Sunday, December 17, 2006

ohlone tuba ensemble

You haven't heard the Barber of Seville until you've heard it played by an ensemble of two dozens tubas. Ditto Water Music.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

read on if you're interested in elephant penises.

Maybe my reproductive-rights-hackles are a little too easily raised these days, but when I saw a promotion for a television special on the National Geographic Channel about animals in the womb, I muttered something about thinly-veiled pro-life rhetoric. But not being one to discount things out of hand, I tuned in (read: someone tivo'd it, or as we like to say in my house, 'badooped it'). Granted, I only watched the beginning of it so far, but the prognosis is good! They talk about blobs of cells as just that, I don't think I ever heard anything about a "miracle." Not to mention they make animal sex acts look exactly as horrifying as they truly must be.

Case in point number one: Elephant penises are terrifyingly gargantuan and don't even enter the female elephants' va-jay-jays. They just spray their 1/2 pint of semen (school lunch-size milk carton? anyone?) on her backside and hope the little buggers can make it the 6.5 feet to meet the egg.

Case in point number two: I'm sure we've all witnessed a little dog humping now and then. What I honestly did not know is that in a successful attempt, the male dog's penis stays inserted for several minutes and as long as an hour. The two dogs just stand there in a "tie," not mounted, but just standing there butt to butt, looking dumb as dogs usually do. Oddly hilarious. And people think we humans can be impersonal about sex.

If I watch the rest of it and find that my original assumption was right, perhaps there will be an update. I still have to learn about dolphin babies.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

the start of a murder mystery... (a class assignment)

Bill Brennan can’t really be that mad at all of us. He was the natural choice for a suspect and he knew it. Sure, maybe there wasn’t an obvious motive, but who besides a pet store owner could have acquired a cone snail to slip into Mrs. Greeley’s tropical fish tank. Who else would have known it was so poisonous. We couldn’t honestly think that Norm over at the bait and tackle could be so crafty. Once the sheriff told us you can get pretty much anything on the internet these days, everyone in town with a computer or with kin who had a computer became a suspect, and that was basically everyone. Bill Brennan was off the hook for now.

As murders go, it was crueler than most. After her husband died, Mrs. Greeley shifted all the love in her body from her husband to her aquarium. The cone snail retrieved from Mrs. Greeley’s house (the “scene,” the sheriff calls it) was so beautiful, brown and densely patterned. She must have seen it in that tank and realized she hadn’t put it there. She probably thought it was an empty shell one of her grandchildren had picked up in a lunchtime swap and dropped in the tank as a sweet gesture. Knowing Mrs. Greeley as we all did, she would have wanted to know the species of mollusk before she let it lie there with the anemones and the sea cucumbers. Who knows how long the damn thing had been lying in wait. It had a little secret harpoon, full of poison, and it killed her. The sheriff shared some information he’d found about the cone snail and said they call one particular species the cigarette snail because you have only enough time for a smoke before you die. Mrs. Greeley had enough time to phone her daughter Luanne and thrash around her house a bit, knocking over the knickknacks and photos. Then the paralysis, and shortly thereafter, the respiratory failure.