Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Goopy, or is it soupy?

with 30 comments

Click for greater clarity.

As I wandered along the North Fork of the San Gabriel River near Tejas Camp in Williamson County on August 30th, 2012—two years ago today—close to where I photographed some devil’s claw flowers, I found this puddle that was beginning to dry out. I’ve been fascinated by algae bubbles before, but this time it was the mix of colors, especially the orange, that grabbed my attention. As soon as I saw this, the following words popped into my head (maybe the result of too much sun):

Green and orange goop
Creates a strange soup
That’s appetizing to me
As food for photography.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 30, 2014 at 5:40 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Well, it has a certain appeal to the non-photographer! And reminds me of the Goops:
    The Goops they lick their fingers,
    And the Goops they lick their knives;
    They spill their broth on the tablecloth–
    Oh, they lead disgusting lives!
    The Goops they talk while eating,
    And loud and fast they chew;
    And that is why I’m glad that I
    Am not a Goop–are you?


    August 30, 2014 at 6:00 AM

    • Oops. I think I am a goop! 🙂


      August 30, 2014 at 6:47 AM

      • Goop, as Steve’s photo shows, is a part of life, so I guess we all have a bit of goopiness, which despite his best efforts, Gelett Burgess failed to eliminate. Mind you, I am not sure how much he was being serious and how much was tongue-in-cheek fun.


        August 30, 2014 at 8:18 AM

        • Yes. Trying hard not to talk when I eat! 🙂


          August 30, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      • I suspect you’re in good company, Karyl.

        Steve Schwartzman

        August 30, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    • I’ve heard that one many times.

      Jim in IA

      August 30, 2014 at 6:53 AM

      • Yes, it was a staple of my childhood.


        August 30, 2014 at 8:10 AM

        • For all the other things that were part of my childhood reading (and being read to), this wasn’t one of them. It’s not too late, though.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 30, 2014 at 8:26 AM

          • Never too late.


            August 30, 2014 at 8:46 AM

            • Your reference to the Goops made me wonder about the origin of the word goop, and whether there’s a connection to Burgess’s creation. One dictionary says goop may be an alteration of goo, and another posits goop as a portmanteau word from goo + soup. Merriam-Webster goes with the first hypothesis and gives the first known use as being from 1918, which is after the first of the Goops books appeared, so it’s conceivable that the fictional Goops influenced the lower-case word.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 30, 2014 at 8:57 AM

              • That does seem possible. Then there are the similar words, gloop and glop. All gets a bit messy!


                August 31, 2014 at 6:41 PM

                • Several dictionaries confirm that glop and its variant gloop (and we can add goop) imitate the sound of what they represent, which is mushy food being doled out or swallowed. The etymology is less messy than the thing itself.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM

        • The Wikipedia article about Gelett Burgess notes that he was the inventor of the blurb (both the thing and the word for it).

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 30, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    • If I’d heard of the Goops I’d long since forgotten them and the fact that Gelett Burgess created them, but the tone of your quotation reminded me immediately of another bit of verse by Burgess:

      I never saw a Purple Cow,
      I never hope to see one;
      But I can tell you, anyhow,
      I’d rather see than be one.

      Links to information about the Goops and “The Purple Cow” are:



      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      • I don’t know that I remember the Purple Cow, but, yes, I would rather see one than be one!


        August 30, 2014 at 8:39 AM

        • So our places are reversed vis-a-vis “The Purple Cow” and the Goops. I remember my father even telling us about Burgess’s follow-up to “The Purple Cow”:

          Ah, yes! I wrote the “Purple Cow”—
          I’m Sorry, now, I Wrote it!
          But I can Tell you, Anyhow,
          I’ll Kill you if you Quote it!

          (I don’t know what’s with those randomly capitalized words.)

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 30, 2014 at 8:49 AM

          • Perhaps he wished to emphasize the randomness of the whole Purple Cow experience/success. Glad he’s not here to knock us off for quoting it. 😀


            August 30, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      • And just one more — Purple Cows on Parade.

        I can’t believe I never heard of the Goops, since Burgess’s purple cow was such a part of my growing up years. And I didn’t know about the follow-up poem until I wrote the post. You were lucky enough to get the full story!


        August 30, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        • Yes, I was fortunate to grow up in a home with lots of books and a cultural orientation, one result of which was that I heard “The Purple Cow” and its follow-up (as I commented on the post you linked to), though not the Goops. No one can know everything, and not all the things that someone does know get passed along. Thus, in many cases, is knowledge lost.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 30, 2014 at 12:52 PM

  2. Faster than a photographer’s flash, this photo took me back to my first encounter with a Jackson Pollock painting. Sometimes I say, “Well, that’s interesting,” because it is. And sometimes I say, “Well. That’s interesting,” because I don’t have a single other thing to say. That’s the way it was with Pollock, and that’s how it was with this photo. Then, I took a second look, and saw it: microwaved cheddar on toast.


    August 30, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    • From having been near this stagnant and frothy water, I’ll take a microwaved cheddar on toast any time (what an imagination you have), or even a lower-case pollock. If someone offered to give me an upper-case Pollock I’d take that too, not for eating but as an investment—even though I’ve invested some time in looking at various paintings by Pollock and don’t have much to say about them. It’s ironic that Pollock should have been a student of Thomas Hart Benton.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2014 at 8:38 AM

  3. Fascinating! To me looks like an exotic lizard skin of some sort…love the color combo bubbling. Excellent poetry skills…


    August 30, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    • It’s good of your imagination to see this as a lizard skin. I wish I could get that close to a real lizard and that it would stay put long enough for me to record the details of its surface. One advantage of a puddle is that it can’t run away, although in the Texas heat it might dry up, as this one was on its way to doing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2014 at 1:12 PM

  4. I must lack a certain facet of imagination, because I just see a bubbling mass there. It is a very interesting abstract, although your algal image on WhyTake is one of my favorite algae images of all time.

    I have never heard of the Goops.or the Purple Cow. Obviously a severely lacking childhood.

    Steve Gingold

    August 30, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    • I’m glad that algal image is a favorite of yours. I posted it in this blog a few years ago:


      As for today’s image, I had mixed feelings about it. I originally scheduled it for two years ago but then had second thoughts. I know it’s not to everyone’s liking, but there’ll be plenty of other pictures here soon enough.

      Even if you never heard of the Goops or “The Purple Cow,” it’s not too late, and now you know about them. As I’m fond of saying: live and learn.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      • Although my imagination is not as active as others, I could see a problem for some folks viewing this. Fortunately, some of us can look at it as an abstraction and for the nature of its coloring and texture….although, reconsidering, that may be something to turn some away. 🙂
        Anyway, I enjoyed it as did a few others here.

        Steve Gingold

        August 30, 2014 at 6:30 PM

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