On deck: 22

bookshelf November 2021The shelf was getting a little unbalanced, with too much fiction, but a tip from NPR’s Books We Love led me to Dreilinger. Of the Thoreau, I’ve got The Maine Woods and Cape Cod to read. The Bellotti is for a book club at work—not my usual cup of tea, but I want to contribute to the discussion. I have promised myself that I will crank through another story in the French parallel text collection; will I ever find time for the Echenoz? Juggling two volumes is too much trouble for the subway.

Vertical

Kristin Hunt observes,

In many ways, the streamers [like Netflix and Amazon] have been rebuilding Hollywood’s old studio system. That system, which lasted roughly from the 1920s to the 1950s, was powered by vertical integration. Major studios like Paramount or Warner Bros. didn’t just own a bunch of soundstages, but also the theater chains that screened their movies, meaning they had complete control over every aspect of a movie’s creation—a straight line down from film production to distribution to exhibition.

Even the sharp corners of ostensibly “bad” moves are being rounded over:

Critic Judy Berman argues in The Baffler, for instance, that the internet and the larger “streaming void” it perpetuates have slowly been killing the cult film, the “scruffy, desperately original, and intermittently brilliant works of transgressive art” once enjoyed communally on the midnight circuit, but now cynically engineered for social media engagement, à la Sharknado. Naturally, it’s not just the makers of would-be Rocky Horrors who are suffering.

Although she mentions the creative financing that powered Irving Levin’s distribution of Ida Lupino’s Filmmakers movies, she misses the opportunity to comment on the similar pattern shown by The Cannon Group during its ownership by Golan and Globus.

Suitland Bog

Lynn Rust’s Microbial Ecology class field-tripped to Suitland Bog (a magnolia bog that’s actually a fen). The property was once mined for sand and gravel before M-NCPPC picked up some of the land, while allowing development on another parcel. (In the inexorable logic of new streets being named for what they replaced, Rock Quarry Terrace passes through one of the nearby townhouse subdivisions.)

pine sandy 2pine sandy 1In the successional upland accessed by ample parking at the community center, we found the rocky, sandy soil of the Coastal Plain. Virginia Pine (Pinus virginia) is waiting to be overtaken by the beeches and oaks, while Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica) hunkers in the understory. Thundering helicopters from nearby Joint Base Andrews are just something you have to deal with.

In the bog itself, we easily found Purple Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea). According to Lynn and the park ranger, this introduced species is outcompeting the sundews, and is subject to some culls. Yellowing leaves of Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) were recognizable.

Bisected by a power line cut, the place definitely shows the marks of human influence, and could use some major trash pickup love. I don’t remember, but I reckon that my visit in 2013 was from the other entrance, from the south.

That explains Blofeld’s cat

“No time to die: An in-depth analysis of James Bond’s exposure to infectious agents,” by Wouter Graumans et al.

We hypothesize that his foolhardy courage, sometimes purposefully eliciting life-threatening situations, might even be a consequence of Toxoplasmosis.

Particularly worrying:

While Bond was traveling to Japan (1967) shortly after the H2N2 pandemic (1957–1958), his actions were at odds with knowledge on the different modes of respiratory virus transmission. Bond regularly joined crowds without social distancing including on public transport.

h/t: Jennifer Ouellette at Ars Technica

A mystery: 25

All of the burrowing animals, the geofodes, enter a very different world, which exists only a very short spacial distance from the actual desert environment itself.

—Raymond B. Cowles, Desert Journal: Reflections of a Naturalist (1977), p. 105

Geofodes appears to be a coinage by Cowles, deriving from geo and the Latin fodere that gives us fossorial. Or perhaps it’s a slip, because his book went to press posthumously. At any rate, it ain’t in my dictionary.

Mason Neck State Park 2021

clutchingHoliday weekend, and a chance to earn my next badge in the state parks Trail Quest challenge. Somewhat unintentionally, I followed the same trails that I walked last year in late spring. Much quieter this time of year, cloudy-cool and a bit drizzly—glad I brought my hoodie.

minimastThe understory of the woods (holly-oak-beech) is very open; I suspect deer browse pressure. The oaks have dropped an abundance of acorns.

I found a little patch of Strawberry Bush (Euonymus americanus) (a/k/a Hearts-a-burstin’), still in fruit, on a hummock in a very wet spot. And an orbweaver making short work of an unfortunate Eastern Pondhawk.

The thing to remember about the Meadow View Trail, pleasant enough as it is, is that it is a trail to a view of a meadow. You won’t see any meadow along the trail itself.

3:00 for the circuit again, with a lunch break.

Ranked

Best use of inset text, Snark Division:

You can find the title of this show rendered in different official places as Diana: The Musical; Diana, The Musical; and even Diana the Musical, as if Diana were either the name of the musical (like Garfield the Cat) or Diana were something you were encouraged to do to the musical (like Pat The Bunny). I have gone with Diana, The Musical.

Plus Oxford semicolons! How did that get past the copy editors?

Neabsco Boardwalk

Barbara Saffir led a workshop at Neabsco Boardwalk on using iNaturalist and ISO axanthic Green Treefrogs (Hyla cinarea). And we found some!

new boardwalkThe boardwalk trail is rather new—nicely accessible and wide, open to multiple use (jogging, dogs, scooters). While the upland path to the boardwalk could serve for a nonnative invasives workshop, the wetland itself is pretty clean, a major exception being a population of Japanese Knotweed (Reynoutria japonica).