…AND, ANOTHER LITTLE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS (Act 22)

Sylvester is on the prowl!  He looks quite fed up, too.  Tweety has escaped the feline’s claws with every attempt at capture, but the yellow canary always gets away.  I have to hand it to Granny’s proud cat, though; her whiskered pet never gives up. 

As I mentioned in my last post, Tweety always wins any battle with Sylvester James Pussycat, Sr., the Tuxedo cat who appears in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons.  As a matter of fact, he appears in a lot of them– a whopping 103 Warner Bros. flicks.  Between 1945 and 1966, he was quite the popular cat on the screen. 

In addition to his attempts at making a meal of Tweety, Sylvester is best known for his sloppy lisp.  In the cartoon, Tweety, Tweety, Tweety, this exchange takes place between Tweety and Sylvester:

Tweety: “I wonder where that puddy tat went to?”  Sylvester [swinging on a wooden swing, flattened by a rock crusher]: “Does thith anthwer your question?”

About that name, “Sylvester,” is a pun on silvestris, the scientific name for the wild cat, the ancestor of domestic cats.

Interestingly, Sylvester’s many different cartoon directors put their own spin on the cat’s personality.  Friz Freleng is the one who directed Sylvester’s first appearance with Tweety in Tweety Pie; and it was the beginning of Sylvester’s desire to capture and munch on his little yellow-feathered enemy.   

When Bob Clampett got a hold of him in 1946’s, Kitty Kornered, Sylvester was one of Porky Pig’s pet cats and looked nothing like he does with Tweety.  He was voiced by Mel Blanc, though, so he sounded just like you remember.

Next up was Arthur Davis who gave Sylvester two completely different personalities.  In Doggone Cats, the feline was a trickster troublemaker who didn’t speak.  He spoke with a dopey voice, in Catch as Cats Can, though, and had a dopey personality to match. 

Robert McKimson paired Sylvester up with a silent baby kangaroo named “Hippity Hopper,” and then later with his son “Sylvester Junior,” where he unsuccessfully tried to raise the kitty to be a real cat.  Lastly, Sylvester and Speedy Gonzales were paired up together.

Finally, Chuck Jones put his spin on the black and white feline.  This is when he was paired up with Porky Pig in three horror-themed cartoons.

Looking back over Sylvester’s career, that cat really did have nine lives!  His appearance changed, his voice morphed, and his personality went in all sorts of directions.  That was one busy feline!

…AND, ANOTHER LITTLE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS (Act 21)

An adorably curious owl flew in last week and took a rest here at Sun City Peachtree; and, today, it’s Tweety Bird!  I could have sworn I heard him say, “I tawt I taw a puddy tat!”  Sylvester was nowhere to be found, though.

Tweety (aka Tweety Pie), has been fluttering about for quite a long time.  The yellow canary with the big head was born five years before Sylvester came around.  He first appeared in A Tale of Two Kitties, in 1942.  Five years later, he joined his nemisis, Sylvester, in Tweety Pie, which won an Academy Award.  A star was born!

Now, about that big head of his.  Tweety’s design was based on a baby picture of Bob Clampett, the director of the canary’s first movie.  (Evidently, baby Bobby had a fat head!)

Tweety has mellowed over the years.  At first, he was an angry little bird with a short temper, but he has chilled.  Don’t let those long eye lashes and his sweet charm fool you, though.  When it comes to his rival, he’ll find a way to humiliate the cat in the end.  Besides, the pint-sized canary has Granny to protect him, when he lives at her house.  She keeps him in a cage and away from Sylvester who is always trying to eat the little fellow. 

Sylvester is just jealous.  He thinks Granny likes Tweety better and gives the bird more attention.

When he’s not (easily) escaping Sylvester’s claws, the star canary is off making appearances in other movies, such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam, and Looney Tunes:  Back in Action.

Recently, it appeared as if being a star had gone to Tweety’s (big!) head, and he turned a bit aggressive and angry again in Looney Tunes Cartoons

The star will be making some appearances in the near future, beginning with Tweety Mysteries, a live-action/animated hybrid.  Instead of living with Granny, he will be living with Sydney, a pre-teen girl.  He will also be appearing in the preschool series, Bugs Bunny Builders.  (I wonder if Bugs Bunny will try to eat the yellow-feathered canary, too!)

…AND, ANOTHER LITTLE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS (Act 20)

It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!!  It’s the World War I Flying Ace swooping in on his doghouse for a visit to Sun City Peachtree!!!

Snoopy— uh, World War I Flying Ace— must be taking a break from his battle against the Red Baron (real name Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthhofen).  He is probably exhausted, although he had just enough strength to call out, “Curse you, Red Baron!” as he often did following previous battles.

‘Ace has been fighting the Red Baron since October 10, 1965, when he first appeared in The Peanuts Gang comics.  He had a lot of ground support from his troops during his battles, beginning with Schroeder, who kept up morale by playing popular World War I songs on his toy piano.  Woodstock and his bird friends served as mechanics, ‘Ace’s sister, Belle, was a nurse for the troops, and their brother, Spike, served as a member of the infantry.  Marcie provided loyal support as the dashing pilot’s French lass.

During the Vietnam War, an American fighter squadron wanted to use Snoopy the World War I Flying Ace as their mascot, so they sought permission from Charles M. Schulz.  Since Schulz was a veteran himself, he granted approval.

Ultimately, Schulz had changed the focus of ‘Ace from the Red Baron-fighting pilot to battling love and loneliness.  As he confided to writer Rheta Grimsley Johnson in her 1988 book, Good Grief, “It reached a point where war just didn’t seem funny.



ST. PETERSBURG’S IMAGINE MUSEUM

St. Petersburg is such a fantastic city for so many reasons, but it’s especially fantastic if you enjoy seeing fabulous glass art works.  Between the Chihuly Collection, Morean Arts Center, and Duncan McClellan Gallery, which I previously wrote about; they exhibit (and/or sell) more top-quality art glass than most American cities.  There is still, however, one more glass museum I haven’t yet shared, which is the Imagine Museum.

Wow!  The Imagine Museum is another feast for the eyes that is well worth the visit.  Founded in 2016 by glass artist Trish Duggan, “her goal was to put together a collection of artworks and promote an experience that would inspire, uplift, and educate,” according to their website.  We definitely think she has accomplished that goal!

Imagine Museum features top glass artists from around the world, including America, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Australia, and others.  There are 1,500 glass art works on display from the Studio Glass Movement, which started in the 1960’s and continues to the present.

One of the things I greatly appreciated about Imagine Museum and the other museums and galleries we visited was that they openly encourage visitors to photograph their art works!  All they asked was to tag them on social media.  Done!

We were also pleased to learn the museum offered free tours with admission.  The tour we selected was, “Introduction to American Studio Glass.”  There were only six of us on the tour, and the guide did an excellent job keeping our attention with interesting stories about the artists and their works.  It was fascinating!

Following the tour, we roamed around the remaining exhibits that weren’t covered on the tour, including the entire second floor of the museum. 

Glass is often really difficult to photograph, so the pictures I took of many of the art works ended up in the recycle bin—especially since I wasn’t shooting with my best camera, which I left at home, due to a malfunctioning zoom mechanism.  These were all shot (without flash) with my inexpensive waterproof Fuji XP, which Bruce uses for shooting underwater video of my swimming for stroke technique feedback.

The pictures don’t do the art work justice, so you will just have to visit St. Petersburg and see it all for yourself!

Dale Chihuly
Toots Zynsky, a former student of Dale Chihuly
Toots Zynsky
“Nirvana,” 1000 Buddahs, by Imagine Museum founder, Trish Dugan. She was inspired by this quote by Buddah: “Though you can conquer a 1,000 men in battle 1,000 times, the one who conquers himself is the noblest victor of all.”
Martin Blank
It’s difficult to imagine from this picture, but I was actually looking through a very long tunnel of glass! This sculpture was approximately 12+ feet long! This photo was shot from one end.
This is just a small portion of a large glass sculpture by Anthony James.
This glass cube is balancing on its stand. The tour guide took one corner, gave it a spin! It was mesmerizing to watch, and this photo can’t possibly capture what we really saw.
This one was a trip! It looked different from every angle!
This life-size chair was on display in the front window of the museum. Don’t sit on it!

ST. PETERSBURG’S DUNCAN MCCLELLAN GALLERY: A FEAST FOR THE EYES

Trip Advisor has been a very useful travel-planning tool over the years, and this time was no different.  Checking out the site’s “Things to Do” category for St. Petersburg landed me here to read the reviews on the top-ranked Duncan McClellan Gallery.  Just knowing it was an art glass gallery was convincing enough; we knew we had to see it!  The fabulous reviews, however, sealed it!  Better yet was following the link to the gallery’s website to see the gorgeous photos of their exhibited glass sculptures.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the personable and friendly Danyell Bauer, the gallery’s manager.  She has worked at the gallery for ten years, and she is also a glass and multi-media artist.  We really enjoyed talking with her!

As we feasted our eyes on all of the beautiful works of art, we felt right at home in the relaxed environment—especially when we saw the food and water bowls on the floor for what turned out to be three cats that had free run of the gallery. (I guess they don’t make a habit of knocking over the art work!)

The 3,000-square-foot gallery opened up to a casual courtyard and deck in one direction, where two of the cats were taking a siesta; and, on the other side of the gallery, it opened up to a beautiful sculpture garden full of mango trees, plants, orchids, sculptures, art glass, a boardwalk path, and casual sitting areas where you could relax and enjoy the environment.  We were amazed that gorgeous blown glass pieces were on display out in the elements.  They were created by Duncan himself, and they were spectacular!

Duncan McClellan

We got talking with Duncan McClellan, and learned that he also loves to garden and grow orchids.  He created that 5,000-square-foot sculpture garden from what was once an empty dirt space behind the former fish and tomato packing plant.  Now, he is learning how to grow several varieties of mushrooms and showed us a bucket that had mushrooms growing on the side.

Duncan was as personable and friendly as Danyell, and he really made us feel at home.  Behind the gallery and sculpture garden is a huge glass blowing studio, so he led us back and showed us around.  Glass blowing demonstrations are open to the public; however, we were there on a Sunday afternoon, so there wasn’t much action going on. 

Since Bruce works in fused glass, we were interested in seeing his kilns, and we were amazed at the quantity and variety he had available there for himself, staff, the artists, and classes they teach.  One of them was the largest we had ever seen!  This huge piece was annealed in this approximately 5’ x 5’ kiln.

We look forward to returning to the gallery next time we visit St. Petersburg.  Since the rotating exhibitions feature national and internationally recognized glass artists, I am sure there will be many more amazing works of art; a feast for the eyes!

VACCINATION CELEBRATION! ST. PETERSBURG FLORIDA

April 27, 2021.  I was so looking forward to that glorious day:  Full vaccination!  The countdown started after my second jab, on April 13.  Bruce was already fully vaccinated, and we decided to take a celebration road trip the moment I qualified.

On April 27th, we hit the road to St. Petersburg, a Florida city we hadn’t yet visited.  The draw?  The Chihuly Collection at the Morean Art Center.

Glass blowing demonstration at the Morean Arts Center.

Dale Chihuly, an American glass sculptor, is one of the world’s most famous artists of blown glass.  We had enjoyed his temporary exhibits at the Mingei Museum, in San Diego, as well as the Atlanta and Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens.  In addition, we were in awe of his permanent installations at the San Antonio library, San Antonio Museum of Art, Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel, and Maker’s Mark Distillery, in Kentucky.

We decided to make our celebration a one-week vacation, so we could also enjoy the other art glass galleries, museums, and so much more that St. Petersburg has to offer.

Notice how Flipper is masked to keep us all safe!

Whenever I travel, I also look for a pool facility, so I can start off at least some of my days with a good swim training session.  I found it in St. Pete, at the North Shore Aquatics Complex, located right on the downtown waterfront at Vinoy Park.  I was in swimming heaven! The 50-meter pool was run short course the days I swam, so I always had my own lane in the perfect 80-degree water.  (The facility also has a 25-meter pool and kids water park. 

While I swam, Bruce walked along the waterfront park watching the dolphins and birds as he enjoyed views of the St. Petersburg skyline and marina.  One of his walks took him along Vinoy Park, past the marina, and to the end of St. Pete Pier and back, for a 75-minute roundtrip.  Nice!

Bruce was really impressed with the uniqueness of this pier—unlike anything he had ever seen; so, I had to see it for myself.

The new version of this pier on Tampa Bay opened in July, 2020 at a cost of $92 million dollars.  It includes five restaurants, a playground, an environmental education center, artwork, and sculptures, including this life-size pelican. 

Next time we visit St. Pete, we are going to make sure to return to the pier at night to see the “Bending Arc,” a net sculpture that lights up in bright colors.

We really enjoyed the downtown area of St. Petersburg.  It’s an easy city to navigate by car or on foot; however, if neither of those options sound appealing to you (or, you just want to relax and leave the work to somebody else), you can ride the Looper.  The ride is free, and there are twenty stops along the route where you can get off to enjoy one of the many restaurants with outdoor dining, visit a gallery, or shop ‘til you drop.  It even stops at the local hospitals, but I’m hopeful you will never need to do that!

St. Pete has an artsy vibe, and there is plenty of arts and culture to take in while you’re there.  My next two posts will give you a taste of it with visits to the Duncan McClellan Gallery and Imagine Museum.

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite crafts from Florida Craft Art:

…AND, ANOTHER LITTLE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS (Act 19)

It was a bit of an untimely visit to Sun City Peachtree by this ol’ chap, today, since  it is raining, and he has come to water the grass below the bench. 

I wonder how he got here.  After all, according to a story in the April 30th edition of The Week, the recent blockage of the Suez Canal caused quite the gnome crisis.  It worsened the U.K.’s already desperate shortage of garden gnomes.  Countless gnomes are “stuck in containers trying to come over here,” said Iain Wylie of the British Garden Centre Association.

For their weekly contest, The Week used that story as its subject.  Their request?  “Please come up with a headline for a British Tabloid story about the gnome crisis.”  The contest winner?  “Gnomadland,” by Mary Stahl, of Arvada, Colorado.

Knowing next to nothing about the origins of these personable-looking little fellows, I poked around the Internet to get the 411. 

According to Wikipedia, gnomes originated as a decoration for the wealthy in Europe, and they date back to the ancient Roman period.  In recent years, they have become quite popular across all social classes and have made their way across the Atlantic and into North America.  During the 1970’s, more humorous and light-hearted gnomes came on to the garden scene; and, in the 1990’s, it was all about the traveling gnome.  Pranks with the pointy-hat-wearing, bearded fellow was all the rage and made national news.  As a practical joke, people would kidnap them from gardens to keep them company on their world travelers.  The kidnapper would send the owner photos of the gnome drinking a beer at Oktoberfest, eating pizza in Italy, or sunbathing on the French Riviera before returning him to his home garden.

I thought about kidnapping this one for our 2022 travels abroad, but I think I’ll just leave him on the bench, so he can keep the grass nice and green after the rains have gone.

…AND, ANOTHER LITTLE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS (Act 18)

The Peanuts Gang is back!  I was so happy to see little Franklin out there on the bench today.  Bloom County got me in a fowl mood, so it was uplifting on this gorgeous spring day to see Franklin smiling up at me with open arms.

I have always liked Franklin, because he is such a kind and smart kid.  We also share some things in common.  Like me, he is a swimmer and a member of a swim club.  Cool!  He also stays busy with all sorts of other interests, just like I do.  The active boy is into playing baseball, hockey, and guitar; and, he’s a member of 4H.  He is also quite the skilled dancer, from leading Marcie in a waltz to busting some hip breakdancing moves.

Thoughtful and supportive, Franklin is always available to help out his friends.  What a great kid!  He even likes hanging out with his grandparents, and often swaps grandfather stories with Charlie Brown.

Franklin and Charlie first met at the beach, and their friendship began when he offered to help Charlie fix his crooked sand castle.  When Franklin took up Charlie’s offer to visit him in his neighborhood, he met Charlie’s friends who he thought were a bit odd.  (It freaked him out that Linus believed in the Great Pumpkin!)  He became friends with all of Charlie’s buddies anyway. 

Peppermint Patty and Marcie live in Franklin’s neighborhood, so they already were friends and classmates. 

Franklin, thanks for visiting us here at Sun City Peachtree.  It was an honor having you grace our bench today!

AND, ANOTHER LITTLE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS (Act 17)

How fitting for Milo to make the trip from Bloom County to visit our Sun City Peachtree bench.  After all, he is worldly and makes a point of knowing what is going on outside of his town.  Although this was a domestic trip for Milo, it often seems like another country down here in the south.

Milo is a reporter for the Bloom County’s newspaper, so perhaps he is going to write a travel story about his trip to Griffin, Georgia.  His writing can be quite controversial, though, and he follows politics; so, perhaps the story will be about Georgia’s new voting laws.  The thing is, Milo is known for putting quite the fictional spin on his reporting of the “facts,” so who knows how he’ll spin this story?

Thanks to my friend, Cynthia, for snapping a shot of Milo for me!

…AND, ANOTHER LITTLE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS (Act 16)

Well, look who strutted into town. It’s Bloom County’s cool (only in his own mind) Steve Dallas.  He’s the dude women despise—or, at best, tolerate, due to his aggressive womanizing and male chauvinism. 

The only friend Steve has is Opus the Penguin, who, for some reason, actually idolizes the despicable and unscrupulous lawyer.  Little does Opus realize, he is being manipulated by Steve into doing his dirty work for him. Still, Opus idolizes the low-life.

There is nothing good to say about this guy who is actually (and, unfortunately) based on a real person.  Bloom County’s creator, Berkeley Breathed, once said, “Steve Dallas… a frat-boy lawyer who I knew in school.  He’s never written me.  I suspect he was shot by an annoyed girlfriend, which save me many legal fees.”

In the early days of Bloom County, Steve Dallas would frequently hit on schoolteacher Bobbi Harlow.  They dated briefly, but she left him for Cutter John, and Steve was never able to win her back.  He tried to make Bobbi jealous by dating her dimwitted cousin, Quiche Lorraine, but it didn’t work. 

Politically, Steve is ultra-conservative.  During his teenage years, he read conservative books such as William Buckley’s, God and Man at Yale.  Later, during the Reagan era, he said, “Haig and the generals should run Reagan and his liberal pack right out of the White House.”

As a lawyer, the reprehensible jerk defended psychotic and obviously guilty criminals and murderers, much to his overbearing mother’s chagrin. 

Hmmm.  I have never read Bloom County, but the more I learn about Steve Dallas, the more he sounds like our recent past POTUS—all except the lawyer part.  Although, if our past POTUS had been a lawyer, he surely would have taken on a similar clientele.

This is where I’ll take a pass on any more research on Steve Dallas.  NEXT!