Friday, November 26, 2010

Barbara Hamby

A much-needed random poem of the day. One of my favorites...

Thus Spake the Mockingbird

The mockingbird says, Hallelujah, coreopsis, I make the day
      bright, I wake the night-blooming jasmine. I am
the duodecimo of desperate love, the hocus-pocus passion
      flower of delirious retribution. You never saw such a bird,
such a triage of blood and feathers, tongue and bone. O the world
      is a sad address, bitterness melting the tongues of babies,
breasts full of accidental milk, but I can teach the flowers to grow,
      take their tight buds, unfurl them like flags in the morning heat,
fat banners of scent, flat platters of riot on the emerald scene.
      I am the green god of pine trees, conducting the music
of rustling needle through a harp of wind. I am the heart of men,
      the wild bird that drives their sex, forges their engines,
jimmies their shattered locks in the dark flare where midnight slinks.
      I am the careless minx in the skirts of women, the bright moon
caressing their hair, the sharp words pouring from their beautiful mouths
      in board rooms, on bar stools, in big city laundrettes. I am
Lester Young's sidewinding sax, sending that Pony Express
      message out west in the Marconi tube hidden in every torso
tied tight in the corset of do and don't, high and low, yes and no. I am
      the radio, first god of the twentieth century, broadcasting
the news, the blues, the death counts, the mothers wailing
      when everyone's gone home. I am sweeping
through the Eustachian tube of the great plains, transmitting
      through every ear of corn, shimmying down the spine
of every Bible-thumping banker and bureaucrat, relaying the anointed
      word of the shimmering world. Every dirty foot that walks
the broken streets moves on my wings. I speak from the golden
      screens. Hear the roar of my discord murdering the trees,
screaming its furious rag, the fuselage of my revival-tent brag. Open
      your windows, slip on your castanets. I am the flamenco
in the heel of desire. I am the dancer. I am the choir. Hear my wild
      throat crowd the exploding sky. O I can make a noise.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Alas, Poor Yorick....

Skulls! Bones! Y'arrghh!

The other day I found a little mouse skull resting at the base of an oak tree. As I cradled the lightweight, delicate curve in my open palm--the white bone nearly transparent, thin enough for light to pass through--I marveled at both the strength and fragility of that most vital of structures. Though as a symbol it was long ago hijacked by pirates and Poe, I have always liked skulls. During my work as a wildlife field biologist, I have often come across skulls and bones in the woods. (Okay, I've also hacked and sawed skulls and bones off of the rest of their respective skeleton bodies for various data collection purposes. You can read about the joys of Bone Boiling elk legs in Yellowstone in my essay featured in the anthology from Solas House/Traveler's Tales Press,  A Mile in Her Boots.) But I digress.

When I worked on the Yellowstone Wolf Project, if we located a dead wolf, we would often collect the animal's skull to add to the project's extensive collection of wolf skulls. 
Among other things, these skulls are studied and measured by Dr. Blair Van Valkenburgh of UCLA. She is a vertebrate paleobiologist who focuses on the evolution of form, function, and ecology in organisms, both living and extinct. Her work is one example of what skulls can teach us about how and why large carnivores have evolved over centuries to better fit into, shape, and adapt to their environments.

Check out this amazing collection of high-res three-dimensional Bird Skulls, like this sweet, sweet shoebill stork skull. These birds look like living dinosaurs. And they love nothing more than to stalk and eat the lungfish. With a name like lungfish, you can assume the beast ain't going to be pretty. If you're really and truly  interested in shoebills, Peep This Nat Geo video. Although their attempt at kid wit falls a bit short, the footage is cool.

Anyway, back to skulls...
Just in time for the holidays, I bring you skull-related gift ideas for your dramatic, scientific, or gothic friends and families. No pirates. No skateboards. No Urban Outfitters.

Stephanie Metz creates incredible felted skulls and other beautiful and creepy oddities.

And Moon Raven Designs makes gorgeous casts and replicas of various skulls, bones, talons, and teeth. Daniel once gave me the life-sized hummingbird skull, which I often happily wear around my neck. Here is their little brown bat:


Friday, November 19, 2010

CocoRosie - Animals

The Real Tuesday Weld - Last Time In Clerkenwell

The Lovely Sparrows - Year of the Dog

A Guide to Recognizing Your Kiwis

The Bird.

The Fruit.


The Warrior Princess. (Yes, even Xena is a Kiwi.)

Five Somewhat Interesting Things You May or May Not Know about New Zealand...

1. The Land of Wool and Mutton.
There are presently around nine sheep to every one human in New Zealand. (The human population  is about four  million.) Now that is my kind of place!

2. Rock the Vote.
New Zealand was the first major nation to have universal suffrage. In 1893 it became legal for all male and female citizens of New Zealand to vote. Letting women and minorities vote?! What a zany idea!

3. You Don't Have to Turn on that Red Light (although legally you sure can!)
Prostitution, soliciting, and brothel-keeping are legal. The driving age is 15, the consensual sex age is 16, and the drinking age is 18. And on a brighter note, the country allows same-sex civil unions, too! (Ahem, are you listening America?)

4. Keepin' it Old School
New Zealand was the last major landmass to be populated--with the exception of the polar regions--and who wants to live there anyway? (No offense to any seals reading.)

5. They Enjoy the Name Game... Chinese Gooseberries Anyone?
Of course a kiwi is not a fruit – its a native flightless bird and a slang term for a New Zealander. Kiwis call the fuzzy testicular fruit “kiwifruit” – they are also known as Chinese Gooseberries, although I cannot tell you why.

Bonus: Its, um, Middle Earth.

Say Hello to My Little Friends...

And check out their maker while you're at it... Berkley Illustration

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You've got to be kind

--Kurt Vonnegut from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Speaking of things I find to be funny...

I love McSweeney's Lists. Here is just one example...

Rap Lyrics of the (17)90's, by Chloe Filson

- - - -
"To an extreme degree, I have amplified my voice and thus my sentiments—much as a vandal might."
- -
"Would that I were of greater stature, and could participate in the frivolities of the future."
- -
"The music I have created resounds loudly in my ears, causing me to offer a brief prayer of gratitude for the blessings given by my Lord and Saviour."
- -
"At one time, whilst reposing at my leisure—indeed—what, ho! I beheld that which did not accord with reason."
- -
"Before you are the mechanisms of amplification, and the amplification process is underway. Let us not squander our time; I urge you to appreciate the verses, herein amplified, which in their melody and metre naturally provoke jumping. Thus, jump, as you will."
- -
"I admit to a predilection for certain female attributes—to put it precisely, yet with due regard for delicacy, the buttocks. You other fathers shan't deny it."
- -
"Huzzah! There it is."


"There is nothing in which people more betray their character than in what they laugh at."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's a blog, folks.

Well, it feels a bit self-indulgent, but here we are. I'm starting a little site to keep the updates rolling as I begin my imminent travels in New Zealand.

And what better spirit to embrace than that of the little lithe otter, who navigates the world's waters with a cheerful curiosity, joy, and grace.

(The fact that they are all velvety soft and possess a hilarious chuckle-snort has nothing to do with it, I'm sure...)