Three Heads Are Better Than One

It’s day 4 of Blogdramedy’s Dog Days of Summer writing challenge.  Today’s bow wow spotlight is on none other than Fluffy, the three-headed dog featured in Harry Potter.  A couple of disclaimers before we begin; I have this all written and ready to publish on day 3, and I’m hopeful there will be internet access on the rustic portion of the Oregon coast where I’ll be at this time tomorrow.  Also, I freely admit that I have never read any of the Harry Potter books, though at least a couple of my children are fanatical about all things Potter.  I did a 30 second Google search and started typing.  A three-headed dog in a British setting?  It’s only 110 words, how badly can I screw this up?

"Hey Clive, your breath is bloody frightful it is" (Image from squidoo dot com)
Hey Clive, your breath is bloody frightful it is” (Image from squidoo dot com)

Allo Guv’nuh!

So you know, I’m the only one of the ‘eads who can speak the Queen’s English. The two ‘eads to me left lack vocabularies beyond your standard growlin’ and snarlin’.

We each got our abilities, we ‘ave. Clive on the far left is really the best suited for licking our arse. It’s just as well, I’ve never developed a taste fer it meself. Teddy, in the middle, he excels at catching flies. Not much of a skill, that, but he’s right proud of himself when he gets one. Clive and me humor ‘im and make a big deal out of it.

Hey Clive! Give our bum a lick wouldja?

Blogdramedy

Steve Betz

Joe’s Musings

Jtailele’s Blog – (Be advised, every time I click on this link, I find a blank blog.  If nothing changes by tomorrow, I’m dropping this one.)

MC’s Whispers

Shouts from the Abyss

H.E. Ellis

Lenore Diane

Fix it or Deal

1 Point Perspective – You just read my Fluffy post, why not celebrate the upcoming football season by reading my post about a really brilliant player for the Broncos?

Claes Oldenburg and Me – Misunderstood Artists

Recently, while driving South on Broad Street in Philadelphia, my dear friend and I spotted one of Claes Oldenburg’s impressive, whimsical sculptures.  While the subject of his piece was fairly obvious, my friend thought it looked like something else.

It’s no secret that the works of artists are frequently misinterpreted by the common rabble.  Even someone as vastly cultured as myself can look at a Rothko painting and exclaim that it looks like a big block of color with another block of color in it too.

This might be about man's inhumanity to man, or maybe it's about the artist's love of delicious strawberry shortcake...or maybe not.. (Rothko white over red - Image from etc.cmu.edu/projects/atl/rothko.htm)

I might look at a Robert Motherwell painting and see nothing more than a big black rectangle.  (On a side note, I’d like to take a brief moment to thank my parents for footing the bill for that undergrad degree which included quite a few art history courses – without their support, I might have gone through life thinking that Robert Motherwell was a British soccer player).

This is a painting by Robert Motherwell, or maybe it's a lithograph. I don't need to tell you what this is about - it's obvious. (Image by elogedelart.canalblog.com/archives/2009/06/20/14146298.html)

Oldenburg though, is not someone whose work is usually subject to such blatant misinterpretation.  He’s renowned for taking everyday objects and looking at them differently.  His sculptures include subjects such as a giant clothespin (Also in Philadelphia), a soft fabric version of a toilet and as we saw on Broad Street, a giant paintbrush with a healthy dollop of red paint on the pavement beneath it.  The tip of the paintbrush is way up in the air, a celebratory salute to Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts .  Technically, the sculpture is on a section of Cherry Street which is closed to traffic, but it juts out onto Broad Street (For the record, it’s Broad Street, putting sculptures on it and adding a few extra signs doesn’t change the name to the Avenue of the Arts – sorry).

My friend, like most people, had no idea about this whole Avenue of the Arts nonsense.  When I pointed out the giant paintbrush, she took one glance and said it looked more like an elf’s foot.  Almost immediately, we began to speculate about the state of the rest of the elf.  We settled on him being awkwardly splayed out dead on Cherry Street, in full rigor mortis, a giant cartoon butcher knife stuck in his chest and a chalk outline around his profile.  The elf in my mind would bear something of a resemblance to Sonic the Hedgehog, but more elfin and dead.  The street would be cordoned off with crime scene tape as throngs of morbid curious onlookers milled around just up-wind.

You can see where we let our imaginations get the better of us. The giant, dead elf just out of sight on Cherry Street - it looked a little more convincing from the other direction (Photo by the author)

While I don’t think that artists in general enjoy having their hard work misunderstood by stooges like us, I like to believe that Mr. Oldenburg would humor us a little bit.  Although, now that I’m a massively successful blogger working in words rather than oil or marble, I believe I’ve earned the right to identify with the frustration of the misunderstood artist.

Take comfort Claes, at least someone saw your work.  If there was a “like” button for your paintbrush, I’d hit it.

“The Hunger Games” Meet the Voices in My Head

I’ll admit it, I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of trends.

Take for example, the fact that “The Hunger Games” movie came out the other day, and I’m just starting to read the book.  Actually, I’ve been reading the book for a while, it’s just that between blogging and working and drinking, there isn’t too much awake time left for paperbacks of “The Lottery” meets “A Coalminer’s Daughter” meets “Futurama”.

I’m not a literary critic, so I’ll try to stop that.

When I started reading that book, I couldn’t help but notice that the words on the pages were echoing in my head in a British accent.  If I’m reading a P.D. James mystery or Thomas Hardy novel, the same thing happens.  I’m not sure if it’s due to my knowing  that the authors are from jolly old England, or if it’s because they write in a British style – I just know what the narrator’s voice in my head sounds like.  For the record, when I read the works of Stephen Hawking, the voice in my head takes on the automated sound of computer generated speech.  I know who wrote the piece, and it adds to my reading experience.  Besides, it adds an element of entertainment to the chore of reading the otherwise incomprehensible work of a mega-genius.

"I say, old boy, I believe my favourite smoking jacket is at the tailor's shoppe. Be a sport and toddle down to wardrobe and fetch me a new one, won't you? Also, I'm simply parched, would you mind bringing me a glass of port as well? Jolly good of you!"
(Image from kued.com)

As for the accents, it’s usually my voice, but a decidedly British version thereof.  If I close my eyes I can practically see the Brit version of  myself, sitting in a wing-back chair with a snifter of something brown on the table next to me with a doily beneath it.  There’s a tasteful lamp barely lighting the dark wood library behind me.  My pipe sits prominently in it’s holder next to the snifter.  My legs are crossed in the more feminine vertical fashion and I appear to be wearing some kind of Hugh Hefner/Don Draper smoking jacket.  I tilt my head slightly in an intellectual fashion and smile gently at the camera, revealing my crooked yellow teeth.  A dusty, leatherbound edition of “The Hunger Games” is open in my lap.  I regard the camera one last time, put on my trusty wire-rimmed reading glasses, look down to the pages and start reading.  You could practically smell the steak-and-kidney pie and scones baking in the nearby kitchen.

I needed to confirm my suspicions that the author of “The Hunger Games” Suzanne Collins, was originally from England, or had at least spent some serious time there.  I looked for a quick explanation, flipping my paperback over to find the usual all-about-the-author blurb.  You know how those go:

“R.I.P. Skippy – We Miss You!” is David Lovett’s 4th blockbuster novel.  He lives with his wife and several beloved pet iguanas in a small cabin in the Azores.  Born in Illinois and raised in the hard-scrabble streets of suburban New Jersey, he attended several American Universities earning degrees in fields which he eventually abandoned in favor of writing blockbuster novels.  Look for his next action packed novel “A Hangover Dissected” hitting shelves in Early 2013.

I was unable to find anything on the book cover and had to look online to find out whether Suzanne Collins came from Oxford-Hamptonshire or Hastings-On-Kent.  I was amazed to discover that she doesn’t appear to have a single tie to England whatsoever (She did work as a writer on the Nickleodeon show “Clarissa Explains It All” – which may or may not explain why she wrote a series of books about teenagers hunting and killing each other).

I was stumped.  The British voice in my head was still there.  Was it the bleak, Dickensian setting of “The Seam”?  Was it the weird names the characters had?  One’s named Katniss, one is Peeta – her bio says she’s adopted feral cats – are we surprised?  Anyway, back to the voice in my head.  I was having a hard time enjoying the book, because of reading each sentence multiple times.  The first time would be in a stiff, formal British Parliamentary kind of tone, the second would be more on the Cockney side (Eh Guv-nah?), then the third would be in my own glorious American accent.  By the time I’d read a given sentence three times, I’d have to go back and read it a fourth time because I was too busy affecting an accent to actually absorb the meaning of the words.  If you’ve read the book, you know these are not generally sentences which improve with multiple readings.

Luckily for me, lots and lots of people have read the book.  Even people who almost never read seem to have read all three of “The Hunger Games” books.  I began asking people who I work with whether they had had similar experiences with the whole British accent thing.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that not one person understood what the hell I was talking about.  Despite being rabid fans of the books, almost all of these people wanted to drop the topic of Katniss and company and talk instead about the voices in my head.  Many of them became convinced that I have some kind of paranoid schizophrenia and a few seemed a little frightened of what the voices might say to me.

“Is the voice in your head a man’s or a woman’s?”

“When the voices speak in accents, do they tell you to hurt yourself?”

“Does your dog ever tell you to do things?”

After a day or two of this, the voice in my head told me to stop asking people about the voices in their heads.  It went something like this: “I say old chum, it seems these blokes think you a bit daft.  I suspect you’d be better off not chatting them up about what I say to you.  Wouldn’t want them committing you to some sort of ‘looney bin’ as you Yanks like to say, what?  Now then, let’s not tarry, we’ve got rope and shovels to buy and a list to finish”