Friday, December 20, 2019

Disco clam uses light to mesmerize predators

Marine biologist Lindsey Dougherty explains them. Dougherty speaks with a girlish terminal uptick even though she's a doctor so you have to accept that to get at the information.

In my day the pioneer women who crossed the Mississippi River in conestoga wagons to reach the great sequoias of Leadville Colorado spoke the same way as men. For life was too harsh to speak girlishly. They spoke in definite affirmatives and interrogatives and never mixed the two by inflection.

Credit where it is due. That is a great butterfly display on her wall in the background.

One time I was taken to a house in Aspen with a small group of people when the owner was absent. I never did meet the owner.

Turns out, the house was owned by a woman experiencing a divorce. The home was part of the settlement. She was still married but absent that day. She turned the house over to an acquaintance who invited my friends. I just happened to come along.

The house is not large. A regular size place as most homes are in Aspen. The lot is not large but it does have a very tall and broad window looking out directly upon Ajax Mountain. That is the main ski slope that terminates at the edge of town. The house is on the far side of the highway a little bit up the hill. 

It is spectacularly appointed. 

Every single object inside is a carefully chosen piece of art. The entire home is a demonstration on how to decorate a home with excruciatingly chosen pieces. We lost ourselves in the objects all around. It was an animal theme. 

Most notable were three heads of exotic African antelopes at the top of the wall facing the large window such that it appeared the animals were enjoying the view. 

Second most notable was the very large antler chandelier. Much larger than the ones that you usually see. There had to have been hundreds of antlers clustered.

Third most notable was a leopard skull decorated with jewels and held together with fitted silver. Without the skin, the teeth look look like a sabertooth tiger. 

Every room was filled with unusual items. Real PreColumbian statues lined on a shelf in the bathroom where soap and shampoo usually go. 

In the kitchen instead of a basket of fruit, she had a basket of bocce balls. It's an Italian game that old men play in the park in their retirement. These balls were distinguished by being covered with nails. The entire surface of each ball had large heavy nails with varying heads that formed an attractive pattern and with numbers. Each ball was quite heavy. Each one different by being created by a different person. We marveled. None of us had seen anything like that.

What in the world is going on here?

Turns out the man was some hotshot with the Museum of Art in New York. He had access to items that normal people cannot get past customs. Such as the shells of giant turtles. 

There were three very large turtle shells leaning against the outside wall like shields. Then inside three more on the other side of the door. Now who has access to six giant turtle shells? 

One significant display was an African feather headdress. I studied the details of this display for at least an hour. 

Possibly ten minutes.

Native American headdresses are much more colorful. Much more detailed with leather and beadwork and feathers. American headdresses are eagle feathers that are white with black tips. The people put strands of leather on the tips. The base of each feather is wrapped with a leather strap. They include silver discs, leather straps, and the feathers are arranged in two columns. 

But this African headdress is much more simple. It's entirely black. The beads are all dark. The leather work is meager and dark. They just barely resemble American Native headdresses. And in this display the feathers are shiny black splayed against a flat black mat. You can barely see it. Black on black. It's the shine that you look at and you must get up close to notice the beadwork. It's extremely rudimentary contrasted to the American type.

And I have been thinking about producing such a display ever since. 

Just go ahead and make one. 

Make a Hollywood version of a Native American headdress.

The frame is the same as the frame for the butterflies in this video. It's a museum type Plexiglas box frame. 

The trick, if there is one, would be to get a large frame, to not hold back. To be bold with the display. To totally go for it. 

Amazon large acrylic box frame. 16"X 20" is not big enough. This is the idea but it's too small.

There used to be a shop in Denver that sold colored feathers and beads and leather to make American craft, but it's gone now. 

Too bad. 

They sold turkey feathers to substitute for eagle feathers. Most of it was childish but it was still possible to pull things together to come up with something somewhat realistic. And the African headdress shows it doesn't have to be perfect.

I didn't even know African tribes had feather headdresses. That blew my mind.

Amazon sells blue butterflies. 

You'll need at least fifty. 

Go big, or go home. 

There is no point in producing a non-dramatic display. 

Amazon blue butterflies. Best for them to be all the same species.

See? These crook museum administrators and girlish biology doctors can be inspiring in their ways. 

Oh! Later that weekend the friend who invited us took us to a shop in Aspen that was owned by the husband. The shop had many of the unusual things that were in the home. I recall studying a wooden frame to a mirror carved out of oak depicting squirrels running around branches of oak leaves and acorns. A very LARGE mirror. The same one, or similar, to one in the house. 

And I was all, "oooOOOOOOOOOooo, now I get it."  The guy's got a whole bid-nis going on. And all that you need is a wide open checkbook. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling, junk all over the place. Everything looked different with a dangling price tag.

[I accidentally posted to the wrong blog. Blogger is messing me up. My page says "sign in" when I do it gives me the dashboard page. I cannot use any of the opening pages. I must do all my work from the dashboard. I have five blogs listed and it offered Lem's at the top, not the one that I clicked on. And three people read the post before I noticed. Such are the tribulations of blogging.]

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