The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.

2002.06.19 The blue jay never sleeps

Written by David Green.


I feel like I’ve been asleep at the couch all my life. Or asleep at the Rex or even asleep at the lovely Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. The spacious Michigan seems like a very nice place to sleep, but the movie is always too good to miss.

How could I so carelessly watch movie after movie after movie and never pay close attention to the sound of the birds? Birds are often present in soundtracks and I notice their appearance, but I don’t think too much about how a particular species fits in.

When I talk about movie after movie after movie, I’m talking about recent history. College provided a fertile movie-watching time, and then it ended.

I read a lot when I lived in Saginaw, there was no movie theatre where I lived in Maine, and it was back to the wonderful library when I was in Portland, Ore.

By the time I returned to Morenci, people were starting to buy VCRs, but I never owned a television until a couple of years ago. Now I’m a thoroughly modern man with a DVD player, and between the local rental store and a rental service via the mail, I’m in movie heaven. I can get all the unusual films that can only be seen in Ann Arbor, the foreign films that seldom show anywhere, and I can make up for some of what I missed over the last two decades.

And starting now, I’m going to pay a lot more attention to the birds.

A NATURE writer from Connecticut by the name of Robert Winkler has awakened me from my slumber. He’s puzzled how Hollywood can place so much attention on all the little details of a movie and then do something stupid like having a blue jay sing at night.

The movie-makers will hire a slew of technical advisors—ranging from scientists to lawyers to soldiers—in an effort to make everything plausible, but then they’ll remain, as Winkler puts it, tone deaf to the songs of birds.

That blue jay episode, he says, is in a scene from “Eyes Wide Shut.” Tom Cruise is walking up to the Long Island mansion at night when a blue jay calls three times. It must be an insomniac.

An eastern screech owl helps set the scene in the opening of “E.T.” Owls can have an eerie sound to their voice and it adds a touch of mystery to the movie. To an ornithologist, it adds a lot of mystery, because that species of bird has no business hanging out in the suburbs of California.

Winkler says the biggest geographic gaffe might go to the latest adaptation of “Lord of the Flies.” The boys are marooned on a deserted island in the South Pacific and a red-tailed hawk cries over and over. It’s often used to portray isolation and vulnerability, Winkler says, which would be all right in this part of the world, but that hawk is lost by thousands of miles.

Winkler thought about the caged cardinal that Ichabod Crane releases in “Sleepy Hollow.” That’s New York state of 1799. Later in the film, Christina Ricci identifies a cardinal song in the wild.

Cardinals were kept as caged pets in the past, but they didn’t live in New York as they do now. It’s only in the past 60 years that they’ve migrated into this area. By the way, says Winkler, Washington Irving’s story that inspired the movie never mentions the cardinal.

Winkler also gets a kick out of scenes where the sound editor creates a hot spot that would attract bird watchers from across the country. The sound track will feature species after species without a repeat. Winkler once watched a scene that contained several species of owls, a chuck-will’s widow, a whippoorwill and the often present, frequently out of place, common loon.

Each species performed on cue without intruding on another’s song. Nature at its most harmonious.

Just the opposite is often true. A film might show a lovely summer morning, the lush forests and green hillsides, and a complete absence of birds. An environmentalist’s nightmare.

I’m going to start listening to movies much more carefully now, but I think I’ll start off with something easy. How about “The Birds”?

    – June 19, 2002 

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