Friday, January 19, 2018

Lake Ice, by Julia

We're having a very cold and very dry winter:
unusually, the lake ice is not much obscured by snow. 

Julia dresses in a million layers >
 to spend time on the lake (about 1 mile from me)
and photograph the ice. Sort of amazing her iPhone works when she lays it right on the ice surface, but it does.

She has the place pretty much to herself, usually.

I went with her one day when it was above zero F, but she goes when it's below too.
This is my favorite of her many photos of lake ice--it looks like a photo the Hubble Space Telescope would take, or one of our own brain neurons:

"I have enofugh dresses"

Three weeks after my seventh birthday, I wrote this letter [transcribed at end] to my grandparents, inquiring after my birthday present.

It cracks me up: I have always been just like me. 
I don't want clothes, but may I have a stuffed toy or a puppy? (Also kind of pushy and yet so thoughtful--don't mail a puppy, that would hurt it!)

My mother kept the letter (to her parents) because, I strongly suspect, she had kept the present they'd sent, if it was a check, or she'd given it to me as if it were from her, if it was something I'd like. (I know she regularly did this because years later she told me she did.)

My grandparents continued to send presents like clockwork. They often were dresses, which my mother passed along under their names.

                                                 1968 March (27th)
Dear Grandmother and Grandfather    I wrote a story called,
The Dirty Pig   it was two pages long. Why I realy wrote this
lettr is so I can ask when you'r going to send my pacage I'm curieus 
what it is, wht I realy realy want is asmall little puppy that dosn't grow to big 
with spots and the reast of him is white but don't send one Please. how is 
little Miss [their dog]. Hope she is fine. Hope you are to. I have enofugh dresses
but I would like a ragdy Ann I don't care just so if you give me a
puppy you bring it here. We are fine.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Among the Weight Lifters, and Other People & Places

Could I Drag a Big Tire Across a Floor?

I joined a new (to me) gym yesterday, only one block away.

I was frightened even to go in the door, as it caters to weight lifters---serious, competitive weight lifters. Humans whose muscles have the consistency of boards.

But I'd heard through the grapevine that this independent gym welcomes people with regular bodies from the neighborhood. 
And also that you can always get space on the lightweight machines because most every body is busy doing things like dragging tractor tires by metal chains across the AstroTurf floor in the basement to bother with what Arnold Schwarzenegger called "sissy workouts".

So I pumped up my bravery and went it to sign up for sissy workouts.
And the place really was welcoming. To begin with, the manager is a buff and affable woman who happily showed me around.

I told her––because the words formed in my mind so I said them––that I'd like to work up to dragging a tire across the floor, 
and she brightly said, 
"That's a great goal!"

It was clear she really thought it was a great goal, and entirely possible that I might hold it and even reach it.  
Isn't it funny how people are different?

But then, after all, me working up to dragging a Very Large Tire across a floor is possible, technically.
I mean, I'm older and fatter and outer of shape than I've ever been, but there's nothing fundamentally physically wrong with me.

So... watch this space.

It was fun to be there today. 
While the YW never played music, except for classes, here they  assume everyone likes Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" and other thumping songs, and they play them. 
I do like that sort of music when I'm exercising, so that's all right.

Duck and Cover

"Reality" is a movable feast, eh?

Yesterday I went to Walgreens to buy hydrogen peroxide to soak for 48 hours a white ironstone sugar bowl I'm going to list on eBay.

I'd read that that removes the brown age-stains under the glaze, which this lovely piece has a lot of. (Twenty-four hours later, I can report it's working.)

While I was back in the pharmacy area, I hear a fight break out up by the cash register. Some guy was bellowing ugly accusations at some woman who'd accused him of shoplifting.

My first thought was, if he starts shooting, where should I go?
The floor?
Was there an emergency exit? (Not that I could see.)

I stayed far away until the guy left.

When I checked out, I said to the cashier, "Well, that was scary--I was wondering if I should hit the floor."

"Yeah," she said. "I don't think he had a gun, but we thought he was going to start swinging."

There you have Life in America these days--being relieved that you're going to get hit instead of shot...

I didn't even think much about it, except to think how adaptable we humans are to shifting realities. 

Bears to Come

I am going to make bears from scratch!!!
I signed up for a free community ed class---more like a weekly gathering--to "make bears and dolls for children in need."

The toys are given to the local Crisis Nursery---the place where the police or social workers take you if you're a little kid whose parents just got shot (or shot somebody) at Walgreens or something else that leaves you hiding behind the couch.
I believe you get this toy to keep, which...

Can you even imagine? 
Maybe you can.

Materials are free too, but they said bring wool sweaters for felting, if you have them. I actually do have a couple brown sweaters, and also some leftover brown flannel from that baby toy I made for my friend's grandchild. Bears are brown, and lots of kids are too.

Anyway, doesn't that class seem tailor made for me?
The first meeting is at the end of January.

The Southwest Thrift Store Tour

And then. . . I'm going to Las Vegas!

The back story is, bink's mother is losing her short-term memory and also some of her decision making faculties. 
Recently she fell for some "You won a free cruise!" scam--a legal one that explains all the associated costs, but still a scam designed to snare exactly people like her, who don't track all that well.
Her mom had even sent in money to "reserve your place".

bink looked it up, and it sounds like if you actually show up at the dock, you spend 48 hours on a floating Motel 6 that hasn't been cleaned between sailings, eating (and paying for) Denny's–style food, and it can end up costing you more than if you bought and paid for a regular, non-"free" cruise.

I've known bink's mother for more than 30 years. While she's annoyed me as often as not, I was really angry that people would consciously DESIGN rip-offs to take advantage of her in her old age.

Also, I always remember one extraordinary act of kindness on her part. The Easter after my mother killed herself, bink & her mom were going to meet me for lunch after my shift at my Catholic church job was over.

Ridiculously, I'd timed our get-together as if it were a normal Sunday. Of course everything at church goes way longer on Easter, and I assumed bink and her mom would've gone home by the time I got there, two hours late. (None of us had cell phones at this point, in 2003. (I still don't.))
But no, bink's mother had insisted they stay and wait for me, because of my mother.

That one kindness is like a perpetual carte blanche.
(That's the economy of kindness for you.)

So I said to bink, let's give your mom a REAL free trip. She loves Las Vegas, so we're taking her there for her 83rd birthday in February.

I've only been to LV once, for the 2008 Star Trek Convention, and I didn't see much of the place then. This time I want to leave the hotel and go find thrift stores.

Thrift stores are where the detritus of a culture washes up.
I'm curious what that will be in LV. I bet there are all the usual things that I find here---Happy Meal toys and Corning Ware casseroles without lids---but what else there might be?

Of course I especially hope there might be some local stuffed animals, but I suppose they'll mostly be the sane Beanie Baby crap as here.  But maybe at the Antique Malls there will be Mormon ones, whatever those might be.

Alongside deciding to take this trip, I decided not to go to London. 
To begin with, no one except bink could commit to joining me there for my birthday tea, for a lot of reasons, including that I don't have as big a pool of friends, family, and acquaintances as I had 17 years ago. Because they died, some of them, and because I worked freelance since 2001 and don't meet many new people, 
but also I am happier being solitary than I've ever been.
[See, Bears]

Then, I also started to feel nervous about that trip being right on the heels of the Texas Librarians Convention in Dallas, where I am going to be on a panel about nonfiction writing.
I've never done much public speaking--and none in a dozen years. The idea of coming in jet-lagged from London to talk [intelligently] to strangers started to appear like a bad one.

I could have cancelled the panel--they aren't paying me or anything. But while I've been to London more than a dozen times, I've never been to Dallas. I'm curious to see it--and they must have thrift stores.
This will be my springtime southwest thrift store tour! 

And somewhere in here I will start looking for a job.
I will be physically strong again, unless a tire falls on me, godforbid.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Where's this, then?

A box of new old toys has arrived. I look at them and wonder where they've been in their lives.

They seem to be wondering, Where are we now? 

These two ^ came as part of a lot of seven toys on eBay. The seller didn't photograph each animal, but I took a chance because I could see I wanted at least two of the lot--including this dirty white terrier with ocher ears. (And they were cheap--only $11 for the lot, though shipping more than doubled that.)

When I opened the box, I got the sort of surprise you hope for. 
The animals were all much cooler than I'd expected––especially this black dog (above, right), which had just looked like a blob in the photos.  

You can see, can't you? this dog's got personality. 
He's a mohair Scottish terrier, from the 1930s or 1940s. Stuffed stiff with wood shavings (and a non-working squeaker), he stands up,  and he has glass eyes and a jointed, movable head.

Scotty cost $4 (w/ shipping). I could add a zero and resell him. I wasn't even expecting him. But he's here now, and he's staying.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Material Girl: Show & Tell

These past weeks I've been obsessed with material things, specifically with researching, photographing, and writing up things to list for sale on eBay--both some of my own old things, and also vintage stuff I find at thrift stores.

When I was younger, say until my forties, I was mostly taken up with metaphysical things--what are and what do I think about god, relativity, psychology?

Now I wonder about things like, Who invented polyester?
How do you clean aluminum?

Doing eBay has been a mash-up of three things I loved when I was a kid: 
scavenger hunts, show and tell, and thrift stores.

It satisfies some hunting-and-gathering instincts too: 
I feel atavistic.
(Can you feel atavistic? Perhaps I am atavisticizing?)

I've made almost $100 profit in 6 weeks (hm... about what I made writing nonfiction for young readers). I've spent it on other things I want from eBay, including the Czech spaceman I already posted, and a Pyrex glass stove-top coffee pot, which is on its way.

Here are photo collages of some of the stuff I've listed:

I researched all these things and am confident in my identifications--the dates, for instance, are often from original ads I found online, not just what other eBayers say (not a reliable source).

They are, listed in order from Left to Right in each row:

• Wear-Ever Aluminum Pan, 1956, anodized lid, curly-loop handles

• Canadian Mountie RCMP figure, on birch disc (1970s?)

• Items from The Golden Rule Lutterloh Pattern-Making Set, 1966

• Boontonware Melmamine 9"/4Qt Mixing Bowl, Raspberry-Pink Splatter, 1960s 

• Tag from sheer yellow apron, handmade by Mae Bennett, New Prague, MN

• Card of 2 LaMode-brand black plastic "basket-weave" buttons 

• Buttonhole attachment for Singer Sewing Machine, © 1940

• White ironstone 7" tall sugar jar & lid, Meakin, 1870s

• 4 Fire-King Peach Lustre Cereal Bowls, 1950s

• Repoussé tulip spray on hammered aluminum, casserole holder by Rodney Kent, 1955

• Nesting brushed-aluminum canisters, anodized lids, mid-century modern

• Sterling Silver Salt Shaker, Lunt 1100, 1920-40s

• Nicholson Brand 13" File

• Star Trek fabric, 1970s (not a reproduction) 

• Unbranded Cathy Doll, drinks, wets, blinks, waves, 1960-70s

"Fandom is a personal book. . ."

The publisher asked me to write a post for their blog about my book on fandom. They posted it this morning, but, as is their prerogative, they'd cut it by half. 
That's OK--the original post is long and chatty--but they sanitized it too. Fandom ends up sounding too much like a social crusade. There is that side of it, and it's a big one, but the publisher took out my paragraph about characters hooking up---and "shipping" (creating relationships among characters) is even a bigger side of fandom.
Ah well, that blog is for publishing professionals. Pleasegod no one much else will see it. I'm posting here what I originally wrote. I've said all this before, but it was fun to sit down and write it out, now the book is behind me.
My original, unedited post:

Fandom is a personal book for me, and the first book I've written for this publisher that is entirely my own. Always before, I've written on someone else's choice of topic, from Algeria to Zimbabwe. 

I began researching this book back in the 1970s, when, every day after school, I watched Star Trek reruns in syndication on my family's black and white TV. (Syndication--I had to define that in the book.) Of course I mean  Star Trek: TOS––The Original Series. There are seven Trek series now with the latest, Star Trek:Discovery airing.

The show was incredibly important to me––I felt weird and ugly in a new school, my family was falling apart, the president of the United States was clearly unfit to serve, the country was in a seemingly unending and unwinnable war (just the one, though)––and here was this crew, this all-species [not just human] crew of both genders [only two throughout the universe, according to the show] that said another world, another way, is possible. Get on board.
Star Trek implied that things on Earth would get worse before we got to their, the 23rd, century. In some arenas, that seems to be the case so far. In fandom, however, things have gotten better. While I had almost no one to share my fan love, art, and ideas with, teens now can share online their passion for the stories they love. 
Of course there are problems  with online fandom …because humans. The 1970s had problems too. For me, isolation was the big one. Entering the fray can be scary, and possibly dangerous, but so is silence.

A couple years ago, in 2016, I noticed that while fans are all over the internet, there were few printed books on the phenomenon of fandom. I pitched the idea of a book that would take a look at some of the many ways fans actively participate in the media they love.  I took on fan-made writing (fic), videos (vids), games, visual arts, and cosplay. Trying to fit all that into 100 pages ended up feeling, as Bilbo says in Lord of the Rings, "sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.

I decided to focus on a couple main ingredients. One was history. Fan writing comes in for a lot of derision. It's true, a lot of it is painfully bad. So is a lot of printed work. (Dan Brown, I'm looking at you.) I wanted to show that fan writing is not some anomaly: humans have always, always riffed on one another's stories.

If you look at the history of literature, it's a bunch of magpies borrowing shiny bits for their own use. Virgil lifted his hero Aeneas from Homer's Illiad. Jane Austen got her start as a teenager writing parodies of the romance novels of her day--like our Harlequins. As the British Library says, virtually none of Shakespeare's plots were original. (Of course, lifting a good idea is just the beginning--you have to be able to run with it.) Fifty Shades of Grey, which started online as adult erotic fic based on the teen vampire Twilight romances, is nothing new.

The other ingredient was fans' passion for things to be better. We don't always agree on what better would look like (ha! not at all), but, mostly, we want it.

Sometimes it's a personal vision of better.
Let's see...
*takes a quick look at Archive of Our Own*
[AO3, the fan-run site for fanworks; for recent fic:].

OK--today, fans want Wonder Woman and Captain Kirk to hook up (that's a new one on me). * We (still) want Captain Kirk and Spock to, too. (Star Trek is the mother ship of a kind of fic called slash, that romantically pairs same-sex characters.) And so forth, and so on.

Fandom envisions a better social world too, one with less barriers of every kind. I start the book with the fan-love for the musical play Hamilton as an example of a virtuous cycle: fans love that the actors are people of color and women play a prominent role. But it was fandom's ongoing call for and support of work like this that helped bring about a world where creator Lin-Manuel Miranda's work can make it to Broadway, and beyond. And where Black Panther and is not just a background character, and Wonder Woman isn't just "the other one" in the DC pantheon. 
In many ways, these mass media stories are inheritors of Star Trek (and other) fandom's vision of, as fans say, a sandbox where everybody gets to play.

To wrap up, an example of how I participated in one tiny way in that vision.
For some fans, Fandom Is a Way of Life. I am not one of those fans. By 2008, it'd been a couple decades since I'd even thought about Star Trek. Life was rough that winter though--specifically, I was reeling from my mother's suicide.

I idly googled "Star Trek." My word, the fandom...!

I entered the fray. I made an autobiographical vid: screenshots from Star Trek  subtitled with my story of being a sad teenager, and then a (at that time) sad adult, and how the example of Kirk and Spock––a sort of yin/yang pair of personalities––had and did inspire and comfort me.
(YouTube took it down after a few years. Copyright law and Fair Use--it's a thorny thicket the book just brushes lightly.) 

YouTube comments are famous for calling forth the sludge of humanity, but my vid got nothing but love. A lot of people let me know they felt the same. "It's true, Star Trek saves lives," one wrote.

That summer, I got a message on youTube from a fan in Moscow, Captain J. L. of the Russian Star Trek Club. She wrote, "It's wonderful that people on the other side of the planet feel the same way." Would I be willing to re-subtitle the vid in Russian, to be shown at the 2009 RusCON, the Russian Star Trek convention?

We worked together to translate it. There were some funny glitches. What did I mean, "Spock seemed like a pill"? And, did you know, "Bluetooth" in Russian is "Bluetooth"? I'd put that in as a reference to Star Trek's prescient wireless technology.

The captain also asked me to write a letter she would translate ad read at Ruscon. The letter I wrote concludes, "Star Trek has been right in its predictions about technology and a lot of other things. But I hope it will be wrong about one: I hope we won't half-destroy ourselves before we finally get our act together. Thanks to Capt. J. L. for translating the video. Our work together gives me hope that Star Trek was right about humanity's peaceful future."

Russia, presidential politics, social justice, personal sorrow, lust, and love, and plain old fun!---fandom has enough butter for all the bread. Writing this book allowed me to spend a lot of time with young fans, online and in personal interviews. They and their creativity and love for stories, for romance, justice, community have given me hope. I hope they (and we) take that hope and, as Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation says, make it so. 

* After I wrote this, I realized that in the 2017 movie Wonder Woman, Chris Pine plays the love interest, Steve Trevor. Pine also plays Capt. Kirk in the reboot Trek movies (2009– ). That didn't immediately occur to me because, in my eyes, Captain Kirk has and always shall be William Shatner.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


On the publication-information page of a Dell pulp fiction paperback published during World War II:

"In a free democracy everyone may read what he likes."

Spaceman Revealed

This is the Soviet rubber cosmonaut toy I blogged about a while ago---designed in 1962 Czechoslovakia by Libuše Niklová. This toy and I are basically the same age.

He arrived from eBay yesterday, wearing his nonremovable scratched and clouded helmet. This morning he is seeing the clear light of day for the first time in... who knows how long?

The eBayer told me:

"We got it in Czechoslovakia either on our honeymoon in 1962 or in 1964 when we again visited relatives in Kosice, this time with our 11-month old son. I suspect the relatives gave the toy to the baby."

(I'm wearing my 1961 Vostok pin too, which arrived the day before.) 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Excerpt from "An open Tumblr letter to younger fans..."

I got all choked up when I read "Open Tumblr letter to younger fans, from a 77-year-old TOS fangirl" from Fandom Grandma 
[via Flamingo Slim's Tumblr, mostly Starsky/Hutch],
especially this part:
"The friendships you make in fandom will be with you for life. Like all friendships, they will wax and wane as the focus of your life shifts over time, but you will always be able to pick up the thread.

"You will — to give you a hypothetical example — be 77 years old and discover Tumblr and get a rush of Spirk [Spock/Kirk] feels after a decade of not giving TOS a thought, and contact your 83-year-old fangirl friend in the nursing home, to whom you haven’t spoken in several years.

"You will open the conversation with, 'So, Jim and Spock love each other and that just makes me so happy.'

"And your friend in the nursing home will sigh and say, 'Yes. They do love each other. It’s such a comfort.'"
Please contact me in 25 years and remind me of this too.

This moved me because not only do I expect to BEcome one of these old ladies who still finds comfort in TOS ("the original series" of Star Trek), but because it shores up my decision to emphasize the positive side of fandom in my book---a decision I've sometimes doubted as I also see, of course, the downside of the internet. 

But there's a downside to everything we do, because humans.*
It's hardly a secret that the internet is problematic, and so can be fandom. I stand by my choice to emphasize the positive, in this case.

This open letter has 11,550 notes [likes and shares] on Tumblr, so I guess other people see it that way too. 

Thanks to Mortmere for sending this letter to me! 

A random example of Spirk fan art, "love beams" from 2009
(She manipulated actual screenshots from the show of Kirk and Spock looking at each other.)
* because x was a Word of the Year in 2013, but this is the first time I've used it, because it fit so well.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"snow and pink roses against it"

Taking out the roses Marz had brought to Christmas Eve, this morning I was reminded of one of my favorite poems.

by Louis MacNeice

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes—
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands—
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Some Books I'm Sometimes Reading

I fell behind on recording books I'm reading in 2017. Resolve to do better in 2018, because I like looking back at them. (I don't keep most of them, so I don't have them around to remind me.)

These are piles around the house this morning--some I've read, some I'm reading, some are not for that.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

To the stars!

If only we lived in the happy world propaganda paints.
Ah well, I can still rally to wish us all a Happy 2018! 
Soviet-era ^ "Happy New Year" postcard, found on Pinterest

I've been looking at the work of "teddy bear artists"--humans who design and hand-make modern, one-of-a-kind, stuffed bears.
I'm usually not keen on new bears artificially distressed to look as if they're old and worn, but I have liked some bears of that type made by Russian teddy-artist Olia Mayorova.
She dressed one of her bears as a cosmonaut for this New Year, in her Instagram, Olga's bears:

That's Yuri Gagarin behind the bear, you know––first human in space, in 1961, the year I was born. I like him––he was a lovely looking guy with a radiant smile. [Oh, huh, I see I even have an index tab on him.]

I decided to see if there were any affordable Gagarin things on eBay. Of course there are.
Of course!
I was thrilled to find this batch of 5 Soviet pins commemorating Gagarin's spaceflight, for $10. I especially like the blobby depiction of his ship, Vostok, because it looks like a space capsule out of Star Trek (Nomad, specifically).

And then I found this little rubber, squeak toy--below, left, with a clouded and scratched helmet––listed on eBay as "Yuri Gagarin Doll, from Czechoslovakia, 1962".
You cannot rely on eBay for the full story, so I googled it.

I found pictures of the cosmonaut without his helmet (far right),
and, while there's nothing that says he is Gagarin per se (there are none of the usual signs, like his orange spacesuit), the toy has got a very cool backstory:

It was part of a bunch of squeaky-toy workers designed by Czech toy designer Libuše Niklová, one of the first to use plastic in toy-making.

In fact, this little spaceman was in the "Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900–2000" exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 2012 [exhibit slideshow]

along with other Niklova toys, including her most famous--an accordion cat, below, on her shoulder.

She got the idea for the accordion toys from a bendy plastic part used in new flush toilets of the era. MoMA calls the toys "artistically conceived and technically ingenious."

Originals of Niklova's toys are expensive online ($50 to $500) and, as far as I can see, not very common, so I was pleased to buy this one on eBay for $9.50.
He's probably barely been able to see out in decades:
I look forward to popping his helmet off. 

Once again, I wish you a great big HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

It's cold.

We're at 11 degrees below zero here, and I am baking shepherd's pie, using up the potatoes leftover from Xmas Eve's pot roast. 
This weather would definitely kill you pretty quickly, but to think people live where Fahrenheit and Celsius meet, at 40 below...

1964, Photo by Gennady Koposov, Russia
"A composite image of a baby and a funeral procession of a reindeer shepherd at 55 degrees below zero in the northern tundra of Evenkia, in what was then the Soviet Union."
--via the collection of World Press Photo

Friday, December 29, 2017

Red Hair Girl Meets Easy-Bake Oven

I brought Red Hair Girl to the new Lucky Oven Bakery this morning, which has about 20 of these toy ovens mounted on one wall. My parents did not approve of plastic toys like these--we always had tasteful, educational toys. 
They taught me something all right. They taught me envy.

I envied all the girls in the neighborhood who had Easy-Bake Ovens, and Barbies, and portable record players that played 45s, and comic books, and who got to watch daytime TV and eat Twinkies and bologna sandwiches, while I had to memorize Shakespeare sonnets, eat leftover lamb-and-garbanzo bean stew in the school cafeteria, wear linen dresses, and other improving stuff like that.

I liked those things well enough, but I've always wished my parents had given me both worlds: 

why couldn't we have watched Death in Venice AND Bugs Bunny?

I've made up for that imbalance since.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

This blog is pro-Porg.

Star Wars has not always made good non-Earth creatures (the Ewoks, Jar-Jar Binks) but this latest installment, The Last Jedi, has several good ones, most especially the Porg, who I immediately recognized for what they are: Space Puffins. 
(Really--they were filming on an island off Ireland that was covered in puffins.)

I was a little surprised that some people hate them.
 But then, some people feel strongly about Star Wars--I am not one of them. Star Trek, yes. Star Wars, eh. But I did like this movie a lot.

Looking for photos of porgs, I found this GIF:

They're cute for the same reason lots of stuffed animals are cute: they look like babies.
"The leading theory for why humans find certain animals cute is they remind us of young children. Baby-like characteristics, known as 'kindchenschema' (German for 'child form'), include a relatively large head compared to the body, a big cranium, round eyes and chubby cheeks. In studies where pictures of animals or babies have been artificially manipulated, participants prefer images with cuter facial features."

Well, if they're ugly, are babies ugly?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Animals in Art (not stuffed)

Sometimes I see animals in art that would make great stuffed toys. These are some of those:
"Mice Burying the Cat", The World Turned Upside-Down fairy-tale theme, Russia,  hand-colored woodcut, 1760s,
via The National Library of Russia, Pogodin's Collection

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Flying Monkey Returns to the Wild

Remember the stuffed monkey toy I picked up in the alley wet, dirty, and run over by a car?

Just now this Christmas-Eve afternoon I put it up, wearing the jacket I made for it, on a telephone pole at the end of the alley, with a sign explaining I'd taken it home and cleaned it up.

                  FLYING MONKEY NEEDS A HOME.