Monday, June 28, 2010

What Should You Do With Your Old Books?

Artist Nick Georgiou creates these amazing sculptures out of newspapers and books and puts them in public places. I'd love to have one crafted out of gently-worn copies of Kiki Strike.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Psychic Octopus

(Art by Kozyndan)

Apparently an octopus in Germany has been correctly predicting the outcome of World Cup games. (Even the upsets.) Check it out here.

Did the octopus see the US winning its group this afternoon? If so, he's better than some England fans I've met, who informed me we didn't stand a chance.

Pride goeth before second place, as they say. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ghost Story Du Jour

I was up in Washington Heights (just north of Harlem) today, doing a little research at the old Morris-Jumel mansion. (The mansion and the surrounding grounds are one of my favorite places in New York City. If you ever have a chance, take a bag lunch and enjoy it in the garden. It's lovely, quiet, and just a little bit creepy.) While I was there, I heard an interesting ghost story.

I was speaking with a woman who has worked at the mansion for decades, and I jokingly asked her if the building had any ghosts.

She pointed to the clock shown below, and said, "About fifty men have heard a woman speak to them from inside that clock."

One visitor told her that he had come to the mansion on a school trip when he was fifteen years old. His teacher had asked that each student pen a 200-word essay about an object he/she found interesting. This particular young man chose the clock. As he was scribbling notes, the little door on the front of the clock opened, and he heard a woman's voice say, "Come closer." Then the clock began to shake. The kid's teacher assumed that he was the one shaking the clock and yelled at him from across the room. Just then, the woman said, "I want you."

It took the young man twenty years to work up the courage to visit the mansion again. He came with his wife, who refused to set foot inside the building. He ventured in alone and stood in front of the clock for over an hour, but he never heard the woman's voice again.

Here's a video of another Morris-Jumel ghost story . . . enjoy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Do You Suppose They Were Serving That Day?

Why didn't they ask the big question? How the heck did it get in there in the first place? (I hope it wasn't via a toilet. I have enough to worry about.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The New York Times Doesn't Know Jack About Rats

This morning, the New York Times reported on a new scientific study of the rats in New York's subway system. The article, while interesting, is riddled with inaccuracies!

Here are just a few of the mistakes I discovered! . . .

"City Hall is now aiming its technocratic lance at a problem so ancient as to predate the city itself: rats."

FALSE. The ancestors of most of the rats in New York were brought here on ships from Europe. They do not predate the city.

" . . . any New Yorker who has screamed at the sight of a hairy critter slinking along the tracks."

FALSE: No self-respecting New Yorker would scream at the sight of a rat on the tracks. If one did, he/she would be forced to leave town immediately.

"The legend of teeming rat cities tucked deep into subway tunnels is, in fact, a myth."

FALSE: Hahahahahahahaha! Fools.

"But befitting a creature that has evaded annihilation for centuries, officials found no obvious solutions [to the rat problem]."

FALSE: May I introduce you gentleman to a handy device known as the Reverse Pied Piper? Or perhaps you'd prefer a bottle of rat-repelling perfume?

“We’re no match for them, as far as I’m concerned. Man does not stand no chance.”

TRUE: Actually, men don't stand a chance against rats. Six delinquent girl geniuses? Absolutely.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Keep Warm This Winter with Rat Fur!

(Above: A "rat.")

I've come across a number of stories in the past couple of weeks about "rat fur" growing more popular among fashion designers. Well it's not rat fur--it's nutria fur. There's a difference. A big difference.

But it brings up an interesting question about fur. I, personally, would never wear fur. I think it's gross. And I live in a climate that allows me to get away with wearing wool coats all winter. (As a rule, I don't judge people who live in Siberia. Their lives are hard enough already.)

However nutria are not minks or chinchillas. They're pests that destroy the wetlands around Louisiana. (If there are still wetlands left after the oil spill. How impossibly sad.) So is wearing nutria fur okay? I need to know! That vest (below) would look awfully cute on me. (JK)

Read more here.

(Above: Oscar de la Renta's "rat fur" vest.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Who Knew Dormice Were So Interesting . . . and Delicious?

(Above: Is that HONEY in her hand? What kind of sick, twisted movie IS this?)

Things I already knew about dormice:

1. They're awful cute.

2. The Romans ate them dipped in honey.

Things I learned about dormice from this article:

1. Slovenian legend has it that dormice are herded by the devil himself.

2. Dormouse comes from the Anglo-Norman word for "sleepy one." (Which explains the sleepy dormouse in Alice in Wonderland.)

3. During the time of Queen Elizabeth I, it was believed that consuming dormouse fat could help a person fall asleep.

4. They're delicious cooked in red wine with vegetables. (I'll just have to take his word for it.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Undercover Shrub

Oddly enough, I can think of a MILLION uses for this handy shrub mobile.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quiz Time!

(Above: I want this mosaic in my bathroom!)

Summer vacation is here. It's time to begin your REAL education. So let's start with a quick quiz . . .

You're an archaeologist working in Northern England. You discover an ancient graveyard filled with dozens of skeletons. All the bones once belonged to strapping young men. The bodies were beheaded before they were buried. At least one of the young men was mauled by a large animal--most likely a bear, tiger, or lion.

Who have you discovered?

Answer here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What Do You Suppose is Down There?

An anonymous reader recently alerted me to the remarkable sinkhole that opened up in the middle of Guatemala City on Sunday. (Thanks, Anonymous!) It's sixty feet across. And THIRTY STORIES DEEP. And it could get bigger! I've posted about this kind of phenomenon before, but the National Geographic's pictures of the latest sinkhole are absolutely amazing.

According to the experts at NG, "Sinkholes are natural depressions that can form when water-saturated soil and other particles become too heavy and cause the roofs of existing voids in the soil to collapse."

OK, I kinda buy it. But what's an "existing void in the soil?" Are we talking underground caverns, here? Enormous natural chambers thirty stories underground?

'Cause if that's what we're talking about, I have one simple question. How do we know they're empty?