Good morning and greetings, Labor Day fans. Yes, there’s nothing like a three-day weekend to help keep my Dixie cup half-filled with that much needed positive perspective.
Having three days off from the regular work routine gives one time to relax and do things like working in the garden, going for walks on the beach, or gathering the kids around the TV to watch the “Law and Order SVU” marathon on USA network. Nothing like 13 hours of watching Detectives Stabler and Benson trying to solve crimes ripped from the headlines to bring a family together. And for you trivia nuts keeping score at home, Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson, is the daughter of Jayne Mansfield, who was known as the “Working Man’s Marilyn Monroe.”
But I digress. I love to stroll along the sand, as I am a semi-avid shell collector, being that at this stage of my life, I’m just a shell of my former self. I love to see what the ocean washes up along shoreline, whether it be shells, sea glass, or oil blotches from a Chevron tanker. Or as the sticker says, “I love poetry, long walks on the beach and poking dead things with a stick.” Which begs the question, “What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?”
Well, last week, on the southern coast of England, 8-year-old Charlie Naysmith was taking a nature walk along the beach with this parents when he came upon a yellowish-brownish rock. As it turns out, this wasn’t just any old rock, but a solidified piece of whale vomit called ambergris, which is a very expensive perfume ingredient that prolongs the scent. In the words of C. Joybell C., “You are never fully dressed without perfume!”
Well, young Charles in Charge started to do some research, and after consulting with the It’s My Lucky Day Institute, it was determined that this whale of a find could be worth somewhere between $15,850 and $63,350. Holy Moby Dick. And I thought I was lucky when I spotted up a quarter on the ground at a gas station last week.
Our friend Ambergris is formed in the intestinal tract of sperm whales and often vomited or secreted into the ocean. It’s a waxy, bile-lile substance that’s as soft as a baby’s bottom, and when fresh has an aroma similar to a bad batch of sweet and pungent shrimp. It’s use is to help navigate the travel of material such as squid beaks and tiger prawns through a whale’s digestive tract, but what do I know, I’m no stool pigeon. This rock of ages had probably been floating in the ocean since the early days of the Beatles, just bobbing along and trying to avoid getting caught up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The scent of ambergris, not to be confused with Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman,” is what makes it so damn valuable. It has been used as incense, peppermints, the color of thyme, fragrance, flavoring, remedies and as an aphrodisiac, going back to ancient Egypt, China and the set of “Free Willy.”
Today, many perfume makers have switched to synthetic versions of ambergris because of it’s association with whaling and the sperm whale, which much like elderly children, pregnant women and Warrior fans, is a vulnerable species. It was banned from use in the U.S. in the 1970′s, along with my idea for a clothing line featuring asbestos shorts and t-shirts.
The ancient Chinese called the substance “dragon’s spittle fragrance” or moo goo gai pan. Ambergris is used in Egypt today for scenting cigarettes and adding a fresh, clean fragrance to counteract the smell of camels double parked in Tahrir Square.
It was punk rocker Iggy Pop who once declared,” I never believed that U2 wanted to save the whales. I don’t believe the Beastie Boys are ready to lay it down for Tibet.” Bottom line, who knew that something whales pooped could be so valuable? We’ll end with this thought. If swimming is such a good way to stay in shape, explain whales?
For this week’s photo array, we are going back to August and featuring the only sunset I subscribed to this summer. The date was August 17 and the clouds looked like they were going to put on a little show that night, so I grabbed my camera and a nectarine and headed up the coast to Davenport.
The aerial display didn’t turn out to be as colorful as I had hoped, but the cormorants keep flying up and landing in the Monterey Cypress tree that lined the cliff. There this group of sleek sea birds spent their time fighting and squawking while the sky performed its final act of the day. It was a great way to watch the curtain go down.
On to some late night. “Did you all watch the Republican convention last night? It’s good to see scripted television finally making a comeback. Ann Romney spoke last night. I thought she was quite eloquent. Analysts say her role was to show that Mitt has a tender side. And then the Romney family dog gave the rebuttal. Hurricane Isaac turned out to be not much of a threat to the Republican convention. But to their credit, the Republicans had a contingency plan. If the hurricane did hit hard, delegates were instructed to evacuate to Mitt Romney’s tax shelter.” –Jay Leno
“Donald Trump was bumped from speaking at the Republican convention because of Hurricane Isaac. See, nobody ever talks about the good things hurricanes do.
“According to a poll released last week, Mitt Romney has zero percent of the black vote. In fact, if it weren’t for John Boehner, Romney wouldn’t have any support from people of color at all.” –Jay Leno “John McCain was at the convention. He just wandered out on stage in his bathrobe.” –David Letterman
“Some of the Republicans, I think, are over-reacting to Hurricane Isaac — like today Rick Santorum was seen gathering up two of every animal. “Herman Cain was in Tampa. When a reporter asked him if Isaac reminded him of Katrina, he said, ‘I never even met the woman.’ A hurricane is scheduled to hit Tampa during the Republican Convention. These winds are so strong they could actually blow some of Mitt Romney’s money back in the United States.” –Jay Leno
“According to a new poll, Mitt Romney is at zero percent among African Americans. Here’s the sad part: That’s up 5 percent from last week.” –Jay Leno “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan had a campaign event at an apple orchard… There was one awkward moment when they told the granny smiths they were considering cutting their Medicare.” –Jimmy Fallon “The winds in Tampa are so strong today, they blew the dog off the top of Romney’s car. This year the theme of the Republican convention is ’50 Shades of White.’” –David Letterman
So that’s our first blast for September 2012. Back in 1966, the Happenings sang, “See you in September, when the summer’s through.” Well, that’s not necessarily true here on the central coast, as I’m hoping Indian Summer and a Yankee winning streak are just around the corner.
So get ready for Wednesday’s kickoff of the the 2012-13 NFL season, with a matchup featuring the Super Bowl champion New York Giants against the Cowboys. We’ll catch you being not only the former no. 1-ranked player in the world and winning the U.S Open in 2003, but also being the lucky spouse of Brooklyn Decker. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andy Roddick fans.