2021 Ignobles

Enjoy this webcast of the awards ceremony from a journal we can all respect for the quality of its investigative research, its creative approach to choosing prize winners, and most of all its capacity to produce laughter:

The 2021 Ig Nobel Prize winners

Susanne Schötz for analyzing variations in purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, growling, and other modes of cat–human communication.
REFERENCE: “A Comparative Acoustic Analysis of Purring in Four Cats,” Susanne Schötz and Robert Eklund, Proceedings of Fonetik 2011, Speech, Music and Hearing, KTH, Stockholm, TMH-QPSR, 51. Continue reading

Poisson d’Avril Redux Two

It’s a rare occasion that we republish one of our posts on this site – but April 1st is a special day, is it not? And as the weather warms, a little bit of lighthearted Spring frolicking won’t go amiss.

It was unlike me to have missed acknowledging the Vernal Equinox last week but please note that it wasn’t forgotten. In much of the northern hemisphere spring began sprouting all over the place, sometimes unseasonably early, and the first day of spring was observed in all its glory in Crist’s Holi series.

So I’m being careful not to miss April 1st and in the spirit of that celebration am sharing some of artist Ken Brown‘s collection of turn of the century (the 19th to the 20th that is!) French fantasy postcards that celebrate “Poisson d’Avril”, the French equivalent of April 1st or April Fools’ Day. Continue reading

Corpse Flower Diaries

Photograph by Kathy Willens/AP

I first became aware of the amazing Amorphophallus titanum 4 years ago during a “bloom watch” of a Kenneth Post Lab Greenhouses specimen at Cornell University.  At the time the concept of a “Greenhouse Cam” was completely new to me, and I followed it, and the science behind the study of the plant, with fascination. Despite the rarity of the flower, a handful have bloomed within the past several years, the most recent being at the New York Botanical Garden.

All that said, the Corpse Flower by nature is the botanical version of a “comedic straight man” in the set up of story-based jokes. (For example, the scientific name means “giant misshapen phallus”.) Continue reading

Let Yourself In


It’s been scientifically proven that people respond emotionally to color and light. The artist Vincent van Gogh was a master of both, and the vibrant, intimate paintings of his bedroom in Arles are evocative examples.

Not only have the curators at the Art Institute of Chicago brought together the artist’s three versions of the room, they’ve created an installation that invites the viewer into a 3-dimensional experience of the iconic painting.

This exhibition is the first to truly delve into the fascinating history of these three paintings and explore the motif of home and its significance to Van Gogh—as haven, creative chamber, and physical reality. The show features approximately 36 works by the artist, including paintings, drawings, and illustrated letters, as well as a selection of books and other ephemera known to have been in Van Gogh’s possession. Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In Hamburg


Our favorite illustrator has been busy. We have not pointed to one of his illustrations or shows in way too long…so to correct that:


20 January 2016 until 10 April 2016


For the accountant, what’s under the line is the balance – and for the draughtsman? Strictly speaking, what’s under the draughtsman’s line is the paper – no paper, no line.

Continue reading

Twain’s View Of India

We appreciate the sentiment from Mark Twain’s 1897 lesser known but ever interesting Following the Equator and feel obliged to show some India quotes that we can relate to, or at least smile at, as a recommendation for your reading pleasure while joining Raxa Collective in India sometime this year:

pg2895.cover.medium…So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or Nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his round…

…This is indeed India! the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, Continue reading

Stephan Brusche, Come To Kerala!

Stephan Brusche (@isteef)

Stephan Brusche (@isteef) From left to right: tiger, WBD, elephant

Hospitality is in our DNA, but we always want to go the extra mile for the those who tickle our creative fancy. In fact, World Banana Day touches us on multiple dimensions, and we thank our newest contributor, Rosanna Abrachan, for bringing it to our attention.

Stephen Brusche is someone who clearly enjoys playing with his food, and scrolling through his gallery it was close to impossible to choose favorites from over 200 fabulously creative examples, crafted with a wink and smile at both the sacred and the profane. We settled on 2 of our iconic Kerala fauna above, but be prepared to lose yourself in the images when you visit his site. Continue reading

The Simple Things

When we find ourselves absolutely overwhelmed by the complexities, demands, and irrational expectations surrounding field work, it’s really nice to remember the simple things – and within them, find peace of mind, stability, and renewed strength.

Waking up early enough so as not to have to rush through a French-press filled with Blue Mountain coffee is a must.  It’s 10 minutes of tranquility, when one can sit with friends, contemplate the day’s tasks, and appreciate the scenery you’ve missed while rushing from one place to the next.

And what about those incredibly infrequent times that the birds come to you?   Continue reading

Systematically Distributing Holiday Cheer

The holiday season is about giving and the classic song quantifies the largess. The American Museum of Natural History is home to many happy childhood memories and I embrace their scientific form of expressing holiday cheer. Not everyone can claim their “True Love” is a “Science Geek” – but kudos to AMNHNYC for helping us all be Science Lovers!




Thanksgiving: Art History on a Plate

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As we continue to work on plating and food trials for 51 at Spice Harbour, the concept of deconstructing a typical Kerala dish often makes it into the conversation. During these conversations with Indian colleagues the subject of “typical American food” frequently comes up. Like India, there’s no one “American cuisine” (don’t get me started on the horrors of our fast food exports), but a Thanksgiving meal comes close.

In the collaborative spirit of preparing and plating a meal that’s meant to be shared, multi-media artist Hannah Rothstein deconstructed the classic Thanksgiving meal of turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce and “sides” with a nod to 10 artists with the most distinctive of painting styles, with the acception of Cindy Sherman, a photographer best known for her conceptual portraits. Continue reading

Roger In Kerala

Roger Mahoot

When Seth and Milo Inman heard that Roger would be in India, and that he wanted suggestions on what he would be missing given his short time available, they thought he might be interested in visiting some of Raxa Collective’s stomping grounds in the south of the country. He would be able to get back to nature, and in an authentic way.

Seth has worked in Kerala, and Milo lived and worked here for two years. During that time, Milo took the photo above, not realizing until today that he had captured an image of Roger moonlighting as a mahoot. We hope Roger will return to show us his best moves.

Chai Wallah Surprise


Thanks to the BBC we learn that Roger Federer will be in India soon. He has not made reservations at any Raxa Collective properties yet, but we await his arrival and the opportunity to learn his moves:

Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer has run into a problem familiar to most people who travel on business – he’s going to India later this year but won’t have time to see the sights. So he has asked fans to help him. Continue reading

Monkey Business in Dehli


New Dehli has tried numerous schemes to control its monkey population. Photo Credit: Sajjad Hussain

We’ve had our fair share of monkey business as a garden challenge in Cardamom County. In Dehli, they’re looking for ways to monkey proof their city.

Reporting monkey raids, Sharma says, residents complain that ” ‘they’ve just taken away my clothes,’ or … ‘they have opened the fridge’ … and ‘they’ve taken out the food.’ “

The monkeys have also been known to intimidate fruit vendors and get intoxicated on stolen whiskey. Sharma says when they fail to find food, they can raise a rumpus.

You can read more in depth at the original article here. Initially, there were people who were hired to train Langurs because they were able to frighten off the smaller Rhesus monkeys. That practice was recently banned due to animal rights concerns. Now, there are 40 men hired to mimic the calls of the Langurs to scare them away. Continue reading