Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fruit

Last week my friend M came by & helped me hang several prints & original works. Thanks M! In the kitchen, I've hung several of M's own excellent work, her still life fruits. (((She does these kinds of paintings very easily, as 'studies.' She gave me the rotten banana for free)))
I think the fruits look good. They are painted on large blocks of wood with black sides, which makes them unusual. As for color, I especially like the plum. It looks so voluptuous. As for theme, I love the floating cherries. If cherries should be painted, they definitely should be floating.
As you can see, the paintings are also kitty approved....


Human Development Index

Why are those Swedes, Norwegians, & Icelanders so happy?
We were just discussing governments on Thanksgiving--my brother-in-law, Dad, sister, & I-- and its effects on people. Capitalism? Communism? Libertarianism? Democracy? Socialism? Which is best?
I brought up the point that year after year the various Socialist Democracies--- Norway, Holland, Sweden, Canada--rank high on citizens' happiness indexes.
Sure enough, this morning I spied an article reporting that Iceland is the world's happiest country in 2007. After six straight years, Iceland beat out Norway on the Human Development Index for the top numero uno country to live.

It seems kind of amusing. How can a barren slab in the middle of the ocean, just south of the Arctic Circle, house the world's happiest humans? Icelanders eat ram scrota, seal's flippers, and something called "bloomor" (blood pudding) regularly.They practically live on top of a volcano. And it's awfully dark there most of the year, isn't it? (this pretty much describes Norway too)

Nevertheless, for the past 27 years, the Scandinavian countries, and/or other Socialist Democratic countries have dominated the top 15 countries for happiness. The index measures standard of living, literacy rates, life expectancy, child welfare, education level, & other factors.

By the way, the United States ranks 12th in the latest statistics, down from 8th.

oh, yeah, they have natural hot springs and good looking
ladies in Iceland.

that might bring up their ranking....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chosen Family















Today, I enjoyed my second Thanksgiving, with my 'chosen family'--- my circle of friends. Not to take away from my 'natural' family..... I had a good time, and a delicious meal, with both parties...
Why not sit down & eat copious amounts of food, twice in one weekend?

November Scoot

Regarding my scoot, I've recently been anticipating it was soon time to hang up the keys, (very reluctantly) put away the helmet, & hunker down for the winter.
The Baron would give up baronessing.
Then along comes today!
I thoroughly enjoyed an exhilarating ride to my friend Molly's house this afternoon. What a beautiful day! Watch.
video

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Naming of Cats....


The Naming of Cats
by T.S. Eliot

The naming of cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm mad as a hatter
When I tell you a cat must have three
different names.

First of all, there's the name
that the family use daily,
Such as Victor, or Jonathan,
George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names
if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen,
some for the dames;
Such as Plato, Admetus,
Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.

But I tell you,
a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that is peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he
keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers,
or cherish his pride?

Of names of this kind,
I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quazo or Coripat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellyrum--
Names that never belong
to more than one cat.

But above and beyond
there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you will never guess;
The name
that no human research can discover--
But The Cat Himself Knows,
and will never confess.

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought,
of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

illustrations by edward gorey,
extraordinary


Friday, November 23, 2007

The Little Bopper

Here's my niece, singing "Be-Bop-A-Lula, she's my baby.....," while jumping on me. I survived without a punctured lung or broken ribs. I like how she says, "Done." (Also note the chocolate on the tip of her nose)

video

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jacqueline du Pre

If you ever get the chance to see the movie "Hilary and Jackie," watch it (1998). It's one of my favorites. It's the true story about two musical sisters from Britain, one a flutist and the other a cellist. Jacqueline is seen below in this clip performing Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor, Opus 85, 1st movement, sometime in the 1970's.. It's her most famous piece, and well worth listening to.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What the Fluff?

In late September several of my friends participated in the "What the Fluff?" fest in Somerville, Massachusetts.
In case you didn't know, fluff--- that all American 'food product'--- was invented in Somerville. Archibald Query (certainly the name of a man who would dream up fluff) began selling marshmallow fluff in 1917. After WWI, he sold the recipe to Durkee and Mower, from Lynn, MA. Then fluff became the fluff we all know and love.
If you watch this silly video carefully, my friends Molly & Chris are at the beginning, with blue & red T-shirts on, respectively. Gail & Sue are at the end, participating in a fluff hairdo contest. They're in the middle of the stage.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Somerville Theater

In the late 1930's, during the Depression and the eve of World War II, my grandmother was no fool. Every week she went down to the Somerville Theater for a well deserved break, and the chance to procure some free goods.
Back in those days, the
Historic Somerville Theater gave away free flatware, dishes, & other gifts to lure women to the movies. Each week a movie-goer would get one piece of a set. All my grandmother had to do was sit back & watch all the current Hollywood musicals and fancy-free romances, & the occasional disturbing newsreel of the war. She didn't mind.

Perhaps my grandfather did. Family lore has it that my grandfather, saddled with the 3 screaming children, came marching down to the theater, searching for "Gwenie" among the women in the aisle. He announced flatly, "The baby won't stop crying." Dutifully, my grandmother rose up from her seat, & walked back to our house, probably missing some tantalizing & critical flatware addition that evening.
Original Ad, circa 1930's:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Leave It To the Ladies

A few weeks ago, I posted about the latest findings concerning our nearest human cousins, the Neanderthals. For some reason, I've got a soft spot for these evolutionary underdogs. As the Geico ads prove, 'cavemen' just don't get the respect they deserve.

Below I'll summarize some interesting facts about Neanderthals, then list some possible reasons for their demise. For the full article, click on the link below....
1. Neanderthals made fire and mastered tools.
2. Women as well as men hunted.
3. Some Neanderthals were believed to have flaming red hair & pale skin.
4. Neanderthals possessed a gene known to underlie speech and language.
5. The Neanderthal range is wider than thought, to Russia & possibly Asia.

Of course we know the Neanderthals died out. Why? Possible reasons are many, not a few.
1. If forced to hunt, too many Neanderthal women of childbearing age would be injured or killed.
2. Climate change led to a change in game herds. The Neanderthals could not adjust quickly enough.
3. The Cro-Magnons did have cognitive, adaptive, and practical (more tools) advantages.
4. Genocide. Modern humans killed the Neanderthals.
5. The Cro-Magnons may have brought diseases fatal to the Neanderthal.
6. If females were hunting, they weren't gathering & harvesting. The bulk of a tribe's food comes from the gals.
http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2007/11/10/stone_age_feminism/?page=full

Rescue Me

This hunk of a young man happens to be my cousin's oldest son, Brian. (sorry the photo's so crappy) Yes, I changed his diapers once, but now he's 21 and rescuing people at sea. Recently he saved a man's life. Of course, we are all proud of Brian. Here's the story below.

Mass. Maritime cadet applies school lessons to save a life
SANDWICH - When Brian Taylor spotted a man in the water and a boat adrift at Sandwich Marina Tuesday night, he immediately called for help. "I saw a red jacket in the water and his hands up by the side of the boat," Taylor, a seasonal employee at the town-owned marina, said yesterday. "I called the assistant harbor master and told him to get over there with the harbor master's boat right away. I told him there's a person in the water."
Taylor, 21, a sophomore at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, jumped into a dinghy at about 7:40 p.m. and headed toward a 44-foot Hinckley yacht adrift about 50 yards from the docks. He found a man, his face barely out of the water, trapped along the side of his boat by a rope that was entangled in the yacht's engines.
"As I got closer, he gained consciousness," Taylor said. "He started screaming, 'Help me. Help me.'"
Jack Erbes, a boat captain driving the multimillion-dollar yacht from Nantucket to a Maine boatyard, had hit his head on the concrete of the marina's fuel dock, said David Whearty, an assistant harbor master credited with assisting in the rescue.
Erbes was apparently attempting to jump from boat to the dock with the ropes in his hand when he smacked his head and wound up in the water.
"We think he got flung backwards because one of the ropes was sucked into the jet propulsion engine," Taylor said.
That rope is what trapped Erbes against the side of the yacht. "It jammed his hand against the boat," Whearty said. "He was able to keep just a little bit of his head out of the water."
Taylor, an emergency management major, cut the rope with a knife and helped Erbes onto the yacht's swim platform. The yacht's engines were shut down and it was towed to a slip.
"He had no life vest and the water was cold," Whearty said. "There would not have been a good ending if no one was here."
In fact, Taylor's season ends Sunday. He has worked for the town for about five years.
Erbes, an employee of Hinckley Yachts in Rhode Island, was taken by Sandwich Fire Department personnel to Jordan Hospital. He suffered a large bump and cut on his head and was disoriented, officials said.
Erbes returned the next morning to retrieve the boat and head toward Maine, Whearty said. Erbes did not return a call left on his voice mail yesterday.
As for Taylor and Whearty, they were recognized for their heroics by the Sandwich selectmen last night. "I'm very happy he was OK," Taylor said.

Taylor will also likely receive a cadet ribbon for having the presence of mind to use his emergency management training so effectively, Adm. Richard Gurnon, Massachusetts Maritime president, said yesterday.
"It's nice to see all those things come together with a successful outcome," he said.
Whearty downplayed his own role, giving full credit to Taylor for the rescue. "He is the one who saved the man's life, without a doubt."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's a Wedgie

These two adorable twins absolutely know what's important in life--- a wedgie free existence. Apparently it's a boy thing, because I don't remember ever suffering a wedgie. But necessity is the mother of invention. These boys invented wedgie-proof underwear. With wars, murder, disease, and other horrors going on in the world, it's comforting and amusing to listen to the logic of these two boys.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Matriarch

This past weekend my whole paternal side of the family (minus a few) got together at my sister's house in Maine. My Aunt Janet was in town from Texas, and many of us hadn't seen her for years. It was great fun hanging out with my cousins, their kids, niece, nephews, my parents, aunts, uncle, sisters and brothers-in-law. It was like old times, being all together.

Years ago, we used spend much more time together, for better or worse. In fact, nearly every Sunday of my childhood we gathered for dinner at my grandmother's house. We would pass the afternoon and early evening at "Nana's house," usually after my mom succeeded or didn't succeed in dragging us to church.

This Saturday past, some of the 'elder set' of the family was feeling nostalgic. My grandmother, Rachel, was on our minds, and brought up frequently in conversation. Usually we laughed heartily when someone told a 'Ma" story. Afterwards there was sometimes silence. To quote from Jane Austen's Emma, we were often "divided between tears and smiles."

This loving, commanding, optimistic woman was our matriarch, and not to be forgotten. Even for the younger members of the family, who never met "great Nana," her spirit was present.

Rachel Charlotte ---circa 1968

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

You Go,Go-Go Girls

The Go-Go Girls are a memorable band from early 80's pop. They were unique not only for their sound, but for the fact they were a group of rocking gals. The Go-Go Girls did compose some catchy tunes. The band continues to do so today. Check out their hilarious website:http://www.gogos.com/dd/bio.html

Our Lips Our Sealed

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sweet Caroline

My friend Nil sent this to me. It's been some time since the Red Sox's big win, so I'm already nostalgic for baseball. Watch this video. You have to admit, it's exceedingly cute. What I love best about this clip is the birth of all these future baseball fans. Real Bostonians. I got into baseball when I was 14, watching the 1976 World Series with my Dad and Uncle Robert. Fond memories.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Feed the Kitty

Here's my sister J's favorite Warner Brothers cartoon. The large bulldog, Marc Anthony, falls in love with a kitten, Pussyfoot. He can't let his owner discover the sweet kitty. Original release-- 1952.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dribblelert

I was pleased yesterday that my verbal creation came in third on www.verbotomy.com/. On Verbotomy.com, a new 'definition' is given everyday, accompanied by an amusing cartoon to illustrate the concept. (see sidebar for link) The 'definitions' are of those common experiences or objects in life that are as yet unnamed. Players create a word, then get points for their word, and its use in a sentence. Other readers can 'vote' for your word.
My word was 'dribblelert.' Check it out to see the definition. http://www.verbotomy.com/verboticisms.php?jid=cake