The Universe, Known and Speculative

Kenzie & the Box 16


A fascinating animation from the American Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium, “The Known Universe,” (by way of “Astronomy Picture of the Day“):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

which appeared, coincidentally, on the day I resolved to return to Pandora. Before getting to my reaction the third time around, however, also by coincidence The NY Times reported yesterday on some of the groups who take exception to Avatar for one reason or another: “You Saw What in ‘Avatar’? Pass Those Glasses!“; and also reported how hordes of Chinese would-be Avatar fans will be frustrated because the government agency that controls the run of foreign films in China’s theaters is severely curtailing the number of screens on which it will appear: “China Curtails Run of ‘Avatar’ as It Fills Theaters“:

Cui Weiping, a film critic and a professor at the Beijing Film Academy, said: “So many people are dying to see it, including me. ‘Avatar’ is driving people crazy right now. The government makes these decisions whenever it wants to, with no consideration for the market or the desires of the audience.”

So, how was it third time around?

The movie was just as powerful, as cohesive, as rich in detail and story, and as amazing in its accomplishments as the first and second times. I can’t say I got deeper into the story, but on the other hand I did not become blasé, and my sense of

personal wonderment remained.

A highlight for me remains the “flight” sequence. One cannot adequately describe and do justice to the exhilaration conveyed when Jake first bonds with and then takes wing on his banshee. It may be animation, but by god it transcends nearly anything that might be captured in a “real” movie.

The movie does represent a massive irony, perhaps unintentionally: a story of a neolithic culture, focused on aboriginal reaction to technology, created with some of the most technologically sophisticated production teams and facilities ever assembled.

If you are the one person reading this blog who has not seen this movie, at least in 3D, but preferably on an IMAX screen, get you hence. It won’t stay around forever, and the large screen and communality experience is part of the movie’s appeal. It will not — cannot — translate to TV.

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Music That Stirs the Soul Department

Have you seen The Mission? This moving and tragic 1986 movie starring Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro was scored by Ennio Morricone, and some of his music from that movie is simply superb. One of my favorites (which I’m sure my models have come to hate because I’m always playing it during sessions) is “On Earth as it is in Heaven”:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nye62rh7aaQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

Another tune from the movie, set to words commissioned (written?) by England’s Sarah Brightman, is “Nella Fantasia,” also one of my favorites:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5Yr8HxTQxY&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

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My Photography, Better, Department

If you are a Facebook member, I’ve opened a “Fan” page: Magic Flute Fine Art Photography, with more of my photography shown in larger format than in any other single place on the web other than my subscription site. (You actually see much more of my photography here, but it is in a reduced format; the Fan page format lies between this blog’s and my subscription site’s.) Become a fan. (I am promoting this now, before the feature in NUDE, assuming readership of this blog now is more concentrated among those who have followed me for some time.)

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G11 Update Department

Walked around the lake yesterday, taking my G11 with me. Here are two taken as JPEGs, on automatic, with contrast enhanced in PS (click to see full-sized):

A sail-skier on Lake Harriet
not something likely seen in Mississippi


We have snow, as you can see.

So far, this is a very impressive small camera.

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Bella Voce Department

Last night watched “The Audition” on PBS — the documentary made of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (on the Met stage in NYC). None of us — not you, not me — have been through an experience like this. Not even the bar exam or the med boards. These are the very few young men and women at the top of their game, assembled from across the U.S. (and one gal from Iceland), who represent the absolute pinnacle of operatic vocal achievement.

This would not have appealed to many among my readers, I’m sure, based on the non-responsiveness of people to my opera postings (except for Dave Rudin, who I know shares — even exceeds — my passion),
but watching these young men and women’s travails, disappointments, and — for a lucky few — triumphs, gives me hope for the future of opera.

A very nice antidote to everything else that weighs on us.

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Cheese and Wine Department

Last night was disjointed. Patricia had a sculpture class that ran until after nine, and we had no formal dinner. So when she arrived home (just before 10), I suggested cheese and wine. A “Bent River” camembert made in Minnesota. I will write in a future post about local artisanal cheeses, which I’ve come to love, but for now, that Bent River cheese is about as good as they come. I coupled it with a Dutch aged gouda, which is — aside from Parmigiano-Reggiano — my favorite hard cheese. And a 1990 Guigal “Hermitage,” which is massively flavorful and (at 20 years) perfectly mature.

For what ails ya’. (Actually, for what ails me.)

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From a very successful series “in the box.”

This entry was posted in Food, Wine, Cooking & Restaurants, Movies & TV, Music, My Photography, Opera, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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