Newsday from New York, New York on July 31, 1980 · 140
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Newsday from New York, New York · 140

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Thursday, July 31, 1980
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r v n 3 X '.t review Early days of the human zookeeper By James Polk "ANIMAL DAYS by Desmond Morris (William Morrow, 304 pp:, $1035). This autobiography of Desmond Morris, author of such works as "The Naked Ape and The Human Zoo, is a series of amusing asides with no controlling center. The book, like the life, is relentlessly episodic, if engaging. Though he is by training a zoologist, Morris has 'taken some wide detours into other areas. Early on; for instance, he describes a captivating drinking bout with Dylan Thomas and a military interlude that Morris and the British army found mutually disagreeable. Next came a brief stint as an art instructor and a surrealistic involvement with the doorway of a quiet shop and the nangy skull of an elephant, liberated from the zoology department of Birmingham University. Morris finally made it to Oxford and a research aasistantship with Nike Tinbergen, one of the seminal figures in animal behaviorism. On their first meeting, Morris reports, he entered a cluttered office to find the Master sitting behind his desk -on an upturned crate. The crate, it developed, reminded the great man of his life as an observer in the wild, the one place where he was truly at heme. Tinbergen offered him a cigarette from a crumpled pack, then produced a pouch and rolled his own. Later, Morris learned what this meant. To a stranger, Tinbergen would offer a cigarette from the pack; for an acquaintance, he would roll a cigarette with tobacco from his pouch but leave it unlicked. But when Tinbergen rolled a cigarette and licked the paper ah, that was true friendship. Morris had just gotten his first lesson in the importance of ritual behavior. Oxford appears to have been an especially cheerful time for the budding zoologist. He published a well-received paper on what the English geneticist J.B.X. Haldane was later to call "your queer fish homosexual tendencies in the 10-spined stickleback. He established a well-stocked aviary and observed such goings-on as a love triangle -among zebra finches. During these years, Morris met and became acquainted with the founders and leaders of the growing science of ethology. Besides Tinbergen and Haldane, he got to know Julian Huxley and Konrad Lorenz. Morris continued at Oxford long enough to ob-. tain a research fellowship, concentrating on the, study of birds. But "after a year or so I was beginning to get restless again. "The author wanders through "Animal Days, vaguely discontented, looking for fresher fields. No years in a musty lab for Morris, hunched over a microscope and jars of formaldehyde. Instead, he decided to make science fun. He became a popularizes James Polk teaches writing at New York Community College. ' From the rarified atmosphere of academe, Morris moved to the London Zoo and hosted his own television show. "Zootime was one of the earliest animal shows, and it was necessarily impromptu. Animals were not filmed in the wild but in the studio, where they were invited to' be themselves. The result, as Morris tells it, was a weekly exercise in mishap a kind of "Animals Do the Damdest Things. Being themselves, giant tortoises wandered off camera, oblivious to the frantic signals of the director and the despairing efforts of handlers. Vampire bats darted In Sundays book section: Edmund Wilson's journals of the 1930s among the legs of cameras and technicians. Cobras ran amok, and a chimp named Congo painted abstractions. Eventually, these improvisations began to pall, and Morris moved on again, first to a job as curator of mammals at the London Zoo and, by books end, to the directorship of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. This last post may seem like a funny place for a zoologist, but by this time Morris had become more interested in the behavior of the "human ape than in the doings of birds and fish. And perhaps "Human Days is somewhere just over the next horizon, n Morris in his office at the London zoo 1 IK SHORT Clardl's browsings After more than 30 years as a writer, editor and poet, John Ciardi decided it was time to - learn more about the American -language. He set out to study the etymological development of everyday words and expressions. After 10 years of research, the result of his efforts can be found in "A Browsers Dictionary, to be published by Harper & Row on Sept. 3. It is a volume filled with origins and mysteries, facts and fallacies about popular words and-phrases. Why is American whiskey called "bourbon? What do "hornswoggle, "lalapalooza, "prods-ponder and "snollygoster mean and where did t they come from?. How , did . Tnaprop become apron7 What is th connection between "butterscotch and "hopscotch? Take the word "bikini. The minimal, two-piece swimming suit gets its name from the atoll in the Marshall Islands used as the site of the 1946 A-bomb tests. Introduced in France at the time of the tests, the bathing suits were .dubbed bikinis because they would have the impact of an atomic bomb. And if youve ever wondered why New York is nicknamed "The Big Apple, wonder no more. The successful slogan originated around 1910 among black musicians in New Orleans as the translation of manzana principal. Manzana in Spanish means "apple, but also "tract of land dapple orchard), and, in common usage, "city block. Manzana principal means tbs main stem, a main city block, downtown, where the action is. Charles may soon become a literary figure. Hes even hired an agent to negotiate his royalties. According to a report in Publishers Weekly, his illustrated book', "The Old Man of Lochnagar, will be published Oct 15 in Britain by Hamish Hamilton. Its a Bhort story for children that was written 10 years ago for the Prince of Wales younger brothers, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Royalties from the book will go to charities, the report said, ii Index to features Aces on Bridge ;15 Erma Bombeck 13 Ann Landers 11 Kldsday 22 Calendar .37 Movies 40, 41 Comics 23-25 Problem Line 15 Crossword 24 Radio 42 Cryptoquote 13 TV 42,44 ssMsan

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