Category Archives: weird

October mixture

I hope that you and your loved ones emerged from Sandy unscathed, and that you’re not reading this while plugged in to the first working street lamp or dangling set of twinkly lights you encountered in midtown. (I’ve heard those are popular sources of power for my fellow New Yorkers as of late). I’ve been high and dry in Lunar Camel Co. Towers the whole time, baking bread and watching nature documentaries and whatnot. Friends from Evacuation Zone A have been coming and going and will continue to be welcomed, even my friend Jim, who graciously informed me in advance that he “only sleep[s] in the nude.” Anyone who can’t squeeze in on the sofa with Jim and has to stay downtown will soon be on the receiving end of as many warm chocolate chip cookies as can fit in the storage compartments of a Vespa.

I hope you’re having a happy Halloween too, or will have a happy one whenever you get around to celebrating it. My neighborhood, as you can see below, has been getting ready for some time now, but the storm complicated things. If you’re in need of an extremely last-minute costume for a postponed or fashionably late-night party, I posted a few ideas last year, and if you’re in need of some candy-eating music, I posted some good stuff on my food blog a few years back, along with a vegetarian, pumpkin-centric dinner recipe.

Harlem's bikers are ready for Halloween.

Madison Ave. near 120th St., Oct. 5th.

I’ve been a delinquent blogger lately and I’ve scarcely had time to feel bad about how shabby my rattletrap urls were looking — I’ve been alternating between working sixty-hour weeks and getting out of town. I’ve also been preoccupied with a few little projects, one of which I’ll tell you about very soon.

Deep River-20121006-02100

Applemania is coming soon on my food blog, though it’s not the little project I meant.

sweater scan

I’ve also taken up knitting html sweaters for my blogs,
but that’s not the little project I meant either.

I’ve been reading a lot too, though far more fitfully than is usual for me. I’m generally a one- or two-books-at-a-time woman but there are five or six I’m dipping into at the moment. Among them:

Love is a Pie cover

Love is a Pie by Maude Hutchins has been on my shelf for many years and I’m just getting around to it now. I’m not deeply engaged with it at the moment such that I have a lot to say about it yet, but I wanted to show you the cover, which I love. It’s the New Directions 1952 edition designed by Andy Warhol. (There’s a tiny bit more about his work for them here). I think I paid about $7 for it, partly because hardly anyone knows who Hutchins is, and partly because Warhol isn’t credited for the illustration anywhere in it. The NYRB blog describes Hutchins as the author of “peculiar psycho-sexual novels,” among other things, but Love is a Pie is a collection of short stories and plays, eminently suitable for reading a few pages at a time. My experience with it so far is that it is also peculiar and psycho-sexual. Five of the stories (“The Missing Papers of an Extra Man”) are narrated from the point of view of a bachelor, who wonders, at one point, whether “there [are] gastric juices in the brain?” There’s an interesting essay about Hutchins over at the LRB here, by Terry Castle, whose essay collection Boss Ladies, Watch Out! is also on my bed-side table. I was moved to buy it after reading her review of Lisa Cohen’s All We Know: Three Lives — a biography of three obscure and under-rated lesbians — and I’m really digging it.

I’ve also been haphazardly delving into vintage sci-fi. Doubtlessly this is influenced by an ex-boyfriend who often reads at random. Or what appears to be at random, but in actuality reflects a practiced and discerning eye for strangeness. He used to teach critical reading, actually, but (or “and”?) many of his books are ones he found on the street or in the cardboard box at his gym. After close observation I decided this is a worthwhile manner of reading, but I’m not sure I’ve gotten the hang of it yet. I’m still a bit too purposeful. I picked up the two below because both feature R. A. Lafferty and he was recommended to me years ago. I’ve never been a sci-fi person in the slightest but I sort of like the idea of becoming one. I could definitely get into the illustrations, at least, whether they’re good, terrible, or merely really weird. Plus it seems like a good time, with Singularity & Co., for example, pointing the way towards some of the more interesting bits of the genre, and the rest of the internet readily coughing up oddities.

Alpha 3 cover   Alpha 3 table of contents

Alpha Three (ed. Robert Silverberg, Ballantine Books 1972).
Click on either image to enlarge.
I don’t always buy books with no idea whether I’ll like them or not, but when they’re cheap and have interesting covers, sometimes I do.

if sci fi cover 1961   if table of contents

if Science Fiction (ed. H. L. Gold, Digest Productions, Jan. 1961),
with its table of contents apparently signed by Phyllis Gotlieb. And apparently she ranked all the other stories in order of . . . quality? Or suggested reading order?

Semi-relatedly, a selection of some of the titles I’ve seen on that ex-boyfriend’s shelves / floor / desk:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Mafia. I idly flipped through this one morning but there wasn’t much that held my attention. A few weeks later I happened to read a fascinating article in the Independent about a supposedly-elusive mafia tradition whereby two men in the same crime family will promise not to snitch on each other by sharing a passionate kiss. I asked D. whether this was covered in the Guide and he said yes of course, there is an entire chapter on it. So there you have it: Some of those idiotic-looking idiot guides are well-researched and worthwhile reads.

mafia kiss

a mafia-style kiss from the Independent, June 10, 2011

How to Draw Dynamic Hands. Actually I borrowed this one and now it’s sitting on my floor. I keep meaning to scan a few pages from it for a draft blog post that doesn’t really have anything to do with hands but needs some imagery. I’m hoping to learn something from it too because my drawing skills are not what anyone would call “dynamic.”

The Stain Bible. I remember we were both disappointed that this does not explain how to remove stains from that green kombucha that looks like pond scum. It’s one of the best flavors but also one of the most explosive, and its stains are not the same as grass stains.

Hide Your Assets and Disappear: A Step-by-Step Guide to Vanishing Without a Trace. I realize that for some people, seeing this in a man’s bookcase might be a red flag. But aren’t you curious to read it too now that you know it exists? I should maybe point out that it was surrounded by some really good stuff, like Flaubert’s Sentimental Education and The Lyrics of Leonard Cohen.

• Menander’s Dyskolos. Wikipedia tells me that this title is translated from Ancient Greek “as The Grouch, The Misanthrope, The Curmudgeon, The Bad-tempered Man or Old Cantankerous.” It’s a comedy, though.

Anyhow. Now that the storm has left us it’s a fine time for music from a wonky magic carpet, don’t you think? Here’s Manolo Sanlucar, “Diálogos.”

Michele Redolfi is perhaps more grounded: he’s been performing underwater concerts for years. Specifically, he composes, manipulates, and records experimental music and sounds under water, in pools and natural settings. The immersed participants listen through their bones, as explained by a knowledgable commenter over at Lunar Atrium. I was reminded of him recently when Connie Hockaday posted her underwater wrestling video. Here’s his “Grand Nocturne de Musique Subaquatique” at Grenoble in 2008.

In terms of everyday listening, I’m still pretty into wan and melancholic French synth pop / electro-yéyé. Long-time readers will remember that I was enthusing about Elli et Jacno in my very first post at Lunar Camel Co., and I still love them. (These days I only love them for about twenty minutes every three weeks or so, but still, it’s serious).

Main dans la main

Elli et Jacno “Main dans la main” single

Not related, but seasonally appropriate: the Mo-dettes cover of “Paint it Black”:

While we are on the subject of music, you should try to get to the Metropolitan Opera to see Thomas Adès’s adaptation of “The Tempest.” I’m basically poor people, but I know someone who knows someone and I managed to get in to a dress rehearsal. It was pretty spectacular! I used to go to the opera more often than I do now and it was lovely just to go again, but I came away thinking this was one of the more effective productions I’ve ever seen. I say that as someone who made sure to get herself to that Peter Greenaway one about Vermeer with actual rain and live cows in it. I do love a spectacle, but “The Tempest” was compelling in a character-driven way as well, and the music possessed more subtleties than I could ever hope to intelligently discuss after a single performance. It’s gotten very mixed reviews (WQXR said “eh”, while the Times gave it at least two very positive write-ups), but I say you should go if you can.

Manhattan-20121019-02148

Another recommendation, this one straight out of my superstorm playlists: The birds of Papua New Guinea are sublime. The mating dances they do are too bonkers for words, and there’s one that can make a sort of satellite dish with the feathers on his head and neck to pick up chicks, a satellite of bird love. Here, this short film from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has some terrific-looking birds in it.

If you’ve got more time to devote to bird-viewing, seek out “Nature: Birds of the Gods.” It’s about the same birds but it’s with David Attenborough and it’s about an hour long.

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

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.

MELON WITH FACE

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.

yr silver friend is here to see you

silver man is ready for bed

Verrrrrry 70s tableau vivant from Foxylady magazine, May 1975.