Sunday/ iTunes tune-up: completed

Alright .. I’m done for now with my iTunes tune-up. It was a lot of fun. In some cases I broke the ‘rules’: uploaded a singles album cover from online,  if I had only imported the hit song from a full CD, and I did not like the CD cover much. In other cases where I had multiple CDs for one artist or group (ABBA), I could upload several cool old vinyl covers or CD covers.

Check it out! All the little squares are filled now .. (top left) the first two pics are from the original ABBA’s Greatest Hits. That was on vinyl and I had the record for many years. On the right, Bennie is kissing Anni-frid on the park bench, and on the left Agnetha is hoping (I think!) that Björn will notice her. (They were in fact married at the time. Bennie and Anni-frid would marry each other many years later). Further to the right are two vintage ABBA covers, one for People Need Love and one for I do, I do, I do, I do, I do. In the second row, I like the two Albert Hammond covers that I found online, and uploaded. And I especially like the Barry Ryan cover for Eloise, far right on the third row! 

Saturday/ a happy hippopotamus

Check out the hippopotamus that I had bought at the craft market in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
It is only one animal in a whole catalogue of beautiful ceramic artwork, offered by Porcupine based in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.

Hippopotamuses are among Africa’s most dangerous large animals. Males defend their turfs on river banks, and females with young ones can be very aggressive as well.

Monday/ art from the Baraka gift shop

This artwork was outside a gift shop called Baraka in the little Cape Quarter shopping mall here in Cape Town.

Check out the cool South African themed posters on their website.

‘Halo Spaceboy’, says the ‘King of the Impossible’ with his ‘Aladdin Sane’ make-up (the lightning bolt, from the David Bowie album cover). ‘Make Cape Town Wet Again’ says the text in the background, no doubt a play on Donald Trump’s infamous 2016 campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again’.

Thursday/ it was a scorcher

It was a scorcher here today in the northern suburbs of Cape Town.
My little rental car’s dashboard gauge hit 39.5°C/ 103°F at one point!

There is no water supply crisis in Cape Town the way there was just a year ago (dam levels at 57% vs 25% a year ago). Even so: I try to use water sparingly. As someone said: the best time to save money, electricity, water, is when you still have plenty.

P.S. Check out the cool safari animals that I found today on Eversdal Road in Durbanville. They advertise artificial turf. I think the rhinoceros will make quite a statement, if I were to install one in my front yard in Seattle!

Thursday/ don’t do it, Howard

Howard Schultz (65) was CEO of Starbucks from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017.

Howard Schultz, billionaire ex-CEO of Starbucks Coffee Co. has been making the rounds on morning shows and talk shows, announcing that he is thinking of entering the 2020 presidential race as a ‘centrist independent candidate’.

He is not off to a good start. Democrats fear he will draw away critical support needed to defeat Trump, from the Democratic candidate in a three-way race. Schultz also criticized liberal Democratic policy positions right out of the gate (healthcare for all, free college, more taxes on the rich).
Others say that a being a billionaire in the 2020 race is a non-starter – given how spectacularly out of touch the billionaire-in-chief in the White House and his billionaire Wall Street cronies are, with the plight of most Americans trying to make a living*.

*Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross ‘just did not understand’ last week why federal employees missing two paychecks would visit food banks, when they could ‘simply take out loans to pay their bills during this time of a liquidity crisis’.

I found this somewhat bizarre Starbucks-themed objets d’art at the Starbucks Roastery here on Capitol Hill. The Starbucks mermaid with the Simpsons’ googly eyes can be had for $4,500, and the other two smaller ones are $476 each. (I like the coffee-drinking rabbit with the pig snout). ‘Celebrating the new Milano roastery’ says the sign in the front. OK .. but seems it would also be ideal for a billionaire coffee-lover wanting to celebrate the New Gilded Age we are said to be living in.

Monday/ ‘two out of three ain’t bad’

(That’s a classic Meatloaf song title). I attempted three errands this morning, and was successful with two.
1. To the dentist for my 6-monthly ‘chomper check-up’ & cleaning: success.
2. To the bank to deposit a big check (yes, I know I can take a picture with my smartphone & deposit it, but I had a question about the check). The bank people are always very nice to me (because they have a lot of my money): success.
3. To Seattle Central Library to download my international newspapers onto my iPad: fail. It was only 9.25 am, they only open at 10.00 am, and I wanted to go home to have my oatmeal, blueberry & yogurt breakfast.

I love the jaguar and the bellboy in this Cartier window display in downtown Seattle. The watches are the legendary Cartier Tank watches. Their square design is 101 years old. These are called Tank Solos; it’s $2,550 for the leather strap watch and $2,780 for the one with the stainless steel strap.

Sunday/ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ rocks

We ran out to the movie theater today to go see the just-released Freddie Mercury/ Queen biopic called ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It had gotten mixed reviews from the critics – but as it turned out: what do they know? I thought it was very, very well done.

American actor Rami Malek worked hard to undergo a stunning transformation to portray Freddie Mercury’s flamboyance and human side. The filmmakers collaborated with Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor (71) and lead guitarist Brian May (69).  (Bass guitarist John Deacon (67) retired from the band’s activities a few years after Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991).

The movie ends with an amazing recreation of Bob Geldof’s Live Aid concert that was held in 1985 at Wembley Stadium in London (worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans).

Great picture of Freddie Mercury and partner Jim Hutton. They had been together for 6 years when Mercury passed away in 1991.  [Picture from Hutton’s memoir ‘Mercury and Me’, published in 1994].

Sunday/ the fantasy worlds of LEGO

We went down to the annual ‘BrickCon’ LEGO exhibition, at Seattle Center today. This is where LEGO master builders show off their work, and fans come to admire it.  Here are some of my favorites.

Got to have a LEGO Space Needle, of course. This one was built by Wayne Hussey in 2012, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the real Needle. It took 800 hrs, over 6 months, and has more than 50,000 bricks. (And I love the totem pole in the background).
Elaborate model of the ferry Issaquah, with bridge and deck equipment, minifigures and filled up with all kinds of vehicles, to boot.
Alaska Airlines hangar with landing strip, complete with skid marks. Lots of airplanes, and a wildly colorful flying machine taking off! Seattle waterfront Ferris wheel in the foreground.
This ‘Matt’s Rollercoaster’ model was the pièce de résistance of the exhibition, in a way, featuring a fully functional roller coaster rail and car. It was built from 20,000 standard LEGO pieces after two years of design work. Check out the top right of the coaster: the car is about to plunge down on the rails and into the loop (!), to end up back at the start.
Whoah .. and how about this 15-storey medieval megacastle, with its dragon (on its landing pad), moat, drawbridges & knights. I am sure enemies from the ends of the earth can be spotted by the guards in the turret at the top.
Another castle, styled with terraces and lots of minifigures on the attack. (The still have to deal with the castle walls and the moat, though).
Here is a Halloween house. I love the roof with its reds and pinks, and the other details.
The dinosaurs/ ‘dino wars’ is another LEGO theme, some sets licensed from the Jurassic Park movie franchise.
Finally, a style of LEGO that is called ‘microbuilding’, challenges the builder to create a miniature model of something, such as this Washington State ferry. Nicely done. (The trick is to have a large superset of bricks to tinker with and select from, to put together).

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.