November 2007 Archive
29 November - As I Was Saying...
Hello... is this thing on? Oh, hi - we're back on the air. Sorry for the involuntary hiatus - it's the measly bandwidth thing again. Not much to report - the foot still hurts, though not so much; I go in for the cast tomorrow. Many thanks for the very kind messages from several Friends of the Museum.
Oh! Here's another excellent cat-related ex voto currently available on eBay.
Here's the translation - sorry for the negative comments by the narrator on her cats, though they do come through at the end:
My bedroom was invaded by huge rats that came out every night and I was very afraid of getting up to the bathroom because they could gone up to the bed and my cats are very lazy and they only sleep all the time and they didn't hunt the rats. Thanks to my requests to Nuestra Sra. of Zapopan she inspired me and I had the idea of requesting to my neighbor borrowed her cat and it end to the rats in a single night. Now my cats feel embarrassed and they wake up at nights to keep the house with no rats.Some day I would very much like to see what an embarrassed cat looks like. I should commission an ex voto on my foot. There's the requisite disaster, but no uplifting miracle at the end. Would it be very impious if I made something up? Would it be very wrong?
More ex voto gatos featured here:
San Pascual's Cat
Aunt Honorata's Cats
The Perfect Cat Storm
Cat Pi Milagro
Greedy-guts Miracle Cat
26 November - Cinematic Llamas
Can't imagine how I missed Anna Magnani's dramatic llama scene the first time we watched Jean Renoir's beautiful The Golden Coach back in January. But I'm happy to include it in our ongoing survey of llamas in film.
By the way, The Golden Coach is part of a splendid Criterion box set of Jean Renoir's films called Stage and Spectacle, available, for your shopping convenience (and with a generous discount), from the Janus Museum Museum Shop. Oh! Shipping is free!
24 November - The Clowns
What with my cat-related injury, the Curator told me to stay home since my whining was disturbing the rest of the staff. So I'm watching a lot of movies nowadays. Back in my college days, I would become wildly enthusiastic about certain films, especially the ones, like Lola Montes, that I saw while high as a kite. Tragically, on re-examination, none of my favorites of those times quite live up to my period drug-inspired enthusiasms. So I thought, since I'm on powerful pain-killers and stuff, it was the perfect time to give the old college try to one of my old favorites, Fellini's The Clowns (1971), which received mixed reviews when it was released. I did enjoy it this time around, though not as much as when I first saw it - I'm older, of course, and more jaded than the slim undergraduate who first saw the film - and I think the present drugs aren't as powerful as the stuff I had access to back in '71.
But it's worth watching anyway - funny and sweet. At the very end, an old clown recalls an old act - he hears that his partner Frou-Frou has died - he refuses to believe it, and tries to bring Frou-Frou back from death by playing their musical theme. Frou-Frou hears, responds, and they play a final duet. All very Froudian, I'm sure, but kind of beautiful, too, even as the drugs were wearing off. And I don't even like clowns - scared me to death as a kid.
The Clowns is pretty hard to find - I bought a tattered VHS on eBay and made a DVD from it. I keep hoping that Criterion will release it, as it has with most of the rest of Fellini's films.
24 November - Readers' Submissions
Friend of the Museum Tico Herrera reports from Martinsburg, West Virginia that he lured this possum into captivity with a blueberry muffin. The sentence was transportation:
... To this old Quaker graveyard, somewhere in Berkley County. It reminds me of my own Mouse Relocation Scheme.
FOM Brian Nicklas recently flew to the UK to attend Scale Model World, the International Plastic Modeler's Society's (IPMS) British nationals. He snapped a shot of one of the display tables - this one was set up by an IPMS chapter named after Fred Wallingford, the famous Washington Grove aviatior.
22 November - Hiatus Warning - Cat Injury Update - Holiday Shopping Hint
Once again, we've received the dread notice from our hosting service that the Janus Museum site, including Panabasis, may go off the air for the rest of the month due to having exceeded our measly bandwidth allowance. As before, if we do go dark, we'll carry on with emergency postings over at our alternate fallback site, Panabasis II, and at our newish site, Panabasis-Photo.
On the subject of my cat-related injury, I'm now in a splint, with a cast to come in a week or so, after the swelling's gone down a bit. I look like the choleric gent in a Gilray cartoon on the gout. Got an awfully nice get-well card from Friend of the Museum Keith West:
Quit whining! Take it like a man!I'll be stumping around the kitchen today, making a stuffed ham bread to take to dinner later on.
But cat-related injuries haven't prevented me from launching the Janus Museum Museum Shop, just in time for Black Friday. On offer are some of the videos we've reviewed here, favorite books and music of the Janus Museum staff, and some jolly stocking-stuffer toys. To our overseas readers - now that the Dollar qualifies as funny money, you'll find some real bargains. And all purchases aid the vaguely educational activities of the Janus Museum, you know.
21 November - qoq
Very, very sorry to report the death yesterday of a friend and a reader of these pages, Bob Jernigan - qoq. Above, Bob checks the telemetry of a deep-fried turkey. So long, qoq.
19 November - Cat-Related Injury Reported
There I was, minding my own business. Not my business, actually, as much as Cat Buddha's business. See, I had been asked to look after the fellow over the weekend, and after serving his breakfast and letting him out for a run, I took a slip on the walk and went flying, landing hard on my foot. The foot hurt, but I got up, dusted myself off, whined a little in a manly sort of way, and went on with the day. After a few hours, the agony had not faded - had, in fact, increased - could barely hobble about, dragging my leg in a pathetic way - finally made my way to my health care provider, AAAA Super-Valu Wellness Mart. X-rays taken, with me clutching the little lead apron for dear life - diagnosis, fracture. Given lovely prescription for the agony, which is now somewhat abated*, and it occurs to me that I can taste color and touch sounds. La la la la la...
*My word, two Thomas Babington Macaulay references in as many posts. I think that must be a record of some kind.
18 November - Tableau sur le Pont
The Circle Cats perform a dramatic tableau vivant of Thomas Babington Macaulay's Horatius at the Bridge on location at the Old Footbridge. Natasha (center) appears as Horatius, Leroy (left) as Spurius Lartius, and Kitten Nutmeg (right) as Herminius:
The Three stood calm and silent,It was extremely dramatic. Then we all went home for a post-tableau snack.
Another tableau at the old footbridge.
18 November - Folk Wisdom
Our old buddy Cat Van Beek contemplates the old Grovian aphorism - you can't get heron oil from a plastic heron.
17 November - The Kindness of Friends of the Museum
I'm happy to report that the Janus Museum has recently been the undeserving, though grateful, recipient of a slew of generous contributions. Above, a comic postcard from 1910, the gift of Friend of the Museum Lois Montbertrand. I suspect that it's based on one of aviator Fred Wallingford's less successful flights, though the fellow on the postcard doesn't really look much like old Fred.
From my old buddy and fellow survivor of the reenacting game Bob Lyon comes this set of Revolutionary War soldiers, billed as being Maryland infantry - my old outfit was the 1st Maryland Regiment. The chap on the right has a misfire, just like our Gus every damn Fourth of July. The llama (llama not included) is included to show the scale. I don't know why Mao is wearing a fez.
Tragically, the old lamp in the Fellows' Common Room gave out about six months ago. The fellows were content to sit in the gloom - they found that the darkness nicely complemented the perennial gnashing of their teeth. But our neighbor and friend Rebecca Richters (who has donated many fine things to the Museum) very kindly contributed a fine schoolhouse-style globe light, which was installed on Thursday. Above, Cat Maxine is brilliantly illuminated, sitting on the Fellows' Common Room catstool. One advantage of actually being able to see in the room is that we were finally able to see how much the maintenance man - Gus - has been neglecting his duties - the dust, filth and squalor was something fierce. Gus has been severely punished - haw, haw!
From a Minneapolis friend and visitor to the site came a very generous contribution to the Janus Foundation in support of our worthy though unspecified activities.
And Friend Terry made a number of purchases at Amazon.com through our convenient links - we get to dip our beak on any sales at Amazon that go through a link, like this one, as a matter of fact.
Thanks to everybody who contributed - I have a very warm feeling that is totally unrelated to the after effects of the chicken empanada I had for lunch.
17 November - Tank for the Memories
Here's another snap from my tank stroll at the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen last week. It's a very nice tank with a lovely camouflage scheme, but I don't know what it is - the Museum doesn't bother with putting labels on many of its exhibits. I have an idea it's a French tank but it doesn't really look like the Renault D2 or the R35, nor yet the B1 bis, and definitely not the Somua S35. So I'm at liberty to come up with my own ID and history:
Solido Char de Grand JouetIt brings a tear to my eye. More tanks later on.
12 November - A Veteran of the Great War
Frank W. Buckles
Photograph by Nikki Kahn, The Washington Post
Today's Washington Post had an article on Frank Woodruff Buckles, one of the last veterans of World War I, mentioned here yesterday. From the Post article:
Yesterday, Buckles's service was honored in a Veterans Day ceremony to remember Pershing, who commanded U.S. forces in World War I. The ceremony at Pershing's grave, organized by the Military Order of the World Wars, was one of several in the area as crowds converged on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and smaller groups gathered at various statues and memorials.
12 November - The Romance of Ruins III
Here's another salt print by Allan Janus of the ruins of the old Wallingford Heron Oil works. Oh! Here's an actual heron oil lamp from a British dealer - had no idea at all that heron oil was still available over there.
12 November - On Sugarloaf
Another shot from yesterday's Sugarloaf Mountain expedition: just after eating my expeditionary pastrami sandwich (it was a pastrami panini, by the way; with swiss cheese, onion, pickle, mustard, and a side of macaroni salad), and just before traversing the Death Zone to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, I took this beautiful view of the fall foliage.
12 November - Sing, You Monkeys! Update
Back in June '03, I posted on a fabulous calypso number, Bolo Sabhi Jai Ram, in Babubhai Mistry's film Sampoorna Ramayan (1961). Hanuman the wise monkey god, faithful servant of Rama, rallies the Monkey Army to build a bridge to Lanka to rescue Sita, Rama's wife, held prisoner by Ravana, demon king of Lanka. See, when one writes the name of Rama on rocks, they float, and one can build a quite serviceable bridge with the floating rocks. Thanks to Youtube, one may now enjoy the scene online. Or just buy the DVD and enjoy the whole wonderful movie. By the way, Sampoorna Ramayan is not to be confused with Sampoorna Ramayana, which is the Ramayana performed the Shabdalaya Children's Theatre. Also very fine, but no calypso. But there's a blues version of the Ramayana: Nina Paley's wonderful animated version is told from Sita's point of view, and so is called the Sitayana. It's a must-see.
12 November - To the Summit
West View from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain
We mounted an expedition yesterday to the summit of nearby Sugarloaf Mountain in the wilds of Frederick County, Maryland. Properly equipped (I took a pastrami sandwich), we made it to the top, unlike my tragic earlier attempt, and enjoyed the fine fall colors, the bracing mountain air, the pastrami sandwich, and the views. Above, the view to the west - the ridge in the foreground is Cacoctin Mountain, and beyond is South Mountain. Beyond that - the Blue Ridge, the Appalachians, Allegheny Front, the Alleghenies, then a flat bit, then the Rockies, the Cascades, a wet bit, and finally China.
By the way, Sugarloaf is a monadnock. Feel free to impress your friends with that one.
11 November - Armistice Day
The Author, age 5
With our National Scallywag still in the Oval Office, I'm no longer quite so enthusiastic about putting up the old flag as I used to be, but I always do it on Veteran's Day. Remembering that the day was originally Armistice Day, I see that the good old AEF - the American Expeditionary Force of World War I - is practically gone. According to this Wikipedia article, there are now only four American survivors of the war. Only one, Frank Woodruff Buckles, served overseas. He lives in Charles Town, West Virginia, not too far up the road.
Last year at this time I posted that there were 14 American survivors. Napoo, toodle-oo, goodbye-ee.
Here's a group of songs of the Great War (streaming MP3s), including Over There (of course) sung by Enrico Caruso, Oh, it's a Lovely War, Pack up Your Troubles, Goodbye-ee (Oh, there are two versions of Goodbye-ee!), a rare comic U-Boat song - Down in the U-17, and also a descriptive sketch called The Submarine Attack and another entitled The Battle in the Air, a rare German medley, and a couple of others.
10 November - St-Cloud
Now on view on our ancillary site Panabasis-Photo is this superb view of St-Cloud by Allan Janus. Oh, here are other Janus photographs from that beautiful location.
Panabasis-Photo is what one would call a more purely photographic blog, without the sentimental maunderings that so detract from the superb imagery on this site.
10 November - Current Conditions, As of Yesterday; the Wallingford Papers
Rainy but colorful in The Circle yesterday. I stuck my head out the door to snap the superb panorama above, but I was mostly taken up with the final touches of the processing of the papers of that famous aeronautical pioneer Fred Wallingford:
Our maintenance man Gus (above) unwillingly helped moved the Wallingford Papers down to the vault. This is only a portion of the collection - there are 62 boxes in all. Then we went out to the local Chinese buffet to celebrate. Good news! The buffet has added galbi (Korean style beef shortribs) to the menu!
My next task is to finish the exciting finding aid to the collection. It will be a great boon to future generations of aviation historians.
9 November - The New Ideal
On my way home from Babylon last week, I stopped for lunch in Aberdeen, Maryland at the New Ideal Diner - a beautiful old diner with a very friendly staff, and serving up excellent crabcakes:
Was it as good as the crabcake I et at the Middle River Waterfront Festival in June '06? Hard to tell. But it was very pleasant to sit in a well-kept vintage diner on a fall afternoon and to eat a crabcake served by a nice lady. And they give you a complementary chocolate-chip cookie, too.
Then I went to stroll amongst the tanks
9 November - Another Triplane
The first object I beheld on entering the Tsarina's palace last week was this superb model of an A.V. Roe triplane. It reminded me amazingly of the Museum's beautiful handmade model of an A.V. Roe triplane:
... Mentioned here a year ago June. Our model, the seller had told me, had been painstakingly built by her old dad, a former exhibits man at the Smithsonian. Gracious, what are the chances of coming across two beautifully handmade Avro triplane models? Lisa told me that she had been given her model by her friend Barbara Flanagan, wife of the late Dennis Flanagan. Later, at the party, I asked Barbara if Dennis had painstakingly built his triplane model, too - no, she said - he'd bought it at Pier One.
So now I'm left wondering if the Museum is displaying a beautiful painstaking handmade model, or something from Pier One? How do I break the news to the Curator? I bet that the seller's old dad saw the Tripe in his neighborhood Pier One and decided he could build one himself (painstakingly). I bet that's what happened. It's still a very very nice model.
6 November - Rhomboid
Returning home on Sunday from the harrowing Grossman celebration described below, I made a stop at the Army Ordnance Museum at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Aberdeen, Maryland, for a peaceful autumnal stroll amongst the tanks and artillery. Above, a fine British Mark IV female tank from World War I, totally one of my favorite tanks ever. Why female? 'Cos the female tanks were armed with machine guns, and the male tanks had cannon, instead. And there were hermaphrodite tanks, too, armed with machine guns and a 6 pounder gun.
This is the sort of tank for whose crews Roy Wallingford designed his famous Wallingford Experimental Helmet. Coming later, a report on the crabcake I et in Aberdeen.
5 November - My Advice
My advice to rising young topers, gained from hard-won experience at Friend Lisa's birthday party on Saturday night, is this: if the port doesn't even begin to circulate until one in the morning, just pass it on. Don't have any, not even a taste. You don't need port at 1:00 AM. I'm aware that this will make me sound like an old stick, a kill-joy, even a milqetoast. So be it - just trust me on this.
The other bit that I remember from the party is that by two o'clock, things got very serious and thinky. Lisa and several of the guests were going great guns in the talking department - the government was criticised, I recall. Hard things were said about morons - it was also thought that the population of morons was on the increase with no end in sight, and that morons were incapable of improvement. Suggestion was made that the Liberal method with morons - to throw money at the problem of moronery - was imperfect, but that the Conservatives, who were accused of just ignoring the Moron Problem, were equally unsuccessful. I was doing a pretty fair imitation of a moron myself, being exhausted and blotto in equal proportion, and had nothing much to offer except that at one point I heard myself saying that the theory of eugenics was fallacious and had been roundly discredited. I even gave a proof of the fallaciousness of eugenics that seemed to go down fairly well, but I forget what the proof was - I do remember feeling proud that I was able to pronounce "fallacious" successfully. Later on, I roused myself from my stupor to hear one of the guests, an engineer with Hewlett Packard, describing the dilemma of examining a problem. One can't even study a problem without changing it, he said - "God, there's a name for that - what is it?"
"Heisenberg", I croaked uncertainly, and then lapsed into a coma.
Above, Lisa blows out the candles on the festive birthday cupcakes, much earlier. On the left is her Pa, old friend Herb Grossman. I recorded another of his excellent Tales of Toscanini, which I'll post soon.
5 November - Road Trip
I was on the road over the weekend, to the waters of Babylon (NY), visiting old Friend of the Museum Lisa Grossman, the Tsarina of Tsocks, whose birthday it was. There was a lovely party, parts of which I remember pretty well. On Sunday, I had an exciting drive home, navigating desperately to avoid the New York City Marathon. Then a nice drive through the fall foliage of the New Jersey Turnpike and a stop at the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen, Maryland for a nice stroll amongst the tanks and artillery - will post snaps later. Above, Lisa models one of her superb creations, Vintage as Dog Luke gazes admiringly. If one's into knitting at all, one really ought to have a look at Lisa's fine site, especially the kits that she offers in association with Jennifer vanCalcar of vanCalcar Acres Sheep Farm. Regular readers (if any) will recall that Lisa is the creator of such superb creations as our giant squid and our handsome smoking cap.
On Lisa's door was this giant spider, about a foot across - fact. But it was a friendly spider in the Charlotte mode - she said that I was some pig, and we parted on the friendliest terms.
Also on hand was our old buddy Cat Ptolemy - very affable guy, when awake.
Later - an astounding Avro Triplane anecdote.
2 November - Romance of Ruins II
I knew that we had an image of the ruins of the old Wallingford Heron Oil works somewhere in the collection; found it with the aid of our intern Zoe, who has some sort of "database", I think she called it. It's a salted paper print by Allan Janus, made from some variety of paper negative, c.1875.Rather late for salt prints, but Janus was usually behind the times.
2 November - Young Sailor of the Civil War, Probably a Boy
Now on view over at our alternate site Panabasis-Photo is this rare sixth-plate tintype of a boy sailor of the Civil War. Or maybe it's an even rarer photograph of one of those folksong-type situations where an adventurous girl dresses as a boy and joins up, possibly to join her lover, or just for the adventure of the thing. This sort of things rarely turns out well, as evidenced in this song, The Handsome Cabin Boy (streaming MP3) sung by the great Martin Carthy. It's from his album Martin Carthy - oh! It's available as an MP3 download.
2 November - Extended Halloween Coverage
Here, for your viewing enjoyment, are a few fleeting glimpses of Halloween '07 here in Washington Grove, Maryland. Above, Satan settled for a Twix and a Butterfingers.
Here are three of the four elements - from the left: Fire, Water, Earth. Not shown: Air. It seems that Air, the airhead, missed the rendezvous.
On the porch of Friend of the Museum Eve Zibart, an exquisite display of skulls and other sinister appurtenances.
As is traditional, our maintenance man Gus Norbeck dispenses candy from his Chinese ammo belt. He's wearing the Museum's fine pickelhaube - I do wish he wouldn't wear the artifacts.