Sick about Trump

Someone (I wish I could remember who) pointed out in a fairly convincing way that President Trump and his coterie have already demonstrated (15 days into his would-be reign) many of the flaws that he so viciously accused others, especially Clinton, of possessing during the campaign.

Using secret unofficial email servers? Check. Needlessly endangering American troops? Check. Flirting with voting fraud? Check. Cozying up to Wall Street? Check. Seeming to obey unseemly foreign powers? CHECK. Using his official connections for personal enrichment? HELL YES CHECK. Surrounding himself with shady advisors who adhere tomun-American ideologies? DOUBLE HELL YES CHECK. Being nasty AF? TRIPLE HELL YES CHECK. 

This list could go on, but one accusation he hurled but hasn’t yet exhibited was that of Clinton being secretly ill. Like, dying. Practically dead! 

But Jesus on a tortilla, look at this guy! He does not look healthy! 

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla / Getty

And with whispering now about his taking a baldness drug, c’mon – how long will it be till we find out that in addition to being guilty of all the sins he laid on others, he’s actually suffering from all sorts of illnesses?

Happy Birthday, Carleton!

Carleton College was founded on October 12, 1866 – exactly 150 years ago today. Actually, that’s not quite accurate: the institution was founded as “Northfield College” on 10/12/1866; five years later, its trustees renamed the college in honor of a key donor.

Anyhow, the college is celebrating the sesquicentennial of its founding – and its 150 years of history – in a typically low-key but fun way, with events such as a “Town-and-Gown Celebration” in downtown Northfield tomorrow, a convocation on Friday by Minnesota’s favorite humorist Garrison Keillor, a carnival and fair on Saturday, and a little birthday video featuring scores of students, faculty, and staff – including me and my cowlick. I’m talking trash to our bizarre, unofficial, worse-for-wear college symbol, a bust of the German Romantic poet Friedrich Schiller, who has also appeared with Bill Clinton and Stephen Colbert.

Schiller and Tassava
Schiller and Tassava

I’m glad I wore my sesquicentennial button that day!

Quirks like Schiller and birthday videos remind me of other ways that Carleton’s culture has bound me – and, I hope, others who love the institution – to the college. I couldn’t possibly list all the examples that have come up in the eleven years that I’ve worked at 1 North College Street (7.33% of the college’s lifetime!), but for me, the deal was sealed in summer 2006, when the college held a farewell party for a wonderful but falling-down piece of outdoor sculpture called Twigonometry. (Anyone interested in public art should check out the gallery of photos of the piece in its prime.) Twigonometry stood gorgeously and mysteriously at the north end of the Bald Spot, where kids like toddler Julia could wander through its chambers and arches, swirling in an organically alien way:

Julia and Twigonometry
Julia and Twigonometry

What kind of place holds a farewell party for a four-year-old sculpture made from branches and twigs? The kind of place that I hope lasts another 150 years.

Quiet on the Set

Tonight I spent three hours in downtown Northfield with Julia, waiting to see if her choir would have a part in a movie that’s being filmed in our fair city. It was both interesting and dull – the former, because, turns out, making movies is the latter.
Testing Lights

Julia was a trouper, though. We were first supposed to report at 5:30. When we arrived, we learned that the choir scene had been pushed back to after 7:00, and before 10:00. We went home and returned at 7. The group received some instructions from a (crabby) production assistant and practiced “Silent Night” for a while.

Practice

Then they waited. Outside, inside. Standing, sitting. Across the street, on the set. In a big group, in little pairs. Shivering, warming up. I had a coffee. And three cookies. Then some cocoa and two more cookies.

Meanwhile the director ran the same scene over and over and *over* – a couple actors come up the sidewalk, cross the street, and enter Bridge Square while townspeople mill behind them. The throng of townies shrank each time they ran through the scene.

Finally, around 9:15, he got it, and we received word that we needed to stay till 11 for *our* scene. Julia rolled her eyes and pronounced herself “done with this!” Riding home, she said she was a little bummed that she didn’t get to be in the choir scene, but that it still has been fun to see a movie bring made. I’m glad she saw the silver lining in the massive light reflectors.

“Still Alice” and Technology

Tonight we watched Julianne Moore’s Oscar vehicle, Still Alice. The film is very much worth your time. Playing an Alzheimer’s patient in cruelly early decline, Moore was outrageously good, of course; she won the Academy Award for her performance. The movie is a complete tearjerker, and tears were jerked on our sofa. But I was surprised that end of the movie was much less depressing than I expected, given both the movie’s plot and much of the material to that point.

Though very much a family drama (albeit one in which the central character gradually dissipates), the film handled technology in an interestingly compelling way. Apple laptops and phones are everywhere. Alice uses her laptop to talk via video with her daughter and to deliver lectures in her day job as a professor at Columbia. (Though: the idea that she would be teaching a lecture course? ha! And that her lecture slides would project automatically? ha ha!)

Even more than her MacBook Air, Alice loves her iPhone. She plays Words with Friends on it against another daughter, she gets in trouble with her husband when she doesn’t answer it, she tries to make it part of a suicide scheme, and she finally misplaces it and then never really picks it up again – her electronic brain gone like her actual mind. The parallel was quite affecting and humanizing, and testament to the power of the story.

Carleton College Senior Art Show

I lost myself in the Carleton College senior art show, Composite, last week. I’ve visited a couple times now, and have only gotten more impressed by the quality of the work. Every piece is worth savoring, and the pieces in the gallery fit wonderfully together. Here are a few of the more easily-photographed pieces.

Paintings by Soren Hope
Paintings by Soren Hope

 

Graphite Drawings by Avery Johnson
Graphite drawings by Avery Johnson

The artist says these pieces, “are a reflection on a human’s physical relationship with technology, especially the mobile phone. By creating huge drawings of human hands grasping for and poking at the viewer as though they were a phone, I hope to evoke a the sense of greed and desire that we feel when interacting with something designed as a multipurpose, interactive tool.”

Metal Body Ornaments by Zoe Abdel-Moneim
Metal body ornaments by Zoe Abdel-Moneim
Hanging sculptures by Ellen Louise Kwan
Hanging sculptures by Ellen Louise Kwan

And then there were Chloe Mark‘s amazing oil on Plexiglas paintings. She sliced them up and hung them in such a way that you could walk through them and watch some of them move almost like a video.

Chloe Mark
Paintings by Chloe Mark

Science Rocks!

Julia’s fifth-grade classes are doing their “Science Rocks” musical this week: a set of songs about science, accompanied by some dialogue, a few short skits, and even a little dancing.

Julia at Science Rocks
Julia at Science Rocks

I went to see the big show on Wednesday morning, and found the whole production very entertaining and educational. The kids were really into it, which was funny and inspiring in its own right. Dedicating hours and hours to songs about the elements and genetics? Brilliant!

Awesome Filmmaking by the Girls

Julia learned how to use the iOS version of iMovie at school this week, so she and Vivi have been making “trailers” – four so far. Each is better than the last, and the girls are especially happy with these three. Amazing creativity – and no shortage of sheer weirdness.

The Diary of Fate
[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/108675842[/vimeo]

Pixie Dust
[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/108680631[/vimeo]

Attack of the Makeup Monster
[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/108717527[/vimeo]

Paisley Coincidences

Wednesday night, I entertained myself by watching ABC’s Connie Britton drama, Nashville – the finale of season 1 online, then the season premiere of season 2 on TV. One major plotline of the new episode concerned the possibility that Britton’s character’s sometime boyfriend, Deacon, would go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

This made me think of the voiceover at the start of The A-Team, that great ’80s show with Mr. T and George Peppard: “In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit.”

Thursday morning as I was plunking around online, Twitter suggest that I follow the country singer Brad Paisley (who knows why!). His Twitter profile? “In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. I was also born.”

And with whom did Connie Britton’s character sing a duet in the season 1 finale of Nashville?

Brad Freaking Paisley.

Rafting the Cannon

Rafting the Cannon

This afternoon, our friend K organized a rafting expedition on the Cannon River, the very tame waterway that runs through these parts to the Mississippi. Along with three other families, we took about five hours to float eight miles downstream from Cannon Falls. Except for a couple dicey moments involving “rapids” and sandbars, the trip was quiet and relaxing. We picnicked on an amazingly sandy beach and later took another break on a rocky island that supplied us with dozens of skipping rocks. The river is gorgeous. I’d love to do this again in the fall, when the leaves have changed. Perhaps a beer would also be good.

Worst Song Ever, or Hate You Like This Love Song, Baby

This song appears on the mix played during the “boot camp” training sessions I do at Carleton. It’s a heinous piece of work, maybe the worst song I’ve ever heard. The video is just as bad. (FYI, Selena Gomez repeats “I love you like a love song, baby” just 18 times in this song. I would have sworn it was 1800, but I counted.)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgT_us6AsDg[/youtube]