Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How Much…

… is that doggie in the window?

Madison, Wisconsin, May 20, 2017
How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie's for sale

I must take a trip to California
And leave my poor sweetheart alone
If he has a dog, he won't be lonesome
And the doggie will have a good home

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie's for sale

I read in the papers there are robbers
With flashlights that shine in the dark
My love needs a doggie to protect him
And scare them away with one bark

I don't want a bunny or a kitty
I don't want a parrot that talks
I don't want a bowl of little fishies
He can't take a goldfish for a walk

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie's for sale
        ~Bob Merrill

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Estrid Bannister

Muse, lover, diplomat and translator, Estrid Bannister (born Estrid Jelstrup Holm, 1904) lived life on her own terms. She was the inspiration for the bestselling novel by Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen, Barbara. The current edition of Barbara (translation by George Johnston, Norvik Press, 1993) is serviceable, if somewhat pedantic. I first read it a couple of years ago and enjoyed it immensely.

Recently, my interest in Estrid was re-kindled when I obtained a well-thumbed copy of the original Penguin paperback of Barbara (#681, 1s 6p), that featured the first translation, her translation. This version was a revelation. Aside from a strange sensation of reading a book where, in real life, the translator was the basis for the free-spirited main character, I found that the POV was decidedly more sympathetic to Barbara’s story and less favorable towards the miserable Parson Poul who, knowing full well what kind of woman Barbara was, falls for her anyway and tortures himself for the rest of the book. In real life, Jacobsen was madly in love with Estrid (who just happened to be his cousin!)

There is more to Estrid’s story. After Jacobsen died from tuberculosis in 1938, Estrid was a founding member of The Adventurers Club of Denmark (Estrid in glasses, right). She made her way to England where she was an “attache” to the Danish Embassy during World War II. She became a friend and did translations for the artist Rockwell Kent. In the prime of her life, attractive and cultured, she did not want for company and ultimately ended up as the lover of William Emrys Williams, an influential educator and writer (he was knighted) and one of the founders of Penguin Books. From a humble start in the 1930s, the Penguin imprimatur became known world-wide as a mark of high-quality/low price publications, a reputation which continues to this day. In 1946 they introduced the now classic cover scheme:

Penguin Books

Estrid was on the Penguin payroll as a translator and editor, where she had many titles to her credit. Her affair with Williams eventually cooled and when he died in 1965 his memoirs, which would have undoubtedly contained details of his affair with Estrid, were burned by his secretary—who then committed suicide! The Sunday Times Magazine named Estrid as ‘The naughtiest girl of the century.’

Estrid spent the final years of her life in Ireland. Her name became, with delicious irony, Estrid Bannister Good when she married Ernest Good, an Irish ‘fisherman’, settling in West Cork. Before she died in 2000, she had been interviewed by television reporters, had a biography written about her and the letters between her and Jacobsen were published. Alas, all these resources (except for the interview in the link) are in Danish only, but what I’ve read about them suggests that she was, indeed, very much like Barbara—loving but unsentimental—and never letting conventional mores hinder her quest for a fulfilling life.


By Professor Batty

Comments: 12 

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Reader - Week 21

Johnny Walker Black

The affair was for the older brother of one of our classmates. We were really too young to be at a drinking party, but we did have a rock n' roll band. The party was in the basement of a newly built house in a nearby suburb, big enough for our four piece combo and about twenty twenty-somethings. We were a good match for the crowd; our material was about five years out-of-date. It was what they were dancing to when they were teens. Performing love songs for young women enhanced them with an additional dimension than when we played for girls our age. As sexual objects, we didn’t exist for them, they desired MEN, not boys, but in order to ease through the social barrier they did require lubricants: music and booze. We supplied "fuck music" while the host had an informal open bar, beer and wine, as well as hard liquor and mixers. I think the idea was for the band to drink the mixers, but there was nothing stopping us from having a nip or two of the hard stuff. We kept on playing, it was well after midnight when ran out of material and began to play the songs for a second time. The bass player had a curfew, so one of the guys at the party drove him home while the host of the party convinced us to stay and play as a three-piece. I liked playing bass, so I picked up the slack. This was about the same time that the Johnny Walker Black that I had been sipping began to take control. We began playing a little faster, a little wilder, and the dancers responded correspondingly. Finally at three A.M., we gave up. We were too drunk to play. The host drove us home and we’d pick up our gear in the afternoon. 

When I walked in the door of my house my father and my older sister were up, waiting for me. It was all I could do to keep from giggling. My dad was sore and my sister, who had previously been the black sheep in the family, found it very amusing to see how far her “neat little boy” of a brother had fallen.  In the morning (four hours later), my dad made me go the early church service with them. When the organ began to play it seemed as if my head was exploding. 

Nothing more said about the events of the previous night.

Andy put the manuscript down. When he started proofreading, Jennifer had been arranging her things in the bedroom—the bedroom that had been Andy’s—but she hadn't made a sound for several minutes. He got up and went to the hallway that led to the bedroom.

The bedroom door was shut.

The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Uptown Girl

My old pal Nicole had an unveiling of her latest Barbie photograph Tuesday night at the Lyn-Lake Brewery in South Minneapolis:

A lot of the gang from my old workplace were there:

Don and Scott

Sheila and Nicole

As well as some of Nicole’s buddies:
60s Ken, 80s Ken, 60s Barbie

But the highlight was the unveiling:

This image will be on the featured poster for the Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis, the oldest and most prestigious event of its kind in the upper Midwest.

Way to go Nicole!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Diminishing Returns

It was Art-A-Whirl weekend, I was back from Wisconsin to catch it on Sunday afternoon. I wanted  to like it, but I only managed made it through one building.

With the exception of Caitlin Karolczak (right), the art I did see seemed to be worse than in previous years. I think it’s a trend.

The absolutely dismal weather (it had been raining the whole weekend; it was warmer in Reykjavík Sunday than it was in Minneapolis!) didn’t help any. When I tried to go to the Northrup King Building it was way too crowded, with no parking spaces for miles around.

I just can’t muster up an interest in this event any more: there are too many people, and too much bad art.

I found the hallways to be more interesting than the studios:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Wisconsin in the springtime.

What could be finer, even if the weather was a bit chilly and overcast?

Friday found me marooned in a chain hotel in suburban Madison. After an impulsive email to my favorite artist/shepherd/free spirit Shoshanah,  a window of opportunity opened when she invited me to visit her and her vet as they ministered to an ailing ewe:

The ewe in question had been feeling poorly and, as she was expecting, warranted a visit from the kindly and wise sheep-doctor:

He explained what he was looking for (“If you can see the lambs feet, you know that delivery will be soon.”) and what the exam would entail:

Shoshanah held the ornery ovine’s horns while the doc worked on the other end:

Nearby, another ewe (with her day old lamb) watched the examination impassively:

No lamb yet, just a respiratory infection. After being probed, prodded and poked, the ewe took a little breather before rejoining the herd:

After the vet had left, Shoshanah and I talked over coffee while I admired her horse of a different color:

Finally, no trip to Mount Horeb would be complete without a stop in at The Cat and Crow, where co-owner Melissa styled her fabulous new leggings:

Thanks for the wonderful afternoon, Jojiba!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Reader - Week 20


“Confessions of an unwed teen mother, by yours truly,” said Jennifer, “You would think that by the eighties its stigma would have been gone, but it wasn’t, at least in the small town where I grew up. I had been seeing a guy—he was a misfit—a really good speed-skater in a town of puck-heads. We found ourselves home alone at his house one Saturday; his folks were out of town for a funeral. His lovemaking technique wasn’t very polished, but it was effective. I got pregnant. First try. After a meeting with all of our parents, I was decided that I go to a place in the big city, a place where I could have my child and get a high school diploma without causing to much of a stir. I thought it would be great, not my pregnancy that is, but the fact I could go to Minneapolis. Anything to get out of town. The place I stayed at was run by nuns and not only didn’t I get my diploma, I was held prisoner, the only experiences I had were in religious instruction of a cruel and debasing kind. I had the baby, and then came back to town and graduated a year later than the rest of my classmates. I was shunned, but actually it was a good thing. The skate-boy still wanted me, but I knew there was more to life than making the same mistake over and over. I went to the U, where my life really began, especially after I started taking ‘The Pill.’ My flings were generally fun, excepting the one I told you about, but they got old after a while. I met a nice guy, we moved in together and established some sort of relationship. He was my age, but had graduated a year ahead of me, of course, so when we compared yearbooks he brought it up and I just said that I had some ‘issues’ around that time and that I didn’t want to go into it. He was such a sap that he never asked further questions. I don’t think that he ever realized that I had had a baby. So, that is the story of that picture.”

“Have you ever met her?” asked Andy.

“No, I haven’t,” she answered, “… Someday…”

The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Joan, Dan, Joe, Seeburg, Max (obscured), Joi

Another barely remembered slice of my past. Winter of 1978, taken in a diner in Pine City, Minnesota. A mix of friends, a winter road trip, ice fishing and poker playing was involved. This image brings up more questions than answers.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Happenings Forty Years Time Ago

Richard and Diane, Minneapolis, 1975

Another Friday Night, another party. When Halloween fell on a weekend the magic was doubled. Despite the costumes, or even if you weren’t wearing one, there always seemed to be revelations at these affairs: moments when people would let their guard down. Now, over forty years later, I made a connection to this moment and I FINALLY KNEW what it meant.

And then I forgot.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Reader - Week 19

Moving Day

Andy got Jennifer’s car from the pub’s parking lot and went to her apartment building. There wasn’t anyone around when he went in, nobody was in the hallway either. Jenifer had given him a list of things to pick up. She had done her laundry just before going to the pub and her clean clothes were still in the laundry baskets. She had a list of things to get from the bathroom, as well as her cosmetics case from her bedroom. Andy was struck by how neat her place was. Not counting the laundry, it was as if she was going to show the place for rental. Andy wondered if she would be able to tolerate the “bachelor pad” housekeeping at his place. Another aspect of Jennifer’s apartment was the lack of personal effects—no pictures except for one, of an infant, on her bed stand. Impulsively, he put The picture in with her clothes. He looked out the window at the apartment building’s parking lot: there was still no one there, at least as far as he was able to determine. The two baskets of laundry and Jennifer’s other effects made for an unwieldy load, but Andy thought it better to move it all in one trip.

As he was leaving, the phone began to ring. Putting down the clothes, he looked at the caller ID and wrote down the number, thinking that Jennifer might want to know who it was that had called. The trip to the car went without incident, and Andy drove back to his house. He parked the car in the garage and shut the door. The garage had a window. Andy pulled its blind down. He went into the house with Jennifer’s things.

The kitchen had been cleaned, and he could hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner coming from the bathroom. Things would definitely be different from now on, he thought.

“Hi, I’m just doing a little picking up, I hope you don’t mind?” said Jennifer, “I’m a little OCD, but not completely over the top.”

“I’ve been a little lax with the dusting,” said Andy, “I’m more of a spring-cleaning type.”

“It wasn’t too gross—no food in the bedroom, at least—that’s a big plus in my book.”

“I got everything on your list,” he said, “And I didn’t see anyone in the parking lot, or in the building for that matter. The phone rang when I was there, I didn’t pickup, but I did write down the number.”

“Thanks,” Jennifer said, glancing at the number, “It was him. I’ll call my answering machine and see if there is any message.”

“There is an empty closet in the bedroom. There are hangers. You can use the white dresser as well. I’ll move the brown dresser into the study, I can use the hall closet to hang the rest of my things.”

After Andy moved the dresser, they began to put their clothes away.

“Why did you bring this back?” Jennifer said, when she discovered the photo.

“I just saw it, I though it might be something you’d want,” Andy said, “Is it a niece or nephew?”

“It’s my daughter.” There was a long pause. “It’s the only picture I have of her.”

“I didn’t know.”

“That’s alright, there’s no way that you could have. It’s another long story,” Jennifer continued, “Would you like to hear it?”

“I guess so, now that its come up.”

“I was fifteen.”

The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Icelandic Invasion at the ASI

Last night found the Weaver and me at a most unusual concert featuring some fairly obscure musicians: the Icelandic musical collective Bedroom Community. I have seen versions of them perform in Iceland a couple of times but this was a rare opportunity to see these performers in the Midwest, fresh from their triumphant residency with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Not every artist could make it: The U.S. Immigration Services denied the visa application for Swedish vocalist Mariam Wallentin, I fear that this may be a harbinger of things to come. Set in the gorgeous courtyard of The American Swedish Institute, it was an evening of musical highs and plateaus. It has been over ten years since I’ve last seen the melancholy Valgeir Sigurðsson perform. He’s since been busy, as a composer and as an all-around audio producer and engineer for Björk, Sigur Rós and numerous other acts. He was in Minneapolis last night, although oddly subdued, seeming content to stay in the background while violinist Pekka Kuusisto led a string quartet from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra:

The Bedroom Community is a loosely-knit group of musicians, it includes Jodie Landau, a singer and multi-instrumentalist out of Los Angeles who was effective with his art songs:

The neo-folkie Sam Amidon is a bit of the odd man out here, he is not a very dynamic performer and his musical sensibilities re: American Folk Music is about 60 years out of sync with the times. He would have been great in the pre-Bob Dylan folk era, I couldn’t fathom why he was on stage with this group of musicians:

Daníel Bjarnason was also low-key tonight, his piano was lost in the mix at times:

The wild card in this deck was Kuusisto, a virtuoso violinist from Finland who performed an excellent cover of Prince’s Something in the Water with Poliça's Channy Leaneagh:

There was more than just music: delicious small plates from Fika, the ASI restaurant, were available, along with a choice of beverages and a yummy strawberry custard dessert cup.

The ticket also included an admission to the institute’s current show, featuring Scandinavian textile designers.

One hazard of an outdoor show in South Minneapolis is the nearly constant sound of jets leaving the nearby MSP airport. Sometimes the roar of the engines was in tune with the composition, not what was intended, but making for memorable performances.

All in all, not too bad for a Tuesday evening!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Karen’s Passion

I’ve mentioned Karen Newton’s most excellent I Could Go On and On blog here in the past. In addition to that almost-daily output, Karen also writes for Richmond Virginia’s Style Weekly as well as other publications, mostly as an Arts/Food critic. Irrepressible and enthusiastic, Karen loves her city and its rich cultural diversity, and goes out almost every night to revel in it. Her approach is from the point of view of an  'old-school' blogger: all text, no pictures, just personal stories of the world around her. What keeps me going back to her site are the occasional side-trips into her personal life, where she really explores the human condition.  

Where Have You Been?, her most recent effort, is a triple narrative: a social event and the food and drink which it entails, the wedding of a young couple and Karen’s look back at her own somewhat melancholy history. The writing, which includes poetry from Karen and her previous significant other, is stunning. I haven’t read many short stories that can surpass this.

Note: Image is Karen’s avatar, I can’t vouch for the veracity of those legs being hers, but I wouldn’t doubt it.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Getting a Glow On

A regular reader of FITK should be aware that all the images here (unless otherwise credited) spring from the fertile (as in “spread with manure”) imagination of your humble/brag host, Professor Batty. I enjoy using ‘esoteric’ techniques from time to time, and many a blurry picture has graced these pages. I have a few home-made camera lenses, cobbled together from my photo junk drawers. The latest ‘refinement’ of this series is a Pentax 50mm f1.7 lens from the seventies. I removed all 7 of the glass elements and replaced them with three  oddball ones, thus creating a lens that functions in the same manner as it did originally (focus and aperture), but it is now capable of adding a pleasant glow to images - like the guitar pictured above.

Here are some more examples:

I described my technique on a photo forum and was immediately assailed for “destroying“ a “classic” optic, even though there are probably a million of these in closets around the world, never used. They sell for $5-$50, I think the world of photography could use a little variety now and then.

Three lenses that are not "glowers":

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Reader - Week 18


“Good morning.”

When Jennifer greeted Andy, she had evidently been up for some time. She was still wearing Andy’s sweats, and was making toast and drinking coffee.

“Thanks for helping me out last night,” she said, “I didn’t want to go home alone, after what happened.”

“It’s alright, it was good to have you here, to have someone to take the edge off,” Andy said as he poured his coffee, “What’s up now, for the rest of the week-end, or has your phone high-jacked your life?”

“There’s something you should know about me,” said Jennifer, “About my phone calls.”

“Tell me.”

“When I was going to college, I was a bit, shall we say, wanton. Or, to be more precise, wanting,”  said Jennifer, “I knew what I wanted, and the niceties of dating never held me back, if you get my drift.”

“Do go on.”

“I was living in a bed-sit on Hennepin Avenue—this was before Tom Waits made it fashionable. I had been sleeping with a guy, ‘The Weasel’ is what I called him. My big mistake wasn’t fucking him, it was fucking him twice. Lord, some lessons take a long time to learn.”

“I take it it did not end well,” said Andy, “I’ve got some experience in bad endings.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter how it ends, just that it must end when it goes bad,” said Jennifer, “‘The Weasel’, in addition to his other shortcomings, wasn’t too bright when it came to knowing when he had worn out his welcome to my bed. I knew a theater major, gay, but was just crazy enough to go along with my scheme. I would invite Weasy over to my room, but when he got there my friend and I would act as if we had just ‘done it.’ Needless to say, Weasy wasn’t into ‘sloppy seconds’ and left in a huff. Out of my life, forever, or so I thought. This was thirty years ago. Last week he somehow got my cell number.  He’s been texting me, he wants to be my ‘sugar daddy.’ I haven’t acknowledged him, but he still calls.”

“I’ll take that you aren’t keen on a reunion,” said Andy, “There isn’t an upside?”

“Believe me, even if he was a rich as Trump, he still would be a toad. I have enough issues with self-loathing already.”

“What are you going to do?” said Andy.

“Just ignore him. He might go away.”

“Does he know where you live, Or work?”

“Not yet, although he has my area code. He’ll probably get my car registration, although it is still at last years address,” said Jennifer, “I don’t know, I’d hate to move again. My job is pretty safe, they keep us out of the spotlight there, for legal reasons.”

“Would you like to stay here, for a while?” Andy blurted out, “I mean, I don’t mean… ”

“I don’t know. We aren’t lovers—yet,” Jennifer smiled, “Roomates?”

“Fair enough. I can sleep in the study, it’s got a bed, you can keep your car in the garage, out of sight. I could even drive you to work, in my car, I need to get up earlier, anyway.”

“O.K., let’s try it for a month,” she said, “And a super-big favor, would you pick up some of my clothes at my place? I don’t want to be seen there, at least not yet.”

“I’ll do that. We can Facetime it, so you can tell me what to get. I’ll walk over to the pub and get your car.”

“Thanks, you’re a pal.”

The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017


Image: The Weaver, September, 2010

A photo taken from Great Wall of China.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, May 01, 2017

One Piece at a Time

I'd get it one piece at a time
And it wouldn't cost me a dime
You'll know it's me when I come through your town
I'm gonna ride around in style
I'm gonna drive everybody wild
'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.

~Wayne Kemp
Not exactly the way Johnny Cash sang it, but my new car has been undergoing some upgrades. Since my previous car had been built in the last milennium, I was no longer up-to-date in my knowledge of modern automotive marketing. I bought a year-old Kia Soul, the base model, without any frills. It was ridiculously cheap but lacked a few niceties: Cruise Control, Keyless Entry, a spare tire (!?), but was otherwise nicely furnished. There was a place for "fog lamps" on the front bumper that was filled with a black plastic plug. I found some LED lights that fit, not full-blown spotlights, but ones that will do very nicely as daylight running lamps. The interesting part was taking off and putting back on the front bumper cover. Once installed, I think they look “swell”:

The cruise control was actually easier to put in—the circuitry was already in place! I needed to get a $16 switch for the steering wheel (see below) and a new wiring harness, they were real KIA parts:

I also sprang for a GPS ($80 refurb) which works well (didn't they used to be really expensive?) and doesn't require a smart phone to operate. The key-less entry issue was solved by a $16 unit that came with two fobs. That required a bit more work to install, but there was plenty of help on internet forums:

One feature that is not offered on the higher-end models is embroidered frog headrests:

Don’t they just scream “HIGH CLASS?”

I also found a genuine KIA spare tire kit on Amazon, it should arrive this week. All of these upgrades would have cost over $2000 at the dealer, either in dealer add-ons or installed in a much higher-priced model. I've got about $400 and a couple of hours of my time invested in parts and the frogs.

Everybody needs more frogs, amirite?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 6 

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