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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving thanks for animal friends

"Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to." ~ Alfred A. Montapert , Author/Philiospher.~

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, gratitude is often found in the smaller moments of everyday life.

For many people, pets fill those smaller moments and take center stage in offering unconditional love and companionship, which is so important this time of year.

The other day, I received a PowerPoint presentation from a friend via email, and was so taken with the quality and sensitivity poured into it, that I felt compelled to share it in this post.

The slide show is called “Partners With Paws,” and IMHO it was created by a person who is grateful for those smaller moments of everyday life, which are often brought about by living with a dog or cat.

In tracing the origin of the PowerPoint, I was able to link it to authorSTREAM, a website, much like YouTube, but one that caters to folks who enjoy creating and sharing slide shows.

The individual, who posted the presentation that is below, simply goes by the moniker, “guug li “from Budapest Hungary.

I hope you enjoy it, and that you and yours (whether human or pet) have a holiday filled with the blessings of love and companionship, along with an extra helping of turkey and pie.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Beary Happy Ending

John Muir - 1907 -
"Bears are not companions of men, but children of God, and His charity is broad enough for both... We seek to establish a narrow line between ourselves and the feathery zeros we dare to call angels, but ask a partition barrier of infinite width to show the rest of creation its proper place. Yet bears are made of the same dust as we, and breathe the same winds and drink of the same waters. A bears days are warmed by the same sun, his dwellings are overdomed by the same blue sky, and his life turns and ebbs with heart-pulsings like ours and was poured from the same fountain....." ~ John Muir ~

Scottish-born American, John Muir, naturalist and ecologist will always be remembered as a spiritual advocate for the preservation of wildnerness, which earned him the title, "The Father of our National Parks."

Today, his legacy provides a basis for thoughtful land conservation providing protected habitats for creatures great and small.

Once in a while, those creatures venture into man’s territory, which unfortunately happens more often as rural areas develop and spread into cities.

Such is the story that was captured on the video below last spring by the Ventura County Star; a Cinnamon black bear had made it’s way into the town of Oxnard, California, only to find itself in a bit of a jam as it climbed a tree using it’s short non-retractable claws, most likely in search of food. (Black bears are notorious for their constant foraging.)

It’s estimated that about 300,000 black bears populate the United States, and for the most part are solitary and rather docile animals, despite their size, which varies from two to three feet in height (at shoulders) and four to seven feet in length from the tip of the nose to the tail. The weight of male bears spans 150 to a whopping 600 pounds, while females tend to be smaller overall in size, but still look formidable when found wandering in a human setting.

Fortunately, for the 200 pound black bear in this story, some alert game wardens and the local fire department took time to rescue the bear and relocate it back into a forest habitat.

It’s not that often that animals this size get a second chance - John Muir must have been smiling down that day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hackenschmied and Derenkowsky

“Another cat? Perhaps. For love there is also a season; its seeds must be resown. But a family cat is not replaceable like a worn-out coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another.” ~ Irving Townsend ~

If you’re you’re a true cinephile or perhaps a student at UCLA or NYU film school you’ll probably recognize the names Alexandr Hackenschmied as well as Eleanora Derenkowsky and not think it’s a New York based law firm. The pair, both filmmakers, and once husband and wife, also went by the more recognizable Americanized names of Alexandr Hammid and Maya Deren.

When they were together in the 1940’s, Hammid and Deren created some extraordinary avant-garde films, most notably, MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON.

Recently, one of Hammid and Deren’s lesser-known works, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF THE CAT surfaced on the Internet and begs to be shared; it’s a poignant documentary short, only 22 minutes long, but cinematically packs a haunting punch.

Today, when we go to the theater, we expect to see movies in 3-D with computer generated imagery, oftentimes backed up with thundering Dolby sound, all designed to assault the senses and draw the theater patron in, as close to the onscreen action as possible.

However, if we step back to a gentler time, without music or voice over, and only a modest printed card or two along with a cinematographer’s black and white visuals, we are in for a surprise, and such is THE PRIVATE LIFE OF A CAT.

The story is quite simple – two cats named “He” and “She” and their timeless bond in daily life with their family of kittens.

The documentary, shot against the backdrop of Hammid and Deren’s Manhattan apartment, reaches back 66 years as if it were yesterday.

A special thanks to the Prelinger Archives for making THE PRIVATE LIFE OF A CAT available for viewing. Enjoy!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

National Geographic channel spans the globe with GREAT MIGRATIONS

On Sunday, November 7, 2010, at 8 PM ET, the National Geographic channel premieres GREAT MIGRATIONS, a visually stunning and expertly crafted seven-part series that covers the dramatic life and death struggles of numerous animal species that span the globe as they travel, answering their instinctual calls for survival.

Over two and a half years in the making, NATGEO crews covered 420,000 miles across 20 countries and all seven continents to capture rare footage of millions upon millions of animals seeking food, water and mating grounds.

One of the most ambitious productions ever brought to television, GREAT MIGRATIONS is to be viewed in 330 million homes in 166 countries and in 34 languages.

Each one-hour episode will cover species such as Wildebeest; red crab; zebra; monarch butterfly; elephant seal; army ant; Mali elephant; whale shark and many more.

Four core hours of the series are narrated by two-time Emmy, three-time Golden Globe winner Alec Baldwin.

Additional episodes include a scientific investigation into the mysteries of animal migration; a behind-the-scenes look into the technology used and challenges faced in capturing GREAT MIGRATIONS, plus a special hour-long visual concert, which includes exquisite film footage set to original music.

Below for your viewing pleasure is an excerpt from the upcoming premiere episode along with a complete breakdown for each episode of GREAT MIGRATIONS, presented exclusively on the National Geographic Channel.

After viewing the video excerpt, simply click on the episode title to explore the series further in-depth.

Video "Red Crab Marathon" –“Red crab males must endure a harrowing journey towards the sea -- facing yellow crazy ants and traffic along the way”

Born to Move Sunday, Nov 7, 2010, 8 PM ET

Need to Breed Sunday, Nov 7, 2010, 9 PM ET

Born to Move (Repeat) Sunday, Nov 7, 2010, 10 PM ET

Science of Great MigrationsSpecial Episode- Tuesday, Nov 9, 2010, 10 PM ET

Feast or Famine Sunday, Nov 14, 2010, 8 PM ET

Race to Survive Sunday, Nov 14, 2010, 9 PM ET

Behind the ScenesSpecial Episode- Sunday, Nov 14, 2010, 10 PM ET

Behind the Scenes (Repeat)Tuesday, Nov 16, 2010, 9 PM ET

Rhythm of LifeSpecial Concert - Saturday, Nov 20, 2010, 8 PM ET

Born to Move (Repeat) Sunday, Nov 21, 2010, 8 PM ET

Need to Breed (Repeat) Sunday, Nov 21, 2010 9 PM ET

Race to Survive (Repeat) Sunday, Nov 21, 2010 10 PM ET