Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nouveau Blingee

So this is what I've been working on, with Blingees. I was  getting a little tired of the sparkles and dancing hearts, and started experimenting with backgrounds on black-and-white photos (of Harold, naturally!). I'm finding out that less is more, and you should leave your foreground figures strictly alone. Thus they stand out rather alarmingly against the pulsating, flashing backgrounds. You could, if you wanted to, just use one type of background, maybe that swirling grey. I see now that it kind of dances up and down, when it's properly supposed to rise like smoke. The thing is, the more "bling" you add, the slower and jerkier the animation. Took me a while to find that out. I don't have Blingee 2, either, because you have to do something to your computer, and they want all sorts of personal info from you that I won't give. The top picture I'm not sure of - might be The Cat's Paw or Welcome Danger, because there's something Chinese about the whole thing, plus there's a dead body on the floor. The bottom one is, of course, my beloved Professor Beware, which I will probably never get to see because it is Lost. In all the stills, and there are hundreds of them, among the best of any of his movies, he looks adorable, with this stunned, panic-stricken look on his face that only Harold Lloyd can do.

The incredible genius of Yo Yo Ma

Every once in a while a piece of music pops into my head unbidden, from who knows where. We had a record of this piece played by Rostropovich, way back when, and listened the grooves off it. It's a gorgeous and amusing tone poem by Richard Strauss based on the adventures of Don Quixote, the Knight of the Woeful Countenance, and his sidekick Sancho Panza (I nearly said Pancho, but that's the Cisco Kid). This is YouTubed in six parts, but still worth hunting down and piecing together. This is my favorite of many favorite parts, the middle section, shimmering and shining with idealism like The Impossible Dream (and I must look up the best version of that one, sung by Richard Kiley). I always weep and bawl while listening to this, but then it seems I weep and bawl all the time now. Harold-itis. I just get the blues - I know I want this too badly. I can't see how anyone will get it, and I've put so many years in. The unreachable star?

The bunny from hell: an Easter tradition

At this time of year, you start seeing pictures of Easter bunnies so horrific, they make tawdry and terrifying Santas look downright festive.

It's hard for me to believe that this bunny suit was ever designed to be anything but horrible and frightening. This little girl has unusual composure while being forced to sit on the creature's lap. Most of the kids pictured here are screaming for their lives.

This is a good example of the time-honored custom of forcing small children to sit on the lap of, not just a total stranger (and haven't all kids been taught not to talk to strangers? How about sitting on their sweaty, motheaten knee?), but a hideous mythical creature they used to think was cute, fluffy and benevolent. Nothing  good could come from this pointy-eared bastard.

This is the Easter Cat. At least it looks like one. Whoever made the bunny suit kind of went wide of accuracy. The lifeless eyes and sagging body are already causing this little girl to whimper. She probably can't wait to get out of there.

I don't like the posture, here. I don't like way the bunny leans in with that vulpine leer. I don't like the fact that its head, which is supposed to be fluffy, seems to be carved out of  solid wood. I also don't like the fact that it looks as if the mouth opens and shuts.

This is a bad bunny, just bad. The little girl has mustered a smile, but is waiting to flee as soon as he gets his wretched paws off her. Dye this costume red, and it would make a pretty good Satan.

There's a web site called Cats that Look Like Hitler, but here I am proposing a web site called Easter Bunnies from the Third Reich. The large, black-rimmed holes with human eyes staring out of them are particularly menacing, and the moustache. . . that IS a moustache, isn't it? And why are the ears at right angles to the head? This isn't even a real costume, as the guy is slouching around in a cardigan and slacks, with only a hideous head and fur mitts to complete the ensemble. How Goebbels would have loved it.

I call this one the Abilify Bunny. His antidepressant has stopped working and he doesn't have the energy to go to his doctor. One of those little clouds is following him around, like in those ads.

This one I call the WTF??? Bunny. What's the deal with the face? Why is it jutting out of the guy's head? What is that thing in his hand? Is it a carrot or a Subway sandwich? You have to wonder who designs and sews these things. It looks like they may have chopped the head off a big plastic display bunny and welded it on.

 I call this the Action Shot. Did you think you were getting away from me, Little Girl? Think again! NO ONE escapes the Easter Bunny from Hell! You can run, but you can't hide!

Space alien bunny. Beam me up. Quick.

S'gonna be Easter

Ain’t here yet, but
S’gonna be Easter,
That season of vinegar,
Of Paas egg kits

Now full of things like
Glitter glue and beads and
Twirly tops, whatever they are and
Foil things and
Punchout things

But when Ah was liddle it was jest aiggs
Jes’ hardboiled aigs on the kitchen tay-ble
With my brother in his worst shirt
And me in one of his worst shirts
Because I always dressed like him anyway
My mother wouldn’t spend the money
And didn’t notice

Ya dip the aig in, see, like
This sort of, and it comes out
All bright and sparkly and
Half this color and half that color and

Vinegar water with color in goes all over the table.
The thing with the most dyee of all is
Your fingertips, which are kinda like rainbows
Some so dy-eed they’re black.

No one wants to eat these aiggs, so fiddled and dipped and dried
Except Grandpa, who has one for breakfast
But everyone cried because he had to break the shell
And the smell of sulphur was really something awful.

Aigs, aigs, these are Easter egges,
Representing the tomb of Christ, the stone rolled away
The Resurrection of hatching
A chicken into a chick
And dipped fingers
And childhood returned, and returned, and returned

Once again.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rob Ford Sings "Ford Nation!"

Tell Tale Tit (your tongue shall be slit)

This was one of those accidental finds. For some reason a line from a nursery rhyme popped into my head - no, wait, it was something I read on Facebook about an author who wrote about nursery rhymes! Then I remembered an odd little Mother Goose book I had as a kid, with a bizarre rhyme in it about "chop-a-nose day". I remember my brother and I making terrible fun of it, but no one else believed such a rhyme even existed. Then. . .

This is the grand day of the Internet, that most splendid of times, when information is forever tickling your fingertips. All you have to do is grab. I'm still finding out what "chop-a-nose day" is, and I suspect it's a corruption or mispronunciation of something else. Until then. . . these are excerpts from the Gutenberg version (so it's OK to reproduce them) of a gorgeous little book by Kate Greenaway, who is responsible for these exquisite drawings. They would appear to be from the Edwardian era. 

I have excluded Little Miss Muffet, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, and all the others we already know about, leaving only the oddball ones. Many of them refer to social status in some way (not unlike the pop songs I wrote about recently), with beggars and kings appearing in the same verse. The rhythms here are irresistible, and if they haven't already been set to music, music just bursts out of them. One can hear these as skipping rhymes, or hopscotching, or perhaps even clapping. "The cat ran up the plum tree" is obviously meant to be chanted while bouncing a fat baby on your knee.

And how far back do these go? No doubt, like folk songs, they evolved over centuries. Ring Around a Rosy, which I didn't include here, is apparently medieval and was originally a chant to ward off the plague.

Hark! hark! the dogs bark,
The beggars are coming to town;
Some in rags and some in tags,
And some in a silken gown.
Some gave them white bread,
And some gave them brown,
And some gave them a good horse-whip, 
And sent them out of the town.

Diddlty, diddlty, dumpty,
The cat ran up the plum tree,
Give her a plum, and down she’ll come,
Diddlty, diddlty, dumpty.

We’re all jolly boys, and we're coming with a noise,
Our stockings shall be made
Of the finest silk,
And our tails shall trail the ground.

Elsie Marley has grown so fine,
She won’t get up to serve the swine;
But lies in bed till eight or nine,
And surely she does take her time.

There was a little boy and a little girl
Lived in an alley;
Says the little boy to the little girl,
“Shall I, oh, shall I?”
Says the little girl to the little boy,
“What shall we do?” 
Says the little boy to the little girl, 
“I will kiss you!”


Tell Tale Tit,
Your tongue shall be slit;
And all the dogs in the town
Shall have a little bit.

A dillar, a dollar,
A ten o’clock scholar;
What makes you come so soon?
You used to come at ten o’clock, 
But now you come at noon!

Rock-a-bye baby,
Thy cradle is green;
Father’s a nobleman,
Mother’s a queen.
And Betty’s a lady,
And wears a gold ring;
And Johnny’s a drummer,
And drums for the king.

See-Saw-Jack in the hedge,
Which is the way to London Bridge?

Little lad, little lad,
Where wast thou born?
Far off in Lancashire,
Under a thorn;
Where they sup sour milk
From a ram’s horn.

As I was going up Pippin Hill,
Pippin Hill was dirty;
There I met a sweet pretty lass,
And she dropped me a curtsey.

My mother, and your mother,
Went over the way;
Said my mother, to your mother,
“It’s chop-a-nose day.”

NEWS FLASH: yes, I did find some information about chop-a-nose day. According to the rhyme below, it's a sort of game you play wherein you pretend to chop off a child's nose.

Come to think of it, though we never called it chop-nose or chop-a-nose, my Dad used to pretend to pull off my nose, then stick his thumb through his fingers and say, "I've got your nose." Very funny.

Margery Mutton-Pie and Johnny Bo-Peep

Margery Mutton-pie and Johnny Bopeep,
They met together in Gracechurch-Street;
In and out, in and out, over the way,
Oh! says Johnny, 'tis chop-nose day.

This rhyme is very similar to My Mother and Your Mother, and I believe you play it the same way:

You play it with a child by reciting the rhyme while gently sliding your hand down his/her face. When you get to the last line, you hold the child's nose between your thumb and forefinger, with your other hand you pretend to "chop off" the nose! 

Below is a link to a long scholarly article about the socio-political significance of nose amputation. It just goes on and on. Not surprisingly, it was a particularly painful and vicious, not to mention humiliating punishment for various infractions, including adultery. It would be hard to hide the horrible wound from the world without going about constantly veiled, or not going about at all. I won't dwell on all this, because I can't, but I do wonder if this harmless child's game is an echo of something really horrendous. Well, we still have Ring Around a Rosy, its origins shrouded in the time of the Black Death, with thousands of bodies stacked up and ready to be burned or buried in mass graves. So could chop-a-nose day be a lot more literal than it first appears?

Chop-a-nose day


Ryan: Taekwondo Blingee!

Ryan earns his Yellow Belt in Taekwondo! YAAAYYYY!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ryan: Taekwondo Master!

My first review!

Stunning Star Shines - Great Book, April 12, 2014

By David (SUMAS, WA, United States)

This review is from: The Glass Character (Paperback)

I couldn't resist turning page after page when I started reading this novel. It is as fast-paced, frenetic, frantic, as the jumpy quick movements of silent film action. To say this book captures the spirit of the silent film era, of the flashing, double-dealing, over handed and underhanded Hollywood of the 1920s and onward, is a disservice. The reader is drawn right in, involved totally with the heroine of the story. The story is about her, but it is also a thorough portrait of the great film Comedian, Harold Lloyd. He comes to life in these pages, a three dimensional fully rounded fictional character. The good, the bad, the surprising, the ugly. He is totally human and his motives and circumstances are clear.

I've read Gunning's two earlier novels, Better than Life, and Mallory. The Glass Character is far more ambitious in its depth and breadth. It is longer, more expansive than the early works. Gunning has presented her master piece, in this novel. She fully comes of age as a serious, yet entertaining writer, who displays a lovely choice of words and a often refreshing turns of phrase.

If you haven't read Gunning yet, start. If her latest novel doesn't win, or at least get nominated for the top literary prizes, there is no justice. Don't miss an engrossing, absorbing read. By the way, you'll definitely want to hit YouTube to find full length Lloyd films, outtakes, and documentaries. Don't leave yourself hanging from the clock hand, get the silent era spirit and enjoy the book!