Tag Archives: writing

Peter Pan (03/01)

I have never even considered the possibility that the ‘Pan” in Peter Pan is based on Pan the Greek god of nature.

Pan is a figure who recurs through European culture, especialy after the Romantics. But he became a natural and pervasive Edwardian god: a playful wild outdorr hero that never ages, combining in one image the delights of rural and childhood retreat.

Mabel Lucie Attwell's illustration for "Peter Pan & Wendy" (1911)

Mabel Lucie Attwell's illustration for "Peter Pan & Wendy" (1911)

Peter Pan, whose horned cap, rural attire and pan pipes are the only remnants of his descent from the Greek centaur, is the most eccentric  and the most human of all these creatures. He  could not have come about with out the cultural obsession with Pan, but he belongs as much to the popular archetype of the immortal young man which was developing in the 1880s when Barrie was forming literary ambitions.

From  Inventing Wonderland by Jackie Wullschlager

Maybe we should reconsider or consider some of our own cultural obsessions.

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Willow Trees (02/26)

The Weeping Willow tree has always been one of my favorite trees. I loved standing under them when I was little, it always felt like a secret magical world.

Weeping Willow

Weeping Willow

As it turns out, there is something magical about the Willow tree…

It has medicinal properties and its leaves and bark been mentioned in ancient texts from Assyria, Sumer and Egypt as as a remedy for aches and fever, and the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about its medicinal properties in the 5th century BC. Native Americans across the American continent relied on it as a staple of their medical treatments. This is because they contain salicylic acid, the precursor to aspirin.

(I thank Paul Harvey and Wikipedia for this information.)

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The Bible and the The Byrds (02/25)

I can’t believe that after 12 years of Catholic school, that I didn’t already know this…

The song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (a favorite of mine as a kid) is adapted entirely from the the Book of Ecclesiastes. (specifically Ecclesiastes 3:1.)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Who knew? I didn’t.

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Do You Know Bonobos? (02/20)

You should, they are our closest ape relative. They are only  found in the wild in the Democratic Republic of Congo and are not usually in zoos due to their highly sexual behavior (it’s true!).The following video is a tad long, but I promise that it will be worth it

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To Cull or Not to Cull (02/19)

I was struck by this image

 	 Kruger National Park, South Africa. A view of an elephant fetus from a culled female

Kruger National Park, South Africa. A view of an elephant fetus from a culled female

and its caption. What is a culled female?

cull |kəl|
verb [ trans. ] (usu. be culled)
• reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter : he sees culling deer as a necessity | [as n. ] ( culling) elephant culling.

As you might imagine, it is a highly controversial topic.

Here is brief take on the issues in Kruger National Park:

On one hand, the increased South African population of elephants is a good thing. It means that conservation efforts are working and poaching for ivory is on the decline. On the other hand, the repopulation has been so dramatic that  it threatens other species.

In fact, since culling was brought to a stop in 1994 the elephant population in Kruger National Park has nearly doubled (from 7,000 to 13,000).

(according to a 2005 article on the BBC’s website)

Culling is also an issue in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Here the issue is not elephants (naturally), but elk. The reason being that biologists believe the elk population is decimating new growth aspen trees and willows.

(read more)

I won’t go into my opinion about this matter, but  I will say this – it does remind me of the ‘old lady who swallowed the fly’. You know the song, she swallowed the spider to catch the fly, I don’t know why she swallowed the fly…etc)

(maybe we should start a new version “she culled the elk to save the trees, I don’t know why she culled the elk…)

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Consider my Bubble Burst (02/13)

For the past six months I have been attempting to swim for exercise at a local pool. At first it was a challenge to swim even a half of a lap, but I have been going about 3 times a week and am slowly improving. In fact, I am proud to say that I have can now swim several laps. (Well, that is if I rest a little in between laps).

I wonder if I look this good swimming?

I wonder if I look this good swimming...

With my new found confidence, I decided to set up a new challenge for myself – like swimming a mile. Which after looking it up on google, I learned was 16 laps. I was so excited to see how close I could get. I decided to use the grate at the pool’s end and my flip flops to help me keep count and I was off –

like so...

like so...

When my time was up (I go during my lunch hour so time is limited), I had swam 12 laps. 4 laps short of a mile!

I was so excited that I called my sister after to tell her!

But then I started to think about it. I am no Olympic athlete (heck, I barely qualify as a swimmer) could I have really swim nearly a mile in 40 minutes? Wait – am I even swimming in an Olympic size pool? I didn’t know. So I set out to investigate the size of the pool today. It measured 101 of my feet – which translates to approximately 23 meters – about 27 meters short of an Olympic sized pool.

Those of you that are good at math have probably already figured this out, but my almost mile was a little bit closer to almost half of a mile.

I guess I still have some work to do.

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Ever heard of a Yurt? (02/12)

I was listening to NPR and they were interviewing a couple who decided to rent out their home to help pay for their kids’ college tuition while they continued to live on the back end of their property – in a yurt.

yurt |yoŏrt; yərt|
noun
a circular tent of felt or skins on a collapsible framework, used by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey.

modern yurt (in colorado)

modern yurt (in colorado)

There are other names for yurt such as ger (rhymes with “air”) or uy (oo-ee) and no one really knows where they originated , although the Buryat Mongols of Siberia claim their land as the birthplace of the Mongol tribes and also of the ger.

Doesn’t seem like too bad of a set up really. I could see my adventurous aunt and uncle (who lived on a sailboat from many years)  giving this a try.

To read more click here.

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Master of the Midnight Movie (02/11)

It has been a project of mine this winter to see all the David Lynch films that I have yet to see. Well, last night I watched Eraserhead. What I want to bring up about this movie, is not the movie, but the story behind the movie and its cult status. (The funny thing is the movie and Lynch’s story about making the movie run about the same time).

Jack Nance as Henry Spencer

Jack Nance as Henry Spencer

Eraserhead was released in 1977 and thanks to Ben Barenholtz – it reached cult status. How you ask?

Because of Barenholtz’s NYC’s Elgin Theatre, (a movie house in dire need of repairs but at which played the non-studio and art films of the day) and by originating the “Midnight Movie” concept for cultists and the youth/college market.

Sure, the first few showings may have not been sold out, but Eraserhead ran in the ‘midnight movie’ circuit for 4 years and by then there were lines around the block. A job well done.

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The Evolution of Skippy’s (02/07)

1923

the comic strip

the comic strip

Skippy was an American comic strip written and drawn by Percy Crosby that ran from 1923 to 1945. A highly popular, acclaimed and influential feature about rambunctious fifth-grader Skippy Skinner, his friends and his enemies.

1931

the movie

the movie

Skippy is one of the first films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, in 1931. The screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Don Marquis, Norman Z. McLeod, and Sam Mintz was based on the comic strip Skippy by Percy Crosby.

1933

the peanut butter

the peanut butter

10 years after Joseph Rosefield perfects a process to prevent oil separation in peanut butter, his packing company uses Skippy as a trademark for peanut butter. One of the many items in the Skippy franchise.

1982

the neighbor

the neighbor

OK – the last one is not related to the other Skippy products. Or to the Keaton’s for that matter.

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Fire Salamander (02/06)

Friday night I was browsing at a used book store and came across David Attenborough’s book The First Eden. As I was flipping through I landed on a page that contained illustrations of mythical creatures of the midieval world, such as this:

salamander

...and the salamander passed unscathed through fire

While I am familiar with the myths of the Phoenix, Griffon, and Mandrake root – I knew nothing of the mythology of the fire salamander and naturally I wanted to learn.

I now share with you the mythology of this little guy:

Fire Salamander
The salamander, an innocuous amphibian like a big newt, was also regarded with a mixture of horror and awe. It is certainly one of the most dramatically colored animals in the European countryside, being black blotched with a brilliant golden yellow. As it is an amphibian, its skin must remain wet if it is not to die, so it spends most of its time concealed beneath stones or under leaves and moss, and normally merges at night. Only after a heavy storm is it likely to appear during daylight and seen by casual observers. For this reason, it seems to have become associated with wetness and cold, and thus came to be credited with the ability to quench fire. This reputation certainly goes back to ancient times. Pliny , the Roman naturalist in the first century AD, heard of it and in the down-to-earth, practical manner typical of the romans, tested the proposition experimentally. He took a salamander and put the unfortunate creature into a fire. It was, of course, burnt to a cinder, and Pliny duly recorded the fact in his great natural history.
(from The First Eden by David Attenborough)
Of course, a finding as logical as Pliny’s, did not stick. People believed that the fire salamander possessed a venom of stupendous power. In fact…
A thirteenth-century manuscript stated as sober historical fact that four thousand horse of the army of Alexander the great were all killed because they drank from a stream through which a salamander had recently passed.
(still from The First Eden by David Attenborough)
To those ideas of yore, I use the words of the great Balki Bartokomous, “Don’t be ridiculous.”
(and yes, I did buy the book)

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