Blooming on Hudson Street.

Spring in the city = riotous color. Even those of us with the most monochromatic black winter wardrobes – for all intents and purposes a required uniform for living here – yield, however slightly, to bursts of brightness.

And why not? The streets and parks are enchantingly abloom. Apparently miniature daffodils, which I had never seen (or noticed?) before, were all the rage in the Village this April. They are fucking adorable and make me smile. (Okay, or at least make me want to.) Alas, their little yellow petals have just started to crinkle and droop, and now I haz a sad. :(

But all is not lost! Because the tulips have begun crashing their party and stealing their show. Shopkeepers are suddenly engaging in some kind of botany arms race, taking full advantage of urns and planters outside their businesses. Come see for yourself.  Continue reading

Happy birthday PZ!

pz2016It is once again the time to mark the joyous occasion of The Great Tentacled One’s completion of another orbit around our sun. Longtime readers of mine may recall that in February of 2011, PZ Myers published my little screed In Defense of Mockery on Pharyngula. At the time I was a fledgling blogger, and hardly knew whether I might be any good at this writing stuff. That boost of confidence—and the readers I gained that day—meant the world to me then, and now. By 2013 when PZ posted Casualties of War, I had come a long way in a short time, thanks in no small part to his generosity and encouragement. But this past year? He brought some serious next-level shit, man: he invited me to write for Freethought Blogs (!!!). For all of this and more, PZ has my undying affection and appreciation.

Today I will be celebrating the good professor by imbibing squid ink cocktails and copious amounts of calamari.

Happy birthday, my friend.

Long may we mock.

squidinkcocktailBarchetta’s Spezia cocktail.
vodka, caper brine and squid ink, whole caperberry garnish

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Now normally on these sacred occasions, I’d post some of PZ’s more trenchant blurbs, culled from his writings over the previous year. Just a sentence or two that strike me, like this one (perhaps my all time favorite):

[I]magine the culture we would live in now if, instead of a dead corpse on an instrument of torture, our signifier was a child staring in wonder at the stars. –PZ Myers

But in the past year the world has changed. For example, US government policy is now orchestrated by a madman via 140 character tweets in the middle of the night (Eastern Standard Time). So in keeping with the zeitgeist, please enjoy these pithy bon mots from the master:

Fuck you, Grandma. –PZ Myers

I could be quite happy with an octopus arm transplant. –PZ Myers

Stop me before I #ChristianMingle. –PZ Myers

So fuck the police. –PZ Myers

I’ll smack hope a few more times with a ball peen hammer and see if I can’t get it under control. –PZ Myers

OK, motherfucker, then do it. –PZ Myers

Stoned fish are so much more cooperative. –PZ Myers

I’ve made it on to the list! I feel so appreciated. –PZ Myers

Hate is a strong word, but not strong enough for my feelings.-PZ Myers

Go fuck yourself. –PZ Myers

Hear, hear.

Iris: MIA.

Hello, beloved readers. You may have discerned my absence from this space for a little while now, which is not typical for me. Seems that perhaps some sort of explanation is in order.

I’ve been going through some difficult personal shit. Without getting into specifics, processing trauma and abuse—even many years later—is not exactly easy or fun, but it becomes absolutely critical when the unfortunate manifestations blindside you (again), seemingly out of nowhere. Suffice it to say that I have an amazingly supportive partner, a tight circle of friends (i.e. “chosen family”), and a skilled therapist* to guide me. In the meantime however, I am finding it very difficult to focus, concentrate and opine for your infotainment upon the vital and timely topics of fascist doucheweasels, patriarchal shitheads, racist conservatives, treasonous theocrats, native-born white d00ds in local bars suggesting an upside to the day’s news out of DC, terrorist squirrels and other assorted menaces.

Then again, I only have one rule—and one rule only—for posting: whatever I want, whenever I want.** So here, have some of that. Continue reading

Moroccan Bisteeya (chicken in pastry with cinnamon).

Okay vegans, look away for this one. I promise I’ll make it up to you with a Moroccan recipe for beets that will knock your socks off.

bisteeya1

Bisteeya (alternatively pastilla, besṭila, bastilla, b’stilla or b’steeya) is a traditional Moroccan savory pie, usually served on special occasions as a first course. When I first started exploring Moroccan cooking, bisteeya was my Holy Grail. I fell in love with it in Morocco many moons ago; here in New York, the late, great Cafe Noir used to serve it up (and well).

This is the most delicious chicken dish I have ever tasted, bar none.

Continue reading

Say hello to my little friend.

While waiting for some prescription refills today, I wandered through a couple shops in my neighborhood. I made it a point, as I always do, to browse my favorite thrift shop. Oooh, some sweet sofas! But nah, I’m good. Nice art too, but nothing that would work for me. And hey, I’m always looking for new specimens to add to my eclectic flatware collection…shit outta luck. *sigh*

And then, there he was.

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I painted my sofa because Jonathan Adler.

Jonathan Adler is a designer based in New York City with a storefront shop in the West Village on Greenwich Avenue. I have sort of a love-hate thing for this d00d because, well, I loooove many of his designs, and yet I haaaaate the stratospheric pricing.

First, the love. If I had to describe Adler’s overall aesthetic, I’d say midcentury-modern-meets-obnoxiously-opulent-whimsical-retro-pop-culture-plus-drugs. Yes, drugs.

Continue reading

And now for something completely different.

Behold, and be mesmerized:

Interested in documenting one of the oldest animals on Earth, Barcelona-based production company myLapse set to capture the minimal movements of brightly colored coral, recording actions rarely seen by the human eye. The short film took nearly 25,000 individual images of the marine invertebrates to compose, and photography of species, such as the Acanthophyllia, Trachyphyllia, Heteropsammia cochlea, Physogyra, took over a year.

The production team hopes the film attracts attention to the Great Barrier Reef, encouraging watchers to take a deeper interest in one of the natural wonders of the world that is being rapidly bleached due to climate change. You can see more up-close images of the coral species featured in this film on Flickr. (via Sploid)

Tell me again what religions have to offer that comes anywhere close to the majesty and deep beauty on offer in our natural world.

[h/t Caine]

Grave dancing! Phyllis Schlafly edition.

Phyllis Schlafly is dead. Whoo-hoo!

Yes I know, I know. I am a terrible person and you should definitely stay far, far away from me and especially my blog. It’s true that I was actually a bit sad when Scalia kicked the bucket, but that was only because I would forever be denied the number one experience on my bucket list: mooning that fucker.

But Schlafly? I feel nothing but unadulterated joy in her passing. #sorrynotsorry

I cannot wait until Dick Cheney’s day comes. I might throw a goddamn parade!

GUEST POST: I’ve Seen Bears Kill.

Please enjoy these beautiful thoughts, beautifully expressed, by my friend Ian. (Posted with permission.)

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I think one of the advantages to having been born and raised in Alaska, and having a mother who encouraged me to explore my world, was that in those massive wide open expanses, the unending forests, the freezing lakes and rivers, impassible mountains, and temperature extremes that think nothing of ending your life…

I learned that life is not given to us. That the world doesn’t belong to us. It was not made for us… In fact, for the most part we aren’t even suited to it.

We survive the world. We live small in an unimaginably massive universe that would kill us instantly in our natural state.

I learned all of this before I even turned 5 years old.

So when someone first told me their stories about their God, or their religions, or their books… All I could think was:

“That makes absolutely no sense! Why would anyone make something so mean to us? No. I just don’t believe that. I’ve seen a bear kill. I’ve killed fish. I once fell in a river during the winter. I know I almost died. Nothing invisible saved me. I saved myself! That book is ridiculous.”

I’ve lived another, what? 35 years now?

Nothing’s changed.

We survive the world. We live in that unending and harsh world.

And that’s the best feeling there is. Walk any forest without your tools to save you, and you’ll see. No God. Just you, and the world that makes you.

I’ve never felt more free than in those mornings when the world was about to end me – without malice, without anger, without hatred or rage…

Just the ice wind, blowing into my lungs. Quietly asking,…

“What are you doing here? How are you going to live?”

I must have been a VERY good girl.

Behold what the universe hath conspired to deliver up unto me: the skull of a ravaged squirrel.

squirrelskullwatermarkOkay, so technically it might not be the skull of a squirrel. How the hell would I know? I am not some kind of -ologist, people! Nevertheless, I am going to have to insist that it is indeed the skull of a squirrel, because it is just too perfect for my purposes. (Hey—conservatives make up their own facts all the fucking time. Why can’t I for once huh? HUH?)

And what might my diabolical purposes be, exactly? Well I wasn’t quite sure at first. But then I photographed it, the results of which you see above (watermarked). And I found it weirdly, oddly beautiful. Also kind of badass, you know? As in, evoking death and the transience of our mortal existence, or perhaps the face of some imagined alien being.

But of course what really, really pushes my button is that it’s a dead squirrel. Because let’s face it: the only good squirrel…is a dead squirrel. I ask you: could anything be more full of win?

Why, yes! Yes it can: its provenance.

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My Amazing Lover™ is the proud owner of a planting bed, one that sits beyond a slatted fence and just above street level. It’s full of lovely perennial plants like crocus, white tulips, pulmonaria and some waxy-leafed ground cover I gave him, extracted from the tiny yard behind my palace on Perry Street. He keeps it well weeded, watered and mulched. One day, he said there was something he wanted to show me in the planting bed. He pointed out the disembodied skull, which had a patch of gray-brown fur and some whiskers attached. “I think it’s from a squirrel,” he said.

OMG *swoon*.

The next day we discovered it had been moved, and now rested a foot or two away. The fur patch appeared to be significantly smaller, and I could no longer make out whiskers. By the following morning it had been moved once again, and picked clean by nocturnal scavengers. Circle of life, and all that.

I could not stop thinking about it, that small skull lying in the mulch. (I am super weird. FYI.) A few days passed. My Amazing Lover™ was on his way to me, and called to ask if I needed anything. “I need that squirrel skull,” I said. Like it was the most ordinary thing to ask for in the world.

“Okay.”

A few hours later, I was in possession of a clear ziploc bag containing my prized possession.

THAT’S RIGHT MY PARTNER BROUGHT ME A SKULL THAT MIGHT POSSIBLY BE FROM A SQUIRREL MAYBE.

If that is not the ultimate sign of deep and abiding love…well, I just don’t know what is.

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And because I am about nothing if not sharing the love, I plastered that skull all over a bunch of stuff at my online store, so you too can be part of the #deathtosquirrels revolution.

mugcompositesquirrelskullringWho needs pearls? You can have squirrels.

squirrelskullbandanaSubversive pocket square…
for all your formalwear occasions.

+ MOAR…!