Saint Urho

Finland has been an item in the news lately as one of the blow-back consequences of Putin’s ill-considered adventure in Ukraine. But that’s not what this is about: We need to smile, at least. Voila! This video.

I stumbled upon this video about Saint Urho while visiting the blog of science fiction author Walter Jon Williams: “Here we have a history of Finland’s totally genuine fake hero, St. Urho. Who was born in a Minnesota town called Virginia.”

Totally true. Originally broadcast on PBS stations WDSE / WRPT.

The Strandbeest

Some years back I was a regular visitor to the Colossal web site… It was more of a arts / craft visual blog than the web publication it is today… but my point being, they posted an article / video of the Strandbeest that left an impression. Now this video from Theo Jansen (the “beest’s” inventor) just popped up. I had to view it.

These constructs are largely wind-powered and self-steering… as you might have guessed from some of the desperate attempts at heading off the beest’s bee-line toward destruction.

In any case, Theo Jansen explains it this way:

“Strandbeest Evolution 2021 provides an update on the evolutionary development. Every spring I go to the beach with a new beast. During the summer I do all kinds of experiments with the wind, sand and water. In the fall I grew a bit wiser about how these beasts can survive the circumstances on the beach. At that point I declare them extinct and they go to the bone yard.”

“Zeppelins”

April is National Poetry Month, and for the occasion Frank Hudson’s Parlando Project has been producing a series of “Lyric Videos” based on audio recordings of the poems done previously. The month is not even half over, but (so far) Hudson’s performance of “Zeppelins” by F.S. Flint is my favorite, though “Dunbar” is not far behind.

And of course, the poem is also so very appropriate to what is once again happening in Europe these days, not to mention elsewhere in the world none of which I’m not going to mention as I’m sure to shamefully leave somewhere or two off the list…

The term “lyric video” is also new to me though the practice is… not new. As a concept, though, it wraps up and gathers together poetry as oral interpretation and poetry as literature. As a bonus, one can throw in ancillary aspects like music, musicality, concrete poetry just to name-drop a few. Is pretty cool concept, methinks.

“O Black Hole!”

This animation from director and animator Renee Zhan is weird and wonderful and existential and it will fulsomely reward you for the 16 minutes you entrust to it. Never mind that the filmmaker describes it this way:

“A woman who can’t stand the passing of time sucks everyone and everything she loves inside herself to keep them with her forever. Eventually, she turns into a black hole.

“A thousand unchanging years pass inside her dark embrace until one day, the Singularity wakes.”

“Étreintes”

A remarkable bit of pinscreen animation from Justine Vuylsteker:

“A woman stands still at the window. In the clouds, a passionate embrace appears.”

According to Wikipedia (as of 03/07/2022):

Pinscreen animation makes use of a screen filled with movable pins, which can be moved in or out by pressing an object onto the screen. The screen is lit from the side so that the pins cast shadows. The technique has been used to create animated films with a range of textural effects difficult to achieve with any other animation technique, including traditional cel animation.

“Apocalypse Animated”

I’ve been watching a lot of short animation these past several years, and there are a lot of interesting animators out there. Nina Paley is one that I check on regularly and this is a trailer for one of her latest projects: a study, of sorts, of mandalas… based on “the Book of Revelation with animated GIF loops, in the tradition of Medieval and post-Medieval Apocalypses”:

“Railroad Workers Barred from Striking”

While I still keep a wary eye on politics (broadly defined, not just elections), most of it just doesn’t seem that interesting (outside of immediate hazards) these days.*

But in this case, the story below had popped up on one or more of the news lists I follow out of a lifelong interest in trainspotting. Those accounts were rather sparse on the details. The account below, from the More Perfect Union YouTube channel, provides rather more detail…

…with maybe the “draconian” dial turned up a notch or so. Not that I’m complaining. The More Perfect Union website is worth a visit.


*Oh, yes: it is most certainly me and not politics that has changed. But since I’ve “retired” from activism, the details have changed enough that they begin to obscure rather than to inform.