Poems from the film

We’ve been getting several requests of people wanting an audio copy of the haikus and poems from Beetle Queen.
So we will be uploading them on the journal. Here’s the first of five.

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Always more clear and shrill,
as the hush of the night grows deeper,
the Waiting-Insect’s voice;
- and I that wait in the garden,
feel enter into my heart
the voice and the moon together.

More Shoppe News

PAL DVDs are now available for pre-order in our spanking new UK shop and mainland Europe shop.
These shops also include a slightly altered poster (printed in the UK) as well as the original Beetle Queen t-shirts and soundtracks.
If you are anxious to get your hands on even more Beetle Queen gear, please visit the still expansive US shop.

On Japan

It has been good to hear from all our friends in Japan, but it makes it that much more difficult to imagine the desperation and shock there. As we can now see, the repercussions of this earthquake could be much more dramatic than was first revealed.

To give, text REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.

On a completely different note, I will be spending the next three weeks working on The Vanquishing at The MacDowell Colony. It is a tremendous honor to have been selected as a resident.
Check out the cabin where I will be working.

Home-Use DVD on its way!

Finally, the moment you have all been waiting for…

We will be releasing a home-use DVD of Beetle Queen on May 17th, the same day we broadcast our edited-for-TV version on Independent Lens. The DVD, released by Factory 25, contains the theatrical (90 minute) version of the film, some cool extras and is already available for pre-order in our online store!

Even if you aren’t interested in purchasing (though you should be) we encourage you to add the film to your Netflix queue. The more people request it on Netflix, the better chance we have of them actually buying a bulk order. So don’t forget to save it to your queue!

WSJ Eats Bugs

Rachael sent me the link to this Wall Street Journal article.

It’s only a matter of time!! I’m on board.

Journal Notes, Herbariums and Moths

When Jessica asked me to explain a little about the natural history of the moth and its host plant that conspire to create that unique American novelty, the “Mexican Jumping Bean,” I decided that before I Googled it, I’d hunt for my journal from 1987, when I had that outing with my daughter and brought home the beans, to see what I had uncovered then. What I can see from my journal notes is that the very first thing I did was to go up the hill from my house to the Pringle Herbarium at the University of Vermont, to see if the most prolific collector of Mexican plants, Cyrus Guernsey Pringle, had collected the host shrub. Just two years before, in 1985, on the 100th anniversary of Pringle’s first Mexican collecting expedition, I had traveled to the Chihuahuan Desert to collect plants in the same locales that Pringle had visited a century before. I was pretty sure that he would have collected the host plant, Sebastiana bilocularis. Sure enough, in the big oak herbarium cabinets I found one of Pringle’s immaculate herbarium sheets, with the dried and pressed parts of the shrub, including the familiar “bilocular” – twin-compartmented – seeds that are so widely celebrated as “Mexican jumping beans.” The label on the specimen told me that Pringle had collected it “By water courses, nw. mntns., March 27, 1884, Sonora.” He had also added a note: “Yerba de fleche used by the Apache Indians to poison their arrows.”

Continue reading Journal Notes, Herbariums and Moths

The Girl who tamed Mexican Jumping Beans

My daughter Jordi and I recently ventured down Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, looking for tap shoes, and stepped into Cassler’s toy store to get directions. A cardboard display on the counter caught my eye. “MEXICAN JUMPING BEANS – Real! Live! $1.50 per box.”

There were two dozen little plastic boxes nestled on the display, each containing four mahogany-colored boxes against a bright yellow or green plastic bottom. The display was full, and Jordi chose from the lot. She discriminately eyed each box, settling on the one that held the most promising beans. We plunked down out buck and a half and off we went, possessors of the cheapest magic on Church Street.

Continue reading The Girl who tamed Mexican Jumping Beans

Introducing our next guest: Dr.Kevin Dann

Our next guest blogger is Dr. Kevin Dann, who contacted me after a recent lunch meeting with my distributor – apparently Dr. Dann noticed something with the Beetle Queen logo on our table and (not knowing it was a film about insects, or even a film!) jotted down the title for future investigation. He sent us a kind and supportive email after looking at our website, and mentioned that he has done a lot of insect-related research as well, some of which will be shared in the coming posts.

From Beetles in Japan to Reindeer in Finland

Beetle Queen recently played as part of the DocPoint Film Festival in Helsinki at the end of last month. I was there, in person, for a Q&A following both screenings.

It was great to see and hear a Finnish audience react to Beetle Queen on several levels. In some ways I really think that Finns are a lot like the Japanese. They are a quiet and reserved people, they have a deep love and appreciation for nature, and they both have wonderful and highly ritualized bathing habits.

We have had some great reactions from the Finns. When we played at the University of Helsinki back in September, we even had a few viewers in tears during the discussion. It was very powerful.

This last time around was a little more lighthearted, but we got some good questions and some really nice follow-up emails. And it all lends itself so easily to a smooth transition between projects!

Here’s one excerpt:
“I went to see Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo on Saturday evening. It was fascinating! Jessica described the love and fascination for Beetles in an eye-opening way; the way it is passed from generation to generation. The music and the Japanese narration gave it a real Japanese atmosphere. And it was very interesting to hear from her inspiration in the Q & A -session. Jessica has talent and she is guided through her love, interest and intuition on what she feels is important to tell to people. More people need to see this production. And I am really looking forward to her documentary on Lapps!”

You can read more about the new Lappish project here.

Fairy Fights Bumblebee by Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham is one of the many artists featured on our website, Bees in Art. Following an early false start as a clerk, Rackham went on to become one of the best known and loved book illustrators of late Victorian and early 20th century Britain. Rackham’s Victorian sensibility and consummate draftsmanship produced illustrations of near hallucinatory scenes, which were full of danger yet never dangerous and imbued with childlike wonder.

In 1907 Rackham illustrated the dreamlike Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll, and fittingly went on in 1908 to illustrate Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Widely regarded as one of Rackham’s masterpieces, A Midsummer Night’s Dream features 40 colored plates, including the fairy and bumblebee battle shown here. Populated by Shakespeare’s protagonists and other fairies and weird peoples, A Midsummer Night’s Dream proved to be an ideal vehicle for Rackham’s art and is now a much sought after publication.

Andrew Tyzack of Bees in Art

Our next guest blogger is Andrew Tyzack, artist and curator of Bees in Art. Co-founded by Tyzack and artist/curator Debbie Grice, proceeds from this virtual gallery go to pollinator conservation causes.

New Item in Store!

We recently printed a very limited run of Beetle Queen paperback treats.
50 pages of full-color stills from the film with elegant black and white foil-stamped cover.

Signed by Beetle Queen cinematographer Sean Price Williams.

Now available in the Beetle Queen shop.

Check out the previews below.


Impeccably printed by Darin Grassman at Edition One Books.

New New News

Although it’s been a bit quiet on this site as of late, we have some exciting news to bring you up to date.

First, we are pleased to announce that production of our third documentary, Pipe Fire, is firmly underway. The film will follow a year in the life of a family of traditional reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland, and our most recent trip to Finland – over the Christmas holiday – was a fantastic adventure and a great success.

Second, although we will still be keeping up the Beetle Queen Journal, we have decided to create a single, expansive Myriapod Productions über-blog where we’ll post updates on all our films and travels while also sharing a variety of guests posts from writers, artists, and kindred spirits. We have some exciting entries planned for the coming weeks and months, including pictures and stories from our recent shoot in Finland, so please be sure to visit the new site frequently!

Beetle Fighting

Stéphane Rennesson, Emmanuel Grimaud and I have been conducting research on various human and non human interactions for the last few years. In 2008, we went into the field to study a popular Thai activity : beetle fighting! Indeed, each September, the inhabitants of the Chiang Mai district, fond of games and bets, neglect cock fighting in favor of organized beetle joustings.
Continue reading Beetle Fighting

Nicolas Césard

Next up to join our ongoing discussion of all things beetle related is Nicolas Césard . Nicolas is a social anthropologist whose work focuses on human uses and perceptions of insects. He has conducted fieldwork around the world, from Amazonia to Indonesia as well as in his native France. He is currently working on various projects related to people and bees. He will be returning to the BQ blog multiple times in the coming months to share his work with us.