movie time at the cinemark: ant-man and the wasp

We return to the Cinemark on a hot summer day to see an entirely suitable summer movie: Ant-Man and the Wasp.  This latest outing in the MCU is everything the ponderous and horrible Avengers Infinity War was not: small in scale, adequately lit, and equipped with both an manageable number of plots and a relatively small pool of well-developed characters.  Also, it is quite funny.  And it has a happy ending.

You can go to see this movie with a reasonable expectation of being entertained, of having a good time without feeling that either your intellect or your sensibilities have been insulted.  Your heartstrings may be pulled a bit, but not unfairly.

Since I hope you might decide to see this movie without reading more, I am putting the rest under the usual cut. Continue reading

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the day after the fourth of july

I actually had an image ready to post on the Fourth of July, and it never got posted for two very different sets of reasons.  One set involves two terrible storms, a badly timed batch of clean laundry left hanging on the line in the backyard, and, for bonus fun, air conditioning problems in 90+ degree heat  and matching humidity.  The other set, I think you know about.  That’s the set that makes even the mildest, most locally and historically based patriotic display seem vaguely suspicious this year.

But now it is the fifth of July, the sun is shining, the air conditioning tech has been and gone, leaving a comfortable house and a scary receipt, and this photograph seems more innocent.  It’s nothing more than the truth: you can walk down this one particular alley in Kekionga with a camera on a hot summer day, and see this one particular garage someone has painted red white and blue.

(Fuji X-Pro1 “The Monolith”/ Fujinon 35mm f/2  `1/6000 at f/2,  ISO 200. )

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world cup– group stage notebook

Longtime readers of this blog will notice that the World Cup notebooks are going to be a little thin this year.  Blame Fox Sports.  (And yes, this has something to do with jingoism and is therefore vaguely political, but only vaguely, so please bear with me.) Previous World Cups, at least since I started watching the football with full attention, have been covered by ESPN, who treated the tournament as the epic sporting event it is and hired whole teams of the very best commentators in the world.  And for American English speakers, this means the voices we know and love from watching the Premier League– the great British “voices in the booth” who know everything there is to know about the game and its long and storied history.

Fox, when they found out the USMNT didn’t qualify for the tournament (couldn’t beat or draw with Trinidad and Tobago, don’t get me started), decided that that meant US audiences wouldn’t be interested and cheaped out on the commentator budget.  Some group games were even “called” from the studios in the US rather than from the stadium.  That said, the commentators have not been particularly terrible, just rather pedestrian.

Standouts are Derek Rae and Aly Wagner — the great Scotsman who has called eight World Cups and his very well informed “student of the game” sidekick, and Jorge Perez-Navarro and Mariano Trujillo, who bring an excellent combination of knowledge, enthusiasm, criticism and the traditional and expected “Latin passion” for the game.  Any game called by either of these teams automatically goes to the top of the watch list.  But oh, what would Peter Drury, Arlo White and his partners in the “three man booth”, Graeme LeSaux and Lee Dixon, and especially the great Jon Champion, do with some of these excellent games!

That said, there are always a few notes:

  • The World Cup’s Russian style video introductions are pretty and fun– my favorites are the happy little Sputnik that cruises over the stadiums and the epic football as Faberge egg that opens to reveal the Cup itself.
  • The best souvenir I’ve seen is a pleather and fake fur ushanka hat dyed vividly in your team colors with your team badge holding up the front flap. I want several of these.
  • Rule explanation that sounds cool: “The whole of the ball must cross the whole of the line” for a goal to count.
  • Commentator special (paraphrase):  a “courtesy dive” is executed by a goalkeeper in a reaction to a spectacularly good goal.  There’s no way the keeper can possibly save it, but he or she dives anyway for the look of the thing.
  • Commentator insight (paraphrase): Club managers coach a team; international managers coach (and arrange and coordinate) individual players.
  • For the Football Dictionary: “running out of green space”– approaching the edge of the pitch and thereby risking going out of bounds.

Finally, an actual quotation.  From Derek Rae, of course, who spoke of England as “a country with a football tradition at its bubbling heart”.

And so, on to the knockout round.  And because I have very little hope that my personal team, El Tri, is going to get past my favorite-to-win, the mighty Selecao of Brazil on Monday, let’s end with a second to last look at my once and always World Cup Crush, Mexican keeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa.  Viva El Tri! Viva Memo Ochoa!

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best of the drawing of the day color special: blue dragon and company

Just a little drawing of a Kid, a Dog, a Dragon and a … Bird?  Birdlike Creature?  These are all familiar sketchbook denizens who represent the power of the imagination (sort of) and most of them seem to be having a pretty good time.  Don’t be too quick to accuse the Dragon of deliberately scaring the Birdlike Creature– note that the BC has got a grip on the Dragon’s tail.  And grabbing a Dragon’s tail is an Act that sometimes has Consequences.  I was intending that the Dragon’s response be partially playful rather than purely predatory.

These color specials are occasional experiments in adding color to my ink on paper sketchbook drawings for the Drawing of the Day project.  In this one I added the purple and sky blue tones as fills, than changes the black to a darker blue violet as another fill.  This changes all of the interconnected blacks to the color, while leaving the isolated blacks alone.  I change a few of the latter individually, but leave most of them alone.  I like the way this punches up the faces of the characters and a few other random details, and gives the finished piece a little extra texture.

(For extra points, find the Blatantly Obvious Coloring Error!)

 

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the insect identification multimedia extravaganza

  • Little insect splashed with paint,
  • Is you a moth or is you ain’t?
  • Brown and orange wings with a big white spot,
  • Are you a butterfly or are you not?
  • Butterfly antennae have clubs and bobbles.
  • Moths have quiet wings, softly mottled.
  • Butterflies rest with their bright wings together;
  • Moths have antennae that branch and feather.

  • Antennae like a butterfly, but not quite …
  • Furry body like a moth, but what’s with the white?
  • The Internet answers in a clip like a clipper:
  • Between butterflies and moths there’s a bug called a “skipper”.
  • (A Silver Spotted Skipper, that is.)
  • The ‘Net says you like flowers in all colors but yellow.
  • You’re the bug in the middle, and an interesting fellow.

Yes, the Phone Camera Butterfly Project has spawned a multimedia side project: insect identification poetry!  This all started because I was wondering if these photographs counted as Phone  Camera Butterflies since I wasn’t sure if the subject was a butterfly or a moth.  As is so often the case, the resulting quest for information yielded results much interesting than expected.

Also, it took me two days to write this poem.  The first two lines were written on the spot, as it were.

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best of the drawing of the day: wolf, sheep, etc.

The title of this drawing refers to the curly wolf character in the foreground, who definitely looks like a kind of wolf in sheep’s clothing.  And is almost certainly a werewolf as well, although that doesn’t come into the story.

But this one is really about the woman with the gloves and basket. I remember drawing this and thinking of her as a Queen (or Princess*) in Her Garden, which is normally a pretty wimpy subject involving single roses, tiny golden scissors and possibly a small pool of clear water in a birdbath looking fixture that acts as a magic mirror.

This woman is not that kind of lady.  She is clearly planting and harvesting the kind of first class Herbs and Ingredients that remind us that there’s nothing stopping a Queen (or Princess) from also being a Sorceress, Herbologist, Potions Mistress, or Witch.  She certainly has the space for it, and a deep budget for importing seeds and cuttings from Distant Lands.  And if the resulting plants are a little hard to handle, her leather gloves and apron (and confident expression) show that she is perfectly able to show them whose Garden this is. I’m pretty sure she has a huge knife with a serrated back in her concealed hand, if not a pair of mithril steel lopping shears.  And the magic pool is a small pond with weeds and dragonflies and weeping willows all around it, and probably a kraken.

*Not a teenage Princess in a poofy ball gown, toying with a golden ball– a grownup Princess who is the King’s aunt or sister and doesn’t have to take any guff from anybody.

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car spotting: alfa romeo gtv6 2.5

The distinctive shape of this “late 20th” Alfa called to me from across the parking lot at the big box store.  My first take was “Alfetta”, and I wasn’t entirely wrong: GTV6 2.5 was the name given to late model six cylinder versions of the 4 cylinder Alfetta, but they are definitely members of that family. The Alfettas were famous racing cars in Europe, excelling on the Touring Car circuit and in rallies.

There were two series of GTV6 2.5s: 1980-83 and 1983-87.  I am pretty sure this is an example of the later car.  Unfortunately, the few minutes I had available to hang around it with the phone camera failed to yield the return of the owner, who I hoped would be willing to answer a few questions (like “what year?”) in exchange for my admiration for their rocking Italian Eighties ride.  I was in my twenties when this car was new, and I admit that as the years go by the design language of the period is looking better and better to me.

Sighting: Alfa Romeo GTV6 2.5, series 2 (?), silver over black, definitely a driver.  8 points base for an unusual, appealing, and fairly rare car, +1 Italian, +1 cool old car being driven on errands, -1 silver car not of German origin, for a total of 10 points.  Great spot!

(Photographed with the phone camera on the old Nexus 5 on a cloudy spring afternoon, edited first on Pixlr in the phone, then on FastStone on the desktop.  Rear three quarters image redacted on PaintShop Pro.)

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the source

This is where it all comes from: the act of walking around a corner and finding a bunch of concrete pavers stacked around a tree in somebody’s front yard.

And the pavers are dyed subtle earthy colors and the grass is bright green, and behind everything is a black iron fence and a plastic watering can in a different green.

And there are eyes to recognize a moment, and tools to record, and a spirit to lift and fly around the neighborhood for no particular reason.

And a few days later, there is a brain to remember and speculate and build it all into something, even though no one is sure what it is going to be.

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a flower, the world cup, teeth etc.

Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth for a few more days than usual.  The Bad Tooth finally made enough noise (and gave me enough sleepless nights) to send me on an emergency trip to the dentist, where (surprise!) it did not have to be pulled.  The dentist suggested that the Bad Tooth was actually infected, and sent me away with a prescription for antibiotics without any scary pointy things or blood.  The whole festival of unnecessary terror cost me less than twenty bucks and the BT is already calming down after 4 doses. (My dentist = a genius.)

Other distractions include late spring/early summer walks, including some with the cameras, and starting next week, the World Cup.  Longtime readers of this blog know I have a passion for international football and you can expect that during the group stage I am going to be watching 4 games a day whenever possible and everyone else is just going to have to put up with it, except the dogs who do not care about the football and will insist on their usual routine.  You can expect occasional football content on the blog, and otherwise to look at photographs and drawings from the sketchbook for the duration.  The good news is that a Big Summer Serial Project is coming and should start as soon after the World Cup Final (Spain/Brazil?  France/Brazil?) as can reasonably be expected.

But for now, have an iris growing in the water garden downtown.

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a poem about fences and the word “fence”

For some reason, I find Menards very inspirational.  I make a fair number of photographs there, and sometimes write small essays and poems.  This is A Poem About Fences, and the Word “Fence”.

  • snow fence, safety fence
  • net fence
  • barrier fence
  • green fence
  • orange fence
  • wooden fence posts
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