This image is from the 1993 movie The Sandlot which is ostensibly about baseball, but is more about friendship, life, and growing up. It is tells the story of a group of friends in 1962 suburban California who meet at the local sandlot every day during the summer to play pick up baseball: the adventures they have and the problems they face. In this scene, the boys go to the fair and one of them has the bright idea to bring along a chaw of tobacco which they all partake in before climbing on one of the carnival rides. This ends badly, as the tobacco combined with the fast-moving ride causes the boys to become violently ill, projectile vomiting not only over themselves, but over a lot of other people on the ride as well.
"We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside." - Neil Gaiman
To boycott something means to refrain from buying goods from, or otherwise associating with, a person, company, or other organization as a form of protest or punishment. Boycotts are in quite in vogue right now, as various groups try to push their political or social agendas by hurting the bottom lines of corporations which don't immediately accede to their demands. Of course, there's a time and place for boycotts- the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1950's Alabama to protest racial segregation on public transit comes to mind. Now though, it seems that boycotts are almost always ridiculous and tiresome, such as the deservedly ill-fated attempt by social justice warriors to close down Chick-fil-A. Ridiculous or not, I recently found myself wondering where and when the term"boycott" originated.
As it turns out, we have Captain Charles Boycott to thank- or blame, depending on how you look at it. Charles Boycott was the land agent and rent collector for an estate in County Mayo, Ireland in the 1880's which was owned by absentee landlord John Crichton, Earl Erne. This was a time of unrest in rural Ireland, commonly referred to as the "Land War" during which the Irish Land League (a political organization) sought to end landlordism and give tenant farmers the right to own the land they worked- and lived- on. After an extremely poor crop in 1880, Lord Erne offered to reduce his cash-strapped tenants' rents by 10%. His tenants said that this wasn't good enough and demanded a 25% reduction. Boycott, acting on behalf of Lord Erne, refused and evicted eleven tenants. This caused quite the uproar, but the Irish Land League advised against the angry tenants resorting to violence. Instead, they came up with another plan: shun Boycott completely.
Boycott soon found himself in a bind; tenants refused to work the fields, his servants and stable hands were "encouraged" to stay off the job, local businesses refused his custom, and the postman stopped delivering his mail. With the farmhands refusing to work, the crops were rotting in the fields so in desperation Boycott hired 50 workmen from outside the County and then had to pay a bunch of policemen and soldiers to guard them traveling back and forth. In the end, the cost of getting the fields harvested was greater than the worth of the crops. A newspaper article later described this withdrawal of services:
"When the Captain sent for the tenantry on the estates for which he was agent to cut the oats, the whole neighborhood combined in a refusal to work for him. Boycott's herdsmen and drivers were sought out and persuaded to strike, his female servants were induced to leave him, and his wife and children were obliged to do all of the house and farm work themselves. "Meanwhile his oats and corn remained standing, and his stock would have been unfed had he not exerted himself night and day to attend to their wants. Next the village butcher and grocer declined to sell provisions to Capt. Boycott or his family, and when he sent to neighboring towns for supplies he found it absolutely impossible to get anything. There was no fuel in the house, and nobody would cut turf or carry coal for the Captain's family. He had to tear up floors for firewood."
This method of protest caught on, as did its name; the Daily News on Dec. 13, 1880 stated "Already the stoutest-hearted are yielding on every side to the dread of being 'Boycotted'." The term has also proved adaptable to different languages, such as French (boycotter) and German (boykottieren). And that is where and how the word "Boycott" originated.
I was fooling around with the photo editor on my phone the other day and cropped this picture I took in Beaconsfield House last fall & changed its colouring to sepia.
This was the original photo:
This image made me think of sewing advice I once read from a Singer Sewing Machine book circa 1949:
The first time I read this, I couldn't help but laugh... my usual sewing attire is flannel pyjama pants and a tank top or tee shirt, and my hair is usually a frazzled mess from me running my hands through it when I'm thinking or have made a mistake. Obviously I wouldn't meet 1949 Singer sewing standards!
The clip below is from Baz Luhrmann's 1992 movie Strictly Ballroom. It is the first of his Red Curtain Trilogy which also includes Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge (2001). It was Luhrmann's first movie and was filmed in Australia using mostly unknown actors, and is actually my favourite of his films (I never made it all the way through his Great Gatsby). Some scenes- mostly the flashbacks- are done in a style which viewers will recognize as later being employed in Moulin Rouge. Strictly Ballroom takes place in the wacky world of competitive ballroom dancing, something Luhrmann knows a lot about since he used to compete in his youth. It is essentially a Cinderella-like story about Fran, a shy and awkward girl in the beginner class at a local dance studio who has a crush on Scott, the son of the studio owners. Scott is a gifted dancer but is tired of the restrictive rules of ballroom dancing, wanting to develop new routines and steps. When he uses some of his innovative steps in a competition, the crowd loves it but the judges are not amused and penalize him. Enraged at losing the competition due to his recklessness, his dance partner Liz quits which leaves Scott partner-less only a couple months before the Pan-Pacific Championship. His mother starts frantically auditioning partners for him, determined that he compete and win. Of course, no one thinks of Fran in relation to the Pan-Pacific until she summons the courage to tell Scott that she likes his new steps and asks him to teach them to her. He does so, mainly because he's furious with his parents and everyone else. To his surprise, Fran rises to the challenge and, through her family, he is introduced to a style of dance which has nothing in common with ballroom competition. Scott decides to compete in the Pan-Pacific with Fran and the dance they've developed just as his mother announces that she's found him the perfect new partner. After much drama, Scott and Fran make it to the dance floor only to have the scandalized heads of the dance federation literally pull the plug on them.
Strictly Ballroom is a whole lot of fun from beginning to end, with its eccentric characters, tacky dance outfits, tongue-in-cheek humour and over-the-top divas. Scott and Fran are a nice young couple whom it is easy to root for against the hidebound and often corrupt dance federation leaders. The supporting cast is delightful as well, providing much of the fun and silly humour to be found in the movie. All in all, Strictly Ballroom is a frothy and feel-good film, and a delightful way to spend an hour and a half.
"Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations." -L. Frank Baum
This illustration is from Johanna Spyri's 1881 children's novel Heidi. At the beginning of the book we meet Heidi, a five-year-old orphan who is being raised by her Aunt Dete in Maienfeld, Switzerland. Dete is offered a job as a maid in the city and can't take Heidi with her, so decides to bring the child to her paternal grandfather who lives on the alp above the mountain village of Dorfli. He is a recluse who, embittered over the loss of his son, avoids contact with the villagers- and his granddaughter. In spite of this, Dete determinedly starts up the mountain with her niece. She doesn't want to carry Heidi's clothes so, despite the fact that it's a warm June day, she makes Heidi wear all three of her dresses, her shawl, heavy knitted stockings, and hobnailed shoes. On the way up the mountain, Dete meets an old friend and the two begin walking together and gossiping, leaving Heidi to her own devices. The child sees Peter, the eleven-year-old goatherd who is headed up the mountain with his flock. Heidi attempts to follow them, but is too hot and slow in all her clothing. She stops and strips out of everything except her petticoat and then runs gleefully after an amused Peter and his goats. Dete is less amused when, after taking leave of her friend, she realizes that Heidi's clothes are strewn on the ground far down the mountain.
I have watched the next episode of the Netflix series The Toys That Made Us: He-Man. He-man is the action figure which was developed in sort of a backwards fashion. In cases such as Star Wars, the toys were created after the film and, in fact, until the first movie became a hit they had a hard time finding a company which was interested in making their action figures. With He-Man, however, Mattel, smarting from the fact that they had turned down the opportunity to make the Star Wars toys, determined to develop a successful line of fantasy action figures to compete, came up with the concept for He-Man. The toy makers started with an existing Mattel toy- Big Jim- and used clay to bulk him up with much bigger muscles. The result was the impossibly brawny He-Man...
In an effort to save money, Mattel also decided to use a mold for a tiger from the Big Jim series to make He-Man's mount... they painted it green, added some armour, and voila- Battle Cat.
The first toys were released in 1982 with a couple of illustrated comics which gave He-Man a back story and surrounding characters, including both friends and enemies. Mattel, however, wasn't satisfied; Star Wars toys were popular because kids could act out the movies with them. They didn't think that He-Man was going to be a success unless there was a movie and/or T.V. show for children to watch. And that is where the 1983 television show He-Man and The Masters of the Universe came from, a show literally made to sell toys (later followed by the spin off She-Ra, Princess of Power). The show goes on to detail He-Man's soaring popularity, followed by it's inevitable decline. It's all quite fun and interesting, but I didn't enjoy this episode quite as much, I think mainly due to one of the guys- I can't remember his name- who was extensively interviewed. He was really potty-mouthed, which was a bit jarring in a show about children's toys and seemed out of place as well as inappropriate. Besides, He-Man, who always ended his show with a moral to the story, would never have talked like that... heck, neither would Skeletor for that matter.