A most curious doctor’s bag

•April 9, 2018 • 4 Comments

I was in London recently. A layover, really. I only had a couple of hours, so I decided to see Baker Street before catching my flight home. I needed to stash my luggage at the train station, but there were no lockers. Apparently there are no lockers in any of the London stations. I asked if I could leave my bag at left baggage, and the woman behind the counter smiled at me and said sorry. As I was leaving I noticed an old closet, and thought I might hide my bags there. The door was unlocked. On a dusty shelf were some paint cans, and what appeared to be a doctor’s bag. I confess I took the bag, and never did see Baker Street.


contents 1

contents 3

contents 2

The bag holds, and I am not making this up: an Erlenmeyer flask full of blood, I think; a dissecting kit; a bat skeleton; a rat skull; a locust; a stylized frog’s head; a death certificate; a hand written list; the interior workings of a music box; a locket; a medallion with Hebrew lettering; a key in the grip of some hemostats; and a brass unicorn.

death certificate

The death certificate is for a woman named Victoria Phibes. Died at 21 years of age. Cause of death was possible carcinoma and “syncope following radical resection”.

10 plagues of Egypt

The 10 plagues of Egypt.




Victoria Phibes?

So maybe this is Victoria Phibes. And, weirdly and creepily, the music box plays Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I really don’t know what to make of all this. Any thoughts?

Why Martin Luther King was in Memphis 50 Years Ago Today

•April 4, 2018 • Leave a Comment

On April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed while fighting for workers’ rights.


Sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968 made about a dollar an hour. They had no uniforms and lax safety rules. When two garbage collectors were killed by the crusher in a garbage truck, they went on strike. Martin Luther King came to Memphis to support them.

His support was practical and concrete. In his speech the day before his death, King said:

It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day…

… We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles, we don’t need any Molotov cocktails, we just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”

And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy—what is the other bread?—Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart’s bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain.

King’s work for economic justice was as controversial as his work to end Jim Crow laws, and is the aspect of his legacy that is most neglected in school curricula and public celebrations of his life.

The Backstory podcast had a thorough episode on King’s Poor People’s Campaign and his legacy. Here are two interesting segments from the show:

April 3, 1968: the Poor People’s Campaign.

From Activist to Icon: Have we forgotten just how radical Martin Luther King was?

You can listen to the whole episode here.

The Life of a Woman, Directed by Women

•April 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

A glorious montage of films by women directors.

By Emma Piper-Burket, courtesy of Rogerebert.com’s Women Writer’s Week

Meta Moments in 70s Television

•April 3, 2018 • 2 Comments

Columbo. Season 2 Episode 1. “Etude in Black”

Society Lady: It seems you had questionable taste in friends.

Groovy Jazz musician: Well, some of them were busted for smoking grass.
So what? Two members of the board of trustees are on indictment for breaking antitrust laws.

Society Lady: I wouldn’t try to be funny, Mr. Rifkin.

Groovy Jazz musician: I smoke grass sometimes, just about like you drink gin.
Didn’t you ever have a drink of gin during Prohibition, when gin was illegal?

Society Lady:

Myrna Loy 'Columbo' (1972) 2.1



Helsinki Photos

•April 2, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Photos from last October in Helsinki.

Ylipoisto metro station cafe




Market Hall cafe


Railway station pub


Alvar Aallon katu




Brave Enough to Ride

•April 1, 2018 • Leave a Comment


Hoover Lamb

•March 30, 2018 • 1 Comment

Dam Curry Rice is a popular dish in Japan, according to the internet, and when I saw a picture of it earlier in the week I was determined to make it.

I simmered a small amount of lamb for two hours. The dam is made with sticky rice. Cooked carrot slices in curry paste and soy sauce till done. Added the lamb, some peas, and half a can of coconut milk, then poured/spooned the whole thing behind the dam once everything was hot. Tofu for trim. Don’t cook coconut milk too much, it tends to curdle. I’m pretty pleased with the result, and I’m honestly surprised that the rice provided the necessary structural integrity to withstand the pressure of that delicious curry.

lamb 2

lamb 1

DIY Museum in a Refugee Camp

•March 24, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Abdillahi Bashraheel, a refugee from the war in Yemen, goes out walking every day around a UN refugee camp in Djibouti, collecting objects for his found art installation, which he calls a museum of curiosities.

Refugee camp museum

Photo © UNHCR/A.Abdelkhalek

I heard this amazingly cheerful man talking about his project on a segment from the New Yorker Radio Hour.

His museum is somewhat famous. It has been featured in the Somaliland Informer, Canadian Coin News, and on the UNHCR website. There’s also a slideshow of photographs and accompanying article at the New Yorker.

Niarchos-Djibouti-2-690Photo by Lex Niarchos
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