Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spillage, bleedage, and the Wall of Sound

I hate to inflict this on you, because it's just about the ugliest pop song I've ever heard. But I post it here to make a point, or to illustrate a point I made awhile ago.

What I was trying to get across - OK. There is this idiotic song by Bobb E. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and it is just about the worst example of a Phil Spector Wall of Sound technique (perhaps discovered by accident) called "spill" or "bleed".  He turned off the guitar track for the song, but the guitar could still be heard because all the mikes were jammed together in that suffocating little studio the musicians worked in, and the other mikes picked up the sound, or at least the reverberations of it.

It produced a so-called ghostly, eerie effect that caused a music professor to write a bullshit dissertation about it, but never mind. THIS record, I think, demonstrates the effect quite dramatically, in that the chorus is not just ghostly: it's a whiter shade of pale. It's barely there; it's a whisper. 

Why this effect was used on such an ugly song, played in "double-time" as they say in Musicville, I don't know. It sure needed something to soften it up and make it interesting.

This song isn't just a B-side, it's a C- or D-side, but it may have formed the flip-side of a Ronette classic like Be My Baby. Meanwhile, if you listen to it carefully, you hear ghosts singing, and it's quite chilling.

Not as chilling as Spector firing bullets into the ceiling during recording sessions, but still chilling.

All singing! All dancing! All bad!: Wedding of the Painted Doll

This was one of those posts that COULD have been among my best, if only. If only technology had allowed it.

For years I've been trying to find a decent-quality YouTube video of an extremely hokey number from Broadway Melody, often called the "first movie musical". Made in 1929, it was one of the first talkies, so nobody even knew how to record a conversation, let alone musical theatre. Everyone was still shouting into microphones hidden behind potted palms.

But that didn't stop producers from trying to cash in on the craze for "all singing! All dancing!" (All the time.) They went ahead, and for some reason pulled together some of the most mediocre performers who ever hit the stage.

My favorite number from this very strange cinematic artifact is called Wedding of the Painted Doll. Strange, because the choreography is a nightmare, and the dance performances awkward and amateurish. Who knows? Maybe only the sound mattered at this point, which was a man singing inane lyrics about - you guessed it - the wedding of the painted doll, in an annoying high tenor voice.

So I finally find a decent video of the picture part of this thing - they seem to appear, then disappear as they're taken down due to copyright restrictions, then pop up again. I couldn't make the kind of gifs I wanted because the THREE different programs I use to make gifs were all catawampus, or just not able to process the video. So I ended up with two sets of gifs from two different YouTube videos. One was extremely yellow, and cropped very badly for some reason, but much clearer in picture. The other one was framed right, but grainy and slow-mo. I had to use something called Facegarage (note the ugly watermark), which explains the rough edges of some of these.

This is interesting because the dancer in the middle "cheats" when she drops to a kneeling position: she puts her hand down to steady herself. Her "split" is awkward in that her knee comes up before it straightens. Very rough, and my nine-year-old granddaughter's dance teacher would surely yell at her for this.

This is meant to be the "parson", and he does some neat balletic things in this, though a bit later on he fluffs a move. Why, I wonder, were there no re-takes in this? Was the budget that low, or - more likely - did this have to be rushed out to meet the rabid public demand for "all-singing, all-dancing" talkies?

Here comes the bride, clomping down the stairs oh-so-daintily. Maybe the sound distracted people from such gracelessness.

The parson, once so nimble, fluffs a handstand. His left arm is wobbly and his right hand shifts, so he abandons the move like an off-balance figure skater and cartwheels off the stage.

And here the dancers are flipped one by one, until two of them are lifted and twirled around so fast it's amazing they can still stand.

And so on! The original video (which I've posted at the top) starts with a cartoon, so don't be daunted. The actual number begins at about the one-minute mark.

When mentioning the title of this number, it kept coming out Wedding of the Pained Doll. No comment on that.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Pop goes the Hadron

Large Hadron Collider temporarily shut down by unauthorized weasel entry

Weasel did not survive after invading a transformer, setting off an electrical outage

The Associated Press Posted: Apr 29, 2016 1:15 PM ET Last Updated: Apr 29, 2016 1:16 PM ET

Spokesman Arnaud Marsollier says the world's largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN outside of Geneva, has suspended operations because a weasel invaded a transformer that helps power the machine and set off an electrical outage on Thursday night.

It's one of the physics world's most complex machines, and it has been immobilized — temporarily — by a weasel.

Spokesman Arnaud Marsollier says the world's largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN outside of Geneva, has suspended operations because a weasel invaded a transformer that helps power the machine and set off an electrical outage on Thursday night.

Authorities say the incident was one of several small glitches that will delay plans to restart the collider by a few days.

Marsollier says Friday that the weasel died — and little remains of it.

Officials of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN, have been gearing up for new data from the 27-kilometre (17-mile) circuit that runs underground on the Swiss-French border.

The weasel, similar to this one, died — and little remains of it, CERN said.

© The Associated Press, 2016

Don't talk to us, we're creepy

Then we'll have some meatballs

IKEA instructions to assembling the Large Hadron Collider

I cannot wait to sue this guy

I have a pretty good idea whose woods these are, believe me.
And let me tell you something, my people say he’s a complete nobody.
This guy lives in the village. So what if he sees me stopping here?
I dare him to sue me! I dare him!

And by the way, this snow is pathetic.
These are by far, the least downy flakes ever!
I hear they had to import them from Canada.
I don’t know. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. We’re looking into it.

My horse – he’s the most incredible horse, seriously,
I have the greatest, the classiest horses –
My horse doesn’t even know what the hell we’re doing here.
The horses love me though. They do.
They’re always shaking their bells at me, it’s very loving.
It’s a beautiful thing.

Let me tell you something, these woods are an embarrassment.
They’re not dark. They’re not deep. They’re nothing. They’re for losers.
And I cannot wait to sue this guy.
I cannot wait to sue this guy.

Stupid Friday: it's Puddin n' Tain!

Dana P

Where did the saying originate: "Puddin-tain ask 

me again I'll tell you the same"?

I tried Google but could not find much. I am using this as my myspace name so if you Google it you will find me.

 6 answers


 Best Answer:  Nursery rhymes often have multipurposes. They most often were political system ridicule written in symbolic dialogue to disguise the actual message. They could also be used as cute rhymes to teach children to talk.

I do not know the actual "official" version of where this rhyme originated. I can only tell you that it sounds like it ridicules the "crown" for not knowing their name. There were a couple of kings of England that could not speak Anglish because they spoke German (House of Hanover 1700s) so the locals were probably making fun of how the "crown" pronounced their name.... For example: Humpty Dumpty was supposed to be about the King's government that couldn't be put "back together again". So, to me, it makes sense that if the king can't speak "the queen's english" then if you ask his name, he says it in a "foreign tongue" and will be ridiculed for it. I might have read this, but I am not sure why I think this rhyme is written in ridicule of an English king that cannot speak english.
 · 9 years ago
  • justme
    It is a play on the name of an Irish high chief who was known as the Tain with his specific name in front of it. The Puddin" Tain was someone of not royal status but someone who had pretentious and was deridded with the name high King of the Puddings. later it became a Children s rhyme of Scots-Irish origin.
    · 10 months ago
    the etymology of PUDDIN’ TAME (aka: pudden tame)

    Ithe evolution of the phrase: it refers to a way for a thief to silence or kill a house dog during a burglary. Feeds the dog a ‘pudding” laced with poison or sedative.

    In Cassell’s Dictionary it said: [19th cent.+] meat, usually liver, that has been impregnated with drugs or poison, used by a thief to silence a house dog (cf. verb PUDDEN).

    The critical point here is, I believe, that the pudding, drugged the dog and made it TAME and easy to handle and also slow and dull. It is now pretty clear to me that the ‘pudding’ or ‘puddin’ in the 19th century had the implication of dull, slow, clumsy, and also stupid. Mark Twain’s THE TRAGEDY OF PUDD’NHEAD WILSON was written in 1893 and by that time ‘pudding’ clearly connoted these things. It’s a great story which I just reread for the first time in umpteen years and after Twain's story became the children's rhyme.
     · 9 years ago
  • Sterz
    I'm not sure you really want to use that as your myspace name. The nonsense word "Puddin'-tain" has been variously explained as slang for female genitalia (as a derivation of Latin "pudendum") or for a sex worker (as a derivation from French "putain").

    Don't shoot the messenger.....

    EDIT: Oh, I see someone did shoot the messenger with a thumbs down.... Oh well,....
  • Ariel 128
    It sounds like a nursery rhyme to me or one of those insane answers some people give you just to annoy you. I'm sure it has a name somewhere.
    Source(s):ETSU: BA, English
     · 9 years ago
  • sarah
    my father is who came up with that lol he is so old school
    I think it was from an old Bill Cosby puddin pop commercial

River Redux Part II: The Wrath of Phil


Dear God, no. This is about Phil Spector, after all, and the guy's still alive. Batshit crazy and locked up, but alive.

Until he somehow ended up with scrambled eggs for brains, Spector had a certain talent (not genius - let's save that for cats like Bob Dylan who never ended up killing anyone/rotting in jail) for startling innovation. What today would be called thinking outside the sound booth. The more I listen to this stuff, the stranger it gets: what he was able to do, the way he filtered and watered and plunged, how sound waves bent and quavered. 

I am in considerable distress however, because the deeper into this topic I get, the shallower it is. This is because of the gross limitations of what I call the "YouTube mentality". There may be plenty of recordings of Da Doo Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me and Unchained Melody on YouTube, but to a recording, they all seem to be "Best Version!", "High Quality!", "Remastered!" - in other words, STEREO, which is not what Spector was thinking about at all. Not at the beginning, certainly, and probably not ever.

He was a traditional, even Jurassic sort who liked sound to be boxed and limited. That way he could truly mix his pigments, smear them together into something that was almost jellied. The upflashing of the chorus on River Deep, Mountain High reminds me of a brush fire surging out of control on a mountaintop at midnight: but there's nothing to see, not even smoke. Just a sudden flash of heat singeing the hairs on your face.

Somehow - I don't know how because the technical aspects of this subject don't interest me - someone has taken these amazing mono puzzle-boxes of sound and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d them out, separating the auditory blur neatly into its component parts. No longer are all the musicians sitting in a 95-degree, semi-lighted box with a tiny, demonic, sweaty producer pacing back and forth and shouting abuse at them in a tinny Bronx accent.

Now, the drums are over HERE, and the string section is over HERE, and the chorus is - and you get the picture. Everyone is exactly where they'd be in a proper recording setup. None of this primitive Gold Star Studio shit, no sir. 

No more sweatbox, no more smeared pigments. It has all been pulled apart like the individual colours in white light.

So is that good?

According to YouTube, which seems to have its head back in the early '80s somewhere, why, gosh, yes! Isn't stereo always better than mono? What can you be thinking? "It's a mono record, a really old one. Ohhhh. Guess I'd better throw it away, then. Put it in the oven and make a sculpture out of it. Flea market stuff." 

This is the very same mentality that caused people to tack orange shag carpet down over glorious distressed hardwood, its gloss so deep you could see yourself. The kind of thing that still makes realtors scream when it's finally ripped up. 

Enhanced. Best version. Best sound. Stereo!! Dad showing off the New Stereo to guests, putting on some thundering Beethoven symphony with the bass turned up full because thundering bass is always a sign of a Good Stereo. And stereo, it's, you know, it's like better than that old thing, mono. Listen, the sound comes out of both sides! And you can't play your stereo records on a mono player or you'll ruin them. (Or else you can't play your mono records on a stereo player.)

It shocks me that YouTube still thinks that way. Even old Caruso records are souped up so that they "sound like" stereo. Why? They're not. The recording method in 1910 consisted of a horn, a rubber tube and a stylus making a little groove in wax. These restorations or whatever they call them often sound as if they're coming from inside a five-thousand-mile-long cigar tube or a deep well made of cheap aluminum. Weird squeaks and fragments of chopped-up feedback completely wreck the beauty of the music. It's depressing. 

It's disappointing that I'm not finding very many original versions of Spector classics on YouTube, in glorious monaural where the sound was all in the middle. This was A.M. radio stuff, after all, and it came out of a tinny little 2 x 2-inch speaker clogged with beach sand. Spector had found the trick of creating three dimensions in one: a sort of trompe l'oeil at 45 rpmThe recorded sound was concentrated because the delivery device was even more concentrated: it was a transistor radio, the life support system of every teenager from 1950 to 1975, when the boom box began to take over.

Wrecking classics by forcing them into a "Best Version" format causes a peculiar form of hurt. It's as if someone has insulted your pride. You make a joke, it sails over the other person's head because they don't understand irony, and then they "correct" you for being so ignorant. Somebody pins you to the wall at a party and begins to lecture you on a subject you learned when you were in Grade 3. You can't keep saying "I know all this. I know all this," and are expected to clasp your hands, flutter your eyelashes and say, "Oooooh! Tell me more!" The thing is, you KNOW you're in the right, and nobody else gets it. The only way to "restore" these things is maybe to find a way to play them without the skips and scratches (but please, not with sound from the inside of a pickle jar). If I could, I'd place the record on the ground, maybe in my back yard, take a giant stylus, place it on the record, and run around it frantically at 45 rpm, broadcasting the sound from reverberations inside my skull.

ENCORE. The commentary below sounds like a Masters thesis or PhD dissertation or something, in which the writer effuses about this ethereal thing Spector does by turning off the guitar track on "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" by Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans (which I have posted above for your consideration). When I listen to it - a particularly raucous and ugly piece of pop music - it's hard for me to make out just what everyone is talking about. I sort of hear a guitar, or a not-very-resonant thunking sound, but the magic eludes me. Somehow or other, through being famous or influential for a long time, every little thing Spector did has become hallowed. It's even worse with Bob Dylan, who is at least still walking around. 

During the mixing for Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans' version of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah", Spector turned off the track designated for electric guitar (played on this occasion by Billy Strange). However, the sound of the guitar could still be heard spilling onto other microphones in the room, creating a ghostly ambiance that obscured the instrument. In reference to this nuance of the song's recording, music professor Albin Zak has written:

It was at this moment that the complex of relationships among all the layers and aspects of the sonic texture came together to bring the desired image into focus. As long as Strange’s unmiked guitar plugs away as one of the layered timbral characters that make up the track’s rhythmic groove, it is simply one strand among many in a texture whose timbres sound more like impressionistic allusions to instruments than representations. But the guitar has a latency about it, a potential. Because it has no microphone of its own, it effectively inhabits a different ambient space from the rest of the track. As it chugs along in its accompanying role, it forms a connection with a parallel sound world of which we are, for the moment, unaware. Indeed, we would never know of the secondary ambient layer were it not for the fact that this guitar is the one that takes the solo. As it steps out of the groove texture and asserts its individuality, a doorway opens to an entirely other place in the track. It becomes quite clear that this guitar inhabits a world all its own, which has been before us from the beginning yet has somehow gone unnoticed.

Thank you, Professor Zak. You may go home now.

(Not Phil Spector. It's Al Pacino. But at least he's still walking around.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

River Redux: Phil Spector revisited

I am sure, sure-tee-sure I have posted this song before, but is this the kind of song you only listen to once? You listen to it until you fall right into the middle of it and drown.

Much is made of the famous or infamous Phil Spector and his Wall of Sound, a weird aural trick that no one had thought of before. Back in the early '60s, recordings were made in the most primitive circumstances, with one or two microphones and a couple of tracks. Bob Dylan just sang into the sucker on his first album, and that was that. I've seen video of all Four Seasons clustered around the same mike.

Spector was dealing with the supposed limitations of mono sound recording when he began to innovate and percolate and come up with something eerily new. I say eerie because that's how I feel about Spector recordings. I get the chills, even the willies, when I listen to them, particularly late at night.

There are tons of them on YouTube, fortunately - God, how did I LIVE without YouTube? - so I can listen, at a click, to Be My Baby by the Ronettes, And Then He Kissed Me and Da Doo Ron Ron by The Crystals, and the two big Righteous Brothers classics, Unchained Melody and You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling. But Tina's classic is still my favorite, and it gives me the shivers no matter how many times I hear it.

Why is that? Spector uses some pretty complex arrangements in these things, strings, brasses, lots of funky percussion (and for some reason he used a lot of castanets), and keyboards: piano and even harpsichord, as well as (usually) a female chorus. But all these things were not separate entities. They were layered on top of each other, even smeared and bleared together like pigment in an impressionist painting.

In another video, which I won't post here, a couple of session musicians of the era give away some of the secrets of the Wall. The two guys are sitting right there in the recording room at Gold Star Studios, a seedy-looking little place that looks like it turned out records that amateur singers would give their grandmas for birthday presents. But no. Miracles happened here. The musicians were cramped together so cruelly that going to the bathroom would necessitate clambering over the trombonist. This was done on purpose, so the individual sounds would meld and fuse together.

Another trick was the use of the echo chamber. I didn't know what one of those looked like - I assumed a glass tube like in a Star Trek movie or something, but no. It was just a room, an ugly little room in the basement made out of cement, and microphones were aimed at the walls. Yes. The walls. A cheap little speaker blasted the music into the echo chamber, and the sound waves from all those densely-clustered instruments bounced and zinged weirdly off the walls and into the mikes, which took the sound back to the control room where Spector did God knows what sort of Satanic thing to it.

Wikipedia explains it more clearly than I can:

"Microphones in the recording studio captured the musicians' performance, which was then transmitted to an echo chamber—a basement room fitted with speakers and microphones. The signal from the studio was played through the speakers and reverberated throughout the room before being picked up by the microphones. The echo-laden sound was then channeled back to the control room, where it was recorded on tape. The natural reverberation and echo from the hard walls of the echo chamber gave Spector's productions their distinctive quality and resulted in a rich, complex sound that, when played on AM radio, had a texture rarely heard in musical recordings."

One of those session musicians recalls:

"There was a lot of weight on each part.…The three pianos were different, one electric, one not, one harpsichord, and they would all play the same thing and it would all be swimming around like it was all down a well. Musically, it was terribly simple, but the way he recorded and miked it, they’d diffuse it so that you couldn't pick any one instrument out. Techniques like distortion and echo were not new, but Phil came along and took these to make sounds that had not been used in the past. I thought it was ingenious."

Not content with this kind of reverbatory sorcery, Spector was known to turn off a guitar track on a tape, relying on the "bleed"/spillage of the guitar's overtone-y sound into one of the other mikes to create the sense of a ghost guitar. It's there, except that it's not. And you can still hear it even when it isn't.

Whether all this supernatural stuff was folded in right then and there, or later, I don't know, but that smeary, bleary, echo-y, ghostly shade of the music was liberally used to give the song a sense of throbbing unreality. A chorus had the sound of fourteen glass globes vibrating to the point of near-explosion. A brass section was cooked down and down, reduced like a sauce that boiled away into a vapour of brassiness that almost had no individual flavour at all. Strings were sometimes doubled, then doubled again, and again, so that two string players could end up sounding like an entire string section, bizarrely cloned - not to save money or space, but to give the whole thing an unnatural, uniform, mutant quality.

So the lead singer would be laying down tracks on top of a vibrating prism of sound,  a rotating jellyfish at a depth of several thousand feet that would explode if it ever found its way up to the surface.

If you listen to this, and listen to it, it gets scary, because this is not real sound. Mind you, what you hear now isn't either, it has all been mucked with, but all this was done manually, no electronics, because there weren't any (and Spector despised the innovations that came later - he did not change with the times). When I listen to his productions, I get the same feeling as when I listen to those Tibetan monks chanting in overtones: yes, we ARE hearing the actual components of sound, but pulled apart, like white light being shattered by a prism into a rainbow. In this case it's almost the opposite. The sound waves are all pushed together, creating something we've never heard before and can't even quite comprehend.

There was another aspect of this twenty-thousand-leagues-under-reality effect: Spector made the musicians rehearse for at least three hours before rolling tape. At the end of this, everyone would be so sweaty and exhausted and beaten-down that they would lose their individuality and "meld", almost melt, the way he wanted them to. It was no doubt a form of brainwashing or torture, acceptable torture because he paid them. Spector is not a nice man, and is in fact batshit crazy and a sociopath, but damn! he came up with an interesting recording effect that people are still trying to duplicate today.

You can try it, you can record and re-record and re-re-RErecord musical reverberations and play them back and then record them again, but it's not the same. No one has quite the right demonic quality to put it all together. And singers are different, and music is different, it just has to be. And I am sure I am not using any of the right technical terms in writing about all this, but I'm writing what I hear, and I have a pretty darn-tootin' good ear, thank you very much; I came in with it, I inherited it from all the crazy musicians in my genetic pool.

Some are so crazy they aren't even here any more. But at least none of them are in jail for murder.

P. S. Listen at your own risk! I guarantee you, this is the weirdest thing you've ever heard: just the sound of one man chanting. 

. . . OK, there is always a P. S. to the P. S. Since I posted all this, including Tina Turner singing River Deep Mountain High, I found a version of this same song which sounds SOOOOO much better that I had to post it again. It sounds so much better because it's in glorious, clean-cut, diamond-hard MONO with no soup-ups or enhancements. (See follow-up post, where I get into a serious rant about this.) It may be the playback equipment that makes a difference, but I can hear so much more of the recording here, the deep well (not wall) of sound. In fact, Well of Sound might be a more accurate description of what the Mad Phillster was after.

Stand on guard: Canada geese at Piper Spit

Bill managed to get a few shots of these newly-hatched goslings at Burnaby Lake yesterday. These are little fluffballs, still with their golden coat on.

If you get too close to the babies, there is a certain sequence of events. Unlike ducks, where only the female hangs around, geese guard their young in pairs. The sentry duck raises its head and stiffens its neck, then begins to nod its head up and down vigorously, then lowers its head and kinks its neck. The next step, you don't want to see - it charges at the enemy full-on. Swans have been known to kill people, so I don't think a riled Canada goose can be far behind.

Newly-hatched mallard chicks seem to go into the water immediately, but you usually see these little guys on the ground. That might explain their parents' zealous guarding behaviour. Either that, or they're just being Canada geese ("we stand on guard" - oh no - that's the second time I've said that).

We didn't get a shot of this, but there was a mother duck with thirteen newly-hatched ducklings swimming around in the warm, shallow waters of Piper Spit. This is a place we "discovered" maybe ten years ago, then it was blocked off for construction and we almost forgot about it. But every few years I'd ask Bill, "Remember that place - where was it? It had a great big boardwalk with a round thing at the end, and there were ducks just swarming all around it." "I dunno." Then I'd shove it back into the dreamscape that makes up 85% of my mind.

Then we got lost recently, and ended up at. .  . 

"This is Burnaby Lake," Bill said. "Remember? We came here once."

Oh Lord. Here it was, the big boardwalk with the round thing (a circular dock) at the end, the hordes of wildlife, songbirds, ducks, geese. . . shallow warm water and people feeding the birds, which is not a good idea, but which draws them magnetically.

We had found it, by God, or re-found it. I had not imagined it. Looking up information on it, we discovered were on the Piper Spit boardwalk. There was a colony of birdhouses nearby, and tons of red-winged blackbirds, which might be making families in there. These are nearly tame enough to eat out of your hand.

Best of all is the birdsong, the wildlife sounds which calm my brain. Urban life is noisy, and the noise is ugly. It jars. This heals, and restores. 

What does it mean when Paradise Lost is found again? 

Mystery duck

The duck mystery deepens. For years now, Bill and I have been walking around Como Lake in Coquitlam - a very pleasant alternative to the "duck park" that has been bulldozed to make way for a Third Reich-scale cement amphitheatre that will blast loud rock music night and day. Obviously, all the wildlife within a 5-mile radius has fled. 

But we still have Como Lake! We noticed some time ago that there are some pretty strange ducks amongst the mallards and wood ducks. This one, for example. This is a very big duck, almost the size of a goose, and he is brown-and-white  (several different shades of brown, from quite dark, almost coffee bean, to cocoa brown). Then we discovered, to our delight, a second brown-and-white duck, somewhat smaller than this one, likely a female. And yet, strangely enough, we've never seen them together.

I made this gif from an eight-second-long YouTube video labelled "Ducks at Como Lake". I know it's the same duck. Not my video, of course. There was no information with it, not even a description. This is not much help.

Do you think I can find ANYTHING on this duck, or on any duck remotely close to it? If I google "brown-and-white duck", I get professional photos that are labelled "brown-and-white duck". They appear to be of barnyard animals, but I can't be sure because there is no information with them at all.

NOBODY knows anything about these two ducks (or are there more? Or will there be babies?), which both intrigues me and drives me crazy. It's possible these are domestic ducks that have gone native, or whatever-it-is they do when they answer the call of the wild. Or maybe they're hybrids - it's just crazy enough. 

There were beavers living in LaFarge Lake (in the famous "duck park" which has now been paved, like Paradise in the Joni Mitchell song), and no one could explain that either. Nine beavers, to be exact, two adults and seven kits. Seems like some fever dream, except that there were nineteen trees felled or seriously gnawed in the park - we've seen some of them - and many still have wire mesh wrapped around the trunks. Beavers in a lake is no big deal, right? How about beavers living in a STONE QUARRY in the middle of a major city, in the residential area right next to a community college?

To make it even stranger, we saw an otter in the lake one day which scared the bejeezus out of the ducks. We've never seen them do this before, but they all, to a duck, beat it out of the water and just huddled in a line along the shore until the otter was well away from them. It swam around on its back like they all do. No way can there be ONE otter in a lake. Or a stone quarry.

Today we went to a place in Burnaby called Piper Spit and saw ducks and ducks and ducks: a mother duck with THIRTEEN babies, so newly-hatched their fluff was wet even when they were sitting on the ground. And we saw a pair of Canada geese with goslings so new they still had that pollen-y-looking yellow stuff on them, almost like vernix on a newborn.

One of the geese kept kinking its neck and bobbing its head at us. We knew why, of course. We were too close to its young. So I said to Bill: Do you know how you can tell it's a Canada goose?

Because it stands on guard? (Moan. It's too late at night.)

Special bonus news item from the Tri-City News!!

They may be one of Canada’s most iconic animals, but the beaver is not welcome in a popular park in Coquitlam.

City officials are once again dealing with the large rodents at Lafarge Lake after the animals appeared in late fall.

While the city isn’t sure how many beavers are in the park, Lanny Englund, the city’s urban forestry and parks services manager, noted a process is underway to have them removed and relocated.

The problem with the beavers is they damage trees and dig tunnels, which can undermine the trails around the lake and cause a hazard.

“It does seem to happen on and off and eventually it gets to the point where the impact is too great,” Englund told the Tri-Cities NOW, noting the city experienced a similar situation with beavers a couple of years ago.

“Town Centre Park is such a high use [park],” he said.

“There’s too much risk allowing them to do their thing.”

In the short term, the city has wrapped trees close to the lake in a fencing wire to protect them from the animals.

The city has also brought in a contractor to live-trap the beavers and relocate them to another part of the province.

It’s unclear how long it will take to trap and remove the animals from the lake.

Meanwhile, the big mystery is exactly how the beavers made the lake their home in the first place.

Englund noted the lake is connected to Hoy Creek and the Coquitlam River by underground pipes, but suggested it would difficult for the beavers to travel through them.

There is also a small creek in the northwest corner of Town Centre Park that has been home to beavers, but it would force the animals to cross over land.

Englund said an even more unlikely scenario is that someone intentionally put the beavers in the lake.