Jun 08 2010

The heartwarming zubiks of Obstreperon


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  1. hero

    They make me go ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew eeeew, and I STILL like them way better than the P.

  2. Medbh

    The ending was the best.
    Had me up to the rafters.

  3. nails

    Pfft, you wanna see pulsating???


  4. sargassosea

    Two words: Alistair Cooke.

  5. nakedthoughts

    I jumped at the last part. I would type “LOL” but it is not taken literally, and is probably against the commenting guidelines. But I not only chuckled, but guffawed.

  6. bellacoker

    It seems that every video you post involves something that I would like to poke with a stick, in this case a very long stick.

  7. rootlesscosmo

    Some of your usages–“to hip” as a transitive verb, “wigging out”–definitely warm the heart of this old bebopper.

  8. Barn Owl

    Pulsating zubiks that are highly evolved to clamber confidently and securely along walls and rafters are much, much better than pulsating zubiks with questionable and insecure attachments to various overhanging architectural elements.

    Nice cicada soundtrack in the background!

  9. Belle

    Oh, gotta love Twisty’s brain…

  10. KJB

    Darnit, I was scared by the end!

  11. Comrade PhysioProf

    (1) You spelled “Obstreperon” wrong.

    (2) The autoharp background music is missing.

    (3) That is the creepiest fucking shit I’ve ever seen. It is gonna take years for me to shake the heebie jeebies.

  12. humanbein

    Dayum! You scared the crap outta me, Jill!

  13. Mortisha

    Immersing in nature crap is the only place to be – here are some pictures from around these parts.

  14. smaller

    Oh, dammit. This is the first time I’ve ever fallen for one of those. Well played.

  15. JRoth

    You know, I’m actually architecting a project in the greater Savage Death Island area, and was going to request a tour of Twistytopia, but I’m now thinking that I’ll give it a miss.

    [Whew! almost used an ellipsis at the end there.]

  16. tinfoil hattie

    That is my vision of MEN after the Twisolution is succesful. Hiding, clinging together, trembling in fear at the loss of their power.

    And, you scared the hell out of me. Nice job. I’m still chuckling/shuddering.

  17. yttik

    That video was fun. You did scare me, but only because some idiot left the speakers on full blast.

    I once took a shower in a room that looked like that, with one harmless little tree frog, to show some girls that it was perfectly safe. I don’t know what happened but we went from one little frog to the plague of Egypt in two minutes.

  18. secondwaver

    EEEEEEEEEEEKK! for real!

  19. Ashley

    Are you sure they’re not just butt-dancing in response to your presence?

  20. Jodie

    No wonder my daughter’s obstreperal lobe is so advanced — when she was six, one of those vibrated on the wall over her bed ALL WINTER. She didn’t want to put it outside because it would die, so it lived there until spring.

    I love those things.

  21. rainie

    That was EVIL!
    And sorta cool.

  22. Ames

    Mortisha, thanks for sharing. Wow on that spider photo. Love the dogs and magpie, too.

  23. Norma

    So pleased to know that I had the volume turned on and I wasn’t actually hearing the creepy noises coming from behind me RIGHT. IN. MY. ROOM.

  24. Lady K

    Thank you, Twisty, for that surprise bowel-evacuating ending. Always a goddamn pleasure.

    Ashley, I laughed out loud at the butt-dance comment.

  25. Mau de Katt

    What the hell are those things, daddylonglegs? I’ve seen them clump before, but holey cow, I’ve never seen them vibrate like that! Eeeeeeegh!

    And as for the end — I was already becoming massively creeped out by the Pulsating Zubiks, so that may explain my reaction to the ending. I actually exclaimed out loud, with no forthought or intent to do so, and in tones of shock and (some) humor, “Fuck you!”

    I have no explanation for that outburst. I can’t even blame the patriarchy for it.

  26. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    In my part of the country, I’ve only ever seen them by their lonesome, so I’m admittedly no expert. Are you sure they just weren’t excited to see you? As zubiks go, they’re sorta purty.

  27. Amananta

    Those look like the spiders we would call “Daddy Long Legs” when I was growing up in South Louisiana. And I’m glad I had the sound on my computer turned down fairly low because I jumped enough at the end anyway!!

  28. MaryK

    I love this. It is the very essence of truth and beauty.

  29. Calistoga

    Those are Cellar spiders, aka daddy-long-legs spiders. They do that vibrating freakiness when disturbed, to make themselves harder to see.
    It works for people too. You, minding your own business, become disturbed by patriarchal unpleasantness. Vibrate, and pass the disturbance on. I recommend it as a second option, if blaming is impractical (as it is for spiders).

  30. Sarah

    Like Jodie’s daughter, one of these (or a series of them, one at a time) gyrated on the wall above my bed off and on throughout my entire teenagerhood. Made me permanently scared of my own hair brushing my face in the middle of the night.

  31. octopod

    Whoa! Well hello there, social arachnids! Way cute. (And Mau de Katt, what the hell, I did that too — exclaimed “What?! Fuck you!” at the surprise ending. I have no explanation for this behaviour.)

    Is that pulsating behaviour kind of like the way that lizards do pushups to make themselves look bigger?

  32. Jill

    These are arachnids, but not, technically, spiders. Spiders have 2 separate body segments, whereas harvestmen have but a single fused unit, more like ticks.

    I can find no published explanation for the vibrating behavior, but it only seems to happen when I disturb the clump with a pointed stick. Which I do often, because it’s hypnotic, really.

    Also, I won a bet with myself when I correctly predicted that PhysioProf would be the first person to gotcha! me when I spelled my (made-up) home planet wrong.

  33. Lullabee

    Does anyone else think they’re kinda… cute? That is definitely a little dance they’re doing.

    Perhaps it comes of being informed ahead of time that they’re heartwarming, but I think I’d find them cute even if I wasn’t told to look for it.

  34. Comrade PhysioProf

    Also, I won a bet with myself when I correctly predicted that PhysioProf would be the first person to gotcha! me when I spelled my (made-up) home planet wrong.

    So, where’s my cut of the winnings?

  35. Jezebella

    Lullabee, they’re not cute *in person*, I assure you. Daddy Long Legs will give you the heebie-jeebies right quick if they’re in your airspace. I suppose they are photogenic, though.

  36. Lullabee

    I’ve seen quite a few daddy long legses in person, but never more than one or two. And I maintain that they are still fairly cute in person. They look so delicate and absurd!

  37. mir

    Haaa! My very favorite heartwarming nature crap video by far.

    Did you get a whiff of them? When they’re freaked out they stink.

  38. joy

    They must have a thing for hanging out upon walls, solo or en masse. I too had one in my bedroom, every year during cold weather. He or she would hang upside down from his or her tiny feet and sleep there until spring came along.

    They never frightened me like arachnids did. And do. Their legs are so delicate, and they are so poisonous but cannot harm humans at all.

  39. snow black

    I too thought they were butt-dancing, probably to the memory of the autoharp music wafting from Twisty central.

  40. Miss Andrist



  41. eyesinmyarse

    CHRIST! You’re so effing mean! I need to put my undercrackers on a boil wash now. Thanks.

  42. Jill

    They never frightened me like arachnids did. And do. Their legs are so delicate, and they are so poisonous but cannot harm humans at all.

    I must quibble, in the interest of No. 1 Science Information: Harvestmen are arachnids, and they are not poisonous. But you’re right, they can’t harm humans, except insofar as clumps of throbbing long-legged bugs may be unnerving to some.

  43. joy

    Thanks for the fact-check, Jill! It is unbecoming to sound all stupid on your blog.

    Daddys-longleg*/harvestmen are arachnids, just not spiders. (The unsegmented body, no?)

    The bit about them being poisonous was told to me by a sciencey-science type (ie, the ‘I am never wrong’ doodly-science type) — that daddys/harvestmen are in fact one of the most poisonous beasties on earth, but their fangs are too short to puncture human skin.

    I’m not surprised that this information is wrong. Also, the little zubiks (a name I prefer, as it’s gender-neutral) all seem to avoid anything but each other anyway.

    *I am attempting the grammatically correct pluralization of “daddy longlegs”, but it looks strange, doesn’t it?

  44. Laurie

    Thanks for the scary fun. I especially like the beautiful yet ominous slo-mo segment.

    I’ve seen this, too, one night, turning my flashlight on a huge cluster of them bouncing up and down. I thought they were dancing.

    Harvestmen used to creep me out until I moved to a cabin in the woods, where I had to fight my way through a curtain of mosquito hawks (those big flying things with dangling legs and erratic flight patterns; don’t know their scientific name) to get to the outhouse. After that, the harvestmen didn’t seem so bad.

  45. joy

    PS: commenting while distracted may result in confused antecedents and general wtf.

    Translation: it is unbecoming for ME to sound all stupid on YOUR blog.

    Also, I had forgotten or misread that longlegs were arachnids but not spiders, and you reminded/clarified the concept for me.

    And I was totally wrong about the poisonous bit.

    Whew. Better.

  46. Noel

    De-lurking to say that that was awesome.

    And you scared me.


  47. janna

    Wikipedia says that, besides Harvestmen, Cellar Spiders (which are actual spiders with segmented bodies) are also called Daddy Longlegs and they vibrate when they sense a threat. I don’t see anything about Harvestmen vibrating.

    And you scared me. And my dog gave the computer a “Whaaa?” look.

  48. Pulsar

    Pulsars are the only things that should be pulsating.

  49. Barn Owl

    The center of harvestmen behavioral inquiry appears to be Brazil (judging from the articles listed through Google Scholar), where there is a cave-dwelling species of particular interest. Unfortunately, the research articles are behind a paywall (IBTP), but one can glean from the abstracts that the vibrating and aggregating behaviors aid in dispersal and effectiveness of a defensive repellent compound secreted by the zubiks.

    Under laboratory conditions, this compound repels four species of predatory ants and one frog species, but does not deter an opossum. As this research was from a Brazilian laboratory, the opossum was probably of the short-tailed family (rather than our North American Didelphis variety), but this isn’t specified in the abstract. Nor is there any indication of the opossum’s thoughts on the vibrating and aggregating behaviors, nor indeed whether the potential predators were exposed to actual zubiks, or to their secretions alone.

  50. darms

    One by itself “cute”? Perhaps. But a 10’x20′ wall covered with thousands of those things all pulsating at once? How about the tree that “lost” half of its diameter when I sprayed it with a hose as that apparent “diameter” was caused by many thousands of those nasty things now fleeing the water? I still have nightmares from a house left in 1983. Did you notice their distinct smell? I could not even finish the clip (probably a good thing in my case). Jill, you’re a far braver person than I wrt that part of nature.

  51. Mo

    Heebie freakin’ jeebies, right here.


  52. Elizabeth

    I thought I’d gotten over my fear of things that are or look like spiders, but this creeped me out so much that I couldn’t open anyone else’s links. I’m sure they were great.

    Have to agree that the ending was fabulous and had that excellent sci-fi nuclear sort of touch.

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