Friday, April 28, 2017

Cat rescue: big Nicky!

Treetop Cat Rescue was THE BEST TV show I ever saw, in my life, and it was only on for about 8 weeks. But we still have lots of videos of these Two Great Guys Rescuing Cats. They take wonderful videos and even better still pictures of their subjects, whom they obviously love.

Check out out. . .

Cat attacks singing card.

It's Foolish Friday, I've been busy watching dance competitions most of the week, so here's this. Kitty makes short work of a most annoying gizmo.

Kitty licks bunny!

And bunny is not too happy about it. Note the look of indignant surprise on the cat's face when the bunny pulls away: "Whatsamatter, rabbit, don't you appreciate having a free facial?"

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sad-eyed kitty of the lowlands

NEVER do this with a horse!

Oh my God - that's HAROLD LLOYD!

Yes, I know this is a teeny thing and pretty poor quality. I try to make my gifs better than this, but the only video I could find was part of a great compilation of shredded-up old films. Not only that, but my gif program kept spitting the video out, so I had to use an atrocity called MakeaGif (and by the way, don't) which turns out jerky inferior things. But it was all I had.

The story is this. Before he became the beloved Glass Character who became world-famous and gave my novel/blog its name, Harold Lloyd was just a Hollywood bit player, finding work wherever he could. He had just started putting together a few short, no-budget "knockabout" comedies with his friend Hal Roach, when they had a falling-out, probably about money. Harold "walked", and fortunately he walked straight into the Mack Sennett studio. This was incredibly early in film history, only 1915, but the Keystone Kops were already a huge hit. I tried watching some of these things, and I have to say that they are an unwatchable mess. But back then, audiences loved anything that moved.

Harold as The Preacher in Her Painted Hero

Harold was immediately hired. He was good-looking, had a way about him in front of the camera, and could play the required straight man, so they plugged him in wherever they needed him. In this case, he's a preacher who comes around to perform a wedding that never happens. We see him only for a few seconds, when he walks in and out of the frame, but there is no mistaking that it's him: the way he carries himself, the ingratiating nod and handshake,  and - why does he keep looking over his shoulder like that? Probably something is going on over there, and his actor's instincts tell him to respond to it. Or not? He was paid something like five dollars a day, not bad for a neophyte like him.

Harold Lloyd was one of those people who had success written all over him. He would succeed at anything he tried, because as mild-mannered as he seemed, he had a volcano inside him. His immense creativity took many forms, and even after the talkies put him out of work, it spread out in so many directions most people couldn't keep up. His sheer intensity was a little bit frightening. Like Chaplin and Keaton, his childhood had been gruelling, sometimes humiliating, as his father continually failed in his ventures and dragged the family from small town to small town.

This kind of misery is the final ingredient that makes a brilliant man like Harold Lloyd into a genius. It tempers the steel, so to speak. The need to succeed, to excel, to surpass everyone else becomes overwhelming, imperative. It's also what tugs at us so powerfully. Chaplin had it, and Keaton, that sense of a deep unhealed hurt. Lloyd's comedy carried an unstated question: "Has this ever happened to you?" And we know the answer to that one. His was the comedy of awkwardness, discouragement and social humiliation, an extremely fine line to walk without making the audience become overly uncomfortable. It was only the expectation that he'd overcome all obstacles - including his own rather obvious inadequacies - that kept everyone watching.

There are only a couple of Sennett shorts on YouTube where Harold makes an appearance. I was astounded to find any at all. Court House Crooks was a fairly meaty role for him, in which he plays A YOUTH OUT OF WORK (not even given a name). It's interesting to see that even in this not-very-colorful role, the Lloyd mannerisms are beginning to evolve - the jumpiness, the flopping hair, the astonished facial expressions that convey incipient terror. Harold was 22 years old when he appeared in this movie, and already barrelling crazily towards a success that even he never dreamed of. None of it had happened yet, but in a sense, it already had. He had a date with destiny, an appointment with greatness, fulfilling all those cliches that are now (in these days of near-universal mediocrity) seldom true.

Has greatness eroded by now, so that the world can no longer produce comedic brilliance like this? The forces that brought it about - poverty, stigma, and a tremendous need to please - still exist in spades. But it's a different kind of world now. Harold's mind moved at light speed , but always with a purpose, focused on some creative endeavour. Everything moves much faster now, but with an idiotic lack of real purpose. Things move backwards more than they move forwards. Harold the staunch Republican would be absolutely horrified at the grotesque phenomenon of Donald Trump.

My solace is in being able to make bits of movies that last a few seconds, repeating over and over. I don't know whether Harold would have loved this technology or hated it. Genius is full of paradox, and perhaps he would have despised the technoverse. Either that, or he would have mastered it in seconds.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


This is me in '89

You can tell everything about a vacation spot from its postcards. Can't you? In this case, Washington State is all about Really Big Fish.

"Are you sure this isn't Vancouver?" I asked my husband as the rain bucketed down. One grows an amphibious skin after awhile in these climes, but it's still depressing on vacation. 

When it's not about Really Big Fish, Washington is about Really Big Logs, or else the men are the size of ants. Actually, this COULD be a real log. I've heard they have Really Big Trees.

I haven't written about Bigfoot yet, but I'm going to. For a while, two of the grandgirls were obsessed with him, and the whole family would watch Finding Bigfoot to gales of laughter. There are actually people who are Squatchers or Sasquologists, or whatever they call them. Bigfooters? Privately funded, I assume.

Slugs are another feature of Washington, though they're no bigger than the footlong banana-boat suckers we have around here. The first time I saw one, I wondered who had run over an anaconda. There were guts everywhere. This card reminds me a bit of the creepy artwork of Robert Crumb. It's something to do with a Gold Slug Card.

Why did I keep these?

At any rate, here we are in Washington State, in the town of LaConner, home of Tom Robbins. Did I ever look like this? I'm practically a kid, and my kids (now in their 40s) are zygotes.

The atmosphere was fishy, froggy, amphibious. Wet. Wet, wet, wet.

Since Humptulips was mentioned in Tom Robbins' Another Roadside Attraction, I wanted to see if it really existed. It wasn't much, but I just had to be there. The nicest photo, in which I'm kneeling before the Humptulips sign, is gone. I gave it away. I got hooked into a Chain Art thing, a piece of nonsense that operated kind of like a chain letter. I dutifully sent off my poem about Humptulips, with photo, and never heard from anybody. Ever. It was eating lunch alone in the school cafeteria, all over again. 

I do wonder, sometimes (no I don't - I've forgotten all about it) whatever happened to the plans for Humptulips Valley Church. Maybe I should look it up. A lot has happened since 1989. For one thing, I've gained - umm - I don't want to think how many pounds. But I think I was on the too-thin side here and probably boomeranged, or bounced. 

The second-nicest photo of me standing by the Humptulips sign. The other one was discarded like a piece of trash. If you wanted a second print of something in those days, you had to rifle through a whole pile of slippery brown negatives and hold them up to the light, going, "No. . . no. . . no. . . ", until you got sick of the whole thing and gave up. 

And I apologize for any log-disparaging remarks I made: just look at this one! Jesus Christ, how do they MAKE logs this big? It looks as if it could swallow me up.

Romance in LaConner. Both of us looking ridiculously young.

I always try to find the community papers in any new place, because they tell you what's really going on. I kept a few memorable clippings, orange with age, but God these were hard to get into any sort of shape to post. I had to scan them, then sort of cut them apart, and the typeface ended up every different size. I especially like the Police Blotter - sounds like something out of Mayberry - and the lovely birthday tribute to Granmummu. I also like the fact that the Aberdeen News is called. . . 

POST-BLOG BLISS! I found that photo of the Humptulips sign! I must have made an extra copy of it, after all. I wish I had kept the accompanying poem that was meant to fulfill my obligation for "chain art". I got absolutely nothing back, and lost the poem. BUT I STILL HAVE THIS. 

Something in the way she moves

Giant cat heads: animation

In case you missed them the first time. 

Big thighs and sexy eyes

Miss Sadist's School of Tightlacing

From the “Sheffield Independent” July 18th 1896:


Nowadays, when almost every pastime is being annexed to the use of girls and women, and when, if we fully believe the more advanced ones of the sex we are within a reasonable distance of the day when the petticoat and skirt will be abolished in favour of the knickerbocker, at least when taking exercise, the manner in which girls were trained for their after positions in life at fashionable finishing schools forty years, or rather less, ago, will, says “Hearth and Home,” surely prove interesting reading, though, perhaps, almost incredible.

Not long ago, among a number of old books, the writer came across a diary of school-girl life from which extracts have been made showing how the girls are turned out in one (the conventional) mould without regard for differences of either disposition or temperament. Nothing could be plainer than the entries of the diary itself; and in the light of modern feminine development it becomes a valuable, if a frivolous, “human document.” Let it speak for itself.

August 15, 1858. — I am fifteen years of age to-day, and I haven't a lover. Margery has two, she tells me, but then she has such a very, very tiny waist— l can easily span it— and Mary tells me, when I say my new stays pinch me, that young ladies ought not to mind how much they are pinched in, because if they intend to make a good marriage they must have a jimp, small waist. Perhaps it is Margery's waist has got her a lover, for she is not sixteen quite.”

“September 27 (same year)— At last I am at school. I have been here three days; how long they have seemed away from little Bob, mother, and Kathleen. What a wasp-waisted lot we are, all except myself and the one or two other new girls; but we have all been measured, and when Mrs. B— sends out her stays from Brighton I suppose we shall be pulled in like the rest, and be laced up till we can scarcely breathe. What the girls hate (and what I shall hate, too) is never being allowed to loosen, except for the bath on Saturdays. And then, I have never worn stays at night. 

Last night I could hear Madge T— groaning in her sleep; she said she hardly slept at all, her new stays cut her so horribly. She has been here more than two years, and Mrs. M— says she has a lovely little waist— it is only 15 inches — and that though Madge could scarcely walk or breathe sometimes, she will have a perfect figure when she leaves at Christmas. Madge told me all about poor Sarah W—, who used to faint, and whose mother fetched her away. But Mrs. M— doesn't allow it to be talked about.”

“September 30. — Margery is in disgrace. Mlle. V—  found a note she had dropped from Harry. Madame M— is very angry at the very idea of a lover, although, after all, she is always telling us girls, if we complain of our stays pinching us, or that Marie or Mademoiselle hurt us when they rub our chests to make us develop, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, that we must have good figures and small waists, so that we can make good marriages. Madge tells me that Violet S— and some of the other girls in her room— the bigger ones, of course — wear poultices very often at night to make them plump.”

“November 7. — This morning was ‘corset parade,’ as we girls call it. Madame, before we put on skirt and bodice, came round with the measurement book in her hand accompanied by Mademoiselle, tape in hand. Martha W— got into rare trouble; she had been faint in the night and obliged to loosen. She did not lace up again quite as small as she should have, hence Madame's anger. Amy T— was much commended, though she was white as death till she put on rouge, because she was only fifteen inches. How she panted and gasped while Margery and I laced her in. 

I am always a good girl, Madame says, though I don't pull myself in till I'm almost strangled, but content myself with seventeen inches — which, alas, Madame says must be sixteen by Christmas. I often laugh and say we girls are entered up like pieces of furniture, or something of that sort. Madame always reads out each entry from the book as each of us are ‘paraded.’ Mine was ‘Figure satisfactory, waist ditto; to be reduced to sixteen by December 18th; bust improved, but to be frictioned three times a week with linseed oil. Two pairs of new stays to be ordered from Madame B made extra stiff.’ Heigh-ho wee me, and I suppose I shall be a little more uncomfortable than before.”

Then a year after comes the following entry: — “How delightful to be home for good. Nurse is charmed with my figure, and says she is sure Captain W— admires it. He was watching me all across the lawn to-day while they were playing croquet. I can scarcely eat anything when laced in like I am, but she says girls don't want to eat much, and mother [says] that many women ruin their figures by eating.”