JEFF’S ECCENTRIC PEOPLE, PLACES & THINGS: EMPEROR NORTON

Image result for sparkletack.com emporer norton

image from sparkletack.com

Think that politicians are off their rocker? I don’t blame you. No Matter what political party you belong to, there is no argument that most have more than one screw loose. And if there is any city in USA that has plenty of loose screws that is none other than San Francisco. But probably never in the city’s history (or the American government’s) has there been a more eccentric or bizarre character than Joshua Norton, the first and still only Emperor of the United States of America

The Emperor was born in England somewhere between 1814 and 1819, but grew up in South Africa. Joshua Abraham Norton moved to the US in 1849 with about $40,000.00, a little over one million in today’s money, to his name to seek his fortune. After some successes in real estate, he tried to make a monopoly in the rice industry with unsuccessful results that ruined him. Probably embarrassed, he left San Francisco for a short time.

Then, on September 17 1859, he entered a number of articles to various city newspapers declaring himself the “Emperor of these United States,” and later “Protector of Mexico.” For the next 20 years he paraded around the city inspecting his “realm” and delivering his own brand of philosophy and wisdom to all who would listen in an old navy uniform with golden epaulettes, a worn out old saber, gifts from the local military fort, and often with a beaver hat with a peacock feather and a brass rosette. (see picture). The people however decided to play along with him, giving him real royal treatment and the imaginary monarch was genuinely loved and respected by his “subjects”.

Image result for wikipedia emperor norton

image from en.wikipedia.org

He was given free meals at restaurants, rides on the trolley, a reserved seat at theaters and city council, and had a yearly inspection of the Army post at the Presidio of San Francisco. He only accepted handouts if the giver gave them as taxes and had his own money printed that was jokingly used by local business and were great souvenirs for visitors. His Imperial residence was just a room in a boarding house that he lived in for free. He even stopped an anti-Chinese riot by standing between the groups and recited the Lord’s Prayer. Another interesting event of his “reign” was when a police officer actually attempted to arrest him and send him to an asylum. The people were outraged and demanded that their Emperor Norton be released. The chief of police complied, issued a formal apology and had the police force salute the Emperor whenever he was present. His Highness saved the embarrassed policeman’s job by issuing an Imperial Pardon for the man who arrested him. He also printed a number of decrees, often printed in the city’s newspapers, demanding things like disbanding the Republican and Democrat parties, creating a League of Nations and even was a leading supporter of building the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge, a command finally obeyed long after the Emperor’s death, starting in 1933 and completed in 1936.

Some fascinating rumors spread around Emperor Norton during his “rule.” There was some talk that he sent a letter to Queen Victoria of the British Empire, asking for her hand in marriage. Some also said that he was the son of Napoleon III although Norton never claimed that, (and Louis Napoleon would still be a kid when Joshua Norton was born). Other people said that he was secretly still rich and only faked insanity. He is reported to have met a real emperor, Pedro II of Brazil when the South American monarch made a visit to the US and really did write to Queen Victoria, though I doubt she wrote back. On his way to a lecture at the California Academy of Science, His Majesty fell from a stroke and died on January 8 1880. His funeral had about 30,000 mourners and even a three gun salute. In 1934 a new tombstone was placed on his grave that said: Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

The Emperor Norton remains a figure admired, laughed at and laughed with in American lore and San Francisco culture. He has inspired characters or appeared as a character himself in books, comics, role-play games and musicals by various authors including Mark Twain, Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman and Robert Anton Wilson. Several western and anthology television shows have done an episode on the American Emperor including “Bonanza.” There is a walking tour in the city called “Emperor Norton’s Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine” with a guide dressed and acting as Joshua A Norton. There is even a parody religion, Discordianism, that has him as a second class saint (first class is for fictional characters) and one of the oldest LGBT organizations, the International Imperial Court System, uses the Emperor as an inspiration. (Well it is San Francisco!) The founder, Josè Sarria, gave himself the title “the Widow Norton,” and is buried at foot of his hero’s grave.

Every January 8 in the city he once ruled celebrates Emperor Norton Day. In America’s capital of Eccentricity, he still reigns  as the King of Eccentrics and is still the only monarch of the United States of America.

Image result for foundsf.com emperor norton

image from foundsf.org

Jeff’s Eccentric People, Places and Things: Mike Jittlov

 

Image result for mike jittlovimage from en.wikipedia.com

 

Who dosen’t like to go to the movies? I know prices for the snacks are outrageous when you can get them for at least three times less at the gas station. The lines are also a pain and so is all the crap you get for the first fifteen minutes of the show, (But I do enjoy  the film trailers). Well I guess we all could wait for Redbox to release the film for a buck or get Netflix. However some movies are almost forgotten as soon as they are made. Of course we’ve got our cult classics, b-movies, midnight movies and art films, but we have also have films so bad they probably should stay forgotten but we can’t because they are so bad ( I’m talking to YOU, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Last Airbender”). We do have some gems so rare they are hardly known and only the super nerdiest of nerds, geeks and film buffs can find, providing that they know what they are looking for. Which leads us to the almost unknown genuineness of Mike Jittlov.

 

Mike was born in Los Angeles on June 8, 1948. He became a math-language major at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and took an animation class to satisfy the art requirement. He made a number of short films specializing in stop motion, rotoscoping and pixilation, works that still look impressive for its time. His work won a number of awards and Academy Award nominations and even caught the eyes of the Walt Disney Company. There he created the shorts “The Collector” and its sequel “Mouse Mania” for Mickey’s 50th, a two hour special in 1978, celebrating the world famous mouse’s’ golden anniversary. “Mouse Mania” featured the first stop motion of Mickey Mouse and over one thousand Disney toys dancing in a psychiatrist’s office, with Mike Jittlov as the patient, to the tune “Baroque Hoedown,” the theme to the Disney’s Electrical Parade. The following year Jittlov worked on another project, a three minute short for another Disney special Major Effect entitled “The Wizard of Speed and Time.” In the short it…well…you know what, maybe it’s better if I just show you…

 

Whoa.

 

Just blows you away the first time you see it. Right? I mean, I can not describe how I felt when I first saw this. I learned about it in a documentary and looked forever to find it. Then, after many years, almost giving up on looking for the Wizard until, “BAM!” I discovered Youtube and experienced the magic for myself. But if you think that was amazing you should see what Mike had up his green robed sleeve. This…

 

Image result for wizard of speed and timeimage from moviepostershop.com

 

Yep,  in 1989 Mike Jittlov created a full fledged 95 minute movie based on the three minute short he created ten years ago. In this film Mike Jittlov played himself, a brilliant, eccentric but unknown jack of all movie trades trying to get his big break in showbiz, despite his talent he is non union and is constantly under attack from by the book, arrogant, money-grubbing bureaucrats out to steal or destroy his work. Mike also directed, wrote, and produced special and visual effects for the movie, among other things. A number of big named (well sort of) stars appeared in the film like Steve Brodie, Philip Michael Thomas of “Miami Vice” and “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” fame, voice actor Will Ryan and Stephen Stucker. Music was done by John Massari, who also created  the soundtrack for “Killer Klowns from Outer Space,” and Russell Carpenter worked on cinematography. He later worked on big name films including “Titanic,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Shallow Hal.” There was even a cameo of Ward Kimball, award winning animator and on of  Walt Disney’s core animators the “Nine Old Men.”  I just love this film, five out of five star entertainment at its best.

Sadly “The Wizard” was not released in theaters for very long and only appeared in a selected areas. It has been released on VHS and LaserDisc, but not on an official DVD, and has mostly great reviews at about every website I found about it. There is a created DVD image file made by fans that Mike is aware of and supports that is available on peer to peer networks until an official is released and the complete movie and others of his works are available on Youtube for your entertaining pleasure.

 

The question that Jittlov fans all over the world (all ten dozen of them) ask is what happens next? Where is our Wizard in the robe of Green? To tell you the truth he pretty much remained a mystery. He was a fairly common visitor at conventions during the nineties. He worked as a special effects technician on the blockbuster film “Ghost” and played was the voice of Han Solo in the fan film “Darth Vader’s Psychic Hotline,” and was was an early internet user creating his own website:http://www.wizworld.com/ but it REALLY needs an update. From what I’ve heard Mike gave up making movies due to the bad luck he had with the limited release “The Wizard,” and not getting much money from the video release. Lately has moved back in with his mother to look after her in her old age. Hardly anyone know of him. Where are the Wizard of Speed and Time fanarts or cosplayers at Comic Con? Still even if he never creates another film again and despite being barely known, I still see him as a renaissance man and genius who helped bring stop motion to new levels and hop with this article more people will start appreciating that wonderful green Wizard of Hollywood, and as Mike sometimes says, “May all your fine wishes and good dreams come true”.

 

Image result for wizard of speed and timeimage from pinterest

Shape shifting frogs

Once upon a time there was a very silly frog. The frog goes ribbit and whenever the frog goes ribbit he becomes human. When the frog is human he works at a circus. His job at the circus is to be the ringmaster. The ringmaster is wearing a necklace hat and sunglasses . When he turns back into a frog he uses his long sticky tongue to catch flies. The frog thinks flies are very tasty. He accidentally said ribbit and ate a fly when he was a human. He said ew that’s disgusting. The frog can shapeshift back and forth between a human and frog.

The end

By Sonja , David , Michele and Jonatan

Kyle’s food for thought quotes!

medieval

 

“To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.” —Michael Jordan

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

– Mark Twain

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

– Mark Twain

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tzu

Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war. – Donald Trump

If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill

 

Scream Queens spoiler review

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Warning: this show is not to be watched by the faint of heart!!!!!!!!!! 

Scream Queens is a TV show about a sorority called Kappa Kappa Tau, where 20 years ago, a mystery was born. The main Chanel, Chanel Oberlin decided to prank the sorority’s housemaid, Ms. Bean, unfortunately the prank went horribly wrong and Chanel burned Ms. Bean’s face off in the deep fryer. The Chanels are not the nicest people, but they are being targeted by a serial killer called the Red Devil who, one by one, kills the sorority pledges by various methods. One of the sisters, Hester is faking a condition which requires a neck brace that she stole from another patient at the asylum where she had been living for the past 20 years. Hester devised a scheme in which she falsely claimed that she was pregnant with Chad, Chanel’s boyfriend’s baby. In anger, Chanel pushed Hester down the stairs after finding out that Hester was lying about being pregnant. Chad took Chanel to his family’s house for Thanksgiving, then Hester showed up and the Radwell family engaged in what can be described as the most mean spirited game of Pictionary. The school’s head, Dean Munsch, has a deep dislike for the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority and through her inaction, at least 4 of the sisters die. Dean Munsch’s ex -husband fell in love with one of his students, a young woman named Feather and asked the dean for a divorce. Instead, she killed him, cut up the body, scattered the body parts around the house and framed Feather for the murder. Feather was sentenced to life in an asylum. Chanel #3’s biggest secret is that (shocker) her father is the infamous serial killer, Charles Manson. In the first season, there are multiple deaths, including Hester’s twin brother, Boone. Chanel #3’s real name is Sadie Swensen.  Chanel #5’s real name is Libby Putney. That information only comes out during the Chanel’s murder trial. The Chanels were found innocent but after Chanel insulted the jury, the verdict was changed to guilty.

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Twenty years ago, a pledge gave birth in a bathtub during a party at the sorority house. Dean Munsch apparently covered up the death by disposing of the body. One of the sisters took the babies and tried to raise them. Unfortunately, the stress and guilt was too much for her and she committed suicide. The girl’s sister spent 20 years in an asylum planning her revenge with the help of Hester and Boone, who turned out to be the twins who were born at the party at Kappa Kappa Tau. The sisters of Kappa Kappa Tau decide to host a slumber party, where Chanel #3’s secret is revealed accidentally by her newfound lover, Sam, who then is dared by Chanel #3, in anger, to go down to the creepy basement and take a nap in the blood filled bathtub. Sam is then killed by the Red Devil who suffocates her with a sheet of plastic. Hester planned to get away with murder and pinned the blame on the Chanels by falsely claiming Chanel #5 shoved a high heeled shoe into Hester’s eyeball. Then the Chanels were falsely accused of murder by Hester, who produced all kinds of falsified evidence against them. The Chanels were sentenced to life in prison at the Palmer Asylum for the Insane. The Chanels were enjoying themselves in the asylum, until Chanel’s boyfriend, Chad appeared in the asylum late at night dressed as the Red Devil, holding a butcher knife.

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In season 2, the serial killer is the Green Meanie, who kills several patients as well as Chad who is killed and his dead body falls through the ceiling at his wedding to Chanel, causing her to scream in horror. The Green Meanie also maims Denise the security guard by electrocuting her with defibrillators that are supposed to be used to shock the heart. The Chanels recruit new Chanels, including a male Chanel, Chanel Pour Homme named Tristan. They met Tristan while in prison because he sent them some fan fiction.Tristan is then killed and his intestines are excised. Then Chanel #11, who’s real name is Midge, who has 11 fingers, has her 11th finger chopped off by the Green Meanie, who then stabs her in the stomach. Nurse Hoffel’s Maiden name is Bean because her sister was Ms. Bean and she wants revenge against the Chanels. Back in 1985, there was a pregnant woman whose husband was murdered by the hospital staff. Her baby turned out to be Dr. Cassidy Cascade who is Chanel #3’s love interest. In the newest episode, Chanel #3 runs a psych test on Dr. Cascade, which reveals that he is one of the Green Meanies. She decides not to turn him into the police, saying she wants to be happy. Dean Munsch decides to have Dr. Brock perform a surgery on a woman with a attached twin and weak heart. The Chanels assist on the surgery and sing the song “99 Red Balloons” to calm down Dr. Brock who’s having a panic attack.

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The dean’s previous lover, Weston, returned to seek revenge on the Chanels because his daughter, Grace, ended up in an asylum because the trauma from the murders was too much for her. Then he killed the hospital candy striper, Chamberlin, who was hired through a Craigslist ad. It is revealed that Jane Hollis, the woman from 1985, is one of the 3 Green Meanies (the others being Dr. Cascade and Weston). She killed the doctors and patients in 1986. She drugged Zayday and tied her to a web in a octagon shaped room. Dr. Cascade, with the help of Nurse Hoffel, killed Chanel #9 by inserting numerous needles all over her body. In the finale, the Chanels are set free from the horror of being hunted by a serial killer. The four Green Meanies (Nurse Hoffel, Weston, Jane Hollis and Dr. Cascade) all met dead ends (Weston burned in a pool filled with hot oil, Jane Hollis was shot, Dr. Cascade died when he jumped in front of #3 and was impaled with a knife and Nurse Hoffel drowned in quicksand). Hester stole all Dean Munsch’s money and ran off with Dr. Brock to Blood Island. The episode ends with a cliffhanger: Chanel gets into her car and notices a Kappa ring and Red Devil costume in the backseat and screams.
I’m really looking forward to seeing the next season of Scream Queens, because it is my favorite show.

Jeff’s Eccentric People, Places and Things: Principality of Sealand

sealand1

Principality of Sealand

image from frimmijimbits.blogspot.com

Ever want to rule your own country? Starting one is not as hard you might think. All you need is cool name and title, a flag, available land and the right media attention. However, there is not much unclaimed land left on Earth and hiring a band of mercenaries for a bloody coup is incredibly risky and expensive. You might have to get creative on finding territory. The late Major Paddy Roy Bates did that and created the incredibly small micronation of the Principality of Sealand.

You might have noticed this word at the end of the last paragraph, “micronation.” I did not make it up. It’s a real word, look it up on wikipedia. It is a self proclaimed, unrecognised “country” usually created as a joke or as a grassroots movement of some kind, although some really do try to obtain real international recognition. They come in various types of governments and range from uninhabited islands and private residents to unclaimed land in Antarctica and even parts of the Internet. I will need to write about more micronations and their leaders in future articles.

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image from commons.wikipedia.org

Anyway, the history of the principality started with its founder, H.R.H. Prince Roy of Sealand or his birth name Paddy Roy Bates as I said earlier. Born on August 29, 1921 in Ealing, Great Britain,  the future prince served in the British Army during World War Two. He was in the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy and was with the Eighth Army in the African Campaign. Paddy Roy was wounded several times and held the rank of Major by the war’s end. He later worked as a fisherman until he got caught up in the Pirate Radio craze happening in the sixties in Britain. He somehow convinced the staff of the popular pirate radio station, “Radio City,” to give him the old Knock John Tower, a “Maunsell Fort” tower built near the British Isles like an oil rig, to help protect the nation from a German invasion during the war.

The Major founded “Radio Essex” on 1965 and was the first pirate radio with 24 hour broadcasting. The name was changed the following year to “Britain’s Best Music Station (BBMS).” However trouble brewed up the following year. Radio Essex was accused of breaking Section One of the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949 and Paddy was fined £100 for continuous illegal broadcasting. His radio went off the air on Christmas Day in 1966 due to lack of funds. Bates attempted to recreate the station again by moving it to another abandoned Maunsell Fort named “HM Fort Rough” seven nautical miles from the coast, outside Britain’s then territorial waters (then three mile, now twelve). Unfortunately the British government outlawed pirate radio on August 27, 1967. So nineteen days later, on his wife’s birthday, Paddy Roy Bates declared the tower the sovereign state of the Principality of Sealand with him as Prince Roy I and his wife Princess Joan. Even though he had the equipment, the new monarch did not pursue his pirate radio career and instead devoted to his new kingdom.

Shortly after Prince Roy started his reign, the principality had its first military attack. Businessman and owner of rival pirate radio station, “Radio Caroline,” Ronan O’Rahilly, (the same man, I believe, who convinced George Lazenby to quit the “James Bond” franchise after only one movie) attempted to storm the tower and take control of it. The Prince and his companions fought back with guns and petrol bombs, later causing the Royal Navy to interfere. Luckily, from what I have researched on this event, no one was seriously harmed. Still Paddy Roy and his son Michael were taken to trial for weapons charges. However since Sealand was in international waters the charges were dropped. Prince Roy took this as de facto recognition of this nation! By 1975 he would take it to the next level with designing a flag, coat of arms (see above), a national anthem and passports.

 

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image from pinterest.com

Another conflict arose as well in the seventies. Calling himself the “Prime Minister of Sealand” a German lawyer under the name of Alexander Achenbach, with a number of German and Dutch mercenaries invaded Sealand while Prince Roy and Princess Joan were in England and held the heir apparent Michael. However Michael was able to fight back with the weapon stash on the fort and captured Alexander and his forces. Prince Michael wrote about it in his book, “Holding Down the Fort.” He held the invaders prisoners until Germany sent a diplomat from its London embassy to Sealand to negotiate release. They took this as another de facto recognition of the principality.

In 1999 Prince Roy and his wife retired and left Prince Michael as the Prince Regent of Sealand. Roy died on October 9, 2012, with Michael continuing the Bates dynasty. Princess Joan left this world to join her husband on March 10, 2016. The small kingdom’s main national export is selling titles of nobility online. They also print their own stamps and coins, worthless internationally but great oddities for collectors. It also has its own football (as in soccer) team that has played internationally and was a member of the N.F.-Board, the New Football Federation’s-Board, now managed by the Confederation of Independent Football Association, an organization that represents soccer for ethnic or stateless groups, unrecognized nations, microstates (super small countries but generally recognized) and dependent territories. Sealand continues to intrigue people of this generation by portraying the principality as a fan favorite character in the popular anime “Hetalia: Axis Powers.”

sealand4image from hetalia.wiki.com

Jeff

Jeff’s Eccentric People, Places, and Things: Henry Darger

Henry Darger

Image result for henry darger portrait

image from mentalfloss.com

It is a real shame that there are so many talented people in the world that may never be recognized. This still somewhat mysterious genius was only discovered at his death and still is unknown outside the “outsider art” aria. Henry was born in Chicago, Illinois in April 12, 1892. His mother died after giving birth to another child, a daughter, but she was adopted by another family. In school Henry was a bit of a smart-aleck and made strange noises, probably due to Tourette Syndrome. He said he was “able to see the lies adults made,” and was often bullied by classmates and scolded by teachers. Henry lived with his father until 1900 when his father was taken to live in the St. Augustine’s Catholic Mission home and he was sent to a school for boys.  After his father died a few years later Henry was then sent to the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children because of his strange behavior. While not all bad, the asylum had severe punishments and forced labor for the children. Henry would use these as inspiration in his later work.

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image from out.com

In 1908, after some failed attempts, he escaped from the asylum and made his way back to Chicago, where he made his living as a janitor for a Catholic hospital. For the remainder of his life, except for a brief service during WWI (he never even left the country) he lived there in a small apartment. He was also a very devoted Catholic and went to mass daily, sometimes even five times a day. He would also go through alleyways and garbage collecting things like newspaper clippings and old magazines.  Through his life since he returned he worked on a number of writings. His best known was his fantastic epic, In the Realms of the Unreal: the Story of the Vivian Girls. The story was about a long war between the great Christian nation of Abbieannia led by the seven noble princesses, the Vivian Girls against the evil, child enslaving country of Glandelinia and its sadistic ruler General John Manly (named after a sometimes bully from the asylum) with the help of bizarre, sometimes, half human but friendly beast called “ the Blengigomeneans.”  Henry even put himself in the story as the Girls protector. The book was 15,145 pages long and had hundreds of detailed pictures Henry created using a combination of collages, water colors and sketches for his work, some were at least ten feet long. It is important to note for the readers, if they are interested in looking more into the work of Henry Darger, that there is some brutal and disturbing imagery including some pretty intense war violence, occasional torture and gore,and lots of non pornographic nudity of children. Many times the Vivian Girls are drawn with…well, something extra with their physical anatomy. There have been quite a few theories on why he drew like this, like Henry was trying to show them with personality of girls and boys together, or that he didn’t know that much about sex in the first place.

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image from chasingafterdear.com

Henry died a day after his birthday in 1973 in the same hospital his father died in. He is buried in the All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. All of his bizarre yet charming work was discovered by his landlords, moving out his stuff at this time. They publicized and displayed his work in several major art museums. Henry Darger, while not the most famous American artist in general, is one of the best known and most sought-after artist in the outsider art and has inspired all kinds of work in that genre.  In 2004 a PBS documentary of his life and work was created by Academy-Award winning director and writer Jessica Yu.

Image result for henry darger findagrave.com

image from findagrave.com