Friday, July 12, 2024

Walk like a dog 

Walk like dog, if you wish.

We've all done it. We all have it. We all have a song that despite knowing the lyrics, we still hear them incorrectly, usually to humorous effect. The Bruce Springsteen song, Blinded by the Light, in its original version has the curious lyric, "cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night." The "deuce" refers to a nickname for original V8 engines or something. Even in that explanation, I wouldn't have understood it. Now listen to the Manfred Mann version, wherein an English vocalist evoking an American accent sings something that sounds more like "revved up like a douche" and you have added confusion. The fact that this version was played constantly on the radio of my youth only made my brothers and I even more confounded by it. The more you heard it, the more it confirmed your suspicion of it. More commonly, listeners to Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze, often wondered if the singer was excusing themselves to either "Kiss this guy" or "Kiss the sky"? A friend of my brother's was sure the chorus the 1981 Kim Carnes' hit "Bette Davis Eyes", came through our fuzzy dashboard speakers as "She's got thirty days inside", instead of "She's got Bette Davis eyes." To be honest, the misheard lyrics sound as improbable as the actual ones. There are dozens and dozens of other examples.

In 1954, writer Sylvia Wright gave this phenomenon the name, “mondegreen”. As a child she claimed to have misheard a line of poetry as:
"Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And Lady Mondegreen."

The actual verse is, "They hae slain the Earl o' Moray / And laid him on the green." Thus "Mondegreen" was, if not created there and then, at least given a name.
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Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Seen in June 

Nick Cage is the dullest version of Freddy Krueger in Dream Scenario.

It turns out that when the NHL and NBA playoffs are done, you find you have more time to watch cycling races, and The UEFA European Championships rather than movies and televsion. It does seem lately that "going to the movies" is on the back burner. It used to be my first thought to escape the heat was to go to a cinema, but now I'd have to leave my comfortable home, and go out in the heat to escape the heat, which doesn't make so much sense.

The Little Mermaid
Having seen a live version performed by kids, I thought it was time to finally watch the original animated version. One of Disney’s big animated hits that kicked off a long run of box office successes, it’s strange to watch this 2D traditionally animated film now, especially one that isn’t in 4K. While feeling like a throwback to a time gone by it’s still a tidy 90-minute film based on the classic fairytale of a mermaid who falls in love with a human and has to choose between her love and her family. As this is a Disney film, characters can make difficult choices without compromise or repercussions while singing catchy tunes about it.

Dream Scenario
Nick Cage plays, Paul, the most uninteresting professor of evolutionary biologist to ever teach the topic. He’s not just unassuming but also unable to exert any particular control over his life. He isn’t unaware of his fecklessness. When a former colleague tells him she’s about to publish a paper based on research they worked on together, he’s unsuccessful in getting her to admit his contribution. Even one of his own daughters admits that he’s appearing in her dreams but is only a bystander when she is imperilled. This view of him as a disinterested nonparticipant frustrates him. Then it fascinates him when he discovers he’s appearing in the dreams of complete strangers. After briefly trying to capitalize on this unexplained phenomenon his life is turned upside down when those dreams begin to become menacing. The film is darkly funny and slightly disturbing. Is it a commentary on social media or our so-called “cancel culture”? Is it a warning about the gentrification of culture via the Internet? In his classroom Paul talks about how the natural camouflage of the zebra only works when the animals herd together and yet the same markings call attention to the animal that has strayed from the group. Can someone be so “normal” that they are abnormal? Can setting yourself apart from the crowd threaten your existence? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Sheng Wang, who is a basketball-loving, Asian American who went to the same middle school as Beyoncé, also he's very funny.

Sheng Wang: Sweet and Juicy
Sheng Wang is an unexpected gem of a comedian. An Asian American who grew up in Texas and attended the same school as Beyoncé his low key humour delivered in the most low key manner reverberates long after the show is over. Highly recommended.

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Monday, July 08, 2024

St. Sammy Peeps 

Samuel Pepys, Portrait by John Hayls, 1666

At this year’s TCAF (the Toronto Comic Arts Festival), I saw a talk given by Rosena Fung about her book “Age 16”, which is a work of fiction that borrows from her own life. It wasn’t an autobiography or memoir but clearly her personal experiences helped imbue her characters with a certain truth. In talking about her work she mentioned how she created a lot of “self documentation”.

Of course, I could empathize. For over twenty years, I’ve maintained a blog. For 17 years I’ve taken entries from that blog and published an annual compendium. Since I’ve owned a smartphone I have taken random photos that I have kept that not only record an image, but the exact time, date and usually a geographic location (my iCloud album goes back 22 years). For the last 9 years I’ve kept sketch books, which started as a daily way to keep up my sketching and use up empty sketchbooks. I now have 14 of them. Since 2010, I’ve kept my work notebooks (this is surely something that I could give up). I have letters and other sketchbooks that go back to the 1990s. After maintaining a blog for over twenty years and a comic book journal for almost ten, my remarkably dull and inoffensive journaling is more like a public "notes to self" than a really honest and insightful diary. I've also started logging my workouts, keeping track of what I eat, allowing Google Maps know my location and I've started using Apple's Journal app (and may occasionally use the Kennedy app which does pretty much the same thing). While none of these are revealing any deeply held secrets or worrying psychosis, they certainly are a record of self-documentation, perhaps of the dullest kind.

I’ve since learned from David Owen’s New Yorker piece, How To Live Forever, that this self-recording is known as solipsism. “Solipsism (from solus 'alone', and ipse 'self') is the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist. As a position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind.”
- Wikipedia

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