Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One eternal chord: the legacy of Soeur Sourire

(BLOGGER'S NOTE. Though I wrote this post days ago, and have been gestating it for weeks or perhaps years, I just happened on the fact that this is Soeur Sourire's death-day. She chose it, a grim fact, but though she loved God, she definitely had a will of her own.

March 29, 1985 was the day she chose to set herself free from despair, fulfilling a suicide pact with her longtime companion, Annie Pecher.)

"Am I a failure? I try to stay honest with myself. To look for the truth, and try to question everything in my life...
Ten years ago I would have said I was a loser.
Now I don't think in terms of losing or winning...
Life is a continuum. You're constantly on your way. One day I feel good, the next I feel bad. Altogether it's bearable.
Would I do it all over again? That's not a good question. You can't.
You can't do it all over again. Voila"

- - Jeanine Deckers

"Jeanine... is in constant depression and only lives for me. I live for her. That can't go on. 

"We do suffer really too much... We have no more place in life, no ideal except God, but we can't eat that.

"We go to eternity in peace.
We trust God will forgive us.
He saw us both suffer and he won't let us down.

"It would please Jeanine not to die for the world.
She had a hard time on earth.
She deserves to live in the minds of people."

- - Annie P├ęcher, from Jeanine and Annie's suicide note, 1985


Dominique, nique nique
o'er the land he plods along
and sings a little song
Never asking for reward
He just talks about the Lord
He just talks about the Lord

At a time when Johnny Lackland
over England was the King, Dominique
was in the backland,
fighting sin like anything


Now a heretic, one day
Among the thorns forced him to crawl
Dominiqu' with just one prayer,
Made him hear the good Lord's call

Without horse or fancy wagon,
He crossed Europe up and down
Poverty was his companion,
As he walked from town to town

To bring back the straying liars
and the lost sheep to the fold
He brought forth the Preaching Friars,
Heaven's soldiers, brave and bold

One day in the budding order,
There was nothing left to eat,
Suddenly two angels walked in
With a load of bread and meat

Dominique once in his slumber
Saw the Virgin's coat unfurled
Over friars without number
Preaching all around the world

Grant us now oh Dominique
The grace of love and simple mirth
That we all may help to quicken
Godly life and truth on earth

Je Voudrais

I'd like to be just like the wind,
singing everywhere
I'd like to be just like the wind
dancing everywhere
Like the wind that praises the Lord
Like the wind

I'd like to be like the white cloud,
Sailing in the sky
I'd like to be like the white cloud
In the sun
Like the cloud that searches for the Lord
Facing You....

I'd like to be like the flame
from a wood fire
I'd like to be like the flame
from a wood fire
Just like the flame that rises, Lord
Dancing for You

I'd like to be like a guitar
A singing heart
I'd like to be like a quitar
A vibrant heart
Like a guitar that You fill with the strength
Of Your song

Tout Les Chemins

Every road through hills and valleys
Leads to heaven by and by
And the wind that sweeps the alleys
Points a finger to the sky

A song on my lips, a song in my heart
I go my merry way
The sun in my eyes, The sun in my heart,
Lights up my step day to day

Many friends are on the highway,
And they're waiting for a smile
Walk along my friend on my way
Holding hands a little while

There are times of storm and sorrow
When the goal drifts out of sight
But the road leads on tomorrow
To the land of peace and light

Then we'll all be reunited
Singing one eternal chord
For we know we've been invited
To the mansion of the Lord

Soeur Adele

Here is my guitar from Barcelona
Full of the soul of ancient Spain
Born of a tree in Catalonia
And of that mainly rainy plain

You'll like her form, gracious and slender
The sunny color of her skin.
You'll love her voice, mellow and tender
Her fiery beat will make you spin

I well remember when I met her
Hung in a showcase upside down
Right then and there I had to get her
From that old shop in Brussels town
Adios Espania and seguidillas
Adios toreros full of flame
No more sombreros and mantillas
Sister Adele shall be her name

One shiny day I heard God's calling
Oh yes, my Lord if You say so!
I packed my bags without much stalling
Took my quitar and said, Let's go!
Ever since then through every weather
Sister Adele stays at my side
Day in, day out, we sing together
Praising the Lord far and wide.

Sister Adele is never lonely
She helps me keep my hope up high
God is her love, her one and only
I know he voice can reach the sky
Someday up there God be willing
I'll be a guest in the great hall.
And for the dance won't it be thrilling
Sister Adele will lead the ball!

Une fleure

With a flower on the tip of my
muddy shoes I'm walking toward
God, happily singing.
With a flower on the tip of my muddy shoes
I go my way with a light heart
I've picked a flower of hope
Among the budding wheat
Among the evanescence
Of winter evenings

I've picked the flower of hope
In the love of the Lord
Toward Him I am advancing
With a heartful of songs
I found along my way
A flower in the sunshine
It chased away
My desperate tears
In my heart,
The wealth of a sea of eternity
Carries me with happiness

Petit bateau

I found our God on the shore
I found our God in the white seashells

Little boat on the waters
Drifting, drifting
Little boat on the waters
Take my soul to the sky

I found the Lord in the breeze
I found the Lord
In the misty wind

I found our God in the sand
I found our God
in the dreamy swellls

I found the Lord in the mist
I found the Lord
In the sunset on the dunes


Like an autumn leaf that is drifitng
Through a chilly November day
I was restless and drifting
Never happy,never gay

Hallelujah, for Your grace has saved me
For Your love makes its home in my heart
For the happiness You gave me
the wind that sings
in the mountain
For the sunshine that lights up the sky
For the water in the fountain, Hallelujah!

I walked in sadness
and my song was troubled
I walked in sadness
Seeking peace and happiness everywhere

By chance in my adventures
One evening God I found
To God I give my solitude
And His friendship saved my soul

Mets Ton Joli Jupon

Put on your pretty skirt my soul
Prepare a joyful rendezvous
Put on your pretty skirt my soul
The Lord you love is waiting for you

In the early morning hours
When the dew is on the rose
A small gift of Your love
And I am satisfied!

When noon is full of wonder
It`s a joy to be alive
I feel golden in the sun
from a friendship close and warm

Among the twilight stars
When You are all around
You make me fall asleep
In the peace of your arms

CODA. I don't want to write about the cost of fame, the despair, the turbulence, or any of it. Jeanine Deckers (also known as the Singing Nun) left us this music, songs that are quirky, fragile, ideosyncratic. I don't think she played the guitar any better than I do, and her voice, though vibrant and sincere, was not outstanding. 

It was her life she gave us. 

Someone wrote a horrible musical about her life, sending it up, the little girl from Belgium entering a convent, then by accident making a hit record. Leaving the convent to live with a woman and try to make her way as a painter and club singer. Falling into alcoholism along the way. Drunken nun - it's hysterical!

Except it isn't. She and her companion made a suicide pact, and acted on it. They weren't just broke but desperately in debt due to the criminal actions of her former convent, and saw no liveable future.

The Catholic church did not approve of their way out, and buried her silently. Bad enough to be a suicide, but a heretic/lesbian in the bargain? 

Though biographical material is scant, Soeur Sourire pops up surprisingly often on YouTube. When I first began to read up on her life, years ago, I was shocked to find there was only one biography, self-published and badly-written. I am about to read it for the second time, because it's all I have.

I would have liked to have known Jeanine Deckers, a thistle of a woman with a soft centre, who evidently made the best of her good periods. I am convinced she was bipolar, and I know what a hard road that is, even at the best of times.

She was never meant to be world-famous, harassed, cheated this way, owing a mammoth amount of back taxes on song royalties that all went to the convent. But that wasn't the only reason she gave up, or gave in. 

When I hear that clear, candid voice, the voice that seems to be speaking to me directly through time, it brings back a lot of things. My brother Arthur used to sing her songs in French, and they were beautiful. Everyone listened to the album, and no one had the first idea what the words meant. 

I present translations of a few of them here (and a video of a portion of her first album: it was all I could find). The lyrics are slight enough for a breeze to stir them, but the tunes are simply lovely, full of sun and shadow. Of course the original words lose a lot: the French syllables are inherently beautiful, the English bulky and too-literal. I've taken the liberty of amending a few lines: "prepare a joyful rendezvous" was originally "we have a date, we have a date".

Most people are completely unaware of the fact that the celebrated Dominique is a sly satire on the veneration of saints, those exalted figures who invariably turn out to have feet of clay. Verse by verse she builds up his legend until he appears to be wearing a cape and an S on his chest. Yet almost everyone, even the nuns at the convent, took it literally. No one in the listening public was remotely interested in a translation, but just whistled or sang along. It is said Dominique shot to the top of the charts because it came out just after the Kennedy assassination. Could be true; the pop version of the Lord's Prayer was released hard on the heels of The Exorcist, and it sold like crazy.

What more do I have to say? I wasn't going to say any of this.  I know how it feels to want to die. I know how it is to actually plan it, to choose the method. I used to be religious, I was part of the United Church for 15 years and left in bitter and abject pain, completely alone, and feeling mortally wounded by disillusionment. But it serves me right for having illusions in the first place.

Or so it would seem.

P. S. I have found three spellings of her name. Her biographer D. A. Chadwick spells it Jeannine. The quote at the top of this post says Jeanine. Wikipedia claims her name was Jeanne-Paule-Marie Deckers. I have no idea if these shifting versions had anything to do with her choice. I am reminded of the saying, "It doesn't matter what people say about you, so long as they spell your name right." Her suicide was treated as a joke by many: my God, the Singing Nun killed herself! But she died long before that, mauled by celebrity, then virtually forgotten.

The unspoken internet rule

I just got off one of those Facebook pages dedicated to kitschy fashions, decor, etc. from decades ago.The thing that has always bothered me about this and similar pages is the way a seemingly random photo of someone will be posted in an outlandish (by today's standards) outfit and hairdo, ranging anywhere from the '50s to the '90s. 

There will follow dozens and dozens of comments which just seem to get meaner and nastier and more personal. I am quite astonished at the bitchy, catty, high-schoolish tone of many of these. I was going to quote some of the more devastating remarks here, but I find I can't go back there. I'd rather step in quicksand.

I keep thinking: there's no way this person gave permission for having their photo visible to (potentially) the whole world. What if she were standing there, surrounded by all these nasty people she does not even know? Not one of them would have the nerve to say any of this. 

What if someone got hold of your high school yearbook and pulled out your dorky picture, and you suddenly became public property? It would be the equivalent of overhearing nasty remarks about yourself in the ladies' room, and being afraid to come out.

I don't know exactly where all these photos come from, though I have been told they somehow end up in flea markets and estate sales, perhaps when a family comes apart through death, estrangement or bankruptcy. And people say things like "well, if those photos were really important to them, they wouldn't have lost track of them". Therefore the implication is that the photos are public property and open to any sort of ridicule. 

But "losing track" is all too easy in the face of domestic catastrophe. The insularity and privilege inherent in these judgemental statements astonishes me. These people have obviously had pretty cushy lives. "Let them eat cake", indeed. 

People collect other people's stuff, no matter how irrelevant it may seem to them. They're casual about it. But photos meant far more back then than they do now. Every family album is so emotionally laden that, figuratively speaking, it weighs a few tons. But so far I am the only person I have ever found who seems to be bothered by any of this. So what's wrong with letting a Facebook group take a few harmless potshots at '80s shoulder pads and high hair? 

Well, I'll tell you, if someone, somehow got hold of a picture of my daughter from that era, I would cheerfully kill them. I mean it. I would do more than tear a strip off them. She looked beautiful and radiant with her spiral perm, braces and puffy shoulders, and felt that way too. She WAS beautiful, but the snipey, nasty, "Run for your life!"/"OMG, I am in fashion hell!"/"Put away your mirrors or they'll all break"/"lol, I can just smell the sweaty polyester!" comments these women spew out would seem to indicate otherwise. 

And these are some of the milder ones.

What safer way to sharpen your claws and get rid of excess venom than to rip into someone you will never meet? But if you call them on it, they claim to be just kidding and can't understand why I am too dried-up and joyless to join in the fun.

I am not buying that "oh, we looked just as bad back then, so it's OK" stuff. It isn't OK. Just isn't. The person you are ripping into might not even THINK they looked bad, and there's a good chance they didn't. It's a judgement on your part.

I wouldn't want to see myself up there. I just wouldn't, nor any of my kin.

If you ran into a photo of your Mom or grandma, particularly if they had just passed, it might be even worse. But if I say anything about this, the response I get is along the lines of "oh, I am sure if someone saw themselves they'd just join in the fun". The reasoning is that THEY wouldn't mind, so why would anyone else? In truth, they don't know any of this because the person in the photo might as well be an anonymous cartoon. They're not real. I've also been told that nobody ever protests, so it must be OK. Everybody else is fine with it! (Can't we say anything any more?)

Any sane person with a sense of humor knows that it's all just harmless fun.

This particular page also seems to like to run "drunk photos" which are viewed as screamingly funny, people passed out at parties or groping their neighbor. My Dad was an alcoholic who scared the hell out of me and showed up in lots of these kinds of photos, and not only would I NOT want to see one posted on Facebook, I would not want to read 30 comments about what a lush he was. Family photos of people suffering from alcoholism (who have perhaps just ruined yet another family gathering) aren't necessarily something you want to publicly display, although it apparently doesn't count because there are no names on them. Anonymity is a very liberating thing.

What amazes me most is how no one gets what I am talking about. Whenever I express these sentiments - and I've tried to before - I get blank or even offended looks, as if I am speaking some other language, or even broken an unspoken internet rule. I get the sense people are trying to correct my opinion to match theirs, or talk me out of my feelings because I am just being hypersensitive and obviously have no sense of fun. Hey, it's just on the internet, it's nothing personal - don't you KNOW that? And if you don't like it, OK then, you should just get off Facebook. (That's one you see all the time. Make a comment about something you don't like, and you will be told to get lost.)

Not such a bad idea. I've liked Facebook less and less over the years, and this is one of the least attractive features of it: the anonymous skewering of people who might be dead, or might be watching. Or, worse, might be a son or daughter or some other beloved figure that you don't want to see roasted. There is nothing more bewildering and infuriating than having an obnoxious, aggressive person rough you up emotionally and then say, "Hey, what's your problem? I was just kidding around!" The anonymity of the internet has fed and watered that particularly repulsive aspect of the human psyche. Nobody can get to me here behind the bluff, can't even see me or know who I am, while I rake this unknown person over the coals for the unforgiveable sin of having big hair. 

BLOGGER'S THOUGHTS. Yes, I have more to say on a related topic. I have seen many Facebook/YouTube videos of people in dire trouble, injured or in real peril. People watch them and say, "Ohhh, look at that. Wow, that's pretty extreme, eh?" But there is someone standing there taking the video and NOT HELPING! Yes. That person could be using their phone as a PHONE and not a way to "go viral" and get a million views and appear on the evening news. All they would have to do is speed-dial three digits. If you don't know what they are, then I give up.

But they don't do it. They have a video to take. It's just too good an opportunity to pass up.

Another thing - and this is the worst - are videos where a child is in obvious dire peril. He or she is being sacrificed for the sake of an "awwww, look at that" moment and a hundred thousand hits on YouTube. I saw a child of maybe eighteen months, surfing. Another was skateboarding. These kids could barely stand up, and I saw no helmets or safety equipment of any kind in the event of a spill. The comments all seemed to be "wow, what a great little guy!", not "Jesus, somebody HELP that kid!" I've seen two-year-olds ride horses (full-size horses, not those little miniatures) while not wearing helmets or any kind of saddle, and no one leading the horse around. What a good little rider, reads the caption. I saw, recently, a toddler climbing an eight-foot wire fence, up one side and down the other, with nothing soft to cushion a fall, no headgear, and no adult standing anywhere near. But someone WAS there, taking a video of the whole thing, and not anywhere close by. Everyone I talked to thought it was "cute" and said things like, "wow, that's just amazing. What a strong little guy!"

Whatever happened to Child Protection Services?

I know there are supposedly more pressing concerns on planet Earth, but why have we stopped caring? The internet keeps everything at a remove. These toddlers and drunken grandmas and people in funny hair styles aren't real. Thus they are fair game. It doesn't matter. The videos just sort of take themselves (and I am amazed when people say "what?" when I contradict that - someone takes these?) It's as if a random portal is opening up so that we can see a not-real figure enact hazardous or bizarre stunts, just for our own amusement. 

It doesn't matter if the child bursts into tears of terror or grief, because the next day the whole family will be on some TV talk show saying, "Oh, she's fine with it now. Aren't you, Suzy?" Two-year-old Suzy dutifully nods her head. Already she has been commodified, and all for the sake of a hundred thousand "likes".

P. S. I've used my own pictures for this. Perms, big glasses, raw turkeys, the works. And I was probably drunk in at least two of them.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

There really was a Chef Boyardee

This has got to be one of my dumbest animations ever, but here it is anyway.  For God's sake, I could only find three pictures! Then they had to be worked on a lot to get them to match up. Pretend he is smacking his lips, or blowing on something to cool it off.

Like everyone else, I was surprised to discover there really was a Chef Boyardee, a renowned chef who owned popular Italian restaurants. This went on very nicely until World War II, when the nation desperately needed army rations. Voila - canned spaghetti! This had never been tried before, and it is said that soldiers went about with can openers slung around their necks to partake of cold, congealed ravioli and other gourmet delights.

This brought about a change in the product, of course, making it blander and more uniform. It was sturdy food that could provide quick calories and hold up in the trenches. But in the 1950s, when the good chef first appeared on TV, army-ration-style food was still very much "in". All those horrific Spam/gelatined table scraps/creamed everything recipes prove it. America still very much remembered the war as they entered that other war, the cold one.

And the cold rations went over well. I fed my kids Chef Boyardee ravioli (which my toddler son called "dabioti") because they ate it, and liked it, and it was easy. I guess they survived. I even ate it myself, but the last time I tried it, it tasted like nothing. I was shocked.

I find it interesting that, while he and the announcer both correctly pronounce his name "Boi-AR-di", it soon evolved into the supposedly-more-manageable "Boy-ar-DEE". I will never forget those pizza mixes, which for years and years was the only pizza we ever consumed: thin cardboard crust, non-zippy red sauce, and a little can of powder that passed for cheese.

My corset: hurts so good


Monday, March 27, 2017

Escalator plummets, shoppers tumble

Best in Cats: my Bentley


Pream or cream? SCREAM


I think I spent half the night trying to get these formatted. I downloaded about fifteen of them from Internet Archives (once I remembered the name of it and found it), then pared it down to eight and tried to post them. They sort of played - actually, they DID play just fine, but there were no thumbnails, just blanks. This sucked! Certainly no one would ever try to play them.  I then posted them all on YouTube, which was fast (relatively) and easy, but for some reason I can't access my own YouTube videos through Blogger, so I was left to scramble around and try to FIND the ones I posted. I had to make up the balance with other people's videos. Never mind. I did find my absolute favorites (the bottom two - the lady's expression is the weirdest thing I have ever seen on TV, and the - well, the milk pail explains itself.

I am having frightening problems with videos just conking and not playing. Windows Media Player is pretty much kaput, so my son installed (in about five seconds) something called VLC Media Player. I THINK it works, and if it doesn't, it's because of the limitations of this primitive Blogger site. I have a headache, I haven't slept, and I want this to be a good day, but it doesn't want to be, it really doesn't.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Cats and cherry blossoms

These are a few of my favorite things.

That face: a Harold Lloyd animation

Look at that face, just look at it
Look at that fabulous face of yours
I knew, first look I took at it
This was the face that the world adores
Look at those eyes, as wise and as deep as the sea
Look at that nose, it shows what a nose should be
As for your smile, it's lyrical
Friendly and warm as a summer's day
That face is just a miracle
Where could I ever find words to say?
The way that it makes me happy
Whatever the time or place
I'll find in no book what I find
When I look at that face

Friday, March 24, 2017

Smoke SAFELY in your car!

Old ads for products that now, somehow, don't seem like such a good idea are a staple of this blog. This one just jumped out at me as wrong on so many levels, I can't even count them all. Those vape things, e-cigarettes (the gadgets that are supposed to help you stop smoking) keep exploding in people's pockets, reminding me of that classic rhyme which begins, "Liar, liar. . . ". But the potential for disaster here seems infinitely magnified. 

I can't begin to transcribe all the flyspeck type on this thing, but the bottom sums it up: 

Delivers A Lighted Cigarette - - Instantly. Every smoker wants this new magic invention. Look what happens at the touch of the magic button. A cigarette slips out automatically toward your lips - you hear a click - and there's a flame burning right at the end  of the cigarette. A touch - a puff - and that's enough! A life saver to car drivers. You puff, and with the lighted cigarette between your lips, you draw it from the case. Then there is another click. The magic case is closed, the flame is out, and the next cigarette automatically jumps into position for the next smoke. Think of getting such amazing results. 

I can just make out the part about A Life Saver To Car Drivers.

You don't have to take your eyes off the road any more, and both hands off the wheel, to light a cigarette. Avoid the danger of life and property loss by using a Magic Case. Travel 60 miles an hour if you wish and light a cigarette withiout removing your vision from the road for an instant, or both hands from the wheel. All it takes is a touch, a puff. . . and you're smoking. . . SAFELY! The Magic Case is INDISPENSIBLE to car drivers.

I'm still trying to figure out the sequence of events here, involving clicks, puffs, lighted cigarettes and steering wheels, not to mention the potential danger of driving an incredible 60 miles per hour (the origin of the dusty phrase, "going like sixty").  But if you dropped this sucker while it was incendiary, might it not burn a hole in your pants, if not your scrotum? If there were some papers rustling around at your feet, or - oh, say, an oily rag or two - . But this is mere conjecture. Going on and on about "smoking safely" feels like an oxymoron in itself. Open flames, that close to your face - and just what is it that fuels these flames? At what sort of Lilliputian service station would you refill this thing?  And the flint - or whatever - the sulphur - it doesn't bear thinking about.

Looking on Google images, I see hundreds of cigarette cases, and to me it's like looking at Star Trek phasers or remote controls for Doomsday. It just does not apply, it has nothing to do with me. So they all look exotic and deadly. Do some of them automatically ignite your cigarette before it even touches your lips? I have no idea. It's possible, I guess. The world of smoking repulses me more than I can say. But in this ad, it's a given, just something everybody does, and having your cigarette lighted for you is seen as the ultimate in convenience.

It would have changed so much. Now, Voyager would have been ruined, because Paul Henreid wouldn't have done that business with lighting the two cigarettes and giving one to Bette Davis. Ernie Kovacs might have survived, however, if they had made a Magic Case for cigars. He was barrelling along a tortuous, unfamiliar road at midnight, in torrential rain, in a defective and unfamiliar car, when he decided that now might be a nice time to enjoy a cigar. He could light cigars with one hand, cleverly igniting the match with his thumbnail, but in this case he took his hand off the wheel at exactly the wrong time and ended up in twisted, smoking wreckage. 

He never would have used one of these anyway because they are so goddamn stupid. And I can't find anything more about them anywhere, so probably they didn't even catch on. 

Big Chicken: THE MOVIE!

Everybody's talkin' 'bout the viral sensation of the week, the Brahma Chicken! Now it turns out there's more than one of them. (Actually, a whole breed.) They're fluffy, they're enormous (as much as 14 pounds, though turkeys are a hell of a lot heavier), they have legs like those Clydesdales in the Budweiser ads, but under the fluff are spurs that are something like four inches long. These two roosters had better be on speaking terms (or clucking terms, or whatever).

I'm still getting some mileage out of the last chicken:

The above video made a nice gif, in which one of the roosters does a nice turn as if to say, hey, take a look. I'M a big chicken, too.

Cars with teeth

Cars with teeth.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tesla's folly: or, the day the ship disappeared

These photos (or this photo - the top one is a blowup of the circled figure in the bottom one) go around and around on the internet, and keep appearing on those Top-Ten-Incredible-Time-Travel-Photos-That-Will-Absolutely-Blow-Your-Mind type of things. They pop up on Facebook all the time, and even on YouTube, where Top Ten lists have taken over and spread like a cancer.

This one has been around for a while. It certainly does look odd. This is a group of people - spectators, it looks like, but of what I don't know. Something that's about to happen. They're all sitting on the side of a mountain, and way off to the side is this guy. He really doesn't look like the rest of them, with his board shorts, sloppy tshirt and shaggy hair. In fact, he has been nicknamed Surfer Dude. Historians place this photo around 1917, fully a hundred years ago.

Could be photoshopping, in which case it's awfully well done. But consider this:

This guy has been called Hipster Dude, and like Surfer Dude he sure does seem out of place. The photo is from the 1940s, and everybody has hats on. But this guy has shades, longer hair than anyone else, a tshirt with some sort of logo on it, and what might even be a hoodie. The camera in his hands doesn't look like the hulking things everyone else is carrying.

Somebody claims that this is another view of the guy's head, but who's to say? I can't tell from here.

And here's a gif I made from some Edwardian-era film footage. Just keep your eye on the guy in the long dark coat, sauntering along beside the wagon, bareheaded, pulling his left hand out of his pocket.  Look at the people who are walking behind him (the stiff woman all in black, the stiff couple behind her), the way they're dressed, and compare it to him. The Sauntering Dude (for that's what I call him) might be someone you'd see walking down the street today, whereas those others belong in a museum. Hatted, corsetted, and all the things you had to be back then. Sauntering Dude might even have his coat slung over his right shoulder, which would be almost unthinkably casual back then. Just going bareheaded was mighty strange. I wish I knew more about this guy, because he truly does not seem to be in the right time or place.

I have to admit that some of these things "proving" time travel don't hold up very well. This guy looks like Nic Cage, but when you think about it, probably a lot of people do. There are those who make a living as lookalikes. That Obama guy - who must be out of work by now - looked more like Obama than Obama. Doppelgangers aren't really such a rare thing.

Here, look at this guy, whatever-his-name-is. Pretty close match.

And here we have Ellen DeGeneres and Henry David Thoreau.

I've seen a number of these things where someone is holding a "cell phone" back in 1939 or something - and it's true, there is something odd going on, but since when were there cell phone towers then? So even if the person DID have a cell. . . or did their phone somehow mysteriously receive signals from the future? This is just getting too mixed up, somehow.

Yes, I guess this DOES look sort of like John Travolta, but so what?

I like this ad, don't know when or where it was placed, and most of all I wonder who answered it, and what happened. The "after we get back" is optimistic, I think. I always thought that about moon landings, too. It is nothing short of a miracle that the astronauts never got stranded up there. (Bill tells me they were all given a cyanide capsule "in case").

This doesn't prove anything. About anything.  I don't know if this is from the Zapruder film or what, but there's a big red arrow pointing to "someone". Maybe, like Woody Allen's Zelig, it's somebody who just keeps a-poppin' up everywhere. 

This sort of thing is just silly. Rembrandt was into iphones? I think the internet is reaching here.

What really got me going on this subject was a little story that made my stomach drop, for some reason. During World War II, the U. S. Navy was experimenting with cloaking ships so that they would not appear on enemy radar - rendering them, in a sense, invisible. The Philadelphia Experiment has been much written-about and generally discredited as a hoax or science fiction, but. . . but. It's a story that will never quite go away.

This story claims the experiment was successful and that the ship became invisible, then - bizarrely - showed up in a location hundreds of miles away before disappearing again and reappearing. During this ghost-ship phase, the vessel had a sort of form, but not a solid one, and the men were terrified to find they could walk through walls. When the ship re-materialized in its original location, all the men had gone completely mad. Some of them were literally fused together with the walls they were walking through. Is my hair standing on end yet?

So what did they do to cause all this havoc? They wrapped the ship in enormous Tesla coils that generated so much concentrated electricity that it literally blew the vessel into another dimension. But that's not the kicker. The ship actually went back in time for a while - some say ten minutes, some say ten seconds. It's as if all this Tesla demonic magic fucked around with the space-time continuum, and the thing is, yes, it IS possible: time doesn't just flow in one direction, and space and time are the same thing anyway. Go ask Einstein.

So you have this ghostly freighter, like something out of Kurt Weill's Pirate Jenny, and men getting fused with steel and concrete and going mad and being put in institutions, and ships disappearing and reappearing in a too-successful attempt at a cloaking device, a la Star Trek.

I don't know.

There's more to the icky, squicky feeling I get when I enter this arcane subject. Back when I was researching Harold Lloyd, about a million years ago, I found a very odd web site called Psychic Bridging. It had a lot of weird stuff in it, including a claim that disembodied spirits can get trapped in cell phones and other electronic devices (first I'd heard of that, though I do wonder why no one has thought of it before). But then it mentioned - Harold Lloyd. What I was able to piece together was that he was doing some sort of experimental work for the government during the 1940s, and it was all about time travel, something he (with his endless boyish curiosity) would probably be fascinated with. It was a kind of remote viewing thing called psychic bridging, in which you're the ultimate armchair adventurer, sitting in the present day viewing actual events from the past. But something went terribly wrong. In the words of the blogger, a man named Paul Simon, "Harold Lloyd was hospitalized after becoming self-detached during filming in 1943."

Self-detached. Is that kind of like Peter Pan losing his shadow and having it sewn back on again? Harold Lloyd DID make a movie in the early '40s, his last, and it wasn't very successful. But did he blow his mental circuits doing secret government work, or what? I don't know why it is, but I would not be the least bit surprised.

But the really weird thing is - though I did find one YouTube video made by this Paul Simon, at a certain point the whole thing disappeared. The web site was gone, along with the video. Nobody seems to know what psychic bridging is, or if it even exists. Another disappearing act?

I don't want to think about time travel too much because, though I know it is theoretically possible, it's too full of paradoxes for me to wrap my brain around. What if I went back in time, met my younger self, and killed her? Or - even - killed my parents. See, I don't know how that would work. I would hate to meet any version of myself from the past, and I don't know how that would go anyway - would I just suddenly appear in the living room, or would I be disembodied, just sort of floating around (speaking of invisible) taking notes? Would I recognize my older self and start screaming? For I think it would be infinitely more freaky for your young self to suddenly encounter your old self.

If I took my phone with me, could I take video? Or not? Could I bring it back, or would it disappear? Would I disappear?

I think there are bubbles in time, distortions, maybe even ripples, places where it overlaps, and things that happen over and over again, because it's a mystery. Every once in a while something absolutely freakish comes about, and we run from it, so far and so fast that it's quickly debunked and denied as just too terrifying to be true.

I think about the afterlife sometimes, if there is one, and I hope there isn't because if there is the kind of conventional heaven and hell I grew up with, then I will surely go to hell for all eternity. I know it sounds stupid, but I really do fear it now as I get closer to my own end. There are lots of things I am MORE afraid of, escalating Trumpism, nuclear war, climate change (but don't get me started on THAT or I will lose the few loyal followers I have). Finally, on the subject of time travel I remain open, but not entirely. I like skepticism and think it's healthy, but at the same time, a mind is a terrible thing to close.

My completely rational scientist husband once told me that time travel is theoretically possible, and he said it in a casual oh, yeah way that kind of shook me up. He does not even see it as an odd idea, or beyond the realm of possibility. But I think it can mess you up big-time. The guys on that ship, you know, and Harold Lloyd. . .

This is usually about where I get off.