Archive for the ‘culture’ Category
This Friday the Seattle Cinerama begins a two and a half week 70MM and Cinerama film festival. The theater’s curved and impressively wide Cinerama screen will be used for all showings. Greg Wood tracked down several 70MM classics including “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Cleopatra”, and “My Fair Lady”. A few years ago at a similar event, I saw “This Is Cinerama” there with all 3 projectors going. “Lawrence of Arabia” in 70MM had just been delivered to the theater from Sony Pictures by FedEx and so I snapped a photo of the 13 large containers sitting in the lobby. The festival is a unique opportunity to truly see the widescreen movie experience as it was before theaters were crammed down into sizes that makes one want to just wait for home television viewing.
The National Toy Hall of Fame, one of the collections of The Strong educational institution in Rochester, NY, has announced 12 finalists for this year’s two spots. The contenders are: dollhouse, Dungeons & Dragons, Hot Wheels, Jenga, Pogo Stick, puppets, R/C vehicles, Rubik’s Cube, Simon, Star Wars action figures, Transformers, and Twister. The finalists will be announced in November. You can submit a story about your favorite of the 12 on their site. Perhaps the oldest toy, the stick, was inducted in 2008. The Nintendo Game Boy was inducted a year later, the Atari 2600 a year earlier.
Andrew Kolb decided to illustrate David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and put it into children’s book format. The PDF is freely downloadable from his site (unless some lawyers get to it). The people he put in the control room are nicely diverse in sex and race. But with the bleak ending of the song you might not want to show this to any young kids. (Thanks Robert!)
They’re still being shaped by the changing world around them, but this year’s incoming freshmen are the next crop of consumers for marketers to prepare for. The characteristics that don’t need research to reveal: these teens are not likely to become cable TV subscribers and would rather lose their wallet than their cell phone. Phone landlines are not even mentioned in the article; perhaps already gone to the graveyard with cassette tapes. A less obvious shift: the new rite of passage into independence isn’t the driver’s license but getting a cell phone. And that happens a lot earlier than the DMV test. Ford Motors has also found that status symbols like luxury cars are not as appealing as they were with the previous generation. Ford is marketing social connection features and fuel efficiency gauges to these younger millenials. The most remarkable statistic: only 5% of the freshman surveyed planned to buy a personal computer. And yet 76% spend more than an hour a day on Facebook. You see why Ford will be making sure its cars have mobile phone connectivity.
“Rick Steves’ Europe” isn’t a fancy show even by PBS standards, but it’s no picnic to tape. In his regular column, Steves describes the process for creating his 30 minute show. It’s six days of filming both day and evening shoots. Besides Steves it’s just his producer/director and cameraman. For continuity he wears the same shirt for all filming days (someone in the comments helpfully points out that he could buy multiples of the same shirt). And the weather is a constant concern, though they will adapt by finding indoor sights if needed.
The pancake breakfast fundraiser is a mainstay for many community groups, youth sports clubs, firefighters. In the cultural mosaic of Seattle the pancake breakfast practically forms the identity of the local Scandinavian groups. The Swedish Cultural Center serves pancakes (Swedish of course) once every month except for July. Thousands of pancakes are served. A 2008 newsletter lists the raw ingredients: 220 pounds of flour, 100 dozen eggs, 200 pounds of ham, 50 kilos of lingonberry sauce. Several local Sons of Norway chapters also put on regular pancake feasts (some even call them Swedish pancakes — it’s OK, it’s all one Scandinavia here). In a similar vein, the Polish Home Association has a restaurant that serves Friday night dinners and Sunday brunches with a full menu including cabbage rolls, pierogis, Polish sausage. These food events are not only effective fundraisers, they also bring new members into the clubs. And many, if not most of the diners are from different heritages.
While looking up the 2011 Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling (held unofficially for the second year as the centuries-old “real” event was cancelled again for health and safety), I came across Zorbing. Much safer than racing down a steep hill after a cheese, ZORB globe riding places participants inside a giant inflated ball which rolls down a hill. There are two styles of ZORB: one where you’re strapped in and dry, and the other where you’re sloshing freely around with some water inside. Some models accomodate multiple riders. The first (and only) time I saw a ZORB was during Peter Gabriel’s “Growing Up” tour in 2003 when he sang the tour’s title song while traveling around the circular stage inside one (full video and an article on the tour set design for the Gabriel uber-geeks who I know are out there).
Direct competitor OGO was started by a ZORB co-founder after a disagreement about company direction and the two New Zealand companies are now in litigation. Both companies have locations in the United States along with other countries. ZORB is so concerned with counterfeit operations that they put up a ZORBScams site to list the offending operators who infringe on their trademark. Here’s the 2011 cheese rolling video if you want to watch the fun pain of men and women rather uncontrollably chasing a cheese down a hill. There’s an uphill race for the kids too (I don’t think the cheese wheel gets a chance in that one). Perhaps the safety issues can be solved by a ZORB shaped like a cheese wheel, though I’m sure the purists would complain.
It hasn’t been the same since reality TV took over, but we can remember the time when MTV felt like this 30 years ago.
Copyright Berkeley Breathed, used without any permission whatsoever
Early reports put this year’s September U.S. issue of Vogue at 584 ad pages, up from last year’s 532 pages. As an indicator of the economy, it’s a good recovery sign looking back to 2009′s 429 pages which was a huge drop from 2008′s 674. Since I’ve been tracking this data for several years now, I decided to do a very amateur analysis and made a simple chart comparing the ad pages in September to the Dow Jones Industrial Average in July of the same year. I picked July so that I would have a data point for 2011 (although the month isn’t over so it’s even sketchier!). A fancier graph would include more Dow data points in a year, but this is good enough for my little amusement. And I actually have 20 years of September Vogue issues, but I’m not up for counting all ad pages of the issues I don’t have data for! Anyway, there’s a good correlation when you put the DOW and page count numbers onto the same scale.
E.B. White “felt for animals a kinship he never felt for people,” which can easily be seen from his children’s books. “The Story of Charlotte’s Web” by Michael Sims looks at both how the book was a reflection of its author and what the tale means to readers. White was inspired by the spiders in his barn and also Archy the cockroach to create the heroic title character. And the overarching theme of the morality of killing pets for food clearly comes from his love of animals. Almost 60 years later, “Charlotte’s Web” still ranks as one of the most popular children’s books.