Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheetah Dies at 80

This blog is beginning to resemble the obits--first, Christopher Hitchens, now Cheetah the Ape.  (Who knew apes could live to such a banana-ripe old age?)  Cheetah was part of one of America's greatest mythic inventions, Tarzan of the Apes, from Chicago native Edgar Rice Burroughs.
PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) - A Florida animal sanctuary says Cheetah the chimpanzee from the Tarzan movies of the 1930s has died at age 80. The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor announced on its website that Cheetah died on Dec. 24 of kidney failure.  Sanctuary outreach director Debbie Cobb on Wednesday told The Tampa Tribune ( that Cheetah was outgoing, loved finger painting and liked to see people laugh. She says he seemed to be tuned into human feelings.  Cheetah was the comic relief in the Tarzan series starring American Olympic gold medal swimmer Johnny Weissmuller. Cobb says Cheetah came to the sanctuary from Weissmuller's estate sometime around 1960.  Cobb says Cheetah wasn't a troublemaker. Still, sanctuary volunteer Ron Priest says when the chimp didn't like what was going on, he would throw feces.
12/30 UPDATE:  Apparently some have questioned the "80 year old" claim.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Query

"How can we contrive to be at once astonished by the world and yet at home in it?"
--G.K Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Up in Smoke

"It will happen to all of us that at some point, you get tapped on the shoulder and told not just that the party's over, but slightly worse: The party's going on, but you have to leave."
--Christopher Hitchens, RIP  (13 April 1949 - 15 December 2011)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Martyrdom: The Ultimate Performance Art

"Art reaches perfection when it portrays the best life and the best death.  After all, art tells us how to live. That is the essence of art.  Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom?  A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity.  Those who wish to undermine this principle undermine the foundations of our independence and national security.  They undermine the foundation of our eternity."

--Iranian President Mahmoud  Ahmadinejad

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nighthawks, 2011

Experience over Reason

"Experience must be our only guide. Reason may mislead us. It was not Reason that discovered the singular and admirable mechanism of the British Constitution.  It was not Reason that discovered or even could have discovered the odd and in the eye of those who are governed by reason, the absurd mode of trial by jury. Accidents probably produced these discoveries, and experience has given sanction to them. This then was our guide."

--John Dickinson (1732-1808), Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lament for Michelle, Rick, Herman (and Newt?)

In honor of Herman Cain and all the other flame-outs from the Republican presidential primary, here is Herbert James Draper's magnificent 1898 painting, The Lament for Icarus. (To feast your eyes CLICK HERE TO ENLARGE, then click again.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Every brain is on the brink

Restoration  (1952)

To think that any fool may tear
by chance the web of when and where.
O window in the dark! To think
that every brain is on the brink 
of nameless bliss no brain can bear,

unless there be no great surprise --
as when you learn to levitate
and, hardly trying, realise
-- alone, in a bright room -- that weight
is but your shadow, and you rise.

My little daughter wakes in tears:
She fancies that her bed is drawn
into a dimness which appears
to be the deep of all her fears
but which, in point of fact, is dawn.

I know a poet who can strip
a William Tell or Golden Pip
in one uninterrupted peel
miraculously to reveal
revolving on his fingertip,

a snowball. So I would unrobe,
turn inside out, pry open, probe
all matter, everything you see,
the skyline and its saddest tree,
the whole inexplicable globe,

to find the true, the ardent core
as doctors of old pictures do
when, rubbing out a distant door
or sooty curtain, they restore
the jewel of a bluish view.
--Vladimir Nabokov