Leatherface ant isn't real, it can't hurt you. Oh wait...
Nikon's Small World competition just crowned a new Halloween King.
Every year, Nikon’s Small World photography and video competitions produce some of the most captivating, mind-bending images of objects from the natural world in microscopic detail. Moth eggs become pillars of strawberry milk marshmallows, what looks like a purple and blue geode is actually blood vessels from a mouse’s intestines; even the cells of a human colon become a thing of beauty. It truly is life as you’ve never seen it before, and I love poring through the winning photos and honorable mentions for some good ol’ awe.
This year’s winner in the Photomicrography Competition, announced earlier this month, is a beautiful image of the almost leaf-like embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko at 63X magnification. Geckos have notoriously adorable (oh yeah, and impressively grippy) feet, but this is something else altogether.
That’s not what I’m here to talk about, though. What we need to talk about is this delightful monstrosity from the Image of Distinction category that’s currently terrorizing the internet:
Frankly, I’m obsessed. This is the stuff of nightmares, except it’s very much real.
Now, what the hell is it? This, my friends, is what an ant’s face looks like up close. AN ANT at just 5X magnification!! A regular-ass carpenter ant (Camponotus), too, which means these little terrors have been all around you looking this scary the whole time and you had no idea. They’re harmless, of course…but this feels like a good time to mention that a study released back in September estimated there are about 20 quadrillion — or 20 million billion — ants living on Earth right now. Hehe 🤭. A big thanks to Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskas for giving us our new Halloween King. Sorry Jack, we still love you.
Be sure to check out all of the pictures from this year’s competition here. There’s a ton of good stuff to get lost in there, including this very cute, very geometric shot of a daddy long-legs that took 4th place. Enjoy.
PS recommends — Werewolf week! 🎃🐺
Read: Mongrels (2016) Stephen Graham Jones
Watch: Ginger Snaps (2000)
Book review: Our Wives Under the Sea
*Reposted from StoryGraph
Ooof… This book. Ever since reading (inhaling?) Julia Armfield’s 2019 short story collection, Salt Slow, I’ve been hungry for literally anything else by her. There’s just something about the way she writes that draws you wholly into these moments she creates, like an octopus wrapping its tentacled arm around your wrist and pulling you gently closer for a better look (IYKYK). It’s intoxicating… and deeply unnerving. But if Salt Slow was a tug on the wrist, Our Wives Under the Sea drags you beneath the surface.
This is one of those books where I feel it’s best to go in knowing very little. All I’ll say is, Miri’s wife, Leah, returns after over five months away and out of contact on a deep sea research vessel, and it becomes immediately evident that there may be no going back to the way things were. Like Armfield’s previous work, Our Wives leans heavily into nautical, Lovecraftian horror — the gnawing, foreboding kind where nothing is actually happening most of the time but you feel the dread of an eventual something building in every word. And if I’m being real with you, sometimes I think Armfield does Lovecraft better than Lovecraft did Lovecraft.
There are instances of direct, overt horror, too, and they are effective. Descriptions of bodily phenomena that make your stomach turn; the presence of felt-but-not-seen entities; the disquietude of realizing your smallness, that you’re just one nanoscopic part of an unfathomably large whole. Except to the people you matter to.
It gives physical form to the quiet, all-consuming grief of a love slowly lost, grotesque yet delicate.
When I finished this audiobook, I was halfway into a two-hour drive home at night and replayed the last 45-or-so seconds at least three times before accepting it was over. I drove in silence the rest of the way.
“I think that the thing about losing someone isn’t the loss but the absence of afterwards… The endlessness of that.” – Julia Armfield, Our Wives Under the Sea
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‘Til next time!