Bucket of Eels: Eurypharynx pelecanoides
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|Rose Eveleth||Apr 9, 2019|
Welcome to today’s bucket of eels. I’m Rose. Let’s pull out some eels, shall we?
Today’s eel: every edition of this newsletter is named after an eel. Today’s is the pelican eel, also known as the gulper eel (Eurypharynx pelecanoides). This is an eel that perhaps you’ve seen photos or videos of. As its common names imply, it has a truly gigantic mouth. Like absurdly big. The gulper eel is a deep sea species, rarely seen by humans. In fact most of what we know about the physiology of gulper eels we learn by accident, when deep sea fishing nets catch the poor creatures and drag them up to their empyrean deaths. This tragedy has led us to learn some incredibly cool things about these eels though, like the fact that at the very end of their tail, they have an organ called a photophore that glows pink.
But the real reason I picked the gulper eel for this newsletter is because someone just showed me this video of the crew of the Nautilus submarine coming across a mysterious creature that turns out to be one. You absolutely must turn the sound on for this video, because their reactions are what makes this such a perfect video.
Current status: The first little mini-season of Flash Forward just ended! The next one is coming up pretty quickly (launching May 14th) so I’m hard at work getting that together. I learned a lot from the last little mini-season, and if you’re curious about reflections on what I think worked and didn’t, all that is at the Patreon newsletter for Flash Forward. I’m trying to keep this newsletter mostly focused on non-Flash Forward stuff.
I also recently made some weird ceramics! I took a course at The Crucible in Oakland and it was really fun. A lot of the stuff I made didn’t come out the way I imagined, but it was a great experience and I just joined my local pottery studio to keep up with it. Everybody else in the class made lovely beautiful pots covered in flowers and leaves. I made a mug where to hold it you have to hold hands with a clay skeleton. You can see more of my ceramics strangeness here.
Free Business Idea: An app where you can spot good places for Instagram influencers to take selfies, geotag the spots, and get a little $ every time someone posts a photo there.
My Future Quote: I recently read great quote by Ursula K. Le Guin about how her work defied categorization: “My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions." I’m going to shift that to eels, for me, personally, and if I am ever given the chance to talk about this in an important magazine say "My eels are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions."
Other Newsletters: If you want to continually add to your pile of books to read (or just live vicariously through an incredible reader and writer) I recommend Kelsey McKinney’s newsletter Written Out.
Graph: I recently watched some adults have a discussion about the correct past tense of “yeet” (“yote?” “yeeted?” “yate?”) and many of them went off to ask their teen children for input. I didn’t even know what “yeet” meant, and had no teens around to ask, and it made me realize that I am in the Uncanny Valley of Teen Knowledge.
Free Story Idea: I am not the right person to write this story, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the rise in horoscopes as a a trend. Side note: I’m complicit in this, I find astrology memes weirdly hilarious, particularly the aggressive ones — there is something very funny to me about being willingly dragged by your own horoscope. But I was talking to a friend recently, and he expressed deep misgivings about the rise of astrology, and pointed out that any system of knowledge that is built around making sweeping assumptions about groups of people based on arbitrary signifiers (like, say, where the Sun was when you were born) is inherently bad. I don’t disagree.
Anyway, the thing I’ve been thinking about a lot when it comes to astrologists-cum-trendsetters these days (folks like Chani Nicholas, for example) is how these new Instagrammable astrology stars think about the class and power dynamics at play when put into the context of past fortune tellers. I lived in New York City for many years and often wondered about the economics of storefronts like these:
Today’s astrology influencers are young, hip, and good at Instagram. These storefronts are run by women who seem to generally not be any of those things. But the offerings, fundamentally, are the same. So how does someone like Chani Nicholas, who Rolling Stone profiled and described as “the woman bringing social justice to astrology” relate to these largely working class (often, as far as I understand, immigrant) women running these shops in New York? I’m not being sarcastic with that question by the way — it’s a real one that I have. I’d love to see an analysis of the current rise in hipster astrology placed in conversation with the long-running set of businesses offering astrology in places like New York City. This is the kind of story I think Jenna Wortham would write well.
Free Story Idea #2: There’s a pretty well documented new-ish trend of people treating their pets like kids, or at least like humans. According to Nielsen “95% of U.S. pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family.” That’s up from 88% in 2007. But we actually know incredibly little about pet physiology and health. For example: you might be aware that grapes (and raisins) are poisonous to dogs. But did you know that we have no idea why? Veterinarians have no clue what it is about grapes that make dogs go into kidney failure. And in fact, not all dogs do. Some dogs can eat grapes without a problem, while others die from eating just one. And again, we have no idea why! (I learned this the hard way recently when our dog ate some bread that contained an absurd number of raisins.) But given that trend I mentioned earlier, how humans are spending more and more money on their animal companions, buying houses for them, literally having Bark Mitzvahs for them (I could not make this up), shouldn’t there be more money also going into research on things like why the hell a grape could kill a dog that just became a man and probably chewed on his tallit? As far as I can tell, the answer is no! Someone should look into this though.
Stuff I did recently:
Our Opinions Are Correct: The future of futurism
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