Maybe if I review the Cyclops mythology, I can forge a better Giants / Cyclopes link...
Cyclopes were one-eyed giants. They were blacksmiths in the times before the Greek gods, when the universe was ruled by the Titans. These one-eyed giants were so terrifying to the Titans, they locked them up in Tartarus – a dungeon of torment in the underworld even lower and more miserable than Hades. When Zeus made his move to unseat the Titans, one of the first things he did was to release the Cyclopes. To help Zeus overthrow the Titans, the Cyclopes made some thunderbolts for Zeus, a helmet of invisibility for Hades, and a trident for Poseidon.
Hmmm... I wonder if the San Francisco Giants can glean any sort of motivation or encouragement from this actual "Clash of the Titans?" I dunno. Since these Cyclopes were killed by Apollo as revenge for the murder of his son, maybe this part of the myth isn’t the best example.
This story gives us probably the most famous Cyclops of all time, Polyphemus. In Book 9, Odysseus lands on the
I'm still not sure I see the connection to the Giants. I like the “revenge” part, though...
Maybe I should see what I can glean from a real classic of mythology.
And by that I mean Nathan Juran’s 1958 classic film, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
This clip seems to imply that the San Francisco Giants will need a magic lamp and a creepy cartwheeling genie to win in Philly.
Things turn out a little better for the Cyclops in this one...
I like the tree-crushings. I do not, however, like the torch to the eye at the end. What is with people blinding Cyclopes?
After all, if you only have one eye to keep on the ball, then you really, really need that one eye.
The harvest is mostly in. CAMP helicopters have gone more-or-less quiet. The local hardware stores are sold out of turkey bags, mason jars, and rubbing alcohol. Fiskars are sticky, and folks around here won’t come up for a breath until Halloween. But oh, what a Halloween it will be.
The Courageous Local Gardeners I know called me on the phone and suggested I pay a visit to photograph one of the last plants in their patch.
I call this plant the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of Pot Plants.
No one knows what variety this plant is - it's a true mutt. Another local grew it up from seed and then decided it was too runty for his patch, so he was going to toss it. The Courageous Local Gardeners rescued it and put it in the ground at the end of July – late, late, late.
Emily Dickinson and cannabis probably have very little to do with one another. Except that if
Although come to think of it,
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.
Emily Dickinson [1830-1886]
A sunset like this one makes me laugh at my own attempts to create art. Why try to paint this? Or photograph it? Or write a poem about it? If this short video is only able to capture a small fraction of the overwhelming beauty and intense emotional impact of this moment, then what hope do my brushes or my camera or my pen have?
As if this display of breathtaking gorgeousness wasn't enough...
On this particular evening, the sunset was followed almost immediately by the setting of the bright orange crescent moon.
I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. Even my camera freaked out a little over it.
Maybe the tides were making mischief on the other side of the world, and the moon had to rush off to crack some tidal skulls.
Maybe the sun drove off with the moon’s purse on the front seat of her fiery chariot, and the moon had to chase her down for it because her cell phone and house keys were in there.
Sorry you had to leave so soon.
I’m considering challenging my friend and fellow blogger, Jonny, to a bird nerd-off.
But then I thought, this is a bad idea.
Because despite his urban surroundings, Jon’s bird nerd Kung Fu is strong. He posted this about a visit he and his wife made to The Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center in Morgan Hill. Look at how close he was able to get to these magnificent birds. Lucky bastard. Also, he posted this video of another bird nerd giving a bird nerd lecture about, in part, the fact that some species of birds have gigantic internal testicles. I mean, how do I compete with that?
Plus, as if a lesson on giant internal bird testicles isn’t hard enough to beat, Jon has a crew of bird nerd disciples at his beck and call, just waiting to do his bidding. Birding. There’s the aforementioned wife, who sounds like a bird nerd black belt, and Jon also has this friend who takes bird nerdery and translates it into artistic nirvana.
So you’re probably asking yourself why I would ever consider for a minute throwing down a bird nerd-off challenge in the face of someone with such clear bird nerding skills and resources.
Because bird nerds are gluttons for punishment, that’s why.
I’ll go with
Recently, I did a couple of posts on a Berkeley scientist's findings about Anna’s Hummingbirds. Using high-speed photography, he figured out that:
A) although most fighter jet pilots pass out at 7 g's, male Anna’s Hummingbirds pull nearly 10 g’s when they do their supersonic courtship dive.
B) that in the course of this dive, air moving at high speeds over the hummingbird’s tail feathers cause the very distinctive “chirp” that the hummingbird makes as he pulls out at the bottom of this supersonic maneuver – a spectacular event that the male does in front of the female that I call “The Big Move.”
The major discovery here was that the sound made by the hummingbird was not a vocalization, but rather an intentional manipulation of its body to produce an appealing noise.
(You can see by now that my own bird nerding skills are not insignificant. I’m not a fool who would throw down a bird nerd-off challenge lightly. Duh.)
To be honest, I had a little bit of a problem with the write-up of this scientist’s “discovery” because the articles that I read on this topic implied that Anna’s Hummingbirds didn’t make any vocalizations at all – that this tail chirp was the only noise they made.
Now, any good bird nerd knows that this is a ridiculous thing to imply. Anyone in
I took the following video standing right beside my hummingbird feeder. It’s not a perfect video – these little buggers are really hard to catch – but you can clearly see the male Anna’s Hummingbird flying in and out of the frame, screaming his fool head off at both me and another hummingbird (who is perched on the feeder to my right, out of frame). The hummingbird at the feeder, by the way, is hollering back at the first one, and at one point, they were going at it so close to my right ear, it kind of startled me and I lost focus and turned towards the noise. Still, the whole point was recording the sounds, which the video does fine.
And let me tell you, the noises these birds are making ain’t from their tail feathers.
At the time, it didn’t really bother me too much that the Berkeley scientist in question wanted to de-emphasize the other vocalizations that hummingbirds make in order to keep the focus on his own discovery concerning hummingbird tail feather chirps.
I figured, no biggie. Dude wants to have his moment.
But then I read this article by Diane Ackerman in the New York Times.
"While most birds are busy singing a small operetta of who and what and where, hummingbirds are virtually mute. Such small voices don't carry far, so they don't bother much with song. But if they can't serenade a mate, or yell war cries at a rival, how can they perform the essential dramas of their lives?”
Talk about straining credibility as a naturalist. Has this woman ever even watched hummingbirds? “Mute Dancers?” For reals, lady? God. Factually incorrect and overly-flowery writing. My two least favorite things all wrapped up in one article.
Just so we naturalists are all on the same page...
Hummingbirds do sing songs. And not just simple chirps that grunt out a territory or scare off threats, but real, actual, songs.
Here’s another video I shot of a male Anna’s Hummingbird. This time he's actually singing a little song. Short and clear. Turn it up and plug in the speakers – hummingbirds sing in falsetto.
And lest you think this is a fluke, here’s another video I shot of a hummingbird singing the same song, taken just off the Coast Highway. (Hence the car noise. Sorry. Again, turn it up.)
Here’s one of a hummingbird singing his heart out in the redwoods outside of my front door. And another. In fact, they sing this song all the time. And they sing it loud – look at the effort they put in to belting out their music. They’re like itty, bitty roosters. If one hears another singing this tune, then he has to burst into song himself. Sometimes if I listen carefully and the day is still, I can hear three or four calling and responding to each other, one after the other.
I looked on YouTube for other videos of hummingbirds singing. While researching, I learned that the Anna’s Hummingbird is the only hummingbird that sings in
I found a few cool videos of hummingbird vocalizations - but not many - and I couldn’t find anything that indicated that anyone was doing any research on hummingbird vocalizations by slowing down the audio recordings and analyzing them. Which would be neat because these songs sound pretty complex to me.
In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that hummingbird songs contain subliminal messages from The Operator.
Probably warning me against taking on Jon.
Okay, Operator. Message received, loud and clear.
In fact, I'll close with a wonderful super-slow motion video of hummingbirds in flight that should make Jon and the rest of you bird nerds exceedingly happy. Watch the whole thing. As if I have to tell you. Glaven.