Given all the bad news in the world and the dysfunctional U.S. government, we recommend this thirty-second video of a stoic bird teaching us patience.
Archive for the ‘humor’ Category
“Animals talk to each other, of course.” So begins Mark Twain’s short story, “What Stumped the Blue Jays.” Jim Baker, a middle-aged miner in the wilds of California told him so. According to Baker, “some animals have only a limited education, and use only very simple words . . . whereas certain other animals have a large vocabulary, a fine command of language and a ready and fluent delivery; consequently these latter talk a great deal; they like it; they are conscious of their talent, and they enjoy ‘showing off.’” Baker, after a lifetime of observation of animals talking, decided the Blue Jay was the best talker of all.
Before telling Twain “a perfectly true fact” about a particular Blue Jay, Baker had this to say about all Blue Jays:
“There’s more to a bluejay than any other creature. He has got more moods, and more different kinds of feelings than other creatures; and, mind you, whatever a bluejay feels, he can put into language. And no commonplace language, either, but rattling, out-and-out book-talk – and bristling with metaphor, too – just bristling! And as for command of language – why you never see a bluejay get stuck for a word. No man ever did. They just boil out of him! And another thing: I’ve noticed a good deal, and there’s no bird, or cow, or anything that uses as good grammar as a bluejay. You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat does – but you let a cat get excited once; you let a cat get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights, and you’ll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw. Ignorant people think it’s the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain’t so; it’s the sickening grammar they use. Now I’ve never heard a jay use bad grammar but very seldom; and when they do, they are as ashamed as human; they shut right down and leave.”
The perfectly true fact that Baker had to tell Twain was about the Blue Jay that discovered a knot-hole on the roof of an old deserted cabin and started dropping acorns down that hole thinking he could fill it up. After a day of trying the jay said to himself, “Well, I never struck no such hole as this before; I’m of the opinion it’s a totally new kind of a hole.” About five thousand jays come to see this hole and, eventually, one discovers the open door to the deserted cabin and sees the acorns spread all over the floor and all the jays have a good laugh.
“You may call a jay a bird. Well, so he is, in a measure – because he’s got feathers on him, and don’t belong to no church, perhaps; but otherwise he is just as much a human as you be. And I’ll tell you for why. A jay’s gifts, and instincts, and feelings, and interests, cover the whole ground. A jay hasn’t got any more principle than a Congressman. A jay will lie, a jay will steal, a jay will deceive, a jay will betray; and four times out of five, a jay will go back on his solemnest promise. . . Now, on top of all this, there’s another thing; a jay can out-swear any gentleman in the mines. . . And there’s yet another thing; in the one little particular of scolding – just good, clean, out-and-out scolding – a bluejay can lay over anything, human or divine.”
After listening to that cousin of a Blue Jay at the top of this post, I believe that Stellar’s Jays are at least a close second to regular Blue Jays.
News comes that the latest James Bond film (number 23 in the “official” series) is to be released in 2012, the 50th anniversary of the release of Dr. No. The new movie is, as yet, unnamed. Because Ian Fleming gave his famous fictional spy the name of a real ornithologist, it seems appropriate for us at the Fat Finch to name the new movie and help out with the plot. Here are some suggestions for the title and characters which we offer, free of charge, to the makers of the new Bond movie, starring -we hope- Sean Connery as an aging James Bond.
Dippers are Forever
The Man with the Golden Gull
For Your Eiders Only
Die Another Dove
We think the leading villain should be a disillusioned, resentful ornithologist named Dr. Bittern. His evil henchman, named after the original producer of the Bond movies, will be Bufflehead Broccoli who Bond will eventually throw into Bittern’s vulture pit. Bond will say to the vultures, “Eat your broccoli.” Bond’s love interest in this movie will be Booby Bushtit and she snipes at Bond so much that he finally says to her, “Booby, you’re emberizidae me.” Whereupon, she disrobes and responds, “Oh, James. Don’t be such a grouse.”
Christmas at our home started out uneventfully. The farolitos – or if you prefer, the luminarios – had lasted all night. At the bird feeders visitors included a few White-crowned sparrows, several English Sparrows, some Bushtits, and two robins, but nothing exotic or out-of-the-ordinary. Overflights of Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes added color and sound to the morning. The Border Collies helped us open presents and we had a traditional Northern New Mexico lunch: Posole, tamales, with copious doses of red chile.
A turkey was in the oven, promising turkey dinners, dressing, gravy, and turkey soup.
After lunch we watched “A Christmas Story.” That’s the movie about the little boy, Ralphie, who wants an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, a/k/a BB gun. But it’s not looking good for his chances: His mother, his teacher, and even Santa Claus assure him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
He expected resistance from his mother, of course. After all, “Mothers know nothing about creeping marauders burrowing through the snow toward the kitchen where only you and you alone stand between your tiny, huddled family and insensate evil.” But he is stunned by opposition from his teacher and Santa Claus.
“A Christmas Story” is also the movie in which Darrin MacGavin plays Ralphie’s Dad and is constantly at profanity-laced war with electrical outlets, his car, and the furnace. As an adult, Ralphie remembers his father as an artist who, “worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay.” “In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that, as far as we know, is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.”
But, to his father’s credit, he was beloved by the bloodhounds belonging to the neighbors, the Bumpeses. The dogs mobbed Ralphie’s Dad whenever he appeared at his door or when he got home from work. Any man that beloved by dogs can be forgiven a lot of profanity.
And he loved roast turkey. After the Christmas turkey was roasted his wife was on constant guard to ensure he didn’t sneak into the kitchen and start eating it before dinner.
That turkey was the tragedy of the movie. The bloodhounds broke into the house and demolished it like it had been thrown into a Piranha infested river. Ralphie summed it up, “The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE!”
I commiserated with that man. I love roast turkey and all its fall-out. And while I would never – and never did, even when I owned a BB gun – shoot a wild bird, I do love to eat turkey.
Anyway, while waiting for our turkey, we watched and enjoyed “A Christmas Story.” On our television, that movie was followed by “The Wizard of Oz” and neither of us had seen it in years.
But that didn’t matter. The turkey was ready, the dressing and potatoes were ready for the gravy and, even though I had not yet had a glass of champagne, I announced, “Our cookie is turked.” I was that excited, you see. Even the power of coherent speech left me.
So instead of watching another movie we ate our dinner.
After the meal we wandered back into the living room and watched the last scene in “The Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy awakes and finds herself back in Kansas. Shortly one of the Border Collies wandered into view with something in her mouth.
It was a turkey wing.
A dash to the kitchen resulted in a view of several Border Collies in the middle of the kitchen floor, huddled around the turkey. What was left of it.
Here is the movie’s official trailer. A glimpse of the turkey heist occurs about 50 seconds into the clip.
Sue Donnelly writes a column for at least one newspaper about home décor. A few weeks ago she was asked by a reader – either real or made-up – about the trends for fall decorating. Here’s her answer:
Fall is in the air! Nestle in a garland of fall leaves and glittered berries, two bronzed peasants at the mantle.
That raises three questions:
1. Will I be warm enough nestled in only a garland of fall leaves.
2. Where do I find “glittered” berries; and
3. Do I ask the peasants for two volunteers or just pick them at random?
Photo b Gary Noon
It’s a bit of a stretch to get Rooster Cogburn into this birding blog. True, the name “Rooster” also applies to a bird, but more is needed. Adding penguins might do it. How about penguins quoting Rooster from “True Grit”, a classic movie which, we are told has recently been shot again? That seems like a travesty: How could anyone parody John Wayne as well as John Wayne? Sadly, it was my daughter who told me that a movie production company was filming what she called “a new movie.” All I got was a blank stare when I told her it is not new at all.
On to the penguins. . . .
Our chickens have new gates, in part because one of the Border Collies had discovered a way through the old ones – not, mind you – to get at the chickens. No, this dog learned a way into their coop so she could eat their food. She’s been putting on a little weight lately.
The chickens talked about their new gates and reminded us of Mark Twain,
“Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she has laid an asteroid.”