Friday, July 31, 2015

You were temptation: the strange sins of St. Anthony


I don't know much about Hieronymus Bosch, but then again, I think I am afraid to know. When I first saw one of his paintings, the triptych called The Garden of Earthly Delights, I thought,   he's crazy. He's a schizophrenic. Most people in their right mind/worst nightmares would not even think of the horrific spectacles he creates.

Imagine doing this to a human body, making it part of a house (the house having been built around him so that he is buried in it), with his bare ass sticking out as he kneels in an awful parody of prayer. A sort of gridwork door comes down at the "entrance", and a shadowy someone peeks out. The man's genitalia don't show, so he has either been emasculated or they've been painted out for the sake of modesty. His anus looks to have been sealed, or perhaps clenched against the threat of sodomy (for his position seems to helplessly invite it). .A gaudy faux priest or priestess does a sort of "behold!" gesture with its back turned (and imagine the symbolism of that!), and in the rest of the painting we see the usual bird-headed humans, flying fish, and unidentifiable contraptions that are meant to represent the worst kind of sin (I presume, sexual pleasure of any kind).

For this is The Temptation of St. Anthony, representing the torment of one of these hermetic/anchorite figures that you cannot imagine sinning anyway. Out there in the woods, what would he do? I can only think of one thing, but back then I guess it was enough to consign you to the eternal fires of hell.
But where does all this shit come from? It's a bad trip, is what it is, the brown acid of all time. Bosch needs to go lie down in one of those tents, like in Woodstock, know what I mean? Come down!

I have a theory about all this, so get ready, art historians, here it comes, a completely uneducated opinion that comes right from my gut. I think Bosch got off on this stuff.  If any art critics are reading this, they are wincing right now. As a writer, or one who tries to be, I know what it is to toy with my characters, to get off on the power of it, sadistically manipulate them. The stuff I am writing now, NO ONE is ever going to see it, so I am completely free. I can sweep them offstage with the flick of an imagination. One of them recently had an epileptic seizure and died on the floor in front of his lover. Up until then he had been the main character. So why did I kill him off? I was tired of him.

Bosch seemed to be able to ruthlessly manipulate human horrors in the same way (though somehow, I think, a tad more effectively). As an artist, he had the power. His work is almost unimagineably detailed, and every detail unspeakably macabre. He had the ability to dig right to the bottom of the human soul and dredge up stuff so horrible I can't even comprehend most of it.  Fevered, spiritually diseased, howling like an animal, we see a man - a saint! -  buried in - what, sin? A haystack, or, more likely, a pile of manure? Who lives in that place, anyway - the local priest? (We won't go into the very strange sense of proportion, the tiny figures living right next to giants, that is almost Swiftian in its paradox. Are the ordinary folk really so puny in relation to the main players?)

What did St. Anthony DO exactly, that he might be tortured this way? We never find out. What is sin? Do these saintly types take it all upon themselves, Christlike, while the rest of us happily roll around in the mud? It's more likely this was painted to scare the living shit out of ordinary people, to keep them in line, for if this saintly figure was so tortured, imagine what was going to happen to US if we dared to stand up to the absolute power of the Church.

Post-blog thoughts. I must have an awful mind, for it occurs to me that the shadowy face peeping out from that awful gridwork door might suggest part of St. Anthony's genitalia. The door itself looks vaguely net-like, as if they've quite literally got him by the balls. And look at the outstretched hand of the gaudy faux priest: the position of it has a sort of creepy, "feely" sense to it. If it were placed slightly differently, it would literally be grabbing his privates. The fact that he/she/it is turning away adds to that impression: turn your head and cough.  But it might also represent a cash grab so crass that the priest must pretend he/she/it isn't doing it. If so, Bosch was cleverly embedding a dig at the hypocrisy of the church in a so-called religious work. 

So all this might actually have been about tithing and what might happen to you if you didn't. You think not? Think it. Human beings are human beings, aren't they? They all have the same parts, and the same depraved desires, and have been that way since the beginning of the species.

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I don't think that I can take it

Spring was never waiting for us, girl
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance

Between the parted pages and were pressed
In love's hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again, oh noooooo

I recall the yellow cotton dress
Foaming like a wave
On the ground around your knees

Birds like tender babies in your hands
And the old men playing checkers, by the trees

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again, oh noooooo

(Short instrumental interlude)

There would be another song for me
For I will sing it
There would be another dream for me
Someone will bring it

I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life, you'll still be the one

I will take my life into my hands and I will use it
I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it
I will have the things that I desire
And my passion flow like rivers through the sky

And after all the loves of my life
Oh, after all the loves of my life
I'll be thinking of you - and wondering why

(Longer instrumental interlude)

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh noooooo, o-oh no-ooooo

"You had me at hello"

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monty Python - we're still not sure what happened

Monty Python comes around but rarely. Ten years can go by without it. Then I stumbled upon it on the Sundance Channel (?), which was showing Fawlty Towers and, as it turned out, Python. These are truly wretched Beta videotapes from the mid-'80s that have been badly transferred, muddy, with all that sparkly stuff on the edges. Some of them blur past me in a surrealism that is hard to hold on to, let alone laugh at. But this got me laughing so hard that tears ran down my face. I just kept howling, helplessly. Not sure why, can't analyze it at all, just lunacy. They don't make them like that any more. Maybe ever. We're still not sure what happened here.

But they're cousins

Brain-dead because it's summer, deeply unhappy over the state of the world and the people in it (for my jolly satire is mostly a pose to cheer myself up), I nevertheless discover I can still make a damn good gif. Anyone who ever watched The Patty Duke Show (meaning anyone over 100 years old) remembers her insane boogaloo in the opening credits, which is unlike any dance ever seen before or since. "Our Patty loves the rock-n'-roll, a hotdog makes her lose control," went the lyrics. You will lose your mind.

By the way, I am in mourning over the apparent passing of Gifsforum, the best of all the YouTube-to-gif sites. It had the most flexibility and allowed you to adjust speed, colour and many other things. You could go to tenths of a second and make gifs from movie-length videos. Sometimes features disappeared, probably from causing too many problems. Now I use makeagif, which is almost as good and certainly improved from what it used to be. Most of the others are atrocious and impossible to figure out. Makeagif supposedly allows you to make 20-second gifs, which is really long, but after about ten seconds they are too jerky to be watchable. 

Gifsforum has been down for a long time now, at least according to all those "up or down?" sites. So I don't think it's just me. I wonder if it will ever be back.

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Oh my God - it's a waterfall!" Laughing on the edge of death

I might have posted this before - in fact, I probably HAVE posted this before - but if I want to see it again, I might as well see it here. This is a much better quality version from YouTube than the grainy, distorted thing going the rounds on Facebook. I know nothing about these guys or if there is more to the video than this, or, more importantly, WHO is shooting the video (which nobody thinks about). It seems impossible, unless some other vehicle is trailing them. Even more importantly, I want to know if they survived. But if they didn't, at least they went down laughing.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

One of the best gifs I've ever seen

Trippy cat gifs: kaleidoscope kitties!

What could be better than a cat gif, you may ask? A cat gif that pulsates with trippy, kaleidoscopic colour! A cat gif that practically gives you a migraine, it's so intense! A cat gif that's - meow. Meow. MEOW! You are in my power!

A cat with death rays coming out of its eyes!

A cat that looks like it could blow up the universe!

Oh yeah man! Now THIS is a cat gif. None of that cute falling-off-the-table shit. This cat doesn't need to do NOTHIN'.

Tie-dye cat, perhaps done with radioactive dye.

We'd better. . . prey.


Strobe cat. Known to cause seizures in the vulnerable.

VERY trippy cat gif! We don't know what it means, but it's trippy.

Mew! Mew! Mew! I'm lookin' at you!

Flying hamburgers in space!

Peanut butter jelly cat!

Tuna Quest: My body is floating through space

Kitty in the sky with pizza

You lookin' at me?

Rock on.

"You had me at hello"

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Friday, July 24, 2015


Ages ago I found this charming still for the early Lloyd movie, I Do, a domestic comedy about a couple who are looking after someone else'e bratty children over a weekend. It was one of the first Lloyd comedies that made me laugh out loud.

And then I found. . . this! A charming and colorful poster for the French version, entitled Un Heureux Mari (A Lucky Husband). With small exceptions, the pose is almost identical to the still. The main difference is that Harold, who is known here by his French name "Lui" (loosely translated as "that fellow")  looks oh-so-very-Franch.

But was there any way to bring the two together?

This is as close as I could get. 

It's toasted

Thursday, July 23, 2015

And the clock on the wall is a bore: take 2 and 56

Father of my morning,
Once my child to the night
I see that you have minds to cop
And I can only watch the sickened sorrow

Little do you know
Of the progressions that you teach
The people that you reach are tired
Of livin' in a world of elastic towers

Dance with them and sing a song of changes
And talk with them of life and all its dangers
Surround yourself with now familiar strangers
Who kiss and who hug and eventually mug you of your time
And the clock on the wall is a bore
As you wander past the door
And find him lying on the floor
As he begs you for some more, you frozen smile

You cannot ever picture me
You know me by my thoughts
A file for your travelogue
Oblivious to the night, the fog around you
The germs they are ridiculous
They bother you at night
The blood that rushes to your brain
The ticket on the plane you're never catching

The price you pay exclusive of your taxes
To chop you up inside with tiny axes
The girl looks up to you from floors she waxes
And speaks to your belt with tears among her eyes
And the clock on the wall is a bore
As you wander past the door
And find him lying on the floor
As he begs you for some more, you frozen smile

The metaphysic wrinkles in the face of what you face
Are hidden by the fake-up man
Who lives inside the sterno can beside you
Now climb ye to the mountains
As the sun is almost gone
Escaping from your other selves
Your brothers hide among the shelves inside you

The games that people play can only bore you
But only those that know you don't ignore you
How many times have I come there to restore you
And caught you lying on the couch with father time

And the clock on the wall is a bore
As you wander past the door
And find him lying on the floor
As he begs you for some more, you frozen smile

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Really creepy, but interesting

The things you see on Pinterest! To my mind, it's virtually useless, a way of sticking up pictures of kittens and movie stars and food and crafts for no purpose at all, except for looking at them. There are no links to the original item, so you can't, for example, click on a link to a knitting pattern you've been looking for for 6 or 7 years. No, but you can look at a picture of it.

This horrible blackened thing is supposedly one of Harold Lloyd's prostheses, which he used inside a glove to replace his missing right thumb and forefinger, blown off in a freak explosion. It looks so creepy because it's a reverse cast of his left hand. Now, whether this is a REAL Harold Lloyd prosthesis or not is anyone's guess. Where did it come from, who would keep such a thing? Certain Tea Party Republicans come to mind, but we won't go there.

To me it looks like one of those bog mummies, perfectly preserved in peat bogs for hundreds of years, or a woolly mammoth carcass emerging from the permafrost due to global warming. When you think about it, it's only a matter of time until Ice Man emerges, maybe walking and talking and appearing on eTalk Daily. This is too real for comfort. Unless it's a total hoax, which is entirely possible.

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