The bad news is that opossum mommy abandoned her child. The good news is that the poor little thing didn't wander far.

Opossum foundlings need warmth and water. I couldn't convince it to drink, but it stopped shaking after I held it for a bit:
wee rodent

Scary big head on the thing, more like a reptile than a mammal. Maybe a gecko, which I have had try to bite me. I was glad it wasn't pissed off. I tried to get some water on my finger in. I really needed eye dropper.

[livejournal.com profile] loosecanon, a far nicer person than I, is currently on a five hour round trip to deliver the little orphan to a rescue shelter. It's in a cat carrier with a sacrificial towel and some hot hands. Last I saw it, it was snuggled into to folds of the towel. Damn, it's cute.
baavgai: (Default)
( Apr. 20th, 2010 12:11 pm)
Upon leaving the house this morning, I saw a flash of fur bolt behind the garage. It had the ugly salt and pepper hair of a possum, but I didn't see the tell tale rat tail as it bolted. It's choice of escape route was poor; that side is a dead end. There was enough room that I didn't think it would feel cornered if I took a peek. Cornering any critter is asking for it and those giant rats have wicked claws.

As I considered taking a look, I heard this sound like a very small engine trying to start. It was rough and rolling and repetative and I've honestly heard nothing quite like it. I thought it might be the beast behind the garage, warning me off. After just a couple steps, I spotted the source.

It's hard to give a real sense of just how tiny this thing was:


Looks like a possum baby. Crying it's little heart out. I looked around the corner. Mommy was all the way in back. She tried to hide more when she saw me. Damn possums, I expected her to try to ravage me to save her young. I was kind of disappointed. While generally harmless and kind of cowardly, they can be mean when mad. I expected more.

I went back to look at the little guy:


Turns out possums, technically opossums, are the only marsupial found in the continental US. Mommy apparently keeps the kids around beyond pouch size, which I'm guessing this guy is. It felt bad for it, but this pic was as close as I dared get. I left as quickly as I could, hoping mommy would return when she knew I was gone.
Cute little grey and white old lady cat is dead. She was a month shy of her 15th birthday. She was put to sleep. It was all very peaceful. We chose not to stay for the last injection.

I posted a creepy pic of her recently. Here's one of her when she was young.
knack

And in our old crappy place. With her sister, who she outlasted by more than half a decade.
knack_and_thumps

She had a number of complaints. She'd had broken hips most of her life. Failing kidneys. I believe she was probably in constant pain that just got worse as she got older. She'd licked herself half bald and was walking even worse than usual.

We knew the day was coming, but not when. We honestly thought she was a goner a few years back. This week, she just starting peeing where ever she was sitting. Could be kidneys, could just hurt too much to make the effort; she wouldn't say.

I played with her last night until we were both tired. I cuddled her this morning. For well over two hours, purring and nuzzling. She would sometimes just "bliss out" with me like that, just leaning close and purring with half lidded eyes. At times, I cried into her fur.

I went to the vet pretending iy wasn't her last visit. She had so much life, but only a future of pain. It still seems sudden. It feels like we might have fought more, if only for a few more miserable months. Do you pull the plug on your friend before or after it starts getting really bad?

The remaining cat was looking out the window as I walked past. He gave me one of his quizzical, chirping meows. I fancy he misses his friend. So do I.
baavgai: (wtf)
( Apr. 9th, 2010 05:12 am)
This is a sewage treatment plant: PVSC.

If you suffer through the awful banner add thingy, you'll be treated to this bit of breaking news: "PVSC To Sponsor Largest Regatta Ever On Passaic River"

I'm sorry, but when I think waste management and "regatta" I somehow don't think of Biff on the family yacht. Rather, I think floatables. In the crap biz, that means... well, you can figure out what it means.
baavgai: (Default)
( Mar. 26th, 2010 06:15 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] loosecanon took a picture of our lovely little old lady cat this morning...

cat glare

In all her malevolent glory.

She needs a LOLCat of some sort, but I'm not sure what. Submissions welcome.
Last week I subjected a friend to Ralph Bakshi's Wizards. Bakshi calls this a "kid friendly" film. Because, you know, Nazi propaganda screams romper room to most people. Bakshi's feature film "Fritz the Cat" is the first animated movie to get an X rating. I'm guessing child appropriateness for Ralph is a matter of personal degree.

Both Wizards and Fritz should be on a cartoon junkie's must see list. However, in retrospect, I realized I'd never watched the Wizards completely sober before. Probably a mistake.

Today, in cartoon land, I happened upon this NPR review for The Secret of Kells. I also found their blog, where you can watch a trailer. I can't find a US release date, though it seems to be under consideration. I, um, watched the whole thing.

It's not as traditional as the reviewer seems to think; there's a lot of clever overlays and modern visual techniques. It is a flat style that's somewhat similar to Samurai Jack or some Spanish and French stuff. Every scene, every frame, is evocative of an illuminated manuscript in some way. There's a lot of visual liner notes; edging relating to the content. Even the snow flakes are little Celtic knots.

In spite of the subject matter, The Book of Kells, we are not beaten to death with it. I don't think the word "Bible" is ever used. If anything, the message is more about the importance of Art, rather than Religion. This is a charming film, good for both kids and adults, visually arresting in a refreshing way.

When I think of Bible cartoons, I realize I need to point out that R. Crumb has published an illustrated Book of Genesis. R. Crumb is best known for illustrations that are at times subversive, funny, pornographic, and racist. Thinking on this, he might be the best guy for the job. I've paged through it. The look on Eve's face when Adam throws her under the bus for the whole fruit of the forbidden tree thing is priceless.

Bringing us full circle, Crumb is also the creator of the "Fritz the Cat" comic, the source material for Bakshi's X rated film.
15-Dec-2009

Marc has probably one of the coolest jobs I can imagine; he is an experimental archaeologist in Hampton Court Palace's kitchens. When he was giving talks in the US, we mentioned that we'd visiting his location and were excited to see first hand what he was talking about. He graciously offered to show us his work.

I'm not sure what we were expecting. Maybe an hour of time? A quick show and tell? The day was more than we could have wished for or imagined. Via email correspondence we got the best directions ever; "cross the river and head for the big Palace on the right... instead of entering the Palace across the moat, head to the left ..." Also, turns out Marc is THE guy in the kitchens, an authority in his field, and a full time resident of the palace!

We went to our meeting spot, were given visitor badges, and met up with Marc. He explained that we'd picked a good day, it was a particularly slow time of year. He had once met up with a colleage for a similar show around and they'd gone straight to the office, never getting the full tour of the site. With this in mind, he wanted to show us in through the front and give us a grand tour of the place before we got to the fine points. Did that sound alright? Um, sure. ( OMG, hell, yes! )

In through the front gate... Acquired by Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace is England's first royal palace. A palace differs from a castle it that it's not a military defense. Rather, it is a more luxurious residence and also a display of power. It says that the rulers are secure enough in their position that they don't need the traditional battlements to maintain their rule. Henry didn't like the relatively primitive conditions of the traditional castle.

The first thing Henry did when he moved into the palace was expand the kitchens, bless him. This is where we come in. Marc leads us down a side path away from the central finery and into a court yard. "This is the kitchen," he says, gesturing expansively to the yard. "Not just the buildings around us. People have a hard time with this, but this open area is also the kitchen. Goods would come into this open space and would disappear into all these doors, depending on what they were. Accounting is done on the floor up there and the stuart could look out that window and track deliveries. Oh, over here is one on my favorite places; they don't show this to the public. This is the only spot in the yard out of the overseer's line of site. See those game boards in scratched into the wall? Ever society has slackers and 500 years ago one of them stood here!"

Our entire day with Marc was like that. Enthusiastic pointing out of various tidbits that only history geeks might find valuable. And we were an enthusiastic audience, eating it all up, asking about everything. When we had explored every nook of the kitchens I figured our time with Marc would be at an end. Instead, we went back to his apartment and happily chatted for a while; my feet said thank you. Then, well, "you want to see the rest of the place?" And off we went.

To get to the first dining hall, we took a side stair that was closed to the public. This is would not be the last time we got to various rooms using short cuts with signs like "private" and "no entry". We popped out of doors that sometimes didn't look much like doors and regular visitors would look at us with surprise and curiosity. Little bits of architecture ( "no one ever gets to see this" ) where often pointed out. We felt privileged to be seeing the palace in this manner.

At times Marc would give expansive explanations of where we were, to the point that others would try to unobtrusively listen in, pausing the standard tour program on their head phones. In addition to well known trivial, we also got the inside story on various restorations and political dirt. There is a dichotomy to privilege that was reinforced by our host. While understanding the subtle, and not so subtle, trappings of power in the palace; Marc was most drawn to the humanness of the residents. Pointing out places where the mighty rulers hid and tried to just have relatively normal lives. The immense importance of a small drawing room, only seen by closest friends, mostly free of the need to impress outsiders.

The "public" looks to history for awe. To be impressed by the might and majesty of Ozymandias. Any historical site that wants to stay viable has to play to this. I think real history geeks, in some ways, are the exact opposite. We look to history, at times to an almost alien environment, to find ourselves. People have always been people. Perhaps that sounds mundane, or even depressing, but I find it reassuring.
baavgai: (wtf)
( Jan. 6th, 2010 07:01 pm)
If you haven't yet seen the big budget blue people, you might be in the minority at this point.

Short and sweet review: It's a pretty movie, the story is told well. I enjoyed it and will probably watch it again; it would be cool in 3D. However, there's very little original here. Not only have the scifi themes been done over and over, but the broadest elements of plot are so familiar there isn't even a need to explain them, so they don't. I was actually mildly distracted by anticipating where the movie was going to go next. From beginning to end, no surprises.

Apparently, the movie had a bigger impact on some. Maybe it was IMAX. It's hard to set this up, it's too bizarre. Almost makes Twilight fans seem normal: Forum To Help People Deal With Avatar Withdrawal. Don't just follow the link, go to the forum; if you dare.

Now if you haven't been scarred for life, Deleted Avatar Sex Scene Opens Up Some Serious Bestiality Issues. While the editorial isn't as bad as it sounds, the chick who plays the female smurf has some provocative commentary. Disturbing, yet oddly intriguing. I was confused we didn't see the tails come out... It doesn't much help that female smurf actor ( the Avatar avatar? ) is hot in real life. ( Uhura from the last Star Trek )

I did notice the aliens were all left handed and at least double jointed ( funky bow draw ). I'm sure this is somehow apropos to smurf sex, but I ain't going there.
One of the stranger drinks we've come across is chicha morada.

It doesn't taste strange. You might initially think it was grape, or currant, or lingonberry, or ... well, it's purple. And sweet, pleasantly herbal, a little like glug. The unusual base is purple corn. Yes, the punch is corn juice.

Doesn't sound enticing, but it's yummy. All versions I've tried have some cloves. This one I'm drinking now has enough to numb the tip of my tongue. I got seconds because the idea of corn punch gave my drinking partner pause.

Worth checking out if you have a market that does South American goods. Also pick up some Brazilian soda; guarana berry juice is my favorite caffeine source.
I have something to admit; my neighbors' lawn art entertains me. Sometimes not for the reasons they intended. Maybe most times. I try not to point as I mock.

Tis the season, of course. The xmas bling will be killing the grass for a few more days. Unfortunately, my personal favorite did not make an appearance this year. It was a inflatable Santa on a yugo sized sleigh pulled by a single rotund Rudolf. It's hard to make balloon animal reindeer tack, so the fat man is essentially fused to the back of the beast. Add to this the variable state of inflation and Santa is often awkwardly lurching into Rudolf, a creepy-jolly hohoho on his face. I really miss the "Reindeer Buggering Santa."

One busy lawn filled with xmas spirit features a variety of themes; some traditional, some comical. Strangely enough, it's the Homer Simpson clad in a Santa suit in the place of honor. Today he was bent at the waist, bowed forward into the street, looking like he was expecting some kind of prison justice. Still, it made me sad. That lawn has been sold recently. It used to be home to a particularly whimsical ornament.

When not littered with holiday refuse, many lawns sport less seasonal ornamentation. A local favorite in the strongly Catholic neighborhood is the Virgin Mary. Mary is pretty consistent is her portrayal, though the size is variable. She runs from Barbie doll sized to big enough to take on a lawn Jockey. Her smaller visage is often a stealth statue, guarding flower beds and presumably keeping away the gnomes. The largest are usually front and center lawn guardians. Some have a Venus on the Half Shell backing, like a mini amphitheater bandshell. The inside of this construct is always a swimming pool blue, further evoking Botticelli's Venus.

One large and enshrouded Mary once graced the location currently held by "do me" Simpson. More, there was a large tree stump on the lawn and she perched atop it, as if placidly looking over her charges. What made her special wasn't just her location and throne, but her subjects. The only other denizens of the lawn were a pair of frogs that sat raptly at her feet. They were mildly anthropomorphic and seemed to be picnicking in her presence. While possibly sacrilegious, it always seemed good hearted and often made me smile.

I still recall fondly the quirky image of Mary and the Frogs.
I'm not a big phone person. Perhaps I'm just not that social. However, the little hand held computers that are now marketed as "phones" have enough functionality that I find myself using them all the time. A major consideration for our UK trip was how we'd keep the phones doing their job.

I alternate between iPhone and Android (G1). I want to love the Android more, but the iPhone is just a very well designed little device. It must have something to do with the infamous Job's reality distortion field... I'd vowed when I first got the iPhone that I wouldn't got nuts and hack it. In spite of iTunes lock in and frustrating piecemeal access to the storage on the device, I restrained myself. Then I found out what it would take to use it anywhere else on the planet.

AT&T will work overseas, either by charging your first born per minute or taking that pound of flesh out for twice the domestic fee if you pre arrange it. AT&T will unlock a phone moving out of area unless, wait for it, it's an iPhone. At the first AT&T store we went to the employee actually recommended jailbreaking it for travel! After exploring all available options I ultimately had to agree. AT&T forced me to unlock the phone.

And off to the UK...

Queensway in London has transformed into a strange, ethnically diverse, tourist trap. Just the kind of place to get your traveling phone working. A multitude of places sold scarves, hookahs, the usual of crap emblazoned with London landmarks, phone sim cards and phone unlocking services. Our first sim card was geared toward international calling. It was £7 for £5 worth of time and the card. At something like 5p a minute for US calls, that's 100 minutes for about $8. We didn't have a data plan, though.

Phone unlocking? It's a gray area in the US. In the UK, it's offered boldly. Residents believe it to be completely legal. I took this picture close to Derby:

While pay as you go programs technically exist in the US; they suck. They artificially age out the minutes you've paid for, making the option far less economical that it first appeared. In the UK, it's all pay as you go. You actually pay in cash and the cost of services are taken out of the balance. Topping up the amount on the plan is common enough to be available in drug stores as well as the ubiquitous phone stores.

Incentives are offered to make you buy larger blocks at a time. One of those incentives is a free data plan. If I had it to do again, I'd probably do O2, but we found Virgin first. For £20 we could get not just £20 on the sim card and a free card, but also 30 days of "unlimited" data plan. This is a more traditional style of service for international calls, charging obscene amounts for that service. We swapped sim cards for US calls.

In contrast, the US system relies on shamefully totalitarian contracts. I have an iPhone because I found Verizon's practice of extending that contract for simply talking to them offensive if not quasi legal. AT&T is more expensive up front, but is more palatable on the hidden stuff. Note, the whole coverage map thing is crap. AT&T is more honest about their coverage area, tending toward actual rather than theoretical. Verizon's map show what you'd have if the towers always achieved max broadcast range. The term 3G is also a place to fake it. 3G is a specification that encompasses a number of technologies, including Edge. Max speed is implied, but doesn't need to be delivered to be called 3G.

I'm sure there must be some hidden gotcha in the UK system. I keep telling myself that. From what I've seen, it still feels like the US phone system is screwing it's customer base more effectively than any other.
baavgai: (wtf)
( Nov. 5th, 2009 09:30 pm)
The TV is on and a rerun of House is running. I don't really follow the show, so I'm off on most of the ongoing story lines, but it's good random background filler. I came in half way through, but Kumar has croaked. At the end of the show, there's some suicide awareness blurb. Wait, did Kumar really croak... wikipedia knows all.

Still, it's prone to silliness. So I had to read this a few times: "Kalpen Suresh Modi, best-known by his stage name Kal Penn, is an American film actor and politician who is serving as the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement in the Barack Obama administration." Wait, what? Kumar? Well, Harold was Sulu, so maybe... nah.

Actually, yeah. I checked in a few places; it's true. This just struck me as strange enough to share. Kumar really did go to White Castle.
baavgai: (anime)
( Nov. 1st, 2009 09:26 pm)
Yesterday we did Mitsuwa with a Mitsuwa virgin, we'll call him E. Loosecanon and I were talking over each other in our excitement. "Come, see this. No this. Over here." E liked anime, but didn't seem to have seen the newer stuff. I pointed out a "Death Note" notebook at the gift shop, which he hadn't seen. I later made him get some of the munchies L chows on in the show; he'll thank me later. The gift shop also had a Hello Kitty toilet seat, which I hadn't seen before. I broke down and got a soroban, even though it was way expensive for a dinky cheap plastic thing.

E wanted sake and we found a couple women promoting a brand. They were holding little paddles with a single eyeball on them. It didn't make sense until you noticed the tie in. The brand was based on, of all things, the manga "GeGeGe no Kitaro". He got the one with the main character, shown here.

I had fun with one of the sales woman. I swear she was flirting with me ( not something I'm at all used to, seems to happen with Japanese chicks. ) She stood very close and being barely five foot was probably looking right up into my brain through my nostrils. She assured me her product was very good, made from a special part of the rice, etc. I asked if she'd actually tell me if it sucked. She said she would not lie, but very adeptly dodged the question.

I'd commented to E before we'd found her that Japanese sales people are fascinating in their pointed unwillingness to ever say anything negative. After a few exchanges, she seemed to be getting uncomfortable, so I apologized. She then said, I'm not making this up, "It is ok. I know. You are messing with my mind." Totally not what I expected to come out of the mouth of a small woman from Japan. We all laughed. She knew of the yokai peep show place I learned of from Danabren's blog. She was impressed I'd heard of it.
I'm currently on a yogurt kick. It's one of the few foods I really like that won't kill me.

I'll have yogurt for breakfast, lunch, or both. The problem is sugar. I'm not over worried about the lactose and I favor the Greek style ones that have even less of that. It's the added stuff. Stuff I like, that's dangerous.

For just plain yogurt, I like granola. Which, of course, has sugar. Sure, I could make my own, but at that point I'd probably go without.

So, I'm eating my plain Fage yogurt and it wants something. I reach for the granola and something completely different catches my eye. Something that may have never been seen in yogurt before. Something so crazy it just might work. I leave the granola untouched and grab the... yukari.

Yukari, in this context, means the red / purple shiso leaf stuff you put on rice to make "yukari gohan". It's a little salty, slightly sweet, vaguely floral. It style of furikake, which basically means things Japanese doctor their rice with. In fact, mine is this very package.

We don't do a lot of savory with yogurt in the US. But, hey, I love labneh with olive oil and zatar. Greeks use this very yogurt in savory dishes. What they hell...


Yukari "yooguruto" doesn't suck! I'll probably have that again. I imagine a number furikake would work, but yukari still seems a little odd; my favorite fruit yogurt is blueberry. Mustn't think blueberry with yukari, hurts brain.
baavgai: (Default)
( Oct. 19th, 2009 08:58 pm)
Why do I suddenly think of Star Wars? Damn, I'm a geek. New Hope is actually a quaint little tourist village in PA, across the river from the equally quaint Lambertville in NJ.

Yesterday we met up with [livejournal.com profile] alagbon and [livejournal.com profile] hazey57 there. Our food spot was closed. Indeed, a number of spots were closed. But not bad enough to dampen the day. We wanted somewhere cheap. The place we found wasn't that cheap, but not too extravagant either. Well, until you add appetizers, desert, coffee... I felt kind of bad about the bill, but it was a good meal.

A pleasant surprise was that long dead "Now and Then" shop has resurrected itself in a closet sized room. A shadow of it's former massive self that used to reside at the end of bridge, it was still quite nostalgic.

The town used to have a good balance of upscale and college chic. For the most part, the upscale seems to have up and left. There are a lot more new agey places, which is kind of amusing. The consignment shop we kept chain mail at also seemed to have reinvented itself; we recognized some of the window dressing.

My back was killing me and I was into a second round of codeine before we were done. I'm glad we kept at it; the last place we hit was a shop featuring lots of stuff from Nepal. The first thing I noticed was a giant dorje. A dorje ( or vajra ) is small ritual object that is usually lightly balanced in the hand. It represents a lighting bolt, but generally looks like stylized barbell.

The store's "Dorje of Doom" was about size of a proper barbell and I expressed my amazement at it to the owner. A white dude, who I believe was married to the striking Nepali woman in the store, seemed grateful that I even knew what it was. "First one in months." I watched him do some yuppie wrangling and ultimately bought a sherpa hat from him. I must have amused him somehow; I believe I was given the family discount for life.
baavgai: (wtf)
( Oct. 12th, 2009 03:58 pm)
I'm still a little in awe of the general hotel service at KWCS. Enough so that I'm here to bitch. There was a light side and a dark side, actually.

First the bad; OMG, prices. After monopolizing a chair in the bar for a few minutes, I felt it only civil to get a drink. I ordered one mojito and one scotch. The mojito, I'm told, was light on booze but pleasant enough. The scotch, single malt (Glenfiddich, nothing exotic) and water, simplest thing in the world, was fail. It came in the same highball glass as the mojito filled to the top with water and ice. I could taste a hint of scotch, but it was so over drowned that I couldn't even tell if it was an honest shot; which I suspect it wasn't. Those two drinks cost twenty three dollars! Um, no, I do not wish to run a tab.

The whole "bistro" was kind of like that, too. Yes, the burger was nice enough. Was it $15 nice? Was it wagyu and made by hand with little slivers of herb butter in the middle? No, it was just a regular burger.

On the light side, the staff was fun. Everyone was at least professional, but many were clearly amused. When I said to the counter chick, a stern looking little woman in a head covering, "I'm sorry, could I pay you for this horribly overpriced soda," she actually cracked up. I had her smiling by the time I managed to fish the bills out of my pouch.

Then there was Tony. I'd seen him in one hotel and then he checked me into our hotel. We got to talking; turns out he had doppelganger named Daryl who was a shorter, lighter skinned black guy, completely different, etc. As I headed to elevator, I gave him a wave, "Daryl, right?" He gave a great "busted" face and just shook his head.

As luck would have it, I happened to pass a guy the next day close enough to elicit the obligatory "hey, how's it going" white noise kind of niceties. Just as he passed I managed to catch that the name tag said Daryl. He fit the description and I was pretty sure we'd never spotted each other. In an rare moment of perfect timing, I hollered "hey" and he turned around to look at me; "Tony, right?" There was an actual jaw drop. I was grinning from ear to ear and he just cracked up. It was good.
Event was good.

My class seemed to go well. Time flew by; I needed more of it. I keep thinking of more stuff that I wanted to touch on that we didn't get to. It's only an intro class, but I have a ton of material I want to share.

My greatest fear was I'd just be talking to myself; but I got about a dozen students. The dissected raw hide dog bone was a hit. I happened to meet the other guy who was teaching the same class as me. We talked leather work for an hour and lamented that we couldn't take each other's classes.

I had an odd moment when loosecanon said, "well, now you done your first SCA class." Wait, what? I've never done that before? Hmm... guess not. I've taught classes in many venues. For work I regularly run long meetings when I present all kinds of material; it's a similar vibe. I never even considered standing in front of a group a people and throwing out information to be remotely unusual. I suppose I should do that more often, it's always fun.

Here are the class notes if anyone is interested. They don't really give a feel for the lecture; they're just a reference for things touched on.
baavgai: (Default)
( Oct. 3rd, 2009 05:38 pm)
I have a thing for Ada Lovelace. Actually, I find all the strange connections of Lord Byron fascinating; Frankenstein, Dracula, the first computer programmer...

Ada, Byron's only legitimate child, is considered, perhaps debatably, the first computer programmer. She is interesting for who she was, when she was, and what she did. You'd think she'd be more well known than an odd historical footnote. It could be chance, or gender bias; probably both.

Yesterday, in my web wanderings, I happened upon The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage! ( Read the Origin first. ) It seriously cracked me up, but that might be just me. It's clear the author is as jazzed by these historical personage as much as I. Also, there are notes at the end of each comic with author's commentary on the source material. I haven't read them all yet; I'm saving some.

It seems there was an Ada Lovelace Day to raise awareness of her. It was March 24th this year; I didn't know. I've yet to figure out the significance of the day. It's not her birthday; I was born on the same day she was.
Reading about paint to block wifi: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8279549.stm

Don't really care, but the tinfoil hat, protect the woman and children note toward the end struck me as amusingly paranoid.

This led me to this strange study: http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/

Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.
There is a strange song that lurks on my music player in two forms. One is called "The Bonny Swans" from Loreena McKennitt. Another is "Cruel Sister" from Pentangle. They're both variants of The Twa Sisters which appears in numerous forms. Even appearing in Grimm's collection as "The Singing Bone" ( Twa Brothers, in this case. )

The Pentangle version had me singing along on the morning commute and made me think about it again. Then it played at me on the way home ( reshuffle ), finishing perfectly as I pulled in the driveway. It wanted a blog entry.

If you aren't familiar with it, go read or listen to a version, then come back. ( Cue Jeopardy music. ) The basic elements are consistent. One sibling kills the other to take their lover or position. The remains of the dead sibling are found. The remains magically tell the tale of their betrayal, leaving the living sibling to face justice.

For the two sisters, the murdered fair haired sister floats to shore to be found by a bard ( or bards ). In some versions there's an Ophelia-like glamor to the body; it's seems like a swan, graceful in death, etc. "They made a harp of her breastbone"... "took three locks of her yellow hair and with them strung the harp so rare." The harp is then played in the lord's hall and recounts the treachery. Justice done.

When exactly did vivisection become part of the traveling minstrel repertoire? The hair of a fair maiden, I'm with you. But the harvested parts of a drowned corpse? And a breast bone, no less? Witness the amazing bardic bag of holding; lute, rosin... bone saw? I imagine our ghoulish players lent over a body with the classic coroner Y cut, spread open like a frog in bio class and digging for the good parts. Nothing to see, official guild business, move along.

McKennitt's version expands the potential harp harvest, adding "he made harp pins of her fingers fair, with a hey ho and a bonny O." It's kind of an upbeat song, actually.

Of course, this is folklore and applying reason to it is detrimental. Still, I find myself wondering what the teller of the tale and their audience might have envisioned. Is it some shallow glossing over or as graphic as a CSI episode?

Modern readers tend to dismiss, or rewrite, the more grisly aspects of old stories. In one of Rumpelstiltskin's endings, he tears himself in two. It's tempting to see some magical Disney depiction of that, but I think it more likely that a reader at the time would be thinking something closer to drawn and quartered.

Perhaps people from the days of Saint's artifacts mightn't think twice about this. Somehow, that's more off putting.
.