A Few Links

I have been neglecting my blog family. Check the sidebar for new additions to the blogroll- Border Wars, and my neighbor (forty miles on dirt roads) Morgan Atwood at Rum & Donuts, who has abandoned his pseudonym “Nagrom”. Also, LoARSqred, partner of MDMNM of Sometimes Far Afield, has moved with him to Small City NM where she too has started a blog, A Seemingly Stochastic Life, full of gardening and hunting and good food (I think MDMNM has been too busy to blog).

Have you seen Neutrino Cannon? Scarily erudite and fiercely opinionated– and more often than not, right– on a daunting variety of subjects. Check his interests in his profile…

Darren of Tet Zoo may be blogging more than ever but has moved to Scientific American Blogs, where I hope he is getting the recognition he deserves.

A few particulars. What on earth are “conventional” breeders doing to dogs? Christopher at Border Wars muses (angrily) here and here.

Excellent essay by Paul Theroux on the PLF blog (originally from the Financial Times) on why there is still plenty of good potential travel writing. Need I say I agree? I actually quoted Theroux in Eagle Dreams.

Here is a strange one: exactly how weird were the popular cartoons and at least some music in the Thirties? I submit that the psychedelic Sixties had nothing on them. Following my whimsy after watching a jolly YouTube of Fats Waller doing “This joint is jumpin’ ” at NC (In the thirties “…everyone dressed up for parties, or just dressed better back then…[and] “weapons carriage was apparently considered normal”, I went looking for some remembered Cab Calloway songs with cartoons.

Oh. My. God. NOTHING prepares you for good music linked to the weirdest cartoons you have ever seen. Snow White parodies with Betty Boop, Bimbo the Bear, murder attempts, and Cab Calloway as not one but two cartoon characters singing St James Infirmary over the apparent frozen corpse of Betty–! Koko the clown turns into a ghost for a while, while singing and moving like Calloway, transformed by the Wicked Stepmother. But why are all the characters floating down the River Styx on an ice floe past skeletal and spectral card players (aces and eights), musicians, broken- down cars, and even barflies, though the container on the bar is marked “milk”, while owls and demons and what appears to be a large spermatozoon fly overhead?? And why at one point do Koko and Bimbo try to beat up a tree stump?

And that is the LESS weird video. Next, try this one, where Calloway starts live with his band singing Minnie the Moocher but shortly pops up in the underworld again as a cartoon GHOST WALRUS, menacing Bimbo and Betty as ghost wardens execute ghost skeletons in electric chairs to much hilarity and little effect, while a scat- singing nursing cat and her kittens join gleefully in on the chorus. The end reminds me (seriously) of Goya’s skies full of hellish creatures, and also that the thirties cartoonists were hyper- literate and cultured and amused themselves inserting high- culture references everywhere. (A later example: “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit…”)

It is a shame that they are hard to find today except on YouTube– too un- pc by miles– but we are lucky that they still exist there. On the other hand Max Fleischer and his brother and his associates may be in part responsible for the weirdness of my generation- I saw that first one often as a child, and God only knows what else!

Apologies (Chas!) for the info dump but I have both a book and a review deadline looming plus have written an essay on my friend Peter Bowen’s novels that may soon be linked here– this after travel and PD slow typing. I needed to put out a little or I would never catch up.

One more though: despite my Scots maternal blood, they will never get ME to wear a kilt, but check out and help Stingray’s (and others) Kilted to Kick Cancer campaign.

11 thoughts on “A Few Links”

  1. I dunno; the strangest cartoon I've ever seen has got to be that Japanese one where robots grow out of peoples' foreheads and fight to the death as a metaphor of sexual arousal. Those Betty Boop shorts probably rate a close second though.

  2. Moro–that may be even creepier than the Calloway– does anyone know the source of his obsession with surreal ghosts and graveyards? This one approaches Lovecraft. Oddly though I found them scary as a child I thought his universe still "normal"- kids accept the weird.

    N C– give us a link– haven't seen it. I know some odd ones like Kikkoman, where the Hello Kitty hangs himself, and the (Euro) manga setting of Show of Hands' "Innocent's Song" with Princess Tutu, but Fleischer is odder in my book. Soon to come though– heroic manga featuring the 19th century Provencal entomologist Jean- Henri Fabre as a protagonist…

    You should see the Japanese Fabre tourist buses in Provence.

  3. I was forced by circumstances(do you really want to know?) to wear a kilt once–it was cold, wet, foggy and windy, classic Scottish weather conditions, and I found it incredibly comfortable! Those kilts are darn practical, that's for sure! And I was ready for all the rude, stereotypic comments from everyone, who just HAD to ask, in one way or another, whether anything was worn under the kilt. To which I'd quip the OLD joke–"Nay laddie/lassie, nubbut's worn under mah kilt; it's all in fine working order under there!!"….L.B.

  4. Moro; that's the one. Making sense was not high on the production team's priority list. Surviving the truckloads of cocaine they were obviously on at the time probably was.

    Steve; I have it on DVD, I can lend it.

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