For those who know Jan Brett’s oeuvre, she is best known for retelling European folk and fairy tales: the Mitten; Red Riding Hood; Goldilocks and the three bears to name a few. In Armadillo Rodeo she shows her American side, taking readers to the hills of Texas. It’s a silly sort of story, about a mother armadillo and her four children, one of whom, Bo, is always distracted, always getting into trouble. When he sees that girl with the brand-new bright red cowboy boots, Bo inexplicably mistakes that boot for a red armadillo. (The author blames this on poor eyesight, but really!)
Intrigued by this unusual new friend, Bo follows the girl with the chili pepper-red boots all over and gets a glimpse of some down-home cowboy living. From bronco riding, to barbecue to hoedown, this adventure has all that Texas living has to offer!
As with all of Jan Brett’s stories, this one is beautifully illustrated. I don’t think the story is quite up to snuff of her others, but my four-year-old may disagree. Implausible plot points seem to be lost on him :-/
Last night while channel surfing, I happened across a very interesting cartoon. It was three Indian shadow puppets discussing the Indian epic tale, the Ramayana. I was quickly hooked on Sita Sings the Blues which is truly unlike any other movie, much less cartoon, that I’ve seen. A mix of old jazz, even older Indian myth, and a modern story of heartbreak, this movie is an unlikely mish-mash that somehow works perfectly.
The shadow puppets discuss, as three regular folk might, the story of the Ramayana, about the ruler Rama and his wife Sita. This take on the ancient story is focused not on Rama but Sita, her trials and sorrows and joys. Interspersed with the dialogue about the story are musical numbers in which Sita sings the music of 1920’s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw. It sounds like a stretch, but it works incredibly well. So well that it’s hard to believe they weren’t intended to be together. The third, and least prevalent, part of the movie is bits about the creator’s own experiences of love and betrayal in India. But these parts, although illustrating how she came to make this feature, don’t hold a candle to the rest of this movie.
I love finding something while channel surfing and being so captivated that I watch the whole 90 minutes. What’s best is that Nina Paley has made her movie freely available on her website. So go look it up and watch it on your laptop in bed tonight!
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
From time to time, I come across very cool technologies coming to the world of interior design. In the past, I’ve introduced you to Smart Lighting systems, which together give you control over the lighting of your home. There are other products out there that give you wireless control over the HVAC system of your home too. Ever fascinated with advances in home automation, I wanted to share one of my more recent discoveries: the future of modern window treatments, the digital shade.
Essentially, a digital shade is a film that you can apply to existing windows, much like traditional window tint. Digital shades, however, allow you to control the amount of light that passes through the window itself. Digital shades, like the ones being developed by SONTE, use an innovative film that reacts to changes electrical current. When a charge is passed through the film, the transparency of the film (and the window it’s affixed to) is reduced giving you instant privacy. It’s easier to understand the effect by watching this video.
Digital shades not only offer you privacy in your bedroom, bathroom, home office, or home theater, they also help control the interior temperature of your home by controlling the amount of sunlight that comes into your home, blocking UV rays, and reflecting infrared. A triple threat! No longer will you have to worry about forgetting to close your blinds during the hot summer months (or actually having to walk over to the window to do it), as these WiFi enabled digital shades can give you instant control over your windows with the swipe of a finger on your mobile device.
I love Hayao Miyazaki. His incredible attention to detail, the beautiful stories of children bridging the gap between the realm of humans and the fairy world. Spirited Away has become a classic Miyazaki film and I love it terribly. My son, although he thinks it’s too scary, is also fascinated by the story.
Enter the world of Manga. I found, at my local library, a five-part series of the movie, in Manga form. Each one is about 100 pages long, but there is so little dialogue that we can easily read one in a half an hour. All the parts that scare him in the movie are much less scary in print.
What’s also great about these books is they cover EVERY SINGLE THING from the movie, just cut up and put into a five-part series. Finally, Felix is learning a little bit about Japanese culture, as Manga books read back-to-front, right-to-left. I am considering buying these books, partly for me, partly for my son. They’re beautiful, engaging, and we can read a whole volume as a satisfying bedtime story.
I am slowly recovering from our first-ever family airplane trip. One of the great features of the airline we took was the DirecTV on the back of every seat. We do not have cable at home, so any time I get to watch the Food Network or National Geographic or any other fancy channel it a major treat. Once my son was happily settled in with the requisite airplane ginger ale and watching Oz, I settled happily into a House Hunters/House Hunters International binge.
Perhaps you have seen the show; people are in the market for a new home or apartment. Often, they are utterly unbearable, complaining about wall colors as though there is no earthly way to change it. Or multi-millionaires looking for a vacation home in a third-world country and being surprised at the otherness of the foreign country. Also, it is completely staged. A friend of mine was on and there was a whole fake going-away party for her, despite her having been gone for months.
Normally, I cannot endure “reality” TV. However, I cannot get enough of this “realty” TV. I love seeing all the different kinds of houses, and the tastes that each house hunter seems drawn to. Just like there is a person for everyone, there is a home for all types. Add to that the far-flung corners of the globe you get to visit in the “International” version, and it’s downright educational. I’ll probably never see a family home in Oslo outside of this show. Great fun to watch and apparently it’s always on.