Displaying articles for: August 2012



"[T]he September issue [of Bird Talk magazine] is the last that will appear in print, leaving disappointed subscribers with BirdChannel.com, the magazine's related site, as the only way to read the publication's information on all types of birds.... What has riled up Bird Talk subscribers even more is that the magazine's publisher plans to send them copies of Dog Fancy in its place." -- The New York Times


Dear Subscriber,


First, I want to thank you sincerely for your loyalty, whether you are in your first year of subscription to PANDA MANIA magazine or your second. Without subscribers like you -- owners and/or admirers of the noble, solitary, black-and-white giant panda -- Endangered Publications would have neither the means nor a reason to publish PANDA MANIA!


Unfortunately, due to a precipitous decline in subscriptions, which weren't that great to begin with, Endangered Publications can no longer afford to publish PANDA MANIA, although we will maintain PandaMania.panda for the foreseeable future (certainly for the next four months, until our registration of the domain name expires). As publisher of PANDA MANIA, I share your disappointment, but please know that the decision to end the print magazine's run was not one we reached lightly. To the contrary, the decision was made after days of deliberation, and only because the number of subscribers fell below the number of pandas.


Because your pre‐paid subscription entitles you to six more issues of PANDA MANIA, I want to offer you one of the following as a replacement:


Six (6) issues of SHRUB MONTHLY. SHRUB MONTHLY provides regular reports on the distribution of panda-favored shrubs 2‐8 meters in height among the four established structural forms (closed‐scrub, open‐scrub, tall shrubland, and tall open shrubland) as well as longstanding popular columns "Humor in Juniper", "Lavender is the Best Medicine", and "Chamaebatiaria Comedy". Plus frequent sweepstakes opportunities.


Six (6) issues of PANDA MANIA's rival publication, PANDA PREDATOR. The focus of PANDA PREDATOR cycles monthly through leopards, jackals, and the yellow‐throated marten, each a natural enemy of the noble, solitary, black‐and‐white giant panda. As someone with a demonstrated interest in pandas, you might enjoy such features as "Where Leopards Slaughter the Most Pandas -- a Global Look", "Why Jackals Play With Pandas Before Eating Them", and "Yellow‐Throated Martens: Adorable Panda Cub Killers".


Three (3) issues of PANDOWDY MANIA, a journal dedicated to the deep-dish apple dessert with the rich crust. Each issue is a double issue, and all recipes are peer-reviewed. Yum!


One (1) item from the editorial offices of PANDA MANIA (up to $36 market value). As of this writing, available items include ink cartridges for an Okidata printer (model unknown); numerous three-ring binders (black and white only, of course!); unopened 10-packs of 3.5-inch floppy diskettes; and pretzel rods.


If none of the above is satisfactory, I suppose you can just get the unused portion of your subscription payment back (less a check-processing fee or electronic funds transfer convenience charge).


Please let us know which option you choose at your earliest convenience, so that your enjoyment of Endangered Publications products or office supplies will be uninterrupted.


Yours Truly,

Bob Tillman

Publisher, PANDA MANIA


Matthew David Brozik does his part to aid panda conservation by eating only one each year. Read more at imdb.name, where you can email him your favorite panda recipes.


Rufus Rumpwhistle, 1914-2012


Rufus Rumpwhistle, who believed himself, probably rightly, to be the most forgettable writer in English, died on Monday in his apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where he had lived in semi-seclusion for many years, emerging only to buy lottery tickets in odd-numbered months. He was 98.


The cause of death was not immediately apparent. "To tell the truth, he was a terrible hypochondriac, always complaining about something," said a nephew, Ralph Firkin. "I think he died to prove a point. He left a message on his answering machine that said: 'Rufus is no longer at this number. I told you I wasn't feeling well.'"


Mr. Rumpwhistle was the author of works, now out of print and never very good to begin with, like "Micturition: An Ode"; "Flagisto: or, A Taste of the Lash"; and "The Goatherd's Roundelay". The critic George Steiner said of his writing: "It was of a singular, monitory badness, a testamentary badness, a badness so profound it raised the essential, necessary doubt, the doubt every writer must ask himself, must wrestle with, in the dark night, the penumbrous shadow hours, of the soul: is all writing, however good, doomed by its very nature to fail? Now, this very writer, this -- what did you say his name was?"


Nigel Rufus Fotheringill Rumpwhistle, the eldest of seven children, was born in Hamme-on-Wye, in Wessex, England, on April 1, 1914. His legal father, who later denied that Rufus was his offspring, was a flenser; his mother was the village scold. He was tutored at home and then briefly attended Dotheboys Hall, a boarding school in Yorkshire, where he was frequently flogged for bedwetting. This was doubtless the inspiration for "Flagisto", a long prose work in praise of corporal punishment, and may have influenced the composition of "Micturation" as well. As the scholar Dwight Culler once pointed out, that poem exists in two early manuscript versions, one beginning, "Ahhhh!" and the other, "Ooops!"


Mr. Rumpwhistle was unable to get into university, but nevertheless lived in Cambridge for several years, renting a bed-sit and pretending to be an undergraduate. He would sometimes lock himself out on purpose and then climb the drainpipe in cover of darkness. It was around this time that he began publishing -- on lavatory walls and the sides of bus shelters. Among his earliest works were "Rufus Wuz Here" (1935) and "For a Good Time Call Rufus" (1936).


During the Second World War, Mr. Rumpwhistle was several times turned down by the British armed services, and moved to the United States, hoping to enlist there. Instead, he was threatened with deportation and began a long period of living underground. After the war, he tried to befriend the Beats, including Jack Kerouac, with whom he claimed to have shared a bar of soap. When asked about this incident, Kerouac said, "What? Who?"


Unable to find a publisher for "The Goatherd's Roundelay", a pastoral prose poem depicting the pleasures of pulling the beards of billies, he decided he was insufficiently well-known and, determined to attract publicity, spent many hours at the Cedar Tavern trying to provoke a quarrel. On one occasion he set fire to Larry Rivers' shoelaces, but Rivers was too drunk to notice. That same night, he threw a drink at Ernest Hemingway but was wide of the target. The drink instead doused Rivers' flaming shoelaces, so both stunts were in vain.


Mr. Rumpwhistle never officially wed and had no children, but for several years enjoyed what he called a common-law marriage with himself. This ended in acrimony in 1999, when he discovered from his phone bill that he had been making calls to women he didn't know, and thereafter he refused to speak to himself. He communicated only by notes, and these are almost certainly his last writings. Several were found in the apartment, according to Mr. Firkin, the nephew, including one that said:


"Ear drops, Double-A batteries, plumber's helper.


"Do crossword, improve posture.




"I know what you're thinking about, and the answer is still no."


Charles McGrath, former Deputy Editor of The New Yorker and Editor of the New York Times Book Review, is Writer-at-Large for the Times.


Tasting New York


"Not long after Labor Day, [the restaurant Eleven Madison Park] will start treating diners to flashes of Broadway dazzle: card tricks, a glass dome full of smoke, a blast of sea mist from a tabletop clambake and a cheese course that emerges from a picnic basket placed on the table. It's all part of a $195-a-head menu -- and a risky move to convert the Eleven Madison Park experience into an extravagant, interactive, close-to-four-hour ode to the romance and history of New York." -- The New York Times

Welcome to Twelve Park Madison!

Your meal begins as New York began, with a forest -- of edible salad greens, dressed with a light touch of a pure and clean rain. Our waiters, wrapped in beaver pelts, in tribute to the state's official animal, will serve this first course on a plate hand-carved from the wood of the sugar maple. (This appetizer, like all our offerings, is served on dishes that are guaranteed New Jersey-free.)


The original settlers of what was to become New York enjoyed native foods including corn, porridge, honey cake, and wild turkey. We have combined these ingredients to form your second course, and shaped this log of poultry, grain, and local honey to resemble the great symbol of New York City, the Empire State Building. Be aware that the antenna at the top is made from scrupulously recycled dented fenders and is thus not edible. The lights that make this food sculpture glow from within are similarly just decorative.

Your third course is stuck in traffic. It will arrive shortly.

We would like to offer you tonight's complimentary cocktail, the Yellow Cab. It consists of an authentic 1950s egg cream mixed with the runoff from a pizza slice. It will be served to you by an aspiring Broadway actor, because all of our servers are aspiring Broadway actors.


The George Washington Bridge serves as the inspiration for your next course. Tiny fingerling potatoes from a farm just outside Syracuse have been carefully carved into miniature automobiles, and are presented on your plate suspended between two corn-cob towers along a grape-seed roadway. The potato-cars should be dipped into the river of sauce that runs along the west side of the dining room. The dish is served with a side portion of pigeon confit, served surrounded by feathers trouvé and presented on a miniature manhole cover-shaped brittle.

We offer a palate cleanser before dessert, inspired by the musical Cats. It is made by cats -- but don't worry, not real cats. It is made by people, dressed as cats. It is a scale model of the Statue of Liberty, constructed from the same kind of ice that would have covered the North American land mass during the last glacial period, and subtly flavored with your choice of scents of three New York locations -- "West Side Highway," "Gowanus Canal," or "Staten Island" (our most popular).


Your featured dessert special is a slice of our homemade Occu-Pie Wall Street served alongside a candied Metrocard, and some granola bar crumbs that were found in the pocket of a pair of pants that have been certified as once worn by Woody Allen. Your meal will conclude with a selection of edible beads and trinkets valued at $24.


We would normally invite you on a tour of the kitchen before you leave, but the entrance to that area of the restaurant -- which, as you can see, has been meticulously designed to look like a New York City subway entrance -- is currently closed due to weekend construction. We estimate that it will reopen in October of this year, which means approximately June of 2013. Maybe.

As you exit, you are invited to take a free CD containing the horns-and-sirens soundtrack you have enjoyed this evening. Thank you for helping us to celebrate the romance and history of New York. And yes, we'll even give you back your wallet.


Jeremy Blachman has more Twitter followers than an account for the Gowanus Canal that announces the daily tides. Follow him @jeremyblachman or the canal @therealgowanus.


Sub Atomic

Scientists working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that they have found the elusive Higgs boson articles--Digital Journal


Particle physicists expect to find ... exotic new particles.  --Symmetry Breaking


The following is an excerpt from Dr. Henry Alpon’s essay, "The Identity of Matter" which appears in its entirety in this month’s issue of Grossss!: The Science Magazine for Children. 


 The work at CERN has lead to remarkable findings, not least of which is the discovery of the Higgs boson. This particle will help explain what holds matter together and will lead us down the road to complete understanding of the universe. It is the single most important scientific discovery of humankind, and I am so very proud and humble to have been a part of the cleanup crew that swept up afterward.


That said, the Grosss! audience may need help to understand what exactly the Higgs boson is, and what it means. Think of it this way:  Imagine a circle, and in that circle there is a sheep. Now, that sheep, should it eat an apple, will have an apple inside its stomach. And if that apple is pressed against the sheep’s intestines, then what is between the intestines, and the apple? Remember, the sheep is in a circle. That circle is 76% the opposite of what the Higgs boson represents. Easy, no?   (It should also be noted that the particle is delicious, and has a pleasant sweetness not unlike honeydew, with a consistency and texture of very tiny raisins.)


Another way to explain the Higgs is by this simple analogy: The Higgs boson is to the universe as a quark is to your bicycle.   As my custodian colleague Dr. Lisa-Ann Thurmall has noted--more poetically but with just as much lucidity-- "The Higgs boson is the cloud in an orchestra of eggs.” 


Now that you have a full understanding of the Higgs boson, let us examine other, more exotic particles that science is searching for: 


The theoretical Dango particle is thought to exist only between the stages of sleep and wakefulness. These particles are what make us cranky when, in fact, our lives are quite filled with love and medical care so there is no need to be cranky. Scientists at the University of Chicago are currently trying to locate the Dango particle by propelling sleeping test subjects into a warm bath at speeds approaching the speed of light. The particle has not yet been found, though an unusual side-effect of the study has been mild time travel. 


The Andrews Super subatom is thought to be the particle which makes living creatures forget if they’ve seen a movie. Though some doubt the particle’s existence, Arthur Andrews is sure of it. Andrews is not a scientist, but his theory, which was first published in a Tweet, attracted the funding of his friend, Dr. George Brandt, D.D.S., and together they are working tirelessly in an undisclosed location. “If you think you saw 'Driving Miss Daisy,' this particle will make you think again," Andrews Tweeted, with a sad emoticon attached .


And work is underway in the Arctic Circle as chemists investigate the Bisbee Bixby Bartly Bumble  particle, which if real, would explain why dropped objects always travel greater horizontal distances on the floor than Einsteinian physics can explain.


What other particles are out there? Help science by trying to track down these anomalies of nature: 


The Sing-Thing Particle – The particle that explains why rhymes sound good to people. 


The Lithia Particle – The particle that prevents turtles from bouncing. 


The Hats Boson– Similar to the Higgs Boson, this particle may solve the mystery of why it still feels as though you’re wearing a hat minutes and even  hours after you took it off.


And, finally, the farticle, which, as this is a magazine for young people, cannot be described here. Interested readers can link to flatulenza.com.


This is Dan Bergstein's first article about particles.


July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.