23 December 2012


 Beauty that impoverishes words exists everywhere, but most often, in the most reviled of places.

20 December 2012

Island halo or huh?

This morning this island looked very very good, or just about to be invaded.

18 December 2012

What doesn't kill you makes you curiouser.

This is the sausage blubber egg mass of the sea snail Polinices sordidus or P conicus (I apologise for my confusion here. I don't know enough to be more specific.) 'Blubber' is an inaccurate term altogether, that opaque white solid mass of fat—but colloquialisms can never be accused of being wrong. This bag of jelly is lipid-free, or at least tastes as such, is quite delicious, and since there is no grain, breaks as easily as any jelly does, into amorphous shapes—each one catching light and glaring out in ways that chandeliers have the rep for, but are feinting imposters compared to this uncelebrated highly perishable blob.
"The oxygen transport physiology of sand snail Polinices sordidus egg masses was investigated using oxygen microelectrodes and open-flow respirometry. P. sordidus eggs are laid in a jelly matrix that rapidly absorbs water and swells into a horseshoe-shaped sausage. The average diameter of these sausages is 37mm. Eggs are enclosed in capsules that are distributed throughout the jelly matrix, but 65% of the eggs are located within 3mm of the outer surface. There is no circulatory or canal system within the matrix so all gas exchange between developing embryos and the environment must occur by diffusion through the jelly matrix."
— from the Summary in David B. Booth's paper, "Oxygen availability and embryonic development in sand snail (Polinices sordidus) egg masses", The Journal of Experimental Biology 198, 241–247 (1995)

We're also called 'sausage jellies', which pleases us more.

Tossed in a salad bowl with greens, what could be prettier? The taste is purely of the sea, absolutely clean seasalt and nothing else except the light refreshment of jelly. There are only two problems that I see with this as a perfect food. First, it always bears small grains of sand throughout the matrix, which means that those of us who have teeth, must swallow but not chew. And second, I don't have a clue about its possible toxicity. Not that it's ever worried me. Grazing in moderation is only moderately deadly.

See also,
Harry Breidahl's page: Sausage jellies and sand collars
and for more fascinating egg cases, his Southern Shores Mollusc Egg Survey

14 December 2012

Camera shy? Consider the python

This diamond python (Morelia spilota spilota) was sunning itself on a forest path today, and felt exactly as I do when photographed. Even a snake is an individual, a truth which sadly, is not self-evident. Although a brown snake and I startled each other once under a medlar tree while we both hunted for wayward-hens' eggs—it rearing up in a sideways S and me rearing back on my heels—this is the first time I've seen a python exhibit this response of fear and if not loathing, definitely admirably dangerous attitude. Usually they do as redbellies do, but slower—slip off into the bush. This one literally never wavered, though its blue tongue flickered.

While all snakes are beautiful, these glossy diamond pythons are my favourites. Although my photographs didn't do it justice, once I came upon one looped around a small acacia here, and the light gold you see on this one was, in that individual, aquamarine.

09 December 2012

Butterflies are better at foxing

The phrase "to fox" is completely wrong. Butterflies are far more capable. The other day an innocent insect-eating professional was flying like a fool, snapping its beak with a click as resonant as Scrooge's pocketbook. Each time though, that beak was left empty and there probably wasn't much in the bird's stomach, as the butterfly flopped in front of the big sleek hunter as butterflies do: flowsily, dropping between sloppy flaps of its gaudy wings, rather like Isadora Duncan making toast and tea.

The insect was infuriating. Beautifully stupid-looking and utterly insouciant. I could just hear it thinking, "I might look like I'm just alive for looks and don't have a thought in the world, but look at you, so determined, so single-minded. Hunters need glasses if they can't score with passes."

And so, to another truth about these beasts. They "butterfly us" with their names, stage or otherwise. This one might be a Swordgrass brown (Tisiphone abeona) and my name might be Doodls*8hceqauigyhi. I wouldn't stake my next crumb of dry crust on stating definitively anything about its particulars, even what's up with that asymmetrical costume. Whatever the name, not to mention sex, this is an unusually foxy butterflydy flitterer.

You might be interested to know that my camera burped after catching this. It felt so self-satisfied. But cameras are stupid, aren't they? When butterflies invented them, the butterflies programmed the machines for ignorance, so cameras still don't know they are borne to 'capture' butterflies as they pose.

08 December 2012

A fish's teeth

This fish's teeth are so chipped, that one wonders what it ate. It looks like it liked to nibble hard taffy, or rocks.
Partly filleted, it had been tossed on the beach just beside the fish-cleaning sink in the harbour. I don't fish any more, so don't know what this is. Can anyone help? Its scales are the size of guitar picks.

07 December 2012

Octopus and gargoyle -- Jeff Sypeck's book of poetry treasures

I most definitely recommend (roll of sticks on strung skins ... blare of a serpen) — for everyone who loves both gargoyles and poetry with rhyme, song, wit, pun, and endless imagination, Jeff Sypeck's Looking Up: Poems from the National Cathedral Gargoyles.

No rational explanation
"I’d no idea" he wrote, "there was an audience for such unfashionable folly: three years of light, occasionally obscure, medieval-influenced neoformalist verse...Some books you plan to write; others simply happen."

This book was, quite simply, demanded!

The poems and his excellent photos of the many gargoyles go page in page.

Whet your appetite with "An octopus reappraises her lobster" and seeing the two hanging out together.

 Get the book. It's a collector's item that you will break the back of, you'll enjoy it so much.

02 December 2012

The three dots’ burden: ellipses and meaning

The joke:
"To make a long story short," said the senator, " . . ."

The news report:
The prime minister spoke of "remarkable results", but later in the speech acknowledged criticism, saying "But the job we have set ourselves...is not yet complete."

And now, consider the the plight of Ephemera Hunt, when upon bended (replaced) knee, 89-year-old Dempster Kneeduluck III proposed, his infatuation with Ephemera's skills as a game creator having won both his heart and his hope that with his billions, she might not only consider writing him into her next adventure, but teach him how to hear anything on his iphone.
"Marry . . . Us?" she said, choking on her drink. "That's so cool! Nobody'll believe . . . actually, you know, no thanks." For of course, no matter how attractive the offer, she really couldn't consider a man so old, he still used email. She couldn’t look Kneeduluck in the eye, so she gazed instead, into the black depths of the olive in her cocktail.
“You won’t get sympathy from me,” the olive shot back. “Remember the last time you tried crowdsourcing to fund your little games?” Ephemera couldn’t argue, and Kneeduluck wasn’t used to taking ‘no’ for an answer, so . . .
Above are examples of how ellipses can look in fiction, and (let's be generous when it comes to politicians' speeches) non-fiction. See the broad expanse in fiction? And the little dots all huddled together in the harsh world of reality, where three dots must work for cuts?

The problem with ellipses is that they serve more than one function, and those functions are diametrically opposed, so a confusion has naturally come to be as to how they should be formatted internally, and placed in relation to other text.

I've named the different types, but these names are only written in figurative pencil because I wouldn't dare to presume. They should of course, already have names, but I’ve never found them. And if their names are old and human-like, these names are the equivalent of Smith and Cooper, for the different jobs ellipses need to do should determine their names and be crucial in decisions made as to the visual representations of ellipses at work.

At present, the reason ellipses look different depending upon the setting is just a matter of which agony uncle or aunt in Chicago or Oxford or some ethereal but militaristic place is followed for everything an ellipse has to do, regardless.

If however, the different uses were given graphic freedom to serve, they could enhance the text, as any good punctuation does. The different ellipses should be treated as distinguished beings on the page—as distinguished as a full stop and comma, an exclamation mark and a question mark; even for that thingie: those two dots, one upon the other as differentiated from the dot above the comma.

The non-fiction ellipsis shows that there has been a cut made and fat excised, so these little dots are the bandage bridging the missing flab. There is no need for the bandage to be large, and indeed, it's a nuisance, so a cramped little...will do nicely, and even that grotesquery from Microsoft works fine.
Another, who is annoyed that his girlfriend earns more than he does, complains, "All the things we need to be good at to thrive in the world...are things that my female friends and competitors are better at than me."
The Economist, quoting from Hanna Rosin's The End of Men: And the Rise of Women
The extended time ellipsis (probable name: Extenson) has two branches: the dialogue ellipsis and the continuation of activity ellipsis. Both spend their time doing what soldiers do in war, without having to do the hard part. They sit around.

  • The dialogue ellipsis sits in for a pause in speech.
  • The continuation of activity ellipsis sits in for a dialogue or statement that continues without us suffering the tedium of reading it. 
The visual symbols for both of these Extensons should be, I think, like the liquid lunch. Well spaced. And that really should include, in the case of an ellipsis coming at the end of a sentence, a space before it just as there is on both sides, within a sentence. If we think of an ellipsis being 'a word' as Robert Bringhurst says it is (a concept that I agree with), then of course there would be a space before the ellipsis at the end of a sentence, with a quote mark or a question mark added with no extra space, just as there isn't any space between the last letter of this sentence and its final punctuation solution.

So then we come to the spacing of the dots within the ellipsis. If they are to look like what they are doing instead of faking it, those layarounds, the Extensons, should be well splayed out. Having their dots set a whole space apart might be too great these days (a stinginess I decry, but then that might be pure old-fashionedness, just as I prefer every syllable of 'constitution' pronounced, yet the Washington elite doesn't have time for that, only stopping for 'cons'tushn'). However, setting the dots a half-space is a choice that many good typesetters have employed to excellent effect.

At the moment, the only diacritic available in many fonts is what I would call The Nonfiction cramped little thing, in which the dots are even closer together than if they were put in as three dots without spaces.

Finally, why stop there? Let's extend meaning, as we once felt free to with text, and are doing now with texting.

"To make a long story short," said the senator, ". . . ∞"
And if Americans knew that in other English-speaking countries, a 'period' is a 'full stop', they might laugh too, at the message that hasn't made the news, in these posters.

Maybe some did laugh.
In the last weeks of the campaign, . evolved to !

01 December 2012

A most excellent gift for armchair explorers

The perfect mix of science, exploration, and exhuberant extravagance of the imagination.

If you marvel at the monstrous details of life, such as teeth (a visual preoccupation of McB's) and can be found with your nose in Belt's Naturalist in Nicaragua or Kingsley's hilariously dry tales of tromping through swamps and casually emptying baskets of odds and ends such as a human hand, then get this book.  McBride is not just an artist of great skill but a lively writer. Here and there, a word distinguishes itself by its wayward spelling, but all scientific spelling is pedant-certified. 
Navigating the composition of the pages is an adventure in itself.
World of Monsters by Marc McBride was published a few years ago, scooping up honours but not enough notoriety to keep him in pens. If you buy it for someone special, you can pretty much be sure that it won't be a case of "I already have it."

Any child who gets it, is one lucky child. It's the kind of book that ages with you. It is, in 6 words: a classic that doesn't know it—the kind that is your friend.

International shipping from Scholastic Australia
Highly recommended for all people who know that no leather jacket is as cool as a leatherjacket.

The amazing BBW

When I was very little, I used to ride a BBW. It not only revved with a thrillingly powerful murmur, but picked up crumbs as we cruised.

The most terrible aspect of growing up is that I can longer feel the buzz of my BBW, nor the freedom to eat with no thought given to that frowning fun spoiler, lady-likeness. The highway is no longer the byway with me on a BBW, due to that old wowser, gravity.
I came upon another BBW as I was strolling on the beach yesterday. Known as the Botany Bay Weevil or Chrysolopus spectabilis, this is my favourite species of weevil, and one that is a perfect victim of my intrusive urge to immortalise it with portraits. Get a load of that crumb picker-upper.

23 November 2012

The assumption that we're all tamarindaholics

The festive season is upon us, and food gifts are in our minds.

So it's just terrible, isn't it, that everyone assumes that we all want boxes of tamarind? And that everyone assumes that  tamarind in its many forms and in every recipe, is what we all crave so much that we take it to bed with us and are willing to eat it secretly in the toilet, away from weighing eyes? And moreover, that we all yearn to be told, by experts, that "It's good for you", thereby assuaging our guilt for salivating at the very thought of it?

I find it offensive, too, that we are barraged by reasons to buy and consume tamarind for health reasons, even though the constituents that are effective are only mere traces compared to the bulk of unhealthy matter in the stuff.

But I do admit, it doesn't matter what form tamarind is sold in: fresh in the pod, scrunched in a block like a block of dates, pureed in a paste, I can't get enough of the stuff. And though no university has funded the study, I can report from my own invention: Mamoul stuffed with (heavy on the T) khajur-imli (I like leaving out the cumin but adding plenty of cardamom and ground nuts [pistachios, almonds, or walnuts]) will make your endorphins' eyes grow limpid with love for you, like a King Charles spaniel's, for liver. That's the truth. But then are you one of the millions who can't bear any more tamarind?

Open Crandolin (a personality test)

Which do you prefer?
Open Crandolin! (a friendly invitation to you)
Open Crandolin! (a command. Get cracking!)
Open, Crandolin! (your command, though there are limits—Crandolin won't Sit!)

See reviews and what other people say
For the joy of it
Ode to Literaturnaya
Happiness=Soviet ice cream

15 November 2012

Crandolin released today – so be as the cinnamologus

From Chômu Press:

For the adwentoursomme
...We couldn’t fit all the praise so far received for Crandolin on the back cover, so here are a couple of quotes that we did not manage to include:

"Epicurean fantasy at its finest. Crandolin is an uncanny mating of passion and precision: that Anna Tambour is billed as ‘author’ and not ‘magician’ belies the virtuosity with which she coaxes a whirlwind of gluttonous carnality into her scintillatingly intricate narrative web."
Rachel Edidin

"For gourmands literary and culinary, Tambour is always a treat, and Crandolin is Tambour at her best. Bold and subtle, rich and delicate, this is fiction to savour, fiction to sustain the soul."
Hal Duncan
Read the rest of their announcement, and enter their prize draw with the magic words:
"borscht borscht borscht" 

Crandolin is the only novel ever committed that was inspired by postmodern physics AND Ottoman confectionery.
&, in the words of Lucius Shepard:
"Crandolin is unlike any novel you will ever have read."

So, to those who would give a basket of medlars as a declaration of love
If your tweets are, as the cinnamologus, listened to by others with particular taste, and your gifts as choice as those picked under cinnamolocare, consider Crandolin (which is as attractive as any medlar, yet has no stones) — and to those like you, though there are so few, let your voices fly.

A special someone has just urged me to add: Crandolin is for donkey lovers.

11 November 2012

Ode to Literaturnaya

The inside of a book is as important as the outside. That statement might sound odd, but it's so often ignored now when practically anyone can convert a file.

The internal layout can add to the pleasure of reading, distract, or be a pain. Along with the size of type and arrangement of text, the typefaces used can add to the enjoyment, merely aiding the reading experience, or they can do more. When I designed Monterra's Deliciosa & Other Tales & and Spotted Lily, I chose Sabon for all the internal text in both books. This typeface is an excellent choice for a collection and would do any novel justice because it is so easy to read and has a self-effacing personality.

But typefaces can also enhance a book by supporting what the book is about. And with that excuse, ignoring the fact that I'm mad about letters, Crandolin is set in Literaturnaya.

I have many books set in Literaturnaya, most with stories approved by a system that didn't allow freedom and hated originality. Fancy that! 
If it's really true that this face which is full of grace and should be recognised as one of the best ever designed, has been replaced by Times Roman, it's a bloody Baskin Robbins, it is.

10 November 2012

Kitchen Sink Tragically Excluded Yet Again! Crandolin Acknowledgements & Apologies

Warning and qualification:
Anyone hoping for some juicy content should look elsewhere. There are so many people and others who have a genuinely fascinating relationship with Crandolin, but the novel is obdurate, insisting: “All my relationships are strictly confidential”.

So who’s saying what, and why here?
Any novel with a healthy amount of self-respect and, if not necessarily a wish to jump into a relationship with you, the reader, at least some empathy for you--deserves no buttings in by others when you meet.

Crandolin: Author-soliloquy-free
Though it is a mercy whenever an author is reduced in a novel, to a name-tag and observant silence, the power of the novel might not be understood. People to whom the author is indebted might read into the lack of Acknowledgments, churlishness.

So here, safely out of sight of Crandolin, I wish to thank some to whom I am indebted.
(Out of respect for the novel’s privacy and their own, the names with the least particulars after them are in some cases, hiding the most I haven’t told.)
Alistair Rennie
David Kowalski
Ellen Datlow (the Good Witch to so many, and what a wicked wand she wields)
Keith Brooke (the Saviour)
Rachel Edidin (the valiant Knightessa)
Hal Duncan (I expect to be ice-skating with you when g.w. causes h. to f.o.)

Christopher Conn Askew, the outstanding and unclassifiable artist with a weakness for history and books. He painted the cover in an act of mad generosity, but he has much better things to do. Chris not only undertook an amazing amount of research to make this bespoke cover fit perfectly, including reading Crandolin; but he created something that is so lovely that the author would be a fool to think that if people are attracted to the book, it’s because of the beauty inside.

Kathleen Jennings, another favourite artist who has a droll sense of humour and an ability, as only the best do, to show so much in so few lines. She also read Crandolin, and in this Chômu Press edition there is a special treat, thanks to her: the after-the-feature cartoon. In some bright future, let there be editions in languages I can’t understand, with Kathleen’s illustrations that speak to everyone.

Other readers who gave generously of time and thoughtfulness: Steve Aylett, Marilyn Pride, Leone Britt, Vera Nazarian, and Lucius Shepard.
Others who should be awarded Orders (some with an additional Star of the Lent Shoulder): Brenda Vallance, Tom Dann, Ron Serdiuk, Ellen Kushner, Marcus Ng, Simon Brown, Claude Lalumière, Marc Laidlaw, Lucy Kempton, Laird Barron, Alice C.E. Bauer, Cat Sparks, Jeffrey Ford, Jamie Shanks, Jayaprakash Sathyamurthy, Adam Browne, Janine Bajus, Timmi Duchamp, Alisa Krasnostein, Kaaron Warren, Lewis P. Morley, Lee Battersby, Jonathan Monroe (not you or you, but you), Nurduran Duman, Richard Glatz, Jeff Sypeck; Borderlands Books in San Francisco and Pulp Fiction in Brisbane, and PS Publishing, Charles Tan, Cheryl Morgan and Bill Congreve for services to writers and readers; Tom Jaine for same, including services to pigs who have good taste in literature (in packing for Eternity, remember: Without a Prospect book, Eternity will feel like a lifetime)
Linda Carr (who has catered to my book designing wonts for years)
Marc McBride
a great helva-maker whose identity shall remain a Secret

Four great editors who I hope to be lucky enough to work with again: Ellen Datlow, Jed Hartman, Rudy Rucker
& at Chômu Press, Quentin S. Crisp, who gave me the best time I’ve ever had with a book. It’s a bloody shame that he is such a stimulating, generous, anal-retentive and considerate editor—not to mention, fascinating person. If I weren’t so selfish, this would be an apology for Crandolin having cut so deeply into his time and thought-space as Quentin S. Crisp, whose fiction is unforgettably poignant, thoughtful, and such a pleasure to read—lucid, unpretentious, and yet surprising and always unpedestrian; he has also tossed off some of the finest essays without thinking “I’m an essayist” any more than he would, “I’m a philosopher”.

Crandolin is too snooty to be satisfied with being published as samizdat, and the author of Crandolin has unaggressive tendencies. So it would have sunk in the permafrost but for the one who calls himself the bEast. That Crandolin is published, and by the perfect publisher for it, Chômu Press—is due to that author who is like no other:
the moustached matchmaker, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
To Joe and to all the other generous people above, you could all be adequately self-obsessed, yet you continue to operate at an obsolete level of generosity that conflicts with your own careers. No wonder robots and / or programs are destined to replace you.

Digesting any acknowledgements list

beyond a listing of oneself is a task too like digesting a bowlful of suctioned-off bellyfat. So if I the author have missed you who have helped me (and you reside on Earth, sorry Asteroid *ians—this isn’t your moment to shine), and you would have liked being mentioned, I am sorry (not to mention amazed). For any people who feel tainted by association because they are listed, please drop me a line and you will be cleansed from the list. As to the curdled text and indigestible gristle in Crandolin, no one should be blamed but me.

Isn’t it over yet!?
A sincerely modern apology to the person I would have dedicated Crandolin to: Abhijit Bhattacharya (not you, but you). Though you ordered your novel cooked as you like it: So well done, it’s Depressing Dostoevskian--it turned out: smoking but only lightly bleak. So please accept Crandolin as an amuse bouche, and savour the pleasure of disappointment.

04 November 2012

Another magnificent insignificant: mushroom-scented 'coral'

Pycnoporus coccineus (spore side) and ?

This bracket fungus is common around these parts, and this is the first time I've seen it being attended by any insects. These look like instars of something that I should know, but all I can say definitively is, "Duh".

One of the characteristics of this fungus that has caused me many uselessly thoughtful hours, is its ability to grow around such light objects that the physics of force and time seem impossible.
 See the grass?
The colour lasts,which makes it the perfect gem to wear for special occasions, or as I did once for the beautiful artist, Marilyn Pride, woven into a diadem for a medieval festival. 
As a gem, treat as women are supposed to, our skin. Lightly spritz with water before displaying it to the world so as to bring out the colour, smooth out the wrinkles, and bring out the 'natural glow'. 
Watering also brings out again that alluring, yet subtle scent—one that can be worn anywhere with style and confidence—unlike most perfumes that, like most music, should be banned from restaurants.

30 October 2012

Bloody Fabulous out now

Fashion: Indispensable identity tool or the oldest professional marketing scam? 


Bloody Fabulous: stories of fantasy and fashion
edited and with an introduction by Ekaterina Sedia
published by Prime Books

“Coat of Stars” by Holly Black
“Savage Design” by Richard Bowes
“Bespoke” by Genevieve Valentine
“Dress Code” by Sandra McDonald
“The Anadem” by Sharon Mock
“The First Witch of Damansara” by Zen Cho
“The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link
“The Truth or Something Beautiful” by Shirin Dubbin
“Waifs” by Die Booth
“Where Shadows Meet Light” by Rachel Swirsky
“Capturing Images” by Maria V Snyder
“How Galligaskins Sloughed the Scourge” by Anna Tambour
“Avant-n00b” by Nick Mamatas
“Incomplete Proofs” by John Chu

Publishers Weekly review

Buy from:
Barnes and Noble
Prime Books

15 October 2012

If stingarees ate fruit . . .

A thought:
If our eyes, like this stingaree's, were on our back, then hotel fruit bowls would be filled with, not Granny Smiths, but medlars.

Stingaree (Urolophus), possibly Greenback (U. viridis)

Another view of this innocent slowgrowing common bycatch, that, if thrown back while pregnant, usually aborts. 

When rays or skates are presented at a restaurant, it's surprising they aren't called 'milk-fed'. Zola mentioned them as common fare for city canteens in L'Assommoir. But recently, when I was stuck at a lodge with pretentions, the dinner choice was Zebu, Skate with Caper Sauce, or nothing. I chose the Skate but the kitchen had no clue how to treat it, so the thing smelled like a nappy bin, and went back only lightly tickled by my tines. 
The next night at the lodge, the menu said "Fish fillets", which hooked quite a few innocents. It's rude to talk to things on people's plates, but I had met my table neighbour's dinner the night before, and could have said to it in sympathy, "You've had a dressing-down."
See Andrew Grygus' Skate Wings and Hank Shaw's Loving the Unloved.
And a must: Rhymes for histotrophy — a Quest.

06 October 2012

"the oracle in my fahrenheit itches" — Portraits of Ruin. Just get it, despite the lying title.

For anyone wishing to self-gratify with a book that will make you want, finally, to efficiently slit your wrists, sheathe your blade if you think that PORTRAITS OF RUIN will be your (last) boon companion. It'll on the other hand, jilt you faster than you can say "Fie" or alternatively, as a passage in one of the stories does:
Marquis de Sade: [His new wife, Penny Porsche-de Sade, who’s flashing his new book, On the Paradisal Heights of The Orgasm Circus: Existentialism Is for Uptight Victorians and Dummies to cameramen, on his arm. Waves.] Hi!Hello. [Beaming.] Hi. [Throwing kisses to the fans in the bleachers.] Bonjour! Love every one of you!

PORTRAITS OF RUIN by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
with an introduction of rare quality, by Matt Cardin
Published by Hippocampus Press

Don't judge a book by its cover

This rather typically Horror-screaming cover covers many sins: damn fun, romantic lust, delirious joy; intense observation, oddly enough, of others ("Gull-voice oboe cries", "Gill standing [wearing a black wig / under the wig her real hair is wet--the wig sticks unevenly--some of it is flat and sticks out like crow feathers", "At this distance it could be an angel or the eyes of a pumpkin." "the accomplishments of a dead animal", "A shadow walks the street like a bass player with somewhere to go."); playfulness; heart-rending beauty as indissectible as a rainbow; magic; music in timbres unique to this writer, as if he'd mixed his own alloy and poured it, red-hot, to cast his own bell. 

There are many styles here, too. Sure, there's the whole panoply of human pain and paingivers, but that's only part of the whole.

Pulver is famous for his unique let-it-all-flow-out style, but there are many here. Also, the easy flow is, I suspect, as easy as an iceskater's smoothness.
             the fluent scent of disordered 
In this book the spaces matter. Fonts matter. So does all the punctuation. So does every word, no matter how shed like skin cells from aetheria and swept up it might seem. It's clear that Pulver is not only a perfectionist, but an agonist (isn't it an undramatised tragedy that this word, a noun even, isn't represented in dictionaries by meaning #3: 'one who agonises'— the snobs). (But as I was leading up to: five stars for the production team at Hippocampus Press, for this is a most excellently set book, with a variety of treatments, each executed with much care.)

The skill of writing is consummate and invisible, never dazzling us with lectures on technique. Nor is there any of that painfully padded & crafted abuse of words and our patience that is so common with MFA-waving 'experimental' authors. (I highly recommend Matt Cardin's unusually useful and most interesting introduction. It talks of many things, including trying experimentalism; and would be an excellent essay for anyone who must read anything about what is written.)

Above all, this collection reminds me of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade"; and if I had covered it, I would have woken Bakst, who would, I know, have done it for a copy he could take back with him; for Portraits of Ruin tells innumerable stories, not vaguely in the least—with no bullshit, but richly and not specifically (and he doesn't leave those hated 'ly words' and adjectives' to die from no exposure).

Furthermore, the celebrated Pulver flow cannot disguise his genuine romanticism, not one wedded to doom but surprisingly mushy. This collection could easily be sold with a chocolate box cover, and satisfy consumers. Oddly, this little secret is something no one ever mentions.
She removes her flower-print cotton dress—one land of tinted-weather melted to a hungry landscape of astronomy (every star for me to see). Offers this vampire ingot-nipples, oh the torchlight-joy contact. I FEEL TOTAL. Offers me that magnificent heart—Burn-burn-burn—Burn-burn! My own Alice, crackling, laughing, Drink me. Drink me. Come that I might annotate you with kisses and commas and prickled clouds. Come with your need. My cupcakes breasts will paint you with strawberry whispers.
I have told you this to pay him back for another unsocial characteristic of his. Many times in the past months in which I have had the privilege of fluffing his moustache with correspondence, I have quoted back a sentence or phrase that he's minted, because I've liked it so. He never remembers a one. I truly think he doesn't even wear his books in his coat.

The only other criticism I can think of is one about humility. Pulver has too much of it. Stop hoarding it, man. The rest of the world needs more. 

Feeding in the rain

A queen wouldn't sit as well

There has been so little rain for so long that this wallaby mum and toddler got their portrait taken, in celebration. She has such patience and the drinker is so in her cup, that it's a shame this isn't a daguerreotype.

05 October 2012

Mitt Doom

"Best performance since '84"

 "He...at long last, began the process of offering a more authentic version of himself."
— David Brooks, "Moderate Mitt Returns!" The New York Times, Oct. 4

"Oh, Mr. Brooks... Surely you are joking....He had all the cheerfulness of someone who knows a lie goes around the world while the truth is putting on its pants."

26 September 2012

Lost to Perpetuannuality in Carcosa

(This is for Joe Pulver, not just because he thought up and edited A SEASON IN CARCOSA but because he's a trip—one you couldn't take for lucre.)

The vibrating cesium atom (Time) is an atom of regular habits.
To wild Carcosa it went to count: purported anxious rabbits.
Long history left the landscape something some would call a waste—
its rolling -scape as marked by pock as the moon's full-forward face.
The task slayed mere stupendous,
to dimensions quite horrendous
if 'purported' grew to more than a few real rabbits making x with haste.

How every hole could one atom count since each one needed watch?
Did the atom blanch or dither, stop, veer, turn back, fibrillate, agitate, vegetate, delegate; or even hmm one notch?
This vast Carcosan underground needs an army to survey,
but that will only happen on the day someone bags Someday.

The task was quite impossible. Yet the atom never wavered.
Down it went into the hole, atomlogically, nearest favoured.
and never left, was lost! Is lost
What cost! What cost!
But do I hear hooray!?

It's there now (the atom, vibrating)
snared in springs (they cannot-or-will-not help it) that it tickled to hilarity
in a hole alive with watches owned by rabbits of gregarity.

O! the pitfalls of regularity! If it didn't hiccup so metronomicarilly, it could loose and flee for Whence.
Or if only it could change its character. Say bumpkinise, stop to smell the rabbits, slow as talk over a country fence.

But though Carcosa's wild as a Carcosan equashion,
Time's movement of autocracy governs every nation,
the Gov rules, see. The clock itself. Its pocket holds the key,
or so it would if only it could
break into anarchy.

So now, rejoice
lift up your voice.
Thank Carcosa's ancient wars,
for the homes they made for residents who warranted the survey of them who long ago but who knows when-- hopped up from the shore.
(and hopefully, those springs are eternal, forever, or at least forevermore.)

When next you miss an important date
you know who to thank—an atom of regular habits, wild Carcosa, and anxious rabbits—
for giving us the Gift of Late.

That's those of us, that is—those in power, those few made for greatness.
We don't have watches. We have chronographs, timepieces, complications.
Thanks to cesium, we can always be counted on for our lateness.
In fact, you can weigh our greatness by how long we make others (not you, surely!) wait.

22 September 2012

Out, and on the road—A Season in Carcosa

The trailer is rolling.
Watch it and read an excerpt—at Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews, where you might also enjoy his reviews: Book trailer - "A Season in Carcosa" edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

This is an exceptionally fine anthology, not only because Pulver has a panoramic vision of what could be included in a 'tribute volume to Robert Chambers' KING IN YELLOW'. Pulver is also a superbly sneaky director. The production contains bespoke creations by people I'm awed to have my "King Wolf" slinking amongst.

As Miskatonic Press says, Haunting the pages of this tome are the following voices:
Joel Lane     "My Voice is Dead"
Simon Strantzas     "Beyond the Banks of the River Seine"
Don Webb     "Movie Night at Phil's"
Daniel Mills     "MS Found in a Chicago Hotel Room"
Gary McMahon     "it sees me when I’m not looking"
Ann K. Schwader     "Finale, Act Two"
Cate Gardner     "Yellow Bird Strings"
Edward Morris     "The Teatre & Its Double"
Richard Gavin     "The Hymn of the Hyades"
Gemma Files     "Slick Black Bones and Soft Black Stars"
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.     "Not Enough Hope"
Kristin Prevallet     "Whose Hearts are Pure Gold"
Richard A. Lupoff     "April Dawn"
Anna Tambour     "King Wolf"
Michael Kelly     "The White-Face at Dawn"
Cody Goodfellow     "Wishing Well"
John Langan     "Sweetums"
Pearce Hansen     "The King is Yellow"
Laird Barron     "D T"
Robin Spriggs     "Salvation in Yellow"
Allyson Bird     "The Beat Hotel"

Miskatonic Press has also done an excellent job of producing a book whose physical attributes match the content. The evocative cover is by Daniele Serra; the text is also beautifully set and thoughtfully designed.
The Book Depository has free worldwide shipping and even takes Paypal.

Happiness=Soviet ice cream

Soviet ice cream should have had a worldwide reputation for excellence.
It feels creamier in the mouth to even say 'ice cream' in Russian. 
Mороженое — "mah-ROHZH-nah-yeh"

"In the 1920s Anastas Mikoyan set up the first Soviet Russian ice cream factory. That industry never looked back. Ice cream parlours are as popular in Russian cities as they are in the Mediterranean, and the product sold is of a purity and creaminess that constantly astounds Western visitors."
Lesley Chamberlain, The Food and Cooking of Russia, 1982
Now out in a new edition from Bison Press—
See more at Culinate and buy at Powell's (US)
See more and buy at Amazon UK
5 years ago, in Yahoo Answers:
"How do you say "ice cream" in Russian?"

"Best answer" "Just say 'Baskin Robbins; and you will be pointed to the nearest location."
The History of Ice-Cream in the USSR by CJ on EnglishRussia.com

17 September 2012

At the flick shop in a country town

Not to trash Drama, but Cane Toads: The Conquest is so much more versatile, equally able to play as comedy, horror, kids' entertainment, nature & human somethingorother, and thriller. And when you realise that male cane toads have drives that go beyond life itself, then we get to the classification that lives toadlike under the labelled shelves, in the dark. Really truly, in one town hereabouts.

But for Drama and everything else, there is nothing that has topped the first flick in this series:
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (that's Dairy Queen! — and I don't mean the little girl)

16 September 2012

P.S. to Askew's gorgeous cover for Crandolin

The other day I posted it, in all its glorious detail here.
But what I neglected to say is that this is only the face.
 What isn't revealed is the spine and back.
What does it matter? 
Many spines and backs are given as much thought by publishers as a sweatshop owner does, the workers'.

The spine is as important as the front. The spine supports the book. It actually has more work to do than the more obvious front, being for most of the book's life, the view that says, 'Pssst! I'm here!' 
A spine can be delightfully sensuous, funny, intriguing, elegant, instantly informative, and as with the back and front, something that makes you want to treasure the book in a similar way to a vintage tea package. A book however, is a package that is always full. 
But a book might take that 'package' description as an insult. Crandolin, a personality-filled book with distinct likes and scorns, is positively luxuriating over Askew's treatment.
Note about two spines: One book featured in the picture above is Alasdair Gray's The Book of Prefaces, which has two outstanding and distinctly different covers, both done by Gray (and the flyleaves are also in their own class). This book is a one-of-kind beast that belongs in every library. Its wit will never fail you ("To every generation appears an ageing writer who, with some published work behind him and no ideas for more, decides to produce THE BOOK OF BOOKS"), its passion never fade ("Work as if you life in the early days of a better nation").
I so much admire Alasdair Gray as a thinker, scholar, and fiction writer as well, that when Omnidawn's* collection ParaSpheres came out, with my story next to Alasdair Gray's "Five Letters from an Eastern Empire", I felt a thrill that I still do—partly because this strange person who has somehow never achieved the acclaim he deserves, would be bemused. His self-portrait in TBoP is the look-up-into-my-nose view.

* ParaSpheres was such an ambitious project, and Omnidawn's production standards so high that I have only praise for Rusty Morrison & Ken Keegan, senior editors & publishers. So to anyone who's ever contemplated venturing into the minefield of 'fiction contests', this one you can not only trust, but I recommend going for it: 
The Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Chapbook Contest (open till the 15th of October)
Judge: Jeff VanderMeer
Even if you don't win**, this is an opportunity to take a chance and let yourself write something that comes straight from the truest part of your storytelling self. VanderMeer deserves no less as a judge, you deserve no less of yourself.

** If you don't win, but you've written something magnificent, congratulations! You of course, only want to see it published in some venue you'll want to crow about. I highly recommend John Klima's Electric Velocipede. Both the writing and the art is top quality, and Klima's commitment to support this magazine through the years has been costly to him in all ways. I usually dislike Kickstarter campaigns because most of them are on behalf of people who prefer others to take risks—but this campaign gets my thumbs up because Klima has dedicated years to producing a zine that is a model of style and substance.
EV's cool too.

12 September 2012

Let them draw cake or official portraits

Though they are typically unsigned, editorials are almost never subversive, let alone as funny as a good cartoon—so The Times of India gets the Award of the Tickled Medlar Comfit for this plumb in their pudding. 

"The new political insecurity has recast what was considered a perfectly respectable profession - sketching cartoons - as inherently subversive." 
— Today's Op-ed in The Times of India,
Aseem Trivedi's arrest shows how colonial era sedition laws lend themselves to abuse


George III make toast. 
George II leave office, etc.
Gillray's Ungloomy Morality by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal
Kate Beaton's cartoons at  Hark, a vagrant!

The pen is mightier than the word
There are many places in the civilised world today where politicians habitually and successfully sue writers for defamationbut in their vanity treasure cartoons in which they star.

"At a time when politicians have essentially become ridiculous caricatures of themselves, the work of political cartoonists becomes at once more important, and significantly easier."
The best in Australian political cartoons, The Vine

A subversive  seditious  despicably self-promotionally professional  perfectly respectable plug
"To the mass of eyes working every day for the benefit of their respective citizens, the man on the end of the thin line high over the pavement is a painter, for that is what he must be, since he's painting, isn't he?"
– from the upcoming Crandolin 
(its word-portraits of various professionals = > or < .456 % of 1 gc [good cartoon] )