Friday, July 29, 2016

Mystery Train

Anoka, Minnesota, July 26, 2016, 7:39 a.m.

Train arrive sixteen coaches long
Train arrive sixteen coaches long
Well that long black train
Took my baby and gone

Train, train rollin' around the bend
Train, train, train, rollin' around the bend
Well it took my baby
Away from me again

Come down to the station
To meet my baby at the gate
Asked the station master
If the train's running late
He said "If you're a-waiting
on the four-forty-four
I hate to tell you son
That train don't stop here any more"

Train train, train, rollin', around the bend
Train train, train, rollin', around the bend
Well it took my baby
Away from me again

~Junior Parker

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Love of an Adolescent

I come to you with my new love,
It is a great, arched love, increasing upon itself.
I hate that love at times,
It springs from the unwilling need of me
And fills me with a wretched, helpless richness.

My hair is drenched with it,
It hangs like flames on my lips and eyelids.
Its fumes break forth,
From all the curves and lengths of me
And burn with dreadful splendor.

I dare not love you with all this,
And so it faints each night.
Each dawn it renews its birth,
I spread it out with all its folds about me
And gather it to myself at night, without you.

~Wanda Gág, November 12, 1921

Adolf Dehn and Wanda Gág, c. 1916

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #71

World Light
by Halldór Laxness

This 500+ page novel is from the late 1930s, when Laxness was in his prime. He had recently completed Salka Valka and Independent People and this story of the hapless poet, Olaf Karason of Ljosavik (loosely based on the real-life failed poet Magnus Hjaltalin Magnusson) can be considered as part of a trilogy concerning the transition of Iceland from its near-feudal society of the 19th century into the modern world. The social unrest and upheaval depicted in each of these books serves as a backdrop for the main characters' struggle for existence. The difference here is that the protagonist is, by the circumstance of his upbringing (told in Dickensian detail), is nearly an imbecile when it comes to dealing with the hard realities of living in poor Icelandic fishing villages. He overcomes years of illness at the hands of his foster family, finding solace in his “poetry”, although much of what he writes is sentimental doggerel for illiterate suitors. He is roundly criticized as a wastrel but does manages to eke out a meager living writing and depending on charity as well as being supported by his long-suffering “betrothed”.

The strongest sub-theme is Laxness’ exploration of relationships between men and women. Olaf, with his delicate features and sensitive nature, has no trouble meeting women. His desire is strong; his attention span is short. The woman with whom he does “settle down” is a epileptic older woman with attachment issues. He feels bound to her, fathers two children with her (both die in childhood), but his heart is restless. I got the impression that Laxness was working through some of his own personal issues he was experiencing at the time.

A furtive, meaningless coupling with a dim teenage girl causes Olaf to be sent to prison. In prison, he has a vision of his perfect soulmate, this vision is transferred to a young woman he meets while boarding the trawler that is returning him to his village. She resists him at first, but ultimately succumbs to his charms, only to leave him to return to her regular life. They live on opposite sides of a glacier and after he learns of her death, Olaf climbs the glacier to join her in paradise.

This sounds somewhat corny, and although Laxness can be comical at times, he never ridicules the passion of Olaf, or any of the other characters, for that matter. Laxness understands that the lives people live are not necessarily the ones they would choose for themselves, and there is no shame in living a humble, unexamined life.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Don't Look Back

And when I see the sign that points one way
 The lot we used to pass by every day

Just walk away, Renee
You won't see me follow you back home
Now, as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes
For me, it cries

Your name and mine inside a heart upon a wall
Still finds a way to haunt me though they're so small

Just walk away, Renee
You won't see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You're not to blame

~ Michael Brown

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Learning to Fly

A bit of domestic crisis over the weekend.

The fledgling pictured above was not quite ready to make it on its own in the big bad world. The parent was perched in a tree, clucking while the young bird was hopping around my back door, moving to the foliage on the west side of Flippist World Headquarters when I made my exit. That side of the house is a veritable cat highway, not the best place for a little birdie to hide. It could fly a couple of feet, but would be unable to escape the clutches of a hungry feline.

Fortunately, it fluttered up to the top of the compost bin (where I shot the picture), its parent came by with a worm, and, suitably nourished, the youngster flew over to the neighbor's yard which is completely fenced in and, hopefully, free of cats.

A few days later, while moving the lawn, I came across one of its less fortunate cousins on the boulevard. A fierce windstorm had knocked its nest out of the tree and it was lying dead beside it. I respectfully covered the little corpse with grass clippings and resumed mowing. Later in the day, when reading in the bower, I saw what I assumed to be the fledgling from the previous weekend. Still not flying very well, but it was getting by with a hop and a flutter.

That one just might make it.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pokemon in the Park

Pokemon Go fever
has hit hard. The riverside park is full of zombies idiots participants, all clutching their sacred phones.

I have a feeling that this mania will burn itself out in a few weeks. But anything that can get the young 'uns out of the house is good.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Photo Expedition

In the early aughts I found myself on a "photo expedition" with a group of co-workers and friends. We were plumbing the wilds of South Minneapolis, in particular as stretch along Hiawatha Avenue. We split up and went our various ways. I was tempted to park myself in a nearby tavern and take some available light shots of its denizens while the others trudged through the heat of the day, but instead I dutifully made some artistic exposures:

Dan, in the Aussie hat, is gone now, but Shelia and Nicole are still around.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mulder's Farm #8


By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Anoka Home Tour 2016

Each year my hometown Historical Society sponsors a Home and Garden Tour. The very thought of allowing strangers to pass through one's domicile (and passing judgement!) makes some people nauseated. But other enjoy 'showing off' to their neighbors, and many people have done wonders in preserving older home that would have otherwise fallen victim to neglect. The more interesting part to me is the odd things that crop up, things you would never suspect from a cursory drive-by:

This livery stable, with its work room remarkably intact, was one of these oddities. This is from the nineteenth century, it is rare to find an interior of an outbuilding that hasn't been completely redone:

This fountain is part of a two acre garden, delusions of grandeur, perhaps, but I find it to be simply grand:

A local artist has turned his backyard into a hospice for dying pianos:

Although they don't play anymore, they can still produce 'music":

By Professor Batty

Comments: 6 

Friday, July 08, 2016


When I still worked (Man! That seems like a lifetime ago!), my work-buddy Nicole would con me into going with her to the nearby coffee shop. That was when I would still drink an occasional cup of hot cocoa or indulge in a croissant. I couldn't see buying a $3 cup of coffee when we had Folger's at the lab for free, but part of the fun of going out with her was talking with our favorite barista (not as crabby as the above picture would suggest.)

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Rocky Horror Logo Show

I haven’t changed the header in several years.

This option (pictured above) intrigued me, but I think I’d get tired of it in a day or two.

I’ll probably stick with the lighting bolts (Hawthorn Font) for a while.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, July 04, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #69

Signs of the Times:

Reykjavík, April, 2004

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, July 01, 2016

Guilt Trip

Recently, my Laxness in Translation website had a visitor I was unfamiliar with. Covenant Eyes is a Roman Catholic web filtering service, with a family plan that records all the web activity by your family and reports it to someone- Mom? Dad? Your parish priest? It also filters out questionable sites (i.e., Google, FB and Tumblr). I don't know what they found (or filtered) on LIT, but I hope they got through.

The Covenant Eyes Blog is filled with horror stories about Porn—including romance novels. I didn't look at all 458 posts, but of the ones I did look at I didn't see any concerning religious intolerance, hate speech, sexual abuse of children by priests or domestic violence. At first glance, the videos seem to be full of broken, unhappy people speaking about their sad (but porn-free!) lives. Looking further, it becomes obvious that porn isn't the real target. There are numerous posts about "Sexual Purity"—and the dangers of masturbation! 

I pretty much ignore the porn, but when someone starts attacking my relationship with my "little buddy", they've gone too far. For a more practical, guilt-free approach, check out Rookie Mag's coverage of the topic.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

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