Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Birthday


What does a woman want for her birthday? Flowers? Jewelry? Shoes? Dinner in a nice restaurant? An intellectual girl may like an interesting book. A musically inclined one would prefer a ticket to Metropolitan Opera. In spring, a romantically inclined girlfriend would want a trip to Paris.

But, what does a woman do if she has already tried all of this boring stuff and she is searching for something new and exotic, unique and different?

If the woman in question is Yvonne, she will ask her boyfriend (i.e. your humble servant) to accompany her to a four hour workshop on…


Honestly, I had no desire whatsoever to go there. My interest in mice = my interest in taxidermy = 0. My interest in mice wearing human-like costumes approaches absolute zero.

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Goya in New York

goya, etching 55

Goya’s etching 55, titled Until Death

In 1799, the Spanish painter Francisco Goya published a series of 80 etchings called the Caprichos. He used the etchings to systematically illustrate the vices, foibles, and evils of his world. In no way, are the Caprichos easy or pleasant to watch; each etching radiates anger, fear, sorrow, hopelessness and suffering. The etchings are not particularly subtle; Goya drove his point home with a hammer made out of crude satire.

Etching #55, Until Death, shows a Platonic ideal of an ugly old woman beautifying herself in front of a mirror. When I first saw it, I just thought, “Oh, whatever, it’s such a no-brainer to mock a vain dumb old hag.” To me, the etching was one of the least interesting in the series and it faded from my memory quickly.

It took me twenty years to understand that this etching was just as much born of Goya’s genius as any other.

Yesterday morning, I was walking down 6th Ave in Manhattan. As it intersected 30th street, a light breeze playfully blew the rancid smell of a homeless person up my nostrils. As I started breathing with my mouth, I looked around and I saw an old woman standing next to a cart full of recycling and refuse.

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