October 31, 2004

Horse 217 - Hallow-Irish-Een

The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year. This sounds suspiciously familiar, Christmas as we know is also a case of the Catholic Church stealing existing holidays and using them for their own ends.

The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree. According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.

One story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.
Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess. This again is a very Irish idea. The concept of evil spirits (in the case of Ireland usually Whisky or Poteen), drunkeness and destruction are very much associations we make with the Irish.

Irrespective of how the holiday came to be, Australia treats it with the utter ignorance that it deserves. As useful as Labour Day, Valentines Day, Queen's Birthday etc aren't, they still manage to be of significance to people. Halloween fails owing to one major reason... it's stupid (again also Irish).

And here I was thinking that All Saint's Day was the holiday for a late 90's girl band.

October 30, 2004

Horse 216 - Daylight Wasting Time

Apart from the fact that it fades the curtains, confuses cows, and means that I now leave for work in the dark in the morning, I for one do not like Daylight Savings Time. It isn't because of the above but for the most shocking things of all... change in timezones.

For the next 4 months, Australia goes from being +10GMT to +11GMT, now what this means in real terms is that the 3pm game instead of starting at midnight, now begins at 2am. Now I don't know about you but I for one don't see why the government should impose a law which decrees that I get less sleep.

The other reason why I hate daylight savings, is the bizarre set of timezones imposed on the country.

+11:00 - NSW, Vic & Tas
+10:30 - SA
+10:00 - Qld (because they aren't on it)
+09:30 - NT (they aren't on it either)
+08:00 - WA (and neither are they)

Not only does 5 timezones confuse the heck out of everyone but to make matters worse, there are flights from Perth to Sydney that take 5 hours and leave Perth at 11pm local time. 23+5+2=30 or 06:00am the next morning. The flight is called the "Red Eye" and if you've just lost a night's sleep (again imposed by government regulation) then no wonder you'd be irritable at the whole affair.

October 29, 2004

Friday = Divulge

http://divulge.bjd.au.com - 5 weekly questions. Have you got the answers?

Horse 215 - Kimba The White Lion

This is the original Kimba, the real Kimba, the Kimba that went around the world and is still loved by millions of people everywhere. The show was produced in Japan, where it was known as "Jungle Emperor". The story and characters were created by Dr. Osamu Tezuka, adapted from his own manga which was first published in 1950. Jungle Emperor / Kimba the White Lion was made in 1965 as a joint production between Tezuka's Mushi Productions and NBC Enterprises. This is the series that has become famous around the world.

52 original episodes were made between 1965 and about 1970. There was much controversy surrounding "Disney's" The Lion King. Hollywood has long been ripping off Japanese films for their own ends, this is yet anither case of the big corporate rip off. Basically if you've seen "The Lion King" then you'll know every element of Kimba down to the minutest level except that Disney did install the element of interaction with humans.

The TV Kimba is a simplification of the novels. Big-game hunters kill the, mighty Caesar, the king of the jungle, and capture his queen, Snowene. Kimba is born on the boat that brings his mother to a zoo in Europe, but he escapes, and he returns to the African veld. Caesar's old friends, led by wise old Dan'l Baboon, Bucky Deer and Pauley Cracker the parrot, try to help Kimba realize his place as the young Prince, but Kimba wants to be more than a strong fighter like father. He is impressed by human civilization and he wants to create a similar animal civilization where beasts will not have to prey on each other. This stirs the opposition of many animals. Even the friendlier carnivores point out that he is basically asking them to starve to death.

Kimba begins as a babyish cub, acknowledged as the Prince but considered an impractical dreamer by all but his closest friends. Gradually, he accomplishes his goals (including finding a "Meat substitute" for the carnivores) and convinces the other animals of the value of his "civilization." By the last episodes, he is a husky teenager and his peaceful animal kingdom is solidly established.

Because NBC were still a little touchy over their relations with Japan, Mushi Productions were kept very quiet. Most American kids never realised that they were watching a cartoon that came from the country that bomed their Pearl Harbour. Kimba was a Japanese cartoon, but the name is American. In the original Japanese, Jungulu Taitei, he's Leo the Lion. NBC, which bought the American rights, considered this moniker too unimaginative. They instructed producer Fred Ladd to change the hero's name to something more original. Ladd's team of writers and dubbers, led by Cliff Owens and Billie Lou Watt, took the Swahili word for lion, simba, and changed the initial letter to create Kimba- a unique name - which Disney also convieniently forget to mention.

Yet again, when "The Lion King" came out, I saw that Disney had again sold its soul.

October 28, 2004

Horse 214 - Lessons From Sesame St

For decades, Cookie Monster, Grover, Oscar, Big Bird and the rest of the gang at Sesame Street have been entertaining us while teaching us valuable lessons – lessons that go beyond the obvious, Maths, English, Science and teamwork. The lessons are not unique to the United States, nor do the characters take on special significance based on that culture. Sesame Street could be found in almost every community from New York to Newcastle, Harlem to Haberfield, The Bronx to The Valley.

There is always the village grouch whose job it is to quarrel with everyone and everything. There is the village simpleton, whose sole job is to make everyone around them look smart and then there are those who you are not quite sure of their purpose, but their presence does lend to some good times.

I have learnt to be passionate about whatever or whoever I love from non other than, Cookie Monster. Now one school of thought puts down his behaviour as nothing short of greediness, however I do not think the intention was to teach young persons to overeat, but rather to be voracious in whatever you do. When Cookie Monster sees cookies, it’s as if he goes into a trance, with unwavering focus on the task ahead of him. He attacks it and relishes it. So if you love, love with all you have. If you like to write, play music, play football, maths, sewing, art, computer technology, do it with gusto and unwavering passion. Don’t be daunted by the size of the task or the amount of work ahead, if that is what you love, dig in and enjoy every last crumb of it.

And what about The Count. He makes no qualms about it, when asked why he is called The Count, he simply states, “they call me the count because I love to count things - ha ha ha ha”. How many of us can boast with such confidence, the surety of our purpose, our reason for being here. The Count does not meddle in the affairs of letters, signs or symbols, his domain is numbers, and of that he is certain. I have learnt therefore that the joy that allows for one to end his sentence with ha ha ha ha, could only come from a having a deep, wonderful sense of purpose.

I have learnt about determination from Grover. No other character has held so many jobs (and been so incredibly bad at all of them). From Superhero to waiter, messenger to door-to-door salesman, it is as if Grover has done it all. He may not be good at any, however what a spirit he possesses! He keeps searching and searching until he is able to find that calling. If he will ever find it remains to be seen but he sure does try. He might annoy the hell out of everyone (I do feel sorry for that man with the blue head), but Grover is never daunted by any task put before him.

And finally I have learnt that if all else fails look cute and ask a lot of questions like Elmo. He is probably one of the most popular characters of all (to this day I don’t know why) and it is all due to his childlike appreciation of the world around him.

October 27, 2004

Horse 213 - The Windows To The Soul

This statement holds more truth than just some glib little platitude. It's usually used by highly enamoured and romantic people who wish to flatter their equally highly enamoured partner, however there is a far more practical and useful side to this phrase which I will now attempt to unpack for you.

If you've ever been away and slept in a dormitory with other people, you will find that the conversation can sometimes extend quite markedly into the night when the lights are turned off. The same can be equally said for people who will talk for hours on the telephone.

The reason for this is because one of the functions of holding a conversation is to establish attitudes and ideas. We receive all sorts of signals from people and a great many of them come from those 27 muscles immediately surrounding people's eyes. Some of the most subtle motor control in the whole human body is contained in those few square inches and it appears as though we are trained at a very early age to read those signals.

The practical point of this is that without those signals, at least on one front people are more open and ready to speak. By being forced to listen to the little quivers in people's voices and other things like tone and timbre, other world's of information are suddenly opened up. In fact it is often handy (provided you don't fall asleep) if listening to a lecture to close your eyes and actively listen to the speaker.

There is however a very real and sinister downside and that is seen especially in two places: the theatre of war and on the road. Without those signals, there is a reduction (and in absolute terms) of humanity of other people. Soldiers who now operate tanks and planes and missiles can do so in full unawareness of the people they have been ordered to destroy - they just become statistics and numbers. Likewise on the road, because we tend to see cars as objects, we forget that there are people inside those objects.

The next time you go for a drive (or bomb the crap out of an unspecting population) try looking into the eyes of those people and suddenly they will turn into people again, not just numbers and metal objects. On the road it's fun to just realise that behind the wheel of all those other cars are people as bored and impatient as you are.

October 26, 2004

Horse 212 - Been Through The Desert On A Horse With No Name

And then the fury was unleashed... For those who have just tuned in and wondered "What the heck happened?" I have this to say. It appears as though Horse has joined the digital age. Like the advancement of DAB and Widescreen TV - that's 12:9 in the old money - Horse undertook its second transformation.
We hope that this new era brings an unrivalled level of crapidity to the world. For those who simply wish to view this site, the link is http://rollo75.blogspot.com/ but will still appear in the main window of the old site... it's called integration.
For the regulars, you'll notice the abscence of popups (as they all appear off the confines of the screen); most of all, I'll notice the seemingly subtle and more efficient method of posting these things.