Monday, March 30, 2009

New to Me: Flea Circuses

(Photo by Roy Maloy)

Okay, so I've known about flea circuses for quite some time now. But until I read this fabulous post on Dark Roasted Blend, I had no idea how cool they really are.

Check it out. You'll be scratching yourself all night--but I promise it's worth it!

(Posters by David Manuel.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

This Can't Be Real . . . Can It?

According to CNN, a swim coach in Darwin, Australia has found a novel way to encourage his swimmers to move a bit faster. He simply tosses a hungry crocodile in after them.

Supposedly he makes sure that the kids have enough of a head start that the crocodile couldn't possibly catch up. But what if someone gets a cramp?!?

Don't believe me? Check here.

Of course if you want to try swimming with crocodiles, you can always pay a visit to Crocosaurus Cove (shown above)!

Friday, March 27, 2009

An Album of Ghostly Images

As often happens, the moment I post on a topic, I stumble across more juicy information on the very same subject. For instance, this morning I discovered a website that recently asked readers to send in their own "ghost" photographs. The website received over 250 images from around the world. The ten best are now posted here.

The top prize went to the photo shown above, which was taken at Tantallon Castle in Scotland.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Did Google Street View Capture a Ghost?

The figure above was snapped by the Google Street View camera near what was once dangerous dockland in Britain. Is the woman, who appears to be wearing Victorian garb, a ghost? (She does appear to be missing her legs.)

Read more here. And if you're interested, see an "alien" photographed by the Google Street View van in New Jersey.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quick, Someone Fetch Me Some Fingerpaints!

A Melbourne art gallery recently agreed to show the work of a promising new artist named Aelita Andre. But when the artist arrived at her show's opening, gallery owners discovered that Aelita (shown above) is only two-years-old.

This is by no means the first modern art "prodigy" to arrive on the art scene. American Marla Olmstead was selling paintings for tens of thousands of dollars when she was four. (A documentary film later questioned whether Marla's work was her own. Some believe her artist father might have completed the paintings. See a trailer for the movie below.)

What do you think? Are artists like Aelita geniuses? Frauds? Jokes on the art world? (The fact that this question needs to be asked really says something.) And is anyone interested in purchasing some lovely paintings created by my talented three-year-old niece, Zoe?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is Miss Porter's Run By An All-Girl Torture Squad?

This weekend, I read an interesting article in the New York Times about a former student at Miss Porter's, the famous New England prep school (shown below), who is suing the institution. The student in question was expelled in November of last year for skipping classes and cheating, and she's not happy about it. Nothing new there.

But the girl claims that her bad behavior was the result of bullying by a group of her fellow students. She blames a secret society known as the Oprichniki, which takes its name from a 16th century Russian torture squad. (Yes, it's a little weird. But this is a place where freshmen are required to learn four useless phrases in German and recite them in front of the entire school.)

There's no doubt that bullying is a huge issue at schools across the country. But there's one little problem with the Miss Porter's lawsuit. No one knows for sure if the Oprichniki still exists. Has the student in question resurrected a legendary group to clear her name? Or does the Oprichniki secretly rule one of the best-known girls' schools in the country?

Read the Times article and share your opinions!

Deadly Kangaroos on the Lam in France

(Above: Hop faster, they're gaining on you!)

This past weekend, vandals freed fifteen kangaroos from an Australian-themed park in Toulouse, France. As of yesterday, three were still roaming the land, nibbling cheese and sipping wine at cute little cafes across France. Don't let the gendarmes catch you, little roos!

The owner of the theme park was quoted as saying, "They are not aggressive or nervous animals by nature. They're probably just grazing quietly away somewhere." Really? I mean I agree with the grazing part, but can't kangaroos be kind of dangerous? They have nasty claws that they use to defend themselves--and legs so powerful that they can kick a grown man to death. (Australian readers, feel free to chip in some thoughts here!)

So if you happen to cross paths with one of these kangaroos, I recommend that you be very, very polite.

More here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AWESOME! Stick Figure Aliens

And I thought giant worms were going to be the big story of the day! WHAT ON EARTH ARE THESE THINGS?!?

(via Boing Boing)

New to Me: 4-Foot-Long Worms

What's four feet long, has jaws powerful enough to bite through 20-lb fishing line, and is covered with thousands of stinging bristles that can inflict permanent numbness? Why it's Barry the giant worm!

The nightmare creature was discovered inside a coral display at a British aquarium. Scientists couldn't figure out what was slowly destroying their beloved coral reef, so they decided to take it apart, rock by rock. There, in the middle, was a four-foot-long giant reef worm.

They lured Barry (as they later named him) out of the coral using fish scraps as bait. He's been put in a separate tank where he can no longer harm the other marine life at the aquarium. Unfortunately, after looking at Barry's mugshot (above), I think I might be permanently scarred.

Read more here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The World's Greatest Imposters

I've been thinking about imposters lately. (Why? That's for me to know and for you to read about in a few months.) So I was thrilled to discover this fascinating list of the world's ten greatest imposters. At number two, there's Frank Abagnale, who managed to impersonate a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer without the benefit of a single degree. And number nine is Mary Baker, an English cobbler's daughter, who invented a new language and convinced the world that she was Princess Carabou from the island of Javasu. But I was surprised to see that the list did not include one of the most famous imposters of all.

In 1918, the last Czar of Russia and his family were murdered by Bolsheviks. But in 1920, a lovely young woman appeared in Berlin. Her name was Anna Anderson (shown below), and she claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia (shown above), one of the Czar's three daughters.

Anderson spun a remarkable tale. She'd been shot by the Bolsheviks but managed to escape with the help of a soldier. Later, she had made her way to Berlin where she tried to contact her father's sister, Princess Irene. When the princess failed to recognize her, Anderson tried to take her life. Doctors at the mental facility where Anderson had been taken after her suicide attempt confirmed that the young woman's body was riddled with bullet wounds.

For decades, many believed that Anderson was, in fact, the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Even members of the royal family insisted she was a relation. Anderson's true identity remained one of the world's greatest mysteries--until 1994 when DNA testing proved that Anderson was not of royal blood. She had been an imposter after all.

Sadly, the bones of the real Anastasia were recently identified. While Anna Anderson hobnobbed with royalty, Anastasia had been lying in a lonely grave on the eastern side of the Ural mountains.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Despise Meteorologists

(Above: Art by Sam Spenser. Photo by Jessica Rolland.)

So those blasted meteorologists promised nice weather in New York today. I should have known not to trust them! The snippet of sky I can see from my bedroom window looks pretty gray and gloomy to me. But I refuse to let them spoil my plans. I am going to the park today--rain or shine!

I'm posting to let you know the outcome of last night's challenge. We had two winners in the end . . . Jin Ai and Hailey. You have to admire two ladies who will happily consume sugared lard just to win a silly prize. (Check out Jin Ai's pictures if you have a chance.) I just hope you guys don't develop nasty Crisco addictions!

Now the tie puts me in a rather unexpected situation. I never anticipated TWO winners. And to be perfectly honest, Jin Ai has already won every Kiki Strike-related prize that can be won! (That competitive spirit will come in handy some day--I promise.) So now I have to come up with something new for the two of them.

Don't worry, champions. I will be thinking about your prize as I roam Prospect Park this afternoon. If anyone has any suggestions, be sure to let me know!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good Eatin'

"The Inuit people of Alaska have a distinct version of ice cream. It's not creamy ice cream as we know it, but a concoction made from reindeer fat or tallow, seal oil, freshly fallen snow or water, fresh berries, and sometimes ground fish. Air is whipped in by hand so that it slowly cools into foam. They call this Arctic treat akutaq, aqutuk, ackutuk, or Eskimo ice cream. . . .

Akutaq can also be made with moose meat and fat, caribou meat and fat, fish, seal oil, berries and other Alaskan things. Women traditionally made akutaq after the first catch of a polar bear or seal. [I]t was always made for funerals, potlatches, celebrations of a boy's first hunt, or almost any other celebration. It is eaten as a dessert, a meal, a snack, or a spread."

For a modern recipe, click here.

The first person who . . .

1. Makes akutaq
2. Provides photographic proof that he/she made it AND ate it
3. Doesn't throw up in the process

. . . will win a special prize! (No offense to the Inuits. I'm in awe of any people tough enough to eat a dessert made with reindeer fat.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yes, the Monkeys ARE Plotting Against Us

Some people call it an important scientific discovery--I call it hilarious! A thirty-one-year-old chimp at a Swedish zoo has a fascinating hobby. Every morning before visitors arrive, Santino (as he's called) searches his enclosure for rocks. Sometimes he even tears hunks of concrete from the walls.

After calmly preparing for the day's battle, the chimp waits in the part of his enclosure that's nearest the public viewing area. Then, as the visitors arrive to gawk at him, he shows them just how much he appreciates all the attention.

What's so surprising about this behavior? Apparently it's the first proof we have that animals can plan for future attacks. The study began eleven years ago when zoo keepers first came across Santino's personal stash of missiles.

Here's my question . . . So Santino's busy with his own personal grudges. But what are the other apes planning?

Read more here.

PS: I know chimps aren't "monkeys," so no nasty letters, please!
PSS: Thanks to Emma for the tip!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Monster Mummies

Japan is home to one of the most bizarre taxidermy traditions on the planet. (Why am I surprised? It IS the coolest country on earth!) For centuries, Japanese artists have created "monster mummies" using the heads, tails, and pelts of different animals--and displayed the results in their homes and temples.

The best-known examples are the Feejee Mermaids, which were profiled on this blog a few years ago. But there are also the demon mummies (shown above) that are proudly showcased in some Buddhist temples--and the mummies of cat-like creatures that are said to fall from the sky during thunderstorms.

But my favorite monster mummy? It's the mummified kappa (river imp) that was discovered in a wooden box hidden in the ceiling of a sake brewery. What do you do with a mummified river imp? If you live in Japan, you build an altar for the creature and put it behind glass so the public can visit it.

Read more at the wonderful Pink Tentacle.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Eating Out of Your Toilet

According to Time magazine, there's a popular chain of restaurants in Taiwan called "Modern Toilet." Guests sit on decorated toilets, eat from little toilet bowls, and savor the delights of food designed to look like poo. (Some of the desserts even bear names too disgusting to repeat.) The restaurants are a huge hit with kids (duh) and adults alike.

Read more here. And see a delightful video below.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Pink Dolphin

I've posted about pink dolphins before, but the picture above was too beautiful to resist. I'm tempted to say it's a vampire dolphin--and that its lovely hue comes from drinking the blood of its fellow marine mammals. But that would be wrong. Hilarious, but wrong.

Read more here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Brooklyn Revealed!

If you're at all interested in the history of New York City, you MUST visit this remarkable website dedicated to borough of Brooklyn!

New to Me: The Mima Mounds

This is the first installment in an ongoing series of posts dedicated to mysterious places and creatures that are "New to Me." Yes, that's right. I don't know everything. It came as a shock to me, too.

Today's post focuses on the Mima Mounds. These are large mounds of earth found throughout the world--Australia, China, Africa, Mexico, and right here in the good old USA. They are almost always the same size (between 3 and 6 feet tall), and they often appear in evenly-spaced rows.

Here's the kicker--no one knows what exactly the Mima Mounds are or how they were constructed.

There are lots of theories--most involving earthquakes, ancient tribes, glaciers, or giant gophers. But honest scientists will be the first to admit that they haven't a clue how the Mima Mounds came to speckle the planet.

Read more about the mounds here, and report back to Ananka's Diary with YOUR theories!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Urban Camouflage

Click here to follow an artist's attempts to blend in at the Stockholm IKEA.

According to the website, "Our costumes are inspired by the "ghillie suits," the military camouflage suit. It was an adventure to wear the suit in the stores because of the conflicts with the employees, the reaction of the customers and also to see the pretty well camouflage effect in a real situation."


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

You Can't Tell Me These Are HUMAN

Archaeologists working deep in the forests Siberia of recently dug up a number of skeletons with oddly shaped skulls. Similar elongated skulls have been discovered in Peru, Mexico, Egypt and the sites of other ancient cultures. The "most reasonable" explanation is that these cultures all used simple tools to reshape their infants' skulls.

But I wonder. Is it simpler to believe that all these cultures shared the same odd practice--or that the skeletons belong to something other than humans?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Day!

This is the view from my front window. See that red figure on the stoop across the street? That's a kid who's about to go sledding. How can she be sledding on a Monday morning? Because New York City schools have a snow day today. How often does that happen? NEVER!!!!

Mother nature has smiled on the students of New York. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I See What You're Thinking

Made in China

I'm not sure what the story is behind these fabulous Chinese beasties. But how do I go about getting one?!? More here.