Friday, September 21, 2012

Art For The Birds

(via archiemcphee)

This art is for the birds! A street artist by the name of Combo created an awesome open-air art exhibition specifically for pigeons. Not only are the pieces pigeon-sized and placed at the birds’ eye level, they’re each easily recognizable pieces of well-known art that have been altered to reflect a pigeon-centric world. The pigeon version of American Gothic is probably our favourite.



(via theblackworkshop)

Here's Looking At You

(via 2headedsnake)

Wooden case containing 60 small phrenological heads, by William Bally, Manchester or Dublin, 1831


As I (ahem) keep mentioning I'll soon be winging my way to the Big Apple (for classes and - hopefully - tons of fun) so my blogging and such will be a bit spotty for the next week or so.  

But definitely keep an eye on my Flickr feed for shots of my New York wanderings...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kodama Trio 


(via gaksdesigns)

Welcome to Weirdsville: The Fungus Among Us

Here's a nice treat: a sample chapter from my non-fiction book, Welcome to Weirdsville ... this time on the wonderful (and sometimes frightening) world of fungus!


Let's play a game: animal, mineral, or vegetable?

The answer? Two out of three. Ladies and gentlemen: the wonderful, and let's not forget weird, world of fungi.

But first a ridiculously quick science lesson, and an explanation for the opening above: scientists consider fungi to be part of a separate and unique kingdom, in that they aren't plants and they're not animals – so they really are two out of three.
It's this 'not one and not the other' that make fungi wonderfully – and somewhat disturbing – to study. At their most identifiable they an fundamental part of our diet: buttons, portobellos, shitakes, oysters, morels, chanterelles, and more – including the expensive yet ubiquitous truffle. But fungi are also essential to make many of our foods ... well, food: without them we wouldn't have cheese, beer, wine, bread and too many others to name. If that isn't impressive enough, our odd not-quite-an-animal, not-quite-a-plant, is also indispensable to medicine: penicillin, the cornerstone of antibiotics, was mold found in a Petri dish, after all. In fact some experts claim that if anything were to happen to our fungal friends humanity would be, at worst, extinct, or at best, pretty miserable.

But mushrooms and yeasts and molds are only the public face of the fungal world. Beyond beer, wine, cheese, and medicine there's a stranger side – in fact a rainbow of oddness. Mushrooms, you may think, are brown or white, right? But fungi can also be spectacularly colorful: the Parrot Waxcap is as green as grass, the Crimson Waxy Cap is sunset crimson, and the Slimy Spike-cap is even bright purple. There are even varieties of mushroom that aren't just colorful but actually glow in the dark: Omphalotus olearius, the Jack o' Lantern, for example, is a celebrated bioluminescent fungus, as is the Australian ghost fungus.

Even when fungi are brown and dull appearances can be deceiving: the aptly named stinkhorn, for example, produces the aroma of rotting meat to attract flies, which help the mushroom spread its spores. Speaking of spore-spreading, the puffball mushroom and its various relations do it in a very dramatic fashion, quite literally shooting their spawn into the air when touched.

But for all their color and their clever tricks, fungi have an even odder side, one that might make you look at that blue cheese in your sandwich, or that beer you were planning to have with lunch, a little differently – if not with out-and-out fear.
Sure, fungi have given us much but they can also take it away, and not just for people who mistake an amanita phalloides for an amanita caesarea: Cryptococcus gattii, though rare, is alarmingly fatal and is airborne. How fatal? Well, it's considered to be one of – if not the – most lethal fungal infections you can get. There are other deadly fungi, and as most of them are extremely opportunistic and durable, they can spread wildly and are all but impossible to kill. Just think athlete's foot mixed with a rattlesnake.

It's fungi's ability to grow just about anywhere that makes it so amazing. If you name a hostile environment there's more than likely some form of mushroom or yeast that will not only grow there but prefer it over anywhere else. An extreme version of this is when researchers stuck their instruments into one of the most poisonous places on earth and found not only a species of mushroom growing there but one that actually appears to be feeding on the toxicity. How nasty is this place? Well, all you need to say is one word to shudder at the thought: Chernobyl.

But strangeness and fungi don't end with radiation-feasting mushrooms, for there are quite a number of them that feast on other things – including animals. Nematophagous fungi, for instance, grow miniscule rings that, if a nematode happens to squirm into one, rapidly contract, trapping the unfortunate lunch ... I mean 'worm.' If this makes you a bit nervous take a bit of consolation in that the popular oyster mushroom is also a nematode killer – and it's also tasty, so while it eats them we also eat it.

But eating isn't the only dark thing fungi do. One particular species has an extremely disturbing lifecycle – and a terrifying one ... if you happen to be an ant. Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, if it gets half a chance, will infect an ant and (ahem) eat parts of its brain, causing the poor little insect to basically become the walking dead The fungus finishes it off only after it clamps itself to the underside of a leaf, just where the fungus wants it to die – a location that works really well for the fungi, but definitely not the ant.

Yes, they have given us much: all those mushrooms and other amazing fungi. Without them we would have very bland food, let alone no booze, and would probably die a lot quicker without antibiotics. Some of them are as pretty as flowers, a few may be deadly to the unlucky or the tragically ignorant, while further species lurk in the soil for the unwary nematode, but – basically – they have been our friends for a very long time.

Besides, we'd better watch our step: while the jury is out on the subject, many experts point to a certain forest in Oregon. What's special about this hunk of land, that particular stand of trees? Well, the honey mushroom that lives there, and occupies over 2,200 acres of that forest, may very well be the largest organism on the earth.
So we had better treat them well – all those wondrous fungi – just in case that they, or just that single huge mushroom, should wake up and remind us of all they've done for us ... or could do to us. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

More Bunraku

Reminder: M.Christian Is Coming To New York!

Just a little reminder that I'm not only going to be taking a nibble out of the Big Apple as a tourist in late September ... but teaching some very cool classes as well!

Here's what I'm going to be doing and where ... hope to see you there!



DATE: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
TIME: 8:00PM - 11:00PM
LOCATION: Joria Studios
260 West 36th St, 3rd Floor, between 7th and 8th Aves

Sure, you've heard of it – and maybe been intrigued by it – but what is polyamory and how do you love more than one person and make it work? How can you deal with jealousy, time-management, emotional rough patches, and more, to enter into multiple sexual relationships? We'll learn to separate the myths from the realities of polyamory, how to make tentative steps towards having more than one partner, and how to approach and deal with the problems of sharing yourself with others, and being involved with someone who, in turn, is involved with someone else.
Doors open at 7:30 pm - Meeting begins at 8 pm

COST: TES Members $4, Students with ID $4, Reciprocal Groups $6, Non-Members $10




DATE: Thursday, September 27, 2012
TIME: 6:30PM - 8:30PM
SHAG ...a sexy shop
108 Roebling Street @ N. 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

There are many ways to reach your inner sexual and spiritual self - but one of the most surprisingly powerful paths is through the written word. In this lecture/workshop, participants will hear how erotic writing (fiction as well non-fiction) can reach hidden places that often lay unexposed, and to help make personal discoveries and to assist in a personal journey of self and sensuality. Participants will learn how to free their erotic writing voices, how to develop their writing towards discovering their erotic spirits within, and when to silence - and when to listen - to the inner critic.

COST: $20



DATE: Saturday, September 29, 2012
TIME: 1:00PM – 3:00PM
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual &
Transgender Community Center
208 West 13th Street
New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212-620-7310

Celebrated erotic author M. Christian will be teaching his acclaimed sex-writing class and workshop Sex Sells: How To Write And Sell Erotica one time only in New York City!

The market for erotic fiction and nonfiction has always been popular but these days it's truly booming. Gay, lesbian, bi, straight ... you name it and it's selling like mad!

But even though the genre is more popular that ever, doesn't mean that there aren't important lessons to be learned in how to write, and sell, effective erotica.

For the beginning writer, erotica can be the ideal place to begin getting published, and - best of all - earning money ... and for the experienced author, erotica can be an excellent way to beef up your resume and hone your writing skills.

In Sex Sells: How To Write And Sell Erotica - this wildly entertaining class - M. Christian will review the varieties of personal and literary expression possible in this exciting and expanding field. Here you'll learn not just these creative techniques to writing stories that wonderfully sizzle but also essential lessons in dealing with editors, publishers, marketing your work, using social networking sites, and more.

In Sex Sells: How To Write And Sell Erotica you'll learn:
· How to create love and sex scenes that sizzle
· Current pay rates
· How to write for a wide variety of erotic genres
· Where and how to submit your writing
· The ebook revolution and what it means for writers of any genre
· How to cultivate your erotic imagination
· Where to sell your work to magazines, websites, anthologies, book publishers
· Techniques for writing convincing stories for sexual orientation and interests beyond your own
· The best Internet resources for writers of erotica
· How respond to fans, reviewers and criticism
- and much, much more

COST: $20

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Round House


(via wasbella102)
Jarlshof: looking down into a round house near to Sumburgh, Shetland Islands, Great Britain 
The archaeological site at Jarlshof represents over 4,000 years of continual human habitation. The earliest remains are of Bronze Age buildings from around 2500-2000 BC; Iron Age round houses date from between 200 BC and AD 800; a Viking settlement from the 9th to 14th centuries stands towards the eastern side of the site; and finally the castle, the Laird’s House, stands in the centre of the site and was converted from a medieval farmhouse to a fortified residence in the 1500s. 
Similarly to Skara Brae in Orkney, the Jarlshof site was hidden until a storm in the late 1800s expsed some of the remains. Archaeological work in the 1920s and 1940s/50s revealed the full extent of the site.
Here, we stand on the top floor of Jarlshof: the Laird’s House and look west over the later Iron Age buildings, larger and more advanced than the earliest round houses on the opposite side. It is easy from here to appreciate the term ‘wheelhouse’ used for these buildings - built in circular fashion around a central hub with storage areas and small rooms leading off it.


(via differentdre)
Futuristic Architecture with the essence of Hydroelectric Technology. 
Architect: Yheu Shen Chua 
This design by UK architect Yheu-Shen Chua has been awarded Third Place in eVolo’s 2011 Skyscraper Competition: “One of the main purposes of the project is to allow the water from the upstream river to engage directly with the visitors through a series of containers. A hanging tower above the 700-foot drop into the Black Canyon would be used as gallery and a vertical aquarium.”

KABOOM! From Welcome To Weirdsville

Here's another fun piece from my collection of strange (but true) stuff: Welcome to Weirdsville: This time it's on the largest - non-nuclear - blasts on earth.


For most of us BOOM, KABLAM, KABLOOIE mean a mushroom cloud and a cute little animated turtle talking about ducking and covering – as well as the possible End Of All Life As We Know It.

But, unfortunately, not every monstrous explosion began with J. Robert Oppenheimer saying "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Even putting aside natural blasts such as the eruption of Krakatoa, which was so massive the sound of it was heard as far away as London, the earth has still to be rocked by more than its fair share of man-made, non-atomic BOOMs, KABLAMs, and KABLOOIEs.

One of the more terrifying non-nuclear explosions ever to occur was in 1917 up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Back in December of that year the Mont-Blanc plowed into another ship, the Imo, starting a ferocious fire. Ten minutes later the Mont-Blanc went up, creating what is commonly considered to be one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in earth history.

The Mont-Blanc was a big ship carrying a lot of extremely dangerous cargo – almost 3,000 tons of munitions bound for the war that was then tearing Europe apart. What happened that morning, which lead to the blast and the nightmarish loss of life, reads like a textbook example of whatever could go wrong, did. To avoid being torpedoed, the Mont-Blanc wasn't flying any dangerous cargo flags, so no one except for her crew knew her cargo was so dangerous. When the fire got out of control, the Mont-Blanc's crew tried to warn as many people as possible – but they only spoke French and the language of Halifax was English. Not realizing the danger, crowds began to form to watch the blaze. The Mont-Blanc, on fire, also began to drift toward a nearby pier ... that was also packed with munitions bound for the war.

When everything finally came together – the criminal negligence, the miscommunication, and worst of all the fire and the explosives – the blast was roughly equal to 3 kilotons of TNT. The fireball roared up above the town and the shockwave utterly destroyed the town and everything within one mile of the epicenter. Metal and wreckage fell as far away as 80 miles from the blast and the sound of the detonation was heard more than 225 miles away. The explosion was so huge it generated a tsunami that roared away from the epicenter and then back into the harbor again, adding to the death and destruction.

It wasn't until days later that the true horror of what had happened was realized: Halifax was completely gone, erased from the face of the earth, along with every ship in the harbor and most of the nearby town of Dartmouth. Approximately 2,000 people died from the explosion and another 9,000 were injured.

Unfortunately Halifax wasn't the first such explosives-related accident in 1917. Unbelievably, before the Mont-Blanc destroyed the town, 73 people were killed in the explosion of a munitions factory in Silvertown in West Ham, Essex. The sound was heard as far away as 100 miles. A year earlier, the Johnson Barge No.17 went up Jersey City. Although only a few people were killed, the explosion managed to damage not only Ellis Island but also the Statue of Liberty. There were many other blasts as well, but these are only a few of the more dreadful highlights.

You'd think after these nightmarish explosions, caution about things that go BOOM would have sunk in a bit, but the second world war also saw more than its fair share of explosive accidents. In 1944, for instance, the SS Fort Stikine went up while docked in Bombay, India. When her cargo went up, the blast killed 800 men and injured 3,000. The fire that followed took more than three days to control.

Also in 1944, the UK experienced what is commonly considered the largest blast ever to occur on British soil when 3,700 tons of high explosives were accidentally detonated in an underground munitions store in Fauld, Staffordshire. The explosion was so massive it formed a crater 3⁄4 of a mile across and more than 400 feet deep – and destroyed not only the base but a nearby reservoir (and all the water in it).
But one of the biggest blasts – aside from the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan – was also one of the largest in human history, and one of the most tragic.

Once again in 1944, on July 17 to be specific, munitions being loaded onto a ship in Port Chicago, California, (very close to San Francisco) detonated. No one knows what exactly caused the blast, but the damage was biblical. All in all, more than 5,000 tons of high explosives, plus whatever else was in the stores on the base and on any ships docked, was involved. The explosion was so massive it was felt as far away as Las Vegas (500 miles distant) and people were injured all over the Bay Area when windows were shattered by the immense pressure wave.

320 were killed immediately and almost 400 were seriously injured, but that's not the real tragedy. Most of these men were African American and this single disaster accounted for almost 15% of African American casualties during that war.

Still fearing for their safety, the remaining men, who had just spent three weeks pulling the bodies of their fellow sailors from the wreckage, refused to load any further munitions. The Army, in a characteristic show of support, considered this an act of mutiny and court-martialed 208 sailors, sending an additional 50 to jail for 8 to 15 years.

Fortunately, the 'mutineers' were given clemency after Thurgood Marshall fought for them, though the final member only received justice in 1999 in the form of a Presidential pardon by President Bill Clinton.

Today in Port Chicago there's a marker on the spot and it states that the event was a step toward "racial justice and equality."

And all it took was one of the largest non-nuclear, man-made, blasts in the history of the world – and the deaths of 320 sailors. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Iblard Jikan

The film is 30 minutes long and consists primarily of Naohisa Inoue's fantasy paintings of the Iblard world. Studio Ghibli digitally animated portions of the paintings and integrated original elements into the scenery. There are 8 separate segments, each featuring a different painting or landscape and instrumental musical piece. The film focuses mostly on static shots of "moving" scenery: Inoue's paintings digitally altered, so that grass moves in the wind, people walk, etc. There is no dialogue in the film.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Actually Quite Dull


Truly Fantastical Creatures



The Fantastical Creatures from El by Ellen Jewett

In the world of El, the animals that walk the land only exist as faint what-ifs from dreams long forgotten past waking, the powers of time breaks useless against their backs adorned with plantlife, cities, and other meticulously vibrant structures… themselves, the carriers of worlds. Some of Ellen’s mythical masterpieces, conjured forth from the ether with wire armatures, clay, and acrylics, can be welcomed into your own world with a purchase from her etsy.

Artist: DeviantArt / LiveJournal