Making of Fanny’s Journey

Here’s a 20 minute video about the making of Fanny’s Journey, a well-crafted film based on a true story of a 13 year old girl who’s got to lead eight children out of Nazi-controlled France to Switzerland during WWII.

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Ambient Café Sounds

I like writing in a café because you often get the right amount of sound that makes you more productive. However, sometimes it’s too noisy. What’s the solution? The video above was recorded in a Starbucks in Korea. This is ideal because you can adjust the volume on the chatter! Also, since most of the people are speaking Korean, I’m not drawn into a dramatic story.

It’s the first time I’ve used this and I’d say it did work. I got a good amount of writing done.

Let me know if you like writing in a café or have another spot outside of home where you get more done.

Also, please share if this video or others like it, work for you.

Loyola’s Sister Jean

My alma mater Loyola University Chicago is something of a long shot in the NCAA and is doing quite well as last night’s win moved them into the Elite Eight. Their chaplain Sr. Jean Schmidt has garnered a lot of attention for her scintillating personality. Below is an interview she did when she was 95.

Isn’t it great that a woman who’s now 98 still makes such a great contribution.

Tasmania

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Since I have friends in Tasmania, I thought I should hop off the mainland and see what Hobart and its environs had to offer. I discovered that incredible nature and a more relaxed pace abounded in Tasmania.

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Tasmanian Tiger

Here’s what I learned about Tasmania:

  • The Tasmanian Devil is familiar to non-Australians because of the cartoon character but the Tasmanian Tiger was more of the state’s symbol than the former. However, the Tasmanian Tiger has been extinct (or believed to be so — some claim to have seen signs of them) for decades.
  • The tallest flowering tree, the eucalyptus regnans can be found here. The only tree that’s taller is the California redwood.
  • What is now called Tasmania has been inhabited by aborigines for approximated 12,000 years when it was cut off from the mainland.
  • Tasmania was named after Abel Janszoon Tasman, a the Dutch explorer, who saw what is now Tasmania in 1642.

My first full day in Tasmania I went with my friend cum hostess to the Tasmanian National Park, which was swarming with tourists, which is quite uncommon. We saw the Tessellated Pavement, which is an area of flat rock on the ocean. The ocean has cut into the rock over the course of time and what’s unusual about that is that the cuts are at right angles. It looks manmade, but isn’t. We also saw the Remarkable Cave, which is an arch from the land to the ocean, the Blowhole, a natural pool where water shoots up periodically, and lots of gorgeous seascape.

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  • My second day we went to Mt. Field National Park where there’s a rainforest and famed waterfall. This rainforest is home to the eucaluptus regnans.

    We had a great day strolling through Salamanca, the hip part of town by the harbor. (Sorry I can’t find photos.) Salamanca is home to dozens of craft shops, restaurants, bars and cafés.

    Day three was spent at the beach in Dodge’s Ferry, Tasmania. A word to the wise: reapply the sunscreen often. I’m still peeling my sunburned skin off. Still it was a wonderful trip. I want to go back to see Tassie’s funky Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).

    Mabel Normand Films

    Earlier I posted some background information on Mabel Normand who’s in the next episode of Mr Selfridge. Here are a couple of her short silent films. These two are both from 1912 so the real Selfridge folks might have seen them.

    Mabel Normand

    Mabel Normand hat
    Tomorrow’s Mr. Selfridge will feature a visit from silent film star Mabel Normand. She eventually directed her own films and opened her own film studio. Here’s more from The Encyclopedia of World Biography:

    Actress and comedienne Mabel Normand’s most important role involved her contribution to the development of film comedy. Those who came after, such as Lucille Ball, owe her a large debt.

    Normand proved far ahead of her time. She was an independent, successful woman in a male-dominated industry, and she exercised a great deal of control over her own career. She also developed gags, wrote scripts, and even directed some early silent films. But this comedy star’s life was filled with tragedy. She became enmeshed in scandal, indulged far too much than was good for her fragile health, and she died young.

    Normand was one of the film world’s first celebrities. She had a rebellious nature, and this non-conformity made her a “star” before that term came into common use. Like modern celebrities, her involvement in career-destroying scandals unfairly amounted to little more than guilt by association.

    Born in New York City

    The screen’s first true female comedy star was born as Mabel Ethelried Normand on November 11, 1892, in Staten Island in New York City, New York. She was the youngest of four children born to Claude G. Normand and Mary Drury Normand. Her parents were French Canadians, and Claude Normand struggled to make a living to support his family. He worked as a carpenter but also played piano in clubs, small theaters, and movie houses.

    As a young teenager, Normand toiled as a factory garment worker. In 1909, the seventeen-year-old Normand found work as a model. Painters and illustrators were attracted to her dark curled hair that framed her round face and large, expressive eyes. At the time, such attributes epitomized the current conception of beauty. Famous artists she posed for included Charles Dana Gibson, who created the “Gibson girl look,” and James Montgomery Flagg, the man who created the famous Uncle Sam “I Want You” military recruiting posters.

    Moved from Modeling to Films

    Normand was friends with Alice Joyce, a fellow model whose beauty led her into film work. Normand followed her into the burgeoning industry and worked as an extra in films produced by the Kalem Film Company, an early East Coast-based movie production studio. Soon, she made the acquaintance of Frank Lanning, an actor who worked at Biograph Studios. Lanning convinced her to change studios, which proved to be good advice, as Biograph boasted the talents of D.W. Griffith, the pioneering film director who would later produce the movie industry’s first feature films, (The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance). As such, the company attracted the best of the early film industry’s talent.

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