Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oliver Jeffers and the Joys of in-flight Entertainment

Every time I fly on an airplane, I make a point to read the airline's publications. It sounds a little lame, and you would think that the articles would be fairly boring but to be honest airplane magazines are one of my favorite reads.
Not that I am or even have the time to be a voracious reader, but I see in-flight magazines as a less serious version of perhaps National Geographic (don't get me wrong, I LOVE NatGeo). They show you the world, how different people in niche cultures live without the burden of scientific and anthropological prestige.  

As sad as it sounds, I am actually quite the Hemisphere fan - United Airlines' magazine. As is my usual routine, the minute I plop my butt down into one of the plane's smelly, tight seats my hands automatically grab at the kangaroo pouch before me. Turning to that month's Hemisphere was like making a regular and necessary visit to the on-board fortune teller. Whatever the cards held in terms of your flight's fate was printed in the back pages of this magazine. Would my flight be enjoyable (because nowadays, we can just about throw any hope of having a "comfortable" flight out the window) and filled with my favorite television programs? a movie I had on my "must watch" list? Or would I be stuck forcing myself through something like "Real Steal" - full of drama, corny one-liners, and campy shots of rugged, rough-and-tumble men?

It probably wasn't until I started taking an interest in being a well-rounded and seemingly educated person that I began considering the airplane magazine's actual content (outside of the tv and movie listings, I mean). I have never looked back since. I owe several of my imaginary travels to Hemisphere magazine. In the span of one 5-6 hour flight, I slowly, but surely made may way through cross-country BBQs (yumm!), run marathons (to burn off all that BBQ, of course), and met some famous and really cool people (Sup, Donna Karen! How's it, gurl?). But, my most fruitful adventures were my fantasy trips abroad. With the help of my good friend Hemisphere, I have been everywhere from Lisbon to Moscow and everywhere in between.

My favorite part of these overseas excursions were Oliver Jeffers's quirky illustrated prefaces. Their whimsy, playful lines and fragmented notes scrawled along the edges instantly won me over. Looking at these "maps" was like trying to read the supplementary map Fagan made in Oliver & Company to go with his ransom note to Jenny, and to me that just made them all the better (If you don't know what I'm talking about, go watch Disney's animal/musical adaptation of Oliver Twist and get back to me when you're caught up on life!). So here are a few of his works for you to enjoy! Happy travels, courtesy of Oliver Jeffers.  :-)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Grizzly Man

The first time I heard anything about Timothy Treadwell. I honestly thought he was crazy. I was sitting in the "New Media/Film" classroom in my high school and heard my classmates talking in sarcastic tones and hushed whispers about his death. Unfortunately for Treadwell, his greatest passion was also the source of his ultimate demise. Something about the fact that his death was captured on film, brought out this morbid and almost comical feeling in my high school friends.
At the time I didn't think it was funny (and I still don't), but I merely dismissed Treadwell's story. I instantly thought of him as some unstable environmentalist who clearly did not know how to respect nature's boundaries.

It wasn't until one night when I was channel surfing and desperate for anything to keep me awake that I came across a tv documentary series about Treadwell. The program provided background on the film on Treadwell, Grizzly Man, and went behind the scenes of the movie interviewing the animal-lover's close family a friends.
I'll admit that I began watching it mostly out of a morbid curiosity that they would show or discuss footage from Treadwell's mauling. I sat through clips of Treadwell in the field, talking in a mock-baby voice to bears largely ignoring him. Treadwell's fanatic behavior and crazed adoration for wildlife, didn't support any case arguing for his sanity.

But, I endured. As each of his video diary entries from the wild flickered before my glazed-over eyes, I realized that Treadwell had something that I actually really needed (and still need) in my life - passion.

What really caught my eye were the photos that Treadwell took. What's most remarkable, is that he didn't use any special lenses - meaning he was actually almost that close to all of his subjects.
I don't really think they need much explanation. As corny and contrived as it sounds they speak for themselves.
My main purpose for creating this post was to show case these photos, but of course I couldn't resist creating a collage with pictures of Treadwell and very (VERY) distantly related subject matter - Alexa Chung's Barbour Jacket and screen shots from Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox (an absolute favorite of mine).

It feels a little phony of me to act like I have so much to say about Timothy Treadwell when I haven't even seen Grizzly Man but (I cringe as I type this) he really reminded me about the beauty of nature, silence, isolation and being at peace with yourself having found love.

Timothy Treadwell's haunting photos really speak of his affection for wildlife, and somehow they speak the same language of silence and pure intentions of nature. I love Fantastic Mr. Fox (and Wes Anderson's other films) for their same dialogue of silence and body language. The abrupt lines and fluid use of motion  is calming - to me anyway. As I slip deeper and deeper into this existential crisis, it only makes sense that I tack some Johnny Cash on here. His echoey ghost of a voice just felt right with these pictures..