Archive for category Humor

Book Review: The Synesthesia Activity Book

Synesth_CoverThe Synesthesia Activity Book, by Dior-Ian Grey, Feaux•Afield Guides (www.feauxafieldguides.com), 2016, 41 pages, $11.95

As the popularity of adult coloring books continues to grow, so too has the niche market catering to increasingly smaller circles of consumers (like hipsters and neck-beard enthusiasts). The Synesthesia Activity Book – a trendy coloring book that marks Feaux•Afield Guides‘ recent foray into the boutique clinical neurology market – panders to the 1 in 2,000 people suspected of having synesthesia. For synesthetes – those that experience a neurological phenomenon in their everyday lives that involves an overlap or ‘cross-talk’ of the five senses (touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing) – the clockwork is orange, The Green Mile describes their daily commute, and oranges are the new black.

Simply put, synesthesia (also, synaesthesia) is a “union of the senses,” or deferring to a slightly more clinical definition, when “stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to an automatic and involuntary experience in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.” It means seeing clouds and involuntarily smelling bananas or wet dog; hearing the word ‘Kevin’ and tasting baby powder; or experiencing the calendar or days of the week in colors. Synesthesia is bath salts without the socially-awkward side effect, “user may experience flesh-eating-zombie urges.”

The list of synesthetes that have walked among us may surprise you: Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who experienced colors when speaking or reading letters and words; American composer, pianist, and bandleader Duke Ellington, who experienced colors when he made music; and former professional American road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong, who experimented with doping when faced with ordinariness. Armstrong excluded (it’s true, Lance is no more a synesthete than he is an athlete [assthlete??] – I just felt like kicking him while he’s down), the Nabokovs and Ellingtons of the world tend to share the stage with other prodigies like artist Vincent Van Gogh, physicist Richard Feynman, inventor Nikola Tesla, and singer/songwriters Tori Amos, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, and Kanye West.

Knowing that genius walks among us in synesthete shoes, the normal-Normans and -Nancy’s of the world should be asking themselves, “Why should synesthetes have all the fun?” If your clockwork is as gray as your commute, why should you settle for coloring by numbers when you can number by colors? Enter The Synesthesia Activity Book, whose every page turns those fifty shades of gray into scarlet letters.

Ranging from easy to difficult, this awe-perspiring book’s activities range from the traditional draw-a-line-between-this-and-that to the more challenging complete-the-picture, all with a synesthetic twist. When you are drawing a line, you are identifying the association between a word (“chainsaw”) and it’s corresponding taste (“raw eggs”), the ‘lexical-gustatory’ (word to taste) form of synesthesia. Likewise, to complete the hidden picture, you need only read a string of numbers and apply the subsequent lines that automatically and involuntarily appear in your mind’s eye to the partial picture (a medieval wizard’s hat and sword) using the mind-boggling ‘number form’ (numbers to spatial placement) type of synesthesia. My personal favorite is the number by color page, in which a fraternity sofa magically appears out of a scribble of lines as you replace each colored dot with its corresponding number to connect the dots and reveal the hidden picture.

 

Despite a recent report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse concerning a surge in the abuse of pairing The Synesthesia Activity Book with Mr. Sketch Scented Markers™, a combination known as “sketching” that purportedly results in hallucinogenic episodes that put the fear and loathing in Las Vegas, Feaux•Afield Guides plans to begin shipping additional titles in early April the first chance they get, including Sticker Stencils, Scratch & Sniff Temporary Tattoos, and The Dyslexic’s Ulitmate Wrod Saerch Pzuzsel.

 

For a limited time, these six introductory coloring pages are available for download as .pdfs – get yours today.

{APRIL FOOLS DAY POST 2015}

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Book Review: The Monochotomous Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Metropolitan San Francisco Bay Region – A Diagnostic Key

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The Monochotomous Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Metropolitan San Francisco Bay Region – A Diagnostic Key, by Skóla Per-Hús Degrasse, Feaux•Afield Guides (www.feauxafieldguides.com), 2015, 401 pages, $89.95

Over the centuries, traditional field identification keys have proven clumsy, confusing, and unreliable for everyday scientists. Especially in the herpetological community, the battle between diagnosticians and field biologists has proven especially messy. The surprising dearth today of keys in the field of herpetology stems from a long-pitched battle between proponents of the synoptic (taxonomic) and diagnostic key camps, and the appropriateness of dichotomous (bifurcating) versus polytomous (multifurcating) keys.

Take for example the following schema. When presented with a couplet offering two leads in the traditional diagnostic dichotomous key to California’s hodgepodge of slender salamanders, the operator is left stranded in a sea of keels and folds:

39.1-7a. Dorsolateral fold hirsute, marginal scales abruptly to gently keeled, axilla-to-groin interstice hourglass-shaped
39.1-7b. Dorsolateral fold naked to downy, marginal scales gently to abruptly keeled, axilla-to-groin interstice empire waist-shaped

And let’s face it – not every field biologist has the luxury of having a specimen in hand to count inguinal folds or nasolabial scutes. Recognizing the need for a linear identification key, Occidentalis College Professor Skóla Per-Hús Degrasse of western Fen’s lizard fame has developed the world’s first monochotomous key to San Francisco Bay Area herptiles. The basis of the Degrasse Monochotomous Key is the ‘Quid est Cascade’ – simply turn to the monochotomous key, ask yourself “What is it I saw?”, and work your way down the cascade of species names until you find the salamander or frog or lizard or snake or turtle you saw. When you come across the correct species, look to the right-hand side of the page for a page number. There, in line with the simplicity of the Degrasse Monochotomous Key, each resulting photo-profile includes four color photographs and the species’ common and scientific name. Look at the pictures and ask yourself, “Is it a _____ I saw?” If not, turn back to the start of the monochotomous key and start again. TOC Grab By implementing a schema no more sophisticated than a table of contents, this singular guide has already revolutionized the world of field diagnostics. Williams Harland, editor in chief at Feaux•Afield Guides, likens the Degrasse Monochotomous Key to the proverbial 7-Minute Abs. “You walk into a book store, you see 8-Minute Abs sittin’ there, there’s 7-Minute Abs right beside it. Which one are you going to pick? There’s something about marrying science and simplicity that makes this key so ingenious. Where other keys are tedious, laborious manuals that demand a meticulous understanding of anatomical minutiae, the Degrasse guide is like picking up a coffee table book.”

“The snakes in Degrasse’s guide, for example, key out with little more than a flip of the page,” says Harland, who has been watching Degrasse grow under his feat of taking the key from concept to completion. “Demand on Degrasse’s knowledge has shaped this guide into the real deal, a plausible book depository of all things herpetological.”

Printed on archival, heavy-stock 12′ x 19′ folio sheets, the final presentation of this exquisite hardbound guide includes decorative gilt boards, spine, and edges, a water-proof tooled Moroccan leather-bound presentation box (to protect it against the elements during field work), and ribbon marker. The Monochotomous Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Metropolitan San Francisco Bay Region – A Diagnostic Key is slated to hit bookshelves April 1st.

{APRIL FOOLS DAY POST 2015}

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The Shirt Off My Back – Redbubble

The dog days of summer got you down? Beat the heat with a swanky t-shirt. This natural selection of nature-themed tee’s comes to you from Redbubble:

Where to find them ::  Bodega Bay Bird Sanctuary {LINK} :: Vintage California Republic {LINK} :: Oregon {LINK} :: Jackalope {LINK} :: Strange Prey {LINK} :: Jackalope Crossing {LINK} :: Walden {LINK} ::

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Book Review: Aviary Wonders Inc.

Aviary9780547978994_lresAviary Wonders Inc., Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual, by Kate Samworth, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (http://www.hmhco.com), 2014, 32 pages, $17.99

In Kate Samworth’s debut children’s book, the world has stumbled into a dark future fantasy where deforestation has brought birds to the edge of extinction, and Aviary Wonders Inc. visionary Alfred Wallis (surely no relation to Alfred Russel Wallace) has mass-manufactured a solution – a build-a-bird catalogue (and instruction manual). In the spirit of the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogs from the days of old, Aviary Wonders Inc. encourages nostalgic nature lovers of the future to create their own birds from hand-crafted parts lovingly shaped and detailed by world-class artisans around the globe. From feathers fletched in 100% Indian silk to hand-tooled Italian leather legs, this spring catalogue is a veritable bird buffet of ready-to-assemble parts.

Told tongue in cheek through dark, exotic copy reminiscent of the J. Peterman Company, Samworth marshals the absurd to drive home how irreplaceable birds are. But in doing so, the dark comedy hits a little too close to home. Rightfully so, the screw-on legs, the gaudy-tacky feathers, the Celtic scrollwork-tooled beaks, and the buckle-and-strap crest and beak harnesses are all too alien to make peace with. Children who aren’t bedazzled by the playful presentation and silly premise may instead find it simply alienating (naked birds without beaks and feet). Hopefully, parents will take advantage of any discomfort and channel it into conversations about extinction and conservation, the hidden message in this post-cataclysmic catalogue.

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The Shirt Off My Back – Design by Humans

Summer is t-shirt weather for sure. This natural selection of nature-themed tee’s comes to you from Design by Humans:

Where to find them ::  Paisley Elephant {LINK} :: Party Animal {LINK} :: Shadow Hawk {LINK} :: Your Rib is an Octopus {LINK} :: Rethink {LINK} :: Geometric Forest {LINK} :: Horizon {LINK} :: Into the Wild Animal {LINK} ::

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