Raymonde or the Vertical Escape

Written and directed by Sarah Van Den Boom. Continuing with idea of owls:

“Raymonde is really fed up with peas, aphids, dirty panties and her kitchen garden to dig. After all, she would prefer sex, and love, and the immensity of the sky…”

Vimeo has this marked “Mature” for that reason but also I expect there are church sensibilities that may be offended. Just sayin’.

Incidentally, I’m a bigger fan of Papy3d Productions, one of the producers, than I had thought. I mean, did I recognize the name? No. This despite having already posted several Papy3d productions:

They have some really nice work posted on their Vimeo channel and elsewhere. Before you go on with your life, you really owe it to yourself to see some of it.


he asked owlishly.

Joke as old as your dad.

On the other hand, I recall that some folks believed or believe that if you heard an owl call your name, it meant (it means) your death is nigh.

Well, owls are said to be wise, yes? And they constantly ask, “Who?” And now the answer has your name on it. Whatever it is, that can’t be good. Having a predator name you suggests: you are on the menu.

Now, instead, imagine having your name called out by a tree root.

Photo by Roman.

Geezer Notes

Gossip! That wonderful trade in information and misinformation and lies that lubricates our friendships and quarrels, that provides vital insights to condition our expectations and social strategies. Gossip! That wonderful filler that makes up at least two-thirds of all politics. Gossip! We can’t live without it even when we can’t live with it.

Being reclusive means being gossip deprived, so I have very little to share except that I’m still alive and still well, uninfested by the covid-19 virus — though who can tell for sure? While the disease is tough on a pretty wide age range, geezers with coronary artery disease have a higher casualty rate than most other demographics. There is some informed speculation that some of the medication typically prescribed for coronary artery disease make covid-19 worse — ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers have been nominated, maybe. For more information, see this Science News article dated 03/20/2020. In any case, “geezer with coronary artery disease” is me, unfortunately.

Unfortunately because this virus is not going away any time soon, even if we can keep the rate of contagion low enough to not swamp critical care facilities. It’s also not clear whether covid-19 will leave its victims with effective immunity to reinfection. Unless a vaccine is developed, that herd immunity provided by survivors would be our main hope for relatively quick relief. Even then, the virus will continue lurking as if it were an ambush predator. At this point, there is just so much we don’t know.

If I come down with covid-19, I’ll try to have the energy to document it here, although it may end up being posted after the fact. But should I croak… if you hear about it at all, it will be from this blog, albeit some time later. That is a promise I can keep, actually… unlike Clarence Darrow.

The plague has put my already lagging Geezer Downsizing Project even further behind, but I’m not sweating that.

See ya later, alligator.

Photocopier graphic by Roman.

Toilet Paper

1973 was about the time I dropped out of college. You would assume, therefore, that I would have some memory of this. I do not. Whatever this video is, it is outrageously funny: where the surreal hits the road. From the Atlantic (or “A” as they currently style themselves):

For my part, when the time of novel corona came, I had already purchased a years’ supply the previous September though I was aiming more for when the lease on this apartment expires.

Incidentally, if you think this is far out, look up Radio Lab’s program about Orson Wells’ radio play, “War of the Worlds,” and the three panics it induced.


“”Chunyun,” the world’s largest annual human migration takes place every Chinese New Year. This cultural phenomenon consists of over three billion passenger-journeys, largely for the purpose of spending treasured time with family.”

This short film by Jonathan Bregel is not so much a documentary on the subject but, really, a video poem about it. As a provincial Chicagoan, I’d at least heard of this custom but Bregel’s short gives it both a physical and an emotional substance. It becomes something both totally mundane and familiar and totally alien and distant, another land, another time.


A Murmuration of Starling Thoughts

Photo by Roman.

I read recently that starlings were “bereft of any sort of lovely birdsong…” Starlings might reasonably disagree. It’s a judgement, after all. But it got me thinking about one late Spring afternoon when a starling perched next to my window, unseen. It cackled to itself for a while, thoughtfully, then it quoted the songs of six different species of bird. Between each quote, it provided a brief meditation of tuneful whistles. Having concluded its survey of the neighborhood, the bird decided… something… and departed.

The bird’s monologue wasn’t a Shakespearean soliloquy nor would I have characterized it as lovely. Nice, perhaps, and certainly interesting, it was a kind of prosetry, depending on how you mean that and I’ll leave it to those who care about it to fight over the definition.

The common starling (what we commonly see around Rogers Park) is a mistrustful bird, usually. Pigeons and sparrows might make assumptions about humans, remaining to feed as you pass by for example, but starlings not so much. I’ve been amused to pretend it’s because the common starling is an invasive species in North America, not having arrived here until the 1890s in the service, it is said, of William Shakespeare. But it probably has a lot more to do with predation. What eats starlings? There’s quite a list of creatures, including other birds, who would fancy a starling appetizer, according to Wikipedia. Patrolling domestic cats also regard them as the perfect gift for their humans. And why not? Humans have been known to eat them, but as Wikipedia notes: “Even when correctly prepared, it may still be seen as an acquired taste.”

Starlings are pretty agile creatures so it’s mostly the young (if I remember correctly, something like an 80% casualty rate from hatching to adulthood) and the old that get eaten. Those that survive must have something similar to a permanent case of PTSD. Were I in their wings, I’d avoid humans, too.

For all of that, I’ve only seen one starling eaten. It was along the lakefront in Loyola Park. At the margin of the beach, where the walkway bounds the sand, a starling was ambushed by some small raptor. There was nothing but a muffled thump, and the raptor spiralled to the sand, starling in hand. The raptor was about to snack when it noticed its audience. Starling to go was preferable, then. It left with what seemed to be a very dead starling; it made no protest nor struggle. I pretend the starling died of fright and surprise. The alternative is that the starling was slowly suffocating in the iron grip of the raptor while hoping to die before its captor began to feed.

An 80% casualty rate from hatching to adulthood has got to make heartbreak the major theme of starling life. That’s an average, of course. A few broods do better. Some do worse: like the hopeful couples who, every year, decide the cable box next to my window is an ideal site for a nest. Indeed, in the early spring, warmed by the sun, it’s a lovely place for eggs and hatchlings. But later in the year it’s quite precisely an oven. To be fair, other species than starlings make the same mistake, sparrows for example. And don’t get the cable technicians started about hornets and bees.

The starlings seem to miscalculate about the window, too. Having scouted the property during the cool months of spring when the window was closed and dark, an open window with an actual human is quite the shock. One can almost see the birds recalculating the resale value of the cable box condo.

And then, of course, there are those cable technicians.

As adults, starlings are good for two or three years. If you take a human life span of 80 years, that would set each starling year at about 20 human years. That number is a bit misleading. In captivity, starlings have lived to nearly 23 years of age so it would be more apt to use the oldest human, the record in 2020 still being about 122 years. Furthermore, growing into adulthood is its own period and should be compared separately. So if we set the first year of starlinghood at 21 human years, the rest of the it works out to about 4.5 human years per starling year. Meaning that the starling who dies at the old age of 4 is about the same as a human thirty-something.

Life is tough and then you’re eaten.

Starlings often raise two families a year, so it’s not as if they’re endangered, and global warming climate simulations suggest that starlings will expand their geographic range in the next few decades.

I’ve only met one starling who was a pet and a potential candidate for old age. The bird graced a used book store here in Rogers Park, the Turtle Island if I remember correctly. The store is long gone and the space at the northeast corner of Glenwood and Lunt has been successively occupied by generations of miscellaneous businesses, most recently a veterinary clinic. The book store owner, as I recall, frequently fed the starling canned cat food.

There’s a certain prosetry to that, I think.