Monday, January 14, 2019

Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill

This was the #1 song in the USA December 1891.

"Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" is an American folk song first published in 1888 and attributed to Thomas Casey (words) and much later Charles Connolly (music). The song is a work song, and makes references to the construction of the American railroads in the mid-19th century. The tarriers of the title refers to Irish workers, drilling holes in rock to blast out railroad tunnels. It may mean either to tarry as in delay, or to terrier dogs which dig their quarry out of the ground.

George J. Gaskin (1863--1920) was an Irish Tenor based in the United States.

Every morning about seven o'clock
There's twenty tarriers a workin' at the rock
The boss comes along and he says, "Keep still
And come down heavy on the cast iron drill."

And drill, ye tarriers, drill
Drill, ye tarriers, drill
For it's work all day for the sugar in your tay
Down beyond the railway
And drill, ye tarriers, drill
And blast, and fire.

(Unintelligible yelling and crashing noise)

The boss was a fine man down to the ground
And he married a lady six feet 'round
She baked good bread and she baked it well
But she baked it harder than the hobs of Hell.

The foreman's name was John McCann
By God, he was a blamed mean man
Last week a premature blast went off
And a mile in the air went big Jim Goff.

And when next payday came around
Jim Goff a dollar short was found
When he asked, "What for?" came this reply
"You were docked for the time you were up in the sky."

Tarriers live on work and sweat
There ain't no tarrier got rich yet
Sleep and work, then work some more
And we'll drill right through to the devil's door.

PLEASE NOTE. I wish I could find out more about this song, especially if it's spelled "tarriers" or "terriers", which DOES after all make a big difference.

What I love most about the recording is the (I assume) sound of explosions made by the piano. Like most early recordings, the speed is variable, which is another feature I love. Some early cylinder players were literally hand-cranked throughout the recording, before windup belt drives came into being. Though it's hard to make out anything approximating words, I think this version only covers a couple of verses. The limit for a song back then, whether on a disc or a cylinder, was just under two minutes. It was not uncommon for the song to suddenly speed up in the last couple of seconds, before the wax ran out.

I have barely gotten into my deep love for old, old recordings. Anything after 1900 is "too recent", too new to qualify. I love the way someone SHOUTS the title at the beginning of these, apparently as a way of labelling a cylinder recording which might otherwise become detached from its casing. But the same thing was done with the early Berliner discs, which were usually only recorded on one side. The title was often etched into the material by hand. I have seen only one of these, an awful old thing called A Cornfield Medley, in which the n-word is used several times.

I really thought "tarrier" was a specific name, like "farrier" (someone who shoes and otherwise looks after the feet of horses). This word is still in operation in the horse world. As per usual, the Irish were looked down upon, although I am still trying to figure out why. The fact that this was at the top  of the hit parade in 1891 is interesting.

Even more intriguing (to me) is that the folk trio named The Tarriers included a young and very dishy Alan Arkin. I've always been able to get behind him. I did a previous post about a compelling song he  co-wrote with his father, about the KKK and its chilling evil sweeping across America:

"Mother, I feel a stabbing pain,
Blood pours down like summer rain."

My brother Walt used to sing that one, along with a lot of others he didn't write. It was what you did, back then. Arkin went on to greater things, but I don't know if he wrote any more songs. Richie Havens recorded it, the only surviving recording I know about.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Excited Astronomers Exclaim: "The Earth is Doomed!"

The Milky Way Is Going To Crash Into Another Galaxy Sooner Than Expected 

By James Schlarmann | January 5, 2019 | Category Space Share and enjoy! 26 Shares 13 

Far be it for me to be an alarmist, but I have to relay some important news to you about our galaxy, the Milky Way. I hope you’re sitting down when you read this. 

It concerns all of us, every single life form on Earth. A new study is predicting that our galaxy will collide with a neighboring galaxy. This is nothing new; scientists have been predicting a galactic collision for awhile now. 

But here’s where you might want to brace yourself — the Milky Way crash might be coming sooner than was originally expected. Believe it or not, Marius Cautun, a Ph.D who helped discover the accelerated timeline for the galaxies crashing into one another actually said he’s excited about this!

“The discovery made me very excited!” says Cautun, whose team put a preprint version of their paper on ArxIV. “Initially, both my collaborators and I were surprised and, because we didn’t expect it, a bit skeptical. This happens many times with new discoveries.”

And what, exactly, is Dr. Cautun so hyped for? Well, we’re not exactly sure what the impact on life on Earth could be, but we do know some of the details, and they don’t bode well, necessarily. 

Two things will happen when the LMC runs into the Milky Way. As it moves, it will pull other stars away from their normal orbits around our galaxy and set them on less predictable courses — possibly one headed for our Sun. 

And if another star passes near our Sun, the orbits of the planets will shift. The entire reason we have life as we know it here on our planet is that we’re situated in a perfect spot — not too far or too close to the sun. 

But if the Milky Way colliding with another galaxy pulls our planet closer to, or further away from the sun, it doesn’t take a genius to see there could be potentially catastrophic impacts on terrestrial species.

“Any such change is very dangerous for life, since even small variations in the distance between the Earth and the Sun can move our planet outside the Goldilocks zone and make it either too hot or too cold for life,” says Cautun. Cautun says there’s even a small chance that our solar system could be tossed right out of the Milky Way! 

If we are “unlucky,” he adds, there is also a 1-3 percent chance that the solar system might be ejected from the Milky Way entirely. If our descendants manage to survive that journey, Cautun predicts they’ll likely see a “very different night sky, much darker than currently with only a modest bright patch that will correspond to the Milky Way galaxy.” 

Well, I guess there’s only one thing left to do. Figure out how much time we all have left and hold each other tight, one last time. I’m sure that we’ll all take comfort in each other’s love as we watch what’s left of our existence fade away into the dustbin of time. 

I hope you all had a great life and — Anywhere from one to four billion years from now, study lead and cosmology researcher Marius Cautun, Ph.D., tells Inverse, the Milky Way could be smashed head-on by the the LMC. He admits the secondary effects of such a crash would be dangerous for life on Earth, but he’s more delighted at how much this discovery reveals about our own abnormal galaxy.

Oh gosh, I guess I should’ve read that part first, huh? I’m so sorry. This would’ve changed the whole tone of the piece too! Only having four billion years left to live is frightening! 

(Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.)

Please note. This excerpt from the intergalactic doom article is only partly satirical. I recently saw a post from a Facebook friend (not a real one) which was all about an exciting new book which is going to teach us all how to die.

Since the earth is doomed by climate change, North Korean nuclear bombs and terrorist atrocities, not to mention Donald Trump's hair style, there is no longer any hope for humanity. Any attempts at salvage are "too little, too late". It behooves us all to learn how to face the inevitable, lie down and die. Surrender to the void, and try to practice existential hopelessness with a degree of dignity and grace.

I exaggerate, but not much. This was a serious book telling us that since the end of the world as we know it is approaching at light speed, we must all learn how to "perish" (the actual word) with as much graciousness as possible. I couldn't read much of  the post. I couldn't get away from it fast enough. What galled me most was the inevitable Greek chorus of "friends" (you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours, THAT kind of friends) saying in the comments section,  ohh, I MUST get a copy of that book, it sounds wonderful!

NO, it did not sound wonderful. It was just a lot of angry-making, nihilistic shit to me. No one is more aware of the possible end of the world as we know it than I, yet I think lying down and rolling over before anything has even happened is just about the worst thing we can do.

I was part of the anti-nuclear/"peace" movement in the '80s, and now I realize I wasted a couple of years of my life in desperately futile protest while the earth kept merrily spinning and everyone else was having a good time. In contrast, I ran around screaming that the sky was falling, and lost all my friends. As with the Y2K bug and the phasing out of the penny, NOTHING HAPPENED, and I learned a lesson I will keep until the world actually DOES end. 

Don't believe shit until it comes. And listen, if and when it does come, NO ONE will have a CLUE how to perish with dignity or grace or have cat food on their face. No one will know shit! They'll either be dead, or running around screaming that the sky is falling. It's like that indispensible earthquake survival kit that lies buried under a thousand pounds of rubble.

This was a beautiful little article that I "borrowed" (since I can't link to most things), and it is a parable for our times. Don't  lie the fuck down, people. Get UP. Get up and walk around. Get busy, do some work. It's called life, and it hasn't ended yet.

Friday, January 11, 2019

"Take. . . him. . . for. . . a. . . ride": worst acting in movie history!

It took me a long time to find a whole version of Lights of New York, the first full-length, all-talking talkie, because it was pulled off of YouTube a long time ago and now does not even exist as those wretched half-minute clips. I had to find it on one of those video sites - can't remember the name of it, damn! - and pirate a little bit of it, for which I was dinged on my channel for violating copyright. Every time I turn AROUND I violate copyright, and since my views average anywhere from zero to seven, I do wonder why YouTube bothers to persecute me when multi-million-view types get away with anything they want. (Money may have something to do with it.)

This is just excruciating, it really is. It's SO bad, sublimely bad, you can't believe it, so wooden, so stilted, somebody's idea of Movie Acting with Sound. Most of the movies of the late '20s were lifted from the stage, to make sure they were chatty and yakky and fairly static in motion. The microphone would be discreetly hidden behind a potted palm. I love to hear the hums and whirs and THUDS of early talkies, the sound of the camera barely disguised by putting it in a huge box (where the cameraman would nearly die of dehydration and heat stroke). Finally some brilliant boy realized they only needed to put the CAMERA in a box, but by this time most of the cameramen were already dead. That's progress for you.

It's excruciating trying to watch this whole thing, and I confess I didn't, but even this one scene is so brilliant, it's worth getting dinged or even taken to court for stealing valuable material. I mean. The worst line delivery in movie history? It's pure gold.

(Vimeo. It was Vimeo.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


This is the first time I got a good look at a coot's feet, which are big spongy things that are nothing like the feet of ducks or herons or anything else. They're just weird! But I like them, and I like the way they disappear into the water, the conviction with which they do it, the - commitment. The head goes down first, then - thwip! 

I haven't posted too many of my hundreds of nature videos - some of which I think are quite good - just because I seem to get side-tracked. This is all that is left of a "series" which just never happened. The videos are still on YouTube, they haven't gone anywhere, at least until they close my account for piracy (10-second clips of movies that have been in the public domain for 50 years). So my series will no doubt happen eventually. Or not.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


It's pretty incredible to FINALLY see this movie posted when I have been snuffling around for it for something like eight years. (This is, by the way, the second version I found. The first one, taken from a Russian web site, had an annoying buzzing sound in the background all through the movie.) All I could ever find were publicity stills - LOTS of them, more than for any other movie Harold ever did. 

I haven't even looked at this yet, as I posted it very late at night. It gave me a surreal feeling. Harold himself didn't like this film, and I think it was made in 1938, his doldrums period when he nevertheless was not quite ready to give up. His "glass character" (his own name for his film alter ego) didn't wear well with time, not because he didn't look good - he looked good for pretty much his whole life -  but because it was a little uncomfortable to see a 40-year-old man acting like he was 25. With one exception, the ferocious kiss in Why Worry?, his alter ego was almost virginal, and a virginal 40-year-old (who in several cases still lives with his parents) is just kinda creepy.

How does it feel to have this lost treasure at my fingertips? I'm not sure yet, because I haven't watched it. And of course it's not like the wild curiosity of a few years ago. But something has changed.  I cannot tell you why, but after pushing the whole subject away from me for over a year, I am "into" Harold again. 

I found a stash of copies of my novel yesterday and was a bit relieved - I could only find one, and found it hard to believe that I hadn't kept more than that. I sent out SO many copies to people whom I hoped would be interested, mainly in the film industry, and Kevin Brownlow was the only one who responded, albeit with a very brief enthusiasm which has since died. Rich Correll's initial keen interest (he actually phoned me, gave me contact information and seemed genuinely interested in doing something with it) and subsequent cold and baffling dismissal was nothing short of devastating. I am not sure what happened, but I suspect someone was running interference, and I think I know who it was. When the movie gets made and all my ideas are in it, it's going to be pretty heartbreaking. But I digress.

I have no idea why more photos, posters, lobby cards, and other forms of publicity exist for Professor Beware than for (even) Safety Last or The Freshman, when it disappeared from view for so many decades. But here it is. Sampling through it, so far I notice Harold's shrill, strident voice yelling and screaming a lot, and maybe this is one reason it didn't go over well. I have no idea why he didn't just use his regular, jovial Midwestern voice with its delightful tinges of Nebraska. Comics often have a persona with an obnoxious voice - Jerry Lewis comes to mind - but this one is pretty hard to take.

If you're interested in this movie, please watch it right away! It could easily be taken down for copyright reasons. It was shown on AMC just once, some time in the '90s, and there's a rumor it was on YouTube very briefly in 2015, but I don't know about that. I think I would have noticed it. But the powers that be at YouTube will likely re-inter this gem just to make sure we are deprived of all the best things on the internet. 

BTW, aren't these gorgeous? I'm afraid I don't own them. It's just an internet image. But in this case, as with so many things, the buildup was much better than the actual event.

Freakin' SPIDERS on my blog - !

Monday, January 7, 2019

What Men Don't Like About Women


"It is unquestionable that. . . the remarks made by Thomas D. Horton are of the shock variety, but then the truth has always been so." - Bethlehem Bulletin

"There is not the slightest likelihood of any male ever reviewing this book before a women's club. The insurance premium would be prohibitive. Turn to any chapter, any paragraph and read it aloud in the presence of a female, and you'll have fury with its claws out." - Columbus News

The blurry lines at the bottom reveal the ruse: that this book is meant to be comedy, not misogyny: "Enjoy the most rib-tickling treat you've ever had or return in 5 days - for refund. Don't delay. A unique hilarious experience is yours! Send this coupon - TODAY!" Doesn't exactly match up with the hateful copy we've seen up to now. Or maybe it does? Too bad these books aren't still around. They'd be a unique, rib-tickling psychological illumination.

Starry Night comes alive (this actually works!)

Stare at the revolving circle for 30 seconds, then look at the painting. . . 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Passion of Christopher Walken

Another Separated at Birth. I have always thought that these soulful photos from the 1928 silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc (starring Renee Jeanne Falconetti) resemble a young Christopher Walken, doe eyes, eerie gaze, great cheekbones and all. The fact that Walken looked almost feminine seems ironic in light of the fact that he aged into something more like deeply weathered shoe leather. 

I've seen people claim that the very young Walken (who is plastered all over the internet, being a child star from birth) looks like Scarlett Johansson, and it's somewhat true: the bow-shaped lips and Scandinavian-looking facial structure are congruent. I've also seen him compared to Jon Voight, and that one I can get on-board with because I have mistaken him for Voight more than once. They've aged similarly, the way a peach ages. When the juice goes out, the skin shrivels. Blonde men are thin-skinned like women, and are more likely to suffer this fate. But his twinkly ironic smile still flashes like a searchlight, igniting his enigmatic face most delightfully.

I don't know if there is a Walken biography out there - no doubt if there is, it would be inadequate to cover the incredible breadth and depth of his career, which he is so deceptively nonchalant about. He talks as if it fell into his lap. Well, maybe it did, but he'd be the first. 

I'm re-reading a massive bio of Marlon Brando by Peter Manso - well over 900 pages, and this was written before Brando died! Another couple hundred could have been added, and maybe was. This is the sort of book where the binding falls apart, where it makes a welt in your lap when you read it.

We need that sort of book on Walken, because his career is vastly more varied and detailed than Brando's, without being derailed by chasing after social issues which always looked a little like publicity stunts. Sacheen Littlefeather, indeed. A time and a place.

I don't know, however. He is a chameleon and seems to skate over things, perhaps for self-protection. I have seen only one picture of him with his wife, a tiny woman who barely comes up to his shoulder, and his pose with her is so protective he seems to enfold her. He takes any old work now, just takes it because it's all he has, seemingly. He gives the same interviews over and over again, same questions, same answers. Though he is a crack dancer and has had moments of brilliance in this long and wide career, this huge map spreading out in every direction, he has also been in some turkeys - quite a lot of them - just for something to do. I winced a bit to see him in a Superbowl ad for some kind of car, in which he did a blatant parody of himself. This, when he despises scriptwriters who try to "Walkenize" his part.

But at least he didn't self-destruct like all those other child stars did, which is pretty amazing. He got married just once when he was very young, stayed that way, and doesn't talk about it. This is a definite sign of sanity. And no drastic visions, so he isn't likely to be hitched to a pole and set on fire any time soon.

Kitten or ice cream? (an animation)