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.
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.