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Movie Review: WALL-E

Just in time for the sweltering dog days of summer (and the three-day holiday weekend), WALL-E makes its way into theatres. And following in the tradition of previous Pixar Animation Studios movies, WALL-E blends inventive computer-generation animation, a serene score, and thoughtful storytelling that appeals to kids and adults.

WALL-E Movie Poster from

After tackling, toys, monsters, and superheroes, Pixar found another subject that fascinates kids—robots—to make their ninth full-length film. Set 700 years in the future, WALL-E tells of the last robot on Earth, a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class (or WALL-E), who spends his days creating building blocks out of the mountains of garbage that have been left on Earth by its former inhabitants. He entertains himself by collecting some of the more fascinating remnants, like a spork, and watching a video of the 1969 musical Hello, Dolly.

WALL-E’s world gets turned around when a sleek and mysterious robot named EVE arrives on Earth. Her mission is to find signs of life on the desolate planet and report her findings to The Axiom, a space ship that has been the surrogate home to the last remaining humans. But when EVE (with stowaway WALL-E) returns to the ship to share what she has discovered, others aboard the ship has different ideas about the future course of humankind.

While WALL-E suggests a rather bleak perspective of the future, it does so without being too dark. Sure, the world may be overwrought with waste and humans have become sedentary automatons who sit in hover chairs with their eyes glued to a TV screen as they consider what food (in a cup) to consume next, but the film ends on a hopeful note for the future. However, I can’t ignore the irony that I received this cautionary message while sitting in a cushy chair, staring at a giant screen, with jumbo-sized soda and popcorn available down the hall at the concession stand.

But, for our faults, the humans in WALL-E aren’t made out to be “the bad guys,” and neither are the antagonist robots (although the Axiom’s Autopilot, especially, is a big nod to HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey). As in real life, things are more complicated that. Both entities make mistakes, and they work together to overcome their obstacles.

For a movie with virtually no dialogue for the first half especially, WALL-E relies heavily on the visuals and music to tell the story. There are plenty of sight-gags to incite childish laughter, but the movie also features some beautiful scenes, like a dance in space shared by WALL-E and EVE to an ethereal score by Thomas Newman, which truly embodies Pixar writer and director Brad Bird’s philosophy that animation is not a genre, but an art form.

One of the things that I have always admired about Pixar films is how well they blend life lessons for kids into their movies. Many of their stories, WALL-E included, focus on taking responsibility for one’s actions and how we should look after one another (I have a feeling that is influenced by the fact that many members Pixar’s creative team are in the midst of fatherhood and continually confronting these issues themselves).

Without getting too preachy, this film offers opinions about consumption and how we treat our planet. As with the Axiom’s captain, whose curiosity about Earth is far from sated when he learns the definition of soil, WALL-E might be the first seed planted in your child’s mind to pique their interest in where our garbage goes and what we can do to make less of it.

What’s your take on this movie? We’d love to hear it! Leave a comment or post in the Forum to share your opinion on WALL-E and other family movies!

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Buskers Make the Farmers Market Special

Buskers Make the Farmers Market Special Sixth graders from the Waldorf School busk as Chengdu earthquake relief fundraiser.

As you make your way through the Bellingham Farmers Market, you’ll probably notice lots of street musicians and performers scattered throughout the vendors. These individuals are called “buskers” and Market Manager Robin Crowder believes that farmers markets and buskers go hand-in-hand. “I think the two are perpetually linked,” she said.

Anyone with a talent to share can busk at the Farmers Market. They must register with the Market Manager during their first visit, and then check in each Saturday to get a location assignment, as available. The performers usually provide a donation jar if market visitors want to show their appreciation for the act.

Robin explained that buskers don’t have to pay a space fee to perform at the Market, but some do make regular donations to the Market, like Magic Crystal’s Face Painting. “We give them the space to perform, but we consider them a benefit to the Market as well,” Robin said. “Parents can do their grocery shopping, kids can have some fun, and the performers can make some cash—it’s a good relationship for everyone.”

Buskers Make the Farmers Market Special Watching Brother Britt make the balloon animals is just as fun as getting one.

Busking is a straightforward way to collect donations for a fundraiser too. Greg Zook’s 6th grade class at the Whatcom Hills Waldorf School organized a choir to perform at the Market as an earthquake relief fundraiser for the Waldorf School in Chengdu, China. “It was their idea,” Greg said. “We talked about the different things we could offer to raise money. We thought about selling art, but they love music and love to sing so this made sense.”

You’ll see plenty of musical acts around the market, especially on sunny days. Sometimes larger acts, such as a performance by the Bellingham Youth Jazz Band, are scheduled in advance, but Robin likes the fact that most of the entertainment at the market is spontaneous.

Many buskers especially like interacting with their audience. Kids have almost as much fun watching Brother Britt twist and turn balloons as they do actually getting the animal itself. He doesn’t take requests, so it’s always a surprise to see what animal he’ll create next.

Buskers Make the Farmers Market SpecialJuggling Jules wows the crowd with his daring fire tricks.

Another “fixture” at the market, according to Robin, is a busker that is commonly referred to as The Fire Guy. His real name is Jules McEvoy and he makes his living as a street entertainer with his juggling show. He’s worked with the performance troop, Juggling Jollies, for about four years, but he enjoys performing solo at the Farmers Market as well.

What makes Jules’s act memorable, aside from his ability to evoke laughter from kids and adults alike with his clever banter, is his big finish. “I balance a flaming scythe on my chin while juggling fire,” Jules explained, as if this was a commonplace feat.

To date, Jules has performed in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, New Orleans, New York and Mexico. Bellingham has been his home for five years, but he isn’t sure where the future will take him. “Work for performers is limited in a small town,” he said, making it difficult to earn enough money as a street performer. “It’s my birthday today,” he said, waiting for the rain to let up so he could start his first show of the day. “But I’ve got to make a living and the Farmers Market is a good place for an audience.”

Come out to the Farmers Market to see just who will be performing each week. And if you or your talented kids are interested in busking, visit How to Busk at the Bellingham Farmers Market.

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Farmers Market Welcomes Kid Vendors

Embracing the nearly-lost art of the corner lemonade stand, the Bellingham Farmers Market gives young entrepreneurs the chance to make and sell their wares to the community on Kids Vending Day at the last Saturday Market of each month.

Kids Vending Day Bellingham kids show of their talents and creativity on Kids Vending Day.

Kids Vending Days have been a staple at the Saturday Market for at least seven years. Although Market Manager Robin Crowder doesn’t take credit for proposing the idea, founding market vendor Mike Finger thinks that she deserves recognition for keeping it going all these years and running it so well. Providing this opportunity for kids, Mike said, “is a great example of how the market is more than a business.”

The Farmers Market provides vending space the kids and collects a $5 reservation fee per vending day, but other than that, all the responsibility goes to the kids. Unlike adult vendors, and even some other Washington State farmers markets with vending opportunities for youth, there is no jury requirement for crafted goods. “Whatever they can make, they can sell,” Robin said.

Kid Vendor Danica Harnden Danica Harnden tells potential customers about her various fairy products.

The kids are in charge of bringing and setting up their tables and chairs, deciding on prices and, of course, making or growing their product.  And the creative kids in Bellingham can be found vending just about everything: jewelry, handmade soap, flowers, collars for pets and much more.

Danica Harnden, 9, spent a little over a month creating her “Fairy Dreams Forever” line to sell at the market on Kids Vending Days. “I’m really into fairies,” she said, “and I know a lot of other girls are too, so I decided to sell fairy dolls, wands, crowns, and pixie dust.” On her first vending day in May, she made a few sales first thing in the morning. She plans on using the money she’ll earn at the market for some “extra fun this summer.”

Kid Vendor Simone Princer-Eichner Simone Princer-Eichner sells cards for birthdays and other occasions.

Young vendors get the opportunity to express themselves creatively while earning the rewards of a hard day’s work. Many of them are also using their talents to benefit others. Simone Princer-Eichner, 13, has been selling her hand-made cards at the market for over a year. Her booth’s sign advertises that 10% of her profits will go to Heifer International, a global organization devoted to ending hunger and poverty. “I make donations to them regularly, and I like letting people know that I am able to use my art to help other people in the world,” Simone explained.

Kids Vending Days for the rest of this year are June 28, July 26, August 30, September 27, and October 25. Danica plans on being at the Market throughout the summer and Simone’s next vending day will be in August. “It’s a lot of fun to see the regular customers come by each month,” Simone said. “I think this is a great opportunity for kids to make some extra money.”

Robin Crowder echoes the young vendor’s sentiment. “Kids get a glimpse to what it might be like to start their own business someday and they can learn real skills, like what it costs to make a product, how to price and package their goods, and how to talk to customers,” she said. She added that it’s nice to see market members patronize the kids’ booths to give them advice and encouragement.

Danica's fairy dolls. Come to the last Saturday Market each month to see all the products you can buy from local kids.

To get more information about Kids Vending Day, visit Bellingham Farmers Market or speak with volunteers or Robin at the Saturday Market. If you know a kid who might be interested in vending at the Farmers Market, you can call (360) 647-2060 to check availability, or sign up at the Information Booth on Saturday. All products must be handmade or grown. Be aware that all prepared food items must be made in a certified kitchen approved by the Whatcom County Health Department.

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