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Boo!

carvingset

Carving pumpkins is one of those things I think I should be good at, because arty. Crosswords is another, because wordy. In truth, I suck at both.

So Uncle B buyed me this nifty pumpkin carving toolkit last week. Did it help? Meh.

Here’s a proper link for the day: Ten Spooky Archaeological Finds. (Ancient Origins is a better website than it looks. I find interesting stuff there and, when in doubt, I cross reference it to more boring sites).

Happy Halloween! (Shoot, I should be doing an invoice tonight).

October 31, 2016 — 8:55 pm
Comments: 19

Happy Halloween, peeps!

jenifer

In Issue 63 of Creepy (1974), Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson collaborated on a nasty little story called ‘Jenifer’. If you search the name, you’ll find plenty of comic book fans calling this the best horror comic EVAH.

I realize that’s a pretty low bar in literary terms, but this ugly work of fiction has a certain…something, I hope you agree.

I found lots of reproductions online, but none very good. They were too big or too small or scanned from a later recolored version, making the text illegible. So I’ve taken the best copy I could find (looked like it was scanned from an original copy), cleaned it up and optimized it a bit. This size works best on my monitor; I hope it looks and reads okay on your screen.

My Halloween gift to you — Jenifer

Have a good weekend, y’all. Our clocks change this weekend, so my Halloween gift to me is — an extra hour’s sleep. Ahhhhh.

October 28, 2016 — 8:00 pm
Comments: 9

Happy b-day, B-man

f-stein

It’s Bernie Wrightson’s birthday. If you don’t know the name, you’ll have seen his stuff. Like, comics. I mean, horror comics. That’s everybody, right?

He did lots and lots of horror comics, lots of Batman, the first ten issues of Swamp Thing, Creepshow. You’d know him. His body of work is so gigantic (and, often, done at such a crazy fast pace) that it’s easy to find some real clunkers in his oeuvre. But when he’s on form, he’s brilliant.

In ’83, as an unpaid labor of love, he did a series of illustrations for Shelley’s Frankenstein (I say Shelley’s because he skipped over Karloff and all of that and went to the book for inspiration) for which he is rightly much acclaimed. The image at the top is from the series and this link will take you to a Google Images search. Do check it out; these drawings blew me away when I were a young illustrator.

Wrightson’s not terribly old (yes, I’m at the point where 68 strikes me as the bloom of youth), but he’s been fighting cancer for the past few years and he’s just canceled the rest of his 2016 appearances on account of a health relapse, so prayers or vibes or whatever are in order.

I find it entirely fitting that his birthday overlaps Inktober (and Halloween). I had every intention of doing Inktober this year, but then I remembered — oh, yeah! I’m lazy!

October 27, 2016 — 9:22 pm
Comments: 5

Shit. It came.

ballot

I sent off for my ballot pretty late this year. I think I had a subconscious wish it wouldn’t get here, or get here too late, or arrive with Ronald Reagan’s name miraculously appearing at the top of the list or something.

But no. It came. And just look at this thing! I don’t remember the absentee ballot being this complicated before. It’s like taking the SAT’s.

There’s a sheet with all the candidates names on, and a number beside each ticket. You look up the number and fill in the corresponding oval on the oval thingie. Why the numbers go up to three hundred something, I have yet to discover. I lost the will to vote before I quite finished reading the instructions.

I think what I’ll do is get up early, spread the candidate list in front of the chickens and see which ticket they peck first. Though, between you and me, I think that Colette Chicken might be a dirty Hillary voter.

October 26, 2016 — 9:02 pm
Comments: 14

sniffle

flesher

Ugh. I’ve come down with a real snot-fountain of a headcold. I guess I’ll do what anyone would do in my position — browse the internet for porn.

By which, of course, I mean Pinterest boards of banjos, banjos, banjos, banjo pegheads, banjo art and banjo tomfoolery.

I’ve just discovered I don’t have a ‘banjo’ tag. How odd.

The one in the pic is a Bob Flesher banjo. Bob’s a modern maker of unbelievable skill — especially, IMO, his inlays (even the best modern banjos, the inlay usually gives them away as lesser instruments). All of his work is hand work; none of this computerized laser stuff. He was an airline pilot who financed his flying lessons making fancy banjos. Go figure.


Gromulin informed me that Steven DenBeste has died. I read him, back in the day. I bet you did too. I didn’t realize he’d been off the blogosphere as long as he had. Makes me feel internet old. RIP.

October 25, 2016 — 9:12 pm
Comments: 22

Brit found dead at Spanish airport had ‘slice of ham on each buttock and his genitals in tuna can’

leeuwenhoek

Yes, it’s a real headline. No, I have no idea. Nobody has.

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to talk about something else. Today’s Google doodle celebrates the 384th birthday of Anton von Leeuwenhoek. Unlike most Google doodles that promote obscure scientists I never heard of, von Leeuwenhoek is an obscure scientist who is a great hero of mine.

Because microscopes. Von Leeuwenhoek was the first great miscroscopist and one of the greatest ever amateur scientists (I used to be big time into microscopy. And amateurishness). He was a Dutchman who owned a draper’s shop and later worked a series of civil service jobs. Microscopes were a hobby.

But he made fantastic microscopes that no-one of his era could match. Hundreds of them using a process he refused to divulge. Everyone else was grinding and polishing bits of glass for hours and assumed he did, too. In fact (I’ve forgotten where I read this, I’ve read so much about him over the years) he dripped molten glass into water, which formed optically perfect spheres with no mechanical finishing at all. Genius.

He was the first human being to see lots of neat things: protozoa. Bacteria. Tooth plaque. Sperm. Yeah, he got those last two samples exactly the way you think he did.

In 1926, a man named Paul de Kruif (an American of Dutch ancestry) wrote a book called the Microbe Hunters that has never since gone out of print. It takes microbiology from von Leeuwenhoek to Paul Ehrlich. It was a breathlessly enthusiastic not at all nuanced ‘Hooray for Science!’ book of the kind that inspired thousands of young scientists, and that educators can’t abide these days.

I loved it. Buy it for a kid.

Shame about that poor bastard in the Spanish airport, though, huh?

sock it to me

October 24, 2016 — 7:02 pm
Comments: 19

Pitiful.

molting

This woeful beastie is Mapp Chicken, today. I really should have snapped a photo a couple of days ago — you can see here, the pinfeathers are already well grown on her neck. Monday, her neck was as nekkid as an oven-ready broiler.

And her tail! Just a sad nub of pink flesh (that thing we call the Preacher’s Nose and the Brits call the Parson’s Nose – or is it the other way around?).

Reminder: Mapp as she was meant to be. Sexy, sexy bird.

Molting is triggered by the first cold snap. It signals chickens to stop laying eggs, drop their feathers and divert all the protein they would have devoted to egg-laying into feather-building. It means they’re all fully feathered up and cozy by the time the real cold weather hits.

But it also means they face the first cold of the season part naked with uncomfortable quills sticking out of their tender places. They’re cranky as shit.

Which birds molt and how completely is affected by a variety of factors. It’s a rule of thumb that the better the layer, the more quickly and thoroughly the molt. Commercial layers — the kind bred to lay an egg a day for the first year — apparently lose them all at once, overnight. You go down in the morning and find a coop full of feathers and a bunch of joke shop rubber chickens on the perch.

Think of that, and this picture when you see photos of ‘abused’ birds from factory farms — this is what even a pampered family pet looks like during a partial molt.

Good weekend, and keep yer feathers on!

October 21, 2016 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 14

Police seek suspect in venetian blind theft

blinds

ZOMG, I can’t stop sniggering. Yes, that’s really what you’re looking at here: a daring daylight venetian blind robbery. Dudley is a suburb of Birmingham, BTW.

If you follow local papers — and you know I do — you can’t help but notice the percentage of crime perpetrated by people who are…not genetically English. (I have to be careful here. An indelicate word, especially on social media, could land me in a world of hurt).

Unlike the US, this country has only seen a major influx of immigration in the last fifty years or so. It was pretty monocultural before that. As you might expect from such a rapid population shift, the integration isn’t going that great. The only way they’re keeping a lid on major discontent is to bring the full weight of the authorities down on anyone who dares to notice.

Hard to see that as an effective long-term solution.

October 20, 2016 — 7:42 pm
Comments: 10

I shall call him…Channy

submarine

Engineers working for Scottish Power found this submarine in the North Channel off the coast of Scotland, and they weren’t even looking for it. It’s near a place called Stranraer (Elmer Fudd couldn’t hitchhike to here if his life depended on it).

It’s either UB-85 or its sister boat UB-82 – apparently, with the paintjob worn off, it would be impossible to tell the difference. Both were WWI wrecks. Everyone’s hoping it’s UB-85, because that one was scuttled by a sea monster. Okay, scuttled by the British Navy after the German crew surrendered, but it had been unable to dive because of sea monster damage.

The German captain described it thusly: “large eyes, set in a horny sort of skull. It had a small head, but with teeth that could be seen glistening in the moonlight”.

All the officers emptied their sidearms into it and it swam away, but it had damaged the forward deck plating so they couldn’t submerge. They had to float around waiting for the inevitable. The Royal Navy scooped up the crew and sank the u-boat, apparently without examining it first. I don’t suppose there’s anything left to see now.

I had a poke around, but the story just came out today and that’s all there is to it so far.

October 19, 2016 — 8:55 pm
Comments: 6

Sixty-eight days to Christmas!

putin

Forget Vladimir Putin cuddling a puppy! That was last year’s calendar (no, really).

This year’s offering in the beefcake calendar market features Putin, among other things, with a kitten. Going straight for that internet demographic. Kitty does not look happy.

I don’t like the news around Mad Vlad at the moment. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say he’s right and we’re wrong in the Syrian conflict (I’m not absolutely certain sure I wouldn’t go that far, either), but I really, REALLY don’t like all the saber-rattling we’re doing.

By ‘we’ in this context, I mean the UK. I think the US is at least as bad, isn’t it? I’m only getting the news I occasionally glimpse between my fingers.

Whoever has the right of it, I’m absolutely as sure as I’ve ever been about anything that fucking Syria isn’t worth starting WWIII over. Could we not?


I could not come up with a good take on ‘Vlad the Impaler.’ Here are all the two-syllable rhymes for ‘impale’. Anything strike you as suitable?

abeille, airedale, airmail, amell, anael, ancell, arsdale, asail, assail, avail, avale, azrael, barksdale, barrell, bartell, bataille, beam scale, besayle, blackmail, black whale, borrell, brix scale, brown snail, bulk mail, cadell, camail, canaille, capell, cardell, carpale, carrell, cartmell, carvell, cattail, cicale, cigale, clinkscale, clout nail, clydesdale, coattail, cocktail, conrail, contrail, correll, curtail, cutrale, deer trail, defail, derail, descale, detail, dimsdale, dinsdale, doornail, dorrell, dovetail, downscale, drysdale, dugdale, e-mail, elayl, email, embale, empale, enscale, entail, euryale, exhale, fantail, fee tail, female, fence rail, ferndale, fife rail, fin whale, fish scale, folktale, forced sale, foxtail, fresh gale, full-scale, garrell, glendale, goodale, gorrell, gray whale, greenmail, greenvale, grisaille, guardrail, handrail, hay bale, hemdale, hillsdale, hinsdale, hobnail, holmdale, horsetail, houdaille, imail, impale, inhale, inrail, intail, inveil, jamail, jarrell, jerrell, kinsale, lambale, land rail, langdale, lansdale, large-scale, lavell, lawnsdale, levell, lonsdale, macphail, maleyl, marcell, mare’s tail, mcgrail, mchale, mcphail, medaille, mervaille, mikael, mikhail, minke whale, mireille, mishael, modell, mondale, montale, montvale, mortell, nadell, nasale, near gale, northvale, oakdale, oil shale, orrell, ovale, palmdale, parail, parcell, percale, perrell, plate rail, plymale, podell, poraille, portell, potale, presale, prevail, prunedale, quesnell, radell, rafale, ragsdale, rattail, regale, renail, resail, resale, retail, reveille, revell, ring mail, rocaille, rodale, savell, scarsdale, scotch gale, scottsdale, sea kale, secale, serail, shemale, slop pail, sociale, soft scale, soleil, split rail, springdale, spring scale, square sail, stockdale, stocksdale, strong gale, stub nail, subscale, sumrell, surveil, sweet gale, tagtail, tarsale, teasdale, telltale, the taal, third rail, thumbnail, time scale, tirrell, today’ll, toenail, toothed whale, topsail, tramell, travail, trouvaille, truesdale, turn tail, udale, ungueal, unnail, unscale, unvail, unveil, upscale, urteil, vandale, verrell, voicemail, wage scale, wassail, whitetail, white sale, white whale, wholesale, whole gale, wide wale, wind scale, withnail, yisrael, zapmail, zerwhale

October 18, 2016 — 7:31 pm
Comments: 6