(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘James Thurber

Life imitating Art…

… imitating life (readers will recall Thurber’s “cast-iron lawn dog”).

Your correspondent’s daughter, exercising caution

Officers in Independence [MO], a Kansas City suburb, responded to a call on a Saturday evening about a large alligator lurking on the embankment of a pond, police spokesman Tom Gentry said Thursday.

An officer called a state conservation agent, who advised him to shoot the alligator because there was little that conservation officials could do at that time, Gentry said.

As instructed an officer shot the alligator, not once but twice, but both times the bullets bounced off — because the alligator was made of cement.

[Reuters, June 3, 2011]

As we get in touch with our inner Pygmalion, we might light animal-shaped birthday candles for zoologist and ecologist Warder Clyde Allee; he was born on this date in 1885.  Allee is best remembered for his research on animal behavior, protocooperation– he’s considered by many to be the “Father of Animal Ecology”– and for identifying what is now known as “the Allee effect”: a positive correlation between population density and the per capita population growth rate in very small populations… an effect that might well impact the seemingly-frozen alligator population in Missouri.

source

 

B.C. (and H.)…

Readers will recall that before the exquisite Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson drew political cartoons

Before that, he drew for his college newspaper, The Kenyon Collegian

These and more, from every stage of Watterson’s wonderful career, at Rare Bill Watterson Art.

As we remember that this was why we used to subscribe to newspapers, we might send birthday smiles to another Ohioan, humorist and cartoonist James Thurber; he was born (in Columbus) on this date in 1894.

Q. No one has been able to tell us what kind of dog we have. I am enclosing a sketch of one of his two postures. He only has two. The other one is the same as this except he faces in the opposite direction. – Mrs EUGENIA BLACK

A. I think that what you have is a cast-iron lawn dog. The expressionless eye and the rigid pose are characteristic of metal lawn animals. And that certainly is a cast-iron ear. You could, however, remove all doubt by means of a simple test with a hammer and a cold chisel, or an acetylene torch. If the animal chips, or melts, my diagnosis is correct.

- The Thurber Carnival (1945)

The Sincerest Form of Flattery, Part Two: The Wonders of Cultural Appropriation…

From the always-amusing 11 Points (“Because Top Ten Lists Are For Cowards”), “11 Amazing Fake Harry Potter Books Written In China“…

From Harry Potter and the Leopard Walk-Up-To Dragon (cover above)…

…the author took the text of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and replaced the character names with names from the Harry Potter universe. Except for Gandalf — he remains and joins forces with the Potter crew. Here’s a passage, full on [SIC] in advance:

“There was a hobbit, who didn’t even know how to return home. He lived in a hole in the ground, and didn’t know where he came from or where he was going to. He even didn’t know why he had become a hobbit. This was Hogwartz School of Witchcraft and Wizardry 5th year apprentice Harry Potter.”

…through Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Harry Potter

I couldn’t find a translation of this book (or a picture of its cover) but the title just kills me — smashing together two completely unrelated, but popular, Western book series to produce (I’m guessing) a non-sequitur mess. It would be like the bootleggers making a movie called “Avatar: The Hangover” or a TV show called “Laverne and Shirley and Jon and Kate”.

… to Harry Potter and Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters

This is an interesting literary move — they just carbon copied the plot of the first real “Harry Potter” book… but moved the voice to Harry’s first-person perspective. That’s some deep “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern” stuff right there.

An excerpt:

“This was a secret I had cherished in my heart for seven days. It scratched my heart and made it itch, and I decided not to tell anyone of it. But when I saw Hedwig, my owl, jumping outside my window, I knew it was the call from Hogwarts for me.

I would ride on my favorite flying broom, together with Hedwig and my magic wand, go-go-go, night clouds in the urban sky would cover my trails, and the meteor you saw in the sky was my traipsing manteau.”

The other eight Harrys, along with some absolutely stunning cover art– including the jacket for Harry Potter and Beaker and Burn, onto which Harry welcomes (for no explicable reason) Flick, the star of Pixar’s A Bug’s Life– at  “11 Amazing Fake Harry Potter Books Written In China.”

Readers might note that cultural appropriation of this sort has long (and storied) precedent.  Jim Fallows quotes a wonderful passage from “”Wild Bird Hickcock and His Friends,”  an essay by James Thurber– a fan of French pulp-novel versions of American Westerns:

There were, in my lost and lamented collection, a hundred other fine things, which I have forgotten, but there is one that will forever remain with me. It occurred in a book in which, as I remember it, Billy the Kid, alias Billy the Boy, was the central figure. At any rate, two strangers had turned up in a small Western town and their actions had aroused the suspicions of a group of respectable citizens, who forthwith called on the sheriff to complain about the newcomers. The sheriff listened gravely for a while, got up and buckled on his gun belt, and said, “Alors, je vais demander ses cartes d’identité!” There are few things, in any literature, that have ever given me a greater thrill than coming across that line.

As we realize that we too are free to mash up, say, Dostoyevsky, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that Bill Haley & His Comets released “Rock Around the Clock”, the first rock and roll record to reach number one on the Billboard charts.

Bill Haley and a couple of Comets

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