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31 December 2005
A few links for your browsing pleasure:

1: Etymologic: the toughest word game on the web. This one gave me a real run for my money, and I'm no mean word slut.

2: Curveball. Addictive game. Danger, Will Robinson. Danger!

3: The Bunny Suicides. Morbid, macabre, and hilarious.

4: Your Age on Other Worlds. On Jupiter, I'm almost 3 years old!

All of this randomness has been brought to you by StumbleUpon.com. Why, oh why did I have to discover that Firefox extension during a major writing week?

Oh, and just to entice, a bunny suicide:

holy honey buns batman!

27 December 2005
It's been a while since we had anything from the miraculous apparition on a fish stick department. There are, perhaps, better ways to commemorate the feast of St John the Evangelist than to link to a news story about the theft of a cinnamon bun that bears the visage of Mother Theresa. Nevertheless, quoth the BBC:

A cinnamon bun that bears a striking likeness to late Catholic nun Mother Teresa was stolen from a US coffeehouse on Christmas Day.

The owner arrived to find that the famous flaky pastry had vanished from the shop in Nashville, Tennessee.

Bob Bernstein said he thought the culprit was angry over the display.

The "Nun Bun" has drawn tourists since it was preserved and put in a glass case at the shop, where it was discovered by a customer in 1996.

The bun became international news following the find in the folds of its pastry.

The Bongo Java coffee shop sold T-shirts, prayer cards and mugs with the bun's image until Mother Teresa wrote a letter asking the sales be stopped, before her death in 1997.

I only regret that I was never able to get a "Nun Bun" t-shirt.


So I think my friends may be trying to tell me that I have a problem...

In the past 48 hours, I have been given three different knitting books, about which I am sublimely happy. First, there was Mindful Knitting: Inviting Contemplative Practice to the Craft. I'm super excited about this one since knitting has already wound its way in that direction for me. Then there was At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much. Another volume about which I am most excited even if I have been rather explicitly implicated as a yarn queen. However, it was more than a little telling when the friend of mine who gave it to me started reading me questions from the back of the book.

Q: "Do you ever experience palpitations when passing a yarn shop?"
A: Yes.

Q: "Do you ever sneak new yarn purchases into the house?"
A: A qualified yes. I live alone, but I do sneak them through the apartment foyer lest my neighbors begin to think I have a problem.

Q: "Do you ever utter the words, 'Just one more row'?"
A: All the friggin' time.

Q: "Do you ever plan your vacation around yarn store locations?"
A: Well... not so much plan... but I do have plans to try to find some really schweet yarn and some roving for friends while I'm in Ely next month... (Jason, consider this your warning.)

Q: "Do you ever secretly scope out spots to store your stash?"
A: No, thank God. It all lives by the big comfy/ugly chair in my living room. And here I was beginning to think that I might have a real problem...

The last and final knitting volume for this year was Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter. Hrm... maybe I need to change the appellation yarn queen to yarn harlot... the ladies of my local yarn store do already know me by name.

predispositions, proclivities and the rest

26 December 2005
Ok, so we've all heard the "Somehow I've always known" kinda stories. Things get really trippy when someone tells you such a story about yourself; particularly when it is regarding an incident of which you have absolutely no memory. Namely, after having Christmas dinner at my uncle's home, I was having second Christmas dinner (something like second breakfast, but more involving vastly more wine) at a cousin's house today when my cousin's mother, B, leaned over to me and shared a story about my life as a two year old.

Before we get to that, I should first make note of the odd nomenclature, "my cousin's mother." One would normally call such a person an aunt, but technically, she is an ex-aunt(?). That being said, I'm still more than eager to claim her as family.

So, back to the story... Apparently, when I was two and visiting B, I could think of nothing more exciting than to don bright red nail polish, lipstick and makeup. When she told me this, I was most amused. Patently, I still am.

The good news is that it only took me two runs at drag to get it all out of my system.

the ironing is delicious

24 December 2005
or, how I know Google really doesn't read my email.

Look at this screen shot I've placed below. Go ahead and click on it to see it at full size. There are two things that amused me here.

(1) That Google wants to give me a recipe for SPAM while I'm cleaning out the spam box of my Gmail account.

(2) They really need to work on that whole "targeted marketing" thing.

Oh, and if you really want to know what a "French Fry Spam Casserole" is, you're braver than I am. But I did copy the link for you. (Haven't looked, don't wana, you can't make me.)

in answer to your question

21 December 2005
As a result of a previous post, I've gotten a couple of comments and several email inquiries about how one might go about acquiring Gathering Miriam's new album, Remains. Well... I've spoken with the fair ladies and am told that if you'd like a cd, drop them an email at gatheringmiriam@yahoo.com.

As for the request for an uploaded mp3... Kiran and MB have taken council amongst themselves and are deciding which song they want me to upload. Once they let me know what they want, I'll edit this post and link to a file for your downloading pleasure.


For those of you that asked for it, you can listen to a clip of Gathering Miriam's
new version of "I'll Fly Away" by clicking below.

download song

And to answer another question, the names of the tracks are:
  1. Georgie Porgie

  2. Rain

  3. Swear I'm Goin' Back

  4. Kodaikanal

  5. Walking

  6. Circle

  7. God

  8. Leaf of Life

  9. You are Who You Are

  10. The Train

  11. I'll Fly Away

shock and eww

John found himself silenced by an image of two, small fuzzy things cuddling on Cute Overload.

I submit to you something that I find far more... Well, frankly, words fail me.

The only preface it needs is, I saw it on Boing Boing. I offer that to assure all of you that I wouldn't be caught dead browsing at Cabela's as I am not of the sort that delights in the hunting of cute, fuzzy things.

So, if ye be brave or ye be the fashion police looking to make an arrest, click bravely, because something really did crawl up on this guy's head and die.

I take great comfort in knowing that it is now four days before Christmas and this abomination can't possibly wind up under a Christmas tree with my name on it. For the small things, Deo gratias.

arks and wombs

19 December 2005
Arise, O Lord, into your resting-place,
you and the ark of your strength.
Psalm 132:8

During the Liturgy on Sunday, I found myself doing a lot of thinking about this verse of Psalm 132 coupled with the Gospel lection, the story of the annunciation. In the Middle Ages, the ark of the covenant was associated with the throne of God and the location of the shekina at the peak of the celestial hierarchy. (Ask for clarification on that point at your peril... I'm currently preparing a paper for a conference on that very topic.) For once, I didn't find myself contemplating allegorical and tropological interpretations of the celestial furniture (shocking, isn't it?) but rather arks and wombs.

On the one hand, there is the ark as mercy seat, as God's dwelling place. On the other, there is the virgin womb from which God came to dwell among us. Clearly, I could go on for some time about the Incarnation and wombs. If I did so, I know St Ephrem the Syrian would be really quite proud of me. But, I'm more interested in our own wombs. Yes, men, I'm talking to you too. More specifically, I'm thinking of each of us as womb.

Let me back up a bit here before you all decide I've gone off the gynocological deep end. In the fifth century, Theodora, sister of Emperor Theodosius II, insisted that she be admitted to the sanctuary to receive communion with her brother because as a woman, she was a God-bearer, a Theotokos like the Blessed Virgin Mary. Nestorius, in perhaps the most ill timed act of misogyny of that century, told off the Emperor's sister and fared rather poorly as a result. Sadly, he is the more well known historical figure. But Theodora was really on to something, this notion of being a bearer of God.

In Mary's fiat voluntas tua (or more authentically, genoito moi kata to rhema sou), she became God's dwelling place. God began to dwell among us by first dwelling in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For centuries after, Christian mystics, spiritual writers and artists spent an immense amount of time and energy unpacking what it meant for Mary to say, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your will." These same thinkers, teachers and preachers argued that it was also ours to say the very same words, to assent to God's indwelling in our souls and in our bodies. Lest we forget, the Incarnation is about flesh.

So, as we approach the holy Feast of the Incarnation and the season of Advent wanes, I think it fitting to spend a bit of time thinking of ourselves, our souls and bodies as wombs - that we might conform to God's will as the Blessed Virgin once did so that we too might bear God.

While I have elsewhere been duly chastised for my occasional fits of Marian devotion, I thought it fitting to quote a little Ephrem from the Hymns on the Nativity, it being six days away from the Feast of the Incarnation and all. So, to Ephrem's Hymn 11 as translated by Kathleen McVey in her volume Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns (New York: Paulist, 1989), 131-132:

Our Lord, no one knows
how to address Your mother. If one calls her 'virgin,'
her child stands up, and 'married' -
no one knew her sexually. But if Your mother is
incomprehensible, who is capable of comprehending You?

Refrain Praise to You for Whom, as Lord of all, everything is easy.

For she is Your mother - she alone -
and Your sister with all. She was to You mother;
and she was to You sister. Moreover, she is Your betrothed
with the chaste women. In everything,
behold, You adorned her, Beauty of Your mother.

For she was betrothed according to nature
before You came; yet she conceived
outside of nature after You came,
O Holy One, and she was a virgin
although she gave birth to You chastely.

Mary acquired by you all the attributes
of married women: conception within her
without sexual union, milk in her breasts
not in the usual way. You have suddenly made
the parched earth into a source of milk.

If she carried You, Your great mountain
lightened its burden. If she fed You
it was because You hungered. If she gave you a drink
it was because you willed to thirst. If she embrace You,
the coal of mercy preserved her bosom.

A wonder is Your mother: The Lord entered her
and became a servant; He entered able to speak
and He became silent in her; He entered her thundering
and His voice grew silent; He entered Shepherd of all;
a lamb he became in her; He emerged bleating.

The womb of Your mother overthrew the orders:
The Establisher of all entered a Rich One;
He emerged poor. He entered her a Lofty One;
He emerged humble. He entered her a Radiant One,
and He put on a despised hue and emerged.

He entered, a mighty warrior, and put on fear
inside her womb. He entered Nourisher of all,
and He acquired hunger. He entered, the One who give drink to all,
and He acquired thirst. Stripped and laid bare,
He emerged from her womb, the One who clothes all.


Given that I've been serving as the regional sales-monkey for the ladies, I strongly suspect that I am one of the first in Princeton to receive a copy of the newest Gathering Miriam album, Remains. As such, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to review the CD well before anyone else gets the chance. [insert maniacal laughter here]

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the two women of Gathering Miriam that Remains definitely qualifies as a very good album. Their first album and self titled album was a compilation of various folk standards, all performed well and all stamped with Gathering Miriam's unique harmonies and musical sensibilities. Frankly, their first album confirmed my abiding desire to find some way to incorporate "The Water is Wide" into my wedding, should such an event ever come about.

Remains represents a considerable shift away from their first album. First, ten of the eleven tracks are original pieces. Secondly, their sound has matured considerably. While one can still very much hear the influence of folk greats like Gillian Welch, Remains represents a much more mature, refined and sophisticated sound that is considerably more doleful and rich (be sure to listen to "I Swear I'm Goin' Back" and "The Leaf of Life"). The harmonies that made the first album fun are more nuanced and playful in Remains. This difference is perhaps best represented by "I'll Fly Away," which appears on both albums. On their first album, the song is upbeat, up tempo and sunny. On Remains, the song is slower, sweeter and deeper. That is not to say that Remains is without it's upbeat moments. "Georgie Porgie" is a lot of fun and is decidedly my favorite track on the album.

The lyrics of their original compositions are deeply theological and keenly aware of social justice and feminist issues indelibly tied to good theology, as in "The Train." Homiletics departments, take note. Thunderball is no longer a valid pedagogical device (not that it ever was), but it's nice to see a couple of Princeton alumnae offer something orders of magnitude better. Music qua preaching? Hell yeah! (especially when it does so without being "preachy.")

For those that love folk music that tells good stories, Remains is definitely for you. For those who like good music of Christian content, Remains is for you.

So, Kiran and Mary Beth, when will we see you on stage with The Mammals?

where ever has that boy gone?

As I was eating my soup for lunch (broccoli cheese if you were wondering) and bouncing through blogs, it occurred to me that I've not updated in a while. Bad Sloane, no cookie.

Contrary to web rumor, I have not died of dysentery, or any other Oregon Trail related calamity (that takes ya back don't it?). Rather, classes having ended on Friday, I spent the days leading up to Friday working like crazy and the days following working on damaging all the gray matter I previously built up through various parties and lots of video games.

Before the elementary school approved video game induced wave of nostalgia passes us by, I do want to put in a plug for the game that has been responsible for a large portion of the damage to my grey matter this past weekend, The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion. Think good old fashioned, turn based RPG for the PSP. It's got tons of nostalgia appeal and good game play (though not much in the way of character development). I expect to have finished it by the end of the Christmas holiday, so look for a full review then.

Beyond video games, movies and beer, there has been much entertaining. Friday night the priest came for dinner and the Sloane had fun with Asian-Southwestern fusion haute cuisine. We started simple with martinis, edemame, and veggie sushi. For dinner, we had pan seared yellowfin tuna in a soy, ginger and cilantro sauce topped with fresh avocados, and accompanied by wasabi mashed purple potatoes and French beans with toasted walnuts and garlic all with a nice chardonnay. Desert was raspberry mousse and Chartreuse.

Yesterday I had a few church folk over for chocolate: the brownies, coconut macaroons and hot chocolate.

Of course, none of that really contributes to any kind of substantial brain rot. The primary culprit is a website. I have to confess, it's made it into the list of blogs I check every day. Every time I look at it, I don't know whether to vomit or be overwhelmed by warm-fuzziness. But yeah... take a look for yourself.

the finer points of hooliganry

14 December 2005
Amid various stories of Elvis woodpeckers and Bush doing what he does best, denying reality, and even a Maltese ban on horse diapers, one story really stuck out for me.

Apparently the British Embasy in in Germany has compiled a glossary for fans of the upcoming World Cup. (Be sure to check out the PDF!) Apparently, the British government feels the need to provide for the culturally sensitve football hooligan. The following things really stuck me as worthy of reprinting:

polizeibekannt -- known to police -- Von den 450 ausgewiesenen Fans waren nur 15 bereits polizeibekannt = Of the 450 fans who were deported only 15 were previously known to the police

rowdyhaft -- loutish, like a hooligan -- sich rowdyhaft benehmen = behave like a hooligan

Rowdytum (n), Hooliganismus (m) -- hooliganism -- Während der Fußball-Europameisterschaft hat Papst Johannes Paul II. vor Rowdytum und zunehmender Aggression im Sport gewarnt = During the European Championships, Pope John Paul II warned against hooliganism and increasing aggression in sport

Stinkefinger (m) -- middle-finger salute -- Stefan "Stinkefinger" Effenberg streckte bei der WM 1994 deutschen Fans den Mittelfinger entgegen und wurde deswegen nach Hause geschickt = Stefan "middle-finger-salute" Effenberg gave the finger to German fans at the 1994 World Cup and was sent home as a result

Der Ball ist rund -- The ball is round. -- und Lola Rennt!

Ein Spiel dauert 90 Minuten -- A game lasts 90 minutes. -- see above.

Papagei (m) -- parrot -- He was as sick as a parrot = Ihm war kotzübel/ speiübel; er war zu Tode betrübt -- Antonym: over the moon = überglücklich


From the "What the fudge?!" Department.

Quoth the BBC:

Officials in the Brazilian town of Biritiba Mirim, 70km (45 miles) east of Sao Paulo, have gone far beyond that. They plan to prohibit residents from dying because the local cemetery has reached full capacity.

You'll pardon me if I'm a bit skeptical here.

silly false categories

12 December 2005
According to Quizilla:

tortured conceptual artist
You are a Tortured Conceptual Artist. Your fellow
postmodernists call you an anachronism, but
you've never cared much about the opinions of
others. After all, most of them are far too
simple-minded to appreciate the nuances of your
work. They talk, while you are part of a lived

What kind of postmodernist are you!?
brought to you by Quizilla


This silly little quiz actually assumes I am some flavor of postmoderinst.

I stand corrected. I'll just count my blessings that I didn't wind up with the graphic of the guy in the army outfit with the scary lady on his arm or dubbed a revisionist historian. For the small blessings, Deo gratias.

Truth be told, as an intellectual historian, I find conversing with postmodernism to be quite a lot like conversing with a brick that has adopted the rhetorical praxis of radical orthodoxy.

Oh, yeah, and I wouldn't be caught dead with a moustache or wearing that jacket.

champagne? hell yeah.

11 December 2005
I just finished cleaning up from the Advent/Christmas party Stina and I hosted at my apartment. I think it fair to say that a jolly time was had by all (especially since I've got the photos to prove it).

The Spread

From right to left: Comte with Asturian hazelnut honey and toasted walnuts, Humbolt Fog with blackberry and balsamic vinegar reduction (a Sloane original), Crater Lake blue with pecans and clementines, 2 year old cheddar with chutney, Brie with Adriatic fig spread, crackers, Brie en croute (containing toasted walnuts and dried cranberries - another Sloanerism), peppermint bark (homemade), dried fruits, and a chocolate cake.

The Guests

Larry and Lisa

Carmen and Stina

Laura T. and Stina

Laura S. and Josh (who found my PSP)

since the lady insists

09 December 2005
My boss got her wish; the Sem closed today because of snow. While the library remains open, I'm still glad I thought to bring home a metric shitload of books last night. When I awoke this morning and checked my email and found the closure announcement, it occured to me that I'd have the whole day to be productive. So what did I do? Made a right and proper breakfast consisting of veggie sausages, eggs over easy, rosemary & garlic potatos (leftover - I didn't go completely overboard here), sliced tomato and Russian rye toast. Such things represent a pleasent change from my usual bowl of oatmeal poured down my gullet as I scamper to make the morning shuttle to campus.

Since about 8:45, I've been at my comptuer, reading and taking notes like a good little doctoral student. When mother nature tells me to don my favorite winter sweater and hunker down to read Ramòn Llull while swilling coffee, who am I to complain? And the added bonus is I get to play with figuring out how to read Catalan! wøøt!

Speaking of Ramòn, here's your ecumenical thought for the day (coming from a Spanish Catholic of the late 13th to early 14th centuries):
N’importe quel sage est tenu de professer la foi qui attribue au Dieu eternal, en qui croient les sages du monde entier, la bonté, la sagesse, la puissance, la vérité, la glorie, la perfection etc. les plus grandes, et toutes ces dignités dans la plus grande égalité et concordance. Aussi la foi la plus digne de louange est-elle celle qui pose entre Dieu, qui est la cause supreme et première, et son effet la plus parfaite concordance ou convenance.

Vie Ramond Lulle, paragraph 28. Translated by Ramón Sugranyes de Franch.

Sorry for the French. Among the books I failed to bring home last night was the Corpus Christianorum volume with the origional Latin Vita.

my corvus, it has been coraxed

08 December 2005
Last night, as I was making a batch of roast tomato soup, I was listening to a cd that had just arrived. In fact, I found myself moshing to one seriously rocking hurdy gurdy. Namely, Corvus Corax.

A few months ago, a note came round the Delaware Valley Medievalist Association's listserv about Corvus Corax performing at a local festival. I didn't get around to going, but it did convince me to get the CD. These guys go do good research on their instruments before they build them. And unlike some other, pseudo-medieval groups, they've got a pretty darn authentic sound - well, if you're willing to take the hint of Rolling Stones in the background.

Go buy this album. Your ears will thank you.

For those of you that are wondering about the name, it's comprised of two words that both mean "raven."

The Black Knight always triumphs!

and now a word from our sponsor

07 December 2005
I'm really beginning to think that my doctoral diploma ought to have a Red Bull logo on it, given that I've taken to buying the stuff by the case.

We've known that caffeine augments one's abilities in the video game area for years now. But who knew it held such promise for the doctoral student?

I offer two vignettes from the past 24 hours as proof.

First, a conversation overheard while standing on line at the cash register in the refectory, while a man takes a can of SoBe Adrenaline Rush (ANATHEMA!) from the cooler by the register:

Clerk: Buying your favorite drink?

Man: I suppose. I guess I'm stuck with this stuff. It's not nearly as good as Red Bull.

Clerk: Oh?

Man: Yeah.

Me: I'm surprised you're buying this here. I keep a stash of the good stuff in my locker.

Man: Where do you get it?

Me: Sam's. In bulk. It saves you like two dollars a can.

Man: Oooooh. I have a Sam's card...

Clerk: So is Red Bull really that good?

Me: Not incredibly, but it gets the job done better than anything else out there.

I would offer two caveats to my last statement. First, the taste of Red Bull is considerably improved by vodka. (Thanks, Merrin!) The second is bipartite: (1) the taste of Red Bull has really grown on me; (2) I vastly prefer Bawls, but the Bull is more cost effective.

Later (not more than 20 minutes ago in fact), I was sitting at my desk, happily typing away in the office when a staff person sitting in my boss' office, chatting, asked if it had started hailing. My boss answered, "No, that's just Sloane typing."

Red Bull
Overclocking Medievalists since 2004.

i've got your "racio" right here, be-yatch

06 December 2005
Damnable 13th century Latinate Italians! Learn your bloody Latin instead of just making up words when it bloody well suits you!

45 minutes, 5 books and 12 flights of stairs for 1 lousy word.


frigidiora ego vidi

05 December 2005
It's officially on. Dies Drycthelmi MMVI. (Namely, England in the middle of friggin' January, hence the quote from the venerable, if not insane, Drycthelme of Melrose.) So, my sacerdotal traveling companion and I will bounding through Cathedrals and pubs like the good little Anglo-Catholics we are.

I met with the travel agent this morning and things are officially in motion. The plan, as it stands now is:

Depart from JFK around 9pm.

Arrive in London, drop baggage at hotel, wander a bit, check in, and hit either the British Museum or the National Gallery. As it stands, Monday is the only day that doesn't have a church scheduled... we may have to fix that. However, Monday does mark the first in a long streak of nights at ye olde taverne and possibly a play.

Hit whichever museum we didn't get to on Monday. Westminster Abbey and choral evensong in the evening, followed by pub.

Take the train to Canterbury in the morning to catch the sung mass for the commemoration of the Confession St. Peter. The upside of doing this in winter is that neither of us will be tempted to do something foolish/traditional for pilgrims, like travel the length of Canterbury Plane on our knees. Screw around in Canterbury and head back to London when it suits us. Depending on when we get back, maybe another play - maybe just pub. But either way, pub.

Train to Salisbury. Blue clothing optional, but encouraged. (Super extra credit if you get that one... even more if you know what shade of blue...) Attend mass celebrated according to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. And of course, the obligatory viewing of rocks. Back to London and, you guessed it, a pub.

Train to Ely, home to a spectacular labyrinth. Ely doesn't have a liturgy scheduled, but something tells me that won't discourage us... Return to London and make our last pub visit.

Depart London and be back at JFK by 5pm-ish.

nunc est bibendum

03 December 2005
Nunc est bibendum indeed. Well, last night at any rate.

Much fun was to be had. To those who were there, thanks for making it such a great evening.


02 December 2005
John pointed this out today:

Sadly, it is indeed fake.

But we can dream, can't we?


Cthulhu plush?

Hell yeah.

me cockles, they have been warmed

01 December 2005
A dear friend of mine who recently returned from France brought me back a small bottle of Chartreuse with the promise that it would "warm the cockles of your heart, wherever they are."

After doing a little research to figure out how one is supposed to drink this divine elixir (the answer being cold, cold, cold) I can assure you I'm sitting here purring like a, well, a Chartreux.

My friend knows me well. Really, if you're going abroad and you want to make Sloane a happy, happy boy, bring him a bottle of whatever the local hooch is. If you're going to Italy, bring me a bottle of good grappa and I'll make you a four course meal that will make you weep. If you're going to the UK, bring me a bottle of Hendrick's Gin and I'll flood you with inhuman amounts of chocolate. Chartreuse just made the "I'll whore myself culinarily for a bottle of the good stuff" list.

Of course, all of this just goes to prove that William of St Thierry was right. Carthusians rock. Seriously, who else but hard core ascetic monks could come up with both the coolest cats ever, a liquor that requires the extracts of 130 plants, and The Cloud of Unknowing?

nuts, man, totally nuts

Quoth the BBC:
Squirrels have bitten to death a stray dog which was barking at them in a Russian park, local media report.
Passers-by were reportedly too late to stop the attack by the black squirrels in a village in the far east, which reportedly lasted about a minute.

They are said to have scampered off at the sight of humans, some carrying pieces of flesh.

A pine cone shortage may have led the squirrels to seek other food sources, although scientists are sceptical.

The attack was reported in parkland in the centre of Lazo, a village in the Maritime Territory, and was witnessed by three local people.

Uh, wow. I'm never going to look at the black squirrels in Princeton the same way again.