Monthly Archives: April 2009

Fox, I’ve Got Good News… And Bad News.

red-fox-1

Oh Norwegian Red Fox, you are one of the nicest-looking terrestrial mammals around, which is why I would probably risk having my arm gnawed off in a ravenous frenzy just to scratch you behind your perfectly pointed ears. So it gives me no pleasure at all to have to say: You INFECTED!

A recent study coming out of the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science has found that cases of Trichina worm-infected foxes have become increasingly common in Norway, particularly in the southern and south-eastern areas, the worms having become accustomed to the freezing temperatures and hostile climate of the region. Bet you don’t feel like inviting your badger friends over to your den for whisky shots and chicken legs so you can laugh about all things avian and Suidae and flu now do you, Norwegian Red Fox?

But it’s not all bad, pretty creature, the same study has indicated that instances of scabies-related deaths have drastically decreased since the ‘nineties, because it seems you’ve managed to amass the relevant antibodies to combat the troublesome mite. No more gross itching and hair-loss, Norwegian Red Fox! And you have to admit, having scabies is way worse than Trichina worm anyway, so you’re doing alright. There was a period during my highschool years when scabies was the best punchline to every joke EVER, which was then replaced by Jesus, which in turn was replaced by everyone growing the fuck up. So count yourself lucky that you’re not a punchline for a fifteen-year-old, Norwegian Red Fox.

– bec

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Crab-Darwin is Not Impressed With Puijila darwini

pdarwini2

A recent discovery which would blow this mental defective’s mind (if he had one): researchers from the Carleton University, Canada, have uncovered a transitional fossil which reveals the evolutionary trail from land to sea of the pinniped mammal suborder, which includes walruses, sea lions, and seals. Published in last week’s edition of Nature, the 65% complete skeleton was once a heavy-limbed near-cat-sized carnivorous terrestrial mammal with webbed feet and a short, well-built face. Named Puijila darwini, this 23 million-year-old arctic Miocene surpasses the flippered Enaliarctos as the oldest pinniped found to date, its flattened phalanges undoubtably the best 150th anniversary gift for the publication of “On the Origin of Species” that Darwin could possibly have hoped for.

Of course if Darwin had been a crab, and you tried to present him with a couple of webbed feet leading to a sharp-toothed, muscular-jawed face perfectly-suited to crunching, your celebratory efforts are more than likely to have been swiftly rebuffed. Crab-Darwin would be all, “Motherfucker, what the fuck? Are you trying to have my shell infiltrated and my flaky insides consumed by this horrific big-eyed seal-otter hybrid of DEATH? You know what, I want my signed copy of The Origin back. Yes, I’m serious. Jesus Christ, next time I have an anniversary of significance, just buy me a fucking gold watch, okay?”

And then Crab-Darwin would storm out of there, leaving you and Puijila darwini in this fully awkward silence, and Puijila darwini would be all, “I told you this was a bad idea, but you just wouldn’t listen.” And then you’d look away because you actually thought the whole situation was kinda funny but you didn’t want to make things worse by smiling, but you could still totally feel Puijila darwini’s steely side-eye glaring in your direction. But then you realise you’re kinda hungry so you’re like, “Okay fine, you were right. Come on, I’ll buy you lunch.”

Silence.

“Are we okay?” And then Puijila darwini’s side-eye lowers to a ground-eye and he’s like, “Yeah, I guess.”

Silence.

And then you’re all, “But you have to admit it was sort of funny when Crab-Darwin’s like, ‘Fuck you, don’t you know who I am? Get me my book, arseholes!’” and Puijila darwini is like, “Ha. Yeah and he’s all, ‘But make sure you wash your hands before giving it back because I don’t want to have to spend the rest of the afternoon freaking out about the germs…’” And you both start laughing until you realise that Crab-Darwin decided to go to the bathroom on the way out so now he’s standing in the doorway, tiny crab-legs on his child-baring crab-hips and he’s like, “Hey arseholes! OCD is a serious problem, okay?!”

When Pigs Fly Returns for taxonomical info.

– bec

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Filed under Animals, Fossils, Museum Stuff, New Species!

Attn: Children of Winter

J Olsson - Mt Hood

Fifty-nine. The number of films the prolific Warren Miller has made to date.  

Filmed in Japan, Austria, BC, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Vermont, Iceland and of course, Alaska, Children of Winter is the latest release from Warren Miller Productions. Skiers and riders featured include Marco Sullivan, Seth Wescott, Gerry Lopez, Ben Watts, Josh Dirksen, Mark Landvik, Wendy Fischer and many, many, many more.

And it’s that time of year again. Warren Miller on tour. Always gets me a little giddy as it means winter is waiting for me just down the street and around the corner. And then down that next street at the T-intersection. Children of Winter is showing at Sydney’s State Theatre from the 28th of May until the 31st. Check the film’s website for national tour dates and ticket info.

Now, this film has not been getting great reviews. Jonny Moseley has taken over the production company – directing, narrating and starring in it. Too long, too much talking, not enough skiing, too many filler shots. But the cinematography looks amazing, the soundtrack is rad and, well, it’s about snow, so fuck it, I’m still going.

Forty-two. The number of days till season opener.

Can’t bloody wait.

Yours in pow,
Ra  xxx

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Splendour 2009

splendour09

 

It is hands down my favourite festival of the year, and now the first lineup for the 9th edition of the Splendour Bender Weekender is up. It’s good. Not great. (Two of the headliners have already visited our shores once in the past six months.) And selfishly, I’m kind of glad, since I can’t go this year. Sigh.  

Delighting your eyes and ears (and nose and mouth, ew) in Byron come July will be:

Bloc Party

The Flaming Lips – Always good when your sanity levels begin to reach ‘normal’

Jane’s Addiction – Original lineup. Maybe some fighting? One can only hope.

MGMT 

The Specials – Shit yeah!

Hilltop Hoods – It’s a festival, of course they are

Grinspoon

Midnight Juggernauts

Sarah Blasko

Augie March

Josh Pyke

Friendly Fires – I’ll be sideshowing this one, fo sho. 

Little Birdy

Birds of Tokyo

The Gutter Twins

Manchester Orchestra – Ridiculous. Ridiculously sick! 

Yuksek

Bob Evans

White Lies

Kram

Yves Klein Blue

Decoder Ring

Lost Valentinos

 Leader Cheetah

 Jack Ladder

The Middle East

Polaroid Fame

Glass Towers

 Tickets go on sale at nine o’clock on the dot (I’m in my drop top cruisin’ the streets) on May 14, through what is definitely one of the most frustrating ticketing websites to have ever existed, Q Jump. I suppose they’re slightly better than the Oztix Debacle of 2007. Remember these guys?

Stupid Stickmen

Splendour in the Grass 2009

Sat July 25th and Sunday July 26th
Belongil Fields, Byron Bay

 

Ra  xxx

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Luis Buñuel: Fo (Sur)real!

Un Chien Andalou

I have fairly scattered memories of my three years as an undergrad, but this image right here from Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, the one of a fucking razor blade cutting across Simone Mareuil’s eye, the one that sends shivers down my spine every time it pops into my head (which, surprisingly, is more times than would be considered normal), yeah, this one takes me right back into that Old Geology Lecture Theatre, where I spent hours watching a collection of the most influential and not-so-influential, strange and not-so-strange, extremely boring and not-so-boring films of the past one hundred years. I suppose it is a testament to Buñuel’s brilliance that out of the many hundreds of hours of lectures and the thousands of essay words written, he is the one person/subject that has not sifted through the sieve that is my ‘university brain.’ 

Regarded as the father (grandfather, brother and uncle) of surrealist cinema, Buñuel died in July 1983, leaving behind thirty-two films and one hell of a legacy. Un Chien Andalou, is surrealism in its purist, but Viridiana, is quite possibly my favourite of his films. The context and time in which it was made just adds so much to its fascination for me. After twenty-four years in political exile, Buñuel returned to Spain to make a film about a novice nun who visits her uncle before taking her vows, only to be drugged and raped by him. Needless to say, Franco was not happy (Jan)*. Somehow, Buñuel managed to create a social commentary piece on a country cut off from the rest of the world by its Fascist regime, in said fascist’s own backyard and then slip it straight past his censors. Some sort of genius, definitely. But I wouldn’t really expect anything less from a man who used to dress up as a nun, along with Frederico Garcia Lorca, board trams and then proceed to wink and nudge at male passengers.   

The Spanish Film Festival is paying tribute to one of the most important directors EVER on the 25th anniversary of his death, spotlighting his films for this year’s festival, including Un Chien Andalou and Viridiana. The festival is also presenting an exhibit that has me counting down till the end of the month when I can finally run across the road and get me some lunchtime brain food. The exhibition, Buñuel – Amigos y Peliculas, is (hopefully) a fascinating selection of  photos, letters and posters from the Centro Buñuel de Calanda in Spain.

So, if you too would like the image of an eye ball being sliced in half as firmly ingrained into your subconscious as it is in mine…

Buñuel – Retrospective is screening as part of the Spanish Film Festival at Palace Academy Twin (Paddington), Palace Norton Street (Leichardt) & Chauvel Cinema (Paddington) from May 6 till May 18.

Buñuel – Amigos y Peliculas is showing at Sydney Customs House from April 29 till May 24. 

Oh, and (dot) (dot) (dot)

*sorry

Ra  xxx

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Leaf-Cutter Ants: Too Good For Sex, Apparently.

all-female-ants

The thing I find most charming about insects that exist within a colonial structure is their unfalteringly self-sufficient nature. There are entire colonies of ants consisting of thousands of individuals, who plant and cultivate their own crops, and they arose from a single female, some minute fungal fibres and a tiny plot of dirt. This ability to effectively create an enormous something out of a miniscule nothing, and the fact that they practically invented farming 80 million years ago, are what make the leaf-cutter my favourite type of ant by far, and quite possibly my favourite type of insect.

The inception of a leaf-cutter ant colony begins with a single virginal winged female, who leaves her birth-nest to mate with five or so males from different colonies, enough to produce about 150 million worker daughters. The leaf-cutter is unique because it subsists almost entirely on a particular type of fungus, which itself is reciprocally reliant upon the leaf-cutter ant for its germination, fertilisation and protection from weeds. When the queen is done mating, she’ll land, shed her wings and dig a tiny hole in the earth into which she’ll lay her eggs and plant the fungus fibres she took from her nest. She’ll then use her own faeces to fertilise the fibres. What results is a colony of millions of leaf-cutter ants working together to maintain a thriving garden of codependent fungus plants.

And now you can even leave out that sordid matter of mid-air deflowering, because researchers at the University of Arizona have published a paper in Proceedings B just last week detailing their discovery of a species of leaf-cutter ant that can reproduce asexually. I’m no feminist by any stretch of the imagination, but I still think that’s fairly impressive. The Mycocepurus smithii, an Amazonian leaf-cutter, has evolved in such a way that the female reproductive organs have degenerated to become “ghostlike” and as unnecessary as the males of the species themselves, a single example of which has never actually been found. (And even if one was, it wouldn’t matter because you can’t have sex with a ghost.*) Instead, the tiny lady ants are cloned to be genetically identical to their mother, the queen. Brilliant.

So okay, I know this story was like the opposite of sexy, so go here for TEENAGE SEX! TEENAGE PREGNANCY! and WINGSPANS!!!

* Because they’ve already seen you naked and they’re not interested. But thanks anyway.

– bec

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Happy (Belated) Velociraptor Awareness Day

Velociraptor mongoliensis * Velociraptor Mongoliensis picture courtesy of John Conway (http://jconway.co.uk)

Not sure what we’re supposed to be “aware” of, but whatever, here are some fun Velociraptor links for your amusement:

How Long Could You Survive Chained to a Bunk Bed with a Velociraptor?

I’d last 19 seconds because I’m not very tough and have barely a month’s worth of boxing training under my belt.


Erotic Jurassic Park Fan Fiction – Raptor Rape Reversal

Not the kind of link you’d want to email to your parents with the subject title: LOL – Oh how the rape tables have turned!

Dino Run (Like a Raptor)

Send this to them instead.

And for those of you who want to, you know, learn something, go here for a discussion on whether or not Velociraptors could’ve opened doors like in Jurassic Park, based on actual scientific evidence, and here to read about some adorable tiny Passerine birds who have a tendency to claw each other to death Velociraptor-style.

Enjoy.

– bec

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