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Paintings Sale. The “Tentacles” Show in Monterey.

I’m putting all of my paintings on sale for three weeks, with $150 off the price of every canvas. Such low prices that I almost hate to do it. But I have limited storage space and I keep painting new ones, so some of old guys have got to find new homes. You can find the current prices under the “Buy Paintings” link on my Paintings page.

Meanwhile I finished a new painting this week, Cows on the Run.

“Cows on the Run” oil on canvas, June, 2014, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

This landscape shows the hills above Alum Rock Park in East San Jose. I felt the picture needed something extra, so I went for a saucer and a hungry, starfish-shaped alien. And everyone knows how aliens feel about cows. Even the cows know! I painted the cows a little large for how far away they’re meant to be—but these cows are important, and I wanted to give the viewer a good look at them. They kind of make me laugh.

Those white-flowered plants in the foreground are meant to be a certain plant that you often see in California. For years, I’d though these plants were Queen Anne’s lace, but, on our hike in the hills, a somewhat eccentric, but botanically well-informed, volunteer-ranger-type guy told me these plants are in fact poison hemlock, originally native to Greece (cf. the death of Socrates.) What makes this confusing is that “hemlock” can also mean a type of pine tree.

This weekend we were down in Monterey. We went kayaking from a very handy spot, right in an interesting area of the bay near the aquarium, it’s Adventures by the Sea, at their 299 Cannery Row location. Such clean clear cool water, so many seals and sea otters. Lovely.

And after that we checked out the Tentacles show at the Monterey aquarium. I’ve learned to go there later in the day, like after 2 pm, when most of the school tours have cleared out. We visited with the cephalopods and the jellyfish. Old fictional faves of mine. I’ve worked cuttlefish and/or jellyfish into very many of my novels. They’re about the most alien creatures sharing the planet with us.

By the way, the first time I saw a jellyfish show was in May, 1992, at the Monterey aquarium with Bruce Sterling, and we wrote our classic tale “Big Jelly” about giant jellyfish, you can read it free online.

I do have to say that the quality of the Monterey aquarium experience has gone down over the last twenty years. At this point they seem to be pandering to distractible kids on school tours. Or something.

In the old days, the place was like a quiet cathedral, dimly lit, no distractions, no ceiling-high models, no flashing lights, no horrible ambient music, no braying amplified narration. Just you and the sea creatures.

But now they’ve gone all multimedia on our asses. And the special exhibits don’t have nearly as many actual aquariums as before. I don’t like it. Yes, I’m old.

But they did have a few of my faves there. I liked these “stumpy cuttlefish,” especially set off by a young woman’s manicured hand. We wave our fronds, whoever we be.

And they had an impressive tank of nautiluses, about twenty or thirty of them. I had some giant, man-eating flying nautiluses in The Hollow Earth (pb, ebook, or free CC). Love these guys. Ninety tentacles, baby.

One of the best tanks held some critters that I thought were cuttlefish, as their tentacles are fairly short, and they have those nice, undulating cheerleader-skirt-fins all around their midriffs. We’d seen a couple of these while snorkeling off the north shore of Oahu last year, and we’d been proud and happy to have “seen cuttlefish.” But it turns out these are “big-fin reef squid.” Very good performers in a tank, not cringing, just relaxed and doing their thing.

We did see a tank full of orange-and-white striped “common cuttlefish,” as well, but I didn’t get a good photo of them, maybe because the cuttles teeped into my mind and hypnotized me. They’re very interactive, coming up to the glass and waving their facial squid-bunches of tentacles at you if you wriggle your fingers near the glass. Hail Cthulhu!

I’m kind of thinking of having an undersea cephalopod civilization on our own Earth in my vaguely planned Frek 2 novel…

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