Sunday, October 28, 2007

boring boring boring

I finally got to leave the house today after spending days in bed feeling like I'd been run over by a truck. Being stuck in bed is boring, and not having the energy to sit up for very long is even more boring. My brain feels like mush. Boring boring boring. I missed a talk about about the puppet construction for War Horse this week as well as meeting up for coffee with a fellow puppet designer. I did get to have a very nice lunch out today, and got to see Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D... doesn't make up for days in bed, but it's a start.

Friday, October 26, 2007

waning gibbous

I've been looking at the fat October moon through my spyglass this evening, missing my telescope, and wondering why they don't make horror movies like they used to..

(Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man, 1941)

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I just got back from teaching a class for a few days, seeing friends and carving puppets. Unfortunately the college in which I was teaching was a hotbed of viral contagion, and I now feel like the living dead. phooey

Friday, October 19, 2007

Breast Cancer 3-Day part deux

I wrote a little while ago about my sisters, mother and aunt taking part in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, a 60 mile walk to raise money for cancer research and breast cancer screening and outreach programs for underprivileged women. Visit Brie, Ashley, Jeanette or Susan's fundraising pages to read personal statements about why they are walking, see their fundraising progress, and make a donation. The following is from my sister Brie's fundraising page:

"Preparing for this challenge, I think of all the people I care about who have been touched by this disease. My Aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly five years ago. She is a survivor. She has served as the main source of my breast cancer education, teaching me to be smart. I am walking in her honor.

A very close family friend was diagnosed with breast cancer a little over a year ago, unfortunately losing her battle this past July. She was one of the most caring and compassionate women I have ever known. Even in the face of her fight, she focused her attention on those around her and offered support for the struggles in their life. Her strength was truly amazing. I am walking in her honor.

Watching my mom support each of these women through their struggles was both challenging and encouraging. It is important for me to now support her, walking together, actively towards a cure.

You may know someone who has been affected by breast cancer and I would be proud to walk in her honor as well.

Thank you for your support!"

They are calling themselves the Fancy Pink Swans in honor of our friend Vickie Cowell who passed away earlier this year. For those of you who didn't know Vickie, these are what she called fancy pink swans:

I know any donations would be greatly appreciated, but if you'd like some more bang for your buck (or pound, or euro) my sister is selling handmade bags:

She says she is currently taking requests. All proceeds will be donated. More info here, or email me at: info (at) cristanoelsmith dot com.

more on War Horse

Michael Billington has written a very positive review in the Guardian of War Horse at the National, along with a series of pictures on the Guardian website. They're lovely, but what's really stunning about the puppets is the way they move.. you can see some small snippets in a video on this site.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

one-kulele, two-kulele

According to an article in today's Guardian, ukuleles are challenging the popularity of other instruments in British schools. Quite rightly, I say. Listen to the podcast here, or visit the NPR site to listen to a story about Japanese musician Ayano Tsuji and her ukulele. Viva la revolucion.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Friday, October 12, 2007

puppets and squeezeboxes

I was lucky enough to get to see a preview performance of War Horse at the National last night, which was staged in association with the Handspring Puppet Company from South Africa, who created life-sized horse puppets, as well as a number of smaller animals, human figures and shadow puppets for the show. The horses are some of the most stunning puppets I have ever seen, and their movement was so beautiful it made me cry. The show also features choral singing, a melodeon and a bicycle on stage (one of my favorite things). It was one of the best pieces of theatre I've seen in a long while, and well worth seeing if you can.

Images from past Handspring shows:

Tooth and Nail

Ubu and the Truth Commission

(more images from Handspring shows can be found here)

In celebrity-spotting news, we sat next to Harish Patel at the theatre last night, and Ben saw Colin Meloy of the Decemberists busking with his accordion on the South Bank this morning.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

help kick Breast Cancer's ass

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Earlier this year my family lost an amazing, funny, spectacular friend to breast cancer. Next month my mom, sisters and aunt (herself a breast cancer survivor) will be walking 60 miles in the Arizona Breast Cancer 3-Day in her honor. They are currently fundraising for their walk, and all money will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation which funds cancer research programs as well as educational outreach, screening and treatment for underserved women. My mom will be walking with a damaged knee and my aunt in an orthotic boot, but they are both determined to walk as far as they can. My very talented sister will also be selling handmade, one-of-a-kind clutch bags and donating the proceeds. I am hugely proud, and wish I could go home to walk with them. If anyone is interested in purchasing a clutch bag or in making a donation, please contact me at: info (at) cristanoelsmith dot com.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Michaël Dudok de Wit

Hand drawn animations by Dutch artist Michaël Dudok de Wit:

Father and Daughter (1994)

The Monk and the Fish / Le Moine et le poisson (1994)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sigue Sigue Sputnik

Today marks 50 years since Sputnik was sent into orbit. To celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of the Space Age, let us take a trip to the planets with scientist Willy Ley:

jetpacks not included..

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

the pipes, the pipes are calling

One of the builders across the way has been serenading his compatriots (and the rest of the neighborhood) with "Danny Boy" at the top of his lungs. It's not really surprising they're not making much progress over there...

Monday, October 1, 2007

when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens

...from Jan Švankmajer's short film The Fall of the House of Usher/Zánik domu Usherů, 1980.