In Nethack, lizards are also handy to carry around for other reasons. They're the only edible corpse that never goes bad, so they're good emergency rations if you can't find real food to carry. Additionally, eating a lizard corpse while confused will reduce the number of turns it takes to snap out of it. Also, they never "expire" as far as sacrificing on an altar goes - most corpses must be sacrificed within 100-150 or so turns to gain you any benefit with your god, but a lizard can be sacrificed to good effect no matter how long ago it died.

Lizard is the name of an album that King Crimson released in 1971. This was their second-to-last album with lyricist Peter Sinfield; the last was Islands. Back in those days, King Crimson worked with lyricists who didn't play instruments.

It's a weird record, an expansive chaos. There's a harsh, splenetic strangeness there that's hard not to like, but they were trying to do "fusion" on some tracks and that part is annoying. Even on the more coherent ones, it's a mighty disorienting listen when you're a bit groggy: Harmonically it ranges from odd to bizarre, instruments drift in and out, Fripp does disturbing things with a mellotron (yes, he was still in his mellotron phase, and yes, a mellotron can sound awful disturbing if you unleash Fripp on it) etc. None of the songs seems to hang together very tightly. The singer, bassist Gordon Haskell, is a bit strange too. The closest thing to an "accessible" song is "Prince Rupert Awakes", sung by Jon Anderson from Yes, and even that's a bit peculiar: There's lots of billowing mellotron grooviness, but it's billowing around something not quite normal. Was Fripp trying to write "In the Court of the Crimson King" again with that song? Maybe so. It's good to have Peter Sinfield on board. His successor, Richard W. Palmer-James, never did much for me.

The whole band seems to be in a capricious and very negative mood.

The drums are cut off at the knees: All you can hear is the snare and the cymbals. It doesn't help with the disorientation, not to have an anchor like that.

Still, it's an engaging and intresting record, and it's hard to have too much mellotron.

My copy is a "Promotional DJ Copy" from when it was first released; I found it in a used record store at some point. I'm not sure when. The cover is very nice, sort of a Book-of-Kells-ified illuminated manuscript thing, with little cartoon decadent rock stars hiding in the middles of the letters: You'd really miss the effect if it were shrunk down to CD size. It's a gatefold, of course (and the CD reissue as of August, 2000 has a little gatefold thing as well), with the lyrics on the inside of the gatefold in a ten or twelve point italic Baskerville; those weird angles on the capital letters are always a treat. On the front, on the "Promotional DJ Copy Not for Sale" sticker, it says: "Suggested Cuts for Air Play: 1. Prince Rupert Awakes, 2. Happy Family". I wonder if that "suggestion" seemed as howlingly arbitrary then as it does now. Maybe not; FM radio was something different in 1971. Still, these are not songs that anybody ever could have expected to be "hits" in any year, at least on this planet.

sensei tells me that "Happy Family" was about the Beatles, which makes sense.

Ahhh, prog rock . . . Enough was enough.


Side A:

  1. Cirkus (Including Entry of the Chameleons) (6:28)
  2. Indoor Games (5:35)
  3. Happy Family (4:15)
  4. Lady of the Dancing Water (2:43)

Side B:

  1. Prince Rupert Awakes (4:34)
  2. Bolero -- the Peacock's Tale (6:30) (instrumental)
  3. The Battle of Glass Tears (10:55)

The Lizard is a peninsula on the south coast of Cornwall, and its southernmost point, Lizard Point, is the most southerly tip of England. It is an area of spectacular natural beauty, with high cliffs and rugged coves. The name comes from the Cornish lys ardh 'high point', not from the animal.

It is bounded on the north by the Helford River, a wide tidal inlet or ria. In the centre of the Lizard is Goonhilly Downs with its large space tracking station. On the west coast the highlight is Kynance Cove, a National Trust property of huge beautiful rocks emerging from the sea. On the east coast is the village of Cadgwith, the perfectly idyllic and picturesque Cornish fishing village, with boats drawn up on the shingle, and thatched cottages. At Lizard Point itself is a lighthouse, dating from 1752, and the town of Lizard seems to live by selling serpentine souvenirs to tourists. The geology of the peninsula is unique in England, in that it is composed of serpentine, which occurs nowhere else in the country.

From Poldhu the first trans-Atlantic radio message (the Morse code ... or S) was transmitted in 1901, to Marconi in Newfoundland.

They're good to eat in Nethack, unless you are a Monk. Bands have been named after them, and a peninsula in Britain bears their name, without actually being named after them. But what are the damn things?

A lizard is an animal that belongs to the suborder Lacertilia (or Sauria -- the two are synonymous), within the order Squamata in the class Reptilia. That's a whole lot of Latin, but bear with me, herpetology types tend to dig that sort of thing. They have a secret herpetologist world conspiracy, and communicate their plots for total world domination in Latin. Meanwhile, I'll try to explain what it means to the rest of us:

Reptilia, in case you haven't guessed, is the class of reptiles. Basically put, an animal belongs to this class if it is a vertebrate (ruling out insects, mollusks, crustaceans and similar creatures), breathes using lungs (ruling out fish), does not undergo a larval stage (ruling out amphibians) and is exothermic (ruling out mammals and birds). Exothermic? In normal English, that trait is usually called being "cold-blooded", but this is in fact a misnomer -- a reptile in a very hot environment will have warmer blood than you, the difference is that reptiles do not have any internal heat regulation mechanism, like mammals do. As a side note, this is actually the reason why many reptiles have very long life spans -- they do not burn up lots of energy and wear down their system by doing heat control. It also means that they are very sensitive to the surrounding temperatures, and extreme heat or cold can kill them. Since most regions of the Earth have periods of cold in the winter, most reptiles can hibernate and survive colder weather than otherwise while they're in suspended animation.

Within the class of reptiles, there are four surviving orders (about 16 more are known to have existed, but are long extinct). These are Rhynchocephalia (the tuataras -- amazingly funky creatures, but they're stuff for another node), Chelonia (the turtles and tortoises), Crocodylia (the crocodiles, alligators, gavials and caimans), and Squamata (the scaly reptiles). Scaly reptiles? Aren't all reptiles scaly? Not quite. Tuatara "scales" are not true scales at all (although they look almost like it), chelonians have a hard shell of horn and otherwise soft skin, and crocodilians have large horn armour plates rather than fine scales. This leaves out snakes and lizards, who indeed comprise the Squamata order.

Snakes and lizards differ in several ways: First, lizards are covered in scales on their entire bodies, whereas snakes have broad plates on their underbellies. Lizards have two lungs and two kidneys, snakes only have one of each. Snakes have tiny tails and very long bodies, with lizards it's the other way around. Snakes have transparent eyelids that are always closed (explaining why they're cranky while they're shedding skin), lizards have movable eyelids like humans. Snakes have no legs, and lizards do? Not necessarily. Some lizards are legless (some skinks, as well as the slow-worms), and some pythons have tiny, vestigial remnants of legs. Finally, with a single exception, all lizards have ear organs, while all snakes do not (and, in fact, have no sense of hearing at all).

Why spend so much time explaining what lizards are not? Because it's easiest, really. Lizards are an amazingly varied suborder, easily the most varied suborder of any class of animals on the planet (it is, in fact, the one which has most member species). Except for polar regions and mountain tops, there are lizards adapted to just about any environment on Earth. There are lizards with and without legs, there are lizards that lay eggs and there are a few who bear live young. There are tiny geckos that can sit on a human's thumb, and there's the four-meter-long monster that is the Komodo dragon. Some geckos have well-developed vocal cords, and can sing, like birds. Two species of lizards have venom (the beaded lizard and the gila monster are, contrary to popular belief, the only venomous lizards on Earth). Some have transparent scales (and thus, visible internal organs), others communicate with each other by changing their scale colour. Some lizards are arboreal and live their entire lives in the branches of trees, some are terrestrial, some are subterranean, a few can fly by gliding and a single species (the Marine Iguana) is even seagoing. Some have adapted well to living in the inner city, others are sensitive to even the slightest change in the environment. Some are vegetarians, and some are fierce carnivores. Some can detach their tails and regenerate it (just like the Spider-Man character The Lizard), others can't. Most smell their surroundings using their nostrils, but others use their tongues and a Jacobsen organ like snakes.

If you want to know more about lizards, it's probably best to read up on the particular family of lizards you are interested in. The suborder has the following families:

  • Agamidae: The agamas, including water dragons, flying dragons and many lizards exclusive to Asia.
  • Amphisbaenidae: The worm lizards, also known as slow-worms, found on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Anguidae: The alligator lizards and glass snakes, these live in the Americas.
  • Anniellidae: The legless lizards, this family consists of two species, both American. They're not the only lizards without legs, though.
  • Chamaeleonidae: The chameleons, everyone's favourite colour-changing insectivore, nature's very own pest exterminator. There are a few European species, but most chameleons live in Africa.
  • Gekkonidae: The geckos. Master climbers, these lizards can climb glass. Some of them can sing, too. Others of them make noises that can only be called "singing" if you are into some seriously twisted music. They are spread throughout the world.
  • Helodermatidae: The venomous lizards. Comprising only two species, this family lives in America.
  • Iguanidae: The iguanas. Ranging from the very large green iguana (or common iguana) and the even larger marine iguana of the Galapagos to the tiny anoles, this is a very varied family of lizards that primarily lives in the Americas, except for a few Australian species.
  • Lacertidae: The common lizards -- these are mainly found in Europe. There's no such thing as a common lizard, though, I guess they have the name because Europeans were the first to go around classifying animals, way back when.
  • Lanthanotidae: The earless monitors, an elusive family of large lizards consisting of only a single species. They live deep underground, and may be the missing link between lizards and snakes.
  • Scincidae: The skinks. These are probably the most varied family, having both legged and legless, herbivorous and carnivorous, egg-laying and live-bearing members. Skinks are spread throughout the world.
  • Teiidae: Including species such as the whiptail lizards and caiman lizards, this family lives in the Americas.
  • Varanidae: The monitor lizards. Very large lizards that live primarily in Africa and Australia. The Komodo Dragon, largest of all lizards, belongs to this family.
  • Xantusidae: The night lizards. Not the only nocturnal lizards, this family of tiny insectivores is exclusive to the Americas. The largest member of the family, the desert night lizard, grows to the majestic size of 5 centimeters.

There you go. Now go play Nethack and try to identify the species of those you eat.

Liz"ard (?), n. [OE. lesarde, OF. lesarde, F. l'ezard, L. lacerta, lacertus. Cf. Alligator, Lacerta.]

1. Zool.

Any one of the numerous species of reptiles belonging to the order Lacertilia; sometimes, also applied to reptiles of other orders, as the Hatteria.

⇒ Most lizards have an elongated body, with four legs, and a long tail; but there are some without legs, and some with a short, thick tail. Most have scales, but some are naked; most have eyelids, but some do not. The tongue is varied in form and structure. In some it is forked, in others, as the chameleons, club-shaped, and very extensible. See Amphisbaena, Chameleon, Gecko, Gila monster, Horned toad, Iguana, and Dragon, 6.

2. Naut.

A piece of rope with thimble or block spliced into one or both of the ends.

R. H. Dana, Ir.


A piece of timber with a forked end, used in dragging a heavy stone, a log, or the like, from a field.

Lizard fish Zool., a marine scopeloid fish of the genus Synodus, or Saurus, esp. S. fetens of the Southern United States and West Indies; -- called also sand pike. -- Lizard snake Zool., the garter snake (Eutaenia sirtalis). -- Lizard stone Min., a kind of serpentine from near Lizard Point, Cornwall, England, -- used for ornamental purposes.


© Webster 1913.

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