Monday, August 14, 2017

two classics


Then the nightingale sang.

"That's it," said the little kitchen girl. "Listen, listen! And yonder he sits." She pointed to a little gray bird high up in the branches.

"Is it possible?" cried the Lord-in Waiting. "Well, I never would have thought he looked like that, so unassuming. But he has probably turned pale at seeing so many important people around him."

"Little nightingale," the kitchen girl called to him, "our gracious Emperor wants to hear you sing."

"With the greatest of pleasure," answered the nightingale, and burst into song.

"Very similar to the sound of glass bells," said the Lord-in-Waiting. "Just see his little throat, how busily it throbs. I'm astounded that we have never heard him before. I'm sure he'll be a great success at court."

"Shall I sing to the Emperor again?" asked the nightingale, for he thought that the Emperor was present.

"My good little nightingale," said the Lord-in-Waiting, "I have the honor to command your presence at a court function this evening, where you'll delight His Majesty the Emperor with your charming song."

"My song sounds best in the woods," said the nightingale, but he went with them willingly when he heard it was the Emperor's wish.

***

The story quoted here is from  The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen and the painting is my favorite of all the illustrations done by Edmund Dulac.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

avast Crow!


A group of Crow's unusual friends stopped by earlier today to carry him off on a cruise. Before he left he mentioned a few things about pirates it's not currently fashionable to know even though there's always been something romantic about the idea of piracy.

We've long been told by those who control information that pirates were thieves, yet the truth is far more complex. Sailors aboard Royal Naval ships and merchant marine vessels were some of the sorriest men alive, 'caught in a machine from which there was no escape, bar desertion, incapacitation, or death' as one writer of the day put it. Many of them were press ganged into service, many were debt slaves or had been criminalized after losing their farms when the English Commons were abolished.

As the great fleets discovered and annexed previously unknown lands many dispossessed people the world over became desperate. The merchant ships of the 17th and 18th Centuries were the engines of the emerging global capitalism but the seamen were totally excluded from the wealth they worked to generate. The decision to 'turn pirate' was a choice made to wrestle back some autonomy, and when they did, life on a ship changed dramatically. Officers were democratically elected. Food was shared equally among men of all ranks. When booty was collected the Captain only took two shares where the lowest took one - income differentials that would make a modern CEO faint. Loss of a limb aboard would be met with a payment of around $30k in today's money - an amazing form of early health insurance.

It could be said that far from being simple thieves, pirates were perhaps the original anti-capitalist protesters. The reason they were hunted down and suffered savage public executions was because the powers of the day were petrified of the consequences of the pirates' ethos. One hundred years before the French Revolution it was pirates who coined the phrase 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity'.

Of course, piracy in those days was hardly all fun and games but they were hard times for most people everywhere. We're not often brutalized, beaten, or left unpaid, but our lives are no less reduced, narrowed, and restrained by powerful forces far beyond our control. Wouldn't it be nice to see the Jolly Roger raised again to restore to life some democracy, some fairness, and perhaps a little merriment too?

Avast Crow. I hope you enjoy the warm sea breeze off the shores of far Tortuga.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

tall ships halifax 2017


As you can tell it was a bit of a foggy overcast day here yesterday when we walked down to the harbour to see the forty or so tall ships that came to town on Friday. We'd spent an extra half hour on the park beach in hopes of seeing a few of them sail in that day but were disappointed.


Despite hundreds of people crowding the boardwalks who made my chances of getting decent photographs of the docked ships more difficult, I did my best - and came up with just four.


It appeared that just about everyone there was lined up at each and every ship to go aboard for a tour, an understandable urge when the ships we usually see are unromantic giant cruise liners or container ships.


Of course, none of these tall ships are very old and, for the most part, very few have wooden hulls - they simply bring to mind the sheer magnificence of the Age of Sail when the forests of Europe and then the New World were felled en masse to build the magnificent fleets of yesteryear. They leaked, yes, and those that didn't sink on the high seas in battles or storms were dismantled long ago.

Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing them under full sail on Tuesday when they leave our harbour in Parade. I'll try to get more and better pictures then. It's a rare and lovely sight.

****

A magician was working on a cruise ship.

Since the audience was different each week, the magician did the same tricks over and over again. There was only one problem: The captain's parrot saw the shows each week and began to understand how the Magician did every trick.

Once he understood, he started shouting in the middle of the show, "Look, it's not the same hat!" or, "Look, he's hiding the flowers under the table!" Or "Hey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?"

The magician was furious but couldn't do anything. It was, after all, the Captain's parrot.

Then one stormy night on the Pacific, the ship sank. Too bad but these things can happen.

Hours later the magician found himself on a piece of wood floating in the middle of the sea and, as fate would have it, sharing the board with the parrot.

They stared at each other with hatred, but neither of them uttered a word.

This went on for a day... And then 2 days. And then 3 days. Finally on the 4th day, the parrot could not hold back any longer and said...

"Okay, I give up. Where's the freaking ship??



Monday, July 24, 2017

life's little lessons


Some young neighbours of a retired couple asked them what they did to keep life interesting.

The elderly man answered, "Well, the other day my wife and I went into town and into a shop. We were only in there for about five minutes but  when we came out, there was a policeman writing out a parking ticket.

"We went up to him and my wife said, 'Come on sir, how about giving us pensioners a break?' He ignored us and continued writing the ticket.

"So I called him a fascist bastard. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tyres. Then my wife called him a total pillock. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windscreen with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. We continued to call him names and he just kept writing those tickets.

"This went on for about 10 minutes, and then our bus arrived."



“I have a hobby. I have the world’s largest collection of sea shells. I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you’ve seen some of it.”

“I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time" so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.”

“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”

“I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.” *
― Steven Wright

* (remind you of anyone?)

Monday, July 17, 2017

"Bohemian Rhapsody"



As 65,000 Green Day fans eagerly waited their appearance at London’s Hyde Park on July 1, the stadium blared out Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on the speakers. The inevitable happened - all 65,000 fans passionately broke into song, matching Freddie Mercury’s voice note for note. The best part is, many of the audience even hummed out the guitar solo.

Someone commented, “Only Queen can rock an entire stadium without even being there.”

Here are the lyrics if you'd like to sing along and have forgotten some of the words:

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.

Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I'm easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to me, to me.

Mama, just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead.
Mama, life had just begun,
But now I've gone and thrown it all away.

Mama, ooh,
Didn't mean to make you cry,
If I'm not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine,
Body's aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.

Mama, ooh (any way the wind blows),
I don't wanna die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.
(Galileo) Galileo.
(Galileo) Galileo,
Galileo Figaro
Magnifico-o-o-o-o.

I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
He's just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity.

Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Never let you go (Never, never, never, never let me go)
Oh oh oh oh
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh, mama mia, mama mia (Mama mia, let me go.)
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.

So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?
So you think you can love me and leave me to die?
Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here.

(Ooooh, ooh yeah, ooh yeah)

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me.

Any way the wind blows.


In 1988 Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé sang Barcelona, a song he wrote for the opening of the Olympic Games in 1992. It's an amazing performance. Freddie Mercury died in 1991.



Thursday, July 13, 2017

beached boys


Two priests on their way to a beach resort vacation decided they wouldn't wear anything that would identify them as clergy. On arrival they found a shop that specialized in brightly colored shirts, shorts, and all the other bits they needed to help them forget their cold and damp northern church for a little while.

The next morning they went to the beach, dressed in their 'tourist' garb and were sitting on deck chairs, enjoying a drink, the sunshine and the scenery when a beautiful blonde woman wearing a tiny bikini came walking straight towards them. They couldn't help but stare and when she passed them, she smiled and said, "Good morning, Father" - "Good morning, Father," nodding and addressing each of them individually, then passed on by.

They were both stunned. How in the world did she recognize them as priests?

The next day they went back to the shop, bought even more outrageous outfits and again settled on the beach in their chairs to enjoy the sunshine, etc.

After a while, the same gorgeous blonde, wearing a string bikini this time, came walking toward them again.

Again, she approached them and greeted them individually: "Good morning, Father," "Good morning Father," and started to walk away.

One of the priests couldn't stand it and said. "Just a minute, young lady. Yes, we are priests, and proud of it, but I have to know, how in the world did you know?"

"Oh, Father, it's me Sister Angela!"

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

did I miss anything?


What with the First of July and the Fourth of July summer has officially arrived in North America and with it the season of fairs and community celebrations. As you can see Crow wore some of his finest regalia as enjoyed Canada Day with some friends. While he was out dancing the Highland fandango I had time to remember a summertime story that I thought to share with you:

Every year Walter and his wife Ethel went to the state fair, and every time he would say to her, "Ethel, you know that I'd love to go for a ride in that helicopter." But Ethel would always reply, "I know that Walter, but that helicopter ride is 50 dollars and 50 dollars is 50 dollars."

Finally, they went to the fair, and Walter said to Ethel, "Ethel, you know I'm 87 years old now. If I don't ride that helicopter this year, I may never get another chance." Once again Ethel replied, "Walter, you know that helicopter ride is 50 dollars and 50 dollars is 50 dollars."

This time the helicopter pilot overheard the couple's conversation and said, "Listen folks, I'll make a deal with you. I'll take both of you for a ride; if you can both stay quiet for the entire ride and not say a word I won't charge you! But if you say just one word, it's 50 dollars."

Walter and Ethel agreed and up they went in the helicopter. The pilot performed all kinds of fancy moves and tricks, but not a word was said by either Walter or Ethel. The pilot did his death-defying tricks over and over again, but still there wasn't so much as one word said. When they finally landed, the pilot turned to Walter and said, "Wow! I've got to hand it to you. I did everything I could to get you to scream or shout out, but you didn't. I'm really impressed!"

Walter replied, "Well to be honest I almost said something when Ethel fell out but, you know, 50 dollars is 50 dollars!"


Happy Summer :)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

the phone call


A lawyer attempting to call his clients had the following conversation with their little boy who answered the phone:

The phone rang and the little boy, in a whisper, says, "Hello."
 

Lawyer: "Is your mommy there?"
Boy: (whisper) "Yes."
 

Lawyer: "Can I speak with her?"
Boy: (whisper) "She's busy."
 

Lawyer: "Is your daddy there?"
Boy: (whisper) "Yes."
 

Lawyer: "Can I speak with him?"
Boy: (whisper) "He's busy."
 

Lawyer: "Is there anyone else there?"
Boy: (whisper) "The fire department."
 

Lawyer: "Can I talk to one of them?"
Boy: (whisper) "They're busy."
 

Lawyer: "Is there anybody ELSE there?"
Boy: (whisper) "The police department."
 

Lawyer: "Well, can I talk to one of THEM?"
Boy: (whisper) "They're busy."
 

Lawyer: "Let me get this straight, your mother,
father, the fire department AND the police department
are ALL in your house, and they're ALL busy. WHAT
are they doing?"
Boy: (whisper) "They're looking for me."


***

In between times of no painting a story can still suggest a picture - as this one did.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will 
make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours”
~ Eric Idle




Monday, June 19, 2017

the passenger


John Bradford, an Irish university student, was on the side of the road hitchhiking on a very dark night and in the midst of a torrential storm.

The night was rolling on and no car went by. The rain and wind were so overwhelming he could barely see. At long last he observed a car that slowly came towards him and stopped just a few feet away.

John, desperate for shelter and without thinking about it, got into the car and closed the door... Only then did he realize there was nobody behind the wheel and the engine wasn’t running. The car started moving slowly. John looked at the road ahead and saw a curve approaching. Scared, he started to pray, begging for his life. Then, just before the car hit the curve, a hand appeared out of nowhere through the window, and turned the wheel. John, paralyzed with terror, watched as the hand came through the window, but never touched or harmed him.

Shortly thereafter, John saw the lights of a pub appear down the road, so, gathering all his courage, he jumped out of the car and ran to that comforting beacon of normality. Wet and out of breath, he rushed inside and started telling everybody about the horrible experience he had just had.

A silence enveloped the pub when everybody realized he was crying... and that he wasn’t drunk.

Suddenly, the door opened, and two other people walked in from the dark and stormy night. They, like John, were also soaked and out of breath. Looking around, and seeing John Bradford sobbing at the bar, one said to the other...

Look, Paddy... there’s that idiot that got in the car while we were pushing it!



I imagine you may have heard this one before, but just in case you haven't..

Monday, June 12, 2017

fear of flying with Crow


Recently Crow attended the nuptials of his cousin Cornelius and his lovely bride Hortensia. Aren't they a sweet couple?* and, yes, it was a lovely wedding.

When he returned he told me the guests at the reception had been quite disturbed about the news that humans are planning to annoy and irritate the flocks (more than they already are) by attempting to transport themselves to and from their various destinations by flying car. According to reports these vehicles are designed to fly 10 metres off the ground at a maximum speed of 100kph. Hmmm..

Anyway, here are some of Crow's thoughts on the matter:

I can understand a great deal of excitement has been generated among humans about being able to fly to the shop for a bottle of milk, but humans have certain handicaps in this regard that aren't shared by those of us born with wings. Ahem.

1. Birds, not having hands with opposable thumbs, do not text - ever.

2. When a bird decides to land most of us are small enough to find safety on a branch or on a roof. People in flying cars will not have this option.

3. Birds can glide. If anything goes wrong with your flying car it will become a flying brick. 

4. The number of new things a flying car could crash into are too numerous to list.

5. There aren’t too many scenarios where a crash could be trivial. At 10 metres high and 100kph you'll be ensured of serious injuries - and not necessarily just to yourself.

6. There aren’t even the beginnings of any sort of 'road rules' for flying cars.

7. We teach our young to fly. Who will teach yours?

8. What about traffic lights?

9. Unlike birds having the occasional 'accident' as we fly over your grounded cars, or selves, what happens to those below when you notoriously messy humans throw things out of your flying cars?

10. We can fly anywhere we like, but what of flying cars? Where will they fly? and will they sing and make happy chirping sounds outside your window? 


I fear there will be no peace anywhere.


After we talked about these unconsidered scenarios Crow and I watched a movie I remembered enjoying years ago. Called 'The Fifth Element', it does feature some flying cars:



Is this a modern development you're looking forward to enjoying?

* Family Wedding by Rudi Hurzlmeier



Article of the week: False flags