March 2008


Paul Scofield, Oscar-winning actor, has died – Times Online

Sorry to have another obit but this is an actor I’ve always admired from when I first saw A Man For All Seasons to Martin Chuzzlewit and The Crucible.

Scofield’s presence was described as “monumental but reassuring” and his voice compared variously to a Rolls-Royce being started up and a sound rumbling up from an antique crypt.In his private life he avoided both the limelight and the party circuit, preferring instead to walk, ride and cycle around the area where he lived in Balcombe, West Sussex.He also savoured the wind and rain in his holiday home on a Scottish island. As the headlines once put it, he was “a very private actor”.

My kind of actor, my kind of person.

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Film director Anthony Minghella has died, aged 54 – Times Online

This is so sad – Anthony Minghella is too young to be dead. He is responsible for two of my favorite films — Truly, Madly, Deeply and The English Patient. His film credits are not many but they reflect the quality he achieved. Such a loss. Here is a link to the London Times obituary.

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NPR: Pretty, Plastic Barbie: Forever What We Make Her

Barbie is turning 49 this year and so am I. Too frightening — really. She still looks better in a swimsuit than I ever did in my lifetime. NPR has a great podcast and accompanying article. Here are some interesting excerpts:

The first version was based on a German doll named Bild Lilli. She, in turn, had been inspired by a cartoon character with a fondness for sugar-daddies.

“They basically copied the face,” Blitman explains. “So it’s very hard. I mean, this is not the face of a 17-year-old. This is the face of a 40-year-old woman who’s seen a lot of action.”

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Orenstein thinks the fact that Barbie is stubbornly amorphous may explain one of the more common activities that children engage in with Barbie: torturing her.

Orenstein says a friend told her about a child who lined her Barbies up in the driveway, then had her mother drive over them.

“And she was really gleeful about it,” Orenstein says. “I just can’t imagine another toy where you, first of all, take the time to do that … and where you would be so happy about it.”

I don’t remember torturing Barbie but I did stuff one of her dresses to make her look pregnant.

My first Barbie wasn’t a Barbie at all but her best friend Midge (she had red hair). My older sister got the blond Barbie. I was jealous even though Midge looked friendlier. I remember having a Twist-n-Turn Barbie with bendable legs – that’s the one that got pregnant.

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NPR: Artists Lament Polaroid’s Latest Development

Chuck Close is an American painter who derives his works from photographs. He creates towering — sometimes 10-foot-tall — portraits. Some of those are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Close says he has Polaroids of every painting he has done.

“It’s very discouraging,” Close says.

He says he has probably 2,000 Polaroids.

“I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do.”

Close likes the incredible detail you get from the large-format film. What’s more, there’s instant gratification: You see that final large image just minutes after you take the shot.

I blogged about the demise of the Polaroid camera a few weeks ago. I had forgotten about Chuck Close and his love affair with Polaroid. There are so many artists like him, too. I hope that some company (like Fujifilm) will take up the film production end so that the existing cameras (like my slide printer) can still be used.

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