Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Popular Music for Decades

Last night Travalon and I watched a video that purported to show the #1 song on the Billboard charts from 1940-2016, but unfortunately it didn’t say what the song was or who performed it. It just played a little snippet of each one. The early ones left us completely mystified, although we had heard some of them before. By the late 50’s Elvis dominated the chart, and by the 60’s we knew all the songs except the #1 song for 1960, which was an instrumental that Travalon thought sounded familiar, but I had never heard before. In the 90’s Travalon no longer recognized the songs, but I knew all of them up until the present, because I continue to listen to whatever is popular. Surprisingly, Michael Jackson never had the #1 song any year, although he seemed to dominate the charts in the mid-80’s. However, his sister Janet had two of them. Mariah Carey showed up several times in the 90’s and 00’s and then handed her crown over to Rihanna. I was trying to figure out if there was a pattern of fast or slow songs, but I couldn’t detect one. Ballads and dance numbers were popular in every decade. Oddly, when I looked for a chart online to figure out what some of the older songs were, it didn’t completely correspond with the video. You would think there was only one official Billboard charting system…

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bad Tennis News

Yesterday evening Travalon and I were playing tennis, and at one point I stepped on the ball, but I didn’t notice any problems at that time. A little while later my left leg started to get sore, and so of course the first thing I thought of was my post-surgery checklist that said leg soreness could be a sign of blood clots. We wrapped things up, and it quickly became clear that this wasn’t some weird soreness caused by blood clots but some run-of-the-mill knee injury. Today I can walk, slowly and painfully, but it may be a while before we can play tennis again. Which is a real shame, because we both felt that we were slowly improving. Five years ago I hurt my knee like this on a treadmill, and it eventually got better, but I had to go to physical therapy. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that again! The physical therapist gave me some exercises to do, so if I can remember them (or find the paper…), then I can do my own physical therapy at home. And hopefully I can play tennis again before the snow flies!

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Historic House Warming Party

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday I met Travalon, Richard Bonomo, and another woman who doesn’t have a name on this blog for dinner at Hotel Red. We had hoped to have dinner on their wonderful patio, but they were having an event out there with adoptable puppies. Very dangerous for me, but Travalon is not ready to replace Rodney. Then he headed to a high school football game that turned out to be a blowout, and the rest of us went to a wonderful choral concert of early music. Miss Heartsong was one of the performers, so afterwards we talked to her briefly.

Saturday Travalon had to work, so I met Rich and OK Cap for coffee, and then we two Rosary Ladies prayed a rosary. When Travalon came home, he and I had lunch at Manna Café, then we went to my coworker’s open house/birthday party. She had just purchased a big, beautiful, historic house, and we had a wonderful time exploring the house and also the Orton Park Festival across the street. The house has a large veranda, so we spent some time sitting out there. After the party we took a walk down Willy Street, and I went into a plant store – bad idea. I ended up buying a plant with cool curly leaves, and then the woman working there told me in the spring it has very fragrant, lovely flowers. Wow, I thought it was great even before she told me that! As we walked back, we passed a little boy who asked what kind of plant I had. I read the scientific name on the label, and he said, “It’s a stinky plant!” Kids are so funny! We met Hockey Girl at a chocolate shop and then grabbed a quick, late dinner at the Laurel Tavern.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to Stella Blue after Mass, where we sat outside despite the cool temperature, then we went to Tenney Park for their $6 pontoon boat rides. Because of the iffy weather, we were the only ones there for both the drop-in ride and the much longer Limnology ride, and they said if those people didn’t show up, we could pay the difference and do that ride. However, the intrepid limnology aficionados did finally show up, and the ride was sold out, so Travalon and I got a private pontoon boat ride with just the captain and his wife/first mate, who told us lots of interesting historical tidbits about Madison. When we returned, there were so many people waiting to go out that they had to take two boats out, even though it hadn’t warmed up. Travalon and I went to Curd Fest at Breese Stevens Field and tried a bunch of types of cheese curds, then we walked on the path around Lake Monona and stopped in a little park to watch boats. We saw a sailboat and a smaller sail that I assume was a windsurfer sailing together, so that it looked like a mommy sailboat with a little baby sailboat following after her. For some reason I found the imagery delightful, even though intellectually I know it was probably just a couple of millennial guys sailing around. And then I could imagine how much fun they were having!

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Wonderful Evening on the Water

We have a new software system at work, and I am the one who uses it the most, so I have been busy setting it up and trying to write a manual for other users. Yesterday I was so exhausted after dealing with this new system that I just wanted fresh air and a stiff drink. Travalon said he would take me on a boat ride, and then when we went down to the dock, we had forgotten about Thirsty Thursday, when our neighbors get together to talk and imbibe adult beverages. The guy who has taken us sailing a couple of times offered me an Alaska Amber beer, so then I was a bit buzzed on the boat ride. Travalon wisely decided to drink his after our ride, and he took us out into the marsh, where we saw the blue heron that is always there. Then we headed out into the lake, and we saw our neighbor who had given us the beer on his stand-up paddleboard. It looks like he made it himself, and it has a seat on it. He stood and paddled after us, and he was so fast that he almost caught up to us! Then he sat down on the seat, and I noticed that the paddle was actually a kayak paddle, so he kayaked back. It looked like so much fun! So was our boat ride. Then we had a late dinner at Banzo because they were participating in an Eat Local fundraiser that day, and we took a lovely walk in that neighborhood afterwards. We discovered a new café called Stella Blue, and the place wasn’t open but the owner was there, and he told us that he does weekend brunches, so we now have another fun place to check out some Sunday after Mass. Anyway, it was a very relaxing evening after a hard day at work.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Possibly Bad Band News

Yesterday my band practiced for the first time in over a month, and we were a little rusty. I would blame it on playing the ukulele, balalaika, bouzouki, etc., except that I haven’t been good about that either. Remember my Hundred Day Challenge that was set to end next Wednesday? Somehow I lost interest about halfway through it. Maybe I’ll try to take it back up in the winter, when there isn’t so much to do outside. Who wants to practice the mountain dulcimer when you can play tennis or go boating? I’m not sure what the future of our band will be either, because yesterday our leader told us she may be moving to another state. Will we continue on without her or just fall apart? That remains to be seen…

After practice Travalon and I played tennis before dinner, and that was a lot of fun. We both seem to be slowly improving. Then we sat out on our screened-in porch and listened to music. He had discovered the Isley Brothers, so I suggested that he might like the Brothers Johnson, and we listened to a couple of their songs, “Stomp” and “Strawberry Letter Twenty-Two.” I said if he liked funk he might like Parliament, and we listened to the ultimate funk song, “Flashlight.” I don’t think Travalon knew quite what to think of it, since it is SO funky, but he said he kind of liked it. That’s even better than what he says about tennis, which he “almost” likes, and he will certainly play it with me. Not that I am trying to turn Travalon into a clone of me, but after all he discovered the Isley Brothers on his own, and I will certainly not object if he is willing to play tennis and listen to funky music!

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Catfish Night at Liliana's

Last night Travalon and I went to Liliana’s for their special Tuesday night theme dinner, the theme this time being catfish. They have been sold out of the special the last few times we went, but they said if I reserved the special, they would hold it for me, so I tried that this time. And it worked! The first course was a catfish cake on a bed of greens, and it was so good! We also got their amazing cornbread with honey and chive butter at the same time. The main course was blackened catfish on a bed of sweet potato, and that was even better. I thought the dessert would have to be just about the best thing I’d ever tasted to beat that… and of course it was. It was a chocolate-orange brownie with fresh whipped cream and what tasted like cherries. We were sitting outside, and by then it was kind of dark to identify what we were eating by sight. Inside a small jazz combo played “The Girl from Ipanema,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” and other standards, and there were speakers to the outside so we could hear them. What a wonderful date night with my husband! Tonight we will probably just play tennis, like we did on Monday evening after dinner at home. Travalon admitted that he “almost” likes tennis last night, and that is all the opening I need to get him to play it as often as possible!

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Racism is Ridiculous

There is a lot of talk about racism right now, which I think is good. We can’t confront a problem that we can’t discuss. However, racism itself is a very strange thing. If you look at me, I have dishwater blond hair, bluish gray eyes, pale skin, and Caucasian features. Nobody would hesitate to describe me as “white.” If you look at my genetic test, I have a higher percentage of Neanderthal DNA than the average person, and that is generally a mark of how much European blood someone has, so does that make me whiter than average? But I also have West African, Mongolian, and Ashkenazi DNA, so does that make me less white? You can see how ridiculous the question is when you look at it that way. Apparently a lot of white supremacists have been doing genetic tests and finding out they also have “non-white” DNA, much to their horror. There was a whole paper written recently on their reactions to this news, which range from doubting the science behind the tests to debating what actually makes a person “white.” I think it is much more helpful to discuss a person’s cultural background than their race when thinking about how they might react to the world, but I cannot deny that people judge each other on how much melanin they have. Therefore racism is a really important topic to discuss. However, if you think I have any answers to this vexing problem, I am sorry to disappoint you. I am just amazed that there are still people who think being “white” is superior.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse Party at Work

Sorry for my silence. I suffered through a medical procedure on Wednesday, some minor outpatient surgery. It wasn’t until the afternoon, so I couldn’t eat or drink anything all day. Travalon took me on a boat ride, and out in the sunshine I didn’t feel any hunger or thirst. Then I had to sit in this boring little room with just a TV to keep me company, and I found a channel that played horrid New Agey piano music with beautiful visuals of mountain lakes. I thought, “I would love to canoe there! And there too!” Then they took me to the operating room and put me under, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up from the most beautiful dream of canoeing on one of those mountain lakes. I wanted to go back! They made me drink a ton of water and eat some delicious wheat toast slathered in butter, then eventually they let Travalon take me home, and we had a quiet evening.

Thursday I wasn’t allowed to drive, work, or make any important decisions. At first I felt fine, but as the day wore on, some painkiller must have worn off, because by the time Travalon came home I felt a lot more tired and achy. We went for a walk and then went to a cottage party at the East Side Club, where we sat with a family that had an adorable nine-month-old baby girl, so that was fun.

Friday I felt even worse, so Travalon stayed home with me in the afternoon and took me on a therapeutic boat ride. I was way too tired to go to the Dane Dance, even if it was one of my favorite salsa bands. Instead we went to the movie Megan Leavey, the true story of a Marine in Iraq and her bomb-sniffing dog, and how she tries to get reunited with him after the war. It was really good.

Saturday I started to feel more human, so Travalon and I went to visit his mother, then we took a free pontoon boat shuttle across the lake to an art fair. We looked at art and listened to some African drumming, then we took the boat back across the lake and headed home. We met some friends for a quiet dinner, then we went for a walk around Tiedemann Pond, and I got my usual 10,000 steps for the day for the first time in days. That felt good!

Yesterday we had a busier day. We went with Hockey Girl to Wollersheim, since she had never been there, and she took the winery tour while Travalon and I took a tour of the new distillery. We had the most amazing cocktail there of their apple brandy, cherry syrup, and cream soda. So good! Then Hockey Girl and I went to a sunflower maze and just wandered around in the cheery flowers while Travalon went to a little zoo in Baraboo. He really liked it and took us to it once we made our way out of the sunflowers. Then we went to Devil’s Lake. We also took the Merrimac Ferry there and back, since Hockey Girl had never been on it. It was such a beautiful day, and on the way over we had ice cream on the ferry – Zanzibar chocolate is the best!

Today I felt a little sad that I had no plans to go see the eclipse someplace where you could see the totality, and we couldn’t even find eclipse glasses, although we had been looking for three weeks. However, at work tons of people had glasses, and so we all stood around and looked at it. The sun looked like a very thin crescent moon. It was kind of like an eclipse party! I hope my readers got to enjoy the eclipse as well. Nature is so amazing!

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Birthday Picnic for the Daughter of Denni

I hope my readers had a great weekend. I sure did. Friday Travalon and I met Cali for the dance on the Monona Terrace rooftop. The band this time played reggae and other tropical rhythms. We also enjoyed the DJ between bands but didn’t stay for the second band. We drove Cali to Sun Prairie and stopped for chicken wings at a hotel in town.

Saturday Travalon and I went to the new west side Chocolatarian, then we went for a walk around Tiedemann Pond, then we went to Marshall Park, and then we met Tiffy and Rich for lunch at  Sofra’s in Middleton. We thought about renting a pontoon boat from the Marshall Park boat rental, but Rich had too much to do, so the rest of us decided to go for a ride in our little boat. Our neighbor was about to take out his sailboat, so he gave us a ride! However, there wasn’t much wind so we didn’t really sail. Then Tiffy and I went to Eno Vino for dinner, and we joined Hockey Girl, Travalon, and Twins Fan at Collectivo, where we sat outside and talked about random things like stock photos.

Sunday Travalon went to Oconomowoc to visit his family. After Mass Tiffy and I joined some other people at Plaka for brunch, then we discovered $6 pontoon boat rides on Lake Mendota. Was that ever wonderful! We went to the outdoor theater for a picnic for the birthday of the Daughter of Denni, and then we all watched Cyrano de Bergerac. It is a very sad play.

Yesterday Tiffy and I took the day off of work, and we went to Miko Poke for lunch. A poke bowl is a typical Hawaiian dish with raw tuna, rice, and edamame. It was so good! Then we went paddle boating on Lake Wingra, but it was so windy that they told us we could only go in one direction. I guess that was the day we should have gone sailing! We had a beer on the patio at Waypoint, then she headed home and I went to Mass for the day of obligation and then met Rich and Light Bright for dinner at Pasqual’s. Again we sat outside. I love being able to eat outside and get on the water! Why can’t it always be summer?

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Central Park Sessions: Latin Music

Yesterday I went back to the Central Park Sessions for Latin Music Night. I met Travalon there, and we tried some of the different food carts as a salsa band played on the main stage. Then a really good band played in the beer tent while the next main stage act got ready. They were an electronic music group from Mexico City, and we weren’t as crazy about their music. Hockey Girl joined us, and she wasn’t too crazy about the electronic music either, but after that band finished, the really good group in the beer tent started up again. The headliner group was Cuban, and their music was fantastic. Hockey Girl said she hadn’t had high expectations, but she really loved them. Travalon was tired, so he headed home and stopped to get drunken donuts (flavors: gin and juice, lavender margarita, Potosi Steamboat Shandy – which is one of Travalon’s favorite beers – and vanilla bean old fashioned), while Hockey Girl and I stayed to the end. She said how beautiful the park was in the dark with the vendors’ tents lit up. Finally we called it a night, and when I got home, Travalon and I tried a couple of the donuts. We had the other two for breakfast today. Wow, are they good! They were made by Dough Baby on State Street. One of their flavors for August is a Key Lime donut, so we may have to stop by before the month is over.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Central Park Session: Bluegrass

Yesterday Hockey Girl and I went to Central Park to hear a couple of bluegrass bands. The opening band was a local one, and they had a ton of people: a banjo, a guitar, a bass, a mandolin, a fiddle, and a Dobro. They were really good. There were all sorts of food vendors, so I had some jerk chicken for dinner. It was such a beautiful night. The second band were from Nashville, and they were amazing. When I tried to put on social media that I was at the concert, I saw a number of other events going on in the area, and one was peace lanterns at Tenney Park, so when the band went on break, Hockey Girl and I headed over there. The lanterns were beautiful, floating in the lagoon, but people in canoes were just taking them off the water as we got there. They were to commemorate the atom bombs dropped on Japan. There was even a musical group there, so we got to hear lots of music last night. Tonight I’m going back again for Latin music!

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I Love Tennis

Isn’t it funny how you can thoroughly enjoy something you have no natural aptitude for? In general, people like things that come naturally to them, and I am no exception, but for tennis. Oh tennis, why do I love you so? Last night Travalon and I played again, and if we had to play by the rules, it probably would have been no fun. However, our goal is just to get the ball over the net, and then it is so much fun. I am slowly improving as we play more, and even my backhand stroke is getting better. I was surprised at how much control I had over a lot of my shots. Playing tennis makes me so happy, and it always has. Do I have hopelessly preppy tastes without preppy money? I love tennis and boating. It sounds so bourgeois, but neither really costs that much: there are plenty of public tennis courts, and if you have a little boat, then boating is cheap too. Why should rich people have all the fun? Anyone who wants to play tennis or go boating, let me know. I’m almost always up for either one!

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Missing Light Bright's Inspiration

I don’t miss my old job, except for one thing: delivering the mail with Light Bright, when we got to walk about a mile, and we would discuss what I should blog about each day. She often came up with brilliant ideas, and I could use that now. The only thing remotely exciting that happened to me last night was when Travalon and I were coming back from swimming at the health club, and a deer leapt in front of our car. I have seen them on the side of the road before, but that was the closest either of us has ever gotten to hitting one… and hopefully it remains the closest! Light Bright might have had some great insight from that event, or she might have done something goofy on our mail delivery walk. She was a font of interesting blog topics. I could use that mail walk, too – it’s tough to sit still at work all day after a weekend of constant motion. Maybe Rich is right and I should figure out a way to row across the lake to work – that would get this need to move out of my system! My little half-hour walk at lunch just isn’t enough exercise for a whole day.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Epic Canoe Trip on the Yahara River

I hope my readers had a good weekend and got to enjoy the cooler weather. Friday I took off of work for the Daughter of Denni’s annual bike pub crawl, but the weather was so cool, wet, and windy that I decided to just drive from bar to bar with Travalon. We did end up walking from the Olbrich Beer Garden to a woman's house, a lovely two-mile walk along the shores of Lake Monona, so we did get some exercise. Then we met Cali and OK Cap for the Dane Dance on the Monona Terrace rooftop for some more exercise. The first band was a salsa band, and then we were going to leave, but the second band was a really good soul music group, so we stayed for part of their set too.

Saturday Travalon and I had nowhere to be, so we decided to attempt our epic canoe trip to the part of the Yahara River where it becomes a tiny creek. Travalon almost fell out of the canoe as we were getting in, so we got discouraged for a moment, but the weather was perfect so we soldiered on. We stopped for a rest and snack break at the School Road pier, then we continued on, past the island, to the part of the river we had never been on before. There were a lot of lily pads, and both the white lilies and the tall yellow lotuses were blooming like crazy. I saw so many types of dragonflies! When we were way back in the marsh, at the spot where Token Creek comes into the Yahara, I needed to take care of some personal business, and nobody was around for miles. But – can you believe this? – a motorboat came up the river, with two guys and a big brown dog in it. What are the odds?? They went up Token Creek, so we went up the little creek that is the Yahara at that point. On our way back, we saw them again, and they were going really fast in the no-wake zone. Then we stopped at School Road for another break, and two guys drove their car right up to the pier, took down a canoe, and set off without moving their car out of the way. Was it just Rude Day that day? When we got back to our neighborhood, we could hear a really good Jimmy Buffett tribute band at the Nau-Ti-Gal and an okay cover band at Mariner’s Inn. We sat on our dock for a while, resting and listening to the okay band, until we got the energy to go to Banzo for dinner. Natty Nation, a great local reggae band, was playing at the Union Terrace that night, and it was a beautiful evening, but we were too tired to do anything after canoeing for eight miles round trip.

Yesterday we had brunch outside at the Crema Café, then we took a hike in Monona along the bike path I used to ride to work, back when I lived on Pirate Island and worked in Middleton. Cecil Markovitch called and asked if we wanted to meet him and the Single B-Boy at Eno Vino, a new rooftop bar downtown, so we wrapped up our walk and met them a little after three. However, the bar didn’t open until four, so we went to the Rigby for a quick drink beforehand. Can I just say that the view from Eno Vino is magnificent? It looks over Lake Monona. We had a cheese platter there, and I had a drink that was like a mango meringue pie, if such a thing exists. Then we walked to the new seafood place near our church, and Rich joined us for dinner. We were starting to get tired and achy again from our adventure the day before, so we called it an early night again. Prairie Man wants to go on a long canoe trip this fall, which we can’t do anyway, but I’m wondering if it would kill us. Even this morning the alarm woke us up (which is unusual), and we could barely move to get out of bed. Ah well, it was worth it to achieve my dream of finding out what is beyond the part of the marsh we can get to in our little boat. Answer: a whole lot of marsh!

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Another Anti-Equal Temperament Rant

Last night I went to the final Concert on the Square with Hockey Girl. The theme was Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and I didn’t have as much enthusiasm about that as last week’s concert, which surprised Hockey Girl. “I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like Beethoven!” she said, and I said, “Really? I’ve met plenty of people who hate classical music,” so then she said, “People with no taste, but you like some good music.” For example, we both love Bach. It has always fascinated me that people are surprised that I would like Baroque music but not Romantic music, when to me they are nothing alike. I am a simple creature who likes things fast-paced and minor key, hence I love Baroque music, salsa, and hip hop. It doesn’t seem odd to me at all; in fact, it seems stranger to me that someone would love both Bach and Schubert than that someone would love both Bach and Tupac. Then I told Hockey Girl about tuning systems other than the dreaded Equal Temperament, and she was riveted. “Why have I never heard about this before?” she wondered, and I said it blew my mind too when I learned about it, but at least it explained some things, like why I was so loyal to a particular recording of Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico that I found out years later was not in equal temperament. It just sounded better to me than other recordings – well, of course it did! It sounded like what Vivaldi intended. I told Hockey Girl how in the Early Music Festival I had often noticed a magical note arising over the others, and then I found out it was an overtone that arises when people sing or play in perfect fourths and fifths. This, people, is what we have lost by buying into the evil compromise of equal temperament. Citizens for a Return Of Sanity to Sound (CROSS) would just like to remind everyone that it doesn’t have to be this way. Educate yourselves and choose sanity in sound!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Long Mallards Game

Last night Travalon, Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and I went to a Mallards game. This one was a fundraiser for the Overture Center, so we had to pay a little more for our tickets, but we did get hats. Of course, they are exactly like the hats we got when my work group went to a Mallard game earlier this summer. The game went very quickly because of the amazing defensive playing on both sides (they were playing the Kenosha Kingfish), and also the pitching. In the ninth inning both teams were scoreless. Late in the game I discovered that some coworkers of mine were sitting at the end of our row, and they had even been looking for me, but we somehow hadn’t seen each other until that point. In the bottom of the tenth, the Mallards had the bases loaded and three outs, and the batter hit a pop-up fly that was easily caught, so they went into an eleventh inning. We headed home at that point, but one of my coworkers stayed for the eleventh inning, and he said the Mallards again had the bases loaded because the Kenosha pitcher was exhausted and kept walking them, then a batter hit something deep into right field that nobody caught, and the guy on third got home so the game was over. It sounds exciting, but we were so tired!

I have to say that at first I thought the Kingfish’s logo was brilliant: it is a round fish with gills that look like baseball stitching, so it is a baseball AND a fish, plus it is wearing a crown so it is a king too. But then I was thinking that there is no such thing as a kingfish, and a kingfisher is a bird, so it lost some of its luster for me. Here it is, so you can see for yourself: 

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