Category Archives: Nifty

Alien: The Play — High School Theatre at Its Best

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What happened in North Bergen, New Jersey, last weekend was like a real-life version of one of those high school musical movies from the 1930s, where Mickey and Judy need money to save the old folks’ home, and somebody comes up with a great idea: “Let’s put on a show! We can have it in my uncle’s barn!”

Except that nobody sang show tunes in the North Bergen High School Drama Club’s production of Alien: The Play, and a Xenomorph killed off most of the characters.

The Xenomorph

The Xenomorph

Working with costumes and scenery made largely with recycled materials, the club brought its own version of the classic 1979 horror movie to the high school stage. And the critics raved.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted this:

A non-profit founded by the mayor of North Bergen funded extra performances of the play.

And then things got heavy. Ridley Scott, director of the original film, gave “Thumbs Up To High Schoolers Who Adapted His Sci-Fi Classic: ‘Do Gladiator Next!’”

Ridley Scott

But the absolute topper was this:


It looks like the North Bergen production diverged from the original movie by including a scene that comes from the sequel, Aliens, rather than from Alien itself, but there’s no way in this or any other world that they could have resisted including one of the greatest lines in film history. With just six little words, Sigourney Weaver’s has been bringing cheering audiences to their feet for more than three decades.


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Celebrity Time Travelers

I know nothing about Ard Gelinck except that he lives in the Netherlands and he creates these wonderful collages of well-known people at various stages of their lives.

Read the images any way you want. Is Gelinck just showing the inevitable results of time and gravity and living, or is he illustrating the fantasy of being able to go back in time and teach your younger self all the life lessons you’ve learned over the years?

He’s charitable in his selection of subjects. There are no Dorian Greys in his gallery. Gelinck avoids the easy but cruel choice of pairing a picture of, say, the young Jan Michael Vincent with a contemporary photo, for instance.

I found these images on Bored Panda, where you can find many more.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

Madonna

Madonna

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks

Sting

Sting

George Michael

George Michael

The Bayeux Westeros Tapestry

Many of the scenes from Game of Thrones are shot in Northern Ireland, where rabid fans try to anticipate the show’s upcoming storylines by charting the arrival of cast members in Belfast. (“Saw Kit Harington at St. George’s Market. That means Jon Snow is still alive!”) That has not gone unnoticed by Tourism Ireland, which has made a major effort to attract tourists in search of a taste of Westeros.

Tourism Ireland, in collaboration with HBO, has commissioned the Game of Thrones Tapestry, inspired, of course, by the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the Norman conquest. In the new, Irish version, each panel of the tapestry captures one scene from one episode of Game of Thrones. The tapestry is already 66 meters (217 feet) long. When it’s finished in 2019, after panels have been added for the episodes of GoT‘s final season, it will be longer than its prototype, at 77 meters (253 feet).

Until recently, the tapestry was on exhibition at the Ulster Museum in Belfast. It has been temporarily removed, but will be back on view when the most popular series in the world returns to HBO in April 2019.

Meanwhile, you can view the entire (so far) tapestry at this beautifully designed website.


A Sample from The Game of Thrones Tapestry

On the left, the scene in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” (S02E05) in which Catelyn and Brienne of Tarth witness Renly Baratheon’s murder at the hands of his brother Stannis’s shadowy assassin.

On the right, from “The Old Gods and the New” (S02E06), King Joffrey incites a riot at King’s Landing, in which he and Sansa are nearly killed.


A Sample from That Other Tapestry

Through the Looking Glass — Kevin Parry Dazzles, Again

Best watched fullscreen


I posted an earlier mind-bending video by the amazingly creative Kevin Parry last year.

Parry, who accurately identifies himself as a “Stop-Motion Animator + Video Wizard”, recently returned to his native Toronto after working on Laika Entertainment’s Kubo and the Two Strings and The Boxtrolls in Portland, Oregon.

He went the long way, traveling 5000 miles in three weeks. You can follow along with this video of the “Portland to Portland (Teleporting Across America)” tour, as he tries to get that one perfect tourist picture.

Doesn’t he seem like someone who would be fun to hang out with?

One final video:

Prague, Beautiful Prague

This is a live stream from Prague, provided by a company called CamStreamer. The Czech Republic is six hours ahead of US East Coast time, so the stream is best viewed between late night and early afternoon in the East. When it’s dark in Prague, the images are murky and uninteresting.


If I could live anywhere in the world, Prague would be near the top of the list. The great disqualifier, for me, would be my inability to learn the difficult Czech language this late in life. While English is the de facto common language in much of Europe, it’s far from universal.

For a certain kind of American, Prague in the 1990s was what Paris was in the 1920s, or what San Francisco was in the 1960s—the Red Hot Center, the Happening city, a culturally rich environment with a thriving creative class, free from the conformist restraints of buttoned-up America. It didn’t hurt that the cost of living was a fraction of what it was in the States.

In the video stream, the camera pans from the Charles Bridge over the Vltava river, past the Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral, to the Strahov monastery and back. Walking across the ethereal, haunting Charles Bridge in the evening is one of those things that everyone should do before they die. It’s magical.


The background music is “Vltava”, the tone poem that serves as the second movement of Bedřich Smetana’s Má vlast, which is best known in English as My Country. The Bedřich Smetana Museum is one of the endpoints of the video stream.

Since 1952, the Prague Spring International Music Festival has opened on 12 May, the anniversary of Smetana’s death. The opening concert has always been a performance of Má vlast.

Here’s the 2018 concert:

“Cherry Blossom Dream” at ARTECHOUSE

I was away from Washington during this year’s cherry blossom peak bloom, which is one of those times when the city is at its most beautiful. By the time I returned, not a petal remained.

But I got back in time to make it to the Sakura Yume’s immersive “Cherry Blossom Dream” at ARTECHOUSE.

The display reacts to body movements and gestures, so you can throw splotches of colour on the walls simply by waving your hand.

This was my fourth or fifth visit to ARTECHOUSE, and some of my initial fascination with the concept has diminished as my familiarity with it has increased, but it’s still a wonderful place to spend an hour or so.

More Massive Attack

A few days back, I posted a video of Norwegian singer Aurora’s cover version of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”. It was probably inevitable that I’d follow it down the rabbit hole, which led me to another video.

Kaleidoscopic, not to mention psychedelic. You’ll want to dim the lights and go full screen on this one,

Here’s an audio-only of “Paradise Circus”, one of my favourite Massive Attack songs.