Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Movies

Art and Craft

This is well worth watching. Mark Landis, who is a gifted forger and is schizophrenic, donates his forgeries, passing them off as originals, to museums around the country. Only when he is dressed up, acting like a rich donor, is he treated with respect. The film itself is respectful of Landis, I think, portraying Matt Leininger, a museum employee he deceived, who then became obsessed with outing Landis to the point of losing his job (he has OCD) in a more negative light. Also, a reminder that each person deserves respect.

Brighton Rock

I guess I should have picked the old one, but I like this one pretty well.

A Most Wanted Man

Slow at the beginning and then it spend up. Psychological and interesting; good, not great.

The Pervert's Guide to Ideology

Of course I disagreed with his reading of The Sound of Music (on Catholicism). And with his view of Christianity as more atheist than atheism (that may or may not be an accurate read of The Last Temptation of Christ; I don't know, since I haven't seen it; but it just isn't an accurate reading of Christianity).


Heartbreaking portrayal of life under a fundamentalist jihadist regime: no music, no smoking, and arbitrary rules galore. Beautifully shot; slow moving.

Finding Vivian Maier

This was a good movie for us: it combines my love of street photography with Francisco's love of documentaries. Maier's pictures are excellent; her character is interesting. I ever so slightly felt like I was being marketed to throughout the film, though, which of course I resented.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Random Assortment

~ Paul Elie on fatherhood (and, I think, on motherhood):

Even at the worst of times—and there are plenty—I ask what more a man could want from life than to be the father of three boys such as our three boys. And yet even paternal ardor has apartness wound into it. I know that I feel most fully myself when I am cycling solo through the thronged city, or playing electric guitar into headphones late at night, or popping into a gallery to look at photographs, or sitting alone writing, as I am doing now. On some level, I know, and I think our sons know, that I am something less than my full self as a father.
Every healthy person is in part a person apart. Apart is where, for some of us, art is made 

~ From the moving "Esme Can Read":

I have always known in my heart that Esmé understands so much of what goes on around her, but between the her lack of speech, her failing limbs and her unusual neurological activity, it is very difficult to find ways to draw her out. I have no clear idea of how my daughter perceives the world, except for the stories I tell myself about what I see in her eyes — that spark of excitement, recognition and curiosity. What I know about her world I know only obliquely. I know that if the “The Muppet Movie” soundtrack doesn’t take her out of a funk, she is really very sick. I know that she likes it when we tell the Yo Gabba Gabba! band on TV that Ezzy should be in their band, a statement that is always met with loud clapping and smiles. By her generous belly laugh I know that she loves being kissed and tickled. 
I also know my daughter in a deeply primal way that is usually contained to the early newborn stages of parenting. We are so hopelessly intertwined emotionally and physically, existing together in the spaces between words — in the world of things that are felt deeply and understood in their entirety without ever being spoken aloud. 
~ It's funny that this is the take away from the study: "Girls With Working Moms May Do Better When They Grow Up." ("Better" is of course evaluated by success at work.) I actually think the good part is buried: 
these boys, when they grew up, did spend more time "caring for family members" than men who came from households with moms who stayed home full-time.
~ Gave me a chuckle, from the obituary of the guy who invented pink plastic lawn ornament flamingos:

Nancy Featherstone told The Guardian in 2013 that she and her husband had worn matching outfits for 35 years. At first, she said, they wore matching tops that Nancy made herself.
Featherstone and his wife, Nancy, in one of their matching outfits.i
Featherstone and his wife, Nancy, in one of their matching outfits.
Charles Krupa/AP
"Then Donald suggested I make our bottom halves match, too, so we started amassing a whole wardrobe of clothes," she told the newspaper. "Initially we matched only at weekends, but as I grew adept at making more complex garments, such as jackets, sweaters and coats, we decided to go full-time with our identical look. We never needed to go clothes shopping again." 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


After the arboretum, we visited Woodmere, a small art gallery,

which was ok, but not too great: there were a couple of pretty rooms and several paintings from the Hudson River School.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Morris Arboretum Fernery

One of the best parts of the arboretum is the fernery. I'd never heard of such a thing.

Nor imagined that there could be such an incredible variety of ferns.

It brought to mind the Pope's recent encyclical, "Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right."

These clearly give glory to God by their very existence.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Morris Arboretum

I hadn't even heard of the Morris Arboretum until we decided to visit. It was excellent; I would rank it among Philly's top destinations.

There's a "tree house" observatory where you can look out and down on the trees (rather than up at them). The variety of trees there is really incredible.

As is the variety of flowers: there were loads of hydrangeas of many colors (even multicolored ones).

There's an enormous train setup with recreations of famous buildings from across America, but especially Pennsylvania, of course.

Here's a gondola.

Thankfully the day we visited was not too hot. And it helped that we arrived first thing in the morning.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Random Assortment

~ I imagine that this is why a main recommendation for getting through the whole first stage of labor is "ritual"--I forget the other "R's" now. But I do remember standing in a door frame and having Francisco apply counterpressure every time a contraction was coming over our at least 18 hours of stage 1 labor. (For the record, it's a piece about superstitions in sports, not about childbirth.)

~ "Two Sisters; Two Views of Gay Marriage" is an admirable piece by an old professor of mine. It is characterized by civility; both sides could learn a lot from this.

~ I've never cared much for Elizabeth Taylor, but A View of the Harbour might be worth reading. This is from her letters:
I never can get over this—it is as bitter as gall—that I have got to choose. I know it is wrong that I have to. … I don’t think anything enrages me as much as seeing in famous men’s autobiographies photographs of their studies, libraries, quiet places where they work. Then I think of Harriet Beecher Stowe with the yelling baby in one arm & a pen in the other hand. What happened to that baby? How did it fare?
~ I also want to read all of these books:
AS AN INSTITUTION, the family is in the curious position of being regarded as both crucial to human survival and inimical to human freedom.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Horace Pippen

The Brandywine River Museum has an exhibit of Horace Pippin's work. Pippin, a self-taught African-American artist lived for part of his life in West Chester, PA (I think for most of the artistic period of his life).

He fought in WWI, where he lost some use of his right arm, and started painting in earnest 10 years later. The exhibit is wonderful, gathering so many of his paintings up, and showing the multi-dimensional artist that he was--from oil paintings to paintings made with burnt wood to sketches in his journal, from portraits to political paintings to still lifes.

I love the patterns and shapes of his paintings. And of course the doilies.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

More Movies

Child's Pose

We picked out this movie on a bit of false pretenses: Papa Leopard remembered reading about it in WORLD magazine, but when we checked out the article, it turns out it was only mentioned. As in, the Romanian movie, Child's Pose won an award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Regardless, we ended up with this movie, which was artsy as can be--the ending was shocking, and not for the reason that endings usually are, but for its location in the narrative arc. An obsessive mother tries to get her son off for a traffic accident in which the boy he hit died. The mother is a combination of Carmela Soprano and Lucille Bluth (without the comedy). It's a slow-moving, but fascinating character study.

The Trotsky

The movie is a high school drama. And the whole premise is pretty weird. But the main character is excellent.


Way too violent for my tastes. It's like a comic book (from whence it came). The whole thing is a young boy's fantasy. Like a video game.

American Sniper

Oh my goodness--this one raised all the emotions. Movies that deal with violence to children particularly kill me. The story is very compelling.

Coal Miner's Daughter

Another emotional one. And possibly the first biopic that has been my choice to rent. They had quite hard lives and relationships, but country singer Loretta Lynn is tough through it all.

Monday, June 15, 2015


We are doing some gentle night-weaning, so Baby Leopard was up (and crying) at 11 p.m. tonight, which is also when our garbage man decided to show up and empty the garbage cans for the whole complex. This blows my mind--emptying the garbage at 7 a.m. is bad enough, but at 11 p.m.?! You'd better believe that our garbage man got an earful from me. (I know, I know, poor garbage man, just doing his job, whatever. This is very upsetting.)

On the positive side, Baby Leopard only ate one time last night (and only woke up twice). This is far better than the minimum three (max five or six) times a night he has been waking up. We'll see what happens next, but that was a lot of sleep! (For both of us.)

A Random Assortment

~ I don't think it's new, but I just discovered and love this L'Arche online art exhibit. (Wish I could see it in person.)

~ Because it's just security theater:
TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests run by undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security, where DHS agents were able to smuggle fake explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints

~ I like this libertarian reading manifesto (for children! so it's free-range-y):
Agreed: We need to do more than just help children learn to read —we need to help them learn to love reading and make reading a habit, even a craving. But in many schools — unintentionally, tragically — a kind of creeping police state emerges around reading. It’s not enough for some teachers to tell children to read for, say, 20 minutes or half an hour each night. Many children must report back with a “reading log” in which they record not just the titles and authors of the books they’ve read, but also the number of minutes spent reading and pages read. Never mind that this exercise turns something private and immeasurable into a piece of data. Isn’t it teaching, above all, the art of the fudge?

~ I'm happy this building is being developed.

~ There's a lot to like about Free Range Parenting, not the least of which is calling attention to these abuses of Child Protective Services. I mean these abuses are seriously frightening. I hope there's reform and soon:
Only cereal, for the past few days. That's not going to kill anyone, obviously. But if you're arresting parents for not supervising their kids for 90 minutes, it's more than a little hypocritical.
~ "Here’s how my graduating class ended up with 72 valedictorians"--the click-bait got me. Did you know that this is a thing?!
~ I think I love this
Bibliotherapy is a very broad term for the ancient practice of encouraging reading for therapeutic effect. The first use of the term is usually dated to a jaunty 1916 article in The Atlantic Monthly, “A Literary Clinic.” In it, the author describes stumbling upon a “bibliopathic institute” run by an acquaintance, Bagster, in the basement of his church, from where he dispenses reading recommendations with healing value. “Bibliotherapy is…a new science,” Bagster explains. “A book may be a stimulant or a sedative or an irritant or a soporific. The point is that it must do something to you, and you ought to know what it is. A book may be of the nature of a soothing syrup or it may be of the nature of a mustard plaster.” 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

McClatchy Building

During our transportation adventure, we changed lines at the 69th Street Terminal.

I love the McClatchy Building, as you may remember.

In the past, I'd only been able to see it from the outside. Now, thanks to a new occupying H & M, you can go inside. And that stained glass is worth a visit.

You get drawn in by the stained glass, you end up buying things because of the sales. (Just kidding, I may be the only person who only goes into H & M's where there's stained glass involved.)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Glen Ford

Francisco and Mama Leopard and Baby Leopard and I embarked on an adventure this week: we bought all day passes for Philadelphia transportation and proceeded to ride all the public transportation from morning till night.

We rode regional rail, the bus, the el, the old trolley from the 50s, the newer trolley, and the Norristown high speed line (which was a little slow).

We began with a visit to Glen Ford, an old house on the Delaware River in northeast Philadelphia.

There were lovely rose gardens (and look at that bird hotel on top of the garden building).

The trip was great--it involved our favorite coffee shop in Northern Liberties, pho in Kensington near Ilana's work, and some impromptu shopping, but we petered out before making it to Norristown for tacos.