Thursday, November 24, 2022

Culturally appropriate kids' television

I caught an interesting piece on the radio recently about how Russian television adapted Sesame Street, an American kids' educational program, back in the early 90s. An American producer, already living and working in Russia, worked with Russian state TV to help put Sesame Street on air. The path to muppets in Russia wasn't a straightforward one, unfortunately. The Russians in charge of the adaptation needed to be persuaded to use Henson's creations as his puppets (Muppets) did not fit the puppet aesthetic already long since established in Russia. When it was finally agreed that Henson's muppets were to be used, not all characters from the American show made the grade. 

For instance, Oscar the Grouch, a slightly unkempt misanthrope who lives in a trash can, was a strict 'no' for the Russians as it was thought that kids might get the wrong idea and want to jump into garbage bins like Oscar. Life in Russia in the immediate years following the fall of the Iron Curtain was most certainly chaotic, but would children have actually gone bin diving? Maybe...?

Standing around 8' tall with yellow plumage, Big Bird, on the other hand, was not axed but remade into an image that would more align with Russian folklore. The creature Big Bird became is mostly blue and covered in bits of moss and twigs. His name is Zeliboba and he is a spirit about 7-8 feet tall who can smell sounds. If you ask me, Z. sounds less like a children's muppet and more like some scraggly dude selling 'schrooms at a Dead show.

Here is the spirit, Zeliboba:

Zeliboba, like our Big Bird, is meant to be a child.

And here is my childhood TV-friend, Oscar the Grouch, with Ernestine aka Lily Tomlin:

One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy.

I first learned of Germany's Sesame Street adaptation, Sesamstraße, when living as a study-abroad-student in SW Germany in the mid-90s. A handful of the muppets from the US version of the show were incorporated into Sesamstrasse like the child-like Big Bird, a full-sized muppet. In the German show he's known as Bibo & he speaks in an adult voice. I remember thinking how funny that in a language valued for its compound nouns & literal descriptions Big Bird--who literally is a very big bird--would not be known as Grosser Vogel (literally: big bird). I now see that such a name would not translate well for the German-watching populace because Grosser Vogel would probably simply read as an accurate description and not a sort of fun and alliterative name as it is in English. 

Left: Big Bird's 'cousin' from Mexico's version of Sesame Street; right: Big Bird

Monday, November 14, 2022

Prop J for Joy & a sorry state

Whelp! We did it (again)! Car-free JFK Blvd, just a 1.3 mile stretch of roadway, may retain its promenade status. In the San Francisco voting map below one can see all the 'yes' votes in green across all voter precincts in the city. The lavender hues show all the 'no' votes. I have roughly circled where Golden Gate Park fits into the map in white. It's interesting to note that a majority of the west side of town--those areas flanking the park-- opposed prop J. As for why a chunk of SE SF opposed prop J I would look to that area's supervisor. He has vehemently & vocally opposed the permanant closure of JFK Blvd from Kezar Dr. to Transverse Dr. from the very beginning. My only hope is that top Republican donor Dede Wilsey keeps her coin purse closed and that we don't have to go through this b.s. when voting comes 'round again. 


My father died twenty years ago this past October. His widow, a drunken recluse who steadfastly refuses to be seen by anyone, recently took a tumble on the back patio of her home and could not pick herself up from the ground. The reason I know this is because neighbors heard her cries for help and rang the authorities. Firefighters, first responders to these types of issues, arrived on scene to help her up and check for injuries. They saw what a sorry state she's been in for years and told her they'd bring her to the hospital. She refused to be taken until someone was able to ring her son and he was able to override her protestations. 

To the hospital she went where it was determined that not only was she underweight but also malnourished. (Not a huge surprise.) However, luckily, she hadn't broken any bones in the fall. After a couple of days in the hospital, she was transferred to a local rehab facility. It's there where she'll receive both physical therapy and nourishment. Although I thoroughly dislike the woman I do not wish her to experience any more pain--there has been a chronic issue with her back that she has for years refused to seek treatment for--so hopefully the stay in rehab will do her well. 

Friday, November 4, 2022

Toilet talk

I don't know if I've ever mentioned that I occasionally take my cat, Bart, out for walks around the neighborhood. I took him in as a stray; the veterinarian thought Bart was probably around five-years-old at his first vet visit. That said, I didn't know if he'd take to a harness and leash, but, fortunately, he has! He is a bit unpredictable--sometimes he seems panicked by passersby, but he's been happy to meet other walkers who wish to reach down and pet him. It's a bit of a crap shoot, but an engaging one. 

I was out the other evening dropping off campaign literature ('lit drop') for Yes on J while walking Bart. Bartie seemed particularly taken with a massive dirt patch out front one of the houses I approached. This isn't too abnormal as Bart likes to both smell just about everything he encounters and is a keen grass/weed nibbler. Watching him paw at the dirt I thought: I wonder if he hears a gopher below ground...? And as I was still in that bit of gopher reverie, Bart had dug a small hole, squatted over it and defecated. I was both amused and somewhat mortified by the whole affair, to be honest. Just as soon as he'd completed his 'mission', he turned round and promptly buried his waste. That's just as well as I hadn't expected the 'non-lit drop' from him and certainly didn't have a way to transport his bowel movement home with me. 

I will leave you NOT with a snap of Bartie indispose, but rather a shot of him from today's walk when he found an old cat scratcher dumped on the side of the road. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Dede's Drive-Thru

You may remember from some months ago our local action to keep a short stretch of roadway in Golden Gate Park devoid of car traffic. Unfortunately, a 'done deal' it is not as an heiress called Dede Wilsey has ponied up $200,000 to support a measure on an upcoming ballot that would, in part, restore all pre-pandemic vehicular traffic to the park. The slogan on the heiress-supported measure's literature is: We Need Access for All with not a single use of the word 'car' appearing anywhere in the writing. Mind you, her aim is take away what has become a lovely promenade for all in Golden Gate Park.

I'm ticked off that we have to have this fight again. And I'm extremely frustrated that a wealthy socialite with direct ties to the art museum in Golden Gate Park (whose stance on this matter is publicly pro-auto) is pushing her weight around in this arena. With expanded park shuttle service, additional blue placard parking spaces & extra pick-up/drop-off zones directly adjacent the museums and other tourist-centric activities it would seem that, as the kids might say, we got this, Dede. You don't have to back a bad measure that will take away what has been for many, a wonderful respite from two plus years of pandemic stress. Oh, and did I mention that there is ample (yet costly) parking in underground garages below the museums? 

Dow Chemical heiress, Dede Wilsey, wants to remove car-free spaces in Golden Gate Park.

Come November 8, we, the voters, will decide the fate of car-free JFK. I hope, hope, hope we do the right thing!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

BART blues.

Yesterday, I was on our 'suburban rail' known as BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, en route to an appt. downtown when, as I was about to off-board, I noticed that a male passenger was pleasuring himself at the expense of a seemingly unaware female passenger. I had actually clocked the guy when he first boarded the train and thought, Kook alert! He'd moved past me down the train car, so it was 'out of sight, out of mind' until I stood up to leave. He and the unsuspecting woman were near the exit farthest from me, so I made up my mind to walk past him while saying a firm, 'Excuse me!' in hopes of breaking up the activity. It worked and he moved out of the aisle, standing now directly behind the row of seats where the woman was sat. He was looking away when I then gestured to her to come over. She did and I whispered, 'I wanted to let you know that that man was masturbating behind you.' And I asked her if she were off-boarding at the next stop (as I was). She said she wasn't and I told her to take care before exiting the train. 

I was headed for the escalator when I remembered to pop my head back into the carriage in order to take note of its number. As I stuck my head in one door, creepo left the train from another door. Undeterred, I sought out a BART agent to, at least, give him or her a physical description of the icky dude in case he were out traveling on another train line seeking a repeat performance, shall we say. 

I left the BART station feeling somewhat unsettled about what had occurred and I wondered if there could have been a better way to handle the situation. I mean I still would have definitely sought to break up the activity, but should I have then called BART police whose job it is to patrol both stations and trains on the look out for illicit behavior? I called the BART customer service line in order to ask what might have been the best response in this type of situation. The person with whom I spoke thought it might have been best to call BART police directly and skip notifying the station agent straight away. I thanked her for her time and went to my appointment. 

Later that afternoon, I hopped back on BART headed home. This particular train, bound for the San Francisco airport, was only partially full and those who were on it were sat with large pieces of luggage presumably making their to the terminals. The car I was riding in smelled of fecal matter. No one on board looked as if they were sitting in soiled clothing, so I figured the person in question may have off-boarded, but his stench hadn't yet dissipated. I stood against an empty bike rack by one of two sets of exit doors. Two rather glum-looking tourists sat very near me. I figured they must be tired, given their expressions. However, at one point a young woman got on the train and tried to sit in a seat just in front of the two travelers. The woman traveler said rather sharply to her, 'Don't sit there' while pointing to the floor. I followed her gaze and saw three large-ish bits of poo of indeterminate origin on the floor near the open seat. 

I was back on the phone with BART customer service in a flash. The same woman who had assisted me before answered the phone. I said with forced cheer, 'Hi, it's me again!' and told her the situation. She said she'd have a cleaning crew sent out ASAP. I thanked her, again, and ended the call with a 'Talk to you later!' Har-har. 

I don't know about you, but if I'm not laughing, I'm crying.

I will leave you with a photo of the lovely Powder Puff Polka...a-wunnerful, a-wunnerful:

Friday, September 9, 2022

Suck it!

I'm not proud to admit that I told a woman the other day to 'suck it'. What led up to that point may explain why I unleashed, shall we say, on her. I was walking along Castro St. near Market St., an area heavy with foot traffic (read: tourists photographing various and sundry, people sleeping rough along shop entryways, and the occasional naked man sunning his privates), when a young man crossed the pavement in front of me in order, I presume, to enter a shop. What I did not immediately notice was that he was walking a large, black dog on a lead. The dog, acting as a dog might in this situation, may have felt that I was too close to either him or the man, then reared up on his hind legs and began barking and snarling very close to my face. I can't quite recall exactly the sound I made, but I think it was some sort of started cry. The next thing I see is the man holding his dog about the rib cage from behind in an attempt to keep Fido under control. While wrangling the dog he told me he was 'so sorry'. I was too freaked out at that point to respond well and just blurted out: Are you?!  

'He's a rescue; he's never done that before.' I'm thinking, Did you just get that dog yesterday? What I said was something like: Oh, I must smell of cat. And gave a weak smile as I turned to walk away. During this brief exchange I heard a woman some feet away say: Leave him alone. She was referring to my having spoken to the self-appointed Dog Whisperer in an unkind tone. Heart pounding out of my chest and both feet warm and tingling (I assume a stress response), I asked her to verify what she'd said. Putting her hands together in some sort of bullshit 'namaste' pose she told me to have a good rest of my day. I did the same shit back to her and then told her that I was really freaked out by the dog. I also mentioned that I'd suffered a dog attack before. She said she'd been attacked as well--so where was the concern? It was placed on dog dude. I can't recall what else I said, but I do know that I punctuated the whole thing with a loud SUCK IT. Am I proud of that? No. Had it been better if she'd simply minded her own business? Yes.

The 'naked man' link above will not show you willies, but will highlight the issue for those of you who are curious. 

Castro St. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

News of late--

Small Claims Court is now off the table, fortunately. After a short exchange of text messages, Mom's ex-landlord capitulated & agreed to send her the security deposit in full. (The check arrived per post on the 19th.) I still would wish to add his name to some local Bad Landlord list, if one existed. Let's face it: If this man is set to pull this sort of crap on someone whom he referred to (in one of his long-winded texts) as 'more of a friend than tenant', then what would he do to someone whom he didn't hold in such esteem? Teenage me would dearly love to egg his house. Adult me can only fantasize. 


ADUs, additional dwelling units, are now en vogue in California. Fueled by the WFH movement and extreme lack of housing in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, these either attached or detached additions now benefit from a rather streamlined permitting process. This is especially so if the footprint of one's house remains the same, i.e., using a portion of the garage in which to build the ADU. My husband and I hope to have an ADU built from a the back half of our garage extending into our back garden. There is a certain percentage of the yard that may be used for such things; I don't remember what that is right now. We do know that we are allowed to build out as far as the neighbors have done with a rather ample deck which extends about a third into their back garden. Costs are fairly dear for such projects. It would seem we could purchase a small apartment for the same price, but then would have to contend with a mortgage for Mom. If we succeed in having an ADU built, then she would pay nothing monthly. 

We've spoken with a few architects regarding this project. Although each have completed numerous projects in San Francisco, each have also shared slightly different information regarding the process by which these structures are to be built. We're to meet on Tuesday with one of the architects who was kind enough to explain rather patiently what this type of work would entail from beginning to end. I look forward to seeing what our upcoming meeting yields!

Culturally appropriate kids' television

I caught an interesting piece on the radio recently about how Russian television adapted Sesame Street, an American kids' educational pr...