You are currently browsing the daily archive for May 9, 2012.

“Wha happened?” has made its way into the Robbo family lexicon.

If by chance you aren’t yet an afithionado of Christopher Guest mockumentaries, well, here’s a Netflix queue assignment for you because you ought to be.

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Have you seen the Hawkcam?  It’s a camera rigged on a nest of three baby redtailed hawks on the ledge of a building at UW-Madison.  Very interesting.  If you’re lucky enough, you can spot Ma and Pa Redtail bringing fresh yum-yums home to the brood.

One wonders how the little balls of down don’t get blown right over the edge.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I see where many pixels are being – what, spilled? illumined? electromagnetized?- over the death this week of Maurice Sendak.  Much of the virtual ink focuses on Sendak’s standing up against the alleged orthodoxy of presenting our childs with kiddy stories swathed three feet deep in bubble-wrap:

He contributed to more than 80 books, but it was Where the Wild Things Are, which has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1963, that brought him international recognition. At the time, to Sendak’s irritation and surprise, the story provoked a collective gasp of disapproval from parents, teachers and child experts. Not only did the young hero, Max, yell at his mother, but the pages were also populated by hideous monsters that grown-ups felt sure would terrify young readers.

Not having been a child in 1963, much less a parent, I could not say what the prevailing fad was in those days.   All I can say is that, in my own misspent yoot, we had (indeed, I still have) a multi-book collection of Grimm and Christian Andersen stories, graphically illustrated, that were far more terrifying to me than anything Sendak ever dreamed up:  dragons, hags, evil trolls and the like, most of them occupying dark, smokey, bat-haunted lairs or wolf-infested forests.   I remember in particular a full page depiction of a hero fighting a large, black cat (a witch in disguise, I believe) in a spooky castle or house, surrounded by on-looking evil spirits.  The hero has one hand around the cat’s throat, while with the other, he’s driving a dagger into its chest.  The cat, in turn, eyes bulging in rage and terror, has all four claws firmly embedded in the man’s arm.   That gave me more than one nightmare, I can tell you, especially as we had our own black cat of uncertain temperment.

At any rate, so far as Sendak’s appeal goes in this respect, historickally speaking I think it’s more accurate to say that he represented a swing of the pendulum back in the direction of these tradition fairy tales  (which, themselves, have roots in the Hobbesian life of the European Dark Ages), and not so much a ground-breaking revolution.

Not that I disagree with Sendak’s sentiments:  The fubsy-wubsy has always given ol’ Robbo the guts-ache.  For example, I remember when the gels went through a Berenstain Bears phase.   In order to preserve my already questionable sanity whilst reading all about sporty Brother, trying-harder Sister, sensible Mama and dopey old Papa Bear,  I would indulge myself with fantasy titles for a whole line of Alt-Berenstain stories:  The Berenstain Bears and the Mob Enforcer, The Berenstain Bears and the Maori Feast,  The Berenstain Bears and the Great Bear Country Jihad, The Berenstain Bears Get A Pet Green Mamba.  You get the idea.

On the other hand, I was not a fan of Sendak for the simple reason that I never much cared for his art work.   It has a certain near-pointillist quality about it that doesn’t appeal to me.  Also, I just didn’t much like the monsters, which were really not much more than pot-bellied hippies with fangs, horns and claws added.   (I admit that I was also put off by the fact that Sendak was idolized by the Baby Boomer crowd.  You take my word for it, boys and girls:  Whenever you want to get a good compass bearing on matters of morality or taste, check and see what the Boomers are up to.  Then do the opposite.)

Anyhoo, R.I.P and all that, but the nooz doesn’t really affect me very much.

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