'Twas the night before herping

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Kent VanSooy
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'Twas the night before herping

Post by Kent VanSooy » December 24th, 2014, 12:47 pm

I trot this out every year – perhaps there are some who haven’t yet seen it, or will enjoy it again. I’ve lost the name of the former FHF member who penned this – if anyone can attach a name to this Christmas classic, please do so!

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Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the rack
not a serpent was stirring, they'd all hit the sack.
A snake bag was hung by my bedside with care
In case an escapee I happened to snare.

The pinkies were frozen all snug in the chest
Since most think that freezing kills cooties the best.
And fuzzies in vacuum and jumbos in bags
Were packed in the freezer with legible tags.

When down in the basement there arose such a clatter
I put down my Kauffeld to see what was the matter.
Away to the staircase I flew like a flash
Tripped on my feet and fell down with a crash.

The stars that I saw as I fell on my head
Made me wish with less haste I more carefully had tread.
When what to my unfocused eyes should appear
But Raymond L. Ditmars in rugged terrain gear.

With a crappy old snake stick so battered and split
I knew in a moment it must be Old Dit.
More haggard than geezers his disciples they came
And he whispered and gestured and called them by name.

Hey Klauber, hey Barbour, shhh Mertens, be ready!
Hey Conant, Yo! Kauffeld, And you Gloyd, keep steady.
When I lift up the rock and before it can fall
Then snatch away, catch away, bag away all!

As young girls that before a half-off sale fly
When met with a bargain, out loud they will cry
So down on the ground the geezers they flew
And bellowed and swore and some giggled too.

And then in a twinkling I heard in the sacks
The rustling around of snake snouts and snake backs.
As they tied up their bags and gathered around,
Back Ditmars jumped and dropped the rock to the ground.

He was dressed all in Khaki from pith helmet to foot
And his clothes were all soggy with mildew to boot.
An obviously dead snake that lay on its back
Ditmars posed as alive (since that was his knack).

His Nerodia was Natrix, his subspecies too many,
His ability to work with DNA was not any.
His Horned Toad (ditmarsi) he claimed you could find
But now we assume he was out of his mind.

He ran the Bronx Zoo and had lots of fun
He played with big pythons, that son of a gun.
He wrote reptile books and now they're all classic
And I liked his stories better than a Park named Jurassic.

He was definitely great, really top shelf
I still read his books in spite of myself.
But the twitch of my eye and the ache of my head
Soon reminded me then that these guys were all dead.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work
And filled all my cages with Elaphe then turned with a jerk.
And smacking his staff right upside my head
They all disappeared and left me for dead.

I bounced off the floor and sprang to my feet
I flew up the stairs and ran down the street
I heard him exclaim ere he flew out of sight
"I'm trying to road cruise so get out of my light!".

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SnakeStick
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by SnakeStick » December 25th, 2014, 7:39 am

I was hoping someone would post this again. :thumb:

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mfb
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by mfb » December 26th, 2014, 8:53 am

Fantastic! Merry Christmas!

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Mike Pingleton » December 26th, 2014, 3:18 pm

:D A classic!

-Mike

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » December 26th, 2014, 11:22 pm

Absolutely wonderful!

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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by jfirneno » December 29th, 2014, 6:54 pm

Kent:

I'm glad you like my homage to Clement Moore (or Henry Livingston if you like revisionism). I always got a kick out of the naturalists from an earlier age. They seemed like much more fun.

Here's the rest of my snake poetry. These are more of an homage to Dr. Seuss.

Regards,
John

Ratsnake Taxonomy

Those who view ratsnakes as just fun and games
Never get riled about kinship and names.
A ratsnake's a ratsnake as far as they care
As long as it eats mice and its sidewall is square.
They want it to feed and they want it alive
They want it to breed and the hatchlings to thrive.
They want it to drink from a round plastic bowl
And they'd like it to look like a barbershop pole.
These things mean the world to the average hobbyist
But they mean less than nothing to the serious taxonomist.

Where the one sees an orange phase E. lindheimeri
The other sneers caustically and opines contrary.
"Why that's nothing at all but a plain obsoletus
And your naming convention is plain obsolete t'us."
No one says Elaphe for those anymore
That kind of ignorance is surely a bore.
Pantherophis was trendy way back in '05
But Scotophis replaced it and made it seem jive.
Now all of the cladists who hang in the 'hood
Use Pituophis for ratsnake and say it is good.

If a snake-guy speaks up and states his objection
He's sure to be given a long-winded correction.
In a flash he's beseiged by a swarm of detractors
Clarifying his errors with technical factors.
Similarities of structure, lifestyle and form
Are swept to the side with derision and scorn.
Sure they both look the same and feed just alike
But that argument already has come down the pike.
We've heard it before and we certainly dont buy it.
We aren't convinced so don't even try it.
Just look at this cladogram in plain black and white
The branches are solid, the numbers are tight.
Those families are separated by three different levels
They're as different as if they were angels and devils.

So thoroughly chastened the snake-guy retreats
He can't speak the language, it's too hard a feat.
If he happens to have a background in science
He may pick up some books as an act of defiance.
He'll read about cloning DNA mitochondrial
He'll stay up all night behaving insomnial.

Eventually he'll be able to the read through this stuff
And know what is solid and know what is guff.
And what does he find when he's gotten this far?
That a bunch of what's out there is wholly sub-par.
The probability values for the branches as shown
Would get you thrown out if they were odds on a loan.
Thirty percent or per cent forty two
Is hardly enough to define as a clue.
Instead of using these studies it always prevails
To select for the truth by a flip heads or tails.

And then if you read what the science types say
About these same studies, the yea and the nay,
You'll soon come to see that it's not quite transparent
As to what's still a guess and what's most apparent.

What you take for kinship is only convergence
Have you gone mad! That's dispersive divergence.
They'll point out a clear case of symplesiomorphy
Or debate homoplasy versus synapomorphy.
They'll argue for Bayesian versus strict parsimony
They'll say that the Cladists are full of baloney.

They'll argue these points till the cows have come home
And when all's said and done they'll have written a tome.
But the answer of whether they're Elaphe or not
Will have advanced back or forth not even a jot.

So my advice to the hobbyist there scratching his head
Is call them whatever you want without dread.
The eggheads have pondered and tested and claimed
But a ratsnake's a ratsnake whatever it's named.




Ratsnakes (Ode to an Odd Hobby)

The collection of ratsnakes is an obsession of sorts
You house them in gallons, you house them in quarts.
You fill up your basement with racks and with cages
You hoard up newspaper for ages and ages.
You fill up your freezer with rats and with mice
Your postman's in fear of more burns from dry ice.
Every box or container is measured and tried
To see if it works as a bowl or a hide.

The only new languages you'll read, write or speak
Are Taxonomy Latin and Taxonomy Greek.
The choices of species are bizarre and confusing.
Just trying to say them is sometimes amusing.
Lineata, prasina, subocularis, dione
Radiata, vulpina and scalaris, hodgsoni.

You'll debate about colors in climacs and bairdi
Like Opera buffs might with Mozart and Verdi.
You question the bloodlines of locales and morphs
You see hybrids lurking in giants and dwarfs.
You argue on genus and species and subs
Like drunks fighting drunks in their favorite pubs.
Elaphe you say, I claim Pantherophis!
Zamenis they state, We correct Orthriophis!
Friendships are shaken, long threads appear
Trollbait is taken, there's not much to cheer.

But really it means that the season is done
We've run out of photos, we've run out of fun.
We'll have to subsist on the memories we have
And plan for the next year as a sort of a salve.
When once more we'll thrill to the promise of spring
And snakes will be mating and our herp hearts will sing.

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John Martin
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by John Martin » December 29th, 2014, 10:37 pm

Very clever, and thanks for sharing! I still like your Christmas rhyme best :D :beer:

jfirneno
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by jfirneno » December 30th, 2014, 4:29 am

"Very clever, and thanks for sharing! I still like your Christmas rhyme best"

Well sure. It's got a great cast of characters and a recognizable rhyme scheme.

Regards,
John

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Kent VanSooy
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Kent VanSooy » December 30th, 2014, 8:16 am

Ah, John! There you are! I remember when you shared with me that bit of rat-snakerry a few years ago. You won't be A. Nonymouse any longer!

jfirneno
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by jfirneno » December 30th, 2014, 8:33 am

Kent:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and all the field herp folks from long ago. May all your flipped rocks have a happy surprise.

Regards,
John

daniel
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by daniel » December 25th, 2015, 8:39 am

It made me sad not to see this post up. Thank you Kent, RIP.

jfirneno
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by jfirneno » December 25th, 2015, 9:03 am

daniel wrote:It made me sad not to see this post up. Thank you Kent, RIP.

Daniel:

Thanks for rolling this thread to the top for today. I just read of Kent's passing today when I was looking for his annual reprise of my doggerel. I was saddened by hearing of his death but greatly impressed by the many heartfelt expresions of friendship and admiration from his friends and acquaintances. He must have been a very good man. Having also been born in 1957 it makes me wonder how many fewer of my acquaintances would speak so positively about me (being more akin to Ebenezer Scrooge than any of the more lovable Dickensian characters). Anyway Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, and should old acquaintances be forgot.

Regards,
John

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Bryan Hamilton » December 25th, 2015, 12:14 pm

I was glad to see this post as well.

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walk-about
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by walk-about » December 25th, 2015, 6:03 pm

Yes, thanks for posting this from Kent. It's kinda become a Christmas tradition I guess here at FHF. Merry Christmas everyone!

Dave

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Bryan Hamilton » December 24th, 2017, 9:53 am

Bumping this most excellent of posts. RIP Kent.

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Scott Waters
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Scott Waters » December 24th, 2017, 10:39 am

A classic from Kent. Good call, Bryan.

Thanks
Scott

jfirneno
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by jfirneno » December 24th, 2017, 10:53 am

Bryan Hamilton wrote:Bumping this most excellent of posts. RIP Kent.

Merry Christmas Bryan.

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Ronquillo08
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Ronquillo08 » February 8th, 2018, 11:32 pm

Brilliant!!! :beer: :D

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Bryan Hamilton » December 24th, 2018, 9:10 am

Merry Christmas everyone. I miss seeing Ken on the forum.

jfirneno
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by jfirneno » December 24th, 2018, 9:57 am

Happy Christmas Field Herp forum folk. May all your rock flips be merry.

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BillMcGighan
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by BillMcGighan » December 26th, 2018, 7:55 am

I hope this post will be a tribute to Kent every year.

Merry Christmas to all.

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Scott Waters
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Scott Waters » December 27th, 2018, 3:51 pm

Indeed. Glad to see this bumped again. If I fail to do so, please do it every year.

RIP KVS!

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Fieldherper
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Re: 'Twas the night before herping

Post by Fieldherper » December 28th, 2018, 11:39 pm

I wish I could’ve known Kent. :(

FH

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