Chick Flick

by Maria on July 29, 2008

One of the best things about respite care in my family seat – apart from being surrounded by friends and family, and the parents doing their proper duty and tending to my every need and whim – is the hen house. Or, more precisely, the fresh eggs every day from happy hens who spend their time milling around the garden eating worms and bits of old clothes.

Our four hens get a regular servicing from the cock (or ‘rooster’ for Americans who are a bit shocked by its prosaic name), and they all lay regularly, apart from Ginger (pronounced with two hard g’s) who was acquired purely for her beauty. Recently, after one or two literally abortive attempts, Mum managed to keep two eggs warm enough for a month. They’ve now hatched in their home above the Aga, and have begun to eat. So they’re over the worst. At least until their teenage months when their cuteness and fur are gone but they don’t yet have feathers.

Naming conventions for family animals have gone downhill since all six Farrell siblings left home, because the rentals now get a free run at it. These days we have sturdy dogs called Wolf or Sky. Time was when puppies or kittens were called after particularly nasty Roman emperors or generals (Trajan) or appealing characteristics (an initially unloved cat of indeterminate gender named Psycho). Some names were just a bit odd (a black minah bird called d’Arc, and two sweet lovely bunnies called Stalin and Jemima who were eaten by our cousin’s dog, leaving only a fluffy little ear behind), a pair of cockatoos named Chuck and Charlie (Chuck was beheaded through his cage by a cat. Charlie died instantly of shock.). An imposing terrapin named Ming the Merciless.

There was Terry the Pig – a publicity stunt birthday gift from Mum to a politician uncle who’d just had a gossip column written about him by the then-Taoiseach’s mistress, Terry Keane. Some names were just obscure: a foal called Masri and a Siamese cat called Kula. One very loved cat who went by Elvis/Felix by two opposing camps for his entire 15 years. A recent favourite was an ancient female who’d delivered many kittens and came to live with us in her retirement. She was nicknamed Prolapsia.

Anyway, what should we call our new chicks? I’m not allowed to name anything because for years I’ve harbored a desire for a King Charles spaniel who will love me dearly and eat off my plate and sleep in my bed and be named Sweetie. He/she is so real to me that I hardly need to acquire him/her, but my sisters say it’s just not right or natural.

These chicks need names and, left to her own devices, Mum will probably call them Bill and Hillary. The chicks already face a scrawny and awkward adolescence, in about 3 weeks’ time. So let’s not burden them with dreadful names.

Reading Comics and Watching Metropolis

by John Holbo on July 29, 2008

My friend Doug Wolk just won an Eisner for best comics-related book for Reading Comics. And, I might add, we’ve been hosting a little book event in his honor over at the Valve the last couple weeks. Kip Manley just write a very nice little essay, for example.

In other news, somehow I missed the news a few weeks ago that long-lost footage from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis had turned up in Buenos Aires. That’s almost as good as when they found a nice print of Dreier’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) in a Norwegian insane asylum, eh?

Although the new material is in a terrible condition, according to the first appraisals by the German film historians, including Rainer Rother, the director of the Deutsche Kinemathek Museum in Berlin, the newly discovered scenes give a surprising insight into the characters’ motivation. They finally give “Metropolis” a coherent story-telling rhythm, whose absence was often criticized. For example, characters who were practically extras in the shorter version, such as the spy Schmale or Josaphat, Freder’s friend, actually had significant supporting roles and the original dramaturgical concept, which before could only be reconstructed using textual sources and photographs, is now apparent on film for the first time since 1927.

I don’t think we even knew the spy Schmale’s name. He’s always just been ‘the thin man’, right? And he’s onscreen for all of 3 seconds, looking very tall and sinister. I’m looking forward to seeing a bit more. Here’s a YouTube video that includes tidbits of the new stuff, starting with Schmale, I presume, peeking over a Metropolis newspaper:

And, in other German typeface-related news, we are finally going to get to see the lost Yoshiwara district scene.

Painfully true

by Eszter Hargittai on July 29, 2008

I keep referring to this cartoon in conversations and people keep telling me they have no idea what I’m talking about so I’m just going to put it here with the hope that it spreads to more and more folks. (I know some of you have already seen it, Vivian linked to it in her comment here. Nonetheless, it deserves its own post.)

It’s amazing how well it tells so much. It reminds me of specific experiences throughout my life from high school through graduate school (although the latter not in my department, to be fair). Plus one encounters this type of attitude online all the time.

Thanks to xkcd. I’d buy this one on a T-shirt, but it’s not in the store. The college-style XKCD is tempting.