Sunday, June 26, 2016

"Finding Dory"

Friday June 24, 2016
Tonight we went to our local cinema to see "Finding Dory." We very much liked "Finding Nemo" and, like most moviegoers I suspect, were particularly delighted with the comical character of "Dory." Ellen Degeneres is wonderful at voicing this charming little blue fish.

I loved how cute Dory was as a small fish, both the child-like voice and animation of the character. Who wouldn't be won over? The fact that Dory would be given directions and then forget them like two minutes later is something I can definitely relate to, and I could feel my husband's knowing glance at me from time to time. Unlike Dory though, it's not that I have short term memory problems (though I might). It's simply I have no sense of direction (much like the main character of Makoto in my current favorite anime, "The Flying Witch.")

However, at times I did feel the film was a little tedious and just wanted Dory to find her family and everyone to be happily reunited. The End. Now we can all go home. I don't know if this was so much a flaw with the film as much as it was just me being a bit crabby going into the movie (from being tired and having a bad day at work).

I enjoyed the joke about the fish in quarantine at The Marine Life Institute being sent to "The Cleveland" (Aquarium). Perhaps this will help increase attendance to what I've heard is only a mediocre aquarium at best (though I haven't yet visited, so can't say for sure).

At any rate, in spite of my impatience with the film, it's still a movie I can recommend.

Next Up for Movie Reviews: "The Secret Life of Pets" (coming out on July 8th).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Visit to Northeast Ohio

All things considered it was a pretty amazing weekend, not perfect, but still pretty darn good.
Friday we stopped in Dennison to visit the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, which we had first heard about from mom and dad something like 15+ years ago. [I may or may not have a photo of them there; will have to check my archives]. Had lunch, then toured the museum. As sometimes  happens, Andrew and I get separated, then I find out I missed a whole huge chunk of the museum because I was at the gift shop or elsewhere. When we did meet up I had to quickly run through a whole row of cars that make up the bulk of the museum. It would have been nice to have done it at a more leisurely pace, but at least I got to see most everything (but had to skim and/or skip a lot of the reading of plaques, etc.).

I wish I had had more time to spend on this exhibit:
Our Feature Exhibit Car is currently home to the “Imagining a Better World: The Artwork of Nelly Toll” exhibition. This exhibit explores nearly 60 watercolor paintings and the life of the young girl who created them. Nelly Toll was a child living in Poland when forced into hiding from the Nazis in World War II. Her paintings catalog her hope for a better tomorrow.
“Imagining a Better World: The Artwork of Nelly Toll” will be open to the public starting March 1st, 2016 and will close on February 28th, 2017. This is the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum’s first exhibit exploring both artwork and the Holocaust. It is being generously borrowed from the Massillon Museum located in Massillon, Ohio.

All in all a pretty good museum and definitely worth the stop. The short movie you watch before touring the museum could have been edited to be a bit more succinct. I felt like I wasted more time watching the film when I could have been touring the exhibits.

After leaving Dennison we traveled north to Dover, home of the Auman Museum of Radio & Television.

I had phoned Mr. Auman earlier in the day (the museum is open by appt. only) and he was already at the museum having finished up what he was doing a bit early. We were lucky he was patient and willing to wait for us after running at least a half hour late. I originally told him it might be 2 or 3pm by the time we arrived at his museum, but it ended up being closer to 3:30 (pm), give or take. Since Dover is north of Dennison, I figured it made more sense to visit there last, but Andrew said we'd still be passing by Dover on the way to Dennison, so in hindsight we probably should have done things in the reverse order, geography be damned!

Anyway, after we arrived Andrew dropped me off so he could go find on street parking around the corner, so I sat in the waiting room and had a chat with Mr. Auman. I told him I first read about his museum from,, a newsletter I subscribe to.

Once Andrew arrived, Mr. Auman drew back the curtains and turned back the clock before the digital revolution. I don't know what I was expecting, but the first words out of my mouth were, "WOW! wow!" Dozens upon dozens of TVs, radios, and other related pop culture treasures lined the walls in what's probably a couple thousand square feet. I've been to other radio and TV museums, but I still hadn't seen most of the models he had in his collection. These were works of art, as well as fully functioning pieces of technology. In order to preserve the sets and keep the electricity bill down, he usually only fires up a few at a time, during which you can watch snippets of the programs that would have aired while that model was in its heyday. I remember seeing a little bit of "The Life of Riley" on one set.

Besides just the TVs and radios, the museum can boast having the original turntable used by Cleveland disc jockey, Alan Freed, who is famous for first coining the term, "Rock 'n Roll." Apparently the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame was more interested in acquiring Elvis memorabilia rather than having this, so it was free for the taking, as were many of Auman's other acquisitions (incl. several cans of classic films on nitrate which now belong to the Library of Congress).

Auman could probably write a book as there's a story behind every piece. Like the old expression, "If only the walls could talk..."

You could probably spend a week in there and still not see every item in his collection. I can't recommend his museum highly enough. Definitely the best $5 I ever spent.

After arriving at mom and dad's and stepping out of the car, we heard a strange humming sound. I immediately knew what it was having read about this on a blog - it was the sound of Brood V Periodical Cicadas. Once you know what you're looking for, you start to see them everywhere, as well as a few corpses and more than a few shells. In fact mom even bagged one to take down to Columbus to show the grandkids (since we don't seem to have that variety down here) later.

The next morning we drove to the Holden Arboretum where the hum is especially audible, though it doesn't permeate all of Lake County. I imagine it has a lot to do with the amount and type of trees you have in your neighborhood. Also, I'm sure they're more prevalent in the rural areas rather than in the cities.

Last fall the Arboretum invested in a new canopy structure which includes a tower in one corner that overlooks the top of the forest, and which you can see all the way across to Lake Erie (on a clear day, so we lucked out). Mom wasn't sure about climbing all the way to the top, but found the design made it less intimidating since there's only perhaps 10 steps at a time before you reach a landing where you can rest. It's only as you near the top that you climb a set of spiral metal stairs. I thought it was nice that they had a couple sets of binoculars you could borrow to have a look into the distance. Unfortunately there's not a lot to see, but I bet the view is nice in the autumn when the leaves turn color.

From there we drove on to downtown Willoughby which was setting up for their annual Classic Car Cruise-In scheduled to take place at 4pm. Hence, we were lucky to find on street parking since most spaces were reserved for the antiques. We had sandwiches at an independently owned deli. Mom mentioned something about it being like Subway 'where you can tell them how you want your sandwich made.' The employee was like, "We don't use the S-word here!" (LOL!)

Across the street is Eastside Relics which I think is the antiques store we browsed in for awhile. Dad quite likes the motorcycle constructed out of an old rototiller. I first noticed the unusual seat, but wouldn't have guessed it had parts from a rototiller. Mom was right that there's definitely something for everyone there, as there certainly was an interesting cross section of collectables. It didn't take me long to find several items I was interested in, but then ended up changing my mind and just bought a couple other things - a small bakelite/plastic camera, the Ansco Panda, which is the cousin of the Brownie, and an old Viewmaster Projector. I need to find a bulb to fit it (dad suggested trying whatever I have lying around before shelling out for a more expensive bulb), as well as some Viewmaster reels. It's a beautiful piece of art deco craftsmanship, so I couldn't resist.

After resting at home for a little while, we headed to Laurentia Winery, (which was part of Andrew's birthday present) for a sampling and splitting of a bottle of wine. I love the design and layout of the winery and could see easily whiling away an afternoon on the patio or an evening in front of the fire. I sampled the Gew├╝rztraminer while mom and dad tried the Riesling, and Andrew the Chardonnay before we all settled on the Pinot Grigio. Honestly, I wasn't really won over by any of the wines much preferring some of the ones we had last autumn when we visited three different wineries in a day. However, the food looked and smelled good, so I could have quite happily had some pizza and wine.

We headed to Geneva-on-the-Lake for dinner. Dad had his heart set on eating at the Sandy Chanty Seafood Restaurant (apparently one of his favorite places to visit in his younger years). The owner told us service would be slow, and that there was a large party due to arrive in an hour. That didn't deter dad who was quite happy to wait (though the rest of us were in favor of going elsewhere for a slightly faster meal). Mom was right that it wasn't much before 8pm by the time we finally left. Hence, the weekly craft show held by the old amusement park was just cleaning up by the time we arrived. We were, however, still in time to buy a couple pieces of jewelry from one of the vendors, and as luck would have it, everything was 50% off, so I got a nice necklace for around $4. You only find those kind of prices at thrift stores and garage sales down in Columbus, so I like the cheaper economy when we come up north.

Mom wanted to show us another new winery on the lake where you're practically on the beach while you enjoy your food and wine. It's called The Lakehouse Inn: Bed & Breakfast, Winery, Restaurant, Day Spa. We looked at a menu, but dad didn't want to stay, and Andrew was feeling poorly suffering from allergies, so we women were overruled and walked back to the car.

It was while driving back that we saw the sunset from the car. Mom decided to pull over at the Geneva Inn so we could catch the last couple minutes of sunset while trespassing on the property of the new vacation cabins. I was glad to at least catch the tail end, but still brooding the rest of the evening having to miss most of a beautiful sunset because the guys didn't want to stay. We stopped for ice cream on the way back. Even though I was still a bit mad, I couldn't resist a cone, so I got a triple swirl cone, which I ate under protest.

Sunday we went to church where I got to see Father Vallee, whom I haven't seen for about eighteen years since the time my friend went to church with us while she awaited news of the disappearance of her step brother. Mom and dad told me Father Vallee had had a stroke some years ago and they hadn't seen him very often either. I, along with lots of other people, whispered during communion, "Nice to see you again father." I told Father Vallee I hadn't seen him since I got married almost eighteen years ago. He said, "Do your best to stay married." I told him I would.

We met Jim and Gwen at Stocker's for brunch, which is somewhere I haven't been for years, but it's long overdue. I had the s'mores pancakes, which were chocolate chip pancakes with the largest marshmallow I've ever seen set alight on top of the stack. Though it was a bit messy, I certainly enjoyed eating it with the pancakes, and managed to finish my two rather large hotcakes. Mom told me I should have ordered only one, but I knew I could probably finish two, and I think that's how they were made so you had chocolate melting between layers. 

Following that, it was a brief afternoon of cornhole, left, right & center, and '31,' all of which I lost at (though I didn't play cornhole). I think Andrew won all three, though maybe not cornhole, but he did make several hole-in-ones, so he can certainly hold his own.

Then it was back on the road for the long drive back down to Columbus.

Of course we watched some of the Cavs game before going to bed. Much thanks to the network for airing it early enough that we east coast viewers didn't have to stay up too late. It seemed the rest of the family all had the same thought we did, which was to just flip to the game during commercials and perhaps catch the end, since that's when it gets really exciting. I'm really glad Andrew and I did that so we could witness history being made when the Cavs made their last basket, held off the Warriors, and the clock finally ran out. I cried happy tears and hugged and kissed Andrew. "I guess they finally broke the curse," Andrew said. I nodded happily and asked him if I could buy a souvenir t-shirt." "Sure," he said. Then we went to bed.

I couldn't have asked for a better end to a wonderful weekend. Have a great week everyone!
P.S. Sorry for the lack of photos in this week's post, but I am a bit short on time lately, so check back on flickr where (at some point) the photos to accompany this should be posted.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Arts Weekend in Columbus

Friday June 10, 2016
This weekend there was no shortage of activities to choose from in the greater Columbus area. Starting on Friday there was the annual Columbus Arts Festival. Saturday there was the quarterly Avante-Garde Art Show at St. Agatha’s in Upper Arlington, and in late afternoon there was the Digfest at Grandview Yard. We only attended one of these three electing to go to the Arts Festival after work on Friday (mostly because it was supposed to be quite hot & humid on Saturday). It was a bit warm walking around at first, but after about an hour or so it started to cool off, so we were both pretty comfortable in slacks and t-shirts.
I’m not sure when we last attended the Arts Festival, but I do remember it was in the old location downtown, quite near to where Andrew was working at the time at Motorist’s Insurance. He even took a few photos of the festival looking out of one of the upper floor windows.
Since all the improvements downtown and the completion of the Scioto Mile, it makes for quite a nice venue for the festival. I would love to be one of the tenants whose apartment overlooks the festivities, or perhaps not, because I imagine it would be a bit noisy for a few days.
While searching for the Pierogi stall, we ended up looking at quite a lot of art before we finally found the elusive Polish delights (by which time they were out of half the flavors, but no biggie!). I think the first booth we looked at had some handmade guitars that were works of art, as well as playable guitars. One was made out of some sort of animal horns that looked like it would make playing quite difficult, but would definitely be a conversation piece, which is probably why you would buy it. Later on we saw another booth also selling homemade, but slightly more conventional guitar-like instruments (I forget what they were called) where the artist gave demos of how easy they were to play (because they only had 3 notes/3 strings). Had I any musical inclinations, I probably would have bought one.
I even ran into an old art class friend who said hello to me first. We’re both veterans of Amy Flowers’ Shrewd Arts classes. We had a chat at a booth selling (very expensive) homemade paper books bound in leather. My friend said they were very high quality (useful for different kinds of media) and better than most others she had purchased in the past. I’ll take her word for it, but passed all the same. I have several homemade paper books at home, none of which has ever been touched after bringing it home. Someone told me you need to mess up the first page or two in order to get over the fear and then just plunge right in and make some art.
Probably the longest conversation I had was with a young artist who had some interesting business cards – which were square and had a piece of her art on the front. Like many other potential customers, I ended up picking up more business cards than actual art, because so many of the cards were little works of art. The artist told me she uses moo to do her business cards and they have great customer service even shipping extra cards to her at a location on the road since the first batch didn’t arrive on time to her home. I told her I like moo because they’re one of the sponsors of NPR, so they’re a good company to support. I wish I had bought something from her, but looking around there wasn’t anything to fit our budget, or the size of our walls.
I ended up purchasing five items before the night was out – starting with two b/w photos by a young photographer. One was of the famous Shakespeare bookstore in Paris (which we had visited, but don’t really have any very interesting photos of), the other a self-portrait very reminiscent of the style of Vivian Maier. I later bought two necklaces, both fairly inexpensive purchases, and a blue tile that had a photograph transferred onto it reminding me (at least color-wise) of a delft tile. Either way, it will be a nice addition to our kitchen where I have lined up my others behind the sink under the window. My last purchase of the evening, and certainly the most agonizing decision was which homemade paper book to buy. This was in the tent of local up-and-coming artists from the Columbus area, so prices were somewhat cheaper than the others on the midway. Okay, so I’m a cheap philanthropist, but like I said earlier, I have a penchant for collecting these little works of art and keeping them pristine by never sullying their delicate pages with what passes for art from my untrained hands. I finally settled on the ‘Wanderlust’ book setting aside the ‘Inspiration’ one with slightly pink colored paper. I probably should have bought them both, but I didn’t want Andrew to have a cow when I blew my $100 budget (which I went over, just a little).

I talked Andrew into buying a funky clock from a vendor out of Oakland, CA. It wouldn’t be the one I would go to when needing the time in a hurry since it’s more of a work of art and is somewhat difficult (at least to my untrained eyes) to suss out the time. However, it is a work of art, and Andrew spent quite awhile studying each one, so I knew he was definitely interested. He just needed a little encouragement. It didn’t take much prodding to convince him to go for it, and I think we’re both glad he did.

After dark the whole Scioto Mile turns into this magical place where I wish I could have spent longer (it was still quite warm, but not too humid), but the festival was wrapping up for the day and people were heading out, so we slowly made our way back to our car and headed back to suburbia.

Sunday June 12, 2016
Today we visited the Wexner Center to see their latest exhibit, Martin Wong, Human Instamatic. I don’t know if that’s what he called himself or whether some clever marketer came up with that, but even after seeing the exhibit, I still fail to see the connection.

Though it’s not work by a master, the paintings and other multi-media pieces were still top quality. The artist was a homosexual Asian  (who loved to dress as a cowboy) who lived in San Francisco before moving to NYC, and most of his art reflects the people he knew and the neighborhood he lived in. It’s a grim portrait to be sure, but still moving and interesting.
My favorite works were the paintings he did of fingers spelling out phrases using ASL (American Sign Language). He apparently had a fascination with the deaf and their language, and loved how they communicated. As a speaking person who knows a little ASL, I found this very interesting. The chatty security guard at the Wexner said he once coached a bowling team made up of nothing but deaf kids, so he once knew some ASL, but had long since forgotten it. I have had about half a dozen lessons (so I know less than 200 words), but it’s certainly easy enough to forget if you don’t use it on a daily basis. I was however, able to communicate with the deaf people running the pierogi booth by pointing at my selections (like everyone else), then signing “yes,” and “thank you,” so at least I still know a few useful phrases.
After leaving the Wexner Center we walked over to the Gateway Film Center to see “The Lobster,” a movie I would classify as “Sci-Fi” (and that's how I saw it advertised) since it has futuristic themes, but Andrew thinks it's more Dystopian. Either way, we both agree it’s a dark comedy that’s very bleak and disturbing at times, but certainly does make you think. According to Google, "In a dystopian society, single people must find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal of their choice." I was glad when the film was finally over and we emerged back into the sunshine where Andrew held my hand as we walked back to our car.

Have a good week everyone!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Period Drama weekend

Aside from doing a bit of organizing of things in my basement, I also found time to watch a couple good period dramas this weekend.

Friday night we rented (on "From Time to Time" which was directed by Julian Fellowes, of "Downton Abbey" fame. The movie is set during World War II in which a young boy (13) goes to the country to stay with his grandmother (in her historic mansion) while his mother searches/mourns for his MIA father. It isn't long before Tolly starts seeing ghosts of the past, and the rest of the movie continues melding the past with the present to solve the mystery of the missing family jewels. I loved it because it reminded me of some of my favorite weekend specials I watched while growing up. Also, because it had Julian Fellowes at the helm, no detail was left unattended. The cast, led by Dame Maggie Smith (later to be cast as the Dowager Countess), and Alex Etel (“Millions”), not to mention Hugh Bonneville (later to be cast as Lord Grantham) were superb all around. It was definitely worth the $1.99 we spent to rent it.

Saturday evening we drove to the cinema (in between storms) to see “Love and Friendship,” the movie based on Jane Austen’s novella, “Lady Susan.” According to Wikipedia, “Set in the 1790s, the widowed Lady Susan Vernon seeks refuge with her in-laws as rumors about her scandalous private life circulate through polite society. While staying at the estate, Lady Susan decides to find husbands for herself and her daughter, Frederica.” I’ll suffice it to say it was definitely the funniest period drama I’ve ever seen, and I can’t imagine Jane Austen writing anything so witty, so surely some creative license must have been taken by the screenwriter. As with “From Time to Time,” there was a stellar cast of many well-known actors – Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Fry, James Fleet, and Chloe Sevigny, among others.

Favorite quotes (by Lady Susan): “God made small children cute to balance out the horrible creatures they become when they grow up.” “May his next flare-up of Gout be more severe.”

As a bit of trivia, the movie was mostly filmed in Ireland (though nowhere we’re likely to visit when we’re on holiday there in August).

For fans of period dramas, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either one.