Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tourist Transport

San Francisco is filled with tour buses and more exotic vehicles, the latter fielded in an effort to stand out from the horde. The bureau chief has seen fake (motorized) cable cars, antique cars, open top buses and pedicabs but only one amphibious duck (DUKW).

I assumed this vehicle went into the water during some part of its tour but Madame Le Chef and I found confirmation of this theory while taking a walk along the water front near the baseball stadium.

The approach:

The landing:

The reveal:

The departure:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring 2012

The bureau chief just returned from Richmond VA, where it was emphatically spring, to discover that it's also mighty springlike in San Francisco. Richmond is an interesting city. There are several ways of thinking about it. You could think of it as the capital of the former Confederacy.

You could think of it as the capital of tobacco.

You could think of it as the city of too many Republicans (no illustration needed). But since my sister is an artist, I think of it as a city of art.

The following piece of art used to be on the minor league baseball stadium but when they changed the name of the team from the Braves to the Flying Squirrels (motto, "Go Nuts!') the Indian moved to a riverside prospect.

There's also lots of art inside, like these two mixes of dairy and birds by Veva Edelson.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor

The title above is the full name of the museum that everyone calls just "The Legion of Honor". It was built to commemorate the American soldiers who died in France in WW I. Hence its various French aspects.

We went there to see an exhibit which was okay but the clear spring light was beautiful. Looking east at distant downtown San Francisco.

Looking north across the Golden Gate to Marin.

Looking northeast towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

Looking west towards Asia.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Schindler's List and In Darkness

I have a lot of respect for Roger Ebert and often like his take on films so I was disappointed by his bad review of "In Darkness". He used "Schindler's List" as a club to beat "In Darkness", arguing that the greatness of Spielberg's film made it unnecessary to make any more films about gentiles saving Jews from the Nazis. I realized that as bureau chief I had to again overcome my reluctance to watch a film on the Holocaust and finally take a look at "Schindler's List".  I'm very happy that I did. It is an great film and undoubtedly Spielberg's masterpiece.

He used his superb skills to direct a huge cast in a true story graced with wonderful performances by Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler and Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Goeth. However being Spielberg he also followed his tendency towards over-the -top sentimentality and almost destroyed his master work in a scene near the end where Schindler breaks down and berates himself for not saving more Jews. We've been watching Oskar Schindler for three hours and regardless of whether this scene is based on a real incident, it seems invented and tacked on. Yes Schindler has changed but this is just out of character. Luckily, the film survives that.

Ebert seems to be saying in his review that since Spielberg has made a great symphony, Agnieszka Holland isn't allowed to make a chamber piece on the same subject. This is amazingly wrong. Schindler is a businessman with a factory. He uses the tools available to a businessman to save over a thousand Jews, Leopold Socha, the lead character of "In Darkness", is a sewer worker and a thief and he uses the tools available to a working class person to save a handful of Jews. When the war is finally over, the group of 1100 Jews gathers in the the dining hall of the factory to thank Schindler and his wife who have to flee the victorious Russians. The people shower Schindler with their gratitude.

When Leopold Socha leads the small group of Jews out of the sewer through a manhole, they stand blinking in the May sunlight while passersby gawk at this strange apparition. Socha's wife hurries up with a cake she has baked and distributes it to the survivors and Socha says to the onlookers, "These are my Jews, this is my work", not meaning to be patronizing but because finally he really has done something very good.

Ebert ends his review with this:

"The movie (In Darkness) has been no­minated for an Oscar in the foreign film category. It's a completely safe nomination for a film that's very long, very dark, against Nazis, and of course "based on a true story." Why anyone would feel the need to make it after seeing "Schindler's List," I cannot say."

Agnieszka Holland's father is a  Polish Jew whose own parents died in the Holocaust and her mother is a Polish Catholic who fought in the Resistance. Maybe she has as much right as an American guy from Arizona to make a film about the Holocaust.