Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

January 8, 2010

Happy Hooter's Anniversary too!

Everyone's got a new calendar for the new year, even that crazy organization of owl lovers called "Hooters". I haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure it has a great collection of fine feathered "birds". So in honor of their 20th or 25th anniversary(I've seen it both ways on Google), either in October or January (I'm so confused), I give you my own aviary tribute...

"Now that I’m older and 'wiser', I have a lot more questions than answers. Like what impact will a Hooters anniversary have on American life? I think I heard it was celebrated on January 20. Well first of all, I didn’t know owls celebrated anniversaries. The anniversary of what? Becoming a full-fledged owl? A fine-feathered friend? I for one just think we already have a lot more respect for owls than we used to. I know I do, whether it be for the Barn Owl, the Screech Owl, the Great Horned Owl, or that great Grey Spotted Owl of the American Northwest, so protected a species that even big tough loggers who need big tough wood to build big tough houses cower at the idea very of fowling up an owl habitat and getting their big tough logging licenses revoked by the EPA and reviled by Green Peace.

"Of course I would respect that Grey Spotted Owl more if I could only find it, since I haven’t 'spotted' it yet. But I know it’s out there winging it somewhere. It could be that decoy on top of our church in Utah to scare all the seagulls away so they don't poop on the roof. Now there’s a tussle I’d like to see – an owl and a seagull! What about the owl and the pussycat? Edward Lear was a little deranged when he thought up that one, because I’ve never seen an owl and a cat even get close to getting married. A whimsical fairy tale? If the owl was the father and the mother the pussycat, and the pig was the ring-bearer, it’s no wonder the Brits lost the war to us. Why are kid’s stories so childish?

"But how can you dispute the owl’s penchant for asking one of life’s greatest questions? Constantly! Repeatedly! Perpetually! Who!!! Because, come on let’s face it, don’t all things eventually boil down to that one critical question anyway? Who??? The great Who of life? Who is it? Who dunnit? Who wants to know? Who knows the answer? Who, did you say? Who cares? See, you just can’t ask those questions with a what or why or where or how. How cares? Where dunnit? What wants to know? It just doesn’t work. So that old hooter is wiser than we give him credit for. I think it is pretty obvious then that we owe a debt of gratitude to a bird that only says 'who'!

"He doesn’t get all cluttered up with a bunch of other extraneous questions, and who has kept us in the battle against ignorance by reminding us just who’s on first! And who is your neighbor? And who is your greatest listener too? Yes, you, that’s who! You who, anybody listening? No it’s not 'Yoo Hoo'. That’s a bunch of 'Whoey'. No, that shouldn’t be 'Hooey' either. 'Yoo Hoo' must have started out as 'You, who is listening…' – yes, like 'Hey, you! Who is there? You, who is there? You who…! Hello!' But they still haven’t mastered the 'whom' word yet and that’s a shame because of it’s ultimate effect on the English language. And whom cares anyway.

"And as for why we have made the owl a symbol for wisdom – like the wise old owl figure in our folklore? Well, I’d like to know who is going to prove that one. Is there someone out there who has measured the IQ of an owl and come up with some real scientific data? Has an owl’s intelligence been tested and compared with an Orangutan for example? Has the owl family got one up on the apes lately? I don’t see too many owls taking screen tests. No I think it’s because they sit there and say nothing but that one little word – and we call them wise because they don’t open their mouths and put their talons in it like men do with their feet. The less said the better and silence is golden and a 'percher' is worth a thousand words. So if an owl starts talking like a parrot, then I think it will lose it’s reputation for being wise and will become just like any other talking bird – caged and stupid for imitating humans.

"But you’ve got to hand it to these little hooters for the way they have become such an integral part of our culture today. They fly in and out of our ghost stories, their big wings flapping in the moonlight as their giant yellow eyes search the ground for tiny helpless wood mice to munch on and help deplete the surplus rodent population. Shades of Scrooge! They haunt the hillsides and forage the forests of our primeval collective consciousness and then land on some branch in the middle of nowhere and just give us that proverbial wink! Can you believe that? What a bird! And yet it is a fearsome enough predator to be the mascot for Temple University. I know it sure puts the fear in me – both school and bird. I don’t want to be hooted to death.

"And regarding owls on tv, I never quite understood why Al Bundy found hooters so fascinating either. He was always talking about them but I never saw one owl on his show. And I always wished we could change that last line of Clark Gable’s in “Gone With The Wind” to “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a hoot.” I think that would have gotten us talking about owls a lot sooner instead of dams, although I guess they both have a common ecological connection. I just don’t know what that is yet. I do know that out here in Utah, if you make someone laugh a lot, they say, “You’re a hoot!” Not a hooter, just a hoot. I’m not sure if they are calling you an owl in some off-handed but well-meaning way, or just saying that you make them hoot like one. So can they be called hooters then? And would I be the hootee if I make them hoot?

"Oh yeah, and there’s that restaurant chain called Hooters (or should that be Whooters?) that must be dedicated to raising owl consciousness, because it is really growing in notoriety and giving owls a new image. I’ve never seen their menu, but I don’t think they have owls in any form on it - like owl burgers, or country fried owl or owl under glass - so that helps with important owl preservation, I guess. Do they call the waitresses chicks? Do they hoot out their orders to the cooks? Do the customers have to hoot their orders to the waitresses? I know they’re not bunnies. Are baby owls called chicks? Or owlets? So many owl questions. Well, happy anniversary to all you owls and owl watchers out there this winter, and may you continue to give us all a good hoot… which should really be spelled “Whoot”, I think."

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