Thursday, June 30, 2005

Small furry animal update

After Sunday's zoo visit, something was still puzzling me, so I sent this e-mail to the Toronto Zoo:
My friends and I visited the zoo yesterday. In the Australasia Pavilion, we noticed a large rabbit in the wallaby enclosure. We were curious: What was it doing there? Was it a wild rabbit that somehow got in from outside?
Today I received this helpful reply from Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals:
Our swamp wallaby came to us from another institution and he was being hand raised. When we received him, we introduced him to this rabbit so that he would have a companion. They hit it off and are frequently seen grooming each other and enjoying each other's company.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The obligatory "search terms that led people here" post

Courtesy of my site meter, here are some of the search terms that have led people to this blog since I started it, beginning with the most recent. My own comments are in square brackets.

dassie cute [Google South Africa]
small furry animals squish
chien bagel
squid poetry
awesome things to say to a boyfriend [BEST. SEARCH TERM. EVER.]
clipart man peeking
theremin toronto
tiny dancer - meaning
child mannequins
disco beaver from outer space
what clipart does david rees use
the motel strip toronto
underground poetry
strap on dildo
kestrel pickle jar
best boggle ever
"a place to stand" lyrics ontario
"inexplicable" [Google Greece]
Misha tentacles
metis crokinole
I e-mailed Misha about that second-to-last one, wondering, "What do you suppose they were looking for?" He replied, "My tentacles, obviously."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Pachyderm in a pool

This is an elephant, almost completely immersed in water:

Immersed elephant

You can see the tip of his trunk near the bottom.

I love the Toronto Zoo and hadn't been in years, so I was thrilled when Kim rented a car over the weekend and drove a gang of us up there. It was awfully hot, and a lot of the animals were flopped out in the shade. This elephant was a notable exception. We watched for a while as he immersed himself completely (except for his trunk), then filled his trunk with water & squirted it over his back, then made big splashes by smacking the water with his trunk, apparently just for the hell of it. Clearly, a trunk is the best water toy in the world.

Visiting the zoo at this time of year means blazing heat and hordes of little kids, but it's also a good time to see young animals, many of which are born or hatched in the spring. Here, Leslie encounters a curious baby mandrill:

Leslie meets a baby mandrill

I'll be going back sometime soon, as I sprung for a membership. Student memberships at the Zoo are only $35; for that you get free admission for a year, various discounts, and a quarterly magazine. The summer 2005 issue has an article on zoo diets, including this factoid:

The vampire bats' diet consists only of blood. The blood is poured into ice cube trays, which the bats all line up around as if it were a dining room table! The bats will only eat cow's blood, which we obtain from the University of Guelph. On rare occasions, when the cow blood supply runs low, they will drink camels' blood -- and we ask our Bactrian camels to donate.
. There's also a "Diary" page; some highlights:

January 31: Siberian tiger, Tonghua, caught and ate a wild Canada goose in his exhibit.
February 22: Pygmy marmosets given a mirror. At first they were afraid of it but now they are spending a lot of time looking at themselves.
March 24: Western lowland gorilla, Jomo, in the day room with a TV set up in the hallway. He "watched" 3 wildlife specials: Urban Gorilla, Gorilla, Among the Wild Chimps and part of Gorillas in the Mist. He seemed intrigued by it all -- lots of gorilla vocalizations coming from the programs.
More zoo photos on flickr!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Become a statistic!

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

It's true! If you have a blog, you can too! Just click on the above link and take the survey.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It's a good thing

Someone felt compelled to cover the large grey traffic-signal control box at the corner of Spadina and Baldwin with floral mac-tac:

Beautified box

I suspect the City Beautification Ensemble has graduated from spray paint to adhesive-backed plastic film. Their powers are growing.

Whoever's responsible did a really good job. Note how the colours seem to have been chosen to match the recently-repainted facade of Grossman's Tavern, across the street. And look how carefully the mac-tac was cut to fit:
Box closeup
Martha Stewart herself couldn't have done better.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Baby raccoons!

Baby raccoons!, originally uploaded by squiddity of toronto.

More news on the small furry animal front: I got home late last night to find, in the courtyard of my building, a litter of four or five cuddly little raccoons hanging out. They ambled off in different directions when they saw me, so I wasn't able to get a pic of them all together, but I did get these two going up a tree. Bad news for my co-op's property management, I'm sure, cute!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Among the Dutchest things ever

This is a drum kit made of cheese:

Drum kit made of cheese

And this is a crazy Dutchman playing it:

Bennink drums cheese 2

Note the wooden shoes.

The drum kit was made by Dutch artist Walter Willems for Demons Stole My Soul: Rock 'n' Roll Drums in Contemporary Art, the current exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Willems built it specifically with drummer Han Bennink in mind, declaring that, as a work of art, it would not be "finished" until Bennink played it. More photos of the finishing of the piece here, as well as a couple of pics of Bennink, on a conventional metal drum kit, jamming with saxophonist Brodie West.

Update: A detailed review of the show is up at Hey, that photo looks familiar! :-)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I ain't got no money and I ain't got no boyfriend

So it seems like all the cool kids are talking about this new Gentleman Reg video, "The Boyfriend Song". Carl mentioned it, and there's a thread on Stillepost about it. It racks up some kind of ridiculous all-time high score of hipness points: Reg has played in Broken Social Scene and the Hidden Cameras! And the video was directed by that guy from Broken Social Scene! And shot by that guy who did those videos for The Arcade Fire and The Stars! And it was inspired by the Paris Hilton sex tape and shot in night vision! And it's full of ambisexual indie-rock kids making out in their underwear!

Curious, I finally went and watched it...and then played it again, at top volume, about fifteen or twenty consecutive times. This may be my official theme song of this summer. And I like the way everyone's pupils glow in night vision. Anyone know if Soundscapes has any more copies of Darby & Joan?

Update: I did run out and get Darby & Joan, and the whole disc is that good. RECOMMENDED.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Happy Homer heads

Happy Homer heads, originally uploaded by squiddity of toronto.

The bar at Graffiti's in Kensington Market, Wednesday night, when I spent more time than I meant to drinking with Scream Festival ringleaders Bill and Mark and talking about culture and aesthetics and poetry, what the festival is & what it might someday be. Scream events start soon! Opening night at the Carleton, June 29!

Bloomsday 101

--That's so, says Martin. Or so they allege.
--Who made those allegations? says Alf.
--I, says Joe. I'm the alligator.

Yes, today it's been exactly 101 years since June 16, 1904, the single day on which James Joyce's Ulysses is set. Go forth and celebrate as best you see fit: with whiskey, fireworks, adultery, masturbation, variety meats, Catholic guilt, drunken arguments about nationalism, or bad puns. Or you could just read some Joyce.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The dark side of cuddly, the cuddly side of odd

Evil squirrel
One of the fun things Flickr allows you to do is create public groups on any theme you like; other flickrites can sign up to your group and add pictures that fit the theme. On the spur of the moment about a month ago, inspired by the appearance of some pictures of amusingly crazy-looking squirrels and raccoons, I started a group called "Disturbing Small Furry Animals." I proposed that we post pictures revealing "the dark side of cuddly." Above is a photo of a squirrel that I took for the group. Small, furry, creepy. See?

The response to the group has been great, and interesting. Initially, a lot of people posted pictures that they'd snagged off the internet or received as e-mail forwards -- that infamous one of the child feeding the mating kangaroos, for example. So I asked that people post only their own pics, and everyone politely complied. Then there was some trouble with people posting pictures that didn't quite fit the group description: they contained no animals, or they were cute but not creepy. I let that go for awhile, not wanting to be overly strict, but what I soon realised was that it was a self-perpetuating problem: if I left a bunch of cute-kitten pictures in the pool, new people would come along, assume it was a cute-kitten pool, and post more pictures of cute kittens. It was a small lesson in group internet dynamics. Now I try to remove the overly-cute pictures whenever I can.

The group has 90 members at last count, and the only problem now is that there are too many pictures of cats. This is because it is very, very easy to get a photo of a cat acting crazy (they do it all the time, as you know if you own one), and also because the Cat People are an unstoppable force on flickr. That's another thing I have learned from this group: never underestimate the Cat People. The sheer quantity of cat photographs they are able to generate is staggering. So the group, for the most part, has become Disturbing Small Furry Cats.

Still, it's a fun pool to flip through. For one thing, there are still a lot of disturbing non-cats: an attack ferret, for example, and a recently deceased mole, and the head of a musk deer that looks venomously resentful about having been stuffed and mounted on a wall. For another thing, some of the cat photos are great. This one made me laugh really hard. And, good lord, what exactly the hell is going on HERE?
Slipper Monster
That shot was contributed by Anders Viklund, a guy in Stockholm who has uploaded hundreds and hundreds of photos of a bizarre-looking litter of squish-faced Persian kittens. It was one of his pictures that garnered the Disturbing Small Furry Animals group a mention on FlickrBlog. Yay!

And now, as a special extra bonus feature, I present: a bunch of links to strange, cute, furry animals you may never even have heard of before!

~ The rock hyrax, or dassie. Cute!

~ Capybara. Awwww!

~ The bilby -- so cute, they made a chocolate version.

~ The pika. OMG so very cute!

~ And the quoll. Wee! Adorable!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Heat wave

Man, is it hot. I like how everyone in this photo looks wilted, and the guy in the bottom right is chugging from a juice bottle. I was on the streetcar on my way to another flickr meetup, and saw Natalie before she saw me; she was coming straight from work & was leaning against the window with her eyes closed. She opened them just as I took the photo.

Fortunately, thanks to my friend Paul, who let me have an air conditioner he couldn't use (and helped me install it), my apartment is currently liveable. The air conditioner is wringing all the excess water out of the air & dripping it into a bucket on the floor, and the bucket is filling up fast.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The secret life of hair


Here's Chrystl Rijkeboer at the opening of her show, Stolen Identity, at offthemap gallery on Saturday. Hanging on the wall next to her are a piece of felt and a crocheted square, both made from human hair. Chrystl has been working with hair for several years now -- spinning it and crocheting life-sized, limp human figures with it, felting it into masks and little orbs with menacing toothy mouths. The main element of this show is a series of life-sized photographs of people Chrystl knows, wearing balaclavas crocheted from hair. There's also a video showing the process by which the hair is spun into yarn, and these samples, which you're invited to touch. They feel bristly, surprisingly heavy, and they smell faintly of... hair. Chrystl says the balaclavas were incredibly warm, and she had to sew nylon linings for them because otherwise they were unbearably itchy.

There are so many resonances and implications to the objects and images in this show: the implied threat of the balaclavas; the humorous incongruity of the figures' clothing (one pair are dressed as a bridal couple); the weird fetishistic, voodoo quality of objects made from human hair. It's worth seeing, also because it will be the last offthemap gallery show in this space; Antonia's moving the gallery to her garage! There are rumours of an upcoming Istvan Kantor show. (!)

Another photo here, this one with me in it. Eek!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Phantom child bride

Phantom child bride, originally uploaded by squiddity of toronto.

Another freaky child mannequin shot, because I know you love them. This one's from St. Clair Avenue, where last night's psychogeography walk meandered. (Here's another good one.) So many, many unsettling things about this display: Why is that mannequin dressed like a tiny security guard? What's wrong with its hands?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

June events

Oh, God, it's June already! How the hell did that happen? Here's some of the fun stuff I'd like to do, though I may spend most of my time sequestered with a pile of essays instead. Check back during the month for updates, as I tend to forget things & add them in later.

Saturday, June 4:
~ Chrystl Rijkeboer show opening at offthemapgallery. 2-5 pm.

~ Release party for Spacing issue #4. El Mocambo, $10 (includes bands, copy of the issue). 9:00 till late.

Friday through Saturday, June 9-11:
~ North by Northeast. I generally find it's a much better idea to pick a likely-looking bar and park yourself there for the evening than to spring for the wristband and scurry all over town trying to get into the buzz bands' sets. But you may disagree. If you have any hot tips on what's going to be good, feel free to e-mail me (or leave a comment).

Friday, June 17:
~ Gladstone Hotel re-opening party. 9:00 till late, free, could be fun. There will also be an open house over that weekend, when you'll be able to get a look at the newly-redecorated artist-designed guestrooms.

Tuesday, June 28:
~ Toronto Comic Jam. Cameron House, back room, 9:30 till the bar closes. You should come.

June 29 to July 11:
The Scream Literary Festival! Yow!

Some highlights:
~ Eye Scream, the gallery show part of the festival, is built around a terrific concept this year: Each participating artist submitted a piece and an artist's statement, then the organizers re-distributed the statements randomly and anonymously, and each artist created another piece based on someone else's statement. The statements will hang with the original piece on one side and the new piece on the other. The show will be in that cafe in Carleton Cinemas, and the launch party -- also the kickoff party for the whole festival -- will be on Wednesday, June 29, at 7:00.

~ A special Canada Day [murmur]/Scream crossover! Kind of like one of those fanfics where Mulder and Scully meet Buffy and Angel. But different. 12-3 pm, Canada Day: a walking tour of the Annex murmur sites that will wind up at the Coach House. Details TBA -- watch the Scream site.

~ The book-length reading this year will be Sheila Heti reading Ticknor -- all of it -- at Grano, Friday July 8, starting at 7:30. $60 with dinner, $10 without. I expect there will be pie.

~ The Scream In High Park its own self will be on July 11, in High Park of course, starting at 7:00. It will not rain.