Thursday/ the fastest mouse in Mexico

From Wikipedia:
Speedy Gonzales is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He is portrayed as “The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico” with his major traits being the ability to run extremely fast, speaking English with an exaggerated Mexican accent, and also speaking Spanish. He usually wears a yellow sombrero, white shirt and trousers (which was a common traditional outfit worn by men and boys of rural Mexican villages), and a red kerchief, similar to that of some traditional Mexican attires.

Cartoons featuring Speedy Gonzales were removed from the Cartoon Network TV channel in 1999— due to concerns that the little mouse’s sombrero and heavy accent insulted Mexicans. Speedy Gonzales fans were mightily upset, though, and successfully petitioned for his return to Cartoon Network three years later.

LEGO’s Speedy Gonzales minifigure, another one of the 12 Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters in the set from LEGO.  The character first appeared in 1953 in  ‘Cat-Tails for Two’ (as an early version) and officially debuted in ‘Speedy Gonzales’ in 1955.

Tuesday/ a wily coyote

wil·y
/ˈwīlē/

adjective
skilled at gaining an advantage, especially deceitfully.


[Description taken from Wikipedia] Here’s Wile E. Coyote, the cunning, devious and constantly hungry Coyote that  repeatedly attempts to catch and subsequently eat the Road Runner.

Instead of his animal instincts, the Coyote uses absurdly complex contraptions (sometimes in the manner of Rube Goldberg) to try to catch his prey, which comically backfire, with the Coyote often getting injured in slapstick fashion. Many of the items for these contrivances are mail-ordered from a variety of companies that are all named Acme Corporation.

One running gag involves the Coyote trying (in vain) to shield himself with a little parasol against a great falling boulder that is about to crush him. Another running gag involves the Coyote falling from a high cliff. After he goes over the edge, the rest of the scene, shot from a bird’s-eye view, shows him falling into a canyon so deep, that his figure is eventually lost to sight. This is followed, a second or two later, by the rising of a dust cloud from the canyon floor as the Coyote hits.

The LEGO minifigure depiction of the Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote. He made his first appearance in 1949 with Road Runner. As his contraptions go (to take out Road Runner), this anvil is a pretty simple one.
P.S. Seattle residents report real coyote spottings from time to time, right here in the city.

Thursday/ ‘I tawt I taw a puddy tat!’

The LEGO packet I opened this morning had yet another Road Runner in – ugh.
Got to open another one, I thought. The next one had a Tweety bird in.
So 4 unique mini-figures out of 6 opened so far.

I actually have one more packet to open, but I already know I will ‘have to’* buy another handful of packets. I want a Bugs Bunny and a Wile E. Coyote.
*LEGO has landed me exactly where they wanted me: a collector with an incomplete collection.

From Wikipedia:
Tweety is a yellow canary in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of animated cartoons. The character first appeared in The Cagey Canary (early version; 1941) and A Tale of Two Kitties (official version; 1942).
“Tweety” is a play on words, as it originally meant “sweetie”, along with “tweet” being an English onomatopoeia for the sounds of birds.
Despite the perceptions that people may hold, owing to the long eyelashes and high-pitched voice (which Mel Blanc provided), Tweety is male— although his ambiguity was played with on occasion.

 ‘I tawt I taw a puddy tat!’ is one of Tweety’s signature lines. Sylvester the ‘puddy tat’ had better watch out. I don’t think his baseball bat is a match for this giant mallet hammer.

Wednesday/ ‘That’s all Folks!’

Porky Pig was one of the first of the animated characters in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He first appeared in I Haven’t Got a Hat in 1935.

‘That’s all Folks!’ is Porky Pig’s signature line at the end of many shorts.

Tuesday/ Sylvester the Cat

I opened the second of my 6 LEGO Looney Tunes minifigure packets this morning and .. rats! it was another Road Runner. So I opened the third one, and inside was Sylvester the Cat.

Sylvester the Cat is another character from the golden age of American animation— full name Sylvester James Pussycat, Sr. His name “Sylvester” is a play on Felis silvestris, the scientific name for the European wildcat.

Sylvester the Cat, with his characteristic tuxedo black-and-white coat, baseball bat in hand. He first appeared in a 1945 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies animated short film directed by Friz Freleng. Most of his appearances have him chasing Tweety bird, Speedy Gonzales (‘fastest mouse in Mexico’), or Hippety Hopper (a young kangaroo).

Monday/ a Road Runner in my lucky packet

LEGO’s little articulated figurines (‘minifigures’) have been around a long, long time – since 1978. Sets of ‘collectible’ ones were introduced starting in 2010; they usually come as sets of 16 in blind bags, so the collector may very well end up with duplicates before having a complete set.

I had resisted the sets of monsters, masqueraded characters, Harry Potter figures, Star Wars figures and all that, thus far.  There is a new Looney Tunes™ series out, though, that has Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Porky Pig, Petunia Pig, Speedy Gonzales, Tasmanian Devil and Marvin the Martian.  And so the other day, I caved in and bought 6 blind bags, each with one of the characters in.
Back in the day in South Africa, these would be called ‘lucky packets’. (Bags with a piece of candy and a surprise toy inside).

I opened the first of my 6 packets, and it was Road Runner. Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are a duo of cartoon characters that were created for Warner Bros. in 1948 by animation director Chuck Jones and writer Michael Maltese [Source: Wikipedia].
I will open a bag every day this week, and post a picture of what I found inside. There are 12 characters in the set, so I have a shot at not getting any duplicates. (My knowledge of statistics is too rusty to work out what my odds are for no duplicates).

Thursday/ a little soirée

Our social tennis group had a little soirée after the tennis tonight, by the tennis courts at Woodland Park. There was something to drink, and a few snacks, while we hung around and chatted.
It felt great.

Post Covid19, many people are still getting used to socializing again. [Cartoon from a recent The New Yorker magazine; the cartoonist is Matthew Diffee].

Friday/ a little shopping spree

I had $50 gift card for Walmart from my insurance company, one that could only be redeemed in the store.

So off I went this morning to the Walmart in Factoria, on the Eastside.
‘For Pete’s sake, get something that you want with the card, not food or soap, or something like that’, I thought as I drove out there.

There were several spots of empty shelf space at Walmart. So they still have some supply-chain challenges, like many other stores.

Here’s my choice (the giraffe got me): a LEGO Creator set, that I can build a treehouse with. It’s 3-in-1, so the bricks can also build an airplane and a doggie, or a raft with a sail, and a crocodile.
.. and then I went to the Target store next door, to buy some groceries, and I made the ‘mistake’ (it was an intentional mistake), of checking out their LEGO offerings. So of course, I had to pick up this safari truck and lion to go with the treehouse and giraffe.

Saturday Night Live/ a win for Musk, SNL

”I reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars on a rocket ship. Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?”
– Elon Musk during his monologue on Saturday Night Live, tonight


Ever since it was announced (some weeks ago) that billionaire engineer and business magnate Elon Musk would host tonight’s Saturday Night Live episode, the haters chimed in with criticism of him, and the show for inviting him as host.

Well, he was “pretty good at running ‘human’ in emulation mode” (his words). His mom Maye (73) made a cameo appearance during his monologue, and he revealed that he has Asperger’s syndrome (I don’t believe this was public knowledge before today).

He played in almost every skit: a socially awkward guest at a post-quarantine party; a guilty priest in a parody of HBO’s latest crime drama; director of a silly Icelandic TV show; the Mario universe character Wario; a financial adviser that could not explain what (the crypto-currency) Dogecoin is, and a convincing version of himself, as head of SpaceX dealing with an emergency on a Martian colony.

Elon Musk (49) projecting his ‘geek’ prowess, in a still picture from on Saturday Night Live [Picture from Saturday Night Live Show, NBC]

Monday/ R Place to lose its place

I saw only today (it had been announced in early February), that the gay bar called R Place will not be able to renew its lease at its 619 East Pine Street location, after 35 years there.  Apparently it’s not due to the pandemic. The owner of the Pine Street building had died and the estate did not renew R Place’s lease.

The managers of R Place vowed to find a new location, but the loss of the four floors at the Pine Street location is a very big one for the LGBTQ community.
It feels similar to the loss of the beloved CC Seattle complex’s entertainment venue and bars, at the corner of Madison & 15th Avenue. (This was in Sept. 2010, to make way for the office building called the Bullitt Center).

The R Place location at 619 East Pine St. I took this picture a year ago, in Feb. 2020.
The building dates back to Capitol Hill’s auto row and is believed to have been a Ford Model T showroom, complete with a car elevator, the remnants of which can still be seen inside the four-story structure. The building must date back to say, 1911, or a little later. At that time, 31 of the city’s 41 car dealers were located on either East Pike Street or Broadway, joined by dozens of businesses catering to an entirely new class of consumers:  motorists. [Information from ‘Pike/ Pine Auto Row’ by John Caldbick at https://www.historylink.org/]

Saturday/ Bruce

Here is Candice Bergen (74) and her dog Bruce — the picture from a recent article about her in the New York Times.

Candice Bergen with her rescue dog Bruce, who is half-Saint Bernard and half-poodle. [Photo Credit: Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times]

Saturday/ the roof tiles have arrived

A package for me arrived yesterday, from Norway, and another today, from Germany: the LEGO bricks I had ordered for my Doon Drive house.

It’s great to know that the transatlantic supply chain for LEGO bricks is intact!
It did take about five weeks for the packages to arrive (normally one week to 10 days).

Hmm .. here are the ‘Slope 33’ 3×2, 3×3 and 3×4 tiles that will go into building the roof of my Doon Drive house. The red is the go-to color, but I ordered a few magenta, dark red and reddish brown bricks as well, to add touches of these colors into the roofs.

Thursday/ bricks, to add to the Doon Drive House

I’m still waiting for my LEGO bricks from overseas to complete my Doon Drive House, but that did not stop me from ordering one more batch of bricks.

This batch was from Wisconsin (a seller on the bricklink store), and arrived at my door today.

These are bricks for a swimming pool and a tennis court for the Doon Drive house, as well as paving for the driveway. I spent some time laying out the tennis court on gridded paper, so that I can order exactly what I need.  (Search through the enormous database on bricklink.com, and pick the brick type, the color and the quantity. A lot of work, but not really: it’s part of the fun that goes into building a custom LEGO model).

Thursday/ the puzzle that is Pure White Hell

Puzzles are reportedly selling better across the world than they do at Christmas time.
They are made by pasting images onto cardboard (images that evoke a sense of ‘coziness’ are always popular).
An elaborate cookie-cutter machine then applies 1,000 metric tonnes of pressure to cut the pieces.
The cutting tool for a 1,000-piece puzzle uses up to 230 feet of steel.
The edges of the tool dull eventually, and can be sharpened once before it has to be discarded.
[Information obtained from the New York Times].

Check out the amazing one-color puzzle below, though – from Japan.
The Japanese name for it translates to Pure White Hell Daio.

Wednesday/ deciphering cryptic crossword clues

I have decided to improve my cryptic crossword skills, and so I printed out a few that I had found in online issues of The Irish Times.

I am not allowed to use Google too directly. (Shockingly, many of the clue phrases and their solutions can be found online).
I do use Google to look up synonyms, or the odd word or phrases that I do not understand.
Example: I think you need to be an Irishman or a Brit, to know that C of E stands for Church of England.

Check these clues out I that I have deciphered: Check these clues out I that I have deciphered:
Across 11: Very cold water in precipice, going to and fro. Answer: ICE. i-c-e appears forwards and backwards (to and fro) in ‘precipice‘.  
Across 12: Roots in ground, twisting. Answer: TURNIPS. It’s a root vegetable, and turn= twisting.
Across 15: Two companies with one hot drink. Answer: No, not Nestlé or hot chocolate, but COCOA. There are two ‘Co’s for Company in there.

Saturday/ once upon a time on Doon Drive

Here’s a sneak peek at my current LEGO project.
I call it ‘The Doon Drive House’. It’s a replica of the house that I grew up in, in South Africa — in a town called Vereeniging, and on Doon Drive, of course.

I had photos of the outside of the house to help me with the dimensions. As for the inside: I still recall every nook and cranny, down to the furniture and appliances that were installed.

So it’s quite a trip down memory lane for me, with the little bricks from Denmark. I used to play with them in that very house, all of 6 years old.

It’s all still very rough, but getting there. I’m using old-fashioned little red doors and windows, to keep the scale of the house down to a reasonable size (about 1:100). LEGO stopped making those doors & windows way back in 1976. The roof bricks have a 33° slope; the 45° ones would make the roof way too tall. I ordered more roof bricks from a seller in Norway & other bricks from Germany (from BrickLink). Yes: nothing is going to stop me now from completing the house!
Here are the door sizes that a LEGO house builder can choose from (dimensions in LEGO studs): the 1d x 2w x 3h, the 1x3x4 or the 1x4x6. The yellow one is FOUR times the size of the red one, and as a consequence a house built with it will be roughly four times as large, as well. Maybe I will try using the middle one for a next iteration of the Doon Drive House.

Friday/ ten-pin bowling is fun

I went bowling with my family on Friday night.
The bowling alley looks and feels much the same — almost identical! — as the old Imperial Lanes bowling alley off Rainier Ave in Seattle. (Sadly, it closed down in 2015).

Check out my form in the ‘action sequence’ below. Not bad, but I have work to do: not a single strike in the ten frames*.  I did clean up the spares that had remained after the first ball, on several frames.
*It’s a strike when all ten pins are knocked down with the first ball rolled.

Sunday/ lots of ‘knuffels’

knuffel [Dutch] (plural knuffels, diminutive knuffeltje)
1. hug, cuddle
2. stuffed toy, plushie, soft toy (stuffed doll)
3. also (stuffed toy): knuffelbeest, knuffeldier


I found these stuffed animals in the Whole Foods grocery store (it’s Amazon-owned) on Westlake Ave. I liked the stuffed alpaca* best, Peruvian blanket on its back and all. The T-rexes at the back, are nice, as well. I’m just not sure they make the same excellent cuddle material as the alpaca. (Scary teeth).

*Llamas have long, banana-shaped ears, so this is not a llama.

A stuffed alpaca, mama & baby sloth, orangutan, and more.
And here’s the inimitable Captain Haddock, getting himself in trouble with a llama, in the Tintin Adventure called ‘Prisoners of the Sun’.

Friday/ dogs & cats, on Tik Tok

Young people are now flocking to the social media app called Tik Tok. (It is used to create video clips set to snappy music: clowning for the camera, falling down on your skateboard, shooting hoops, driving golf carts, stuff like that).

Trouble is, the servers are based in China, and regulators fear that the app could pose a national security risk (used to spy on American citizens, used in political influence campaigns, or even used by ISIS terrorists for propaganda).

Anyway – let’s see what the fuss is about, I thought.  My initial take: yes, as easy as YouTube to waste a lot of time on it. I stumbled onto a few cute animal videos (stills below), and I like those the best.

Cutie pie doggos. They evidently have a HUGE following, with 375,000 likes (the little heart icon on the right).
Stryker The Cat is a serval (Afr. tierboskat), a wild cat native to sub-Saharan Africa. In the video, Stryker appeared in the doorway, and spotted the chicken on the carpet (carpet with leopard spots, and on the balloon! LOL). It hissed loudly, and pounced on the chicken, growling as it sank its fangs into it. I trust Stryker is more than 50% domesticated!
Here’s one more. If looks could kill: Puma the mountain lion, facing off with the poor Sphynx cat, that does not even have a coat to protect itself from scratches and bites. 
Hiss-ss! Fang-gss for you! And then the Puma turned and walked away around the sofa.

 

Friday/ another Grimm for my book shelf

I saw this Grimm’s Fairy Tales book in Hamburg and loved the pictures in it .. but it was so heavy, and a little pricey.
Luckily, Amazon had a used one for me that I could order (from a book dealer in England; shipping only $4), and earlier this week, it landed on my porch.

Childrens’ and Household Tales, from the Brothers Grimm. The book has been around a long time (gold medal award from 1965 on the cover). The stories inside, much longer. The Brothers Grimm, Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm (1786–1859), were scholars best known for their lifelong dedication to collecting and publishing ancient German folk tales. Their groundbreaking books with these tales were published in seven different editions, between 1812 and 1857, and immortalized such unforgettable characters as Cinderella, Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel, and Snow White.
Some of the Grimm’s tales start with beautiful double page color prints (that tell the whole story). The illustrator is Werner Klemke. I love the dark forest with the little bird, and the wily wolf, in Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood).
The Two Brothers. Once upon a time there were two brothers, one rich and one poor. The rich one was a goldsmith and black of heart, the poor subsisted by binding brooms, and was good and honest. The poor brother had two children, two twin brothers that looked as similar as two drops of water. The two boys would go to the rich brother’s house now and then, and sometimes got something to eat from the garbage.  ..
.. and much later in the story, there is a bear and a lion. I still have to get to this page! and besides, I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone.