1910 Russia, photographed in colour

August 21, 2010

Gorgeous photoset- actually a full century old, and so vivid. Online here.
Thanks to Hillery for the tip.

Finding Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks

June 18, 2010

Blogger Jeremiah Moss investigates the histories of various Manhattan street corners, trying to find the exact location of the diner in Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting Nighthawks. It’s a neat series in four parts, and I’ve always liked this painting; it was up over my couch all through university.

Here’s another nice piece of Hopperama: every year, the Washington Post runs a Peep (ie. Easter candy) diorama contest. The 2009 winner was Melissa Harvey, whose diorama was a bunny Peep version of Nighthawks. She describes the piece in this audio slideshow.

edward hopper peeps rabbits bunnies diner diorama nighthawks melissa harvey

Via MeFi and Kelly M.

Early 1900s photos in colour

June 4, 2010

Great collection online here. Via MeFi.

Log Driver’s Waltz

January 19, 2010

And he goes birling down a-down the white water; That's where the Log Driver learns to step lightly....

The Log Driver’s Waltz is a sweet short film (3 minutes) by the Canadian National Film Board, romanticizing the moves of Canada’s nimblest lumberjacks, the Log Drivers. These guys rode logs as they floated down the river from forest to lumbermill.

This film used to play often in the morning between cartoons when I was a kid. Sung by the McGarrigle Sisters, one of whom, Kate (Rufus and Martha Wainwright’s mother), died this week.

The Log Driver’s Waltz is online here in beautiful quality.

If you ask any girl from the parish around
What pleases her most from her head to her toes
She’ll say, “I’m not sure that it’s business of yours,
But I do like to waltz with the Log Driver.
For he goes birlin’ down a-down the white water,
That’s where the Log Driver learns to step lightly,
It’s birlin’ down a-down the white water,
A Log Driver’s waltz pleases girls completely.”

In researching this post this morning, I learned that the Log Driver is not going “Whirling, twirling, down white water”, as I’d always thought. Instead, he’s going “birling down a-down the white water“. And it’s an actual sport. Birling, huh.

Oh hey, Peneycad just reminded me that there’s a French version, too, also sung by the McGarrigles. The harmonies are a little richer in this version, and the parish maiden tells the nosey questioner in verse one to “mind his own onions”.

Tenement Museum

January 6, 2010

I’m in NYC at the moment, and next time you’re here, I highly recommend a visit to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. This post is basically gonna be a little commercial for them because sometimes I honestly just like things and don’t feel ironic about them.

It’s located in a building that was an actual tenement for 70 years until it was condemned for housing in the 1930s and the residents were evicted. The apartments were abandoned, but since the main floor had a couple of profitable storefronts, the building remained standing and the empty apartments and hallways upstairs were simply shuttered, then sat untouched from the mid-1930s to 1988.

Walking into this place really feels like stepping back in time- the little apartments in the building have some 20 visible layers of wallpaper and 6 or 8 layers of linoleum on the floor. One is re-created as a tiny sweatshop, a 325 square foot space where six adults plus a homemaker and several children spent 14-hour days sewing before the garment trade moved into large Brooklyn factories across the river.

Among the families who lived there were Germans, Russian Jews, and Italians, and seeing the conditions in which they worked and lived was a really fascinating, thought-provoking look at the ways in which many of our ancestors got to this continent, and a poignant reminder that the definition of “American” has been pretty fluid over the past 200 years.

There’s a virtual tour with audio online here; but still, go if you can- it’s pretty amazing to walk up the stairs holding a bannister that’s been held by people since Lincoln was President.

Thanks to Juliet for the company.

Hand Puppet History: Henry VIII and Queen Anne

January 1, 2010

Sand animation on Ukraine’s Got Talent: Kseniya Simonova

October 20, 2009

This is lovely. What a great medium. Canadian theatre artist Rick Miller used sand and an overhead camera to make some pretty rad sand animation theatre in his amazing solo show Bigger Than Jesus a few years ago, too. I like me some sand animation is what I’m trying to say.

Phineas Gage walks into a bar…

July 31, 2009

Phineas Gage was a railway worker who survived an accident that blew a large iron rod through his brain in an accidental explosion in 1848. The subsequent brain injury changed his personality from friendly to belligerent, a phenomenon that challenged the then accepted theory of personality, and opened people’s minds to the idea that the physiology of the brain was involved in personality and disposition.

The above photo- the only known photo of Phineas Gage- was recently identified after being posted on Flickr by its owners, who, not realizing who the subject was, had titled it “One-eyed man with harpoon”. A random internetter correctly identified the photo’s subject in a Flickr comment, supposing that the “harpoon” he held might actually be the iron tamping rod that had injured him. Awesome. Here’s lots of info in a solid post on Metafilter. Internet for the win.

Weird History: Boston Molasses Disaster

July 14, 2009

The Boston Molasses Disaster, also known as the Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. A large molasses tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and residents claim that on hot summer days, the area still smells of molasses.

More here; via AskMeFi.