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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Movie 'Eighth Grade' is way uncool


 Eighth Grade by Bo Burnham

It's as boring as the first video which is ultra long and is a forerunner of the languor which blankets the film.

I thought this was supposed to be a comedy.  Filmgoers, it ain't.  It's a too realistic picture of what 's happening in eighth grade now, and who needs that?  I went for "fun 'n' games." Not here.

Yawn...

A triple shot of expresso with some androstenedione thrown in would help, and about those long pauses....please.  Can we get some cutting room scissors in here?

Eighth Grade's best (its only?) redeeming quality is the music (by Anna MeredithApplause...a woman!). 


Acting by father (Josh Hamilton), daughter (Elsie Fisher) and "Gabe" (Jake Ryan) is commendable, but the script needs work.  No wonder there weren't any preteens or teens or even millennial in the movie house when I went.  Just a bunch of old folks hoping for some laughs.

A few laughs.

Any laughs.

Not...

patricialesli@gmail.com

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Romanovs' second burial site, July 19, 1918, in pictures


Across these railroad tracks at the Porosyonkov Ravine or Field is the second place the Bolsheviks buried the bodies of the seven Romanovs, their cook, doctor, maid, and footman on July 19, 1918. To hide the bodies from the Bolsheviks' opponents, the Whites, the executioners moved them 4.5 miles from the first place they dumped them on July 17, 1918  at what is now Ganina Yama, a monastery.  

At this location 61 years later, amateur sleuths found the remains. This is how the site looks a little more than 100 years later/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July 25, 2018
Entrance to the second burial site/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July 25, 2018
Monuments stand on both sides of the second burial site/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July 25, 2018
One monument at the second burial site/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July 25, 2018
Another monument at the second burial site/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July 25, 2018
The second burial site of the seven Romanovs and their four staff members/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July 25, 2018
The second burial site of the seven Romanovs and their four staff members/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July 25, 2018
The cross and second burial site of the seven Romanovs and their four staff members looking towards the exit path/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July 25, 2018
The exit looking towards the railroad tracks/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July 25, 2018


patricialesli@gmail.com

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Russia's old houses in Yekaterinburg


One of the many old wooden houses, mostly unoccupied and some available, in Ekaterinburg, Russia /Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018

Where is Yekaterinburg and why did I go there? (Ekaterinburg is the Russian spelling, and the pronunciation is German:  EkaterinBORG.)

Glad you wondered!  I went to satisfy for my affinity for Russian history, specifically, the Romanovs, and, if the truth be known, I realized while there I am nothing more (or less) than a Romanov "groupie." (Russians pronounce the name, RomanOFF.)
An old house in Ekaterinburg, Russia/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018

 
A closer view of the house shown two above, in Ekaterinburg, Russia /Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018

Ekaterinburg is the site of the murders of the seven Romanovs and their staff of four on July 17, 1918. It is Russia's fourth largest city (population, about 1.5 million) but third in terms of economyIt is shedding its industrial image, but most of Ekaterinburg's cars have dusty bottoms and tires, but no litter or trash was seen on any street I visited in three cities. 
 
An old house in Ekaterinburg, Russia/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018

 

Another view of a house in Ekaterinburg, Russia/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018


Ekaterinburg lies about 900 miles east of Moscow, in the Ural Mountains which, as mountains go, are not like "our" mountains, but rather flat, but perhaps that was because we were high up which didn't feel like it. I never needed an oxygen infusion, and my guide said the vast forests surrounding Ekaterinburg (beautiful from the air) serve to combat industrial pollution. (Attention, Trump, if you are listening, can you hear me? Russians believe in "global warming."
 

It is a crime to cut trees, she said, which explains why I never saw any lumber trucks carrying freight here and yon, but back to history.
This house in Ekaterinburg has two statues on each front corner and a plaque which states in Russian and English, "A.D. Andreyeva's House - Exemplar of the late 19th century residential building with the facade decoration in 'brick' style." Russians are more superstitious than we and often touch statues for "good luck" as this fellow in the right corner is doing/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018



Ekaterinburg's tricentennial approacheth2023.  A great time to go! (Aeroflot is a wonderful airline to carry you there two hours from Moscow after a direct flight from Dulles, 9.5 hours.  Aeroflot gives beverages and half sandwiches on domestic flights (! No starving like on flights inside the U.S.) and two three-course meals with choices plus a light breakfast and open snack bar on the flight from Dulles.  Believe me, save a day of your life and fly Aeroflot and not Finn Air Thin Air!)
An old house in Ekaterinburg, Russia/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018



A health care center in a formerly old house in Ekaterinburg, Russia. See the carvings found at most of these houses/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018

 

A corner with street names on  an old, wooden house in Ekaterinburg, Russia/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018

This is one of a family's compound of three houses (the others, pictured below), according to the guide, and this one is now used as a consulate by one of the "'Stans," either Tajikistan or Turkmenistan, as I recall. Enlarge the plaques on the walls and see if the wording is legible and please check the lovely contrast between the satellite dish and the building. I believe the others below are available/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018
The front of one of the family's compound of three structures (please see above and below), and this photo does not begin to convey the enormity of the place//Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018
This is another view of the same house pictured above/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018
The last of the family's compound of three buildings, and this one now is a gaming room.  Please note the beautiful fencing which stands at many of these old structures/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018
An old house in Ekaterinburg, Russia/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018

 

An old house in Ekaterinburg, Russia/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018

The same house as two above in Ekaterinburg, Russia/Photo by Patricia Leslie, July, 2018

The city was named after Peter the Great's second wife, Catherine  whom he married several years after stashing his first wife in the famed (still standing and open for tours) Novodevichy Convent in Moscow (they pronounce it MosKO, not "COW"), but more on that later.  (The same convent where he also imprisoned his conniving half-sister, Sofia, who tried to seize his power more than once and to make the point, Peter hung the body of one of her troops outside her convent window.  Nice.  See painting below. )

In the original by I. Y. Repin (1844-1930) found at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the body of a troop member can be seen hanging outside Sofia's convent/cell window. The painting label says: "Princess Sofia Alexeyevna A Year After Her Incarceration in the Novodevichy Convent During the Execution of the Streltsys and the Torturing of All Her Servants in 1698.  Acquired by P. M. Tretyakov in 1879 from the artist"
 
Not only is Ekaterinburg the sad location of the murders and the last domicile of the family, imprisoned in the Ipatiev House, but 9.5 miles away is the first place, Ganina Yama, where the Bolsheviks threw their bodies and bones into an abandoned mine shaft and then moved them July 19, 4.5 miles to another burial ground, the Porosyonkov Ravine, to keep Bolshevik enemies, the approaching Whites, from finding the remains. (A post and photos to come.)

Knowing there is no "smoking gun" linking Lenin to the killings (like there is no "smoking gun" linking O.J. Simpson to the murders of his ex-wife and friend), it is perplexing why Russia reveres Lenin with multiple statues and monuments. 

When I visited Ekaterinburg, it was a week past the centennial of the murders.

On my first day and upon entering a coffee shop, three employees rushed over when they learned I was an American tourist. (Everywhere I went in the city, I was treated as a celebrity!)

Said a waiter, about 30, in good English: "This is rather exciting because you are the third tourist I've seen this week!" 

But, he said in a statement with his hand on his hip: "Why would anyone want to come to Russia?"  (Later, a history major and waiter at a restaurant in St. Petersburg, told me:  "Russian history is boring.  It's nothing but wars and wars, and no, I don't like Putin and neither do three of my colleagues here!" To which I replied "nyet" to their belittlements of their nation's history, but I digress...again.)

These old houses in Ekaterinburg populate many downtown streets (but not to be seen near city centers in Moscow or St. Petersburg where land prices are higher).  

Most of these structures appeared empty, however, one is a "gaming house" of sorts, according to my guide, where groups go to compete and have fun.

(When my driver and portage met me at the Ekaterinburg airport, the first thing the portage asked was:  "Is your media free in the U.S.?"  Yes, I said, is yours? Which he did not answer.  Many in Russia are still afraid to talk, remembering "Soviet times," and as one told me (she said she had been at the American White House this past January!), the government in Russia knows how you vote. One of my American colleagues said our government knows how we vote, too.  So it goes!)

Don't you love these old remnants?  The families were quite large then and needed the space.  Enjoy!

patricialesli@gmail.com

Monday, July 23, 2018

Censored! Trump cartoon show at the Corcoran

At the Spiked opening reception at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Everybody who keeps up with politics knows about the firing of editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers after his 25-year tenure at the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. Speaking on behalf of newspaper management, they just couldn't take them any more.
 Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.

Management spiked or killed several of Mr. Rogers's cartoons and ideas about Trump. His drawings went too far, capturing in perfect pencil and words, Trump today.

Too much!  Cried the bosses and finally, Mr. Rogers was shown the door.
Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.
Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.Immigrant Children, 6-1-18

Had they tried, they would have been unable to quash the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists from celebrating the opening last Wednesday of an exhibition of Mr. Rogers's cut works in a display at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (formerly the Corcoran Gallery of Art).  

Eighteen cartoons or ideas the newspaper "spiked" hang on the walls.
 Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.
Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.
At the Spiked opening reception at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design/Photo by Patricia Leslie

How wonderful it all was to be back at the Corcoran with Rogers's powerful renderings, to admire the marble of the halls, the columns, the size of the place, the soaring ceiling

It's been a too-long absence for the public while the Corcoran's collections and building were batted around by D.C. deciders who laid claims on this and that. (Thankfully, the National Gallery of Art got the pick of the $2 billion collection and has placed many of the works on public display with credit always to the Corcoran. You may search its collection of the thousands of Corcoran pieces by entering "Corcoran" on the "Search the Collection" tab.)  

At the Spiked opening reception at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At the Spiked opening reception at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Two critical elements in an open society, bulwarks in the artistic world, celebrate their debuts and dedication to their respective causes in a place where the people hope the exhibitions keep on coming.

This fall with the AAEC and George Washington University's School for Media and Public Affairs, the Corcoran School (owned by GWU) will host a series about censorship, freedom of the press, journalistic integrity, and the consequences of nationalism to a democracy.


Organizers of Spiked are the University Art Gallery and the University of Pittsburgh in association with the AAEC. This fall the show moves to the University of Pittsburgh for a bigger installation

Do you think the newspaper will list the exhibition when it comes to town?


What: Spiked:  The Unpublished Political Cartoons of Rob Rogers

When: Now through October 14, 2018; Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 1 - 6 p.m.

Where: Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University, Atrium Galleries at Flagg Building, 500 17th St. N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006

How much: Admission is free.

For more information: 202-994-1700

patricialesli@gmail.com

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Inmates' art on display at Torpedo Factory


 Morgan Freeman by C.M., graphite, Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.  Artists choose whether to use their initials or their names for display.

So many came for the opening of a new art exhibition at the Torpedo Factory Friday night that guests spilled out into an entrance hallway and packed the gallery where  they had to strain to hear remarks by the curator.  
Morgan Freeman by B.G., graphite, Alexandria Detention Center. Ceiling lights and more are reflected in the protective glass in this photo of the art at the exhibition at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

They came to see Off the Grid: Creating Change Through Art Instruction & Inspiration named after an art technique of Kelli Schollard-Sincock who volunteers as an instructor for inmates at the Alexandria Detention Center and the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

It was the inmates' art on display, and their enthusiasm for Ms. Schollard-Sincock's classes has led to waiting lists.
By K. S, graphite, Fairfax County Adult Detention Center

At the Friday event, her passion for her students and their learning was itself exhibited several times as tears fell from her eyes while she related her own personal experiences and rewards, teaching and communicating with the inmates. 
Kelli Schollard-Sincock at the Torpedo Factory, July 20, 2018/Photo by Patricia Leslie

As far as she knows, this is a first for inmates. Ms. Schollard-Sincock donates about 20 hours weekly to the effort.

Although the graphite renderings presented are mostly of attractive young women (suggesting male artists), Ms. Schollard-Sincock's students include men and women, she said. 
  
I went, hoping to buy a piece of art, but she said none are for sale:  "The logistics would be too hard," she said.  Does the art belong to the sheriff's department?  The inmates?  How would that be sorted?  She has no more hours to devote to the cause.

Ms. Schollard-Sincock is a certified forensic sketch artist who has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Art from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking from George Mason University.  

She began working on Inspiration Matterz last year as a trial at the Alexandria Detention Center. The Del Ray Artisans have been so impressed by her contributions and skills, they have embraced her program and are a major sponsor of the exhibition, said a spokesman.

Donated art supplies are welcome: 
Pads of Bristol Board drawing paper (various sizes)
Pads of Drawing Paper (no spiral bound)
Pads of tracing paper
Packages of carbon paper
Packages of standard printing paper (white and colored)
Cardboard backed canvases (variety of sizes)
Smudge sticks (packages are best)
Erasers: gum, kneaded, and white 

Drawing pencils: (specifically 8B, 4B, 2B, HB, 5H, and 6/7H) Paint brushes in a variety of sizes
Acrylic paint sets (especially black, white, red, yellow, blue)
Legal-size manilla folders


(Writer's note:  Until this exhibition I did not understand the difference between an "inmate" and a "prisoner." Click here for definitions.) 

What: Off the Grid: Creating Change Through Art Instruction & Inspiration

Where: The Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria, VA 22314

When: Now through August 31, 2018, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily and until 9 p.m. Thursdays. (Call 703-746-4570 to make sure the Torpedo Factory is not closing early for a private event.)

How much:  No charge

For more information: torpedofactory@alexandriava.gov or 703-746-4570

For how to support: Contact the Target Gallery director,  Leslie Mounaime, leslie.mounaime@alexandriava.gov., 703-746-4590

patricialesli@gmail.com