Friday, September 30, 2011

Sharon's Dalliance

Sharon snatches a captive Llama egg before it hatches into the wrong hands.

At least you've got Sharon going for you, Fridays at FITK

Used by Permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Icelandic Invasion

My favorite Icelandic pop-folk-teenage-twin-girl duo will be touring China in October and November, right after their Iceland Airwaves appearance! Info on tour dates here. And if that wasn't enough, the noted video producer Vincent Moon has recently released a cinema-verite music video of Ásthildur & Jófríður performing along with their band-mates:

Is this phase two of the group's plan for world domination?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


In the late 1940's and up until the late 1990's the Icelandic author Halldór Laxness was effectively blacklisted from publication in the United states. The story is told on the site Laxness in Translation in an extended piece by the Laxness expert Chay Lemoine. Those of you who have an interest in conspiracy theories might want to check out a real conspiracy, still being perpetuated after sixty-three years. There will be more information revealed about this situation when a new documentary film about the CIA cover-up is released later this fall.

Photo: Laxness circa 1947, Via Heimur

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Broken Hearted Melody

Faroese stamps illustrating scenes from The Lost Musicians

The Lost Musicians

A novel by William Heinesen
Translated by Erik J. Friis
Twayne Publishers, New York, 1971

William Heinesen, arguably the foremost Faroese author, is noted for his keenly observed literary sketches of everyday life in the Faroes, an isolated group of islands between Scotland and Iceland. The Lost Musicians intrigued me, I had seen it favorably compared to Halldór Laxness' majestic The Fish Can Sing on more than one occasion while scouring the internet over the last few years. I found this to be a quite different sort of book. Both stories take place in a very small geographical area on an island in the North Atlantic, but Fish is told from the very personal point of view of a boy slowly growing into manhood, while The Lost Musicians has a much broader scope- its ensemble cast of misfits, wastrels and drunkards careen from one misadventure to another, gathering steam toward a wild climax and then slowing to a poignant conclusion. While not a happy ending, it is not one without hope.

Heinesen is a concise writer, and seems to perfectly capture the low humor and salty vernacular of the Faroese underclass (there is a lot of drinking!) He offers no judgments on the actions of these hapless musicians, nor does he bestow them an elevated status. If Heinesen has any underlying theme in the book, it may simply be a faith in the validity of ordinary existence triumphs over pretension and fatalism. Definitely worth a look to anyone who is open to the idea of exploring this little-known culture.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sharon Sandwich

Stringy, salty, a bit tough, and I dare say tastes like rattlesnake.

Satisfy your hunger for Sharon every Friday at Flippism is the Key

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My New Old Sweater

I debuted my latest thrift store find last weekend, this 50+ year old sweater, Swiss made, the company listed on the label went out of business in 1958, evidently they supplied upscale skiwear to the European market:

Not a very subtle pattern, but in nearly perfect condition, perhaps it had been given as a gift, worn once then put away.

A dead man's clothes.

I'm not superstitious.

And it is really a very nice sweater.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tales from the Faroes

Faroese Short Stories
Twenty-five stories by nine Faroese authors,
Translated and introduced by Hedin Brønner
Twayne Publishers, New York, 1972

My "world trip" last summer found me browsing through a book/ antique store in the old mining town of Galena, Illinois. There, sitting side by side, I discovered a copy of Víga-Glúm's Saga and this book. I had previously run across many references to the Faroese writer William Heinesen, where he was often compared favorably with Halldór Laxness. This book presents several stories by Heinesen along with work by seven other Faroese writers, most of whom were born within a ten year span around the turn of the 20th century. In a sparsely populated and isolated country (less than 30,000 at the time) it is only natural that there would be stylistic similarities between authors. Some of the stories were written in Danish, some in Faroese, I'm obviously not the person to make a judgement on this, I can only read the English translations anyway.

Mads Andrias Winther contributed three very short tales about life's injustice and the narrow-mindedness of the common folk. Sverri Patturson wrote of a clever fisherman who managed to catch a shark and a persistent farmer's battle against a couple of crafty ravens. Hans Dahlsgaard's Nelson's Last Stand is the story of a feeble-minded villager who was not a dim as he seemed.

Heinesen has six stories here, his is the most polished writing. His magical The Celestial Journey is simply wonderful in the way it goes from realism to fantasy and back again. His story The Night of the Storm touches upon a Sapphic relationship between two reclusive elderly women whose life together is torn apart: first by a storm and then by the "good intentions" of the village women. Absolutely devastating.

Heðin Brú has seven stories. He might be the best pure story-teller of the lot, his tales are alternately funny and wistful. His charming story The White Church, told from the point of view of a five year old, is one of the finest Christmas stories I have ever read. It would appeal to children and adults alike. The Long Darkness is a harrowing account, also told from a child's point of view, of the progressive blindness of one of the villagers.

There are four more authors, each of them tell slice-of-life stories which, like the others, reveal life in the Faroes, timeless and plain, but rich in the human experience.

This is a wonderful and touching book. The stories transported me to another place and time with an elegant and unsentimental simplicity. Although it is not common there are no shortage of reasonably priced copies at Amazon or Abe's books. I'll be featuring reviews of three Faroese novels in the coming weeks including Heinesen's The Lost Musicians and Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen's Barbara.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Explodo Girls

She says, “You can’t repeat the past.”
I say, “You can’t? What do you mean, you can’t?
Of course you can.”

~Bob Dylan,  Summer Days

A reunion gig for a band I used to work with brought out some familiar faces, and also a few who brought back many good memories. The band was called The Explodo Boys and for a few years in the late seventies they played at a nightclub near the University of Minnesota campus. It was a good gig, the group developed a group of followers who would come to dance and hear them play almost every week-end. They really weren't “groupies” in the usual sense, and although a few relationships might have developed, for the most part it was just fun; we really appreciated them and their support.

We called them "The Explodo Girls", I hadn’t seen them for thirty years.
They were still the same—giddy—with perhaps a few facial lines drawn by the trials of life, but overall they had aged a lot better than I had. When the band played the “Girls” danced and, for two short hours on a September afternoon, it was as good as it ever was.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Super Sharon IV

Clearly an effort to save herself from herself.

The Sharon flies on Friday

Used by permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rituals of Courtship - The Blind Date

“Do you have a friend who could go with Mary?”

So begins the process, where one becomes a part of a double-date. Kenny and “Taurus” were a couple, Kenny had literary aspirations and Taurus was a true free-spirit. Taurus had a long-time friend, Mary, who she thought might be a good match for one of Kenny’s friends–me. It was early fall, not yet really cold at night and with dusk around 7:30 it was possible to go to a drive-in theater and catch a double feature and still have time for some other “fun” after the show.

Or something like that.

I thought movies in the late sixties were pretty much uniformly bad, unless they were European or directed by Stanley Kubrick. Kenny liked horror movies, but since he was driving and we were going “Dutch” I didn’t care what we saw. The idea of a good “date movie” still hadn’t gelled in my brain, and Kenny’s choice of films was probably not the best either.

The first film was Count Yorga, Vampire, a “modern” vampire film. Set in L. A. in 1969, it had originally been intended as a porn-film, but the producers evidently though they would more successful if they cut out the x-rated footage and aimed it at the horror market. It was creepy enough, with a pretty good Count, but all the other actors (and the sets) were from the porn circuit, lending it an unmistakable odor of degenerate despair. Extremely violent scenes of rape and gore (one involving a cat!) kind of killed any light banter the four of us might have started in the car. The ending was “modern” as well- THE VAMPIRES WON!

The second film, while not as existentially bleak as Yorga, was just as depraved with a large dose of cultural bias added as well. Brides of Blood has been described as one of the “crown jewels of Filipino horror films.” An American scientist and his curvaceous assistant travel to a remote South Pacific Island to study a lost culture which has a ritual of sacrificing female virgins to a horrid monster. The drums would start, the girls would be tied to a stake and the monster would come and ravage and dismember his helpless (and topless) victims. This film also had another gimmick: Bloodvision. Whenever the monster's appearance was imminent, the filmstock would be colored red. I cannot remember how it ended, or if we even stayed to the end. The show wasn’t quite over, though. Kenny had evidently taken some type of mind-altering substance between features and when we were driving home he suffered some kind of minor freak-out at an empty railroad crossing.

Needless to say, Mary and I didn’t hit it off that night. Kenny and Taurus broke up soon after, Kenny married on the rebound, divorced and ultimately made up to Taurus and they were happily married for many years.

LESSON: None than I can see, other than the obvious one. A good date movie makes you both laugh, makes you both happy, and makes you both feel better about yourselves, and life in general. And then you might get lucky.

The next date movie I went to was A Clockwork Orange.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Professor Sells Out...

... and why not?

If people sell hallucinogenic drugs as "bath salts"

why shouldn't I be allowed to sell wood shavings

steeped in high-fructose corn syrup as "asthma

cigarettes?" Of course I'll make sure that

children under six won't be tempted- they

can't afford it anyway! It couldn't be any

worse than the snuff a "friend" once offered

me ("It'll clear you right out!"). Or perhaps

I could emulate a very young Sandra Dee with

a clever television ad:

Everybody's happy when you bring home the Coke!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Small Favors

Another post about the loneliness of a long-distance blogger. Well into my seventh year, nearing 2000 posts (with a little help from my friends!) the itch is still there, although dreams of world domination have devolved into a more realistic "one-reader-at-a time" scenario. Most of the bloggers from 2004 which I have followed have given up. I don't blame them, writing to an audience of 20 or 30 is a Sisyphean task, but it does have its rewards.

Maria Roff at Iceland Eyes has been showing us intimate glimpses of her Iceland for seven years, recently she has been specializing in macro photography. That's an interesting concept. How is Iceland at a microscopic level different from the rest of the world? She's also been writing the "Great Icelandic Novel", excerpts of which may soon follow. She had a personal blog before this one which she allowed me to read, if the new work is anywhere near the quality of the old it should be smashing.

Tavi Gevinson has been mentioned here before, she has a new blog/magazine aimed at teen-aged girls titled simply The Rookie and it is simply tremendous. Not just for its content, which so far has been exemplary, but also for its format: most commercial sites could learn a thing or two about effective presentation from this site EDITED BY A 15-YEAR-OLD.

There are two Japanese sites I frequent, Mitsufi Friends is a blog by a baker in Tokyo who simply chronicles her experiments and exhibitions, with occasional side trips. Her impressionistic style is partially due to the fragmentation of Google Translate, but no words are needed for the photos of her whimsical pastries. A very, very personal blog.

The other site is "Yowayowa Camerawoman Diary" which has received widespread exposure on the internet due to the enchanting "levitations" photographs in which the author/photographer/model, Natsumi, captures the sense of flying in various Japanese locales. These images can be taken on many levels, from a simple escape to a profound sense of yearning. This is capital A "ART." There should be a HD slideshow made from this series- I could watch it for hours.

UPDATE: As of 2023, all the above bloggers are inactive.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Sideshow Sharon

Let your freak flag fly with Sharon, Fridays

Used by permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Flippisms Are The Keys?

Randomness from the Minnesota State Fair:

The only doors these keys will unlock are those
of perception...


They kept this sweet old lady locked in a tiny booth all day!

We like our farm equipment big and indoors in Minnesota:

Lots of unusual wildlife at the fair, Animal:


and Human:

Colorful preserves and ribbons:

But no ribbons at the fine arts this year:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Mystery of Ye Old Mill

It seems as if it has always been there (longer than I've been around, that's for sure), a simple ride on the grounds of the Minnesota State Fair. Pre-war in its construction (World War I, that is):

Its turbulent cyan waters lead to a portal to the underworld, Minnesota's own River Styx:

The operator led the Weaver and me to our seats in the rickety old wooden boat, muttering under his breath "Get prepared for the ride of your lives...":

How best to describe the utter blackness? The inky void was punctuated only briefly by nightmarish visions, slipping past too quickly to be fully absorbed:

Still this hellish trip continued, with yet another confounding apparition:

"¡No mas! ¡No mas!" I cried, but the most demonic sight was still to come:

Pressing my eyelids tightly together, I received some relief from my torment, how I managed to escape, I do not know. Suddenly we were back in the light, being helped out onto the landing. "Who... Why... What does it all mean?" I sputtered.

The Weaver gave me a look and said; "You, know, it's a lot more fun if you kiss while you are in the tunnel."

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, September 02, 2011

Sharon Seaside

Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

That's why there is ice cream.

Share in Sharon's suffering, Friday's at FITK

Used by Permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Hot Rods and Custom Dreams, Part 2

One more visit to the car show, with this dreamy Ford Skyliner first up:

Not just the cars are vintage, this local troubadour/one man band has been known to show up as well, in a '59 Chevy, playing authentic 50's and 60's tunes, with gear to match:

Although he attributed it to Hank Williams, he did justice to this Elmore James song:
You said you were hurting
You almost lost your mind
Now the man you love
He hurts you all the time
But when things go wrong
Go wrong with you
It hurts me too

You love him more
When you should love him less
Why lick up behind him
And take his mess
But when things go wrong
Go wrong with you
It hurts me too

He loves another woman
Yes I love you
But you love him
And stick to him like glue
But when things go wrong
Go wrong with you
It hurts me too

Now he better leave you
Or you better put him down
No I won't stand
To see you pushed around
But when things go wrong
Go wrong with you
It hurts me too

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

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