Monday, March 31, 2014

In honor of March Hares...

The very first film adaptation of Lewis Carrol's Alice, filmed in 1903. From the British Film Institute:

"Made just 37 years after Lewis Carroll wrote his novel and eight years after the birth of cinema, the adaptation was directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow, and was based on Sir John Tenniel's original illustrations. Hepworth cast his wife as the Red Queen, and he himself appears as the Frog Footman. Even the Cheshire cat is played by a family pet.

With a running time of just 12 minutes (8 of which survive), Alice in Wonderland was the longest film produced in England at that time. Film archivists have been able to restore the film's original colours for the first time in over 100 years."

Monday, February 24, 2014

for the bees

"He is not worthy of the Honey-comb,
That shuns the Hives because the Bees have stings"

- attributed to William Shakespeare

Warmer weather came early this year, causing an early bee swarming season. Last week, 15,000 worker bees and their queen swarmed, huddled, and started to build comb and make honey under our eaves. They were industrious neighbors, keeping themselves to themselves. Unfortunately, as they were Africanized honey bees (otherwise known as "killer bees") they could not stay. Africanized bees are wonderful pollinators and make fine honey, but they are also known to swarm, and kill animals and people.

Swarms like this one can't be removed and relocated to a beekeeper's hive as they are capricious, and will often abandon a hive as the mood takes them. Our bees had to be killed by a visiting bee man. A sad day.

Friday, January 31, 2014

a good new year

My Christmas and new year were full of family visits, day trips, hiking, and relaxing. I hope your holidays were equally lovely.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Travels

I was lucky enough this year to celebrate two Thanksgivings with my extended family. I started my travels in Indiana and ended up in Maryland, watching autumn turn into winter along the way.

buggy parking in Amish country, Indiana

Amish country driving

hat selection in an Amish dry goods store

in a Michigan pie restaurant

homemade fortune cookies in progress!

baking pies at Grandma's house

rolling out pie crust on my grandma's pastry cloth

at the Christmas tree farm

my aunt and uncle taking home their tree

my grandma's front door

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Mixtape Revisited

(Illustration from the completely delightful book "The Hedgehog Feast,"
painted by Edith Holden some time between 1911 and 1920)

Last year I shared a mixtape of songs that get me in the Thanksgiving mood. This year I've edited and expanded the mix, and added a handy dandy playlist. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, harvest, or the joys of autumn turning into winter, I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Spooky Shorts for Halloween

To help get in the mood for the haunting season, here are some of my favorite spooky shorts. Enjoy!

First, Tim Burton's brilliant stop-motion film Vincent (1982), made while he was an animator with Disney, and his original (and in my opinion superior) live-action version of Frankenweenie from 1984:

Next, the musical puppet short Graveyard Jamboree with Mysterious Mose (1999) by the wildly talented Screen Novelties:

This Oscar nominated short, The Sandman (1991) by Paul Berry, an animator for Cosgrove Hall and later The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, was based on a tale by E.T.A. Hoffman:

The nightmarish short The Cat With Hands (2001) by Robert Morgan (for those interested, there's also an earlier animated pilot version):

Lastly, The Listening Dead (2006) by Phil Mucci. Check out the "making-of" video to see more on the scale model and puppet shots:

Happy haunting!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Jim Henson Shorts

Jim Henson would have turned 77 last week. On what would have been his birthday, the Henson Company released "Drums West," a recently discovered short animated film made by Jim in 1961. I love the brief footage at the end of Jim at his paper-covered work table in the midst of making the film. Here are more of my favorite Jim Henson film experiments:

"Time Piece"

Made in 1964-65, Jim wrote, directed and starred in this surreal 9 minute short which was nominated for an Academy Award.

"Idea Man"

An experimental short from 1966, animated and narrated by Jim Henson.

Test footage for The Dark Crystal:
Early tests for the Podling puppets.

Tests for a rock puppet made by Cheryl Henson in 1979.

Testing early Gelfling puppets, Mystics and other forest creatures at Jim Henson's home in New York, 1978.

Finally, one of my favorite shorts from Sesame Street, produced in 1970 by Jim Henson and directed by Frank Oz, who also built the amazing contraption:
Another version with an alternate ending is here.