Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Remembering WWII in Linden, 2015

The morning of September 26 was one of hectic getting ready--unwinding pin curls, donning shoes, picking out hats or jewelry, making sandwiches, and forgetting things I meant to take.

Our brother Matthew was our chauffeur, as Annie tried to cheer me up about my hair not having time to be pinned up properly--I had videos on WWII hairstyles that I hadn't had time to watch.  I did my best as we bumped along the roads.

Me with a vintage roadster

Life is never perfect, and I soon forgot all the little things as we entered the Linden event, remembering the big things that happened in time past.  Men and women lost their lives in concentration camps, men fought for freedom from oppression.  The spotlight was not on me.

Some of the audience
Arthur Pais

 We heard the first speaker, Arthur Pais, from a ways back at first, as we sat on the side, hardly able to concentrate on his speaking.  Eventually we moved up, and saw his grave face as he spoke about being separated from his family as they went to work camps (or death camps)--never seeing his mother again.  His humor was not extinguished during the talk, however, or his grace and humility.

As it was nearing noon, we decided to head to the car and eat our packed lunch--an assortment of chicken salad sandwiches, apples, ginger snaps, and chocolate-covered pretzels.  It was nice to relax in our van as we ate and sipped water or iced tea.

The streets and sidewalks were bustling, with vintage vehicles, clanging fire-engines, troops, and onlookers in everyday clothes.

Annie and I split up from Matthew, so we could each listen to a different speaker.  We wanted to hear Norman Weber, an American boy who lived in Germany and even joined the Nazi Youth.  The walk was longer than I expected, and my previously untested high heels began to dig into my feet and rub blisters into them.  But it was worth the walk.  Near the speaking site, we saw rows of tents.

A soldier in camp

Norman Weber
After a few well-sung songs sung by a Courter girl, we heard Mr. Weber speak.

He recounted his story clearly, and an interesting story it was.  It felt normal for him to join the Nazi Youth at the time, not knowing all the atrocities to come.  He was saved from harm through this, and never questioned as to his birthplace, since he looked like the ideal German--tall, erect, blond-haired and blue-eyed. But what was going to happen when the Americans came and won the city?

After his talk, I walked over to meet him and get his autograph.  He was happy to oblige.

I pointed out the vintage vehicles and people getting rides, and asked Annie if we could try to get a ride in one.  It would save us another walk, too.  The back of the jeep we chose was so high that I didn't think I could step up onto it. They pulled out part of the seat in the front so I could get by that, and we got up and onto a bench seat in the back.  Two young friends from church joined us, one of them crouching and holding onto the front seat.  Then three modern-day marines (I think) hopped on the back, as well, making for a pretty crowded ride down the street.  I was near the front, with open air to my left.  It felt rather nice to be riding along with wind in my hair.  Matthew, unbeknownst to us (and he didn't know we were riding, either), took a photo of us as we rode.  The marines wanted to get off near the stop-light, and Annie and I got off there, too, as did our friends.

Around 2:00 pm (shortly after the ride), we met up with Matthew, as well as some friends, in the back row of this "Courthouse Stage."  We listened to Lacie Bowman sing two songs: "The White Cliffs of Dover" and "It Hurts to Say Goodbye."  Her voice and presentation were beautiful, though the impact didn't hit me there at first, because I was talking with one of the Seargeants off to the side.  Then I sat down with the group to watch.  We then heard Jerry Neal, not ashamed to say he owed everything to his God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Jerry Neal
Next there was a parade of vintage vehicles and veterans, with young men and women running out to give them honorary white carnations.

Mr. Courter interviewing twin veterans
These twins (left) also had interesting stories to tell, involving an explosion.  The man on the right was a twin, too, and told about a shark story.

At 4:00, there was a battle reenactment, which began peacefully, with women walking the streets, sitting at the Cafe, and having their identification cards checked.

Then shots rang out, and the street was filled with the fake but effective blasts for many long minutes.  I plugged an ear at times, and wished for it to stop. . . . How much more the soldiers of WWII must have wished this, as not just the noise jarred their ears, but comrades fell around them, the bloodied, moaning, and dead.

It was a good day to meet up with friends:
The Seargeants and Sierra
Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez
Laura Verret
We saw many friends, and stopped to rest here (photo below).  Steven Bowman said the beignets were excellent, so we decided to split one three ways.  Annie and Matthew went to order the pastry at "Cafe Normandie."  Indeed, the pastry, with a dollop of jam and sprinkling of powdered sugar, was excellent!  It was light and airy on the inside, and crispy on the outside.

We had to walk back to the encampment area to eat our supper (we'd purchased tickets upon arriving that morning), and I could barely stand the walk.  Next time maybe I'll be smart and wear flats!

The tables were decorated, with charming lights strung overhead.  A band played to one side ("Merchants of COOL"), lilting and jazzy.  We got in line and got our meal of fried chicken, coleslaw, baked beans, and dinner roll.  We picked up a bottle of water or soda and a root-beer float, where I saw some other friends.

At our table, David Noor met the three of us for the first time, and sat down to eat with us, with our permission.  So we enjoyed chatting with him about various things. A friend of his joined us for a bit, too.

Waiting around
After the meal
Then it was time for the USO-style show to begin.  There were announcements of thanks, prizes for the best reenactors and the family who traveled the farthest (from New Zealand!), more singing, including a children's choir, and a recitation of Winston Churchill's famous "Never Surrender" speech (given on June 4, 1940; House of Commons).

Lacie Bowman singing
Steven Bowman reciting Winston Churchill's speech
 After being immersed in the music, words, and look of the era, I was feeling as if I had stepped back in time; I felt the emotion, the honor and courage of these men and women.

Many of the places in town also appeared to be back in time.
Annie and me posing for a shot
The night ended in fireworks, which we watched after walking halfway back to our van.
Grand finale

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators: Mastering the Art of Drawing from Memory - Book Review

Admittedly, I have not read this whole book, but I have flipped through it and have begun reading it.  From what I have seen and read, I believe this will be quite a helpful book to me as an aspiring illustrator (I have partially illustrated a book before, my mom's Hebrew alphabet book entitled Hebrew: Beginning Your Journey). However, to be a first-rate illustrator, I greatly desire to be able to come up with poses and drawings without having to meticulously copy a photograph.

That's where this book comes in.  It's true that the majority of the poses in the book are dramatic, such as the cover shows, but the proportions, angles, and shapes should help.

The book begins with two and three-point perspective, something which I have never understood well or mastered.  I still need to practice it and reread this section.

Then it moves on to the "glass mannequin," which is, as on the cover, a basically see-through shell of the body.  This is helpful because it allows you to think better about where, say, the arm will come out if partially hidden behind the body.

Then there are the high and low-angle drawings, which are more commonly used in movies or comic books, but could perhaps be useful in a regular book.  I practiced one of them, here, after reading how to draw in the four sections, etc.

It is certainly not perfect, but better than I could have done without this quick book training, and I'm sure would get better with practice and after reading the rest of the book.

There are a few pictures in the book which are quite sensual in nature, showing more than necessary, so I covered them over.

Overall, I'm glad I got this book, though at first I worried that it would be only applicable to those going into animation art or comic books.

A big thank you to bloggingforbooks.com for a review copy of this book!  I was not required to give a positive review.