Friday/ the LEGO Americana Roadshow

I lucked out and caught the last day when these LEGO ‘Americana Roadshow’ models were on display at Bellevue Square mall, last Sunday.
I don’t think I aspire to build giant LEGO models like these .. but maybe that is just because I don’t have hundreds of thousands of bricks to work with!

This is a life-size replica of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia (the original bell was installed in the steeple of the Pennsylvania state house, now called Independence Hall). It took two master builders 430 hours to build this model.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota – or an approximation of it! – in a glass display case. I love the little minifigures in orange with their pickaxes on the mountainside. The presidents from left to right are: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and the memorial was completed in 1941.
The Statue of Liberty from Liberty Island, in the New York City harbor, was dedicated in 1886. This model is 1:25 scale, and took three builders a total of 320 hours.
Here’s the Jefferson Memorial from Washington, D.C., completed in 1943, modeled at 1:50 scale. The memorial is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), one of the most important of the American Founding Fathers as main drafter and writer of the Declaration of Independence.
The White House from Washington, D.C., official residence of the President of the United States. This 1:30 model – mercifully – spares us the spectacle of a mini-President Trump, waving at us from the porch.
Here is the United States Supreme Court building, 1:54 scale, also from Washington, D.C., and completed in 1935. ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ on the façade, presumably applies to any President of the United States, as well? The builders had to be creative with their use of bricks to model the human figures seated by the steps, and those on the façade.

Saturday/ townhouse triple

My ‘Townhouse Triple’ used up the last of my windows and white brick stock.
This illustrates the LEGO builder’s dilemma: which creations should one keep on permanent display, and which should one break down (to free the bricks for something else)?

A simple LEGO Townhouse. It’s a MOC*.   *LEGO parlance for ‘My Own Creation’ .. not built from a LEGO set, nor from someone else’s build instructions.

Update 7/22: Here’s an updated model with an improved rooftop.

I added some red trim on the first and second floors, black fencing on the rooftop, and upgraded the roof tiles.

Sunday/ birds of a feather II

Birds of a feather flock together*.  – English proverb in use since the mid-16th century.

*People who are similar to each other, or share similar interests, tend to spend time in each other’s company.

Tuesday/ birds of a feather

Birds of a feather flock together.  – English proverb in use since the mid-16th century.

My LEGO birds keeping each other company. (I’m going to have to add a few more to make it a flock. Two is not a flock. Three, maybe. Four – I would say that’s a flock).

Monday/ my house, in Lego bricks

What would my actual house look like in Lego* bricks? I wondered.  Well, only one way to find out, I thought: build it – and so I did.  I’m pleased with the result.  I had to scavenge bricks and roof tiles from my 2004 Lego Designer House kit, destroying it in the process – but that’s OK.  The roof was a lot of fun to build.

*Lego is short for leg godt, Danish words that translate to ‘play well’.

That’s the Lego ‘me’ on the porch, with the blue shirt and cap (Front). The real house is green with a grey roof! but hey, the white walls and red roof will have to do instead. If I were really determined, I could special-order green wall bricks and grey roof tiles, on   bricklink.com. It’s an online catalog that lists thousands of sellers and thousands of types of bricks. Lego has produced 400 billion bricks since 1958, in almost any square, round and triangular shape, and color, imaginable.

Tuesday/ Mexico’s Day of the Dead /Día de Muertos

We went to see Disney’s animated movie Coco (2017)* in a local arts theater here.  The movie revolves around a Mexican boy Miguel, and the annual Day of the Dead/ Día de Muertos celebration.  Before the movie started, Mazatlán resident Laura Medina explained the Day of the Dead to us.  ‘Life and death is a duality, and cannot be completely separated’. Day of the Dead is about gatherings of family and friends, to pray for, and remember, friends and family who have died – and help support their spiritual journey.

*To quote IMDb: a touching, massively heartwarming story of the strongest familial variety.

Day of the Dead/ Día de Muertos characters for sale at a local art store here in Mazatlan.

Tuesday/ tulip base dining table with white marble top

A mid-century modern Eero Saarinen tulip base dining table with white carrara marble top (mid 1960s). Several of these tables, with different tops, are offered on 1stdibs.com. This one will set its new owner back $2,800. [Picture from 1stdibs.com]
I read a description today of an ‘Eero Saarinen tulip base dining table with white marble top’ in an article about decorating. Well. Let’s find out what this table looks like, I thought.  (Redeem myself a little from the cheap Ikea furniture I still have, by improving my designer furniture knowledge).

Saarinen (1910-1961) was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer, noted for his neo-futuristic style. I also learned that Saarinen was the architect of the Gateway Arch in St Louis.

I took this picture of the Arch in St Louis in Oct ’96. (I lived in St Louis from ’95 to ’98). Inset: Saarinen with a model of the Arch in 1957. Construction started in 1963. Sadly, Saarinen never saw the completed Arch. He passed away in 1961, during an operation for a brain tumor.

 

Sunday/ fascinated by ‘Inmyeonjo’

The Inmyeonjo is a legendary animal that appears in East Asian mythology and Buddhist scripture as a fantastical creature with a human head and a bird’s torso. It dates back 2,000 years to the Goguryeo period in Korea. [Picture: Yonhap News]
I loved the pagoda and the traditional Korean costumes [Picture: Panasonic]. The black and white floor image shows a few shadows at the bottom right. The spectacular imagery on the stadium floor was created by several synchronized ‘large venue’ laser projectors (made by Panasonic). Each put out as much as 30,000 lumens of light, and weigh 83 kg/ 185 lbs.  Cost : some $60,000 apiece. The Intel ‘Shooting Star’ drones from the opening ceremony made a come-back to form the image of Soohorang in the sky (the official mascot). The drones are quadcopters with 6 inch rotors. (Shout-out to the South African flag in the bottom right of the picture). The final screen grab shows a nice Asian blossom/ flower motif. The panda bears in the foreground is the connection to the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
This is just a little lonely that the 2018 Winter Olympic games are over‘ (clumsy but cute translation of a Twitter post, from Japanese).  Yes, it is over.

Congratulations to the US Women’s Hockey team, and the US Men’s Curling team with their gold medals, and to Norway for their record 39 medaIs, 14 gold!

I watched most of the closing ceremony tonight.  I see Inmyeonjo/ 인면조 (the ‘human-faced bird’) from the closing ceremony caused a stir among Korean netizens.

 

Tuesday/ two museums

Today was my last day in Cologne.  The museums and shops were finally open again after being closed Sunday & Monday.   I only made it to two museums, though: the Museum Ludwig and the Chocolate Museum.

Museum Ludwig was established in 1976. This building near the Cologne Cathedral opened in 1986. The museum has artwork from the collections of lawyer Josef Haubrich (born 1889, died 1961) and of chocolate magnate Peter Ludwig (1925- 1996). It has one of the largest collection of Picasso’s artwork in Europe. The ‘Rosenquist’ sign on the left refers to a current exhibit of art of the American James Rosenquist, a pop-artist and contemporary of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, who passed away in March 2017.
One of Rosenquist’s best-known pieces from the early 1960s. It is called ‘President Elect’ and is a billboard-style painting, depicting John F Kennedy’s face alongside a rainbow, a yellow Chevrolet and a piece of cake.
This is ‘inside’ a Rosenquist work called ‘Horizon Home Sweet Home’ (1970). It is a series of colored canvas panels on a room’s four walls.  Some panels have aluminized mylar (plastic) stretched onto a frame, that creates distorted reflections of the other colored panels.

 

This is upstairs, and I thought the giant mural on the right is a Picasso, but it is not. The artist is Fernand Léger, a contemporary of Picasso, and the painting is called ‘Les Plongeurs'(The Divers), 1942.
Here’s the Chocolate Museum. It is on the Rhine, and it looks like a river ship. It’s only 4.30 pm, but the sun is already setting.
Sights inside the Chocolate Museum, clockwise from the left: giant cocoabean chocolate fountain | Molten chocolate with roller-stirrer driven by a simple motor, from Lindt | Red Riding Hood and the Wolf in chocolate | A little souvenir handed to one at the exit (entrance fee is €11/ US$13) | one of a large collection of charming old chocolate bar wrappers.

Geseënde Kersfees! Merry Christmas!

The drawing is from inside the cover of ‘Die Mooiste Afrikaanse Sprokies/ The Most Beautiful African Fairytales’, published in 1968 by Human & Rousseau.

P.S.  It’s a white Christmas in Seattle, with an inch or two of snow falling overnight in the city.  White Christmases are rare in Seattle, but in 2008 four inches of snow blanketed the city on Christmas Day.

Friday/ Heineken’s ‘Cities’ beer bottles

Here is what the latest edition of Heineken’s ‘Cities of the World’ campaign beer bottles look like. (They have been around since 2014).  Heineken sells its beer in 192 countries, says its website.

Let’s see – that’s One World Trade Center on the top left of the star for New York, and Shanghai World Financial Center (bottom right) and the Pearl Tower (top right) on the Shanghai bottle. Cape Town does not have much in the way of skyscrapers, so Heineken went with the Ferris wheel at the V&A Waterfront. The square building on the bottom right may be the (ugly) 1972 Thibault Square building.  I don’t see the newer 2014 Portside Tower.
Here’s the Ferris wheel at the V&A Waterfront. (I see even Castle Lager is now offering an alcohol-free version of its iconic beer, first brewed in 1895 in South Africa).

Thursday/ inside the First National Bank building

The circular desk in the main banking hall, under the dome, still used to indicate the date for those that fill out checks (fewer and fewer these days!) and other documentation.

I checked into the First National Bank building in Cape Town on Thursday, in a quest (unsuccessful so far) for a few new 2017 South African 5-rand coins.

The building was designed by famed architect Sir Herbert Baker, and inside the banking hall’s dome there are four beautiful plaques.

There is a lot of history in the plaques, and I did some on-line research to find the full explanation for them.

Top Left: Symbols of Great Britain : Gold lion with a crown for England, Harp for Ireland, Red Lion for Scotland. Bottom Left: Symbols of the Union Of South Africa: Lady with Anchor for Cape Colony, Wildebeest for Natal Colony, Ox Wagon for Transvaal Colony, Orange Tree for Orange River Colony. Top Right: The arms of Van Riebeeck, a shield with three besants superimposed upon the anchor of Good Hope. Bottom Right: The signs of Lombard Street. Bell for 44 Lombard Street, Rose & Crown for 50 Lombard Street, Bible for 54 Lombard Street, Eagle for 56 Lombard Street. Dragon: Wales

Saturday/ the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) opened in September 2017. The art collection is housed in an old grain silo complex at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Clockwise from left: the front of the MOCAA building | open tops of grain silos on the inside, given new life as six-storey high skylights | looking up from floor 0, by the elevators | utility tunnels from the old grain silo | looking down to the main entrance hall.
From top left, clockwise: Julien Sinzogan, born 1957, Benin: La jetée (The Jetty), 2010, colored ink and acrylic on paper | Cyrus Kabiru, born 1984, Kenya: KwaZulu Natal Elephant mask,2015, Pigmented ink print | Thania Peterson, born 1980, South Africa: Location 4, later District 6, 2015, Pigmented ink print | I recorded no notes for the red dog!
This room was the highlight of the museum for me. Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 but for over 30 years he has lived and worked in South Africa. ‘Ballenesque’ is a retrospective of his work.
From rogerballen.com: His strange and extreme works confront the viewer and challenge them to come with him on a journey into their own minds as he explores the deeper recesses of his own.
Another Roger Ballen composition of strange and distorted figures and photographs.

Sunday/ a young Mozart

From the website about the upcoming American debut of the young composer Alma Deutscher: ‘Our Cinderella image is a painting, perhaps by Leonardo Da Vinci, of a young girl, a little older than Alma. You can imagine it is Cinderella, or you can imagine it is Alma—it has an uncanny resemblance to her profile. We like to pretend that Leonardo divined that Alma would be born 500 years in the future’.

We had another pitch-black national news day here, with a church shooting in Texas that left 26 dead and 20 wounded.

So it was really nice to see a segment on the Sunday night documentary program ’60 Minutes’, of a music prodigy, a 12-year old British girl Alma Deutscher.

Science doesn’t yet understand the human brain and its ability to create something new, nearly enough, to explain her extraordinary abilities.

Robert Gjerdingen is a professor of music at Northwestern University in Chicago, and a consultant to Alma’s education. He says very difficult assignments given to her, when she was six, and seven, came back, and it was like listening to a mid-18th century composer (Mozart, Mendelssohn).  She is a virtuoso on the piano and the violin.

In December, the Opera San Jose Orchestra will stage Cinderella in Alma’s American debut.

Friday/ not-so itsy bitsy, spiders

Halloween (Tuesday Oct 31) is almost here. The decorations are up, on homes and apartment buildings. I love these – visible from far away. ‘Man! is that what I think it is?’ I thought, and walked up to inspect them.

Giant spider Halloween decorations on an apartment building here on Capitol Hill. (‘The itsy, bitsy spider climbed up the water spout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out’, says the nursery rhyme).

Friday/ the ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’

Here’s my latest puzzle project : the wonderful impressionist painting, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party.  It’s fun to use the artist’s colors and textures to build out parts of the picture, and then to find out how they link up in the big picture.

[From Wikipedia: As he often did in his paintings, Renoir included several of his friends in Luncheon of the Boating Party. The painting, combining figures, still-life, and landscape in one work, depicts a group of Renoir’s friends relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise restaurant along the Seine river in Chatou, France. The painter and art patron, Gustave Caillebotte, is seated in the lower right. Renoir’s future wife, Aline Charigot, is in the foreground playing with a small dog, an affenpinscher. On the table is fruit and wine].

Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted the ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ in 1880–1881 with oil on a large canvas, 51 in × 68 in (129.9 cm × 172.7 cm). The painting is currently located in Washington DC in the art museum called the Phillips Collection.

Friday/ la plume est plus forte que l’epee

That’s French for ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ .. a phrase first mentioned in 1839 in a play called Cardinal Richelieu by playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  The phrase became commonplace soon after that, and today its translations are used in many languages (my information obtained from bbc.com).

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‘You are armed!’ says the gunman, on this front page from a Dutch newspaper that refers to the terrible events in Paris this week.