Monthly Archives: October 2008

Halloweiner Dog

Happy Halloween everyone! It’s a great day to be alive and celebrating all things ghoulish and witchy! I do love this day. New York City is one of the best places to celebrate the holiday with its impressive parade, endless partying, and most importantly, a gathering of today’s great thing in Union Square Park.

53. Pets in Halloween costumes

Yes, that’s right. It’s more animal abuse for this blog. The Union Square animal Halloween parade isn’t the only one of its kind, though. Other cities have similar events. In fact, maybe yours does. If not, why not organize one? As I’m sure you’re inclined to agree, a gathering of people and their clownishly outfitted dogs is a happy happy ocassion.

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What is it about dressing pets up that’s so funny? Well, I suppose it works on many levels. First of all, there’s the anthropomorphism of it all. Dogs don’t celebrate Halloween. They also have no point of reference regarding what it is they’re dressed up as. I don’t think those chihuahuas from the opening picture have any understanding of the religious order. Well maybe. Who can say for sure? Secondly, there’s the daftness of it. Can you believe that there’s a whole industry out there to service your dog costume needs? What a world! Believe me, I’m grateful for the laughter. Lastly, it’s the humiliation of it all. I know it sounds cruel, but laughing at a dog in a costume works on the same principle as laughing at a pie in the face. You’re laughing because someone was made to look like a jerk. Sometimes that someone is your dog.

I especially like when the breed of dog is coordinated with the costume choice. For instance, a pug is the ideal candidate for a spider costume.

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Don’t you think? Especially a black pug. Fantastic!

Some dogs are really suited for bee outfits. Pugs look good in them too.

Here’s a website that is entirely devoted to the phenomenon that is ‘beedogs’. It’s highly amusing.

Bee Dogs

Sometimes, people manage to snap pics of their pets looking like what could pass for a highschool yearbook pose in their costumes. It’s a bit hard to explain so let me demonstrate with visual aids.

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https://i2.wp.com/www.thehorizonline.com/blog/uploaded_images/easterDog1-784500.JPG

http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~haakon/photos/fall05/various/2005.11.15%20-%20princeton%20high%20yearbook%20-%20helge%20ringberg.jpg

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Am I right? I mean, you understand now, right? Tell me you see it too.

Anyway, there’s not much more to say about this phenomenon. Please, dear reader, just promise me this: should you ever have a dog, please be a responsible owner and dress it up in garish and ridiculous outfits at least once per year. Otherwise, why even HAVE a dog?

Also, don’t forget to put boots on it. Dog Boots

Now, enjoy some hilarious photo montages that I found on Youtube, featuring–you guessed it–dogs in costumes.

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Filed under Hobbies, Nature, Uncategorized, website

Great Pumpkins

I still carve pumpkins on Halloween. Sure, I might be (stressing the word ‘might’ there) a ‘grown-up’ now, but it’s still fun and the seeds are yummy when you roast them. Try as I might though, my pumpkins never turn out great. I can only endow them with those gap-toothed faces that commonly appear in the American suburban landscape around this time of year on people’s porches. You know the pumpkin I’m talking about, ‘Old Smiley Two-Teeth’. Adorable, but an eight year old could replicate my work. A nine year old could improve on it.

That’s why I truly admire those who go the extra mile. Those artists who look at a pumpkin and see a canvas. Some of these designs, I mean, you’d have to have the hands of a surgeon. Whether it’s just a really good scary face, a celebrity portrait, or a whole story etched into the gourde, even teenagers refrain from smashing them.

52. Carved Pumpkins (really good ones)

The origin behind the Jack O’Lantern stems from 18th century Celtic tradition. There are a few different variations on the story, but one of the most popular ones is that a man, Stingy Jack, who was always playing pranks on the devil, convinced Old Scratch to scramble up a tree for whatever reason…I wasn’t paying that close attention to what I was reading. Whilst up there, Jack carved crosses at the base, stranding the devil up in the boughs. So that he could get down, Lucifer made a deal with Stingy. The devil promised Stingy Jack that his soul would never enter the gates of hell. Great deal? Not so much. When Jack finally did pop his clogs he was denied entry to heaven as well (he was kind of a scoundrel). True to his word, the devil didn’t let him into hell either. Forlorn, Jack asked the devil what he was supposed to do and where was he supposed to go. The devil sarcastically flicked an ember from his fiery depths up at Jack so that he’d be able to light his way whilst her roamed the earth looking for his eternal rest. Jack stuck it into a carved out turnip creating the first, rather busted, version of the Jack O’Lantern.

Decor-savvy Irish children were soon carving the ‘lanterns’ to ward off the trickster (and other evil spirits). And yes, because there were no pumpkins in Ireland at that time, potatoes and turnips and rutabagas were used instead. Check it:

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To be sure, to be sure....

Not bad, but apparently they’re like hell to carve. Plus, what do you do with the insides? I’m assuming turnip pie just ain’t the same.

The Irish immigrants that sailed to The States brought the tradition of carving root vegetables and chucking candles into ’em over with them. Just imagine their delight at the discovery of pumpkins. Maybe the streets of America weren’t paved with gold, maybe it’s not the land of milk and honey that it promised to be, but hey, at least we have some kickass squashes.

Since then, pumpkins have been imported and cultivated in Europe. So, everyone can enjoy stabbing faces and other designs into them.

Artistically, the move from turnip to pumpkin must have been like the move from crayons to computer animation. All of a sudden, the possibilities were endless. The gifted can do amazing things with a pumpkin. More than really complicated stencil-like designs, I dig the comedy pumpkins. A good gag. Let’s start with a classic: The Barfing Pumpkin. There have been many variations on this theme but here’s a solid example.

https://i1.wp.com/www.tackytreasures.com/tackyhtml/tackyimages/hallowbarf.jpg

Blargh....too much rum...

Nice use of facial expression as well as a healthy mix of seed and pumpkin guts in the faux-puke. Proper!

Here’s another example of this classic motif. This display employs a second character, the ‘victim’ pumpkin. I like how the barfing pumpkin looks like a bit of a scamp in this one. He’s got a bit of a crooked smirk in that wide-mawed puke-hole As if this was his plan all along…to get sick enough to yak on his little friend. Poor friend!

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Blargh..har har har...

Other successful pumpkin artistes take the convention of pumpkin carving and turn it on its ear. I’ve seen some good Pac-Man pumpkins, a couple cannibal pumpkins (pumpkins eating other pumpkins of course), and even pervy pumpkins with naughty bits. Here’s a couple of very novel entries in the realm of unconventional carving:

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It's the flipping death star!

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It's a flipping giant squid!

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It's a flipping hamburger!

Browsing for these photos has been fun, but there’s one website that I’ve found with an incredible gallery. For your convenience, I’d like to present it to you now. That website is: Extreme Pumpkins

I highly recommend that you go ahead and click that link. I like this guy’s whole attitude towards Halloween. It’s the ultimate good time–no one gets hurt–prankster holiday–that also celebrates mass consumption of candy. Not only does he have a great selection of pumpkin pics, but he promotes the general idea that those seeking candy aren’t the only ones that can play the tricks. So you’re not twelve anymore, there’s still fun to be had! Check out the page called ‘candy traps’ on his site. Lots of great ideas there for how to provide a little scare while you dole out those fun size snickers bars and mini boxes of raisins…you know…like distracting the trick or treaters with the candy while your partner jumps out of the bushes in a gorilla suit. Good, clean, bladder bursting fun.

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Filed under comedy, Hobbies, Nature, Vittles, website

“Vitches of Ink-Land…”

In keeping with my eager anticipation of Halloween, I’d like to celebrate a fantastic performance in a ‘pretty good’ movie.

51. Anjelica Huston in The Witches

The film,though it received mixed reviews, isn’t a bad one. Its director, Nicholas Roeg and the Jim Henson Workshop succeed in capturing some of the magic. It’s just that the source material is THAT good that any filmed adaptation is unlikely to compare. Roald Dahl’s book The Witches (and frankly, any book that he writes) rewards the reader with an experience that is magnificently ludicrous. Dahl’s carefully selected language is key here. Though his plots and story-lines are terrific, you can’t beat him for best use of a thesaurus applied to children’s literature.

Couple Dahl’s words with Quentin Blake’s beautifully grotesque scratchings and you have a formula that, try as it might, the medium of film just can’t capture.

Not ALL English women look like this. Only lots of them.

On top of having fantastic (if impossible to replicate source material) and a director of of good reputation (Roeg’s film Don’t Look Now is on several ‘best of…’ lists), the picture has a stellar supporting cast including Jane Horrocks, Mr. Bean, and Brenda Blethyn. Noble efforts all around but the real savior of this picture is Anjelica Huston.

In fact, though Dahl was allegedly pretty miffed at some of the changes the film made to his story–like the ending for a start–he was delighted with Huston as The Grand High Witch. In fact, she was his number one choice from the get go. As irritating as it must have been to see his deliciously grisly fairy-tale get watered down for the cinema, he must have been over the moon when he watched her performance. I mean, she’s a great actress, we all know that, but who knew how camp she would go for her turn in this pic?

For, that’s kind of what Dahl’s villainesses are in a way–camp…super-campy drag queens…and that includes Matilda’s Miss Trunchbull. Dahl elevates ugliness to a real art form and there is nothing more exciting than watching a beautiful person get down and dirty. Huston with her regal appearance and high-art pedigree totally goes for broke in her portrayal of the worst witch of them all. Everything, from her total loathing of children to her bizarre accent are pitch perfect.

I applaud her for suffering through eight hours of makeup in order to go from this:

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To this, The Grand High Witch, otherwise known as Eva Ernst:

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That’s pretty much what I look like after eight hours of makeup as well. Except, for me, it’s an improvement.

It was speculated in an issue of Buzzline magazine that Anjelica can play these types of characters better perhaps because she doesn’t have children. Where some other actress would’ve been afraid to offend, she’s more objective about the humor in the movie–thinks kids can take the laugh. She’s absolutely right. Why else would Dahl be so revered by the 10 year old set?

Here’s a clip from the film. It’s a bit long but it’s a good one. Watch at the five minute mark how she can barely contain her excitement over the prospect of turning Bruno into a rodent.

Superb! I especially enjoy the slight change in her vocal quality when she gets a bit embarrassed at the overwhelmingly positive reaction to her new forumla. “Shaddap, shaddap. Enuff!”, she says bashfully.

Beautiful, talented, with fantastic taste in children’s literature? What more could you ask for? What’s that? And she shares some of my political beliefs? That’s it. She’s officially one of the most awesome people alive.

I’m lifting this bit directly from WENN.com:

Actress Anjelica Huston has become the latest star to take aim at U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, stating the fact the Alaskan Governor is even in the race for the White House is “depressing”.

The Witches star admits she’s “terrified by the politics of Mrs. Palin” and disturbed by her love of hunting.

Huston states, “This is a woman who is shooting caribou from the air, from helicopters. It’s like going back in time to some kind of fantasy of the 1950s, and I find it very depressing.

“I think people are looking at the election as a reality show. I think people have forgotten that this is about the presidency of the United States. They are looking at this like (reality TV show) Living Lohan or The Osbournes or something. I just can’t imagine that this is happening.”

Word, Anjelica.

And to think, they almost cast Cher as The Grand High Witch. For real! I’m not trying to poop on Cher’s acting ability or anything, but it just wouldn’t have been the same. Anjelica was the right choice for this “Dark Lady”.

Next up for Anjelica, is an animated version of another Roald Dahl classic, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It’s being directed by another Anjelica Huston fan, Wes Anderson. I bet she’ll take the cake in this adaptation as well.

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Filed under Literature, Movies, People

Everyday People

Under normal circumstances, I’m the sort of gal that can cope with the changes that our modern world brings us. I can take the heat. I can roll with the punches. I’m a modern chick. I have short hair! I use computers! But, in doing a bit of research about today’s great thing:

50. The Letter People

I found myself growing more and more frustrated by some unnecessary changes.

First, some exposition…The Letter People were born in the mid-seventies in St. Louis Missouri. Created by Elayne Reiss-Weimann and Rita Friedman, they were originally a local, low-budget project. They grew and grew in popularity and by the time the early 1980’s rolled around, they had filmed over sixty episodes. The fifteen minute shorts were broadcast both on PBS and in many a kindergarten classroom (including mine–shout out to Miss Hoffman of St. James in Erie, Pennsylvania).

A brief history and an episode guide is provided here: rickstv

It’s one a few impressive online communities celebrating the denizens of ‘Letter People Land’.

The Letter People were a hit with all the kids. One bit of clever marketing was the merchandising of things like flashcards, filmstrips, and these vinyl ‘huggables’ for the classrooms. Here’s picture of the Mr. P ‘Huggable’. Mr. P, that is–he of the Pointy Patches:

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I look good.

Calling anything made out of vinyl ‘huggable’ is a bit of a reach. I mean, hug too hard and you’ll pop it. Hug too long and you’ll come away sweaty and possibly with a rash. Still, the day when Mr. M (Munching Mouth) and Mr. T (Tall Teeth) arrived at our school was the closest thing I’d had to a celebrity encounter in all of my five years of life. I was manically happy and, embarrassingly, a bit too shy to get close to the plastic inflatables.

Merchandising and educational value aside, the kids loved The Letter People because they were all about the music, man. Each of the peeps had their own theme song. The styling and composition ranged in genre from Mr. Kind Kicking K’s pep club athletic anthem to the Carpenters-esque Miss A’s Achoo song to the ratpack crooning of Mr. Cotton Candy C. Naturally, being children of the 70’s, there were a couple of hip-shaking disco anthems in there as well. Check out this tribute to Mr. S. that some upright citizen put on youtube. It’s a floor-filler.

His superhero hideout is called ‘The Sock Cave’. Could there be anything more adorable? And dig those crazy beats.

My Mom taught in the same school that I attended at that point. As the fourth grade teacher, she was privy to the educational aid stash. She scored us a bootleg tape. My sister and I listened to all 26 tracks over and over and over again. Watching their library of videos on youtube (many are available) is pure and sweet nostalgia.

Anyway, the whole program was bought over by a different educational materials company in the 90’s–during the height of our political correctness. How would this transfer of ownership affect our celebrated ambassadors of Letter People Land? In what ways, you might ask, would that particular decade–one of padded playgrounds and overprotected children– mold their editorial choices? More importantly, how could a program about letters and the alphabet ever be thought of as offensive?

They found ways. They always find reasons to change things. For one, they altered what I thought was a pretty rad concept involving the five vowels and gender-typing. Y’see, all the consonants were Letter Boys and all the vowels were Letter Girls. Sure there was a ratio discrepancy, but big deal. It felt like the Old West, just with less brothels. Female-types were a rare but precious commodity. It’s indicative of how important we are! As a girl, I liked that! Now, predictably, they’re split evenly–with characters like Mr. T getting gender re-assigned to Ms. T.

Another upset is the repo of any junk foods associated with the characters. Mr. D used to sing about Delicious Donuts. Now he goes on about his Dazzling Dance. I preferred the excited fatso of my generation…not the performing arts braggart of today.

Any negative connotations were also removed. Take Mr. H for instance:

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Holler!

Used to be, this guy had Horrible Hair. Now it’s Happy Hair. Who got to you Mr. H? Was it Pantene? Talk, damn you!

Miss I–who used to be an Incredible Inventor has, in what I think might qualify as the most careless oversight of the century, been turned IIIIIIronically, into Mr. Impossible Inches. I mean, come on man…that’s a porn name. Are you telling me that you don’t see it? Impossible Inches! What is wrong with people today?

Still, even with all of the changes, it’s a good concept. I know they’re just trying to learn kids to read good and stuff… But, I can’t switch my allegiance. So, if you must–click here to check out the modern merchandise. Abrams and Company

If you’re a loyalist like me though, support the originals. Because donuts ARE delicious and having a cast of all-girl vowels is OK! There’s a few people that sell DVD copies of the show on Ebay. Don’t settle for less.

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Filed under Characters, Music, TV

Play That Spooky Music, White Boy

We’re about halfway through the month of October now and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of controlling my childish urges to talk about nothing but Halloween. But, that little bit of self-discipline breaks down today.

I love Halloween and all of its accompanying activities. The candy, the pumpkins, the costumes, the cider, the hayrides, the haunted houses, the parties, the scary movies If society would permit it, I’d still be trick or treating door to door. But, at 21 I was told by several candy-withholding neighbors that I had to stop. Adult life can be so cruel sometimes.

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My insides make good pie!

Living here in the UK now, I’m happy to celebrate this awesome holiday in any way that I can find. Because weirdly, they don’t do it up as much as us Yanks do. It’s a shame because loads of British cities feel like they’re just built for the occasion. Edinburgh, I’m talking to you with all of your castles, fog, and witches! Plus, wasn’t Halloween born over here (well, in nearby Ireland anyway)?

Last year, my girlfriend and I decided to chance it and hit the village in costume on the big night–see what parties were at the bars on Canal Street. Canal Street is the main drag of the Gay Village here in Manchester. So, if there was a Halloween party to be found, it would have undoubtedly been found there. What we found was horribly disappointing. Sure, a few stragglers had made the effort to dress up but it was minimal both in numbers and the level of effort. There were basically three lesbians halfway dressed as pirates (if you can call a bandanna and a chain wallet a costume) and one gay dude wearing a cowboy hat. We were Wolverine and Zorro–proper costumes. We stood out so much that, literally, Japanese tourists were taking pictures with us. So, there you go.

This year, we’ve planned things a little better. I’m really looking forward to our Halloween event actually. We’ve splashed out a little bit and booked tickets to go and see a special Halloween concert at the philharmonic. It’s a night programmed to celebrate great Halloween music. They’re going to play both classical pieces like “Night on Bald Mountain” and pop culture classics like the theme to “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”. This, finally, brings us to today’s great thing.

49. John Murphy’s Score for 28 Days Later

This score, I think (especially and specifically its already iconic track “In the House-In a Heartbeat”, is a fantastic addition to anyone’s ultimate Halloween play-list. Liverpudlian John Murphy has scored an atmospheric and eerie piece of music that is also very listenable. You’ll probably recognize it as soon as you hear it. It’s the type of music that gets swiped all the time for commercial use. For instance, the track has already been used in the trailers for both Beowulf and I Know Who Killed Me.

Thanks to Gamefreak 198 for posting it on youtube. I have embedded it for you now to enjoy.

Macabre!

Partial credit for this track certainly lies with Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor. This is cut from an interview with the director of 28 Days Later, Danny Boyle. I’ve taken it from RES Magazine.

RES: What other elements contribute to the film’s relentless feel?

BOYLE: Music. We have this Godspeed You Black Emperor track at the beginning. They are amazing. We went to meet them and they were very reluctant as normally they don’t license their work for features. They were a lovely bunch of people. This slow, very elegiac start which their music builds from virtually nothing to an apocalyptic crescendo; it was a fantastic template for the film. And what we did was use that track at the beginning and then the composer, John Murphy, took it as inspiration for the end, which has a rhythmic looping track that builds and builds and builds. You are trapped in the headlights, it’s too late, you can’t get out, it’s getting louder and louder….

The nine piece band is know for its long, ornate and orchestral compositions. East Hastings is the track in question and it’s about eighteen minutes in length. I’m not embedding it precisely because it is so monstrously long, but it is pretty ace. So, here’s a link if you want to listen to it on youtube. East Hastings

Other songs that could do some serious ass-kicking on a Halloween mix include these selections (you have to go a bit dark and a bit light as you’ll see): The theme to Signs, “The Time Warp”, “That Old Black Magic”, “I Put A Spell On You”, “The Monster Mash”, Theme to Flash Gordon, “Flight” from Psycho, Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, Theme to The Addams Family, “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and for something really scary throw in Britney Spear’s cover of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll”. Terrifying and godless.

Now, I don’t know that the orchestra is going to put “In a House-In a Heartbeat” on their set list for the evening but if they do, I will mess myself in a combination of glee and terror.

By the way, we’re going through the effort of putting costumes together again this year. The flyer for the show promises fabulous prizes to the most scary costumes. I have a feeling that we might win by default.

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Filed under Movies, Music

Unicorn Of the Sea

It’s back to nature for today’s great thing:

48. Narwhals

I saw a Narwhal horn once. The owner of the restaurant I worked at was dating this marine biologist guy–you know, the book-writing type, not the working at Sea World and jumping off of a dolphin’s forehead type. Anyway, in their fantastic New York City apartment, they had a narwhal horn hanging over the mantle in the study. It was impressive. Mythical even…it set such an ambiance that when I walked into their room I thought I was going be offered mead, listen to some pan flute and then challenged to complete god-like tasks with the help of the Argonauts. It was like that.

Magic!

Magic!

And in no way am I advocating that you go out and kill one so that you can have one on display. I’m just sayin’…he was a lucky guy to have that.

Twisted in a helix and pointed at the end, the horn looked like a ten foot long dull-grey version of one of these.

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Except it wouldn't taste like candy!

Yeah, it would probably be a little saltier than your average candy-shop delight. And calimari-er.

Those horns, which, technically are tusks, are found usually (though not exclusively) on male narwhals. And yes, I spelled that right. Narwhals are so bad-ass that they don’t even have to put an ‘e’ on the tail of their name. They are the official sea mammal of rap sensation Chingy.

Anyway, sometimes they even grow two tusks, though it is quite rare. You better believe that’s even more bad-ass. In fact, when they have two tusks they’re just called narwha. They get to drop two letters.

Truthfully, the etymology of their name comes from the Norse. ‘Nar’, meaning ‘corpse’, refers to their pale goth-like coloring. They are also sometimes referred to as ‘moon whale’ or ‘polar whale’.

The great thing is, science has not yet figured out why they even have their tusks. Isn’t that terrific? I love a good mystery solved, but isn’t it nice to NOT know answers every once in a while? Like, the sun is pretty amazing… until you start talking about it from a factual standpoint. Then it’s not so great because that’s when lots of physics and maths come into play. Yawn.

Watch this dentist almost take the fun out of the whole thing.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Anyway, for as much as that guy has learned, they still don’t know for sure why narwhals are so lucky. There are, however, several interesting theories about why they might have tusks. They include the following:

–They use it to pierce the Arctic ice (I’d assume so that they could reach oxygen every once in a while).

–That it plays some role in courting

–They use it as a sort of pick-axe to forage for food with

–That it plays some role in their sonar communication

–That it’s connected to nerves which may help determine a variety of qualities in their environment from pressure to salinity to temperature (what the dentist said).

These are all very interesting, but it begs the question, why don’t all female narwhals have horns then? I mean, I’m assuming that the girl ones need to:

–breathe

–eat

–mate

–the rest

So, I’d like to posit my own theories:

–playing horseshoes

–donut stabbing

–Santa-poking

–fighting elephants

Naturally, the Inuit have their own folklore for what they call ‘the one that points to the sky’. I was going to recount it here but I just can’t. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s like one of those stories that a five year old would make up. It’s so incoherent that even after reading it three times I still don’t know what the hell happens in it. Something about some old witch being mean to her son who is blind and then the daughter tells him that their Mom is being a liar and then the guy gets his sight back or something and chucks her into the sea and she’s still holding on to a harpoon or something and then that’s how the narwhal was born. Because some blind guy threw his heavily armed mother into the ocean. I dunno. It’s not one of their better efforts. If you’d like to have a go, however, be my guest. It’s on this excellent website. Narwhals

Narwhals are a social animal. They hang in pods of between 5 and 10 and prefer to stay close to the surface–like the cast of The Hills !

I think my favorite media depiction of a narwhal is from the Will Ferrell movie Elf.

Awwww….

I hope you feel like you’ve gotten to learn our friend in the north, the narwhal a bit more. In closing, here is a fun image of them as the jedis of the sea.

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Timeless

When I was in grade-school, I was forced to make a choice. It was a bit stressful due to the potentially long-lasting implications.  I was pressured to pick a side and thereby choose my identity. But, it was an easier decision to make than I anticipated. In fact, it came to me naturally. The questions was: Who do you like better–Madonna or Cyndi Lauper?  Whilst most of the popular girls chose Madonna, in a flash, I made up my mind.  How could you not love this woman?

Studio-line by Loreal!

The talented weirdo, that’s the one for me. I loved everything about her, from her relationship with the WWF to her ever-changing hair color, to her abrasive New York accent, to her Goonies theme song and video.  Heck, I was and am such a fan that I went and saw her film Vibes in theatrical release!  Believe it!

 In retrospect, I’m ecstatic with my decision.  I really feel I chose my loyalty wisely.  Flash forward twenty-some years and look at the state of play today.  Whilst Madonna is off developing fake British accents, writing children’s books, and modeling leotards, Cyndi Lauper quietly released several critically acclaimed albums, starred in The Three-Penny Opera on Broadway, and started one of the most philanthropic shows of recent summers, The True Colors Tour.  True Colors Tour wherein she shares the stage with such diverse acts as The B-52s and Nona Gaye.  Cyndi Lauper is rad.

I don’t mean to poop all over Madonna.  I will readily admit to enjoying her dance floor pop just as much as the next person.  Also, have you seen her arms?  She could snap me in half.  But there’s just something about Cyndi that feels more legitimate.  Plus, with her perfect pitch and four octave range, she’s– hands down–the better singer.

At the Grammy Awards 2008

And my eyebrows are rounder!

Importantly, Cyndi, who has a lesbian sister, was a friend to my people before being nice to gays was cool.  Class.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, Cyndi grew up in a sort of hardscrabble existence.  Her parents were divorced and her Mom worked hard to support Cyndi and her two siblings.  People forget that Cyndi actually didn’t achieve musical fortune until she was nearly thirty.  She had already bankrupted herself trying once.  In the meantime, she worked a myriad of jobs and sang in nightclubs.  Loyal to friends and family, she cast those she loved in videos and stayed true to her band when a record label was only interested in her as a solo artist.

 Now, I could just go on and on gushing about her, but let me try to get a little focus here.  Today, I’d like to praise just one of my favorite Cyndi songs:

47. Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”

Lauper co-wrote this bittersweet song with Rob Hyman of The Hooters.  (The Hooters also acted as her session musicians for her first record).  Since then, “Time After Time” has been covered over 120 times, including versions by Eva Cassidy, Ashley Tisdale, and Uncle Kracker. Lauper’s favorite cover version, however, was performed by Miles Davis in 1985.

Here’s a baby-faced Lauper singing it at the 1984 Grammy Awards:

Back then, Lauper was one of the darlings of the (relatively) new channel, MTV.  That was back when they played videos of course, instead of reality shows featuring spoiled 16 year olds’ birthday parties and spoiled Califonia residents and spoiled twenty-somethings living in a house together in a tired reality format.

Jeez, music stars of 1985, you want YOUR MTV, I want MTV BACK.  What I wouldn’t do to see videos–maybe a programming block featuring “She-Bop”, “PYT”, “Hot For Teacher”, “China Girl”, and “Love is a Battlefield”.  How ace would that be?  Or just ANY block of videos. 

Anyway, I digress.  I was lucky enough to catch her in concert last night.  She’s promoting her new, built-for-the-dancefloor CD Bring Ya To The Brink.  It’s a truly fun record.  But in the middle of the lively new tracks and the beloved standards, she whips out a dulcimer.  This instrument is her new obsession, she says and she uses it to play a fantastic verion of “Time After Time”.  It’s a quiet point in the show that brings the fans to tears.  Yes, even I, stone-cold killer that I am, welled up a bit.  Other songs from the 80’s that make me cry include another Cyndi classic “True Colors”, The Cars’ “Drive”, and Eddie Grant’s “Electric Avenue”.

 

Girl Having Fun

Girl Having Fun

“Time After Time” is a track that Lauper and Hyman created for the album at the eleventh hour.  At the last minute, the record company pushed for just one more track to round out Cyndi’s solo debut album She’s So Unusual.  The two musicians stayed late after sessions and hashed it out.  They were both going through transitional phases in their lives and found a way to put their gentle melancholy into verse.  The title came from the name of an old sci-fi film that Cyndi saw advertised in a TV Guide.

The track has also been featured by two of my favorite comedies Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion  and Napolean Dynamite.  It’s a testament to the track that even by goofy association, the spirit of the lyrics remain solidly sweet.  This song is unbreakable. 

Now, in a combination of TWO of my favorite things, please enjoy, in tandem, Cyndi Lauper and Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion.

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