You lot do not visit Hooting Yard for news of the latest doings in the world of pop culture, but this, I think, is worth noting:
The ballads are seldom the high point of a huge pop show, but in [Miley] Cyrus’s case, a degree of interest is added by the fact that she sings one of them while being pursued around the stage, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, by a giant fluorescent orange fluffy bird.
Alexis Petridis in The Guardian.
Keen Hooting Yardist Ruthie Bosch drew to my attention the Stith Thompson Motif Index of Folk Literature, or more precisely the index to that Index. That was a week ago, and I am still trying to reorient my brain to take account of its existence. The world has changed for me, irrevocably. To give some idea of what I am babbling on about, you lot should listen, immediately, with lugholes alert, to today’s episode of Hooting Yard On The Air, in which I took the opportunity to read (most of) the Stith Thompson Index index for Bird.
A pair of blue-footed boobies, from Paradise Of Birds:
Following last week’s postage of Unit’s smash hit 201 Birds, I thought it would be a good idea to post the original Hooting Yard On The Air episode in which I list 601 birds (together with a few film directors, etcetera). Listen and learn.
♪♪♪♪ 601 Birds ♪♪♪♪
We last heard from the inexplicably obscure band Unit with their splendid instrumental entitled Little Severin, The Mystic Badger. Whoever they are, they have now excelled themselves and created what, in a sensible world, would be a chart-topping hit. 201 Birds marries a recording of Mr Key spouting the names of birds from an old Hooting Yard On The Air show with the actual sounds of birds. It is a most remarkable work, and I recommend you listen to it, over and over again, every day, until the cows come home.
♪♪♪♪ UNIT & Frank Key – 201 Birds ♪♪♪♪
Many thanks to Marina Organ for alerting me to this photo.
There will be a prize for the first reader to identify the film from which this still is taken:
Click to enlarge.
Photo by Mircea Costina/Rex Features, via Mick Hartley
The time is right, I think, to flex my ornithological chops by setting a daily bird-related challenge. By doing so, I hope to silence forever those fiends who mutter darkly that “Actually, Mr Key is a complete ignoramus in matters avian”. It is astonishing, is it not, that such brickbats can be thrown? Yet they are, with distressing regularity. Well, let us see how the birdy know-alls deal with the first of these challenges!
Your task, which you must accept on pain of Aubreyan kim kam, is, bebooted and with your bird spotters’ book tucked in to the pocket of your rainwear, to locate and identify the following birds, as mentioned in Slouching Towards Kalamazoo by Peter De Vries (1983):
“That there is no bluebird of happiness, only the robin of resigned acceptance of things as they are. The plain everyday starling of common, undeluded reality… and then what next?… The grackle of total disillusionment?”
So there are four birds to spot, and spot well. No ordinary bluebirds, nor robins, nor starlings, nor grackles, mind. And, once spotted, you must execute pencil or crayon sketches of each, and post them, or links to them, in the Comments carton. Off you go!