The Big 5 – “Where” do you relax? – Week 2

charles-barsotti-relax-it-s-summertime-and-the-living-is-easy-new-yorker-cartoon

so much so that auto-schedule is also taking a break

Perhaps the old joke about this part of the continent having 10 months of winter and 2 months of lousy skating has more than a little to do with the fact that once this season comes we are all just a wee bit off kilter and though full of ideas about how best to take advantage of everything outdoorsy, we are at the same time stricken with that full-body paralysis that makes us just want to lie on something soft in the brightest patch of sun around.

Urban summer is a whole different season from blissful by-the-ocean or camping in the meadow endeavours and was proven by an unavoidable Sunday morning trek into the core of town only because we could not live one moment longer without power for the internet router. Of course, tech support sent us to the wrong outlet. The one with the not-so-happy to be working on the last day of a glorious weekend sales associate who was no help at all and who will not be winning any customer service/employee of the month awards; the one which opened a full two hours before the one that actually did carry the part we needed… Now our day of rest is usually spent in relative solitude, far from the madding crowds with perhaps a nice waffle and a cappuccino on the patio and the most aggravating it gets is lazy dog clamouring to visit his friend next door. So needless to say, we were not amused.

It did give us a chance to walk around for a bit and play tourist with those out for Grand Prix weekend but mostly it served to remind us that downtown is best enjoyed when everyone is working. What was supposed to be a quick trip turned into a five hour trek and resulted in one pitiful AC plug and the need to put our feet up for a bit when we finally did make it home. Could be worse, we could have paid a small fortune to broil with no earplugs in the stands at the racetrack. This fortnight the Big 5 Challenge asked – “Where do you relax?” – under a cozy duvet or at the beach, on skis or a motorcycle, in the garden or in the middle of the city, behind the wheel or in front of the pack…

We would love to know where you are the most at ease.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this challenge can be found here: Need more info, want to browse past themes or get the badge for your blog? See HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Silly – Week 2

silly old duck! where we learned to rhyme…

Once upon a time, we would sit ourselves down at 5:55 every Sunday evening in anticipation of that magical moment when the Disney theme song would come crackling out of the television set. The hour’s entertainment was always a surprise for there was no TV Guide to tell us what to expect – not every show was a thriller but those nights that were more than made up for the “educational” instalments. Our favourites, like most little kids, were the cartoons and it didn’t really matter who took centre stage for they each had a repertoire guaranteed to generate a few laughs.

Ludwig Von Drake was the odd bird in the Disney Duck family: it might have been that he was a little high-brow, had an odd accent or just wasn’t slap-stick enough for most but our pre-school mind-in-formation saw that here was a fowl who knew his way around science, classic literature and music and had evidently seen a thing or two of the world and come back to tell everyone about it.  As much as we craved to be the miniature tornadoes of trouble that were Huey, Dewey and Louie, the Professor who knew something about everything was more our type of role-model. Besides, he had a warped sense of humour and was a whiz at constructing a bad pun…

This fortnight the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge recommends that we all remember what it is like to be – Silly – lie in the grass and look at the clouds, go kick a can, eat an ice cream cone with sloppy abandon like a five-year old but let yourself do something frivolous for a change.

“What is silly?” – A cartoon character or politician’s gaff, a two year old’s antics, a joke or a laugh, a funky fad or fashion craze, an old-timer’s tale or those newfangled ways…  We would love to see your vision.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

The Big 5 – “Why” did you start to blog? – Week 2

110926_cartoon_090_a15925_p465

all depends on the day…

Throughout the last week we have been reading some great entries into this challenge and have to say that many of the reasons that other bloggers got started are ones that we can easily associate with: as a journal, a place to vent, a vehicle for artistic expression, to connect with others and to see what the rest of the blogosphere is up to are just a few of the points offered up. We had been saving Roz Chast’s cartoon for a very long time in the knowledge that one day it would be just right for that very special post and lo and behold, it is. She knows us all and must have been perched on our shoulder the day we first pressed publish for we are All of the Above, though we would like to think that subtlety plays at least a small part in getting our point across.

Did we think we could change the world? Not realistically. Did we anticipate changing ourselves? Never in a million years, but we did. Would we do it all over again? In a heartbeat and we would venture that many of you would also. This fortnight the Big 5 Challenge is curious to know Why did you start to blog?” – forum or fancy, news or reviews, to find friend or battle foe, seek source of satisfaction or sound out discussion, to expound, extoll, expand, in song, full-colour, poetry or prose …

We would love to know why you decided to put it all out there.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this challenge can be found here: Need more info, want to browse past themes or get the badge for your blog? See HOW DOES THIS WORK.

The Big 5 – Who is your Underdog ?

UNDERDOG & POLLY FLYING COLOR

still waiting

One of our earliest memories is sitting in front of a small black and white set (yes, Virginia there was a time when there was no colour) watching classic cartoons. We could easily relate to ordinary, spectacle-wearing Shoeshine Boy magically transform into his canine alter-ego Underdog and knew every word of the opening theme song. It had kitschy graphics, iconic villains and simple plot lines that that never failed to amuse. The series was filled to the brim with stereotypes – helpless, arm-waving young ladies, Soviet mad scientists, Irish-accented cops and Italian gangster-styled robbers – everyone was fair-game for the cartoonists and they put their hands to everything that would be considered politically incorrect today. Our pre-school mind wondered why Underdog had such a big forehead (he was a beagle) and why his superhero outfit was a baggy, oversized t-shirt: we just couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t go to the store and get one that fit properly… In retrospect, that was all part of the charm and the whole genre, along with many of the other animated shows of the time, were a huge formative influence not only on our artistic sensibilities but on the way we deal with real life.

Popular culture has been pounding us with the notion that we could have been heroes for awhile now and everyone from the government to the media has their agenda on how best to exploit it. The false importance attached to the arbitrary definition of success in all things personal and public has become overwhelming but at the same time there seems to be a shift in ulterior motives, personal responsibility, even our sense of how the smallest actions, or lack thereof, have far-reaching consequences. In a society that increasingly acts without any moral compass, it is getting harder to be fearless and noble, to distinguish who merits our adulation or respect and sadly, who deserves our investment of time and emotion. Depending on the day, we are both superhero and everyman but, as the comics have told us in all their four-colour glory, everyone has their soft spot and so this fortnight’s Big 5 Challenge asks:

Who is your Underdog?” – young or old, timid or bold, flash in the pan or kicking the can, cartoon or larger than life …

We would love to know who flies above the crowd for you.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, here are some guidelines for the challenge: HOW DOES THIS WORK?

  1.  I will post some commentary such as the above on one of the five Ws (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN or WHY and sometimes HOW) and then ask you to respond on the same.
  2. Your point of view on the current week’s challenge can take any form: a reply in the comment box, in a new post with a quote, a motto or saying, an essay, poem or opinion of yours or attributed to someone else, a piece of music, a song, a video, a work of art, photograph, graffiti, drawing or scribble – but it has to be about the topic!
  3. Challenge yourself to dig deep for an answer.
  4. The Challenge will be open for 14 days (there will be a reminder post at the 7 day mark) after which I will post another.
  5. ENJOY, have FUN and TELL your friends and fellow bloggers.

SO – Create your Big 5 Challenge post

  1. Then add a link to your blog in my comment box.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your post, title your blog post “The Big 5 Challenge” and add the same as a tag.
  3. If you would like your reader to see what others are presenting for the same challenge, add a link to the “Big 5” challenge on your own blog.
  4. Feel free to pick up your badge on The Big 5 Challenge page.
  5. Remember to Follow to get your weekly (hopefully) reminders.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Shoes – Week 2

flying-shoes

Roger dodg’em

If you have an afternoon to spend in leisurely pursuits of the completely unproductive kind, go on google and search as many different modifiers as you can to the word “shoe”: Shoes in history, bizarre shoes, shoe houses, shoe cartoons, new shoes, old shoes, even a timeline of shoes. A “shoes in politics” search will indubitably result in some of our favourites, with the famous George Bush shoe attack and Nikita Khrushchev’s shoe-banging incident topping the list. Can’t say we have never felt the same –  many are the time that throwing a good-sized boot would have given some relief and smacking a 4-inch stiletto on the dinner table would surely calm surly guests bringing out-of-control festivities to a quick end. Type in those four little letters on the keyboard often enough and by the time you are finished you may wonder why it is spelled like it is and google that leading to another slightly more educational pop-up.

They are everywhere: when they aren’t keeping our feet from the elements, they are populating our hallways and cupboards, overtaking the streets, multiplying in stores and luring us from magazines, posing in books and being immortalized on the web. Footwear has staked its claim in history. This fortnight, the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge theme – Shoes – shows us that a pair of shoes cross all cultural borders and can even help us learn more about each other.

“What do your shoes say about you?” – Are they practical and sturdy, coquette with a heel,the pair that won’t be thrown out or a baby’s first, memories of your own or being put into someone else’s, wellies, waders, golfers with spikes, mountaineers, runners, ugly ones no one likes… We would love to see your vision.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Loyalty – Week 2

barbara-smaller-here-s-to-even-lower-expectations-in-the-new-year-new-yorker-cartoon

tell me it’s not just me…

February in the icier regions of the northern hemisphere is a sore test of just how much many of us are willing to put with: the rosy glow of the holidays is long gone, Punxatawney Phil didn’t even bother coming up for air in our neighbourhood, Valentine’s is either boom or bust and the hours don’t seem to be getting any longer no matter how close daylight savings time gets. Tempers, like sunlight, are short and our capacity to tolerate much of what are typical daily annoyances is sadly reduced.

It is not that we expect the extraordinary but it would be nice, just once in a while, to be surprised by a quick response, a straight answer, no BS, a good word, a helpful hand, a brief acknowledgement that someone, somewhere out there that actually should be is paying attention. And that’s just people, never mind products or services… It makes one wonder why we should even bother and like Archie (in Still Game) we become quite content to seclude ourselves, the desire to be Oot having been greatly diminished.

One surmises that with an overwhelming amount of information flooding our consciousnesses every day that we have no choice but to be more selective but this can be problematic in itself. Having limited ourselves to less we desire better. It doesn’t seem much to ask but apparently it is and like this fortnight’s Two Cents Tuesday Challenge theme, our – Loyalty – can become strained by what society construes as good enough.

“What does loyalty mean to you?” – A pledge of allegiance, personal devotion, a philosophical concept or biblical notion, a dog to his master, the bond between friends … We would love to see your vision.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

F is also for Friday: Roz Chast

univInGrainSand

the sound of gears turning

It is doubtful if anyone in the last three decades has more prolifically caricatured the odd and interestingly recognizable events of everyday life than Roz Chast. David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, does not hesitate in calling the 58 year-old cartoonist “The magazine’s only certifiable genius” and the evidence is easily found in the watercolour-washed and inked panels that have graced its pages for the last 30 years.

R.Chast_Stuff_A2Zwe are all guilty

The appeal in the shaky, quirky style lies in its urban icons – the message is not lost in any perfect graphic portrayal of the parts, we instantly recognize the whole whether it is a situation we have faced, something we may have seen or just random stuff and nonsense that flies out of left field. In a black and white framed snapshot of the absurd, multiple panels spread out over a few pages, a magazine cover, even a hooked rug or pysanka, most of Chast’s work is self-explanatory, readers either laugh or just don’t get it.

5-deconstructing-lunch

don’t even think about starting with dessert

Chast has admitted that she is an anxious person, sometimes suffering from insomnia but rather than letting this have a crippling effect, it informs her cartoons and books with all those bits that we hate, have phobias of, secretly know and hide or have thought about while tossing restlessly around in bed at 3 AM.  Like the best social commentary, she lays it out like a royal flush for all to see – these kinds of reflections on existence are far from pedestrian, Ms. Chast’s style creates a neutrality, a world where we are all a little off and most of the time just as strange as our neighbours.

41_1pick one – or add your custom card to the collection

Life, whether it is domestic, family or work, provides sufficient material for Ms. Chast and more than enough to fill the pages of over a dozen books: one can lose many hours glued to the pages of the Theories of Everything: Selected Collected and Health-Inspected Cartoons, a compilation of the cartoons published in The New Yorker, Scientific American and the Harvard Business Review.

chast_theories_04

this is the aftermath of a bad mom

This cartoonist’s perspective is as genuine as the characters portrayed in her work – the typical glossy “author photo” on the dustcover would seem inappropriate and so a cartoon of a woman much like Roz herself smiles quizzically back at us.

We find ourselves in Roz Chast’s cartoons for we are her “everyman”.

Read more on:

Roz Chast
Roz Chast at the Julie Saul Gallery
Roz Chast appreciates Art

F is also for Friday: A Comically Fine Line

hoe

when communication leads in two different directions

Depending on the occasion, anyone one with younger members in the household will know how difficult it can be just to speak to one another in the same language. Inane bits of conversation ranging from “how was your afternoon” to “please put your boots on the mat” can lead to fiery flare-ups, snorts of derision with rolling eyeball accompaniment or the best of the bunch, the snappy answer. From either party involved. It was one of those days and the best option was not to say anything at all because if we did it would have been, inevitably, much worse.

A moment’s solitude was in order and we happened to be in the vicinity of the local greenhouse which we hadn’t stepped foot into since our own monsters were small and in need of some winding down. In our own childhood, the place had seemed enormous with exotic plants hanging off raised beds and a banana tree with fruit dangling within a monkey’s reach tucked in a wing off the back. As recently as 20 years ago the glass house, as the Ghost liked to call it, had a heavy warmth filled with the sweet perfume of tropical flowers in the dead of winter and a koi pond whose occupants would swim up to the surface in the hopes of being fed. Today the door opened upon nannies with strollers seeking their own few minutes of peace while their under-fives bent over a rather sad display of non-descript between-season blooms.  The air wasn’t as close and wet as we remember, the koi had been moved, their pond now filled with pennies and the dark water where they now hid from prying eyes didn’t invite closer inspection. The plants looked as though they had been donated by apartment dwellers with black thumbs – those that had once been green and fresh in some florist’s shop with all the promise of growth and sun and plenty of water had shrunk to shadows of their former glory, leaves a bit brown around the edges with blossoms trying vainly to shout colour into the wilderness of the hothouse.  Evidently the man who used to take such care, who had a gift for nurturing his green charges was long gone and his apprentices had learned little, didn’t care or perhaps just didn’t know any better. Two nurseries once filled with odd-shaped plants from far corners of the world were closed – hopefully they are filled with seedlings and bright buds for the upcoming Easter exhibition.  It took all of ten minutes to make the rounds and as much as we wanted, not even one photo opportunity presented itself – the iphone stayed sleeping in our pocket.

The library attached to this small botanical garden is in much better condition – clean and quiet in the adult stacks, a little more boisterous and chaotic in the children’s section, it boasts a lovely sitting room with floral scrollwork hand-painted around the edge of a coffered ceiling.   People come and spread out their books on the massive oak tables, study, look through thick art tomes or just breathe a sigh of relief in one of the comfortable, green leather reading chairs. That is exactly what we did.

chast new yorker coversitting quietly seems to have helped

More on visions of life as we know it by Roz Chast next week.