Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Footage of Nessie

I'll save my musings about the Loch Ness Monster for when I have more time on my hands. (As you might imagine, I have a great deal to say on the subject. I've even visited Loch Ness, and I spent some time scanning its waters for giant beasts. Unfortunately, I must admit that my efforts were in vain.) But please enjoy this thought provoking new footage. (And if you have thoughts, I encourage you to share them.)

I also apologize for the erratic posting. Things have been a bit crazy with the new book coming out! Now I'm off for a brief vacation. (Maybe I'll even post a few pics when I return.) When I'm return on the 9th, blogging will resume at its normally crazed pace. I hope you'll be back to relish the weirdness!

(Above: A highly suspicious underwater picture taken in 1972. Below: The new footage!)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Another Monster Pig!

Move over, Hogzilla! (Check out the entry for June 15, 2006.) Apparently the woods of Georgia and Alabama are jam-packed with enormous piggies. (Having spent quite a bit of time in that part of the world, I can't say I'm surprised. You couldn't pay me to wander around in the woods down there.)

According to the AP, an 11-year-old boy recently bagged a wild pig that measured a whopping nine feet, four inches and weighed half a ton. The head of the "Monster Pig" is being mounted as a hunting trophy while the body will be turned into sausage. Five to seven HUNDRED pounds of sausage.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Things I Think About When I'm Not Blogging

During my days away from the computer, I happened to catch the first scene of Peewee's Big Adventure (one of my favorite movies), which features a remarkable example of what's known as a Rube Goldberg machine.

Though Rube Goldberg was a famous cartoonist during his lifetime, these days he's best known for introducing the style of contraption that now bears his name. According to Webster's dictionary, a Rube Goldberg machine is one designed to "accomplish by extremely complex and roundabout means what actually or seemingly could be done simply." Sounds complicated--and they are--but they sure are entertaining to watch. (See below.)

Devotees of Rube Goldberg machines include Wallace (of Wallace and Grommit fame), Wile E. Coyote, Caractacus Potts, and that kid from Home Alone.

Rainy Days Just Got More Interesting

Continuing with the weather theme (after a long absence--sorry about that) . . . If there's one thing I've always hated about rain, it's that it's so darn boring. The combination of grey skies, ruined hair, and wet socks can make me want to crawl under a rock until the sun comes out.

Fortunately, technology (Japanese technology, of course) has come up with an amazing solution. The Pileus Internet Umbrella was designed to make rainy days bearable. Inside the umbrella you'll find a large screen that can display images from the Internet. You have the option of watching photo streams from Flickr or switching to Google Earth and viewing a 3-D image of your surroundings. There's even a camera inside the umbrella so you can take pictures of all the miserable people slogging through puddles and upload them to the Internet!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Sky is Falling (or Looks Like It Might)

Inspired by the wicked weather that New York City experienced last night, I am encouraging everyone to view the fantastic pictures of rare cloud formations assembled at Shaghai Kiss. Here's just a sample . . .

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Museum of Bad Art

Another site well worth a visit, The Museum of Bad Art is dedicated to the preservation of incompetent artwork. It's guaranteed to make you feel much, much better about your own feeble talent. (Unless you happen to discover one of your precious portraits has earned a place in the museum.)

(Above: "Lucy in the Field with Flowers," the painting that inspired it all. Lucy looks pretty cool, actually.)

How to Bring a Fly Back from the Dead and Other Essential Skills

I'm glad to see that most of you have mastered key emergency medical techniques. (Don't give up, U.N. Owen!) Sorry for not posting as regularly this week. I, too, have been busy teaching myself a few new skills, such as bringing small animals back from the dead, reading minds, and turning ordinary coffee into coins. (Yes, this is how I choose to spend my free time.)

Curious? Pay a visit to this website, and find easy-to-follow instructions for a wide variety of mind-blowing "magic" tricks. (I've never had much interest in prestidigitation. But it seems to me that some of these tricks could come in handy in a quite a few situations.) Be sure to use your new powers for good, never evil.

(Above: The work of photographer Alex Prager. No connection to the post--I just liked the picture. Wonder how she convinced the model to do that?)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Save the Bunny!

Bunny needs emergency medical treatment and only you can save him! This is the coolest, sickest game I've seen in a while. I haven't won it yet. But I will!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Empress's Tomb

It won't be in bookstores until the middle of September, but since it's already up on Amazon (wow, they're fast) and was recently discovered by a very enterprising girl detective, I thought I'd go ahead and post the cover of The Empress's Tomb, along with a brief description of the book. . .

Strange things are happening in Kiki Strike’s New York.

Giant squirrels are running rampant. A hungry ghost haunts an opulent mansion. And two deadly secrets are about to come to light.

Once again, it’s up to the Irregulars to protect the city—and save themselves. But this time, the six delinquent girl-geniuses have more on their minds. Ananka may be exiled to a remote boarding school; Kiki’s life is in danger (as always); Betty seems to have found love in all the wrong places; and Oona….well, Oona’s in the most serious trouble of all.

From Chinatown to Fifth Avenue, whether they’re exploring a forgotten world deep beneath Manhattan or resuscitating an ancient Empress at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Irregulars have a knack for finding trouble, and putting it out of its misery.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What I'm Reading Now . . .

The fabulous Miss Erin has tagged me for a "What Are You Reading" meme. Here goes . . .

Just Finished: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
Recently reissued with a FANTASTIC cover. (I'm a sucker for good art direction.) Dark and disturbing in all the right ways.

Just Started: The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
I'll admit it. I once admired Mr. Chabon's photo as much as I enjoyed his books. My crush has faded (I think), but I remain a loyal reader. My favorite (probably a controversial choice in the Michael Chabon reading community) is The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.

Still Reading: The Bhagavad Gita and the National Enquirer
Research for an upcoming project. (heehee)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Superheroes in Our Midst

Late one night, several years ago, I found myself standing on an empty subway platform, waiting for a downtown train. The only other person in the station was a tall man across the tracks on the uptown platform. He seemed harmless enough, so I allowed my attention to drift to a magazine article on celebrity fashion disasters. Suddenly I sensed movement. I glanced up to see the man walking on the wall of the station--his body perfectly horizontal and parallel to the ground. He took five or six steps in this fashion before flipping backward into a standing position. For a minute or two, he remained completely still, and I started to wonder if I might have hallucinated. Then he did it again.

When I told Kiki about my encounter with a real-life superhero in the bowels of the New York City subway, she simply scribbled something on a piece of paper. (She can be mildly annoying at times.) The note she handed me read, "le parkour."

I mention this because before I can continue with the French Adventure, I must introduce you to parkour--the phenomenon known in France as the art of displacement.

In the 1980s, a fifteen-year-old Parisian named David Belle invented parkour--a discipline in which the sole aim is to get from one place to another in quickest, most efficient manner using only the power of the human body. Sounds easy right? Not if you're traveling across rooftops or climbing water drains. In order to perfect their art, practioners of parkour (called traceurs if male and traceuses if female) must learn how to walk on walls, leap wide chasms, and jump from heights that would flatten an average person. Seeing them in action is enough to make you start shelving your comic books in the non-fiction section of your home library.

But not everyone with superpowers becomes a superhero. There are quite a few villains out there as well.

Click here for a New Yorker article on the art of parkour.

(Below: A video of the master, David Belle. Do I need to say, "Don't try this at home?")


Monday, May 07, 2007

Guaranteed to Give You Nightmares

We've all heard countless urban legends involving spiders. There's the one about the woman with a nest of spiders in her hairdo. There's the story about the deadly spiders that live under the toilet seats in public restrooms. And who could forget the gag-inducing tale involving spider eggs discovered in a piece of bubblegum. Each of these legends, you'll be happy to know, is fiction--not fact.

But this morning, I came across one of the most horrifying spider stories of all time. And I read it on

One day, not long ago, a nine-year-old Oregon boy named Jesse Courtney began hearing popping noises (like Rice Krispies) in one of his ears. He thought nothing of them until he woke up one morning with a terrible earache. His mother took him to a doctor, who flushed the ear with fluid. Out came two spiders--one living and one recently deceased. They had apparently taken up residence inside the boy's ear. The "Rice Krispies" noise he had reported had been the sound of the spiders walking across his eardrum.

Jesse has decided to keep the spiders as souvenirs. And I may never fall asleep again.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Danse Macabre

I discovered the illustrations shown above on BibliOdyssey, a fantastic blog devoted to book art. These amusing, slightly sinister sketches were created by artist (and anatomy professor) Louis Crucius at the end of the 19th century and used in calendars for the Antikamnia Chemical Company. (Whose pain relievers contained at least one highly toxic chemical.) More examples of Crucius's work can be found on the site. (And be sure to check out the remarkable illustrations of the Russian artist Tyukanov, which are also posted there.)

Crucius's inspiration was the Danse Macabre, also known as the Dance of Death. When the Black Death swept through Europe in the 15th century, the Dance of Death became a popular allegory. Paintings of the dance showed skeletons (symbolizing death) waltzing with figures from all walks of life--paupers and popes, kings and fools. The idea was that death eventually comes for everyone, even the rich and beautiful. (Cheerful thought, right?)

Perhaps the best known version of the Danse Macabre is a series of woodcuts created by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1538. Holbein was a man who knew a bit about the subject of death, having painted the portraits of several of Henry VIII's ill-fated wives. You can see his version of the dance here.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Irregulars Salute Erin Schrode

The sixteen-year-old high school sophomore recently chased down two San Francisco purse snatchers while wearing a prom dress and tiara. Shrode told reporters, "I wasn't going to let them get away. Something in me just said 'you're going to catch them,' something told me I was going to make a difference. And I did."

Just more proof that you can dress like a princess and kick a little butt at the same time.

For more on the story, click here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hairy Stone

An unusual stone was recently on sale at a Chinese art exhibition. Priced at well over a million dollars, the foot-long stone is covered with strands of white hair. Exhibition staff believe the "hair" may actually be the remains of a bizarre fungus. But your guess is probably as good as theirs.


Kiki Strike Out in Paperback!

Thought you should know! Soon, I'll be posting the cover of the next Kiki Strike adventure: The Empress's Tomb, which will be available in September.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What is This?

Yes. It's real.

Mysterious Prowling Panthers?

Over the weekend, multiple residents of rural Vineland, New Jersey phoned their local police department to report an enormous black creature wandering through the woods near their homes. The pictures taken of the beast (above and below) clearly show a large cat. Many believe it to be a black panther--a species which, (it should go without saying), isn't native to New Jersey.

Oddly enough, reports of "mystery cats" are common throughout the US and other parts of the world. Cryptomundo has a large list of sightings in states such as Texas and South Carolina. But perhaps the strangest sighting of all comes from Surry, England, where a panther-like creature has been repeatedly spotted over the past twenty years. The Beast of Bexley, as it's known, was photographed early last year by a woman who claims to have captured the creature crouching in her garden.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

You'll Never Need to Shower Again

No time for personal hygiene? That's okay . . . now there's a new brand of chewing gum that can keep you feeling fresh. Not only will it take care of your stinky breath--it'll make your whole body smell fabulous. Manufactured in Japan (the most wonderful place in the word--aside from New York), Fuwarinka Functional Gum could make good old soap a thing of the past. Approximately one hour after you begin chewing it, your skin starts to secrete one of two fabulous fragrances. For the ladies there's "fruity rose" and for men there's "rose menthol."

While we're on the subject of candy, check out Candy Addict's fantastic list of the Top 10 Grossest Candies. My personal favorite is number ten, although I must admit that the number one product certainly deserved the honors. Warning: Some of them are truly gross, so prepare to get queasy.

(Below: Number 10)

Also, did you know that some of your favorite candies are made with bugs? (No joke!) Here's a handy guide to all the insects you've been eating.