Archive for December, 2004

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Friday, December 31st, 2004

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If you don’t shit for Christmas

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Before we all pack the decorations away and begin the laborious task of vacuuming pine needles out of the carpet, let’s have a final Christmas related journal entry. This post is mostly for the attention of boingboing.net subscribers who read the story about the Catalan caganer tradition and the caga tio character.

Excerpt:

Customs surrounding caga tio differ, but all agree, caga tio means “shit log.” Here I relay to you what I think is the full blown caga tio ritual.

Fifteen days before Christmas, caga tio makes his appearance in the dining room, where he must be fed at least once every day. He likes oranges, crackers and sweet wine. In some families, caga tio starts small, but grows as the days progress toward Christmas.

At some point, caga tio is moved out of the dining room, into the living room, and covered with a blanket to keep him warm. On Christmas Eve, before the traditional Christmas dinner, the kids are sent to their rooms to say three Our Fathers, which gives the elders enough time to stash presents under caga tio’s blanket. After their prayers are done, the kids return to the living room and start beating the hell out of poor caga tio with big sticks. And they sing a song. One version goes “Shit, log, shit! If you don’t shit well, we will whack you again!” Another goes “Log, log, shit candy! If you don’t shit for Christmas, we will whack you once more!”

After the children have gotten their fill of flogging the log, the blanket is removed to determine caga tio’s state of digestion. Typically, a miracle has occurred, and the log has pooped wrapped gifts, which are called “the shits.” Often one of the shits will be something weird, like an egg, to let everyone know that it was the last one deposited by caga tio.

I’m indebted to Dave Thau for submitting this information. For the last three years I’ve been witnessing this ritual with neither an explanation or subtitles to help me get to grips with it. If you’re a parent with a child who likes watching the Teletubbies then it’s quite possible you’ve been witnessing it too, since the whole event can be seen on the video Teletubbies and the Snow.

As well as the usual high jinks that take place around the Teletubbie house, the video is interspersed with footage of children from around the world celebrating Christmas. About half way through the video you can see a group of Catalan children thoroughly enjoying their assault of the shit log. Twice. Again, again, again! shout the Teletubbies.

On reflection I’m glad that neither my children or I had the faintest idea what was going on or being said. It’s nearly as bad as the time that Auntie Mabel and her dog, Pippin, visited the sewage plant. At 6:30am. Whilst I was eating my breakfast. Look Pippin! Look at all that poo! Can you see your’s?

For those of you eager to experience the abuse of caga tio I’ve uploaded some screen captures onto flickr.com and made use of the slideshow feature: The Caga Tio Show (and I’ve added notes to the photo set).

Ho, ho, ho.

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Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

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Friday, December 24th, 2004

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cave man?

Friday, December 24th, 2004

Are you still trying decide what to buy this Christmas for that friend who has everything? Time’s running out, so here’s a suggestion; how about a cave house in Spain?

My good friend, regular inspiration and fellow architect, Tom Booker (who you may remember from the entry about the key to the MI5 tea cupboard) and his partner Claire Johnson recently teamed up with some friends to buy and renovate a cave cut into the limestone of the hills of Andalusia. The first of two is now complete and available to buy, full details are at www.visionremota.org/cuevas.

We paid them a visit just over a year ago during the construction and the transformation is startling. Here’s a picture of Tom shortly after the completion of one of the fire places.

cueva_tom

Here’s the plan of the house. In some primal, long forgotten memory of our prehistoric ancestors, the layout of the rooms and passages is so seductive that it seems you could sell it on the strength of this drawing alone.

Plan

The front of property, rebuilt after the interior has been cut into the hillside, looks like this:

facade

You can click on all the images to see them at full size.

From what I saw mid-construction and from what I know of Tom and Claire (who’s also an architect), the finished product will be beautiful. Find an architect with good design skills who’s also prepared to get his hands dirty and craft it himself and you’re on to a winner.

Of course if you do buy it as a gift this Christmas, you may need some help from Christo when it comes to wrapping it.


Merry Christmas to you all, I’ll be back next week. I’ve got to go and buy a tree before it’s too late.

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Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

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deep purple

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

Fashion crisis: I need a pair of purple, velvet, flared trousers. I need them by 2000 GMT tomorrow. Help.

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Monday, December 20th, 2004

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chinatown

Monday, December 20th, 2004

Here’s an interesting confluence of writing/linking1 worth visiting; last week Joel wrote about the threat to the future of Chinatown in London,

The rents in Chinatown have already risen steeply in an attempt to force people out, and if the eastern part is demolished it’ll be a domino effect all down Gerrard Street and that’ll be it, more faceless chainstore sterility, no more strange vegetables, soy sauce, firecrackers, dragon dances, red paper lanterns, calligraphy brushes, roast duck hanging on hooks, Chinese swordfighting videos, exotic aromas, old men playing the qin, gaudy neon, a typographical extravaganza of mingshu signage, and pretty Chinese girls avoiding squashed kumquats in heels.

and today Dan Hill over at City of Sound has posted a link to the latest Flickr group: Chinatown.

  1. I think from now on I shall call this wrinking

folly

Monday, December 20th, 2004

Link to an image of Tschumi’s constructivist follies: courtesy of Dave Morris’ flickr photostream.