Category Archives: Uncategorized

animal style

Maskull Lasserre outliers shoes

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


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.


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.


“The Centaurs” by Winsor McKay, 1921.


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.


Doris Day will kill you

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


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


Tsumori Chisato cat shoes

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


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


the periodicals room

You know the feeling of being ill and just wanting to sleep but slightly too ill to actually fall asleep? Then somehow things get worse and you feel as if you’ve been put in a washing machine with that feeling? Maybe the washing machine part is just me. In any event, I can tell you with certainty that it really helps to have a pile of magazines in there for when you get tired of your books.

Pittsburg 1947

girl at magazine stand (Pittsburgh, 1947) via ThePulp.Net

Here are some of the magazines piled up by my bedside this week. It’s more of an electronic pile rather than an actual pile because there aren’t many interesting ones in print right now, are there?

Night and Day anthology cover

Night and Day. A very short-lived English magazine published weekly between July and December of 1937, thankfully available in anthology form. (Also thankfully far more suitable for dragging to bed than my beautiful but slab-like Flair anthology). I suspect most who come to Night and Day do so out of affection for its editor Graham Greene, but my reading habits are sadly under-Greened and I learned of it while poking around Corvo biographer A.J. Symons, who also happened to be their restaurant reviewer. Their contributors! Graham Greene did the film reviews and Evelyn Waugh the book reviews; John Betjeman had a regular feature; Alistair Cooke and Anthony Powell reported on what was happening in America; and there were theater reviews from Elizabeth Bowen, short stories from V.S. Pritchett, and memoirs from Christopher Isherwood. Also William Empson on his efforts to learn Chinese, and, most thrilling for me, Herbert Read regularly reviewing detective novels. I admire The Green Child enough to be delighted with his reviews just for their curiosity value, but he’s actually quite funny.

Night and Day was staggeringly New Yorker-ish, deliberately and admittedly so. Christopher Hawtree’s introduction to the 1985 Chatto & Windus anthology notes that two years prior to the launch of the magazine, Greene wrote, “The world may be divided into those who enjoy Punch and those who enjoy the New Yorker,” while future Night and Day contributor Hugh Kingsmill lamented “[t]here is no critically humorous paper in England today. Nor is there any serious paper which has much, or any individuality.” In Greene’s own preface to the anthology he wrote that “the influence of the New Yorker was very evident during the first months,” though by the time the magazine folded “we were becoming ourselves.” It would be foolish to describe Night and Day as a knock-off; it reflected its own time and place and spoke with its own voice, but the visual resemblance is striking. Not just in the cartoons, which Greene thought superior (“I don’t believe that any paper — even the New Yorker at its best — has obtained the level reached by Night and Day in its comic drawings”) but in familiar little features like the unintentionally funny news clippings that still appear in the New Yorker‘s pages.

Night and Day stomach

A. J. Symons Round the Restaurants

Night and Day manxmen

But, darling

Those angels above are not an original cartoon commissioned for the magazine but one of John Flaxman’s illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The magazine began running them in the July 29, 1937 issue, “[f]eeling that rather less than justice has been done to the distinguished artist who gave his name to a London telephone exchange . . . . As this, after all, is Coronation Year, we have substituted good plain captions in the mother tongue for the unpatriotic quotations from Dante which accompanied the original designs . . .”

One of the things that sunk Night and Day was a libel suit in connection with Greene’s review of the Shirley Temple movie Wee Willie Winkie in the Oct. 28, 1937 issue:

[W]atch the way she measures a man with agile studio eyes, with dimpled depravity. Adult emotions of love and grief glissade across the mask of childhood, a childhood skin-deep. It is clever, but it cannot last. Her admirers — middle-aged men and clergymen — respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire.

The publishers were fined £3,500 for this “gross outrage,” but the magazine had trouble raising capital well before then, and folded three months before the case went to trial.

I didn’t realize until I started composing this blog post that Night and Day has recently been “reinvigorated and reconceived for a new century” by Vintage Books. I haven’t yet read any of the four issues they’ve put out so far but it looks very promising. I’m particularly happy to see that their contributors include illustrators as talented and stylish as the ones who worked on its previous incarnation. Read and download here.

WoI Dec 2011 cover

World of Interiors. The only mag kept in stacks at Lunar Camel Co. Towers. I can’t afford anything in its advertisements, especially the boiseries, I have a feeling, but there’s nothing pretentious about it. It’s a proper magazine with a proper and likable editorial voice. I cannot understand why so many other magazines lack one of those and instead choose to read like an inscrutable catalog of favors to friends and publicists. I suspect it has something to do with people being people, but still.

WoI is full of transporting photos — sometimes rooms, sometimes places like tea processing plants or horticultural supply shops or unglamorized Moroccan farmhouses where cows reside on the ground floor — and unlike other design mags the writing holds up its end of things. I hate flipping through magazines like this and seeing that the book reviews, profiles or arty bits aren’t worth reading.

Eileen Gray's study May 2011 WoI

Designer Eileen Gray’s study, WoI May 2011. For sure my desk needs a lamp with a stomach and a hat. These are by Garouste and Bonetti.

bricks 3 Dec 2011 WoI bricks Dec 2011 WoI

Bricks from a Dec. 2011 WoI feature on historical paints. Sometimes while trying to sleep I mentally paint my bedroom the 1960s blue at the bottom, Capri SC345 from Paper and Paints.

cosmic Oct 2010 WoI

16th-century Wunderzeichenbuch depicting cosmic events from WoI Oct. 2010. The kooky rainbow at left was observed in Vienna in 1520.

mantle Jan 2012 WoI

Detail above mantle at an auberge in Barbizon favored by 19th-century painters from WoI Jan. 2012.

de Plagny Oct 2010 WoI

Textile design by Atelier Zina de Plagny (late 40s / early 50s) from WoI Oct. 2010. de Plagny’s designs have been revived by Surface View.

purple room Oct 2010 WoI

Purple room from WoI Oct. 2010. It’s a reader’s room submitted for a contest, and the checkered doors hide a kitchen.

Viva magazine, August 1974 cover

Viva, the international magazine for women. Verrrry 70s. I have a small collection of these that sadly will probably not be added to at this point because they’re getting too expensive. I wrote a little something about it on my food blog a few years ago. Definitely due for a follow-up post or two here; stay tuned.

Synapse Summer 1978

Knob-twiddlers will be pleased to know that 70s issues of Synapse can be read in their entirety. Via Dangerous Minds.

Bright Lights film journal

Bright Lights Film Journal. Reliably terrific writing about cinema.


TONMO, The Octopus News Magazine Online (“Your Octopus, Squid and Cephalopod Information Center”). Some animals are better company than others. Frankly I don’t care about squid much, but octopuses are brilliant and mysterious and make for good reading. Related material for aficionados: Poulpe Pulps, “hard-to-locate images of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure pulp and comic covers featuring the wily octopus.”

Arthur magazine archive

ARTHUR magazine was so cool. It’s been linked to on my links page forever but maybe you haven’t seen it.


The Modernist Journals Project. This has probably made the rounds of the in-boxes and blogs of everyone who is interested, but: Brown University and the University of Tulsa have a joint project cataloging modernist journals. You can peek at the contents of some of them here.

an obituary for our hairiest and dearest friend

My dog had to be put to sleep the Friday before last and we miss him terribly.


Being good in the car on the ferry to North Haven, Sept. 2011.

It was definitely the right time, there was no doubt that he was very, very sick and ready to say goodbye to us, but it’s just so damn sad not to have him around. For a third of my life I woke up every morning to the sound of his tail thumping against my side of the bed.


A representative depiction of his food face.

His name was Vishnu. Which may strike you as a strange name for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but it perfectly suited him. In college I spent some time studying in a buddhist monastery in India and all the pets there had Hindu names (except for one cat called Mitch after a character on Baywatch, but he was an outlier). That’s not really the reason we called the dog Vishnu, though. He was actually called something else at first. As a puppy — OK, honestly, this went on his entire life — he loved, loved to look for snacks on the sidewalk. Bits of bread left for the pigeons, scraps of pizza crust, etc. And one day when he was a tiny little thing, four or five months old, we got into a conversation with a woman in Tompkins Square Park who related a story of Vishnu from the Mahābhārata, in which he holds the entire universe in his mouth. We couldn’t not call him Vishnu after that. And considering that I’d legally changed my name in my early twenties and my boyfriend had unofficially changed his later in life, it was perfectly appropriate that our little peanut should do the same.

Vishnu and his two consorts

Vishnu (the other one) and two consorts riding Garuda, Ravi Garma print c. 1900 via Sarajo on

Vishnu was born June 4, 2000 in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland. His mother’s name was Blanche. Both his parents were professionals (i.e., show dogs with prissy hairdos) but Vishnu happily whiled away his entire life a flâneur. He came to New York as a wee little puppy and he was the first one I picked up out of a pile of wee little puppies at the breeder’s sister’s place on Long Island. Something about him! I distinctly recall thinking to myself “don’t be silly, they’re all ridiculously cute, try another,” so I put him down and experimented with cuddling his brothers and sisters, but I was right the first time, there was something about him. Or about him in relation to me. We loved each other right away, and we went apeshit whenever we greeted each other right up until the very end. My boyfriend often remarked that the only time Vishnu would hurry up the four flights of stairs to our apartment was if he knew I was home, and although I usually didn’t get as visibly excited as he did, the feeling was very mutual.

In my mother’s later years she got a bit sentimental about our Irish heritage — she had a monument to Bobby Sands erected in our hometown, and after a driving tour of Éire we all got Waterford crystal for the next several Christmases. Vishnu’s connection to his Irish roots took the form of a vigorous love of booze, crisps, and strong winds flapping about his ears, the squallier the better.

ears flapping in the wind

Vishnu lived his entire life in the East Village. He made the scene in his younger years — one night as I was coming home in a taxi I spotted him in a crowd spilling out of an art gallery on Avenue B, cozy in someone’s arms while my boyfriend stood in the doorway rolling a joint — and he really, really liked being able to meet so many interesting people on his walks. He came to insist on it. If there hadn’t been enough people to say hello to during his pre-bedtime walk at night, he would want to sit on the corner of Ave. B or Ave. C and wait for someone fun to show up and make a fuss over him. It usually wouldn’t be more than a few minutes before that would happen because he was, even by our very stringent standards, one of the most attractive little dogs around for miles and miles. He particularly enjoyed meeting happy drunks (so affectionate!) and, to our occasional dismay, real nutters (so many interesting smells!). He wanted to meet everyone who seemed amenable to meeting him, and if they lived in the neighborhood they would often become a good friend. For years and years there was a big, burly motorcycle repair beardo who he’d kiss on the lips every time they ran into one another. He also really had a thing for a frizzy-haired woman who was always in the park and who would remind me, as she petted him, that the texture on the soles of my shoes was “just like the fingers of the aliens they found at Roswell,” and he delighted in the attentions of The God Bless You Lady and her cohorts.

V in playground

keeping an eye on things in the playground, 2007

One of Vishnu’s very favorite things to do in the East Village, especially when he got older, was to sit on a bench in Tompkins Square Park and just listen, and watch everything going on around him. He liked to hear birds singing and kids playing — their habit of dropping graham crackers and whatnot near playground entrances was certainly a plus — and to be presented with the occasional baby to lick. He was the most peace-loving dog I’ve ever known in my life, the only one who would benignly wag his tail at squirrels and bodega cats rather than try to catch one.

snout on a park bench

He did nonetheless once get in trouble with the law in that park, an incident I wrote about on my food blog at the time. He snatched another dog’s tennis ball in the dog run and refused to let it go, and the dog’s inscrutably weird companion called the NYPD. To my surprise they did indeed come, and to our mutual surprise the woman who’d been so outraged by this brazen theft refused the replacement money I offered her. (I said, “so, basically you called the police because you wanted them to know you’re having a bad day?” She didn’t like that either.) Meanwhile our little scofflaw, who’d kept the ball clenched tightly in his mouth the whole time, glowered at what was by now a crowd around him. One of the cops asked if I couldn’t pry the ball out of his mouth, and when I said “I’m not putting my fingers in there but you can try if you want,” we all agreed to go our separate ways. Vishnu carried the ball home, climbed onto a meditation cushion — his favorite spot in the apartment for serious contemplation or serious sleeping — dropped it, and declined to play with it ever again.

His vet was, of course, in the neighborhood — always St Marks Vet; in recent years, Dr. De Meola and Dr. Yahalom-Golan, both of whom were exceptionally kind — and before his final appointment we left early so he could spend a final half hour or so on a bench in the center of park, right near the Hare Krishna tree, under which he’d taken his first grown-up (outdoor) pee when he was about four months old, on a piece of newspaper we’d brought from home to help him get the idea.

the trees that morning

the trees that morning

Like any other Manhattanite, Vishnu enjoyed getting out of the city once in a while. During particularly steamy summers he would make extended vists to my family in Connecticut, where he could walk on the beach every night, and eat rabbit turds in the yard, which he considered a delicacy.

Vishnu inspecting the tent

Inspecting our tent in the backyard in CT circa 2009.

me and V on the beach

Me and V on the beach, autumn or winter 2006.

His favorite place to get away was Maine. Fresh air; buttery, lobster-y fingers to lick; hours on the deck, alternating between napping and watching ospreys do what they do; and, apparently most exciting of all, being allowed to sleep in the people-bed at the cabin. He would get so excited about that that every night he would try to get us to go to bed right after dinner.

sniffing Maine, 2007

sniffing Maine, 2007

in the people bed at the cabin, 2006

enjoying the people bed, 2006

napping on the deck, 2008

napping on the deck, 2008


dog’s-eye-view of Vinalhaven, 2007

Vishnu’s last Maine vacation was in September, 2011, when he accompanied us to North Haven. He was very old and weak by then — his back legs scarcely worked at all, and he could manage just a few steps at a time before plopping down on his bum — so mostly he sat on his bed on the deck, woofing at passing schooners. But he didn’t seem to be in pain at all, and he took several shambolic but glorious near-gallops down the long driveway of the house we’d rented, clearly delighted to be there. It was the last time he seemed unreservedly happy. We’re going to scatter his ashes there next year.

North Haven-20110916-00375 Colorcross

Sorry it’s been so quiet around here

I’ve been preparing my hibernaculum. I’ve got a series of medical treatments coming up that will have me feeling fatigued for most of January and into February, and I’ve been tidying up Lunar Camel Co. Towers in anticipation. That probably sounds horrible but I think it will be OK. I’ve also been preparing to make stuff — not out of html! — with my flower-powered machine here.



There, now I feel better. Christmas goodies and semi-regular posting coming soon. Related reading material for you in the meantime: Sorry I Haven’t Posted.

how you got here

looking for lunar camels

I always enjoy looking at the search terms that have brought people — mostly people, one hopes — to this blog. A small handful appear to be specialty perverts whose reconnaisance missions have led them through several pages of Google results before arriving here, and I am almost sorry to turn them away empty-handed. (That “almost” is for you, Mr. or Ms. “sexual pony”). For the most part, though, I have indeed blogged about the things you’ve been after, or you are after things I am willing to consider blogging about. Such as:

Humboldt County weed: Very popular, this stuff, but I have a suspicion many searchers get lost scrolling all the way down to the middle of this post, past the distracting book, car, books, radio, dirty magazines, and wonk-eyed cat.

fat liz taylor: It makes me feel like such a part of the community, that we share an enthusiasm for looking at photos of Liz having a grand old time at fat camp on rainy weekday afternoons.

roasted seaweed snack: I like those too and I use them to make other snacks. Is there a word for snacks within snacks? I am going to roll up some almonds inside a layer of seaweed snack and then roll that up inside a tortilla spread with almond butter and think about snacks within snacks within snacks within snacks.

baby molds: I really banged on about the sort of baby molds one might use to make chocolate babies, but who knows what these searchers were after. I don’t have any children of my own so I am unfamiliar with the types of mold that grow on babies, and my thoughts are more likely to turn to the fascinating babies one might make with an actual baby mold. The technology appears to work well with melons, and as a bonus you’d probably be able to make some baby oil at the same time.


basic square melons

paper camel step by step: Unfortunately I am useless at making those.

70s weird: I feel like I blog about this a lot (e.g.) but rarely do I explicitly explain that that is what I am doing, so it’s nice that people interested in this find their way here anyhow.

where can i buy bio coffee: In my neighborhood! At Food For Life Supreme on 116th Street. I have mentioned I sort of like it. My man-friend is thinking of getting a container and drinking it every day for a week. I will encourage him and keep you posted on that.

boys bathing bare: Like you, I have a scholarly interest in this.

driftwood cutting board: I find it surprising that I am one of very few people to possess one of these on the internet. All the more so because I gave my temporary driftwood cutting board the briefest of mentions. Driftwood tends to be soft so it doesn’t make the best cutting board, but don’t you people ever need to forage for a cutting board in a pinch? Urban freeganism drools, seaside freeganism rules.

marimo balls: I keep them, yes.

marimo ball smell: Mine smell good, a fresh, green smell, but you can’t smell anything at all unless you take them out and hold them up to your nose. I change the filtered water my marimo balls live in once a week, if that helps.

how can I make my marimo reproduce: An excellent question. Whatever they do, they apparently prefer to do away from prying people eyes. Please let me know if you’ve ever walked in on yours going at it because mine are not very active.

how to cover stuff with marimo balls: I’m at a loss as to why this requires research because the answer seems obvious to me: pile them on and don’t use any ruinous glue! If they don’t stay put just keep adding more and more marimo balls until your stuff is covered.

sink growing stuff: I like growing found plants and discarded bits of plants — did you know you can grow your own pineapple tree from your old pineapple parts? — but strangely I have not blogged about this interest yet. Nor have I ever tried growing things in my sink. I am guessing that people who are doing that are mostly doing it by accident. Either that or I am ignorant about next-level avant gardening.

what do i wear with creepers?: I’m still gathering data as to whether anyone really is wearing creepers, but in the meantime I think very tight trousers would be ideal.

famous bed: I have only ever briefly touched on the subject of famous bed-ins. I think famous beds is an excellent subject for an entirely new blog. You could get off to a rousing start with the Celestial Bed, and I think you could also blog any and all round beds because there aren’t ever enough photos of those to look at, are there? Semi-related, do any of you remember there used to be a nice blog called The Sleeper and the author signed each post, “Yours amidst the sound of knocking radiators,” after dispensing advice about sheets, etc.? I can’t find it now even with The Internet Wayback Machine.

winged phallus: Yes of course I have shown you one of those.

gastronome cravat: Those too.

monolith boner: I have written about those too! I think it’s generally pretty great that people with similar interests can find one another effortlessly like this.

pothead daydream: Pretty much the entirety of my blogging is about this subject.

sex nuns: I have only written about movie nuns who weren’t having any sex at all, but a knowledgable friend tells me you can find the sex nuns here. Don’t click on that at the office.

hypnotic butt spiral: I don’t really keep up with trendy dance moves, I’m just a dabbler, so you should ask another blogger about this.

monkey paw weed: I have never tried that kind but if you are its publicist you can send me some and I will review it.

killingworth ct nude in the woods: I like to go hiking there (exhibit A; exhibit B) so I can tell you that, like other woods, those woods are full of ticks and scratchy tree branches. So to answer your question, no, that wasn’t me.

boner pjs: I did once go on a tangent about pajamas but I don’t know what boner pjs are. Have they got a hole in them or are they so sexy as to be boner-inducing? Whichever it is, I bet this person’s neighbor wears them sometimes. Or ought to.