Loving Vincent

A new movie just opened called “Loving Vincent,” about my favorite painter, Vincent Van Gogh (I sleep with Starry Night over my bed). I have not seen it yet but it looks amazing. It’s the first fully oil painted feature film; the images are all copies of Vincent’s own hand, using 120 of his paintings and the characters in them, including landscapes that move from the iconic paintings.

Every single frame is hand painted and come to life on screen. Actual actors morf into the paintings. One second of film can take weeks to produce. Each of the film’s 60,000 frames is a painting!

The story looks to be compelling too, as they are trying to figure out the mystery of his death from a gun shot wound.

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Diary of a Little Girl in Old New York

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Catherine Elizabeth and her father Rensselaer Havens in a daguerreotype taken in 1849.

I read this book called Diary of a Little Girl in Old New York.  I read it on Kindle so I’m not sure how big the book is, but I read it in about an hour or so.

The 10-year-old girl’s name is Catherine Havens and she wrote her diary from August 1849 through June 1850 and there is some of 1851, too, and eventually, it was published in 1919 when her older sister told her it might be a good idea to see if they could get it published all those years later. It’s interesting because it describes so much of old New York, where most diaries are only about the person writing it; this includes so much of what life was like in the mid 19th Century.

I noticed that the whole diary can be read online here. So you don’t have to buy the book.

Catherine comes from a wealthy family and the people she is surrounded by including family and relatives are all in good spirits it seems. For some reason, I always think of people in the olden days as being dour and humorless, but this is not the case. Even her old grandfather has a good sense of humor. Her father was old, he was born before the Revolutionary War.  She writes that people would mistake him as being her grandfather.

Catherine writes about her old aunts who lived in a house built in 1733 and of her own mother’s school days back in the 1810s.

Her world seems mostly to have revolved around 9th Street in New York City and most of the stores they visited and the schools were on 9th or near 9th Street.  She names names of people who lived then and where they lived up and down 9th Street.  She did travel though, to far off places, via boat/ships of the time.

She writes about school and how they did math back then and also how they learned words, starting with the Latin word and working into American English. She tells of how her math teacher rattled off numbers in sequences and the kids had to know the answer.

She mentions her grandfathers’s slaves, by name: “My father’s father lived on Shelter Island, and had twenty slaves, and their names were: Africa, Pomp, Titus, Tony, Lum, Cesar, Cuff, Odet, Dido, Ziller, Hagar, Judith, and Comas, but my grandfather thought it was wicked to keep slaves, so he told them they could be free, but Tony and Comas stayed on with him.”

I love when she writes about her mother’s youth: “My mother says Stuart’s candy store down on Greenwich and Chambers Streets used to be the store in her day. When she was a little girl in 1810, old Kinloch Stuart and his wife Agnes made the candy in a little bit of a back room and sold it in the front room, and sometimes they used to let my mother go in and stir it.”

Here grandfather is one of the first people to have water pipped into their kitchen down on Maiden Lane in New York City.

They even debated about either or eyether and neither and nyther back then!

If you like history, this book is really great, Catherine seems wiser than her 10 years, but maybe that is how the children were back then. It’s interesting see back 1849-50 from a child’s eyes. She wrote that she hoped to live to see the 20th century, but learned in Bible study that in the year 2000 the world would end, so she hoped she would not make it to that age. She did make it to 1939, so she lived to be 99 years old, almost 100. In the diary she mentions that she hoped her mother would live to be 100, and she almost did, she passed away at the age of 96.

Wednesday is “Read A Book Day,” so this might be a good one to read on Wednesday.

I’m reading the old Brooklyn Eagle newspaper; daily!

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I tried reading 1917, but it was boring without the comics and tv listings.

Ok, so I’m trying this experiment. I am reading the Brooklyn Daily Eagle daily, on the exact date from the past. I chose 1917 so it would be exactly 100 years ago, but it was a bit boring, there were no comics or tv listings, so I randomly chose 1949. That seems like a good year, there are comics and my parents were around then, in Brooklyn and it was a good time for the country. We were out of World War II and it was just before the Koren War and it was just on the verge of the coming fabulous ’50s.

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This is the top of the front page on Aug. 22, 1949.

I wanted to find a newspaper that carried Krazy Kat and more famous strips, but The Eagle is so easy to see and navigate on this platform so I’ll do that.

I got the idea from my Krazy Kat and The Gumps books that I purchased awhile back. I blogged about them here. They are one year in the life, you are supposed to read them o the same date each day, for instance Krazy Kat runs from January 1, 1934 to December 31, 1934 and The Gumps runs from May 1, 1928 to May 3, 1929. I read them all in a few sittings, as they are hard to not read daily. But I am going to do this with The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and for that period that I’m reading it, I’ll pretend that I am living in 1949, reading the daily newspaper.

Here’s a link to the site if you would like to check out the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper archive.

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Part of the comics page on Aug. 22, 1949.

Governors Island; a trip back through history

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Governors Island, where do I start?

I thought I knew all of New York City. I’m amazed that I am often finding myself in areas that I had never been before and this past weekend was no exception. A few of us went on an adventure, to another land, which was only 800 yards from downtown Manhattan. It’s so close, yet is its own world.

Governors Island was settled briefly by the Dutch in 1624 but its main claim to fame is being a military base from 1794 to 1996, when it closed. It was home to the US Army and then the US Coast Guard. In 2001, President Clinton established the 22-acre as a national park and in 2003, President Bush transferred the remaining 150 acres to the people of New York.

From being used as a base in the American Revolutionary War to a National Park today, is some transformation, yet so much of it is like going back in time. It remains like it has for 200 years or so.

The island is open from May 1 to October 1 each year and it’s a pity because Governors Island would be a perfect place for a pumpkin patch and Christmas village. It’s a bit Williamsburg, VA and a bit of old Boston. There’s a meadow you come upon and you swear you are in “Little House on the Prairie,” as you see no surrounding buildings. All at once, you come upon an old movie theater where you think you are on the back lot of “The Waltons,” and the houses – the colonial houses which surround a sort of green square takes you back to a simpler time – all this mere feet from Brooklyn.

And the fantasy of the whole thing is that you have to arrive by ferry! There are ferries from different areas of the city, so hop on one and head over. The ferry ride itself is a beautiful experience as you glide by New York’s skyscrapers and cruise under its many bridges.

Once you get to the island, there is more than enough to do. Take in the greenery and quaintness and history. This is real history all surrounded by nature.

There is free kayaking and picnic lunches and biking and food trucks and hammocks and mini golf and so much more; and the best part has to be what they call “The Hills.” There is one hill, which seems like a mini-mountain, it is 70 feet above sea level. It is sort of like climbing a pyramid. There are large pyramid-style rocks piled up and you climb to the top – the only way to get there. Once at the top the first thing you see is the Statue of Liberty right in front of you in the harbor, you feel as if you can reach out and touch her.

Turn around and there, sparkling in the distance is downtown Manhattan and Jersey City. The view is spectacular. I sat there on a large rock and just watched people’s reactions as they turned and saw the view for the first time. Amazing.

There are events throughout the summer like the Poetry Festival and the Scavenger Hunt, there are art exhibits and so much more.

You can spend each weekend there during the season and find something new to do each weekend. For more info, check out their website at: https://govisland.com

Is this the first animated cartoon?

This is the first animated cartoon, released in July 1913, heck, it’s one of the first movies period. No, it’s not “Steamboat Willy.” That was 1928. And Gertie the Dinosaur was done in 1914.

It’s called ” The Artist’s Dream; The Dachshund and the Sausage.” It shows a live cartoonist, J.R. Bray, drawing the cartoon and then shows the animation.