Jigme Norbu

An SUV ran over a man in Florida last night, while he was walking along the side of the road in the dark.  This is headline news because his name is Jigme Norbu, nephew of the Dalai Lama.  Norbu was on a 300 mile Walk For Tibet to gather support for Tibetan independence from China.  Here’s the full Guardian story, and here’s Norbu (on the right) on a similar walk last year.

Norbu’s father, Thubten, another walker for a free Tibet, was the Dalai Lama’s eldest brother.  He settled in Bloomington, Indiana, where he became Professor Emeritus of Eurasian Studies at Indiana University.  He also founded the Tibetan Cultural Center in 1979, a remarkable collection of Tibetan-style buildings in a woodland setting.  The Center was rescued from bankruptcy in 2005, only after his family – wife, Jigme and Jigme’s wife – were booted off the board of directors.  Phayul.com has the full story.

The news of Jigme’s death reminded me of a visit last March to my daughter and grandchildren in Bloomington, on the way to Scotland.  Ellie drove me out to the Cultural Center for a look at the place.  Nobody else was there, it seemed, and the unfamiliar buildings in their bright primary colours looked like a stage set.  It was very quiet and peaceful, we had a good walk, talked about important things, and I took some photos.

Tibetan Cultural Center



No idea what this is

Stupa containing Mandala

Inside Stupa

Mandala on Ceiling

And just a couple of miles away, there’s this.  I suspect the farmer hanging from the hayloft is a Hoosier joke.


Reasons Why You Should Not Trust Fox News #2753

Spot the mistake?  Possibly the reason they replaced Iraq with Egypt is because Egypt has become an official Bad Guy, having defenestrated Hosni Mubarak.  A dictator, but he was our dictator.  So it makes a weird kind of Fox News sense to conflate Iraq and Egypt, placing them (Egyraq?) right next to Iran.  Because we all know that guilt by association (even on a map) makes great propaganda.

Or it could just be that Fox News employs people who don’t know their Alaska from Arkansas?

Henry Revealed

I recently posted a photo of a mural, Henry, in Seattle.  I photographed it while walking to the Fremont Fair in 2009, and that’s all I knew about it – until today.  But I noticed from the blog stats that someone had searched for henry paintings seattle and I did the same.  Lo and behold!  Loads of information.

Henry & Merlin

The artist is Ryan Henry Ward.  Here’s a profile in the Seattle PI from February, 2009.  His mission at the time, accompanied by his dog, Merlin, was to paint 50 murals throughout Seattle.  His fantastical creatures make me smile, and I hope he succeeded.  Below are some of the murals and you can find his other work here.  This is a link to the Google search page.

This is making me so homesick.

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura is a website for people who regard travel brochures as negative recommendations.  It’s full of rabbit holes, places where you can disappear for hours on end, following the trail from one weird place to another.  It took a major effort to disengage long enough to write this post.

Navigation is clear and logical.  You can explore by region (including Antarctica) or a wide range of categories, and each location has photos, maps and directions, sources, websites as well as information about the place.  I was particularly taken by the discovery huts of Antarctica, from the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration (1897-1922), frozen time capsules that look as if the heroes had just left the room.

That effect is often due to careful conservation, as the video below shows.  Atlas Obscura is the perfect site for dreamers and armchair travelers, drooling at the chance of visiting these places.

Creature Comforts

I know that I recycled the title from an earlier post, but it’s too good to waste.  And this one has the splendid Isabella Rossellini playing a major role.  She dresses up in a variety of fetching costumes and has sex with human-sized model animals, while using the correct anatomical terms to explain what’s happening.

That’s the idea behind Green Porno and Seduce Me, two series of short films from Sundance Channel, exploring the mating rituals of animals.  It’s a winning combination and quite puts David Attenborough out of the running.

Spoiled for choice as to what clip to share with you, but I think the duck episode has the best lines.  After all, how often do you hear, “I can discombobulate the phallus”?  Brilliant stuff.

I’ve got a little list…

Eric Idle as Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner

And Micheal McGill, the faint-hearted, lily-livered, self-censoring executive director of MCT Community Theater in Missoula, Montana, just made it to Number One spot.  According to this Guardian report, their production of The Mikado followed the usual tradition of inserting contemporary social mores and personalities into I’ve Got a Little List, sung by Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner.

But times have changed, and it seems for the worst.  The absurd and surreal political conditions in America make make it practically impossible not to include Sarah Palin in that document.  McGill apparently decided that sensitivities in the wake of the Tuscon shootings trumped a 100 year-old theatrical tradition – he removed her name from the list of  “those who won’t be missed.”  Of the decision to include Palin, he says, “Oh man, we made a mistake.”

No, you made the mistake by giving in to political pressure, Mr McGill, in response to one letter in the Missoulian and a few bloggers.  Here’s the letter:

Open letter to MCT director Curt Olds:

First I would like to compliment you and the entire staff of “The Mikado” on the beautiful sets, costuming and professional performance we experienced on Sunday, Jan. 23. However, I must call you on something that was inserted into the play which I am almost positive was not in the original book.

The comments made in such a cavalier and oh-so-humorous way were uncalled for. Now, I realize you play to a mostly liberal audience in Missoula and so, I am sure, felt comfortable in your calling for the beheading of Sarah Palin. I am painfully aware that most in the audience tittered with laughter and clapped because “no one would miss her” but there were some in your audience who took great offense to this “uncivil tone” about another human being.

We are in the midst of a crisis that took place in Tucson where many started pointing fingers at that horrible right wing with all their hatred and targeting and standing for the second amendment and on and on and on. So, here we are in a lovely play with beautiful voices serenading us and we have to hear that it is okay to call for the killing of Sarah Palin because we don’t like her and no one would miss her. Unbelievable.

As a professional you should be ashamed of yourself, the audience should be ashamed of themselves and I am ashamed of myself for not standing up and leaving at that very moment. I would like to see an apology from you not because I want to hinder free-speech but for the hypocrisy this so clearly shows.

Rory Page, Clinton

Should it even be necessary to say that MCT Community Theater was not actually calling for the “beheading of Sarah Palin?”  And it’s also clear from the letter that most of the audience took it in the intended spirit.  But McGill didn’t even bother to confront Page’s obtuseness.  Here is McGill’s craven reply:

I am sorry that the satirical reference to Sarah Palin has offended some of our patrons. Gilbert & Sullivan were well-known as satirists, addressing the social and cultural issues of their day – aristocracy, government, etc. Some of the lyrics performed in “The Mikado” around the country today reflect the issues and topics of our time.

We know that “MCT” means many things to many people – and we are blessed with passionate, loyal audiences, here in Missoula and around the world. In this instance, however, we are talking about an MCT Community Theatre production (not to be confused with a Missoula Children’s Theatre production).

Although MCT Community Theatre did not pen the lyrics that were found to be offensive, we have taken the action of removing them from this production. It is my hope that the audiences will appreciate the hard work, artistry and beauty within this MCT Community Theatre production of “The Mikado.”

Michael McGill, executive director, MCT, Inc., Missoula

This reflects badly on the levels of free speech and artistic independence available to Americans under the new political dispensation.  What makes it worse is that McGill just folded under pressure.  Self-censorship is the most wide-spread and insidious threat to freedom of speech.

Instead of just fuming, I will leave you in the capable hands of Eric Idle, in the 1987 English National Opera production of the Mikado, which I have just discovered is out on DVD.  I would have posted the whole production, but I can only find the first 3 ten minute segments on YouTube.  So I’m just posting part 3, with the List song included.  What a Thatcherite/Coalition crew they are!