Here’s a stunning—and major décor statement piece, IMO—500 lb. bronze octopus coffee table by Los Angeles-based sculptor, artist and designer Isaac Krauss.
Here’s a stunning—and major décor statement piece, IMO—500 lb. bronze octopus coffee table by Los Angeles-based sculptor, artist and designer Isaac Krauss.
Mutant “super rats,” which cannot be killed by regular poisons are spreading across the UK, according to researchers and pest control experts.
Just like those creatures in James Herbert’s classic pulp horror novel, The Rats, these super rodents eat toxic pellets “like feed,” and have spread as far as Kent, the West Country and Sussex.
In an interview with Metro newspaper, Richard Moseley of the British Pest Control Association said:
“Normal rats are being killed off by poison, so these resistant species are taking their place—it’s only natural that their numbers are expanding. But they’re being found further afield than previously anticipated. They eat poison like feed; you might as well be leaving out grain for them.”
There are an estimated 10.5million rats in the UK. Rats can breed rapidly and have a gestation period of 21-days, one female can have as many as 14 “pups” at a time. It is believed that some breeding pairs can produce as many as 800 young in just two years.
While poison resistant rats have been observed in the UK for over 50 years, researchers from the University of Huddersfield have claimed these mutant rats are spreading rapidly. Last year, researchers discovered that up to 70% of rats tested in some counties were resistant to poison.
Dr. Dougie Clarke told Metro that a naturally occurring mutation of genes was most likely responsible for these “Super Rats.”
“It’s now a big problem in some areas of the south of England. The only solution is stronger poisons.
“There are concerns about poisoning secondary animals and birds but, if it’s carefully controlled it can be kept to an absolute minimum.”
Rats are considered a major health risk to the public, if their populations are left unchecked. However, Jeff Knott from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said:
“We cannot afford to lock ourselves into a toxic arms race we can never win, as wildlife will be the loser.”
Mutant giant rats are also a problem in Iran, Central Europe and New York, but now that Mr Herbert’s once fictional “super” Rats are spreading across the UK, how long before Guy N. Smith’s giant Crabs and Shaun Hutson’s mutant Slugs make their appearance?
Via the ‘Metro’
Last week, when we spoke to David Yow about his forthcoming Jesus Lizard: Book, he completely neglected to mention to us that he had a second book in the works. A book of cat drawings, and just about all of them groaner puns. Through his publisher, Akashik Books, Yow said:
I love cats. Always have. The only time I didn’t have a cat was a brief hell in Chicago where I lived in an apartment whose landlord didn’t allow them. At that place, I had a life-sized cardboard cutout of a cat which I named Toody. I also love wordplay. I’m the only adult I hang out with who still gets a kick out of puns. I make up palindromes. I used to write songs and poems (these days, I leave that for the songwriters and poets); in this book of cat-pun drawings, I have made a concerted effort to come up with ideas that range from really funny to really amusing. The entire litter of animals in this book are line drawings that are ‘coloured in’ with photographic textures, and each cat is dropped into a photographic setting. Yep, that’s the truth.
Et cetera. There are many more of these to be seen at Yow’s web site. And that’s the only place you’ll be able to see them for awhile. The book won’t actually be out until next summer.
It’s charming that he thinks people will like pictures of cats, but frankly, I’m skeptical. Who the hell buys cat stuff?
Below, fan-made video for Scratch Acid’s “Cannibal” (NSFW)
AVAAZ.org have a petition to stop the sale of living animals as keychain/lucky charm.
The petition calls on the United Nations to:
...demand the Chinese government to ban the manufacture and sale of amulets and jewelry containing live animals.
As the petition explains, this “new fashion” jewelry in China has:
...animals living under plastic containing a liquid nutrient and oxygen that allows them to live up to 2 months.
This is cruel and should be condemned by the international community.
Though it has been claimed that the animals can live up to two months in the “nutrient” environment, this is not true, as the animals die within days through a lack of oxygen.
This story has been featured in the news since 2008, but nothing has been done to stop this horrific trade.
Please sign the petition to help highlight and stop the sale of amulets and jewelry containing live animals. Thank you.
With thanks to Lindsay Reid.
Finnish YouTuber “markoboy” enjoys his drink and food. He’s uploaded close to 400 videos of himself imbibing booze and scarfing down gawdawful looking plates of unidentifiable grub. I couldn’t help but watch a few of his weird little displays of gastronomic gluttony wondering all the while if they’re some form of Viennese Actionist-style performance art for the Facebook generation.
I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re not. For some inexplicable reason, “markoboy” has chosen to share his goofy inbred gobble-fests with the rest of the world. The dramatic arc of his videos are pretty flat and I quickly got bored until I came upon the one featuring the cat with radioactive eyes. This one must be seen for its absolute eeriness. It’s also very “Tim and Eric.”
There is a grand tradition of photographing cats in silly situations and adding humorous captions that’s as old as photography. Over a hundred years before Icanhascheezburger.com and lolcats.com, there was Brighton, England photographer Harry Pointer and his “Brighton cats” series.
During the Victorian era Pointer discovered an untapped market for visiting cards and greeting cards featuring anthropomorphized cats with funny or sweet captions, doing things like having tea, demanding dinner, rollerskating, and taking photos themselves. Pointer created about 200 lolcat portraits in his “The Brighton Cats” series by 1884. He made a killing selling these images on visiting cards and greeting cards.
Pointer’s cats were also very much alive.
You can’t say the same of American photographer Harry Whittier Frees’ subjects when he came along thirty-six years later. Frees did similar tableaux using pigs, rabbits, dogs, and cats but usually without funny captions. Frequently dead cats, because they hold still better. Many of the twee domestic scenes he set up also included eerie-looking china dolls. He wrote in Animal Land on the Air that his images “represent an almost inconceivable amount of patience, care, and kind attention, as well as a very large number of spoiled films.” Maintaining the fantasy that all of the animals he used were alive and squirming around.
Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable of taking many “human” parts. Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal. The pig is the most difficult to deal with, but effective on occasion. The best period of young animal models is a short one, being when they are from six to ten weeks of age. An interesting fact is that a kitten’s attention is best held through the sense of sight, while that of a puppy is most influenced by sound, and equally readily distracted by it. The native reasoning powers of young animals are, moreover, quite as pronounced as those of the human species, and relatively far surer.
Frees began his cat portraits in 1905, when he photographed the presumably alive family cat wearing a party hat at a birthday celebration. Like Pointer he made good money selling the reproductions for postcards, calendars, and publications. But it takes much of the “lol” out of “lolcat” to use dead animals in poses, like something out of Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.
If Frees’ contemporaries knew that many of the animals in his photos were dead, they probably didn’t care. Victorians and Edwardians had no problem photographing dead things, including their own relatives, going so far as to pose with them in depressing family portraits before burying them. There are still people who take pictures at funerals, but come on, North American funereal customs are awful enough without that being a widespread practice.
The amount of patience required to take a camera-phone picture of live, active, wriggly, uncooperative cats is impressive. But using the old-school photographic techniques? Pointer must have had a Zen master level of serenity. Frees was admittedly resourceful and found a cheap, easy, pragmatic solution to the problem. He was still, however, a creepy bastard.
Can you imagine if you worked at a Poison Control Center and got this phone call?! “Excuse me, I think I’ve just ingested a watermelon that was injected with rat pee full of steroids.”
Canelo, the handsome howler monkey, is staking claim to the woman in video with his monstrous howls. You see, Canelo absolutely loathes the other spider monkey in the video. He’s basically saying in monkey-speak, “Stay the hell away from my woman!”
Apparently the monkeys are “famous for their loud howls, which can travel three miles through dense forest.”
Via Boing Boing
George Balanchine mollifying a temperamental ballet dancer
If there’s one thing New York City lacks nowadays, it’s ballets by major composers with elephants in them….
Cast your mind back more than seventy years ago. It’s Thursday, April 9, 1942. The country is at war. You’re in New York, and you have a free evening at your disposal. What to do?
Here are a few suggestions. If you’d like to see a movie, there’s a brand new comedy called My Favorite Blonde starring that wonderful young comedian Bob Hope. But perhaps you’re in the mood for live performance. Let’s see…. At the Imperial Theatre on West 45th Street you can catch the new Cole Porter musical Let’s Face It! starring Danny Kaye and Eve Arden, or over at the Majestic Theatre a block down on 44th, there’s always George Gershwin’s masterpiece Porgy and Bess.
Or wait—what am I thinking!? There’s no way you’re not going to want to attend the world premiere of the elephant polka choreographed by George Balanchine and composed by Igor Stravinsky, right? That happens tonight at Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th, let’s get a move on before it sells out! (Yes, that’s where MSG was located between 1925 and 1968.)
This actually happened. The “father of American ballet” and arguably the most innovative composer of the pre-WW2 period really did partner up to write a performance for fifty elephants (with fifty ballerinas on top of them) for the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. The resultant work was called “Circus Polka: For a Young Elephant.” The elephants, all fifty of them, wore pink tutus.
Not too surprisingly, the crowd loved it.
Balanchine and Stravinsky in 1957, possibly discussing a tarantella arranged for panda bears.
According to Stephen Walsh’s entertaining account in Stravinsky: The Second Exile: France and America, 1934-1971, here’s how it all went down:
[H]e was telephoned from New York by Balanchine, who had been approached by Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus to choreograph a polka for the circus elephants, and wanted Stravinsky to compose the music. Stravinsky told him that he could not write even a short piece before March. . . . All the same he certainly tinkered with the idea long before that. He noticed that by an odd coincidence there were polka rhythms everywhere in the Danses concertantes, and at about Christmastime he started sketching ideas for the elephant piece while still working on the ending of the Danses. Then, as soon as that work was finished, he rapidly composed the Circus Polka as a piano solo and completed the draft score by the 5th of February. The point about this, for him, slightly unusual way of working was that Ringling would need a score for a circus band, and for the first time in his life Stravinsky did not feel equal to the task. So he approached the best-known Hollywood arranger of the day, Robert Russell Bennett, and Bennett recommended a young composer called David Raskin—a pupil of Schoenberg, as it turned out, and already an experienced filmwriter—who duly orchestrated the polka for the bizarre combination of wind and percussion instruments (including Hammond organ) that Ringling had assembled for their circus performances.
As a piece of barefaced opportunism, the Circus Polka was hard to beat. A few years later Stravinsky gratefully accepted a Canadian interviewer’s suggestion that the piece was a musical equivalent of the circus paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec, but at the time he was mainly concerned to write it as quickly as possible for the biggest fee Balanchine could get him. Later still, he reconstructed the original phone conversation in terms of an imaginary aesthetic discrimination. “I wonder if you’d like to do a little ballet with me, a polka perhaps,” Balanchine is supposed to have said. “For whom?” “For some elephants.” “How old?” “Very young.” (After a pause) “All right. If they are very young elephants, I will do it.” As for the music, the piece galumphs amusingly enough through vestiges of rhythmic ideas from the Danses concertantes reimagined for pachyderms, with an unexpected nod at one point toward Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, and ending with a heavily underlined and quotation-marked parody of the same Schubert march that he had merely hinted at in the Janssen score.
In fact the ballet—which Stravinsky never saw—was danced, when the circus opened at New York’s Madison Square Garden on the 9th of April, by fifty elephants in pink tutus, all apparently of mature age, like the fifty girls who sat atop them. At their head, lovely Vera Zorina rode in on Old Modoc, the chief and oldest elephant.
As carefully as if La Zorina were spun glass—which she is!—
the giant deposited her in the center of the forest of elephants,
and when she had completed her exquisite pirouetting upon
the sawdust picked her up and carried her away. But not
before she had handed [Modoc] a huge bunch of American
Beauties, which he promptly coiled up in his trunk like
a commuter filing his copy of The New York Sun under
his arm to read after dinner.
Fortunately there was no stampede except at the box office, and though the Ringlings never revived the piece after the first season, the publicity it attracted served them well until, after less than two months, the band was paid off because of a pay dispute, and the circus continued with gramophone recordings, which of course precluded the Stravinsky ballet.
Here’s some of the music:
And here’s a brief documentary clip about the elephant ballet, which is still pretty diverting even though it’s entirely in Russian:
Firefighters were surprised to find they were beaten to the scene of a fire in Milton, West Virginia, on Saturday, by Batman and Captain America.
Dressed in their iconic costumes, the two superheroes were making quick work of rescuing a cat trapped in the house by the fire.
Batman and Captain America gave their secret identities as John Buckland and Troy Marcum, two local men who had been dressed in costume for an event at the nearby American Legion Post, where they had been teaching children “positive lessons.”
When Captain America and Batman saw the smoke billowing from the house, they quit the class, and ran straight towards the burning house, in a bid to rescue anyone inside.
Buckland had been a firefighter, before starting his Hero 4 Higher business, had also worked as a firefighter when stationed in Iraq.
The dynamic duo burst open the front door (KA-POW!!). Entered the building (RRRIIFF!!). Smashed open a window (CRASSSH!!!). Realized no-one was home (“What the…!?!”). Then Batman “grabbed something furry” (THHHWWWPPPTT!!). Before the two heroes made their speedy exit (WHOOOOSSSHHH!!).
The bundle of fur turned out to be the household’s cat, which Batman resuscitated on the grass outside. Having been saved from a near cat-astrophe, the fiery feline could only hiss at the superhero saviors.