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Cat

Cat says that it is not polite to call him ‘Vladimir Poopin’, that it adds nothing to the debate. Listen to what Cat says; Cat must be obeyed. Cat knows where you live; it lives there too. In fact it’s already in the house. It sees what you’ve been doing, and is not impressed.

Cat has figured out Twitter, has chased down logo, eaten half of it and left the other half on your pillow. Go look, it’s there right now. Cat will wait until you find it, laugh internally when you pick it up with five kleenexes and accidentally drop it on your new carpet. Cat cares not about your carpet; clean it up yourself. Cat cleans only itself.

Actually, Cat has reconsidered, has decided that it is absolutely fine to call him Vladimir Poopin. In fact Cat is pretty sure that it came up with the idea itself. Stop using it or Cat will sue. Cat has top top lawyers. You can’t afford this to go to trial. Time to settle, for your own good.

Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat.

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Cow v Badger

WEEK SEVENTY-EIGHT

Cow v Badger

We didn’t know until recently that badgers and cows were mortal enemies, but there it is. But we all know who is winning the race: cows, without a trace of a doubt. It is much more clear-cut than the epic battle of the grasses versus the trees, though it does seem that grasses are edging their way ahead, assuming you’re counting corn and wheat, and of course you know you want to do just that. But back to cow and badger. Though cows outnumber badgers in the UK by more than five to one, it is the badgers who are being culled. And that’s just the UK. DairyCo, your go-to website for bovine population statistics, estimates that there are 265 million dairy cows worldwide; India, where cows are running a nice little racket, has nearly 50 million. Badgers, meanwhile? Well, badgers don’t have global numbers in the same way that cows have global numbers. They’re just not ‘productive’ enough. How’s that for market economy dictating the terms of life and death? Badgers are obviously in serious need of a good PR person.

It is significant, is it not, that both of these animal names double as verbs. To be cowed of course means to be overly timid, to submit – or more precisely to allow oneself to be put into submission, which is a sort of double-dip timidity. Meanwhile to badger is to pester, or intimidate through repetition. One is the actor and the other the acted upon. Interesting then that it is the cow that has the upper hand here. Maybe we can do something to tip the scales. But what? Support your local badger. Support your local badger. Support your local badger. Hey you – support your local badger. Do it. Support one. Support a badger. Help a badger out, here. C’mon. Do it. Support a badger. Today.

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WEEK SEVENTY-SEVEN

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.

Observe:

Old hound Boehner

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Chickenosity

WEEK SEVENTY-ONE

The bar for entry into the Irish Times slips another notch:

Artist gives chickenhood its due

Painting chickens

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WEEK SEVENTY

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…

Examples?

Aposiopesis

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

Ellipsis

‘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…’

Aposiopesicide

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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WEEK SIXTY-SEVEN

So this village was being harrassed by a wolf. For ‘harrassed’ read ‘eaten’. And for ‘town’ read the lovelily named ‘Gubbio’. Sounds nice and round and fleshy, doesn’t it? Well neither was this lost on the wolf. Thing was coming back for seconds and thirds for villager, delicately cured in olive oil and sage. Delicious.

Eventually the villagers, who were not at all pleased with this arrangement, grabbed their pre-modern weapons and went to stave the wolf’s head in, but it just laughed at them. And then ate them. It was a poor situation for the Gubbians. The Gubbiani. They were getting eaten alive out there, and as pleasant as Umbria can be in the springtime, the winter is as harsh as you like it, particularly when key members of the populace are being consumed by wildlife.

Well Francis heard about this, and he said, ‘I will reason with the beast.’ And so he went to the Gubbio Municipal Library and checked out every book they had on the Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Canidae Caninae Canini Canis lupus. He learned its language, which consisted mostly of howling and growling, and basically tried to figure out what its freaking problem was, what was its beef. He completely wolfed out, in other words.

And so Francis went a walking, armed with knowledge and staff, wolf-whistling all the way (this is Italy, remember). And the wolf smelled him, or heard him, or whatever it is wolves do, and came dashing out from the woods, all snarls and slobber, getting ready to eat the living daylights out of this guy. Francis, though, he was one serious interspecific peace negotiator, a real diplomat. He takes his staff, and he grabs it with both hands, and he jams it down into the earth before him, all Gandalf-like, and he says ‘Nuh uh.’ (in Wolf).

Well this just plain confused the wolf. He took a seat a mere few feet away and tilted his head off to one side, in a manner approximating cute, just to think about it for a bit. He was rabid, yes, but he was not incautious. And so he sat and foamed, while Francis just stood there, gripping his staff, smelling of human.

And that, unfortunately, is where the historical record cuts off, rather abruptly. There does remain this one drawing of the event, though:

Francis and the Wolf

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WEEK FIFTY-SIX

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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