Thursday, January 24, 2008

Would It Really Be Better on a Ritz?

The pelican is the ancient symbol of sacrificial service, the mother bird ripping open her breast to feed blood to the little pelican chicks. Yeah, I do that all the time for MY kids. Our friends in Louisiana surely recognize this motif. It's on their flag, although it wasn't until 2006 that officials decided it wasnt gory enough and added the three drops of blood.

This is probably the easiest old sampler motif to identify, as it is very popular. Without knowing what you were looking at, you may or may not have been able to deduce what the birds were doing due to the cross stitch pixelation resolution. Now you know. Only one of the 8 species of pelicans is found in the Netherlands, but judging from the variation in pelican appearance on samplers you would think you could fill a zoo.

  • Renaissance by Long Dog
  • Permin Sampler 1749.
  • I could go on, but so could you. Consider it a scavenger hunt challenge for you sampler enthusiasts.
So what do pelicans actually eat?
Fish! Not exciting, actually, we all knew that.
Pigeons! See the video.
Puppies and Babies? NO we don't buy that one, but it was a good try.

Did they ever think to ask the pelican offspring? Did the Blood Commission run a series of pelican adverts.... "Blood, it's whats for dinner."

What would your little pelicans prefer? (I'm glad mine outgrew the happy meal phase very quickly.)

On the Dutch Beast, we shall be serving up a simple brown bag lunch. If the kids don't like it, they can trade with their table-mates.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Are We Not Men?

After hours of eyestraining research I have come to the conclusion that the Dutch forefathers were actually the pioneers of the New Wave movement. After searching for a photo that best illustrates the diversity of traditional Dutch headgear, I found the East Yorkshire Motor Services Brass Band to be the perfect models (and entertaining if you look closely at the photo). You can see why the antique samplers have every hat shape conceivable - from cap-like affairs to top hats to modified fezes to ...

The energy dome - The ziggurat hat. Now who would have seen that coming 150 years ago! You already saw them on my little olympians, but were distracted by the Larry Fine hairdo. So go back and read the Races of Man post, this time looking carefully at all the hats.

Ah, and here we are now on the Dutch Beast, immortalizing (in an Ozymandias way at best) a 1980's icon. I only put two guys from the band on (you can pick which two - without their instruments they all kind of looked alike). So how many of you have had to explain the recent "Swiffer" commercial to your kids, who missed out that decade? 1980 is NOT dead. In case you wanted a stroll down that memory lane or didn't know yourself: Whip It Good.

In my googling, I came across the 1997 book by Ben Roughton "Ministry of Silly Hats". It has nothing to do with Devo hats or the Dutch, but I noted it was published by The Wine Press. So I leave you with this quote from one of my favorite movies:

A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Beast Sighted Outside Betty Ford Clinic

It has been a long, hard three months for the Dutch Beast. You can laugh, but you are partly to blame. We all saw the warning signs. Monkeys riding bicycles were not the least. For Pete's sake, it might has well been pink elephants. And Mr. Aren't We So Cool In Buffalo Plaid- you knew what he was carrying, but did anybody intervene? Did anybody say, "Hey Buddy, I think you have had enough." It was only after what happened to that poor Chihuahua that the media attention and, later, the authorities uncovered this...

(Oh, sorry - you haven't seen what happens to the Chihuahua yet)

The Mystic Moonshine Still:
Three months of intensive rehab and I think we can put this episode in our history behind us. And with a new set of resolutions for the new year, let's all hope that our beastly friend does not drop out of sight again. And thank goodness that this moonshine was not tainted with methanol, which could have resulted in blindness, which is very disabling for cross-stitchers!

As for the history of this motif, the frame is an arbitrary assemblage of my Dutch-looking geometric motifs. On the antique samplers occasionally the frame was to contain more arbitrary Dutch-looking geometric motifs, but sometimes similar devices were used to highlight certain spot motifs such as the "mystic winepress" motif. I'm not sure where the "mystic" part comes in, but the winepress is a old religious symbol. If Jesus was equated to the grapes, then his blood became the wine. If you read to much of that, it makes it difficult to enjoy a nice cabernet.

Above is a modern day winepress (picture used from Wikipedia, citing their creative commons license.) The winepress motif on the antique samplers looked similar - a box or barrel, with one or more handwheels for squeezing down the contents. Oh yeah, and a heart in the box, just in case you thought they were going to juice some grapes. A fine example can be see on the Josuah and Caleb sampler (all things grapes) by Gigi shown at the right. Like most of these motifs, if you know what you are looking for, you start seeing it all over. Ewww.
Some folks say that moonshine was its own religion. At least there, those seeking proof, find it (in excess of 100 proof).