robinson's island

Vanity, a.k.a. D. D. Winters, had worked as a model in her native Ontario and even had a couple of B-movies under her belt—Terror Train and Tanya’s Island, a Robinson Crusoe-ish flick that has since been relegated to T.V. heaven—when she met Prince backstage after one of his concerts in 1981. She introduced herself as a songwriter, but Prince didn’t hear that as much as he noticed her distinct looks—penetrating brown eyes, long, dark hair framing a classically beautiful face, and those legs.
Prince suddenly found the perfect idea for another act. Vanity 6, the act’s debut album also on Warners, featured funk with an edge, with songs like “Drive Me Wild” and the raucous monologue of “If a Girl Answers (Don’t Hang Up).” The group’s first album procuced by the Starr Company scored well in 1982, selling almost 500,000 copies. However, Prince had scored much more than just another record. He and Vanity immediately became an item. For months they did everything together, and Vanity moved into his Minneapolis home. Prince even stopped seeing his share of other women, which his friends took as indication that he was somehow becoming emotionally stable.
“When we saw Vanity’s face around Minneapolis more than just three times, we said,‘Oh shit! The Kid is acting like he’s in love,” said a fellow musician. “It’s not Prince’s way to tell too many people how he feels about a chick, and he didn’t say anything to me, but just that they were spending a lot of time together meant something. Prince is not the kind of cat who lets too many people, man or beast, in his personal life for very long. She’d already made a coup in that respect.”
Living in Prince space, however, meant eating, drinking, living Prince. “Despite his freethinking spirit, those acquainted with Prince during the period still knew him to be pretty conventional when it came to his treatment of lovers. If he wanted to be with the fellas in the band, he was with the fellas in the band; the chick stayed at home or found something else to do—if he considered whatever else she decided to do was cool with him. Control is a big word in this man’s life, so you can imagine what he expects of his girlfriend.” Apparently, though, it takes more than simply donning an apron to please Prince. An observer close to the situation recalled some tough times beween Minneapolis’s new couple.
—  Steven Ivory “Prince”
Lt. Canaris Returns from Spain

Wilhelm Canaris (1887-1945), pictured in the late 1920′s.  He would later head German Military Intelligence (Abwehr) under the Nazis, until arrested and executed for his role in the July 20 plot against Hitler.

October 1 1916, Cartagena–The German East Asia Squadron, once based out of Tsingtao, had long since been scattered and sunk.  The bulk of it had been lost at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, with only a few survivors captured by the British.  The Königsberg had been scuttled in the Rufiji Delta, with its guns and sailors now aiding Lettow-Vorbeck’s campaign in the southern third of German East Africa.  The last survivor, the Dresden, was scuttled on Robinson Crusoe Island and its crew interned by the Chilean government in March 1915.  One of her officers, Lt. Wilhelm Canaris, a fluent Spanish-speaker, was able to escape from internment in August, making his way over the Andes to Argentina by boat and horse.  The German embassy in Buenos Aires was able to get him a fake Chilean passport and passage to Rotterdam, and was able to make it back to Germany by October despite an unexpected stop in Plymouth.

This escapade captured the attention of German naval intelligence, who recruited him for service in Spain.  He helped to organize supply of German U-boats in the Western Mediterranean, and reported on Allied shipping targets.   He attempted to return to Germany via Switzerland in February 1916, but was prevented from doing so by Italian police and was forced to return to Spain (his escape aided by the fact that Italy and Germany were not officially at war at the time).  

The submarine campaign in the Mediterranean was immensely successful; on October 1, the Kaiser congratulated his submariners for sinking over a million tons of shipping there.  However, by this time, Canaris’ usefulness in Spain was growing limited, as the British had become aware of Canaris’ role.  On the night of October 1, Canaris and another intelligence agent left the port of Cartagena in a sailing vessel, then transferred to U-35 (whose cruise in July and August had singlehandedly accounted for 9% of the German haul of Allied shipping in the Mediterranean).

Today in 1915: Advance Allied Parties Land at Salonika Amid Greek Confusion
Today in 1914: German Ground Assault on Antwerp Begins

Juan Fernández Firecrown (Sephanoides fernandensis)

…a critically endangered species of hummingbird (Trochillidae) which is endemic to the Robinson Crusoe Island, part of a three-island archipelago which belongs to Chile. Juan Fernández Firecrowns typically inhabit forests, thickets and gardens and like most hummingbirds feed primarily on nectar, preferring the flowers of Dendroseris litoralis and Rhaphithamnus venustus. However, thy are also known to take insects and other arthropods as well.  Like the closely related green-backed firecrown (S. sephanoides) Juan Fernández Firecrowns are known to hang from flower petals or leaves by its feet while feeding. 

Currently Sephanoides fernandensis is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN as its population has been in a general decline for years. This is thought to be due to habitat destruction, the destruction of native flora, the invasion of species like Rubus ulmifolius and Aristotelia chilensis and the introduction of predators like cats. 


Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Trochiliformes-Trochilidae-Sephanoides-S. fernandensis

Image: Héctor Gutiérrez Guzmán

I’m a sucker for a good scary book, and last year I read Jeremy Robinson’ ISLAND 731, which was both a propulsive adventure yarn and a creepy-as-heck horror story.  Robinson did a great job building goosebumps during the read (if you’re looking for a horror audiobook, this one’s a treat), and so when a recent trip allowed for the chance to start a new audiobook, I listened to another Robinson book, PROJECT NEMESIS, and started its sequel.  It’s in the Kaiju genre (giant city-detroying monsters) and I felt like drawing its titular beast tearing through downtown Boston