Tuesday, October 17, 2017



Black beauties: ravens in the yard

Three ravens like to come sit on the back fence in our yard. They just hang out for a while, not doing much of anything. They don't go to the feeder. Once in a while, one of them lets out a croak. Sometimes, one or more of them sleeps with one foot up. We don't even know if they're the same three ravens, or if ravens just like to hang out in groups of three. One of them will leave, or two of them, or even three, then come back one at a time. Then, eventually, they fly away. (Note. Only two of them appear here. One of them flew away.)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Frida Kahlo: gleefully dabbling

(text) Something about the hilarious incongruity of a stuffed lion, a plaster-of-Paris horse, and a colored chromo of George Washington draped in garlands of red, white and blue crepe paper, all jumbled in the same shop window, proved to be too much for the sense of humor of Senora Diego Rivera, and so she simply had to do something about it. What she did was to go home and paint it, which may surprise people who think that Diego Rivera, the great mural painter now at work at the Detroit Institute of Arts, is the only artist in the family.

That, however, is all a mistake, since his wife, Carmen Rivera, or "Freda" (sic) as her friends call her, is a painter in her own right, though very few people know it.

"No," she explains. "I didn't study with Diego. I didn't study with anyone. I just started to paint."

Then her eyes begin to twinkle. "Of course," she explains, "he does pretty well for a little boy, but it is I who am the big artist." Then the twinkles in both black eyes fairly explode into a rippling laugh. And that is absolutely all that you can coax out of her about the matter. When you grow serious she mocks you and and laughs again. But Senora Rivera's painting is by no means a joke: because, however much she may laugh when you ask her about it, the fact remains that she has acquired a very skillful and beautiful style, painting in the small with miniature-like technique, which is as far removed from the heroic figures of Rivera as could well be imagined.

Thus, while her husband paints with large brushes on a huge wall surface, his wife, herself a miniature-like little person with her long black braids wound demurely about her head and a foolish little ruffled apron over her black silk dress in

And that's as far as it goes. As much of it as we can see, anyway, though the article probably goes on to provide us with "Freda's" favorite recipes, shoe styles and facial depilatories.  

The article is a strange one, in that it almost seems to be acknowledging that Mrs. Rivera has some talent, if only in miniature. Her claim that she "didn't study with anyone" is very Kahlo (and also very true), as is her bold statement, "it is I who am the big artist." The interviewer probably thought she was kidding, though the laughter might have been a little uneasy. 

I love the movie Frida and have seen it seven or eight times. The tango sequence is particularly excruciating. Alfred Molina nails it as Diego, though in truth he's too good-looking to play the dumpy, awkward-looking artist who wore his belt under his armpits. But like F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus, he's the salt in the recipe without which it would lose its savour and fall flat.

Bentley's mystic eyes

Ripped: William Shatner, shirtless

Friday, October 13, 2017

Being Alive

My relationship with this song is a strange one. Decades ago,  I used to watch Taxi, and I remembered an episode where Alex experiences an epiphany - has a near-death experience or something, and comes out the other side feeling superbly alive in every cell of his being. He sang a certain song - hell, I didn't even know what it was! But it recorded itself on my brain, stayed with me, until. . .

Then in the mid-'80s I was going through a Streisand phase, though I can barely stand her now, and the song seemed - it seemed - it seemed familiar, or did it? It may not have twigged at all that it was the same song Judd Hirsch sang on Taxi. It was later on, retroactively, that I made the connection. She sings the hell out of it, of course, but I've come to see her musical mannerisms as irritating.  Still. The power of the lyric was undeniable. Stephen Sondheim, for Christ's sake - it can't misfire altogether.

Tons of years had to go by, again, until I stumbled (again!) on this Dean Jones version. Dean freakin' JONES? The Disney guy, the wholesome goofier-version-of-Dick-Van-Dyke type of guy? I couldn't even imagine him singing a Broadway song like this one, singing it with haunted, even frightened eyes as Stephen (fucking!) Sondheim stood over him . . and singing it with such conviction and passion that I no longer want to hear anyone else sing it.


There has to be something good about the internet - there is, actually, but with a lot of scum on the top and sludge on the bottom. Rediscovering something like this, something buried, can be compelling, but it all started with Judd Hirsch on Taxi - and then I forgot all about it.

Interestingly enough - or, at least, I find it so - Stephen Sondheim wrote this musical, Company, with Anthony Perkins in mind. The two were close friends, perhaps lovers, and this song wraps around Perkins' sensibilities very well, both in the fairly limited vocal range and the spare and even laconic sentiments. Perkins ducked away, citing other commitments, but many thought the Bobby character (with its veiled homosexual references) cut too close. The Dean Jones video was filmed, I think, as part of a TV special to demonstrate how an original cast recording is made, though I don't know if it was ever aired. 

The Greek chorus of friends in the song seems to be pushing the character out of a birth canal of fear and inhibition. I wonder if it really was that way with Perkins (and I confess I still have a "thing" for him), for he stated in an interview with People magazine that he never really felt close to another human being until he met his wife, Berry Berenson. And yet, and yet, there were both real and manufactured complications about his sexual orientation, as if that negated all the love and experiences they shared. And then there was the soul-shattering ending, Perkins dying far too young of AIDS, and Berry on one of the planes on 9-11. It has the dimensions of an epic love story ending in towering tragedy.

As I copied and pasted these lyrics, I decided to centre them, because I felt like something was going to arise from it, some shape. And it did. The verses are like chalices to me, maybe even communion cups, but in some cases more like trees. Some of them seem to leap upwards like dancers, others like dolphins. Not many poems will do this, take life and move, even beyond the words themselves.

So, this is the song Tony Perkins never sang, that was written for him, and about him.

Someone to hold you too close.
Someone to hurt you too deep.
Someone to sit in your chair,
To ruin your sleep,


Someone to need you too much.
Someone to know you too well.
Someone to pull you up short,
And put you through hell,


Someone you have to let in,
Someone whose feelings you spare,
Someone who, like it or not,
Will want you to share
A little, a lot.


Someone to crowd you with love.
Someone to force you to care.
Someone to make you come through,
Who'll always be there,
As frightened as you,
Of being alive,
Being alive.
Being alive.
Being alive!


Somebody hold me too close.
Somebody hurt me too deep.
Somebody sit in my chair,
And ruin my sleep,
And make me aware,
Of being alive.
Being alive.

Somebody need me too much.
Somebody know me too well.
Somebody pull me up short,
And put me through hell,
And give me support,
For being alive.
Make me alive.
Make me alive.

Make me confused.
Mock me with praise.
Let me be used.
Vary my days.

But alone,
Is alone,
Not alive.

Somebody crowd me with love.
Somebody force me to care.
Somebody let me come through,
I'll always be there,
As frightened as you,
To help us survive,
Being alive.
Being alive.
Being alive!

And this, from the Broadway musical Greenwillow. This song is not like any of the others, so minimal it barely exists, with a glorious setting like a rich autumn day. Somehow he glides along it and does not mess with it or damage it, but lets it be gloriously whole.  And every time I hear it, I cry. Every time. I say, nah, not this time! I'm not going to cry this time. I just listened to it again, and my eyes are stinging and I sobbed again, and it was once more real, and alive.

Velveeta Goodness: animated jelly omelet

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sex kittens of the Edwardian age

Warning: this will scare the shit out of you

This is a nightmare on video, and I don't know why I have to keep going back and watching it over and over again, because it still SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF ME even though I know it's "nothing". It's really nothing, and a couple of decades ago it was something so familiar, you experienced it every day without thinking about it. Except now, it has been impossibly attenuated into an expression of doom so potent that it can make you lose all hope. So hey, why not watch this right now? Turn the volume WAY up.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Seasons change, and so did I


The Glory Is Fallen Out Of

the glory is fallen out of
the sky the last immortal
is dead and the gold
a formal spasm
in the

this is the passing of all shining things
therefore we also

into receptive
earth, O let


shimmering wind
these fragile splendors from
us crumple them hide

them in thy breath drive
them in nothingness
for we

would sleep

this is the passing of all shining things
no lingering no backward-
wondering be unto
us O

soul, but straight
glad feet fear ruining
and glory girded

lead us
into the
steep darkness

e. e. cummings

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hot pursuit

Bosley and Belinda, the Romeo and Juliet of Como Lake, get a lot of play on my YouTube channel. I've started editing the videos and setting them to music (though this one isn't - I didn't want to drown out the quacks and splashes). Belinda suddenly appeared in the spring, a medium-sized duck who was obviously a hybrid, with her cocoa-brown-and-white feathers, green bill and curlicue tail. But she has grown to near-gargantuan proportions, dwarfing even her goose-sized boy friend, Bosley. Our hope is that these two will stay together and produce ducklings in the spring. Oh joy - ducklings from Bosley and Belinda! I'd be tempted to take one home with me. But I won't.

This is a mini-drama in which Belinda decides she needs a little "me time", and swims off in a distant direction. It takes Bosley a minute to wonder where she is, but then he literally runs to the water and takes off after her.


The Mystery of Dunbrody

This blog carries me from obsession to obsession, and horses are definitely one of them. When I see an exceptional horse like this one, a Gypsy Vanner stallion named Copper Coin, it makes me want to go on living.

I never heard of the Gypsy Vanner until seven or eight years ago, when I found an incredible photo of a massive dapple grey horse and could hardly believe my eyes how beautiful he was. I don't know if the photo is still around the internet, but he was a legendary sire at a stable called, I think, Kintyre. It started in Ireland, moved to the States, and now I can't find a trace of it. I wonder what happened.

The horse, I can't find him now, but he looked sort of like this:

I just remember the cream-on-steel-grey dappling, the floaty feathering that must be murder to keep clean, and the unexpectedly tiny pink nose. The trailing Veronica Lake bangs are particularly fetching. This might also be called an Irish Cob horse, because the names seem almost interchangeable. The horse I remember - the picture I remember - was a legendary sire who had "stamped his get" down the generations, dozens and hundreds of prize-winning foals. 

(Later): I can't believe I found him! 

THIS is the horse that blew my mind back in about 2009, though of course it was a grainy photo of only a few hundred pixels. It turns out that this horse is called Dunbrody (of course! How could I have forgotten that?), and is associated with the name Clononeen and Kintyre, though I don't know how. The Kintyre web site stopped being updated six years ago, in that frustrating way they do. And Pinterest, the evil sorceress, has swallowed all his pictures without a trace of useful information attached (because who cares about THAT, eh?).

It's hard for me to believe this is the same horse, though he's called Dunbrody: his mane, fanning out like Farrah Fawcett's hairdo, seems ash blonde compared to the other photos where he's more ginger. But horses of the grey persuasion are somewhat like Lipizzans, in that their coat often begins dark and grows lighter and lighter with the years. It must be him, because of that grey crescent on his left nostril. Imagine seeing all that mane and feathering floating behind him as he trotted along!

I even found some video which MIGHT be Dunbrody, but as usual with older videos, there are no identifying marks on it. Here, his mane and tail (if it's him) are very dark:

I don't want to say with certainty, but this may be a juvenile version, a not-fully-grown Dunbrody. If I could see his muzzle and his nose up-close, I would know for sure.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pulp Riot Hair Colour!

Though I don't think I'd ever have it done (conservative me), I was surprised to see how cool some of these are. The multicolor/rainbowy ones are most appealing, and some have a kind of silvery/metallic sheen to them. I'm most taken with the ones that look more like - well - hair. Long tumbly hair that has a kind of kaleidoscopic effect when it moves. Shaven looks have never appealed to me much, but even that grows out, doesn't it? I can see my grandkids getting into this, to the consternation of their parents. But it does wash out eventually, doesn't it?

UPDATE. Just went to spend Thanksgiving Sunday with my daughter's family, and saw Caitlin's new hair: strawberry pink! It looked lovely, with many different shades of rose, pink and auburn skilfully streaked and blended through her naturally chestnut hair. With her red-haired skin coloring, it looked great. Then Shannon told me the price tag - somewhere around $300.00. Luckily, she "knew a guy".

Stone soul picnic

Friday, October 6, 2017

Why it would be cool to be able to draw

I can't. I really can't draw, and I realize that what passes for animation on this blog is kind of like those flip pictures we used to make on note pads (sometimes only using two images). But I am still fascinated with making things move. It is all an illusion. If I see a series of still pictures, it just screams at me, make a gif! And the mind is so gullible, it will move from still picture to still picture, and fill in whole seconds in the middle.

I have always been fascinated by these things - "pencil tests" they're called, where I guess the animation is roughed out. You can see through all the characters, which fascinates me. It has an air of shifting, swarming unreality (just like my life). The smudgy grey-and-black is dreamlike, a nightmare in fact. This is a deleted scene, a nasty one, and it's a good job the kiddies weren't subjected to it. 

I have mixed feelings about Disney, the whole megalomonarchy. Of course I was saturated in it as a kid. There was no escaping it. Disney is like eating a whole cake at the same time, or going on a swell carnival ride that leaves you feeling a little sick afterwards. There's a much-too-muchness about it. It's too good, somehow, or just a little fake, and then you feel bad that you were so taken in. I could never abide that falsetto-ish, diaper-wearing little snot with the round ears that always face to the front. Since when is vermin cute and appealing and something you want to welcome into your household? I was more of a Warner Brothers kid, with all those bizarre, smart-alecky characters like Foghorn Leghorn and Yosemite Sam. 

Good Christ! This is incredibly violent! Dwarfs punching each other's lights out. I thought those seven little men got along just great, though what their role in Snow White's life was, I never figured out.

At various points in my life, I've tried to draw something or paint or do SOMETHING artistic, because I just long to. I can't, because what I turn out is so mediocre it's laughable. I once painted a face of Jesus that set me back about six years. I thought I was a great artist then, which tells you something about my mental state. I kept sending scans of my paintings to people, then wondering why they didn't say anything. I truly thought a major new talent was blooming out of nothing.

I thought a lot of other things, but fortunately they didn't come true either. 

Here Yosemite Sam appears to be romancing Granny, who must have come in to some money or something. You can see what looks like fragments of dialogue actually written above his head. He is standing in the middle of nothing, not even blank but dirty brown. At one point he disappears except for his face. Fascinating. Maybe I really live inside an unfinished cartoon, but just haven't realized it yet.

I have watched people sketch who really know how to do it, and it confounds me. I watched a bit out of a movie where Terry Gilliam was sketching storyboards for his aborted Don Quixote movie. I just couldn't believe how he knew to do that, to make an image that was coherent and even vital and alive with one or two simple, even primitive strokes. Like an ear for music, I guess you have to just have it.

DIRECTOR'S CUT. That horrible Snow White scene in slow-mo. Note that various dwarfs appear and disappear as they annihilate each other.

Slow-motion Sam. Downright creepy, especially the way Granny vanishes when she is no longer needed. The one-frame colorization, or whatever you call it, is startling. 

Never look a gif horse. . .

Moon bug, golden sparkler, fire devil

Glow worm, lightning bug, firefly, fire beetle, candle fly, fire bug, bookworm, elaterid, pyrophorus nocticula, lampyridae, moon bug, golden sparkler, fire devil, Big Dipper, blinkie

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A remake of Safety Last? Here it is! (I think).

Safety Last - teaser from Philip Lee on Vimeo.

Safety Last is a remake of Harold Lloyd's 1923 classic silent film. While preparing to pitch this romantic comedy script to Dreamworks SKG, director Will Bigham couldn't figure out how to adequately describe this one scene. Figuring that "seeing is believing", we culled a bunch of favors and shot this on the Universal backlot with almost no money to demonstrate how this unusual scene could work.
The picture is currently in development at Paramount Pictures.

Directed by Will Bigham
Director of Photography: Philip Lee

Now this is a really strange one. Several years ago, I heard that the Lloyd family had sold the rights to Safety Last to Sony Pictures so they could do a remake. The whole thing seemed impossible, but then I found this little clip (on YouTube, actually - it doesn't seem to be there any more). I have to admit that I find the idea of a remake excruciating, and I have no idea why the Lloyd family decided to do that, how they could so casually sell the rights to such a masterpiece, which surely would receive a mediocre treatment at best. But there it is.

And to think, they could have had the rights to my novel and make a really GREAT picture! But I dream. . . I dream.

This video is the wrong size, of course, but I'll run it anyway just as a curiosity, and because I really didn't expect to see it again. I've mentioned it to a few people (Rich Correll?) and gotten the blank stares I so often seem to inspire when I know something they don't. 

For one thing, no one seems to believe the rights were ever sold or has even heard of the idea, or believes in the possibility of it. It's either an internet rumor or something I cooked up all by myself.  I'm in a different universe, apparently, but at least now I have some sort of proof.