Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Well it's election time again. I tried to stay out of it but the constant stream of negative adverts has got to me. Will someone plz tell me what they will do for me, instead of what a monster their opponent is! In our country there are only two parties, Demokins and Republicrats, whom we swap in and out with mediocre regularity. If one doesen't get the job done we put the other in, and so on. Demokins mean *demo- which is Old Gothic for to show, to demonstrate, and kin who of course are relatives you can't get out of your house no matter how many hints you drop. Thus, they are folks who pretend to care about us, but really just want something from us that we love and just wont ever ever leave us alone. Republicrats means republic, which is the country, or all of us, and rats which are small scruffy creatures who infest all our hidden nooks and crannies. Republic and rats were linked because at first they were a group of people who rose up out of the woodwork of the 1790s to push that notorious jacobin Thos. Jefferson into high office. They later were seen leading the reaction to jacobinism, but not so far as calling for the Prince-Regent to re-assume control of the lost colonies in the name of his insane father.

In conclusion, we have come a long way, but have far yet to go by far, perhaps even in an electric car. In the last Presidential Election, we saw the spectacle of two doughty Irishmen battling it out, McBama and O'Cain. Why just 50 years ago it was a stretch to have just one doughty Irishman in the race! (Side note: here in Pennsylvania, we hoped and prayed that neither of them ever ever found out what happened at Duffy's Cut in 1832...) Of course while O'Cain was a true Munsterman, some wags implied that McBama was nor even Irish at all, but a Scottishman transplanted to the Ulster Plantations in the 1590s by Sir Edmund Spencer, landholder and author of the Faerie Queene (!)!

Anywayhow, I am a socialist, supporting socialism in one nation, which should NOT be confused with fascism or leninism or anything the UK or Sweden have done. I believe in housing and employment, and in using the skills of those at hand to improve our rusting infrastructure. So, come on candidates! If any of you have real ideas, let us know! There is still one week left to the election after all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Prue and Piper and...(Charmed rant)

I love the first 3 seasons of Charmed. Like the 5 seasons of Buffy, they form a unity, after which comes the deluge. Prue was the oldest, ambitious and smart, fashionable and in charge. How smart? Just watch her match wits in the auction house. She knows her stuff! Yet she seemed somehow disconnected with her knowledge. How did she acquire it? All girl and all brains.

And Piper, the middle sister, the aspiring chef. I didn't approve of her transition to a club owner, but I tolerated it. She is the home-maker, the potential mother, stern, yet understanding...and willing to do the work. My favorite episode is season 1 episode 4. John Cho played a character whom I wish Piper could have developed a relationship with. And by the way, what was wrong with Officer Andy? And...whe Piper went to the church to ask obliquely about being a witch...well, that pastor and Piper.... But nooo, she ended up with Leo, who is a good guy, and I'm glad & all, but, sooo vanilla, sigh.

Phoebe...ugh, should have stayed in New York. And what's with that hair!? Pick a style (and a color)! But without her return there would have been no power of three, so I guess I will tolerate her presence. My ideal character developement would involve Prue rising to the top and running her own auction house (no photography!). Piper would run her own kitchen like Lenny Henry in Chef. And...well I suppose Phoebe could....aww, I don't know...stay in New York. Noo...

So I am going off in a strange direction. I want a show with two sisters, two professional women. With some romance (I'll accept Andy, but he must live!!), and Britcom humour. And lots of great food and historical references from the auction house.

One last thing, for Piper...NO Forehead!

YES!! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~NO!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

RPT's Oz: Tiny Kingdoms

I have always loved tiny kingdoms, mini states which once spread over the Rhineland and British India, or the realms which reproduce by symbol the family drama of our childhood. Such a grouping of petty rulers arises when soverignty is divided, whether by policy or by weakness at the center. A Holy Roman Emperor might make a grant of Reichsfreiheit to any person or entity, thus freeing them from all liege lords save the emperor himself. A landholding, a convent, or even an individual could be reichsfrei. Pressure from Napoleon forced the 1803 Reichsdeputationshauptschluss, consolidating these somewhat, and the Congress of Vienna settled the rest down to a manageable number, all of which were swept away (except Liechtenstein) in the Revolution of 1918. In India, the maharajas arose as the Mughal Empire contracted and the East India Company expanded. They flourished under the Viceroyalty (1870s to 1947) and were swept away when the Republic of India decided that it could do without them. It is still a hobby of mine to compile lists of the rulers of these micronations. from the Gaekwars of Baroda to the Reichsf├╝rstin (princess-abbesses)
Ruth Plumly Thompson was the successor to L. Frank Baum as Royal Historian of Oz. She wrote a book a year from 1921 to 1939. Her favorite fantasy setting was the tiny kingdom, and I hope to examine some of these in the future. How did there come to be so many tiny realms in Oz? Did a strong center collapse or give away soverignty? Or did they arise independent of a central authority, and were gathered into the center as the realms of India were by the British? Oh, it doesn't really matter. For in the realm of Faerie, what is, is. We are not going there to dig archaeologically, but to enjoy ourselves thoroughly.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

John R. Neill's Oz: Scalawagons

Before I leave Neill for a time, I want to examine a third example of the sentient enclosed space: the scalawagon. High up on a carrot-shaped mountain in the Quadling Country, the Wizard established a factory devoted to the creation of scalawagons. Made of red glass, with a dome on top, it blended naturally into its surroundings. Tik Tok was appointed Superintendent, with an office and a rubber mallet. The scalawagons themselves are made in a Production Room, by means of a strange and secret process, controlled by a lever. There are also many other buttons and levers. As they are created, the scalawagons come out of this room into the factory common area.

As can be seen on the book cover, the basic shape is a half-circle. There is enough open space to make one wonder about safety and protection from the weather. However, the seating is very comfortable, filled with foam rubber insulation. There are many buttons on the dashboard, the nost important of which is the LUNCH button. The vehicle, being sentient, operates by voice command. A turret on the very top protects the "brains" of the vehicle as well as (presumably) the goose-egg sized engine. The turret has a hinged lid and at the very top is a small metal cap marked "FOR PELI-CAN MOTOR FLUID." Peli-cans, sentient fuel cans, fill the scalawagon's tank with its beak. Running boards extend, so that the vehicle may function as a low flying glider. And, have no fear, these vehicles are unbreakable!

Now, to the LUNCH button. When this button is pushed, a table unfolds from the side containing exactly the food we wished for. Everyone in the car will be fed, and...the food will never run out. Models are available from spike wheel tractors to a custom made Royal Scalawagon.

The Wizard's wish was that everyone in Oz should have a free taxi. But these scalawagons have somehow obtained rudimentary sentience. They can feel panic and terror, they can flock together (like Peli-cans) and become confused, they can act in unison and park in perfect order, they can be tired and they can jump, glide, and go out on the water (thank you, Captain Salt!).

At the factory, Tik Tok's main job is to use the rubber mallet to knock sense onto the scalawagons. This helps them obey traffic rules and avoid danger. In fact, the effect of this amazing mallet on the pops was to give them intelligence, good posture, and a significant improvement in personal grooming. The houses of the Emerald City were afraid of them at first, but since Ozma welcomed them with a great party and decreed that every home should have one, they were soon accepted.

Last evening, I made a prototype of a scalawagon out of cardboard
and tape. Once I had placed the facing seats inside, I found it difficult to see where the dashboard would be placed, perhaps at the sides? I still need a small ball or marble for the eyes peeking out of the turret. The first thing I can remember making was a little voting booth for the 1968 election. I cut caricatures of Nixon, Humphrey, and Wallace out on my grandfather's news magazine. It's not very artistic, but after all these years it is still fun to make things like this.
To sum up: Neill's use of the sentient enclosed space in the scalawagon, the Emerald City houses, and the wooden whale Davy Jones strikes me as symbolic of a return to the security of the mother in early childhood. Caring, enclosing spaces that feed and protect us, giving us a warm place all our own, and operate through a magic beyond our understanding, but are nevertheless there just for us. I will not go so far as to claim that Neill's Oz is best of all, but I certainly found it the most psychologically stimulating.