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Archive for February, 2014

Humour (and yes, that is the proper spelling) is subjective. I grew up in a household that appreciated dry British humour. In fact, it was my father who suggested we what the first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus after seeing an ad in TV Guide. The first sketch I recall was that of the flying sheep – I was hooked, and so were most of my friends. It was smart, quick, absurd and most of all – silly. There was a regular discussion about the week’s episode and lines of Python dialogue quickly became part of our regular lexicon. When the CBC failed to pick up one of the new series, we dashed off a 500+ name petition – that three of us spent several hours making up the names for.

Not only did we absorb everything Python, the show had some interesting unintended funny moments for us. When the first movie, And Now For Something Completely Different, came out, we went as a group to see it. As most of us had just passed the age where we could legally imbibe, we went for a few (or for some, more than a few) before the movie. We got to the theatre and settled in as the movie started when one of our group loudly announced that he had to go to the bathroom. We told him to go, but then he started to protest saying he would miss part of the movie. In the next instant he had come up with a solution. Movie theatres are sloped so he would just go down the aisle. On reflection, this did not seem to be the most appropriate action and we voiced our disapproval. Nevertheless, he started the process which then required three of us to drag him to the bathroom. All in the name of Python.

The second one I remember is going to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail with another group of friends. For some unknown reason, there was a short film in front of Python about these poor South Sea Islanders who were forced to leave their homes for a good part of the year to find food to feed their families. Absolutely the worst choice for a short before Holy Grail. The audience were laughing at all the serious bits and making snide comments about the plight of these poor people. It would have been a buzzkill of epic proportions if the audience had not been primed for Python. Before the feature started, one of the group offered to go and get snacks for all. We knew he had come back when we heard this loud call of ‘Albatross‘ as he was walking back down the aisle towards us. While he actually didn’t have any albatross, he did manage to sell most of the snacks to other patrons before he reached our seats – which of course necessitated another trip to the concession. Only at a Python flick.

Finally, I was at the university bookstore during my undergraduate years when I spotted a new Monty Python book on the shelves.

The Monty Python Bok

The Monty Python Bok

The first giggle was that book was spelled incorrectly. But the cover had dirty fingerprints on it so I started to go through the stock to find a clean one. Only to find that each book had the same fingerprints printed on the cover. Another funny – this is looking good. I took the book up to the front with several other books and gave them to the cashier. The elderly cashier went through each book and entered the price into the cash register until she got to the Python book. She stopped and said this is a library book – you don’t need to pay for this. I hadn’t noticed that there actually was a library card fixed to the inside front page – a library card that listed Sammy Davis Jr. and Margaret Thatcher as people who had borrowed the book.

The 'library' card

The ‘library’ card

I thought she was joking so I laughed and said that, no I really did want to pay for it. She smiled back and insisted it was a library book and I didn’t have to pay for it. I think I realized at this point she was serious, so I insisted again that it was not a library book. Afterwards I figured out that the price sticker was white on white (this being before the days of bar codes) and she probably never saw it (you can see the sticker scars on the upper left part of the dust jacket). I tried one more time and again she told me I didn’t have to pay. At this point, the line was getting restless behind me and I figured I had given it three tries, so I agreed and put the book into my bag. It seemed a very appropriate way of acquiring a Python book.

And after all these years, Monty Python still makes me laugh – thanks boys!

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A Little Mystery

Hobbits

Hobbits

I have lots of photos. I began shooting when I was about 11 and have been going ever since. I have about 900 on Flickr but there are thousands in boxes waiting to be scanned.

When we were in university in Southern Ontario in the early 70’s, we would go camping as a group on weekends. One of our favourite spots was Sandbanks Provincial Park near Belleville, Ontario. The shot above was taken in 1974 on one of our trips. My friends, Mike and Luke, are pretending to be hobbits – the joke is the vegetation is only about a foot high, but it was like a miniature forest and made for some interesting photo opportunities.

The interesting part is that I uploaded the shot to Flickr in November 2011. For quite a long time, the photo had a few views but nothing spectacular – until recently. Over the last several months, I have added about 400 views and average 4-8 views a day. I have no idea where the link is posted but some folks must like it. I had a similar experience about two years ago when one of my shots from the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix went viral – it was a photo of the first time a safety car had been used in a Grand Prix. The link to that one had been posted on a Turkish Formula 1 blog and in one day, I had over 400 views. Another shot from a trip back east was posted on Reddit and that one took off as well. But the hobbit shot – I have no idea. A friend once likened the Internet to letting something out into the wild – you never know where it will end up!

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I don’t know if I have always been a morning person. As I getting older, I find it more difficult to sleep in – plus, it doesn’t help to have a dog who has decided that anything later than 7:30 is past her breakfast (she is doing fine, btw). So, while everyone else is asleep, I have the house to myself. This morning it was a leisurely breakfast following by some time catching up with Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (great web series). When I went back upstairs to refresh my coffee, I was greeted by the sunrise. And yes, it was almost 9:00 but that is the price one pays for living here – short days in the winter.

So, having a camera always at the ready, I grabbed some shots of the morning sun in the front yard.

Soft Morning Light

Soft Morning Light

Rabbit Tracks

Rabbit Tracks

Sunrise

Sunrise

Iridescent Cloud at Sunrise

Iridescent Cloud at Sunrise

The morning light, especially with the sun so low, is quite pretty. I find the morning sun has a ‘fresh’ character about it as opposed to sunset where the light seems more calming. It was -17 C this morning but having the sun out with the beautiful blue sky does help to make up for the chill. And the days are getting longer so these are positive signs.

And yes, I recognize this is Groundhog Day and that a gopher that wasn’t asleep would see its shadow. But for us, six more weeks of winter would mean an early spring, so I’ll take it!

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