May 21, 2008


Conversations in WalMart, by the Oakland Airport, 20th of May, 2008.

Me: I think I'm going to go buy a one dollar beach ball before I leave.
Dad: And it will probably last just as long.
Me: About one dollar long?

This advertisement was on a poster in the boys bathroom at the Chabot Space & Science Center (in the Oakland Hills):

Sign up now Junior Space Explorers for our Space Exploring Summer Camp!
Space is Limited!

"Space is Limited" seems a poor slogan for aspiring Space Explorers. They should at least be able to find Space in a Space Cadet Summer Camp.

I was against Walruses before I was for them. From The New York Times today:

Calves might also need time to learn how to play — music, that is. It turns out that Odobenus is an acoustic genius, its body an all-in-one band. Males woo females with lengthy compositions that have been compared in the complexity of their structure and phrasing to the songs of nightingales and humpback whales, but that use a greater number of body parts.

Walruses sing with their fleshy and muscular lips, tongues, muzzles and noses. They sing by striking their flippers against their chests to hit their pharyngeal pouches, balloon-like extensions of the trachea that are unique to Odobenus and that also serve as flotation devices.

In full breeding tilt, the bulls sound like a circus, a construction site, a Road Runner cartoon. They whistle, beep, rasp, strum, bark and knock. They make bell tones, jackhammer drills, train-track clatters and the rubber-band boing! of Wile E. Coyote getting bonked on the head. They mix and match their boings, bells and knocks, they speed up and slow down, they vocalize underwater, in the air, at the bubbly border between. They sing nonstop for days at a time, and their songs can be heard up to 10 miles away. They listen to one another, take tips from one another and change their tune as time and taste require.

Nobody yet knows what a female listens for while she hears one or more suitors singing, but listen she apparently does, for she eventually dives from her icy perch and into the water to mate with a well-tempered male, and evidence suggests she will shun anyone who can’t carry a tune. And though females in the wild do not sing as the males do, they have the anatomical chops to make music and will happily perform the entire walrus Billboard chart if given the right incentive — like the promise of food or affection from Leah Coombs, one of the masterly trainers at Six Flags.

One more. From Jenny Ruth's unexpurgated diaries, an excerpt from a Sunday in c. 2003, when she was teaching English in Ecuador:

We had a "fiesta" at our home last night.
It was probably the worst party I've ever been to.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Walri are amazing. Where can we get recordings of this music?