eregyrn: (Hawk)
Ohhhhhhh, today is going to be one of those days. I can tell already.

I was greeted this morning, as I got near my office, by the sound of one of the juvenile hawks crying somewhere nearby. I managed to follow the sound into the Yard (between Widener and Mem Church), only to have it go silent, of course. (And then, pick up as I decided to give up and go to the office; of course.)

Well, I thought, at least that means they're still around!

Just now, I heard the cry again from inside my office. Grabbed camera, rushed out... heard it faintly one more time to provide a sense of which direction it was coming from... and then, nothing. *sigh*

So that's how it's going to be. They're still around, and they are BIG TEASES.

Today is already hot and humid, and it's going to get worse. Not a great day for tramping around at noon, but I may as well try. (With my luck, the hawks will all be too smart to be active in the middle of the day, and will be sitting open-beaked in the shade somewhere, making no noise at all.)

Anyway, on the subject of this post...

I like watching nature specials as much as, or more than, the next person. And of course any nature special involving orcas is going to especially draw me in. But I watched this Wild Kingdom episode over the weekend, about a guy filming orcas, and I just want to say... look. I get that doing specials like that is all about constructing a narrative. Really, I do. But I would prefer a bit more basic honesty in them. Let me explain.

So there was this guy, who is a cinematographer, who decided to go down and study the orcas on the Crozet Islands in the extreme southern Indian Ocean. These very remote and uninhabited islands have a breeding elephant seal colony, and penguins. They're one of the places particularly known for the orcas in the area having developed a hunting strategy in which they body-surf up onto the beach to snatch seals. So this guy decides to go down there and film them, and try to swim with them, to get some underwater footage, and see how the orcas tolerate him.

The special makes a lot of the fact that this is dangerous (not a lot of people go diving with wild orca pods, I guess), even though they also have to admit that there is no record of orcas ever attacking divers. Ever. But you know, nobody wants to be the first. But that wasn't what bugged me. The show went into some detail about how this guy gets dropped off on the island for a 3-month stay (the islands are uninhabited, remember; the boat drops him off and won't come back for 3 months), with all his stuff in a wooden crate, and he's planning on staying in a tent the whole 3 months (on islands near the Antarctic), and so on. Which, fine -- yes, impressive.

But here's the thing. Somebody was filming him the entire time.

You can TELL, obviously, because there are all these shots of him tramping across the island, and shots of him from above setting up to film the orcas, and shots of him sitting amongst penguins, filming them, and then when he goes diving, there are shots following him underwater (i.e. none of these seem to be able to be accounted for by him setting up a fixed camera in order to get the shots).

And, it's like... that old comment about how Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, except backwards, and in heels.

At one point, there's a giant storm that hits the islands, with 50 mph winds and all, and he hunkers down in his little tent, and the next morning, the little tent is half-covered in dark volcanic sand. And he's all, "I was worried that my tent would blow away, and I don't have another one". And I'm thinking, "Yeah, but what about the tent that the film crew must be using? Surely they would let you share?"

And, I don't know... I was just more irritated than usual about the lack of transparency, or honesty, in the narrative, call it what you will. "Lone cinematographer camps out on remote island and swims with orcas!" sounds great, in theory, but he's hardly ALONE. The narrative made quite a bit out of the risk to him in diving with the orcas, and how they got used to him and seemed to come to accept his presence... but they really didn't, did they? Rather, the story there is, they accepted HIS presence and that of at least one other diver, who was filming him filming them, and... how does that change the equation? The question of whether wild orcas will be inclined to regard one diver as pinniped-like enough to be prey? But it's two divers and their equipment, not one. (Plus, orcas are just smart enough to know the difference. They don't mistake humans for seals.)

I guess I don't see what the problem is with setting up the narrative to admit, "We dumped this guy plus a film team on the island, so that we could film what he was doing". Instead, the narrative was just very carefully constructed so as to try to make the other cameramen invisible -- you got plenty of shots of the guy's little lonely tent, but no shots of the tent that they must have been using, etc.

I suppose it's very remotely possible that he did the entire thing himself, setting up a series of fixed cameras in order to film himself, and then walking back to set up specific shots of him tramping across the island or whatever; I suppose it's possible to trigger those by remote, and perhaps even pan with them (though I don't know how you'd focus). Don't know how to explain the underwater shots of him, though. I guess I'd have to watch it again more closely to analyze the shots. But there were like 5 other cameramen credited at the end, so... I don't think that was it. I think they were there with him. And for some reason the entire show just wanted to pretend they weren't. And I find that weird, and annoying.
eregyrn: (Default)
(Contrary to the expectations of many of my friends, no, this is not a post about [livejournal.com profile] my_tallest's cat, Stasha.)

No, the subject line is in relation to this:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23519675/

"Rare White Killer Whale Spotted in Alaska" -- and they got pictures! Cool! (No, not an albino; apparently it has all the regular white orca markings, but all the bits that are usually black on an orca are instead a white/beige/ivory color.)


So here's my question. How, in the age of the internet, is it possible that nobody has ever (illegally, I am sure) typed in and made available on some website somewhere the liner notes of "Hooked on Classics", such that one could consult the medley playlist of the famous ear-wormy 1981 hit "Hooked on Classics I & II"? Tsk.


Finally, [livejournal.com profile] raven_lore shared this earlier, and it bears re-sharing. This is the next animation from the guy who did that wonderful animated short of the cat waking up its owner:

eregyrn: (Default)
SQUID!!!!


(I cannot express how much of a bummer it is that the "whale" layout is boring ol' sperm whales, and not orcas... yes, I am totally scheming in my mind how I could transform it into orcas... in the meantime, SQUID!!! will do nicely...)


(ETA: Also... I have just had someone add me as a friend whose LJ information is in Cyrillic and who lists his/her location as Minsk, Belarus. I am thinking that is... a mistake.)
eregyrn: (Canucks - Ohlund)


Yes, I'm a Canucks fan, but I'm in Boston, so I've never been to a Canucks home game. So there I am, watching my TiVo of Wed's game, and the feed that Center Ice is getting is from the Wild's broadcast. And they do something that I haven't really seen a broadcast do: during the intermission, instead of going away to a studio or interviews and stuff for the whole time, they come back and show what's going on in the stadium as they do voice-overs talking about stuff. I'm FFing through this, but suddenly I spy the above, in motion, tootling around above the perimeter of the rink. "Whoa!" I say. "Back that up..."

I can think of few things that could charm me more than the fact that the Canucks have a life-size orca blimp that flies around inside the rink, dropping swag onto the crowd below (t-shirts and stuff). I am further charmed by the fact that it is wearing a Canucks jersey. (There are other pics where you can see the logo on its belly; these shots show it wearing the old jersey design, but the blimp I saw on TV was painted in what look like the Vintage Jersey colors, although I couldn't get an angle to see the logo, to confirm.) I think I have identified a new Job I Wish I Had: Orca Blimp Wrangler.

Also, of course, I wish *I* had me an orca blimp. My brain starts asking logical questions, such as: do you think an orca blimp would be sufficient to lift the weight of a single person? OMG, how great would THAT be?

For more pics of Obie the Orca in his [sic]* natural habitat, go here: http://norburnrc.com/flyingwhales.htm

(The site refers to Obie as a "he". Um, dude. Look at the dorsal fin. That's clearly a girl orca. All the orcas in the Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment Inc.'s logo are girl orcas. The orca on the Canucks *jersey* is a boy orca.)

Speaking of the Canucks.... all I really need to tell you is that as of yesterday, it was entirely, mathematically possible that as of the end of tonight, there would be a FOUR-WAY TIE for first-place in the Northwest Division. (Games in hand are the tiebreaker, though.) As of today, that's no longer true, since the two top teams are playing each other, which means that after tonight, there could merely be a 3-way tie for second place. Still. Madness.
eregyrn: (Orca smooching RDA)
To start with:

Happy birthday, [livejournal.com profile] brighidestone!!!


And to you, another thank-you for pointing me towards Orca Live -- that is the above-referenced gift that keeps on giving...

Today, I was actually around to receive my first email notification from them that orcas were in the area -- so I went right over, and lo and behold, as advertised, orcas indeed were! It was TOO COOL to be sitting at my desk at work, with a live feed from a camera in a bay in British Columbia, showing me orcas swimming along -- and I could HEAR them, too! It was so neat that I had to call up [livejournal.com profile] raqs and leave a squeal-y message on her voice-mail about it.
eregyrn: (Default)
Remembering my icon, [livejournal.com profile] droneish just alerted me to this, which is apparently an entry from this year's Kinetic Sculpture Race, from Arcata to Ferndale, CA. There are no photos on this site, by the way, that are not truly delightful. But this is the SQUEE one (click for a larger image):



Oh my gosh, that just makes my day. :D Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] droneish!!!

(The fact that the crew are wearing little custom orca hats just absolutely makes it even more perfect.)
eregyrn: (Default)
What I hate: delivery men. Delivery men who do not allow me to schedule a delivery time, nay, even a preferred delivery half-day. Delivery men who INFORM me that they will be here to deliver my (memory foam) mattress "sometime between 11:30am and 2:30pm" -- which as many of you might agree, is a SUCKY window for anybody who is trying to put in a half-day of work. Delivery men who then call at 11:40am, to INFORM me that "it's gonna be a little later, maybe 3pm, or after", and to whom I can only reply, "I'll be here". Because what the hell else am I supposed to do? Even as I watch any hope of their making the delivery early in their window and me actually getting in for a REAL half-day of work spiral down the drain. *SIGH*

What rocks: when you TiVo a Discovery Channel special on killer whales, and you start watching it, and it turns out that it is narrated by DAVID ATTENBOROUGH. Bonus!

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