The Pandumbic

 

“If you laugh with somebody,
then you share something.”
Trevor Noah

 

Trevor Noah

When the Coronavirus pandemic began, all the late-night shows such as The Tonight Show, The Late, Late Show and even Stephen Colbert began broadcasting their shows from home, usually their significant other filming their host husbands.

There was one show I had not watched before and that was  The Daily Show with host Trevor Noah. However, that changed when I began watching Trevor along with the other daily YouTube late night shows.

If you’re not familiar with Trevor Noah, he’s a 36-year old South African comedian, political commentator, writer and television host of The Daily Show. Born in Johannesburg, he began his career in 2002 as a comedian, presenter, and actor in South Africa. After coming to America in 2011, he became the first South African comedian to appear on The Tonight Show in the summer of 2013. As his popularity grew and Trevor became a recurring contributor on The Daily Show, he replaced Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show September 28, 2015.

I was a fan of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show but I must admit I stopped watching after he retired. I didn’t even give Trevor Noah a chance to show his talent. I now regret I did that, after becoming a diehard fan of Trevor.

After a few months of watching him on the Daily Show, I read his 2016 book, Born A Crime. He writes about growing up in South Africa, a child of interracial parents and apartheid South Africa. Trevor was kept mostly indoors in his youth by his mother, for fear that at any moment the government could take him away from her because of his interracial status. In South Africa before 1985, it was a crime to have interracial marriages as well as have an interracial child, hence the title of the book, Born a Crime. Against all odds, this smart, handsome, talented young comedian has made his way to the top. In my opinion, Born a Crime should be required reading for all young people.

If you don’t have cable, you can watch him on YouTube. Here’s a recent segment of  The Daily Social Distancing Show from July 22, 2020 he calls, The Pandumbic:

Shine On

All Living Things

“Be respectful of the small insects,
birds and animal people who accompany you.
Ask their forgiveness for the harm we humans
have brought down upon them.”
Joy Harjo

All Living Things

There’s a poet I admire, Joy Harjo who is the first Native American Poet Laureate in the history of the position. Her poetry as well as her memoir, Crazy Brave are written with such simplicity and beauty that I find myself thirsty for more of her writings, especially since I’ve devoured all of her books.

Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1951 and is a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is not only a talented poet, but also an author, musician and playwright. She incorporates into her writing storytelling and histories of her Nation and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values.

One of the subject matters she has touched on is the subject of Spirit Animal, Animal Guide and Spirit Helper. These terms are used among different cultures to describe spirits of benevolent nature, usually helping someone during a hard time. These spirits can bring strength, insight, and even a sense or feeling to someone who needs it.

Native American culture believes these Spirit Helpers are not a novelty. It isn’t something you choose or identify with but rather something that comes to you in your time of need. Perhaps the animal represents something that holds a certain value, such as strength in a bull or agility in a dragonfly. In the Native American Lakota culture, these spirits tend to associate values with certain animals. However, that’s not all they bring. They hold a special place and represent a larger spiritual culture within a tribe.

In many indigenous cultures, spirituality is about a relationship to everything around you – the plants and animals that provide food, the land that provides a home, and the weather that makes living possible. These elements are highly respected because they enable us to live.

I tend to believe our spirituality is strongly tied to the value and respect we hold for the earth and all living things.

Shine On

Time Traveling

“Once confined to fantasy and science fiction,
time travel is now simply an engineering problem.”
Michio Kaku

Mr Peabody

Mr. Peabody, his boy Sherman and the “Wayback Machine”

The concept of traveling backward and forward in time has always held my fascination. My interest began as a child. Introduced to the idea of time travel by none other than Mr. Peabody and his Wayback machine.

Conceptually, time travel goes back several centuries. Long before H. G. Wells wrote the book, The Time Machine, Japanese, Hindu, and Buddhist all wrote about time travel. In more recent times, people such as Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku have discussed the possibilities of traveling back and forth in time.

Time travel will forever be one of my favorite genres of novels and movies. Whether I’m reading Stephen King’s novel 11/26/63 or watching, Midnight in Paris, and Back to the Future for the hundredth time, the idea of going back to a time before I existed will always hold my interest in time traveling.

Shine On

Bird Man of America

“A true conservationist is a man who knows
that the world is not given by his fathers,
but borrowed from his children.”
John James Audubon

Audobon

I recently read, This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon. It’s a short book of just 171 pages about Audubon and what he accomplished in his life.

Jean Jacques Audubon was born in Les Cayes in the French colony of Saint-Domingue now known as Haiti on April 26, 1785. He was raised in Couëron, near Nantes, France until 1803 when at the age of 18 his father obtained a false passport for his son to go to America to avoid being drafted in the Napoleonic Wars. Upon arriving in America, his father changed his son’s name to, John James Audubon.

As a young man, Audubon had a kinship for birds. “I felt an intimacy with them…bordering on frenzy that must accompany my steps through life.” Studying American birds, he was determined to illustrate his findings in a more realistic manner than most artists. Along with drawing and painting birds, he also recorded their behavior. He conducted the first known bird-banding on the continent: he tied yarn to the legs of eastern phoebes and discovered that they returned to the same nesting spots every year.

Audubon developed his own methods for drawing birds. First, he killed them, then used wires to prop them into a natural position, unlike the common method of many ornithologists, who prepared and stuffed the specimens into a rigid pose. He became proficient at specimen preparation and taxidermy.

Often when working on a large bird such as an eagle, he would spend up to four 15-hour days, preparing, studying, and drawing it. Each paintings are set true-to-life in their natural habitat, portraying the birds as if caught in motion, especially feeding or hunting.

Although he did paint the birds in his drawings, it was his assistant Joseph Mason who painted the plant life and backgrounds of many of Audubon’s bird studies. Unfortunately, Mason was never credited in any of Audubon’s drawings.

By 1824 Audubon began to seek a publisher for his bird drawings. He met Thomas Sully, one of the most famous portrait painters of the time and a valuable ally, however Audubon was rejected for publication. He took oil painting lessons from Sully and met Charles Bonaparte, who admired his work and recommended he go to Europe to have his bird drawings engraved.

Two years later at age 41, Audubon took his growing collection of work to England. He sailed from New Orleans to Liverpool with his portfolio of over 300 drawings. Audubon quickly gained notoriety in England where he raised enough money to begin publishing his major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America. It was printed on sheets measuring about 39 by 26 inches and contains more than 700 North American bird species, including 25 new species identified by Audubon. The cost of printing the entire work was $115,640 (over $2,000,000 today) and is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed.

John_James_Audubon_1826.jpg

John James Audubon

Today most copies of The Birds of America can only be found in museums. However, a complete copy of the first edition was sold in January 2012 at Christie’s auction house in Manhattan for $7.9 million.

Audubon died at his family home in northern Manhattan on January 27, 1851. Fifty-four years after his death, George Bird Grinnell, who was appalled by the negligent and mass slaughter of birds that he saw taking place created the National Audubon Society. As a boy, Grinnell was inspired by Audubon’s work. So much so, that when Grinnell decided to create an organization devoted to the protection of wild birds and their eggs, he didn’t hesitate in using Audubon’s name.

Because of market hunting and the fashion industry many of the birds Audubon painted became extinct. Thanks to the work of the National Audubon Society there are thousands of birds that have been saved. John James Audubon’s work and research inspired many. He left a body of work for generations to enjoy which makes him truly, the bird man of America.

Shine On

Good Reads

“Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body.”
Joseph Addison

good-reads

I enjoy reading since I was as a child. With the introduction of eBooks and OverDrive, books are easily accessible. This year I decided to double the number of books I read each week. I’m enjoying reading so much, that if I continue to read at this rate, I’ll exceed my 2020 book goal of 100 books.

For the past six years, I’ve been using the website “good reads”. It allows me to add books easily when I hear of a book I want to read. Not to mention, give reviews of books, follow my favorite authors and best of all, it keeps track of all my “good reads”.

Shine On