Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How To Launch A Hot Air Balloon

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Apparently with some difficulty, depending on the wind and the proximity of your tutu-wearing neighbors.                  

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race, Abstracted

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I shoot the Great Forest Park Balloon Race almost every year. It is usually very crowded and full of color. We'll get to that but sometimes all those gaudy tones could use paring down.
                      
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Monday, September 28, 2015

A Small Performance

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This Japanese man performed in a quiet corner of the garden. He had a modest pushcart that proved to be full of tricks and delights.Things to juggle and balance, disguises and odd bits of materials. In the second and third pictures he fashions flowers from globs of spun sugar on a stick, finally handing one to a member of the audience.

I'll end the series from the Japanese festival here - it's been going on a long time. There are more pictures to edit, particularly of the taiko drummers on the amphitheater stage, and photos that have not been posted to the blog. I particularly recommend two shots of a blind Iraqi-American judo practitioner who is trying to make the team for the Special Olympics. He took on the sumo giants in photos here and here.       

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sumo

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The sumo wrestlers are one of the most popular performers at the Japanese festival. It's always a group from Hawaii, where the sport is common and feeds talent into the Japanese professional circuit. 

It is amazing that people so huge are so flexible. The bottom photo is of a training exercise. The top wrestler pushes down his colleague as hard as possible. Can  you touch the soles of your feet together while sitting on the floor?                        

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Alien Kombat

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There were several martial arts demonstrations at the Japanese Festival. I walked into this one, something I had never seen and whose name, um, I forgot. It seemed very stylized. The participants had these strange outfits in a deep blue. Their poles were clearly substitutes for swords. One of them explained the protocol. You get points for striking your opponent on the top of the head, those epaulet-thingies and on the side around the kidneys. It didn't have to be hard, just a touch. Perhaps the skill is to defend against against it and to pierce those defenses. Sort of Safety Samurais.                       

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

From Okinawa

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A dance troop from Okinawa. The island is a long way south of the rest of Japan - Taiwan is certainly no farther -  but firmly under the banner of the rising sun.

I was surprised by the light response to yesterday's post. Cute kids usually pull 'em in. Tomorrow I'll move on to people fighting. That ought to do it.                                          

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Kodomo

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That's Japanese for children, I'm pretty sure. I used to be more-or-less able to make my needs known in Japanese but the skill has faded with disuse. Wasn't the best student, anyway. When my sensei, or teacher, would ask me something and I made a big mistake, she would look at me and say with long, drawn-out vowels honto? Meaning really?

But kids are charming everywhere in the world and that needs no language. This group were in processions at our Japanese Festival.                

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Taiko, Part 1

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St. Louis Osuwa Taiko is the fixture at the Japanese Festival (along with the sake, of course). It's a high-energy mix of percussion and choreography (short video here) and definitely for the fit. More of them when they take the stage at the garden's amphitheater. 
             
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Monday, September 21, 2015

Madeleine Monday

Madeleine At The VIP Tent, Forest Park Balloon Race 2015-09-19

Yes, she is.

A brief interruption in the Japanese Festival series. The annual Great Forest Park Balloon Race was held Saturday afternoon. (I'll get to those pictures before Halloween. Promise.) It's always packed and you have to park at a vast distance. However, you can buy tickets for a reserved area with large tents for shade, plenty of seating, food and drink and close-in parking. And no riff-raff. But when I saw what they were charging it was obvious that the letters stood for Vastly Inflated Price. 

Nevertheless, I sprang for tix for the family. Much more enjoyable. Ms. M had never seen hot air balloons before and got a big kick from it..                         

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Kampai!

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Next topic: the Japanese Festival at Missouri Botanical Garden, um, just two weeks ago. At the opening ceremony the Consul General of Japan in Chicago, Toshiyuki Iwado, Mayor Francis Slay and other dignitaries broke open a cask of sake and passed samples to VIPs (which did not include your faithful photographer). There is no L sound in Japanese and, to the constant amusement of those who speak European languages, even the most educated struggle with it. Consul Iwado, whose English was otherwise flawless, offered his congradruations and invited guests to have a sip from their wooden grasses.

Then they passed some snorts to the entertainers. Nothing better than taiko drummers sloshed on rice wine. I think of the bottom pic as the Three Graces.                    

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Checkmate

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I think it really is if black just moved. I don't know what this has to do with the Festival of Nations except that chess is played all around the world.

There are a couple more pix to edit from this event (may add to the album on Flickr) but it's time to move on. Kon'nichiwa Nihon.
                    

Tiny Dancer

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Another group of African dancers at the Festival of Nations. I wish I had kept my program so I could identify who's who.

Only of interest to Americans: I'm editing pix and writing this Thursday night while watching the Cardinals game. They are thwacking lowly Milwaukee. If you like baseball (and I really do), it's nice to live in the city with this year's best team. We are hoping for a trans-Missouri World Series against Kansas City, which has the best record in the American League.                     
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nuns Just Wanna Have Fun

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Or some of them. These ladies were watching the Puerto Rican entertainer we saw yesterday. The one on the left was dancing along with her. The one on the right, well, may have had some sour juice.               

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

La Puertorriqueña

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In a glade a short distance away from the stage we've been viewing, a Puerto Rican woman sang, danced and told stories.

We visited Puerto Rico once a number of years ago and enjoyed it. However, the island has fallen on hard times. The economy is bad, the government can't pay its debts and, since they are US citizens, droves of the residents are moving to the mainland.                   

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Susan Again

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Oops. After a walk through the St. Louis Art Fair yesterday afternoon, Mrs. C and I went out to a big dinner with daughter Emily and Madeleine. Came home, downloaded the memory card and fell asleep over my laptop. So up and back to work.

Still at the Festival of Nations. The ubiquitous Susan Stone was there. We had a profile of her earlier this year. I don't know if anyone actually understands what she's up to. You might prefer a pic of Madeleine from last night.                         

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Regal

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The next act to take the stage at the Festival of Nations was a group of African dancers and drummers. They were simply terrific. The lead male dancer had a kingly air, full of power and self-confidence.

I've been crushed at work this week. (How badly I would like to retire, but I can't just yet.) I hope I can visit my friends' blogs again over the weekend.                     

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