Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ketchup Cool Whip and other frozen delights

The more I look at this recipe, the more ill I feel. It appears to be a sort of raw-egg-ridden ketchup Cool Whip that's frozen, then dotted with that formaldehyde delight, maraschino cherries (and let's not forget the chopped almonds!).

So what do you DO with this? How would you eat it, even if you wanted to? It would be hard as a rock. It would be. . . ketchup with whipped cream. And raw egg. A lot of raw egg, and sugar. So. . . sweet ketchup mousse, in individual molds or ice cube trays?

And I can't even begin to fathom Carnival Cream, the name of this thing. A carnival in hell, perhaps.

P. S. and what are those brown things in the background? Meadow muffins?

Just some Bob favorites (that's all)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A dove (or two) for Dave

Cats (and more cats) in motion

I've done this sort of experimentation before, with the Muybridge images. But today I got a little more creative. I wanted to see if I could achieve fluid motion in just a few frames, as Muybridge was able to do. The idea is, your eye sees where things are going and just fills in the missing action.

So this was the first step. I found this drawing of a guy walking, then cut the image up into three frames and put it through my photo-to-gif program. Et voila - 

In two speeds! I will admit it's not the smoothest, but for three images it ain't bad. For some reason, Makeagif won't allow you to remove the watermark for photo-to-gif, which mars the thing pretty badly, especially with the white background. I am not sure why this is, as you always have the option of removing it on gifs, so long as you are signed in. But never mind, try not to look at it. The miracle is that it's WORKING today, at least so far!

Now this is my masterpiece, or at least so far. I took this, divided it into twelve images (there was a thirteenth image thrown in for "bad luck" that had to be removed, because it made the motion jerky), photoshopped them onto white squares, and did the photo-to-gif thing. First I want to post those images (because damn, I worked hard on them!)

Well, sort of. I may have left out a frame. But the result, except for the damned watermark, looked pretty good:

I especially like the action of the hind end, how it kind of flexes and stretches, and the tail which has a natural sort of flapping motion. The head isn't up to much, and is too big for the body and has a silly cartoonish expression - why, I do not know, because the rest of it is fairly realistic. Try covering the cat's head with your thumb, and the whole thing will look a whole lot better. Go on, now - try it.

I'm going to go lie down now.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pooh gif. . . ts


While playing around with WTP/Ernest Shepard images, I decided to try to make a Pooh animation out of still pictures. Not such an easy thing to do when you have to find compatible images, then get size, colour, etc. to match. Well, it sort of worked, though it would have been nice to have more frames. Shepherd's watercolours had two styles: they could be quite detailed, but they could also be mere suggestions of animals, just shapes, and each of these pictures represents a type. 

And look at this!! I spent quite a while on this one, and had to fool around quite a bit with things like perspective. Ernest Shepard was really a lousy artist by technical standards. In one of these two pictures, Piglet was approximately twice the size shown here. I had to tinker around to get him to look OK in relation to Pooh. Perspective changes alarmingly, as do the size and shape of the animals which seem almost carelessly drawn. Was it a style of the times, I wonder? Whatever it was, it sucks to make gifs out of these. Even though they turned out pretty damn good.

Poohandpiglet: forget the Disney version!

A long time ago, before there was this, before there was that, before there was Anything, there was this book. Well-used by the time I got it, it was passed down from kid to kid in our family, until it came to me.

It has no back cover, and the blanks on the backs of the glorious colour illustrations are scrawled and scribbled with attempts at printing and cursive. Some of them might be mine.

Somebody coloured this! It could have been any one of the four of us, but because it doesn't stay within the lines, I think it was likely me.

Today I got thinking about this book for some reason. It's a big thick book called World of Pooh and encompasses the Compleat Pooh: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.

Were there only two Pooh books? Apparently. How many Disney versions? Erg. Let's not go there.

The best part of Pooh isn't A. A. Milne's tricksy language - which, to be honest, is a bit precious to my ears - but these wonderful illustrations by Ernest Shepard. This is the part that Disney screwed up so badly. I won't go into it, it's too painful. But look on these! These are scans, believe it or not, from my original book. Scans are always dodgy because they can come out grainy or covered with a hatchwork of lines like a screen door. The colours were a bit "off" on these until I clicked "colour correction" on my old Adobe program, et voila! Bright as new.

I liked Tigger as a character, until I heard that dreadful voice by Paul Winchell - damn. I wasn't going to even THINK about the Disney version! We did have a 78 rpm record with a book you followed (with original drawings) which was narrated by Jimmy Stewart. A lot of celebrities narrated childrens' records in those days. When you got to the point of turning the record over, Pooh said, "Rum-tum-tiddle-iddle-um-tum-tum". I'm wondering now, given that I found so many Children's Record Guild recordings on YouTube, if this one might be there too. 

Ah, remember this one, where Tigger and Roo bounce up into a tree? How do they get down? Hell if I know, I haven't read the story in years. My kids and grandkids didn't go for the original Pooh, though I did buy Caitlin this same book, a much later edition but exact in every detail, including all the same Shepard colour and pen-and-ink illustrations. I think her mother gave it away. 

I remember something about throwing sticks into the river and watching them come out the other side of the bridge. But Eeyore? Not sure about that. It looks disturbingly as if he's dead. I do remember him losing his tail and Christopher Robin nailing it on again.

I did have a stuffed Pooh-bear, a very gritchy old thing. Stuffies weren't so elegant back then, and soon looked moth-eaten. My favorite was Piglet - no, actually, I WAS Piglet, the littlest and most hapless in the family, always getting into some sort of scrape. 

There really was a Christopher Robin Milne, and he had a very hard life because his father made him world-famous without his permission. Funny, all that is coming around again with social media. Some parents are frankly astonished that their children don't appreciate being utterly humilated on YouTube, screaming with terror and grief, tears pouring down their faces as their parents chuckle sadistically in the background. "This'll go viral for sure!" And it does, and it's shown on the news worldwide, and while everyone around me screams with laughter, my heart is breaking for the miserable little tyke being cruelly tricked for the sake of "views". Not only that: a couple of years later, such humiliation is not going to go down well when the kid is in middle school and wants to impress a girl. "Jesus! Did you see that video of Kyle on YouTube? What a dork!" There goes THAT romance.

POSTSCRIPT: I just looked it up, and yes, you can still get this book! It looks to be the same in every detail, that is, if they haven't cut corners in its production. I just ordered a used-in-very-good-condition one from Amazon, because it'd be nice to have a pristine copy to sit on the shelf alongside this well-used one. And the whole thing (including shipping and handling) cost seven dollars.

(This is a link to that old record - haven't heard all of it yet, but it's definitely the same. Like an embarrassing old video, nothing ever dies on the internet.)

SPECIAL BONUS MAP! I have this map in my old Pooh book - sort of - but it just wasn't in good enough shape to scan. Half of it was missing, for one thing.

But here's a pretty darn good version of it:

And half by half.

(and I finally got this to work)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Pretty bird

Cold sweat and confusion

Cold Sweat

April 20, 2010
Band: Cold Sweat
Year: 1968
Genre: R&B group
Home: Chatham
Leroy Hurst (from Windsor formerly with Little Leroy And The Citations) on lead vocals
Fred Stubbs – guitar
Jim Cooke – Bass
Al Nichols – drums
Dan Bullard – Keyboards
Gerry Nagle – saxophone
George Wilson – trumpet
Bob Sass – Flugel Horn, French Horn, Trombone, saxophone, etc.

Bruce Robertson took over on vocals for the last 3 or four months. In September of 1968 the groups van hit a steer on the highway near Lucan on the way home from a gig in Wingham. Bruce Robertson was killed and three other members of the band were hospitalized. The band never re-formed.
Chatham’s Fred Stubbs, was a local guitar teacher.


The picture at the top of this post isn't of Cold Sweat. I'm not sure who it's of. I got it off of a very detailed website called Chatham Music Archives which I have visited before. It has information on seemingly hundreds of bands from the '60s, including this one.

I knew nothing about Cold Sweat, didn't know it existed or what happened to it back in 1968, but the weird thing is, I dated Bob Sass, the last guy mentioned (he of the Flugel Horn, French Horn, Trombone, saxophone, etc.) in 1969. I was fifteen years old, and he was nineteen, the first boy who ever kissed me.

Why did I not know anything about this accident? Did they get the dates mixed up, did it happen later? For a while, I was convinced Bob was the one who died. Why didn't my brother Arthur know anything about it? The two were almost like brothers. It makes no sense, no sense at all.

It's one of those weird things. I was part of this in some way, yet not part of it. I listened to Bob play French horn at a school assembly. I knew he was a real musician and more serious about it than most of his garage-band-level cohorts.

The name Ray Violot keeps coming up in this archive. He's in 6 or 7 of the groups mentioned. I remember Ray sitting on our living room couch, looking like he wasn't sure what he was doing there. My brother Arthur called him Ultimate Off-Purple Ray.

In fact, Arthur is the whole reason I got together with Bob. Bob and Arthur being musicians, they hung out together constantly. I was the tag-along, as usual. One day when I wasn't there, he said to Arthur, "To me, she's beautiful."

That was before I knew anything.

So what about all this, about hitting the steer on the way back from the gig in Wingham (where, coincidentally, my family lived before I was born), and Bruce Robertson being killed? What sort of experience was it for Bob? Was it before or after he was my boyfriend? And, given the incredibly inbred nature of Chatham and its interconnected family names, was Bruce Robertson related to Mr. Robertson, principal of McKeough School which I attended in the early '60s?

Just last night I came across a photo of a heritage house owned by the Sunnens, and I remember going to school with Paul Sunnen. Going to KINDERGARTEN with Paul Sunnen. I remember him from the first day: he sat across from me on the floor in the big circle we sat in while we drank our milk. I had an awful crush on him.

(Ray is on the left, he of the intense gaze and elegant shoulder-length hair. He was always a young man of great self-possession. Whatever happened to him?)

UPDATE! I just found some more info on the music career of Ray Violot. This ad is from 1983:

After this gig at The Kingsway, the trail goes cold.

Reminds me of a friendly little place in Melonville.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ryan pitches for the first time: a historic gif!


Things I forget to remember

These aren't all from Chatham where I grew up, but these first two are. The point is, I am the last generation on earth to remember milk being delivered by horse and wagon. I loved this as a child. Anything to do with horses was magical. That cloppa-cloppa-cloppa sound is still intoxicating to me.

It's hard to find photos of the era - some of these no doubt go back before my time. It's even harder to find any information at all about the actual practice of delivering milk door-to-door. There's just nothing there, no one who remembers anything. All of them have died, I guess.

This was anti-technology, and Silverwood's Dairy (horse and cart pictured above) in Ontario kept it going until about 1962. I don't know why: did it keep costs down? Eventually it became impractical to keep all those horses, and I would imagine most of them went to the slaughterhouse: Darling's glue factory, where the stench from rendered hoofs and hides was simply sickening in those hot Chatham summers.

With the cicadas buzzing. 

Every so often I go on Chatham historical sites - there are tons of them, Chatham people being preservation-minded and not inclined to rip down old buildings to slap up cardboard condos that go up instead of out. Last night I found a site listing old houses that looked very ordinary to me, but went back to 1850 or so. It honestly made me wonder, not for the first time, how old the house I grew up in was: some say 1920s, but it looked older to me than many of the 1850 ones. It had wrought-iron grates on the heat registers, a dumbwaiter, a weird closet-within-a-closet thing, a working fireplace with a terrazzo hearth (very rare then), a foyer, and ceramic fruit on the ceiling around the base of the old-fashioned glass chandelier.

I know people are living there again, because I got an email from one of them, which is nice because for about forty years it was used as a commercial building, a doctor's office. Now it has been changed back to a house again. A home, with a young couple and children. It has been a long, long time since small children (such as me) ran around in that place.

Anyway, in my late-night historical foraging, I found the house I used to play in with my friend Kim, whose father was a very distinguished, even world-renowned architect (which, by the way, Kim now is too). Who knew?  The houses he designed looked strange to us, with flat roofs and only one floor. Now they are known as "Storey houses" and much-prized. 

I also found the little variety store where I bought penny candy, now up for sale. They even showed the inside of it. Once I played with a little girl who lived up there with her mother and went to (I remember) Pentecostal Holiness Church. She asked me if I'd like to go to her church, and when I told my mother she was shocked that she even asked. I think now that she was afraid my friend might be black.

What's the point of all this? Nothing, except that it's gone forever, those days of organic things like wood and horseflesh. Brick has lasted a little bit longer.

And memory lasts, too. That is, until you die.