June 22, 2010
Wildlife Artists, Inc is a toy company dedicated to making realistic plush animals. This cuddly cuttlefish is about 8″ long and was produced in 1999. If I recall correctly, I picked this up from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences gift shop sometime in 2001.
The tag doesn’t indicate which species it is meant to be, but based on the brown and yellow coloration, I would tentatively guess Sepia officinalis, the Common Cuttlefish. The Common Cuttlefish (also known as the European Cuttlefish) is found in the Mediterranean, Baltic and North Seas, and it typically reaches a maximum mantle length of about 45 cm—about twice a big as this particular toy.
I know that Wildlife Artists makes at least one other toy cephalopod (What could it be? Stay tuned to find out!), but I don’t know if there are others. You need a Customer Account to access their online product catalog, but, unfortunately, I can’t find any information on their website how to sign up for such an account.
June 21, 2010
Welcome to Plush Week! Everyday this week we’ll look at a variety of stuffed toy cephalopods, mostly from my own collection. I’ve already mentioned a few in past posts, such as Toy Vault’s Cthulhu and friends and the mysterious Tuffed Cuddlestache, and I figured it was finally time to highlight a few more.
Please note that the is is not PLUSHIE week. If you know what I’m talking about, I’m sure you are relived. If you don’t know what I mean by “plushie,” consider yourself lucky. Seriously, you are better off not knowing.
Annnyway…let’s kick off the week with a unique item that might be familiar to you if you’ve ever clicked over to the About Indie Squid Kid page.
This is a one-of-a-kind hand-made stuffed squid in the style of the classic Sock Monkey toy. My friend Stacie made if for me in 2005, and the photo above was taken then. (I look so young!)
The squid is about 24″ long and had green buttons for eyes. In the picture below (with a ball point pen for scale), you can just make out the red heel of the sock where’s the squids mouth would be. Like most of my plush cephalopods, it now lives on a shelf in Kid Indie Squid Kid’s room, but it will probably be a few years before I let him play with this one!
June 20, 2010
After a long day with Daddy (and Mommy too!) at the science museum, Kid Indie Squid Kid returns to find his plush Architeuthis is running amok in his room!
Oh noes! How will this titanic stuggle end? Stay tuned to Plush Week to find out!
June 20, 2010
I’ve got a big day planned with Ryn and Kid Indie Squid Kid (brunch and then the NC Museum of Life + Science), but if I get a chance, I’ll try to post some sort of follow up to this photo. I can’t believe it’s been a year already!
So, pending that, here are two new Target sightings…
June 19, 2010
Today is the opening day of a new special exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.
Don’t miss the first-ever museum exhibition to explore the phenomenon of bioluminescence — an organism’s ability to produce its own light.
Visitors to Glow: Living Lights start their journey by investigating the chemical process that produces “cool” light. They then explore the world of light-producing terrestrial organisms like fireflies, glow worms and foxfire fungus before traveling on to the mid-ocean, where an estimated 90 percent of the animals produce light. Here visitors encounter alien-looking creatures like viper fish, which dangle a light lure to attract their next meal, and cookie cutter sharks, which earned their name from the cookie-size chunks of flesh they take out of unsuspecting prey in the dark. Visitors continue on to demonstrations of the interesting techniques and equipment used by scientists to study bioluminescence, and then explore the many benefits of this research — from helping to speed the study of cancer-fighting drugs to the detection of anthrax spores in public places.
The exhibit is open from 10 am–5 pm Monday–Saturday and noon–5 pm Sunday, with the last entry at 4 pm every day.
Tickets prices are: $7 Adults; $5 Seniors/Students; $4 Children (5–11); free to Members.
Although cephalopods aren’t specifically mentioned in the above description, they use an image of a biolumenescent squid on their site and their print ads for the exhibit, so I’m confident our glowy, tentacled friends will be included!
If you’ve never been to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, I highly recommend it. Their permenent exhibits include a nearly complete mounted skelton of Cretaceous Theropod Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (aka, Acro, Terror of the South!), a specimen of the Cretaceous Ornithopod Thescelosaurus which was found with a fossilized heart (aka, Willo), and an impressive collection of mounted whale skeletons.
The museum is located at 11 West Jones St, Raleigh, NC. It’s open seven days a week and admisson is Free (except for special exhibits).
June 18, 2010
In 2007, my friend Stuart (aka, Flickr user TheKingInYellow) toured the Japanese island of Kyūshū. While there, he visited the town of Kabejima (pronounced “Kabeshima”) in Saga prefecture, which is apparently renowned for its squid.
Here are a few squiddy pictures from the trip:
I don’t know what species of squid this is, but it’s pretty big…a good 1-1.5 feet long. At this particular restaurant, live squid are kept in tanks (shown above) and served, erm…just about as fresh as possible. Kind of gruesome, but I’m told it was quite delicious.
June 16, 2010
There’s nary a cephalopod to be seen on this remixed cover of Aquaman #45 (June, 1969), but when I saw this online yesterday, I figured it was high time to break my silence on the Gulf Oil Spill. Not that I have much to add to the public discourse on the worst environmental disaster in American history..the magnitude of this catastrophe (58 days and counting) is almost too much for words. Of course there are some…words like, mind-boggling, brain-numbing, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking…
What can one unemployed nerd thousands of miles away do but watch in horror day after day as the environment and wildlife of the Gulf Coast (not to mention the livelihoods of everyone who depends on that environment for their very subsistence) slowly get consumed by a relentless, creeping tide of oil. All the while, the leaking riser 5,000 feet down continues to spew out clouds of black death with no end in sight. As Andrew at Southern Fried Science said, “American marine conservation will be divided into ‘before the spill’ and ‘after the spill’ for the next century.”
For the insight and analysis of real marine scientists, you should to go to Deep-Sea News. Dr. M and crew deliver the most comprehensive and thoughtful coverage of the spill you’re likely to find anywhere online. Southern Fried Science also has a page dedicated (and continuously updated) to reliable sources of information pertaining to the crisis.
June 16, 2010
Speaking of podcasts…the newest episode of Skeptic Magazine’s Monster Talk podcast is out, and it’s all about the mythos and monsters of H.P. Lovecraft. In the show, Lovecraft scholar Robert M. Price discusses the life, works, and cultural impact of the master of cosmic horror. Additionally, biologist PZ Myers (of the Pharyngula blog) talks about the biology of cephalopods and how they served as the inspiration for Lovecraft’s most famous creation. (Spoiler Alert: it’s Cthulhu.)
The episode is a little over 1 hour long, and I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet. Of course, I have quite a bit of extra time on my hands these days (in theory at least), so I’m sure I can block out some time for one of my favorite topics!
You can download the episode (June 16, show 019) and read the show notes here.
Monster Talk is a skeptical look at the creatures of cryptozoology and folklore. Hosts Blake Smith, Ben Radford, and Dr. Karen Stollznow interview scientists and other experts about the science (or lack thereof) behind the word’s legendary beats.
You can subscribe to Monster Talk for free via RSS or iTunes.
I designed this shirt a few years back on Spreadshirt.com. By “designed” I, of course, mean “selected a font,” but since I’m not an artist, this is about a good as it gets. (I also took this picture of myself earlier today, and this was, sadly, the best one of the bunch.)
I don’t know if this shirt is Meta, Ironic, Ironically Meta, or Funny Because It’s True. (Or maybe it’s just really Dumb, but that’s OK, I still find it amusing.)
“My other shirt…” is one of several such “designs” for sale in the Random Signal Spreadshirt store, which I set up so that I could offer some merchandise related to my podcast. There you can get this and other shirts emblazoned with marginally witty pseudo-memes such as “Go Eagle Go!” and “Totally Airwolf.”
Incidentally, the Random Signal podcast is five years old this month! I posted a brand new episode last night, and it includes new music by Merge Records artists Let’s Wrestle and Telekinesis, a song about cyborgs by Jonathan Coltoun, and a song about vampires by The Magnetic Fields. The talky bits include discussion of the HBO series True Blood, MRIs, Kraken Rum, and a special message to British Petrolium. Download the show, and if you like what you hear, you can subscribe on iTunes. It’s free!
Today’s shirt is avaialable in Giant Squid Red for $17.50. The back reads “www.randomsignal.com”. Buy it from Spreadshirt.com (I might even make a little bit of money from it!)
June 15, 2010
I first heard about The Kraken™ Black Spiced Rum this past October, and, as you may recall, I shared a trio of viral marketing videos which expounded the mystery and awesomeness of both the booze and its tentacled namesake. Kraken Rum hasn’t made its way to North Carolina liquor stores (yet), but my friends Mur (yes, this Mur) and Jim brought me back a bottle from her recent trip to Maryland!
I really like the the old-fashioned style of the bottle and the cool woodcut-esque label illustrations that look like they could have come out of some old book of maritime legends. (Cthulhu also approves!)
Here are some detail shots of the bottle art work:
We all know that the cephalopd depicted on the bottle is NOT Architheuthis dux, right? OK then, moving on.
So, how does it taste? Pretty damn good, if you ask me. Ryn and I recorded our initial tasting, and thoughts thereon, as part of the newest episode of the Random Signal podcast. You will obviously want to listen to the entire show (hint, hint), but, if you are really short on time, we discuss the rum pretty much right at the half-way point.
Does anyone have any suggestions for clever names/recipes for mixed drinks that include Kraken Rum? So far, we’ve come up with the “Kraken Libre” (= rum + Coke) and the “Stormy Kraken” (= rum + ginger ale), but there have got to be some better ideas out there! Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
If you want to find out more about The Kraken Black Spiced Rum, visit them online at www.krakenrum.com.