Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"'Mericarockets" in the Banda Sea

So in the Monday night insomnia, I'm looking at my shelf-full of books about the island of Borneo and environs. I take down "Ring of Fire: Exploring the Last Remote Places of the World" by Lawrence Blair and came across this great and cool passage:
"We were all familiar with orbiting satellites, which were clearly visible in these latitudes, and we even became bored pointing them to each other shortly after leaving Makassar. But this was not one of those. I saw it reflected in the water first, and stood up just as Tasman and two others in the bow did the same. They pointed and shouted to us all, “Look! Look! A number two!”
Only a few others bothered to get to their feet, but we all looked. High in the sky ahead of us a white light arced downward too slowly for a meteorite, too fast for a falling satellite, come to halt, changed to a bright green, then ascended again in a different direction at immense speed before abruptly vanishing. On its final streak, it was occluding, leaving the impression of a course of vivid green stitches covering a good third of the sky.
“What’s that,” I asked.
“That was a good one wasn’t it?” Tasman replied.
“A good what?” I persisted.
“’Mericarocket,” several of them chimed in (we had learned it was their word for orbiting satellites). I hotly disputed that this was a ‘Mericarocket on the grounds that satellites do not behave that way. But Tasman was quite clear about it.
“No. There are two kinds of ‘Mericarocket,” he said, raising one finger. “Number one is slow steady traveler. Number two is very fast, wild traveler, like firefly, sometimes changes colours, too.”
“Yes, tuan," Tooth assured us authoritatively from his cross-legged post at the listless helm. “That was a number two. Not so many as number ones. My grandfather saw those too, before there were any number ones to be seen. He called them good luck.”
("Ring of Fire: Exploring the Last Remote Places of the World" by Lawrence Blair, Bantam, 1988, pgs. 146-147)


Blogger X. Dell said...

It's fascinating what people report as unusual but insignificant.

Perhaps one of these days when we all have time, we could hunt for similar passages in non-23M type literature.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Johnny said...

Good idea. A cartoon I published in my print zine (I wish I could remember the artist's name) was about news of the first moon landing in 1969 reaching Northern Canada. "There, an old Indian said, 'That's no big deal. My grandfather was a medicine man and he used to go there all the time.'"

1:37 PM  

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