#ds106 Daily Create for June 26, 2017: “Let your imagination go wild with the dialogue or plot laid out by these images. Don’t go all literal on us! This is the Daily Create, after all.”
The strange tale of Don Quirana
When he woke up the next morning, Don Quirana found that his horse, Rocinescarabajo, had stolen his staff and was wearing it on his head.
“Rocinescarabajo!” Don Quirana shouted, “Get that thing off your head this instant! How can I perform my knightly duties when I can’t wield my staff because you are sporting it as a new hat?”
Rocinescarabajo just put his head down and started munching on the lichen on the branch.
Don Quirana grabbed his staff and pulled, but it wouldn’t budge from Rocinescarabajo’s head. Rocinescarabajoe was unfazed as he continued to nibble. “Well, fine. Keep it. I will simply take another one from a villain I will surely vanquish later today,” Don Quirana sighed.
Don Quirana found that Rocinescarabajo’s new hat was actually a boon to mounting and dismounting, and he swung himself up onto the horse’s back and shouted with this empty, staff-less hand in the air, “Onward!” and, as he spotted a group of ferocious giants off in the distance, he spurred his horse towards them and they ambled off, slowly, towards the windmills.
It’s probably pretty clear what this short story is based on! I changed Quixote to Quirana, given that the protagonist here is a frog (rana in Spanish). Don Quixote’s horse in the original story is called Rocinante, and I mixed that with the Spanish word for beetle, escarabajo, to make that rather long-winded and unwieldly name for his horse.
The ds106 daily create for Jan. 4, 2016, was to do some research on Spaghetti Westerns. I relished this encouragement to do so because, well, the whole idea has never made sense to me. What does pasta have to do with Westerns? And why specifically spaghetti?
I realize that by saying all this I admit I know nothing about Spaghetti Westerns, which is certainly true. I know next to nothing about Westerns at all. The genre has just never really appealed to me, even though I grew up in what is technically the “West.” Small town Idaho had its share of cowboys and cowgirls, and rodeos were big. But that’s really not the same thing now, is it? We had sheriffs and saloons, but things were mighty tame by the time I was born out there in the wilds of small town Idaho.
I don’t know…something about the aesthetic, or about the over-the-top masculinity and violence, about the sexism…it just has all not been attractive to me.
So I am taking it on as a challenge to find something I like in Westerns, by joining #western106 this term, an open, online #ds106 that was supposed to be taking place with Alan Levine at KSU, but that didn’t have enough students (what were they thinking?). So it’s up to use open online participants to corral the wagons.
And as a start, I’m learning a bit about Spaghetti Westerns.
“The name ‘spaghetti western’ originally was a depreciative term, given by foreign critics to these films because they thought they were inferior to American westerns.”
“In the eighties the reputation of the genre grew and today the term is no longer used disparagingly, although some Italians still prefer to call the films western all’italiana (westerns Italian style). In Japan they are called Macaroni westerns, in Germany Italowestern.”
So spaghetti westerns are macaroni westerns too. The pastas multiply! And if that weren’t enough, some Westerns that focused on political topics having to do with Mexican revolutions were, according to the same site, known as “Zapata Westerns,” but sometimes as “Tortilla Westerns.”
I can’t help but wonder what Canadian-made Westerns might be called. Somehow “Maple Syrup Western” just doesn’t have an authentic ring to it.
I also learned from that same site that A Fistful of Dollars (1964) is a remake of a Kurosawa film called Yojimbo (1961), and Wikipedia tells me that Yojimbo was heavily influenced by “the 1942 film noir classic The Glass Key, an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett‘s 1931 novel.” I haven’t heard of any of these except the 1964 Western, and now I’m interested to follow this particular thread (perhaps mainly because, well, I just really like film noir).
“Initially, the Spaghetti Western protagonist was a loner/outcast in the Eastwood mold — not a traditional John Wayne-style “good guy” in a white hat, but a morally flexible type, more unpredictable and cynical.”
Okay, that sounds intriguing to me. I can get on board with that to some degree, though I’ll have to deal with the sexism and unnecessary violence somehow.
Also, the genre changed later with the political films (late 60s), according to the same site:
“The lone hero was out; collectivist themes were in. Many took as their historical basis the border battles between Mexico and the United States (leading to their occasional branding as “Zapata Westerns”).”
Since I haven’t seen these, I can’t comment on whether or not they have racist or xenophobic overtones (that will have to wait until I see one or two).
A number of sites said that one thing that makes Spaghetti Westerns stand out in part because they were much more violent than other Westerns, apparently. And when I learned that Tarantino was a fan of spaghetti westerns, well, after this, I wasn’t surprised. I haven’t seen Django Unchained, but now, at least, after reading all this, I understand the reference to Django (1966).
So after all of this I am more intrigued about Spaghetti Westerns, and will find myself some time to watch a couple (after I’ve finished a lecture on Apocalypse Now that I have to give for a class next week!).
The daily create for March 20, 2015, was to write a poem about a rainy day. It’s really pouring here in Vancouver, so this was perfect for us. I asked my 7-year-old son to help me write a poem. He came up with the ideas and some of the lines; I turned some of his ideas into rhymes. Here is the result.
Oh, and as we were trying to rhyme something with rain, he was being silly and said “the number 84.” After we chuckled about that, we decided to put the number 84 into the poem. He said we should call it poem 84.
I don’t like rainy days
in so many ways:
they’re cold, they’re wet,
and they make me fret.
I’m like a cat, I hate water
rain’s too cold, I like it hotter.
See, I know that ten years from now I’ll say: Damn, I should have spent more time with my son and less time on work. I know I’ll say that; I can hear it already. I’m practically saying it now. He’s seven, and the next ten years are going to be crucial to our future relationship. And yet, I work 9-11 hours per day, 5 days a week, and another 5-8 hours per day on most weekends. At least, during the 26 weeks of the year that I’m teaching at my university job. (Anyone, anyone who thinks that university professors all have it easy because they only teach a few hours a day should just take a look at my schedule. And not only mine.)
So I know that in the future, I’ll wish I had changed the past that is now the present.
So why don’t I just take this advice now and keep myself from having to say this ten years from now (or even today)?
What I’d like to change in my past is whatever the hell it is that keeps me from taking this advice. Whatever it is that drives me to work longer than is probably necessary, to prep for classes and mark essays. Whatever makes me stay up to all hours of the night doing teaching, research, and service work. Whatever won’t let me say “no” to that next really interesting project that honestly, will push me over the edge.
But the thing is, I don’t know what that thing is.
But if I had the chance to change it, I’d probably do so, even though it means that my career wouldn’t be where it is now, most likely. But what am I gonna really think is important when I’m old(er) and grey(er)? Pretty obvious answer: my family. Duh.
And once you hear the story, can you blame me? It’s bad enough for folks to wrap their heads around having ghosts in their town, but ghosts who have been abducted by aliens? Why, I figured that might just be too much. And after having been nearly run out of town once, I didn’t want to risk it again.
But now with the other stories of alien abductions, including that of Don Burgeron, well, I think people are just scared enough about the aliens in general to not worry about us in particular. And I gotta say I’m real worried too, because though I don’t remember what happened to us up there in that spaceship, I do have an inexplicable dread whenever I come close to a cow. Which is a real problem here in Bovine, I can tell you. And Little Boo? Well, let’s just say he doesn’t enjoy stories about and spaceships and rockets and aliens like lots of other little boys do. Won’t get near a book about the planets or the stars, no sirree.
I’ve got a huge sense of relief that the story has finally come out, like I don’t have to hide anything anymore. But boy am I worried about the rest of the folks here in Bovine. Why are the abductions starting again? We haven’t had any here since Little Boo and I became the Boos. I thought those aliens had left us for good, but I guess they really like us here in Bovine County. Or maybe it’s a different set of aliens, doing different things to people? I shudder to think just what is going on.
I only hope turning people into ghosts is the worst they do.
One thing that was suggested on the assignments for this week was to try telling a story in pictures. I have never tried the “five card flickr” site that our friend CogDog made. You get five sets of randomly chosen flickr photos and you pick one from each set, until you end up with five photos. I chose to do the variation where you just use photos tagged “dailycreate,” so you’re getting images that people have uploaded to flickr as part of the ds106 Daily Create.
This was harder than it seems. When you get five seemingly random pictures and try to tell a story by picking one at a time and putting them in sequence, you really have to think on multiple levels about how they might fit together into a story as you’re picking the next ones. Or you could just pick images you like and come up with a story afterwards.
Here is the story I made from the images I chose. Maybe it makes sense coming from a ghost. But I don’t think it’s a ghost story.
As the wires hummed and shuddered with activity, M– took a break from her work, thankful that the electricity was still on. It wasn’t clear what was happening outside (What was up with that red sky? And why had the television and the radio suddenly gone silent?), but there was no way she was going to be able to continue with those forms tonight. Something didn’t feel right.
M– ventured outside, where all seemed strangely distorted. “Must be all that staring at small print and computer screens,” she thought, as her eyes slowly adjusted and she was able to see a bit more clearly. Something about the warm, summer night and the soothing sounds of the insects kept her out for hours, just sitting in the old tire swing and wondering quietly about the sense of calm that had come over her (while trying not to ruin it by thinking about it too much).
Next thing she knew, the sun was rising and there they were–inexplicable, improbable, iridescent. As she watched them float she felt a gentle tug upwards, and the blue filled her eyes and her mind even as part of her rested securely on the ground, feeling the warmth of the grass.
M– knew those forms would wait there forever. And, stretched between earth and sky, she no longer needed them.