Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yay! We're #6!

For years, New York boasted the nastiest hotel room in the country. Now, at last, we've been beaten. (You gotta love that shower curtain.)

Things I Would Like to Own: Giant Doll Heads

The giant doll heads shown above were made for a recent hair show. (Read more here.) I think one might look AMAZING in my living room. (There's not enough room for two.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

People always clap for the wrong things.

J.D. Salinger, the author of Catcher in the Rye died this week. I was a twelve-year-old living in the mountains of North Carolina when I first read the book, and I'm not sure I realized what a lasting impression it had made on me until I was a junior or senior in college. A college in New York City, I might add, not far from Holden Caulfield's stomping grounds. Anyone who's ever read my Kiki books knows I'm not a big believer in coincidence.

I must admit, I wasn't terribly upset by Salinger's death. He was, after all, quite old, and we all have to go sometime. However, I was surprised to find how many journalists took the opportunity to give his legacy a kick in the pants. It's almost like they'd been waiting with copies of his books and a can of gasoline hidden behind their backs.

My curiosity piqued, I took the time to read a few online reviews of Catcher in the Rye. Here's one . . .

"J.D. Salinger's style is redundant, his characters are unlikable, and the unrealistic episodes our protagonist engages in reek of bad sitcom humor and denouements."

She's talking about a book that--like it or not--changed YA literature forever. Kinda puts things into perspective. We're all entitled to our own opinions. But it's important to remember that sometimes our opinions are wrong.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen (if there are any out there), I Need Your Opinions!

Below are three potential covers for my new book. I would love to hear what you think! Please be 100% honest. I didn't create them, so I'm not going to cry my eyes out if you don't like them! (OK, maybe just a tear or two. JK) Tomorrow, maybe I'll ask a few questions, but right now, I'm just interested in hearing what your guts are telling you.

(If you like one--or all--what do you like? If you don't like them, why not?)



Kidding! I've taken down the potential covers for now, but I will post the chosen cover as soon as I know what it is! Thank you so much for your thoughts and advice. You guys are the best!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do You Hear Voices?

(Art by Joanna Hellgren. Based on the Henry James novella, The Turn of the Screw. If you haven't read it, do.)

Here's the most interesting fact I've come across in a while. According to a new study, "nearly 1 in 10 seven- to eight-year-olds hears voices that aren't really there."

You can read more here. The article is careful to point out that most kids who hear voices don't find them troubling. And the vast majority will never develop any mental illness.

But why would we assume something might be wrong with the kids? What if the voices they're hearing are real? And if they are real--what are they?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Look Smart

Go to a school that uses video games to teach everything from English to history.

Make a magic phone call.

Master some of the tricks the CIA used during the cold war.

Use your discarded hair to save the world.

Learn how to collect tasty salad ingredients . . . in Central Park.

But don't worry if you can't spell. (You can add me to that list.)

Turn water into marbles (below).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Buckshaw Beast

This is far more interesting than the Maine Ape, I think. The beast pictured above has been attacking deer around Buckshaw Village in northern England. Some witnesses say it's a cross between a boar and a wolf, while others claim that its movements are far too cat-like for a boar.

What the heck is it? Read more here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

This One's For All the New Yorkers Out There

(Photo from New York Daily Photo.)

If you live in New York, you know there's nothing more magical than a rooftop house. They're incredibly hard to spot. Some can only be seen from certain angles. Others can only be spotted if you're flying over the city in a helicopter. So when you happen see one, it's a very special occasion.

Last summer, I was taking some kids on tour of Greenwich Village, when I happened to spot something unexpected. A building on MacDougal Street had been torn down, revealing a temporary glimpse of an unusual rooftop structure that had been hidden from view for almost one hundred years. (See above.) I later learned that the little house was known as Alchemist's Corner--a name given to it by one of it's previous tenants, the famous actor John Barrymore. (Read more here.)

A gallery of other rooftop houses can be seen here. One of the featured buildings was the inspiration for Kiki Strike's rooftop digs!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Just In Case

If you ever design a time machine, you might want to put this poster inside it. Then give me a call.

(Poster designed by Ryan North. Available here.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Non-Human Persons

Finally, science is giving dolphins their due. They are now recognized as the second smartest creatures on the planet. Smarter than dogs. Smarter than chimps. Smarter than three-year-old humans! Heck, they're probably smarter than most of the people I know! That's why some zoologists are arguing that they should be classified as "non-human persons." (Read more here.)

In all seriousness, I have a feeling that one day in the future, the human race will wake up and realize that there are many species that are far more intelligent than we ever imagined. Almost every day I read something amazing. Elephants mourn their dead. Chimps can learn sign language. Dolphins can not only learn amazing tricks--they can teach their friends, too. Pigs are plotting to take over the government of Liechtenstein. (Okay, I made that one up.)

So let's start taking dolphins (and other creatures) more seriously! If we don't there's always a chance they'll stop showing up to save our rumps (literally).

UPDATE: Video narrated by my personal hero, one of the greatest men who ever lived, Sir David Attenborough.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Maine Tree Ape

According to the youtube description, this video was taken by a group of friends hiking through the woods of Maine. (Sure.)

As is often the case with videos of Bigfoot-like creatures, it generates more questions than the standard, "What IS it?"

I would like to know:

1. Why it didn't move.
2. What happened after the end of the video?
3. Why did some woman announce she was going to climb the tree?

What do you think?

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Mysterious Beasts of Antarctica

For years, the crews of Japanese whaling boats have returned to land with stories of strange creatures spotted at night in the freezing waters off Antarctica. Known as the ningen, the beasts are extremely long (up to 30 meters) and a pure, snow white. They're also said to have a human-like shape. And if they resemble the picture above (created by an artist), they're very, very creepy.

Read more and see pictures and videos here!

(They kind of remind me of the mook I have hanging on my wall.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

No Comment

They Call Him the Monkey King

This morning I found a video of a man in India who has all the makings of a parkour legend. I couldn't embed the video, so you'll have to view it on the youtube site. And I apologize in advance for the ad at the beginning. But the move this guy makes around the :35 mark is one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen.

P.S.: I wish there were a few more monkey queens out there.

Here's a video of some traceuses (as female practitioners of parkour are called) in action.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Just What I Needed!

(Above: That's how I felt yesterday.)

Thanks for sending me weird news! You guys are the best. I thought I'd share some of the highlights . . .

Will Russia save the Earth from a killer asteroid? (Thanks, AB!)

The world's biggest cave has been found in Vietnam. (Thanks, CS!)

What's the strangest thing a passenger has ever left behind on a train? (Thanks, EK!)

Take a peek at the comments on the previous post and you'll find lots more! (Thanks Trickster Queen, Anonymous, Amanda, Anonymous Weekly Bloggers, Rileydog, CA, Lioness, Anna, Gamma, Nellie, and all the rest!)

P.S.: Kiki, I found your link both weird and hilarious! But given the content, it's probably best to keep it between the two of us!

P.S.S.: AmberStarGem, I'm looking forward to reading your story!

I might as well add my own recent discovery to the list. Two NY high school students have identified a new (and extra disgusting) species of cockroach! Check it out here.

Monday, January 04, 2010

I Can't Take It Anymore!!!!!

It's too cold. This morning I went out for a bagel. I was gone for ten minutes, but it took my toes half an hour to thaw once I got back home. And I was wearing snow boots! I am miserable. I hate being stuck inside.

So I've decided to post this picture of the world's smallest horse. And here are some more photos of cute animals. They did absolutely nothing to cheer me up. Someone send me some weird news, ASAP!