2023 Oscar Nominated Short Documenatries

•February 19, 2023 • Leave a Comment

We’ve just come from seeing the five Academy Award nominees for Best Short Documentary at SIFF Cinema. Rick and I were in agreement that all five were good, and two were great.

One of the great ones was Haulout, written and directed by Maxim Arbugaev and Evgenie Arbugaeva.

Watch this on the biggest screen you can. It’s amazing. It’s like Andrei Tarkovsky meets National Geographic. You can watch it online here.

Our other favorite was The Martha Mitchell Effect. I had already watched this online, but seeing it in the theater had a bigger impact on me. It’s infuriating and inspiring, and reminds you of how politics now is more of the same, only worse.

Streaming on Netflix.

Goro Fujita Animation

•February 4, 2023 • Leave a Comment

Dig these loops from animator Goro Fujita.

Frantisek Kupka’s Nature Scenes

•January 28, 2023 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been playing Artle, the National Gallery of Art’s online artist guessing game. Half the fun is discovering artists I’ve never heard of, like Frantisek Kupka. His early nature paintings seem supernaturally alive with energy.

Watercolor and pencil drawing in pale colors of deer, squirrel, bird, and snake among trees.

Animals in the Forest, from the National Gallery of Art

Oil painting of dark vertical trunks and dappled light on leafy bushes below.

Wood Interior

Oil painting of large, blooming chestnut tree in flower garden.

Chestnut Tree in Blossom

Geometrically abstract vertical shapes of tree trunks in deep black, blue, and green

Study in Verticals


It’s Movie Time Again

•January 2, 2023 • Leave a Comment

As old friends of this blob may remember, Rick and I like to save up all our movie tickets and on New Year’s we get them out and reminisce about the films we saw that year. Because of the plague, we did not celebrate this tradition in 2020 or 2021. But this year we’re back at the movies!

Here are some of our favorite cinema visits in 2022:

I saw the trailer for Everything Everywhere All at Once several months before the film appeared in cinemas, and I was so excited that I called Rick over to watch it with me. We both immediately said We Must See This Movie. When we did, it was our first time back in the cinema in two years. What a wonderful way to get excited about movies again.

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic is a rom-com and a thriller about a blind, wheelchair-bound man with MS trying to go to meet a friend he has only ever spoken to over the phone. The film style is utterly original, with masterful sound design and a visual focus kept tightly close to the protagonist to create amazing empathy and tension.

There’s a special place in my heart for Compartment no 6 because it’s based on the Rosa Liksom novel of the same name, which I translated into English. I love what the filmmakers did with it, and the story’s message about tenuous friendship between Russia and the countries to the west is particularly bittersweet in light of what’s happened since it was first written.

Hit the Road is a mystery, a warm family story, a comic road movie, and a political drama. It surprised me over and over.

It’s hard to describe Petite Maman. It’s a kind of sci-fi or fantasy I guess, but it feels absolutely real.

Jordan Peele wrote and directed Nope, so of course it’s densely filled with symbolism and hidden meanings, while also being scary and exciting to watch. A person could write a doctoral thesis on its richly coded critique of screen culture. No doubt someone is doing so even as we speak. The take away: DON’T LOOK AT IT! But I recommend seeing the movie.

I was charmed by the original Marcel the Shell shorts of Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer Camp, and wanted to see the feature-length film, but I wondered if it might be too much sweetness. It’s not. The film totally exceeded my expectations of what little Marcel could do with a meatier dramatic role. And the final musical number is delightful.

In thinking about the past year, being able to go to the movies again is right up at the top of the list of blessings to count. Every one of these films was so much better at the theater than it would have been all by ourselves on our small screen at home.

Did you see any good movies this year?

More year-end movie round-ups here.

Photo of the Day

•December 27, 2022 • 2 Comments

Another interesting photo by Rick.

What appears to be a room lined with metal bars and red neon lights, but is actually a close-up of the inside of a toaster.

Brian Setzer Orchestra: Nutcracker Suite

•December 23, 2022 • Leave a Comment

I am really digging this version of The Nutcracker Suite.

How Ernst Stavro Blofeld Saved Christmas

•December 22, 2022 • 2 Comments

A dark and goofy Christmas story from comics genius Matti Hagelberg, translated by yours truly and published today in the always excellent Words Without Borders.

Title page of comic How Ernst Stavro Blofeld saved Christmas.

Tough luck for Hansel and Gretel. Their parents are too poor. Social Service comes to pick them up.

This is from Matti Hagelberg’s album Silvia Regina.

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind, by William Shakespeare

•December 22, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Portrait of William Shakespeare

Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind

by William Shakespeare

Blow, blow, thou winter wind.
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly,
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot,
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember’d not.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly,
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.


From As You Like It.

Here it is set to music by John Rutter and performed by the Gondwana Singers. I performed this piece in choir in high school, and it still gives me tingles.

The year is turning, its darkest day ending today.

Have a good solstice.

Bobby Helms: Jingle Bell Rock

•December 21, 2022 • Leave a Comment

I was searching for Bobby Helms live and found this gem. Still has that great voice.

Van Gogh’s Fruit

•October 26, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Why have I never seen Van Gogh’s paintings of fruit before? They’re lovely.

Van Gogh painting of yellow pears on a blue cloth

Van Gogh painting of pears, grapes, lemons, and apples

Van Gogh painting of a large pile of apples

Van Gogh painting of a basket of oranges


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