Summer Film Camp 2011

I'm off for an entire week to summer film boot camp. I should probably leave out the boot notion, but it really is a survival of the fittest to sit through every lecture and every movie seven days in a row. The first lecture starts at nine sharp and the last film usually finished around midnight. It is not uncommon to hear someone snore their head off during a movie. After day three your feet start to swell up from all the sitting down. Over the years I've managed to devise some sitting techniques to endure all the movie magic. This year it's in Antwerp. This twice yearly event had been hosted in Bruges in years gone by. So I will have to devise a new sitting strategy because I'm not familiar with the seating arrangements in the theatre.

This will be my 8th Summer Film School I will be attending. I feel like a veteran. And I do feel a bit guilty too. While studying in Brussels (waaaay back in the nineties) I used to attend the Film Museum every night, read the glossy magazines, bought second hand books on cinema, worked on film sets. I ate, slept and breathed cinema.
Over the years, moving to an area where most movie theatres are over 15 kilometers away (and expensive), my movie going experience has dropped to an alarming rate. So far this year (or last year) I haven't even set foot inside a cinema.
So this week is very important to me, to keep connected to my very first love for images.

I will have to face up to the music and decide how to spare my strenght. I will be driving to Antwerp every day, so I will need to be alert and wide awake before venturing onto the roads.
This means I will have to skip a movie to get safely home. When in Bruges I could just skip a movie I'd already seen and have a nap in my hotel room. This will be an entirely different challenge.

David Bordwell will be lecturing on Storytelling strategies in 1940s Hollywood. His morning lectures have been very entertaining and enlightening and no doubt his seven Dark Passages-lectures will be of the same high standard I have heard over the years.
He blogged about the Summer camp for cinephiles in 2007 and in 2009.

This year the umbrella theme is Art & Painting. Lisa Colpaert, Tom Paulus, Wouter Hessels (freshly appointed director of Cinematec) and Steven Jacobs will be lecturing on a wide variety of themes i.a. tableau vivants, art documentaries, interiours and landscapes.

After years of whining I finally get what I asked for: A Greenaway movie! Three cheers for the Vlaamse Dienst voor Filmcultuur!

I don't think I will have time to do any blogging during the coming week. Or even a couple of days after that. Dr Livingstone will be home!


Nature's answer to LED

I got my tripod out to make some decent long exposure pictures of the glow worms in the front yard. They are amazing. The only trouble is they do not sit still. The female Lampyris noctiluca waves it luminous behind about to attract males. On a 30" exposure it just blurs.


The F.A.R.T. to the Rescue!

I neglected to start Dr Livingstone's car and drive it for a bit while he's out on the road. So it failed to start (obviously). The alarm system had drained the battery. No sweat, just had to open up the hood, connect the battery charger and leave it overnight to charge.
Alas, the bonnet wouldn't open. I thought it was just me at first matching all the stereotypes: blond, female.
So I had to call on my neighbour to help. He showed up with his wife, their son and daughter in law and his best friend.
The bonnet did not budge. But then he borrowed my flashlight and took a look at the lever which opened up the bonnet.
The wire had somehow broken. Great.
So I had to call the roadwatch people to help out. They showed up two and a half hours later then announced.
My guess is they were having a threesome in the truck at a layby somewhere.
It was a F.A.S.T. truck (Files Aanpakken door Snelle Tussenkomst); an acronym which translates loosely into Tackling Traffic by Fast Intervention.
I will call them F.A.R.T. from now on. The Flemish Automobile Rescue Team.


The King's Speech

The King's Speech was something almost worthy of an Oscar. I ran it through wordle and here is the word cloud it came up with.

Most used words are:
Onze (Ours)
Alle (All)
Land (Land)
Regering (Government)
Europese (European)
Nieuwe (New)
Samen (Together)
Burgers (Citizens)
Moeten (Must)
Recht (Right)

Surprisingly he only used België once.

The Party Crasher King

King Albert II of Belgium, delivered a landmark speech yesterday. Today we celebrate our National Holiday and are officially 402 days without a government. Very touchingly he expressed his anxiety about all Belgians suffering under this and the impact it has on the image of the country on a European scale.

Surprise in all media about the body language the King used, wildly gesticulating with hands. This is what he also probably looks like while enraged with his son Laurent.

Alas, no one has noticed the similarity between the King of the Belgians and The Party Crasher in the excellent John Badham movie The Hard Way. I think everyone must be told.


Stimulating ambiguity

I went to Leuven on Monday, to read the feedback my professor left for me concerning the paper I'd written. It was very flattering I must say. He called my piece 'wayward & original'. Wayward. Hmmm. I shall send him an email to ask if that was a good or bad thing. Don't want to shock these academics too badly.
And congratulate him on his little photo exhibition. I will omit the fact one of his cadrages was a little off and he'd have done better reworking his Nests picture.
Meh. I can do this too. Chuck in some poetry for good measure. These are the kind of pictures I was taking in a dilapidated harbour twenty years ago.
Maybe I should.
I could give him a few pointers in the pictures area. I'm a trained old skool pro. He's a clever professor with a camera during a sabbatical.
I can be a Renaissance woman too! Havat you!


The Methodologies of Art

Another book arrived in the post last week. I have only read thirtysomething pages of Laurie Schneider Adams The Methodologies of Art and can see plenty of things going awry. This is not a book I'm going to enjoy very much, as I'll get more and more frustrated as I progress.

In her preface she talks about the prolifiration of methodologies, but I am lacking a small side note to this: stressing that not all methodologies are equally 'scientific' or are masquerading as scientific.
She draws an analogy to the interpretation of dreams. 'Works of art, like dreams are multiply detemined'. Ok, I smell parapsychology right round the corner there. I do hope it was poetic license and not to be taken literally.

In the first chapter Adams tells the reader that all methods reinforce one another'. Again, this could very well be the case, but not all could pass the rigours of scientific research.

Anyway, I'm going to delve deeper into this book, and see if I can read on without bias.

The humanities have always teetered on the edge of 'pure' academic (=scientific) research, but it is just that fine line that needs a bit of scrutiny.

I have written on skepticism and art history before, maybe I should do a full length paper about it.



I forgot to mention I passed all my exams this semester and will be finishing up my bachelor next year and hope to progress on to the next level.
And finally finish my graduate in Antwerp, which has been hanging in the ropes for some time. I just need to write up a paper and that's it. I'll give it a good think around, maybe I can combine it with the research I'll be doing for the university next semester.
Already looking forward to putting on the white gloves again and rummaging around in musty archives.


Belgium Bastards

Right. I will commence blogging once more. I have just had a 5 day visit from my 83 year old grandmother.
I though she would only stay 2 or 3 days tops, but she stayed almost a full week.
Maybe she misunderstood me when I said I'd be in Belgium from the 11th 'till the 16th; it implied she could pick some dates in between those days. I had to work anyways, except on Monday.
So when she rang me up to confirm whether or not she'd be coming two weeks ago she said: 'Right. So I'll be staying with you from the 11th up until Saturday.'

I could hardly tell her she couldn't stay that long. She wasn't any trouble really, except when she fell over in the middle of the night and I had to pick her up. I had already, as a precaution, removed all possible tripping obstacles. And there are no stairs in the house she could fall off. But she still managed to stub her toe on something and tumble over in the bathroom.

She even accompanied me to the workshop in the morning. On the way there I bought her a newspaper, which she read back to front. Even the street where I live was in the paper on Wednesday due to some vandals spray painting over some roadsigns and a toad. Honestly. Must be those groups of children camping here.

Anyway, granny got on with Mouser like a house on fire. On Friday I brought her home around midday and planted her in the garden. When I got back from work Mouser was lying next to her in the shade, keeping an eye on things.

Sometimes she's very funny, in a Blackadder-sense: being old and annoying people by pretending to be deaf. She's not deaf, really. Her daughter (my mother) insisted she'd wear hearing aids. So she went and bought them. She just pretends she can't hear 'your mother's whining and moaning'.
Sometimes she's very annoying. And blatently racist. Like out in the open. Like pointing to black people and then (in a very loud voice) hurling abuse at them in the most appalling. Then I try to navigate her away from the people she is focussing on.
Not very easy as she's a very slow walker, so I tend to spin her around so she's facing the other way.
Depending on which group she concentrates on she either calls them spaghetti eaters, rag women, tree climbers or riffraff.
Yes, she is the most intolerant, politically incorrect gran on the planet.
But she can be a bit rock & roll at the same time. She washes down her pills during meals with beer or other alcoholic beverages if they are at hand.


This is what I do on Sundays

Yes, this is what I do on Sundays. Climbing up remnants of wood that have been shaped to look like a machine. Making sure all the loose bits are hammered into place, the axis is lubed with pig's belly fat and looking out for wood worm activity.
And that's just the first half hour.

And yes, that is part of my leg about 3 meters off the floor and 12 meters off ground level. Not bad for an acrophobic I might add.


Moar books!

I have been a very naughty girl. I had to console myself after having those appalling exams. Two of my four books have already arrived. They're all architecture and course related. One of them is an obligatory read next semester. But I'm guessing here. None of the courses I take have summer reading.
So, on a quest to broaden my mind (or clutter it with unnecessary details) I surfed teh interwebs and ordered some at my favourite online bookstores. The ones I ordered cheap from Holland have arrived. One being delivered at 8.30 pm. Strange hours for a parcel service. But anyway, two books added to my Librarything.
Architectuur en kritiek van de moderniteit by Hilde Heynen has an endorsement on the sleeve by Kenneth Frampton. I attended Heynen's architectural history of the 20th century classes last semester. Frampton 'Modern Architecture a critical history' was obligatory reading.

The other one is a liber amoricum for Ed Taverne called De Stad edited by Mieke Dings.

Two other books are making their way from the US. I don't expect them for another week or so. They were the cheapest editions I could find anywhere.


One Door Down

I decided to do some odd jobs around the house. I've cleaned the stables, weeded and cut some overgrowing greenery in its vicinity. Someone is coming to look at them, hope we can rent them out.
I've also mowed the lawn and a bit of the meadow behind it. And I've had to dig a bit so the fence opens up without too much difficulty. Mouser and Bonnie came and went to scrutinize my labour.

Now I'm sanding down some fugly doors. The people who lived here before us tended to favour dark brown over pretty much everything else as a colour. I dub it Granny Brown™. It's a very sombre colour and absorbs so much light. The rest of the house is more or less ok. Luckily they had it redecorated in whites and lighter shades, but the doors remained untouched and are dreary. It is a pity to remove them or paint them over in a light colour. I examined them more closely, they're high quality oak.

So I decided to sand them down to their natural look and just give them a coat of non-colouring varnish. They're fairly easy to sand down on the streight bits. The little corners and bends are tedious and make my elbows go sore.
I've managed to machine-sand four little doors up till now and managed to finish one by hand-sanding.
It seems like this chore is never ever going to end. But I'll have to finish it no matter what. Don't want to be stuck with a mix-and-match closet. But the result is pretty amazing.
Some people remarked at how much better they looked already.
They could of course have said that to just to be polite. I hope they did it just to encourage me.
As I said, these are the small doors. There's four more and they're about 1.5 times longer.


Green LEDs in the flowerbeds

What an awesome sight. After I figured out what it was.
At first it scared the life out of me. When I was letting the roller blinds drop I noticed some faint light through the window. It was in one of the flower beds. It looked like a green LED. My first thought was: 'We're being spied on' and there is some remote transmitter thing hidden among the flowers.
Then I opened up the door to see what it was when I noticed about six more of these strange green light dots! OMG we're surrounded.
Then it finally dawned on me: Fireflies! Luckily my paranoia settled down.

Lampyris noctiluca. Smashing. I fumbled around for my camera and took a 30 second exposure photograph. Alas the only light is from the street lantern so the picture looks decidedly orange.

This was the first time I've seen them here. It's only the first season in this house. We didn't have any at the old house, probably because the farmers there sprayed everything with insecticide and killed off everything, including this species.

It was only the second time I've ever seen them IRL. And that was last year when on holiday in the Eiffel mountains.