Tuesday, May 24, 2005

when chimps attack

TThe Tale of Moe, in today's WaPo:

In 1967, LaDonna Davis's boyfriend went on a trip to Tanzania and came back with quite a surprise: a chimpanzee. It was a baby still, an orphan that St. James Davis said he had rescued from the poachers who killed its mother, and it was just adorable -- 'a large teddy bear,' LaDonna's mother declared. They named him Moe.

St. James, a stock-car racer, became so bonded to Moe that he would carry the little fellow in a sling around his chest as he worked at his auto body shop in West Covina, Calif. When St. James and LaDonna married a couple of years later, Moe was 'a combination of flower-thrower and best man,' LaDonna recalls, sitting across from her mother this sunny spring day.

'Tell her about . . . ' interrupts her mother, Terry DeVere.

'Oh . . . well . . .' says Davis, with well-practiced delicacy: 'Moe . . . peed on a woman.' All the excitement of the reception, maybe too much punch. DeVere and her daughter glow with the memories of the beautiful day and of the beautiful years that followed.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Orphan

Did anyone believe the ruse? Did anyone seriously think that David Wilson had found tapes left by a collegiate swimmer in a trombone case in an attic apartment? That he had transcribed those tapes and put the text on-line as a blog, put the songs up as downloadable files? I didn't, but that's because David Wilson is a friend of mine. We were both students in John Kessel's first grad-level creative writing workshop. I had been tipped off. Yet I wondered and still wonder if anyone was fooled.

If that particular deception didn't work, the one that does work is this: the book, THE ORPHAN, is deceptively simple. This novel rewards a close reading with many discrete joys of discovery, doled out like candy, or like hard drugs. The young narrator, Claude Coltlan, (odd name, huh?) starts out as a thoughtful innocent, prone to analyzing the weird changes he's going through. Like Alice, his tale really begins when he goes down a rabbithole, or actually down a black staircase and through a funhouse tunnel. He falls in with a group of townies (mostly musicians) as well as a dissipated professor, acquires the new moniker "Speed," and the tale rolls on from there. But this is no standard coming-of-age novel. A year told in flashback, Speed's twenty-first year, from the first pages we know that: "Art is dead. Jenny's in rehab." That's the target waiting at the end of the timeline, but no arrow flies straight, as Speed himself would tell you. His path, his quest, through a gritty world of drugs and rock and roll (and sex), is full of classical twists and turns, veils and revelations.

I don't want to type any more. I want you to read this book and have those joys of discovery yourself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Two fingers of ellagic acid in solution, please

"Whisky can protect you from cancer and science proves it," says a scientist who is, um, a consultant to the booze industry. Cheers, queers.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Sand Animation

Check this out:


Edit: Note that this is 19 megabyte file.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The World Warms Up

"Disappearing islands, thawing permafrost, melting polar ice. How the earth is changing."

The World Warms Up is the first of Elizabeth Kolbert's must-read three-part series on the reality of climate change from The New Yorker. This part is from the Arctic as well as various conferences, Greenland, and Iceland. Melting permafrost, retreating glaciers. The only country to equivocate on whether this is a real phenomena is the US.
Plus: Kolbert talks with Amy Davidson about global warming.