Simon Stanley Seymour the Tenacious Backyard Squirrel

I received notice in my email that Simon Stanley Seymour, our tenacious backyard squirrel, received a maximum score of thirty-six on his ACT test, He sat in the desk behind my grandson who also scored thirty-six on his test. I squinted my eyes and asked myself, “did Simon cheat?”

I thought over Simon’s antics.This fellow figured out how to climb to the top of my roof, hold on with his back feet, reach down with his front paws and hand over hand pull up the chain that held a mesh bird feeder holding the sunflower seed prize.

I watched incredulously as he let go of the chain and grabbed the feeder. Then he shook it with both paws, He did this several times until the feeder was empty. But just to make sure, Simon gave the feeder a big swing as he leaped to the ground. Simon rapidly gathered the seed. As I watched him scamper away, he looked back with a smirk. I said with a shake of my head, “That Simon Stanley Seymour is one smart squirrel

Later that week, while planting sunflower seeds in the backyard, I noticed a squirrel sitting on a tree branch watching me. His head was cocked to the side while eyeing the sunflower seeds. It looked just like Simon! I saw that same twinkle in his eye as if he was saying, “What mischief can I do today? I wondered what else he was thinking as I went back to my work. I noticed a tool I needed was missing so left to get it. When I got back less than three minutes later, I was shocked to see that every single sunflower seed I planted was gone! I looked all around for that scoundrel. When I heard loud chattering, I looked up to see Simon Stanley Seymour waving and laughing at me form the tree with a handful of sunflower seeds in his dirty paw. “That Simon Stanley is one smart squirrel!”

Earlier that month, my husband stretched forty feet of clothesline between the backyard maple tree and our house. It was about eight feet off the ground-perfect for bird feeders. However, the squirrels seemed to think we put it up for their pleasure. We watched them walk on it like a tight rope with Simon Stanley leading the way. Oops, Simon lost his footing and tumbled upside down. Like a true tight rope walker, he quickly grabbed hold of the line before he fell. Instead of righting himself though, he stayed upside down moving his front paws and back paws one over the other until he got to the bird feeder. Once there, he gingerly reached out for the feeder and swung his body to land with his head down and his tail straight up. He stayed there for a while, chasing away birds and munching on his treat. That Simon Stanley Seymour convinced me then and there that he was actually smart enough to get a thirty-six on his ACT without cheating!

Penny Halder Founder Grief Relief Refuge 2016

I have a little bit of a Peter Pan personality. I love to have fun and see others have fun. I was even a clown for a few years and made a lot of kids laugh. I love people in general and kids in particular. I hate to see kids in emotional pain due to the death of someone they love. I developed a one of a kind program to help them and their families. It’s called Grief Relief Refuge.

The Campaign to Elect Hooves As President

The election of president had always been the preserved domain of the insiders, the establishment figures. No, this was not the election of the US President in 2016, but the election of the president of the Southampton University Students’ Union in 1959. The Students’ Union, and all student politics, had been left in the past to the social economists and students of the Faculty of Art. Engineers were much too involved with their studies and renovating an old bus, affectionately known as the Toast-Rack, for a summer trip to Spain, to be even aware that an election was taking place. But that year they were somehow alerted, and the engineers planned a campaign to challenge the establishment with a candidate who was a complete outsider with no knowledge or experience of student politics.

The engineering students in a solid body decided to challenge the status quo ante. University politics needed a major shake-up. There was too much complacency. The old order was regarded as conferred by divine right. The engineers would show what the power of the people could achieve. Their aim was nothing short of revolution. The problem was to find a suitable candidate. Then someone suggested Hooves. Nobody seemed to be quite sure what Hooves was studying or even if he was studying at all. Even his proper name was a mystery. However, he resided at the university’s South Stoneham Hall of Residence and was generally regarded as the hall bully.

Hooves was a powerful young man with a big red beard. He could easily have been mistaken for one of the pirates of the Caribbean. He turned up at meal times, demanding to be served first and eating more than anyone else. The only man he deferred to was the captain of the university judo club. Having nothing much else to do, and always game for a new stunt, Hooves was easily persuaded to be the engineers’ candidate for the presidency. But it was decided that he wouldn’t be revealed too soon. A big build-up of anticipation must precede his revelation.

Within a few days, large posters appeared all over the campus proclaiming ‘Hooves for President!’ Students in every faculty and department knew a serious challenge was being mounted. At lunchtime in the students’ dining hall the engineers could be heard chanting ‘We want Hooves!’ ‘Who is Hooves?’ became the question on all lips. And as Hooves was seldom seen on campus, and nobody knew if he ever attended any lectures, there was little chance of his premature exposure.

In due course, the time and place was announced, and Hooves was borne into the dining hall on the shoulders of two stalwart engineers surrounded by a great escort of cheering supporters. Hooves enjoyed the block vote of 200 engineers and the election was a close-run affair, but as always, the establishment candidate prevailed. Hooves, the outsider, failed, as one expects will Donald Trump, in the election of 2016.

Saint George, Rusty Knight, and Monster Tamer is a series of nine self-contained historical short stories which introduces George, a hapless knight who has an unusual skill for monster taming, and which, with wit and delightful aplomb takes the young reader on an adventurous journey though some significant moments in history.

NS Krishnan – The Man Who Revolutionized The South Indians Through Comedy

Born as Nagarkoil Sudalaimuthu Krishnan, or affectionately known as N.S. Krishnan (NSK) in the Tamil film circle, he was a comedy icon in the Tamil Movie Industry (South India) from 1935 to 1955. He was privileged to be known as the ‘Charlie Chaplin of India’ as he was a contemporary of the world famous Hollywood comedian.

NSK, born in 1908 in a poverty stricken family, crafted a niche for himself, using laughter to expose the inequalities of life in India, especially in Tamil Nadu (the state for people of Tamil origin) at that time. His lack of formal education was never an excuse for he lived exemplarily, made up by his curiosity, native genius and enthusiasm. Bogged down with extreme superstition entangled within the customary ancient traditions of Tamils, interwoven with the Hindu belief and the dominance of caste-based socio-politics, NSK’s entry into the cine-world was more than a blessing in disguise as every character he undertook not only reflected his rib-tickling wittiness but also worked towards his advantage as he saw it fit to educate and sprinkle didacticism through the use of films as a media to school and revolutionized the thoughts of the masses. Many cine critics till today see NSK’s comedy scenes with TA Mathuram, his real life wife and screen partner as well, as a treasure trove to be kept dust-free so as to be seen whenever one is down with personal problems and when addressing the ever-consistent emergence of social as well as political descent in India.

Critics and cognoscenti hail NSK as a genius, a social reformer and perhaps, many still cling on to the solid motion of there will never be another quite like him. He triggered the commonsense amongst moviegoers using simple everyday situational comedy sequences to awaken the mindsets of the majority of Tamils and Indians in general, mocking at their desolate state of affairs due to setbacks derived from living in self-engulfed cocoon of caste and religious dogmatism. Political reformation, women liberation, education and the riddance of caste-based social politics were his main focus. He translated these ideas onscreen brilliantly neglecting slapstick genre, instead relied on his perfect gift of timely dialogue delivery of his intended messages; he did so very effectively indeed. This not only made him a revolutionary comedian but also a cult figure in South India. His popularity soared to the extent that producers were bargaining for a separate comedy track even in the absence of the protagonist.

One of his most famous revolutionary movie scenes was where a postman delivered a letter plus a money order to his house, supposedly from his son, who stayed and worked in the city, only to be accepted by his wife (portrayed by his real life wife) at the entrance. NSK was shown sitting inside at the background, being oblivious to the scene taking place in the foreground. The wife, being illiterate, insisted that the postman does her a favour by reading the content of the letter. This was a common practice in India, where a large segment of the agrarian society was illiterate, more so in females.

The postman, succumbing to the request, read the content of the letter. He began by deciphering the son’s eagerness in ‘the inquiry of his parents’ health’, and ‘the conveying of his regards’ to all those known in the village. The postman also conveyed the request in the letter of ‘for what purpose and to whom the cash from the money order to be given accordingly’. At one last point of the letter, the son ‘conveyed his dearest kisses’ for his mom. Being a sensitive issue, the postman, wittily said that there was one more ‘thing’ to be given from his son for the mother but ‘he would not read or give it.’ Sensing that the postman was hiding something from her, the lady created a ruckus with the postman at the entrance. Upon hearing the commotion, NSK will rush to the front and probe the cause. After clarification from the postman, who innocently pleaded that the son’s request cannot be fulfilled by him, NSK’s sarcasm was the highlight of the final scene. Mockingly, he would say that this commotion could have been avoided at all circumstances if women were literate. A simple scene of a postman delivering a message was instead turned into something didactic, exposing the plight of women deprived of education.

The above was just one of the many scenes in the movies that he had appeared. There are many more to be discussed and glorified about this wonderful personality who was not only a brilliant comedian, playwright, lyricist, director, singer but also a known philanthropist.

A brainy comedian and satirist, NSK, though his ardent following was confined to the Tamil-speaking area in South India, the intensity of its devotion appears to have matched anything in the annals of comedy, in which, his comedies carried a universal message for all to cherish. When he died in 1957, the crowd at his funeral procession is said to have been comparable to those at the funeral of Mahatma Gandhi, the father Indian independence.