Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Dec 8 2021 - Who is that Mrs. Claus?

 

Yesterday I was worried that Santa is fat.  Should I worry that Mrs. Claus has no first name.  Sh's known as Mrs. Santa Claus. Her job is to make cookies with the elves. That seems a bit redundant given how many cookies Santa eats on Christmas Eve?  It has been calculated at 40 billion calories.

Since 1889, Mrs. Claus has been traditionally depicted in media as a  heavy-set, (looks fat in some pictures to me), kindly-appearing, white-haired elderly woman.  Like a "granny doll". How is it that she's "heavy set" while Santa is fat?  She is usually depicted wearing a fur dress of red with white fur trim.  ``````````````````

She's usually baking cookies somewhere in the background of the Santa Claus mythos. She sometimes seen in the factory and assists in toy production and oversees Santa's elves. If she is depicted in her youth, the surprise is that is on occasion shown to have had red hair. 


The answer to how old is Mrs. Claus is: "There's a long story behind it, but the short answer is that Mrs. Claus is just 1,139 years old." That seems a strange answer, but then someone paid some money to have their email santa.com website at the top of the list.  Santa is slightly older on that website.

Here's a hilarious question that pops up on Google:  Does Mrs. Claus have a life of her own?  What department of redundancy department question for someone without a first name.  On the other hand, she does have a birthday.  It is reported to be Christmas Day.  Santa's is reported to be March 15th.
 

Here they are at the 2019 Fantasy of Trees.

 

Our first picture today is my reflection in a metal wall piece by Floyd Elzinga, and the second is the abstract version created in Flaming Pear's Flexifly.  It looks like a Christmas image to me - swirly fun.
 
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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Dec 7 2021 - How Fat is Santa?

 

What about Santa and how fat he is?  Google wants to look up "how far is Santa Monica" and "how far is Santa".  That's because this is something we don't think about - but lots of people have written about this.

From the time "A Visit From St. Nicholas" was written in 1823, Santa has been described as chubby and plump, with a round little belly that shook when he laughed "like a bowl full of jelly."  Coca-Cola took this to extremes and made Santa just plain fat.  Supposedly this is "part of the charm". 

And besides Coca-Cola, who else to blame? Trust Hollywood.  One article reported that it used to have a set of numbers – waist circumference, face shape, beard length – that Santas were supposed to adhere to.  Coca-Cola’s Santa, whom many in America try to emulate, is very round: round face, round nose, round stomach. Around the world, the legendary giver comes in all shapes and sizes. The Santa imitated in Europe is a thinner man with more squared-off features.

Roy Pickler is a professional Santa who dropped 88 pounds.  He's covered in CNN health 
HERE. He was in the television contest "The Biggest Loser".  He is quoted as saying: “The world is going to have to change their acceptance of what Santa looks like,” Pickler said. “Santa is a role model, and kids don’t want to have a role model that’s fat.”

There is an update for our North American Santa. He has lost 25 pounds over the last 20 years.  Compared to Roy Pickler, Santa has 50 pounds to go.  I wouldn't call Roy skinny from the pictures, either.   It is entertaining to search for fat Santa - the photo stock companies have lots of versions - "full length body size profile side view of handsome fat overweight cheerful Santa".  

And maybe we can't be too choosy in 2021 - there is a shortage of Santas due to COVID.  In one article it says that of the 8,000 Santas in the company's database, 355 have died in 2021 with COVID being the cause for the vast majority.  Really!  That's what the article says HERE


Here's the latest in the Up Against the Wall Series.   The background is the Bathurst Street Chess board in the park complete with graffiti.  The colours are wonderful and look regal - like an archeological dig where core samples of urban life are revealed.
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Monday, December 6, 2021

Dec 6 2021 - Christmas Cake vs Wedding Cake

 

Christmas Cake. Wedding Cake.  How did it come about that they are dense, dark, 'matured' fruit cakes with marzipan and royal icing? This is a Commonwealth tradition.  What will Barbados do now?

So Christmas cake is the same as Wedding cake to me.  

And then there is Christmas pudding - rich, steamed pudding made with flour, suet and dried fruits.  What is the common element of both of these English Christmas traditions?  Rich! Very rich.

And what about the French Buche de Noel?  Now that's a traditional French sponge cake layered with a rich, butter cream frosting, all made to resemble a decorative Yule log.  

The Italians have much lighter and less sweet Pandora and Panettone Christmas breads.  They fall for the fruit cake trap too and have Panforte - a traditional Italian rich nut and fruit cake.

Everyone seems to fall for the marinated mature fruits as part of their Christmas cake tradition.  You can tour around the world in Christmas cakes HERE.  

And how does Johnny Carson fit into the Christmas tradition? With his famous fruitcake joke. 

“The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

The article says that "For many, that wisecrack sliced like a hot knife through soft butter. Almost immediately after the jokes airing, fruitcake sales drastically declined."

Today's picture is from a few years ago - a colourized lily - the impossible blue.
 
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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Dec v5 2021 - StoryPeople vs FlyingEdna

 

Something got my attention about StoryPeople and I knew there must be a complicated story here.  There definitely is.

It started out as StoryPeople by Brian Andreas.  He and his wife, Ellen Rockne created the business in the 1990s. A promotional approach for his art is a free email subscription to the story of the day - a short story/poem (50 to 100 words) with a beautifully coloured and creatively drawn image.  Always heartfelt and caring in the world based on a sense of "magic in everything".  This was a tremendously successful business - books, art works, apparel, sculptures, ornaments and so on.  They were represented in over 200 galleries in the US, with more in the UK.  Andreas had been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his books.  There's a lot of success here.

But go to the StoryPeople link and it isn't Brian Andreas anymore.  
It is now run by his former wife and sons.  It is known as "The Brothers Andreas, Gabriel and Matthew, the newest generation of StoryPeople."

"Raised by unconventional parents, they are well-suited for making things out of words and music and movement and color. They share a tendency to vacillate between existential despair and a wild, lilting hope that everything is going to turn out okay. Gabe makes our new stories, and Matthew creates the artwork. Who knew when they were little guys that they would end up being such seamless collaborators?"


So what happened? Acrimonious divorce that took 9 years to complete. There was a lot of money at stake. Assets and investments were secretly held by Andreas and not disclosed.  Huge tax liabilities in the millions were not paid over a number of years.  More legal activities took place and eventually the assets/rights of StoryPeople became Ellen Rockne's and not Kai Skye's.  

That explains how at one point, two emails a day started coming - one from StoryPeople and the other from Kai Skye now known as FlyingEdna, inviting me to hop on over there now.  Andreas had changed his name from Brian Andreas (he refers to this as his pen name) to Kai Skye and gained a new life partner, Wendy Saver, now known as Fia Skye.  

I remember that Kai Skye denounced the divorce settlement in his story of the day emails. This was a few years ago. Fellow artists have defended him and decried the loss of intellectual property rights.  His  art purchasers and appreciators have publicly supported him as well.  

But there is this quiet link on the StoryPeople website 
HERE.  It has the full text of the divorce decision at Appeals Court and the text of Brian Andreas lawsuit against his sons over a trust set up for them.  Why would they want this to be known? It describes Brian Andreas  diverting funds, his activities concealing assets and attempts to secretly undermine StoryPeople. The reading of the judgement is fascinating and contains a lot of information about Brian Andreas/Kai Skye's personality and behaviour.  

So there is our complicated story.  Here is one of Kai Skye's own poems:

“Brian Andreas Promise #1:
Promises to Myself #1: I will tell the truth unless I get confused & I think I could get in real trouble if someone found out, in which case, I will lie as convincingly as possible for as long as I feel the need.” 
― Brian Andreas


A Christmas story today for our picture.  It could be one of Skye's poems.
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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Dec 4 2021 - Christmas Slime - the Perfect Gift

 

Why do people love slime?  Here's the answer:

"Other than the sheer fun of learning science, slime is popular for several reasons. Some find it satisfying to watch slime turn from a solid to a liquid and back again.  

Squishing it between your fingers can also be a great way to relieve stress. And some people just like it because it's gooey and fun to stretch.  

Personally, I find it fascinating watching basic ingredients turn into something completely different with just a few minutes of stirring. I also use a special type of slime to clean electronics."  ~ from cnet.com
 

Slime can be made in many different varieties. Here's a sample of some of the most popular. Each of these links will take you to a video that shows how to make it.  This is an excellent Christmas activity - just like making cookies.

  • Glitter slime or unicorn slime: Just a basic slime recipe with glitter mixed in. 
  • Cleaning slime: This is a thicker slime that works almost like a lint brush to get crud out of your keyboard and other electronics.
  • Fluffy slime: This slime feels like a soft marshmallow when you squish it.
  • Popping slime: Styrofoam pellets or other beads mixed in with regular slime make this one a sensory delight. 
  • Borax-free slime: Some people who are concerned about how harsh borax (a cleaning agent) can be on the skin opt for slime recipes without it.
  • Glow-in-the-dark slime: Yes, it really does glow in the dark and it can be made at home with nontoxic items.
Slime grew in reputation since its introduction in 1976. The movie Ghostbusters in 1984 showcased slime with a recipe that remains secret and was said to be edible.   As special effects supervisor Chuck Gaspar told Cinefex, they used a mixture of water, food coloring, and two thickeners called methocel and separan. “It would not have any taste, but you could eat it,” he said. “The grade of methocel we used is also used in pie thickeners and salad dressings.”

Now that explains my rejection of commercial salad dressings.

Two scenes on models at the railroad conventions of the past.


 
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