Tuesday, December 31, 2013

First Night

Downtown, after the wonderful Parade. Annie and I are wandering through the Public Garden, waiting for the early Fireworks. This is me trying to put a little hat back on one of the Ducklings from the famous "Make Way for Ducklings" Sculpture. It's very cold, so before we even left the house, there was a definite "girding of the loins". I'm wearing two pairs of socks, long underwear, and a hat and earmuffs underneath the hood attached to my jacket. And, in spite of the thick gloves I have on, my hands are cold.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dump The Tea!

Monday, December 16th, was the 240th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. Annie and I went downtown for the Reenactment. First was the meeting of "The Body of the Public" at the Old South Church, then the march to the Waterfront, and then the boarding of the Replica Ship and the dumping of Ye chests of tea in Ye Harbor. We got to sit on very authentic aluminum bleachers and watch from the other side of the Fort Point Channel (and yes, it was wicked cold down there.) 
Each attendee of the Meeting part had a slip of paper in their program which assigned them a character. To create the appearance that the Public at Large was participating in the meeting (and to kill time until the "Indians" were ready), we were encouraged to read aloud our Character's words. 

Samples include: "I am a Weaver. While my business has benefited from the Patriot boycott, others have not been so fortunate, We must not let politics continue to hurt the economy of this great town." And, "My name is Samuel Hale. We are all Englishmen who must obey the laws of King George. How long must we live in fear for our safety? This violence must stop and order must be restored!"

The whole time they were going back and forth about refusing the Tea, or landing the Tea, I was hoping for someone to get up and say, "This tea we speake of was brought from India, halfway around the World, at what coste in energy, and what coste to ye environment? Why do we not seek to drinke local? Simply brew a tisane from the leaves of the very plante ye grow to make your rope, and you will be happy to pay a tax, so that it might be safe and legal." But, alas, no Colonial Bro came forth. (Note: Pictures by Michael Blanchard and/or Tea Party Museum.)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thrill Ride

Wow, you may not want to go on this particular Ride (it's actually a 3-D Chalk painting by Artist Julian Beever ):

And here's another cool piece of conceptual artwork, posted by Nicole Jordan:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

All Through The House

Hilary Price has nailed it. It's the last night of Hanukkah, and all through the house, Jews are frantically looking for candle-like objects to fill the gaps in the Menorah.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Festival Of Lighted Turkeys

[From the Book of Faces: "Well, it was still early on Thanksgiving Eve when we got our Turkey Day Tree up and decorated. Of course, this year, we also put little potato latkes and menorahs on it. Feel free to submit pictures if you have also put your Turkey Day Tree up already."]

 It won't happen again for more than 76,000 years, so I figured I might as well have fun with it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Black Friday? Bah, Humbug!

I hate Black Friday. The very idea of it, never mind the actual thing itself. It tears us from the peace, quiet, and, yes, thankfulness of Thanksgiving, and hurls us willy-nilly into the "shuffling madness of the locomotive breath" that is the Holiday Shopping Season. There is something fundamentally wrong with our economy if even our largest Retailers depend on Christmas gift buying for up to 40% of their yearly receipts. It makes them look a lot more like souvenir Shoppes at a Tourist resort than soundly-run enterprises.
Desperate for Holiday $$ or not, why couldn't they slowly amp things up by having 'Light Gray Friday', followed by 'Gray Saturday', and then 'Really Dark Gray Sunday'? I know this makes me sound like a Grinch, but I would very much like to see a social compact (or a harsh Law, to be brutally honest) that there be no Christmas Decorations or Music in stores until the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Not In This House

Cara Terez posted this picture of her Father, Kevin Brooks, with the caption, "Dad, festive tree killer."
Which reminded me: At the Storytelling Potluck this past Sunday, Pepper Green said emphatically, "We don't kill trees in this house!" To which I replied, "Nor in my house, either. We kill them outside, and then drag the bodies in." Sounds like that was what was happening here...
(Please note that I  do NOT actually go around chopping down trees, NOR have I ever put up a Christmas Tree.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Questionably Content

On Saturday, I went to hear Cartoonist Jeph Jacques talk at Brandeis. He draws Questionable Content, a wildly successful Web Comic. He is not only quite a character, but also one of a handful of people who can entirely support themselves by doing so. It was in the common room of Usen Castle, which has to be one of the coolest-looking College Dormitories ever.
Usen Castle (an actual Dormitory at Brandeis University)
Larger view of Usen Castle
Cartoonist Jeph Jacques (and the young woman from Usen who organized the event)

Me standing in line to say "Thank You" to Jeph.
Me, still waiting in line.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Sad Story

Jen 'n' Berry, makers of Premium Ice Cream, have come out with the "Euphori-Lock" Pint Protector: 
It's not only a combination lock for your pricey frozen dessert, it has a morally-uplifting slogan as well: "There's no u in my pint"! This is apparently meant to reassure you that, if you did ever leave your apartment, your "Okey Dokey Artichokey" would be safe from your roommate (who, if they're at all like you, presumably has no self-control whatsoever.) But, alas, if that were true, this is what would happen about five minutes after you clumped down the stairs:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Felinus Imperatus

You gotta love this Kitten -- he reminds me of Charles Laughton as Henry VIII:
(Original photo courtesy of Nicole Fortier.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Hobyahs

[From the Book of Faces, Nov. 5:
Anne Crockett Home from storytelling where Mike did a great feature that included stories of a flood, and a tv-less childhood. Some good laughs and poignant too. He finished with an unusual scary story that I thought was his invention but apparently was not. Hmm. Other people think like that too? Weird. It was a nice night in any event.]
(Me in my Storytelling Shirt, which was
 hand-painted by Annie Crockett using acrylic paints.)

The scary story in question was The Hobyahs, which goes back a long ways, and has many, many versions. In a lot of them the dog, Turpey, is subjected to unspeakable abuse. In mine (and I don't know why, it's not like I'm a dog person), he gets to experience far more character development than anyone else in the story. This tale is like a verbal Rorschach test--it is composed of a bunch of simple, but very unsettling elements, and everyone who tells it is clearly compelled to arrange them in a different way that reflects how they feel. You can listen to my version of this Story here: MDC Live Stories.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Limerick For Laura

The Limerick is supposedly the only form of verse native to the English Language. It is also noted for how easily it lends itself to bawdiness (to put it mildly). As a result, not that many people get to be immortalized via clean Limericks, as they're apparently much harder to compose. My friend, the inimitable Laura Packer, was not feeling well, so I came up with this in her honor:

Laura P. of Kansas City
Has a bad Cold--'tis a pity,
For a Rhinovirus
Is never desirous,
And the results are not pretty.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Back To Cat Swamp

Went for a long walk at the Ward Reservation in Andover, MA:

Rocks showing in roots of an overturned Tree.
A strangely contorted Tree.
Close-up of strangely contorted Tree.
Very large Stone showing in roots of an overturned Tree.
Walkway across Swamp.
Large rock outcropping by edge of Swamp.
Attempting to show the Dam from below.
Grass and moss growing on log appearing to float in Swamp.
Another fallen Tree with a large Rock clutched in its roots.
Closer-up -- kind of looks like a face.
Green grow the Rushes, O!
Still walking through the Rushes, O.
Close-up of large rock in the roots of an overturned Tree.
Large Rock caught in the roots of an overturned Tree.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Oooh, Scary!

Some people are really into Halloween.  I was out biking between North Andover and Georgetown when I spotted these inflatables on Ipswich Road in Boxboro:

The coach had been blown over onto its side, so I went up into the yard to set it upright. I was standing there, in my Bike Clothes, taking pictures, when a Mini-Van pulled into the driveway. A woman got out with a very questioning look on her face. She was worried that I might be an unhappy neighbor who did not approve of her decorations. I assured her that I was only taking pictures because I did approve. In fact, I had originally noticed the Coach last year, but was never able to get a picture. She then told me that her kids loved the inflatables, but were only allowed to pick out one new one each year.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Urt Seluurt Zavi

The entire Mongolian Rowing Association (all two of them) is in town for the Head of the Charles Regatta. According to an interesting story in today's Boston Globe, there is no name for "Rowing" in Mongolian, so they had to make one up: Urt Seluurt Zavi, or "Long Oar Boating". Also, there is nowhere near Ulaan Baatar for them to practice, so their experience has consisted of going to Community Rowing here for the past two or so weeks. When one of them tried to explain to his Mom about signing up for the Head of the Charles, she said, "Oh, just like the Jamaican Bobsledders in the Olympics!"

(Photo courtesy Lane Turner/Globe Staff)


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Zombies vs. Animals

According to a misguided article on Boingboing.Net, the Living Dead wouldn't stand a chance against Animals. Now, I'm not at all a fan of Zombie Shows, or of the very idea of zombies. To be honest, they give me the creeps. But when I read this, I had to say, "Now, wait just a minute. This isn't right--it's clearly a case of someone riding on their hobbyhorse." In the article,  National Wildlife Federation naturalist David Mizejewski explains how he thinks nature would deal with a zombie outbreak: brutally, and without quarter. Where he goes off the rails is his wanting to specify that zombies are merely walking carrion. Sorry, but I am not buying it. It is like saying that the Late Roman Empire could have easily defeated the invading Barbarian Hordes, if only all of the Barbarians had casts on their legs.
First is the problem of whatever causes Zombification. If it's a pathogen that can instantly infect an attack victim, why couldn't it infect an animal that bites or eats a part of a Zombie? Any condition that could accidently produce an organism that can simultaneously hijack the Human Body and Brain, could just as easily produce ones that would affect animals.
If the causative agent was artificially produced in a laboratory, early versions of it would no doubt be tailored for and tested on animals. If you were evil enough to do something like this, you'd quickly realize that it would be easier and more economical (and frightening) to just infect animals and let them do all of the attacking. Even simpler, then, would be to produce a sort of super-Rabies that was fast-acting but didn't quickly kill the host.
Second, even if the cause of Zombification was strictly human-specific, and could neither infect any other creature (down to the microscopic) nor mutate, there are still two major objections.
Problem A is the motility issue. Birds in general are serious motion detectors, and Carrion Birds don't go after things that are still moving. Crows and ravens might, along with coyotes and bears, etc., but that would only be in the case of a very slow moving and isolated Zombie. Ones moving around in groups would be safe from carrion eaters. It is not known whether Zombies sleep or have rest periods, so it can't be posited that there would be times that they weren't moving, and would be just lying or sitting on the ground motionless where they could be easily accessed by bacteria, fungi, molds, and spores, or carrion-seeking insects.
Problem B is the question of what Zombie flesh would even smell or taste like. Given infection by some pathogen that caused the flesh to be alive and dead at the same time, Zombies might not be attractive to carrion seekers, or might even actively repel them. They might also be poisonous and kill anything besides another Human that bit them.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Two Words

...that can make the Strongest Heart quail: Oral Surgery.

Day Two: Chipmunk Cheeks.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sinead O'Connor

[From the Book of Faces, Oct. 3:
James Houlahan I'm about to write an open letter to Pope Francis about Amanda Palmer's open letter in response to Sinead O'Connor's open letter to Miley Cyrus.]

Speaking of Sinead O'Connor: in all the years that I watched Saturday Night Live, there were only two musical acts that received what I felt was an authentic response. The first was George Thorogood, after his "Bad to the Bone"; he ripped it up, and the crowd justifiably went wild. The second was O'Connor after she ripped up a picture of the Pope. In that case, the crowd was dead silent--as opposed to the usual automatic (and thus unearned and meaningless) applause.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Giant Spider

(From the Book of Faces, Sept. 27:)

Like Martha Reed Johnson, I too have a giant spider. This one's in our new Compost Bin. To avoid disturbing it, I've had to put the compost-to-be into the old Bin.

 The camera made it look brown, but it's actually several different shades of gray:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

One Last Day Of Summer

Saturday--Back to Walden Pond for one last day of Summer. Water supposedly a balmy 68 degrees. Got in one more swim. Tried to really appreciate it, as it may be the last outdoor swim of the season. In the evening, if you stand in the water close to shore, you will soon be surrounded by a circle of curious fish. Eventually some of the braver ones (probably teenagers) will come in for a closer look and an exploratory nibble. But worry not--since they have no teeth, these are just a series of tiny bumps against your leg.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Clinging To Summer

Hardy New Englanders cling to summer by swimming outside without wetsuits. Yesterday at Walden Pond, about 5:45pm.