Archive for April, 2014

  • A happy medium: Chalk It Up! returns to Prescott

    Apr 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Portfolio6,278 CommentsRead More »

    By James Dungeon Maybe you shouldn’t read too much about Chalk It Up! It might be more fun to stumble upon it. That approach certainly worked out well for Susan Crutcher. “My first time, I was probably coming from coffee, going back home, and I saw something was going on,” said Crutcher, who happened upon a couple of dozen people milling about the parking lot at the corner of Sheldon and Montezuma streets in Prescott circa 2009. “I just walked around and started talking to people.” As she paced the lot, she spied chalk drawings of animals and people and more in of shapes and sizes. She’d discovered a chalk art gallery. “I was surprised to see it, but it also felt somehow fitting,” Crutcher said. “It was fun, and I asked what I could do to make it happen again.” That’s how she ended up on the board of the annual Chalk It Up! event. In the past five years, it’s grown from some 400 artists to more than 1,200. That includes everyone from featured professionals who construct huge, elaborate pieces during the course of two days to children and older folks who sketch a few figures during the course of minutes. Last year, the event drew between 2,000 and 3,000 people. This year, when the National Bank of Arizona closes its 201 N. Montezuma St. parking lot to

  • Fallacies of advertising #8C (Eight Cylinders)

    Apr 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Alan Dean Foster's Perceivings25 CommentsRead More »

    By Alan Dean Foster By my admittedly imperfect but likely adequate calculations, I reckon that in the course of my lifetime I’ve seen (Been exposed to? Been infected by?) something like 20,000 TV car commercials. They first began to impinge on my slowly coagulating consciousness while I was watching “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger,” “The Howdy Doody Show,” and “The Kate Smith Show” (“When the moooon, comes over, the mouuuntain!”) on our black-and-white blonde console Emerson TV back in the Bronx, New York. Though no more than between 3 and 5 at the time, one advertisement I distinctly remember was for the Oldsmobile Rocket 88. Not only did this mighty paragon of Detroit steel feature more chrome than typical kitchenette furniture of the ’50s, the hood ornament was an actual rocket! What could be more appealing to a kid than a rocket except — a rocket coated in chrome. Pretty smart, those Detroit ad guys. Except … They were wrong. It didn’t work. At least, in my case they were wrong. Setting aside the fact that, given the way our bureaucracy malfunctions, my dad could probably have obtained a legitimate driver’s license for his gabby 4-year-old, all the Olds 88 advertisements I saw never propagated in me the slightest desire to actually own an Olds 88. But that neat hood ornament, now … A lot of science is supposedly put into

  • News From the Wilds: April 2014

    Apr 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds13 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris April, in most years, is the raucous, enlivening yawp of life in the wilds after the long quiet of winter. While snowstorms are still a possibility, the majority of the month is sunny and warm, with extraordinary proliferations of butterflies, returning migratory birds, native bees, growing and flowering plants, and mammals in the thrall of mating and bearing young. There is more activity in the natural world than can be easily followed, and the flowering of plants, emergence of insects, return of migrant birds and bats, and the appearance of mammalian young all typically follow a somewhat regular schedule. This, year, however, has continued to follow an unusual dry trend for our region and represents a very different kind of year from the usual. In our 115-year record, there’ve only been two years — 1972 and 2002 — when January-March precipitation has netted less than 15 percent of average for that three month period. In Prescott, 2002 is keenly remembered because it marked both the Indian Fire, which firefighters narrowly kept from burning the city, and the mass die-off of drought-stricken Ponderosas — which in some areas, such as Crown King, reached 80 percent of the forest cover. Bark beetles thrive in these driest years and become particularly problematic in forests that have experienced long-term fire suppression, such as most of those in western North America. Fire

  • Bird of the Month: The Merlin

    By Zach Smith Often overlooked by all but the most serious birders is the Merlin (Falco columbarius). From fall through early spring, this dove-sized member of the falcon family (Falconidae) haunts open habitats with scattered trees in search of sparrows, starlings, finches, Horned Larks, and other flocking songbirds around Prescott. Their Latin name, columbariues, means “dove-like” and refers to the resemblance of their flight to that of a dove or pigeon. The famous saying “off on a lark” comes from ancient falconers who hunted larks with Merlins. Two fairly reliable places to find Merlins are Willow Lake and Chino Valley. Seek them out on trees, poles, and fences bordering open areas. Locating one usually requires a keen eye and a bit of luck because they don’t want to be seen. That’s because larger raptors are known to attack smaller species, Merlins included. Plus, they must keep a low profile so as not to alarm potential prey as to their presence. This balancing act is played out among many organisms in the natural world: Try to eat without being eaten. Witnessing a Merlin hunt is a rare occurrence but not one soon forgotten — as long as you can follow the action. They attack at impossible speeds with aerial agility that seems to defy physics. True to their namesake, they’re definitely wizards. As with other raptors, Merlins frequently use man-made structures

  • Undermining underminers: How to deal with garden-variety foes

    Apr 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, The Local Beet15 CommentsRead More »

    By Heather Houk This is one of the things I love about Prescott — how friendly and familiar everyone seems to be. He asked me a question that was a new one for me: “In a nice 20×30-foot garden space, what is your favorite thing to grow?” It took me a second, but then I could almost taste the sweet, fresh, popping flavor of a young snow pea, which led to a great conversation about Prescott gardening. As I left that lovely encounter, I got to thinking about what I want to plant this year. I’m a pretty traditional organic gardener for our region. I prefer using drip tape to irrigate right at the source of the roots, and I use well-composted horse manure for fertilizer, cardboard for sheet mulch, and tons of mulch on top to keep the cardboard securely in place, increased water holding capacity, and to block out every ounce of light from potential weeds. Did I mention that I loathe weeding?  Well, I do. One of the main challenges of gardening here is the ever-present battle with gophers. I’m sure many of you are well-acquainted with the eye twitching frustration that accompanies the sight of a gopher mound where once stood a beautiful tomato or eggplant. Those buggers are my gardening nemeses, and I found a wonderful resource a few years ago that doesn’t kill them

  • Selfies from Mother Nature

    By Gene Twaronite Ever since the Oxford English Dictionary people proclaimed “selfie” as their word of the year for 2013, I’ve been struggling to find a way to use it in one of my essays. It would not be my first choice. As a word, it has all the charm of that scummy ring of hairs at the bottom of your bathtub drain. But in writing, as in life, sometimes one just has to go with the flow. So, I got to thinking about what kinds of photo self-portraits ol’ Mother Nature would post, assuming she had a smartphone. They might go something like this. … Here I am sitting by a tidal pool at the start of it all — over three and a half billion years ago — when life first appeared on this planet. Welcome to my kitchen. They’re too tiny to see now, but in these waters chains of complex molecules are slowly coming together. Wait till you see what they become. And here I am at the bottom of the sea during what you humans call the Cambrian Period. It was one of my favorite times, when the diversity of living things on this Earth literally exploded. Paleontologists have discovered more than 20,000 different species from every continent. Must confess, I got a bit carried away with cute little critters. They were the first animals

  • Going viral: A spotlight on computer viruses

    By Paolo Chlebecek Why would someone want to create a virus? And how do they work, anyway? And, more to the point, how do you protect yourself from them? I get these questions a lot. Let’s explore the answers. Amazingly, computer viruses are like human viruses. They grow, change, adapt and spread. On average, there are 35,000-70,000 viruses found every day. Each has the potential to be dangerous. The estimated total virus population “in the wild” exceeds 17 million. The chief motivation to create a computer virus is money. In light of what has happened to Target stores recently, the money-making potential is enormous. But who does that? The first known computer virus, called Creeper, was created as an experiment in 1971. It copied itself to a system and displayed the message, “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!” The Reaper program was created to remove it. Then, in 1974, the speedy Rabbit virus made multiple copies of itself until it clogged a computer, finally reaching the threshold to crash it. There are other viruses like Melissa, supposedly named after a stripper, and its variants that caused havoc on email servers at the turn of the century. Its author, David L. Smith, a network programmer, launched the virus simply to see if it would work. Smith was caught, but many virus programmers are not. That’s mostly because there are

  • Oddly Enough: April 2014

    Apr 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly Enough6,227 CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller The quest for greater firepower has produced some sophisticated inventions over the years. One rather unusual weapon was the Puckle Gun, named for its English inventor, James Puckle, in 1718. It was an early attempt at a machine gun that used a flintlock mechanism and black powder. The weapon was mounted on a tripod and used a revolving block that carried either seven or nine bullets. It was rumored that it would fire round bullets for Christian enemies and square bullets for Turks. ODDLY ENOUGH … This gun is mentioned in the transcripts of a trial in 1722. According to the account, this weapon was successfully fired 63 times in seven minutes by one man — in the rain! ***** In the late 1940s, the Zippo Lighter Company produced a 1947 Chrysler novelty car to help advertise its product. When opened, the “lighter caps” revealed stunning neon flames. Unfortunately, the car was so heavy that ruptured tires posed a constant problem. In the 1950s, the car was sent to a vehicle dealership for refitting and body modifications. ODDLY ENOUGH … While modificaitons were discussed, the original Zippo car disappeared. No one seems to know what ever became of it. ***** Russell Miller is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, bagpiper, motorcycle enthusiast, and reference librarian. Currently, he illustrates books for Cody Lundin and Bart King

  • Funny business

    By Helen Stephenson What’s the most difficult genre to write? Ask a random group of screenwriters and they’ll usually say comedy. What’s the most difficult genre to direct? Ask a random group of directors and they’ll usually say comedy. That’s why, when the programming department of the Prescott Film Festival finds a high-quality comedy film, they justhaveta grab it to share with their audience. Ergo, on 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 26, a fun romantic indie comedy will light up the screen at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. That film is “Go With Le Flo,” which is in French and German (with English subtitles) and was filmed in Berlin by two American filmmakers. It’s an early Official Selection for the fifth annual Prescott Film Festival. Here’s a blurb about the film from a reviewer at The Independent Critic: “Director Michael Glover is spontaneous and spirited enough to breathe life into the familiar with some interesting twists, entertaining asides, and an absolutely delightful cast that keeps you completely entertained. Denis Aubert’s performance is one of heart, humor and honest goodness and stays with you long after the closing credits have rolled on by. … You can’t help but fall madly in love with Marina Senckel from the first moment she pops up on the screen.” Tickets are $8 for general admission and $5 for students from any school and Yavapai College

  • Notes on notation: How can there be wrong notes when there aren’t any notes at all?

    Apr 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Column6,557 CommentsRead More »

    By Jonathan Best “The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.”  — Thelonius Monk I’m always on the lookout for things that get in the way of us being our complete musical selves. If we identify these blocks, we can learn to dance around them. And we can sing while we dance. One of the blocks is notation. It affects us all — even those of us who don’t read or try to read music. That’s because notation affects the way our culture perceives music. We think of music as inherently more complex than it really is. It can be complex if we want it to be, but so can conversation and that doesn’t stop most of us from speaking. Music notation and music complexity evolved together. The first notes were simply reminders, which is why they were called “notes.” Notes took many forms over the course of centuries from places like Mesopotamia to ancient Greece, but the trajectory that led to modern Western notation started in the middle of the ninth century. People wrote diagonal lines called “neumes” above the words of poems set to music to indicate where the melody went up or down. It took another 50 years to place the neumes at varying heights above the words to suggest the shape of the melody. Then people started drawing horizontal lines to really zero in on the pitch

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

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