Sorry, Just Fish

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Today I can’t think of anything to say about living in my skin that doesn’t feel to me like whining. The usual array of great heavy objects falling from a colossal height continue to rain down on my head. This week’s deluge began today. The details aren’t important to anyone but me, so I shan’t bore you. It suffices to say that it’s getting hard to stand up. So, instead of going all sissy on you, I’ll tell you a little story, two in fact.

Way back when, maybe a quarter of a century ago, we were in Lae to buy a car. It was a four-wheel-drive Daihatsu jeepy sort of thing. Anyway, we were in the auto showroom waiting for some paperwork. Suddenly, everyone went sort of stiff and jittery. There were a few nervous giggles, something which usually presages trouble. Everybody seemed to be looking in my direction. After checking my fly, I looked around cautiously. Standing behind me, staring at me with teary eyes was the tallest Papua Guinean woman I have ever seen. I’d guess that she was about fifty years old, but guessing age here is pretty useless. I was paralysed by curiosity and wonder.

A glance around revealed that everyone was looking from the corners of their eyes. Folks here often seem not to notice crazy people. As illustrated by the many people who walk on the very edge of the pavement a half-metre from whizzing vehicles with their backs towards the traffic, the general idea seems to be that if one cannot see the danger, it doesn’t really exist. In this case, there didn’t seem to be any danger, but the woolly forests on my arms rose up in anticipation. She took a hesitant step, seemed to make up her mind about something and walked toward me looking straight into my eyes. That got my attention, as it is almost unheard of. She stopped in front of me and asked, “Are you Jesus Christ?”

To this day, I can’t remember how or if I answered. In fact, I’m unclear as to what did happened next. It must have been anticlimactic.

Okay, another one.

Not too many years after that, I was sitting in our Suzuki jeepy thing in the parking lot of a now defunct food store. Eunie was inside buying some stuff. I was to lazy to go with her. I had the window down. In the side rear-view mirror I noticed a thirty-something guy walking up to the car. Caution always being wise, I pulled my arm in and readied myself for some action. I didn’t like the look of his stride. It was too determined.

Reaching the car, with no preamble he said, “Hello, I’m Elvis Presley.” Ever quick with a snappy comeback, I ventured, “I’ve got a lot of your records.” And that was it. He turned and walked away. You were probably expecting more. There isn’t any.

These two incidents somehow got wired up in my brain. I suppose that the connection is obvious. Whether there is any message there is open to interpretation. Let me tell you what I took away from them. You can decide if it sounds nusto and leave a comment explaining why or why not. It’s all up to you.

Some people have problems with genes or chemistry or injury or illness – that’s a given. Other people go off to lunar mindscapes for less obvious reasons. It’s not so much that they are crazy. It’s more that life has been crazy for them. One copes the best one can. One does what one must do. One deals with it. “Just get on with life.” “Take one day at a time.” This is what we are told. But, what if it all becomes too much? Some are stronger, tougher, more resilient, more anaesthetised against pain than others. Some will survive the onslaught. Others will perish.

I have infinite sympathy for those whose minds are broken, regardless of the cause. However, I am especially sad for those who have been beaten down by life. Perhaps it is because I’ve been there, I’m there again now.  I understand the feeling that one might fall over the edge with the next shove. It’s familiar territory. It’s terrifying.

So, maybe the two people about whom I have thought so many times over the years were not so unfortunate. They seemed blissfully unaware of their predicaments. Perhaps that’s the way to go – silently slipping into insanity without being aware of it.

And now . . . On with the fish.

We’ve dispensed with the Bad. Now we’ll have the Good and the Ugly. This critter should be familiar to you by now. It’s the Common Lionfish (Pterois volitans):

I think that it’s a reasonably good picture, if you like your fish in full context. We get a nice idea of what it looks like in its habitat. I frightened this one when I poked my camera at it to get it to move to a more photogenic location. I think that it believes that it is hiding now.

Here is a shot from directly above looking down:

No matter what I did, I couldn’t make this shot look nice. It lacks something, but I can’t honestly say what. It simply doesn’t sing. Maybe somebody can tell me why. I have photographer’s block.

Here’s a nice little shot of a couple of Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii):

It’s odd that I only now notice that there is also a Pink Anemonefish in the lower left corner. I did not see it at all as I was working on the image. How the mind works! Or doesn’t.

This is a flash-lit shot of some Anthea milling around. The brightly coloured tubular objects are Organ Pipe Coral:

Though the colours are pretty, they are completely artificial. The spectrum of the flash matches sunlight at the surface of the water. You would never see these colours with the naked eye.

This little fellow is a Reticulated Dascyllus (Dascyllus reticulatus):

They usually dive down into the forest of horns of coral for protection. This one was curious and stayed out to keep an eye on me.

I wonder if he is crazy?

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30 Responses to “Sorry, Just Fish”

  1. CarolBeth Says:


  2. kristy Says:

    I concur, hugs to you! Continued prayers as well!

    The one fish that doesn’t ‘sing’? Perhaps because it is a straight down shot, which flattens everything. Not to mention, he just does not ‘go’ with his surroundings, totally clashes!

  3. Jeff Says:

    yes totally agree on the lunacy of people. when i say people i mean people as every one has lunacy with in just some can express it.
    Anyway reading the 2 stories re asking you if your JC and guy claiming hes Elvis, well it automatically makes me think of Johnny Cash Man In Black, he wears it for all the down and out and the guy that got the bad trip etc. Which in turn sparks the song from Tex Perkins (who is doing a Man in Black Tribute show now) the song is goin down the stairs back ward so I can see whats comin at me.
    Any one that can sit there and claim that they have no lunacy is kidding them selves it just we really need to go there every now and then so we know thats not really the place we need to be there is much better states of being.

  4. Jeff Says:

    sorry forgot to mention if you havnt got the music of Johnny Cash or Tex Perkins and you would like it . Send me your address and I will send you a copy.
    Very enjoyable.
    Also I think that stae is called comfortably numb, its needed now and then

  5. Ali Says:

    Reading your stories, you probably made that tall lady in Lae’s day, week, year and life…how lovely.
    As for Elvis….I have only one thing to say….Rock a-Hula Baby!- did you get his autograph? ….I am so glad he is still alive and cruising the streets of Madang.

    Could crazy be the 7th unspoken sense and are we all born with it? Maybe the crazy sense is different in each of us, like all the other senses? We unquestioningly accept that everyone sees things, smells things, tastes and hears things differently. For example, one mans delicious is another mans YUCK, some love the sound of Elvis, some prefer Elgar, some see Aqua some see Green, so beyond violence, what should we accept as normal crazy????
    Did anyone understand that or was it a bit too crazy?

    Next time those heavies start falling on you Jan, strap on that tin hat of yours, light a cigar, pour a stiff whiskey and fight on…you can do it! Remember Kokoda!
    (Easy for me to say!)
    We love you!

  6. Brandy Says:

    Today your words really spoke to me. Thanks

  7. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Carol Beth.

  8. MadDog Says:

    Kristy, thanks for the prayers and hugs. I think that you are right about the angle of the shot. It’s not what we are used to seeing and it makes the background very cluttered.

  9. MadDog Says:

    Jeff, I hadn’t though of expressing one’s lunacy as an advantage, but I think that I see your point. I think that we do need to go there now and again. Thanks for the offer of music. I already have plenty of Cash and Perkins.

  10. MadDog Says:

    Sheesh, Ali. NOW you ask me if I got his autograph!

    You know what they say about losing one sense – how the others supposedly grow stronger. Maybe that is what happened when I lost my sense of smell earlier this year. My sense of crazy stepped into the gap. I understand you perfectly – one crazy to another.

    You are right. I need to toughen up. I feel like a sissy. Love to you and yours.

  11. Ali Says:

    Lucky for me I can read and write because I cannot hear a bloody thing. Could explain a few things if your theory about the compensatory senses is true? chortle chortle.

    BTW Is there a Melbourne Cup Party on in Madang this year?

  12. Nancy McDonald Says:

    Uncle Arnie I finally got around to reading your last two blogs. As always you keep my mind going in different directions. I loved them. Keep it up. You do always induce a smile.
    Love and hugs.

  13. ZydecoDoug Says:

    No criticism here, Jan, about the lionfish doing its thing: Mixing into its environment. Hard, indeed, to make a picture snap when your subject is born and bred to bleed into its surroundings. As long as you don’t somehow reach out to pet the darn thing, well, it’s lost in a maze of coiours. Next time, maybe try to open your aperture all the way, so you may be able to blur out some of the surrounding shades. Of course, you’d need to be focused very sharply of the lionfish. There’s that depth-of-field thing again, mate, that we discussed several months ago. It’s all about light, speed and exposure. Fun stuff, but if the conditions allow, it can bring the lion out of hiding.

  14. Steve Bennett Says:

    3 degrees of separation. Not quite asked, but was once told by a PNGean that I resembled Jesus Christ. I reminded said friend that JC was a PNGean and was therefore of darker complexion then I.

    I once told a PNGean that I was Elvis Presley after he told me that he was a local landowner.

    Once at the Madang Resort, I saw an elderly man and his entourage get into the golf buggy and shuttled off to their room. The elderly man had a big head of hair, styled into a quaff and it was black in colour. He wore gold rim sunglasses with large arms complete with holes. I immediately thought that Elvis was alive and well and in Madang. I can’t recall but I think Sir Peter was in attendance and maybe even Peter Memafu, but chances are they may deny even being in the province on that day….

    MadDog, thanks for all the fish.

  15. kristy Says:

    Did you change your title pic? Or is it just because it is sunny here after a few days that it seems different?

  16. Steve Bennett Says:

    kristy, if you are talking about the photo that appears behind “Madang – Ples Bilong Mi”, then I have noticed it changes from time to time and was wondering if MadDog needs to manually change this himself or if he has it set up to scroll through a collection of images….

    I would like to try something similar on my blogpage but do not know where to start.

  17. MadDog Says:

    Ali, I too, among my many afflictions, can’t hear very well in my right ear. This explains why I turn my head to the side when listening. If you are female, I could be flirting. You’ll never know. I’ll just say it’s because I’m hard of hearing.

    The CWA Eunice Messersmith Memorial Melbourne Cup Party was yesterday afternoon. I’ll have a post on it in a day or so.

  18. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Nancy. I’m so glad that you enjoy reading my journal.

  19. MadDog Says:

    Doug, you identified part of the problem with the image. I had my G11 set on aperture priority at F8, so the background is in sharp focus. If I’d shot at F2.8 it would have probably blurred it.

  20. MadDog Says:

    Very amusing, Steve. “Looks like Jesus” is a bit of a problem, since nobody knows what he looked like, eh? I’m going to have to remember your Elvis trick the next time someone tries to impress me with his importance. I don’t know what to make of the guy at the MRH. All I can say is that I have seen some very strange sights there. Many of them I can not talk about here.

    I like your Hitchiker’s Guide reference.

  21. MadDog Says:

    Kristy, Steve, I did change my MadDog image recently to soften it up a little and get rid of the cigar. I think that you’re referring to the header image. They are on a random rotator thingie which I can’t remember how it works now. You should get a different one every time you hit the site, unless it happens to land on the same one.

  22. MadDog Says:

    Steve, I had not visited your site for some time. I just saw the very nice tribute which you wrote on 9 September for Eunie. Thank you very much for that. She would have loved it.

  23. kristy Says:

    I guess I just never paid any attention to the picture at the top. Sorry for my inattention.
    Love Hitchiker’s Guide! I recently said to a relative in England something about the Long Dark TeaTime of the Soul and they thought it sounded so profound! I did have to give credit to Douglas Adams though!

  24. MadDog Says:

    Kristy, now I’m confused, but I guess it doesn’t matter. The header, at the very top is on a random rotation between about eleven possible images.

    I have heard of Long Dark TeaTime of the Soul, but never read it. Can you recommend it? If you think it’s good, maybe I can find a copy in Madang. Surely someone has it.

  25. Steve Bennett Says:

    Thank you MadDog, I felt I needed to offer flowers.

    Thank you kristy, your comment about the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul gave me a chuckle. Thanks.

  26. kristy Says:

    I have not read the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul in a long time. It is the second of two books, with Dirk Gently as its main character. The first was Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
    The books were not as well rec’d as Hitchhiker’s Guide, but I know I enjoyed them. They contain Adam’s sense of humor and great use of the English language. First line of TLDTotS….
    “It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression ‘As pretty as an airport,'”

    If interested, email me your address and I can send you a copy of the two books!

  27. MadDog Says:

    Steve, you’re welcome. I don’t know of anyone else who took the time on line to do something so very nice for Eunie.

  28. MadDog Says:

    Wow, Kristy, that’s a wonderful offer. I’ll send you my mailing address today.

    Why do airports seem deliberately designed to be places where you’d rather not be? Are they afraid that people will come to the airport to hang out? I remember as a kid when our family would go to Weir Cook Airport in Indianapolis to eat in the restaurant and just walk around gawking. That doesn’t happen much now, eh?

  29. Steven Goodheart Says:

    Hey my friend! Haven’t commented for a while, but you’ve never gone out of my thought and prayers.

    I loved your two accounts—funny and poignant at the same time. Good stuff.

    Now, about that lion fish — holy cow, look at those “antlers” with the fake eyes on them! I’ve seen lots, and LOTs of lion fish but I’ve never, ever, seen any with those kinds of appendages. What the hey? That’s just marvelous. Must be for self-protection, no? That’s simply wild. (Have I been missing these all these years? I swear I’ve never seen this before, and I’ve loved at hundreds, if not thousands of images of these amazing critters.) Wow!

    Hang in there, my friend!


  30. MadDog Says:

    Steve, my favourite Buddhist, how are you, man? I reckoned that you must have disappeared into your navel. I’m doing “as well as can be expected”, putting on a brave face, taking it one day at at time, getting on with life, blah, blah, blah, blah. All of the conventional wisdom sucks – that I can tell you for certain. Believe me; you have to make it up as you go. I spend half my time feeling bitter and twisted and the other half grateful that things aren’t even worse. (And holding my breath, just in case. Things could get a lot worse.)

    I never get tired of watching the various lionfishes we see here. I could use up a tank of air in one spot. They are ethereal – almost too good to be true. The antlers on that one were exceptional. I’m not even sure of the species, but it’s the best I can do without researching it for a couple of hours, which I don’t have.

    I’m curious about one phrase in your comment. “I’ve loved at hundreds . . .” Is that a Freudian slip?

    Thanks for dropping by. Stay cool.