An Adorable ASL Version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Last year a little Deaf girl named Shaylee stole our hearts with her adorable and linguistically sophisticated sign language performance of The Night Before Christmas. This year the ASL learning site ASLnook (run by her parents Sheena McFeely and Manny Johnson) features a new performance by Shaylee in which she tells the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. You can see her above, with her hair done up like Cindy Lou, bringing the story to life.

Once again she expresses the full range of her linguistic and storytelling skills, deftly shifting among the perspectives of many characters. To take just one example, in the section that starts at 1:00, she shows the Grinch’s perspective with a downward eye gaze. The Grinch is at the top of a mountain looking down on the festivities.

Then she switches to the perspective of the people he’s watching by shifting her gaze up.

Then she starts the next clause with a quick downward shift of the eyes. This tiny, subtle movement establishes that she is once again in the Grinch’s perspective.

And boy does he hate Christmas.

Eye gaze is just one of the many devices used in ASL storytelling to keep a story running smoothly and coherently. Shaylee, who is only 5 years old, shows impressive control over all of them. It’s enough to make your heart grow 3 sizes.

By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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