Category Archives: Искусство

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Big Toys and a Sandbox for Grown-Ups at Las Vegas Attraction

Most kids love digging in the sand … and many never outgrow that. A new and unusual attraction nicknamed “sand box for grown-ups” is a big hit among teenagers and adults in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s a heavy equipment playground that gives customers a change to operate gigantic, earth-moving bulldozers and hydraulic excavators, get tested on their skills and just have fun. Roman Mamonov tried his hand at operating some of the biggest construction vehicles there. Anna Rice narrates his story.

Korean Director Wins Cannes’ Top Prize

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s social satire Parasite, about a poor family of hustlers who find jobs with a wealthy family, won the Cannes Film Festival’s top award, the Palme d’Or, on Saturday.  

  

Parasite was the first Korean film to win the Palme. In the festival’s closing ceremony, jury president Alejandro Inarritu said the choice was “unanimous” for the nine-person jury.  

  

The genre-mixing film had arguably been celebrated more than others at Cannes this year, hailed by critics as the best yet from the 49-year-old director of Snowpiercer and Okja.  

  

It was the second straight Palme victory for an Asian director. Last year, the award went to Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters, a film also about an impoverished family. 

 

“We shared the mystery of the unexpected way this film took us through different genres, speaking in a funny, humorous and tender way of no judgment of something so relevant and urgent and so global,” Inarritu told reporters after the ceremony.  

  

Many of the awards at Cannes on Saturday were given to social and political tales that depicted geopolitical dramas in localized stories, from African shores to Paris suburbs.    

The festival’s second-place award, the Grand Prix, went to French-Senegalese director Mati Diop’s feature-film debut, Atlantics. The film by Diop, the first black female director ever in competition in Cannes, views the migrant crisis from the perspective of Senegalese women left behind after many young men flee by sea to Spain. 

Sciamma’s period romance

  

Although few quibbled with the choice of Bong, some had expected Cannes to make history by giving the Palme to a female filmmaker for just the second time. Celine Sciamma’s period romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire was the Palme pick for many critics this year. Instead, Sciamma ended up with best screenplay.  

  

In the festival’s 72-year history, only Jane Champion has won the prize. In 1993, her The Piano tied with Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine.  

  

Best actor went to Antonio Banderas for Pedro Almodovar’s reflective drama Pain and Glory. In the film, one of the most broadly acclaimed of the festival, Banderas plays a fictionalized version of Almodovar looking back on his life and career.  

  

“The best is still to come,” said Banderas, accepting the award.  

  

The Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who have already twice won the Palme d’Or, took the best director prize for Young Ahmed, their portrait of a Muslim teenager who becomes radicalized by a fundamentalist imam. 

 

The jury prize, or third place, was split between two socially conscious thrillers: French director Ladj Ly’s feature-film debut Les Miserables and Brazilian director Kleber Mendonca Filho’s Bacurau.  

  

Ly called his film an alarm bell about youths living in the housing projects of Paris’ suburbs. Filho viewed his feverish, violent Western about a rural Brazilian community defending itself from a hard-to-comprehend invasion as a reflection of President Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil.    

British actress Emily Beecham won best actress for her performance in Jessica Hausner’s science-fiction drama Little Joe. The jury also gave a special mention to Palestinian director Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven. 

  

The Camera d’Or, an award given for best first feature from across all of Cannes’ sections, went to Cesar Diaz’s Our Mothers, a drama about the Guatemalan civil war in the 1980s.  

  

The ceremony Saturday brought to a close a Cannes Film Festival that was riven with concerns for its own relevancy. It had to contend, most formidably, with the cultural television force of Game of Thrones. The continuing rise of streaming was also a constant subject around the festival.  

Netflix controversy

  

Two years ago, Bong was in Cannes’ competition with Okja, a movie distributed in North America by Netflix. After it and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories — another Netflix release — premiered at Cannes, the festival ruled that all future films in competition needed French theatrical distribution. Netflix has since withdrawn from the festival on the French Riviera. 

 

This year, bowing to pressure from 5050×2020, the French version of Time’s Up, the festival released gender breakdowns of its submissions and selections. Cannes said about 27% of its official selections were directed by women. The 21-film main slate included four films directed by women, which tied the festival’s previous high.  

  

The 72nd Cannes had its share of red-carpet dazzle, too. Elton John brought his biopic Rocketman to the festival, joining star Taron Egerton for a beachside duet after the premiere. And Quentin Tarantino unveiled his 1960s Los Angeles tale Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, 25 years after the director’s Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or.  

  

Tarantino, who attended the closing ceremony, didn’t go home empty-handed. On Friday, a prominent pooch in his film won the annual Palme Dog, an award given by critics to Cannes’ best canine.

Why Americans Obsess About Their Grass

In the United States, the last Monday in May is Memorial Day, a holiday that honors people who died in military service during wartime.

The end of May also marks the beginning of a less serious kind of war. It is one many living Americans fight each summer. It is a battle for – and about – the perfect lawn. That’s right, the lawn: the grass around most American houses.

Virginia Scott Jenkins is an expert on Americans’ extreme interest in lawns. In fact, in her book on the issue, she calls it an “obsession.”

She says that, in the minds of many Americans, the perfect lawn looks like a soft, green carpet. “One height, one color, one type of grass, one consistency.”

Many Americans believe such a lawn does more than make a house or neighborhood look good.

“An orderly front lawn is supposed to be representative of an orderly household,” Jenkins says. “Good neighbors have good front lawns, good citizens have good front lawn(s).”

Lawns are so linked to American identity that they are part of some U.S. government buildings overseas. Architectural historian Jane Loeffler notes that the design for the American embassy in Berlin, Germany, for example, includes an outdoor area made to look like “the beloved American lawn.”

Man against nature

Lawns are not only a big deal for Americans – they are also big business.

The Bloomberg news service found that Americans spend about $40 billion every year on lawn care. They pay for lawn mowers to cut the grass and chemical fertilizers to make it grow. Many also pay other people to help keep their lawns thick and green.

These things are all weapons in a war against natural forces that, in time, may make lawns look wild or brown. So why do so many Americans fight such a war each summer?

“People have grown up believing that that ’s what [a lawn] is supposed to look like,” Jenkins says. “Because of tremendous advertising campaigns and pressure from the lawn care industry, which is a multi-million dollar business.”

Jenkins says that lawns also show a person’s social position. “Do you know how much money it takes, and time and effort, to grow a perfect front lawn?”

A major reason why lawns are so much work is because they are completely man-made, she adds. “There is not anything natural about them.”

Even the grass seed historically comes from Europe and Africa.

Man against neighbor

Of course, not everyone accepts traditional American lawn culture.

In recent years, another front on the lawn war has formed. It is between people who want to control their lawns, and those who want to let native plants grow naturally.

In 2014, in an area of Virginia about 80 kilometers outside Washington, D.C, a couple entered into a legal fight with their neighborhood about their lawn. The couple’s house is on about 2.2 hectares of land. They cut and care for the grass on part of that land, but they permit the rest to grow naturally into a meadow, with tall grass and wildflowers.

The couple, Michael and Sian Pugh, told the Washington Post newspaper that they enjoy watching the butterflies, birds and deer that visit the meadow.

But the Pughs are part of a homeowners association – a group that cares for and governs a neighborhood. The homeowners association, or HOA, makes and enforces rules about that area. One rule that is common among HOAs across the country is that members must keep their grass short and green. The Pugh’s HOA says their meadow violates this rule and is not fair to their neighbors.

One concern is that the meadow might reduce the value of other people’s homes in the area. People who sell property say a well-kept lawn is an important part of making a house attractive to buyers.

Another concern is that the neighborhood will no longer feel pleasant – or even safe – to the people who already live there.

But the Pughs and their supporters say meadows such as theirs add value because they are better for the environment. The native grasses have deep roots and can protect against flooding. And the wildflowers invite bees and butterflies, which help crops and other plants grow.

Alternatives to the traditional American lawn

Activists in other places have made similar environmental arguments.

They say the chemicals that “feed and weed” traditional lawns can hurt people and animals. They criticize the water waste involved in keeping lawns green, especially in places that face drought.

They also note that some kinds of lawn mowers use gas and pollute the air. And they say that, in general, keeping lawns under control takes too much time, and is a job that few homeowners really want to do.

In answer to these arguments, some people have found other ways to use the area around their houses. They use plants that grow easily. Or they put in vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Or, like the Pughs, they permit nature to take over and hope their neighbors w ill come to accept a new definition of “lawn.”

By the way, the Pugh’s case was never fully resolved. The HOA decided not to go to court. But HOA officials are also re-writing the rules so that no one else tries to grow a tall, wild meadow in a place where neighbors prefer a short, orderly lawn.

Vinyl Records Are Back, and So Are Record Pressing Plants

Vinyl records are becoming more popular in the U.S., after almost disappearing from American markets when they were replaced over the years by audio tapes, CDs and digital music downloaded onto phones and other devices. With vinyl records coming back, record-pressing plants are being established, including one just recently opened in Alexandria, Va., a Washington, D.C., suburb. Alina Golinata recently visited the plant and filed this report.

WWII Code Talker and longtime NM lawmaker dies at 94

John Pinto, a Navajo Code Talker in World War II who became one of the nation’s longest serving Native American elected officials as a New Mexico state senator, has died. He was 94.

Senate colleague Michael Padilla confirmed Pinto’s death in Gallup on Friday after years of suffering from various illnesses that rarely kept him from his duties.

After serving as a Marine, Pinto was elected to the Senate in 1976 and represented a district that includes the Navajo Nation for more than four decades. The region is one of the poorest in the country.

“Words cannot express the sadness we feel for the loss of a great Dine warrior,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, using the indigenous word for Navajo. “He dedicated his life to helping others.”

Born in Lupton, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation to a family of sheep herders. Pinto didn’t start formal schooling until he was nearly a teenager. 

“At the age of 12, I was in kindergarten,” Pinto told the Albuquerque Journal in a 2007 interview. “I guess I did all right.”

Pinto also recalled that his grandparents told of being forced at gunpoint from their land in the 1860s by the U.S. Army in the forced relocation of the Navajo people on foot to southern New Mexico.

After serving as a Code Talker — a group of radio men who translated American coordinates and messages into an indecipherable code based on the Navajo language — Pinto had to take an English test four times before he was finally admitted into the University of New Mexico’s College of Education.

He graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education at 39, and eventually earned his master’s, becoming a teacher and a truancy officer in Gallup.

Pinto delved into politics to address the needs of impoverished indigenous populations. The Democrat won a seat in state Senate in 1976 as one of the state’s first Native American senators.

An unassuming appearance and manner belied Pinto’s political determination that carried him through 42 years in the Legislature. Laurie Canepa, the senior librarian for the Legislative Council Service, said that made him the longest serving senator in state history.

Manny Aragon, the state’s one-time Senate president, tells the story of driving to the Statehouse in a January 1977 snowstorm and picking up a middle-aged Navajo man who was hitchhiking in Albuquerque. The hitchhiker was newly elected Sen. Pinto.

“I just thought he was a transient,” Aragon said.

In the Legislature, Pinto advocated for education reform and anti-poverty programs. Receiving a lifetime achievement award in 2016, Pinto recalled going hungry at times as a child while his parents juggled odd jobs and said the experience influenced his work on issues of homelessness as a lawmaker.

Every year, Pinto would sing on the Senate floor the “Potato Song” — a Navajo song about a potato, planted in the spring and visited in the summer until it is harvested. Fellow senators, staff and aides clapped along to Pinto’s rendition.

Lenore Naranjo, the Senate’s chief clerk, says Pinto taught her bits of Navajo language over the decades.

“A beautiful man is all I can say,” Naranjo said.

Report: ADHD May Explain da Vinci’s Procrastination 

Leonardo da Vinci is renowned as a “Renaissance man” for his mastery in art, science, architecture, music, mathematics, engineering and cartography, but he was no master at completing his efforts. 

 

Five hundred years after his death, a professor of psychiatry in Britain has suggested that the reason da Vinci left behind so many unfinished works, including the iconic Mona Lisa, is that he may have had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

 

“I am confident ADHD is the most convincing and scientifically plausible hypothesis to explain Leonardo’s difficulty in finishing his works,” Marco Catani of King’s College in London argues in a paper published Friday in the neurological journal Brain.  

 

Catani said historical records show da Vinci’s struggles with finishing tasks were pervasive from childhood.

On the go

Accounts from biographers and contemporaries show he was constantly on the go, Catani said, often jumping from task to task. And like many people with ADHD, da Vinci got very little sleep and often worked continuously, night and day. 

 

“Historical records show Leonardo spent excessive time planning projects but lacked perseverance. ADHD could explain aspects of Leonardo’s temperament and his strange mercurial genius,” the professor said. 

 

ADHD is a behavioral disorder most commonly identified with inability to complete tasks and mental and physical restlessness. It is most commonly recognized in children but is increasingly being diagnosed among adults, including those with successful careers.  

 

“There is a prevailing misconception that ADHD is typical of misbehaving children with low intelligence, destined for a troubled life,” Catani said.  He said he hoped that “that the case of Leonardo shows that ADHD is not linked to low IQ or lack of creativity but rather the difficulty of capitalizing on natural talents. I hope that Leonardo’s legacy can help us to change some of the stigma around ADHD.” 

Belgian Monks, Israeli Researchers Tackle Ancient Beer-Brewing Traditions

A Belgian abbey is reviving its centuries-old tradition of beer-making after 220 years. The monks at Grimbergen Abbey are using ancient recipes to offer specialty beers in their new microbrewery. Meanwhile, researchers in Israel have made beer with yeast from jars that are thousands of years old. Beer is one of the oldest beverages, but producers are making new and attractive brews. As VOA Zlatica Hoke reports, there is a growing interest in traditional beers and the history of brewing.

Cricket Fans in Pakistan Turn to Night Matches in Ramadan

During Ramadan, when many in Muslim-majority Pakistan do not eat or drink during the day, sports enthusiasts turn to night games. For years, amateur cricketers in the capital, Islamabad, used empty roads or local play grounds — any open space with lights — to fulfill their passion. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem shows how informal tournaments are flourishing.