Friday, September 24, 2010

Aria for a Chinchilla

How could Platypuss-in-Boots resist a song like this? Plus, some friends have asked to see more pictures of that marvel of chinchillahood, Rosie Posie. So John helped me make a slideshow - thanks to John and to Robert Frost's Banjo!

A word about Courtney, who wrote and performed the song. Like all the composers I admire (and I should mention Grace, Zoe, Isabelle, and Trevor in this company) Courtney writes music from her heart and her experience, music authentic to her own imagination. To me this is particularly to be prized in a composer of her age - because authenticity is not necessarily encouraged in those who dwell in the regions preceding legal majority. In music (and so in life) it can be easier to reflect some idea of what other people think we should be, rather than who we are.

(Pinky, Your Hostess of elephantine pink, wants to point out that Eberle is very attached to the subject of this song, Rosie - who happens to be our very own chinchilla.)

And here's a curious coincidence - some of you may remember (you can check back if you don't) that Rosie's arrival at our house was largely due to a praying mantis. And what do you think showed up in the music room when I asked Courtney to record Rosie's Song? Right next to her on a small table near the recorder? A praying mantis of course! Furthermore, the praying mantis climbed right onto Courtney's hand and did not want to get off AT ALL. We finally had to give it some serious encouragement to get onto a plant in the front room.

Courtney is listening to her first opera this week, and this is one reason why I call the song an Aria in the title of this post. An Aria is a moment in an opera when the singer steps outside of the action, and speaks her heart. Time stops around her - she suspends the story and speaks. I love that image.

And I'm thinking - a praying mantis, the Magic Flute, a song for Rosie - and I'm just starting work on music for puppet theater in McCall...maybe my dream of Finger Puppet Opera will come true sooner than I thought?

Thanks, Courtney!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Heading for the Wilderness

Utah Phillips mentions the Wilderness in words of advice for a high school graduating class. Beware, he tells them, when people refer to you, America's youth, as an important national resource! Think about what America does with important national resources! I say to you, run! Head for the hills! Flee to the wilderness - preferably the one within.

I've always loved imagining this scene - Utah exhorting, students running for the Exits...

My own version of this Wilderness Adventure is going to Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey near Lafayette, Oregon on retreat - letting myself fall into solitude and silence. The only survival tools being an interior openness to an encounter with the Universe/God - and conversation with friends who are teachers. Above photo: a walk with Father Mark. I'll be back on May 16th!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mouse Fairy in Indian Valley!

Violet Mouse Fairy appeared at our house in Indian Valley last week, accompanied by Tulip Mouse Fairy, Beloved Queen. Tulip did some magical things like turn one of my group music classes into an art class. Violet Mouse Fairy became quite involved in the adventures of the Argonaut crew- you'll be hearing more about that...

It was very handy to have a Mouse Fairy around to help with garden design - Violet had some wonderful ideas about how to use space in the native grove I'm planting. She also chose the site for the gnome house that our good friend and remodel wizard Chris built for the garden. This will be an evolving project, but here's the start. Weenie got in the picture too!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Was It a Draft?

Was it a draft in the chill chambers of the Argonaut that caused Polar Knight's illness? In all likelihood, we'll never know. But shortly after the Last Lunch, the Big Bard of Big Bed Land, our dear Polar Knight, began exhibiting symptoms of of Poet Fever.

"O, for a draught of vintage," he said as the Animals were closing up their lunchboxes. "O, for a beaker full of the warm South."

They gathered around thinking that Polar Knight was going to treat them to some light apres-lunch poetry.

"Ask not the draft horses to deliver the kiwis, their gleaming loins are meant for the new earth..."

The Animals looked at each other with concern - the Bard was making no sense at all.

"Draft me not into the service of coin, those unyielding battlefields of silver and gold, commanders with graven images on their coined hearts, I am more unyielding even than these, I will not go!"

The Animals began to whisper among themselves. "Does he need a draught of distilled terseness, perhaps even a drastic dose of minimalism?"

"No, no, the fever must be allowed to break!" Pink Bear insisted with such earnestness that they knew she was right. They all agreed and gathered around to listen silently as Polar Knight's delirium increased.

"O Piggles, Beloved, you draft the speech of bees in the roadside hives and fields and they nuzzle their language against the curve of a rose until the stamens tremble, O ecstasy of pollen, the long sigh of fragrance released..."

Some of the Animals had to try very hard not to laugh. "Polar Knight is going to wake up to a serious over-draft in his word bank," Lefty commented. But the Bard didn't even seem to hear as he continued:

"This timeless draught, drawn from the rose by the honey-bee, this timeless dreaht from the rose dragan, sweet scent pulled from an eternal vessel, we are tapping the moist door of heaven, her smell of dell..."

Duffy shook his head sadly. "I think Polar Knight's been at the OED again," as all the Animals started sniffing - the air was all at once steamy and fragrant. They left the Bard and began sniffing around the chamber of the submarine.

Pink Bear's smiling face became even more smiling as a portal of swirling blue appeared in the ceiling. "It's Code Bear," she said softly. "Of course," Pink Bear said to herself, "she's the draughtsbear, decoding the draft of the universe - that's called playing draughts. It's a game and also not a game. Wow."

Goat entered the chamber with Dog. He took in the situation of Polar Knight at once and began to speak in his deepest captain voice - but strange words came out:

"Wrap him in afghans of purple and vair
to sleep by the warp drive core."

Then Goat shook his head fiercely to rid himself of the spreading fever and whispered to Dog "You see how contagious this is - we must isolate the Bard immediately and inform the crew of our situation."

Dog gently hustled the Bard out of sight while Goat told the crew to prepare for action. "Battle-stations!" he cried.

Pink Bear suddenly realized what Code Bear was trying to say - to draft is to pull in the fishnet, and it is also the fish within the net. She knew she could never explain this to most of the other Animals, but she was very happy. Then the portal filled with bubbles - a face began to emerge from the frothy cloud - and she saw: Violet! Violet Mouse Fairy from Summer Island! Violet herself had appeared as the Code Bear. Wow!

"Attention all hands," Goat said in a very serious voice. "We have completed our journey through the Council underworld of sewer lines and we have surfaced in the bathroom of our cherished Monsters, J. and E. But something has happened - a transformation of some kind, this is not the bathroom we have known before. We may have encountered some kind of Space-Time Anamoly (STA.)"

The Animals knew it was time to be very brave.

"Life signs?" Goat asked Dog, who was at the viewscreen of the periscope.

"Unknown," Dog responded. "I can't get a clear scan through all this steam and this uncanny fragrance, it reminds me, O, it reminds me of some unknown home, the smell of earth and rain, the smell of sea..."

Dog began to drift into reverie, which he NEVER does, and Goat immediately recognized the danger.

"Everyone put on your noseplugs right now!" Goat commanded and little Animals paws and fins throughout the submarine reached up above their seats and pressed the small overhead panels which released the emergency nose-plugs. They all put these on and breathed comfortably through their mouth, as instructed by Pinky in a soothing Hostess voice.

Pink Bear, who was heady-fragrance-immune, looked through the periscope and knew immediately that it was not an STA, but an SPA (Space Pig Asterisk) and said: "Why it's a spa! A night-sky-blue spa with starry brass fixtures."

"But whose spa is it, that is the question," Goat said sternly. "It wasn't here when we left on our underworld adventure."

"Well if we don't know whose it is," Pink Bear suggested, "let's just hold an auction for it, and then whoever wins it can invite us all to their spa!"

The Animals were all silent for a moment. Then they realized the wisdom of Pink Bear's plan, and began to put it into action right away.

Unavoidable Delay!

Dear Theme Thursday Friends and Animals,
this is Pablo, Monster E's Monster Parrot. I am screeching for her attention and you'll have to check back tomorrow.

NOTE FROM PINKY: Monster Parrots don't mean to be rude. They just are! Hope to see you tomorrow.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big Bed Land Goes to the Movies

We here in Big Bed Land have noticed that there is a lot of discussion among Monsters and their blogs about movies they've seen, and the Animals wanted to join the bandwagon. Here are some of their favorite movies.

Cowering Inferno
An unexpected side effect of a new anti-aging wrinkle cream causes a group of menopausal women to lose their shame and trust their anger. Their adventures, both hilarious and poignant, cause governments to topple as they infiltrate the cosmetics industry. Fun for the whole family!

Of Mouse Fairies and Men
A fascinating documentary exploring the ways of Mouse Fairies and their history.

When Monster E. suggested that Grapes of Frivolity sounded like a good movie, Monster J. said that maybe she was thinking of the movie Grapes of Math. He declined to give plot summary (probably not wanting to spoil the suspense!) but we have a feeling it tells the ancient story of how numbers were first invented as mystical signs to describe the ecstatic experience of eating a grape.

Chairman Panda has not yet figured out how to download images of these movies for Platypuss-in-Boots. She makes the movies herself through shopping (she shops like an Animal!) the minds of people passing by Panda Air on Highway 95 - keeping her audience, of course, in mind. She herself would probably like to make more sophisticated movies, but she knows what the masses in BBL want, and bows to their whims. Such is the dilemma of popular culture!

See you at the movies!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Last Lunch on the Argonaut

As you may recall from the last episode, the small Animal submarine called the Argonaut had picked up a coded message in the form of a tea towel. The Argonaut was making its approach to the storm drain on Illinois Street by way of the sewer main when Cultural Archivist Dog discovered that Captain Goat's charts were old - ancient in fact- and that storm drains no longer connected with the sewer system! Meanwhile, the tea towel was successfully decoded with the help of Lefty, Piggles, Intelligence Officer Bink, Cleopatra and her great understanding of perfume, and the mysterious, possibly French, Code Bear! Mais oui, c'est vrai! Communications Officer (aka Your Hostess Pinky) was tuning into Chanel No. 5 when we left our brave Animal crew...

As soon as Communications Officer Pinky tuned in, an eerie wailing song filled the little submarine. For a moment no one spoke - nothing like this had ever been heard in Big Bed Land- frightening, and yet fatally attractive. Bink was about to say how strange police sirens sounded when resonating down a storm drain and through the sewer pipes, almost like a giant pipe organ, when he suddenly felt an irresistable desire to leave the submarine. Others felt it too, and Polar Knight began shouting, "Everyone cover your ears! And tie me to the mast!"

He spoke with such urgency that the Animals obeyed instantly and covered their ears. In pantomime and with his ears covered, Bink pointed out that there was no mast on a submarine. Polar Knight indicated that the shaft of the periscope would do. The periscope was quivering in the waves of sound that flooded Polar Knight with a strange destructive ecstasy and they lashed the poet to it, holding the ropes in their teeth so they could keep their ears covered. Alas, the crew was not fitted out with ear-plugs as the wise old ancients were! Cleopatra was the only one who could listen to the Sirens singing without any difficulty. She listened intently, and never spoke of what she heard.

Goat, however, as captain, went to the little box reading: In Case of Emergency Break Glass and immediately put on the earmuffs that were inside the box. He did all he could to keep the submarine from smashing into what was once the connecting pipe to from the storm drain to the sewer main as the Sirens lashed the water into sound and fury!

Polar Bink, as an experienced poet, knew that Sirens were creatures of ecstasy - destructive through no real fault of their own. They didn't harm themselves in the ecstatic longing they engendered, and didn't really understand that sailors couldn't breathe in the atmosphere they created. Even if they had known, it wouldn't have made them stop. Wild longing hurt them no more than a flower is hurt when releasing fragrance. The Sirens were only mildly perplexed by the motionless bodies that gathered in their wake. Why do sailors want to play and then go motionless like that? they wondered briefly, not being, themselves, subject to death. They just shrugged and went on. They never stay in one place for long.

And this is exactly what happened - in a few moments (though it seemed far longer to the Animals) the Sirens moved on and the submarine was released from the pulsing waves that throbbed with a song of unearthly beauty. Goat thought this was due to his navigation, and Polar Knight let him continue in this belief. Polar Knight didn't care about glory, being a poet (of course, at that moment, forgetting about all the times he had cared intensely about glory) and having just had an experience the likes of which few poets ever really knew. Would he ever recover? Was he changed forever? These were questions that only the future could answer...

One problem he hadn't considered when the Animals had tied him up - how do you tell the crew they can uncover their ears when you are lashed to a periscope? He yelled and wriggled and no one noticed, they were still dashing from porthole to porthole. Finally Goat saw the poet's mouth moving and cautiously removed the earmuffs of command. The two Animals shared a moment of quiet triumph before approaching the other Animals with the news of victory.

The Animals were thrilled and also very hungry.

"What's for lunch?" they cried.

Goat thought hard for a moment. "Well, all we have left is emergency rations."

The Animals groaned. What they didn't know was that Goat always laid in a supply of everyone's absolutely most favorite food for starvation rations. He had decided that if you get to the point of using them, that's when you really need a boost. Since the Argonaut would be home in an hour, they might as well celebrate, he thought, and have starvation rations. He was sure that his own starvation lunchbox was packed with a complete picnic - veggieburger, potato salad, chips, pickles, and strawberry rhubarb pie.

Goat hid his own disappointment goatfully. There had been no mention of the Golden Eye-Patch at all. Well, he knew he didn't really deserve it. And he wouldn't let his disappointment spoil anybody's lunch. That's how a true captain acted. But he wasn't really sure he wanted a picnic anymore. Then he felt surrounded suddenly by the presence of the Code Bear herself! "When you come home," she whispered, "you will have all that you desire."

"Huh," Goat thought to himself in some disgust. "That's not French- I understood it perfectly and I don't speak French. She's not French after all, what a bunch of nonsense all that is, how can Animals believe in this kind of thing. I know that wasn't French - unless - but I thought the Universal Translator was on the blink - it can't be working..." And so Goat went to check out the Universal Translator, feeling like a true captain once again.