Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Dillingham Sisters Disguise Themselves as Peacocks



I just finished the book 'East of Eden.' What an amazing book. John Steinbeck really knows how to craft characters that seem real. My favorite quote was when Sam Hamilton says "I eat stories like grapes." I eat stories like grapes, too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Borzakov Brothers Leave the Simple Life to Join the Circus




I saw the neatest animal the other day. It was a huge fluffy dog using wheels instead of back legs. He still had his back legs, but they dragged on the ground. He was wearing rubber booties so it would not hurt him to drag his legs. I've seen wheel dogs on TV before, but never in real life. It was very inspirational. Wheel dog doesn't let a couple of lame legs get in his way. He keeps on trekking!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Josephine Conquers her Fear of Heights



I am behind the technological times: I don't have a MP3 player. I feel like one of the three or four people left in the states without one of these very convenient little devices. Because of this, I still make myself mixed CDs. I just made myself a mixed CD that I can't stop listening to. Here is the playlist.

1. Gee But I'd Like to Make you Happy- Boswell Sisters
2. Papa Loves Mambo- Perry Como (this is going to be my karaoke song once I finally summon up the bravery to overcome my stage fright. Not to mention abandoning my insecurities about my unbecoming voice.)
3. Puttin' on the Ritz - Fred Astaire with Debroy Somers and his Band
4. Every Body Loves My Baby- Taylor's Dixie Serenaders
5. Oh! Que J'aime Pairs - Mistinguett ; Melodic-Jazz du Casino de Paris ; Edmond Mahieux
6. Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (means You're Grand) - The Andrews Sisters
7. Am I Blue - Ethel Waters
8. Winters Love - Animal Collective
9. Song from Dracula Soundtrack- Philip Glass and the Kronos quartet ( This song was made for the Dracula movie from the 1930's. Its a really great movie and the music helps with the eerie feeling of it. As far as scary movies go, I love movies that convey eeriness or spookiness rather than the shock effect of blood and gore.)
10. Elephant Gun - Beirut
11. Madam Atchen - Amede Ardoin
12. Last Wandering Blues - Gertrude 'Ma' Rainy
13. Hello Stranger - The Carter Family
14. This Land is Your Land- Woody Guthrie
15. Fake Empire- The National (This band reminds me of riding the train from Portland to Seattle because I listened to them on my headphones while riding that very train.)
16. Feet Asleep - Thao Nguyen
17. Song to Bobby - Cat Power
18. Summer Time - Bessie Smith
19. Lullaby of Birdland - Sarah Vaughan
20. Sassy - Kalama's Quartet
21. Baby, Won't You Please Come Home - Clarence Williams and his Jazz Kings
22. I've Got The World On A String - Frank Sinatra
23. Cheek to Cheek - Leo Reisman and His Orchestra with Fred Astaire

Since my freshman year in college, when I first got a computer with a CD burner, I've made myself mixed CDs. There is something that I love about mixed CDs. I can listen to a CD I made years ago and it acts as a time machine. When listening to old CDs, all memories become extra clear. Its really better than a photo album. I know that studies on memories prove that our senses are a really great path to our memories, hence the memory invoking mixed CDs. But this has always made me want to do experiments with the sense of smell. I've had two ideas for odor experiments.
1. When studying for a test, rub a certain scent right under the nostrils. Each subject could have a different scent. Before a test, put the scent under the nose to see if information studied is more easily remembered with the help of a scent. I haven't been in school for a couple of years now, so I don't know when I will have an opportunity to try this out.
2. Every year use a different scent for ones living space. Weather this scent be a room freshener or a scented candle, it doesn't matter. This way, each year has a scent theme. If my 26th year were to be lavender scented, than when I am 42 and smell lavender, I will be reminded of my 26th year.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ida Wonders Where the Dogs Are




I just saw the movie 'Sally of the Sawdust' which is a silent movie about a girl growing up amongst a traveling circus. One of the quotes from the movie goes something like "Sally was a strange and whimsy creature whose only friends were elephants". The movie was a comedy and there was a lot of slapstick. This got me thinking about the comical technique of slapstick. Modern day slapstick is either irritating or uncomfortable. Irritating because it seems like a cheap way to get a laugh. Uncomfortable because I really don't enjoy watching people get hurt. But in 'Sally of the Sawdust' I was actually laughing at the slapstick. Silent film slapstick seems clever to me. I know that 'slapstick' and 'clever' are two words that don't normally go together, but each move was so precisely choreographed. It was like watching and intricate and perfectly timed dance.
'Sally of the Sawdust' thematically reminded me of another old movie called 'Zou Zou.' The circus is always interesting.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Animal Trainer

Turtles can be temperamental. Nobody knew this better than The Animal Trainer. A turtle, with his ready made fortress startles easily and slips into his shell. Any attempt at coaxing him from the comfort of his shell is met with resistance. The Animal Trainers pet turtle was no different then the rest of his species. He was sluggish and blatantly non cooperative before the little girl trained him to play 'Twinkle Little Star' on a toy piano. It was a hard feat for a turtle. His oafish paws clattered against the keys in clumsy strokes. To say the turtle felt a sense of accomplishment is going to far, but he did feel a certain satisfaction after completing the song.
"We have an amazing child," The Animal Trainers father, Arthur exclaimed patting the top of his daughters small head. He knew that getting a turtle for his little girl was a good idea. During poker with the guys, Marv wouldn't stop bragging about his son Max. So maybe the kid did have a preternatural gift for athletics, but anyone could practice and get good at kicking a ball. Arthur really didn't think Max was so special, certainly not compared to his daughter.
Martha, The Animal Trainers mother, wasn't as assured by her daughters talent. What sort of little girl goes around teaching turtles to play the piano? Her daughters relationship with animals was confusing. For Martha, animals fit into one of three categories: irritating, creepy or dangerous. She never wanted to get her daughter that turtle anyway. That turtle was just a bacteria infested, stinky little creature that could now play the piano. Her daughter should be bonding with other little girls, not turtles.
It was time to broaden her daughters horizon. Broadening ones horizon was very hip those days, and no one was to young to take part. Ballet classes were always appealing to young girls, and The Animal Trainer was promptly enrolled. Instead of dancing, The Animal Trainer tripped and came home with bruised knees. One day she accidently whacked another little girl in the face while twirling. It was back to the animals after that.
When she was nine, she trained all the neighborhood cats to meow different show tunes. The neighbors became accustomed to the eerie sound of several cats meowing ditties outside their windows. In a way, they were compensated. The Jehovah witnesses and the door to door salespeople stopped berating them with sales pitches for their souls or otherwise.
By eleven, her dog was an expert at skateboarding. Briefly, the other neighborhood children tried to befriend her. They too wanted their dogs to master skateboarding The Animal Trainer had always been given a wide girth by her peers, and she was suspicious of this sudden interest. She ignored their attempts, and soon the children settled with the reality that their dogs would not be participating in any skateboarding adventures.
The Animal Trainer was only twelve when she trained a group of crows to draw on the sidewalk with chalk. It was an interesting insight into the psyche of crows. They preferred the blue and green chalk and they drew pictures of ghostly looking creatures with mournful expressions. The figures in the drawings never had beaks.
Life probably would have been easier for The Animal Trainer if she had lived in a big city. There were so many people in cities that oddities of all kinds were not so strange. But The Animal Trainer was raised in a small town nestled next to the sea. Every weekend, Arthur and Martha took The Animal Trainer to the seashore where she collected seashells, played in the waves, and befriended the seagulls. It was quite the spectacle watching the little girl interacting with the seagulls. Most of the rumors were generated after these beach excursions. It was the most public place where the animals trainers uncanny relationship with animals was on display. The retirees, which consisted of at least half the towns population, were always delighted to see a child at play, and chalked up the Animal Trainers strange playmates as a "kids these days," situation. The rest of the population were families, many of whom were disturbed by the animal trainer.
The summer of The Animal Trainers thirteenth year was accompanied with a bombardment of natural disturbances. The weather was unpredictable and the sea began to inflict random acts of violence upon the towns folk. By early June, three children had been sucked into rip tides and swept out to sea. The lifeguards, distraught with their failure, were haunted by nightmares of children alone in the vastness of the sea.
Nobody remembers whose idea it was, but The Animal Trainer was recruited to help make the beaches safer. The beach was cleared of swimmers the day The Animal Trainer was braught to sea. The life guards stood in a line on the beach as The Animal Trainer went to work. She tentatively waded into the water. A group of seals surrounded her. Their big wet eyes looked at her with curiosity. The seals were told about the children taken by the sea. They thought about their own little pups sunbathing on the rocks. Seal babies had their own threats from the ocean. Most notably, the sharks lurking and lusting for the taste of their flesh. Seals were certainly not unfamiliar with the dangers of the sea. The Animal Trainer asked for the seals help. She wanted them to rescue any sea swept swimmers. Some of the seals refused to help. Sharks were not the only threat to their lives. Boats and their slashing motors were responsible for the death of their young. Most of the seals agreed to help despite the faults of some humans. They saw most humans as not intentionally malicious.
That summer, four more children and a drunken teenager were dragged unwillingly into rip tides and dangerous waves. All five people were rescued and safely toted back to shore on the smooth backs of seals.
Arthur and Martha hoped that these rescues would persuade people to stop antagonizing their daughter. The success of the seals did help garner more supporters of The Animal Trainer, but it also furhtur fueled her opposers against her. Rescue seals were so unnatural that a lot of people were spooked more than apreciative. Her non supporters seemed to bustle with disaproval. Parents with children in The Animal Trainers Class transferred their children to different classes. People avoided her in public. Extreme relegious groups in town began to ignore their favorite topics of abortion and gay marriage to focus on The Animal Trainer. Most religious people believed her talent to be the work of the devil. There was a nun at the chruch who disagreed with all the rhetoric against the young girl. The nun believed she was a saint. She had an unsusual knack with animals, but she was using it for good. The nuns entreaties were mostly ignored. Most people cited the nuns declining years as reason for her support. Her opinions were just the ramblings of senility.
Arthur advised The Animal Trainer to ignore the hateful outlash against her. Giving advice was always difficult for Arthur. His stradegy was to think of what a TV dad would say. "Be proud of who you are!" He declared with triumph, remembering the positive response of the tv children when their tv dad gave the same advice.
The Animal Trainer was inspired by the words of her doting father. She entered the school talent show. She was the fourth act, sandwhiched inbetween a piano player and a ventriliquest. She scampered onto the stage followed by her two cats, Justine and Henrietta, and her dog, Purcible. Justine and Henrietta leaped on top of Purcible and seemed to do a jig. Meanwhile, Purcible walked across a balance beam. Behind the curtain, the piano player scowled and the ventriliquests insides became even more tightly knotted.
The audience forgot about politics and succumbed to the irresistible urge to 'ooh' and 'awe' at the performance. Arthur and Martha were in the front row. Arthur glowed with pride. Martha shifted around in her seat with unease. She was remembering the word "freak" spray painted on the front door and the tearful reaction of The Animal Trainer.
It was young Billy Hopkins who was most impressed. He sat inbetween two friends, his heart pattering as he watched The Animal Trainer.
That night around the dinner table, young Billy raved about The Animal Trainer. Mrs. Hopkins scowled as he watched her son retell the story of the demonic dog and cats at the talent show. She imagined The Animal Trainer on stage, her eyes blazing red as the animals did her bidding. But it was Billys eyes that were disturbing her now. They were glazed over like a love struck fool. It had gone to far. The Animal Trainer could not be let to run amuck in this town. Mrs Hopkins quit her book club, and started making microwavable dinners so she could focus her energy on the campaign against The Animal Trainer.
Mrs. Hopkins successful summer campaign of villianization made The Animal Trainers entrance into high school difficult. Mrs. Hopkins success had taken shape in two forms. The local governemnt agreed to not use the animal trainer for any sort of help. Second, more and more people were afraid and unnerved by The Animal Trainer. The six hours she spent at school each day were spent in solitude except for lunch when sometimes birds would flock from the sky or squirrels would descend from the trees to keep her company. Her lunch time companions did nothing to improve her social standing among her human peers. Billy Hopkins saw her every day at lunch and tried to will himself to go and talk to her. He would take a few steps in her direction before the anxiety convinced him to veer off in another direction.
The town didn't realize how quickly their convictions against the animal trainer would dissipate. Autumn of The Animal Trainers 18th year, another crisis occurred that required the peculiar attention of the Animal Trainer. Sometime during the night, the animals at the local zoo escaped the confines of their cages. Nobody knew how it happened. Theories ranged from a zoo keeper with dementia, a local animal rights group attempt at a statement, or a high-school prank. Whomever was responsible, the results were chaotic. Lions and tigers prowled unseen in the streets. Elephants were destroying local parks. Giraffes were scaring the bejeebes out of second story apartment dwellers. The mayor sheepishly pleaded with the animal trainer for her assistance. She almost refused. Living in a town full of animals sounded like paradise. The people in the town had been increasingly hostel toward her. She thought of her parents, who had endured the same prejudice as herself. She thought of people she had read about in books. Many of the books gave her hope for humanity. She believed in second chances. She believed in redemption.
The animal trainer could sense where each animal was, and she went to them individually. She talked to them in her gentle nonverbal way. She lay her hands on their foreheads or their outstretched necks. She told the animals the truth. They were right, it was better to be free. But if they didn't come back, they would be shot or trapped in cruel ways. If they wanted to remain free their best chance was to stay away from humans and to only feed on wild animals, not peoples pets. The animals appreciated her honesty. They told her a thousand secrets no other human had ever heard.
Most of the animals went back, but a few rogue animals opted for freedom despite almost certain death. The town would see this as a failure. She had not succeeded in retrieving all the animals, her skills must be disappearing. But in the animal trainers day, she had never trained an animal that didn't want to be trained. She only told them the truth and offered to them what she had. It had been this way since her very first turtle . She had talked to him and and he said yes, he did want to learn. He said he was awfully fond of that song twinkle little star.
In local news, the missing animals were ignored in favor of another story: The death of The Animal Trainer by an escaped lion. The Animal Trainer laughed when she saw the news. Who had made up such a preposterous story? The laughter turned hard in her throat when she saw the first interviewee. Mrs. Hopkins tear stained face glowed on the screen. "What a tragedy for this town. I always said, she was such a gem of a child. She had such a gift."
The rest of the town followed in Abigales deciet. They deceived themselves into the belief that they had always loved The Animal Trainer. The Animal Trainer had never felt lonlier than she did while listening to people grieve her death. She wondered where all these tear stained faces had been when they knew she was alive. How were these people going to react when they found out she was still alive? She decided she didn't want to find out. Her parents were greived when they learned The Animal Trainers plan to leave, but they had always honored her independence. Now that she was eighteen, they didn't have much authority to force her to stay anyhow. She told her family to let the town believe she was dead, but to tell them it hadn't been a lion.
Reflecting on a life of stationary living was enough to provoke The Animal Trainer to embrace her wanderlust. The next several years were spent traveling the country by train. She found out her books were right. Some people were good and some were bad but most people were in between. It was too vague for her, the gray shades of in between. She wanted to live in the with animals where the world was more defined. It was a world of survival and existence. The animal world is simple and this was comforting.
The Animal Trainer moved to a rainforest virtually untouched by humans. Amongst the leafy top of a tree, she built a shelter. The apes agreed to teach her. They taught her how primates survive. Food and water and danger were all covered in the rudimentary teachings of the apes. She sensed which predators she could train, and she trained them to search for prey in other parts of the forest. For the predators that would not be trained she taught the birds to squawk when a predator was near, so she could get to safety.
The rain forest was The Animal Trainers home until her death. She had only one brief interaction with humankind again, in the form of a letter. While relaxing with the apes, she was seized by a strong urge to write a letter. There was so much left to say before she completely severed her connection with humans. The supplies she brought with her into the forest were dwindling, but she still had a pen and paper left. Hunched over the the paper, she and wrote for over an hour. She gave the letter to a bird for delivery. The bird flew for hours before flying in the skies above a bustling town. The piece of paper was so much heavier than the sleek feathers that covered the bird. It was exhausting flying with the extra weight. The bird swooped from the clouds and dropped the letter in front of the first person he saw, a young man. The man unfolded the pages of the letter, but he did not speak the same language as The Animal Trainer. Through out his life, the young man had seen many birds, but never had he seen a bird with a letter. He would never throw away this mysterious letter. Someday, he thought, he would find someone to translate the letter for him.
The man was very old now. Every morning he went onto his front porch to watch the birds. After his encounter with The Animal Trainers bird, he grew an intense interest in birds and became an ornothologist. He thought they were beautful creatures and the bearer of mysteries. He could never look into the sky with out searching for a bird with a letter in its beak. He could never look into the forest without wondering who was in there and what sort of amazing things they knew.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Walter is Impressed With Cecilias Flexibility




Here's a joke I came up with.
What did the paleontologist name the literary dinosaur?
The Thesaurus.

Okay, so its not that funny of a joke. But think about dinosaur names: Allosaurus, Apatosaurus (more fondly known as the Brontosaurus), Tyrannosaurus....Etcsaurus. The word thesaurus really sounds more like a dinosaur name than a book.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Strong Man Strives to Impress the Forest Animals



I was thinking about time travel today. In movies, people often time travel in odd machines (or cars.) I think it would be more convenient to have a time travel bracelet. The bracelet would have buttons so that the travel date could be set. Maybe this would be less comfortable during travel than a machine, but at least there would be no worry about leaving your machine while exploring the time era. A dinosaur could step on a time machine and then your stuck in the prehistoric era. If I had a time travel bracelet, the first time I'd visit would be the 1920's. I would go to a speakeasy and learn the Charleston from a real life flapper. After my carefree 1920's visit, I would start getting serious. I would travel in time to solve historical mysteries. Such mysteries may include: What happened to the lost Roanoke colony? or did Atlantis exist as more than a myth? or were there really aliens at Roswell? The best part of the time traveling bracelet is that i could snoop around solving mysteries, and if I ever were in danger, I could time travel back to 2009! After I solved the mysteries through time travel, I would write papers on my discoveries. Maybe I would have to bring a language genius with me so that she could translate. Not all historical mysteries were in english speaking societies. Another more petty perk to time travel would be the easy access to authentic vintage clothes in mint condition.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gabrielle Feels Like she is Flying when she Rides her Horse

For some reason I always imagine equestrian girls at the circus to have french sounding names.



If I was in a traveling circus I would either want to be the equestrian girl or the trapeze artist. The equestrian girl gets to spend time with the animals, and she is probably the person who rides the elephants. But the trapeze artist gets to simulate flying, which sounds pretty exciting too. But as the title implies, maybe the equestrian girls feel like they are flying too.
The circus can be pretty interesting. I have read a couple of good books about the circus: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. Right now I am reading Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter.