Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So You Pull Up the Submersible Robot You've Sent to Survey the Ocean Floor

And you find THIS attached to it . . .

Apparently they're considered a delicacy in Taiwan.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Child Vampire Hunters of Scotland

I've been writing this blog for four years now, and I've come across some pretty weird stuff. But this is one of the strangest stories I've ever heard.

In 1954, a rumor was making its way through the primary schools of Glasgow, Scotland. A seven-foot vampire with iron teeth had made a graveyard just south of the city his home. And he'd already dined on two little boys.

Rumors about vampires are pretty common in primary schools. (At least in MY experience.) But the kids of Glasgow took such things very seriously. On the night of September 23, 1954, four hundred of them armed themselves with steak knives and sharpened sticks and went to the cemetery in search of the vampire.

They found the police instead. (Forget vampires, the scariest thing most adults can imagine is a mob of knife-wielding fourth graders.) The authorities tried to convince the children that the vampire couldn't possibly be real. But the kids knew better. Night after night, they returned to the graveyard as soon as the sun had set, intent on protecting their city from a blood-sucking fiend.

The incident led to a crackdown on American horror comic books. But a new documentary suggests that the rumors had a much different source. (Pay close attention, Japanese parents!)

Check out the whole story at the BBC.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things Adults Would Already Know If They'd Bother to Read Kiki Strike

(Above: The nicest ladies in the world.)

A recent study published in Psychological Science offers evidence that clean, pleasant smells can make you a better person. According to the Boston Globe, "The authors even suggested that clean smells could be employed as a tool to influence how people act." Oh really? You don't say!

The article is pretty interesting (if long). Here are a few of the highlights . . .

People playing a trust game in a citrus-smelling room treated their opponents more fairly.

The smell of some cleansers made people more likely to volunteer for a charity.

People walking through a mall were more likely to help fellow shoppers (by retrieving dropped items) if the smells of cinnamon buns and coffee were in the air.

A French study showed that people were more likely to help a female stranger if she was wearing perfume. (And even more likely to help if she was wearing Fille Fiable.)

The moral of this story? Take a bath every day. (And add a small bottle of fragrance to your spy-girl toolbox!)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Big News!

As you may recall, a while back I posted three potential covers for my new book, The Eternal Ones. Over one hundred of you wrote in to vote for a favorite. Well, here's the final cover! (Sitting on my cluttered desk.) I love it! What do you think?

Now my amazing publisher, Razorbill, has done something so unbelievably cool that I can barely contain myself. They've had ouroboros rings made!!!! I just wish my photos did them justice. Their little red eyes sparkle with evil.

Razorbill has even put together a video that brings the snake to life. It's things like this that make sitting in front of a computer all day worthwhile. And there's so much more to come!

One more thing before I go. My Significant Objects dome doll (scroll down to see it) sold for $35 on ebay. Woohoo! Thanks for bidding!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Pictures by Magdelena Bors. (They remind me of St. Patrick's Day for some reason. And they're awesome.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Significant Objects

Significant Objects is a fascinating project that asks writers to pen "descriptions" of objects that are later sold on ebay. The proceeds go to charity, and the list of writers who've contributed is pretty amazing.

I was asked to contribute, and my "item" (the world's creepiest dome doll) went on sale earlier this week. Check it out! (And make sure you check out the other items on the Significant Objects site as well.)

The Earthquake Fish

Don't believe in sea monsters? Then you've never seen an oarfish. (Shown below and possibly above.) These long, silver, serpent-like fish can reach up to 56 feet in length, and they have a bright red dorsal fin that runs the entire length of their bodies.

Oarfish live in deep water and are seldom seen by humans. Which is why the Japanese are a little worried that nineteen of them have recently washed ashore. What's going on in the ocean's murky depths that might be sending them to the surface? Watch this video and find out.

(Thanks to an AD reader for the tip!!)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ahh, The Glories of Nature

The Nepenthes rajah (shown above) is the largest carnivorous plant in the world. Its trap can hold up to two liters of water. Or your average tree shrew. Which is why most botanists assumed that the N. rajah ate tree shrews. (Pitcher plants usually lure unsuspecting insects or small mammals into their traps, where the creatures are slowly digested.)

But this plant has no interest in eating the shrews themselves. And the fact that it's shaped like a miniature toilet is no accident. As the photo below shows, the N. rajah and Borneo's tree shrews have a very special relationship.

That relationship was summed up by the BBC in a headline that deserves an award of some sort. Check it out here.

P.S. Those interested in carnivorous plants should definitely check out the photos here and here!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Bleeding Iceberg

Eww. Read the true story behind Antarctica's Blood Falls here.

Congrats . . .

. . . Lucy & Claudia on your 7th friend anniversary!

Monday, March 08, 2010

New York Just Got a Little Less Scruffy

Artist Jan Vormann recently visited New York and decided to fix up the place. He and his crew of random kids and passersby filled the city's cracks, crevasses, and assorted holes with Legos. (See more pics here.

Thanks, Jan. You're welcome back any time.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Searching for Monstrous Swine Hampstead's Sewers

(Above: On the hunt for sewer pigs?)

We all know that New York's sewers are home to alligators. (Oh, you didn't know that? Well then scroll down a few posts.) But back in the 1850s, the sewers of Hampstead (then north of London, now part of the city) were said to house ferocious feral pigs.

According to Henry Mayhew's book, London Labour and the London Poor (which is, believe it or not, one of the most fascinating books ever written) . . .

There is a strange tale in existence among the sewer-workers, of a race of wild hogs inhabiting the sewers in the neighborhood of Hampstead. The story runs, that a sow in young, by some accident got down the sewer through an opening, and, wandering away from the spot, littered and reared her offspring in the drain, feeding on the offal and garbage washed into it continuously. Here, it is alleged, the breed multiplied exceedingly, and have become almost as ferocious as they are numerous.

Mayhew didn't believe the stories, but plenty of people did. You can read more about the origins of the tales here!

And if you're looking for a little light reading that will leave you nice and nauseous, I recommend this article on London's early sewers.

Blackie the Mutant NINJA Penguin

(Photo by Andrew Evans.)

That is all.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

I'm Baaaack

(Above: File under old but amusing.)

Hello everyone! I'm just back from some book business that took me all the way across the country. I had a great time, and I even managed to fit in some "real" work. By that I mean underground explorations of course!

I finally had the chance to see Seattle's own underground city up-close. I highly recommend Bill Speidel's Underground Tour. The tour guide was hilarious, the underground world was fascinating, and there were many mentions of exploding toilets (not sure if the one below ever exploded).

So now that the contest has a winner and my work is over, it's time to get back to some weirdness. Look out for some tomorrow!

(P.S.: The judges of the 1000 Contest were the judges of all the other contests!)

(P.P.S.: The t-shirt entry I'd like to have made into a shirt is below. I love it because only the "Irregulars" out there would know what it means!)

And Even More AWESOME Entries!!!!

And a few great ideas that didn't come with a visual . . .

Gold lettering on a black shirt: WELCOME TO THE SHADOW CITY!! Warning please beware of delinquent girl scouts deaf rats and butt kicking super spies!
The warning part would be in red lettering on black.

IDEA #2:
Super bold print: WATCH OUT I'M DANGEROUS!!!! (In gold lettering.)

IDEA #3:
Do You Believe In Ghosts?

On the back of this shirt, it reads: "You have to be able to kick butt when you're short.

(Sorry it took me so long to scan it, AB!)