Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Cheshire Cat

from 1866 publication Alice in Wonderland (wiki) 
The Cheshire Cat is one of many iconic characters depicted in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that have become enmeshed in popular culture, appearing in various forms of media, from political cartoons to television. One of its distinguishing features is that from time to time it disappears, the last thing to be seen being its grin.

I love the Cheshire cat, a great invention by Lewis Caroll. Its behaviour by disappearing, only leaving its grin, is a very catty behaviour. But I wanted to know a little more about this famous cat and found that it is amazing how much the Cheshire Cat is involved in: Literature, Film, TV, Games, Amima, Manga, Businesses, Art, Comics. Lewis Caroll really did hit bull's eye with that cat.


carving, St.Nicolas Church, (wiki)

Where did Lewis Caroll catch
carving, St.Wilfried's Church, Cheshire (wiki)
that great idea? Many have guessed that it came from sandstone carvings on old churches. There is a carving of a cat on the tower of St Wilfried's church in Grappenhall, a neighbourhood of his birth place in Daresbury Cheshire, but some historians believe that his Cheshire cat was inspired by a carving in Croft church. In 1992 the Lewis Caroll Society wondered if a gargoyle on a pillar in St Nicolas church in Cranleigh, where Caroll used to travel when he lived in Guildford - or if a church in the village of Croft on Tees in the north east of England where his father had been rector - had inspired him. But seemingly it could not be the church in Cranleigh, since he moved to Guildford about three years after Alice in Wonderfland was published. The cat in Cranleigh is very similar to a very grinning Cheshire cat though. He might have been there anyway. He cannot tell us now. And according to someone, whom nobody knows, he had visited St Christopher's Church in Pott Shrigley, Cheshire, which has a stone sculpture most closely resembling the picturial cat in the book. There are many theories.

English Stone Masons in Jutland.
with a grin, Hedensted Church (grethe b)
without a grin, Hedensted church (grethe b)
Maybe the Cheshire Cat visited Denmark?. When all the stone churches were built in a relatively short period, there was a need of both men of the church and craftsmen, and the king sent for bishops and stone masons from England. Many Danish churches have got some fine carvings, some were made by English stone masons - and I have found two cats in a church in Hedensted in East Jutland. A cat with a grin and a cat without a grin. Maybe the stone mason came from Cheshire? What do you say about that? 

1898 edition (wiki)
Alice in Wonderland
Alice first encounters the Cheshire Cat at the Duchess' house in her kitchen, and then later outside on the branches of a tree, where it appears and disappears at will, engaging Alice in amusing but sometimes vexing conversation. The cat sometimes raises philosophical points that annoy or baffle Alice. It does, however, appear to cheer her up when it turns up suddenly at the Queen of Heart's croquet field, and when sentenced to death baffles everyone by having made its head appear without its body, sparking a massive argument between the executioner and the King and Queen of Hearts about whether something that does not have a body can indeed be beheaded. At one point, the cat disappears gradually until nothing is left but its grin, prompting Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat

In the 1951 Disney animated film, Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat is depicted as an intelligent yet mischievous character that sometimes helps Alice and sometimes gets her into trouble. He frequently sings the first verse of the Jabberwocky poem.
Cheshire Cat made non-speaking cameos in House of Mouse.
Cheshire Cat has made multiple appearances in the video game series Kingdom hearts.
1999 TV film: In the 1999 television adaptation of the books, the Cheshire Cat is portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg. She fully acts as an ally and friend to Alice, the latter defending the cat when she is threatened with execution.
2010 film: The Cheshire Cat appears in Walt Disney's 2010 Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton. In the movie, Cheshire (as he is referred to by other Wonderland characters) first appears to Alice as she is walking alone in the forest. He helps her by binding the wound she suffered earlier by the Bandersnatch and taking her to the Hatter and the March Hare. He is later blamed by the Hatter for betraying him during the Red Queen's attack where the White Queen's throne was usurped. However, as the plot moves along, he redeems himself by changing his form to resemble the Hatter during his execution and then evaporates as the axe is about to make contact, thus fooling everyone as the Hatter's hat floats up to the Queen's seat and Cheshire appears and winks. In the video game adaptation of the movie, Cheshire is a playable character who can not only turn himself invisible, but other objects around him as well. The character was voiced by Stephen Fry.

Other references:
Prior to the release of the 1951 Walt Disney animated adaptation of the story, scholars observed few specific allusions to this character. Martin Gardner, author of The Annotated Alice, wondered if T.S.Eliot had the Cheshire Cat in mind when writing Morning at the Window but notes no other significant allusions in the pre-war period. Images of and references to the Cheshire Cat cropped up more frequently in the 1960s and 1970s, along with more frequent references to Carroll's works in general. (See generally the lyrics to White Rabbit by the rock group Jefferson Airplane. The Cheshire Cat appeared on LSD blotters as well as in song lyrics and popular fiction.

TELEVISION: The Cheshire Cat appears in Once upon a Time in Wonderland (a spin-off of Once Upon a Time) voiced by  Keith David. While looking for the Mad Hatter's house from the trees, Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat in giant form where the Red Queen had promised him that Alice would be good food for him. Both of them ended up engaging each other in combat until the Knave of Hearts arrived and threw a piece of one mushroom side into his mouth which shrank him back to normal size as the Cheshire Cat leaves.

ANIME and MANGA: In CLAMP's Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat appears as a sexy catgirl. In the Alice in the Country of Hearts or Heart no Kuni no Alice series of manga and anime the Cheshire Cat appears as a catboy punk called Boris Airay. He has tatoos and body piercings, wears exposing outfits, a collar and a chain and a boa. He also has a fetish with weapons, especially guns. In the series, like many of the other characters, he falls in love with Alice.
The villain Schrödinger in the manga Hellsing is described by his commanding officer the major as "the smiling cat of Wonderland".
In the anime and manga Pandora Hearts one of the main characters Alice had a pet cat that died, but returns 100 years later as a chain in a realm created by one of Alice's memories. He came to call himself the Cheshire Cat, and had a more human-like appearance or a catboy look.
 In the sixth episode of Serial Experiments Lain,  Lain refers to a Wired user with an avatar consisting of disembodied, wide-grinning lips as Cheshire Cat. Lain's friend, Alice, was named after the book's protagonist.
The Pokémon character Gengar has the Cheshire Cat's mischievous smile.
In the episode 'Haruhi in Wonderland' of the popular anime/manga Ouran High School Host Club, the twins Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin each dress up as the Cheshire Cat, allowing them to 'teleport' from one place to another. They keep up this charade until Haruhi tells them to come out. She cannot concentrate as they are making her dizzy.

ART: An exhibit called The Cheshire Cat at the Exploriatum in San Francisco, created by Bob Miller in 1978, features a mirrored eyepiece that allows visitors to look at a picture of the Cheshire Cat's face with one eye, while the other eye sees a reflection of a white screen to the side-
stuffed toy, Museum Indianapolis(wiki)

BUSINESSES:The Cheshire Cat lends its name to two public houses in the county of Cheshire; one near stockport and another on the a41 south of Chester.

COMICS: In DC Comics, the New Goddess Malice Vundabar, niece of the villain Virman Vundabar, resembles Alice and controls a carnivorous creature called Chessure, that looks like nothing more than a grinning face. Cheshire is also the codename of the human assassin Jade Nguyen, who has a daughter with the heroic archer Roy "Speedy" Harper.
In Marvel Comics, Cheshire Cat is a foe of Luke Cage. An ally of fellow Cage enemy Big Brother, Cheshire Cat is able to make himself invisible and teleport. His physical appearance and manner of speaking are both evocative of a classic hep cat., despite debuting in 1976.

Jabberwock (wiki)
FILM: "le fond de l'air est rouge" (1977), the English title Grin Without a Cat. Like the original, it signifies that revolution was in the air but failed to take root. In the film, it is also stated: a spearhead without a spear, a grin without a cat.
The late filmmaker Chris Marker gave his monumental documentary on the New Left Movement of 1967–1977,
The Disney version of the character can also be spotted during the final scene of the film Who framed Roger Rabbit (1988). The Cheshire Cat is heard singing the poem Jabberwocky before he materialises in front of Alice.

GAMES: The character Luka in video game Bayonetta is nicknamed "Cheshire" by the titular character, which is exhibited through his ability to appear or disappear at many locations throughout the game by use of a grappling hook.
American McGee (wiki)
In the video games American McGee's Alice (2000); and the sequel Alice: Madness Returns (2011), the Cheshire Cat is portrayed as an enigmatic, yet wise guide for Alice in the corrupted Wonderland. In keeping with the twisted tone of the game, the Cheshire Cat is mangy and emaciated in appearance. His voice was provided by Roger L. Jackson, who also voiced the Mad Hatter and the Jabberwocky in the game.
In the Disney/Square Enix video game series Kingdom Hearts, loosely based on the Alice books as a subsequent adventure, the Cheshire Cat offers Sora, Donald and Goofy clues to prove that the Heartless attempted to steal the Queen of Hearts' heart and not Alice, along with the blizzard spell.

MUSIC:Pop punk band Blink-182's debut studio album is called Cheshire Cat(1994).
Hypnogaja's  song "Looking glass" states that "There's a cat that smiles like the crescent moon".
Blood on the Dance Floor's "Where's My Wonderland" song makes a reference to the Cheshire Cat's smile.
The Cheshire Cat is part of the chorus of victim effect's "Alice Alice".
French singer Nolwenn Leroy produced the album Le Cheshire Cat et moi in (2009)
Radiohead's "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" contains the lyric "You've got a Cheshire cat grin".
Though never mentioned by name, the Cheshire Cat is a central character in vixy's "The Girl Who's Never Been".
The Cheshire Cat is in the Mad T Party at Disney's California Adventure park. He is portrayed after Chessur and is found onstage playing the drums.

PRINT: Cheshire cats is the name given to the widespread genetically engineered cats appearing in Paolo Bacigalupi's biopunk novel The Windup Girl (2009).
In Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars series of novels, the Cat is Redd's top assassin. The Cat has butcher knife claws and can change from his true form to the form of a small black kitten. He initially has nine lives, but loses all but one by the end of the book.
In the  Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, the Cheshire Cat is an overseer in the Great Library, a library within the "book-world" which contains copies of every book ever written. However, due to "boundary changes", the Cat is renamed the "Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat".

Don't despair, take it easy, we're all mad here!

Source: wikipedia
photo Hedensted church, grethe bachmann
photocopies; wikipedia

Friday, January 03, 2014

Ivory Gull and Snowy Owl visiting Hanstholm, North Jutland

See new photos 2013-2014 of the Ivory Gull at Hanstholm, North Jutland

Ivory Gull, Pagophila eburnea, (wikipedia)
It is possible to see some rare Arctic birds at Hanstholm in North Jutland in these days, among those a young Ivory Gull which usually breeds in northeast Greenland , northernmost North America and Eurasia. This High Arctic gull  prefers usually to stay in the high North during winter where it forages on small fish and seal carrions, which it locates by following the polar bear. Even the northern part of Norway and Iceland is a southern section for the Ivory Gull, and the bird is not seen there on a yearly basis, neither during winter.

Snowy Owl, (wikipedia).
At Hanstholm is another rare bird right now, a young snowy owl, which probably comes from the Sibirian tundra. The snowy owl is a nomad, and it is roaming around in the hunt for food. In winter and early spring it happens to be straying into Denmark, but there are years between.  

Ivory Gull (wikipedia)

It is the eighth time the Ivory Gull is seen in Denmark, and it is a rare event. Once in 2006 it was seen at Langø havn at Lolland on 29 December, and this event brought hundreds of tourist to the small town. This is also happening now at Hanstholm in North Jutland in December and January 2013-2014. Birdwatchers come from all over the country. Today it is easy for them to communicate with their mobile phones: "Where is it now?" and then they are all gathering in a group with cameras and binoculars to watch this little white bird, which don't understand a word of all this attention!

Ivory Gull wintering in Bering Sea, (wikipedia).

 Ivory Gull/ Pagophila eburnea ( Danish name : Ismåge)

The scientific names eburnea and Pagophila mean ivory-coloured and "lover of sea ice" from the Latin ebur for ivory and the Greek pagos for sea-ice respectively. The ivory gull has no sub-species, and no fossil members of this genus are known.

This species is easy to identify. At 43 centimetres (17 in), it has a different, more pigeon-like shape than the Larus gulls, but the adult has completely white plumage, lacking the grey back of other gulls. The thick bill is blue with a yellow tip, and the legs are black. Its cry is a harsh eeeer. Young birds have a dusky face and variable amounts of black flecking in the wings and tail. The juveniles take two years to attain full adult plumage. There are no differences in appearance across the species’ geographic range.

During the winter, Ivory Gulls live near polynyas, or a large area of open water surrounded by sea ice. North American birds, along with some from Greenland and Europe, winter along the 2000 km of ice edge stretching between 50° and 64° N from the Labrador Sea to Davis Strait that is bordered by Labrador and  southwestern Greenland. Wintering gulls are often seen on the eastern coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador and occasionally appear on the north shore of the Gulf of st Lawrence and the interior of Labrador. It also winters from October through June in the Bering Sea and Chukchi Seas. It is most widespread throughout the polynyas and pack ice of the Bering Sea. It is also vagrant throughout coastal Canada and the northeastern United States, though records of individuals as far south as California and Georgia have been reported, as well as The Brisith Isles, with most records from late November through early March. Juveniles tend to wander further from the Arctic than adults.
Pack Ice, see bird in right corner (wikipedia) 
It migrates only short distances south in autumn, most of the population wintering in northern latitudes at the edge of the pack ice, although some birds reach more temperate areas.
It takes fish and crustaceans, rodents, eggs and small chicks but is also an opportunist scavenger, often found on seal or porpoise corpses. It has been known to follow polar bears and other predators to feed on the remains of their kills.
Ivory Gull breeds on Arctic coasts and cliffs, laying one to three olive eggs in a ground nest lined with  moss, lichens, or seaweed.