Dec 19, 2014

A Musical About the Consequences of Colonialism

A certain Danish astronomer went to sleep in Copenhagen and woke up in Istanbul. It was still called Constantinople at the time, or possibly not.

A certain Turkish potter went to sleep in Istanbul and woke up in Copenhagen.

Wives and relatives were sorely vexed.

Photo by Isabelle Wenzel

The Danish astronomer I had in mind as I wrote "A certain Danish astronomer" is, obviously, Ejnar Hertzsprung. He came up with a classification system for stars that we still use today -- dividing them by spectral type, developmental stage and luminosity.

To the best of my knowledge, Hertzsprung never teleported anywhere, let alone trade places with a Turkish potter.

Ejnar Hertzsprung was born in 1873. Istanbul still thrived under the Ottomans, but the empire itself would fall in a few decades. 

Dec 18, 2014

Bad Apples from the Tree of Learning

Tom’s most prominent facial feature was his hat. Tom never went anywhere with his hat. Tom was a spy.

Tom was an industrial spy. Industrial spies seldom wear hats. Tom worked for several shadow conglomerates and never met his clients face to face. Tom felt inordinately happy about that.

I don't know who took this picture. Also, this is not Tom. I believe this picture was taken in 1918.

Industrial espionage goes back a long way. (I may or may not have written about this before. I cannot confirm or deny.)

Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, is a cognitive impairment where people cannot recognize familiar faces. The ability to tell faces apart just goes out the window. Milla Jovovich plays a person diagnosed with face blindness in a mildly interesting movie, her character being told at one point that sleeping with her boyfriend is like "getting to be with a different guy every night."

I'm not sure that's how it works, or how it makes it more pleasurable to have sex with someone whose face you should recognize but don't.

A hat, Wikipedia tells me, is a head covering. Did you know that St. Clement is the patron saint of felt hat makers? I didn't.

Dec 12, 2014

A Brief Conversation on Crime at The Merry Cockroach

So these two thieves meet up, right? These cutthroats, these purse-slashers, these takers of candy from babies, shame to grandmothers, mothers and priests everywhere, and they haven’t spoken in a while.

“Thy recent misdeeds have greatly enhanced thy reputation,” says thief number one to thief number two. Thief number one is called Lucifuge.
“And you still sound like a pompous ass,” says thief number two. His name is Terbias because his mother couldn’t pronounce the letter O in Tobias without sticking an R in there, so the registrar who took down the name thought she meant “Terbias,” and it stuck.
“Pompous ass,” says Lucifuge. “At least I speak with wit and verve, and mingle with the cream, whereas thou… bah.” He waves his long, thin hand dismissively.

Guardian of the Way
by Thomas Rude

“So, you have something for me?” asks Terbias.
“Aye. An abduction. The object is the only son of a wealthy family in Merriweather Trough. Art thou interested?”
“Will I have to dress up like last time?” Terbias says. “You’ll never catch me in a chicken suit again, not after what that mad hamster did to me.”

Horrified by the Sun
by John Magnet Bell

Dec 11, 2014

16 Bars, Pubs and Stores You Would Want to Avoid (Maybe)

These are all fictional, that I know of. Go ahead and use them for anything you like.

1. The Merry Cockroach

2. Surplus Detritus

3. Fangs Fangs Fangs

4. Your Little Corner Nightmare

5. Leather & Blood

6. Pizza-Flavored Wines

7. Chupacabra Central

8. The Saint with a Wobbly ****

Art Snacks: the Hot Dog
by Marija Tiurina

9. The King’s Last Breath

10. Lettuce on a Stick

11. Merlot’s Emporium of Iced Lingerie

12. Spaghetti on a Stick

13. House of Human Sweat

14. Affordable Yak Armpit Sebum

15. Vodka on a Stick

16. Armageddon Lounge & Biomass Plant

See you later!

by Oliver Lake

Dec 10, 2014

The Boy Who Fought with a Comet to Earn His Real Name

or, To Believe in the Future You Must Know the Past

I followed Oma to the edge of the red forest — also the edge of my patience, because I don’t like your wait-and-sees.

We looked upon a clay hill and she said, “After many tomorrows, another you will be born.” She pointed at a rock. “Your parents’ house will stand there.”

Journey of a Thousand Miles
by Budi Satria Kwan
Looks great on a t-shirt -- click here to check it out

Society6 is running yet another promotion and thousands of artists are offering $5 off their products, plus free shipping worldwide. To take advantage of that on my stuff, click or tap here. Promotion ENDS on DECEMBER 14.

I designed these sweet pillows --

get $5 OFF plus free shipping

And also these kickass t-shirts --

get $5 OFF all t-shirts plus free shipping anywhere in the world

To wrap this up, I bring you music for time travelers and truth-seekers.

See you soon!

Dec 3, 2014

The Underworld: It Is Electric

Lily’s phone was haunted by two ex-boyfriends who had died on the same day.

No, hear me out. The phone was haunted. Somehow the two dead boys rode a current that carried them to Lily’s most faithful companion.

They found a home there, and they would fight for it.

by Amy Hamilton

In other news, and because I fortunately do NOT have to contend with a haunted phone, Society6 is offering a $6 discount on all throw pillows, Plus free shipping. But the discount applies today and today only

Below are a few of my designs. Click or tap here to see them all.

pillows by John Magnet Bell

And finally, because it's Wednesday, here's a mellow tune from the legendary Jacques Brel.

Nov 28, 2014

Perfection Is All to the Misguided Child

I found truth at the bottom of a latte — at least that’s where the search began. Instead of Styrofoam I looked upon a snow-capped mountain. A lenticular cloud hovered above it like a giant amoeba; two men and a woman who wore pelts, beads and feathers crawled up the hillside.

The Tree Witch
by Uberkraaft

Lenticular clouds come in several flavors. They form in the troposphere, the lowest portion of the Earth's atmosphere which, by the way, contains 80% of the atmosphere's mass.

"Virunga National Park Landscape" by Cai 

Lenticular clouds sometimes get mistaken for UFOs or "UFO cover." Being something of a lowlander myself, I saw my first lenticular cloud well into my adult years. They do not form close to the ground.

Nov 23, 2014

Sleeping Babies Drift Up to the Ocean in the Sky

Six hundred priests and devotees of the Baby Tree filed out of their ship humming lullabies, with a poisoner among them. Following a lavender moon the adorants took to the path discovered by their human ancestors two thousand years before. Chi Bo scanned the crowd for the tree killer.

Secret of Flight
by Thomas Rude

This prompt has two or three sources of inspiration -- the art of Thomas Rude, of which I give an example above (he makes wonderful woodcuts, do check him out) -- a recent song by Earth, "Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon" and, finally, Gene Wolfe's The Urth of the New Sun, in which I have been quite absorbed lately.

Blogger Romke Soldaat maintains a very entertaining website, Bouguereau Remastered, collecting a large amount of humorous and uncanny reinterpretations of William-Adolphe Bouguereau's portraits. Romke has included my Vitruvian Sisters in his collection, and they find themselves in great company. Go. Peruse, Enjoy.

The Vitruvian Sisters
by John Magnet Bell