Kiss of Death

Even the wrapper they came in was unappealing. Orange and yellow and black. Who made them? Where did they come from? No kid on the planet liked them. When we hauled home our sacks of goodies at the end of Halloween night and dumped them out on the floor to see just what we’d gotten, […]

Stuff Superman Overhears

                    I’ve got a piece in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency that imagines what Superman would likely be bombarded with every single day. Read the whole thing here.  

Imagining Darwin: The Ghost of the Beagle

    The sailors on board the Beagle told young Charles Darwin the chilling tale of their first captain, Pringle Stokes. After two harrowing years helming the ship safely through the hazards, desolation, and foul weather of the Straits of Magellan, Stokes fell into a deep depression. He wrote in his journal in June 1828: […]

Imagining Darwin: Bringing Home the Tortoise

Darwin took several tortoises on board the Beagle during its time in the Galapagos. I like to imagine him having them on board as companions during the long sea voyages in between the Beagle’s ports of call. One of these tortoises was always thought (or wished) to be the famously long-lived Harriet of the Australia […]

Imagining Darwin, pt. 7 “The Most Helpless Animal”

Darwin abominated slavery. He was appalled at the cruelty and injustice he witnessed while traveling in South America. Once when crossing a river with a black ferryman, Darwin found it difficult to communicate with the man. “In endeavouring to make him understand, I talked loud, and made signs, in doing which I passed my hand […]

Imagining Darwin 6: “It Was Snowing Butterflies”

  From The Voyage of the Beagle, Chapter VIII: “One evening, when we were about ten miles from the Bay of San Blas, vast numbers of butterflies, in bands or flocks of countless myriads, extended as far as the eye could range. Even with the aid of a telescope it was not possible to see a […]

Imagining Darwin 5: The Luminous Ocean

    From Darwin’s Beagle Diary: October 24, 1832 The night was pitch dark, with a fresh breeze.— The sea from its extreme luminousness presented a wonderful & most beautiful appearance; every part of the water, which by day is seen as foam, glowed with a pale light. The vessel drove before her bows two […]

Imagining Darwin 4: In the Galapagos

Imagining Darwin 4: In the Galapagos On October 18th, 1835 Darwin was camped on St James Island (Isla Santiago) in the Galapagos Archipelago, where he’d been exploring and gathering specimens. He and the crewmen who came with him were now waiting for the Beagle to return for them after finishing its surveying cruise around the […]

Imagining Darwin 3

Darwin was 22 years old and Captain Fitzroy was 26 when the Beagle set sail on its five-year mission. Pause and consider those ages for a moment. A hot-tempered 26-year-old, prone to depression and fits of rage, had command of a British naval vessel that was going to circumnavigate the globe and carry out surveying […]

Imagining Darwin 2

Almost from the moment the Beagle first set sail, Darwin was violently seasick and spent the first few weeks of the journey into the Atlantic confined to his cabin and unable to keep food down. It seemed to him he had made an enormous mistake undertaking this voyage. He recovered enough to change his mind […]