Monday, May 22, 2017

The force is within you: journey of a mental health warrior

Why did it take me this long to post something about the death of Carrie Fisher? Actually, it took me half a bloody century, and I'm still not sure about it. But I have come to the conclusion after blogging for a while that people either read your stuff, or they don't. They watch your videos, or they don't. It's a capricious thing, so you might as well follow your heart and do what you feel like doing, what your conscience tells you to do at any given moment. And it is here that I find my satisfaction. Is there a "message" in all this? There probably is. It's something that each person will hear in a different way, according to their own prejudices. 



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Creature From The Haunted Sea (ending)

(Movie theme) "Oh there's a creature
From the haunted sea,
And he doesn't
Like you, and he doesn't like me
He bounces up and down in the water
(boing, boing, guitar riff)
And doesn't really do what he oughter"

Harold Lloyd in 12 takes


Harold Lloyd: experimental film

. . . the experiment being, cropping some of my thousand or so Harold Lloyd gifs (most of which I made myself over the thousand or so years I've been in love with him). It was an interesting experiment to remove all the extraneous material from these tiny little ten-second movies, and some worked out better than others. I didn't even think I could crop gifs, in fact I probably couldn't, until the apps or programs or whatever-they-are became more versatile/easier to use. Things that aren't dead-easy aren't in my internet vocabulary.

I ended up with gifs that are extremely tiny, 1/4 the size of most of them. If you blow them up very much, they're too blurry to bother with. In some cases the effect is startling: Harold's face is zoomed in a little too close for comfort. We're not used to seeing him on a screen the size of a postage stamp, and not accustomed to looking so deeply into those expressive and slightly haunted eyes.

Harold's director Hal Roach famously said, "Harold Lloyd was not a comedian. But he was the best actor playing a comedian the world has ever seen." It's true that Harold's was the humour of humiliation, social awkwardness, rejection and pain. How he made humour out of that is anybody's guess. But the other "big two", Chaplin and Keaton, also used pathos and struggle to good effect, and turned it all into laughs. I think it was Jerry Lewis - whom I hate - who said, "Comedy is a man in trouble." About that, I think he has a point.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Bosley's great adventure!

Bosley is the name we gave to a very strange duck who lives with a flock of mallards in Como Lake. We kept wondering why a very large, piebald duck would hang around with wild birds like that. He looked more like a domestic duck than a wild one. Finally, unable to get any information about him, I sent a gif of him swimming to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, one of the world's foremost institutions of aviana/birdology.

They got back to me right away, to my surprise, telling me that their best guess is that he's a hybrid of a mallard and a magpie duck, a large-ish domestic duck raised for meat. (See example below). It made sense. These ducks are black-and-white, whereas Bosley's markings have the mottled brown tones of a mallard - in particular, a female.

So it shouldn't have surprised us to see a male mallard chasing after her. She was waddling around on land - the first time we've seen her (him? Still not sure) do that. We've been watching her for a couple of years now, and it's amazing how we see her almost every time we visit.  Once when all the mallards had flown away, we saw him (her?) in the very middle of the lake, dabbling and paddling around alone.

I can see why one of Bosley's parents would want to run away from home if he or she were about to become dinner. But it is obvious this is a true adoption. I mean, if the rest of the flock wants to mate with you. . .  The mallard drake might have been pursuing (her) romantically, or chasing (him) off as a rival. But now that I look at that mottled brown breast, I seriously wonder if Bosley is really a Boslette.

It's a funny video, and unique among all our Bosliana.

BLOGGER'S FOOTNOTE. I found a very strange group of pictures of ducks very similar to Bosley (see example, above) - only they were even more mallardy (or mallardly) than our Bos. I say more mallardly because some of them even had the iridescent green heads of the mallard drake. This was on a duck forum of some kind, and everyone took a guess at what kind of ducks these were. They came up with half a dozen names of very exotic-sounding purebred breeds. Fuck, guys! These are bastard pretenders, the love children of two duck species, and you cannot admit it because mallards are just too common. They're like pigeons, really. Only little kids like them.

And magpie ducks.

Are these magpie/mallard hybrids?

Orphan duckling: sad little guy

I love seeing and filming the first ducklings of spring, but I was saddened to see this little guy running around peeping frantically. I am almost certain he was separated from his mother, or she lost track of him (not hard to do looking after 24 babies at a time). Ducklings can swim and feed themselves immediately upon hatching, but they have little sense of direction on their own, and have to be herded and tended to keep predators away. A duckling this tiny would be a tender morsel for a crow.

My hope is that he or she found a new flock or clutch or whatever you call those darting swarms of golden fluffballs in the lake. If Bosley can make it with a flock of mallards (I deal with Bosley in another post), maybe this teeny one can rejoin the duck race. 

Stuck since last night: kitty up a tree

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bentley's paws glow in the dark

In a dark room, I can sometimes see these four white paws walking along with no cat attached to them. Or so it seems. When he lies down, Bentley's paws form a neat pile, white with pink toes. Sometimes they look more like gloves. Actually, his paws are FIVE colours: pink, white, grey, brown and black. Talented cat - eh?

And we wub hims so.

TEENAGE DOLL (1957 Trailer): Hellcats in tight pants

                          Hellcats in tight pants.

They're back: and still kicking ass!

Beavers have been an ongoing concern - read, "plague" - on Lafarge Lake for many years now. This is a small lake in the centre of Coquitlam, a seething urban community which for some reason attracts all manner of wildlife. But beavers aren't particularly welcome here when all they do is chaw down every tree in the vicinity and chew up branches all over the place to make their twiggy, branchy lodges.

I wasn't even sure what a beaver lodge looked like, until I saw this. I knew beavers had moved in, been relocated, and come back, many times already. There are even articles about it in the local papers. And it was obvious something was going on when I saw that wire mesh around the bottoms of most of the trees. 

Then this! Proof positive that the Lafarge Lake beavers have made a triumphant return. It was actually pretty cool, and now I'm having fantasies of seeing a real beaver, which I never have in the wild before. (And I call myself a Canadian!) And a baby beaver - I think I'd die with joy. They're pretty secretive, and they must do most of their work during off hours, because dams and lodges seem to spring up overnight. But there is babymaking going on in there, make no mistake.

Deep inside the burrows of the nightmare (to the Park Board, which is getting sick of setting out humane traps and relocating beavers a few hundred miles away, only to have them come back in a month), we can see the inner workings of the lodge. It's cleverly constructed so that you can only access it from underwater. Unless you're the Park Board, carrying dynamite.

But they'd better not! WHO could blow up a baby beaver (also known as a kit)? You'd have to have a heart of cold, hard steel.

For more information, see the aged but still relevant blog post below (which got over 6000 views when I first put it up! Still trying to figure that one out.)

Beavers kick polar bear ass!

White horses in surf

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bentley sleeps with his eyes open

The Slime People - Vintage Horror Movie Trailer

I'm posting this without knowing anything about it! I haven't even SEEN it. But with a title like that. . . 

Back in the USSR

This is a longer version of something I found on Facebook. It had two-inch-high white captions which covered  1/3 of the screen and ruined it completely. This kind of caption is no doubt so huge that they will be easily visible on phones, though I do wonder about the power and majesty of a video that is one inch square.

This version is longer, which is good, but it has - well, it has Irish music with it, which is completely incongruous, but at least it's NICE music, and I don't see any jarring captions.

So. . .

Katskhi pillar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

კაცხის სვეტი 

Katskhi Pillar

The Katskhi pillar (Georgian: კაცხის სვეტი, kac'xis svet'i) is a natural limestone monolith located at the village of Katskhi in western Georgian region of Imereti, near the town of Chiatura. It is approximately 40 metres (130 ft) high, and overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura, a right affluent of the Q'virila.

The rock, with visible church ruins on a top surface measuring c. 150 m2, has been venerated by locals as the Pillar of Life and a symbol of the True Cross, and has become surrounded by legends. It remained unclimbed by researchers and unsurveyed until 1944 and was more systematically studied from 1999 to 2009. These studies determined the ruins were of an early medieval hermitage dating from the 9th or 10th century. A Georgian inscription paleographically dated to the 13th century suggests that the hermitage was still extant at that time. Religious activity associated with the pillar was revived in the 1990s and the monastery building had been restored within the framework of a state-funded program by 2009.


The Katskhi pillar complex currently consists of a church dedicated to Maximus the Confessor, a crypt (burial vault), three hermit cells, a wine cellar, and a curtain wall on the uneven top surface of the column. At the base of the pillar are the newly built church of Simeon Stylites and ruins of an old wall and belfry.

This is Katskhi Lite, of course, because who cares about the rest of it? Y'all can look it up, if you do, which is the (only?) nice thing about the internet. And as we all know, there's no more USSR, so Georgia is no longer part of it.

Versions of this clip (30 seconds or so) claim that a solitary monk lives on the top of this structure and only comes down twice a year, on a long ladder. This is total Facebook bullshit, though archeologists did find a way to get up there, likely by helicopter. But that doesn't sound as cool as the monk.

Maybe it's an Irish monk?

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC
Didn't get to bed last night
On the way the paper bag was on my knee
Man, I had a dreadful flight
I'm back in the USSR
You don't know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the USSR, yeah

Been away so long I early knew the place
Gee, it's good to be back home
Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case
Honey disconnect the phone
I'm back in the USSR
You don't know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the US
Back in the US
Back in the USSR

Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the west behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
That Georgia's always on my my my my my my my my my mind
Oh, come on

Hu hey hu, hey, ah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I'm back in the USSR
You don't know how lucky you are, boys
Back in the USSR

Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the west behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
That Georgia's always on my my my my my my my my my mind

Oh, show me round your snow peaked
Mountain way down south
Take me to your daddy's farm
Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out
Come and keep your comrade warm
I'm back in the USSR
Hey, you don't know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the USSR
Oh, let me tell you honey

Monday, May 15, 2017

Star-crossed: the life and times of Anthony Perkins

I keep coming back to Tony Perkins, and have never been sure why. The reasons are complicated: he was mysterious, misunderstood, and summed up in my  mind what it means to be human: conflicted, passionate, vitriolic, kind, altruistic, selfish, brilliant, obtuse, and on and on the list goes.

And he was cute, too, when he was young and first became a big star. Cute in a way women loved, right up to and including the gorgeous, girlish Berry Berenson (sister of supermodel Marisa), who married him in spite of the open secret of his homosexuality. They had two sons and stayed together for 20 years, until he died of AIDS. Tragically, Berry was on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Centre on 9-11.

There was something star-crossed about both of them, I think.

I've read lots of stuff about him, including Charles Winecoff's Split Image, which in some ways is the best bio of anyone I've ever read, but which in other ways offends the hell out of me. Never has a biographer been so thorough in ferreting out the real Perkins, penetrating the million smokescreens he put up, but then he wrecks it: he quotes "an unnamed source" who claims to have been Perkins' lover, outlining in excruciating, completely unnecessary detail what he liked to do in bed. Would a heterosexual actor have been subjected to such humiliation, and from a completely unreliable kiss-and-tell source who probably sought some sort of payoff?

I found another book about him, Anthony Perkins: A Haunted Life by Ronald Bergan, and I pounced on it. I thought it might be bland compared to Winecoff's claw-sharpening meow-fest, but on the first page it grabbed me because of a surprisingly bang-on description of his unusual body type.

The author was speaking to the actor backstage after a performance. "He was stripped to the waist, revealing the smooth-skinned svelte figure of a man half his age - he was forty-seven at the time - and what the actor William Chappell described as 'an Egyptian torso, unnaturally broad in the shoulder and small in the waist and so flat it is almost one-dimensional.' Oh yes.

In spite of his great natural talent and versatility as an actor, there was a strangeness about Tony, a remoteness: he was the perennial outsider, but didn't seem to mind it, which made him even more odd. He wasn't a warm actor, but had certain abilities that were unique and eerie. In the Ken Russell turkey Crimes of Passion, he plays a demented minister addicted to sex toys and porn. Kathleen Turner plays a part-time hooker, and at the height of his Byzantine fits of craziness they have this conversation:

"If you're a minister, I'm Snow White. Who are you? You're not a reverend. Who are you?"

"I'm you."

Yes. Tony was us. He needled, he probed, he burrowed inside, he smiled boyishly as he found the subtle flaw and put his hand into it. The cracked cup, the broken building, the chipped tooth, all these were the province of Perkins and his calmly detached fascination. He snooped around the edges of the human condition, not unaffected of course, and capable of a paradoxical deep devotion to friends and family, but still the perennial observer. Why did people like him so much, care so much about a man who seemed almost cold? And they did, they loved him. As he lay dying of AIDS, literally gasping out his last, friends camped around his bedside in sleeping bags. Hundreds of people came to his memorial service, which lasted hours.

Tony loved dogs, but he was definitely more cat than dog, sniffing delicately, warily drawing back. And sometimes lunging forward in almost predatory sensuality. Bergan claims he had charm, but in the original, supernatural sense, a spellbinding power.

A friend once tried to describe his unusual body type with its coathanger shoulders and long, gangly arms, which made his head seem proportionally small: he resembled "some sort of great prehistoric bird". Exotic, a little scary, impossible to comprehend, echoing all those stuffed owls and ravens of Psycho. Oh yes, Psycho, we were getting to that. Or were we?

(BLOGGER'S NOTE. Having just posted about the Anthony Perkins action figure - and I've been looking for a good photo of that '80s artifact for a long time - I thought of this piece that I wrote SIX YEARS ago, and felt I was within my rights to dust it off. Unlike most of my longer pieces, it actually got some views. I used a huge font which I felt I had to reduce. The photos have been changed almost completely.)