Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Humane Fleas

Thanks to Esri Rose, I've discovered that the American Humane Society has insects guidelines for the use of insects in films. Nothing too unexpected, very similar to other animal guidelines but with the addition of a clause to stop them flying into the lights and importantly to stop them escaping into the wild. Nothing that any self respecting Flea Circus trainer would have difficulty complying with.

However the first clause "Nothing can be done to an insect that will cause permanent harm, or permanently alter its physical characteristics." is a debatable one. Although it does not cause harm, is conditioning a flea not to jump and tying it into a thin wire, permanently altering it's physical characteristics?

I'm sure everyone will be glad to hear that no fleas were harmed during the making of the Flea Circus Film.

The use of glue and heated trays in flea circuses is something that has been raised by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Insects and refuted by the Union of Fleacircus Operatives.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Memoirs from the Tivoli Flea Circus

I found some comments on Yahoo Answers about Flea Circuses so send out some enquiries had the following response from a helpful chap.

"I was in the U.S. Navy, and about 1958 we were sent to sea because of a conflict with Cuba. After about a month at sea it was announced on the ship that we were going to make an unofficial visit to Copenhagen Denmark. While there some of my shipmates and I were touring the city and ended up at Tivoli Gardens. It was like an amusement park of sorts. That was where we saw the flea circus. Your question prompted me to research, and I found the following site that describes the circus we visited. Being so long ago my memory is faint but the site describes what we saw. I hope it is helpful."

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Fleas at Historic Winchester 20th Feb

Professor Jephcott will be performing his flea circus just outside Winchester at the Tower Arts Centre on the 20th of February. There will be lots of shows through out the day so everyone should be able to get a close up look.
Getting to the Tower Arts Centre

Monday, 11 February 2008

Dark goings on

In Salem there's often talk of dark goings on. Luckily for them, this weekend it was Professor Jonathan Dark with his Flea Circus.
Jonathan has been performing the circus for five years now. He was inspired by a Broadway performance from Ricky Jay. The professor is pushing the boundaries of Flea Circus reseach and hopes to release his new ideas this spring. Hopefully he won't be releasing the fleas from their secret hiding place in his cane.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Early English Fleas

Following on my previous research on Gawen Smith, another trip to the British Library allowed me to investigate Jessica Wolfe's Phd work, Humanism, Machinery, and Renaissance Literature. A reference on page 191 referred to a "catalogue of mechanical minutiae", I mistakely was thinking this was a literal catalogue when it in fact referred to Thomas Moffett's poem "The silkwormes and their flies" (1599)

"The silkwormes and their flies" is described as being written by Thomas Moffatt countrie farmer and an apprentice in physicke for the great benifit and enriching of England. Printed at London by V.S. form Nicholas Ling and to be sold at his shop at the West ende of Paules, 1599

My research was made harder by the fact that the thing I was looking for turned out to be a margin note on this poem. Early English Books Online came to my rescue by having a search facility and by having the origional scans as well as the text.

Nay, for to speake of things more late and rife,
Who will not more admire those famous Fleas,
Made so by art, that art imparted life,
Making them skippe, and on mens hands to feaze,
And let out bloud with taper-poynted knife,
Which from a secret sheathe ranne out with ease:
The those great coches which the feloes did drive
With bended scrues, like things that were alive?
Made by Gawen Smith Anno, 1586
Ingenious & Germane, how didst thou convey
Thy Springs, thy Scrues, thy rowells, and thy flie?
Thy cogs, thy wardes, thy laths, how didst thou lay?
How did thy hand each peece to other tie?
O that this age enjoy'd thee but one day,
To shew thy Fleas to faithlesse gazers eye!
That great admireres might both lay and see,
In smallest things that greatest wonders bee.

This was a manual transcript so if you need the exact spelling or want to see the old English s/f's then you will need to refer to the origional document.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

The Professor Moves

Professor Jephcott from Devon has moved his website to or should that be his fleasite?