Friday, May 27, 2016

Things I used to hang around my neck

No, really. All of these. And this isn't the half. There is also the cloisonne cross from the Vatican gift store, the gold Celtic cross from Ireland, the serenity prayer silver cross, the hematite cross, the other hematite - no, wait, I sent that one to a friend of mine. Someone in need. But all these I wore, individually, because I wore crosses then, that was my milieu somehow, as I was deeply devoted to the United Church. Seems like another lifetime, because it is.

I don't really hate them, but church and mainstream Christianity really ran dry for me at a certain point, and yet I stayed. I probably stayed on for another two years after it ran completely dry, due to my wretched misguided loyalty and the sense that if I just hung on a little bit longer, it would all get good again. And it didn't.

So much for the cacophany of internet memes screaming at us to "never give up! Never give up! Never give up no matter WHAT!" I really should've given up back in about 2002.

In some sense, it was a crisis of leadership, and it got so bad at one point that our minister was ordered to leave. This reflects a church which has lost its way, but most of the blame went on "him", that dastardly devil - the one WE chose over four other candidates! But he simply had more glamour, and on some level we believed it would be a feather in our cap, not to mention a badge of our liberal-ity, because you see he was a black South African. Though no one ever admitted this, it was a blatant bid for status so that we would outshine all the other United Churches in the area.

I had to leave not just because of that meltdown, or the pallid non-leadership that followed, but because of a massive (though gradual) shift of the tectonic plates of my beliefs. I simply began to see through the isms of Christianity, and to see that ANY church I was part of, no matter how supposedly liberal-ish, was really hidebound and expected its members to adhere to a certain kind of belief system. But I had a problem. I used to get far too emotional. I used to feel I had an actual relationship with Jesus, and almost everyone thought this was either crazy, or deeply embarrassing (even though we were constantly exhorted to do just that).

I ended up feeling very alone, in a church I had attended for fifteen years.

But no matter. I recently re-found these little crosses, took them off their individual chains (and they DO come from all over, including the drug store on Granville Street) and strung them with glass pony beads on a single chain. I like to look at them now, drape them over things, display them. Sometimes I even briefly wear them, but not in public. Just for the mojo, and when I'm going to cast a spell or throw a curse (and after what happened to Paul, it looks as if it works, at least some of the time). And when I've got my mojo workin', you'd better look out.

I am not sure what these seven crosses mean exactly, but I think it's kind of nice they're not relegated to the drawer any more. And that is all I have to say about it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

So who IS my favourite character in The Wizard of Oz?

I found myself writing this mini-essay in response to someone who posted something on Facebook about The Wizard of Oz. It's something I maybe, oh maybe wrote about already, but I want to write about it again because, ohhhh, I just do!

Everyone plays that game where you ask people, "So. Who was your favorite character in The Wizard of Oz?" Almost everyone chooses the Lion because he does slapstick comedy (really, old-fashioned vaudeville) so well, and sings in that quavery voice like every hammy tenor you've ever heard. But the point of the game is that your choice is supposed to reveal your deepest inner nature. One day it came to me, not so much "who is my favorite" as "who is the most important character?" NO ONE ever mentions this, I swear. It's not Dorothy or the Tin Man or Scarecrow or even the Wizard.

It's Toto.

Think about it: if it weren't for Toto, there would be no story at all. If Toto hadn't (deservedly) bitten Miss Gulch, she wouldn't have taken him away in her basket and Dorothy wouldn't have had to go rescue him (which in fact she didn't have to: he got away!). And thus, when the "twister" came up, she would've been at home and just gotten into the storm cellar with everyone else.

But no! She landed in Oz, where Toto always ran on ahead of her and was her companion and guide. It was Toto who discovered the Scarecrow and Tin Man, Toto who flushed out the lion from the bushes (feisty little thing), Toto who got away from the Witch when Dorothy was imprisoned in the castle (remember him jumping off the drawbridge?) and ran to alert her three friends so they could rescue her.  And all this with the Witch's evil henchmen throwing spears at him!

AND. . . (drum roll, please - this is turning into a blog post!) - just who was it who pulled back the curtain and revealed that the Wonderful Wizard of Oz was in fact a fraud? 

At any rate, this Timeless Tale would not even exist without that scrappy little Cairn terrier, who is not a cute or a glamorous dog at all, nor even a Brave and Noble dog. He's just Toto, scruffy and nondescript. He's a little implausible as a farm dog, unless maybe he was a ratter (and can't you picture it? This dog is not afraid of anything). Dorothy is in some ways the classic heroine in that, at one point, she is literally imprisoned in the tower and must be rescued by the three heroes. But it is Toto who actually does the rescuing, risking his own doggy life in the process.

 I'm not sure what-all this says about me. Hmmmm - greatness is never recognized?

The best idea George Lucas ever stole from anyone!

So who's original any more? Who makes mega-billions of bucks on someone else's idea(s)? 

In the second gif, which I made myself, the characters are in almost the same position as in the Star Wars one (shared from FB).

Takes forever to see these things, then everyone in the coffee room exclaims "Ohhhhhh! That's so NEAT!", a response that used to represent intelligence, and now indicates that 90% of people have jello for brains. 

It isn't "neat", folks. It's plagiarism. Gee, let's have four characters set out on a Great Adven- no, no, skip that, a great QUEST. One will have a lot of fur all over. One will be the Token Girl. One will clank when he walks, and one - well, skip that one, it doesn't match up at all. We never see Han Solo dance and stuffing doesn't come out of him and he isn't set on fire.

But does he have a brain? He's still in Star Wars, isn't he?

And look ye! All right, the resemblance isn't exactly monstrous, but there definitely IS a comparison between Judy Garland's tempestuous life of substance abuse and mental illness, and Carrie Fisher's tempestuous, etc. etc. The two have similar brown-eyed/brunette hair and skin colouring. Though it was well-hidden in the movie, you can see here that Garland has a slight outbreak of teenage acne. Facial shape is very different, but look at the eyes! Dorothy here does not look frightened so much as amazed, and already figuring out the next step. This is not a frightened kid. The only time Dorothy is frightened is when she's in the Witch's castle and the Witch has turned over the hourglass and Dorothy sees Aunty Em in the crystal ball. .  .and. . . I start bawling, every time. It's one of two - no, actually three or four places in movies where I always cry, even though I know what's going to happen. Another is Mammy and Melanie going upstairs in Gone with the Wind, and then. . . "they got Charlie" in On the Waterfront, and oh. . . I'm going for lunch now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Facebook helpline: war of the trolls

Ah! God. I never learn. I keep on trying to find out things. When one is involved with Facebook, it is better not to know. I have NEVER had a question answered by their help feature, and if I get any answer at all it seems machine-generated and not at all related to my original problem. 

Not having had enough misery today, I did it, I asked Mr. Facebook, please tell me why my news feed never refreshes any more, or gives me "most recent" stories that are nine days old? It used to be I could "go on Facebook" for a couple hours if I had nothing better to do. Now after five minutes or so, I've blown through all the stories and am back to shit I read yesterday. And don't tell me there are no posts to read because I "don't have enough friends". There are five or so that I like, and the rest - I don't know what they're doing there, but they are there and they should be posting! At least some of them. 

Predictably, I found out nothing about this issue, but in finding out nothing, I found this delightful bit of correspondence between Andrew and Stephen. By the end of it, Andy n' Steve are barely being civil. One wonders why such arrogance, such hurt, why everyone takes all this shit so personally. And why do people say women are such bitches??

I used real names and real quotes because these are real people (if assholes) whose comments are really out there, somewhere. Not that anyone cares.

Why does Facebook continue to change my News Feed to 'Top Stories'?

News Feed

This isn't new and there are hundreds of topics in many different sites about this, yet Facebook continue to ignore everyone who complains about it.
I know there is a 3rd party extension to help with this but really, it that the lengths we have to go to? Are Facebook that blind that they don't see how damn annoying this "feature" is?
Made the control sticky and once it's set, leave the damn thing alone until it gets changed .. by the user!

Asked about 7 months ago by Andrew Roob

13 Votes · 4 Followers · Seen by 81

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Stephen Peters 8,361 answers
0 of 1 people found this helpful

That wasn't really a question was it lol.. But you're right, you're defaulted back to top stories after a certain period of inactivity from you.

Helpful · Not Helpful · 7 comments · Share · Answered about 7 months ago

It doesn't really matter at the end of the day. People who spend all their time on Google posting complaints instead of clicking on "most recent" have far too much time on their hands. Yes. If I leave Facebook for a few hours I am reverted back to top stories. It's the same if I delete my cookies. So putting 2 and 2 together, it's all about the cookies. If you haven't emptied yours in a while, I suggest you do that. Maybe use a different browser, or have a look at your add-ons for anything that looks suspicious. If that doesn't cure your problem, at the end of the day, it's such a minor inconvenience it's hardly worth losing sleep over.
Posted about 7 months ago by Stephen Peters

Thanks for dismissing my post and then suggesting that I have far too much time on my hands (such a lovely community spirit). Obviously if it's something that you don't find painful then there is no issue. I didn't think there would be such a thing as a facebook fanboy but I guess I was mistaken. I can see that with 6 and a half thousand answers, that's why you don't have much time on your hands and can dismiss my issue. Please head back under your bridge and refrain from posting on my ticket.
Posted about 7 months ago by Andrew Roob

A punch in the face is painful. What you're suffering from is a mild inconvenience at best. However, I can see my answer isn't the sweet "oh let me help you" one that you were expecting, or perhaps a cure for your personal problem (which incidentally, everyone using Facebook has to put up with) but there's always one.
Posted about 7 months ago by Stephen Peters

Ketchup Cool Whip and other frozen delights

The more I look at this recipe, the more ill I feel. It appears to be a sort of raw-egg-ridden ketchup Cool Whip that's frozen, then dotted with that formaldehyde delight, maraschino cherries (and let's not forget the chopped almonds!).

So what do you DO with this? How would you eat it, even if you wanted to? It would be hard as a rock. It would be. . . ketchup with whipped cream. And raw egg. A lot of raw egg, and sugar. So. . . sweet ketchup mousse, in individual molds or ice cube trays?

And I can't even begin to fathom Carnival Cream, the name of this thing. A carnival in hell, perhaps.

P. S. and what are those brown things in the background? Meadow muffins?

Just some Bob favorites (that's all)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A dove (or two) for Dave

Cats (and more cats) in motion

I've done this sort of experimentation before, with the Muybridge images. But today I got a little more creative. I wanted to see if I could achieve fluid motion in just a few frames, as Muybridge was able to do. The idea is, your eye sees where things are going and just fills in the missing action.

So this was the first step. I found this drawing of a guy walking, then cut the image up into three frames and put it through my photo-to-gif program. Et voila - 

In two speeds! I will admit it's not the smoothest, but for three images it ain't bad. For some reason, Makeagif won't allow you to remove the watermark for photo-to-gif, which mars the thing pretty badly, especially with the white background. I am not sure why this is, as you always have the option of removing it on gifs, so long as you are signed in. But never mind, try not to look at it. The miracle is that it's WORKING today, at least so far!

Now this is my masterpiece, or at least so far. I took this, divided it into twelve images (there was a thirteenth image thrown in for "bad luck" that had to be removed, because it made the motion jerky), photoshopped them onto white squares, and did the photo-to-gif thing. First I want to post those images (because damn, I worked hard on them!)

Well, sort of. I may have left out a frame. But the result, except for the damned watermark, looked pretty good:

I especially like the action of the hind end, how it kind of flexes and stretches, and the tail which has a natural sort of flapping motion. The head isn't up to much, and is too big for the body and has a silly cartoonish expression - why, I do not know, because the rest of it is fairly realistic. Try covering the cat's head with your thumb, and the whole thing will look a whole lot better. Go on, now - try it.

I'm going to go lie down now.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pooh gif. . . ts


While playing around with WTP/Ernest Shepard images, I decided to try to make a Pooh animation out of still pictures. Not such an easy thing to do when you have to find compatible images, then get size, colour, etc. to match. Well, it sort of worked, though it would have been nice to have more frames. Shepherd's watercolours had two styles: they could be quite detailed, but they could also be mere suggestions of animals, just shapes, and each of these pictures represents a type. 

And look at this!! I spent quite a while on this one, and had to fool around quite a bit with things like perspective. Ernest Shepard was really a lousy artist by technical standards. In one of these two pictures, Piglet was approximately twice the size shown here. I had to tinker around to get him to look OK in relation to Pooh. Perspective changes alarmingly, as do the size and shape of the animals which seem almost carelessly drawn. Was it a style of the times, I wonder? Whatever it was, it sucks to make gifs out of these. Even though they turned out pretty damn good.