Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Animal Book: Complete with Rivets

My elder daughter, who likes to instigate odd internet searches, asked me to do a search for "mechanical world" this afternoon, and what came up? The Animal Book, a short animation written and directed by Natalie Hinchley and Chris Randall and produced by Second Home Productions (who, by the way, have a very cool animated logo), looks to be a very interesting little film indeed.

Here is the synopsis from the website:

The Animal Book is the story of two sisters who exist in a threatening world of giant machinery; a city of cog-mechanized buildings, where cars cruise shark-like through the streets. Even their sun is a giant lightbulb and the moon a stud-riveted mirror. When a snatched retreat to the sisters' broken playground is interrupted by a flying book, one of them is offered an opportunity to escape the world for a better life.

I don't have access to the full film, but the trailer is this amazing vision of a world where someone has gone nuts with the riveting gun. ScreenWM describes the film thusly:

"Polly and Dill live in a mechanical world, devoid of animals for benefit of the great machine. But when the mysterious Animal Book appears into their lives, things are bound to get interesting."

Which, of course, piques my interest doubly. If I were back in the US of A, I would be chasing the thing down as we speak. It is hard to tell from the website when this went to Cannes: this year? Last year? The year before? Alas, IMDb says nothing about it, so I will I rely on you-all to find a copy and tell me more about this enigmatic gem.

(This just in: Chris Randall, the film's co-director, kindly wrote to me and updated this information. He says: "In answer to your Cannes query, it actually went last year. The website is due to be updated imminently with more details about the project." And apparently it has done the rounds of the festivals since then. So I'm a little behind the curve, but it's still worth checking out. And they sound like nice people.)

And lastly, courtesy of Youtube, you can look at the trailer right this very moment!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wunderkammer-Inspired Sculptural Crochet

Anna A. pointed me to Jessica Polka's delicate creations, both crocheted and embroidered. She is interested in the natural curiosities found in Wunderkammern, and has found a way to make them sculpturally via crochet. Her work is small - in some cases, even tiny - and exquisite.

She has a blog called Wunderkammer, in which she posts new creations and happenings in the life of an exquisite thing-maker, and she sells patterns for many of them at San Francisco's Curiosity Shoppe. She also occasionally posts a free pattern and instructions on her blog if you're interested in trying it out. Apparently she did a workshop at said Curiosity Shoppe in February, which I am sad to have missed! Here is something she developed to help her students learn the basic ideas and shapes for sculptural crochet:

You can see more pictures of her tiny things here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lost in Split

The sun is finally out.

Having no trousers is a problem, since they seem to be de rigeur here, except for old ladies. Both my pairs of jeans fell apart two days or so before I left the states, and I’m not an easy person to fit. But it is time, time to post a blog, and I am not so easily deterred.

The Saturday afternoon foot-traffic along the road from Meje is quiet, only picking up as I near the ultra-clean Riva, the plaza along the waterfront downtown. As usual, I get many stares in my long skirt and thin green sweater, either because of my intense red hair or because I am simply dressed like a weirdo, I'm never sure. The Split style seems to be a uniform, uh, uniform: a sort of italianate obsession with jeans, sportswear, and glam. My French hiking sandals are far too practical for what is considered normal here.

Plus, the tourists hadn’t arrived yet.

I cannot find an internet cafe that is open on a Saturday afternoon. There are three marked on the map, and I actually think that might be all of them. The first one contains only one person: a tired, housewifely person who has just finished mopping the floor. She shakes her head at me. The next one, somewhere near the East side of Diocletian’s Palace, is closed. The third one, near the Fish Market (dead right now, of course, as are nearly all the streets except the little back ones with the sounds of children playing) is open.

“Internet and games,” claims a sign, and points up an unprepossessing stairwell. Hmm. At the top is a closed door with a backpack-y sign on it proclaiming it open every day until 21:00 hours. I hesitate, then reach for the door, only to have it snatched open under my hands.

Two young men with Italian-style front-faded jeans leap backwards and gesture inward, but I’m there first, smiling and gesturing outwards. They move past me, and the smell of cigarrettes comes with them. I step in: a darkened room, several dark-haired guys with earphones on play CarJack 900 (or something) with earphones on and cigarettes dangling from their lips. They puff away while silently jerking at the controls.

I back out quietly.

Now I’m sitting on the limestone steps of an alley in the middle of Diocletian's Palace, typing this to the sound of neighborhood kids home playing without fear of strangers, climbing around on 2,000 year old walls and steps and one of the 4,000 year old sphinxes that Diocletian had imported to decorate the place. The air is chill but dry, pigeons fly by with that peculiar whiff, whiff sound they make, and I’m happy to be here. Despite a back injury, a sinus infection, and a month of not writing, children who won’t eat local food and the unfortunate tendency to become locally famous for my hair and eccentric dress, I’m here.

What a great place.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

One Week to Go

Well, only one week until we fly away. I'll be posting like crazy once I get to Croatia (and overcome some jet lag). I'm taking all my materials! Looking forward to it -- I've missed writing about things, and want to thank everyone for the support and inspiration!

Diocletian's Palace

(More about Diocletian, an interesting guy and one of the few Roman emperors who actually managed to retire before he was assassinated).