A Thanksgiving Song

Happy belated Thanksgiving and thanks to ukulelehunt for this song that proves the jumping flea’s ability to make any subject matter sound cheerful.  The artist calls herself “Ukebucket.”

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Wired with Sugar Water?

industryplayer.com

industryplayer.com

Is all life on Earth- known and unknown- “terrestrial”? Is all life not on Earth “extraterrestrial”?

Are we looking for other life or are we looking for other life as we know it?

Funny Times, December 2008

currentcover_small0812I’ve never objected to corny jokes, and this issue includes quite a few.  The corniest are to be found in Richard Lederer‘s “Blessed be the Children,” a collection drawn from his “Revenge of Anguished English” of startling things children have said about religious topics.  Some of the funniest:

A teacher was explaining the story of Noah and his ark to her young students.  She asked the class if they thought Noah did a lot of fishing during the Flood.  “No,” said a bright boy, “he only had two worms.” 

A woman was trying hard to get the catsup to come out of the jar.  During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her four year old daughter to answer it.  “It’s the minister, Mommy,” the child said to her mother.  Then she added, “Mommy can’t come to the phone right now.  She’s hitting the bottle.”

A friend of mine took her four year old daughter to a baptismal service at her church.  Later that night, her daughter took all of her dolls into the bathtub with her and held her own “baptism.”  As she dunked each doll under the water, she repeated, “Now I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and hold your nose.” 

These may be true stories, they may not be.  It scarcely matters.  One case where it does make a difference is the first item on the list:

A little boy’s prayer: “Dear God, please take care of my daddy and my mommy and my sister and my brother and my doggy and me.  Oh, and please take care of yourself, God.  If anything happens to you, we’re gonnabe in big trouble.”

If you actually heard a little boy saying this prayer, it would be very funny.  But it sounds so much like a joke a preacher would make up to open a sermon that the phoniness gets in the way of the laugh. 

Jon Winokur’s “Curmudgeon” column has some good quotes on the topic of work.  Robert Benchley: “Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to bedoing at the moment.”  Benchley made this claim decades ago, but in the last 12 years the world’s bloggers have established the truth of it beyond doubt.  Don Marquis: “When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him ‘Whose?'”  Well, ask away- I doubt you’ll get much of an answer.  Robert Frost: “By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be the boss and work twelve hours a day.”  Lane Kirkland: “If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves.” 

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Convergence

Thanks to ukulelehunt for this video of “Hot for Words” on the origin of the word “ukulele.”

Sad news for ViewMaster fans

Viewmaster

Viewmaster

(image)

News in the latest email from Las Vegas’ 3D Stereo Store:

View-Master Closing:
On a sad note, Mattel/Fisher-Price has announced the permanent closing of the Custom/Commercial/Scenic View-Master division of View-Master. Scenic reels and the Classic Model L will cease to exist. All of the special special 3 Reel sets such as Old TIme Cars, and the on-location ones such as Grand Canyon will no longer be produced.  No more commercial Reels either.

The economic downturn and Mattel/Fisher-Price’s association with China has claimed another victim.  And even though, at least, executive salaries and bonuses will be saved by pending layoffs in excess of a thousand U.S. workers, an era that lasted almost seven decades comes to an end.

Children’s titles produced with Wal-Mart’s approval are planned to be continued for the present.

What’s to be done?  I don’t know.  It sounds like a done deal.  

Stereoscopy in general and Viewmaster in particular have a great deal to offer adults.  To peer into the viewer and tease out 3D effects is a meditative exercise.  Not only is it an extremely relaxing use of a few minutes, it also trains the eye to take a more attentive look at the world.   Trade with China, disparity between workers’ wages and executive compensation, the recession, the power of Walmart, etc, all play into the decline of the medium, but the root cause is something deeper.  The people in charge of corporations like Mattel just don’t believe that American adults are interested in sitting still and using their minds.  They may be right.  But if they are, it becomes a vicious circle.  Loud entertainment systems that allow their users to be passive sell quite well, so capital devotes all its resources to promoting loud entertainment systems that allow their users to be passive.  After a while, we as a society forget the use of quietness, the value of stillness, the importance of simplicity. 

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Crooked Brains

Sometimes I look at Crooked Brains, a website that seems to consist mainly of pictures somebody collected by doing Google Images searches.  I first found it while doing a Google Images search to collect pictures for this site.  So here are a few of that person’s finds.  The captions are mine.

From a post called “Art with Eatables“:

Egg Pram

Egg Pram

Strawberry

Strawberry

Musk Melon

Musk Melon

 

From a post called “Perfect Timed Photos

Mismatch

Mismatch

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With that figure!

From yahoo:

with-that-figure

Sautauthig and a First/Last Celebration of Cooperation

sail1620.org

sail1620.org

The harvest feast- now known as the “first Thanksgiving”- between the Wampanoags and the English settlers at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621, was a brief celebration of unity.

Sautauthig, a Wampanoag dish, was likely served at the feast. The measured recipe was originally at plimothplantation.org but has since been removed. An unmeasured, perhaps more authentic recipe:

SAUTAUTHIG

water

dry samp

dried, crushed blueberries

optional: milk, salt, butter, maple syrup or honey 

Heat water until almost simmering. Add samp while stirring. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add blueberries and stir. 

 

If desired, add any optional ingredients and stir.

The Nation, 1 December 2008

Nick Turse looks into American forces’ conduct of the war in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta in the period from 1 December 1968 to 1 April 1969.  Turse concludes that the facts were much worse than has generally been known in the USA.  Civilians were targeted more systematically than has been acknowledged, more of them were killed than has been acknowledged, and a coverup of the some of the worst atrocities continued for decades.  Turse quotes a contemporary letter signed “Concerned Sergeant.”  The otherwise anonymous soldier denounced the operations to which he was attached and estimated that the rate at which unarmed civilians were being killed amounted to “a My Lai a month.” 

Ever since Studs Terkel died, The Nation has been memorializing him.  In this issue, his editor, Andre Schiffrin, remembers their attempt to put together an oral history on the topic of power.  The project failed because none of their prospective subjects would even admit that he held power, let alone give insight into what it was like to use it.  That’s hardly surprising when Schiffrin describes the key to Terkel’s work.  His subjects talked to him, Schiffrin explains, because “he approached people with utter respect.  Those he talked to immediately felt this and poured their hearts out.”  Powerful people usually seem to expect to be approached with utter respect, if not indeed with abject servility.  That so many people from so many backgrounds found it a shock to be approached with respect is a sad commentary on our society. 

Hoosiers and others marveling at the fact that Indiana voted for Obama will enjoy Mark Hertsgaard’s piece about Luke Lefever, a plumber (a real one!) who volunteered for the Obama campaign in Elkhart. 

Siddhartha Deb reviews several novels by Elias Khoury.  At first, Deb praises the “fragmented” style of Khoury’s work as suitable to his native Lebanon, but at the end he suggests that the time may have come for a smoother style of writing and, apparently, a more settled view of Lebanese identity.

This brings us to Barry Schwabsky’s review of Art Worlds by Howard S. Becker and Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton.   Becker’s newly reprinted 1982 book is a sociological study of various milieux from which products came that could be called “art,” while Thornton, also a sociologist, spent her time in “an art world that claims the right to call itself the art world.”  Schwabsky puts the question:

In the sociologist’s art world, hierarchies, rankings, and orders of distinction proliferate.  Status and reputation are all, and questions about them abound.  Why does the seemingly kitschy work of Jeff Koons hang in great museums around the world while the equally cheesy paintings of Thomas Kinkade would never be considered?… How do conflicting views on the value of different kinds of artworks jell into a rough and shifting consensus about the boundaries of what will be considered art in the first place?

That’s quite a weighty question.  As for the Koons/ Kinkade riddle, my suspicion is that perspective drawing and the rest of the conventional skills of representational art are not really all that difficult to master.  Some years ago I read an essay by Eric Gill called “Art in Education: Abolish Art and Teach Drawing,” in which he argued that given a chance virtually any child could and would learn these techniques.  I haven’t seen any scientific work testing this hypothesis, but it doesn’t seem fantastic to me to think that if all children were introduced to art in the same way that, let’s say, Thomas Kinkade was, that some large percentage of the population would grow up to paint pictures very much like his.  If that is so, then the problem with Kinkade isn’t that he’s cheesy, but just that they are nothing special.  If a collector wants to attain a high rank, s/he can hardly buy paintings that may be very pleasant but that could be equalled by, let’s say, a third of the adult population. 

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Banana Scrimshaw

Here’s a form of banana art we’ve not yet covered on Los Thunderlads, art made by incising marks into the peels of bananas.  For example, this piece by Brazilian sculptor Tonico Lemo Auad, a face made of pinpricks that becomes visible only as the banana rots:

face

face

This one, via The Yummy Banana, apparently first appeared on The Tattooed Banana, but it seems to have been removed from that site.

Spider Tat

Spider Tat

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