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"Pushing a Wall", "Mock Baptismal" and "Stirring Excrements with a Stick"
March 1, 2013 12:02 PM   Subscribe

In 1560, the Flemish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder created Children's Games, a painting featuring about 80 contemporary games. Included among the games are "Pushing a Wall", "Mock Baptismal" and "Stirring Excrements with a Stick".
posted by dbarefoot (53 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
"All my kid does is sit inside playing 'stir excrement with a stick' all day. What has our society come to? And they say games don't cause plague outbreaks at schools..."
posted by anewnadir at 12:05 PM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Stirring Excrements with a Stick looks like much more fun than having 12-year-olds kick my ass at Call of Duty on xboxlive while calling me a fag every five seconds.
posted by dr_dank at 12:07 PM on March 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yeah, when I was a boy, we didn't have your Internet and your videogames and your hippity hoppity music. No, sir. We stirred shit with a stick!

I think it was Jimmy McPherson who said he'd heard from his dad that rich people shit diamonds sometimes. So we all carried sticks with us and when we found some shit, we stirred it up to see if there was anything to it.

Never did find a diamond, though I did find a brass button once and boy did that create some excitement for a while. Eventually my grandpa pointed out that rich people didn''t shit in the street.

Except for old Mr. Fenimore, who tended more to the old ways. But he had a liveried servant whose only job was stir up his shit for him and grab up any diamonds before us kids could get to them.

Ah, this is taking me back. Good times. Good times.
posted by Naberius at 12:08 PM on March 1, 2013 [24 favorites]


Swing: The classic hanging seat!

Playing with birds: Ever popular!

Who made these notes?!
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:08 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh man I remember the halcyon summer days I spent down at the lake, floating with an inflated pig's bladder.
posted by griphus at 12:10 PM on March 1, 2013


"Climbing a tree: Always practiced since the beginning of time"

[citation needed]
posted by griphus at 12:11 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Stirring Excrements with a Stick

Uh oh. Prior art for MetaTalk, Matt.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:12 PM on March 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


The child must guess with how many fingers he was slapped by the other riding him

Sexy!
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:12 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Stirring Excrements with a Stick

In Canada that's called "Disturbing Excrements with a Stick"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:13 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, being a kid sure did suck back before, I dunno, let's say before Parcheesi came along.
posted by bondcliff at 12:15 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The works of the Bruegels and David Teniers (married to a Bruegel) always get slow, careful scrutiny when we go to museums, for many of the paintings have somewhere tucked within them a man pissing against something. Adds great excitement to the day when one of us cries out "Found him!" in a fresh painting. It's like a urinary Where's Waldo.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 12:15 PM on March 1, 2013 [23 favorites]


Stirring Excrements with a Stick

HEY EVERYONE

If you say that phrase in the same cadence as "pulling mussels from a shell," it'll get stuck in your head and annoy you to no end.

TRY IT AT HOME
posted by griphus at 12:15 PM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Stirring Excrements with a Stick"

Well this is really the predictable result of the painter of The Triumph of Death deciding to go after the young adult market.
posted by furiousthought at 12:17 PM on March 1, 2013


Griphus, shall I love you for knowing Squeeze... or hate you for the earworm? Deeply conflicted.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 12:17 PM on March 1, 2013


Waldo!
posted by Theta States at 12:18 PM on March 1, 2013


Wow, that painting makes pretty a rad desktop background.
posted by neroli at 12:18 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you say that phrase in the same cadence as "pulling mussels from a shell," it'll get stuck in your head and annoy you to no end.

Man, it's good to know I'm not the only one who heard that tune as soon as I read this post.
posted by bondcliff at 12:20 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love everything about this post.
posted by KathrynT at 12:20 PM on March 1, 2013


A free book of Pieter Bruegel the Elders art is available for free from the Metropolitan Musuem
posted by svenvog at 12:21 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean, really! "passing through kicking legs: Painful but dynamic." This is GOLD.
posted by KathrynT at 12:21 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, that doesn't look like goat horns to me.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 12:23 PM on March 1, 2013


Ah crap.

I thought it was some sort of military thing. Stirring excrements with a stick was one of my hobbies in Vietnam. See, first you have to pull the barrel of ...you know, excrements ... out from under the wooden seat, then you pour diesel fuel over it and light it on fire. Then you stir it with a stick. This was supposed to have some relationship to sanitation, but I guess you'd hadda been there to really get behind it.

One of these days I'll have to tell you my M-29 fragmentation grenade story, "Burning the shitters: Thinking outside the box."

Not today though.
posted by mule98J at 12:23 PM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]



Well this is really the predictable result of the painter of The Triumph of Death deciding to go after the young adult market.



He also painted a LOT of scenes of revelry. Flemish peasant weddings were QUITE festive, so much so that attempts were made to regulate the number of attendees. (someone with a better grasp on the history who isn't getting ready for work can expand on that. They looked like fun, that's what i know.)


Bruegel - that dude partied.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:23 PM on March 1, 2013


That might be one of the funnier Wikipedia pages I've seen.
posted by slogger at 12:26 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Must it be excrement? Can't it be mud? I see no reason why it could not be mud.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:31 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


My deepest thanks for this post. I have no idea how but Bruegel's Netherlandish Proverbs appeared as my wallpaper a few months ago. I have no idea how or from where, or what the hell it was, and it's baffled me every time it appears. I had a feeling it was something riotously funny to the 16th century European mind. But why? Why is that guy shooting pies off the roof with a crossbow? Why is there an arse hanging out that window? Why is that guy headbutting a wall? Free at last.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 12:34 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Passing through kicking legs: Painful but dynamic
posted by coolxcool=rad at 12:36 PM on March 1, 2013


The works of the Bruegels and David Teniers (married to a Bruegel) always get slow, careful scrutiny when we go to museums, for many of the paintings have somewhere tucked within them a man pissing against something. Adds great excitement to the day when one of us cries out "Found him!" in a fresh painting. It's like a urinary Where's Waldo.

I was once involved in putting together a middle school book about the crusades. One full-page spread was a detail of a medieval manuscript showing knights looting a mosque. We were ready to send to print when I, alone of the 15 people who had looked at this, noticed one knight in the corner, taking a dump (presumably to desecrate the place, or perhaps just for giggles) while another egged him on.

Now the whole point of this series was to approach this contentious history in a calm and non-hatred-inflaming way. Needless to say, we did some quick re-cropping.

And thus I learned; be careful of using ancient manuscripts as graphics, because in Olden Tymes they loved a good scatological joke.
posted by emjaybee at 12:38 PM on March 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Must it be excrement? Can't it be mud? I see no reason why it could not be mud.

Come on, where's the fun in mud, sean, where?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:41 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


That painting actually depicts Stirring Excrements With A Stick Number Two. It's just as well, Stirring Excrements With A Stick Number One was kind of watered-down, as far as stirring games go. The sequel is much more solid.
posted by oulipian at 12:48 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


These all sound like dance moves.
posted by brundlefly at 12:50 PM on March 1, 2013


MetaTalk

SockPuppet
posted by Greg Nog at 12:52 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, being a kid sure did suck back before, I dunno, let's say before Parcheesi came along.

Given that Parcheesi was invented around 500 AD and for a long time played on courtyard-sized boards with costumed harem members as pieces, I'd say kids in 1560 have no excuse for the excrement-stirring -- except, of course, for the intrinsic fun of it.
posted by chortly at 1:07 PM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jolly stirring, one might say.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:07 PM on March 1, 2013


SockPuppet

Nightmare fuel.
posted by rmxwl at 1:11 PM on March 1, 2013


I'd love to see the games that didn't make it into the painting.
posted by orme at 1:11 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Must it be excrement? Can't it be mud? I see no reason why it could not be mud.


If you think that looks like mud, I can only guess you never spent much time around cattle. That's a classic old-time cow pie there, from a healthy grass-fed cow. Manure from cattle in feedyards, for example, look considerably different because they are fed a high nutrient, low fiber diet. And what a cow with scours produces is not something you want to even think about, much less stir with a stick.
posted by pbrim at 1:24 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Given that Parcheesi was invented around 500 AD and for a long time played on courtyard-sized boards with costumed harem members as pieces, I'd say kids in 1560 have no excuse for the excrement-stirring -- except, of course, for the intrinsic fun of it.

I knew I should have gone with my first choice, Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
posted by bondcliff at 1:30 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Stirring excrements with a stick - Not a healthy game...

[citation needed]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:33 PM on March 1, 2013


"Climbing a tree: Always practiced since the beginning of time"

[citation needed]


Citation provided.
posted by yoink at 1:39 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I knew I should have gone with my first choice, Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

I'm pretty sure that one goes back to the dawn of ... well ... hippos.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 1:40 PM on March 1, 2013


it's good to know I'm not the only one who heard that tune as soon as I read this post.

I confess. I immediately began humming "Games Without Frontiers."

Man, being a kid sure did suck back before, I dunno, let's say before Parcheesi came along.

OTOH, your chances of not having to live long without it were high.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:45 PM on March 1, 2013


If you say that phrase in the same cadence as "pulling mussels from a shell," it'll get stuck in your head and annoy you to no end.

Also works for "The penalty of 'bumbouncing'" and The Politics of Dancing
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:48 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beanplating

Flameout

Banhammer

Meetup ("Painful but dynamic")

MeFi Music

Pony

Another pony

That would be great, how about this pony?

Cabal

Hamburger

AskMe: DTMF?

DTMF!

Snowflakes

Asshattery

HURF DURF

More inside

Flagged

"I'm going to close this up."
posted by Kabanos at 2:21 PM on March 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


Err, yoink, that's not a human climbing the tree, it's a snake. With a human face. And, inexplicably, boobs.
posted by ambrosen at 2:21 PM on March 1, 2013


Err, yoink, that's not a human climbing the tree, it's a snake. With a human face. And, inexplicably, boobs.

Hey, where did it say anything about "always practiced by humans since the beginning of time?" Don't you go disrespecting the human-faced boobie-snake, ambrosen!
posted by yoink at 2:27 PM on March 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is it just me or is Hieronymus Bosch of triptych fame in the same school of art as Bruegel? Are all painters from the Low Countries into depicting huge masses of people and beings engaged in frantic activity? Can we get a modern artist trained in that style to paint Tomorrowland?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:30 PM on March 1, 2013


The best follow-up to stirring excrements with a stick is to approach someone walking by and inquire "Mister, will you hold my stick?" while extending the business end, as one of my friends' grandfathers is said to have done.
posted by mr. digits at 3:00 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


What, no Pull My Finger?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 3:02 PM on March 1, 2013


In Bosch's case, it's the LSD school of art, or more precisely ergot.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:03 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


That painting actually depicts Stirring Excrements With A Stick Number Two.

ISWYD
posted by mule98J at 3:59 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


My deepest thanks for this post. I have no idea how but Bruegel's Netherlandish Proverbs appeared as my wallpaper a few months ago. I have no idea how or from where, or what the hell it was, and it's baffled me every time it appears. I had a feeling it was something riotously funny to the 16th century European mind. But why? Why is that guy shooting pies off the roof with a crossbow? Why is there an arse hanging out that window? Why is that guy headbutting a wall? Free at last.

When I was learning Dutch, we spent an hour analyzing this painting and all of the proverbs in it (many of which, though not all, are still used in modern Dutch, and some of which are essentially the same as in English -- "armed to the teeth," "banging one's head against the wall," etc.).

Regarding the guy's butt hanging out the window, you will note a globe underneath it. This represents "op de wereld schijten" ("to shit on the world") -- that is, to be fed up with everything. That very same globe is upside down, representing "de omgekeerd wereld" ("the world turned upside down" -- same meaning as in English). The Wikipedia article on the painting ("Netherlandish Proverbs") has explanations of all of them.
posted by dhens at 4:52 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


mule98J: "One of these days I'll have to tell you my M-29 fragmentation grenade story, "Burning the shitters: Thinking outside the box."

Not today though.
"

Please??
posted by barnacles at 12:06 AM on March 2, 2013


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