Friday, September 22, 2017

Fata Morgana

A Fata Morgana (Italian: [ˈfaːta morˈɡaːna]) is an unusual and complex form of superior mirage that is seen in a narrow band right above the horizon. It is the Italian name for the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay, from a belief that these mirages, often seen in the Strait of Messina, were fairy castles in the air or false land created by her witchcraft to lure sailors to their deaths. 

Although the term Fata Morgana is sometimes applied to other, more common kinds of mirages, the true Fata Morgana is different from both an ordinary superior mirage and an inferior mirage.

Fata Morgana mirages significantly distort the object or objects on which they are based, often such that the object is completely unrecognizable.

A Fata Morgana can be seen on land or at sea, in polar regions or in deserts. It can involve almost any kind of distant object, including boats, islands and the coastline.

A Fata Morgana is often rapidly changing. The mirage comprises several inverted (upside down) and erect (right side up) images that are stacked on top of one another. Fata Morgana mirages also show alternating compressed and stretched zones.

BLOGSERVATIONS. I knew something about mirages, but I thought they were those things in the desert, where you see water and palm trees on the horizon and by the time you run to them, they're gone. Saw it in a Popeye cartoon or something. But the Fata Morgana is something quite else.

I seem to remember, in certain films, seeing something above the water, something weirdly shimmering that kept changing size and shape. It seemed to melt, stretch and reform like a strange liquid. Sometimes you could see through it. These things likely freaked out those sailors of antiquity, just as they freak out people today. Pirate ship? Imminent attack? One can see where they might be mistaken for a UFO.

A boat can suddenly project itself upward so that it appears to hang in the sky, morphing from an elongated shape to a blob to - nothing. The marine mirages make sense - sort of - because of all that reflection on the water. But what about the ones on land?

Wikipedia tells me (and how can Wikipedia be wrong?) that a Fata Morgana can be almost anything: an island, a mountainside, a mountain GOAT if you could get a goat to hang upside-down. But how about whole cities? The photos from China appear to show tall buildings supended above the clouds, leading a lot of people to cry "photoshop!" Then how to explain the video of the same phenomenon? Who could have created that?

All this comes from the Land of the Strange, that country in which I am a cliffdweller or sharecropper or part-time lover. It's all very well to say "it's just a trick of light". Simple physics. Physics is a strange thing, however, and some time I'll post something about the overtone chanting of Tibetan monks, which is, quite literally, a chord coming from one person's throat. The way the sound leaps all over the musical spectrum is downright spooky, and seems impossible.

Do we believe our eyes, and if we don't, what do we rely on? Physics? Upside-down boats (or goats), or castles in the air? And did anyone in that eerie floating city in China happen to look down?

Be very, very, VERY afraid

I didn't know whether to laugh or scream when I heard this, so I did them both at the same time. It reminded me of nothing more than Rusty in Orchestraville, which I uploaded on my YouTube channel quite a long time ago (see below). 

Peter the Piano is the only instrument that DOESN'T speak in this horrific method of child musical indoctrination. The others "speak" through the miracle of Sonovox, a method which pipes musical sounds directly into the larynx via a small speaker. The person is force-fed the sound, so to speak, then kind of verbally vomits it up. Thus the clarinet or flute or violin or whatever appears to "speak". It doesn't, of course - it sounds stringy and miserable, not to mention creepy. But back in the 1940s, it was the wonder of the ages.

There is a newer, much hipper version of this called a talk box, but I think it's the same deal, the sound of the instrument magically vomited up. Or projected, or broadcast, or whatever it is. The talking piano is much more scary, its "voice" freaky beyond belief. It has to be programmed in a sort of elaborate way. I don't know why anyone would ever want to do this. The piano is a piece of furniture designed to hold up flower vases and look decorative. Anything else is overkill.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Death to the squirrels!

I don't know why squirrels hate each other so much. Their furious vocalizing is like the worst kind of vile, nasty profanity, and it goes on and on by the hour. In this case, three of them seemed to be fighting over the same piece of turf - a clump of bushes in the corner of the back yard that "belongs" to a little red squirrel, who is even more nasty and aggressive. Is this place a particularly good source of food, shelter - what? Or just desirable because all the other squirrels want it?

In this case, a squirrel finally left the scene, followed by another, but they quickly chased each other back into the bush and started it up again. Strangely enough, a bunch of robins had a big squabble in the same bush for no reason I could determine. 

At about the 2:30 mark, Bentley comes around to lighten the mood a little, though the squirrels never stop swearing. They swear themselves hoarse, and it seems to go on all afternoon. At the 4:00-ish mark, you can see a squirrel sitting paralyzed on the fence post, no doubt suffering from squirrel PTSD.

The thumbnail isn't a real picture, so you can relax. I photoshopped it out of two other pictures. I've never seen squirrels actually fight, though some have big scars and chunks of fur missing from their tatty coats. A few have almost no hair at all on their tails, giving them a ratlike appearance. But that may be more from narrowly escaping coyotes, cougars and other predators than from fighting each other.

Do you feel bad yet? Ads specifically designed to humiliate women

Mommy was Always SO Cross

- Polly, pull up your sock!   And stop bothering Aunt Sara, or I'll spank you!

- Polly wasn't bothering me, Janet

- I'm sorry, Sara. . . I'm just so uncomfortable all the time, it makes me cross

- Janet, I'm no doctor but this bathroom paper of yours seems to me a good reason for all your        discomfort. It's dreadful! Look. . . I'll hold it up to the light here. What do you see?

- Good gracious, Sara! It looks like splinters and dirty specks!

- Just compare it with this soft-weve Waldorf. I always carry some in my purse

- What a difference! So clean and smooth. More like soft cloth!


- Hello, Polly! How are you Janet?

- Thanks to you and that wonderful soft-weve Waldorf, I feel just fine.

- Aunt Sara, Mommy isn't cross any more.

Make the "Light Test" today - and get to know the greater comfort of "Soft-Weve" WALDORF 5 cents

"Darling, I love you, but your hair stinks. Goodbye forever"

"A bottle of Lysol saved my marriage. And Henry just loves the taste!"

When Joan's underwear began to talk

                                          Red and smeary, eh?

NOW we know why he avoids her embrace. He longs for the tangy taste of Lysol!

The sworn enemy of romance! A stumbling block in the path to success.

Pull yourself together, girl!

Fred left something on the doorknob.

SHE was a ONE-DATE Girl

Most of her engagements were "blind" dates. Later, these men found excuses when her name was brought up. Somehow, she never seemed to click.

They thought she was dull, when really she was constantly tired. She had a good figure, and a naturally lovely skin. But pimples marred its surface. Her eyes lacked the liveliness of a girl in good health. So night after night, she sat by the phone and waited for calls that never came. 

She might have been such a different girl if she had only known the importance of regular habits, and the harm that common constipation can do. This condition may cause headaches and loss of appetite. Wrinkles and pimples may appear. Energy is sapped. Personality becomes flat. 

Common constipation is generally caused by lack of "bulk" in meals. Scientific tests show that Kellogg's ALL-BRAN is a fine source of gently acting "bulk". ALL-BRAN also furnishes vitamin B and iron.

Serve as a cereal, or cook into muffins, breads, waffles, etc. Two tablespoons daily are usually sufficient. Isn't it better to enjoy this natural food than to take pills and drugs - so often harmful?

Kellogg's ALL-BRAN corrects only common constipation, makes no claim to be a "cure-all". But it has proved effective in so many thousands of cases that you should certainly give it a trial. Sold by all grocers. Made by Kellogg in Battle Creek, Mich.

"So I stuck it in my nose"

After a year with Henry, it's pretty old.

Hates her with makeup, hates her WITHOUT makeup.

Mary can't even get the jell-o "salad" right.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


It took me a long time to figure out what that "pew-pew-pew!" noise was in the back yard. I heard it nearly every night, and it would get faster and faster until it turned into a sort of hysterical whistling and shrieking. I always assumed it was a particularly irritating sort of bird, but I could never see what it was.

I know what it is now. It's a squirrel.

This is a particularly aggressive red squirrel who loves to chase off any birds who try to get at "his" food source, the two bird feeders, plus any fallout on the ground. He also "owns" the very desirable real estate in the corner of the yard, a clump of bushes and trees which he often has to defend against those evil warlords of suburban wildlife, the Black Squirrels. 

This squirrel gets so worked up, I fear for its mental health at times. Maybe that's where the expression "squirrely" comes from.

"Who's that girl?" Mystery Mug Shot

Ghost cat

We saw the strangest thing in the back yard! It appeared only for a moment, then vanished into thin air.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Stop, stop! Stop this thing NOW!

Our Sea to Sky adventure got a bit hairy when at maximum altitude, the wind began to howl. At that point my husband helpfully said, "They stop it when the wind picks up." STOP IT?? How do you stop a gondola in mid-air? How do you get OUT Of the thing?

Ringo is the meaning of life

Monday, September 18, 2017

Bird in the bush

One of my more poetic nature videos. I shot this from very far away, through a window with a screen in it, but it lent the video a fey, almost mystical quality. Well, maybe. It's pretty wobbly, because I had a hard time keeping the bird in my sights and even had to edit out a big chunk where I lost it altogether (which is why I substituted music for my "fuuuuuck"s on the sound track).  I am not sure what bird it is - perhaps a robin, with that fat, rounded body, or a varied thrush. At one point it appeared to be asleep, with one foot drawn up.

Sometimes it strikes me with a shock of surprise that all this was out in the yard for the past thirty years, and I paid not the slightest bit of attention to it. Now, suddenly, a wonderland has opened up for me. What else am I looking at and not seeing?

Vintage Jell-o advertisements

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"Edith Keeler must die!": Star Trek romance music

I found a lovely YouTube video of all the romantic music from the original Star Trek (as if there were any other Star Trek!) - but it was marred by the most HORRIBLE thumbnail I have ever seen. Totally inappropriate. It screams of clickbait, since people are more likely to click on a cheesy picture of Kirk and the Gorn than on Kirk kissing Edith Keeler.  These are such incredibly beautiful images, capturing the romantic essence of the series (which was, in case you didn't notice, very romantic indeed), making me wonder why on earth someone would ruin it with a stupid Gorn image with an even stupider caption.

I took some screen shots and made a slide show from the images in the video, then realized it was sort of redundant because the whole video IS a slide show. Mine is Spock-heavy, but that's not just because I favored Spock back then (and now!) - it's because Spock's romances were more intense, more significant, and much more tortured because they went against his Vulcan nature.

The music for the Jill Ireland episode (This Side of Paradise) was borrowed from Shore Leave, in which Ruth, Kirk's old flame from the academy, suddenly pops up out of nowhere, but she doesn't do very much except stand there in her prom dress. The Spock romance is wrenchingly poignant, the music heart-perfect - and Ireland, who died tragically young from breast cancer, stands in front of Spock with real tears streaming down her face: "And this is for MY good?" It is one of the most compelling moments in the entire series.

So please enjoy this, but don't pay any attention to the awful thumbnail because it is fake news. Or whatever. But the rest of the visuals are stunning, and the music more romantic than Tchaikovsky.

These are my personal favorites.