Red-legged Serlema

Anne stated school today, so for the first time in a long time, I was left to my own devices. Anne had gotten up early this morning and I got up with her. I made coffee, if only so I could have something hot to sip when she came flying out the front door. Shortly after she left, I hopped on my bike and cycled over to Forest Park and the Saint Louis zoo. I arrived not too much after it had opened.

With the area schools already started, the zoo wasn’t very crowded and many of the animals seemed to be just waking up. I caught Kali the polar bear in a big yawn. Many of the animals were eating their breakfasts. Big cat country seemed mired in lethargy. In my long absence the zoo seems to have been productive. Construction of Grizzly Ridge has finished and the new habitat is currently setup to acclimate two new Grizzly bear cubs. The exhibit will open next month. In a more reproductive mode there were two new additions to the zoo’s family, a baby orangutan and black rhino. There was lots to see and I enjoyed my visit. 

Eclipse Mania

February 26, 1979 Eclipse Pics with Different Exposure Settings

In just a few days, on Monday, August 21st, the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017 will occur. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of the continental US and the path of totality runs coast-to-coast. Our house is on the edge of totality, but we will likely journey 50 miles south to get to the center of the path of totality and thereby lengthen the period of totality. With the many area interstates (I-44, I-55, I-64 and I-70) that cross the path of totality, there are plenty of options. The forecast for Monday has improved. Rain was taken out of the forecast, and it now sits at sunny, turning to partly cloudy at about the time of the eclipse. I’ll likely wait until Monday morning, before choosing which direction to go and pick the direction that has the best forecast.

A ten-pack of those special solar eclipse glasses arrived yesterday. I had waited too long and had to purchase a more expensive product than I would have if I had acted more promptly. Mister Bill is coming south for the event and Anne is taking the day off. Weather permitting, it should be a great time. One could say that it is a once in a lifetime event, except that this will not be my first rodeo. The photos are from 1979, the last time a total eclipse passed over the USA. I however, flew north to Canada. I hope to get better pictures this time around. 

Setting-up at Gimli Airport in Manitoba, Canada on February 26, 1979


Dunkirk Movie

We went to see the movie Dunkirk this afternoon. It is a first rate show that we both enjoyed watching. It opened last month, but this was our first opportunity to see it, since the Eastern UP no longer sports a movie theater. Video killed the record store. It was certainly worth the wait, plus we had the Esquire’s main theater practically to ourselves. It was like our own private screening.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, the picture has a surreal quality. Partly, this is due to Nolan’s choice to shoot the movie using 70mm film. The choice of this HD film format in the digital era, gives the picture a novel rich, lush and detailed look. Add to this the film’s sparse dialog and Hans Zimmer’s techno soundtrack and you have a movie that wordlessly lures you in and then envelops you, using both sight and sound.

The three threads of the story, land, sea and air are woven together to show the interaction and interdependence of the three services. The aerial sequences are arresting and look authentic. Tom Hardy as a Spitfire pilot continues his recent cinematic trend of performing with a mask covering his rather handsome mug.

The movie is a tribute to the British soldiers and civilians who participated in the Dunkirk evacuation. For a retreat, it was successful beyond all expectations. It was a miracle and allowed England to stay in the war, which eventually led to the Nazi defeat. Interestingly, the enemy is almost never seen. The Luftwaffe is all too present, but its plane’s pilots are not revealed. On the sea, a lone torpedo is the only sign of the enemy. In Dunkirk and on the beaches, enemy bullets fly, but from unseen muzzles. The Germans are never mentioned.

Only at the end, after Hardy has landed his plane on the beaches of France, after running out of gas and then fired the aircraft with a flare does the enemy arrive. Even then they are still faceless silhouettes. Minimal attention is spent on them, so not to detract from the British heroes who participated in this endeavor.