Thursday, December 11, 2014

Don't Prey on Me

Mantises are cool!  This is the first time I ever saw one outside of the Insect House at the zoo.  The Northeastern United States is known to have two species of mantis, both non-native and introduced sometime in the late 19th century, probably by accident.  However, they are great pest control, and have been encouraged by nurseries and farms throughout the area.  This particular mantis is the tenodera sinensis, the Chinese Mantis.

This one must have been around three inches long.  They can grow as big as four and a half.  I caught it chowing down on what I think used to be a bee.  Mantises will eat anything apparently, which is a good thing if you want to decrease your populations of pests, but not so good if they eat the bees, spiders, wasps and other similarly beneficial predators.  They have also been known to go after hummingbirds, and small rodents, as well as other mantises.  

Mantises share the same order, Dictyoptera, as termites and cockroaches.  They are the suborder Mantodea, and the termites and cockroaches are of the suborder Blattodea.  They are also pretty similar to phasmids (walking sticks), and grylloblattids (ice crawlers).  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tell all your Nurses and your Nuns about It

Brett Dennen
Hope for the Hopeless
Dualtone, 2008
produced by John Alagia

  • Make You Crazy
  • Heaven
I confess, the single Ain't No Reason brought me here, and originally I intended to buy the album that song is on.  Instead, I got this one, by accident, but I don't care because it's awesome.  If you enjoy folk/rock (and by that I mean more like Dylan, and less like Mumford and Sons), this guy is a solid choice.

The songs are all well-meaning, nice guy lyrics from a dude that loves baseball and easy going California living.  His idol is Van Morrison, and it shows.  Also, he teams up with Femi Kuti from Positive Force, and Natalie Maerchant from 10,000 Maniacs.  

Arik Danielsen from PopMatters said Dennen is "No Dylan or Lennon, but he does capture the spirit of a generation attracted to the hopeful promise they witnessed in the Obama canidacy".  Although he is no Dylan, or Lennon, or Morrison, these obvious influences leak out into Dennen's music, and it's awesome.  

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stranger and Stranger Still

A while ago, I started writing pieces about Batman villains, because, why not?  You can click the label tag at the bottom to read more.  This post is about one of Batman's first villains.

Dr. Hugo Strange (not to be confused with Marvel's Doctor Strange, or Nedor Comic's Doc Strange) appears in Detective Comics months before Batman #1 (the first appearance of the Joker and Catwoman).  He originally operates as the leader of a gang, and uses science to create fog machines and super strong 15 foot mutant henchmen.  He is also the first villain to deduce Batman's identity, and attempts to auction off the information.  

Strange gets reinvented in the early '90s as a psychiatrist obsessed with the Batman, and tries to become the Dark Knight.  In the Prey and Terror storylines, he works with the GCPD and is an advocate for an anti-Batman task force.  He also pairs up with another insane psychiatrist, the Scarecrow.  Everything backfires and Strange ends up in Arkham.   

Dr Hugo Strange as psychiatrist has become the more popular version of the character, and often he is seen as a doctor at Arkham Asylum, but has also appeared at Belle Reeve, or in a private practice in Gotham.  The Arkham connection is also shared by other doctor/psychiatrist characters like Harleen Quinnzel, Tommy Elliot, Jeremiah Arkham, and Jonathan Crane.  

I always thought he was far more dangerous as a respected psychiatrist than as a crazy Batman-obsessed kidnapper/gang leader.  The video game Arkham City helped to recast Strange as a worthy Batman foe.  The fact that most people trust and respect doctors, and that psychiatrists study people's minds and prescribe medication can both lend to a truly scary premise when that trusted doctor ends up being a sociopath and goes rogue.  Dr. Hugo Strange is definitely one of Batman's most underrated villains.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014


This guy is a pet of a man I met during work.  I asked if the idea was to eat it for Thanksgiving, as it was pretty close to the holiday, and I was laughed at.  He's far too old to eat, apparently.

This particular bird is a Narrangansett turkey, which is a rare type of heritage turkey, which are domestic breeds of Meleagris Gallopavo.  This particular breed is a cross between the Meleagris Gallopavo, and the Meleagris Gallopavo Silvestris.

Judging from the picture I took, this could even be a Silver Narrangansett, which is even more rare, as the Bronze, and Narrangansett breeds are far more popular.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Dynamic Duo, or, those Low Notes that you Hear

Royal Blood
Royal Blood
Warner Brother Records, 2014
Produced by Tom Daglety

Mike Kerr - bass, vocals
Ben Thatcher - drums

  • Out of the Black/ Come on Over
  • Little Monster/ Hole
  • Come on Over/ You Want Me
  • Figure it Out/ Love it and Leave it Alone
  • Ten Tonne Skeleton
There has been a lot in the media recently about how rock music is dead.  Gene Simmons said it, Jerry Coyne from the University of Chicago said it, Pigeons and Planes ran an article about it, and I read a great article about the rise and fall of all great artistic styles with a focus on rock, but I cant find it.

Royal Blood seems to be a glimmer of hope for a genre that has been in the decline since the mid '90s.  The music is fundamentally sound (pun intended), the lyrics meaningful and catchy.  And it isn't overly produced.  It's only two British guys, without a traditional lead instrument.  Move over Black Keys.  If it's rock you want, that is new and kicks some ass, check them out.  Also, the art for the album cover, and all their singles, is pretty sweet.