Thursday, December 5, 2019

A FAUN is not a FAWN! (the cheapening of culture)

I just have to unload something here. I just watched a dreadful BBC music special about the Romantics, with some godawful English lady with two curtains of hair and big teeth, narrating with a constant, fatuous smile on her face. She began to talk about De-BEWW-sea, and when introducing his masterpiece Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune, she informed us in her sickly cheery voice that "this marvellous orchestral feast portrays the wonder and awe of a young deer as he slowly walks through a forest glen." 

A young deer. A fawn! The BBC cultural elite thinks a "faun" is Bambi, not some langorous half-drunk satyr wallowing with loose goddesses in an afternoon of  guiltless debauchery.

Even Wikipedia gets it right: "The goat man, more commonly affiliated with the Satyrs of Greek mythology or Fauns of Roman (emphasis mine), is a bipedal creature with the legs and tail of a goat and the head, arms and torso of a man and is often depicted with goat's horns and pointed ears. These creatures in turn borrowed their appearance from the god Pan of the Greek pantheon. They were a symbol of fertility, and their chieftain was Silenus, a minor deity of Greek mythology." 

Tom Robbins wrote an entire, gorgeous novel about Pan (Jitterbug Perfume, one of my all-time favorites), exploring the human sense of smell, its neural roots and erotic significance. Pan's no Bambi in this novel - he cavorts with the tattiest of has-been goddesses, and even in his invisible state gives off a sort of primal reek that sends his unwitting human victims into sexual frenzies. So powerful is his ponk that a magical perfume must be concocted to disguise it. The perfume is made from beet pollen, and here Robbins goes into a vegetable rhapsody unequalled in fiction:

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip...

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth, now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin's favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”

(Back to me - I can't write that well!) The power of the beet and its reeking pollen (an odor which Robbins describes as "embarrassing") is the only thing that bests the animal stink of the goat. THAT goat, you know? That half-goat, unspeakably lashed to the torso of a man.  No, this is not  Bambi, folks, this is PAN, one of the most basic, fundamental, primal figures in all of ancient human lore, the pagan god of pagan gods, and not only that, the image most often associated with Satan.  And the BBC thinks he's a little forest darling with speckles on his rear!

The huge stir this piece caused when it debuted in Paris had little to do with the sensuality of the music, and everything to do with WHAT it portrayed: a lustful pagan goat-man in full rut. But oh, no, the music historians at the BBC, ALL of them, for surely the text must have been vetted by many, think that Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un Faune is about a baby deer, a FAWN! I don't know why I expected better from a British "music expert". But shit, I knew what a "faun" was when I was eight and my parents dragged me off to classical concerts.

I knew, not because I was some musical prodigy when I was a kiddie (far from it, I was the only dud in the lot), but because I was old enough and curious enough to read the backs of album covers (a lost source of musical education in this digital age). But the best classical music programming the BBC has to offer has no idea what Debussy's masterpiece is even about. Nobody caught it, nobody corrected it, nobody edited it out, and I am beginning to wonder with a sense of despair if I am the only person who even noticed it. It's the cheapening of culture, the shallowing-down of the brimming pools in Debussy's wild pagan landscape.

An outrageous, truly filthy old satyr lolling around in blatant sexual debauchery has somehow been collapsed down into a frolicking Disney character. "Some fun, huh, Bambi?" Dear God.

And the beet goes on! Another of Robbins' inspired passages, this time about the pollen of the beet which makes up the "bottom note" of Pan's perfume:

"If the waft that streams from a freshly opened hive is intimate to the point of embarrassment (ask any sensitive beekeeper), so it is with beet pollen. There is something personal about it, and something primeval. If there is a comparable odor, it is, indeed, the moldy inner sanctum of some fermenting, bursting hive; but beet pollen is honey squared, royal jelly cubed, nectar raised to the nth power; the intensified secretions of the Earth's apiarian gland, reeking of ancient bridal chambers and intimacies half as old as time."

OK. . . I will now stop writing. For the rest of my life.

(Post-post. I HAD to smell it, I had to try to find a sample of beet pollen to see if it really reeked in that intimate, embarrassing way. And I couldn't. BUT - I had a certain house plant, until it died, with thick, dark green, spiky leaves which had a purplish down on their surface. It grew away untended, then suddenly the thing bloomed, and I could tell it had bloomed when I walked into the room: the tiny, dandelion-shaped, bright orange flowers stank of locker room, of sweat, and of all the intimate things Robbins talks about. It's possible the purple passion plant is somehow related to the beet, and its fat, aggressive leaves look similar. This is probably as close as I will get to that smell. And I do wonder, in considerable despair, if anyone now on earth can equal or surpass the lush cascading poetry of Robbins' prose.)

POST-POST-"whatever". As I try to dig up more information on beet pollen, I am finding absolutely NOTHING specific to that plant. It's as if it doesn't flower, which confuses me. All I can come up with is BEE pollen, which is obviously not what I want. For some reason, lupines came up too - the elegant, long-stemmed, bell-flowered plant I plucked on a walk around the lagoon in the summer. It's also known as foxglove, from which the heart drug digitalis is extracted. It's one of the oldest and most effective of  folk remedies. But why is lupinus perennis the only image I can come up with? Is Robbins having us on by inventing a substance just to tease us? 

Persistence pays off. Or, sort of. I  finally found SOMETHING about beet flowers, but it pertained to sugar beets, those hard, lumpy, turnip-like things which were processed in a plant in my home town, emitting a scorchy smell of burnt sugar on hot summer days. This ISN'T the beet Robbins write about, which, incredibly, does not flower (how can you have a plant that doesn't flower?). Small, shrivelled, yellowish petals cling to a gnarly-looking stalk, and I have no idea what they smell like. But the name! The name makes this entire meandering enterprise worthwhile (and didn't we start with "faun vs. fawn"?): 

It's BETA VULGARIS. If Robbins didn't find this name while researching his sensuous tour de force, then he should have.

Dog in a Sack: More vintage car safety tips!

Though this incredible "safety" contraption is a shade better than lashing your toddler to the back seat of a Volkswagen on a leash (for more "freedom of movement"), the sheer impracticality of the design makes one wonder if anybody actually used it. For one thing, your doggie might be terrified of being lashed into a hot canvas bag clamped to a running board and begin to plunge around in panic once the car is moving, possibly injuring itself badly (and making for a  horrifying sight for pedestrians). A terrified dog might indeed "mar" the car in a whole different way, but who can blame it? 

This is just another example of jaw-dropping misjudgement of what "car safety" really means, for a kid or for a dog. I hope this was only a failed prototype and not something actually sold to dog owners. I will add, however, that I have a real problem with the dogs I see almost hanging out of open car windows, their quivering noses sniffing the breeze. I wonder - because I never hear about it, but it MUST happen - how  easily a dog could either fall out if the car hits a bump, or even jump out to pursue a  "distraction" (cat, squirrel, dog of the opposite sex). But there are no safety harnesses for dogs in cars, no laws protecting them in any way, and owners of large dogs seem to feel that crating them even for a short time is  tantamount to abuse. 

I'm a cat person myself, and I can picture Bentley crawling cozily into the head-hole of the canvas bag for a nap - but only if the car isn't moving.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


"As every parent knows, a toddler is too squirmy to be held on the lap for long or to wear a conventional safety belt while riding in a car. And the hazards for an unattended toddler-passenger are too long to list, especially if mother is driving alone with the youngster.

"In a Volkswagen this problem can be solved for about $2, in a way satisfactory to both parents and toddler. Solution is use of a harness set: the leash of a standard harness fits exactly when strapped around the upper section of a Volks back seat.

"Leash is secured in the center around the backrest, then the harness strap attached. This allows the toddler to sit, stand or lie down, or move a short distance to either side, with the harness strap sliding up and down the leash with his movements."

Harness-leash around seat-back lets bouncy tot stand up. . . 

Or he has enough freedom to move around (. . . ) get bored.

When VW engine drone makes him sleepy, strap slides easily down leash.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019



                      Ain't it funky now.

Coping with COPPA: a NewTube's coming!

I've taken a break from all this YouTube/COPPA/FTC nonsense, having multiple health problems to cope with (including trips to the ER with strange doctors poking at my ribs). But this - at least, in this video I try to envision an alternative to the vise-grip YouTube has on communal video sharing. So far, no viable alternative exists, but it COULD, and it MIGHT - so watch for it! In the long run, I believe this is the ONLY solution.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Dear FTC: Please LISTEN TO ME!

(My letter to the FTC protesting the absurd, destructive new policies which YouTube is trying to force on its creators. I just can't shut up about this! It's an example of an almost Kafka-esque bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake. I've had a channel for over 10 years, posted 1750 videos, and can't stop now. I've broken this long screed up into pieces, with my usual, appropriate visual aids from Fritz Lang's nightmarish cinematic vision, Metropolis.)

"I wish to protest against the new FTC/COPPA restrictions which YouTube will soon be passing down to their creators. Under these new restrictions, channels that endeavour to make high-quality content for kids will no longer be able to earn an income OR have their videos accessible to subscribers (due to very tight restrictions on all the features needed to allow their videos to be seen). 

Thus kid-oriented channels will be hamstrung by the very regulations which were originally intended to keep kids SAFE on YouTube. Because kids will no longer have access to their favorite high-quality kids' channels, I believe they are MORE likely go to adult-oriented content which may be inappropriate and even harmful. 

The specifications which must be applied in evaluating the correct category for our videos are EXTREMELY vague and virtually impossible to apply. If we differ from YouTube in our choice of category, which in YouTube's case is done by robots, we can be fined up to $42,000.00 PER VIDEO. 

Most YouTubers are extremely concerned about kid safety, but we CANNOT provide age-appropriate, high-quality content for kids if we have our income and all our features taken away. This has caused tremendous anxiety in the YouTube community, and the only direction we have received from YouTube if we wish to protest this potential meltdown is to "consult a lawyer". 

I am a grandmother of four and have been posting videos featuring my hobbies, collections, nature videos, family celebrations, etc. for 12 years. I am not monetized, but if I lose my channel, I will literally lose 12 years of family history and creative satisfaction. That door will likely be closed to me forever. 

YouTubers pour heart and soul into their work, and their channels are an intrinsic part of their identity. This could be the equivalent of mass firings or layoffs, for no reason that will help child safety whatsoever. PLEASE rethink this, talk to as many YouTubers as you possibly can, watch as many videos in as many categories as possible, utilize REAL people and not algorithms/bots, and try to work with YouTube to come up with something which is possible to comprehend/apply and respectful to creators. 

Without creators, there is no YouTube. With so many people going out of business, you will see a mass exodus. In effect, it could end YouTube as we know it. Surely this was not the original intent! I believe it's within your power to save the situation and make it work better for EVERYONE involved. I ask you to take another look at this entire issue, and work with YouTube AND creators to come up with regulations which make sense, actually DO protect children, and allow this whole vibrant, enthusiastic community of YouTube creators to continue." 

Your Comment Tracking Number: 1k3-9dfc-sdm7

Monday, November 18, 2019

YOUTUBE PANIC! Fines, threats, and the fear of extinction

There is mass panic in YouTubeland, and I can see why. Suddenly everything has changed, and creators are facing the fear of huge fines, slashing of incomes, and/or deletion of accounts. And yes, this DOES affect me. Though I am not monetized, I have had my channel for 12 years and have posted almost 2000 videos, FAR more than most monetized users. And each and every one of those videos (which YouTube could delete at a click) has deep personal meaning for me.

I have been writing and writing about this in my journal. This is very long and wordy, but I will post it anyway, in case someone out there is as confused as I am. (Please note! In an awful stroke of un-luck, Blogger just deleted the entire edited version of this post, but I backed it up in rough form.)

First, this is what Wikipedia has to say about the matter:

COPPA violations

In April 2018, a coalition of 23 groups (including the CCFC, CDD, as well as Common Sense Media) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that YouTube collected information from users under the age of 13 without parental consent, in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

In September 2019, YouTube was fined $170 million by the FTC for collecting personal information from minors (in particular, viewing history) without parental consent, in order to serve targeted advertising. In particular, the FTC ruled that YouTube was partly liable under COPPA, as the service's rating and curation of content as being suitable for children constituted the targeting of the website towards children. In order to comply with the settlement, YouTube was ordered to "develop, implement, and maintain a system for Channel Owners to designate whether their Content on the YouTube Service is directed to Children." YouTube also announced that it would invest $100 million over the next three years to support the creation of "thoughtful, original children's content".

YouTube began to introduce the required policies in December 2019: all channels must either declare the entirety of their content as being directed towards children or not, or do so on an individual basis per-video. Beginning in January 2020, videos marked as being targeted towards children will have reduced functionality. These videos will display contextual advertising based on the video's metadata, rather than targeted to the user. Community features such as end boards and other widgets, notification functions, and comments are also disabled. The FTC settlement places the burden on channel operators to correctly classify their videos (with a threat of a fine of $42,000 per-video). YouTube stated that it would also use machine learning to enforce these rules. Uploaders will not be allowed to appeal automatic decisions of this nature. These policies have faced criticism by the service's community, due to the ambiguous nature of YouTube's explanation of the new policy, and the legal risks associated with them.

(Please note! It isn't December 2019 yet. So either Wikipedia is written by time travellers, or they can't be bothered to update this big lumbering thing once December actually rolls around.)

Blogger's/YouTuber's reflections. This YouTube thing, I don’t know. There’s a lot of misinformation flying around, with a number of “don’t worry”s which are even more misleading. December 10 is the day of reckoning. The “disabling comments on videos containing minors” a few months ago was a complete bust. It was totally random, though small channels got the worst of it. Mine was scattershot, but ALL of the disabled ones featured dolls! Yes, dolls, with no human presence at all except a voiceover, and the videos were meant not for kids but for vintage (adult!) doll collectors. In other words, an algorithm isn't a very efficient way to analyze content. And that is what scares me half to death.

The whole thing is a hot mess, but kids’ channel creators are the ones who are really scrambling. Everyone is afraid of YT now because they’re holding that $43,000.00 fine over everyone's head. No one is spelling out if it means anything for the non-monetized, but it probably does. I just don’t want to lose my nearly 2000 videos posted over 12 years! But if my channel is seen as ambiguous, problematic or just not popular enough, it may be dropped. They have that power. It all comes down to perceived financial worth.

I was alarmed what happened to PizzaFlix, a highly-rated, award-winning vintage movie channel which has always been one of my favourites. For no reason anyone can ascertain, it was abruptly canned, with an awful form letter stating, "We realize this is tough news, but. . . " Though I wonder. . . it mentioned not complying with YT standards. What does THAT mean? The creator may not have been totally forthcoming. He said all his stuff was copyright-free, but that can be extremely tricky, as I found out myself.

I know I should just leave it, because all my comments on YT may even be hurting me. People are going on there and crying! I can’t go over 2000 videos and designate each one as “for kids” or “for adults”, but I may be forced to do just that. In most cases, they were made for a general audience, but "intent" means nothing here. In fact, YouTube has made a public statement that you must choose between those two immutable categories for each and every video you have ever posted.

The only middle ground was taking each video separately, which I finally chose as the only option with any leeway. But that may mean 2000 agonizing decisions based on almost no information. And if YT doesn't agree with how I label them, I will likely just be canned. For example, if I say a video is "for adults" and the algorithm decides you've featured or even mentioned a toy or game or movie or song or costume that MIGHT appeal to children, or if a kid appears somewhere in your video, even by accident, you can be fined $43,000.00 for breaking the law. The original video from YT "explaining" all this to creators kept saying, if you have any questions about all this (or if you want to contest it), "CONSULT A LAWYER."

As usual, the “biggies” with many millions of subscribers and views are above all this and won’t suffer at all. But middling channels may lose their livelihood. And I might be canned and all my videos deleted at a stroke, because I am not financially viable. But the thing is, YT puts all sorts of restrictions on ads, then tells people they’re being terminated for not being commercially viable! And nowhere is it ever spelled out HOW MUCH you have to earn to BE commercially viable.

It’s impossible to tell what you’re supposed to be doing. Some response videos are angry, some are outright rants, some are scared, some placating and nervous and tip-toeing around to suck up to the beast (when protesting to the FCC, they plead with us to "be polite!"), some reassuring (and those are the worst!). Don’t worry, folks! Don’t be so panicky! What’s the matter with you? But then there’s PizzaFlix, which will soon sink into oblivion for no known reason. It seems to me that YT should be revamping its system, but that would be too much work, so it won’t – it's easier to just throw creators under the bus to save their own ass.

I never thought this would happen, but right now I have to think of my mental health. I put a statement in my channel description that my videos are made for a general audience, but I am not at all sure it was wise because that category no longer exists! If I am seen to be contesting the rules. . . It’s hard to put all this aside, but right now I have to. Is it worth it? Yes, it is! Two thousand memories, two thousand joyous creative experiences, two thousand big chunks of family history, birthdays, dance competitions, Taekwondo exams, animations, troll celebrations (which are “dolls” and suddenly "for kids" now!) - gone forever. It's scary, and right now I feel completely powerless. Logic would say that they would just hand my material back to me, but it will be deleted entirely unless this bizarre situation changes, and fast.

Friday, November 15, 2019

More troll stop-motion gifs!

BLOGGER'S NOTE: I am, I really AM working on a serious post for this blog, about the common points/affinities between legends Oscar Levant  and Dorothy Parker. I've been obsessed with both of them for years, and after re-reading the Levant bio, I just have to write something about this. They knew each other well, as it turned out, and liked each other a lot,  though it's doubtful they had too many deep conversations. They didn't have to, because they "got"  each other on a very deep level, which is never more profoundly shared than in the valley of intractible pain. I made notes on a little piece of lined paper in the car,  stuck a few sticky-notes on top of that, typed it in point form on my Word program, and that's as far as I've got it -  but meantime, enjoy my dancing trolls.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019