Wednesday, January 31, 2007

meeting archy and mehitabel

this woman i know
calls her breasts by name
she calls her left breast
archy and her right
breast mehitabel
it s the kind of thing
that gets me talking
why because at night
one stays home typing
the other parties
because both your breasts
are the kind of things
journalists dream of
because they reflect
the times around them
while adding value
by commentary
she just studies me
her lips pursed tightly
and i think that s why


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Keys With Their Baffling Variety Of Curves

I have a lifelong predilection for the sinuous. Wandering paths and rivulets have always attracted me more than major roadways or straightforward rivers. Lakes seem pleasanter places to bathe than swimming pools. Curving staircases hold more promise of revelation. I would always choose the swelling curve of a lightbulb over a fluorescent tube, and I curtain my rooms, avoiding the severe charm of venetion blinds. Arabic numerals won out over Roman not only because of their brevity, but also because of their form. My clocks have rotating hands and point at real numbers, not the numbers counterfeited out of straight lines by digital clocks. I like keys with their baffling variety of curves more than key-cards. The straight-edged ruler impressed me as a child, but the discovery of the french curve eclipsed its appeal. Bamboo is nice, but trees offer more profound satisfactions.

I think this volume will appeal to those with similar enthusiasms.

Edward St. Paige

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Play Within Limitations

The language of art is not really intended to describe or encompass nature; its purpose is to realize our own nature as it relates to the nature of all things. From this standpoint, the history of art is a play within limitations—somewhat the way life is.

However, do not underestimate all the personal and cultural taboos. You can fool around with a still life and get a few strange comments, but alter a face or a body and you might well be attacked! Even our own image is bothered. A squashed onion is one thing, but a nose? Eyes? An entire head?

All of the above is an attempt to protect you from yourself as well as from others. Be aware of this deep and perverse block. Slop around with a tree, make designs of some buildings, but don’t mess with the good old human image!

Behind this block hides a strange, magical feeling that, in fact, an art product is not just the expression of a language, but the creation of a mystical factor, a fetish. That is the real reason why people do not like the human image used loosely. It is an old and profound fear of images. Can we get around all this?

Don Stacy
Drawing And Painting From Imagination

Friday, January 26, 2007

Natural History

I’ve been fortunate in my life to see many phenomenally beautiful things. I’ve written about some of them here. Astronomical beauty, like Saturn and Titan, and the Pleiades. Earthy beauty like Joanne in her underwear. Thinking about it this week, however, I’m inclined to think the single most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen was a luna moth.

I don’t remember what I was doing before I saw the moth. And I don’t remember what I did after I saw it. But I remember standing on my front porch late one summer night in the glow of the porch light above the door and staring at the beautiful green moth resting on the dark, red bricks of the front of my house.

It’s tempting, now, to list components of my impression, to catalog particulars of what I saw. Particulars of the green color. Particulars of the curved edges of the top and bottom wings. Particulars of how the light shimmered off the wings and soft body when the moth released its hold on the bricks, flapped its wings and faded to gray moving away from the light before disappearing into the blackness of the surrounding night.

But none of those particulars individually or collectively capture and reproduce the shiver of magic I felt seeing what I saw.

It was natural history. Zoology. Entomology. Lepidopterology. It was a moth in the night. It was just a moth, but what I experienced was this: In the Nineteenth Century many educated, sophisticated people believed in fairies. They believed they saw miniature, magic figures that flapped around, flying with wings on their backs. Educated, sophisticated people believed fairies were part of a magical reality outside our own but sometimes accessible to us.

If I had lived before natural history became a compendium of the cool sciences and if I had seen what I saw, I’d have believed in fairies and a magical world, too.

Living now, when natural history is a compendium of the cool sciences, including things like zoology, entomology and lepidopterology, knowing that I saw a luna moth and not a fairy, the magic—the enchantment!—is all the more powerful because it’s real and not just drawing room conversation about Magonia and its inhabitants.

The particulars of what I saw disappeared. The magic I experienced didn’t.

I don’t remember why I went outside that night. And I don’t remember what I did when I went back inside. But I remember the beautiful luna moth.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Night Buggin’

Night buggin’
Leaving your porch light on
You’ve got me
Night buggin’
You won’t have to wait too long
I’m bringing my safety gear
A grin from ear to ear
And Lydia, my dear,
We can go
Night buggin’
All night long

So what if the neighbors call the cops?
I can explain! I can explain!
Wait till they see
What we’ve caught in our traps
They’ll not be the same after that.
No . . .

Night buggin’
I’m putting on something light
Night buggin’
With that light in your eyes
It’s bright
I brought my great big jar
We could drive off in my car
To find some small cafe
So that Lydia, my dear,
We can go
Night buggin’
All night long

Night buggin’
Don’t wear anything too cool
Night buggin’
I’m bringing my night buggin’ tool
It’s a tiny little light
The bugs think it’s out of sight
That’s why Lydia, my dear,
I’m night buggin’ here
With you

John Acorn
The Nature Nut

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Spiders And Snakes

I remember when Mary Lou said,
“You wanna walk me home from school?”
And I said, “Yes, I do!”
She said, “I don't have to go right home
And I’m the kind that likes to be alone,
As long as you would . . .”
I said, “Me, too!”

And so we took a stroll
Wound up down by the swimmin’ hole
And she said, “Do what you want to do.”
I got silly and I found a frog
In the water by a hollow log
And I shook it at her
And I said “This frog’s for you!”

She said, “I don’t like spiders and snakes!
And that ain’t what it takes to love me,
You fool, you fool!
I don’t like spiders and snakes!
And that ain’t what it takes to love me,
Like I want to be loved by you . . .”

Well, I think of that girl from time to time
I call her up when I got a dime
I say, “Hello, baby!”
She says, “Ain’t you cool!”
I say, “Do you remember when,
And would you like to get together again?”
She says, “I’ll see you after school!”

I was shy and so for a while
Most of my love was touch-and-smile
Till she said, “Come on over here!”
I was nervous as you might guess
Still looking for somethin’ to slip down her dress
And she said, “Let’s make this perfectly clear . . .”

She said, “I don’t like spiders and snakes!
And that ain’t what it takes to love me,
You fool, you fool!
I don’t like spiders and snakes!
And that ain’t what it takes to love me,
Like I want to be loved by you . . .”

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Actias Luna

Geographic Range

The luna moth occurs widespread in the forested areas of North America. In Canada the species has been found from Nova Scotia through central Quebec and Ontario. In the United States the species has been found in every state east of the Great Plains all the way south to northern Mexico.


The luna moth occurs in the forested areas of North America. They seem to prefer decidous woodlands, with trees such as the hickory, walnut, sumacs, and persimmon.

Physical Description

The luna moth is an easily distinguishable species with long sweeping hindwing tails and varying in color from yellowish green to pale bluish green. Both sexes are similar in size, but males have a more strongly feathered antennae. The wingspan ranges from 80mm-115mm. This species also exhibits both polyphenism and regional phenotypic variation. In its early stages the luna moth is a green caterpillar that has hair, spiny tubercles, and a yellow stripe on each side.


The luna moth is a nocturnal species, and is not often seen in the daytime. As do many saturniids, the luna moth uses wing patterns as a defense against predators. The luna moth can mimic living and dead leaves on the ground by remaining motionless when not involved in reproductive behavior. The moths will also dramatically flutter their wings when attacked.


The luna moth exhibits a pheromone mating system. This ability to attract distant males via chemical communication is found in all female saturniids. Undeterred by obstacles such as leaves and branches, the male moths will persistently follow the scent trail of a female. Then the female will typically mate with the first male to reach her. Since the luna moth is a nocturnal species, mating usually occurs in the first hours after midnight. If the pair is undisturbed then they will remain in copula until the next evening, but the slightest disturbance can cause separation. After the separation of the pair, then ovipostion will begin and continue for several nights. A female luna moth will seek a host plant in which to oviposit. Some populations of luna moths complete more than one generation in a year.

Food Habits

The luna moth is an insect herbivore. As a caterpillar it feeds on the foliage of various species of hickory, walnut, sweet-gum, persimmon, and birch trees. It has been reported that it is particularly fond of the persimmon.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Luna moths have often been used in classrooms to help teach insect life cycles. They have also proven good subjects in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known negative effects contributed by luna moths.

Animal Diversity Web: Actias Luna (Luna Moth)

Monday, January 22, 2007


Susan always tries

but real spiders never talk

the way Charlotte talked.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Daddy Needs A New Pair Of Shoes

I don’t want new shoes.

I want a Molokai Strait

expedition yacht.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Melanie Daniels In Paris

From a performance

by ‘Tippi’ Hedren, based on

Alfred Hitchcock’s dreams.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Britney Spears And The Southern Polar Opening

Britney spread her legs

and savage Pellucidar

called out to the world.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Mind’s Ocean

In the mind’s ocean

every woman’s bare shoulder

is a great white whale.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Middle Earth

Hobbit like humans show Indonesia was "middle earth"


want to find Galadriel’s

old lingerie drawer . . .

Friday, January 12, 2007


Sea Monkeys do not get enough credit.
My Sea Monkeys don’t try to impress me
by telling me they’re professional shrimp.
They don’t tell me they’re artists. They just swim
and eat and reproduce. And even though
they don’t constantly tell me what they are
they convince me by being what they are.
Being themselves is impressive enough.

Throughout all the years I’ve raised Sea Monkeys
not one of my Sea Monkeys has ever
pulled itself from its twelve ounce container
and said, “I abdicate my shrimpiness!”
Not one of my Sea Monkeys has ever
pulled itself from its twelve ounce container
and revealed itself to be not a shrimp
but really, say, a goldfish in disguise.

Sea Monkeys do not get enough credit.
They’re not as cool as the silly pictures
comic books printed in Sea Monkey ads
but while comic books and advertising
have abdicated whatever they had,
have revealed themselves to be other things,
my Sea Monkeys are still swimming, eating
and reproducing. And that’s cool enough.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Real Mainstream Professional Publishing #3

Operating as Black Canary II, Dinah had a string of solo adventures before helping to found the Justice League of America, a team directly inspired by the then-retired JSA. During her exploits with the JLA, Black Canary began a passionate romance with GREEN ARROW Oliver McQueen, whom she still loves even though they have parted.

The DC Comics Encyclopedia,” p. 44

Hmmm. The GREEN ARROW may be as cool as Steve McQueen, but as real fans know (in fact, even casual fans know, too, thanks to season six of Smallville), the GREEN ARROW’s real name is Oliver Queen, not Oliver McQueen.

Don’t real writers re-read their manuscript before sending it to an editor?

Don’t real editors know the basic background of the book they’re putting together?

Don’t real publishers have proofreaders on the payroll?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Real Mainstream Professional Publishing #2

X-MEN #94 - In August 1975, the “new” X-Men got their own series. This illustration shows Storm, Cyclops, Colossus, Banshee, and Nightcrawler being blasted to their doom by Nefaria. (Cover art by Gill Kane and Dave Cockrum)

Dan Jurgens
You Can Draw Marvel Characters ,” p. 62

Hmmm. Gil Kane was a famous and influential comic book artist of the so-called Silver Age of comics. But he didn’t have gills and he always spelled his name Gil Kane and not Gill Kane.

Don’t real writers re-read their manuscript before sending it to an editor?

Don’t real editors know the basic background of the book they’re putting together?

Don’t real publishers have proofreaders on the payroll?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Real Mainstream Professional Publishing #1

It was 1938 and Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were down in the dumps. In 1933 they had invented a character called Superman. The duo went from publisher to publisher, syndicate to syndicate and nobody wanted Superman. “Ridiculous nonsense,” the publishers cried. How wrong they were. Superman was born on the planet Krypton which was about to blow up. The tot’s father, Jo-El, put him into a rocket ship and pointed it toward Earth. ...

Nicky Wright
The Classic Era Of American Comics,” p.28

Hmmm. All fans know Superman’s father was named Jor-El. Real fans know the name was originally spelled Jor-L. But it was never spelled Jo-El.

Don’t real writers re-read their manuscript before sending it to an editor?

Don’t real editors know the basic background of the book they’re putting together?

Don’t real publishers have proofreaders on the payroll?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Have You Seen The Stars Tonight?

Have you seen the stars tonight?

Would you like to go up on A-deck
And look at them with me?

Have you seen the stars tonight?

Would you like to go up for a stroll
And keep me company?

Do you know
We can go?
We are free.
Any place you can think of,
We can be.

Have you seen the stars tonight?

Have you looked at all
Around this room of stars?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Saturn and Titan, And The Pleiades

In my life it’s not often that I have an interesting conversation with a beautiful woman and then forget the woman’s name. In fact, after these last few months of rummaging through my memories for this blog I can only think of two examples. Today’s post is one of them.

This conversation occurred late one summer night in Evanston, Illinois, at an old astronomical observatory on the fringe of the Northwestern University campus. The observatory contained only one telescope, a very old refractor with an objective lens that was eight or ten inches wide. That’s pretty large by amateur standards but pretty modest compared to modern research reflectors. In fact, the telescope and mount were so old that the university didn’t use it at all for astronomy. However, because the dome and long telescope were so picturesque, so archetypal of how the general public pictured astronomy, the university kept the observatory in repair just for public relations events like community out-reach programs and fund raising parties.

One Saturday evening after a fund-raising party, when everyone had left, a beautiful grad student in the university’s astronomy program and I were scheduled to shut-down the equipment and close-up the dome for the night. (It would be a grad student whose name I forget. Sorry.) But since we had the observatory to ourselves we decided to stick around a few hours because just after midnight Saturn would be rising in the east, in Taurus, and that meant we could get a good view of both the planet Saturn and the open star cluster the Pleiades.

We weren’t disappointed. Skies around Chicago are never great, but on cool nights sometimes the sights over the dark expanse of Lake Michigan can be beautiful. They were that night. We used a low-power eyepiece to get the richest field of view from the long focal length refractor. Saturn was a shimmering oblong, its round rings oval in perspective and sharp against the cloud bands of the planet which were all soft-edge bands of ochres and siennas and venetian reds. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon—larger than the planet Mercury or the former planet Pluto—was a brilliant point of white light like a diamond set next to a magical topaz stone, both glittering against a pure black background. The Pleiades were like a scattering of sparkling diamonds against the same pure black background, but the Pleiades also displayed just a hint of white nebulosity, like a magical mist barely visible in the glare of the stars. The stars and mist itself glowed with, again just a hint, of the purest blue light imaginable, the radiant light from the intense young stars.

“This is really the one thing about astronomy that bothers me,” I said.

The beautiful grad student and I shifted places on the scaffold where we stood to bring our eyes level with the telescope’s eyepiece. She looked at Saturn. “What bothers you?” she asked.

“Whenever the monthly magazines or pop books publish pictures of stuff like this,” I said, “the pictures are always images from space probes, or composites or really long time exposures that are certainly beautiful but beautiful in a completely different way from what you see when you actually look through a telescope.”

The grad student shrugged. “How many people actually look through telescopes?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, “when people do, most people are almost always disappointed. Because as beautiful as the view might be it is never the wildly colorful and wildly detailed kind of thing they see in pictures.”

The grad student shifted to side to let me look. She shrugged. “That’s true, but I don’t see that any harm is done. People who can respond to real beauty will still respond to the beauty they see when they look through a telescope even if it’s different from what they expected. And regular folks who might be disappointed will still get their awe and wonder from the pretty photographs. I mean, science is about public relations, too. We need people to pay taxes to support the big projects. The flashy photographs sell to the general public.”

“Yeah,” I said, sighing at the real beauty of Saturn. “But it’s always seemed to me that we could try to simply communicate, in some way, the real views, the amazingly subtle colors and glows and shapes.”

“Subtlety doesn’t grab people,” the grad student said.

“You and I are standing here, aren’t we?”

“Do you think we’re normal?”

I looked at her, then shifted to one side to let her return to the eyepiece. “What about when all the pop magazines printed those surface pictures of Venus,” I asked. “Those surface shots where the aspect ratio was all skewed so that the reasonably flat surface of the planet looked like it was all dramatic mountains and valleys?”

Looking through the telescope, the beautiful grad student frowned. “Well, yeah, if I were running the magazines I wouldn’t have printed those pictures. But the principle is the same. The people in the know ignore stuff like that. But the general public thinks it’s exciting. Nobody gets hurt. And maybe people feel a little better about paying their taxes looking at cool pictures.”

I kissed her cheek. She looked away from the scope and looked at me. “What was that for?”

“You wouldn’t have run the pictures. You know what I’m talking about. You’re just being all cynical and modern.”

She laughed. “It’s a cynical and modern world.”

“Right,” I said. “That’s why we’re standing here with goose-bumps.”

“We’re not the world,” she said.

I’ve always wondered about that. I still do.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Asymmetry In Its Simplest State

Rhythmic repetitions of symmetrical units seem to be everywhere we turn in nature, be it on the cosmic or atomic level. The vision of symmetry, as far as we have gone, may convey the impression of a rather rigid state of affairs. Actually, symmetry in the absolute sense of the term never occurs in nature. There is always some deviation; nature avoids strict symmetry. Therefore, the crystallographer will say that a particular crystal’s structure tends towards an “ideal” symmetrical figure. He refers to the actual crystal as a “distortion” of the ideal geometric figure. It is difficult to understand why the crystallographer continues to resort to the old Classical jargon of Idealism, to describe the difference between his mathematically absolute figure and the actual crystal of nature. Factually, the ideal geometric figure is a distortion of the natural crystal, not the other way around. . . . The question arises then whether or not the term symmetry is a misnomer; whether what we call symmetry is merely asymmetry in its simplest state. If this were so, then all order would be a question of degrees and kinds of asymmetry.

Charles Biederman
The New Cezanne

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cynthiae Figuras Aemulatur Mater Amorum

The unaided eye
can’t see the crescent shape of
the crescent Venus.

The unaided eye
sees crescent Venus only
as a point of light.

But a telescope—
even an inexpensive
Wal-Mart telescope—

will reveal Venus
changing phase as the planet
moves around the sun.

And when we see it
we don’t have to resort to
silly Latin code

like Galileo
when we want to discuss it.
Here in the New Age

we don’t have to say
the Mother of Love copies
shapes of Cynthia.

Venus emulates
the shapes of the moon. It’s not
as poetic, but

the real poetry
is we can say it without
worrying about

burning at the stake.
I’ve seen the crescent Venus
through good telescopes.

I’ve talked about it.
Even though I do not weigh
the same as a duck

not too long ago
I’d have been burned as a witch.
Here in the New Age

in all the nonsense
there is more than meets the eye.
The unaided eye . . .

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Full Moon Never Eclipses The Sun

The full moon never

eclipses the sun. Only

the new moon blocks light.