Thursday, April 30, 2015

Studio Work In New York City

Hi Dear Folk,

Here are a few photos from The Boy.  He is up in New York visiting and getting hands on experience in a sound studio.  Just a few of his NYC photos.  Their teacher who they are staying with has worked on several Ken Burns, PBS films over the years.  She has done their sound tracks.

The above photo reminds me of Russia, why it should I do not know.  I think it's the way her hair is wrapped in the head covering.


Monday, April 27, 2015

MC3, Daffs and Orchids

Hi Dear Folk,

Why does one think at sixty that you can do what you did at forty?  I have been asking myself that after overdoing it in the garden two weekends ago.  The trouble is I have to fit this in on the weekend, it was the dreaded spring clean up, the one where you never cleaned anything up last autumn and now you have a grand clean up.  My excuse is that there is no point because our oak tree does not even start shedding leaves until January or February.  Starting at 7:00 AM and finishing at 5:00PM I think is overdoing it and another weekend day spent with at least four hours in the garden.

One should be very tired, no I'm wide awake all Sunday night or just about, so needless to say I had to take Monday off work.  Monday started out nasty and rainy Mr. B. was home, I did some crochet and later in the afternoon the sun did come out and by then I was rested, and we took our free lunch coupons that someone gave him for Chic fil a and treated ourselves, our big splurge out, was hiking out the additional money for milk shakes.

I did get to accept Rob's award, his name is on this plaque.  It was a very low key affair with goodies. He won it for his essay entitled -  Blade Runner Breaks into the Second Golden Age of Television.  The money helped him out this month as he has been working on a shoot and has not spent so much time at work.  In one hand and out the other isn't that the way of life?

Here are some daffodil photos from over a week ago, the daffs were late here, but our spring has been so cold and changeable that everything is a good two to three weeks behind.

I had quite a nice show by my backdoor this year.

These were flattened and bent by the rain, so washed the dirt off them and made an arrangement to enjoy them for a while.

So the other week I go to my once in two weeks or so visit to Trader Joe's during my lunch hour at work and this is what I found, and couldn't leave the store without buying it.  An orchid that looks like a Pansy face.  What I didn't realize is that it is very fragrant and fills the house with it's pungent smell, which is most noticeable when you first walk in.  I so love this.

I also have the added delight this year of a Robin making it's nest right by our backdoor in the honeysuckle climber.  Our Dutch Colonial upstairs floor juts out over the downstairs, so it is a wonderful dry place to build a nest.  I've had other birds nest there before, but not every year.  Guess where he is getting his building supplies, he is pulling the roots and what is left of the cutback reeds out of our little pond.  He comes with his mouth laden and streamers flying behind and I have not seen the Mrs.

It's no wonder that wetland areas are so vital to the environment, sometimes Mr. B. has to take a hack saw to the reeds as they just overfill the pond.  The point being they so hold together that no way can you get them out without a hacksaw, just think what wetlands do to stop coastal erosion, let alone all the wild life that benefit.  So I am happy that our tiny little pond besides a great place for the animals to take a drink and the birds to take a bath, is now a nest building resource.  So far she has not touched the little pile of yarn ends I left there, maybe they are just too bright, nests  need to be camouflaged.

More going on, on the crochet front will share that another time.

Take care,

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Blade Runner Breaks Into the Second Golden Age of Television

Blade Runner Breaks Into the Second Golden Age of Television

The cult classic science fiction film Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott has weathered the last thirty years incredibly well. As epic storytelling has moved from the big screen to the small screen in what the New York Times calls “a golden age” for television, so has Blade Runner’s influence (Carr C1). The reimagined television series Battlestar Galactica, which has earned critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone who, in 2006, called it “the smartest and toughest show on TV,” owes an incredible amount to the groundwork that Blade Runner has laid down in the dystopian science fiction genre (Edwards). There are many cinematic styling cues that the reimagined television series borrows from Blade Runner, yet the similarity between the two narratives is even more significant.

            The most obvious similarity between Blade Runner and Battlestar Galactica is the presence of humanoid robots in each along with the strikingly similar narrative path the androids follow. Humanity creates robots as slaves, but they develop into sentient beings and rebel against their makers. Subsequently, they are exiled from humanity and barred from earth. With their mental faculties fully formed, the androids come back in search of freedom from the shackles that humanity has placed on them. This narrative fits both Battlestar Galactica and Blade Runner equally well. In Blade Runner, the Replicants have a pre-assigned number of years they are allowed to live. The Replicant Roy Batty makes his desire to break free from this imposed restriction very clear when he finally meets his maker toward the end of Blade Runner.  When asked “what can he [the maker] do for you,” he responds: “I want more life, father” (Blade Runner 1:23:00-1:23:50). Batty wants an unrestricted lifespan and he must conquer his maker to achieve it. Although the androids, or Cylons[1], in Battlestar Galactica have already achieved an infinite lifespan, they are still not completely free because they were condemned by mankind to the far outskirts of the galaxy. They come back in search of total domination and to free themselves of any tethers with which humanity has bound them. The striking resemblance between these narratives is no coincidence.

In addition to the similar storylines, Blade Runner and Battlestar Galactica open at the same point in their storylines with very similar scenes. Blade Runner opens with Leon, a Replicant[2], being interrogated by Holden, a Blade Runner. Secluded in an empty room, Holden is murdered by Leon. Battlestar Galactica opens the series in a remarkably familiar way. Alone in a room inside of a space ship, a Cylon, Number Six, meets with a human ambassador and then, under her command, destroys the ship and kills the ambassador. Each opening sequence marks the return of the androids to civilization. Both scenes involve a threat to the human race and the killing of a human official. Also, the commonality between them is striking because these are the first characters that the audience meets in both the movie and television series. With so many parallels between the two, it would be hard to argue that Blade Runner’s iconic opening scenes did not largely inspire Battlestar Galactica’s opening sequence.

The terminology used in Battlestar Galactica is an obvious reference to Blade Runner. Cylons are frequently referred to as ‘skin jobs’ and ‘Replicants,’ terms that were coined in Blade Runner, which opens with a scrolling text that introduces the androids as Replicants. Throughout the film the term “skin job” is used as a derogatory slang word for Replicants, such as when Lieutenant Brian is first introduced to the audience and says to Deckard, “c’mon, don’t be an asshole Deckard. I’ve got four skin jobs walk’n the streets” (Blade Runner 00:11:25-00:11:36). The android Cylons are also often called skin jobs and Replicants in Battlestar Galactica. In season four when The Chief is explaining to two other characters something he saw he says, “He was with one of those skin jobs, the one they call D'Anna” (Six of One). Using the same unique colloquialisms from Blade Runner in Battlestar Galactica is no accident; it is an undeniable reference to Blade Runner.

The Androids themselves are a significant parallel between the two stories. Both Cylons and
Replicants are exact copies of humans, which raises many questions and problems for  humanity in each fictional universe. As Rachela Morrison puts it, “Blade Runner deals with perceptual and moral ambiguity and with our inability to affirm oppositions and to distinguish between the real and unreal” (4). The main question this similarity poses is whether or not Replicants can be considered inherently evil and deserving of maltreatment or, if they are man’s equal, should they receive the same basic humanitarian rights? Blade Runner tackles this issue throughout the movie using Deckard’s romantic interest in Rachel, a Replicant, as a catalyst for shaping the audience’s opinion. From the very beginning the viewer is led on this moral journey. The opening text scroll states,

Replicants were declared illegal on earth – under penalty of death.

Special police squad units – Blade Runner units- had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any trespassing Replicant.

This was not called execution.

It was called retirement (Blade Runner 00:02:35 – 00:02:50).

Phrasing execution as “retirement” clearly demonstrates the moral undercurrent. If the destruction of a Replicant were called “execution” that would imply that it was alive. Using the word “retirement” implies that the Replicants are no more alive than an old fishing boat. Scott uses this terminology in Battlestar Galactica to deal with the same dilemma. In the article “Humanity's Scarred Children: The Cylons' Oedipal Dilemma in Battlestar Galactica,” Torsten Caeners analyzes the sympathetic portrayal of the Cylons:

The Cylons, while without doubt the enemy, are not portrayed as inherently evil… During the first two seasons, their actions and motivations remain in the dark and thus an aura of mystery surrounds them. This makes the audience curious and interested in the Cylons rather than just accepting them as the evil enemy. In the reimagined series, the basic scheme of good vs. evil is thus abandoned in favor of a more complex and equivocal setting (369-370).

Both movie and television series not only present the moral question of whether the androids are inherently evil, but also persuade the viewer to side with them in the fight for their existence. That struggle for existence is key to both Cylon and Replicant storylines and both epics push the viewer into the same ‘skin job’ sympathizing camp.

            Without watching Blade Runner or Battlestar Galactica, it is hard to imagine how viewers could be swayed to sympathize with the stated enemy of both fictional universes. The simple solution is love and sex. In the article “Machines Will Break Your Heart,” Andrew Harrison puts the love equation in Blade Runner very simply, stating, “Though Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is ostensibly about who should and should not be considered a human being, the question is linked to the capacity to love and be loved” (50). Falling in love with the enemy android is an important part of the grand theme in Blade Runner and a large theme in Battlestar Galactica as well. The driving force behind Deckard’s motivation is his love for Rachel. He disobeys direct orders to ‘retire’ Rachel and, instead, runs away with her. The viewer identifies with Deckard and, as he falls in love with Rachel, so does the audience. This idea appears again in Battlestar Galactica. Gaius Baltar repeatedly fails to break away from the Cylon Number Six even after he learns that she has committed genocide (Miniseries Part 1). Baltar may or may not be in love with Number Six, but in many instances he is certainly under her sexual power. The relationship between man and android is expressed as vital to the android storyline.

The acting that conveys these narratives is an integral part of Blade Runner and Battlestar Galactica. Actor Edward James Olmos who plays Gaff in Blade Runner also plays the pivotal character of Admiral William Adama in Battletar Galactica. He is the physical connection between the two science fiction epics. Suzanne Church of The Daily Dragon interviewed Olmos about what influenced his portrayal of Admiral Adama in Battlestar Galactica. Olmos stated:

The main issue is the reality that was hit in Blade Runner was one that I really wanted to emulate with Battlestar. It was the only way to touch this kind of material; an opportunity to walk into a door that was opened by Blade Runner but no one had ever walked into it.

Olmos contributed a great deal to a déjà vu experience when watching Battlestar Galactica. He carried the same steely-eyed, underspoken strength that Gaff displayed straight into Admiral Adama’s character. Gaff is a rigid, by-the-book policeman. He displays his rigid adherence to the law when he refuses to let Rachel slip through the cracks when Deckard falls in love with her and tries to escape the law. He threatens Deckard saying, “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again, who does” (Blade Runner 1:49:50-1:50:02). Admiral Adama becomes a far more fleshed-out character than Gaff was. He has a very similar demeanor to Gaff, however. Adama is a military man just like Gaff is a policeman. Often he is reluctant to share feelings or personal motivation, much like how Gaff’s motivation is almost completely unknown besides his strict adherence to authority. These two characters are kindred partly by design and partly because of Olmos’ unique depiction of them.

Just as Edward Olmos has moved from movie theaters to living rooms, so has cinematic storytelling. Blade Runner has certainly earned its spot as part of the science fiction cannon because its ripples can still be seen in modern television. The question it presents -- what makes us human -- is an integral part of Battlestar Galactica’s plot and its use of Blade Runner’s analysis is hardly a copy and more of an evolution of thought. The extended medium of television affords a far more in depth analysis than movies can offer. Media will continue to tackle this question in various allegories, as there will surely be future great works of fiction that explore this issue with and without the use of androids as catalysts.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Work - Gets In The Way Of Life

Hi Dear Folk,

How are you?  It's a lovely sunny day today.  The daffodils are finally blooming I thought they would never burst forth, it seemed that everyone else in Blogland had a garden full of open blooms.

Back to work today, so as sunny as it may be I'm in an inner office with no windows, Grrrr!  It comes pretty hard after the weekend off, but needs must and that's all there is to it.  Busy day too.

Mr. B. said he'd work on my garden by the front door, Monday is a day off for him, so hope to see that looking clean and dug over.  I have one lonely daffodil growing in that garden and columbine.  We cut down the Andromeda bush that was there it was almost all totally dead, I have a matching one on the other side and that does quite well.

I have to get some quotes to cut the dying tree down.  Mr. B. finally agreed Hey Ho!  I want to get that done soon before all the garden really gets into bloom which will be quite soon.  What to do with the stump and roots, I'll find out how much it is to grind it out, or I may just leave it and do pots and a garden in-between the roots.

I started on a Queen Anne Lace Scarf, I never realized how narrow they are, I might want to use a thicker yarn and larger hook.  It took me a while to get into the swing of the pattern, but I think I have it now, thank goodness for You Tube.

Not too much else going on right now.  Hope I have a little energy tonight to potter in the garden.

Wishing you all well.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tea and Art

Hello Dear Folk,

It's sunny today and cheery around 60 f, so still cool.  I had thought of working on the front garden just by my front door, but by the time I went out and attended the special talk we had, got home, had some lunch, went on line to print up the Vehicle Registration renewal, because mine had run out, and by the time we got the darn printer to print the temporary form which we need to take the garage to complete the emissions testing, well then it was pretty late and had got quite a lot cooler in late afternoon, so decided to write this instead.

Mr. B. dropped my car off for inspection yesterday and it needed a whole list of things done, so not cheap, but neither could it be completed because forgot about renewing my registration, so Mr. B. has to go back today and get that done, hope it's not too late.

I was invited to a Tea and Art afternoon and wasn't sure what to expect,  this is the tea part and how lovely it all was A. had such a lovely tea for us as you can see.  With lots of spring flowers dotted around.  The dining room table arrangement of flowers was lovely and I forgot to take a picture of that, because I was so busy partaking of the lovely afternoon tea.

Several different teas to try.

This was my selection of teacup.  It was A's grandmother's.

So what was the art part?  Well since her boy was in Elementary school A has volunteered for "The Art Goes to School Program"  where you go around the school district giving a half hour presentation with visual aids to the children.  Each year the prints of famous paintings change, but must be representative of the world American, European, Asia, Africa, Black, White, Asian, American Indian, Hispanic, Men and Women artists.  So you can see that just that choice alone is daunting, plus it has to represent the eras of painting, Classical, Impressionists, Cubist, Surreal and Graphic.  Sometimes it doesn't cover all the spectrum but they try.

So we had an interactive art lecture using the prints and prompts, fun and interesting.

My friend S. is going to Estonia for an International Convention this July, like Barb and I did to Hawaii so I said I would think of some small items as gifts, to make, for our brothers and sisters in Estonia.  Crochet may come in more handy as it's colder there.  So what to make that's small and packable?

S. is also stopping off in Paris on this trip and is going on an evening dinner cruise on the Seine so is going to make herself a pink chiffon flouncy dress with flowers on, sounds lovely.

Hope you're weekend has been fun.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Black Beach Maui Necklace and More

Hi Dear Folk,

I have found a wonderful haul from the thrift shop.  Three pairs of what seem to be brand new leather shoes.  The lace ups are Italian and fit like a glove.  The flat cream ones have genuine snakskin with the leather and the third pair are a differnet colour to the rather solid basic colours that I usually choose for shoes.  I will be well shod from spring into summer.

Wearing my blue cardigan, another thrift find,  It's so warm you can wear it like a jacket. 

Japanese crochet flowers ready to sew into a shawl.

My dear posy was fun to make and makes me happy to wear, and seems to us-sure in the spring.

The orchids eventually bloomed and showed their brave little faces.

I started this necklace several months ago and finished the one side, when I went back to finish the other side it was amazing how I forgot what I did, especially with the wire wrapping, not a good thing to do, I should have finished it off all in one go.

I took some volcanic stones off the Black Beach in Hawaii,  some smaller ones and the larger one is an interesting combination of white and black.  I had an idea of wire wrapping them,  this is my first go at wire wrapping.  The other beads I already had, they are quartz I like their translucence.

It's quite a long necklace so hope to wear it with a shift dress in the summertime.  Taking something of the beach and making it into ones own creation is rewarding.

Well better shake a leg I'm meant to be at a get together in an hour, kind of an Art and Tea do, not quite sure what to expect.

Hope your weekend is good.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Winter's Discontent Made Glorious

Hi Dear Folk,

How are you weathering?

I cannot take credit for this wonderful title Winter's Discontent Made Glorious.  As you can see it is an old underground poster from London.

Along with this other poster Always Warm And Bright.

We are in some need of Gloriousness and Warm and Bright.

I keep thinking of Enchanted April, maybe I need to gather a few friends together and escape to Tuscany or wonderful enchanted places.

Monday was a beautiful day and I actually got out and walked the mile track at the park, but since then it has plummeted back into winter and I feel like having a wood fire again.

I am sewing together my Japanese crochet flowers for my new scarf/shawl, it is Joseph's shawl of many colours, bright would be the word, so maybe I do have something Warm and Bright.

A glorious orchid, another miniature one is on my desk.  They last a long while and give you such beauty.

My other orchid at home, after having two buds for about three months, actually decided to unfurl itself and now I have two blooms there on my dining room table.

Mr. B.  cleaned up all my broken pots, did I tell you about my broken pots?

Well when we put the new furnace in all the pots that winter on the steps to my basement had to be moved and we forgot to put them back, consequently most of them cracked, including my teacup pot.  You see the outside steps are covered with a lift up outside trap door, so a great place to winter ones pots. 

Also my little water tub with the pump fell to bits, so another item that will need replacing this spring.  It lasted a long while, but I would like things to last even longer.

I wore my Felt Posy and everyone liked it, more glorious things.

Hoping that things are Glorious, Warm and Bright for you.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hawaii Quilt Square

Hi Dear Folk,

Patchwork quilts are loved by so many, some folk seem to be able to complete a quilt in no time at all, I'm the type of person who works on a patchwork quilt for years.  So why I'm starting on one I'm not sure, especially one that is not that simple, but I decided it's not about the destination, but the journey.

I have wanted to have a go at the American State Quilt Squares, from 1907 Hearth and Home.  Contributors from around the county were asked to contribute original designs or a favourite pattern for the state they lived in.  These were published from 1907 to 1912.

I thought that I'd start with Hawaii.  I was going to start at A, but thought it would make it more personal to start with the states that I have been to.  So my first is Hawaii and this is my fabric choice.  You may think shouldn't there be plumeria flowers and Hawaiian prints, but I decided since it's my quilt and my journey this quilt will express my impressions of the state.

Hawaii sits in the Pacific and is the closest state to the orient, so when I saw the oriental sunshade fabric, it just seemed appropriate, plus the influence of so many Japanese and Chinese immigrants who came to the islands to work on the sugar cane plantations.  I coupled that with the dark stripes which reminds me of the lovely late lunch and cocktails which we had at the Fleetwood Mack restaurant in Lahaina, which was decked out in Indian style, and this fabric reminds me with the rich colours and gold of India.  Coupled with the light gold little circles of sun, which dapple the islands in light.

All state squares are made up of a combination of a dark, medium and light fabric.  I traced the pattern onto wax paper and cut them out and used these as my pattern.  I did think of re cutting the striped pieces, but decided just to leave them running the way that they do.

I took these photos at night, so a bit on the dark side.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Historical Society Tea

Hi Dear Folk,

I didn't get to tell you about the Afternoon Tea that I went to a couple of Sundays ago.  A dear friend and I were meant to go but unfortunately she fell ill and I took along Mr. B.  Mr. B. turned out to be the only tea partaking gent there.

Here I am arriving, most of these photos were shot by the Historical Society photographer and I'm wearing my shawl over an Aran swing cardigan that my sister made for me.

They had little gifts at the tables for all in attendance, my company donated the little boxes that you see, that I put little sachet packets of tea in.

Below you can see all the boxes in the bags ready to distribute.  I am definitely not going in for a job pick and packing as it took Mr. B and I two evenings to do this.  Assemble the little boxes, stamp some little packets for the teas with my willow pattern stamp and make sure that all was distributed evenly.

This is the fireplace in the Library where we sat I like all the paneling, the Clifton House dates back to the 1700s.

Here is the library a very cozy room.  We sat in here last year when a whole group of us attended, we had the table for eight then.  It was lovely as it felt very cozy on that day as it was pouring with rain, but on a sunny day I think it is nicer to be in the other room, but both are nice.

Here are some of the ladies.

This is the sunnier of the two rooms, catching the afternoon sun.  I sat in here the first year that I attended.

The hard working ladies of the kitchen.

Kettles on, teas up.

Our display of sandwiches.

The lovely little cakes.

I think they are thinking of two teas this year, another one in autumn.

I definitely think it is a girls thing, it was OK with Mr. B., not quite his thing, but the men in my family are pretty good in indulging mum in afternoon tea, as last year The Boy came with me to the afternoon tea at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

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