Meat and Pets: A Double Feature

by David Kordahl

Blood of the Beasts (Le sang des bêtes)

Georges Franju is perhaps best remembered for Eyes Without a Face (Les yeux sans visage, 1960), an oddly poetic entry in the body horror canon, but Franju’s most memorable film may be his first, Blood of the Beasts (Le sang des bêtes, 1949). The only documentary I’ve watched that comes close to its aestheticized brutality is Stan Brakhage’s The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (1971), which presents forty minutes of silent autopsy footage from the Pittsburgh morgue. Some have suggested that Blood of the Beasts is a comment on the human capacity for cruelty, but I think that’s missing the point. Franju did not aim to accuse. Blood of the Beasts is unique not for what it uncovers about slaughterhouses, but for its pitilessness, for its ironic acceptance of everyday horrors.

The film is only twenty minutes long but seems much longer. It begins with the castoffs of a city—fragments of furniture heaped over a sparse landscape, a nude mannequin in front of a moving train, a pair of lovers kissing—all scored by a simple, nostalgic tune.

The camera lingers for a moment on a bust of A. Emile Decroix. Though the point is not made within the film, one can look up Decroix (1821-1901) to find that he was a military veterinarian who helped to end the ban on eating horses that was in place before the Siege of Paris, when food shortages became so severe that dogs, cats, and rats were also consumed. All the narrator tells us at the beginning is that although the gates of a municipal slaughterhouse are decorated with statues of bulls, it in fact specializes in horses. The tools of the trade are then presented theatrically on a cloth background: a reed, an English axe, a captive bolt pistol.

Into the gate trots a great white horse. The horse’s muscles quiver photogenically. He towers over his handlers. What happens after this is predictable in principle, but almost unbelievable to watch. A captive bolt pistol on the horse’s forehead causes the horse to fall suddenly into a fetal position, legs turned in, head bowed—dead. As the limp horse tips over, a man dives in and slits the corpse’s lip, then plunges a knife in its throat. Read more »

Worms are the perfect pets: 7 reasons why everyone should have a wormery

by Emrys Westacott

IMG_5316Here is my one-word piece of advice to anyone hoping to get with the times, be healthy in mind and body, attain happiness, promote peace, fight injustice, and leave the world a better place after they've gone: worms. More specifically, red wriggler compost worms which you can keep all year round in a wormery. A typical small-scale wormery is a set of nested plastic perforated trays. You put your kitchen waste in the lower ones; the worms eat the waste, poop it out, and eventually crawl upwards through the holes in search of more food, leaving behind a tray of worm casts that is just about the best fertilizer you'll find anywhere. You scrape it out, use it in the garden or on houseplants, and put the empty tray back on top ready to receive more waste. Repeat. Forever.

Here are seven reasons for keeping worms.

1. Worms are dirt cheap. You don't have to buy them kibble or tinned food or overpriced little liver treats. They don't need shots, collars, leashes, or toys. You never need to take them to the vet, or to the groomer. You don't have to board them when you're away, or hire a pet sitter, or a dog walker. A wormery can involve a one-off outlay of around $80 (less if it's used), or you can make one yourself for virtually nothing.

2. Worms are very clean. They stay in their wormery. They require no house training. From day one, they only poop where they are supposed to. They never throw up on the carpet. They don't roll in deer carcasses, get themselves sprayed by skunks, or bring dead birds into the house.

IMG_53193. Worms are care-free companions. They are entirely free from neuroses. They never complain. They never wake you up in the night. They do not kick, bite, peck, scratch, sting, hiss or growl threateningly. They are not picky eaters, but they don't chew anything they aren't supposed to. They don't roll their eyes at you or act surly when you try to give them good advice. Their needs are marvelously simple. They like it dark, obviously. The temperature of the wormery should be kept between 50 and 75 degrees F (10 and 24 degrees C). And they need to be fed. If you're going away for several weeks you can just leave them with a decent supply of edibles and they'll be fine. They won't invite friends around; and they won't trash the place. Their habitat will actually be neater when you return than when you left.

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