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A while ago, I stumbled across the Mental Floss post “8 Forgotten Kids Shows Sure to Give You Nightmares.” One of the eight clips they link to is the “Mysterious Stranger” segment from “The Adventures of Mark Twain,” a 1980s stop-motion movie for children. The kids featured in the clip are Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Becky Thatcher. (Was Tom described as a redhead in the books? I have a vivid mental image of him as a dirty-blond. The curly red thing threw me for a loop.)

I love this clip. I was so taken with it that I now, months later, have watched the rest of the movie. It’s a really strange piece of work. The kids go up with Mark Twain in this fanciful hot-air balloon-ship thing to find Halley’s comet. There’s a teleportation device, unicorns, Mr. Hyde alter-egos… Strange movie.

The “Mysterious Stranger” bit is still undeniably the best (and creepiest) part, but the whole thing is worth a view. I do, however, raise a quizzical eyebrow at the idea of marketing this to children. I am no fan of watering things down to a mush of inoffensiveness (I dearly miss the edgy “Sesame Street” of my childhood and lament the new direction the show has taken), but this is some serious grit for a kid to stomach.

at the café

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking downtown and spotted this block of ice/snow on the outside window pane of a café. It amused me. It looked to me like a woman sitting in a chair, taking part in the scene behind her.

Lem quote

From His Master’s Voice by Stanislaw Lem (Michael Kandel’s translation):

Literature, from the very beginning, has had a single enemy, and that is the restriction of the expressed idea. It turns out, however, that freedom of expression sometimes presents a greater threat to an idea, because forbidden thoughts may circulate in secret, but what can be done when an important fact is lost in a flood of impostors, and the voice of truth becomes drowned out in an ungodly din? When that voice, though freely resounding, cannot be heard, because the technologies of information have led to a situation in which one can receive best the message of him who shouts the loudest, even when the most falsely?

Pionir 10

The rest of their album is freely (and legally) downloadable at the Free Music Archive.

old Betty Boop

These stun me every time.


The Third & The Seventh

This is insane:

The Third & The Seventh

Au hasard Balthazar

This movie had been sitting around on my desk for about three months. I had heard many great things about it, but I kept not being in the mood to watch it. Although I like to think of myself as Someone Of Taste — someone clever and intellectual who appreciates poetry and wisdom and culture and that gnarled, migrainy branch of philosophy that has absolutely no bearing on daily existence — nine times out of ten, I will pick the technicolor movie with the bad-ass soundtrack* over the slow, grim, B&W, biblical-allegory French film. My hesitance was only increased by the fact that I had already seen “Mouchette,” another film directed by Bresson. In other words, I knew very well what I was getting into.

I finally hunkered down and gave the gloomy little disk a go tonight. “Au hasard Balthazar” is beautiful. It is Art, but it’s the stirring, living, breathing kind, not the dead, passive, “analyze me” kind. It’s about the parallel lives of a donkey and a young girl named Marie, but of course it’s not really about that at all.

I love how the narrative was approached. The storyline is not hurled at your face like it’s the only thing that matters, but it’s also not ignored or obfuscated. It pieces itself together slowly as though you, the viewer, were living in the small town where the movie takes place, listening to gossip and spying through windows. Here, a murder hangs half-unresolved in the narrative’s periphery while the camera focuses on the foreground of the two lives it’s charting — the broken bottles, the kicked-up dirt, the hands and the feet, and the sad donkey eyes.

Incidentally, I never realized before just how beautiful and expressive a donkey’s eyes are.

This movie guided me towards that place that is the closest approximation of “religious” this not-so-religious girl experiences. I probably would have shed a tear or two, but I don’t cry during movies unless they’re “Stand By Me.”


*Okay, okay. Upon re-reading this post, I want to make it clear that I do think Schubert is bad-ass.

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