Wednesday, August 6, 2008

That scene in Ratatouille, and Flugtag

You remember that scene in Ratatouille when Colette tells Linguini about all the other cooks working at Gusteau's? So-and-so fought with the resistance, this other guy killed someone using only his thumb... It's the scene where the new guy meets everyone else, and they all seem to have unique quirks. It happens in almost all of the Pixar movies: "I'm from Playskool." - "I'm from Mattel!"

Well, last week was that scene at Bent Image Lab. Work-wise, I was still occupied with those crates, now encircling each of them in plastic wrap, which I have to confess didn't really hold my interest. So I kept things lively with conversation. Our painter, for example, legally changed his last name from Sullivan to Superstar. So did his wife. The supervisor of the art department moonlights as a DJ, and a seamstress in the back of the room is also the front-man for a cyber-techno-glamour band called Fleshtone. My favorite surprise was watching Kimmy, a young, bubbly art director, collect dead grubs from a wasp nest so that she could make molds from them and cast a necklace / earring set.

Over the weekend, I had another great Portland experience. High-school friend Ben and I returned to Waterfront Park on Saturday, having recently enjoyed the Brewers Festival there, this time to attend Portland's second Red Bull Flugtag (German for "flight day). The idea is that teams of amateurs join together and construct homemade airplanes out of cheap materials. The plane has to carry one passenger, and the rest of the team has to push it off an elevated pier into water, with the goal of flying it as far as possible. The airplanes are based on a funny / creative / preachy environmentalist theme, and the flights are preceded by skits, of widely divergent quality. Begin photo essay:

It was packed. This is only a fraction of the 80,000 people that filled Waterfront Park.
People even took boats out to watch from the water.

This guy climbed a lamppost for a better view.

As we made our way through the crowd, we got to see the lineup of airplanes waiting for their turn. This flying squirrel craft had notably dismal chances at staying in the air. Cool design note: the beer bottle plane behind the squirrel actually poured "beer" out the front when they unscrewed the cap. Despite this, it proved incapable of flight.

The "Banana Boat" took a pretty spectacular nosedive.

Our friends in the Flying Squirrel didn't do much better.

This was the best flight I saw. Very exciting to see a plane actually fly instead of just dive bombing ten feet away from the pier.

Well, what else can I say about Flugtag? I've never been to anything like it, but I hope to see more of it in the future. It was a lot of fun - there were kids, teenagers, old people all spending the afternoon outside enjoying the entertainment. I was thinking the whole afternoon that Flugtag was right up MIT's alley -- maybe they'll hold it in Boston one of these days...