11 November 2018

Volunteering at the 2018 SLIFF

This past week, I did four volunteer shifts at the 27th Annual St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) (https://www.cinemastlouis.org/about-festival), which ends tonight. The first of those shifts was one week ago today (4 November) at Brown Hall on the Washington University (https://wustl.edu/) campus. I helped to hand out festival program, fan ballots, and festival patron surveys. The latter two items were collected after the film. That day, I saw two documentary features. First was "Letter from Masanjia," about an Oregon woman's discovery in some Chinese-made decorations she bought of a letter from a prisoner in a Chinese labor camp. This story soon went viral and China soon closed its labor camps. The film interviewed the prisoner who wrote the letter and follows his quest for freedom. Leon Lee, the director of "Letter from Masanjia," was present and spoke to the audience before and after the film.

Then, the documentary "Time for Ilhan" was screened. It told the story of Minneapolis, Minnesota resident Ilhan Omar's successful 2016 campaign for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives. She became the first Somali-American and Muslim-American woman elected to office. (Last Tuesday, Omar was elected to the US House of Representatives.) Norah Shapiro, director of this film, spoke before and after it was screened.

Wednesday night (7 November), after my off day from work, I headed to .ZACK (http://www.kranzbergartsfoundation.org/zack/) in the Grant Center Arts District (http://www.grandcenter.org) of Midtown St. Louis for my second shift. That night--after helping hand out ballots and surveys--I saw the narrative short film "Ashlock," which employed dance to help tell the true story of a troubled marriage in Missouri's Old Lead Belt. Then, it was the documentary feature "Bisbee '17." This told of how residents of Bisbee, Arizona--a small old mining town near the Mexican border--reinacted the Bisbee Deportation of 1917, in which 1200 immigrant miners were forcibly removed from town by a deputized force. The miners were put on cattle cars, sent to the New Mexico desert, and left to die. It was unusual for a documentary, in that there was no historic film of the Deportation used. The story was mainly told by the reinactors, several of whom were descendants of both the deported and the deporting force. Rather interesting. The film's director, Robert Greene, was present and spoke before and after the film.

After work on Friday night (9 November), I arrived at Plaza Frontenac Cinema (https://www.landmarktheatres.com/st-louis/plaza-frontenac-cinema) for my next shift. Myself and other volunteers were stationed outside the two auditoriums of the six-screen facility where SLIFF films were playing. After passing out ballots and surveys, I went inside one auditorium to see the Hungarian film "Eternal Winter" ("Orok tel"). This was based on the true story of Hungarian women of German origin who were seized by Soviet troops late in World War II and sent to labor camps in the Soviet Union and working in coal mines. A depressing tale for sure, but fascinating in seeing how one woman seeks to stay alive in the camp and mine with the help of a fellow internee.

Late this morning, I drove to The Stage at KDHX (http://kdhx.org/articles/16-inside-kdhx/964-the-stage-at-kdhx) in the Grand Center Arts District for my final volunteer shift of this year's SLIFF. The venue hosted a conversation with six directors making their first feature films. This event was part of the festival's New Filmmakers Forum (NFF), which includes five feature films (one co-directed by two people). Panelists and guests enjoyed free coffee and pastries before the filmmakers discussed their films and filmmaking in general. It was quite an interesting discussion, I thought.

After my shift ended, I treated myself to a light lunch of soup and ice cream at The Fountain on Locust (http://www.fountainonlocust.com/) before going home. SLIFF concludes tonight with the awards ceremony.


07 November 2018

Halloween 2018

One week ago today (31 October), I was off work as usual on Wednesdays. However, I did pop into the Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) Ellisville branch, because--like virtually all branches and offices--it was decorated for Halloween. This year, our branch did the theme of Garden Gnomes. I showed up wearing a red plaid shirt and blue jeans, and Assistant Manager Rebe had a red cap for me to wear. We posed for a picture. It was fun.

I then returned home, after a brief shopping trip. That included stopping in Marshalls (https://www.marshalls.com/) in Ballwin, where I found a winter coat I could use while working during the winter.

Home for dinner with Mom, I helped her out when we had a few children from our subdivision stop by to Trick or Treat. Mom and I listened to their jokes before giving them candy. Not that many children came by--we don't have that many youngsters in our subdivision--but it was nice.


04 November 2018

TigerCon 2018

Yesterday morning (3 November), I was up early and driving to Marion Morris' house in Maplewood. He was driving myself and some others from IPMS/Gateway (https://sites.google.com/view/ipmsgatewaychapter/home) to Columbia, Missouri for TigerCon. That's a scale modeling contest and vendor swap meet run by IPMS/Central Missouri Scale Modelers (http://www.cmsm-ipms.org/). (By the way, the show name alludes to the Tigers of the University of Missouri in Columbia.)

Marion stopped to pick up three others--Jim Victor, Tom Aldred, and Jim Triola--before we headed towards Columbia in earnest. After a breakfast stop in Kingdom City, we arrived at the show site, Hickman High School (https://www.cpsk12.org/HHS). We got there a bit early, so we waited to register our models for the contest until nearly 9 am. Morris set up his vendor table, with some kits he and Victor were trying to sell. Two other IPMS/Gateway members--Mike Brickman and Greg Kuklinski--arrived separately and set up their vendor space with many kits for sale.

I entered two models--a Vostok Rocket and a Dewoitine D.520--in the model contest, and admired the other entries as they came in. I also shopped among the vendors. I did buy five ship kits from Victor, three aircraft kits from Brickman and Kuklinski, and another aircraft kit from another vendor. Additionally, I bought some micro brushes from a tool vendor. I also bought raffle tickets and won a small model display case.

The hosts treated the contest judges to pizza just before our meeting to select judging teams and go over judging procedures. I helped to judge ships and dioramas in the contest, along with Victor and a girl. We had some very nice entries in those categories, but in the end we made choices for the top three in each category that were right.

The judges then selected the best of in the major categories (such as ships and dioramas), before we all voted on the Best of Show from among the best in each major category. The awards were then presented to conclude the show. Triola took a second for one of his aircraft, while Tom Bogacki (who went by himself) took two seconds and two thirds for his work. Overall, it was a very nice show.

Morris drove us all back home, dropping off the others along the way at their residences. I was back home early last night.


31 October 2018

A Weekend Around the Lou

Mid-morning last Saturday (27 October), I drove to the Enterprise Fleet Management (https://www.efleets.com/) in Olivette, Missouri, where a Trunk or Treat was organized for the children of their employees. I came by to lend my support to this event. Several vehicles had their trunks open so kids in costume could come by and get treats in a safe, friendly environment. Two employees I knew brought their children along. It was quite a lot of fun to see.

Then, I drove to the American Czech Educational Center (http://acecstl.org/) in south St. Louis for their Fall Czech Festival. I stayed rather briefly--just over an hour--but enjoying hearing the Czech music and wandering among the vendors for crafts, food, and drink. I entered a raffle for a few donated items--didn't win, though. Still, a good time.

Before leaving South St. Louis, I stopped at two venues--a Starbucks (https://www.starbucks.com/) and a Schnucks supermarket (https://nourish.schnucks.com/)--to drop off promotional postcards for the St. Louis International Film Festival (https://www.cinemastlouis.org/).

I then came home to rest for awhile, then headed to the Schlafly Bottleworks (http://www.schlafly.com/bottleworks-brewpub/) in Maplewood, Missouri for their Full Moon Festival. The parking lot was transformed into a festival site, with open fires, a stage for entertainers, dining tents, and booths selling food and beer. I had a pork sandwich with a Schlafly White Lager. It was all very nice. I also ventured inside the Brewhouse to use the men's room and to browse the souvenirs on sale. A good time had at this festival.

The next morning, I was at the Kirkwood Community Center (http://www.kirkwoodmo.org/content/City-Departments/1856/community-center.aspx) for the Midwest Model Vehicle Association--St. Louis (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/MMVASt.%20Louis.html) Fall Show. Bill Wagner and I represented the Gateway Chapter of the International Plastic Modelers' Society (https://sites.google.com/view/ipmsgatewaychapter/home) at the MMVA show, where IPMS/Gateway had a table. Bill and I brought some models to display, along with flyers for our contest in September 2019 and information on the club's website and social media pages. We had a number of people stop by to look at our models, pick up our flyers, and talk with us. The show was nice, with a good turnout of car models, plus I brought two kits--an aircraft and a ship--from vendors there.

After the show, I stopped by a Saint Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html) in Sunset Hills to drop off another SLIFF promotional postcard, and have a snack before going home.