Check this out: some good news, for a change. The British Virgin Islands Art Reef project just sunk an 80-foot steel kraken hugging a rusted out WWII-era fuel ship into the Caribbean. Its creators anticipate this badass marriage of art and conservation will encourage new coral ecosystem growth, attracting a myriad of sea creatures, researchers, and eco-tourists. And I, for one, would obviously visit there in a hot minute. Look at how cool this is! And then check out the very short film about the project at the bottom of Colossal’s post, here. (Photographs by Owen Buggy.)
It’s Valentine’s Day again. I got something for you.
No kisses. No chocolates. No flowers this year. Just a few of my other favorite things: poetry, animal trivia, and science. Really, they make the best gifts.
Offering #1: A fabulous poem by Tony Hoagland.
Rose read it at our wedding because, on principle, I’m always in favor of squeezing talk of penguin vomit and peacock butts into a formal occasion.
Romantic Moment By Tony Hoagland
After the nature documentary we walk down,
into the plaza of art galleries and high end clothing stores
where the mock orange is fragrant in the summer night
and the smooth adobe walls glow fleshlike in the dark.
It is just our second date, and we sit down on a rock,
holding hands, not looking at each other,
and if I were a bull penguin right now I would lean over and vomit softly into the mouth of my beloved
and if I were a peacock I’d flex my gluteal muscles to
erect and spread the quills of my cinemax tail.
If she were a female walkingstick bug she might
insert her hypodermic proboscis delicately into my neck
and inject me with a rich hormonal sedative
before attaching her egg sac to my thoracic undercarriage,
and if I were a young chimpanzee I would break off a nearby tree limb
and smash all the windows in the plaza jewelry stores.
And if she was a Brazilian leopard frog she would wrap her impressive
tongue three times around my right thigh and
pummel me lightly against the surface of our pond and I would know her feelings were sincere.
Instead we sit awhile in silence, until
she remarks that in the relative context of tortoises and iguanas,
human males seem to be actually rather expressive.
And I say that female crocodiles really don’t receive
enough credit for their gentleness.
Then she suggests that it is time for us to go
to get some ice cream cones and eat them.
Offering #2: A trifecta of Valentine-related scripts I wrote for SciShow this week. Here I bestow upon you the science of pheromones and love brain, and offer a gentle reminder that no matter how bad your dating scene might be, you are still 100 times better off than a poor lady bed bug.
If you’re in the states, you may not know or care much about this delightful holiday, but if you’re in France I hope you’re gearing up to hear some grandmas extol the man with tales of how he once resurrected a trio of lost and hungry children who were “lured inside by a wicked butcher who killed and salted them in a large tub”.
Meanwhile I know the good people of The Netherlands are preparing for Sinterklaas by putting shoes and carrots outside their houses, and awaiting the arrival of the saint and his “six-to-eight black men” who will leave candy and presents for the good, and pretend to beat and kidnap the bad.
Incidentally, this threatening to beat naughty children with sticks and rods, “shake a bag of ashes” in their general direction, or chase them with large, ear-piercing bells is a common theme around Europe when it comes to St. Nick. I guess everyone has a dark side. But no one seems to do it better than the German-speaking countries. Why? Because they’re not afraid to bring out the big guns — the Krampus.
Santa’s demonic antithesis, the beastly Krampus creeps out of old alpine tales, hooves and horns ablaze, ready to murder bad kids, or minimum drag them back to his lair for who-knows-what action. His sinister moniker comes from the German word krampen, or claw, of which he has many.
Seriously, it’s like Stanley Kubrick stole Christmas. I wonder if Krampus-speak sounds something not unlike this sweet caroling, which I have to imagine roughly translates into “Merry Christmas, motherfuckers.” Seriously, this guy makes the Grinch look like a sad kitten. People are weird.
And while we’re talking beasties in the night, check out intrepid photographer Charles Freger’s epic collection of Europe’s eccentric “wild men” who dress up in fabulous and terrifying beast-gear to celebrate various holidays and put fear into the hearts of children. They’re pretty inspirational if you ask me.