Nov 27, 2013

Three Unusual Instruments of Horrifying Death

in Reverse Alphabetical Order


Strontium Cavalier, M.D.

to the faint of heart
Ladies of Gentle Disposition
And children under 34

The following narrative contains GRAPHIC VIOLENCE
No nudity, but
Well, at least there’s VIOLENCE
VIOLENCE, do you understand?
Like fisticuffs and garroting and maybe tentacle porn
(Warning: there may be no tentacle porn)


W is for Watermelon

Ms Appalachia Dove, formerly a possum tamer for the Miniature Circus of Beijing in Romania –

Because miniature circuses exist, and this man is the president of them.

Just kidding, that's Harold Tibbals.

mashed her employer to death using a pair of jubilees.*

T is for Toothbrush

Jameson Spenser-Birkenau IV, of Wubbsleigh Drive (corner of St. Pancras and the Oxfam Knitting Emporium), Southern Lancashire, jammed his toothbrush so far up his nose that it did not see the light of day for another 65 years.

When he finally sneezed it out after lunch, nobody took notice; everyone went for naps under the dutiful watch of their kindergarten teacher; Jameson thereafter made several careers for himself as a prominent man of letters, a nasal mucus farmer and an arctic explorer in the Antarctic. He died in his bed, blissfully unaware that he’d been dead for the past century and a half.

F is for Frozen Peas

Harvey Garvey, 24, slipped on frozen peas that had rolled down the grocery aisle from a ruptured bag. Harvey fell and hit his head, sued the store, secured six thousand bucks and a lifetime supply of frozen peas, went home, cooked his dinner, ate his dinner, and never left the table again.

Doesn't it just kill you, not to know what happened? Eh? Doesn't it?

*Jubilee watermelons may weigh up to 45 pounds when ripe.

This is not a parody of those Final Destination movies. I have seen them all and they are quite excellent, especially the one with Mary Elizabeth Winstead in it. She’s cute.

And by “quite excellent” I mean nothing of the sort.

Nov 22, 2013

The Parson's Salad at the Disco

Quigley had never dreamed of becoming an assassin; not this man who wore earplugs in church and latex gloves to butter his toast.

On the other side of the continent, a woman called Janice put on tarry black lipstick and her cat’s-eye contacts, snarling at the mirror. A messy death awaited.

I pictured Janice looking like this. (Found this picture on Tumblr.)

To dispel all possible doubt, or at least 99% of it: The title to this prompt wasn't inspired by Panic! at the Disco. I don't even like them very much.

Janice would be attending a Modern Witch show that evening.

While Quigley would sleep all joysome and impluvious, dreaming of caterpillars and toast.

Anybody need a toast timer?

Nov 20, 2013

First Rule of Chess: Count to Ten and Go Ballistic

Seething with anger, Baron Erasmus van Sitztinkler kicked the chessboard. It flew into the air like a square bird made of broken wings.
“Ach,” said the Baron, “five-dimensional chess is a game for barbarians.”
The referee rose from her chair. “Baron,” she said, “you have committed a capital offense.”

sculpture by Johnson Tsang

While I doubt that five-dimensional chess has already come into existence in this particular continuum, you may want to try other exotic varieties of the game:

3-man chess


running from bears

Now that you're done perusing my photo essay on chess, you can follow Johnson Tsang's wordpress blog, where he posts fascinating pictures of works in progress. Or stay here and read some more. I've written about Mark Rothko and Diane Arbus -- Alvar Aalto and Coco Chanel -- and you know what, my rubber ducky would like you to read about all of them. Will you disappoint my rubber ducky? You'd better not.

Nov 15, 2013

Gnome, Zombie or Half-Eagle Rainbow: Everybody's Welcome

Would you join me for a brief stroll in the woods?

An Impression of Noble Woods at Sunset
by John Magnet Bell

Can you see that hanging on your wall? The promotion at society6 is on until November 17 at midnight, Pacific Time (US West Coast). You can get free shipping on any of my art prints, laptop skins, stationery cards or phone cases.

But wait, there's a lot more to see and do today.
Yours truly has dived deep into the treasure vaults of the internet to bring you other nuggets of inspiration:

Nov 14, 2013

4 Completely Useless Mutant Powers for your "Useless Mutant Power" File

What’s the difference between a skill and a handicap? Duck feet on land are a handicap; on water, the duck is king among paddle-footed waterfowl. Unless you count pelicans as waterfowl. But pelicans are assholes, so let’s not.

Speaking of waterfowl, have you ever taken the time to read J.M. Hurle’s and M. Fernandez Teran’s outstanding scientific paper, “Fine structure of the interdigital membranes during the morphogenesis of the webbed foot of the duck embryo”? That all-time classic from the two most brilliant minds at the University of Santander in Spain? Well, if you have, bully for you, because I haven't.

But gods, what a shitty introduction. I’d best stop rambling and just give you the four useless mutant powers you asked for. And include a few choice words about the poor people afflicted with said powers, of course.

by Cheryl Francis

Lucas the Ram-fist

Purely a misnomer. This poor guy has sheep for hands, not rams; in short, he punches evil in the face with fluffy black-faced ewes. As you can imagine, his crime-fighting career is less than stellar.


She brings dead jazz musicians to life when she sneezes. Her power only works when she’s down with the flu. Most of the time she brings back Coleman Hawkins, and she doesn’t even like tenor saxophone.

Prophet of the Past

Oh, Edward can see into the future, that he can. But! Alas! Zoot! And dang. His future is our past. You see, Edward travels back in time. You think he’s coming, but he’s actually going. As a result, every word comes out of his mouth backwards, tail first.

Pineapple Woman

Everything she touches turns to canned pineapple. She never has to go hungry. On the downside, all her would-be boyfriends now sit in her pantry, changed into inanimate cylinders. The fruity goodness inside provides little consolation.

or Coda
or Whatever they call these things that aren't exactly post-scripta

Society6 is running a promotion until November 17, ending at midnight Pacific Time. Click here and you get free shipping on my art prints, postcards, phone cases, laptop skins and t-shirts.

I've been taking pictures and photoshopping like crazy. Here's some of my recent work -- you can wear it on your body, spiffy up your phone, beautify your walls --

Bridges to Portland - St. Johns - on a Warm October Evening
© John Magnet Bell

Cherub Under the Microscope: Two
© John Magnet Bell

New World Hypostasis: One
© John Magnet Bell

Last but not least, I'll sign off with music for people with less-than-convenient mutant powers. (Don't drink and drive, kids. You might wake up with sheep for hands on the following morning.)

Nov 13, 2013

Where the Trees Have Learned to Bite

Tracy climbed out of the van, already in costume.
“Hey, Green Man,” said Rhonda, “You lose the bet. I get to fuck you with any toy of my choosing.” The others chuckled.
The park had fought the elements and lost.
“Let me see the map,” said Tracy.

"Build and they will come" doesn't work 100% of the time, I guess. Let Atlas Obscura take you on a journey to the unknown -- to places forgotten by time and Santa Claus.

Inspiration #2: The Green Man, whose true identity lies long forgotten. Was he God? Guardian spirit? You find endless variations of his face in European cathedrals; Green Man pubs from Wellington, NZ to Asheville, NC and even in Phuket, where he competes with local folklore.* Also known as Jack of the Wood or Jack-o'-the-Green, people hold festivals in his name -- but he will never reveal himself fully.

by Nazario Graziano

So I conceived of a rock band who would dress up as part eco-, part folklore-inspired superheroes. Call it a gimmick, if you like. I even thought up names for the band members' hero identities: Green Man, Redwood, Demeter, Cernunnos and Glacier.

They drive for three hours and arrive at this theme park where they expect to play a gig, but they find the park in a state of evident dereliction. What happens now?

Green Man mask by Mythical Masks

*Consider Nang Tani, who haunts banana trees, or the Phi Pop, who eats your entrails as you sleep and can only be exorcised by means of a spinning dance.

Nov 8, 2013

Always Read the Fine Print, Piano Boy

The ambassador of hell visited Ludwig’s house a second time.
“You ams the Beethoven? Composer, he?”
This time, Ludwig said yes.
“He you accept deal, O say. Say yes? Here Ludevigos sign.”
“Why do you talk like that?” Beethoven asked.
“Trade,” said the demon, “for idiot speak-like, all power.”

Classic composer Ludwig van Beethoven lost his hearing at the age of 26. Obviously, the historical Beethoven did not want that to happen, but I thought it would be an enticing story possibility to have ol’ Ludwig Van sign a Faustian contract in order to compose superlative music. What advantage might the “ambassador” present? What possibility could frighten a composer more than deafness? In other words, what was Beethoven's choice?

The legend of Faust originates in 16th-century Germany. Christopher Marlowe – that guy who’d be vastly more famous if not for a direct competitor called Shakespears or something – Chris Marlowe, as I was saying, made the legend popular in the English-speaking world. In Marlowe’s play, The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. He realizes the error of his ways and, at least in Murnau's magnificent film, is absolved and rescued by an angel ex machina. 

As usual I have been trawling the internet for nuggets of inspiration, and at the behest of Her Strawberryness -- of whom there might be more to say, but, you know, I am a gentleman and all that -- I found myself on Etsy looking at sculptures. And lo!

This thing of wonder.

You'll find the piece up there on Jason Tennant's Etsy shop. Jason works out of Rochester, NY and produces magnificent works of art:

If I could afford a $5,000 sculpture, by Jove, I would buy this. I would wear it around my neck, I would take it to bed with me, heck, I'd even start a religion around it. So... yeah. Check out Jason's shop.

Then I found Art Akimbo, he of the fabulous noses. Just look at that thing --

I have to get me one of these.

Nov 6, 2013

Breakfast with the Angels

He looked to the west as if more would fall from the sky. None did. He knelt beside the bed and whispered:
“I’m going to scrape off a little something,” he said, tapping the stranger’s kaleidoscope skin.
“Use that,” he said, pointing to a microscope, “to see more. See better.”

And for posterity, he preserved something like this: A rare view of the sky-fallen stranger's skin cells.
image © John Magnet Bell 

The above image was created using this as a starting point:

You can get this as a print, t-shirt, tote bag and more at society6
© John Magnet Bell

Which, in turn, is a manipulation using bits and pieces of the image below:

Which you can also get as a print, laptop skin and more
© John Magnet Bell

So, ut pictura poesis, I guess: Don't be afraid to remix your writing. Images always give birth to new images. Words bring forth more of their own kind. And hope? Hope springs eternal.

Nov 1, 2013

The Cupcake that Ate Itself

The old man lay on his carpet, his 62-year-old mouth a fountain of half-digested pastry. Black uniforms blocked the sunlight. A woman crouched and took pictures. By “woman”, I mean me. I’d read two of the man’s books as a teen: The Eviscerati and The Cupcake that Ate Itself.

Creature illustration by Bob Flynn

In case you're wondering, the dead author favored German cupcakes. Couldn't get enough of them. At the time of his death, he remained unaware of the urban dictionary entry* on German cupcakes. The same can be said for his killer.
*Warning = gross-out factor in excess of a hundred parts per million.

The sweet face of oblivion.