25.1.15

Puyallup Sunday

A quick jaunt to a country town.

Goodbye to all that

No pigeons permitted

Above the crosswalk

Before the Fair

8.1.15

Abominations of the Body

Sideshow star Frances O'Connor

Abominations of the Body

The Dog-Faced Boy all curled up to sleep
dreams no more of Seal-Girl as his bride.
His crooked eyes, awakened, are not deep.

He gave her poppies, hoping she would keep
them, didn’t care that she had not replied.
The Dog-Faced Boy, all curled up to sleep,

would daily wake, attempt again to sweep
Seal-Girl off her flippers to his side;
his crooked eyes, awakened, are not deep.

But Seal-Girl, plump, each arm a fleshy heap,
adores the Rubber Man, and she derides
The Dog-Faced Boy. All curled up to sleep,

He -- simple face too dull to even weep --
now dreams Fat Lady’s breasts. In dreams he’s cried,
with crooked eyes; awakened, they’re not deep

enough to know of what he dreamt, asleep:
how Seal-Girl’s grave will look when she has died:
crooked like his eyes awakened, and not deep.
The Dog-Faced Boy’s all curled up to sleep.

- Sean Bentley
P.T. Barnum's "living curiosities" 

For more peculiarity, please visit this week's Sepia Saturday.


4.1.15

My Many Hats (1. The Pith Helmet)

A few weeks ago I alluded (tantalizingly, I hope)  to my "jungle explorer phase." Now, for the first post of 2015 and the seventh year kickoff of this multifarious blog, I give a hat-tip (if you'll pardon the pun) to the current Sepia Saturday theme by delving somewhat deeper into that period of my distant youth.
The author, aka "Bwana," takes aim at a 1963 Christmas wildebeest, or perhaps his baby sister.
I believe that's a red/green/white flashlight at the waist. Note the gunbelt for the de rigeur .45. 
In the early 1960s, I had run across, in the children's section of our local library, the books of one Carl Ethan Akeley.


Akeley won renown in the early 20th century with not only his explorations of the then still "darkest Africa" but his groundbreaking expertise in the lifelike taxidermy of large mammals.


I had gotten hooked on Africa around this time, thanks to this movie.


Set in the modern day, "Hatari" did not have the suspenseful atmosphere of Akeley's books, which despite their dated diction (with a spot of paternalistic racism) were thrilling, set in a time when "white men" had to rely on native tribespeople to guide them through an uncharted, savage wilderness.

I spent many a happy hour memorizing Swahili words from Akely's glossary.
Such as the essential "Bwana."

I was young, and we all were too naive at the time, to register the sad realities of Akeley's adventures, which were primarily undertaken under the auspices of the New York Museum of Natural History, to build a stellar collection of African wildlife specimens. Although he did do a lot of photographing of rare wildlife, including the mountain gorilla and the newly discovered okapi, even designing a movie camera for his fieldwork, most of Akeley's work ultimately meant the shooting of large numbers of animals.

Akeley and his camera
Akeley's famous elephant exhibit, 1914
Still, it was the adventure I was keen on, such as Akeley's famous hand-to-hand combat with a leopard, which miraculously, though not without damage, he won, or his being half-crushed between the tusks of a bull elephant.

Tip: To kill a leopard with your bare hands, crush its rib cage by kneeling on it.
Tip: Don't get in the way of a mad elephant.
 
One panel from a great Akeley comicbook
Carl's wife, Mary Jobe Akeley, accompanied him on most of his trips, and wrote or co-wrote many of the books I devoured.

30.12.14

From branch to water's edge

Not counting gulls, coots, mallards, and Canada geese, a sampling of waterbirds at Coulon Park, Renton.



Cast, in order of appearance: Belted Kingfisher; Common Merganser (female); Hooded Merganser; Gadwall; Common Merganser (male); Pied-bill Grebe; Clarke’s Grebe; Barrow’s Goldeneye; Northern Shoveler