4.29.2010

The Bindy, Windy Wind

(found http://www.lolitas.se)

You'd better get out of that bottle of gin.

3.05.2010

A Concise History of Ornithology

It's high time I told you, if you didn't already know, that I have a bona fide obsession with birds. So much so, that I almost never write about them here. I can't. I become overwhelmed by the task of editing and composing my racing thoughts on the subject.

I spend a lot of time reading about birds, making birds, and inventing new species in my sleep. I have practically memorized my beautiful field guides, but, in true autistic fashion, I have never been birding, nor have I ever really considered observing actual birds in the field.

I do become excited when I spot birds, if I happen to be outside. However, usually I become frustrated, because the people around me never, ever notice them. So, I often find myself saying, "Look! A female cardinal!" And everyone will say, "Huh, what? Didn't see it." This makes me feel crazy. Once, in Austin, I was standing in my front yard when five lime green tropical birds flew overhead in a triangular formation. I told David, who was standing right next to me, and I'm pretty sure he was about 70% certain that I had hallucinated. But, I hadn't. I saw the birds several more times, and determined them to be Monk Parakeets. Others have reported them in the area.

My obsession is not so narrow, though. I also like to read about the personal lives of ornithologists. I invent them, as well, and write volumes of poems about their field observations and fictional love lives.

Here are a few favorites from my collection of field
guides and other ornithology miscellanea:

I.You may not know that Ian Fleming named Agent 007 after an eminent ornithologist specializing in West Indian birds, named James Bond! When I bought this book in a used book store, it contained a newspaper clipping inside, reporting the death of ornithologist James Bond in 1989.

II.
The introduction to this field guide, a 1961 edition, is precious: "Texas, as everyone knows, is vast. So vast that it can boast a greater variety of birds than any other state in the Union. In its mid-sections, East meets West, faunally, and people who live near its center line (Fort Worth, Dallas, Waco, Austin, San Antonio, and Brownsville) have long had to carry two bird books, one in each side pocket - my eastern Field Guide to the Birds and its companion volume, A Field Guide to Western Birds. Or, if they use Richard Pough's excellent Audubon Bird Guides, three books." I also have A Field Guide to Western Birds, and Field Guide to the Birds, both of which are identical in cover and paratextual detail to the Texas version.

III.
This book is tiny, but 435 pages thick. Each page is a different color engraving from Audubon's Birds of America. I keep it in my purse, so it comes with me everywhere I go.

IV.
¡Las aves en español! ¡Qué bueno!

V.
That bird is trying to bite my finger! Initially, I thought this was a modern copy, because the color prints are so nice, and the condition of the book is perfect. I thought the cover was a vintage image, but actually, this book is a 1967 copy. Genuine vintage.

VI.
This is a vinyl record of bird songs. The bird call is played twice, then the narrator names the species responsible for the sound. My favorites are the Lazuli Bunting and the Golden-cheeked Warbler.

One of my favorite things about birds is that they have wintering grounds. Also, that they have homing devices, and weightless bones. They flock and they nest. They are social, and transmit cultural knowledge. They were probably dinosaurs. They glimpse at their surroundings while sleeping, this is called vigilant sleep. In some species, sexual selection has become so highly evolved that the males look like strange, elaborate ballerinas. Some birds even mate for life. That's more than we can say.

2.24.2010

This Could Be Yours!

I found this glorious copy of The Clue of the Tapping Heels today, and I'm feeling a little generous. Youth novels come in and out of my sad life at a pretty constant rate. For example, today I received fifteen Sweet Valley High books in the mail after unknowingly outbidding someone's loving grandmother on Ebay. In some ways I feel like these novels are never really mine. So, I'd like to send this book to one lucky reader.

According to its summary, in this book Nancy Drew tracks a ghostlike intruder who is suspected of stealing prized Persian cats. America's loveliest sleuth outsmarts three criminals and even tap dances in morse code. Yeah. Plus, the second chapter is called, ANIMAL UPROAR, so it sounds like this book is a pretty good one. Just look at it.

Here is how it works: leave a note in the comments section, and include either your email address or simply be logged into your blog account. I will randomly choose a winner on Monday March 1st at 7pm EST (in this fashion, or if there aren't many comments I might be old-fashioned about it and draw names out of a fancy hat). Almost no one reads this blog, apart from a few mysterious people across Scandinavia (I expect you all to participate!) so you have a pretty good chance of winning this perfect little book.

I will do another book giveaway next week, so be sure to come back. In the meantime, I'll be reading, you guessed it, The Clue of the Tapping Heels.

2.18.2010

Eternal Children

All items and photos can be found here, Mieke Willems.

Mieke Willems collects all the nice things in the world. I was so sad to hear that their little shop is closing.

Times are hard for eternal children now. People have lost their imaginations and monies. We keep making ridiculous things, though, because we don't know what else to do. Maybe we can't possibly do anything else? We are not so charmed by society's idea of a conventional adulthood. What to do, what to do? It is romantic, but there is no great love story here. I find it very sad. We tend not to organize, making us almost powerless. We were simply left behind one day, when some ship, maybe Noah's Ark, carried everyone away into the world. Maybe we were picking daisies, woolgathering alone in fields, or falling down rabbit holes. Maybe we were too nervous to board, and hid in the attic. Why should we need your world? We have our own, each one different and wonderful and warm, none of them overlapping. Well, maybe just barely. A welcoming would be nice, but we have been disappointed too many times by the World As We Know It, so don't be surprised if we are hesitant. Remember, emotionally we are most unusual and find it hard to communicate. Please be gentle with us. We sometimes have sensory issues and become easily overwhelmed by either an abundance of beauty or its upsetting scarcity. It becomes hard to function. Moving music is the making and breaking of us.

It may be a bit self important, but I will proceed to say it. One of my favorite parts of Judaism is the concept of Tikkun Olam. It means, repairing the world. In short, it says that the world is broken. During its very invention, tiny pieces of light were shattered to form the universe and it is our job, as good people, to find the pieces and put them back together. Most people now take this to indicate a call to action, to promote social justice and charity, tzedakah. Don't bother telling me. I realize that I interpret it strangely. I think that creative people are collecting the pieces, and we are trying very hard to put the world back together. The shards cut, though. It gets difficult. I can't keep being your lovely little oneironaut, if you aren't patient with me when I get lost. Go easy on me. I am trying to save the world, but it keeps breaking my heart. I have a few of the pieces, tied together with string. You need them. We all do.

2.12.2010

Scottish Highlands Finger Puppets

(peregrine falcon, shetland pony, highland cattle, scottish blackface sheep, loch ness monster)

Here is a new set of finger puppets added to the shop. After a short vacation this weekend I'm going to begin adding new items to the shop frequently. The finger puppet orders have kept me pretty busy, but I'm ready to start making more things now.

1.31.2010

Recent Acquisitions, UPDATE!
































I'm a collector now. At the moment, I'm reading Two-Boy Weekend.

UPDATE: Rachel's question prompted me to update this entry with a summary of lessons learned from Two-Boy Weekend, which, I guess is a pretty stupid play on "two day weekend" (this isn't even a cute phrase to pun, but more of just a simple fact that there are two days in a weekend?). In this story, Jessica Wakefield is so slutty that she can't even remain faithful to her boyfriend, A.J., for three fucking days while he visits his grandmother in Texas. While she sulks on the beach over her boyfriend's departure, a cute, mysterious surfer instantly falls in love with Jessica, and the two share a whirlwind weekend romance. Who wouldn't instantly fall for her, this is Jessica Wakefield, you guys, who is described at the beginning of every Sweet Valley High book as a beautiful California girl with "flashing blue-green eyes, sun-streaked blonde hair and a perfect size six figure." Oh, and she is also a complete manipulative BITCH to anyone who crosses her path. They forget to mention that. At the end of their blissful weekend together, Jessica tells her surfer fling, Christopher, that she can no longer see him, because she has a boyfriend. Christopher freaks out and starts to act pretty shady, but Jessica is too stupid to notice at this point. She pretty much forgets about the whole situation until Christopher starts stalking her later that week. Things turn scary, and Christopher's behavior becomes erratic. He even mistakingly stalks Elizabeth Wakefield (Jessica's identical twin), who has no idea what is going on. She's simply trying to carry on with her important charitable work, being the 'big-sister' to a poor little girl who LIVES IN AN APARTMENT! And comes from a single parent home! Doomed to be a tainted person in Sweet Valley. : (

Jessica can't tell anyone about what happened between her and Christopher (even after her life is threatened!), but not because, presumably, it would hurt A.J. and possibly ruin their relationship. Instead, Jessica selfishly worries about a major event on the horizon. You see, A.J. just won an essay competition in Sweet Valley, which for some reason means he is honored as the "King of Sweet Valley" in an upcoming ceremony (who knew they valued literature in Sweet Valley?). Jessica cannot wait to accept her well-deserved title as "Queen of Sweet Valley," merely because she is A.J.'s girlfriend. And if A.J. finds out about her infidelity and they break up.....no recognition for Jessica!

She manages to remain deceptive in the face of violence (Christopher is unstable!) until the night of the big ceremony. Christopher shows up to kidnap Jessica, but Elizabeth willingly goes away with him, fooling Christopher into thinking that she is Jessica, so that her twin can receive her award! Twin swapping, sigh, I'm pretty tired of this plot device. Also, why does everyone cater to Jessica's incredibly stupid desires and behavior? Elizabeth almost dies when Christopher kidnaps her (and is about to rape her?) before she is dramatically rescued after Jessica passively wonders if Liz is alright while dancing in her haute party dress under the hot lights of the country club event. This is not the first time that Elizabeth has been kidnapped, either. It's not that weird, because the Wakefields are at the center of the fucking universe.

Here is the real lesson. Lie. Just lie until it almost kills your sister, then, break up with your boyfriend to avoid having to come clean. In an incredibly selfish move, Jessica goes on stage with A.J. to accept their King and Queen titles, and then whispers to him (in front of everyone!) that she doesn't want to date him exclusively anymore. She gets to be the fucking Queen of Sweet Valley. A.J. even apologizes to Jessica for leaving town and for, well who knows what? Can you believe this shit? It's not even that she did something wrong, right? In fact, the real issue here is that some guys are crazy, as they discover about Christopher, apparently "he was a deeply troubled young man, undergoing therapy." Jessica probably didn't even think it was that weird for someone to stalk her--she seems to think that it's only natural that everyone pay her that much attention. Mazel tov, Jess. You are truly unbelievable.

On a side note: The book ends, as it always does, with a little transition to the next book in the series (which is almost completely unrelated to the previous books). Jessica makes fun of the SVH star female basketball player who suffers from the unfortunate deformity of being tall and thin, saying "as far as I know, she has never even had a date." What's your problem, Jessica, not everyone is such a slut like you. Besides, it sounds like this girl will become a model, after a makeover montage, because as we know, about 30% of the women in Sweet Valley are former models or currently being discovered as such. So much modeling going on in this small town. Oy vey.