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Category: Culture (page 3 of 27)

Fall Inspirations from Andrew Wyeth

Maine Door (Siri’s Pumpkin)
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Polar Documentaries

Frozen Planet

I finally had some free time to catch up on a few documentaries this last month and spent part of the past two weeks watching the Frozen Planet series, which was released to DVD and Blu-ray earlier this year. Its quality matches that of the Blue Planet and Planet Earth series, and I was happy to see lots of behind the scene footage included where the film crews must deal with hazardous issues like hurricane speed winds, leopard seals, and killer whales (in one scene a pack teams up against some crew members in a small boat and push a coordinated wave towards them – the same technique they used to also knock seals off ice flows).

Another bonus was an inside look at the new research stations that have been built in Antarctica, which look like they would be fun to work in.

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Still Life

First published back in 2010, Still Life captures the preserved Antarctic huts left behind by the early explorers and Jane Ussher’s artistic photography sets a respectful tone which lets you focus on details which could otherwise be missed in other resources. The book has been in the spotlight lately with the resurgence of interest in Polar exploration history, and most recently was featured prominently in Nigel Cabourn’s Last Expedition exhibit for buyers and press.

Not to be missed, you can also now explore the insides of both huts and see many of the same objects shown in the book thanks to Google: Scott’s Hut and Shackleton’s Hut

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A Camera in the Hills

Finding “Images D’Escalades” earlier this year led me to works by F.S. Smythe, a top mountaineer in his day who was also known for his wonderful writing and photography. Among his published books is “A Camera in the Hills,” which is a collection of pictures he took during two expeditions to the British Hills and Swiss Alps between 1938 and 1939 – in addition to the photos, Smythe also discusses the technical details and composition behind each making it an excellent resource for those learning about landscape and mountaineering photography.

The Summit of Mont Blanc
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The Eighth Army

Reading up on desert warfare during World War 2 recently led me to source an interesting pamphlet with some great photos published by the British Government in 1944 about the Eighth Army, covering its creation in 1941 through the defeat of the Afrika Korps in 1943. Exploits of the 7th Armoured Division (the Desert Rats) are included, and were an inspiration behind the most recent collection from Nigel Cabourn.

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A Lillet Bastille Day

Not belonging to another particular nationality has ever stopped me from celebrating that country’s holidays – after all, it’s just another good excuse to have a few nice drinks. Bastille Day is no exception with its timeliness in summer after our own July 4th parties, and in preparation of tonight’s activities I’ll be making several cocktails with a bottle of Lillet Rose. Recently released this last spring for the first time, the Rose brings the flavors of several different grapes together into a wonderful aperitif which can be served chilled on its own or mixed in with other drinks.

See if any local establishments are throwing a special event for today – if in Seattle, you might like to check out the Corson Building and Le Pichet.

Some Surfing Classics

While watching clips from the famous surf documentary Pacific Vibrations, I remembered another great one – The Endless Summer. A quick search brought me to news that it has recently been digitally remastered and is available for download in iTunes.



Over the next two weeks if you find yourself down in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood for lunch, you might like to stop into the temporary Hardware[Store] on Occidental Avenue – it is not a store in the traditional sense, but is instead an art installation to highlight tools both rare and common.

Run by Olson Kundig Architects, [storefront] has been holding different projects since its opening last December as a record store (and previous to the current installation, it was a mushroom farm).

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Shackleton’s Whisky – Revisited

The finding and reproduction of Ernest Shackleton’s whisky has been well publicized over the past two years, with the the most recent PR blitz happening last summer to support the start of sales in North America by Whyte & Mackay. I was skeptical of the whole thing at first, but after reading Charles McGrath’s excellent piece in the NYTimes along with the scientific analysis I was sold (I for one am glad to know that there is an Institute of Brewing).

If you’re a whisky fan, it’s worth tracking down a bottle I think. I’ve ended up with two myself – one for opening now and the other to save for years down the road.

Related: Looking for liquor references in Shackleton’s book


Climbing the Alps in the 1940’s

Scans from “Images D’Escalades,” a collection of mountaineering pictures covering climbs in the Alps – most of them were taken by André Roch, who was both a well respected climber and avalanche expert. I could not find any specific date for when it was published, but some years listed with a few of the climbs photographed indicate that it was likely released around 1946. I’ve also attempted to translate parts of it from French, but I’m sure it’s not perfect.

L’Arête nord du Weisshorn (4505 m) est vertigineuse. Le parcours de cette crête se fait constamment au-dessus de précipices très profonds. – The northern ridge of the Weisshorn is breathtaking. The course of this ridge goes over very deep precipices.

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