Oct 31, 2014

Curse of the Man-Pig-Butterfly

The subway car emptied itself around Haruto, but no passengers had left. They vanished into the crannies of a daydream. Haruto looked up from his manga; someone sat at the far end of the car, wearing a torn mask. Strips of pink and brown swayed as the train chugged on.

Monster 3D
by Monster Riot

The Japanese name Haruto is connected with sunlight and with Ursa Major, the constellation. Character names can always be used to suggest interesting personality traits, little quirks, the character's growth in the story... you name it.

There's no Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating in Japan, although the date has become popular in Japan. Popular with adults, especially.

Here's a mini-art flood inspired by Halloween. Enjoy!

Tarot Card: The Magician
by Jazzberry Blue

by Pepe Rodríguez

Another Night
by Hector Mansilla

Red Riding Hood
by Jazzberry Blue

Life Is Cool
by Andy Westface

by Eevien Tan

The Gang
by iheartjlp

La Muerte
by Ururuty

by Martynas Pavilonis

3 Witches
by Michael B. Myers Jr.

Dracula Kid
by Lime

Twisted Cat
by Anna Alexeeva

And I shall bid you adieu with this spoopy android of my own creation, Viktor Droidenstein. You can create your own at androidify.

Oct 30, 2014

Blood for Betty, Because Betty Knows Best

Jake clomped onto the bus and dropped his rear end beside a lady with an extra nostril. It was that day of the week where you wake up with your mouth full of toothpaste and the giant leech in your manager’s office decides you look juicy.

Isabelle Wenzel

Halloween is almost here and, goodness gracious me, it’s going to fall on a Friday. Do you know what that means? Do you realize the import of that dreadful conjunction? No? Don’t worry, ’cos I don’t, either.

Anyway, I have some Halloween recommendations for you!

A blog: Yog-Blogsoth

Illustrator Michael Bukowski draws creatures and deities described -- or sometimes merely alluded to -- by H.P. Lovecraft. They look like something straight out of a comic book, which takes the edge off the eldritch horror. Go and pay Bukowski a visit.

by Michael Bukowski

A movie: The Masque of the Red Death

My favorite Edgar Allan Poe adaptation. Rich colors, dream sequences and a timeless atmosphere that could place the story 400 years ago, or a thousand into the future. It is an indictment of selfishness and misuse of power.

And did I mention that Vincent Price is in it? The Melancholy Master of Spookiness?

A book: The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

Free book from Project Gutenberg, available in several formats. Wikipedia features an excerpt alluded to in True Detective:

Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.

Oct 27, 2014

Writing in a Dangerous World - What If You're Doing It Wrong?

Can you smile as you hold up a severed head?
Imagine an IS fighter who poses for a photo with a war trophy, the head of a Kurdish 19-year-old who fought with the Women’s Defense Force in Kobani.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by Roberto Ferri

What does it take for human beings to engage in wholesale butchery, and what should a writer do when legions of fanatics call for bloodshed?

The answer is not “nothing.” It never is.

This doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to cover current events or foreign policy when you specialize in Albanian cuisine...

A picture of tarator by Wikipedia contributor Ikonact

... but you shouldn’t be afraid of alienating your audience if you mention a cause that is dear to you on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. I’ll be blunt: readers who give up on you because you’re not a robot that only writes about tambëloriz — you don’t need them.

So take a stand from time to time. We your fellow writers, who also happen to be your readers, want to know that you care about more than one very specific niche of human culture, and that your passions do not get in the way of your conscience.

Oct 23, 2014

The Cornucopia of Infinite Lamentation


Notes from a Funeral Directors’ Conference aboard the Starship Pegasus

Death was going out of style.
Fifty slack-jawed hippos fed on oatmeal substitute had convened on the Pegasus to fix that.
A woman came up to the lectern, tapped the microphone, and spoke:
“The dead used to outnumber the living,” she said. “Now we creep closer and closer to immortality.”

Alfio Presotto

I realize the subjects of death and funeral directors may not appeal to you very much, not even if you tweak it to have funeral directors in space, so let's wrap up on a positive note.

Ali Farka Touré (video below), the "African John Lee Hooker," was a Malian musician of international renown. His nickname Farka means "donkey." Here, he appears with Boubacar Traoré and they play the sweetest blues song you could possibly imagine. Enjoy.

Oct 17, 2014

The Lady Who Gave Birth to Stones

The lady, named after a beetle by capricious parents, turned the red jewel in the light and said, “A stunning replica. But this is not my child.”

She crossed her legs and turned eyes vulpine on the bounty hunter.

He quaked.

“Shall I have you killed now?” she asked.

by John Magnet Bell

As for the lady's name, I had one of these in mind. Now, to wrap things up, I suggest you go listen to some inner pilgrimage music

Oct 16, 2014

Like Two Outsized Calculators Making Love in a Broom Closet

Malcolm shook the fleas out of his beard and knocked on the Minister’s door twice, careful not to dislodge the plaque that read


held not-so-fast by a treacherous nail. Fallen twice this week already.

Buzzing, and shuffling of pointed feet. “What is?” somebody asked, invisible. “What is?”

Thousand Year Stare
by John Stortz

We invented language from the twofold need to communicate and play. Fiction without experimentation lacks color and personality. Sometimes you can take personality too far and write, as Beckett did, beautiful novels that lead nowhere -- prose poems mistaken for novels. The text is mesmerizing but Story, largely absent.

Or you can go to the other extreme, color without personality, which you get with the Dungeons & Dragons books, the Harry Potter fan fiction, where plot serves some obscure wish-fulfillment and the teller offers grotesquerie in place of transformation. 

As for my post title today, this Nine Inch Nails remix sounds like two outsized calculators making love in a broom closet. That's what Malcolm wanted to warn his superiors about. Randy calculators. Unbeknownst to him, the Minister's staff had already been turned into existentialist mosquitoes, down to the last one.

I'd like to see a mashup of Murphy and Mansquito. Someday.

Oct 11, 2014

The Train that Would Not Run On Time

Despite Tandy Erickson’s efforts to raise four docile TV watchers, her youngest displayed an annoying tendency to go out in the backyard and fashion crude bows out of twigs and purloined bits of string. He would shoot wobbly arrows at targets only he could see.

Tandy never mentioned him at her coaching sessions with Moms of the Future.

Sex on TV - Retroskopic
by Zzglam

Oct 8, 2014

On the Waterless Oceans of Unbliss

My gun’s out of charges although I haven’t fired it once. The air peels your skin and dries your tongue. So we two exiles don’t speak. We need shelter but the world is flat. A second sun rises on us and the bodies we left behind.

Ring III
by Bruce Pennington

Oct 3, 2014

In Space, No One Can Hear You Grammar Like a Pro

Can’t a poor little spaceship catch a break? There I was, sucking ore from an asteroid, when a manic voice jammed seven hundred frequencies. “HELLO,” it blared. Oh, no. It’s them.
“WE ARE LAWYER,” they said, gliding into view from behind the asteroid. “WE AM HELP YOU REACH GREAT JUSTICE.”

by Ove Kvavik

When I turned off all my audio and data comms, they switched to semaphore. Large sails crawling with bioluminescent bacteria popped out of their hull. “HELLO,” they signaled, in blinding pinks and greens. “WE IS PROTECTORS OF INDEPENDENT SHIP EVERYWHERES,” said the glowing bacteria. “YOU IS HAD CASE FOR US? LETS WE HELP YOU RESULT! MUCH LAW!”

I displayed the universally accepted code for “Back off.”
“Look,” I said, opening an outgoing data port, “We’ve talked about this before. I have no need of your services. What will it take for you to go away?”
“I don’t have a case,” I said. "I don't need you to represent me anywhere." I felt tempted to pull up and away from the asteroid, but I sure needed that tantalum.

"Three-headed exploration probe."
Many more where this one came from.

“Hey, look, a squirrel,” I said. Old trick.
OK. Now what?
Something told me I had taken a wrong turn.
“I don’t want to work with you,” I said.

Rocket ship sculpture by Rik & Shelley Allen

1. I made this prompt longer than usual, yes. You are still free to adapt the premise to a story of your own. I just had to expand on the concept of a space-crazed vessel run by bacteria. 50 words would not suffice.
2. The way I see it, the vessels are the characters. Self-aware entities. No human crew.
3. Any day is a good day to enjoy quirky robots and spaceships.

Minius Module, also by Rik Allen.