Glorify the Lions

A friend recently shared an African proverb, leading me to wonder about the other side’s perspective….

Until the Lion Learns How to Write, Every Story will Glorify the Hunter

“And so you see young one, as we once hunted the humans, they too eventually learned to hunt us. First with the spear, then the bow and arrow, and with time, they learned to come for us with guns.”

“But we remember the old days. While we would only hunt for food, and to protect ourselves, the humans hunted us for sport. Yes, for their own barbaric entertainment.”

“In the year the humans called 2019, a great plague fell against them, diminishing their numbers to but a fraction of what it had been. And now, 100 years later, we return to the hunt; looking not only for food, but also culling their herds ‘lest they become so populous again as to threaten all within the great Circle of Life.”

Sailing with Magellan

A random memory….

During a high school discussion of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition to sail around the world, one classmate asked, in all apparent seriousness, why Magellan didn’t just go through the Panama Canal.

The question may have possibly led to some merriment.

In these more enlightened days, I assume everyone understands he was either trying to save some money on tolls or possibly had left his E-Z Pass transponder in the other ship.

(Spanish Galleon image used according to Pixabay license.)

No Ordinary Sneeze

It was no ordinary sneeze.

A particularly vigorous sneeze of the ordinary variety might, at best, upset a small gravy boat. This was not such a sneeze.

A sneeze of the super-human variety might propel the entire Spanish Armada across the world so quickly that would be no time to drop a coin in the toll basket at the Panama Canal, even if one had existed at that time. A sneeze of this sort would not be troubled by such an anachronism.

No, this was a category 45 sneeze. The sort which, had it occurred within the pages of a Fantastic Four comic book, would have caused even Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, to stop midmeal to say “Bless You” while offering you a solar-system sized handkerchief.

(Header image: public domain via WikiMedia Commons.)

The Martian Chronicles

Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” was pretty much my gateway to science fiction. I recently re-discovered that all of the stories were given a month and year, setting them in an unimaginably distant future.

The First Expedition launched for Mars in January of 1999.

According to the original timeline, it’s now been 16 years since Walter Gripp decided he was better off alone than with Genevieve Selsor (The Silent Towns)

In April of 2026 Captain Wilder of the fourth expedition returns from the outer solar system and finds his friend Hathaway’s family living on Mars. (The Long Years)

In August of the same year, a windstorm causes a fire, destroying a house in Allendale California. (Note: If I ever manage anything near that level of automation in a smart house, the dog will receive better treatment.)(There Will Come Soft Rains)

In October 2026, the Thomas family arrives on Mars for The Million Year Picnic.

And that’s it. We’re 64 months away from the entirety of The Martian Chronicles being set in our past.

Welcome to the Future!

Why are They Called Grandfather Clocks?

Mom often refers to the newspaper’s comics page as “The educational section.” And while she means it in jest (I think), I’ve learned something new because of a web comic.

Monday’s Questionable Content has one of the characters concluding a discussion by saying, “…and that’s why they’re called grandfather clocks.”

It really had nothing to do with anything (aside from the character, Brun, being fascinated by clocks), but it did leave me wondering,… “Why are they called grandfather clocks?”

So, I asked Google (because that’s how things work these days) and learned the story of how the American songwriter Henry Clay Work was inspired to write the song “My Grandfather’s Clock.

There’s a really nice write up from 2012 at Today I found Out, but the gist of it is that in 1875, Work was staying at the George Hotel in Yorkshire and was intrigued by the longcase clock (what we now call a “grandfather clock”) in the lobby.

The story goes that the clock had belonged to the hotel’s previous owners, the Jenkins brothers, and kept perfect time throughout their lives. But when the first of the two brothers died, the clock suddenly became less accurate. And at the moment the second brother died, the clock stopped working altogether.

Inspired by the story, Work wrote the song, “My Grandfather’s Clock” which became a huge hit, selling more than one million copies (a nearly unprecedented achievement at the time). As a result of the song’s success, the public began referring to longcase clocks as “Grandfather clocks.”

Johnny Cash recorded a version in 1959.

Boyz II Men recorded a version in 2004

Wikipedia lists a number of other recordings and stories using it for inspiration.

Cover image, public domain via Wikipedia

Mortsafe

A friend posted a most unusual photo on Facebook today: it’s a gravesite in a cemetery, but in front of the headstone, there’s an iron “cage” of sorts. The cage is sunken into the ground on all sides, and through the iron straps, you can see where grass has been growing, protected from mowing for many years.

Accompanying the photo is the caption, “I’d like to know the back story….”

I very much wanted to make a joke about it being the burial site of a vampire, zombie, or other undead creature, but I was curious and started googling.

This appears to be a mortsafe. Basically, a cage intended to make it difficult for anyone who might try to disturb the grave (apparently there was a lively trade in corpses for sale to medical schools). Normally, they were only left in place for six to eight weeks until the body had decomposed and would no longer be in a state to be saleable. This one appears to have been left longer.

Probably because that’s where they buried a vampire, zombie, or other undead creature.

The Wump World

The Lorax is probably the first book that comes to mind when people talk about children’s books which touch on environmentalism and preserving nature for future generations. And I have no complaint with that. Doctor Seuss (aka Theodor Geisel) wrote a powerful story, which connected with kids quite well.

But for me, I also remember The Wump World. I couldn’t have been much past first grade when I first read the tale of these gentle creatures and how their world was overrun. I can’t be certain, but this was likely also one of my first introductions to the science fiction genre as the Pollutians came to the Wump World in what were clearly spaceships.

Out of the blue, a friend recently asked if I’d ever heard of the wumps and after checking that we were talking about the same thing, I felt compelled to revisit the Wump World.

Although the book is 44 pages long, it’s worth noting that every page is also illustrated with a color, pencil-drawing. It’s a fast read for an adult and given that it’s stuck with me for more years than I wish to recount, it seems a reasonable kid-length.

The story tells of the Wumps and how their idyllic existence is one day interrupted by the arrival of “The Pollutians” (to an adult, the name is hardly subtle, but as a child, I scarcely noticed it). It’s a dismal life for the Wumps, but much as with The Lorax, there’s a hopeful ending.

So yes, get the kids hooked on The Lorax, but don’t forget to visit The Wump World too.

Leaves

So, it seems I’m that neighbor. You know, the eccentric one…. (Shocker, right?)

For the past ten or so years, every fall, I’ve been out gathering up the leaves, running them through a leaf vacuum/shredder, and using them to mulch the garden, fill the compost bins, and mulch various flower beds.

Initially I just gathered up all the leaves that inevitably blew into the driveway – the winds work out just right for deep drifts of leaves to pile up against the gate into the backyard. And since they’re gonna end up in the driveway, I’d proactively gather them up from the street in front of the house. This has worked out quite well, and over the past seven or eight years, in order to make sure there would be enough, I’ve also gathered up some of the bags of leaves neighbors have put out for curbside pickup.

It’s worked quite well. I’ve been growing cannas in a flowerbed built around the lamppost and this year, some of those stalks got to be around eight feet high.

The neighbors have noticed my leaf gathering. Two weeks ago, the neighbor two doors down texted my wife to let her know that if I was interested, they had seven bags of leaves at the end of their driveway and could they possibly have the bags back afterward? (Seems fair to me.)

This past weekend, the same neighbors asked me if wet leaves were OK and I said I would happily take just about anything except black walnut which they don’t have anyhow. (Black walnut leaves contain a chemical which hinders the growth of other plants.) On Sunday evening, four bags of leaves mysteriously appeared at the end of our driveway. On Monday evening, I filched two more the neighbor in between had put out for pickup and during the day Tuesday, another one just “appeared” as if by magic.

That’s a total of seven bags.

A short while ago, I came in from walking the dogs. I’ve only moved two bags of leaves this week, but to my surprise, there are now eleven bags at the end of the driveway.

That’s a whole lot of leaves!

Public domain Image via Pixabay.

Deadpool 3

On Twitter, Dylan Beattie pointed out that Disney’s ownership of Deadpool, along with Star Wars, Mary Poppins, and other properties opens the door to a variety of beloved characters appearing in the next Deadpool movie.

So… here’s the premise forΒ #Deadpool3….

Deadpool 2 starts off with Wade and Vanessa deciding to start a family. The new movie takes place perhaps eight years later; they have two kids, a boy and a girl, and they realize, they need to hire a nanny. And it’s Mary Poppins.

The overall plot is still hazy, but a few highlights spring to mind… The “Mary is cruder/more violent than Wade” twists are too obvious. But mid-movie, the entire cast breaks into a musical number? That’s got potential.

I’m picturing a general melee with both sides fighting, and singing at the same time. In the midst of this mayhem, Poppins moves around in her usual “practically perfect” calm and collected way, moving fragile items moments before a body flies through that spot.

In the middle of the fight, Deadpool picks up a priceless vase to hit someone over the head.

The music halts as Poppins glances sharply at him.

“Wade!”
“Oh. Sorry Ms. Poppins.”

Deadpool puts the vase down and shoots/decapitates the thug instead.

“Much better. Carry on.”

The music and singing resumes.

At the end of the song, Deadpool addresses the camera.

“I know what you’re thinking. How can we have a Mary Poppins scene without a Dick Van Dyke cameo? It’s like he wouldn’t return my calls.”

Dick Van Dyke is in the background, waving to the audience, a finger on his lips.

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