Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sherlock and the Case of the Stolen Skateboard: True Story, with Help from the Baker Street Irregulars

Me and the Baker Street Irregulars, along with the recovered skateboard. A couple of the Irregulars aren't pictured here.
It was during a pleasantly brisk evening in September of 2010 that I returned home from a long day of classes. I was in a good mood and hummed a tune as I walked toward my house, while my block basked in the dark tones of the setting sun. I had no idea of the drama that awaited me as I unlocked my front door. As I made my way up the stairs, I was told that my daughter had left one of my skateboards in the front yard of her friend's house and that it was missing when she returned. Needless to say, my mood quickly changed to anger. I stopped to assess the situation: my neighbours have CCTV and the culprit may very likely have been caught in the act. I went with my girl to said neighbour's home in order to view the video footage. We were joined by three children between the ages of six and thirteen. I was only allowed to watch the footage once, thus I committed all the details of the suspect's (and the two who accompanied him) physical features, height, body language, and clothing to memory. That proved  to work out well since I was denied a request to watch the footage a second time. The reason for the denial was given as, "the thief is a gang member, therefore we are afraid of negative consequences if you confront him." The adults were frightened that any investigation on my part would result in the escalation of gang activity in the neighbourhood, possibly placing innocent people as targets of retaliation crimes.

The assumption that the thief was a gang member was echoed by many of the adults on my block when I asked for any assistance from them. I deduced that he was NOT a gang member. When I tried to reason with the adults they persisted in their irrational and unfounded fear of gang violence being stirred on by my investigation of the case. They let feelings obscure their judgement of the situation. Some begged me to stop and simply "drop it." No adult, not even my skateboarding neighbour on the next block, would help me in any way; he just said, "oh well, your skateboard is gone and you'll never find it again."

Why was I so sure this wasn't gang related activity? Well, this is what I noticed on the film footage. First off, he had a Justin Bieber hair-do. No gang members in Chicago would have hair longer than a crew-cut. The most common hair for gangs would be either fully shaved or extremely short. Secondly, he did not dress as a gang member. His pants actually fit, unlike the saggy pants usually found in gangs. Thirdly, his body language and mannerisms did not fit with those displayed by gangs (for example, the characteristic gang limp was lacking, he didn't have the mannerism of someone who feels they "own" the neighbourhood; the air of superiority was missing). His body language betrayed that he was an opportunistic thief, meaning that he stole because he saw a chance to steal. His height was easily measured in relation to the gates in front of the house. The fact that his two companions were of about the same height and age (teenagers) coupled with the fact that the crime took place right after school let out (around 3pm) told me that they were students at a local high school. Judging from the direction they were walking, (west to east) I surmised that they were students from the only high school which was within walking distance in that direction.

Translated into Logic
Law of Modus Tollens (MT)

P -> Q              If he is gang member then he would display characteristics of a gang member (body language, mannerisms, hairstyle, clothing style)
~ Q                       He doesn't display gang member characteristics
: ~P                       Therefore, he's not a gang member

The police didn't help any either. They stated that since the skateboard was valued below $300, it wasn't worth their time to investigate it. Again, the adults were of absolutely no help. Dead end.

The Next Day...

The next day I had printed out fliers with a picture of my skateboard describing the suspect and stating the the timeframe of the crime. I handed out one of these fliers to my local skateboard shop, knowing that this would be the most likely place the suspect would go to get work on the deck done. They know me and my boards there, if someone popped up w/ my deck, they would notice.

I made a trip to the high school and met with the principle of that school. I described the suspect and asked if he knew someone of that description. He said no. He also told me students don't bring skateboards to the school because skateboards are not allowed on school grounds. I left him my flier but I knew that this was another dead end.

Setting the Trap...

I had reason to believe that the criminal would return to the scene of the crime. If they were students of the nearest high school, I expected that at least one of the three individuals caught on film live in the vicinity, therefore, one of them would pass by that same location in the near future. I spoke to all the kids in the area to help me out. They had a different mindset than the frightened and indifferent adults: the kids saw this as an adventure, a crime mystery which they wanted to help solve. I gathered the eager kids around and told them the plan: some would pretend to be playing on the sidewalk, others would stake out corners and nooks between buildings. The kids had a secret password which was their cue between themselves that they spotted someone. Any characters who fit the description were to be carefully observed and I was to be updated via text on any developments. I made it clear that once any of these characters were spotted I was to be the person confronting them. Keeping in mind the fact that most skateboarders are male, statistically speaking, the suspect would assume that he stole the board from a male. That is why I set the female kids out in plain view. Not only do people overlook children, but people overlook the fact that there are female skateboarders as well. The suspect would (wrongfully) assume that he stole the deck from a male and would therefore keep a watchful lookout for males.

The kids were indispensable and could "go everywhere, see everything, overhear everyone" (as Sherlock Holmes said about the Baker Street Irregulars in The Sign of Four). And, same as Sherlock, "I expected to hear before evening that they had spotted" him."In the meanwhile, all I can do is await results." As Cumberbatch's Sherlock puts it: "my eyes and ears all over the city" (BBC's Sherlock in The Great Game). My Irregulars aren't all over the city, but they are where they're needed!

I got a text from the eldest kid telling me that one of the companions of the suspect showed up. When I left the house to confront him, the eldest kid told me that she had already confronted him and that he was on his way to the house where the suspect had stached the skateboard for safe-keeping. He had promised to return with the deck in 20 minutes! It wasn't ideal that the eldest hadn't waited for me to do the confronting, afterall, as the adult and it being my skateboard, I didn't want to have the kids in any potentially difficult situation. As it turned out, everything went well and I had my skateboard in my hands within 24 hours of it being stolen!

 After the companion returned with the skateboard, he told me that he had spoken with the suspect and that that he, the suspect, had agreed to come to apologize for the theft. During the course of this conversation, I noticed the body language of my neighbours who had earlier expressed their trepidations and were now standing across the street with worried looks on their faces. One of my neighbours had taken me to the side as I stepped outside of the house and started walking toward the companion, and tried to convince me to "not cause any waves" due to concern over the gangs. I reassured them that this was not an issue of concern.

Less than an hour later, the suspect approached me and apologized. During this time he varified that he was a student at the high school I had visited. I had a stern word with him and did my part to set him on a better path.

Translated into Logic
Law of Modus Ponens (MP)

P -> Q              If he is a teenager and is walking west to east shortly after 3 pm on a weekday, then he is  a student at said high school
P                           He is a teen and did walk in that direction at that time
: Q                        Therefore he is a student at said school

A huge thank you to my Baker Street Irregulars! You know who you are and I am eternally grateful!

I am currently reading Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Marina Konnikova (contributor to Scientific American (magazine) and Scientific American Mind (magazine). Her book describes how to utilize creativity and the scientific method in order to improve memory and deductive/inductive reasoning skills. While reading her book I was inspired to post this story.

For the record, my favourite Sherlocks are Benedict Cumberbatch, Vasili Livanov (Russian, also played Gena in Cheburashka), and Jeremy Brett.

Vasili Livanov
                            Jeremy Brett

STRANGE INTERLUDE: My Vaudeville, Time-Travel inspired band, "Hypnagogic Telegram" is going VIRAL on Youtube. I play a literal personification of a Time Ghost (Zeitgeist) that inhabits the wardrobe closet of the TARDIS. I come out in costumes from various eras to dance & sing in styles from those eras. Film in background is Georges Milies' Trip to the Moon (1902) silent classic. If Doctor Who would have a band, it might sound like this. 
<---- br="" here.="" video="" view="" youtube="">On FACEBOOK @ HYPNAGOGIC TELEGRAM

For Sherlock and Dr Who fans: see my other Sherlock blog entries
serlokas-sherlock-pirmoji-serija (Sherlock in Lithuanian)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Events at Portage Theater, Chicago, 1920 -2013...Depp, Dave McKean, Elegance of Masculine Beauty photographs, Flapper Dance, etc

¯"I read the news today, oh boy. The Portage Theater has just closed it's doors" ¯ to paraphrase The Beatles "A Day in the Life." The Portage was built in 1920 and received preliminary landmark status in 2012. Chaplin's The Great Dictator was deemed too controversial, thus premiered at only 2 theaters in Chicago, the Music Box and Portage in 1940. In 2008, a scene from Public Enemies (released 2009) with Johnny Depp was filmed here in lieu of the Biograph Theater (Depp played gangster John Dillenger who was gunned down after watching Manhattan Melodrama 1934). 
My feet with original tile floors from 1920
Magnificent Portage Grande Cinema Organ

The Portage was almost sold to a mega church (summer 2012) but to grassroots activism in the community saved it! This video of surrealist Time Lord flapper dance was to celebrate the fact that the Portage wasn't sold back then. Now, sadly, it is under new ownership which has shut it's doors and gives no public statement as to what it plans to do with the building.

Dave McKean, illustrator for Neil Gaiman's Sandman and numerous other graphic novels, came to the Portage Theater to screen his short films and his full length film Mirrormask, written by Gaiman. Also on exhibit were McKean's paintings inspired by German expressionistic films from the Weimar Republic (1919 - 1933) produced by the Ufa film company in Berlin. 
Dave McKean painting inspired by M (dir Fritz Lang, 1931)
Dave McKean signing his books

Cabinet of Dr Caligari by Dave McKean

 Inpromtu flapper dance film (below) filmed by Chicago Surrealist Group member, DainaSurrealism & actor/model, Jacob. Portage Theater, built 1920. View VIRAL Chaplin dance w/ my band, "Hypnagogic Telegram." (Georges Melies film "Trip to the Moon" 1902) backdrop. Electronica inspired by Dreams, fleeting aspects of time, Lewis Carroll,  Dr Who (Trock), & Fortean Phenomena. This was filmed after screening of "The Artist" when film's theme song played on loop (Chicago). Any excuse for a surrealist to play dress-up

(Song: The Artist Theme Song - George Valentin ( Ludovic Bource )Film "The Artist" by Michel Hazanavicius, French director of Lithuanian origin (Lietuvis). Lietuvaite soka kaip Flapper! Vasario 16 Gimnazija studente Cikagoje. Lithuanian surreal artist. Labas!)

I took the first location shots for my Elegance of Masculine Beauty project.

Silent and classic film is a major inspiration for my project. See picks of beautiful men from the history of Hollywood in my Elegance of Masculine Beauty: Hollywood Inspiration (Valentino, James Dean, Roger Moore, Depp, Cumberbatch, et al) 

Rudolph Valentino
James Dean
Roger Moore as The Saint
Johnny Depp
Benedict Cumberbatch
A propo silent film, the Portage held an annual Silent Film Fest Chicago every summer. That has now moved to Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge, IL.

The Black Pirate (1926)

Sunday, April 28, 7:30 p.m.
Pickwick Theatre
5 South Prospect Ave, Park Ridge, IL

Other Portage Theater events will have new venues. Find updates on these sites.
Expressionist film posters (Cocaine, Totentanz, Marmorhaus, Opium)
STRANGE INTERLUDE: My Vaudeville, Time-Travel inspired band, "Hypnagogic Telegram" is going VIRAL on Youtube. I play a literal personification of a Time Ghost (Zeitgeist) that inhabits the wardrobe closet of the TARDIS. I come out in costumes from various eras to dance & sing in styles from those eras. Film in background is Georges Milies' Trip to the Moon (1902) silent classic. If Doctor Who would have a band, it might sound like this. 
<---- br="" here.="" video="" view="" youtube="">On FACEBOOK @ HYPNAGOGIC TELEGRAM

Monday, May 20, 2013

Vasario 16-osios gimnazijos istorija: Mokykla Rūke: siurrealistes Fotografijos

V16-osios  gimnazijos istoria nuotraukose siurrealistes Dainos (Cikagos siurrealistisu grupes nare, lietuve siurrealiste). Pries kelis metusas aplaunkiau Lampertheim-Huettenfeld. As atsibudau viena ryta: miestelis mane pasitiko paskendes ruke. As pasiemiau savo fotoaperata ir isejau pasivaikscioti dviem valandom. Ka as pamaciau kai nuejau i mokyklos teritorija, mane suzavejo. Bokstas kuris yra lietuviu bendruomenes ikona, buvo apsiaustas balto debesies.

History in Photos by Lithuanian Surrealist Daina Almario-Kopp (member of Chicago Surrealist Group, Lietuviska surrealiste).
I visited Lampertheim-Huettenfeld a few years back. I woke one morning to find the town thick with fog. I grabbed my camera and went for a two hour walk. What I saw once I got to the school's campus was mesmerizing. The tower, which is an icon in the Lithuanian community, was cloaked in white. The fog symbolizes how memory clouds our recollections of the past. As an ex-student of the school, I feel the first photo best represents my memories of living there. Time is strange and ephemeral; so is the sliver in time we call photography.  
Privates Litauisches Gymnasium im Nebel.
I have not named the people in these pictures unless I have their permission to do so.
"As the Fog Lifted..."

Vasario 16 Gimnazija, early 1970s (above..
I didn't take this photo)
Vasario 16 Gimnazija, late 1980s with carved wooden cross (above)

The chaos after the boy's dormitory burned down
in the middle of the night; firepeople in the background, rubble in the foreground. 
Someone woke us up our room at night yelling "Feuer!" 
That was how I learned the German word for "fire." No one was hurt, thankfully.
It ended up on the German news. That entire day we were in shock (Šerlokas Holmsas - Benedict Cumberbatch - BBC, give us your blanket!). 

Twelve students, myself included, went on a school trip to Rome. This was on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Saint Kazimir (St Kazimieras; 1458-1484), the patron saint of Lithuania. The students and a handful of Lithuanians had a private audience with Pope John Paul II later that week, 
on 4 March, 1984.
"When the soviets closed the Cathedral of Vilnius in 1948 the coffin with the body of St. Casimir was moved to the church of St apostles Peter and Paul. After the political change, the coffin was brought back to the Cathedral in a big and solemn procession and celebration on March 4, 1989." Quoted from

After the fire, the school built this building to hold classes in while the boys
 slept in the actual old school building.
I had originally cut out the background so the pic would fit in my photo album.
Fortunately, I had saved it. This is it reattached.

I'm on the left. On the left is where original school building where the boys
slept in while the burned building was  restored. In the back is the girl's dormitory.
This was before they built an adjacent co-ed dormitory to the girl's dorm. Summer, 1984.

This is the school building from a view showing the teachers'
apartments on the left.

Outside the shop the students, across the street from my favourite hangout, the Bruno's Pizza in Huttenfeld.
Remember the Spagetti Eis? Yum. 1986

Just visiting.; seeing off friends going on a school trip. At the entrance gate, 1986.

Me visiting a friend from V16 who lived in Berlin, 1987.
The Berlin Wall was still up then.

Checkpoint Charlie, West Berlin, 1987.

Me at the west-east crossing point of Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, 1987.

I love using reflections in photography. See my surrealist experimental self-portraits 
V16 in the early 2000s

To view my art, check out 


STRANGE INTERLUDE: My Vaudeville inspired band, Hypnagogic Telegram, is going VIRAL on Youtube. Check out my Lithuanian song, Svejotoje, below. Viral Chaplin dance below that.

Songs in German, Lithuanian, French & English.
<---- View YOUTUBE VIDEO here.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Matthew Cohn look alike from Certain Angles

An Artist's Perspective
I am currently working on my Elegance of Masculine Beauty project; photographing and illustrating elegant masculine figures; paying minute attention to details of male bone structure, muscle tone, and angular aspects of the face. I have concentrated on figure drawing since I was a child and attended art schools in both Germany (Berlin University of the Arts) and the United States (Columbia College, Chicago), pursuing a degree in Fashion Design while continuing to work with artist models in order to fine-tune my rendering skills. My speciality is costuming, particulary period and character costumes. I am a member of the Chicago Surrealist Group and incorporate the human figure into my surrealist art. Check out my blog on How to Remember your Dreams & Tap into Creativity

I am concurrently completing my second degree, which is in Women and Gender Studies at University of Illinois at Chicago. I plan to go on to grad school with a special concentration on gender dynamics (such as psychological and anthropological aspects of male, female, and gender non-conformist behaviour, communication, and societal perceptions, especially in pair-bond relationships). Sherlock fans would enjoy my other blog the Science of Sexuality in "Sherlock," Missed Clues on Irene Adler, and a Pheneylethylamine Float

In my studies of the masculine physique, I couldn't help but notice that Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Matthew Cohn look similar from certain angles. Cohn is affiliated with "Obscura," a Fortean curiosities shop in New York City which specializes in medical anomalies. Cohn and Cumberbatch aren't identical, but both have similar facial proportions and structures; smooth, square hairline: a straight, narrow nose: slim face tapering off at the chin: tall, slim build and lean muscle tone.

Frontal pose (head tilted slight forward)
The lighting creates similar shading patterns. The most obvious difference between the two of them is the eyes. Cumberbatch's eyes are shaped like parallelograms, whereas Cohn's are more elliptical. Likewise, Cumberbatch's eyebrows have a sharper angle toward the sides, and Cohn's are straighter. Both have similar curvature of the jawline. Cunberbatch's shoulders slop at slightly more of an angle than Cohn's, but that may also be due to the padding in the jackets.

The hair looks similar, but looks can be deceiving. The natural hair colour of Cumberbatch is a ginger/light auburn, although a lighter auburn than Diana Rigg's hair in "The Avengers" (1965 - 1968). His hair is also curlier than that of Cohn's. Lighter hair colour creates the appearance of smoothing out facial features (i.e. make them seem less angular), lighter hair also makes a man look a tad bit younger.

Frontal pose (head tilted down at a side angle)

Cohn and Cumberbatch are both rather stylish men whose elegance make them well suited to be artist models. Their poses have a classic charm and do a good job of capturing masculine elegance. Although I am not normally a fan of men in suits (my designs for men are more diverse), I do appreciate a well tailored suit on someone who wears it well.

I find it appropriate that Cohn's work is on articulating human (and other specie's) skulls, since much of my artwork focuses on studying the human figure (skeletal, musculature, movement, and function). I don't have a real human skull in my collection of surrealist oddities, but I do have a few bird skulls. I utilize a life size replica of the human skull as well as a life size anatomical head with musculature. These items are invaluable for a figure drawing artist.

3/4 angle facing down
Not exactly the same angle, but it is visible that the general outline of the the head is very similar: neither of them has a prominent brow ridge, thus smoothing out the forehead: shape of their zygomatic arch (i.e. cheekbone) are close in form and position. Cohn's nose is more angular and his facial muscles are relaxed. Cumberbatch is slightly tensing his brow and eyes. The fact that the light source is coming from a slightly different direction in each photo creates a varied play on shadow.

Cohn and Cumberbatch make great artist models. This has only been a general comparison. There are more  differences than the ones I mentioned. I find this will assist me in my further studies of male facial features and angles, as well as work on light and shadow. These kind of camparative studies help to fine-tune spotting the minute differences which make each face unique.

Please vote for fav Cumberhair on my survey. 100% anonymous. You can view statistics after your done! 
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