he took a “cartoon break” to wash the dishes, taking his shirt off

and standing on my step stool. He rushed out to see a particularly

dramatic scene where the noise caught his attention.

 

Sadly, Camille Claudel was used and debased in every way.

She became a model, muse and an original artist and sculptor,

under the tutelage of Rodin.

 

She lost touch with her father, mother, brother and reality by

becoming immersed and having a long-lasting affair with Rodin.

Rodin’s wife who lives apart from Rodin, while he is ensconced

in his huge studio, calls Camille loudly on the streets, “Whore”

and many obscenities.

 

I felt it was most depressing that her husband is still given his

wife’s adoring attention, not disparaging HIM with the same

kind of swearing in other scenes. She persuades him after many

years of his intimate relationship with Camille, to move away.

When Camille is eventually thrown out of Rodin’s studio, having

served her time with him for almost 28 years, I cried. It is such

a tragedy, but you cannot help wanting to see more. . .

 

Camille writes long letters to the Court and Magistrate, asking

and pleading for her own sculptures and art pieces, ones she

designed to be given back. She independently had created lovely

marble sculptures with fine detailed hands, arched backs and

her brother finds her living in the upstairs of an abandoned

building, wishing to use his fame as a poet, along with his good

friend, “Blot,” who wishes to be her ‘benefactor.’ He is meaning

by helping financially and wonderfully is not asking her to give

her still beautiful body to him.

 

There is a point when the Court says she was ‘paid’ for her donations

of her artwork. (They were stolen and kept by Rodin.)

Camille defiantly declares,

“I burned the check!”

 

Her anger at her inability to get her own art back leads her to yell

about “Rodin’s gang.” She feels that France calling her sculptures,

“Property of the State,” are wrong but cannot find anyone at any

level to listen to her pleas. Her friend and lawyer, “Dr. Michaux,”

tried his best to defend her. The cops who haul her each time out

of the courtroom seem to show a more sympathetic view, as they

take her away.

 

When her father is dying, Camille goes to see him, she listens but

cries as he says she ‘disappointed him,’ but he ‘still loves her.’

There is something hurtful and touching in her studying the

Her brother, after the one singularly amazing gallery opening,

describes her pieces as lighting the inner beauty and qualities

of people through her sculptures. They have such delicate and

sensitive details, but she later while they are transported back

to where she is ‘squatting,’ is told not one piece was sold. Her

appearance in finery at the opening, with rouge and red lips

made her appear scandalous, unfortunately.

 

Camille destroyed many of her pieces, her madness in these

scenes of devastation is understandable. I would have gone

mad, under the circumstances.

The authorities never jail her in prison.

 

It was her own brother who ultimately, ‘betrayed her,’ and using

the ‘excuse’ of preventing her from hurting herself, placed her in

the mental institution.

 

Camille Claudel was put into a mental institution in March, 1913.

She lived, ‘imprisoned’ there, until 1943.

 

Camille never did any more artwork after she was placed there.

This was her own way of rebelling and refusing to ‘buckle under

authority.’

 

Thank so much for recommending this, Margaret! Your comment,

after reading my post about Mozart’s sister, Maria Anna Mozart

led me to watch this. You were so right in your choice of this movie,

another example where because of her gender, along with her

choice to become involved with a famous sculptor and artist,

she lost herself.

You may find Margaret who has a clever and funny video of

herself recently on a post at:

http://verybangled.com

 

 

The best question I feel needs to be asked,

“Where does creative passion separate from insanity?”

 

 

Onward later tonight, I will be watching, “Amadeus,” which I had

seen so many years before. . .

My grandson, Micah, is with me, while playing Teenage Mutant

Ninja Turtle ‘free games,’  I will try to check a few posts out.

Mystery about a Sister

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Be prepared to read about a woman’s story, one which may or may

not have been relevant and meaningful to the musical world. I feel

there is a true basis and possibility that she made a big difference in

how her famous brother became who he was. I have to admit, I was

on my  own personal “movie fest” over the weekend. Originally I was

thinking, I would just post some of my favorites and give short film

critiques.

 

Somehow, this evolved into something ‘bigger’ than I expected. It

was time-consuming and yet, I felt like a private investigator with

her mind open and ready for understanding and analyzing the facts.

I looked up, using different sources, to find out more about this

fascinating woman.

 

Now that I may, or may not, have your attention, I will tell you the

riveting movie that led to my research.

 

MOVIE REVIEW:

“Mozart’s Sister,” a French film which needs you to read the sub-titles.

 

In the movie,  which came out in 2011, Rene Feret is the director

and a young actress who is his daughter, Marie Feret, plays the

sister to her character’s famous younger brother. Historical details

that were  discerned through research shall follow this summary of

this fine movie.

 

First, here are three splendid comments from famous reviewers,

starting with one who’s deceased.  Roger Ebert, “Chicago Sun-Times,”

was always one of my favorite reviewers. He is such a trustworthy

man to recommend movies.

(Of course, many of you will recognize his name and the television

show which I used to enjoy- “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies.”)

 

Here is what Roger Ebert said of, “Mozart’s Sister:”

“Marie Feret is luminous.” (in this role.)

 

David Noh, “Film Journey” says:

“A triumph!”

 

Ronnie Scheib, “Variety” Magazine:

“A treat for classical music lovers and cinephiles alike.”

 

What was a turning point in this movie which motivated me to

investigate and research?

What happened to make me seek the truth?

 

When Leopold Mozart, father of Maria Anna (also referred to as

Marianne and affectionately known as, “Nannerl”) tells his only

daughter when she is interested in writing musical compositions,

“Harmony and counterpoint are not understood by women.”

 

Of course, this caused me to say indignantly to my television screen

which was innocently displaying the film,

“That’s outrageous!”

 

Big sister, “Nannerl,” is helpful to toddler brother, “Wolfie,” and

helps him practice his keyboard lessons on a harpsichord. This

baroque instrument is lovely sounding. The scales and other early

beginning lessons are closely supervised by their father.

 

At age 5 or 6, “Wolfie” is paraded in front of wealthy families and

is also given an audience with royalty. He is a cute boy and shows

great potential and musical aptitude. The film shows Wolfgang

using creative interpretation of the music and dramatic arm

flourishes. He was supposedly beginning to write his own musical

compositions at age 4 or 5.

 

In the beginning of the movie,  their coach’s wheel breaks after

going over a rut in the country road. It is late and the Mozart family

stays in a nearby nunnery. It is interesting to note that there are

two sisters living there. Their story emphasizes the difference in

the way male and female genders were treated in this period of time.

The two girls have been shuffled and taken away from the palace,

being raised by nuns.

 

At one point, there is a name mentioned of the two girls’ brother,

who is being raised to be a ‘Royal.’ The part that Maria Anna plays,

and is asked to carry out a charade, is to transport a letter to their

brother, if the Mozart family should be ever happen to appear at

Court. Anna Maria treasures this new friendship and promises to

keep the letter safe and take it to their estranged brother.

 

This movie would engage someone who has been enjoying the inner

workings of the staff and upper class levels or tiers of British society

on the PBS show, “Downton Abbey.” Although this is a whole other

period of time, there are still the ideas of class structure and family

expectations being expressed. Definitely, it is an eye-opener in both

the film about the late 1700’s and the television series of the 1900’s.

Traditions and historical details about clothing, customs and roles

women and men played also are featured in both of these storylines.

 

At the end of the film, there is not much said about Nannerl’s  being

anything but helpful to her brother.  There are no illusions that she

may have helped Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart compose his greatest

works.

 

In the movie’s middle,  there is a nice romantic interlude, where

Maria Anna disguises herself as a boy, in a white-haired wig, to give

the hand written letter to the young Monarch from his sister. They

use the young man’s title in the film as ‘Louis XV.’ This story becomes

a very sweet part of the movie. I will not tell you about how it unfolds,

hoping you will someday pursue viewing this one. I will say it depicts

Nannerl’s character as having spunk, showing independence and also,

her romantic side.

 

Before the credits roll, there are a few sparse details given. The written

lettering after the movie ends mentions Maria Anna helped to write

some of her own sonatas as a young woman. It mentions she helped

Wolfgang transcribe his first writings, since he scribbled them. There

is a subtle undertone of the possibility that she was his ‘muse.’  As his

sister, she may have written (created) some of his early works.

 

The movie has places that explain traditional upbringing of “fine young

ladies.” The women are encouraged to wait on men, not to further their

education. Maria Anna tries to ‘rock the establishment.’ Her mother has

disappointment and her father shows anger for her independent streak.

She doesn’t wish to follow the social order of the period. I was rooting

for her, all the way!

 

RESEARCH:

If you enjoy history and reading about a famous person’s family,

you may enjoy this part of the post. . .

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from January 1756 until December,

1791. There is confusion about why he died at such an early age of 35.

 

He was the son of a musician and teacher of music, Leopold Mozart.

His mother was named Anna. He was born in Salzburg, which later

became part of, or known as,  Austria. Wolgang’s father and mother

had seven children, only two that lived beyond infancy. The oldest

living child was a daughter named Maria Anna, nicknamed, “Nannerl.”

There were four years between the two children, sister and brother.

 

When Wolfgang was 3 years old, his sister was learning her lessons,

which included language, music and reading. She was practicing

with her brother close by her side. Later, she would be by his side,

while he was the one leading the lessons. This relationship lasted

probably all of their childhood. “Wolfie” was her little shadow,

trying to do everything she did.

 

There is a notebook that Leopold made for Maria Anna, which is

known as “Nannerl’s Notenbuch” or also written as, “Notenbuch

fur Nannerl.” In English, this was “Nannerl’s Music Book.” This

amazing composition book demonstrated the first lessons that

Leopold gave to her, along with her brother. It consists of only

(originally) 48 pages, now only 36 pages remain.  This book has

her father’s exercises for her practicing beginner harpsichord

pieces. This also included anonymous minuets and some of her

father’s  original  works.  Two composers,  Carl P. E. Bach and

George C. Wagenseil, had their pieces transcribed as passages

in this musical exercise book.

 

In 1982, a man (just a coincidence) named Wolfgang Plath

studied the handwriting within the Notebook and attributed

the variety to consist of five different handwriting samples

or sources. There are evidences of the collaboration between

Leopold, the father, and his son, “Wolfie.”

 

Leopold took his family touring around countries and the cities

of Vienna, Austria and Paris, France. Maria Anna Mozart was

born in 1751 and lived 78 years, until 1829. When she became a

young lady, it was considered inappropriate for her to continue

to publicly play the harpsichord, piano or sing. Up until she was

18, Maria was part of her musical touring family. A biographer

considered her to be a great singer and an,

“Excellent harpsichord player and fortepiano player.”

 

Sadly, there is no mention about Nannerl being a conduit, or

letter transporter, between the sisters raised in a nunnery and a

member of Louis XV’s “Court” or “Royalty.”  This was the main

part of the plot I enjoyed in the movie I reviewed earlier.

 

At age 18, Maria Anna went home to Salzburg with her mother,

to teach musical lessons and stay at home. The following reason

was mentioned in one source,

“This was due to her being of marriageable age.”

 

Wolfgang and his father both wrote letters to Maria Anna which

some have been saved. Wolfgang during the 1770’s, was touring

in Italy and mentioned Nannerl’s writing musical compositions

and Wolfgang goes so far as to ‘praise her musical works.’

 

There are no references in her multiple letters from her father

to any of her own musical compositions in his correspondence.

 

An interesting note (and slightly salacious fact) is mentioned

in some of the biographers’ notes about Maria Anna’s and

Wolfgang’s close, intimate relationship. When they were young,

they developed a “secret language” and they had an “imaginary

kingdom.” They pretended they were married and carried out

their positions while playing together, as “Queen” and “King.”

 

There are a few indications and there is evidence of Wolfgang’s

using sexual wordplay which he used in other letters to his

lovers or girlfriends. This can be found also in the words he

chose and were included in his writing to his sister. One

historian considers this to be a ‘strange relationship’ for a

sister and a brother.

 

As an aside, my two brothers and I would play ‘house’ but

we would not have myself be the “mother” and one of my

brothers be the “father.” We would instead play that one of

the brothers was the “father” and other brother and I were

his “children.” Like the old television show, “Family Affair,”

where the uncle has “Buffy” and twins “Cissy” and “Jody.”

(I used to love this show, with Sebastian Cabot playing the

butler/nanny and Brian Keith playing the bachelor uncle.

did you know it ran from 1966 until 1971?) Or I would play

the ‘mother’ role and the brothers were my ‘kids.’ We usually

had company or neighbors over.  Once in awhile, they would

‘marry’ one of my girlfriends, or once in awhile, I would ‘marry’

one of their guy friends. I mention this to confirm that I would

also think it strange that the siblings played ‘Queen and King’

together over a Kingdom.

 

A sad note about Maria Anna’s independence shown in the

movie, “Mozart’s Sister.” This is not to be found anywhere in

any biographies or any letters. She is shown to be subservient

to her father, allowing him to forbid her to marry a man named,

“Franz d’Ippold.”  They were both young, he was a Captain and

a private tutor. When he proposed, there is an implication she

would have liked to say, “Yes.”  There is a letter in the family’s

collection where her brother, Wolfgang, tried to persuade her to

stand up to her father. Ultimately, Maria Anna was ‘forced’ to

turn down Captain Franz d’Ippold’s proposal.

 

Years went by, Maria Anna was allowed to marry at age 32, when

asked by a man named Johann Baptist Franzvan Berchtold  “un

Sonnenburg.” They were  married in 1783.  Listen to the “fun” life

Maria Anna participated in:  She became the wife of a widower

with five children she helped to raise. She had three more of her

own children with Johann. When she had her first born son,

she named him Leopold. Her father insisted on taking the her

only son to raise him in Salzburg at his home. The biography

doesn’t mention her mother’s role in this drama. From 1785

until he died in 1787, Leopold Sr. wrote letters and in a journal

telling about his toilet training Jr. and teaching him how to talk.

 

There was no mention of the boy’s illness nor a reason why he

should not have been raised as a baby until age 2 by his own

mother.  There is some speculation for her father’s thinking he

would raise another musical prodigy. Since he felt he was the

reason Wolfgang A. Mozart turned out the way he did.

 

After all, Leopold Mozart, Sr. did write and publish a violin

music textbook.

 

SUMMARY:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was known for his classical

musical compositions, which included over 600 works.

They include symphonies, concertos, operas and choral

music.

 

Beethoven, while young, lived in the shadow of Mozart.

During his early years composing his own original music,

he was constantly compared to Mozart’s body of work.

 

Composer, Joseph Hayden said of Mozart’s legacy:

“Posterity will not see such a talent in another 100 years.”

 

Wolfgang A. Mozart married Constanze and had two sons.

He died at the early age of 35 years old.

His magnificent “Requiem” was never completed.

His music is still revered and considered the best in classical

music.

 

Maria Anna was never given any credit (that I could find out

about) for her influence on her brother’s music nor were any

of her musical compositions published. The book, “Nannerl’s

Notenbuch” is not considered to be anything but her lesson

book to practice and play music using the hand written

exercises.

 

I need to see the movie, “Amadeus,”  (again) to see if there

are any musical or notable references to his sister. If you

have a good memory or recently seen this, let me know in

the comments whether there is mention of Anna Maria

Mozart please.

 

I strongly recommend, “Mozart’s Sister” as a film to savor

and enjoy, while wishing the story line really happened.

 

Truthfully, being an older sister myself, how could “Nannerl”

NOT have had an influence upon her little brother, “Wolfie?”

 

Either way you look at this famous musician’s life,

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made a huge impact

on the musical world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Forth: Go MOMA Art! Go Golden Globes, and Go Bucks!

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Tragedy struck us through our worldwide connections and in our own

personal, creative bones. We felt the shattering pain and anguish.

Many areas of the world are in our thoughts and prayers.

Especially France.

 

Please allow me to cheer you up with some ‘pieces’ of France being

shown on display here for all of us to view. . .

 

Go Henri Matisse:

Be Inspired!

 

This may not be appropriate but there is beauty to celebrate still.

The Museum of Modern Art has a fantastic collection of Henri

Matisse’s last pieces of artwork. The curator of MOMA gave us

a glimpse of the fine examples of his cutting with scissors and

designs. These were made at the end of his 84 years in life, when

he had become nearly an invalid, not venturing out very often

into the world. The curator told CBS Sunday Morning reporter,

Matisse continued sharing and

expressing himself through:

“Reducing colors to the essentials.”

Later, the curator who is giving a tour of the new exhibit of

Henri Matisse, lets us know where she stands about those who

may be stuck inside,

“An artist should never be a prisoner . . . or set away from the

outside life.”

Do you remember making mosaics out of cut paper? Do you

also remember how much fun it was to fold a paper in half

and produce a heart or a pumpkin?

I remember how wonderful it was to make little cuts into the

heart and make it become quite detailed and adding scrolls

and curlicues.  Try this with red or pink paper, making the

same kind of cuts you made while creating snowflakes.

 

One of the major cut paper works Matisse made was of a

great big mural of swimmers, some were diving, others

intertwined and still others, heading off into the pool of

water, solitary gymnasts.

 

Henri Matisse grew up bin the textile district of France.

Some of his cuttings became ones out of thin, sheer fabrics.

He hired assistants to pin the cut paper or fabric pieces up on plain

sheets of paper, giving directions to how they should be arranged.

There are black and white photographs capturing the over seventy-

year old man starting and planning this new way of expressing

himself, having put down the paintbrushes by this time.

 

Henri Matisse’s paper designs were incorporated into a lovely book

called, “Jazz” which if full of jazz musicians and musical notes. He

was commissioned to produce images that the onlooker becomes

absorbed into, viewing players and instruments of the musical

scene. You can almost hear the jazz notes and rhythms through

the flow of the brightly colored impressionistic designs. They are

modern and yet, so timeless found in the 1947 book. In the 1985

and 2003 editions, with fewer artistic representations, are ones

which were introduced by famous people. The circus and theater

were also influential in his imaginative portrayals of musicians.

 

Go Golden Globes:

Be Entertained!

 

I won’t tell you who will look the most beautiful nor will I

concentrate on the two amusing and beautiful hostesses for

this grand affair. I will tell you my personal favorite movies

and the song I will hope to hear winning Best Song. I will

choose the best actor and actress in both the dramatic film

arena and  the always odd combination of comedic/musical

presentations.

 

 

Best Actor in a Dramatic Film Role~

**I would hope that Eddie Redmayne would win this Best Actor

Golden Globe award.

“Theory of Everything” has the fine skill of transforming Eddie

Redmayne into a very debilitated Stephen Hawking. It is a very

upbeat and triumphant movie and Eddie’s ability to make you

believe he is actually suffering from ALS is incredible.

Although there are many worthy actors for this category, I felt

portraying Stephen Hawking in a believable manner was the

most challenging character role to fulfill.

If I were to choose others, “Selma” leading actor David Oyelowo,

Benedict Cumberbash would also get ‘nods’ from me.

 

Best Actress in a Dramatic Film Role~

Many would say Rosamund Pike is the one who really created

an eerie rendition of the main character in, “Gone Girl.” I would

agree she really portrayed this despicable character well.

I would also like to say if Amy Adams had not just won last year’s

award, (she was nominated for two movies last year) for “American

Hustle,” she may deserve this honor for the movie, “Big Eyes.”

I have not seen Julianne’s double movie roles in “Still Alice” and

“Maps to the Stars” but just watched her in the 2013 movie, “What

Maisie Knew,” which was a four star movie role. She played an out

of control musician from a rock band, who loves her daughter,

Maisie. The character is not able to grasp what is needed to carry

out her role as a mother. It was a very good and interesting role

for Julianne. I will try to see the more recent two movies that were

nominated for her performances.

**Overall, in my own experience, I would choose from my ‘gut’

reaction and hope that Reese Witherspoon wins for her role in

the movie, “Wild.”

 

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Film:

Emily Blunt in “Into the Woods” is my favorite in this category.

(I wish James Corden could win, but this may not be his year.)

 

Helen Mirren is loved by actors, critics and audiences, so she

may win the Golden Globe in this category for her wonderful

character shown in “The 100 Foot Journey.”

 

 

Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Film:

I would say that Michael Keaton will win, he is the “favorite,”

for his role in (what I consider a dramatic/fantasy role) in the

movie, “Birdman.”

I think that Ralph Fiennes did a great job in the Budapest Hotel

movie and that Bill Murray showed humor and depth in his role

in “St. Vincent.”

 

2015 Prediction:

The song I liked the best was from the recent 2015 movie, “Unbroken,”

while the credits are rolling. The song and dramatic musical score

are haunting and beautiful. This movie is outstanding, telling the

true story of Louis Zamperini. It is very emotional and worthy of

winning Best Picture of the Year in 2016.  Bill and I saw this two

days ago and found it to be a powerful story of the triumph of the

human spirit. It will probably win for Best Director, Angelie Jolie,

Best Movie, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

 

 

Best Film of 2014:

“Boyhood,” took 12 years to make. It filled two entire pages in the

“Cleveland Plain Dealer” about the way Richard Linklater directed

this movie, choosing to follow a boy for twelve years starting when

he was little. It will win due to its being a ‘First of its Kind.” I have

myself on a ‘wait list’ at the library for this one. I want to watch it

at home, stop it, pause it, rewind it, since I will enjoy the story of

this boy’s life unfolding.

 

I felt this way about both the two other serious movies I saw since

2015 started. They came out late in 2014. “Theory of Everything”

shows motivation and strength of character. The reality of ALS,

after Stephen Hawking was told he would only live two years after

this disease started racking havoc on his body, then living past 72

years and hopefully going strong. An amazing and powerful story.

 

“The Imagination Game” shows Alan Turing overcoming prejudice,

obstacles and using his genius mind to ‘fight’ the Germans. This film

proved science and knowledge can be fascinating subjects for a movie.

 

Best Songs from 2014 Movies:

I cannot choose, I love both of these singers and songs.

Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye singing, “Mercy Is” from the movie,

“Noah.”

John Legend and Common singing, “Glory” from the movie,

“Selma.”

 

 

In the Category of Animated Films, I would choose “Big Hero 6”

since my grandsons learned about compassion from this film. It

was a fun children’s animated movie where the idea of creative

thought is also presented.

For artistry and creativity, (yet not so entertaining for children),

I would recommend “The Book of Life.” This colorful and very

intriguing film had scary designs that resembled voodoo images,

but would be great for older children. This could inspire art projects,

too. The others in this category were all entertaining including “The

Lego Movie.”

 

 

 

 

Go Buckeyes:

Get Motivated!

 

Ohio State University is playing the championship game on

Monday night, so this may be the last of my posting. I will

head home after work, take a nap and hope we win over the

Oregon Ducks in the College Championships!

 

 

 

 

Trio of 2014 Children’s Books

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When parents get book order forms from school, sometimes it can be overwhelming

and also, stressful when they have a limited budget. I remember my three kids bringing

home their school picture order forms, their sports group picture forms and then, on

top of all this, Scholastic book order forms. Of course, all school book fees, new clothes

and shoes, sporting equipment also came during the same time of year.

Occasionally, my Mom and Dad may have dropped a check off in the mail, which would

cover some of the items mentioned. I had child support for two of three children, along

with a carefully budgeted babysitting fees from my clients’ list. All of the five children

I watched stayed with me for the seven years I watched them, who were from parents

whose careers were either as professionals or a combination of positions. I could count

on them paying me regularly on Fridays. I had typed up a babysitting contract which

included paying me for sick days or times their children stayed home. Also, for vacations

they chose to take. If I ever needed to call them to ask them to use one of my  ‘back up’

babysitters then I would not get paid, same if I chose to take a rare vacation. I think I

‘called in sick’ on only three occasions in the  7 years, 9 summers  watched their kids.

When we were closely tied like we were, they would tell me when their vacations were

planned. We also would try to have seasonal family gatherings where we would get

our schedules in ‘synch,’ planning sports, extra curricular activities like gymnastics

and jazz dance classes, karate for the kids who chose this outlet. All 8 children, mine

included, took swimming lessons the same 6 weeks, usually in August, hoping the

water would be nice and warm in the morning.

I am rambling a bit, to tell you that my own children fit a lot into their budget.  I did

not expect to receive 5 x 7″ school pictures nor have the joy of seeing the choices of their

Book Fair. My oldest daughter pointed out that the Book Fair is during Parent-Teacher

conference time so you have extra time on your hands. Also, a little bit of pressure to go

wandering around with the kids to check out the books. I reminded her that the boys

have library cards like the three of ‘them’ (my own children) had from early years on.

I also would tell their teachers this, including what I thought was a valuable lesson,

which was to choose books and return them regularly allowed my kids to have many

more books, choosing far more than what we would need to have in our home. She

listened and told me they each were told they could choose one nice book to keep.

The boys, Skyler and Micah, already have a nice collection of hardback books in

their bedroom.

My daughter in law has the children’s book shelves in the play room, which means

they can sometimes need to be reorganized and cleaned up. She allowed the four

children to choose a book, with the two oldest, Lara and Landen, picking chapter

books.

The two little girls, M & M, each chose a book. I felt the ones I was most interested

in viewing would also be the ones you would be curious to hear about. I will include

Micah’s to round this out with a boy’s choice. This ‘trio’ of enjoyable selections is

a collection of picture books that were so endearing and entrancing. Along with one

that is quite dramatic!

 

1. “Flora and the Penguin” is a 2014 book with 40 pages, written and illustrated  by

Molly Idle. Last year, she won the Caldecott Honor for a wordless picture book called,

“Flora and the Flamingo.” The flamingo and little girl dancing in the different scenes

was quite beautiful and artistic.  Makyah chose the newer book since she loves the

movies, “Happy Feet,” and “Happy Feet Two.” It is one which will appeal to both boys

and girls, ages 3-5 years old. The author, Molly Idle,  mentioned the quote, “Actions

speak louder than words.” Since Makyah is the ‘baby’ in her household at age 3, I felt

this was a wise choice. She can tell adults or her siblings, what the pictures mean to her,

using descriptions and  her vivid imagination, to tell her own story about Flora. At her

preschool, Kyah is learning how to find her own voice, letting others know what she

thinks.

 

 

2. “The Iridescence of Birds,” a Newberry Medal winner, written by Patricia Mac Lachlan,

was chosen by 5 1/2 year old kindergartner, Marley. This is a 40 paged hardback book

which has a wonderfully illustrated story about Henri Matisse. The book has the small town

in Northern France, where the little boy and young artist grew up. It is winter and Henri

feels it is cold and dreary. The pictures show shades of grays in the gloomy scenery.  In the

true story of his life, Henri’s mother paints plates. Henri’s mother has him help her to set

out plates which radiate colors. His life brightens up when he puts fruits and flowers out to

inspire her painting. Rainbows shown in the book are like a prism (to his life) has been

added to every scene. Glorious!  This story of Henri Matisse’s young childhood is like an

‘ode’ or warm ‘homage’ to his mother. It is like we should give credit to her for inspiring

Matisse to create his impressionistic masterpieces of color. Of course, I love the birds.

Hadley Hooper is the artist who has brilliantly illustrated this book to match the tone

of the story told in simple prose.

 

3. “Draw!” by Raul Colon was chosen by Micah, my 5 year old kindergartner. I am sure

his eyes were attracted by the bold and vibrant illustrations done by Raul Colon. This

book is 40 pages long, which begins with a boy in his room with a sketchbook. He had

read a large book about Africa. He becomes immersed in the world of being on a safari.

He uses paints and an easel to create drawings from his imaginations. They are of very

lifelike animals- elephants, zebras, lions and a very angry rhino. The scenes seem to come

alive and seem inter-active. He ends the book by showing his drawings to his classmates

in school. This book is appropriate for young adventurous children of  ages 4-8. I also

was excited to find out that “Draw!” is not about guns being “drawn” since over the

phone, I had heard its title, mistakenly picturing it to be a Western.

 

What are some of your favorite children’s books that are more recently published?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagination Gone Wild

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Monkeys and the moon are such amusing subjects for children’s books. I have

always loved, “Curious George” and his adventures. I also treasure the worn-out

copy we have of “Goodnight Moon.” There is an old classic, “Moon Man,” that has

been made into a sweet and warm video (2012.) It was beautifully animated by

German filmmakers.

 

This is based on Tomi Ungerer’s 1966 book, “Moon Man.” The author narrates the

film. If you have not read Tomi Ungerer’s books before, I would recommend, “The

Three Robbers” or “Allumette: A Fable,” to incorporate imagination and action

from a fine illustrator and author. Tomi Ungerer is famous for his ability to write

in three languages and is often quoted. There are a series of his posters with the

famous quotes available to view online.

 

Recently I have found a unique and short article that was about “Goodnight, Moon.”

I had never read Margaret Wise Brown’s biographical details and was very much

dismayed to find out that she died at the young age of 42 years old, having suffered

from a ruptured appendix. Her “Runaway Bunny,” is another all-time favorite among

my three children. I have not read it as much to my grandchildren, since it is indeed

the ‘perfect’ book to read to one’s own children. If the bunny is going to run away,

the mother rabbit will become all the things that are needed to stay by the bunny’s

side. (A sail on a boat, a flower in a garden, etc.) She passed away in 1952, having

left us with such beautiful illustrations and stories.

 

They have recently published a new collection of previously never-seen-before

lullabies written by Margaret Wise Brown called, “Goodnight Songs.” I cannot

wait to see this book, hoping to savor the eloquent words that she chooses to

use, along with hoping for more of her beautiful artwork shown in this book.

 

Did you know recently, there are numerous ‘copy cat’ books of Margaret Wise

Brown’s “Goodnight Moon?” There have been several versions of her classic tale

springing forth recently. The article I found gives this a spin by describing them as,

‘a host of imitators.’ This seems like a more polite version of what I would call

these plagiarists, stealing someone who is no longer here to ‘sue them’ over her

original theme!

 

Here are some of the amusing titles of those who have done “take-off’s” of the

“Goodnight Moon” book:

“Goodnight iPad,” where the newest technology is part of the book’s theme,

including a lot of cords in the child’s bedroom.

“Goodnight Nanny-Cam,” which is poking fun at modern parents who have

installed this to keep watch over the Nanny. One of the lines includes this,

“A bilingual nanny who was whispering hush.”)

Beyond what you would wish to have children listen to, the parody of the

book takes an adult direction in, “Goodnight Keith Moon.” Yes, there is a

line from this book going for laughs of a more seriously cynical kind:

“Goodnight rock stars, goodnight pills.” (Or is this sarcasm?)

What will they think up next?

 

Wonder if they make much money on these parodies? I am a ‘fan’ of “SNL”

parodies, but not sure how I would feel with the children’s books parodies

on my bookshelf?

What do you think?

 

There are a few adorable little clues to the 2012 children’s animated film, “Moon

Man,” I wished to share. This movie is only 95 minutes and has the man in the moon

coming to earth as a pale (moon colored gray/light blue skinned) man. He is bored up

on the moon, so he catches a ride on a comet’s tail. The imagination goes wild, with

the lovely flowers and the unique way the artwork incorporates colors. (The owl is

purple, moose is blue, and there are so many flowers the moon ‘man’ who looks

like a boy to me, needs to sniff. The commentary is subtle about humanity and will

reach your conscience about the environment and how we treat ‘aliens,’ too.)

The sad part of the book is how our President sees him as a ‘threat to our world.’ It was

released in February, 2014. It was interesting to hear Tomi Ungerer’s voice. He was

born in Strasbourg (1931) and moved to the United States in 1956, at age 25. He has

moved to Ireland, where he lives today.

Celebrate Global Advocacy

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Today is World Humanitarian Day, declared by the United Nations in 2008, to give

tribute to ones who died in the 2003 bombing of the U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad.

On that day, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq was killed,

Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others who were not in any military personnel duty,

but were public servants. These ‘voiceless victims” gave up their lives. This honors

all those who are negotiators, compromisers, and humanitarians who chose such lofty

goals as World Peace as part of their life’s purpose.

 

World Humanitarian Day, August 19th,  is a wonderful result of collaboration

between countries. The country where Sergio Vieira de Mello originated, Brazil,

along with Switzerland, France and Japan helped to steer, then ‘table’ the draft

of the resolution. International foundations worked tirelessly to promote this

and it came about six years ago.

 

Donations, to UNICEF, an organization that has Sudan at the top of their ‘needy’

countries’  list are welcome. They ask this to be done in honor of this celebration

for the victims of crimes against humanitarians and their families.

 

A meaningful expression that I found while looking this up was:

“Light up your map” by supporting and sending money to UNICEF, with “our global

advocates” in mind.

 

Humanitarian. What an inspiring and amazing kind of person.

 

I hope this post will encompass this theme, along with including my own

observations and something recently discussed among my grandchildren.

After we watched Fievel, in his original role in the animated children’s film

from 1986, my grandsons were talkative. Lots of subjects came out of this

movie, my introduction to the fact that they had immigrants in their family

tree, from my side of the family, (their mother’s side) from Germany, Sweden,

Scotland and England. Then, one of the two boys, has African as one fourth

of his blood, while the other boy has many overlapping countries from his

Daddy’s and Mommy’s sides, of the German, Swede, Scot and English tribes.

While we were happily going all over the subject, they mentioned that their

Mimi and Poppy had the song, “Somewhere Out There,” as part of their wedding

music. This is the theme song from the movie, “An American Tail.”

In my oldest grandson’s memory, he came up with “Coming to America,” as a

song he had learned from his music teacher at school. I was amazed, that he put

these two songs together. Since this song is also about immigration. I mentioned

that it is one of my all-time favorite songs, sung by Neil Diamond.

They, of course, said, “Who?”

I didn’t even try to get them to recall who he was, since that would mean a whole

other discussion.

Just for your information, this song came out before, “An American Tail,” the

children’s film about immigration. “Coming to America,” was on the soundtrack

for the movie and album, “The Jazz Singer” (1980). The album’s hit single, made it

to the top of the charts, in 1981, making Diamond’s sixth ‘hit single’ at the time.

The theme of the song is to embrace the history of immigration, starting from

the 1900’s up until today. Interestingly, one of the lyrics’ passages includes his

repeating, “They’re coming to America… Today! They’re coming to America…”

When Neil Diamond performs this song live, he substitutes this audience

participation phrase, “Stand up for America… Today! Stand up for America…”

 

When we talked about their own heritage, my oldest grandson asked why is it

that he had overheard this question while recently at the zoo,

“Why don’t people talk English? If they can’t talk English, they should go back

to where they came from!”

I was looking at him, hoping and praying he would not reveal that it was

anyone he knew that said these rather ‘hateful’ words.

The next thing Sky said surprised me. He had apparently been thinking for some time

about the comments. This was only two weeks’ ago, when his parents had taken both

boys for an employee appreciation day at Zoombezi Bay, part of the Columbus Zoo.

Skyler said, “If people feel more comfortable talking to each other, then it should

be okay to use their country’s language, don’t you think, Nana?”

I smiled and said,

“My Filipino friends talk English with their spouses and almost always with

their children, too. But you know Felda and her two children, Kridia Dawn

and Zachary?”

The boys looked serious and nodded.

The youngest one piped up,

“Maybe they like to hear their Mommy speak her language if she sings songs.”

(Felda does have a beautiful voice, they had heard it at one of their many parties,

because part of the ‘games’ is to sing karaoke, adults and children, too.)

“Exactly! Good job, Micah!” I exclaimed.

I continued to explain why my good Filipino friends use their ‘homeland’s

language:’

“Felda wants her kids to know what her language was, so they will recognize

some words, each time they travel back to see their grandmother there in the

Philippines.”

Skyler got pensive again, my ‘serious thinker!’

“I am so glad you live close to us. By speaking Filipino with their grandma,

this would make her so happy, wouldn’t it? Do they talk on the phone or

Skype with her?”

I think my grandkids are all so ‘tech-savvy’ I forget about this new ‘age’ stuff.

“Yes, I am sure they do. But I will ask about this, I have seen them Skype at

work, for Felda’s or Mary Jane’s mother’s birthday together. I don’t know why

they would not Skype with the children to see her and share with her, at home.”

I was winding down on this subject and added this comment,

“They sit separately at work, while eating lunch and on their breaks, to

chatter happily and quickly about their personal lives.”

Skyler mentioned that it would be ‘cool’ to be able to have a hidden spy code

language, to talk to your friends in.

I agreed,

“So, when people say these things, I think they may be misunderstanding why

the ones who are using another language are doing this. A different reason may

be,  they are overhearing visitors from another country or ‘foreigners.’ Just like

we like to travel, someday I hope you will go to another country. You may wish to

use the language of that country but you may look for someone who understands

English. When foreigners visit, they seek out our cultural places, like museums

and zoos. Sometimes, there is no one who knows their language but there are

special headphones and language tapes, to help them to understand what they

are seeing. ”

 

It was funny how Micah was taking this all in, which is unusual. He interrupted

my final statement to interject,

“What do you think about when people ask me if my Daddy is a terrorist? Are

they trying to be funny? It makes him so mad!”

Micah’s Daddy’s father is black. For some reason, even when he wears his hair

in an ‘afro’ or braids, people think he looks like someone from Iraq or Iran. I

tried not to smile because he’s made some jokes about trying to go to the airport

and being held back, if he were ever wishing to travel internationally. He will use

a Robert Kline kind of comment, “I just picture the guards taking me down, then

I am lying on the floor using my Ohio accent, telling them I was born here!” I know

he doesn’t think it is funny and under the comic words, he is hiding his pain.

“It is not meant as an insult. If anything, the best way to answer people about

this, is to say, “Of course not! That’s my Daddy!”

I also told Micah that being able to see humor in such things and make light of

them, will carry him far in life.

 

Skyler summed this all up in one fantastic phrase, which he admits may have

come from the children’s animated movie, “Tarzan:”

“They are part of us. We are part of them.”

 

Referring to the song Phil Collins wrote for “Tarzan” (1999):

“You’ll Be in My Heart.”

“Why can’t they understand the way we feel?”

(The gorilla mother singing to human baby, Tarzan)

“They just don’t trust what they can’t explain.

I know we’re different but deep inside us,

We’re not that different at all.”

 

 

As far as language, it is true that~

I wish my Grandmother Mattson had taught me some German.

I wish my Grandfather had taught me some Swedish.

I watch that one television show, “Welcome to Sweden,” just to learn a few phrases.

I know my Dad learned a little Scottish and used a few phrases that are more ‘slang’

than anything else.

 

Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God.”

 

Who do you consider a great humanitarian?

Do you feel we need to be more or less understanding to others, when it comes

to language barriers?

Be honest, we can learn from each other’s points of view.

 

 

 

Creativity “Toy” Celebrates Its 54th Anniversary

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On Saturday, July 12th, good old “Etch-A-Sketch” will celebrate the

54th anniversary of its creation in America. In France, they may add

one more year to this number, as the inventor, Arthur Granjean, had

this toy named, “Magic Screen,” and was ready to manufacture it in

1959. Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia gives credit to a French

man named, Andre Cassagnes. How did I learn of Arthur Granjean

and his “Magic Screen?” A poster that was on a friend’s wall, told

of the creation of the Ohio Art company’s product.  Supposedly,

according to the Clement’s “news and views” poster, Granjean took

his invention to the Nuremberg, Germany toy fair.

Arthur Granjean chose to sell the idea, for which we in the U.S.A.

should be grateful for, since many of us have enjoyed trying to get the

two different knobs to go the way we imagined!

I looked up the current prices, since this is still being sold at many

Big Box stores, like Walmart. The prices vary, from as much as $22.93

to as low as, $15.59.

I am happy to tell you that my two grandsons have one “Etch-A-Sketch”

between the two of them. When I asked my daughter-in-law, Trista, she

said they “had one but it ended up left outside and got moisture caught

inside.”

While I went around asking coworkers about their experiences with the

“Etch-A-Sketch,” I learned of a few frustrated ‘artists’ and listened to

their favorite things to ‘draw’ using this tool.

I had some comments about this toy, their expectations of the ‘toy,’

and some musings about, “What this new generation would think of the

toy?”

We all agreed that it may be considered, ‘boring’ to today’s standards,

due to its lack of technology.

Also, we found out, almost EVERY person I asked over the age of thirty,

Sketch!” It became one toy we could say was, ‘non-gender specific.’ Also,

I heard some humorous thoughts about it, as far as whether one gender

was ‘better’ than the other at creating pictures. There seemed to be a

little ‘competition’ on this point!

One friend mentioned that they can be quite artistic in presentation

and recommended looking up the website, to view some of the elaborate

designs and pictures that artists had rendered. I found out while looking

at these beautiful creations, that the stuff that makes the pictures can be

actually ‘drained out’ to allow the picture to become permanent! I also

found this to be comforting to know, since there were times my brother,

who was outstanding at making his “Etch-A-Sketch” come alive! Now I

know that if someone does this ‘now-adays’ they can preserve the pictures.

Here are some funny comments that I heard from my fellow warehouse

workers:

1.  Tammy said,

“My favorite designs to make were checkerboards on my Etch-A-Sketch!”

 

2.  Melvin, (ever the tease and comedian) said:

“I created colorful rainbows on my Etch-A-Sketch!”

When I gave him my ‘stern teacher look’ he folded and told me that one

of his best pictures he ever made on it was:  “A dragon!”

 

3.  My male friend, who I hope someday to be more than friends, told

me that he had ‘trouble making many things on his Etch-A-Sketch.’

Mark added,

“My favorite thing was to try and make a house, but I could not make a

slanted roof, so I made it a square one. Then I added windows and a

door, also a sidewalk. I was very proud of that accomplishment, since I

am not an artist.  Another thing I liked to do, was to grab my younger

sister’s Etch-A-Sketch and try to shake her picture away! I was a ‘brat!'”

 

4.  Robin said very enthusiastically,

“I remember having one of those! I liked to draw lines and squares. I made

one time a square snowman!”

(I told you that she was my ‘twin’ according to Melvin, even though her hair

is short and blonde. It sticks out like feathers everywhere and she is very

up. She reminds me of the woman on the “Drew Carey Show.”  This wild

character’s name was ‘Mimi Bobeck,’ played by the actress, Kathy Kinney!)

 

5.  Joe, one of the shipping guys, mentioned an interesting fact that had

eluded me, that he thinks it was “one of the toys that everyone got.” He

could not remember what the advertising for “Etch-A-Sketch” looked like

nor could he remember a ‘jingle’ or tune.

Everyone that was at our second break, hearing Joe. They all agreed,

“Slinky” had a cool song that went with its toy. Some wondered why

we could not visualize the advertising on commercials for this toy?

Joe added:

“I loved the sound of what seemed to be metal filings or sand ‘swishing

around’ in that toy!”

 

6.  Charlene, my fellow ‘soap opera’ addict, during ‘second break’ watching

the show, “The Bold and the Beautiful” said her favorite ‘activity’ using her

Etch-A-Sketch, was to ‘create mazes.’ Wow!

 

7.  My brother once ‘drew’ a horse on his Etch-A-Sketch, for which I wish I

had a photograph of this memorable artwork!

 

8.  I cannot remember any creative endeavors so complicated as a horse or

a maze, but I did learn how to make ‘circles.’ My best pictures and favorite

drawings were of roses with tightly ‘twirling inner petals and then looser,

ruffled edges on the outside.’

 

9. Chuck, passing by and being ‘flip’ told us all that he liked to make pictures

of,

“Starless, moonless nights. I made completely black pictures, starting from

the left corner, going back and forth, until it was covered.”

 

10.  Mary Jane, says that she had a ‘coveted’ toy, “Etch-A-Sketch” while she

lived in the Philippines as a girl. She shared this with many of her cousins,

liking to see how they would make their pictures. Then, she says,

“I would take it home and practice, practice, practice!”

The next time she saw her cousins was during a special holiday.

MJ expressed her satisfaction and joy at demonstrating to her family

and cousins her best drawing:

“I made a table with dishes on it and the plates held food. Some were

little circles and others were lines back and forth. Then, I described

our ‘feasts’ with the different homemade dishes, like ‘adobo,’ ‘lechon,’

and ‘pancit palabon.'”

M.J. said her uncle actually clapped! This made her smile, remembering

this special moment.

Note: Traditional Filipino meals include rice dishes, which were her “little

circles.” Then, Mary Jane explained her “back and forth things she

drew were their homemade noodles.”

That was my personal favorite story about “Etch-A-Sketch!!”

 

Are you inspired yet?

What was your favorite or best design that you made on your Etch-A-

Sketch?

If you didn’t have an Etch-A-Sketch, did you visit someone who did?

Have you ever seen a special design that stood out in your memory,

created on one of these ‘toys?’