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 Last night I went to a fun lecture at the Newseum. Three local film critics - Arch Campbell, Ann Hornaday and Bill Newcott - picked 10 movies that they thought shaped the boomer experience. They each picked three and then all agreed on one.

Ann Hornaday - All the President's Men, Apocalypse Now, Star Wars
Arch Campbell - American Graffiti, The Godfather, Psycho
Bill Newcott - Goldfinger, Wizard of Oz (remember the Pink Floyd version?), Sound of Music

And the quintessential boomer movie? The Graduate. They loved the soundtrack and the nuanced performances.

It was interesting how important they all thought soundtracks were. Ann Hornaday was scathing about George Lucas. She said his biggest contribution was to improving sound and his movies made enough money that theatres stayed in business. Otherwise, Star Wars infantilized the movie industry and it is still trying to recover. But Star Wars did have an enormous influence on the culture. 

The three all had informative comments on why they chose their picks. In the Q and A afterwards, the second-guessing began. Why Apocalypse Now and not Deerhunter? Where's West Side Story. Where's 2001: A Space Odyssey?

So what would your picks be?
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I hate that people take their Christmas decoration down so early. What happened to keeping them up until Twelfth Night?

I hope everyone had a nice New Year. Sister 9 and I made a day of it. We went to the U.S. Botanic Gardens to see the model train sets. The theme this year was World Fairs. They had all these models from old World Fairs made out of plant materials. We also took a walk around looking at the orchids and palm trees.

Then we went over to the American Indian Museum for lunch at the Mitsitam Cafe. A few of you have been there. The food is scrumptious. She had maple-cured turkey, I had Brunswick stew, and we split the Indian corn pudding. That pudding was outstanding! I want to try making it. Oh, so good.

We went to a couple of floors of the museum, including a short film about Indian tribes. (Jenn and I saw it a couple of years ago). We also went through some sections of what tribal life used to be like and what it's like now. Very interesting.

Then we went over to the Air and Space Museum. When she saw they had a movie about the Hubble Telescope in 3D in IMAX, we had to see it. It was fantastic. It's probably the closest I'll ever get to being in space, but it felt so real. It was so crisp and sharp. Afterwards we had a nice conversation about how "Gravity" contrasted with the real thing and how the photos are enhanced.

There will be photos soon I hope.
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This month's lecture on astronomy covered Africa's role in space. The closer launch sites are to the equator, the more fuel efficient they are. The lecture was a little unfocused - the speaker spent too much time on the earth's formation and not enough on current events - but it was still interesting.

Afterwards, I saw African Cosmos, Stellar Arts at the National Museum of African Arts. Really interesting. Some were artifacts from ancient times and some exhibits were modern art. I saw this and instantly thought of a stargate.

African Cosmos, Stellar Arts

Actually, it's the Yoruban equivalent of Ouroboros, the worm that eats itself. It's made from gasoline cans. To the right is a fabric hanging entitled "Starkid" The print was made using ancient adinka techniques. They also had a couple of short films from South Africa modeled after the ones done by Georges Melies.
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They keep the shutters closed most of the time because there are beautiful peacocks on them. And also to protect the room against destructive sunlight. But one afternoon a month, the shutters are drawn back and the light shines in.

Come right this way )
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Especially on TV (they cut off too much) and I don't usually think to go to performances. Last night I went to one called Public Displays of Motion. It was a sampler of some upcoming projects from a local choreographer. They looked really interesting. I might have to follow up as long as they aren't too expensive. The last part of the night was an excerpt from G&S's The Gondoliers with unusual staging. It was fun.

Whistler decorated the bejeebers out of a room for a railroad tycoon. They had words, another tycoon bought the whole thing and it ended up here in DC at the Freer Gallery. Normally, it's only viewed in artificial light. On the third Thursday of every month the Freer opens the shutters in the Peacock Room. It looks quite different in natural light. This was the first time I'd seen it.

ETA: Internet, why do you hurt me so? Until it lets me upload a few of my pictures, here's a link to the story behind the Peacock Room.
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I had a really nice art-oriented weekend.

The Corcoran Museum has an eclectic collection. It is one of the few DC museums that charge admission but it's free on Saturdays this month. I started out looked at a special exhibition from Richard Diebenkorn called the Ocean Park Series. They are abstracts but with very beachy colors. More info about the exhibit and the artist from the museum. I also wandered into a performance presentation. Kathryn Cornelius, Save The Date. As described by the Corcoran "This performance explores the life cycle of marriage and divorce, and the wedding ceremony’s complex mix of private emotion, public spectacle, social expectation, and state power." Museumgoers acted as the congregation and wedding guests. It was kind of wacky but fun. People were dancing!

I walked past the National Women's Art Museum. They replaced the exuberant dancers with these rather gloomy, spiky abstracts. Not such an enjoyable change to the cityscape.

The best was the last: an exhibit by a photojournalist who takes photos of abandoned military bases around the US. There's an awful lot of abandoned military material and land around the country. The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop had a fascinating display of his photos. Some of them can be seen here/ I had a nice conversation with the photographer and some other attendees about equipment and inspiration. Making the film is becoming a niche market.
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Today is Rolling Thunder, the bikers' memorial to vets, especially from the Vietnam era. It gets longer every year. They are predicting that it'll be about four hours today.

Riders in front of the National Archives )

This weekend they've had a celebration of Hawaii at the NMAI. It was pretty interesting. They had a panel discussion on what Aloha means. I talked to Tom "Pohaku" Stone about sledding without snow on grass and rocks. He told us about a woman who sledded down into Mauna Kea and developed enough momentum to go up the other side. Video of what it's like here

He's making the sled )
My short video of the dancers here.
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Yesterday was a Hirshhorn Museum day for me. I went back to see a few things I'd already seen and enjoy some new ones. Sadly, two of my favorite exhibits will close in a week, so if you are anywhere nearby, run right over there. :)

Suprasensorial is The Sentinel exhibition. I can so see Blair dragging Jim to it and putting him through some thinly disguised tests. Here's a downloadable PDF about the exhibit.

They call it "large scale multimedia constructions of light, color, and space." There's one where you walk though dangling strings which I think Jim would enjoy and another that feels like you're inside a kaleidoscope. You can sit on mattresses and watch projections. Jim would hate the mattresses. There's a light sculpture that looks like a flashlight shining around.

Suprasensorial )

Al Weiwei's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads shows large versions of the chinese zodiac symbols. It'll be there all summer long. Here's a link to a video about it Chinese Zodiac )

I've written before about Song 1 by Doug Aitken. Song 1 by Doug Aitken. This is the exhibit where he filmed the artists singing "I Only Have Eyes for You." It's projected on the outside of the Hirshhorn from sunset to midnight. It's closing on the thirteenth.

Here's a couple of photos. I really like the second one because it looks like the singer is the shadow of the Lichtenstein sculpture.
Song 1 )
And here's a link to a PDF about the display
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Finally a little rain today! I'm hoping it will cut the heat a bit and not just add to the humidity.

I spent the afternoon at the Art Cafe in the Lunder Conservation Center at the SAAM. It's a quiet little corner on the third floor with Wifi. There some beautiful sculptures and upstairs you can watch art restoration in progress. Down the hall are some intriguing video art installations. It's definitely worth a visit.


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