Category Archives: cabinet of curiosities

animal style

Maskull Lasserre outliers shoes

“Outliers” shoes by Maskull Lasserre
via Dezeen, for trailing a bit of wild behind you.

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female Satin bowerbird

The most notable characteristic of bowerbirds is their extraordinarily complex courtship and mating behaviour, where males build a bower to attract mates. There are two main types of bowers. One clade of bowerbirds build so-called maypole bowers, which are constructed by placing sticks around a sapling; in some species, these bowers have a hut-like roof. The other major bowerbuilding clade builds an avenue type-bower made of two walls of vertically placed sticks. In and around the bower, the male places a variety of brightly colored objects he has collected. These objects — usually different among each species — may include hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, berries, and even discarded plastic items, coins, nails, rifle shells, or pieces of glass. The males spend hours arranging this collection. Bowers within a species share a general form but do show significant variation, and the collection of objects reflects the biases of males of each species and its ability to procure items from the habitat, often stealing them from neighboring bowers. Several studies of different species have shown that colors of decorations males use on their bowers match the preferences of females.

Uy and collaborators have shown that mate-searching females commonly visit multiple bowers, often returning to the male several times, watching his elaborate courtship displays and inspecting the quality of the bower and tasting the paint the male has placed on the bower walls. Many females end up selecting the same male, and many under-performing males are left without copulations.

Bowerbird basics from Wikipedia.

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Wikipedia also tells us there are improbable fish that live amidst the dunes in Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, and as far as I can tell they are real fish, not prank fish. The park is dry much of the year, but seasonal rains punctuate it with lagoons. Are the fish who briefly make these lagoons their home brought there in egg form by birds — perhaps storks? — or are their eggs cryptobiotic, like free-range Sea Monkeys, waiting patiently in the sand for the rainy season to arrive?

Lençóis Maranhenses lagoons

Lençóis Maranhenses lagoons from Wikipedia.

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“The Centaurs” by Winsor McKay, 1921.

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pug tricks

The University of Virginia’s “The Mind is a Metaphor” database is sortable in various ways, one of which categorically focuses on animals. Personally I have found spaniels to be much trickier than pugs, but maybe there is something here that resonates with you.

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Doris Day will kill you

Be kind to animals or Doris Day will kill you.
Photo from If Charlie Parker was a Gunslinger.

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If you should find yourself lost in the sticks and in need of a decent meal, just go and sit by the monkeys.

look for monkeys

Snippet from Eating and Drinking: An Anthology for Epicures, which I blogged about over here. Indeed, I’ve yet to see any evidence that monkeys are not fickle little fuckers. Look how these British monkeys behaved during the recent Jubilee celebrations, for example. You can tell they’re not going to bother finishing those cupcakes, and that in a matter of moments they’ll be prodding the jelly and throwing oranges on the ground for no good reason.

monkeys at Jubilee tea party

Monkey tea party pic by Ian Turner/BNPS from the Guardian.

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the Tote-Road Shagamaw

The Tote-Road Shagamaw, as captured in Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, has front paws resembling those of a bear and back legs resembling those of a moose, and craftily alternates walking on one set or the other to evade hunters. It is, however, trapped in its habits, and predictably inverts itself every quarter of a mile.

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dog and cat seed bombs
seed bombs for cats and dogs

One way to be kind to animals: provide them with fresh, tender grasses and grains to nibble at or pee on. Seed bombs formulated to appeal to cats and dogs (“a mixture of catnip, cat grass, wheat, oats, and rye”) are $7/sack from visualingual on Etsy.

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Trufa is a vacation home in Spain designed by Ensamble Studio and constructed with the assistance of a cow named Paulina. A hole was dug; hay bales were stacked inside and concrete poured over them; the resulting concrete truffle was unearthed and sliced open; Paulina went to work on the hay. In this manner, over the course of a year, the living space was cleared.

Trufa interior

Paulina the cow

Trufa photos via Dezeen. The interior one is by Roland Halbe.

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axolotl

The axolotl is an endangered Mexican salamander found exclusively in the lakes and canals of Xochimilco. They can regenerate lost limbs, and live for ten to fifteen years if not caught and roasted for someone’s snack. Source: National Geographic.

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Tsumori Chisato cat shoes

Cat shoes by Tsumori Chisato, ¥12,600 at Humor.

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From The Element of Lavishness: Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner & William Maxwell 1938-1978:

Niou

landscape stones

I bought these three Florentine marble landscape stones years ago at a shop in Paris that sold nothing else: Claude Boullé Galerie at 28 rue Jacob (not far from St Germain des Prés).

click to see larger photo

click to see larger photo

As the accompanying note explains, the patterns in the marble are formed by oxidization. I’ve had these stones sitting on my bookshelves for so long that my eyes have a bad habit of skipping over them, but I was moved to scan them and show them to you because of a strange little coincidence. I was reading A Journey Round My Skull this morning and got into a brief comments-section discussion with its author and curator Will about Herbert Read’s The Green Child. Will pointed me towards his June, 2008 post about it, which in turn links back to a December, 2007 post of his about Roger Caillois’s The Writing of Stones. The latter post is accompanied by a photo of moody earth-tone landscape stones from the book’s dustjacket. While reading both (blog posts, not books!) I went to my bookshelves to check the date on my copy of The Green Child and it was sitting on top of a low bookcase — voilà — right next to my grey-blue landscape stones. I love when the internet feels like a museum, even more so when it feels like a museum whose collection has been arranged just for me.

A brief quote from The Writing of Stones, which I had no idea I needed:

“Like mists or dews, brief yet patient jellies come forth momentarily and with difficulty from a substance lately imperturbable: they are evanescent pharmacies, doomed victims of the elements, about to melt or dry up, leaving behind only a savor or a stain.”

More landscape stones here and here — including some nice specimens from the same shop as mine — and a few more here, along with some interesting background information. There are some really beautiful ones from Oregon here.

Update: I inadvertently published an earlier draft of this post that lacked a few finishing touches. Sorry if you read that version and scratched your head.