Law of the Jungle

I saw Disney’s new Jungle Book film, and it’s a magnificent experience – a beautiful, heart-wringing adventure. As one of the millions of kids who were a captive audience for the 1967 animated version, I watched it in rapt delight and breathless anticipation.

I’m more of an experiential viewer than a critic; thus I fell in love with Bagheera’s green eyes and cultured voice (Ben Kingsley.) Bill Murray as Baloo the bear was inspired. The lushly detailed environments, plants and animals is a feast for the eyes. But the story the crisis that Mowgli the man-cub brings to his jungle community is bittersweet.

Mowgli is raised by the wolf pack and mentored by Bagheera. They consider the boy one of their own. Shear Kan, the menacing Bengal tiger, claims that man is the most dangerous beast of all, and insists that the man-cub must leave, and later, die. The community erupts in debate, and Mowgli, unwilling to be the cause of such strife, agrees to leave.

For all the lush beauty of this film, with it’s depiction of vibrant life, knowing it’s all created with CGI leaves me with a hollow ache. The ‘jungle’ world that Kipling wrote of in 1894 no longer exists today, except in scraps of parkland.  So Shear Kan made a valid point: humans will bring the end of life as they know it.

Please, go enjoy the movie. It’s lovely. But then take some small action to help the creatures in the film.

To learn more about the state of the ‘jungle’ today, visit one of these organizations.

Global Tiger Initiative

Wildlife Conservation Society

World Wildlife Society




You read that right! I, a life-long arachnophobe, have found some spiders to love.

Well, it’s a longer story than that, of course. From my infant self becoming imprinted with my mothers terror, to my father’s cruel attempts to “cure” me, to my own decade’s long campaign to educate the fear away, I have a long, long and complicated relationship with spiders.

I’ve kept them for pets and fed them. I’ve watched them spin their webs in the porchlight. I’ve killed them with poison, a shoe, the vacuum cleaner (are they really dead, or will they crawl out and GET REVENGE?)

I’ve explored the deeply graphical nature of my phobia. ‘Six legs good, eight legs bad,’ my brain tells me, and I can detect those excess appendages half a block away. I have trouble with fabrics and wall coverings if they have too many little dark spots, because my heightened spider-scanning radar is constantly blaring an alarm. I can scare myself my moving my own hand in a creeping, spider-leggedy fashion.

But this post over at Wired magazine’s blog really made me happy to see spiders! (Through the safety of the digital photo, of course.) What amazing beasts! Check out Nicky Bay’s stunning photos of the remarkable variation in southeast asian arachnids.

great horns! so elegant, and look at those red toes
Almost cute
mirrorball spider! perfect for your contemporary decor

There are lots more. Don’t be squeamish, go look at all of them. They are evidence of a profoundly creative Universe.