Monday, January 29, 2007

Happy Birthday to The Great Man!

W.C.Fields remains one of my heroes. Several of my friends have spent dull times watching him with me, and not 'getting it'. Julie positively dislikes him.

I love the body language, the juggling comedy, the wonderful vocal delivery, etc.

Admittedly, he comes from the 19th Century, and if you don't like the history of comedy, or black and white films, then he may leave you cold (he certainly seems completely out of fashion - try buying anything other than a couple of DVDs).

I got this lovely picture from Doctor Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans. If you follow the link you can see another few high quality prints, and even some film clips. For a tiny glimpse of his wonderful mime, try the clip from Sally of The Sawdust. I don't think D.W.Griffiths (director) quite knew what to do with him... If you want to know more, I recommend "W.C.Fields - Straight Up" - a special made for US television by one of the men behind "Curb Your Enthusiasm" - which you can buy from Whyaduck Productions here. Check out his other productions, too, on the Marx Brothers, Lenny Bruce, his film of Mother Night (Kurt Vonnegut). Robert B. Weide seems like a class act, to me.

Austin, Texas in 1972And a Happy Birthday, too, to the fabulous Nelly Gareau - two weeks older than me, and now back in France, after many years in the USA. She and I travelled around Paris, the USA and Mexico together (for better or worse) in the early 1970s. We seemed like astrological twins (Aquarians), and people often mistook us for brother and sister (it confused them to find out I came from England, and she from France). I heard from her last year, but we may not get to meet up again. I just feel better when I realise that ex-partners can bear no ill-will, in fact can wish each other well - the way it should be, but all too rarely is.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rabbit food!

This guy lives on 'rabbit food'One of the oddest things about growing up as a vegetarian (before that became fashionable) remains the idea that you will end up somehow malnourished. The other side of that appears as - if you intend to become a vegetarian, then you have to obsess about nutrition. I rarely cook, have spent a lot of my life on the road eating erratically (partly from financial reasons, and partly from restricted choice in meat-eating countries), and yet I have done energetic and physical work most of the time, and people say I don't look my age.

I particularly dislike the association with meat-eating and macho. Certainly you may find a correlation, but I suspect it arises from belief systems (red meat, killing and violence, etc) rather than nutritional content. I find it particularly annoying to hear my food called 'rabbit food'. Actually, with very little thought, you may realise that only some vegetarians (and prey) use the small and fast, run away and hide tactic. Others use camouflage, tasting bad, etc.
short-sighted, bad-tempered and can move at 40 mph - don't annoy me!
One of the most common strategies remains being too big to mess with. So my vegetarian heroes include the elephant, the gorilla (mild-mannered, and nothing like King Kong, but still deserving respect), the rhino and the hippopotamus (both thick-skinned, surprisingly agile - they can run at 40 mph, too, so don't try to outrun them if you manage to annoy them!) In fact Hippos apparently kill more humans in Africa than lions do (for instance). Just because I have vegetarian habits doesn't mean you can necessarily rile me and get away with it.

I do have a slight moral element to my veggie practice (I don't want to eat other animals) but I don't judge people too harshly if they do choose to eat other people (sorry, beings), but most of my choice comes from the aesthetic side. I prefer the way fruit and vegetables and grains look and smell and taste. On the road, I have had to sometimes accept that a cheap hotel room perches over a steak house, I can't avoid neighbour's barbecues - but I have always lived in veggie houses when I have settled for any length of time.

Where I live has changed in the last year, as my previously veggie partner tried the Atkins Diet and liked it. For a while I hoped it would prove a passing fad, and for a while it remained occasional chicken and fish, but now it has escalated to daily food, to mammal-eating, etc. Now that it also looks like the situation will remain this way I have to work out how to deal with it.
Sattvic food makes you mellow
Not only do I find the cooking smells horrible and pervasive, but I hate seeing the 'bits' in the fridge (aesthetics, you see). I have no desire to irritate her by commenting every day, but sometimes it slips out, however careful I try to act - after all, I have 60 years of sarcastic veggie one-liners in the store, although I try not to lecture people the way newly-converted vegans do. If it all stayed in a room I didn't visit I could almost deal with it, but of course the smell and the sights are found in the kitchen where I also go to eat, and it puts me off my food - a dilemma I have not quite solved yet, except by avoiding the ground floor during and for a while after cooking, and/or simply neglecting to eat myself.

These don't seem perfect solutions for the long-term. I can't actually think of a solution to this, as I can't see the situation changing. Like an allergic reaction, though, I do not feel I can do much about the queasiness...that physiological response remains pretty well outside my control. I try to think back to when I have had cats and dogs, looking cheerful and enthusiastic at the prospect of meat, and try to see things through their eyes (or rather, experience things through their noses).

I often remind people that the Dalai Lama (for instance) does not live a vegetarian lifestyle (the buddhist cliche) as Tibetans live in mountains and have relatively little arable land. He tried it for a while (well, tried living on nuts and milk, not a good plan!) but it made him ill.

So, again, I do not intend any of this as a judgement - I fully accept that only a minority of humans live like me - the accidents of birth set me up for it (unless you believe in reincarnation, in which case I chose suitable parents to go with my preferences). But that doesn't solve my problem of feeling hungry until I get to the kitchen, then going off the idea and grabbing a glass of wine and a cigarette and disappearing back upstairs.

We also rarely eat together, which I miss, as well.

Hey ho.

[later] Talking tonight I realise that not everyone understands (even now) that my vegetarian position remains an ethical/religious choice. It dawned on me when I understood that my partner doesn't know the history of my alignment with the vegetarians of the past - the Cathars, the Jains, the Pythagorians, the Hindus (and many, but not all, of the Buddhists, who, after all, got their stuff from the Hindus in the first place), etc.

Because of general food shortages during WW2, the British were encouraged to 'Dig For Victory' and grow their own fruit and vegetables. A near vegetarian diet sustained the population and the nation's health was to improve vastly during the war years.

In the 1950 and '60s, the general public became increasingly aware of the truth behind intensive factory farming, introduced following the war. Vegetarianism also appealed to mid 1960s counterculture, as Eastern influences permeated Western popular culture.

Lucky old me, that even my mum bought that philosophy, just for fresh food, rather than Spam...

When you read the history - that my dad smuggled to me...

More radically, it appears that that the Middle Eastern groups we loosely call 'Christian' (Essenes, etc) shared that belief until the 'pagan' Romans took over the church and argued for their own habits.

The total suppression of this idea in the West (that involves realising and admitting that religions of the Middle East had strong influences from the older cultures of India and China) means that I go back into the heretic class. Check out this kind of site for the news (only a few centuries old) that taking this stance got you killed. Was Jesus a Vegetarian?

The Emperor Constantine would have made me drink molten lead. Cathars got burned at the stake or hanged for refusing to kill a chicken to prove what 'good Christians' they were, etc. Even 'dear old St Francis' (so called 'lover of animals') loved a pig's foot...

Hey ho. I determined not to become a zealot, a ranting vegan, or adopt a belief just because I inherited it from my dad - so I tried to break away, and try the damned stuff, but it made me feel ill in mind and body.

Boy, they did a good job of air-brushing us out of history...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Yet another incarnation

On June 23rd 2004 the Academy threw open the doors to Robert Anton Wilson fans, and Bob started running four online courses simultaneously. I did three of them, and felt tired, he said he felt like a "one-armed wallpaper hanger"!

Still - we had loads of fun. I have spent more than two years here, now, and other tutors have arrived. We have a hardcore of longterm students, some oldies who come and go, plenty of new people.

Of course, I realise that few people have even heard of RAW (sadly) and although his influence permeates modern media he gets little credit for it. Hey ho - he died a couple of weeks ago, so he could care less!

Anyway - his legacy - an intelligent, mostly courteous online forum - has gone through various experimental stages, it has generated a magazine and a blog, and it now has reached version 4.0 - which includes an area where members of the public can come in, look around, eavesdrop on the regulars, etc.

So why not come and visit us? MLA Forum v.4.0

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen Hapus i chi’i gyd!

Happy St. Dwynwen’s Day to you all!

People who know me realise that I don't have a religious bone in my body, so may feel puzzled at my celebrating a Saint's Day (Catholic!)

Recently in Wales people have begun celebrating this day more than St Valentine's - as St. Dwynwen has the role of patron saint of lovers (and sick animals).

When I looked her up, I found her quoted as saying something that sounded exactly like my favourite author, humourist and thinker (who just died) - Robert Anton Wilson. It seemed appropriate.

Nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness

Bob (in wheelchair) clowning with Paul Krassner at the Prophets' Con 2000

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Escher spent a lot of his time in the Mediterranean Happy New Year to Muslims everywhere – 1428!

Just to show that I don’t bear any grudge against religions (they count as ‘cultures’, too) – and I like alternative calendars (so you don’t mistake Pope Gregory’s calendar for ‘reality’). I have a lot of respect for the early Muslims who approached the world in a scientific and humanist way, who disapproved of the worship of graven idols (love those mosaics!), who found marijuana less reprehensible than alcohol, etc.

Doesn’t time fly when you find yourself stuck in the Middle Ages…

Calendars and Numbers, hey? On the Gregorian (Christian) calendar most of us currently use the number '1428 AD' to point to the time of England invading France, and confronting Joan of Arc…At that point in time, the graceful architecture and tolerant, intelligent, multicultural civilization in Southern Spain, ruled by Muslims for nearly 800 years, must have seemed the height of culture. A few years later (1492), the Catholic Christians threw out Jews and Muslims and Gypsies and the country reverted to ignorance and intolerance.
The Lion Courtyard at The Alhambra in Granada
Of course, back in 1428 they still used the Julian calendar, and Pope Gregory’s corrections only got accepted in Catholic countries in 1582. The Protestants held out longer - the UK finally accepting the current calendar in 1752. The 11 day adjustment needed led to superstitious people believing that they had lost eleven real days of their lives (confusion of measuring systems and ‘reality’). When you put the clocks back you don't gain an hour of anything...(except sleep, maybe).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I got involved in a flurry of other stuff, mostly arising from hearing of the death of my favourite author – Robert Anton Wilson.

It still seems amazing to me that he appears so little known. I didn’t think I belonged to a cult!

He wrote on such a wide range of subjects that it baffles me that his funny sci-fi writing doesn’t put him up with Douglas Adams, and Kurt Vonnegut, his paranoid modern fiction doesn’t align him with (say) William Gibson, Neal Stephenson or Philip K Dick, and his psychology texts, his Joycean work, his Fortean material, his quantum speculation, doesn’t get him any kudos. The whole Holy Blood thing, the Dan Brown schtick, the 9/11 and Diana conspiracy material, the X-Files – have clear roots in his earlier works.

Perhaps the mainstream see him as New Age, but the New Age see him as a sceptic/cynic/debunker. Half the conspiracy buffs think he started the revelations, the other know he spent his time teasing True Believers, etc.

Monday, January 01, 2007

More family stuff

As this seems like a time of year for thinking about families, and particularly those we can no longer meet up with, I have decided to put my mother's Essays on Voice online.

She hoped to get them published, I suspect, but got turned down. At the time she worked alongside Patsy Rodenburg, and Patsy's books did seem to fit the publishers' needs. Her books got sold not only to actors, but to anyone who could use such skills in everyday life (that means almost all of us!)

Perhaps her style may appear a little old-fashioned now, but it represents many years of experience, and it seems a shame to let them sit in a box here in my den.

For now, I have put up a page with the Synopsis, and have even added a tiny (and very noisy) sound sample of Sheila coaching actors for the nightmare situation of 'the audition' - which for most of the rest of us might translate as 'the interview'. I had bits of tape from her old tape-recorder, but they only contained the sound of students practicing (either newsreading or Shakespeare, etc) but Tom Lee [who now works as a story-teller] kindly sent me a cassette he used to grab her notes in 1983, and although I miss the laugh, and other aspects of her voice, it gives you a glimpse of her at work. Thanks, Tom!

As well, as the essays, I may try to put a little more of this rare bit of sound up later... The page under construction you can find here...

While doing family, I'll just add in a Christmas card from my dad from 1956 (they could both write beautifully...)

Ah me...
Related Posts with Thumbnails