Night of the Living

General Discomfort

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero died one year ago today. He made Night of the Living Dead. I guess those zombies are supposed to look scary, but to me, they just look like a horde of stepdads heading for the fridge in the middle of the night. And what’s with the one on the left? Did he just get back from a toga party?

Born on July 16th: Saint Clare of Assisi, 1194. Her feast day is August 11th and her patronage includes eye disease, goldsmiths, laundry, television, embroiders, gilders, good weather, and needleworkers.

Also poet Susan Wheeler, 1955; actress and dancer Ginger Rogers, 1911; and farmer and popcorn extraordinaire Orville Redenbacher, 1905. Also artist Charles Sheeler, 1883; journalist and civil rights activist Ida Wells, 1862; and elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver, 1925. When she was twenty years old, she worked at the Empire State Building. On July 28, 1945, what was to be her last day of work with her fiance was returning home from the war, she survived an elevator crash that dropped her 1,000 feet. She was working on the 80th floor when a B-25 bomber accidentally crashed into the building on the 79th floor.  The blow caused the elevator car cables to snap and sent her into a 1,000-foot free fall. This plunge is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Although she never returned to regular work at the Empire State Building, five months later, she returned to the building and rode the elevator to the top.


The engine and part of the wing of a B-25 bomber are seen protruding from the Empire State Building after it crashed into the 79th floor of the structure in New York, July 28, 1945. (ERNIE SISTO/AP Photo)


For today: Interestingly, the 16th card in the tarot deck is The Tower, which the above AP photo kind of reminds me of. The card shows a tower being hit by lightning, and on fire, sometimes with people falling from it. The card is supposed to symbolize sudden destruction and violent change but like all tarot cards, and sudden change come to think of it, does not have to be an altogether sinister card.

Over the coming weeks, I am trying to make some progress on a book I have been working on forever. I will also try to keep up on posts, but if I miss days, that is why.

As far as what the 16th tarot card means for you, I predict you could and should soon have in your possession piles of exploding kernels, grains that truly teach us to not resist the violent change that could lead us to be something so much better, provided you also have butter. Hopefully, this will occur with one or more zombie movies in queue.



Six Degrees of Separation: Smurfs, Zombies, Farrah Fawcett, and the American Auto Industry

General Discomfort

Igor Stravinsky’s opera Firebird opera opened in Paris on June 25, 1910. The firebird is a creature from Slavic fairy tale.  The opera is a mix of this and another fairy tale called Koschei the Deathless, about a magician who cannot be killed like a mortal because his soul is separate from his body, inside a needle, hidden inside an egg in a duck, which is in a hare inside of an iron chest that is buried under an oak tree on an island.

June 25th is the birthday of illustrator and creator of  Kewpies, Rose Cecil O’Neill, who was born in 1874. Writer Frigyes Karinthy was born June 25, 1887. He was the first person to introduce the concept of six degrees of separation, in the story Láncszemek (translation Chains). Writer George Orwell was born June 25, 1903.  His given name was Eric Arthur Blair. Philosopher Willard VanOrman Quine was born June 25, 1908.

Belgian author and illustrator Pierre Culliford was born June 25, 1928.  He is better known by his pen name Peyo, and he created The Smurfs. They started as a Belgian comic strip in 1958, and were called Les Schtroumpfs.

These pages are from the 1958 story Les Schtroumpfs Noir. In a nutshell, the plot involves a smurf getting bit by a poisonous black fly, who then has to run around biting and infecting other smurfs. So, basically a precursor to Night of the Living Dead.

Governor of Massachusetts John Winthrop of Massachusetts introduced the fork to colonial America. This factoid was listed on The Old Farmer’s Almanac and it seemed so improbable that this first has a documented anniversary, I had to investigate further. I did find it referenced in several places, including the book Colonial American History Stories – 1214-1664: Forgotten and Famous Historical Events by Paul Wyoming.

Jacques Cousteau died June 25, 1997. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died June 25, 2009. French philosopher Michel Foucault died June 25, 1984.

So, I am assuming you want me to summarize June 25th using six degrees of separation? Okay, starting backwards, an important focus of Foucault’s philosophical theory is primarily concerned with power and punishment. He died in 1984, which is the title of George Orwell’s novel, about a totalitarian society named Oceania. Jacques Cousteau explored the oceans. There are such a thing as zombie fish  (we are going to assume this takes care of both Michael Jackson, and the Smurfs, which started as a comic). Speaking of comics Kewpie dolls started as a comic strip, and Farrah Fawcett starred in the following comic book:

Here we are going to make the very likely cognitive leap that somewhere there is a photo of Farrah Fawcett riding in, or sitting on, a Pontiac Firebird, a car that was first assembled in 1967, in Ohio. Do you know who else is from Ohio? Willard VanOrman Quine, who was born in Akron, Ohio, who, coincidentally, I am related to.  Willard’s mother Harriet was the daughter of James, who was the son of Oliver, who was the son of James, who was the brother of John, my 4th great grandfather.

So, stick a fork in it, I’m done.