Starfish: better than I thought

Here’s what I thought about starfish, until about five minutes ago:

  • Don’t look like fish
  • Don’t seem to do much
  • They’re probably just like really big limpets

It certainly never occurred to me they can move, but the BBC have a gorgeous time-lapse video of starfish, brittle stars, sea urchins and other soft, squishy seafarers swarming over and feasting upon on a dead seal. It looks like CGI.

Lots of starfish

Here are some things I know now about starfish:

  • Starfish can eat by pushing their stomachs through their mouths and using the digestive juices to break down the foodstuff.
  • There is a type of starfish called a ‘Bat star’. Sometimes Bat stars fight. “Fighting behavior consists of pushing and laying an arm over the other.” Aw.
  • Some starfish can regenerate. Chop a starfish into five pieces, and – as long as some part of the central ring is left attached to each arm – you’ll get five starfish. Nice.

I am now a fan of starfish. Flickr has some great shots.

Sea Dragons

This is a sea dragon:

Weedy sea dragon, by Micapixel

Isn’t it beautiful? I hadn’t heard of sea dragons before this evening, and I’m now hooked. I now know sea dragons are 30cm long, related to sea horses, live off the coast of southern Australia, and come in two types: weedy and leafy. These somewhat meek adjectives fail to do the creatures justice:

Weedy sea dragon, by doug.deep Leafy sea dragon by hehadon

Here be dragons!, by petervanallen leafy sea dragon by neonfish3

sea dragon, by southernbelladonna sea dragon, by ponypandaturtle

leafy dragon by zxgirl Leafy Sea Dragon by Charlene-SJ

leafy sea dragon, by lecates

And do you know what they do in their mating ritual? They dance. Honest to goodness – there’s video. And the babies are excessively cute.

If I’m wrong about this whole religion thing and it turns out Buddhism is true, I’ll be a sea dragon, please.

Board Games for Christmas

If I had the money and the time I could get very excited over board games. They appeal to me in many ways: the aesthetics, the geeky fun-factor of interesting objects and obviously the long-time enjoyment of playing a decent game. As good as Articulate and Cranium1 are, with Christmas coming it’s tempting to pick up something new for parties. But they’re pricey and I’ve never taken the time to look up review sites, so I’d probably wander aimlessly past the shelves at Toys ‘R Us and do nothing. Happily, a solution just fell into my lap: Matthew Baldwin of defective yeti produces an annual list of the best games he’s found, and the 2006 version was just published. I’m immediately attracted to ‘Hey! That’s My Fish!’:

Occasionally I’ll play a new game so elegant in design that I’ll come away amazed that it hadn’t been thought of before. Hey! That’s My Fish! is the most recent example. Sixty small hexagons (each showing one, two, or three fish) are assembled into an ice floe. Players then place their penguins onto the board, and play begins. On a turn, a player moves one of his penguins and then claims the hex the penguin just vacated, scoring points for the fish shown thereon. The ice floe slowly melts as more and more hexes are taken. Eventually there will be no more legal moves, and the person with the most fish wins. It’s extremely simple and remarkably strategic. It’s also perfect for the Al Gore on your list, as I bet it would go great with the global warming PowerPoint he just happened to bring with him.

Board game + fish + pingwings + exclamation marks = yay. It’s £15 on eBay, and I think the temptation might be too strong. All of the games seem like they’d be fun, but ‘Khet’, ‘Ticket to Ride’ (mentioned in ‘Thurn & Taxis’) and ‘Wits & Wagers’ look particularly good.

  1. Conga too – the amazon reviews seem to refer to a completely different game, oddly []

Fish Attack

Fish Attack

(posting via flickr as I still haven’t configured the email->blog setup)

It’s nearly half 2, I can’t sleep, and I’m bored. Too tired to concentrate on anything, but not enough to actually drop off. It’s my own silly fault as I didn’t go out all day.

The picture is my pink fish. He’s also a torch. I once made a short film in which my sister threw him into a bin, and then the house was invaded by pink fish out for revenge. I think it lasted 20 seconds total, and the invasion was accomplished using a blue screen alpha mask that was actually an inconsistently lit bedsheet, plus Adobe Premiere’s built-in filters. It was quite fun in the end, wonder if I still have a copy somewhere.

I’m planning to get up at 8 so I don’t have the same trouble tomorrow night…That’ll probably make me moody, tho, so you may want to steer clear 🙂