Rosetta Update.

New, higher resolution photos show that there are sand dunes on an asteroid in outer space. ESA_Rosetta_NAVCAM_141018_D
Amazing. How did they get there? It’s outer space. I thought sand came from erosion which comes from water and dunes come from wind which needs an atmosphere. How did sand get on that asteroid? Reddit says it’s solar wind.

Istanbul Street Marionette

I was walking with Ilgaz through Kadıköy and spotted a tiny table and bench. Between them, under a black cloth I was pretty sure I saw a marionette. “Ooh ooh, ask him when the next show is!” He was on a cigarette break and he said after he was done smoking he’d perform again. So we plopped down and waited. He was happy to let me film it and take some photos too so long as I sent them to him. He dosen’t have any recordings of it.

Puppet ShowPuppet Show

It’s in Turkish and I don’t know the story, Ilgaz says it’s a little hard to follow anyway. Something about life lessons and the puppet being a descendant of Noah. Still, it was fun to watch and the marionette is beautiful. Nehir Giritli is the puppeteer and he made the puppet in his basement. The hands are carved from wood and the head is papier-mâché. He’s completely self taught and is trying to make a living performing these show’s on the streets here in Istanbul. A big dream, but at the end of the show his box filled up with coins and bills.

Here is an unedited video of the whole performance. It’s a little bumpy and out of focus at some parts, but I wanted to get it online as soon as I could.


Ugg. How stupid. Just after I posted this video on Youtube I got this message from them:

[Copyright claim] Your video has been blocked in some countries:
Due to a copyright claim, your YouTube video has been blocked in some countries. This means that your video is still up on YouTube, but people in some countries may not be able to watch it.

Video title: Nehir Giritli — Puppet Show
Copyrighted song: Father And Mother
Claimed by: WMG

What a stupid thing. If it’s broke where you live, let me know in the comments and I’ll put it on another service.

Clowns Will Never Die

I posted this a while ago to a little blog on my other webpage,, but it’s silly to have two blogs I think so I’m deleting that one and wanted to share this article here. It’s the best history of clowning I’ve found online, it addresses the coolness of clown-phobia and meanders through the cultural history of clowns. Birthdays, circus, hip-hop clowns all the way back to Aztec court jesters. Read the article here.

TrampsHistorical Clowns

Ancient History

“In China, there were court jesters centuries before they had them in Europe,” he continues. “We have records of Chinese court jesters going back to 676 B.C., and they spread from China to India. In Southeast Asia, anthropologists found carvings of clowns in temples dating back to 800 B.C. I had the chance to go to Borneo, Indonesia, for the World Clown Association convention last year and learned about their character named Hudoq. In many ways, Hudoq has a lot of similarities to our clown characters. And when Europeans came to the United States, they discovered that most of the Native American tribes had clowns, too.”

Walking a Straight Line

For the first 10 or 20 steps a blind-folded person will walk in a straight line but after that, without a fixed point of some kind, a person will veer off course ever so slightly. The longer they walk the further off-course they’ll go. Eventually tracing a big spiral.

You can read more about the mystery of not walking in a straight line here. There’s no good explanation for this phenomenon. Except for maybe people aren’t supposed to to walk with blind folds on.

Robert Krulwich from Radiolab had a blog on the NPR website for four years and was publishing videos for a while. But as soon as I found it I found out it’s all over. NPR cut the funding and they’re turning it off. Bummer! But there’s still a bunch of stuff to read and see and wonder about on there.

Meetup: Sarah and Ben

I met with Sarah Penrod and her boyfriend Ben in Istanbul at the beginning of the week. In a cool coincidence they moved here about a week before I did. Sarah teaches English to kindergartners and Ben is working from home translating from Georgian to English.

Sarah and Ben

Sarah is an old friend of the Casey’s. Her parents used to live in Helena, before moving back to Chicago. I remember a few summers when they would come stay and visit. When we drove to Chicago their house in Evanston was always an interesting and warm place to visit. After a few years teaching in Georgia (the country) and Korea Sarah and Ben moved to Istanbul for the summer.

We sat down together at a nice cafe off of Istiklal, the big shopping street. I was joking that my Turkish is terrible, I can say hello, please, thank you, five, tea, okay and a few other random words. Ben assured me that it was OK that didn’t speak so well, after all I’ve only been here for about a week. When the waiter came to take our order I greeted him, “Marhaba,” and switched to English to order the coffees and teas. The waiter asked a question in Turkish and Ben answered it what sounded to me like perfect Turkish, “Yes please, two Turkish coffees, one with sugar one with out and a tea for me, thank you.”

Geeze. And I though I was doing so well. That’s what I get for having tea with language teachers. I guess I’ve got some flashcards to make. Tamam.


Postcard to Bannack: Fish Market

Here is a little video postcard for Bannack my favorite nephew who just turned five years old. Can you believe he’s already five years old? I can barely understand it. Putting this online I knew it had been a while since my last video postcard to him, but watching it again made my head spin. He’s so much bigger now. I mean five! Five! That’s a solid milestone birthday. What’s next he’ll be 10? Don’t even.

I took the first part of this video on İstiklal Avenue. The rest at a little fish marked by the ferry terminal in Karaköy, not far from my apartment where I’ll stay at least through October.

Enjoy Bannack, and happy fifth birthday.

Szukalski’s Zermatism


The weirdest conspiracy I’ve ever read about.

Zermatism, Szukalski’s concept of world history, postulated that all human culture derived from post-deluge Easter Island and that in all human languages one can find traces of the original, ancient mother-tongue of mankind. In his view, humanity was locked in an eternal struggle with the Sons of Yeti (“Yetinsyny”), the offspring of Yeti and humans, who had enslaved humanity from time immemorial. From Wikipedia


Szukalski was a polymath who, over a lifetime, developed a science that integrated singular theories in geology (cyclic deluges), anthropology (universal pictographs), linguistics (Protong, a universal first language), zoology (Yeti), anthropolitics (Yetinsyn), with many etceteras. Common to his arguments is an overwhelming accretion of the visual evidence.

Stanislav Szukalski a Polish born artist who worked in Chicago in the 20s and 30s. One of his main ideas is that all language comes from one mother tongue. Which is perfect because he is the only one who knows what the language is, he can translate modern words to whatever supports his ideas. For example, he says, “the state of Illinois, U.S.A. is named after the Illinois River, and in Protong (‘Illi No J(e) Z’) actually means ‘Mire made-Born is From’.”

If you have time, read more about his wonderful conspiracy. If that’s not enough, you can buy the book.

Good Times in Old Istanbul

Old Photo CollageThe Forks

Here are some old photos I bought from a cool antique store in the Kadıköy district here in Istanbul. I like picnic one most. Man with round shiny glasses. Forks poised to mouths. I can hear the photographer say, “everyone eat! Eat! I’m taking a picture now,” and then the groans of reluctant compliance. But some of those guys are into it.

The man who sold ‘em to me liked the ladies with the dog the most. He said something in Turkish to me, pointing at the picture laughing. I laughed too, not knowing what he said. Then he pointed again and said, “Lassie!” and whistled the Lassie whistle.


What if we all had bigger noses and no mouths? All Nose. No Mouth.Obama Trump


Tiyatro Medresesi

I had a surprising and wonderful time in Turkey this summer. I was invited to give a workshop on masks by my friend Güray, a fellow Helikos student who is from Istanbul. For the past few summers he’s been leading clown workshops in a purpose built theater center called Tiyatro Medresesi. It’s at the end of a long dusty road that winds away from a historically Greek village called Şirince.


Set on a prominence in a wide valley filled with olive groves, fig, pomegranate and other fruit trees there is a complex of buildings surrounding a large courtyard and connected by brick arches. The site is modeled after ancient plans for religious schools. Two studios, an amphitheater, dormitories, apartments and a big kitchen where three meals a day are prepared for the folks staying there. Now they’re working to add a second level for more housing and maybe more studios. (Some people are already moved in, see the tents up there on the roof?)

The ticket was booked before we finalized the schedule for my workshop so I had about a week full of long days of lazy conversation in the shade. It was great. And now that I’m back in Turkey, I’m starting to reconnect with some of them. Just yesterday I was walking through a busy section of Istanbul and ran into one of the people I met. Huge city. Small world!

I think it was him who said that if you spend enough time at the Medrese you realize the real magic and beauty of the place wasn’t the setting or the buildings at all but the passion of the people who dreamed up such a place and have the dedication to keeping it running. I couldn’t agree more.