Saturday, February 05, 2005

Taking A Header

I took the plunge last night into the blog template and finally found the spot to insert a new header for the page. Yee-ha.

A Tale of Two Belles

For those keeping track, I never explained Belle's name.

They were in another scene and place; a room, not very large or handsome, but full of comfort. Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl, so like that last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw her, now a comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter. The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more children there, than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count; and, unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty children conducting themselves like one, but every child was conducting itself like forty. The consequences were uproarious beyond belief; but no one seemed to care; on the contrary, the mother and daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very much; and the latter, soon beginning to mingle in the sports, got pillaged by the young brigands most ruthlessly. What would I not have given to one of them! Though I never could have been so rude, no, no! I wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have crushed that braided hair, and torn it down; and for the precious little shoe, I wouldn't have plucked it off, God bless my soul! to save my life. As to measuring her waist in sport, as they did, bold young brood, I couldn't have done it; I should have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment, and never come straight again. And yet I should have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips; to have questioned her, that she might have opened them; to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a blush; to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of which would be a keepsake beyond price: in short, I should have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest licence of a child, and yet to have been man enough to know its value.

But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such a rush immediately ensued that she with laughing face and plundered dress was borne towards it the centre of a flushed and boisterous group, just in time to greet the father, who came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys and presents. Then the shouting and the struggling, and the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter! The scaling him, with chairs for ladders, to dive into his pockets, despoil him of brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him round the neck, pommel his back, and kick his legs in irrepressible affection! The shouts of wonder and delight with which the development of every package was received! The terrible announcement that the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan into his mouth, and was more than suspected of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a wooden platter! The immense relief of finding this a false alarm! The joy, and gratitude, and ecstasy! They are all indescribable alike. It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions got out of the parlour, and by one stair at a time, up to the top of the house; where they went to bed, and so subsided.

And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever, when the master of the house, having his daughter leaning fondly on him, sat down with her and her mother at his own fireside; and when he thought that such another creature, quite as graceful and as full of promise, might have called him father, and been a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life, his sight grew very dim indeed.

``Belle,'' said the husband, turning to his wife with a smile, ``I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon.''

``Who was it?''


``How can I? Tut, don't I know.'' she added in the same breath, laughing as he laughed. ``Mr Scrooge.''

``Mr Scrooge it was. I passed his office window; and as it was not shut up, and he had a candle inside, I could scarcely help seeing him. His partner lies upon the point of death, I hear; and there he sat alone. Quite alone in the world, I do believe.''

Belle and I, however, are still together.

Baffled Artist

I'd love to fashion this blog in my image -- or at least Spot's -- but I've been flummoxed by the codes and secret handshakes. I've plugged in this more spartan design from Blogger's short list of options. When I gain greater insight into all this, I'll do more. And if anyone can steer me in the right direction (how to upload graphics to serve as headers and sidebars), they'll have my thanks.

Update: With much squinting, I finally found the slot for placing the link to my graphic (borrowed from my website.) I'll have to change it to something more seasonal.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Northern Exposed

After commenting on another post about television shows with flesh and blood and marrow, I mentioned watching MASH, Season One, which is available on DVD, and then further mentioned that my favorite show -- for combining reality and fantasy, drama and humor, whimsy and insight -- was Northern Exposure.

I then walked away from the computer, feeling the cold you feel when you've lost something.

And then I walked back to the computer, checked Amazon, and found that the first two seasons of Northern Exposure are on DVD, each season packed in a sensible parka.

Now I'm feeling warmer.

Sadly, This Guy Doesn't Live On My Street

Last week, O'Brien woke up Monday and shoveled out her own driveway then made her way across town to shovel out her mother. When she returned, a plow had dumped more snow from the street in her driveway.
Too tired to shovel again, O'Brien parked her car in the street and went inside to take a shower. When she got out, a man in a ski mask was three quarters of the way through shoveling her driveway and had already done her front walk.
"I brought hot chocolate out to him to say thank you and he turned it down," O'Brien said. "I asked him who he was and he said, 'Just a neighbor.'"
Curious as to who the mysterious stranger with the shovel and small snow blower was, O'Brien even tried to pull down his ski mask, but like a true superhero, he resisted.
"He kind of pulled away when I tried to pull his mask off, it was like Clark Kent, he didn't want his identity known," she said.

(via The Obscure Store)

What the Artist Sees

From an article in New Scientist:

Kennedy put Armagan through a battery of tests. For instance, he presented him with solid objects that he could feel - a cube, a cone and a ball all in a row (dubbed the "three mountains task") - and asked him to draw them. He then asked him to draw them as though he was perched elsewhere at the table, across from himself, then to his right and left and hovering overhead. Kennedy asked him to draw two rows of glasses, stretching off into the distance. Representing this kind of perspective is tough even for a sighted person. And when he asked him to draw a cube, and then to rotate it to the left, and then further to the left, Armagan drew a scene with all three cubes. Astonishingly, he drew it in three-point perspective - showing a perfect grasp of how horizontal and vertical lines converge at imaginary points in the distance. "My breath was taken away," Kennedy says.

And as you'll see, he's not content with drawing cubes.

Big Little Mason

I've mentioned this book before. Here's your chance to sample the highlights.

A Bit of Last Summer

I love the flies. And not just because it takes a few seconds to draw them.

Circular Radio

I'm a Maynard Ferguson fan. As a kid, I was dumbstruck by his ability to hold a note for long stretches. The trick, according to my music teacher, was circular breathing, a technique for cycling air into the mouth while blowing into the trumpet (or any instrument.)

Now I can relive the satisfaction of hearing a trumpet note forever, thanks to this radio station, featuring Ferguson, people who have played in his band, or bumped elbows with him, or lifted a trumpet.

Preview 2

Another shot of the impending character, still cropped for mystery.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Another Frog Species Discovered And Priced To Sell

If I lived in Australia, I'd place an order. Here's a bit of the sales copy:
This cute hand carved wooden frog has baffled biologists for years. When you rub her on the back she croaks. When you don’t rub her on the back she doesn’t croak. She’s not that complicated.

Today's Weather Report

One of the reasons I appreciate fan letters. This is from the opinion page of the Rocky Mountain News:

I am writing to protest the recent changes in the News' comics section. Who in their right mind came up with the bright idea of replacing Raising Duncan with The Elderberries? Who even thought The Elderberries was funny? It's a comic strip built on exploiting age-related stereotypes, nothing more. Please, please bring back Raising Duncan!

If the News must cut something, some candidates for the ax would be Spot The Frog (give me a break, I'd rather see the weather report - more laughs), Prickly City (all right already, Bush won, why can't that obnoxious little red-stater quit crowing about it) and Lucky Cow (the only reason that cow is lucky is that it doesn't have to read this strip).

Surely there are comics out there somewhere that don't make Beetle Bailey look like the epitome of humor!Mitzi B. Hicks

I know what Mitzi Hicks means. We all have our favorites. It's a startling thing when a favored item is replaced. I'm still grumbling about the lack of Ben & Jerry's chocolate sorbet, which I used to engulf when I lived in New Hampshire, but is absent here in Rhode Island (and according to the list of products at their site, it may be absent everywhere. Alas.)

But no strip is intended for everyone. That's why the comics page offers more than one, and why a television network doesn't rely on 24 hours of Dr. Phil (which proves the point pefectly -- Mary likes him, I don't -- even though he could pass as Karl's brother -- and we all coexist with wary respect.)

As for Raising Duncan, I'm afraid that chopping Spot off at the knees won't bring the strip back. Chris Browne retired it, though fans can still enjoy it in the manner of TV Land.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Captain of Us All

You may have noticed a certain similarity between the older gentlemen in the comics strips Ben, Pickles, Mutts, and Spot the Frog. It's an odd coincidence, perhaps best explained by a deep genetic memory of morning programming for children.

Directions to a Good Restaurant

Elsewhere I talked about plants and their appetites. Here's further proof that fauna occasionally needs more than sunlight to fill its belly:

...road signs were placed on trees to indicate that a taxi stand was nearby. Today those signs are almost impossible to see, because they have been almost completely swallowed by tree bark.

If James Bond Played the Trumpet

If I had $2495 tucked under the couch cushions -- and I wasn't in a charitable mood -- this is what I'd buy for myself.

Take a listen.

Top Story

Before I moved to Rhode Island, I lived within the subscription radius of The Conway Daily Sun. Here's a picture of my high school, and today's top story. If you happen to see a large sign with the words Kennett High School inscribed on it -- and it's not hanging in front of another school in another state with the same name -- please lend it bus fare for a ride back home.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A Spot of Wine

As far as I know, Spot is a teetotaler. But if he did imbibe, I think he'd enjoy the fruit of this company's labor. Or at least their bustling website.

Many thanks to the reader who brought this site to my attention last year.

Mom's Cancer

I read this comic and it left me speechless -- which is fine, since Brian Fies said everything that needed to be said.

I'd Like To Thank The Little People

And the guy who draws them. When I'm asked about favorite comic strips, I can unscroll a good list. But Monty by Jim Meddick is my favorite. The artwork is always ambitious, and the humor shifts reality with the grace of a Magic 8-ball -- its daily answer to routine is generally unpredictable and always a delight.

Preview 1

I mentioned a little while back that winter antsiness had inspired me to add a new character (for a few weeks, anyway.)

Here's a preview, in silhouette, cropped for mystery.

3-13 Sunday Crop

Spot continues to prove that frogs love the winter.