Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Peripatus, little peripatus
Peripatus, my panarthropod
It will cover you with glue
(It will cover you with glue)

The Riddled competition this week is for the best new lyrics for Carmina Burana, replacing "O Fortuna" with "Peripatus". Instead of the usual road-kill hotpot from Mrs Miggins, first prize is increased to a Bremen-Style Haggis, flown directly to the lucky winner so we can make a joke about "a knipp in the air".

This may seem extravagant but "hang the expense," sez we. It will be worth every shiny milk-bottle top if the lyrics reduce future occurrences of the unmelodic quandary arising so often at the Old Entomologist in the early hours, when the topers at half the tables are trying to sing "Peripatus" to the tune of Alouette, while the other half are all "Peri patus, peri patus, Velvet worm! Velvet worm!" to the tune of Frère Jacques.

"A quandary has horns like a dilemma, but otherwise resembles a dromedary," Another Kiwi helpfully vouchsafed.

The Peripatus or Velvet worm or Onychophora is known for its ability to squirt twin streams of sticky mucus, which is the WORST SUPER-POWER EVAH if you happen to be bitten by a radioactive one. It uses the mucus to immobilise its victims before sucking out their digestive-saliva-liquified internals.
Sadly, it has yet to feature in its very own creature-feature horror movie. In part this is the fault of the New Zealand Film Commission, where people are all risk-averse and arse-covery about funding scripts from the Riddled Amateur Dramatic Society. Also too, no-one is selling Sexy Peripatus Costumes for Hallowe'en so you'll have to make your own if you want to join our other competition. Send photographs to the judges, Open Mike and Swearing Bob. The judges' decision is (due to a spelling mistake) finial.

Here's a Peripatus I found yesterday.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Poison's in my bloodstream, poison's in my pride

In the drunken aftermath of "Leonard Cohen Karaoke and Dendrogramma enigmatica Affiliations in Bilateralia Night" at the Old Entomologist, the conversation turned (as it so often does) to
  1. the anti-invertebrate, pro-tetrapod bias in contemporary culture, and
  2. Sensory deprivation tank: Doin it rong
  3. the unfairness that Vonda McIntyre wrote Dreamsnake around the conceit of bioengineering snakes to administer medicinal does of poisons... thereby squandering an opportunity to rehabilitate the reputations of scorpions, spiders, centipedes and one species of basal crustacean.
If my hand-written summary of the following heated discussion is to be trusted -- and if it can actually be read, through all the beer stains -- then

1. The surrent holder of the title of "World's most poisonous spider" is the Six-eyed sand-crab spider Sicarius sp. In animal tests, its cytotoxic, haemorrhagic venom  kills rabbits through internal bleeding and general ooze in the manner of Ebola virus. Fortunately its life-style is such as to minimise contact with humans other than Cameron Slater, i.e. it lurks under flat rocks. Newlands and Atkinson only managed to find two reported cases of probable Sicarius envenomation where the victims showed the expected symptoms of liquefaction in the absence of multiple bites by cobras and rattlesnakes.

The Doctrine of Similars leads us to predict that the best treatment for a Sicarius bite is a homeopathic dose of Ebola. In fact that is the plot of a forthcoming Japanese horror movie.

Sicarius seldom eats -- it can survive two years without food -- so conversely, a highly-diluted dose of ground-up spider is an obvious homeopathic remedy for anorexia.

3. Canadian spiders are weird.
4.This spider does backflips and cartwheels, after watching too many Wuxia movies convinced it that it can thereby evade the weapons of its enemies. It remains to be seen whether its bite will bestow acrobatic superpowers.
The Acrobat's Exercises
Let the record show that 'agorabat' and 'claustrobat' are names for performers of daring feats in wide-open spaces and confined spaces respectively, and if the lexicographers say otherwise than they are PART OF THE CONSPIRACY TO SUPPRESS THE TRUTH.

5. Fishing spiders have been in the news lately [h/t ITTDGY]. Here is the New Zealand fishing spider, Dolomedes aquaticus.

The Whackyweedia entry lacks a description of its fishing techniques (we would edit it ourselves, but for some reason the Whacky administrators have blocked the Riddled IP address). The North Island subspecies ties its own lures from feathers and strips of shiny plastic. South Island populations lack the aesthetic instinct and prefer to stun the fish with a stick of C4.

Attempts to prosecute fishing spiders for catching rainbow trout without a license have all failed, with the courts accepting the defense that the indigenous status of D. aquaticus exempts it from fish-&-game legislation.

6. Canadian spiders are not only weird, but dangerously adept in their mimicry skills.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions a layer of mashed potato, baked for 45 minutes at 190° *

Life continues to imitate a 'Two Ronnies' skit:
Police are asking motorists to keep their eyes peeled.

Two victims of potato dumping

In fact "State Highway 1 blocked by spudspill" is a recurring event, which we incline to blame on the large deposits of Narrativium underlying New Zealand's North Island (either that, or on Another Kiwi drinking a third pint of Trotsky Headsplitter Bitter and twiddling with the settings of the Morphogenic Field Flux Intensifier). This time, the spillage was close to the Southward Classic Car Museum; but seven years ago...

...it happened in the neighbourhood of the vintage car wreckers, Horopito Motors.

Perhaps the reality-studio scriptwriters are working up to a joke about "bangers and mash".

* If these accounts of sub-optimal choices of paving material are true, we must deduce that there are no roading engineers in Hell, which I for one find it hard to believe.

Then the lightning flashing (flashing crashing)
Fireworks shooting up in her head

Lightning, according to Heraclitus, can never strike the same river twice. Unless I am thinking of Empedocles who provided empirical proof that you cannot step in the same crater of molten lava twice.
All you need to know about Empedocles is that he favoured a 'four elements' theory for the constitution of all phenomena. In his original recension the elements were Earth, Water, Fire and Air, but he later replaced the last of these with Wood, after Democritus pointed out that you can have Earthworks, Waterworks, Fireworks and Woodwork, but not Airwork.

Here at left, Heraclitus is sad because he cannot balance a spinning globe on his fingertip as well as Democritus, his fellow-philosopher and partner in crime-fighting.
Heraclitus also had some ideas about Enantiodromia and the 'coincidence of opposites' and dialectic between extremes. Thus it seems fair to blame him for the idea of making sweetened beverages out of whatever sour fruit life hands you. Sadly, all life has handed me lately is a shower of numpties and barmpots and irritating people, and it turns out to be illegal to put them in the juicer. Also too, experience proves that it is not a good idea to ask Evangeline van Holsterin (head barmaid at the Old Entomologist) if she was made out of barms; not unless you want to be served a free pint of cockade or colonnade or worse.

Anyway, this provides a convenient segue to the Wellington City Council's policy of sponsoring a series of wind-glorifying kinetic sculptures. Prominent among these being the Zephyrometer, a gimbaled Rube Goldberg Variation named after and modelled upon the speedometer of a Mark IV Ford Zephyr two-tone station-wagon (TRUFAX!). The idea is to turn the city's reputation for galefulness into a source of pride.

Typical breezy day in Wellington
This was all very well until a thunderstorm redlined the Zephyrometer into a Lightningmeter.
Every sow's ear has a silver lining, however, and the destruction of the artwork creates an excuse to link to a James Gleeson painting [left].

It is also an opportunity to remind the Council that here at Riddled Enterprises we have our own proposal for fostering pride in the city's negative attributes. Dummies will be spat and toys will be thrown if they are so purblind as to reject our "Giant Bore" kinetic sculpture,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

We're going to need a bigger Bag of Dicks...

...the New Zealand election is approaching.

1936 of them ought to be enough.

On close inspection, they appear to be uncircumcised.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I am disappoint

The Corso Magenta in Genoa is not that colour after all.
Also too, on the way to the flight home from Malpensa Airport I stayed one night on the Via Porpora, which turned out not to be be purple.
Neither was the Porpora beer on tap at Birrificio Lambrate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Smut, don't drink it!

It is a general rule that no pissant Northern European country is truly independent until it has its own heinous liqueur, for the olds to sip as an indigestif so that local cuisine tastes better in comparison, and for the younglings to drink aggressively to show their unconcern and immunity to flavour.
Vana Tallinn is built on base notes of bay rum aftershave, accented by subtle harmonics of gentian, eucalyptus, cubeb and Purple Drank. It triggered reminded the sister-in-law of growing up in her father's apothecary pharmacy when every winter he would brew up 44-galloon drums of cough syrup -- each of the neighbourhood doctors favouring a slightly different recipe, a slightly different melange of herbs and spices to mask the underlying laudanum and coca extract. Of course this was before antibiotics, roughly contemporaneous with Paracelsus.