Nov 19

Happy Thanksgiving

… from a couple of turkeys.

Hope you have enjoyed a day of peace and joy and great food and good leftovers.

Nov 19

We eeked perhaps the last bit of autumn out of the weekend

Hey look, it’s the Circle Tower! You can see the name, right there on the side! Completed in 1930, it is today on the National Register of Historic Places as part of Indianapolis’ Monument Circle Historic District. It features what they call smooth-dressed Indiana limestone, with the defining characteristic being the stepped back top stories.

I was more interested in the sign on the side. Some kids were more interested in calling it a pyramid. It’s more of a ziggurat, actually, with those upper stories receding from the outer façades in terraces.

(While pyramids were tombs, ziggurats were temples.)

The tower is one of Indianapolis’ prime examples of Art Deco architecture, especially this metalwork.

This is the north entrance, a one-and-a-half story arch lined with foliate banding. Circle Tower, being completed just a few years after King Tutankhamen’s tomb was rediscovered. Egyptology being a big fad of the time, you got a lot of decor like this:

Sculptor Joseph Willenborg, a German immigrant, filled the bronze grille with the hieroglyphic-like images. This is one of his more memorable works. He also has a lot of work in the nearby theater, the Purdue music building, several prominent hotels and a few social clubs, but the Internet runs out of information on him pretty quickly after that.

Here’s a quick look at some of banding that weaves its way around the door:

But we’re not here, early in the morning, wearing multiple layers in a serious chill, for architecture. We’re out in the cold, after waking up hours before dawn on an off day, for this picture:

By the time the sun woke up and burned off the morning grey, it turned into a lovely morning. Here’s the scene at the finish line:

And if are ever doing something and they give you a medal, make sure you pose for pictures at the capitol.

By the afternoon, the day turned out quite nice indeed:

Sunday was a beautiful day. Perhaps the last one for a while. We, of course, celebrated it with a bike ride:

Today? The bottom is falling out of the thermometer, the latest arctic blast — or whatever we’re calling this one — showed up, along with rain, which turned to snow. I watched it blow in the air in every direction. I watched it give an optical illusion of hanging in the sky. I watched parts of things get accumulation, and others just getting wet. And I watched it start to create little piles on the wooden deck and the chairs and the shrubbery. It was a good day to stay indoors.

Nov 19

It was a nice, full, weekend, thanks

There is an alarm clock in our guest bedroom. It is blinking because of the last power outage. I walked in there one day in the last week or two and thought I should reset that. But then I realized, No, I’ll wait. ​

And now I can do it, around the microwave and the stove clock and the cars and whatever else has to be done the old fashioned way. Thank goodness your computers and phones and DVRs and tablets and thermostats change themselves these days. The miracle of technology is nearly limitless. Nearly. Maybe if I had a smart refrigerator it would change the milk for me. That’d be helpful these days.

I mean, I’d change the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but, by then, I’m just so exhausted. It turns out this well-oiled machine is impacted by just the tiniest bit of melatonin.

Anyway, lovely weekend. We attended a football game. Indiana got to seven wins for the first time in ages, these poor suffering football fans. They’re going bowling and they keep winning and there’s another win on the schedule, perhaps two, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Let’s get ahead of ourselves. This is a super young team and they are playing against type in some real and serious ways.

Michael Ziemba is a junior, and he’s been around on this team so long he feels like an old man. He was in my class last fall. Nice guy. Not old at all. He had the one tackle on the night:

Michael Penix Jr. is the quarterback, and he’s had the injury bug this year, but he’s also helping to lead a team that has scored 30 points in eight games this year. He’s a redshirt freshman. So big things to come:

Here’s James Miller, another redshirt freshman. The linebacker finished with three tackles and an assist. He’s chasing Aidan Smith, Northwestern’s backup quarterback.

Hunter Johnson is the Wildcats’ stating QB, but he’s been out while his mother undergoes cancer treatment. He did play in the game, though. And, most importantly:

“She has a couple more procedures, but really the bulk of it is out of the way. The chemo is done,” he told the Tribune. “My mom has been unbelievable through all this, so strong. She hasn’t flinched a bit. It has been tough for her, but she has kept a great face. It has been inspiring to me to know she will get through it.”

This past week Whop Philyor was added to the Biletnikoff Watch List. The junior is among the nation’s best receivers. He had a quiet night. Two catches for 76 yards.

And here’s Stevie Scott scoring one of his two touchdowns on the night.

The public address announcer calls out the jersey numbers. So it’s always “Number Eight, Stevie Scott carries for 27 yards.” But it sounds like he’s saying “The great Stevie Scott … ” He rushed for 116 Saturday. The sophomore is closing in on his second 1,000-yard season.

Penix, the IU quarterback above, got hurt in the second half, meaning Peyton Ramsey came in. Ramsey was a starter in his frehsman season, started all 12 games last year and he’s been great as a spot starter this season.

But here are the real stars:

Last night we went to the theatre, he said without any sense of flair.

It’s a funny show. Full of high energy. Great performances, and it makes fun of an entire belief system.

That last part is kind of important.

But that’s not everything! There’s more on Twitter and on Instagram and many of the fine places that don’t require I change a clock.

Oct 19

Just add music

Tonight was the annual Halloween concert at IU Auditorium. We watched the legendary Dennis James play a score to the 1925 classic The Lost World, an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story.

The organ at the auditorium dates to 1889 and is a legend itself: 4,543 pipes, 109 stops and has been playing on campus since 1948. It was built for the Chicago fair, at a cost of $65,000. The Internet tells me that would be almost $2 million today. It came to IU after a restoration in Boston in 1944. The largest pipe is 32 feet, it takes two people to move the organ on station, and has more than 100 miles of electric wiring. Also, it sounds darned impressive.

James, meanwhile, is a graduate of IU. He started this particular gig when he was a college student, as a joke and an excuse to get to play the organ. Now he’s a world-renowned performer. He’s played everywhere and touched anything with keys worth operating. He comes back each fall, for 51 years now, to play a Halloween show. And the spirits are looking in.

He told us how music worked in cinema before they put sound to film. It’s a fascinating process, one we’ve all forgotten to think or ask about. Turns out most movies just sent a basic system of sound cues and the resident organist would fill in the spaces based on their interpretation and their own personal libraries. James reeled off a bunch of the music we’d hear in his performance, but I was too lost in trying to imagine how any movie would have as many personalities as it would performers to jot many of the titles down.

The Bat Signal!

The movie was state of the art stop-motion animation. You can find the full film, and various different edits, on YouTube, but it’s just not the same as being there feeling the music coming from everywhere around you.

By the way, this was the first movie to be shown as an in-flight movie. (Which was dangerous in a lot of ways in 1925.) And it was lost for about 80 years, James said, because an order came down from the movie company to destroy the prints, and so most of them were burned. The copy you can enjoy today was held by a private collector and “discovered” in 2003. I’m sure there’s a good story, there. Anyway, the movie!

So no one in England, Jolly Old, believes this one professor who says he’s found dinosaurs living in contemporary Brazil. It’s always the jungle, you see. And so he creates a team to go bring back proof, and find the missing member of his original team. So we follow the adventures of this intrepid bunch — including a famous big game hunter, a young journalist, the daughter of the missing man and a few others — into the Amazon. They find the dinosaurs and a whole lot more. And the dinosaurs are some pretty impressive work, giving the state of the film-making art of the time.

Watterson R. Rothacker, whose name you see on the title card, was the owner of one of the early film processing laboratories. The Industrial Motion Picture Company opened in 1909 and Rothacker and his partners made industrial films that were used for advertising companies, and produced newsreel footage. From what I’ve read, he was keenly interested in using film to educate the masses. Our man was running one of the largest laboratories in silent film on a strip of land in North Chicago where Northwestern is today. By 1914 IMP could put seven cameras in the field at once. And then came The Lost World, which was apparently the firm’s biggest popular project. First National Pictures, which brought you this lovely movie, would ultimately fall under Warner Brother’s control.

And it turns out, in addition to our musical accompaniment being a world-class professional, he is a total ham.

The show was great. It’s one part organ concert, which was our purpose for being there — my step-father loves the pipe organ and this was the first opportunity he’s had to enjoy the old Roosevelt machine — and one part classic theater. During the intermission we all agreed that it was easy to forget the one and concentrate on the other. The film was a lovely 1920s romp. I found myself suspending disbelief about the idea of dinosaurs, but not about the geography required to have a volcano on top of a mesa. And how the volcano is only a bit part, meant to showcase some action. There were plot holes, is what I’m saying. But there was good action! It’s a romp for kids, and we all felt like kids again seeing it. No one moreso, perhaps, than James. I shot this from the hip, but isn’t it interesting how the mask is the part that comes into focus …

Tis the season for spooky things.

Oct 19

Just add weekend

A fine fall weekend we had. It wasn’t long enough, but it was perfect and I didn’t do enough with it. So, yes, perfect indeed.

One would think that after a certain number of autumns you would be able to solve this contradiction. First you’d have to realize, though, that it isn’t a contradiction at all. But it is very much a thing.

Those pesky things.

Anyway, we had a lovely little bike ride on Saturday. It was a nice and warm and sunny day. We did it in the little ring, the point being lighter pedaling and a higher cadence, or something. We took one of the very traditional routes and cut it in half. Just the beginning and the end, if you please. And somewhere pretty early on I got dropped, long before it was respectable to be dropped to be frank.

But then there was the turn around and just before I got there, we crossed paths:

And then there were six-and-a-half miles back to the house. I chased on for about five of those miles before I finally got to close her down. That last mile was spent trying to bridge the final bit of the gap and get on her wheel. It was probably 20 minutes of pedaling like crazy, I had no more to give. How racers do that and then attack over the top escapes me.

Saturday night we sat on the deck and made S’mores and looked at the stars, which was pretty perfect.

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Just saying.

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On Sunday afternoon … we went for a walk.

Here’s the maple in our backyard:

We have a fruit tree which doesn’t bear fruit …

And we have a little creek that runs through the woods immediately behind our house. And I love being in the woods. A straight branch here, an almost right angle there, there’s so much personality to slowly feel your way through. Tracks, sounds of critters, curious holes in fallen trees, it all makes for a lovely experience.

This is well down the road, and almost into the string of houses on the other side of the woods, which are just as peaceful and full of magic and possibility:

It’s hard not to be romantic about a place like this:

The colors are just starting to go, too:

And we met a new neighbor, too. Behold, the friendly green frog:

She said he was also having a fine weekend. We’d probably heard her the night before. I’d like to her song all year-round. Alas.

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