Ball Joint Doll for Genesis   


The traditional ball-jointed doll is delicate and slightly ethereal, a beautiful creature with its own mythology as much as it is a toy or collectible. Featuring a unique set of conforming ball joints for Genesis and matching textures and materials, this set lets you transform your Genesis characters into ball-jointed dolls. You can use the existing character presets based on existing Genesis FBMs, or create your own using the included ball joints and ball-joint morph. Recognizing the tradition of both female and male dolls, a male morph preset and gen texture for the Genesis male anatomical elements is included as well.

The realistic textures and materials imitate the look of resin dolls, with their delicate matte skin and painted makeups (many options for both face and nails are included). There are both standard and SSS shader options, for realistic closeups but also for render efficiency if you want to fill a room with dolls or use it on a small child's toy in a larger scene.

The joint-pinch morph that goes with the ball joints does not transfer into clothing, and the ball joints themselves have many different mat zones, so clothes can easily be worn over the limbs.

Price: $12.95 Special Price: $6.48


Ball Joint Doll for Genesis 2 Female(s)   


The traditional ball-jointed doll is delicate and slightly ethereal, a beautiful creature with its own mythology as much as it is a toy or collectible. Featuring a unique set of conforming ball joints for Genesis 2 Female and matching textures and materials, this set lets you transform your Genesis 2 Female characters into ball-jointed dolls. You can use the all-new custom FBM character, or create your own using the included ball joints and ball-joint morph.

The realistic textures and materials imitate the look of resin dolls, with their delicate matte skin and painted makeups (many options for both face and nails are included). There are both standard and SSS shader options, for realistic closeups but also for render efficiency if you want to fill a room with dolls or use it on a small child's toy in a larger scene.

The joint-pinch morph that goes with the ball joints does not transfer into clothing, and the ball joints themselves have many different mat zones, so clothes can easily be worn over the limbs.

Price: $12.95 Special Price: $6.48


Linux 5.4-rc2   


Back to the usual Sunday afternoon schedule, and -rc2 is out.

Nothing particularly stands out here. It's roughly one third arch
updates, one third drivers, and one third "misc" (kvm selftests,
networking, filesystems, core kernel, header files etc). No real
theme, just random fixes all over the place.

The diffstat is pretty flat too, which is just another sign of "small
fixes all over".

So nothing looks particularly worrisome, but usually rc2 is fairly
calm and it takes a while for any regressions to be noticed. And this
one was one of the nice small rc2's (5.2 and 5.3 rc2's were both
larger than usual), but maybe it's because it was also a day shorter.

Anyway, nothing for it but to go out and test, people. Go at it!


Read more

Also: Linux 5.4-rc2 Released As The "Nesting Opossum"




Claustrum is a texture expansion pack for The Cloister.

It gives the original product a new lease of life with higher-resolution textures and addon props which add the ability to expand the set out into a larger and more versatile building.

Also included are 9 individual ivy sections to add further detail should you wish to.

Requires The Cloister for use.

Price: $12.95 Special Price: $6.48


Simple Godrays   


The effect of light rays through dust or other atmospheric particles can be difficult to achieve in 3D. This product makes it easy with a set of four transmapped props, all with smartprop options to a spotlight for easy addition to your DAZ Studio scene's lighting. Load the spotlight, point it where you want the rays, and load a ray prop – it's that easy.

The set contains a cone, cylinder, cube, and a morphing prop designed to imitate rays of light passing through window panes. Each comes with two transmap options, for larger or smaller rays, and four color options to get you started. There are also dust and snow shaders for scenes where you need to generally fill the air with particles.

The props and spotlight combine readily with both UberEnvironment and Advanced Ambient lights, providing flexible options for lighting in many types of scenes. They render quickly and efficiently, making it feasible to use multiples in a given scene.

Even if you already use haze cameras, these rays can still help your scenes when it comes to highlighting specific figures and areas, and they cause no issues with transmapped items in any lighting. Add them to your DAZ Studio lighting toolbox today!

Price: $14.95 Special Price: $7.48


Singers of Chzor   


Stirring from the darkest depths of the blackest seas, drifting in the endless oceans of time and space, reaching out with eyeless faces and gaping mouths and terrifying boneless arms to grasp and devour – hear the mad tintinnabulation of their songs, the thrumming vibration of voices never meant to be heard by human ears. The Singers of Chzor have risen!

The Singers of Chzor comprise four fully rigged figures for DAZ Studio: the great 24-armed Mother Beast, the 10-armed Larva, the limbless Polyp and the single Tentacle. With detailed matching textures and displacements, offered with standard or AoA Subsurface shaders, you can depict an entire mythos and life cycle or choose just one for your scenes.

The set also comes with 10 poses for each figure (5 for the Polyp) to get you started on your scenes of uncanny horror, plus four scaling presets for each. The Mother Beast can be as small as a dog, or as big as a house; the Polyp can be a monster or a house plant; the Tentacle can fall from the clouds or rise from a plant vase. It's all up to you, and the textures are designed at a detail level to handle larger uses of the creatures as well as small ones.

Price: $19.95 Special Price: $9.98


Sophia for Bethany 7   


Sophia is Greek for "wisdom" and Sophia for Bethany 7 is an intelligent, beautiful embodiment of her name. Her petite nose, more contoured jawline and more prominent cheekbones give her a softer look of femininity while her larger eyes and thicker eyebrows give her a studious look. Sophia for Bethany 7 is a great option for a softer features while maintaining the strong presence that Bethany 7 has.

Price: $17.95 Special Price: $8.98


SY dForce Confetti and Nature Effects   


Now you can add confetti, fireflies, petals, roses, dust, sparks, and other items to your scene and have them fall onto objects and characters with dForce simulation! This updated and improved Confetti and Nature Effects product for dForce contains some scenes to set up wind nodes for the cyclonic and side-blast pieces, and some smaller and larger versions of the confetti pieces to achieve denser particles. Now these objects can interact with objects in your scene, allowing many new and previously impossible effects for your renders!

Price: $22.95 Special Price: $11.48


SY Energy Beams Iray   


Whether for Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or Superhero Scenes, sometimes you need Energy Beams!

This set's beams can represent magic, lightning, lasers, whatever you like. The main prop has many useful morphs and pose controls to facilitate many different combinations! There is also a plain impact prop for when you want a larger effect than the default tip, and the default tip can be turned off with materials too.

The included wearables allow you to have beams emerge from characters' fingers, eyes or palms, and there are several poses for attacking or being hit as well. Whatever your energy beam needs, you'll probably find them in this set!

Price: $15.95 Special Price: $7.98


SY Super Splash Pack Iray   


Now you can have realistic splashes for Iray! This set incorporates both simmed mesh splashes and arrays of transmapped fast-rendering droplets to add splashing water to your Iray scenes! The set has 10 splash meshes, 14 droplet arrays, and a water base for your splashy scenes! Each droplet set also has a morph to enable the droplets to be scaled larger or smaller.

There is NO postwork in these images except for brightness and contrast. All of the droplets you see are from the product itself and are part of the scene.

Price: $14.95 Special Price: $7.48


SY Tied Up! 2 Genesis 8   


Now you have even more ways to secure your characters with Tied Up! 2 for Genesis 8. Adding more content than ever before, this set adds a wrist/ankle piece as well as two gags and a jaw bandage in addition to the larger number of wearables presets. Tied Up! 2 requires no previous set, but does match the ropes from the first set so they can be used together.


Be sure to have a look at the video from the first set for a discussion of how to adjust for different characters!


Price: $19.95 Special Price: $9.98


PS4 system update 7.00 will double party sizes and bring remote play to Android later this week   


The next big PlayStation 4 update is coming this week, and it’s bringing a few significant changes with it. PlayStation 4 System Software Update 7.00 will launch worldwide later this week, Sony has announced on the PlayStation Blog. This update, which entered beta back in July, will allow you to host much larger parties than […]

The post PS4 system update 7.00 will double party sizes and bring remote play to Android later this week appeared first on VG247.


Global Roundup 10/4 - Alice Ripley in SUNSET BOULEVARD, CHASING RAINBOWS, LITTLE SHOP And More!   


BroadwayWorld presents a comprehensive weekly roundup of regional stories around our Broadway World, which include videos, editor spotlights, regional reviews and more. This week, we feature ALMOST FAMOUS, Rob McClure As MRS. DOUBTFIRE, and more!

Check out our top news and features from around the BroadwayWorld below! Want more great global content? Check out our "Around The World" section!

Top Stories

VIDEO: George Salazar and MJ Rodriguez Perform 'Suddenly Seymour' on THE LATE LATE SHOW - Pasadena Playhouse's Little Shop of Horrors is now on stage through through October 20! Last night, George Salazar (Seymour) and MJ Rodriguez (Audrey) appeared on The Late Late Show where they performed Suddenly Seymour. Watch the video below! In addition to Salazar and Rodriguez, the production stars Amber Riley as "Audrey ll." They are joined by Kevin Chamberlin, three-time Tony Award nominee known for his theatre roles such as Horton in Seussical and Fester in The Addams Family on Broadway in the role of "Mr. Mushnik." Matthew Wilkas, known for his starring role in the gay indie film Gayby and for playing Peter Parker in Broadway's Spider-Man:Turn Off The Dark has been announced for the role of "Orin Scrivello." The cast of Little Shop of Horrors is rounded out by Brittany Campbell, Tickwanya Jones, and Cheyenne Isabel Wells, and puppeteers Tyler Bremer, Kelsey Kato, Tim Kopacz, Sarah Kay Peters, and Paul Turbiak.
(Read more)

VIDEO: Alice Ripley Stars In North Shore Music Theatres's SUNSET BOULEVARD - BroadwayWorld has a first look at Alice Ripley as Norma Desmond in North Shore Music Theatre's production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Masterwork, SUNSET BOULEVARD, playing for two-weeks only from Tuesday, September 24 thru Sunday, October 6, 2019.
(Read more)

Breaking: BE MORE CHILL Will Get A London Upgrade in 2020 -
Be More Chill is to transfer to London to make its UK premiere at The Other Palace on Wednesday 12 February 2020. Be More Chill is based on the groundbreaking novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini.
(Read more)

VIDEO: Get a First Look at Footage From CHASING RAINBOWS: THE ROAD TO OZ at Paper Mill Playhouse - Performances are underway for Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz at Paper Mill Playhouse! With a book by Marc Acito, musical adaptation and additional music by David Libby, and conceived by and additional lyrics by Tina Marie Casamento, the show plays through Sunday, October 27, 2019.
(Read more)

Top Reviews

Salt Lake City: Contributor Tyler Hinton reviews PHANTOM at the Hale Centre Theatre, writing "Maury Yeston's PHANTOM on Hale Centre Theatre's Centre Stage has been cast, designed, and directed to magnificence. Experience a new, more human side to the story you know so well through this magnificent, emotional production of a beautifully crafted musical."

Connecticut: Contributor Joseph Harrison reviews QUIXOTE NUEVO at Hartford Stage, writing "There are some stories that have a timeless quality, speaking to the aches and the joys of modern life regardless of the era in which they are told. Such is the classic tale of Don Quixote, a story that, when Miguel de Cervantes published it in 1605, took on a certain meaning and century after century has been seen through an evolving lens, from comic novel to tragic statement against nobility. But in Octavio Solis' new play QUIXOTE NUEVO, which opens Hartford Stage's 2019/2020 season, the infamous Spanish Knight of La Mancha has become the Latino Knight of La Plancha (Texas) battling border surveillance drones instead of windmills and fighting for the undocumented versus the poor citizens of war-ravaged Spain."

Buffalo: Contributor Michael Rabice reviews MEAN GIRLS at Shea's Buffalo Theatre, writing "The brilliant comedian Tina Fey has brought her clique of nasty teenage girls to town to open the First National Tour of her Broadway hit musical, MEAN GIRLS. After the success of the film version, Fey and her husband, composer Jeff Richmond, have added music to the story of teenage angst and meanness. The genre has been well populated over the years, with growing up and adolescent relationships proving to be great fodder for shows like GREASE, BYE, BYE, BIRDIE, HAIRSPRAY, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL and most recently, THE PROM."

Boston: Contributor Nancy Grossman reviews Alice Ripley in SUNSET BOULEVARD at North Shore, writing "In the annals of musical theater, Norma Desmond is one of those larger than life characters, like Mame Dennis, Dolly Levi, and Eva Peron, who cries out for an actor with a specific and rare combination of skills to play the role. Tony Award-winner Alice Ripley ascends to playing the faded silent-screen star in the North Shore Music Theatre production of SUNSET BOULEVARD, after originating the role of Betty Schaefer in the 1994 original Broadway cast which starred Glenn Close. In so doing, Ripley joins the pantheon of singular talents who have put their personal stamp on the musical iteration of Norma, stepping out of the shadow of the indelible mark Gloria Swanson made on celluloid in Billy Wilder's 1950 film."

Regional Editor Spotlight:

Nancy Grossman

From producing and starring in family holiday pageants as a child, to avid member of Broadway Across America and Show of the Month Club, Nancy has cultivated her love of the art and respect for the craft of theatre. She fulfilled a dream when she became an adult-onset tap dancer in the early 90's ("Gotta dance!"); she fulfills another by providing reviews for Nancy is a member of the Boston Theater Critics Association, the organization which bestows the annual Elliot Norton Awards which honor the outstanding achievements of the Boston theater community, and she formerly served on the Executive Board of the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE). Nancy is an alumna of Syracuse University, has a graduate degree from Boston University, and is a retired Probation Officer-in-Charge in the Massachusetts Trial Court system.

Join Team BroadwayWorld! Interested in joining our team, but not exactly sure what we do? All of your questions are answered, along with every open position from guest and student bloggers, Regional Editors, and more! Find out where we have open positions available here!


Portugal's Costa Pins Debt Strategy on a Rosy Growth Outlook   


Portugal's Costa Pins Debt Strategy on a Rosy Growth Outlook(Bloomberg) -- Amid cheering supporters on his election night, Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa went out of his way to reassure investors he has an ambitious target to tackle the country’s big Achilles heel, its towering debt.The problem is that his strategy assumes robust economic growth, not a given in today’s uncertain world. The external climate is deteriorating fast and there are signs that job creation is slowing. Portugal’s four main export markets are within the European Union, where expansion is falling to around 1%, and whose biggest economy looks set to enter recession.Let’s look at the numbers. Costa said he’d bring public debt to under 100% of GDP by the end of his next four-year term in 2023, from currently 122%. In the government’s base-case scenario, that assumes average annual GDP growth of around 2%. Consensus forecasts and even the Bank of Portugal’s estimates are now closer to 1.7% growth. Rabobank even sees a slowdown to 1.2% next year, and that assumes an orderly Brexit and no U.S. import tariffs on European cars.The debt-reduction target "is quite ambitious,” Michiel van der Veen, an economist at Rabobank, said in an interview, citing already slowing growth and trade tensions. “They need to take care of the demands that people are making for more government expenditure.’’Indeed, there have been signs of social discontent, and voices demanding an increase in spending have become louder. Given his larger majority in parliament and reduced dependence on the far-left, the 58-year-old Costa could entertain spending cuts to offset slower growth.But for the man who came to power reversing some of the unpopular belt-tightening measures imposed during the 2011 bailout, the chances of an about-turn are slim.The entire strategy is to reduce debt by outgrowing it, not by squeezing the budget to pay it down more quickly, said Filipe Garcia, an economist at financial consulting company IMF-Informacao de Mercados Financeiros SA.“To reduce the debt ratio in this way, which is a slow process, Portugal needs a favorable external environment,” said Garcia. “I am afraid that, in the context of a crisis or interest rate hikes, the debt reduction process will be interrupted.”The government says that in a worst-case scenario in which GDP growth would slow from 1.6% in 2019 to 1.3% in 2023, it would miss its target, though debt would still fall to 103% of GDP.For now investors aren’t terribly concerned. On the contrary, the yield on 10-year Portuguese bonds fell as low as 0.11% Monday, edging below the Spanish equivalent for the first time since December 2009.The reason for such calm? The European Central Bank is lending a helping hand with near-zero borrowing costs, said Garcia.(Updates with Portugal yields in tenth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at;Joao Lima in Lisbon at jlima1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at, Raymond Colitt, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Cleveland Vibrator Company announces major expansion   


Cleveland Vibrator Company announced today that it has  initiated the process of relocating the company’s headquarters and manufacturing operations from Cleveland’s near west side to a larger facility on the city’s south side, according to Craig Macklin, CEO.


‘Joker’ laughs its way to October box office record   


LOS ANGELES – The filmmakers and studio behind “Joker” have reason to put on a happy face. Despite concerns over its violent themes and ramped up theater security, audiences flocked to the multiplex to check out the R-rated film this weekend resulting in a record October opening.

Warner Bros. said Sunday that “Joker” grossed an estimated $93.5 million in ticket sales from 4,374 screens in North America. The previous October record-holder was the Spider-Man spinoff “Venom” which opened to $80 million last year. Internationally, “Joker” earned $140.5 million from 73 markets, resulting in a stunning $234 million global debut.

“This was a much larger result at the box office than we had ever anticipated globally,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution. “Putting records aside, we’re just thrilled that audiences are embracing the movie as strong as they are.”

Since debuting at the Venice Film Festival where it won the prestigious Golden Lion last month, “Joker” has been both praised and criticized for its dark spin on the classic Batman villain played by Joaquin Phoenix. The film from director and co-writer Todd Phillips was always seen as a bit of a gamble with one of the studios’ most valuable pieces of intellectual property, hence its modest-for-a-comic-book-film $55 million budget.

But in the weeks leading up to its release, hype and uneasiness intensified beyond how audiences would react to placing this character in a realistic and unambiguously adult setting with “Taxi Driver” undertones. Responding to anxiety that the film might have the potential to inspire violence, multiple theater chains banned costumes or reaffirmed earlier policies regarding masks and authorities in numerous cities said they were stepping police patrols around theaters. Some relatives of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting even asked Warner Bros . to commit to gun control causes – the studio said it always has.

While some worried this would impact the box office, it did not ultimately detract audiences from turning out opening weekend; the box office surpassed industry expectations and may rise even higher when weekend actuals are reported Monday. Although the film got a B+ CinemaScore from opening night audiences, the studio is optimistic about its long-term playability.

“Sixty-six percent of the audience was under the age of 35,” Goldstein said. “That tells you that the audience will expand out with that younger group as time goes on.” The younger audience also gave the film a more favorable A- CinemaScore.

Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for box office tracker Comscore, said that the convergence of critical acclaim and controversy actually helped the film become bigger than expected at the box office.

“It’s the ultimate water-cooler movie right now,” Dergarabedian said.

He added that it was important that “Joker” was always marketed as a “very dark, R-rated film.”

“It always had an element of mystery and danger surrounding it,” Dergarabedian said. “If it were a G-rated film, controversy like this would not be a good thing.”

In the landscape of R-rated comic book films, “Joker” is nestled between “Deadpool” and its sequel, both of which opened over $125 million, and “Logan,” which launched with $88.4 million.

“Joker” was the only new wide release this weekend, which is down from last year when both “Venom” and “A Star is Born” opened. Holdovers populated the top 10: The more family friendly “Abominable” landed in second place with $12 million in its second weekend and “Downton Abbey” took third in its third weekend with $8 million.

With awards buzz behind it, the Judy Garland biopic “Judy,” starring Renee Zellweger, added nearly 1,000 screens this weekend and placed seventh with $4.5 million from 1,458 locations.

And in limited release, Pedro Almodovar’s critically acclaimed “Pain and Glory” launched on four screens to a solid $160,087. Less fortunate was the Natalie Portman-led astronaut drama “Lucy in the Sky” which earned only $55,000 from 37 theaters resulting in a dismal $1,500 per screen average.


Pro-Tips For Smarter Holiday Shopping   

Many wait for big savings days like Black Friday to buy their larger items. But, there are ways you can start getting the most for your dollars now. Continue reading…

Raised on blues, musician Gary Clark Jr. embraces full palette of sounds   

Grammy-winning blues, rock and soul artist Gary Clark Jr. is reaching ever-larger audiences with his guitar and musical wizardry. A proud product of Austin, Texas' music scene, his newest album, "This Land," is his most varied statement yet, touching on the racism and hatred he sees in America today. Jeffrey Brown meets up with Clark on tour in Richmond, Virginia.

Re: Charles Schwab (SCHW) Eliminating Commissions for Stocks, ETFs and Options Listed on U.S. or Canadian Exchanges   

Doc wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:33 am

The larger stock brokers can make up the zero fee because they get paid for market flow apparently. That means that they route orders first to market makers not an exchange. The market makers pay for the privilege. Low volume ETFs just go along for the ride.

We should keep in mind that these amounts can add up to a lot over hundreds of thousands of trades, but on a single trade, they aren't much. For a market order, Schwab will typically get $.0009 from its market markers. That means they get 9 cents for a 100 share ETF order. ... pects.html

Wreath Felt Handmade Door Decoration - Brite Stripe 8in by ItzFitz   


35.00 USD

Fun colors, fun design!
This wreath is striped with different colors and has a cute bow!

Want different color stripes or bow? No problem!

*This listing is for a 8" wreath as shown

****This wreath can also be made as a larger wreath!
12" Round $45
14" Round $55
16" Round $70

Custom colors can be requested, convo me! Pick any color you'd like!

♥ This and every Itz Fitz! wreath is handmade and made to order! Therefore, no two will ever be the same! Enjoy the uniqueness!


Dangle Heart Earrings, Silver Heart Earring, Silver Drop Earrings, Heart Dangles, Two Hearts, Modern Earrings, Love Earrings, Solid Silver by rioritajewelry   


132.00 USD

Dangle Heart Earring, Silver Heart Earring, Silver Drop Earrings, Heart Dangles, Two Hearts, Modern Earrings, Love Earrings, Solid Silver

I designed and handcrafted each of these unique earrings separately. I soldered small pieces of thick wire on two smaller silver hearts and then soldered both of them on larger hammered ones. They were meant with love.

★ Length from end of the ear-wire: approx. 1"
★ Width: about 1.2" in the widest part
★ WEIGHT - about 5.60 grams

The earrings have a satin finish and you can wear them for any occasion.You will find a sterling stamp and my personal signature on the back .

★ Kindly view my shop policies:
Please contact me if you have any questions.

★ More dangle earrings handcrafted by riorita:

★ More handmade jewelry designs:

★ HOW to pay for an item when you don't have a Paypal account:

★ Will be packed in a beautiful gift box and repacked in a cardboard box to protect against rough handling in the mail.


Silver Coral Earrings, Dangle Coral Earrings, Coral Earings, Red Earrings, Hammered Silver Earrings, Red Coral Dangles, Red Coral Drops by rioritajewelry   


75.00 USD

Silver Coral Earrings, Dangle Coral Earrings, Round Coral Earrings, Red Earrings, Hammered Silver Earrings, Red Coral Dangles, Red Coral Drops, Blackened silver.

I handcrafted these beautiful Silver Coral Earrings from two hammered silver disks soldered one on top of the other. There are earwires soldered on the back with hooks. The sterlijng disks are oxidized and the Coral cabochons are set in the center. The earrings are short and close to the ear ends.

* Size of the larger disk : 23mm in diameter.
* Lengths from the end of the earwire: 23mm
* Size of the Coral Cabochons: 10mm.
* Thickness of each disk : 0.3mm

These earrings will look great with anything you wear.

Limited Edition

Kindly view my shop policies:
Please contact me if you have any questions.

More dangle earrings handcrafted by riorita:

More handmade jewelry designs:

*HOW to pay for an item when you don't have a Paypal account:

Will be packed in a beautiful gift box and repacked in a cardboard box to protect against rough handling in the mail.


Fantastic Duqan   

At the request of the incredible pasumonok, the ultimate Hipster Paradise of Tbilisi, a hidden and largely-unmarked cafe (as of last summer) in the back courtyard of Mtatsminda's Literature Museum. I speak, of course, of the inheritor to Near Opera (in menu content, ownership, and general aesthetic), the persimmon garden and art nouveau faux-tavern that constitute my favourite new cafe in Tbilisi: Sofia Melikova's Fantastic Duqan. (Map provided, as it's all but impossible to find - it's in a courtyard with a yellow door on which the Duqan's name is scrawled, but which is often left open with the sign facing the wrong side.

With power sockets that don't quite fit (push) and eclectic Shoreditch-meets-seraglio furniture, the Fantastic Duqan is the ultimate novel-writing venture in Tbilisi. (And it has the virtue of being where I was seated when I learned that my now-agent was interested in my novel, giving it bone fide Novel-Writing (or perhaps Novel-Pitching) Credentials!)

I can say from experience that they don't mind me sitting and blathering on endlessly, typing on my laptop and eating pelmeni (the menu is largely recycled from the defunct Near Opera, although sadly without the Uzbek Pilaf that was my favourite dish there - although the excellent Asian Town now serves the best Uzbek food in  town!) Food and drink good, cheaper than the National Gallery and indeed all of Sololaki at this point, though still expensive by TBS-wide standards.

A place to write: A rueful, Lawrence-Durrell-inspired saga of love gone wrong in 1920's Paris, femme fatale seductresses, and romances on horseback.

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Where to Write a Novel in....Budapest, Hungary   

As part of a wider programme to expand the remit of this blog beyond its Kartvelophile roots, and towards a larger (if Georgia-centric) exploration of Ways and Places to be a Decadent Bohemian Novelist (on a freelance ghostwriter's salary or graduate student's stipend), I bring you the international edition of "Where to Write a Novel In...":

Budapest is a horrible city. However, in its bleak and filthy melancholia, Budapest (unlike, for example, London), is a fantastic city in which to write a novel. Beautifully decayed, gleefully seedy, and the perfect place to contemplate ending a tragic love affair while sitting in tepid hair-infested sweat-water at  the Gellert Baths and ruminating on the existential filthiness of mankind, Budapest is filled with the sort of places in which you can scribble away entire novellas of infidelity, moonshine, and man's tendency toward sin at a moment's notice, preferably while eating cake.

I visited Budapest from Vienna in late 2008, perhaps unsurprisingly while stiff-upper-lipping my way through the last days of a tragically doomed Romance (as one does), and reacted all too defensively to the city's raucous despair. However, the art-house Urania Cinema (and Cafe), where my Belarusian friend A. ("I am from Minsk, and even I find this city depressing!") and I ended up after a failed attempt to find a jazz club (predictably, it had been turned into a strip joint), managed to help me transubstantiate my misery into high art (and cake). The cinema programme is highbrow enough for me to forgive the fact that it's no longer a theatre, and the cafe looks like what would have happened if William Morris had taken LSD and stumbled onto the Orient Express.

We watched the excellent Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day and I hatched an idea for a novel...

Urania is located at Rakoczi Utca, 21, near the Astoria Metro Stop


Broken Yellowstone wolf teeth reveal theory about ice age extinctions   


BILLINGS – This may be a tale that only dentists can appreciate, but the teeth of dead Yellowstone wolves are helping scientists understand the life of predators more than 11,000 years ago.

Inside the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center is a collection of 160 skulls of adult Yellowstone wolves. By examining the skulls, along with other collections from around the country and world, UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Blaire Van Valkenburgh and her colleagues have theorized a relationship between the declining amount of prey available and how the big canines consume their wildlife kills.

The theory is based on cracked and broken wolf teeth and the number of prey animals available to the predators, along with how much of their kills the predators consume. In Yellowstone, for example, wolf biologist Doug Smith said researchers will assess wolf kill sites to examine the number of bones present.

“When (wolves) are not so hungry, they don’t chew on the long bones so much,” he said. “That aligns well with other indicators of how well they are eating.”

Elk aplenty

For example, in Yellowstone the ratio of elk to wolves was more than 600-to-1 when wolves were reintroduced to the park in 1995. Since reintroduction, 90% of the wolves’ diet has been elk.

With lots of elk on the landscape, wolves initially flourished. But the hunting gradually became more difficult as elk numbers declined to a ratio of about 100-to-1.

By examining the Yellowstone wolf skulls, Van Valkenburgh saw that in the first 10 years after their reintroduction the wolves rarely broke their teeth. But in the next decade, as the elk population fell, the number of broken wolves’ teeth doubled, including the larger teeth wolves use when hunting and chewing.

Since elk were getting harder to find and kill, the broken teeth were likely the result of the wolves consuming more of the elk carcasses, including munching on bones in search of additional nourishment from bone marrow, Van Valkenburgh and her colleagues theorized. That resulted in more cracked and broken wolf teeth.

“Broken teeth cannot heal, so most of the time carnivores are not going to chew on bones and risk breaking their teeth unless they have to,” Van Valkenburgh said in a UCLA press release.

Smith said even though the Yellowstone wolves suffered more broken teeth, 90% were still in good shape. One thing he has noticed in looking at the wolf skulls is that about half have misaligned teeth.

“Quite often, they have wear that’s indicative of a misaligned bite,” he said. “I’m pretty sure it’s because they get kicked in the face all of the time (when pursuing bison and elk). They always deal with it, though. Wolves are resilient.”

He noted that being kicked in the head by prey is one of the leading causes of wolf deaths in Yellowstone.

Ice age

So how does this relate to ancient predators during the Pleistocene, an epoch that stretched from 2.5 million years ago to about 11,700 years ago?

In the 1990s, Van Valkenburgh and other scientists had examined the skulls of Pleistocene predators – such as dire wolves and saber-toothed cats – that were pulled from California’s La Brea Tar Pits. Those animals had shown rates of broken teeth that were two to four times higher than in modern animals.

“Our new study suggests that the cause of this tooth fracture may have been more intense competition for food in the past than in present large carnivore communities,” Van Valkenburgh said in the press release.

As large plant eaters like giant ground sloths, mammoths and mastodons declined in the Pleistocene, their predators had to crunch more bones to get the nutrition they needed. Why the large herbivores and their predators eventually went extinct has been debated, although human hunters and climate change are two of the main suspects.

With the loss of their main prey, the ferocious predators of the Pleistocene – animals that in some cases were twice as big as today’s tigers, African lions and spotted hyenas – also became extinct.

Other wolves

Van Valkenburgh’s theory about tooth problems played out in other wolf populations as well. She also examined 64 adult wolf skulls from Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior and 94 skulls from Scandinavia, collected between 1998 and 2010. She compared these with the skulls of 223 wolves that died between 1874 and 1952, from Alaska, Texas, New Mexico, Idaho and Canada.

The pattern was similar for the Isle Royale wolves, which prey primarily on adult moose – with moose numbers pegged at about 55-to-1, wolves had lots of broken and worn teeth. Isle Royale wolves had high frequencies of broken and heavily worn teeth, reflecting the fact that they consumed about 90% of the bodies of the moose they killed.

The teeth of Scandinavian wolves told a different story. The ratio of moose to wolves is nearly 500-to-1 in Scandinavia, so Van Valkenburgh found few broken teeth among the wolves.

“The wolves could find moose easily, not eat the bones, and move on,” she said.

Van Valkenburgh believes her findings apply beyond gray wolves to other large carnivores – such as lions, tigers and bears – and that looking at the teeth of big predators can help scientists understand if lack of prey is one of their problems.

“We want to understand the factors that increase mortality in large carnivores that, in many cases, are near extinction,” she said. “Getting good information on that is difficult. Studying tooth fracture is one way to do so, and can reveal changing levels of food stress in big carnivores.”

Co-authors of the study were Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich, professors of forest resources and environmental science at Michigan Technological University; and Smith and Daniel Stahler, wildlife biologists with the National Park Service.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and National Park Service.

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