Archive for the ‘Correspondence’ Category


Since the US government shutdown began we have received numerous requests to assign Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner with his ‘life animal’, though since no one at Knits a stinK had ever heard of this phrase, we had just been filing these requests in the Investigate tray. As it happens we ran across a kindly gentleman who actually was familiar with this phrase, one Mr Grandville, on the same day that the shutdown ended, and so we decided to finally repay those requests by having our court artist (who also happens to intern at our local zoo) put together a likeness of Boehner’s life animal.

But first Mr Grandville’s explanation. Apparently, just as every person has a ‘color season’, so that for example a person with bluish undertones to their skin are classified as ‘winter’, every person alive or dead can be matched with an animal. Charles Darwin’s was, satisfyingly, a chimpanzee. Benedict Cumberbatch has recently been outed as an otter. Snoop Dogg is, of course, a doberman pinscher. You will yourself personally know people who are integrally linked to a boa constrictor or a zebra or the like.

Sounded straight-forward to us – but what was Speaker Boehner? You will find the outcome below, but please be warned that the results are rather more gruesome than we would have expected. This image may not be suitable for younger blog readers.


Old hound Boehner


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Squill spills all



Professor Lovernut, author of A Concept of Squills for the Future, stopped by the other day to discuss issues affecting the squill community. Below is a partial transcript of our conversation:

Knits a stinK: Professor Lovernut, welcome to Knits a stinK and thank you for giving your time to speak on behalf of the squill community. I know you have been very busy of late, so it is a pleasure to have you with us.
Professor Lovernut: The pleasure is all mine, although I am compelled right off the bat to emphasize that although I would like to think that my viewpoints are widely shared amongst squills I can in no way claim to represent the squill community in its entirety, as the experiences and perspectives of squills today are as varied as those of society itself. There can no more be said to be a unified squill movement than there is one of, I don’t know, bankers –
KK: Perhaps not a comparison squills would be flattered by at the moment –
PL: [laughs] No, of course, not bankers then. Journalists, let’s say.
KK: Yes. Although thinking further along those lines, perhaps the analogy between squills and bankers is more apt than we might think. There is, for example, the shared desire, hypothetically at least, of security for the future through investment for the future – acorns in the first instance and currency, or funds or what have you, in the other.
PL: Let me just stop you right there. This is exactly the sort of blanket identity statement I have been campaigning against for years. Stereotyped traits that we think of as positive can be just as destructive as those we would deem by consensus to be negative. I’ll give you an example. Squills, as you say, are thought to be a species known to be frugal, to be forward thinking – conservative, to put it bluntly. It’s your classic understanding of the squill as protein-hoarder. Let’s take then a squill who happens not to adhere to these principles, whether by choice or by lack of inclination otherwise. Natural ability or whatever it may be. This squill then suffers through the reversed expectations of society. It is frankly a no-win situation.
KK: Well what if, for example, we were to offer you a nut right now?
PL: Yes?
KK: An acorn.
PL: Okay.
KK: What would you do with it?
PL: I’m afraid you miss the point completely. The question is not what I would do with an acorn. The question is what any given individual squill would do with an acorn, or even what any given individual squill would do with an acorn on any specific occasion, under specific circumstances, and what you would have would be an infinity of combinations of outcomes, as infinite as those parameters allow, if you see what I’m saying.
KK: Sure. Parameterized inifinity.
PL: [snorts, takes long drink of tea, smacks lips] You don’t really have an acorn on you, do you?

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Language is a body and violence can be done to it, particularly with punctuation, and nothing is quite as punctilious punctuationwise as an aposiopesis. An aposiopesis, we learn, is a written equivalent of the ‘becoming silent’ – signalled at the end of the beginning of a thought on one hand by a dash to denote the violent cutting off of words, and on the other hand by an ellipsis, or a ‘falling short’, for the loss of will, the joke with no punchline, the failure to complete…



‘Is that a dagger which I see before me? Why I nev–’


‘Huh. When I put it down, over there, in the drawer, in the hallway table, the one outside the kids’ room, I could have sworn, I was definite in fact, that the, that the safety…’


Aposiopesis Maximus

So where the dash is a dagger to the heart of the sentence, the ellipsis is three neat spots of blood trickled from its personhood, signalling its waning strength. And why three? Why always three? From whence came our love of the trio? Why is something not complete until the introduction of the third, while we walk on two legs and the beasts of the land walk on four? Yes a stool is unstable until comes the third leg, and everything after is superfluous, but can you see a three-legged peacock? You can not.

Why three when we couple in twos? Why tack on the holy ghost when the father and the son would have been fine on their own? What are the origins of the three? It’s three blind mice, and three wise monkeys, and three sheets to the wind (those being only three examples). Why are three cuff buttons on a man’s jacket the essence of elegance?

Yet one tries to picture an ellipsis made of only two points, and it is too horrible to imagine, too horrible.. Similarly, try to think of a sentence stunted by a hyphen rather than the mighty em-dash—I mean, wha-

The ingloriousness of it – like death by toothpick. Just ask Sherwood Anderson, who died after swallowing an hors d’oeuvre avec un cure-dent. It slashed his pouch to pieces. We don’t know how many.

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It is time to let him go.

It has been so long, and so much has come of it, and yet there inevitably comes a moment when one can no longer justify such an obsession. There is a limit to any return. That limit has been reached.

Know that he loves you, and that he will always will. Know that what you had together was real, as real as they come. That can never be subtracted, can never be wiped away. But it is over, and we are no more fond of saying so than you might be to admit it to yourself. We know that it is painful, but the time has come. Let him go. He will always be there for you in memory. But set him free. Let him go.

It has been long. It has been fruitful. You have travelled far together. Your love has known no bounds. He has taught you much, and he in kind has learned from your example. Now there is no more to know.

Together you grew. Together you shared all manner of high and low. You explored all space, you saw things neither of you had ever seen, things the likes of which neither of you will come across again. But there no longer remains for the two of you any undiscovered territory – no terra incognita, no virgo caelos – you are grown now, and so is he.

So stop it. Stop writing about him. Stop blogging about him. Stop thinking about him. Stop referencing him. What he had, he no longer has. The same goes for his friends – forget them too. Leave them be. Their broth has all been slurped and the bowl is empty. Put it in the dishwasher and set it on high heat. Forget eco this time; we must make sure it is fully cleansed.

The world has moved on. Now it is time for you to move on. It has been said. What has been is set in stone. Say goodbye now. Goodbye sweet youth, goodbye sweet heart, goodbye mine past. Thank you for what you have been and will now ever be.

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The International Art Community (IAC) has been badgering Knits a stinK for ages to give comment on the work of Claes Oldenburg, the Swedish/American artist who for the past half century or so has been providing larger-than-life evidence of the thinginess of stuff via the medium of stuffed things. Not animals. Not stuffed animals, mind you. Other stuffed stuff. Inanimate objects. Ice cream cones, paper clips, paint brushes, lipstick mounted upright on tank tracks, that sort of thing. Things at 1:32 size, like models viewed from the wrong end of the telescope. Not that sort of model.

Why the pickle on top?

Why the pickle on top?

Sometimes they are sloppily done, and intentionally so, with the paint bleeding outside the appropriate edges, and the seams split, and the material cracked, making for an altogether messy affair, as if made by a giant child. Others are as rigid and formulaic as military projects. What does it mean to make small things big? What’s that say about us? And why is he from Sweden? What does that say about him? Is he making fun of us for metaphorically enbiginating relatively insignificant objects and/or otherwise paltry ideals?

A typical Swedish dinner.

A typical Swedish dinner.

If so, should we retaliate? And if so repeated, then how? Is it too reactionary to make very small facsimiles of things that are of large importance to Swedes, such as Lutfisk, or saunas? We could employ Slinkachu, the artist of very small things who, although not American, is British, and therefore a subset of American, if I am right in my thinking. (Britons, am I right in my thinking?) Slinkachu makes small people – very small people – so they could be posed outside the Swedish embassy in America (or the American embassy in Sweden, whichever would be more impactful) coming out of their tiny saunas, with towels the size of tabs of acid wrapped around their waspish waists, shaking their Lutfisks at the security gates. Maybe the Swedes wouldn’t notice them, though. They are very tall, after all.

The spoils of war.

The spoils of war.

Perhaps we could put up a statement of intent, or a blinking neon sign or something. And a St*rb*cks. And an American flag, but not a really small one – a really big one. Texas big. With Claes Oldenburg’s beautiful face painted onto it by giant children. Though I suppose that would distract from the Slinkachuan Swede and his sauna. No one ever said that art was easy. The Institute for International stinK Knitting (IIKK) is currently seeking governmental funding to get this project underway. Please write to your Representative stating your support.

Eat that, IAC!

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Other bird facts


Today a pigeon relaxed. It was lying in a triangular patch of long grass in front of a church. As far as records go back this is the first instance of pigeon relaxation. At all other times they are in constant motion, except of course when they are asleep. (This last bit is assumed. A sleeping pigeon has yet to be sighted, making this the holy grail of ornithology, akin to spotting a giant squid in the deep wearing a little hat with tassels.) There was a man just next to the pigeon who was also relaxing. He was wearing black trousers and shoes, a nice button-down and big shiny watch. He was lying with his head on a backpack. He may have been asleep. The pigeon was wearing nothing.

The pigeon in question, drawn from life.

Seeing this pigeon relax was a satisfying experience. Much more so than the sight of the relaxing man in the trousers. Pigeons never get a break. As he was preening himself intentedly, he was not motionless, strictly speaking. It was nice, though, not to have to suffer through the vision of watching him peck at things. So much pecking. It seemed that he could really use that preening too; he looked awful. Totally molty, if that’s a word. Or even if that isn’t a word, to be truthful. The relaxing man was not molting. Not at that particular moment, anyway. Pigeons have it hard. They are the 17th-century seafarers of the bird world. Those ones whose feet are all balled up in a birdie fist so that they have to scrape their birdie knuckles on the pavement are the worst. It might be a good idea to differentiate them from wood pigeons by renaming them concrete pigeons.

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Knits a stinK has been doing a lot of thinking lately about the development of Western civilization. We’ve been reading book(s), trying to figure this out, looking to take a stand somewhere or other, to have a viewpoint, and with the power of reflection it seems to us that there are a few strands that stick out and beg to be pulled. We present to you here a certain few motes that have filtered through the cheesecloths of our minds. Juice features large, as does the colo(u)r purple (although not necessarily at the same time), when it comes down to encapsulating this place, this idea, we have come to know as Europe. Galileo pops up once or twice as well, as is his wont – putting the ‘perv’ in ‘impervious’ – as does Tyre, which is the symbolic starting point for old heart Europe.

Tyre, you see, which is currently located within the borders of Lebanon, and known by them as ‘Sour’, is the historic birthplace of Europa, that saucy lass that tempted Zeus to steal her away to Mt Olympus or wherever, disguised as a bull (Zeus that is, not Europa). One of the first horns of a dilemma. The Tyre king must not have been too happy. This was well before Helen went the other direction, don’t you know.

Europa coined.

PLUS, Tyre was well known in those days as a center for the production of purple. Our friend legend has it that some dude was walking along the Levantine seaside with his dog, when he (the dog) got a wild hair and bounded after a band of sea snails. Well apparently the dog came back and Heracles (who may or may not have been Hercules) cranked open the animal’s mouth for some ancient reason and saw that it was stained this lovely shade, falling in the range between dried blood and the colo(u)r of the sky in the last moments before night.

Well didn’t old Heracles think that was a hoot. And didn’t he show the King of Tyre, and didn’t the King of Tyre say to himself, that’s a shade I wish to associate myself with. Myself and no one else. I will be the King of Snails, and people will see me and say, ‘That sea snail-colo(u)red man is one powerful being, that much is obvious, I think I might just bow to him when he passes,’ but with a Tyrian accent, and it will be good. The lore unfortunately does not give us the fate of the dog with the snail-stained gob, or whether he became the King of Dogs for his brief time, or whether there passed a fashion or a passion for chewing on snails, or whether that was limited to a certain, very rarefied set of mutts, who trotted around with their mouths wide open as proof of their lineage. We’re guessing this is just what happened, though.

And was Europa wearing purple when Zeus, that randy old fellow, fell for her? I would say so. She was the King’s daughter, after all. Hello Princess Europa. Bye bye Phoenicia. Thanks for all the snails. The Tyrians used to collect them, and put them in pots, the snails – just after the rising of the Dog star – and boil them all up in saltwater, until they had their lovely liquor of Tyrian purple.

That’s the story about how a bunch of snails lured Western civilization out of the Fertile Crescent. Not very likely, is it? But it is etched in stone, so who are you to argue? Anyway, back in Europe a few thousand years pass with little incident, and this guy named Galileo Galilei Galilea* is looking up at the heavens through a tube, and what does he discover? Why Europa, of course, up there dancing around her fat friend Jupiter. And sure isn’t Jupiter just Zeus in yet another disguise, this time as the head of the Roman clan, who had stolen the purple torch from the Greeks? And so Galileo was burned at the stake for finding her out once again, a punishment meted by Zeus/Jupiter himself, no doubt, and afterwards there was another boring period for 400 years or so, at which point Europe suddenly remembered again where she was.

But this time when they looked they had some seriously advanced tubes, and what they saw at the other end was what looked to be an icy sphere. Europa, the revolving Ice Queen. And so back home on Earth her continent, recently united, cobbled together a space system for the sole purpose of sending out what they coined the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (giving us, in a very roundabout way, the acronym ‘JUICE’, though it looks to us that it should be JIME, but then of course that don’t jive). JUICE is the spaceship they plan to send to visit Europa in 2022, to break the ice in 2030. I suppose the reason they wanted their acronym to spell ‘juice’, is for what they think might lie beneath the ice – water. And what might be in that water? Life. The greatest juice of them all. And wouldn’t that be something? Europa, that tricky beast, never fails to surprise.

*To be sung to the tune of ‘The Happy Wanderer

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