Weirdness

Great Scots Parade in a Mini Convertible

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Great Scot! Parade in front of the Westin Poinsett Hotel

This Memorial Day weekend actually started Thursday morning, and it’s just barely getting started. So far I’ve been kayaking, gone to a midnight movie to see X-Men: Days of Future Past, attended a history lecture on old maps, looked for mythical meteors, visited an Irish pub, and had coffee and a great visit with old friends – and it’s only Saturday. The highlight so far, though, has been our participation in the Great Scot! Parade through downtown Greenville with the Upstate Minis.

A couple of weeks ago Jeff Goodman had posted on the Upstate Minis Facebook page about the group participating in the parade. I asked Laura if she were interested, and she jumped at the chance. So, Friday afternoon a little after 5:00 we lined up with ten other Minis on Townes Street. We would bring up the rear of the parade.

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Shinola and Java Fix

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Art, Antiques, Funk

I had been working around the house most of the day and needed to get out and about. I decided a cup of coffee was in order, but I didn’t just want Starbucks or Atlanta Bread Company, my usual haunts. Then I remembered Java Fix, a coffee shop in a tiny weird building on Wade Hampton Boulevard. That simple decision turned into an afternoon’s adventure.

I’m a sucker for weird angled buildings. These are usually built to take advantage of a limited footprint where roads intersect at a sharp angle. Often there will be an entrance at the narrow end, then the place widens out. There used to be a really cool building at the intersection of Poinsett and Highway 183, but it was torn down when the Pete Hollis Boulevard was build. That was a shame.

Located where Mohawk Drive veers off of Wade Hampton, Java Fix is in a tiny little angled building. I think it started as a car service place. For awhile it was a record store, and I remember stopping in to browse. It’s also been a hairstyle saloon and several other things before the Fix people took over.

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Dinosaurs at Christmas

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Dino Manger

In regard to my Dino Manger, I was recently asked, “What do dinosaurs have to do with Christmas?” My response was to ask what an animate snowman, red-nosed reindeer, and other such trappings have to do with Christmas. It’s a bit of whimsy. I was really aiming for a “Three Wise Dinos” motif, but I’m short one dinosaur.

I got to wondering if others were doing mash-ups of dinosaurs and Christmas. Surely, if there is a market for tinsel dinosaurs from Home Depot (although our house is the only one I’ve seen with two of them), then others have got to be including dinosaurs as part of their Christmas. As it turns out, there are several. A quick search of Amazon produced the following collection of books.

Dinosaur Christmas

Dinosaur Christmas, by Jerry Pallotta asks the question “What did Santa use to pull his sleigh before he had reindeer?” Dinosaurs!

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas

Jane Yolen and Mark Teague explore how dinosaurs might celebrate Christmas in “How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?

Tyrannoclaus

Janet Lawler’s “Tyrannoclaus” is a retelling of “The Night Before Christmas”, but with dinosaurs.

The Dinosaurs Night Before Christmas

Along the same lines, “The Dinosaurs’ Night Before Christmas” but Anne Mueke not only retells the James Clement Moore story, but also rewrites several Christmas Carols, as well.  The book includes a CD with recordings by famous artists.  My favorite goes like this…

Hark!  The Pterodactyls sing
Flying High on reptile wing.
Down below them in a nest
Raptor chicks await breakfast.
Rays of sunshine coax rebirth
From the Mesozoic Earth.
Tiny bug and giant beast
Wake to hunt a new morn’s feast.
Hark!  The Pterodactyls sing -
Wondering what the day will bring.

However, my favorite discovery so far has been Australian musician Bob Brown’s song, “Santa Bring Me a Dinosaur.”  I’ll end with this lovely jewel:

Street View Time Lapse

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Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 6.42.00 AM

I’ve been enjoying creating time-lapse videos while driving. Unfortunately, I’ve just been driving back and forth to work or rehearsal, so the scenery doesn’t change much.

So while I was looking at Google Earth the other day it occurred to me – I could use the images from Street View to create the same type of time-lapse. (more…)

A Jesus-Filled Chain Letter

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he1795u_sab_JEvans_ILL_image-top

Had a bit of serendipity…I was doing some research for an upcoming photo/hiking expedition. I was looking at an edition of Columbia’s The Daily Phoenix from 1868 for information on the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad. The article was on the front page, and by itself was just a short notice about the finances of the railroad.

1868 Daily Phoenix

The article that took up all of the first column and part of the second was not one I would have expected. It was entitled “Jesus Christ’s Letter”, and it described a letter that was supposedly found “under a Great Stone, sixty-five years after the Crucifixion of our blessed Savior, eighteen miles from Iconium…” The letter starts out by saying that anyone who doesn’t keep the Sabbath will be cursed, and that everyone should go to church. There were other various injunctions, curses, and blessings on a variety of topics. At the end end of the letter it states that anyone who keeps a copy of this letter and publish it would be blessed. (more…)

Saint Rum

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Saint Rum

When I saw the campaign sign above my first thought was, who is Saint Rum and why is he/she running for president? With a name like that, this might be someone I could really support!

Seriously, though, this points out the problem with typography. These candidates, regardless of party or office sought, are limited to certain themes and colors. Only red, white, and blue are acceptable. Certain symbols are acceptable, such as stars, eagles, and other national emblems. That leaves only a limited number of combinations.

In this case Santorum is hoping that the O of his name because a shortened symbol on its own, in much the same way Obama’s O took on a life of its own. In fairness, the blue version of this sign is much more legible because the O remains white.

However, there is a risk. Obama’s O was indeed iconic, and lent itself to inclusion in words such as “hope.”. But that was easily parodied in bumper stickers sporting the word S”O”cialist, as well as others. Should Santorum be elected, I’m sure his “O” would suffer the same fate.

Personally, though, I’m ready for a departure from the red, white, and blue with politically acceptable imagery. Maybe it’s time for something like this…

Christmas Kitsch

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Chia-Pet-Bunny-e1285118762596.png by RndConnections on Aviary

The Chia Pets have emerged from their long hibernation. The gaudy decorations having been springing forth in stores for the past month and a half. We have now hit the peak of the season for Christmas Kitsch.

Laura and I make regular trips to Garden Ridge this time of year to supplement our light supplies and see what other decorating ideas we can get. This place has the most extensive collection of blow-up, illuminated decorations in town. There are Santas, snowmen, elves, and just about any variation thereof. How about a snowman clad in camouflage? They’ve got ‘em.

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Any color of Christmas tree imaginable can be had, along with acres of other decorations.

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One of the more disturbing trends this year is the “Santa in the Outhouse” themed merchandise. There is the blow-up version…

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But they had smaller animatronic versions, complete with upset Santa and lots of bathroom noises…

4180707624_30f990a985.png by RndConnections on Aviary

There are several YouTube videos showing this thing in action, but I’d rather not link to nor embed them here.

Then there are the nativity sets. One blogger listed his 27 Worst Nativity Sets. Some of these I don’t think are that bad, but the animal-themed ones are just weird.

Cat Nativity

Dog Nativity

Chicken Nativity

So, Christmas seems to get weirder and weirder with each passing year. As for our house, we’re keeping things fairly simple. We’ve added more colored lights to the back of the house and we’ve got quite a few white lights out front. Our tree has no ornaments, but only lights for one very good reason…

Rory in the treeCosmo in the Tree

Yep, we now have not only Cosmo, but Rory climbing the tree. They hopped up it when we first put it up, but for the last several days they have not bothered it. I just know that if we added ornaments, it would be an attraction.

Happy Frances Willard Day!

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Frances Willard

According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 53, Chapter 3, Section 20

The fourth Friday in October in each year shall be set apart and designated in the public schools as Frances Willard Day and in each public school it shall be the duty of such school to prepare and render a suitable program on the day to the end that the children of the State may be taught the evils of intemperance.

Frances Willard is best known as the national president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and as an advocate for women’s suffrage.  She was instrumental in passage of the 18th Amendment authorizing Prohibition and the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.

I’m not sure when the South Carolina law was passed, but it’s still on the books.  In all my years as an educator and as a student in South Carolina I’ve never heard of Frances Willard, much less celebrated a day in her honor in school, regardless of any law.

However, that wasn’t always the case.  Many states, in addition to South Carolina, have days honoring Willard, including Wisconsin, where she lived for awhile, Pennsylvania, Texas, Nebraska, and her native Illinois. I don’t know how many of these statutes are still on the books.

I imagine that at one point these celebrations in schools were an early incarnation of our Red Ribbon Week (which, perhaps not coincidentally, is next week.) A 1948 issue of the Spartanburg Herald describes how Spartanburg County schools celebrate that particular Willard Day…

The suggested program is as follows: Song “God Bless America;” Introduction by school officials with the Student Body saluting the flag; a brief address on Miss Willard; Song, “America;” the reading of favorite Bible verses of Frances Willard; Song, “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

Included in the program was a message to teachers from Gov. J. Strom Thurmond and read in parts as follows:

“The school teachers of South Carolina are to be commended for their continuing effort to instruct our children in the problems of alcohol and its harmful effects upon our society…we must teach them the value of temperance in the building of strong bodies and strong minds.”

Herald-Journal - Google News Archive Search.png by RndConnections on Aviary

It is interesting to note that it was only the temperance portion of Willard’s legacy that is addressed by these statutes. There isn’t much mention of her work in women’s suffrage, and even less is said about her own sexuality – a topic which even today seems contentious. However, Willard’s own feelings on the matter seem clear…

“The loves of women for each other grow more numerous each day, and I have pondered much why these things were. That so little should be said about them surprises me, for they are everywhere … In these days when any capable and careful woman can honorably earn her own support, there is no village that has not its examples of ‘two hearts in counsel,’ both of which are feminine.”
–Frances Willard

As for the present, our district has a teacher workday, so we can’t celebrate as mandated. Oh darn. Instead, on this fourth Friday of October, I shall add another olive to my martini in honor of Frances Willard, temperance leader and suffragist extraordinaire.

Speed of Lightning, Roar of Thunder

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underdog

There’s no need to fear! Underdog is here!

When criminals in this world appear
And break the laws that they should fear
And frighten all who see or hear
The cry goes up both far and near
For Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

When in this world the headlines read
Of those whose hearts are filled with greed
Who rob and steal from those who need
To right this wrong with blinding speed
Goes Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

‘Way back in the 1960s Underdog (along with Space Ghost, Spiderman, and the Fantastic Four) was part of may pantheon of Saturday morning superheroes. I loved the opening theme song, and Underdog’s rhyming discourse and over-the-top battles with Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff. I never did care much for Polly Purebred, though.

Of course, the best part of the show was the theme song:


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A Sock in the Mail

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In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading to Myrtle Beach for the SC EdTech conference. This is our annual instructional technology conference for the state, and I haven’t been in about three years. I figured I needed to go this time around, and I’ll also be giving one of my Google Earth talks as one of the sessions.

I’ve been getting phone calls, and my mailbox has been filled with invitations from vendors to stop by their booths on the exhibit floor. This morning I got a weird one – this…

A Sock in the Mail

…a single sock. Also enclosed was a flyer inviting me to come by booth ### to get the matching sock. It’s a nice sock, but is it worth sitting through a sales pitch to get its mate?

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