Thursday, September 29, 2011

Skeleton Day!

Above: A centaur skeleton from Skulls Unlimited—the one stop shop for all of your bone-related needs. Funny, there's a similar—but deadlier—business in The Darkness Dwellers.

Above: Decorating with bones in the Sedlec Ossuary.

Above: Skeleton jewelry from Delfina Delettrez. A good thing to wear if you're out late in New York.

Above: Skull art from Katsuyo Aoki.

Above: Skeletons in the Closet, the gift store at the LA County Coroner's Office, is the greatest place on earth.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rat Island Can Be Yours (or Mine, If You'll Lend Me a Few Hundred Thousand Dollars)!!!!

(Map borrowed from one of my favorite websites, Ephemeral New York.)

This is my dream. I'm at a cocktail party somewhere in New York. The conversation turns to the subject of vacation homes. Everyone else has a fabulous holiday pad. Do you have a second home? someone asks me. Oh, it's really just a little cottage, I reply. On my private island a few miles outside of the city. Maybe you've heard of it? It's called RAT ISLAND.

Rat Island is a two and a half acre chunk of rock in the middle of Long Island Sound. (Just north of NYC.) And I want it. It's going up for auction soon, and though it's estimated to be worth over $425,000, it may end up going for a song.

According to a NY Times article:

Much of [Rat Island's] history is lost and shrouded in folklore; the name is said to relate to prisoners, called rats, escaping from Hart Island, swimming with cardboard boxes over their heads to look like bobbing trash, but it is not clear if that is true. Legend also holds that the island was used as a so-called pest house in the 19th century to quarantine people infected with yellow fever, but Bronx and City Island historians have said that was unlikely because the city already had a quarantine hospital on Hart Island, now known as the site of the city’s potters field.

Rat Island, said to have served as an artists and writers colony, has supported at least one cottage; the remnants of a stone foundation still sit on a peak. Within its perimeter on Thursday was a lone rubber glove and a single green-and-gray Aldo men’s size 42 deck shoe with socks scrunched inside. Whether they had been discarded there or washed ashore was not entirely clear.

It sounds so lovely!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Verbal Pyrotechnics

They call it the BEST TEEN LITERATURE MAGAZINE ON THE PLANET, and I'm certainly not going to argue! I love the Verbal Pyrotechnics blog and magazine. They're both filled with awesome. Including an interview with me! (Subtle, right?)

The Murder Club

On the third Thursday of every month, a group of crime-solving savants from around the world gathers in Philadelphia to solve forgotten homicides. For over twenty years, the organization has been known as the Vidocq Society, and its members include forensic pathologists, police detectives, psychologists, and a forensic artist whose specialty is bringing skulls back to "life."

According to Wikipedia:

Vidocq will only consider cases that meet certain requirements: they must be unsolved deaths more than two years old, the victims cannot have been involved in criminal activity . . . and the case must be formally presented to [the Society] by the appropriate law enforcement agency. The Society does not charge for its services, and pays for the travel expenses of the law enforcement agents who come to present cases.

It sounds like something cooked up by a writer of paperback thrillers, doesn't it? But the Vidocq Society is real, and you need some serious skills if you want to join. I wonder if my superior sense of scent and my undying love for Sherlock Holmes would qualify me for membership. Doubt it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Quickest Way to a Librarian's Heart

If you want to win over some bookish lads and ladies, I suggest making an anonymous gift to their favorite book-lending institutions. Perhaps a magnificent and mysterious paper sculpture?

That's what's been happening in Scotland. For the past year, remarkable works of art (such as those above) that have been appearing in libraries all over the country. The artist has not been identified, which is even more remarkable given the quality of his/her art!

Read more here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Really Think People Should Wear Pants When They Visit an Underground Park

That's right, lady. (Above.) I'm talking to you.

There are two great things about today's post. First, there's an enormous, abandoned, underground trolley station beneath Delancey Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. That knowledge alone could make me happy for the rest of the day. But it gets even BETTER.

There are people (hopefully very well-connected people) who want to turn the space into an underground park. Click here to see a slide-show of the proposed subterranean playground.

Pretty cool. But rather optimistic, I think. The illustrations show how the park might look on sunny days. What happens during New York's dark, dismal winters, when the sun can disappear for weeks on end? What's going to be lurking in the shadows underneath Delancey Street. Woman-eating rats? Or worse?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Rookie

Remember Tavi, the teenage fashion maven? I wrote about her last year, and it seems she's been quite busy over the past twelve months. Her influential fashion blog, Style Rookie, is still going strong. And she's just started her own teen Internet magazine. It's called Rookie, and it's pretty darn amazing.

I may not belong to Tavi's target audience, but she's one of my personal heroes. She's proof of what can be accomplished with brains, confidence, and a whole lotta moxie. As you probably know by now, the world is filled with cynics and naysayers. It doesn't matter how old you are--if you're going to do something fabulous, you'll have to put on a pair of funky dark sunglasses and pretend you don't see them.

Thanks to JAY for the heads-up!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Be Your Own Bloodhound

(Above: Love the picture of the "Old Sleuth." Very creepy.)

I have an amazing nose. (Don't go Googling pictures of me. That's not what I'm talking about.) My sense of scent is incredibly powerful. How powerful? I can walk into an empty room and instantly know if a friend or acquaintance has recently been there. It's a gift that's helped me solve countless petty crimes over the years.

But today I feel a little less special. (This happens to me quite often, I'm afraid.) A recent study by scientists at Berkeley has shown that many of my fellow humans possess similar abilities. You, too, have an amazing nose. But if you want to put it to work, you'll have to risk looking a little silly.

Get down on your hands and knees. Sniff the ground. You may find you're able to track a scent all the way across a grassy field. Yes, the opportunities to use your newly-discovered superpower may be few and far between. However, according to one Yale neuroscientist, "if we go back on our four legs and get down on the ground, we may be able do things we had no idea we could do."

Interesting. Very interesting.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Terrizing Evil Rat of Spring

Don't understand the title of this post? Sigh. I do wish people would read more poetry. Click here for an explanation.

Edward The Hamster. BBC Radio4 from Craig Wilkinson on Vimeo.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to the Bizarre

Let's kick off a new season of blogging with a tasteful link. There. Got it out of my system. Ha.

Now for something a little more . . . dangerous. You know what's always bugged me? (To be honest, the list of things that bug me is extremely long. But let's start with a single pet peeve for now. I'll get to the rest later.) I can't stand to see an otherwise admirable female superhero or woman warrior dressed in skimpy clothes. Not that I have anything against spandex. It just doesn't offer much protection from swords, bullets, nunchaku, or medieval maces. Why oh why do most artists insist on sending their heroines into battle with so little armor? (Okay, the answer is kinda obvious. Let's move on.)

So I was thrilled to discover the website Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor. As you might imagine, the site is devoted to art that depicts women warriors in clothing that warriors MIGHT ACTUALLY WEAR. Love it. (There's a wee bit of bad language on the site. And a wee bit of blood. So don't click through if those things offend you.)

The site reminded me of the wonderful image of Kiki Strike at the top of this post. The artist sent it to me a while back, and a Facebook friend recently rediscovered it. The guy responsible for this masterpiece is not only unbelievably talented, he also gave Kiki PERFECTLY REASONABLE ARMOR. And I shall be forever grateful.