Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Kirk and Spock: the infamous elevator scene

My mashup/hoedown of the infamous elevator scene from the original Star Trek series (is there any other - ?), which some fans feel is the closest Kirk and Spock ever come to a love scene, or, at very least, a bromance. Since this is made up of tiny gif fragments of a second or two, with various sections sped up, slowed down or reversed (and frames messed with, in some cases), the action isn't 100% smooth, but I'm pretty happy with it. That moment when Kirk and Spock stand poised as if for a kiss is pretty powerful, and the whole thing DOES look sort of homoerotic. 

This thing has so many megabytes or kilobops or whatever-they-are that smoke is coming out of my computer. So, here.

NOTE. If this thing runs slow, let it run through a whole cycle and it should speed up. If it runs at all.

Monday, February 19, 2018

"Some nut with a gun": mass shootings as everyday reality

When will the insanity end? Anarchy, a blood-bath? But then today I had a sort of silly but not-so-silly thought pop into my head. Maybe SOMETHING had to pop into my head to keep me out of this depression that wants to roll over and kill me. Remember the "Y2K virus/millennium bug" that was supposed to bring the world to a screechng halt? Nothing happened, I mean nothing. We all had a happy new year. In Canada, we had the ludicrous notion that taking away pennies would bring the economy crashing down. Nothing happened except greater convenience for consumers and commerce. 

My point, if I do have a point, or maybe I'm just treading mud here, is that "the worst" often does not happen. We and they fear that if the country cracks down on guns, there will be World War III - total anarchy - a bloodbath. There might not be. Australia did it very successfully, and after tightening gun laws, mass shootings STOPPED. It is within the realm of human capability to do this. Swaggering idiots, dinosaurs without a brain in their head, are really very cowardly people. They'd be scared back into their caves.

Or not? So how is it going right now? Is it "OK" to just hunker down and wait for the next disaster because we/they fear repercussions from the Second Amendment rabid dogs? Change is possible. Change is needed. Change is likely, with courage and the ability to take decisive action for the good of the people. It can happen.


Objections jump up, suddenly and loudly; "YES, BUT. . . ", followed by a lot of yammering about WHY this is all impossible. So it's OK for kids to be randomly slaughtered, OK to say, hey, it's just a nut with a gun, a nut with a gun, a nut with a gun. . . ? Change is possible. Change is life. Change is inevitable. Change is how a people move forward in the face of fear and intimidation. It's NOT impossible.


Do not ask me to go in there and do it all myself, to fix the problem, to shut up unless I have a way to implement everything I am saying. I am saying what I am saying, trying to be heard. I am SICK AND TIRED of harrowing scenes and bloodbaths that are so much a way of life that we ignore them, brush them off as "normal". I could say "I don't know what the answer is", but the truth is, I DO know what the answer is. The only thing lacking is the courage to make it happen.


(Post-script. I haven't written about "heavy issues" for quite a long time. I'm not sure why, but it may have something to do with my mental health. I can't exactly walk a path full of sinkholes without peril.

I haven't written extensively about my bipolar disorder because I know that's perilous, too (though why I worry about "losing readers" is anybody's guess). But today I saw the meme, or whatever-it-is (I am not even sure what a meme is, any more than I am sure about an app, which means my contribution to the internet will soon come to a close). It shook something loose, and I began to write.

This piece, what turned out to be an essay, was just a comment in response to a Facebook post. I know what I write may seem insane or unconnected to what is going on in the States. My point is: making changes don't necessarily bring the world crashing down. The Second Amendment fanatics are cowards, bullies who swagger and insist that each and every bloodbath is caused by "some nut with a gun". I don't know how long that can go on, but it does seem like forever sometimes. Trump will never do anything because he is a complete bozo and does not know what he is doing. 

But someone has to do something to disarm these people so that you can't casually buy a gun at the corner store with a ludicrous, non-existent "background check". As someone with bipolar disorder, I am tired of the "nut with the gun", "psycho", "nut-bar", "whack job" mentality that not only removes responsibility for gun violence from "normal" people (i. e. the Second Amendment crowd who hang Confederate flags outside their homes), but dismisses mental illness itself as less than human, something that needs to be confined in some societal human zoo to protect society from rampant, lethal violence.

And this as a time when there is a lot of talk about "hey, let's try to reduce the stigma around mental illness! Aren't we swell to try to do that? But let's not hope for too much. These are nut bars, after all. Whack jobs." That is what I see. I have not edited this at all. It is an outpouring, and I assume it will garner my usual 17 views (not that I care) because in spite of all my best efforts I am perpetually obscure, and will remain that way. Not to mention a certified "nut bar" (but, at least, without a gun).

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Horse with rubber chicken

I don't know why it is, but some horses love to thrash on certain toys - particularly toys that squeak. I don't know what instinctive brain wiring causes them to do this - or maybe it's just fun. I've seen them swing around stuffed animals in a similar manner. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

VERY weird meow!

I don't know what it is with this cat. It's the weirdest-sounding meow I've ever heard. No information is provided. My hope is that there isn't something wrong, that the cat hasn't had a stroke or something. Meows vary enormously, so maybe this cat is merely old or has strange vocal cords.

My cat Bentley barely meows at all, and when he does, it's soft and gentlemanly. The exception is when he has to go somewhere in his carrying case. He knows nothing good will come of this. When we boarded him for ten days so we could go to Hawaii, we thought things would go smoothly because we boarded him at the same place several years ago, and he seemed OK. Maybe he remembered having a good experience.

Instead, he meowed piteously in the car all the way to the place, which is something like a luxurious cat hotel. He would have his own room, his own window, individual play time/attention each day. But Bentley didn't do well at the cat hotel, and even lost weight. When he got home, he sat there drinking water for five minutes. We will never leave him like that again - surely it's easier on him to stay in the house and have my daughter-in-law check in on him and feed him and clean his box. He'd still be lonely, but not so devastated. 


It's true that a pet can tie you down, but we don't have a lot of funds for travel anyway. People say cats are aloof, that they offer no companionship, but Bentley greets us at the door whenever we have been out, sits in my office chair, curls up on my lap (though he only "makes biscuits" on Bill's lap, for some reason), and loafs around on my bed. He never wants to be far from us. We never planned to have a cat - my little lovebird Paco died after I had had her for only a few weeks - and Bentley was a grown-up cat, not the kitten everyone advised us to adopt. But Bentley had his needs, and we had ours, and they somehow meshed. Now we can't imagine our lives without him.

Horse heaven: Friesian runs free

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cormorants diving in LaFarge Lake

Increasingly, I find my peace, if I find any, walking around lakes. Now that I am aware of birds, it's amazing what that bird's-eye view can reveal. For example: there may have been cormorants in LaFarge Lake before, but we never saw them. Cormorants aren't fresh-water birds for the most part; they hang around the coast, probably because the fishing there is easy. But LaFarge is stocked with fish for sport, and right now those fish would probably be right-sized for the cormorant's diving.

Another thing they do - and this almost freaks people out, it looks so strange - is perch on a rock and stretch out their enormous wings and wave them gently, as if drying them. I hope to get a better video than the one below, taken at a great distance, but that one at least gives you an idea.

Their wings look batlike and a little frightening. There is something of the pelican about the cormorant, something of the heron and something of the seagull, and yet what they remind me of the most is the dodo bird.

Photographing these marvels is tricky, because without any warning at all they disappear into a straight-down dive, coming up somewhere quite else. They stay down an amazingly long time. Lately we've been treated to various different deep-lake divers, most notably the hooded merganser (and were THEY there all along, for years and years, and we never saw them?). In full hoodedness, the male's heads look like small china dinner plates, very white and flat.

I know this is only the beginning of my birded-ness, and I find myself literally running after them with my camera like some demented old-lady birder crashing through the underbrush. Even the back yard is exciting. It's different every day, and we've had some spectacular moments - a couple of months ago I was swarmed with blackbirds wanting to eat out of my hand, and a year or so ago when everything was iced over, all the birds congregated on the open water on Burnaby Lake. I've never seen so many different kinds of birds in one place, at one time.

Making biscuits

Monday, February 12, 2018

DAM! Why did I throw away my trolls?


For those who have had even a passing connection to the original "Dam things" that swept the toy field in 1964, this is addictive stuff. When I googled Dam trolls, this is what I got, and I was amazed to find you can still buy these things for a fairly modest price.

That is. . . you can buy the clothes. The above sumptous outfits, created by an Etsy vendor called Lucretia's Lair (link posted above), blew me away: they were the nicest doll clothes I've ever seen, even with the bizarre squatty proportions of a troll doll.

Having fiddled around with dollmaking for years, I've tried to make troll clothes myself, with varying degrees of success. The photos I've posted here are the result of my current efforts. The things have the weirdest body proportions of any doll, with no waist, hardly any chest, and a prominent pot belly. 

Why I've taken another crack at all this mystifies me. It's trolls again, and I don't know why.

Am I trying to recapture a childhood passion, or what? From the first troll I bought in 1964, a "Dam thing" with the famous authenticating DAM engraving on the back, I had something that far surpassed a mere doll (and I hated dolls back then, never played with them). There was magic in it. More than one girl friend "played trolls" with me, though we never played Barbies and were disdainful of them. Most of us had a fair collection, from Dam things to Wishniks to cheap knockoffs with straight, shiny orange or black hair. The main difference among trolls was hair colour, except that. . . they had. . .  personalities.

They were alive.

I gave mine names. I remember a set of twins named Trollina and Trolletta. One was called Fundevogel, another one Fundindelve. I'm not sure where I got those names, and I am sure I didn't know what they meant. In fact I just looked them up now and found out Fundevogel is the title of a Grimm's fairy tale, and Fundindelve is a place name in old English witchery.

One was named Grundoon, after an obscure character in Pogo (a baby woodchuck that looked exactly like a human), his nickname being Grunny. I had a silly verse I said at breakfast:

"Toast and honey
Warm and runny,
Give it to Grunny!"

One was named Babbine, though I don't know why. These trolls did something to me.

A friend who lived far away had a black-haired troll named Venus La Mer - this one had the thick lavish lambs'-wool hair the original Dam trolls had, and it was spectacular. I had a grey-haired troll named Ludwig (loosely based on Beethoven, whom I loved, more in person than in music). They wrote love letters to each other. In a final act of sacrifice, my friend mailed Venus to me, and the two were married.

After that, I lost interest.

I lost interest even when my parents bought me an enormous authentic Dam troll, about ten inches high, complete with a Scandinavian-looking wardrobe. I named her Glumdalklitch after a character in Gulliver's Travels - the movie version, not the book, which I had never read. What I remember about her is her smell - a sweet, light vanilla scent. The other trolls smelled like damp wool and vinyl.

What happened to my collection? I must have gotten rid of it, though it would be worth a small fortune now. I just outgrew it, or something. I don't know. No more playing troll games, no more weddings or impressive literary references. I scream to think of it now. Then, back in the '90s, probably when they were experiencing a modest uptick in popularity, I bought a single troll and tacked it to my bulletin board by its hair. It stayed up there until I moved office, then got thrown into a box.

I still have it. It's a sad little thing, so far from a Dam troll that it's a wonder anyone bought them at all. There were a few events in between: I received a gorgeous basket of jams and candles and other Christmas goodies that had two trolls in it, gaily decked out in curly-toed shoes and striped scarves. They were relegated to the garage, and then during one of my periodic purges, I THREW ONE OUT. Just one. I kept the other one. This is sort of like a mother putting one twin up for adoption. Those Christmas trolls are now collector's items because they were only made for that one year. I feel a weird longing for it now, a longing I've never felt for any other childhood object.

As a matter of fact, finding any sort of troll at that point was well-nigh impossible. In one of their weird periodic disappearances, they vanished back into the Scandinavian twilight.

Life rolled on, and once again I forgot all about the subject - until I was in the dollar store one day, and saw. . . trolls, in plastic bags, for only $4.50! They were bland-looking and had fake jewels in their belly buttons, but I just had to have them. I immediately bought several, but they kind of got stashed after a while. Two or three years went by, trolls disappeared again - do these things have some sort of power to materialize and dematerialize? Apparently so, for last week, while looking for something else, in that same dollar store, I stumbled on four or five jumbled-up boxes full of trolls.

They're back.

I now have eight trolls. That doesn't sound like very many, but I have another one coming in the mail. This one is closer to authentic, at least, unlike the little lumpkins that sit on my desk (looking so alike that they resemble a family of Mormons on a picnic). I found it on eBay, priced in Canadian dollars. And there was no shipping and handling! I could be hip-deep in trolls by now without shipping and handling, which is often double the price of the troll.

I'd like a baby troll, preferably diapered and crawling, and an oversized troll, though of course not the size of Glumdalklitch. (There was only one Glumdalklitch.) I don't want anything two-headed and ugly. An original DAM would be nice, but I don't think I'll find one in my price range. Most of them have been refurbished, as the hair (natural lamb's wool) has a tendency to rot away after a while. New hair probably costs more than the troll.

The thing that's compulsive about collecting is the seeking, finding, ordering and waiting. The box opening is a huge thrill. After that, it can be a little disappointing. And then it's on to the next acquisition. The next troll is always going to be better, somehow. And then the next.

UPDATE. I got my new troll in the mail, and she is wonderful. She has a much more expressive face than my dollar-store clones (not that I don't love them!). So now I'm thinking about. . . see, Etsy has a special, three for one, and they're those oversized Dam trolls like I remember! A girl has to have a hobby, right? And hobbies cost money, don't they? 

I now have nine trolls.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Full-tilt gallop

This video is stunning, not just because the horse is a honeyed streak across the field, but because its rider, without the benefit of bridle or saddle or stirrups, sits the horse like a centaur: compensating so perfectly for the heaving hindquarters that she is completely level and all forward motion. She slows him down by some invisible signal, perhaps subtle pressure of the legs. Natural horsemanship is beginning to overtake the awful hardware horses had to wear to "train" them. The best horsemen/women are minimalists, as this video demonstrates.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Well-wishes from the horse's mouth

Was stunned to hear an old and dear friend had suffered a stroke. Since she was one of the people who introduced me to horses, I had to come up with something uniquely equine. This just brought it home to me, as I came home from my 64th birthday celebration: we aren't forever. Our loved ones are just as temporary. 

Duck divers: hooded mergansers in Como Lake

Stunning wildlife videos just fall into my lap these days, and it's mid-winter! I've only ever seen these hooded mergansers as white blobs in the distance, too far away to film. Now for some reason they are swimming much closer to shore. We also see cormorants, sea birds which you almost never see in freshwater lakes, though the fact this lake is stocked with fish might have something to do with it. 

Cannery Row: the hour of the pearl

A short excerpt from a book I return to again and again for spiritual renewal. It's not a book so much as an old friend I visit, and it does not disappoint.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The CanLit dumpster fire: a most uncivil war


I have a few things to say here. And I'm sorry if I called Joseph Boyden a bad name (but not really), and sorry I blew a raspberry at Jonathan Kay. But not really.

I try to stay out of this fracas, because I'm not really IN it, except that I care. I care that people's feelings and life's work are being stepped on by writers who are considered "la creme de la creme" by everyone, especially the media. Why? Because they sell copies,that's why, enough copies to make the literary Who's Who that the media never stop yammering about. Anybody who's anybody is in it. Everyone else is jealous, see? That's why they make such a fuss over things. Besides, the literati are the only ones who can write anyway.

Such was, and is, the tweeting and twatting in the nasty little world of Canadian literature, which has become the realm of bad feeling and poison darts.

And I mention that the big publishers are American. Well, they ARE, so the big publishers better get over it. You're not Canadian, you don't reflect anything but moving copies and winning Gillers, but the small presses, struggling along, barely able to make it, are. Every ten years or so a "marginalized" writer from a "small independent press" is tossed a Giller nomination, and the signatories of the UBC Accountable open letter say something like, "See? We're all equal here. You're almost as worthy to sit at the same table as we are." It's considered by the press to be a minor miracle, and such lucky writers are asked, "How in God's name did you manage to do that?"

Just to explain, the bad name I called Joseph Boyden doesn't reflect my usual language, but it DOES reflect the language of people who lack cultural sensitivity. And how about people who pretend to be something they're not, winning literary prizes galore in the process? Becoming famous for something you actually aren't. Does the name Grey Owl mean anything to you? How about Iron Eyes Cody? 

(From Wikipedia) Iron Eyes Cody (born Espera Oscar de Corti April 3, 1904 – January 4, 1999) was an Italian-American actor. He portrayed Native Americans in Hollywood films. He also played a Native American shedding a tear about litter in one of the country's most well-known television public service announcements, "Keep America Beautiful". In 1996, Cody's half-sister said that he was of Italian ancestry, but he denied it.

A ball in the Lark!

There is something very strange about this video, because it's neither black-and-white nor colour: it's pink! Washed-out pink, almost pinkish-grey, ashes-of-roses pink. I suppose this is the effect of ageing, film stock changing colour as it slowly degenerates.

I became re-fascinated (as opposed to re-fastened) with the Studebaker Lark when a certain jingle recently popped into my head: "You're gonna have a ball in the Lark/The '62 Lark!" This ad ran on TV when I was eight years old, and I remember it as if it were yesterday. Certain ads seem permanently recorded in my brain, along with a lot of other useless stuff.

I'm trying to find one that goes, "Plymouth's on the move, Plymouth, Plymouth, Plymouth's on the move. . . ", but so far no luck.

It interests me how this car is presented. Obviously it's a jazzed-up version of what used to be a very stodgy, dull family car. The fact that the woman who drives it is running around in a bathing suit is never explained, but the voiceover insists that it's a "very sexy car". I believe this short film was meant for dealers rather than consumers, but it's still very interesting. They're obviously supposed to give it a certain spin.

It didn't work, and Studebaker collapsed, I think the year after the "ball in the Lark" ad (video below). Up to that point, the "Studey" had been a serviceable, solid, conservative car. A safe bet. Did the Lark kill it? More likely, it was competition from the other swank sports cars of the era: the T-bird (of Beach Boys fame), the Stingray, the Porsche 911.

And yes, I had to look those up.

Though I've made some very long gifs of these ads (OH how I love to make gifs of old car ads, late at night!), I want to include the
"ball in the Lark" jingle, along with that hectic dance number, like an Archie comic on amphetamines.

BONUS GIFS:The 1957 Studebaker! For some reason, old ads that are sepia rather than black-and-white make the best gifs. There is a certain crispness to them, and an ivory tone which is quite sensuous. And these are long, about a full minute each, when the average gif is a few seconds.

To me, it already looks pretty sexy. But what do I know.