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January 2012

Kathryn's Best Movies Watched while Getting Over a Sinus Infection

I had this cold earlier in January. Which became a bacterial infection involving white spots in the back of my throat and ominous chest pains. So I went to the ER and got a prescription for Zithromax which cleared it right up, and as of last Wednesday I had my energy back and went to yoga class and had a great day. Except.

Friday, I was feeling a bit achy. By Saturday night I was pledging to actually find myself a regular doctor here in the Adirondacks. Monday I went to my new doctor and was diagnosed with a sinus infection and given a new antibiotic: Augmentin. 

So I need to stay in bed, and relax even if its boring. And I have fiberoptic Internet and a MacBook Pro. So I'm watching movies. Here are my recommendations so far:

The first three I bought through iTunes:

Obselidia (2010) starring Michael Piccirilli, Gaynor Howe, and Frank Hoyt Taylor: Asperger's type writing an encyclopedia of obsolete technologies learns to cherish and fetishize the present the way he does the past through the (temporary) love of a good woman and words of wisdom from a misunderstood genius. The protagonist is my kind of man, so this is my kind of film.

The Wife (1995) starring Tom Noonan, Wallace Shawn, Karen Young and Julie Haggerty: A husband and wife work as therapists together leading group therapy in their house. One evening, one of their clients shows up unexpectedly with his sexy wife who wants to know what her husband has been saying about her. Marvellously acted film in which the lowbrow slutty wife gets the better of the other three characters using the superpower of being willing to degrade herself to get what she wants. It has an epic and quite astonishing dinner scene in which almost anything can (and does) happen.

Shaun Tan's The Lost Thing (2010): Terrific film adaptation of Shaun Tan's surreal picture book which had me muttering about impossibly hostpitable dystopias.

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And I also discovered the website Indieflix.com which, for a small monthly fee, seems to allow unlimited access to a large number of independent films. I have been poking around there and here is what I have found so far, all of them short:

The Professor's Daughter (2011; 17 minutes): An AI story in the mode of Ted Chiang's story "Understand." The daughter reminds me of my friend Mary Lou Jepsen.

Ghost (2011; 8 minutes): A ghost story that snaps into place very nicely at the end.

The Lost & Found Shop (2010; 9 minutes): A short fantasy about a child recovering a crucial but lost memory of her mother at Christmas.

Sunshine Bob (2010; 3 minutes): Reminds me of the day literary agent Virginia Kidd's grandson totaled Virginia's Nissan Maxima. Virginia told him, "Remember Steve: when you have a car accident, always turn off the ignition. Steve replied, "I turned off the ignition so that damned woman would shut up." The Nissan Maxima had a female voice that issued advisories to the driver. After some discussion, we arrived at what the car might have been telling Steve: "The tree is in the ignition." This film brings me back to that moment.


January collage work

On New Year's Day, I bought a package of three blank journal books for the kids and I in Lake Placid. In January, I have found myself using my little book to do visual journalling and then, later, collage work. Here is a sample page spread. Scan 14

I had gotten bored with using only printed prose from magazines and newspapers I was willing to cut up, and had the epiphany that we have a whole bookstore full of interesting books downstairs.

I brought a computer printer that will no longer act as a printer but still functions as a copier to the bookstore. Then I chose about six books to copy from: some drama, some fiction, and some non-fiction. The rule I set for myself was I  could look at the pages for layout to make sure they had the right kind of text, but I couldn't read them in advance before trying to work with them.

I am pleased with the result and have ordered some sample art prints of six two-page spreads to see if they came out as well as I think they did. I will probably have some of these in the Boskone art show.

(Click HERE to see a larger version of the image.)


Peter wins the CATS Trail essay contest!

Our Winners of the CATS Trails essay contest!

My son Peter Hartwell was one of the winners of the Champlain Area Trails first essay contest. From the Valley News:

 An independent field biology study turned out to be especially fruitful for both teacher and student, as the duos joint essay won first prize in the Champlain Area Trails (CATS) Travel Writing Contest.

Every week since January of 2011, Westport ninth-grader Peter Hartwell and mentor David Thomas Train have been exploring the Champlain Area Trails along shoreline, streams, wetlands, and woods near Westport. Those explorations prompted them to enter the Champlain Area Trails Travel Writing Contest.

Hartwell attends the BOCES program in Mineville. To supplement the Mineville curriculum, Hartwell studies several subjects privately, including field biology, with Thomas Train.

“Peter and I spend time together every Wednesday after school in outdoor science explorations, and we wanted to share what we do and see,” Thomas Train explained. “He is an avid outdoors explorer, with great observation and drawing skills.”

Thomas Train is certainly no stranger to the trails of the Champlain Valley: He is the guidebook author for the ADK Guide To The Eastern Region.

“I know the CATS trails well and am excited every time a new one is developed, more open space is protected, and I have a new place to explore,” Thomas Train said.

Their jointly written essay, entitled “Wildlife, Connected In and Out of Town,” earned them the first-place prize of $500.

“CATS introduces people to the richness of the natural world in the Champlain Valley, and David and Peter's essay does the same,” contest judge Phil Brown noted.

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And in the same issue of the Valley News, columnist Colin Wells congratulates Peter:

Congratulations to Peter Hartwell and David Thomas Train for winning the $500 grand prize in the recent Champlain Area Trails (CATS) Writing Contest with their essay, "Wildlife, Connected In and Out of Town." Peter, a Westport ninth-grader who attends the BOCES special ed program in Mineville, has been exploring our community's woods, streams, wetlands, and lakeshore over the past year in private biology tutorials with author and teacher Thomas Train. The essay they submitted for the CATS contest reflected that year's worth of wandering, observation, and careful record-keeping.

In the way of disclosure, I also tutor Peter a couple of times a week, in the Greek and Latin origins of common scientific terms. We focus on biology, his main interest, but take in other etymological curiosities as well. He's an outstanding student and a good friend. (Ask him what a lithotrophic halophilic cyanophotolytic isomer is, and he'll be happy to tell you, even though it doesn't exist.)

Congratulations, Peter!