Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Taking on a classic is always difficult, frequently provocative, and sometimes just plain wrong. Take the example at left - Marcel Duchamp's LHOOQ [pronouncing the letters approximates a French phrase implying a portion of Mona Lisa's anatomy (not visible in the painting) is worthy of note]. Note, also, the moustache and goatee modeled by La Gioconda; it just makes me think of Jim Croce's advice of what not to do with "Big Jim" in one of his songs. Then again, dadaist Duchamp had no objection to provoking his audience [the degree of difficulty, it should be pointed out, was low: Duchamp had only to scribble his changes on a cheap postcard reproduction. He worked much hard on another of his notorious "readymades"; the piece he titled Fountain ]. But what about those whose patronage depends on public approval?
Consider the good folks that make Sun-Maid products, most notably raisins. Since the early years of the last century, their trademarked icon was a young girl, reputedly spotted drying her long black hair in a California yard. Sure, she was "updated" a few times in the 20TH Century; each time, though, the final image was undeniably that of the young girl.
Then, around three years ago, Sun-Maid decided on a major re-imaging: "Sun-Maid Girl" [she has no name currently, but may eventually get one] was aged about 10 - 15 years, put on a strict diet [too much baby fat in the original], and is now usually pictured at work in the fields [instead of in a moment of repose]. The people at Sun-Maid probably expected a little publicity with the change [after all, it had worked for Betty Crocker and the Morton Salt Girl]; instead, the change went virtually unknown until recent weeks, when it has become the object of derision and [seemingly] bad-natured humor [some critics call the new look "a Barbie doll in Amish attire". In fairness to Sun-Maid, I live near Amish country, and no decent Amish woman would wear red like the Sun-Maid Hussy does].
Looking at the whole Sun-Maid "redo" [noted in this link-packed Yahoo! feature], the obvious question is, Why? Sure, Aunt Jemima needed [and got] her racially-awkward "baggage" removed [as have Uncle Ben and the Cream of Wheat "Chef", although their modernization was less spectacular than "AJ's"; that said, when was the last time you heard the Cream of Wheat Chef referred to by his traditional name of "Rastus"?]. But Sun-Maid Girl [maybe she should have become a super-hero, her feats of strength and skill fuelled by eating raisins] seemingly had no baggage, no issues that needed correcting. So why change? [At the time. a Sun-Maid official noted it was a good time to get on the "health" bandwagon. Some bandwagons have slippery floors...]
Still, it could have been worse for Sun-Maid: original plans called for the new Sun-Maid "Girl" [I think the new image should be known as "Sun-Maid Woman"; she seems a bit long in the tooth for "Girl" status] to appear in a series of commercials, showing her at the spa, grocery shopping, etc, all made easier by the energy derived from those raisins. Rumor has it that she may become multi-lingual, reflecting the diversity of the nations where Sun-Maid grows its products [a lovely gesture, don't get me wrong. But wouldn't it be better for Sun-Maid Woman to monitor the practices of the companies that grow, harvest, and sell the produce she eats, and to speak out against any questionable actions along the food chain? I may be wrong, but the image of Sun-Maid's animated icon speaking publicly against the corporation that supplies her computer-generated living would be attention-getting, to say the least].
BTB, I'm kicking around re-writing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Maybe changing the Third Movement to a rumba. Waddya think?
PS: More "Messing With A Classic" here...-MR
Friday, November 13, 2009
The debate continues as to whether or not Bernie Madoff's $64.8 billion scam is the largest in American [or world, for that matter] history. That said, no one seems to be in any hurry to rename the type of fraud Madoff allegedly perpetrated in his "honor". For the foreseeable future, anyway, it looks like it will keep its current name of "Ponzi scheme", from its first notable operator, Charles Ponzi [left].
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I am by no means the oldest blogger in the world, but, being in my 50's, I think I have a different perspective than the typical poster. For instance, I'm actually old enough to remember an era when music recordings were stored in analogue form, on vinyl discs [okay, most of you probably know about vinyl. The progressives among you may even own an example or two]!
Of course, interconnection can be good, bad, or, as frequently happens, both. Take India's Kasmir glaciers. They serve as water sources for millions of people who live in the region. Unfortunately, because of the planetary warming caused by climate change, the glaciers are melting too quickly. The anti-poverty group ActionAid has noted that most of the glaciers in the area [the waters shared by India and Pakistan] have shrunk dramatically. The group adds that rain and snow fall have been affected in many areas worldwide by climate change; the changes have reduced food production in many regions of the world. Thus, the Kasmir crisis is being repeated many times over, frequently in areas that were having trouble feeding their populations even before climate change.
Monday, October 5, 2009
First of all, I'm assuming we all know what's meant by "The Twinkie Defense" [if unaware, please click on the hyperlink; it not only explains the term, it debunks the myth that it was successfully used in the case that first brought the term to national attention].
A study in Britain has thrown out the proposition that giving children too many treats may turn them into violent adults. We're not talking about the children being violently ill from a less-than-nutritious diet; this is the kind of acting-out violence most demonstrated in the UK by their beloved soccer hooligans. Well, at least most of them can sing...
Posted by Mike Riley at 2:04 AM
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Okay, I'm back. My favorite writer, Dorothy Parker, was an expert at writing explanations for her frequent disappearances from the Public Eye [she once covered up a two-year gap in writing for The New Yorker by claiming she had spent the time in Switzerland!]. I wouldn't even pretend to be able to come up with a story like that [though anyone who spent the summer in Niagara Falls, NY and thinks they saw me may be onto something. Then again, I live there...], so just accept my return, ok? Think of me as the less-than-acceptable uncle, fresh from drying out after an extended bender. It's as good a story as any...
It's probably safe to assume that, from Time Immemorial, there have been left-handed persons. Not that this was always a good thing. From the Latin word for left, sinistra, modern English derives the word sinister. Classical Latin, for what it's worth, frequently used "sinestra" to mean "evil" or "unlucky". Some traditions in the early Christian church, for instance, claim that Judas, the disciple who betrayed Christ, was left-handed. Nowadays, though, left-handedness is just considered a characteristic of anatomy, one shared by around ten percent of humanity [If you'd like a truly intriguing time-waster, check out this listing of notable left-handers. For those not fully comfortable in English, the page is available in Spanish, French and pig Latin! Grad students have way too much time on their hands...]. Famous lefties, for what it's worth, include Joan of Arc, Julius Caesar [wonder if anyone had the "stones" to call him "sinister" to his face? Besides Brutus, of course...], and W. C. Fields.
Monday, July 6, 2009
I want to thank my readers and commentors for their friendship and insights. So that none of you will worry, please understand that my health is good. I just need to devote my full attention to these "off-stage" matters.
My intention is to leave the previously written posts up, for those who may not have yet read them.Entrecard advertisers: please be aware that I am taking no new ads. Any ads that I have already agreed to use will be presented as scheduled. I intend to leave the EC widget up, but EC may remove it because of no new posts.
Again, with regrets, I declare INTERMISSION. Smoke 'em if you got 'em...
Posted by Mike Riley at 11:31 PM
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Posted by Mike Riley at 11:33 PM
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Sometimes, there's nothing more to add...
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I've been posting at this here address for nigh onto three years now. Sometimes the ideas and words flow like maple syrup from the trees at the end of Winter. Other times, not so much. To keep it interesting for You, the Reader [as well as, let's be honest, Me the Writer], I've been known to play around with this blog from time to time; everything from different blog designs, to different 125 x 125 card designs. My personal favorite of all of this was my 100th post, the now-semi-remembered Blog Roast [celebrating my 100th post and, as these sort of things frequently work out, actually being my 101st; oh, fudge...]; the biggest disaster, without question, was the infamous "Iron Blogger" [this post, a few days after the whole thing fell apart, gives the key points fairly well. By the bye, I still think the idea of a posting event based on a last-minute topic is a good one. I may yet come back to it; perhaps a competition for the most coherent explanation of the current "Video Of The Week" (see below, at right)].
I've since learned that the "approved" way to get lots of bloggers to write on the same topic is to announce a "carnival" [in most churches, when a carnival is announced, the Men's Group runs the beer tent, while the Ladies' Auxiliary ends up cooking most of the food. Your organization may do things differently, so your mileage will almost certainly vary]. Actually, the announcement was made in April, at the Bloggers Unite site. To be honest, the response to date has been somewhat less than overwhelming. Counting my post on the topic, four bloggers are in on it.
I'm not sure why the response to date has been so small: I mean, I've posted event badges at the BU site [including the attractive design at left]. I've put badges on my other blog [which link to the above-mentioned info]. Is it because I'm not awarding prizes? I don't think so, I've seen more than a few such events that didn't, and yet have good response. No, it's not up there with "World AIDS Day", "Human Rights Day", or even "World Wide Knit In Public Day" [actually, based on my bus-riding experiences, EVERY DAY is Knit In Public Day]. Still, between the people who actually blog in Canada and the United States, people from other countries that have visited one or both nations [and probably have an uplifting, humorous, or upliftingly humorous story to relate], or people who dream of visiting the US or Canada, there should be seven. maybe eight or nine participants ["carnivalists"? "carnivores"?] chomping at the proverbial bit!
Anyway, that's the deal. Bloggers Unite members should sign up there; non-members can post links in the "Comment" section after my July 1st posting on the topic. The ticket booth is open, get in now, before we get in double figures [I wish!], and you'll have to wait in line behind the cranky family pictured at right [I swear I saw both parents hit a child on the side of the head, just before the placid-looking image over there was snapped!]. It's just going to be easier on all of us, o.k.?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
[Long-time followers of professional wrestling will probably remember the reference to Razor Ramon, one of several personas used by Scott Hall during his long and troubled career. As Ramon, he was said to "ooze machismo". Personally, I think he just needed a shampoo with a better pH balance.] But what brings up the allusion to RR is not an examination of such traditionally "manly" pursuits as wrestling [and, please, let's not open up that closet!], but the athletic event known as...
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
- Sometimes the best way to begin is with a fact. Okay, here's one:
In the year 2004, it was estimated that farming across the Earth already produces enough food to feed everyone on the planet - six billion, at that time. Indeed, the same statement added that twice that number - 12 billion - could be fed.
-United Nations Food And Agricultural Organization
Let your head try to wrap around that for a moment. We already have the resources that, if properly distributed, would once and for all end world hunger. Despite this, the UN estimates that 923-million people are hungry worldwide.
It's estimated that a person dies every second of every day from hunger, or diseases made worse by undernourishment. One in five of those who die is a child. That works out to 4,000 people an hour, 100,000 a day, 36 million people a year. More than half the deaths on Earth in a year can be attributed to hunger.
- United Nations Food And Agricultural Organization
Enough information for you? Well, how about a quote:
"...[H]ope comes from just standing up"
It's time to stand up. Stand up and work for those who are hungry. Yes, Big Government must be a part of the ultimate solution. But four thousand people this hour alone can't wait.
- The Heifer Project [Co-sponsoring today's BloggerUnite project]
- The Hunger Site [All you have to do here is click on an icon. It's worth about a cup of food. Couldn't be easier...]
- FeedingAmerica [formerly known as America's Second Harvest. Co-ordinating food bank resources across the US]
There are certainly more groups than these. Find one [or more], then go to work...
Thursday, April 16, 2009
One thing that Anybody who's ever looked into such things can tell you, is that every day of the year has one or more events commemorated by it [for instance, according to the Mayan calendar pictured at left, December 20th, 2012 is a day that should be devoted to "serene contemplation of birds - their grace and calmness, even at times of difficult winds". The next day is "Run Around like A Chicken Whose Head Has Been Cut Off Day"]. The degree of ridiculousness attached to so many commemorations depends, in part, on how silly you find the event or group being celebrated. Which is an incredibly convoluted way [the only way I do things] to bring up the fact that today, April 16th, is Blog Reader Appreciation Day.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Finally, the committee decided on:
Bo - a Portuguese Water Dog. Reportedly offered by ailing Democratic patriarch Edward M. Kennedy [whose switch from supporting Hillary Clinton to Obama in the Presidential election may have helped push the President "over the top" in the campaign. A suggestion by the Secretary of State to gift Kennedy with "Shredder" was rejected as "mean-spirited" by the ODSVA].
At any rate, the new First Dog will be officially introduced sometime Tuesday. Don't say this blog didn't try to give you the news before it happened...