Friday, September 30, 2016

Bye-bye, ASSHOLE!

(Note: these videos were made last summer. Thus the shorts.)

This afternoon my husband and I went to one of our all-time-favourite places: Burnaby Lake, a sort of Shangri-La by the Shore that never fails to calm and thrill me at the same time.

Our favorite spot on Burnaby Lake is called Piper Spit. This is a large expanse of shallow water, a kind of wetlands on the margin of the lake, with a long dock for walking. At the end of it is a sort of round viewing area which gives you a great view of whoever happens to be making an appearance on that day.

We've seen sandhill cranes, dowitchers, wood ducks, Canada geese, blackbirds, cowbirds, mallards, some sort of diving bird we can't categorize, and probably a few dozen more species that move so fast or hide so well that we can't make them out.

The red-winged blackbirds, though - they are very special to me, ever since I realized that they will, when the mood strikes them, fly down and eat right out of your hand. As a little girl I would have fallen over with ecstasy at this, as I was always chasing after wild birds and never catching them. Someone had told me that if I put salt on their tail they would sit still for me, but somehow it never worked.

Today, the blackbirds were skittish and uncooperative. That was fine, because birds have a sort of group mood (like humans, who are also flock animals, though far less intelligent and perceptive). You see mostly juveniles who were born in the spring at this time of year, and they're wisely mistrustful of humans. The great gorgeous mature males seem to have no fear. More than once, I have had a blackbird in each hand, with other blackbirds trying to dislodge them. But for some reason, today the bold birds had taken off to parts unknown.

I had the seeds in my hand, I could HEAR the birds make that lovely "squinge" sound that just seems to open up Paradise, I could see them flitting about in the tree tops. I walked back and forth for a long time with my hand held out, and probably looked a bit foolish. But they weren't coming down. Only two weeks ago I'd had a juvenile male eating out of my hand. Oh well. I was about to give up on the whole thing, when.







This was a "type", not a person. Big, husky, moustached. His belly seemed determined to take up more than its allotted amount of space. It was taking up a separate universe. He seemed "Important" in some obscure, overinflated way (in other words, FAT), like an unofficial Park Guide or Ranger Smith-type. I could almost see his Captain Marvel badge beneath his sagging sweats.

He walked up behind me and just stood there, freaking me out.

"No. No. No. They like black oil sunflower seeds." That was the first thing he said to me. This guy didn't say "hello" or tell me his name. Not even a friendly wave. Maybe his name was They Like Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, but it didn't seem very likely. It seemed more likely that his opening line was advice, based on the fact that I obviously didn't know what the hell I was doing and desperately needed him to set me straight.

"You gotta get some black oil sunflower seeds. You should get rid of that stuff you're trying to feed them, they won't take it." (They had "taken" it a dozen times, eagerly, in the past.) "Or you can maybe try picking some of the sunflower seeds out of that stuff you have. No, I mean right away, do it now! Try it!" Feeling hypnotized by his mediocrity, I actually made a feeble effort to pick out a few sunflower seeds before thinking, screw you.

"That guy is super-friendly" (pointing to one of the more shy birds in a treetop, one that was basically indistinguishable from all the others. In other words: if that bird is 'super-friendly', and I am not - unlike every other bird-lover on the planet - attracting him, I am either innately repellent to blackbirds or just so inept that any bird worth its salt would stay away from me and my wormy seeds.) The way he said it, "super-friendly", had a funny kind of imperative inflection: 'I told you not to do that!", like a weird sort of accusation.

His parting shot was, "Don't shake your hand" (I had always found that sifting the seeds a little made them more visible and brought them down more readily). "Don't make those noises either." Oh! So bird noises don't attract birds. That's why people ALWAYS whistle and make bird noises to birds.

They're wrong.

Do you know, never once did I ask for any sort of advice from this guy? He never even gave me his name. He just walked right up to me out of nowhere, Mr. Learned and Omniscient Outdoorsman Who Knows A Hell of a Lot More About Blackbirds Than I Do, and just merrily said, "you're doing it wrong, you're doing it wrong, you're doing it wrong" - and, moreover, "I know how to do it right, and now I'm going to tell you how so you can stop making a complete fool of yourself."

I didn't fully realize I was a victim of mansplaining until I got in the car. On the way home I began to boil. "I wish that son-of-a-bitch could have SEEN me that day in August when I had a large male blackbird on EACH HAND, and then a female blackbird intercepted and knocked one of the males off. I wish that son-of-a-bitch knew that I've been attracting and feeding blackbirds out of my hand since the first day I came here! I wish that son-of-a-bitch knew he had the WRONG BLACKBIRD when he said 'that guy's super-friendly'. It could have been any blackbird. In fact, it WAS just any blackbird. He probably knew that and did it just to shame me and make me feel like a loser!"


I think he was a little bit surprised that I didn't thank him. I think he was a little bit surprised that I didn't clasp my hands beside my face and say, "Ohhhhhhhhh, Mr. Blackbird Expert! THANK you for saving my afternoon by pointing out all my mistakes to me and saving me from my own obvious helplessness and inadequacy.  And here I didn't even have to ask!"

My only consolation is that I know from the pit of my stomach that this creep has NEVER fed two, no, THREE blackbirds at the same time, has probably never even fed ONE. He has probably spent his life walking up to people just to point out how inept they are and setting them straight.

No! Not walking up to people. Walking up to women!

Because no guy would ever take the shit I took from this pompous idiot. Because  he does not even walk UP to men like that - just women - weak little, simpering little, non-blackbird-feeding women. He probably walked away swelling with self-importance and satisfaction and felt he'd done his fucking duty for the day.

I would say I hope I never see him again, but no. I hope I see him again. I hope I see him when I have two blackbirds on each hand, and one on my shoulder, looking like St. Francis of Fucking Assisi.
But by then he will have conveniently forgotten who I am - or, worse, he'll think to himself,: hmmmmmmmm! She must have taken my advice!

(Please note. All videos and gifs on this post are of ME with BLACKBIRDS. Super-friendly, aren't they?)

Flickers, jays and squirrels: is this a McDonald's, or what?

This is Baby's First Video, the first time I ever tried to work with the video camera: and all at once, a Steller's jay, a squirrel and a flicker showed up! After this I more or less figured out how to work with a tripod, so the worst of the shakes ended. Gifs to follow!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Walking through walls

I don't believe in dwelling on the past, even though I do. I can't help but notice that when I go on the "did you grow up in Chatham, Ontario?" Facebook page, everyone remembers everyone in my family . . . except me.

I guess I was a cipher. I was invisible. Could I walk through walls? I don't remember.

They remember Arthur - as who wouldn't, mad genius that he was? They remember Walt the musician and my eldest sister Pat. They remember my house.

I remember being alive - it seems I do, but do you know something? My mother left me out of her obituary. I was the only one not named, and it was not an oversight. I was left out deliberately. Some members of my current family were kind of upset that she had lopped off a daughter as casually as docking a dog's tail. Imagine un-happening your own child like that, pretending that she had never been. What kind of heart. . . or lack of it?. . . would be responsible for that?

I can't help but feel that there is NOTHING my children could do that would make me do that to them, cut them out so meanly, so shockingly. They could be axe-murderers. They could axe-murder their father. Still they would be my children, my own, unto death, and I would name them, include them. Acknowledge that they existed, that I gave birth to them and raised them, and that they were loved.

Since I thought of this song - we used to sing it "Cha-tham, Cha-tham, Chatham-Chatham-jing-jing-jing", I thought I'd post a few of the nicer pictures that surfaced during this strange memory-purge.

I don't know why I'd even want to go back, when my mother did her level best to erase me. But maybe it's because she didn't. Hell, people get upset at being cut out of the WILL. But I've never before heard of this, pretending a child was never born, as I so often wished I hadn't been. I was one of those kids who always knew she was an accident, and I suppose this was her way of correcting it (at last!).

But here they are, the pictures, with no explanation at all.

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no no no no no

Sometimes I get into these FITS where I must make something. Just. . . something, and because I don't draw or paint or sing any more, or any of that, I make gifs.

I got thinking about Detroit (because of that wretched Born in Chatham Facebook page I have disappeared into), and girl groups in the 1960s. Though I wasn't a huge fan at the time, I was aware of the Shangri-Las, mostly from The Leader of the Pack ("Where'd you meet  him?" "I met him at the candy store. . . "). This was the ultimate tough-girl group, and with those little gossipy conversations within their song lyrics, it was all very rough and real.

Remember (Walkin' in the Sand) wasn't my favorite Shangri-Las song, not by half. I was grabbed by a lesser-known one called I Can Never Go Home Any More, about a runaway girl whose mother is taken away by the angels. But this one, this seagull one that's really kind of sappy, earwormed me today, and I HAD to do something to exorcise it. 

I hate cheesy photo montages like death, but I did one, mainly because this song seemed to call for it. The group lasted but a short time, had a few monster hits that I don't feel like looking up, and kept getting back together for concerts (and for all I know they're still doing it). One of the girls was pretty; the other two were not. It just worked, somehow. They were only about 16 years old, and that kind of fame, so fast, has a false bottom in it.

But enough about that. I tried to co-ordinate my cheesy beach images and Shangri-La photos with the music, so that the "remember" part with the seagulls will have the same beat to it as the slide show.

It gave me something to do on kind of a crap day. I just felt like crap, and slept for two hours this afternoon. But enough about me.


The Shangri-Las' "tough girls" persona set them apart from other girl groups. Having grown up in a rough neighborhood of Queens, New York, they were less demure than their contemporaries. Rumors about supposed escapades have since become legend, for example the story that Mary Weiss attracted the attention of the FBI for transporting a firearm across state lines. In her defense, she said someone tried to break into her hotel room one night and for protection she bought a pistol.

Whatever truth these stories may have, they were believed by fans in the 1960s, and they helped cement the group's bad-girl reputation. According to Weiss, that persona helped fend off advances from musicians on tours.

The Shangri-Las continued to chart with fairly successful U.S. hit records, specializing in adolescent themes such as alienation, loneliness, abandonment and death. Singles included "Give Him a Great Big Kiss", "Out in the Streets", "Give Us Your Blessings", the top ten hit "I Can Never Go Home Anymore", "Long Live Our Love" (a rare example of a song dedicated to the men at the time fighting overseas in Vietnam), "He Cried" and the spoken-word "Past, Present and Future", featuring music from Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata". Noteworthy B-sides included "Heaven Only Knows", "The Train from Kansas City", "Dressed in Black" and "Paradise" (written by Harry Nilsson).

Among titles in critics' favorites lists is "I Can Never Go Home Anymore", the story of a girl who leaves home for a boy; her pride keeps her from returning to her mother who "grew so lonely in the end/the angels picked her for their friend". Lines from "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" include "When I say I'm in love, you best believe I'm in love, L-U-V", and "Well I hear he's bad." "Hmm, he's good-bad, but he's not evil." "Past, Present and Future" has been said to be about rape, something Weiss disagrees with. She has said it is about "teenage angst," heartbreak and "being hurt and angsty and not wanting anyone near you."

I know the feeling.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hinterland Who's Who

NOTE. There are LOTS of parodies of these on YouTube, but I decided not to post any of them, not even the SCTV one which is sublime. I like the originals. They evoke. . . something. Some quality of innocence which I perhaps never had. I've been on this "if you grew up in Chatham" Facebook page. . . in it, rather, disappearing into it, and connecting with people who knew my dead brother and my estranged sister and my thuglike Dad who was a pillar of the community. Sometimes I see my own face staring back at me from some other lifetime. It's like something out of the Twilight Zone. 

It's quite a weird feeling, unsettling, and addictive. Sometimes you need the hinterland.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rainbow Release: more creepy logos!

To find the really creepy logos, you've got to go off-road. These aren't film companies that anyone has ever heard of (Hikon??). And perhaps it's just as well. Though their logos are cheesy and look sort of low-budget, they have a very high freak-out factor.

I couldn't believe this WAS Orson Welles, thought it was maybe a Welles impersonator, but yes, that's him. I don't know anything about a Rainbow Release. His career did sort of slide downhill at the end. Note how the zoom-in stops at a certain point. That's kind of like MY zoom-ins, where the camera suddenly goes "bzzzzzzzzt".

This whole thing is so weird! Who's that guy, that face that appears in the militant-looking ABC logo, the one with the eagle catching a lightning-bolt in its beak? This looks like the emblem for a white supremacist group. The Super Circus thing is just bizarre. It has a fall of Rome flavour to it. Pre-Howdy Doody, I think.

Again. "An Apple Film". Not sure about this one at all. Reminds me, for some reason, of Dodo, the Kid from Outer Space - maybe the very basic animation. 

Red blobs in space? Yes, it's exactly the same.

There's a whole sub-genre of logos from Indian movies. These are quite spectacular, but in most of them nothing moves very much. It's a sort of tableau, with alarming or even freaky-sounding music and sound effects. This one actually has a form of animation in it, though it's strange. A white blob turns into a woman. By the way, if you ever watch any of those "scary logo" compilations with the sound off (late at night, when you really should be in bed), they are suddenly a whole lot less scary. Sound is about 60%.

This one  shows up in EVERY scary logo compilation, and do you know what? IT ISN'T A LOGO. At all. It's just a shot at the start of a very old Wizard of Oz  movie from 1914. I don't know how they can call it a logo, but it is very strange. So I'll include it. And I've run out of them anyway.


Presidential Debate: it would've been better if she wasn't there

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (The Borowitz Report)—Plunging the future of the 2016 Presidential debates into doubt, Donald J. Trump said on Tuesday morning that he would not participate in the remaining two debates if Hillary Clinton is there.

Trump blasted the format of Monday night’s debate by claiming that the presence of Clinton was “specifically designed” to distract him from delivering his message to the American people.

“Every time I said something, she would say something back,” he said. “It was rigged.”

He also lambasted the “underhanded tactics” his opponent used during the debate. “She kept on bringing up things I said or did,” he added. “She is a very nasty person.”

Turning to CNN, Trump criticized the network’s use of a split screen showing both him and Clinton throughout the telecast. “It should have been just me,” he said. “That way people could have seen how really good my temperament is.”

The billionaire said that debate organizers had not yet responded to his ultimatum, but he warned that if he does not get assurances in writing that future debates will be “un-rigged, Hillary-wise,” he will not participate.

“I have said time and time again that I would only do these debates if I am treated fairly,” he added. “The only way I can be guaranteed of being treated fairly is if Hillary Clinton is not there.”

(Though this piece was lightly borrowed from The Borowitz Report, a column in The New Yorker which an alarming number of people take seriously and launch lawsuits against - and Trump may soon be one of them - I agree with its sentiments absolutely. Trump made a kind of sense when he initially stuck to what he was artificially programmed to say, then went "off-road" and sunk himself as usual. It was a great day for America.)


Monday, September 26, 2016

NBC Sermonette: Cast thy WHAT?

Forgiveness: right or wrong?

I came across this on Facebook. I usually hate these things, whatever they're called, Little Cards of Wisdom that tell you what to do. They never suggest: they TELL, just assuming you've got it all wrong and need a lesson. 

But this one stood out. This is one that few people will even approach in a lifetime, and I am not even sure I agree with all of it.

If forgiveness means "it's OK what you did", then I do not forgive. I do not forgive the several men who molested me when I was a child and a teenager. 

If forgiveness means "I don't mind it, I'm over it, it doesn't affect me any more," then I do not forgive.

So what does it mean?

People say it's a  "letting go". If I stay angry, I'll burn the rubber down and run on bald tires (or something). So if I just let go of the memory and the damage and the way it all derailed my life, perhaps permanently, then everything will be OK.

I "should" forgive. I will feel so much better if I do.

This is some sort of psychological/spiritual imperative these days.

I don't know how to do this.

I thought I did.

But then, it has that line in it, "through their own confusions". The men who molested me were having a good time and wanted to grab someone's ass and rub up against me, and it didn't matter if it was the 14-year-old sister of the host of the party. They weren't "confused", they were drunk and lecherous and oblivious to my pain.

If they had it to do over again, they'd still do it, because the fact is, they enjoyed it and were not concerned with how much it might damage me. They did not think of that at all.

So do I forgive them? What does that mean? "It's OK that you very nearly brought about my suicide"? It will never be OK.

What IS OK is that I have a life. 

In spite of an incredible amount of personal pain, I have reclaimed it. I don't entirely understand this. I don't want to hate. I feel sorry for those sorry sons-of-bitches. I pity them (and a couple of them are dead), though I also feel considerable contempt.

Feeling sorry for, and feeling pity - are these things closer to "forgiveness", or to "hate"? This may be as far as I ever go on that glorious, impossibly idealized Buddhist path.

(But that last part, well. No matter how idealized, this is something I need so badly,  I can't even tell you.)