Sunday, 26 May 2013

The After lives of the Dead

Source: Wikipedia Commons
"World's Ugliest Woman" - catches your attention, doesn't it?  I had to know more simply because I wanted to see who/what would qualify for that 'title' and you know what? It's not deserved. At least I don't think so. But then again I live in the 21st C.

Until listening to a recent podcast of CBC's Q I had never heard of Julia Pastrana. The story begins with the 19th C tendency to put on display anything, or anybody, with even a hint of the exotic. Julia, born in Mexico with two genetic disorders, was bought and sold in life and death. She died in childbirth following which she, and her dead 3 day old son, continued to be exhibited.

So, this story is also about the decade long efforts of Laura Anderson Barbata, a Mexican-American artist, to have Pastrana's preserved remains, somewhere in Norway, returned to Mexico and given a decent burial. Which, considering how long Pastrana was on display, is not too much to ask. It's a story that brings up issues about otherness, exploitation, and the after lives of the dead.

Speaking of which here's another CBC podcast (yes, I do like my national radio) about a somewhat similar topic...

Nobody's Dead Anymore: Marketing Dead Celebrities on Under the Influence. This episode looks at how dead celebrities have been digitally resurrected to sell yet more stuff.  Those who are the top sellers are referred to as kidding.

"It's become a $2 billion dollar industry. The marketing of dead celebrities not only attracts lots of big brands, but lots of controversy. We'll trace the use of dead celebrities in advertising, we'll analyze "Dead Q Scores," we'll list the top-grossing dead celebrities, we'll tell some fascinating stories about ads that featured Audrey Hepburn, Michael Jackson, Fred Astaire, Kurt Cobain and Marilyn Monroe - and how their families felt about those commercials."

Click here if you want to read more about "Selling the Dead." And here for"An Artist Finds a Dignified Ending for an Ugly Story".

I'm not sure where I stand when it comes to this kind of exploitation. On the one hand once you are gone you are, presumably, beyond caring about what's done with your body or image. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd want images of me brought together in order to sell a chocolate bar especially one with such a weird slogan...I mean, what's wrong with cotton! If you do care, or your family does, I guess you need to have things written down and notarized.

Would I want this blog to continue to exist should I get hit by a bus tomorrow? Well, given my tendency to occasionally erase traces of my online presence, I guess not...? Hmmm, this will require more thought. 

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Mermaids from Near and Far...especially Coney Island

Save the mermaids! Check out this on Kickstarter or read Amanda Palmer's blog post Mermaids, Guns and Steel, about the fund raising event (local and online) to save the Mermaid Parade!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Fall - Anderson's Serial Killer Detective

Caught the first episode of The Fall the other night. Gillian Anderson plays the very competent and professional catcher of this very threatening just-a-regular-family-man-and-marriage-counsellor killer.  The first episode has that heavy with silence quality that worked so well in Kenneth Branagh's Wallander - the viewer is a witness to what's happening rather than having everything explained through dialogue. The music in this clever trailer captures the tone of this chilling show perfectly.

And in case you are interested, the music is by the amazing Lhasa de Sela. (Lhasa has, unfortunately, left this sphere of existence but her music lives on. You can listen to a great podcast tribute to her and her music on CBC's A Propos.)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

In the Dark of Night

Kelly Hofer photography
I like the dark of night,
especially in the autumn.
The night is alive with sounds;
the rustle of leaves,
the flutter of wings,
soft distant voices carried on a breeze.

In the dark of night we say things we wouldn't say in the light;
So in the dark, in the night, we can be free.

- by pcoristi

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Knitted Anatomy!!

From "Lab" by Shanell Papp

Wow! In all my efforts to knit something interesting I never thought of knitting intestines.

Check out Shanell Papp's efforts at the entire human anatomy! You can read an interview with her here or see more of her work here.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Mermaids don't mean to kill...

Underwater beings will forever hold me transfixed. I guess I just have a thing about them. Not so fond of the wickedly creepy being of fresh water, Jenny Greenteeth tho. I first discovered her in the book of Faeries by Brian Froud. Her image stuck with me for years and made me somewhat afraid to delve into the small watering hole we spent afternoons beside up at camp. Ok, so maybe the blood suckers had something to do with that too, but Jenny is responsible for the drowning of many a young child so clearly I was right to be cautious.

Now, I know rumours abound regarding mermaids and the occasional drowning at sea but honestly I think most of these incidents are accidents. I believe mermaids are simply looking for some company and then tend to forget that we are surface creatures. That being said there is something a tad reminiscent of Jonathan Harker and Dracula's brides in this particular underwater scenario. And by the end it doesn't look like he's heading for the surface now does it?