By James Dungeon It started with a fish, tens of millions of years ago, probably in what’s now Green River, Wyoming. The fish lived. The fish died. For whatever reason, it didn’t float. Instead, it was buried at the bottom of a lake or stream bed, away from scavengers, slow to decay. And it was buried deeper and deeper and put under increasing pressure. As the years (and years (and years)) passed, fluids seeped through the compressed fish slowly replacing organic material with sediment. Then, in the 21st century, it was unearthed as fossil-bearing limestone. It found its way to Arizona via lapidary Keith Horst, who shaped it and prepared it for a new incarnation. Prescott-based artist Lesley Aine McKeown discovered and purchased the fish from Horst. Drawing on three decades of jewelry work, McKeown recontextualized the specimen into a necklace, balancing the piece with a gold accent. She posted the resultant pendant on The Ganoskin Project, a jewelry resource and networking website, where it was discovered by the curators of the 2015 ArtiStar Exhibition. Now — thanks to McKeown’s artistry — that fish-come-jewelry has been flown to Milan, Italy, where it’s on display until September, at which time it’s slated to make its debut on the runway at Milan Fashion Week. Not so bad a fate for a fossilized fish, ehh? Jeweler’s eye McKeown has called Prescott home
By Alan Dean Foster It’s getting worse, and I don’t know if I can take any more coerced happiness. JoAnn pointed it out to me the other day. We were discussing holidays, not Einsteinian physics, but somehow the two began to overlap. “I understand,” she said, “if you’re making crafts for Christmas presents and you need to get started on the work by July … but otherwise, it’s gone crazy!” She’s right. When did holidays start accelerating beyond their designated dates, leaping forward in the space-time continuum? Christmas is the worst offender, but it is no longer alone. The depressing situation now affects every holiday — even those bloated by the government for political purposes (Labor Day) or the greeting card companies for pure profit (Valentine’s Day) or the candy companies for a boost to the bottom (our bottoms) line (Halloween). The proof can be found in any store. Christmas was a couple of days ago. The speed with which the majority of Christmas products vanish immediately after Christmas is astounding. Do the companies that manufacture the relevant holiday-themed products tote around mini-black holes in which to dump the stuff? Do the bins filled with 50-percent-off Christmas items contain mini-disintegrators that self-activate after one week? And what immediately fills the shelves formerly occupied by snow globes, enough colored lights to reach from the Earth to the Moon, faux wreaths, perfectly
By Tisza Sawiczki Art has been shown to influence its viewers in many, profound ways, both cerebrally and emotionally. What is not as well known, however, is how the expression of art is used across species — other than man — to influence outcomes. Growing up, with pets all around us, I was moved by the manner in which they integrated themselves so firmly into our family. It was their playful and intelligent traits that led me in the direction my education would ultimately take. I was especially interested in behaviors that made pets “more human,” i.e., seem to adopt human actions and thought processes to further ingratiate themselves into the social structure of their captive home life. In my dual majors of veterinary sciences/animal social behavior and forensic creativity while attending Flagstaff’s Northern Arizona University, I started writing my thesis on the ways animals interact with their owners, specifically those natural to us but deviating from those typical of animals. Was intellect comparable? Could creativity be employed by the “dumber” mammalian orders? I work part-time evenings at the local Starlight Books and, nosing around the anterooms, chanced upon an edition of a text that seemed to shed light on precisely these topics. By no way scholarly, with details too intimate and tone too self-important — and, evidently, self-published — the text nonetheless presents information too significant to overlook.
By Ty Fitzmorris In most years, February in the Central Highlands of Arizona is still a very quiet time when mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and plants remain quiescent, waiting for the combined cues of increased day length and higher temperatures to end their winter diapause and begin searching for mates and food. But, in all years, the first glimmerings of spring’s vivacity begin this month in the deserts and the chaparral of our region. Over the next several months the activity in the lowlands grows from a hum to a roar, and gradually flows up the slopes and into the highest mountains carpeting the whole of the Central Highlands with flowers, warblers, and butterflies. But, for now, the uplands remain relatively quiet, leaving the naturalist to search for hints of spring. Bird migrations begin to pick up steam, as overwintering species such as Northern Goshawk and Townsend’s Solitaire begin the months-long journey that will ultimately end in their breeding grounds as far north as the Arctic Circle. Other species migrate through the region to points nearer to the north, while the last of the migrants include the neotropical migrant warblers, who have spent the winter in the rain forests and dry forests of Central America and will breed and nest here. The overwintering waterfowl on Willow and Watson lakes, as well as the many smaller bodies of water will stay
By Russell Miller Harry Houdini, known primarily as an illusionist and magician, was perhaps the greatest escape artist who ever lived. Although in his early career, while traveling with a medicine show, Houdini “played” a medium who passed on messages from the dead; he felt guilty about it. So guilty in fact, that he spent his later years debunking the tremendously popular parlor sessions of spiritualism which routinely bilked the public for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Houdini died in 1926 at the age of 52, from a ruptured appendix. ODDLY ENOUGH … Harry Houdini was the first person to fly a plane on the continent of Australia. ***** The Russian warship Novgorod launched in 1873 and took part in the Russo-Turkish War in 1877. It was designed to monitor shorelines. It had six coal burning steam engines. Each turned one of six screw shafts. The engine rooms took up a full half of the interior space. Considered immune to ramming, the Novgorod strutted nine inch armor plating. The two main guns were 26-ton, 11-inch cannons on a swivel — huge for the time. A sister ship, Rear Admiral Popov, was also built. Because of the round construction and shallow draft, steering was difficult, and the pitch and roll was excessive, even in calm waters. ODDLY ENOUGH … Any time the guns were fired the recoil rotated the ship uncontrollably!
By Gene Twaronite Few people, even nature lovers, love the tick. It is difficult to love a creature that has its mouthparts embedded in your flesh. This is the way most acquaintances with this little vampire begin. One does not set off on a nature hike to look for a tick in the field and exclaim, “Oh my, how interesting.” Instead, one is far more likely to go to the bathroom mirror and scream, “Oh my God, get that damn thing off me!” Ticks belong to the order Acarina, which also includes mites. There are about 850 different kinds of ticks — so far as we know, that is. According to one estimate, there may be as many as a million other kinds of ticks and mites in the world, still waiting for scientists to classify them. It is something to look forward to. Like spiders, scorpions, and other arachnids, ticks have eight legs, at least most of the time. When they first hatch out as larvae, however, they have six. If this sort of thing bothers you, you would do well not to become an acarologist (a specialist in mites and ticks), much less a biologist. Ticks make their living by sucking blood out of mammals, birds, and reptiles. They usually lie in wait on a plant until a suitable host passes nearby, then hop on board, anchoring themselves
By Helen Stephenson There’s a huge party, and you’re invited! February marks a tradition at the Prescott Film Festival — namely, Oscar Month. Each February, the festival screens as many Oscar-nominated films as possible. Screenings culminate in “An Evening at the Academy Awards,” where the event is broadcast live at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. The broadcast itself is, ahem, free. However, if you’d like to support the Prescott Film Festival, please come early for the “Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party.” Tickets are $50 for the party and reserved seats in the auditorium, plus two drinks. If you want to go all-out, there are just 16 tickets available in the VIP suites. These film festival supporters get a swag Bag, reserved seats in the VIP suites, additional drinks and special treats, along with their own waiters. This year, the film festival got a jump on Oscar Month by screening two films before nominations were announced: “Boyhood,” with six and “Ida” with two. As we’re writing this article at the last moment possible, nominations were just announced. Organizers are busily writing to distributors and producers to see which films they can bring to Prescott in February. We do know we will be screening all of the Oscar-nominated short films. Animated films include Disney’s “Feast,” which is about a rescue dog observing the romantic life of a new couple, “My Single Life,” which
By Jacy Lee Depression can manifest in many ways. Some people become problem drinkers or overeat. Some people never get out of bed. And some people mass produce inexpensive furniture or inundate the world with cheap glassware. The Great Depression started in October of 1929 and lasted roughly up until the start of World War II. Our images of the Depression today are of boarded-up businesses, apple carts in the streets, skyscraper suicides, and emaciated Dust Bowl residents. And while many businesses closed never to reopen again, there were also myriad products in demand that exploded onto the marketplace. A good correlation might be the proliferation of electronics since 2008, the year of our severe recession. Cell phones, laptops, smart phones, et al, have exploded in both varieties and sheer numbers since then. As far as the antiques business goes, the first word we think of after “Depression” is “glass.” Depression glass came from many different companies and in many different colors. Amber, blue, black, crystal, green, pink, red, yellow, and white were the primary colors. The dozens of companies producing this glass had several things in common. The glass was inexpensively mass produced and was practical and functional. Much of the glass was sold in smaller stores or was given away as promotional items. Cereal, flour, soap, and butter were common products purchased by everyday people who would receive
By Paolo Chlebecek “Take me down to Las Vegas city where tech is new and the girls are pretty!” Like the song “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses, CES 2015 is all of that and more. Much, much more! Consumer Electronics Show — CES for short and ease of tweeting — has been around since 1967 in New York but it later had competition from COMDEX or Computer Dealers’ Exhibition, also affectionately referred to as “Geek Week.” Both ran into trouble and eventually settled in Las Vegas in 1998, but didn’t get as much attention until 2003. Just what is CES? It’s where geeks and nerds put aside their differences and enjoy all that technology, creation, and innovation have to offer. Our yearly pilgrimage to the tech fest has always yielded fresh and interesting ideas. This year, as the last 13 years, is no different. The most common question I get after returning is, “What’s the most outstanding thing at the show?” And I guess that depends on your perspective. With 170,000 visitors, 52,326 exhibitors, 3,673 exhibits, and more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, it’s impossible to see it all in just four days. There are a few significant developments though. Aside from the usual manufactures of every type of gadget, cable, and power converter looking for distributors, one of the most outstanding items are the UAV,
By Rich Lewis Recently, my partner and I were out birding in Watson Woods. As we walked over the red foot bridge and headed up the east side of the small pond, an ungainly bird flew in our direction from the other side of the lake. Upon noticing our presence, it veered, made a quick U-turn, and flew back from whence it came. My partner whispered, “Green Heron.” I had heard that they were around here, both at Watson and along Granite Creek where I live in the Dells, but they had always eluded me. I had only seen them down in Gilbert and in Mexico but never around Prescott, so naturally I wanted to get a closer look. Known to lurk in the tall weeds rather than out in the open like Great Blue Heron or Great Egret, this was a rare sighting. Green Heron are one of the shortest in the wading bird family, and they are quite stocky when hunched in the bushes waiting to capture their next meal. They are strikingly colored: velvety green on their backs with a dark cap and a reddish-brown chest. It is surprising how well their beautiful colors blend in with the vegetation surrounding them. One of their traits that I find most interesting is that they are one of the few birds that will actually try to lure fish to