Happy Midwinter!

Happy Midwinter to all my northern hemisphere friends!

Today is the December winter solstice – the shortest day and longest night. This morning I took these photos of a spider web that hangs between the railings on my terrace. The web has been there since summer, and has survived 38° heat, storms, horizontal rain, and the razor sharp teeth of the Mistral wind… yet despite being a bit battered and worn around the edges (a little like me) it’s still there.

As for the spider who guards the web? I saw her the other day scurrying down to investigate a potential meal, but unlucky for her it was just a fragment of leaf blown in by the breeze, and she scurried back up to her sheltered spot in an alcove.

The spider web on my terrace is a good image for me to hold up this midwinter time; it’s about bracing yourself against the elements, gathering nourishment and storing it for the cold months ahead. It’s about durability and strength. You could think of the life of a spider as solitary and predatory, a quite violent existence? Yet when you marvel at the intricacy of its web, iridescent against a wintry sun’s rays, you can’t help but seeing beauty.

The Spider. From The Celtic Animal Oracle. Anna Franklin. Illustrated by Paul Mason. 2003, Vega.

A TVTA toy spider.

A TVTA spider napkin art.


Happy December solstice 🙂

Lights in the sky – a special report

Seven falling lights formation seen on 10th December 2019 at 05.25.

December 10th. Tuesday. 2019. 05:25. Near the city of Toulon, Var, France.

Diary, I woke up at 05:05 ready to begin a 13 hour shift at work. At 05:25, I went out onto my terrace to fetch my bicycle, where I paused briefly to look up at the sky. It was dark, cold, with patches of stars visible against heavy rain clouds moving in from the north, and with a brisk, north-easterly wind snapping at my face, I steeled myself for what I suspected would be a daunting ride ahead.

Then something caught my attention: in the lower part of the south-eastern sky, I saw seven bright stars in a perfect vertical line aiming down at the horizon. At first I believed it was Orion’s Belt – but the constellation of Orion is not visible in this part of the sky at this hour in December, and normally appears around 22.00 in the evening, plus, there are only three stars that form Orion’s Belt, and I was witnessing seven.

What could they be? All at once, the seven stars began moving, descending, and I had to quickly reassess that what I was witnessing were not stars at all… they were moving lights in the sky!

Continue reading

Curiouser and curiouser… the Bburago HAT Catalogue 1976, starring:

“The Curious Case of the Random, Everyday Objects Superimposed Next to the Cars!”

… and nothing to do with hats, though it is a little mad, Alice…

… mad objects like coins, pasta, moon rocks, pencil shavings, Andorran flag bottle tops, and more! Maybe some of our Italian visitors can help out with the significance of these photographed objects placed next to drawings of cars? Or will they be as nonplussed as us? Non? What’s Italian for ‘no’? The catalogue in question is Italian, a Bburago HAT (Hobbies And Toys) 1976 N°2 edition. Perhaps catalogue N°1 had similar designs? The objects seem to be ‘hobby’ or ‘food’ related? Just how are these everyday items related to toy cars??

So many questions, I know, I know! Let’s move quickly to the scans which show some truly wonderful artwork of the models available by Bburago at the time. As was often typical with 1970s advertising, design teams didn’t photograph their product they hired artists to draw it!


The cover… already you see weird objects, but not so noticeable as the images are tiny…


Inside… it all begins in a quite orderly fashion with a very cool cross section of a die cast car…


And then… Bam! Straight down the rabbit hole… it’s random object time… 

(with bonus FREE pun-and-nonsense commentary from our editing team!!)

1.

… A serious car, serious coinage!

Coins!


2.

Please put the lid back on the toothpaste when you’ve finished brushing your teeth!

Toothpaste lid!


3.

Somebody call me a thimble!

Thimble!


4.

Excuse me, officer, I seem to have lost my marbles!

Marbles!

There are others…

Think I’ve got most of them…

(click images to go bigger)

5 – 22


23.

Bottle tops. The nearest one appears to be the Andorran flag?

Bottle tops!


24.

The pen is mightier than the police car?

Pen nibs!


25.

Back to school. Pencil shavings!

Pencil shavings!

At school, in your pencil case, you were likely to have a cheap, plastic sharpener, red, yellow or blue or something; if you were lucky, you’d have one of those sturdy, metal, technical drawing sharpeners; some had sharpeners that were moulded inside see-through containers into which the shavings could be collected and emptied later; others had novelty promotional sharpeners for cartoon, TV and film characters.

Then there was the ‘beast-of-all-sharpeners’… the one that belonged to the entire class, usually bolted onto the end of the teacher’s desk – a sinister-looking device that could grind down three different-sized pencils at a time, automatic or crank handle-operated, when in motion it sounded like a derailed steam train driven over a cliff by Godzilla, and this monster of a pencil-sharpener, make no mistake, could easily rip off your fingers, and the entire lower arm of some of the smaller pupils!


26.

Decorative beads or tongue-tingling sweets?? No fear, we’re not taste-testing them, they’ve been out of their packaging since 1976!

Decorative beads or tongue-tingling sweets??

Calls down to archives: “Wooof… got some tasty new treats for you to test out, dear cat(muhuhahaha)…”
Wooof: “But you’ve already tested them yourself, dear editor.”
Me: “I have?”
Wooof: “Yes, what do you think it was that I sprinkled on top of your cappuccino this morning?”
Me (going green about the gills): “Uuumph!”


27.

… And finally… a back pages questionnaire, for kids, in Italy, in 1976.


Thanks for identifying random objects with us :) If you know the identity of any of the mystery objects in today's post please let us know in the comments. Likewise, if you have any idea what is going on, about anything at all really, ever, we're here, and we'd like to know too! This post has been brought to you by TVTA random objects and old school schools of old school school stories.

 

19th and 20th century lithographs + angels, art and advertising

American Crescent Cycles par Winthrop Ramsdell 1899

La Tournée du Chat Noir par Thoéphile Steinlen. 1896. Tin plate.


Cats That Come Back. At a poster store in Montmartre you spent your final few euros on cards depicting the lithographic advertising styles of the late 19th and early 20th century. You took photos of the outside of the poster store, and had one taken of yourself and your youngest son, a part of you indulging in some late-afternoon fantasy that you were the proprietors of said store. What fun, surrounded by art originally intended to part one from one’s cash – and a hundred years later it’s still doing the same, only selling itself this time around. What a sale, what a fine boutique did those Parisian streets make for you. For it’s easy to get lost in the culture, art and spirit of expression when it surrounds you in all its breath-taking vibrancy. There is a deep yearning. A searching back through history to find a part of yourself you may recognise. Print advertising is consumerism’s cocky high art. A brassy exhibition of wonders. A sly yet alluring gallery that invites you inside. It’s everything you love and loathe in the same moment. You pitch these paper testimonials to commercialism with all the integrity and enthusiasm of a loving archivist. But you are also an artist. Those Paris streets and galleries and windows and walls whispered to your heart. Hell, sometimes they yelled at you, told you they remembered, recalled your angels & fey (born from the snippets and slivers of glossy ads in magazines in case you didn’t know), the exhibitions, the foreign shores, the hours spent holding brushes and conjuring colours. You sold it well, they said. You made an impression. You left a mark. People were happy. Sometimes that’s the least you have to do. From: The Artist and the Four Hats




Job par Alfons Mucha 1896

Job done?

For a bit

Too busy writing

To try and score another hit

It’s a circle you see

A merry go round

You jump on and off at certain points

feet touch the ground

Back up again

Always looking for those special connections


Palooka N° 5


Words, Angel & Fey artwork by the editor.
Colour Angels & Fey scans taken from Palooka issue 5.
Lithograph adverts scanned from commercial postcards and tin plates are shown for illustrative purposes only. No infringement of copyright is intended.
Cat count: we spotted at least 26 images of cats in this blog post. A new TVTA record!

Poem: “The ever-growing, space-consuming giant Mish-mash tree.” Illustrated.

Words and illustrations by the Editor.

For Adam.

I grew from a seed in my garden one day
A giant Mish-mash tree with purple fruit and pink spray.
It began at fourteen inches and had such an appetite
That it ate all my tomatoes and grew four foot overnight.
The next day it rained on my giant Mish-mash tree
And the sun shone so brightly that by quarter-past three
It was bigger than my house and had scoffed my runner beans.
Oh how hungry you are, my giant Mish-mash tree!

The following morning as I tended to my flowers,
My shock and my horror, they had all been devoured.
The pansies and the bluebells and my pretty rose borders,
Chomped down to their stalks, this was so out of order!
At first I blamed the slugs then the dog then the cat,
Then I realised in my garden there was only one thing so fat…
Only one thing so portly, porky, podgy, plump to see…
My ever-growing space-consuming giant Mish-mash tree!

Its trunk I measured fifty feet, its height three thousand inches tall,
Each purple fruit weighed sixteen stone and looked like cannonballs.
“She’s a lively little grower,” my old neighbour remarked,
“You’ll need to sell your garden soon and buy a blimmin’ park!”
Pah and utter tish-tosh, how I scoffed at what he said,
But then three hours later the tree had eaten up my shed!
You greedy, gluttonous, gobbling, gulping giant Mish-mash tree,
Where am I to store my tools now my shed is in your tummy?

Enough was enough, there could be no truce or pardon,
At this rate by tomorrow I would no longer have a garden.
Angrily I shook my fist up at the Mish-mash tree,
But all it did was snigger and snort and grow another ten feet.
And then it rumbled and it grumbled and I had to act fast…
I could see it had intentions on my prize strawberry patch.
And worse, my greenhouse, full of little bonsai trees,
“You leave those tiny trees alone!” I warned my Mish-mash tree.

I rushed inside and quickly dialled
The emergency action garden line…
The botanical gardens and the local nursery…
The national parks and the forestry committee…
Gardens Weekly and Gardeners’ World…
What Garden, Which Garden and The Gardening Herald…
A tree surgeon, a lumberjack, a professor of trees…
But they all thought me mad and put the phone down on me!

And so I chanced upon a book at the local lending library,
‘How to Win Friends and Influence People With a Nice Cup of Tea’…
Well, if it can work for humans why not plants?
So I borrowed the book and took my chance!
And the very next day I approached the Mish-mash tree
With an honest invitation for a nice cup of tea.
Just him and me, in my conservatory,
And if he behaved I would chuck in a pack of custard creams!

The tree it shook with gladness and glee,
Said: “Oh I do so love a cup of tea! I’ll come, I’ll come, quite happily!”
“There’s just one problem,” I warned the tree,
“You’re far too big for my conservatory…
You’re far too big for Buckingham Palace,
And you won’t need a cup you’ll need a king-size chalice!
If only you could shrink to a reasonable size…
I’m certain you would have such a lovely time.”

The Mish-mash tree looked down at me and gave a gentle smile,
Said: “Earl Grey, Indian, Chinese, mint, green and camomile,
Are all my favourite types of brew, and I’m quite partial to a custard cream too,
So I’ll gladly shrink to a dinky thing and join you for a high tea for two!”
“Oh thank you!” I cheered. “Let me find you a pot,
And put you on my table in the sunniest spot.
Come join me indoors, we’ll drink gallons of tea,
My ever-shrinking, not space-consuming, tiny Mish-mash tree.
Drink tea, drink tea, drink gallons of tea,
Just you and me in my conservatory.”

The End

Top Seven Scariest Whistles!

We’re not talking about scary whistles like this …

Pinterest.

… Or even these …

Ghoul-head whistles by Bung Art Studios.

… We’re talking about scary whistles expelled from the pursed lips of the most callous, evil, monstrous, devious, or just downright ingenious characters from film and TV.

So, whet your whistles, take a deep breath, and join us as we count down from seven to one…

SEVEN The Shadmock’s whistle. The Monster Club. 1981.

Vincent Price Priceless Advice: “Vampires sup, werewolves hunt, ghouls tear, Shaddies lick, maddies yawn, mocks blow, but shadmocks only whistle.”

SIX Billy The Kid’s whistle. Young Guns. 1988.

Don’t let that smile fool you. And if the smile turns to a whistle then you’re in serious trouble!

FIVE Yondu’s whistle. Guardians of the Galaxy. 2014.

Whistle while you work? Don’t be messing about when Yondu purses his lips. You might get arrowed. Devastating!

FOUR Negan’s whistle. The walking Dead.

Not a very tuneful whistle from everyone’s favourite baseball-wielding pyscho, but there’s no way I’m telling Negan that! And just try imitating this whistle yourself. Not as easy as you might think.

THREE Hans Beckert’s whistle. M. 1931.

The jolly classic In the Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg expelled from the lips of serial child killer Hans Beckert in Fritz Lang’s 1931 classic crime drama.

TWO Omar’s whistle. The Wire.

Chain-smoking, shotgun-toting Omar swaggers into your neigbourhood whistling nursery rhymes. Time to be very worried.

ONE Elle Driver’s whistle. Kill Bill: Volume 1. 2003.

Classic Tarantino scene of the whistling Californian Mountain Snake arriving to kill the Bride. The tune is Twisted Nerve by Bernard Herrman from the 1968 film of the same name. I’ve included the original whistle by ‘Georgie’ as well as Elle Driver’s whistle.

Pheeeeeep! There goes the full-time whistle!

Thank you for sucking in your cheeks and blowing with us 🙂

Can you think of any other scary whistlers in cinema or TV?

Ghoul-head whistle pic courtesy of Bung Art Studios

Whistling Dracula Teeth pic found on Pinterest

Halloween countdown: 2

Part 4 of 5. I am the Queen of Halloween

Art and poem by the editor

I had a dream, a wondrous dream, that I was the Queen of Halloween

Oh sweet that dream, oh sweet that dream

When I ruled all of Halloween

Went shopping for Converse, tee-hee-shirts and jeans

Got inked, had some drinks and made friends with an owl

Sang songs with the dolphins and tumbled some crystals –

A-tishoo, a-tishoo, we all fell down

On Hollywood boulevard, Halloween Town

Jump around, jump around, jump up and get down

And the skellygogs danced and the ravens preened

Jump!

And the cats read Mary Shelley out loud to their fleas

Jump!

And the poltergoosts crooned and the moonsters cheered

Jump!

And the glibgoblins giggled and the phantooms agreed

That I was the best, the best they’d seen –

The bestest Queen of Halloween

Oh sweet that dream, oh sweet that dream

When I ruled all of Halloween!


Thanks for reading and jumping along! Look out for countdown number 1 coming soon…