Friday, October 08, 2010

Too Bee or not too Bee

You are, I'm sure, well aware of my continuing personnel problems... to whit, no personnel.*1

The entire museum, a vast many-chambered edifice, is simply going to wrack and ruin without the necessary workforce to maintain its many important and rare exhibits and collections. Keeping the dust collections dusted is a full-time job in itself. The rest of the museum staff have simply stopped turning up to work... just because there's nothing to pay them. Young people these days are SO self-absorbed! You'd think that they'd realise that the sheer honour of being allowed to contribute to the furtheration of our crucial cultural mission is payment enough.

I, of course, do what I can, but I was employed to deal with the administrative side of operations which is, frankly, more than one person, no matter how committed and talented and hardworking they are, could possibly manage. My Sisyphean task is made no easier by our beloved Director's habit of sending back huge crates of important materials (both naturalia and artificalia) that she has picked up in the course of her investigatory peregrinations. The most recent was a shipping container of botanical specimens (mainly flowers) -- signally unaccompanied by any indication of what she wanted done with them.

I was more than happy, therefore, when first one, and then many, O. avoseta appeared at our doors. Musrum only knows where they came from.*2 As far as I'm aware, they didn't even exist until a year ago. It just proves that if you have faith, Providence WILL provide. I WAS a little surprised when I had to provide individual workplace contracts for the anti-social little brutes (you'd THINK that as bees they'd have a greater sense of solidarity with each other! What happened to the concept of the Hivemind, people???)!!! My concerns were calmed by their unquestioning acceptance of the contractual terms.* 3

First things first -- I got them to work on the botanical bonanza. Soon they were all as busy as... well, themselves. Leaving me to do what I do best.

I thought.

Following best practice due diligence, I returned to their work area some weeks later to discover that I had been played for a patsy. Not only had the little brutes scarpered, they had taken advantage of my generosity to dump me with their offspring -- all 12.5 million of them. Do I LOOK like a baby-bee-sitter??

AND, rather than catagorising and filing the botanical specimens, they had destroyed them to make individual nurseries for their children.

A squirt of mortein soon put paid to their irresponsible hopes for posterity (and gave me back my weekends and evenings)... but WHAT am I supposed to do with millions of individually-crafted, admittedly rather pretty, baby bowers?

'Busy Bees Use Flower Petals For Nest Wallpaper' by Kathleen Masterson -->

*1 Saving that arachnid sociopath*3 Inky-Blinky who, I must add, only appears when all the hard work is done and then only to, in a contra-intuitive way (species-wise), white-ant whatever it is that I'm doing.

*2 Turkey actually.

*3 Yes, I KNOW that this is a tautology already!

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Dust UP!

Amerikans, it transpires, can and will sell anything. Especially if someone else had the idea first.

Ice to Inuits. Coals to Newcastle. Poverty to the Third World. They are the world's Ferenghi.

I may be sounding a little harsh and bitter... however our respected Director made it VERY clear that the first substance to go on sale in our soon to be launched museum store would, naturally, represent the core of our collection and our raison d'etre...

And now I discover that someone else has had the temerity to pretend that it was their idea all along.

The State Dirt Company (not to be mistaken for the National Dirt Company aka The Tea Baggers ... oops I mean 'Party') has put dinky little bottles of dust on sale at a price that reflects ... well, I suppose it reflects their belief that you can sell any muck online as long as you charge something ridiculous for it...

Inky-Blinky, our MoD, has just pointed out that I'm being WAY too harsh. As he so rightly points out, (bull)dust is the only thing that is still manufactured in the United States of Anxiety. Who am I to deprive them of their last source of home-produced income.

Still, if you want to waste your money on something that won't leave you feeling slightly dirtied, drop by our temporary pop-up shop at Red Bubble -- at least you'll have that warm inner glow that comes from squandering your hard-earned on something that has a purpose. You know that your life won't be complete until you have an image of our Dear Director gazing benevolently over your day-to-day doings.

Purchase now before they all sell out -->

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

SMILEs all 'round! Defense Program Update

Good news! If only the Director was here to witness the great leap forward that our defense program, something that I have long championed in the face of some determined conservative resistance, has made.*1 I've sent a telegram to her last known location (Bora-Bora, as it happens), but frankly I have little hope that she will receive it. In the event, the obvious next step was to broadcast a general media release.Please feel free to distribute the information below as widely as possible.

Museum of Dust is proud to announce that its SMILE*2 Program has recently showed significant progress.

MoD's crack team of Slimes has cracked the mobility issue and produced a prototype slime-controlled all-terrain vehicle.

Although the six-legged machine (aka 'robot') can, at this stage, only be controlled by team scaredy-mould Physarum polycephalum, the next stage of development will see modifications that will make the machine driveable by any slime.

The deployment of, ultimately, millions of the vehicles will ensure Museum of Dust's border security for now and the foreseeable future.

As some territorially offensive would-be empires*3 have found to their cost, we have crack troops of some of the fastest moving and most voracious slime moulds know to humankind. This innovation will make them not only faster but also capable of carrying a modern payload.

Of course, WE only ever intend to use them for peaceful purposes, but their sheer technological sophistication and their capability to wreck catastrophic damage should give the most confident invader pause for thought.

For more on our research partners (What, you didn't think the slimes came up with this all by themselves, did you?! Sure, they're smart -- but they have problems with complex tool manipulation.)
Robot moved by a slime mould's fears >

Background to the program: Intelligent Slime

For more background >

*1 Yes Yes YES. So the program WAS initiated by Inky-Blinky. Your point is?
*2 Slime Mould Intelligence Leap Enterprise
*3 Yes, it IS Republic of Tinselman I'm talking about!

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Friday, January 01, 2010

French Polish

After months stretching to years of silence, the Director has sudddenly seen fit to bless us with the fruits of her labours.* Suddenly we are positively deluged with a tsunami of stuff. Now, I'm always ready to use my initiative, I can improvise with the best of them, but my job description says 'administration'... it doesn't say anything about being the person who has to decide what to do about 20 cubic meters of random objects. Again, there's not a word of explanation or a direction as to what the Director wants done with them.

Fortune famously favours the prepared. As a former Wolf Cub, I have had early training in being prepared and so I always am.

Which is why, when a waif timidly knocked at the door of the Museum, I knew at once what to do with her. Having cunningly extracted her name (by making her fill out an employment application form), Maissa Toulet, I immediately engaged her. The terms were very favorable -- she may come out of the Oubliette when she has usefully deployed ALL of the objects in Director de Plume's most recent delivery. Not feeding her seems to be working -- since I disallowed meal breaks (and meals), her output has really picked up. I occasionally throw in a spongecat as an incentive...

Just between ourselves, I'm rather pleased with her progress. She is bringing an order and clarity to what I had thought were simply deliberately random fragments, red herrings, stalking horses and paper tigers.

You can see more here >

Thanks to Sublime Frivolitié who furnished the waif with a personal recommendation >

* Never mind that I thought that her labours involved looking after the long-term viability of this establishment ... in point of fact, I thought that she was off hunting the Skin Armor -- the Museum's most missed missing treasure, the object that gave the entire endeavor (in Musrum's day) its point, its purpose, the entire collection's centrepiece and zenith, etc -- it turns out that she actually been gallivanting all over the shop.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Putting animals to work

A reasonable person might presume that the Director would be happy with news of the overwhelming success of the previously mentioned Anatomy of Monsters.

Obviously reasonable people are in short supply around the museum in these dark days.

As an obviously unreasonable person, I expect nothing.

And luckily, as not a word have I received regarding the triumph of the new exhibit. Not a syllable! Not a solitary alphanumeric character!

Instead, we* are simply swamped with a superfluity of animal corpses in various states of dismemberment originating from various parts of the world. Not a word about what the Director might want done with the various animal parts she has dumped on us. Not an inkling as to why she might have acquired them in the first place. I can't even store the bits and bobs and wait until she returns -- the Oubliette is already brimfull to overflowing.

With my usual genius for organisation, I have, naturally, found a solution. I will have the animal corpses built into useful objects. I have already received the first shipments of commissions back. I was surprised at just how willing these young people are to do what it takes to get a chance in the world. They have transformed our unwanted carnage into useful objects that would grace any home or museum.

Miss Pokeno, (a fellow once-New Zealander and 80s pop star, so uncannily like myself that I had to doublecheck that she isn't just me moonlighting...) for instance, has transformed a useless limp dead bird into a very comfortable chaise lounge. I await her set of fox-stuffed armchairs with great anticipation.

I'm thinking of matching them with the sets of both fox and coyote pillows . Idiots have also looked at the bird/furniture combo -- This Seat is Taken indeed!

Atlason have transformed an annoying flock of sheep into useful stools...
Sarah Garzoni's chesterfield pig will make a great addition to the Boudoir:
But she gets extra points for the very fine swiss army knife (Homo Faber) she slipped into my hand on her way out.
Smaller furnishing items have not been overlooked either: Moooi have ponied up with a Horse Lamp:
Sebastian Errazuriz with a Duck lamp (Now if someone could just make a spider lamp, I'd be REALLY excited)
Carlee Fernandez's clothes basket Lola Isern will come in very handy

This is, of course, just the beginning! I'll keep you posted about new pieces of furniture as they arrive -- although I'll be rather busy for the next while researching Victorian taxidermy furniture...

Consultants on this element of the Museum's activities include:
Quigley's Cabinet's article on taxidermy furniture >
Crappy Taxidermy has an endless parade of stuffed goodness >

* And when I say 'we' I mean, of course, 'me' The rest of MoD's staff seem to have evaporated about the time that we stopped receiving any kind of regular paychecks. I haven't seen anyone from Janitorial for months and even that vicious little sneak Inky-Blinky has been very quiet. I have to admit that, as long as he spins his webs and organises his own collections well out of my way, I'd be happy to never see him again.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Educational Exhibit! getting inside Godzilla

Well Well Well!

It looks as though the Director has finally decided to get her hands dirty!

Here was I thinking that she would be searching the arid inlands of Mesopotamia, given that that's what she TOLD us, in the memo she left in my wastepaper bin, whilst all the time she has actually been big-game hunting in Japan.

And then she has the temerity to send her trophies back to me in a state of partial... partialness. Not that I'm pointing fingers, but it looks to me like someone got a little peckish.

Perhaps had a little midnight snack?

Gamera schnitzel, that I understand... but Mothera steaks!?

Anyway, as always, I struggle on, making the best of what I'm given. The museum must come first. Etc. etc.

However, in this instance, I think that you will agree with me when I say I made this particular sow's ear into silk pyjamas.

Taking the mutilated corpses, I have presented them as an educational exhibit. This exhibit will afford young visitors a thrilling learning experience.

A proper understanding of the anatomy of monsters has been too often overlooked in the past. But this ignorance is putting our young people into deadly peril.

This new exhibit An Anatomical Guide to Monsters, is appropriately supported by an especially commissioned publication of the same name (An Anatomical Guide to Monsters, 1967. Text: Shoji Otomo. Illustrator: Shogo Endo.) Each individual exhibit displays a full range of useful and educational signage and wall-labels. This isstate of the art new museology I'm making here!

My exhibit is bound to be a tremendous success, attracting that lucrative school audience to the Museum. Director de Plume will HAVE to give me a payrise now!

I expecting such huge interest, that I've commissioned a special structure for the exhibit. The Hunting Lodge will both commemorate the Director's prowess and provide a safe buffer for the more fragile exhibits in the rest of the museum.

Please view the rest of the exhibition An Anatomical Guide to Monsters at The Hunting Lodge

The historically inclined amongst the audience may also find this specimen A Hairy Monster, prepared by anatomist Tom Gauld, of more than passing interest.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dust to Dust

It has been several months since the Director left on an extended exhibit-finding trip (or, at least, that's what she said she was doing). We haven't heard a word from her although, from time to time, something turns up addressed in what seems to be her hand.

Now, I'm not one to complain and I pride myself on my consummate professionalism, but it has been very hard to maintain standards around the museum with no direction or resources. It's all very well for Ms de Plume to send back the occasional box of fragments... but would it kill her to label them? Provide some documentation? Even just tell me what the hell they are? Or what she wants done with them?

But I struggle on.

Don't get me started on the quality of "staff" she left me saddled with either... a brace of mangy and uncontrollable spongecats and their supposed keeper and Minister of Defense, Inky-Blinky who, if truth be told, I haven't seen hair nor legs of in the last year. I have to do EVERYTHING! It's as much as I can do to keep up with feeding the spongecats and keeping the place open -- although I have to admit that she was right about the marketing and promotions. Not doing any has really seen visitations drop off... which is just as well, because if I was running the ticket office, I simply wouldn't be able to get anything else done.

Of course I was beginning to worry slightly about the dust... Dust in exhibits is all very well and proper, but the drifts have been piling up in the corners and under the furniture. It was beginning to be difficult to tell the human skin fragments apart from the diatoms or the butterfly scales. Luckily, I have found a solution that should provide a win-win solution all round.

I've invited a young fellow called Paul Hazelton to pop-over. He is a dust fiend. A particulate fanatic. Better (or worse, depending on your perspective), he's an artist. He makes sculptures from dust using a secret and patented method. Hazelton transforms piles of dust into... shaped piles of dust.

His themes are appropriate to the Museum... and appropriately meta-textual. Here's some examples.

Being and Nothingness


See what I mean?!

Dust mask

In return for his entire creative output I have agreed to allow him access to selected piles of our dust*. He seems to be appropriately pathetically grateful for the opportunity.

By the time that Director de Plume returns we should have a fine collection. I'm thinking of turning over a wing of the museum to it -- and, in recognition of my sheer genius, calling it the 'Administrative Dust Show'.

What happens if the Director disagrees? I hear you say. Of course I've got a fallback plan -- I've acquired one of Hazelton's earlier works (below) and already have it packed and ready to go. I can be out of here in under a minute.


More about David Hazelton's art here >
His Saatchi art site -- with many more egs here >

*Obviously NOT the diatoms or the insect scales! Imagine... The Director would have my guts for garters!

PS Mr Hazelton just dropped in with his first contribution to the new exhibit. I don't know that the Director is going to like it much, but I think that it is just fine. And that damned arachnid slacker can think what he likes....

A spider

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

General memo: re; Atlas Obscura

Dear museum staff,
Sure I should have written sooner. Yes, ALRIGHT! It’s been over a year since I have sent word, but that is absolutely no reason to let standards slip so badly.

Nobody’s done a thing around here since I left, perhaps a little precipitously, following a new and urgent clue as to the whereabouts of the Skin Armour. Yes, ALRIGHT, I may not have found it – at least not in the strict sense of the word, but this has not been time wasted. So, you might see me seem to follow a false lead, a fool’s errand, but I could see the feint within feint, the plan within the plan. I may now be no closer to tracking down the Armor, but I’m starting to get a feel for it.

But I must admit, I’m exhausted. I think you will agree, I need to revive my spirits, re-engage with the problems and my longterm plans here in MoD. So I’ll be leaving immediately on an extensive study tour of our sister institutions around the globe.

Imagine, I didn’t even know that some of them existed.

If it hadn’t been for Atlas Obscura, the collaborative guide to the “singular, eccentric, bizarre, fantastical, and strange out-of-the-way places that get left out of traditional travel guidebooks and are ignored by the average tourist.”, I would still be ignorant of them. Of course the Atlas includes many that are already enrolled in our Fellowship plan and have become fully signed up subsidiaries to MoD, but there are many that wait to be brought into our protection.

So could someone in admin start booking my steamer tickets soonest? I’ve got bone churches, miniature cities, anatomical Sleeping Beauties, architectural follies as well as numerous collections of the desirably odd kind to visit.

By the way... I’ll need money! Lots and lots and lots of money. I can feel a shopping spree coming on. Just reading the descriptions of some of the things on offer – ranging from philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s stuffed hide to Galileo’s finger bone and teetering pagodas – is inspiring me to start purchasing for several new collections.

Someone pack me a clean change of clothes and the necessities, and leave my trunks, money and tickets at the usual place. I’ll take it from there.

And when I get back, I want to see that there’s been a real change of attitude around here. I want to see the Diatom mural salvaged, the Oubliette thoroughly cleaned, and my new collection of shadows cataloged at the very minimum.

Jump to it.

Atlas Obscura >>

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Inky SPRUNG! Aunt Aggie's Bone Garden

It is completely obvious that Inky will say and do anything to get attention.

Even claim credit for ideas that are SO not his own. Yes, you -- like me -- may have secretly found his putative 'Xmas Bonetree' intriguing, even endearing. And you, like me, probably gave him full marks for originality and effort. But now I know the full truth, I have a good mind to drop the whole thing down the deepest hole in the darkest Oubliette that MoD boasts.

Not only was he ripping the idea off -- he ripped it from a DEAD woman... who had been a slave to boot!

Somehow he must have found out about Aunt Aggie's Bone Yard, a former roadside attraction in Lakeland, Florida (That's in the United States of Amerika for those who are geographically challenged... Inky you know who I'm talking about...).

Aunt Aggie's bone yard: Lake City, Florida ca. 1915. Aunt Aggie Jones on the right with a visitor. Photograph from Imagesof Florida's Black History

As you can see, it was quite sight and between 1900 and 1918 it was very popular with courting couples and young families (apparently the kids loved autographing the bones... tagging has a very long history). Then, they bulldozed it and put up a school on the site. Typical. Now all that is left is a small display about it at the Columbia County Historical Society.

Aunt Aggie (Aggie Jones) was born into slavery but when she and her husband gained their freedom she set to creating not only her remarkable garden, but also a natural history museum inside, which contained snakes preserved in jars and alligator skeletons, as well as a human skeleton hung in the hallway. Although she planted conventional plants and laid white sand walkways, its raison d'etre was "amazing gateways, arches and trellises from bones, wired together to form fanciful structures." Aggie Jones never charged entry, but she sold produce and food, made customised bouquets and reputedly worked a little magic, telling fortunes using the time-honoured cup, key and bible combination. On special occasions, she donned an Indian outfit and danced.

Slightly more info at Roadside.America.Com

Anyway, given that Inky has paved the way with his appropriation... I'm considering recreating at least a section of the Bone Yard in the grounds of the Museum. But that will be an homage... not a rip-off.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

A Shrine to the Glory that WAS Intersol

Few realise that the 16th of December marks the day that the famed realm of Intersol fell to the nefarious forces brandished by the Weedking.

I have not been unaware that certain mean-spirited denizens of MY museum have murmured that I profited from Musrum’s overthrow and exile. It is true that the Iron Castle Museum was probably my only real competitor. But I feel really really bad that I accidentally left the postern door ajar, thus allowing Weedking’s forces ingress. No one regrets that mistake more than I. It breaks my heart to see the rusting remnants of the Iron Castle strewn around the grounds of Museum of Dust… especially when I consider the treasures that were destroyed or made off with in the hubbub. The clear superiority of my own museum buildings, activities and collections goes a little way towards reconciling me to Intersol’s tragic destruction.

Everything happens for a purpose.

To help us remember the glory that was Intersol, I personally, all by myself, with no help financial or otherwise from anyone thank you all so much for caring (yes, Inky you know who I mean), alone and unaided have founded the colony of New Intersol .

Sure, it’s in Greenland but that is just a hop skip and a jump away with modern transport technologies. It’s a simple life in New Intersol, but as more people visit and settle it will become the hub of modern international design.

And a great tax haven.

PS You can build your own pixel art settlement with

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